Luck for the Luckless

I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in You.  You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever.  Psalm 10:14b (the Message)

Those of you who knew me before I began blogging over here at Blogging Barefoot might remember that about this time last year, I started advocating for a sweet little HIV+ orphan named Annabell.  Oh my goodness, she had the chubbiest cheeks and sweetest little smile you could imagine.

I can’t believe a year has gone by.

Last summer Annabell disappeared – that is to say, the country she lives in determined her ineligible for international adoption.  She was ‘too healthy’ to make the short list of physical ailments allowed by her country to be adopted by a foreigner.  At least until she turned five, at which point she would be old enough to be considered undesirable for adoption within her country.  The irony of that is the fact that because she’s HIV+, she’s already ‘undesirable’.  The stigma associated with HIV in her country will most likely damn her to a life in an orphanage unless a foreign family chooses to adopt her.  And since the older a child gets, the less likely they’ll be adopted, that’s an option her country all but took away from her last summer.

I was unprepared for how hard that would hit me.  I cried a lot.  Not just for her, but for the many (and we’re talking thousands – including her little brother, who I’ve never been able to find much information on) of kids like her.  Unwanted children with special needs of every imaginable kind lost in the bureaucratic red tape of their countries, never to know the love and warmth and security of a family all their own.

There’s no adequate term for how simply wrong that is.

I’ve wondered for awhile what my role in helping these precious ones could be.  After Annabell disappeared, it was hard to want to commit to helping any specific child at all…to get attached, only to have any real way of helping them be yanked from my grasp at any moment.  It felt like setting myself up for failure; opening my heart to guaranteed heartbreak.  If that sounds weak to you, it’s because it is.  Believe me, I’m well aware that in comparison, any heartbreak I might feel in the process of helping these helpless ones is minuscule in comparison to the largely loveless life they lead.  But I don’t think it’ll do anybody a lick of good if I try to lie and pretend that I’m some kind of strong warrior on behalf of the Orphan.  Because I’m not.  I’m weak, and I’m selfish.  And let’s be honest – I’m a tiny little fish swimming in a ridiculously giant ocean.  My voice, though louder than the voiceless, is still a soft, timid whisper in the noisy din of the world around me.

When I found out I was pregnant with Little Miss Took, I had all kinds of conflicting emotions.  Overwhelming joy at the thought of another Shafer bundle arriving in less than a year…and overwhelming guilt at the thought of all the sweet lovies waiting in desperate situations for a home, when my own home was healthy and flourishing.  It was a crisis of faith that I didn’t expect, and it took me a while to really claim the beliefs I’ve stated to myself and others time and time again:

Each child is created with intention and purpose – whether or not their parents planned their birth, and whether or not they’re born without what the world deems as ‘defects’.

Each child deserves the right to be born and thrive.

Each child ought to be welcomed home into the arms of a loving family – whether through genetics, or adoption, or whatever.  Every child deserves a family that will love them and protect them.

There are no exceptions to this.  Each and every child is precious, priceless.

And that includes my child, born into a loving home in a prosperous country.

So, I took several months off from advocating at all.  I needed to let the truth of those statements sink in for me and my family.  I needed to be okay with bringing another child into a world where there are still so many sitting, laying, waiting, without hope, in situations so devastatingly horrific most of us honestly can’t fathom.  I know I sure can’t.

But now that Little Miss Took is nearly here, I’m feeling the pull again – to do something, no matter how small, to help be a voice for the voiceless.  I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to look yet.  Probably just a post here and there to start.

But for now, I’d like to direct you to a place called Reece’s Rainbow.  They are a fantastic organization that has dedicated themselves to helping special-needs orphans find their families.  Please, look through the waiting lists.  The pictures aren’t always easy to see.  For many of these kids – especially the older ones – time is running out.  Once they age out of their country’s system, they become ineligible for adoption, domestic or foreign, and put into ‘institutions’ – the equivalent of mental asylums – where they’ll be confined the rest of their lives, never knowing the love of a mom or dad or siblings or grandparents or aunts or uncles.  To say it’s a bleak reality would be putting it kindly…and it’s one that’s easier to ignore than to face.

I don’t really have a goal in mind with this post, other than to open a window to a world many of us simply don’t know exists.  I heard someone once say (with their tongue firmly planted in their cheek) that poverty doesn’t exist if you don’t see it.  All of us know that’s not true; but it’s easy for so many of us to live like it is because it’s not in our face, staring us down.  The same is true for so many of us when it comes special needs orphans.  It’s not something that’s often put in front of us for us to see…

…and so we live as if they don’t exist.

I hope you’ll take the time to stop by Reece’s Rainbow and let the precious faces you’ll see there open your minds and hearts a little.

Lots of love,

Myndi

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Morning Sickness and WINNING!

The past five dayshave been a crash-course in Morning (aka, all-day) Sickness.  Shafer Offspring#1,2,and 3 were each a pre-natal breeze, but Shafer Offspring #4?  This kid marches to the beat of his/her own drum.  And it’s making sure I know it.

Which means I’m behind.  On everything.  Homeschooling?  The kids are beginning to think that their lessons will be taught by Sponge Bob and Patrick Star.  The book?  Oh, yeah, my literary masterpiece…it’s, um.  Simmering.  Blogging and the class I’m taking about the wonders of blogging?  *mirthful laughter* Oh, that will take care of itself.

Only, it won’t.  None of it will.  And I’m looking at day six of near-uselessness.  Blech.

On the bright side, the world isn’t spinning like a carnival ride today, which means I can sit upright.  Who-hoo!  And I have *just enough* energy to brag a little.

Yesterday, during one of the six, count ’em, six hours that I was awake, I saw that dear, sweet Ginger Calem had mentioned me in a Twitter post.  I followed the link and found that she had given me an award for my blog!  Of course I immediately started weeping like a fool, which was then followed by a craving for cheese quesadillas, followed by a bout of nauseousness so strong I spent the next forty minutes in the fetal position on the floor, rocking back and forth wondering what the hell I did to piss this little baby off?

After I recovered, I went back and re-read her blog.  It was so sweet and thoughtful, and fun, because, well come on – when is winning stuff ever not fun?  And I really, really, really needed a pick-me-up.  So thanks, Ginger.

Part of the fun of the Versatile Blogger Award is getting to pass it forward – now I get to pick 15 award-worthy blogs I dig and share ’em with you, and I get to tell you seven things about moi that you most likely didn’t know.

Let’s start with those:

(1) I majored in piano performance in college.  And flunked out.  Twice.  I cite artistic differences.  🙂

(2) I have castrated many a bull-calf.

(3) Every single year of my adult life I have decided to take up running…and then I don’t.

(4) As a kid I had a hamster named Ollie who was so fat he’d get stuck in his little hamster-tubes.  I’ll never forget his little squeals as I’d push him out with the end of a wooden spoon.

(5) I married the first man who asked.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.

(6) I dislike spaghetti.  Except when I’m pregnant.  When I’m pregnant, I love spaghetti.

(7) I once played Maria in an all-school production of The Sound of Music.  I’m sorry, Rodgers & Hammerstein.  I’m sorry, Julie Andrews.

Phew, glad that’s off my chest.  I’ve been carrying the Rodgers & Hammerstein guilt around for awhile now.

Hey!  Before I get started on ‘the List’, you guys must check out Ginger’s blog, because she’s frigging awesome.  She’d totally be on ‘the List’, but I don’t know if that’s allowable in the rules (Rules?  What rules?  I have no idea if there are actually rules for this…).  Anyway, go check her out, and COMMENT on her blog.  Because we bloggers and crazy about comments.  It’s our frigging cat-nip.  For reals.

Now, for the awards.  Drum roll, please.

Adéye Salem – I had to put this woman’s blog first, because it’s the only blog that I check every single day.  No matter what.  If you all want to know what SuperWoman looks like, Adéye will show you.  She’s amazing.  Mom to seven kids, four who are adopted, and many who have special needs.  Every single child of hers flourishes.  It’s amazing and beautiful, and the love this woman carries for voiceless orphans is nothing short of inspiring.  Adéye Salem is my hero.  Period.

Liz Schulte – I can’t come away from her blog without cracking up.  Her post on genetically engineered salmon and zombies is just so…wow.  Oh my gosh.  Go there right now.

Colin Falconer – Here’s the thing about Colin.  It doesn’t matter what topic he’s writing about, he always manages to grab my attention. Which, in the blogging world, can be tough to do.  After all, if a reader gets bored, she can move on to the next thing in a nano-second, and never look back.  But I’ve never started reading a post on Colin’s blog that I haven’t finished.

Joe Kwon – If you haven’t heard of the band the Avett Brothers, you are really missing out.  They are so, so good, and their cellist, Joe Kwon, is one of my all-time faves.  He has a blog that features pics and food from touring.  It is a fun, visual place to go.

Penny Moore – Penny has two blogs: one for her writing, and one for her book reviews.  I love reading her book reviews.  Not to mention, she’s just a sweetheart of a person.

Jillian Dodd – Two words:  ManDay.  A reason to open your computer Monday morning and face the world.  A little ManDay objectification never hurt anybody.  *contented sigh*

Alicia McKenna Johnson – Alicia’s blog is fun because, well…the stuff she writes about is fun.  Foreign movies, music, off-the wall stuff.  I like all of it.

Kristen – Gezellig-girl’s blog is bright, happy, food-oriented, and fun.

Jody Hedlund – Jody’s blog isn’t the kind I normally find myself spending time at – she spends a lot of time talking about writing, and I usually shy away from that, unless I’m looking for something specific.  But here’s the thing – she gave me a book.  Her latest book, the Preacher’s Bride.  And I read it, even though it’s not a genre I gravitate to.  But guess what – I liked it!  It was good!  I told people about it, and even passed the book on, on the condition that it had to be given to someone else after they finished it.  And now, because of that silly little giveaway, I find myself over at Jody’s blog, just to see what she’s up to.

Kim Mullican – I really like Kim’s frank voice.  And her silly pictures.

Shauna Callaghan – I dig this blog because (a) I always come away from it learning something new, and (b) she’s a typical mom.  I love the typical.  It makes me feel better about my own typical-ness.

Amber West – She’s an accidental gardner who loves to laugh.  Since I am an incurable black-thumb, I will live vicariously through Amber’s accidentally grown sweet potatoes, while enjoying her jokes.

Anthony Salem – Adéye Salem’s husband.  They blog on similar topics – parenthood, family, orphans – but it’s neat to see those topics through a male perspective.

Susie Lindau – Susie’s blog is one I’m new to, but if her costume mishaps are any indication of what’s to come, I’m hooked.

Elena Aitken – She’s in the process of releasing her first novel, which makes me uber-happy-giddy for her.  And her description of being a newby-yoga-ite are so spot on, it’s awesome.

Ali Dent – Ali’s blog has a more serious tone than what I’m typically drawn to.  I like it though.  She feels like one of those friends you could sit down with a cuppa and talk for hours about things that nourish your soul.

Holy cow.  I think I did it.

Now, those of you listed, who feel so inclined, pay it forward!

Big grins and lots of love,

Myn

Balancing Act

BALANCE
Yeah.  Trying to find it.
We’re moving in couple of weeks.  Homeschool starts soon after.  I’m in the middle of a re-write.  And advocating for special needs orphans has become beautifully time consuming.
Each one of these things is such a blessing; but each comes with the potential of a lot of stress.  And since I’m not by nature a highly organized person, juggling these plus the regular day to day is going to push me a bit.
But I’m determined to stay on top of it.  To stay organized.  To stay scheduled.  And most of all – even in the moments when I feel overwhelmed – I’m determined to remember just how blessed I am.
Life is good.