Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sharing the stories part 5

This is a continuation of Sharing the stories part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. We have received so many wonderful stories of how people are touched by Valentin and some really sweet stories of giving and fund raising. We are so touched by these stories not only because so many want to help rescue Valentin but also because we see God moving in the hearts of His people. We hope you enjoy these stories, testimonies, prayers, and neat fundraisers as much as we do.

This one really gets to me. This family is so dear to us and they have blessed us countless times. You know those friends you have that YOU KNOW God placed in your life? That somehow you sense that your souls and lives are intertwined somehow? The ones that you almost feel bad because all the benefits of the friendship are going to you and you wonder why they stick around because there is nothing you could give to repay them for all they have done? This is such a family and they absolutely don’t want to be ‘made’ so I have tried to tell this story without giving way who they are which is not easy. They are sincerely selfless people and the only reason they are allowing me to put this up here is to give all the glory to God!

Here is the email I received shortly after announcing our adoption and asking for help:

“I just wanted to share with you how wonderful our God is!!! We read your blog about Valentin. And, as with all of your blogs, we were touched to the depths of our being.

We paid our bills this month and really thought we would be short due to Christmas and extra medical bills. However, for some reason we had $1000.00 left over (think it might be God or what?). So, we thanked God and put the money in our EMERGENCY fund to give it some extra padding. In our eyes Valentin's adoption is an emergency.

One of our kids bought his books for this semester of college. I was with him when he went to the bookstore. One of his books alone was going to cost $197.00. He said he could not pay that much for one book and would try getting it elsewhere. He only had three days to get this book purchased. When we got home, he went online and found it for $73.00. And, with expedited shipping he got it for $84.00. He said thanks to God for saving him a little more than $100.00. After reading your blog, he said he knew God saved him that extra money for a reason.

Our other child asked me to read the blog to her. After doing so, she cried and cried and cried!! She cried some more today. She has been saving all of her birthday and extra chores money for 2 years now. She was saving it to buy something that her Dad and she could do together (note - writing what it was would give it away). After she heard about Valentin, she looked at us and said ‘I really don't need that thing and I want to help them adopt Valentin.’ We asked her how much she wanted to donate. She said......all of it. So, we went to the bank to get some coin rollers. Most of her saved money was in the form of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. After rolling all the coins we added up her savings; which came to $152.00.

I told my Mom about Valentin. She said she had an extra $350.00 that she needed to tithe this month and asked me to put it toward the adoption fund.

Because of God, the 5 of us were able to save $1602.00; which I mailed to Reece's Rainbow today. I know it isn't all that you need, but I know God will use it to reach your and His goal. He is soooo much bigger than $25,000.00.

We all want to thank you, not only for your tender hearts and answering God's call to save this little boy, but also for being humble enough to allow us to use God's money in a way that is serving Him. Seeing God work through our children for the sake of another child is something we will treasure forever. If you hadn't asked for help, we would have missed this blessing. So again, thank you for asking.

We love you all so very much and now that includes Valentin too. Our prayers are with you. Can't wait until that little boy is home!

By the way, our daughter asked if she could do some extra chores around the house so she could start saving up to help with the next adoption (out of the mouth of babes).”

Let me collect myself off the floor…I mean how awesome is this family?!?! How awesome is our God?!?!

The story doesn’t end there…

The name Valentin is the alias given to him by Reece’s Rainbow to protect him (this is also why we do not publicly announce what country we are adopting from – it is for the children’s safety). Well we recently found out that his real name is his country’s version of a biblical name. We love it and we love the meaning of the name so we have been tossing around the idea of keeping the English version of the name.

We were having dinner with this couple and we mentioned the name to them. With tears in her eyes, our friend said that is what they named the child they lost. We could not stop thinking about that all night and how God had woven this beautiful tapestry that brought all of us together, knowing ahead of time that Valentin would join our family and that they would be a beautiful part of that. Well clear-as-day it was confirmed and his name was settled! Both of us wrote emails back and forth gushing over what God had done in revealing what He had been planning/doing all along. I don’t know if this touches your soul like it does ours (and I am not very good at articulating the details) but if you can bear it, here is their email to us:

We read your e-mail this morning; however, it has taken us all day to compose ourselves enough to respond. There are a few things, in this life, that we will treasure until our dying breaths. Such as, our salvation/relationship with God and that of our children, our marriage, the birth of our children, and now this! I know you know all too well the pain and sorrow of a child’s death and all the unanswered questions that come with it, but we had faith that the Lord would turn our sorrow into joy because he promised He would. We didn't see how that would be possible, but had the faith it would be done. Well, now we know. Just knowing that you are saving this little boy and are thinking about naming him after our son is a life moment we will never forget. You have turned our sorrow into joy!! Thank you, guys, for your amazing, thoughtful, and loving hearts. We can't even express in words how much this means to us.”

Thank you God for our dear friends!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sharing the stories part 4

This is a continuation of Sharing the stories part 1, part 2, and part 3. We have received so many wonderful stories of how people are touched by Valentin and some really sweet stories of giving and fund raising. We are so touched by these stories not only because so many want to help rescue Valentin but also because we see God moving in the hearts of His people. We hope you enjoy these stories, testimonies, prayers, and neat fundraisers as much as we do.

Doll auction for Valentin

“Hi, I have seen Valentin before, in a couple of blogs and I donated what little I could to his grant. Greece is in a financial depression right now. However, even if I don’t have the money right now, I can always make some for him. You see, I am a world known doll maker (sorry, that sounded like I was tooting my own horn, but I am just stating a fact) and my dolls are collected the world over. I was thinking I can sculpt a little one and put it on auction on eBay, invite my collectors via my mailing list and my FB page to bid on it. Of course I would send you a link to my auction and whatever the final amount is I will send on to Reese’s Rainbow via your Donate button in your blog.

How’s that? I have done this before a couple years back for another little boy, I was happy to help. Would that be ok with you guys? The auction? Could I share a link to Valentin’s story in the auction?

Have a wonderful day and I pray Valentin is in your arms soon!!! I am SO eager to “see” him grow and reach his full potential through your family. I so wish I can help, even a little, to his rescue. Many hugs from Greece.”

She also included a link to her blog where she has pictures of her dolls; oh my goodness, they are amazing! I can see why she is a world-renowned doll maker! They are so life-like and honestly you cannot tell if the picture is of a real child or a doll. God has blessed her with such a talent and then to use it to help our son…we are honored! Thank you!

**Update - I asked the sculptor if I could put the link to her blog up here so you all could see her amazing work. She agreed, so click here to go to her blog.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sharing the stories part 3

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes for Valentin

This is a continuation of Sharing the Stories Part 1 and Part 2. We have received so many wonderful stories of how people are touched by Valentin and some really sweet stories of giving and fund raising. We are so touched by these stories not only because so many want to help rescue Valentin but also because we see God moving in the hearts of His people. We hope you enjoy these stories, testimonies, prayers, and neat fundraisers as much as we do.

Here is an email I received:

“Hi! I just wanted to introduce myself. Your little guy has caught my attention, along with many others, I see!! I can't tell you how happy I am to see someone rescuing him. My heart ached for him being left there. Anyway, I have recruited my coworkers and friends and we are having a Valentine's Day Cupcakes for a Cause. I have been trying to decide who it will benefit, and I thought Valentin has to be one of them!! So say a prayer or two that it goes well. Thanks and God bless you, as He already has!”

How cute is that?! Valentine’s cupcakes for Valentin! To the person who wrote this we humbly thank you, you know who you are :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sharing the stories part 2

This is a continuation of Sharing the Stories. We have received so many wonderful stories of how people are touched by Valentin and some really sweet stories of giving and fund raising. We are so touched by these stories not only because so many want to help rescue Valentin but also because we see God moving in the hearts of His people. We hope you enjoy these stories, testimonies, prayers, and neat fundraisers as much as we do.

Here are some messages on Facebook that we have received in addition to all the thoughtful comments on this blog:

"Oh WOW!!!!!!!! I cannot even tell you how thrilled I am that you are going to adopt Valentin. My heart has been aching for him. ACHING!!!! Knowing where he is just makes it that much harder. A few of us were actually planning on doing a HUGE advocating week for him next week! Thank you for making my night."

"We are in the middle of a Russian adoption of a little girl who is 6 with special needs, I was trying so hard to think of a way to go get Valentin. I could not stop thinking about him, praying for him, and weeping for him. WE love him and I am sooo glad he has you!! I was devastated to read his previous family didn't work out but I guess I know now why... Blessings to you for following His direction, we will do all we can to help bring him home!!"

"I wanted to let you know how happy I am for your family and for Valentin! God's glory will shine through Valentin! I took the picture of Valentin that is posted on RR. I only saw him for a few moments - my kids were in the room across the hall from Valentin... Praying for you!"

"I've posted a couple times on your blog. We brought our son home two months ago. He is 6, has CP and had been transferred to a mental institution three months before we got there. Also, I love Valentin. In fact, right before we left to get our son, we tried to add Valentin and bring home two boys but he was not close enough to do it, so we decided to get our son settled and make a return trip. In the meantime, Valentin got a family. Anyway, long story short, I love Valentin and am so happy you're going for him. I'm here to offer support and answer any questions, although you've been around the block a couple times and already have one with CP. You could probably answer my questions. So there's my introduction. Glad we can be "friends"."

We love reading your comments and messages!

Adoption is not for the faint of heart (especially from the country Valentin is in). Between the emotions, the planning, the work, the praying and pleading, the paperwork (oh my, the loads of paperwork), trying to spend time with our 3 kiddos at home, home schooling, taking care of our home, working...well you get my point...some days it is all we can do to try to hold it together. We have been very close to mental and emotional breakdowns a few times now. The faithfulness of God, your prayers, and your kind words carry us through this time; they encourage us and motivate us. Thank you!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sharing the stories

We still are in awe of the love that so many of you have for Valentin. Ummm, have you seen the total to the right???? Over $8,000!!!! Humbled and inspired, that is all I can say!

Imagine if we had a prayer meter and every time someone prayed for us and for Valentin it went up. What in the world would that look like? There would not be enough room for it! Ya'll (yes I said ya'll) have moved us and touched us!

We have received so many emails, Facebook messages, and comments that are so inspiring that we just cannot keep them to ourselves. And have you read the super sweet comments so many of you are leaving????

We started this blog for a few reasons; to fund raise, to simply share our passion for adoption and highlight what God can do when we say yes, to share our journey with friends and family we don't get to talk to everyday, and to print out as a memory book for Valentin.

So for those reasons we want to share some of the ways people are showing their love for our Valentin. I have tried to remove any identifying information because I know most of you want to keep your good works between you and the Lord so we won't "out" you here.

There are too many to put in one post so I will roll them out over time. If you have shared or want to share a story and I have not mentioned it, please let me know. Since I moderate this blog you can send it to me as a comment, I will see it but will not make the comment public, I will share it in a blog post.

So to start it off, I want to share some blogs with you. These are people who before this we did not know. They were advocating for Valentin on their blogs and praying for a family for him. These are just the ones we know about! Most of them followed up with a post that God answered the MANY prayers being said for him to find a family.

As his parents, it blesses us to no end to know that before we even knew Valentin, people were praying for him and loving him and praying for us and loving us. Simply amazing!

Monday Morning Christians:

Sweet Valentin - Can You Help?

Amazing Grace

No Knots:


Oh Me...

Saving His Sparrows:

Sparrow of the Week - Valentin

Save Valentin - Updated

Hope 4 Every Child:

Help for Valentin

Update on Valentin

Wrong in All the Right Ways

Sweet Valentin


Loves Light Wings


And the blog that started it all – For The Love of Each Other (Schwenzerfamilyupdates)

Valentin Needs Help

A Family For Valentin

Introducing Valentin's Family

Valentin, our beloved son, you are one AMAZING boy and you are so LOVED!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Answering the big questions

How did you know he was your son?

It all started with this facebook post:

Adéye Salem – January 2, 2012 So absolutely heartbroken for one little boy who almost had a family last week--and then didn't. Oh my goodness, knowing where he is and the heinous conditions he is forced to live in just about rips my heart out. I am aching for this child who has regressed SO much simply because of where he is! Life confined to a crib is NO LIFE AT ALL!!!!! Oh God in desperately we need you here!”

While reading the comments on the post I was led to a blog post about the little boy. You can find it here. She talked about the awful room he was imprisoned to and how he had regressed because of it. She talked about his behavior and that he was at risk of being transferred to a mental institution.

Now to back up a little, I read stories like this all the time, you do when you become part of the adoption community because the plight of the orphan becomes important and advocacy becomes one of the only avenues to try to ‘save them all’. I see stories so much that it has almost made me numb to them, you almost have to become numb or serious depression can set in. Most stories I read are very sad and I pray for them but I am able to move on with my day. Not with this one! I wept and wept. I was at the computer and my husband was in the living room. I was trying to contain myself because I knew if I even mentioned this boy or adoption to my already exhausted husband, he might think I had gone off the deep end. I locked myself in the bathroom and wept…I prayed…and I knew it…he was our son. It happened just that quickly. I was not looking for it, I didn’t even want it after just being home with a new little one, but there it was.

Okay God, but YOU are going to have to tell my husband. I collected myself and showed my weary husband the story. I waited with baited breath for a reaction. There really wasn’t one. I prayed and we talked and I prayed and we prayed and we talked and we prayed…and so it went for the next few days. Going back and forth with the whys and what ifs. When he was sure I was doubting and when I was sure he was doubting. We had a lot of concerns and we agonized over them but the one thing we could not get away from was God, His word, and His Spirit.

We were scared but scripture played over and over in our minds about dying to self, caring for the least of these, fear not, I will be with you…

Were we excited? Cautiously. We are always excited when God gives us another child, but we are keenly aware that this adoption, bonding, adjustment, and long term care will most likely not be as easy as the others have been. And the others have not been that easy.

But through faith and trust in the living God we committed to bring our son home! He is our son no doubt about it. God is calling us and commanding us in His word to adopt him no doubt about it. We have fallen head over heals in love with him no doubt about it! We really did not need any more confirmation from God because we were going for it. But God in His awesome ways has since showed us, in ways too unbelievable to be coincidence, that Valentin is our son.

I know, I am long-winded but I have to share this. Hopefully I can do so in a way that makes sense. Since adopting, I have bookmarked several blogs. Most are families we have either traveled with to adopt or people we have come to know as they adopt. All have to do with Chinese adoptions because our adopted children are from China. Over a year ago I was turned on to this blog. I love what she writes so I followed her. From there over the course of last year I was led to many other blogs, most I read but never bookmarked. Two stuck out and I bookmarked them, here and here. I would love to follow many blogs but time only permits the ones that really speak to me. No joke, after committing to adopt Valentin I found out that all three families, whose blogs I bookmarked, adopted from the same orphanage and the same room that Valentin is in. Does that send chills up your back like it does mine? God was working this all out before we had any idea. Love it!

Why are you adopting him?

I think the why is pretty obvious, he needs out of where he is and he needs out now!

I think the question is more about our motivation to adopt him.

We have enough experience with God that we believe, and so many of His promises tell us, that we are most fulfilled when we are in His will. That’s not easy to remember especially in our culture. Culture says life is good and happy when you are rich, powerful, and comfortable. The bible says otherwise; you are rich when you are poor, blessed are the meek, many who are first will be last and the last first. It’s all about worldview, is life all about me or is it about serving others? It is all about me or is it about God?

I have been doing a study in the book of James…for those of you that study your bible that’s all I have to say isn’t it? You get why it is so important to put our faith into action. I like what one bible teacher says “The overlapping theme of the book of James is this: Your faith is never more then your works.” Put another way, if you don’t live it, you don’t believe it. In the last few weeks we have been confronted with that, are you going to talk the talk or are you going to walk the walk? So when I saw Valentin’s picture and felt that deep sinking feeling in my gut, I knew what we had to do. We knew what we had to do.

Because our worldview has changed, we see the value of Valentin’s life not in what he can and cannot do, whether he would be a ‘burden’, or how easy he would be raise but in the fact that he is created in the image of God. That God knit him together in his mother’s womb and that God has a hope and a future for him. That is what makes him precious. That is what makes him special. He is a beloved child of God, one whose soul cannot be touched by physical or mental disability.

So why are we adopting Valentin? Because God adopted us first and gave us new life. How could we not adopt Valentin and give him new life, paving the way for him to know Jesus the way we know Jesus.

And I might add, it certainly does not hurt that he is so stinkin’ cute!

Are you sure you can do it?

No, but yes. Does that make sense? Valentin has the trifecta of adoption issues: more challenging special needs, institutional environment (and a bad one at that), and his age. Add to that the fact that he is likely sedated and will need to be weaned off drugs and the picture of a perfect adoption with easy bonding and an easy ever after flies right out the window.

Is it going to be easy? No, not at all. Are we prepared for everything? No, there is no way we can be. Will we fail at some things? Yes. We feel somewhat qualified to adopt him simply because we have dealt with a lot of the over-stimulation, sensory, bonding, institutional, and behavioral issues with previous adoptions. We still don’t have the answers to a lot of our concerns. Some we can plan for, some we cannot. We can educate ourselves on his medical conditions, we can consult doctors and adoption professionals, we can read blogs and consult with parents who have walked similar paths, and we diligently do all these things. We are as sure as we can be that we can do this but at the end of the day, we have to simply trust God. When we look at the situation as God sees it, with a biblical worldview, we have to ask ourselves two things 1. Is this what God’s word and the Holy Spirit are telling us to do? 2. Could we look Valentin in the eye and tell him “No, it will be too hard and you are not worth it.”

The answers to those questions are easy and clear. So are we sure we can do this? In and of ourselves, no…But with God all things are possible.

How much do you need to raise?

I hate talking about this, I really do. Obviously you can see one gaping hole in my character. But so many people ask me and so here it goes, we need to raise the entire $24,000 it is estimated this adoption will cost us. We have been able to cover the smaller upfront fees by cutting back but the big expenses come at the end with travel and all the in-country expenses. It is about a 5-7 week process in country (with the option to come home for about a week during that time) so you can imagine how expensive it is to pay for flights, transportation, meals, an apartment, and just daily living in another country. Plus all the adoption related in-country expenses. In addition to that, our current vehicle, which we have enjoyed being paid off, only fits 5. We will soon be a family of 6, don’t ask me how we are going to afford a ‘new to us’ vehicle. We are trusting God.

Please know that your donations will ONLY go toward the adoption expenses for Valentin. I am thinking maybe I should not have mentioned the vehicle; we will not be using your donations for a vehicle. The donations are to pay for flights, apartment rental, etc…things to get him home. We will deal with the rest later. I like how one mom broke it down, “No amount is insignificant, every penny counts. Think of it in these terms: $5 can buy a meal in country, $50 pays the driver for one daily orphanage visit, $100 for the embassy medical, $400 covers the cost of his Visa that brings him home.”

Again, we would never ask for help if 1. Valentin didn’t need it so badly and 2. If we were not making many efforts to pay for it ourselves by cutting extra expenses (we will not miss cable), selling what we can, buying off-brand and used, etc…

We have been so blown away by how so many of you have helped, sacrificing things to help Valentin, none of it is taken for granted. We are humbled by your generosity. I will have to write a separate post about all the amazing stories that have been shared with us; God is doing an amazing work!!!

A footnote to all this

It is my deepest desire that none of this comes across as haughty. As if we are somehow at the pinnacle of our faith and we have it all together. I assure you we do not. Other then the living God inside us, there is nothing special about us at all (and it does not take a special person to adopt, only a willing one). Just today I lost my temper and yelled at my kids, how’s that for good Christian behavior? We have been known to skip church because we were too lazy. And if you run into us at the grocery story check out line and one of our kids yells, “hurry up lady” you probably know where they got that from.

The fact that God takes our wretched sinful lives, washes them clean, and uses them for wonderful purposes is truly amazing!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Telling the kids

This story is just too heart-warming not to share. We decided to tell the kids about Valentin.

Our Little Miss is still too young and too delayed to really understand what is about to happen but we continue to show her Valentin’s picture and two videos we received.

For the boys (nicknamed Monkey and Speedy) though adoption is normal for them. I am pretty certain that at this young age (both are 3) they think all kids come from a plane, not a womb.

Here is how our conversation went:

Me: “Hey guys, what do you think about having another brother?”

Monkey: “Yes!”

Me: “Do you think this boy could be your brother?” (on the computer)

Speedy: “He nice?”

Me: “Yes, I believe he is nice. Do you think he should come live with us?”

Speedy: “Like Sissy?”

Me: “Yes, like Sissy”

Speedy: “Ummm, yeah”

Me: “What about you?”

Monkey: “I want another sister”

Me: “Well maybe someday, but what about another brother like Speedy?”

Monkey: “Yeah, that’s good”

Me: “His legs don’t work like yours, he will need a wheelchair”

Speedy: “His legs hurt?”

Me: “Yes, maybe they do”

Speedy: (with a very sad and concerned look) “I don’t want his legs to hurt”

Monkey: (with the same look) “I want to help him, he come live with us”

I cannot help but weep over how sweet these two little boys are. What compassionate hearts God has given these kids, we cannot take credit for the love they have for others. When they are not tackling anything that moves, they sure are sweet :o)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pass the tissue...

Ok, I am not sure my heart can take all this kindness. It is so beautiful to see person after person reach out to help Valentin. Just when I think I cannot possibly cry any more, my friend Janna posts something on Facebook.

Her family was in our travel group when we adopted our son from China, they were adopting a 10 year old boy who is absolutely precious. We have remained good friends and she is an amazing sister in Christ. Here is what she posted:

"My little cousins Sunday School class in Aberdeen is raising money for Valentin from now until Valentines!"

A precious little Sunday School class...raising money for Valentin...from now until Valentines...

Are there words for that??? I think I am going to need a lot of tissue...

Overwhelmed by love

I am not sure I can coherently write this post. Over the last few days, in particular the last 24 hours, we have seen the most selfless outpouring of love for Valentin and for us.

You have taken our breath away! When we committed to adopt Valentin we knew several people had been following his story but never could have imagined how many people would join us in trying to bring him home. We know that a rough long road lies before us and before Valentin. But with the encouragement and petitions made before God we know we will continue in strength and perseverance to bring this boy back from just existing to really living!

It has been a real trial for us to have to ask for help. We have had to swallow lots of pride (forgive us Lord for being prideful) and learn to graciously accept generosity from others. Thank you for your patience as we try to appropriately thank you and learn to accept the help.

You have lavished us with love and we long for the day we can show Valentin how wanted and loved he is. We are saving every blog post and every comment to share with him. Your kind comments mean more then you may ever know. What a legacy you all are creating for him.

Isn’t it so easy to get discouraged at the state of our world?! Then God gives us these amazing moments of mountains being moved.

Most of all we LOVE seeing two things: 1) the body of Christ doing was it was designed to do and 2) that God gets all the glory! When we look back we can see how He has brought so many things together for Valentin to be part of our family, how he led us to him, how he prepared and equipped us, and how He has moved in the hearts of His people to help.

Once again, Father, we stand in awe.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Story of a Little Boy

As with all orphans, nothing about a child's history and medical information is certain. Info can be and often is withheld, overlooked, misinterpreted, and misrepresented so to the extent that we can really 'know' this little boy’s story, this is the story as we know it...

In 2006 a baby boy is born in an Eastern European country. At birth he suffers trauma, which results in Cerebral Palsy. He is also diagnosed with Ischemic cardiomyopathy. It is no surprise then that he also has anemia.

Instead of feeling the loving arms of a mom and dad caring for him, he is put in an orphanage where he feels the loneliness of a cold hard crib that would become his prison for the next 6 years. Instead of hearing words of encouragement and 'I love you' in his ears, he hears the painful cries and despairing moans coming from his own mouth and from the other desperate children around him.

Sometime about a year ago he is placed in a 'laying room'. Words like despair, stench, lack of affection, boredom, starvation, malnutrition, sedation drugs, head-banging, chewing on cribs, self-mutilation, no stimulation, and sickening, are all descriptions used by those very few who have been allowed to step inside the room.

A mom who rescued two children from his orphanage describes the room: "This room is reserved for ‘the worst of the worst.’ The children with the most severe special needs. They are deemed completely worthless...the children that nobody would ever adopt. They are literally kept hidden from the world, except for a few of us who get a very small glimpse. Even volunteer therapy groups are discouraged from going into this room. They are told not to bother."

She also says about the boy: "It didn't appear that his special needs were near severe enough to warrant his fate in this awful room. He also looked entirely too big to be kept in such a small crib. He was always quiet and calm. He looked at me, seemed engaged, and could move around in his crib as his gaze followed me around the room."

Shortly after he was placed in the 'laying room', a family adopting another child wrote: "He responded to our voices and smiled for the camera. The nannies put our little boy in the crib with him and he was very gentle and sweet with him.”

Why he was condemned to that room I am afraid may never be known. Years in an institution with lack of stimulation lack of any meaningful human contact, and little to no opportunities to learn physical skills leave a child developmentally and mentally delayed, usually severely. There is no doubt that this boy’s Cerebral Palsy combined with his environment have left him lacking physical, emotional, and cognitive skills. The fact that he is still gentle with other kids and engaged at all is truly a miracle in itself!

A family who saw him just weeks ago reported: "It was a shock to me to see how delayed he is. He is 5 and has never been out of his crib. We were the first interaction he has had with people other than the orphanage workers. He was overwhelmed at first by the sights and sounds around him. I looked at a book with him and he held a stuffed animal most of the time. He did not seem very lucid and had two fits of screaming that did not have any apparent trigger. He calmed down just as unexpectedly. My two visits left me with the feeling he is either much more severe than we were led to believe or being sedated. He makes very little eye contact and is unable to focus on anything. I did not expect him to speak but he has not communicated at all with me. He was able to say a few sounds but hasn't said a word. He is obviously still in diapers and his muscles are very tight. We are unsure of the condition of his legs because they were tightly strapped down. He appeared to be holding himself up although he was also restrained across his chest. He likely would have fell forward without it though due to his rocking and head rolling. When he was told we were leaving he threw quite a fit. He did not want to go back to his crib. I can't say I blame him."

Reflecting on this information, the mom that had preciously visited him said: "Sadly, spending every day in this tiny crib in a small room with about 7 other cribs jammed in side by side and around the perimeter, has been devastating and detrimental to him. From when I was there, it appears he has also lost a lot of mobility, no doubt from being so confined. His living conditions have made this cognitively functioning child that I saw, into a child who has become disturbed. A child that has to be strapped down with padding to keep him from hurting himself."

This boy, through no fault of his own, has been raised as little more then an animal. Who is this child? Meet Valentin, a young boy dearly loved by God and made in His image.

The reality is that most likely a ‘somewhat mentally able’ boy went into that orphanage and a mentally 'disturbed' boy is coming out…YES, COMING OUT!

Are we adopting him? No, we are RESCUING him. The adoption part will begin when we get him home and start the healing of his body, mind, and soul. RIGHT NOW THIS IS A RED ALERT, ALL HANDS ON DECK RESCUE MISSION...

Years ago we committed to God that we would remain open to whatever child He wanted us to parent. We certainly did not expect to adopt so soon after bringing our daughter home from China in October, but we could not stop weeping over this boy, the deal he got in life, and what his future looks like. I will post much more about how and why we have come to know that Valentin is our son, but for now our focus is to bring him home. He will join 5 siblings, two who are in heaven, one brother who is 3, another brother who is 3 and adopted from China with Spina Bifida, and a sister who is 2 and also adopted from China with Cerebral Palsy.

Valentin is facing EMINENT TRANSFER to a mental institution and we have been told to prepare to adopt him from there because TRANSFER IS LIKELY INEVITABLE. We have also been told to prepare ourselves emotionally for what we will see. If the 'laying room' is horrendous then the mental institution is horrifying. This means we must move QUICKLY to rescue him.

The truth is, we need your help…he needs your help…and he needs it soon. As part of the body of Christ we know that we do not do anything alone. This is not a story of the Ashton Family going to adopt a boy; this is the story of the body of Christ working to rescue a child dearly beloved by God. We are doing everything humanly possible to complete all the paperwork, research his needs, find local doctors and resources for him, plan for travel and meeting him, plan for his return, etc... The one thing we cannot do…is pay for it all. And it is expensive. Considering Christ died for our adoption, $25,000 does not seem like too much.

We have paid for two adoptions in the last two years and have exhausted every financial resource we have. We know God will perform a miracle here and we are trusting in that with everything we have. We do not like nor are we good at asking for help, but hopefully we are wise enough and humble enough to know when we need know when Valentin needs it. We know the sacrifice we are asking you to make by donating and we do not take even the smallest donation for granted. Your prayers are just as treasured.

All donations are made towards a grant for Valentin through Reece's Rainbow; they then apply those funds to travel expenses and in-country fees. The money donated will only be used for adoption related expenses for Valentin. Your donations are also tax deductible.

If you have prayerfully considered a donation and feel lead to help, you can click on the donate button at the top right of the blog, you can view our profile on the Reece's Rainbow website here, or a check can be made payable to Reece’s Rainbow and mailed to PO Box 4024, Gaithersburg, MD 20885 (in the memo line write ‘Valentin Ashton Family’).

We invite you to take this journey with us on this blog and appreciate, more then you will ever know, your prayers!