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!



  1. Praising God for all that He is doing through your family! I posted about Valentin the other day pleading for him to get a family....and here you are!
    Praying for you and eagerly watching this rescue mission play out in God's time!!!

    In Christ,

    Jenny Monier

  2. I am elated to see what a wonderful family Valentin is about to receive and came to your blog from RR. I am looking forward to following your journey and his homecoming.

    Sue H.

  3. I love you already. Thank you for stepping up and going to get him. We brought home Seth two months ago. He has CP also. I've loved Valen for many months and am so happy that he's coming home.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and journey!!!

  5. Welcome to the RR family!! Will be praying!!Sending lots of love your way :) ~adopting Sydney and Lucien

  6. I first heard about Valtin from another blog and as a person with CP saddend and angered about what hapend to him; therefore, I am soo happy to hear that u are adopting him.

    Do you have fb couse if u do you should join CP connection where r u guys from anyway

  7. I have been Valentin's warrior since last May. My prayers will be with you on this journey to bring him home!


  8. God bless you and your family! We will be praying that God guides and strengthens you on this journey!

  9. SOOO glad you are rescuing Valentine!!! I'm praying the process and fundraising go very smoothly and quickly so that Valentine can come home ASAP! May God bless you and Valentine on this journey -- Know that God will be with you every step of the way!!!

    Here are a couple of posts I wrote featuring Valentine:

    In July 2011:

    January 2012:

    God Bless!

    Pam K

  10. Just donated at reece's rainbow. Praying things move quickly for you and excited to see how God works in Valentin's life!

  11. Sara, Brad, Elijah , Anna and EastonJanuary 7, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    We are overjoyed that you are rescuing Valentin. We have followed his journey for so long and very nearly committed to him ourselves before we felt strongly led to commit to our Easton (we leave on Jan 14th to go get him!) We are praying for him and for you all. How much do you still need to raise?

  12. What an inspiring post. I am so thankful he has a wonderful family coming for him. I donated today and will continue to support you as much as I can. Good luck!

  13. Praising God for your love for the orphan!! I have seen your son on RR! God used RR to bring us our 2 blessings last Dec! They both have Down Syndrome. And He also brought us to our 2 new boys from EE, also having Down Syndrome who we are in the process if adopting now! Our dear friends the Montgomerys sent us your blog! We are praying for you guys and can't wait to see the blessings of adoption in your life!!!

  14. Yay! We have been wondering what family stepped forward for Valentine! Soooo excited! We're adopting 'Whitney' from RR.

  15. I am happy for you and wish you well, and many prayers! Another RR family here, maybe we'll travel at the same time??? We're adopting Alex (41).....

  16. Yaaaaay!! I'm so happy to hear you feel called to adopt this boy. I was also touched by his story and I donated a small amount to his adoption fund about a week ago. Have you considered calling your local TV station and telling them your story? You might get more donations from the community that way.
    Congratulations and good luck on the long journey ahead.

  17. Praising God for your family. My heart broke into a million pieces for this darling. My advocating is typically saved for kids with Down syndrome, as that is what my son is blessed with, but who could help but cry out for Valentin?! I look at his photo and I see a boy who will thrive in a loving family, his family. I think his special needs are a mommy, daddy, and siblings who love him. Period. He will amaze us all. I'm happy to follow your journey and help as much as I can!

  18. Thank you for heading the call to rescue him... my heart broke when I saw him on Adeye's blog. He stole my heart!

  19. I read about Valentin a few days ago. His story broke my heart. I am so thankful for loving families such as yours... I will repost this on my blog and ask others to keep sharing it, so we can help bring him home!

  20. Bless you and welcome to Reece's Rainbow Family of families! You are truly taking a leap of faith to care for one of the "least of these". I am honored to follow your journey. We adopted two little boys with Down syndrome from Ukraine two years ago who are now three and six. They are the joys of our lives. This year we are adding a beautiful three year old little girl from China who also happens to have Down syndrome. That will bring our house to six children and a full and blessed home for us! Your children are all beautiful and Valentin is very lucky to have found his forever family! Many blessing!

  21. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!
    God Bless You Guys!

  22. Crying with joy here that this sweet and deserving boy will have the opportunity to heal and be loved. Lookingforward to following your journey!

  23. Our group TEAMworks Ukraine remembers this sweet little guy from our previous mission trip in April 2010. He had the most beautiful eyes. We returned in October 2011 and were never given the chance to see him again. We will be supporting your journey through prayer and will spread the word for fundraising. HE can do abundantly more than we ask for or can imagine. Can't wait to watch the light come back into his eyes. Praying. Amy- amylu83 (at) aol (dot) com

  24. You have my 20 dollars! May god's blessings overflow onto you and your family as you go forth to rescue this precious little boy who so desperately needs you. God Bless!!

  25. I followed a link from Facebook. I am so happy that I did. I donated $50 and am praying for a SPEEDY response from others so you can go rescue him.
    I want to encourage others to share in what God is doing. As the Body of Christ that is what we do. We ask God what can I do in this situation to partner with another brother/sister and we dont look at things in the flesh,we look in faith.
    I am a single mother of 4, go to school full time and am donating. I am not saying this to condemn anyone. I am saying it to encourage you. I love partnering in what God is doing because I can NEVER OUTGIVE GOD. He always takes care of the kids and I and I get blessed from partnering.
    Come home quick Valentin! xoxoxo

  26. I read about Valentine a few days ago and my heart just broke, Im so glad you are going to get him and I cant wait to follow your journey. I donated and hope many other will too:-)

  27. I am so happy for Valentin and for your family. Thank you for sharing your adoption journey with the RR community - so many of whom care so much about this precious little boy.

    Sending best wishes for a swift and easy journey to bring Valentin home!

    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from Valentin's country

  28. Dear Ashton Family,
    Thank you for stepping forward for Valentin. We adopted our daughter, Julia (Down syndrome), from the same orphanage a year ago. Julia was not in the "laying room", but she certainly displayed many institutional behaviors from living there for the first four years of her life. On a happy note, she has blossomed so much in a year. She is using sign language, she attends full time school and she has learned to walk, etc. We would be happy to answer any question you might have regarding this region. May God Bless You abundantly.

  29. How wonderful!! We've adopted five children with the help of Reece's Rainbow, 3 girls with Down Syndrome, a little boy with Holt-Oram syndrome and a little boy with HIV. I know the first family who went in hopes of adopting Valen. They are wonderful people, I think the world of them. And even though they weren't to be his family, I'm praising God with them for you. God is so good!!

  30. I just have to say I am beyond overjoyed that you are working to rescue Valentin. My heart was so heavy to imagine him living in that laying room, with no end in sight. May God bless you as you continue to follow His heart to rescue the broken and unloved. . .
    I have three amazing angels from South Africa( HIV+ and CP). They too were considered unlovable by many, and are my greatest blessing from above!

  31. I read about Valentin the other day & was SO very excited to see his precious face on the My Family Found Me Monday page!! We are not yet parents, but I am praying that it's God's will for our family to adopt from RR. I am so happy for you, your wonderful family & Valentin!! I will be praying you through this process! :)


  32. Thank you for hearing God's word and going to rescue Valentin! I know he has potential and I'm praying that through your family and therapists, that he will show the world what he is really capable of! I'm a teacher of children with special needs and also an adoptive parent of two, including a 3 yo boy with SB as well. I know, personally, how the love and encouragement, along with proper medical and therapy treatment can change a child. God bless you and that precious little boy!
    Kim O

  33. Just put a post up with Valentin's story on my blog. I used pictures from here, and linked up to your blog so people can come donate. Hope that is alright with you guys. Let's get your sweet boy home!

  34. WOW I am so excited to see God working once again in the lives of friends who are adopting. I have heard nothing good about Eastern European orphanages and have heard many stories about children with nothing wrong being sent to mental institutions. Praying for you and for Valentin.

  35. We, too, adopted a son from Eastern Europe. He was born with birth defects to his hands and feet, requiring many surgeries. The grim future we were told he wold have provoked us too. I would love to talk to you and see how we can help. We have a non profit, Aspen Project, that encourages Christian families to adopt and foster children. We have resources that could potentially help bring attention to what you and your family are doing. Please go to our Facebook page and contact me or call me--505-514-1537

    In His amazing grip,
    Michelle Schroff