About a month ago, I got an email from Gwen Smith, a mom of three children, ages seven and under. In her words, “Each child is a unique gift — one was adopted, one has Down syndrome, and one has really curly hair.”
Her daughter Emma, age 5, was just diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, and she’d been missing things like “Lunchables.” Gwen had been searching for a way to carry their own food with them, and was sure my EasyLunchboxes would fit the bill.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because I learned that Gwen is an advocate for orphans with Down syndrome. She shared her story with me, and I immediately wanted to share it here.
Through an organization called Reece’s Rainbow, Gwen is helping to raise money for two boys, Isaiah and Vilis. They are 5 years old and in need of adoptive families, so that they are not sent to mental institutions.
The money she hopes to raise will go toward a grant fund for their adoption.
Please read Gwen’s story and help these boys if you’re able.
“I have reason to believe that your son has Down syndrome.”
These words, coming from a pediatrician on the day of my third child’s delivery, are hard to hear. Words to wonder over, question over, even cry over.
But they are not words without hope. As I snuggled and nursed Henry for the first time after hearing the doctor’s pronouncement, I vowed that I wouldn’t let those two words – Down syndrome – define my son. He is Henry, first and foremost, and my husband and I agreed that we wanted him to reach any goal he wanted. He may need help, or extra time, but he is a beautiful child, full of worth and promise.
Unfortunately, I learned that this protective attitude I have about Henry is not one shared with parents of children with special needs across the globe. In many countries, the birth of a child with Down syndrome — or cerebral palsy or other challenges—is often met with sadness, disgust, and societal dismissal. These children are abandoned, often at birth, ands left to languish in orphanages simply because the stigma of disability exists in their countries.
But if I thought life in an orphanage was bad, I also learned the terrible reality for these children after they “age out” of the orphanage, typically around age four or five. These special children are taken for what is probably their first and last car ride — sent to a remote mental institution. There, their head is shaved upon arrival, they are assigned a bed, an ill-fitting outfit, and then left to languish all day, every day. They are given minimal food or attention, spending hours tied in bed or strapped to a seat (or worse, a toilet). Sweet five year olds with an extra chromosome trying to survive heinous conditions….many die within the first year inside an institution’s walls
After I learned this, I had to act. I was not in a position to adopt, but through Reece’s Rainbow, an organization founded by a mom of a child with Down syndrome, I learned that I and others could help sponsor adoption grants for orphan with special needs. So I chose to be a “Warrior” for two five-year-olds facing the institution, Vilis and Isaiah. Both of these young boys live inEastern Europeand are still blessed to be in the “baby house,” where they have toys and other kids his age to play with. But time is running out for them, and I pray that they are adopted before they are transferred to an institution.
Vilis and Isaiah both have grants toward their adoption costs, but they are short of the $25,000+ ransom it will take to bring them home. I am CONVINCED that there are families for both Vilis and Isaiah out there, and if money is an obstacle, I want to remove it and help them bring them home.
I’m honored to help support Reece’s Rainbow and these precious boys. My hope is that sharing their story here will spread awareness, and help bring these boys home to parents who have been praying for their special souls.