Some of you have probably seen the big glaring request to save someone called Serenity and had no idea what it was about. Well, now is your chance to learn. Serenity is a little girl who just turned 4. She should be running and playing and looking forward to a visit from Ho-Ho soon. But instead, she is in a baby house in Eastern Europe, wasting away. She doesn't know she is waiting for a forever family; she doesn't even know what a family is.
Serenity was born with Down Syndrome. That's it, an extra chromosome that in her country marks her as useless, unable to learn, a waste. I don't know what was going on in her parent's mind. Perhaps they loved her, no matter what and wanted to raise her, but were met with the obstacles of family disownment, no money for special care (and trust me the govt wont step up). They would know that she would not be permitted to go to school, could be turned away from even the basic care. Maybe, just maybe, knowing this, they hoped someone else would adopt her. Or maybe her parents bought into the hype that the extra chromosome meant she wasn't worth loving. Whatever the reason, she was left at the baby house.
The baby houses are where abandoned babies, all babies, regardless of their developmental expectations are placed. The baby houses vary, from country to country, region to region and even city to city. In some, the children with challenges are treated the same as those with an average chromosome count. They are played with, taught to walk and talk. In some they are shunned, placed in back rooms only the minimum support required by law. In all, there is not enough funding, not enough resources to give any of the kids what they need to grow and develop. Some of these special needs kids are never taken from their cribs, ever. They are fed formula or broth through a bottle, even at age 4 or 5 because it's too much effort for the one 'nanny' to take 10 out of cribs for feeding by herself.
It sounds sad. It is. But the baby houses, even the bad ones are the good places. Between 5 and 6, they age out. For developmentally average kids, aging out means an orphanage. Not a great place. But they will be fed and cared for. They will go to school and be taught a trade. They will eventually leave. For the kids with Down Syndrome or CP or other things affecting development (physical or mental) aging out means mental institutions. Mental institutions with adults with problems. Mental institutions where they may be tied to their beds to keep them from hurting themselves. Mental institutions that they will leave only when they die.
A few years ago, I stumbled onto Reeces Rainbow. I wrote about it then Counting my Blessings I am happy to say, the three kids I wrote about then have all found families and doing great. I read the blogs of their adoptive families, and while there are struggles, the results are astounding.
Last year, I donated to 3 orphans. I have their ornaments. Sadly, all three of those are still waiting for families.
This year, I wanted to do more than just donate a few bucks. I wanted to advocate to help one of these kids find a family. So I applied to be a Christmas Warrior, someone who would along with trying to raise funds for one child, would get the word out there about all these kids. Maybe someone reading this, a friend of a friend of a friend, would realize that a child they see is one that has been waiting to join their family.
I was allowed to be Serenity's warrior. She is just a bit older than my boys. She's never been held. She's never been tickled. She's never been loved. If she had been born in North America, she would be in a loving home, with a family. Here, there are waiting lists of people looking to adopt babies with Down Syndrome. But she wasn't born here so to be adopted, she needs a family to travel across the world to get her. It's an expensive process, running between 25,000 and 35,000. Families do all they can to raise money. Reeces Rainbow helps by helping raise money too.
Reeces Rainbow is a registered USA charity. Donations are tax deductible. If you donate 35 (or more) to a single child, you will get an amazing ornament sent to you as a reminder that you are making a difference.
The goal is to raise 1000 from the Angel Tree for Serenity before Jan 1. If you can, please help.
Along with donations, I'm part of a Facebook auction. There are many items, going to support many kids in the Angel Tree including the ones I've listed to help move Serenity towards her goal. The opening bids are low and many items have no bids on them. If you want to find the ones specific to Serenity, you can ask, or you can check each out (orphan will be named in the description). Angel Tree Auction just go to the album and click on it.
The Angel Tree works. Since coming up a few weeks ago, 10 kids have already found families willing to adopt them. Those families are early in the process, but this will be their last Christmas without a family.
Here is what it means to be a kid in Canada. Want to help fund a family to make this possible for Serenity?