Friday, December 24, 2010

From Our Home to Yours

~Wishing you Love and Light this holiday season 
and throughout the year~

The Peele Family

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moments Like These

...more than make up for the moments of chaos around here ;).  
Waiting for the bus
New dress-up outfits from Nana
Chef Bridget
Chef Alina
We are busy with holiday preparations and activities, celebrating the season and helping others in need.  We are giving thanks for all of our blessings each and every day.

This is a magical time of the year.  It is also a season of miracles.

Do you remember beautiful Elizabeth

She is getting a family for Christmas--she is being rescued!!

Amazing things have also been happening over at A Perfect Lily! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, advocated or prayed for sweet Olga.  Patti has already raised over $12,000 from the iPod giveaway for Olga's adoption fund!  This is a HUGE amount, and should be an enormous incentive for a family to come forward for her.  I know it will happen, I just hope it is soon!

Patti has been so successful in raising money and awareness for Olga, that Andrea at Reece's Rainbow has asked her to advocate for a second child, beautiful little Kareen (who is also nearing imminent transfer to an institution).  You might have guessed what this means that TWO children are going to be saved, and there is a new giveaway to make that happen sooner than later! 

Please go here to learn more about how you can have the chance to win a brand new iPad, AND be part of a Christmas miracle for Olga and Kareen :)!  

There are many, many other children who are in desperate need of families.  If your heart is leading you to it, please visit Reece's Rainbow and do whatever you can to help.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A New Life

Tonight, as we were sitting in our family room watching The Sing Off, Alina was all cuddled up next to me on the couch. She had two baby dolls and Minnie Mouse tucked in under the blanket with us.  I had leaned over to Chris and whispered for him to look at her--at how incredibly cute and content she is just hanging out with the family--when she looked up at me, smiled, and pursed her lips for a kiss.  Melt my heart. 

This past spring, right before we were getting ready to travel and meet Alina, we received an updated picture of her.  I had been so excited to get a new picture, and was really hoping to see her smiling (or with another expression that would give us a hint about her personality), and to see her with hair.  My heart sunk when I opened the attachment and found this:

March 2010
Oh goodness...there was the same blank expression, and she looked so lost and sad. I knew she needed us, and I felt an even stronger pull than ever to get to her, but at the same time I had the first doubts I had felt during the adoption process up until that point. I began to wonder how much work we had ahead of us, and whether Alina was "reachable". 

When we got to the orphanage, we saw Alina being photographed for her final file picture. The photographer came into the hallway to Alina's room just after lunch and before afternoon nap time. She stood Alina in front of the main door and quickly snapped a picture. Alina was stunned and I think a little bit scared. We guessed that she was not photographed very often at the orphanage, and immediately understood why the above picture (and her initial RR profile picture) looked the way they did, when she is so full of life.

Who would have guessed from those pictures that Alina is vibrant? She has expressions and personality to spare. She's our Funny Bunny, our very own Whirling Dervish, our Sweet, Sweet Lina.

August 2010

I've just finished Part II of my interview about our adoption of Alina with Patti on A Perfect Lily.  Check it out if you are interested in an overview of some specific issues potential adoptive parents may want to consider.

The more important reason to head over to Patti's blog is to be a part of a Christmas miracle for Olga, a beautiful child who is in dire need of a family as she is close to transfer.  Patti is holding a drawing for an iPod Touch with the hopes of raising enough money to inspire Olga's forever family to come forward for her ASAP.  Please help give Olga a chance.  Even a small donation will make a difference!  See Patti's blog for details!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Every Day...

I think about the orphans. How couldn't I? I've got one (less) orphan in my home. And I feel like I should do more.

My heart is aching...because I know.  

I know because I have two children now with Down syndrome.  I know because I was there.  And I know because of what others have shared:

The Sad Reality, about life in an Eastern European mental institution, and The Sad Reality, Part II, the follow-up post.

- And this post about a little girl--a beautiful, creative and intelligent little girl with Down syndrome who has already been transferred to an institution where she will likely die if someone doesn't come forward for her soon.

Before December of last year, I knew that most people in the United States who find out they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome will choose to terminate the pregnancy. I also knew that, here in the States, children born with Down syndrome are often stowaways, their secret undetected until arrival. 

But unsuspecting parents, after going through a period of grieving the diagnosis, most often come to adore their children with Down syndrome and find peace and joy in their life together. (There are a small percentage of parents who are aware of their child's diagnosis before birth, and who knowingly choose to give that child a chance. They, too, most often have incredibly positive feelings about their child).

Parents and family members of people with Down syndrome are their biggest fans and advocates. We tend to wish that everyone knew the joy of knowing and loving a person with Down syndrome, and that others could see life with kind and open eyes.

What I didn't know until last December is that there are children all over Eastern Europe (and in many other parts of the world) who have been abandoned simply because they have Down syndrome or another specific diagnosis.

These children are the survivors, who have been born, despite a general notion that they are worth less. Through no fault of their own, they are often seen as the unwanted

A year ago, I clicked a link to the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree from another Down syndrome blog, and was instantly forever changed. 

I sat silently, with tears streaming down my face. 

All of these children with Down syndrome and other specific needs...they have been devalued, underestimated and left alone. I had no idea. I had no idea that there were so many. All of these children...who is going to go get them? 

We were able to save one child.  Just one.  But she is a treasure.  And one less orphan is still one less orphan.  It is a step in the right direction.  

We are not Saints. We are just a regular family who fell in love with our fifth child (just as we did with the rest of our children), a little girl who happened to have an extra chromosome.  Bridget opened our eyes to the worth and beauty in all people. 

Reece's Rainbow opened our eyes to the many, many children who share Bridget's diagnosis and who have been abandoned because of it. They are fortunate to have a voice through this organization. 

But they need help, and lots of it, to escape from their chains. 

I know it is to hard to think about all of the kids in need, but we can't look away. 

No child should have to live life in an orphanage or a mental institution. No child should be without the love of a family.

Realistically, not everyone will be able to adopt. But I hope more people will begin to think “Why not us?” instead of “Not us”. Or at the very least, “My eyes have been opened. Now what can I do to help"?

**If you are interested in learning more, I was recently interviewed by Patti, at A Perfect Lily, about Reece's Rainbow and Alina's adoption.  Find that here