Thursday, October 14, 2010

Her Name was Anya

Anya, when she was little
...though she was known as
"Anne Marie" on Reece's Rainbow. 

Anya was a beautiful little girl, born in the wrong place at the wrong time--November 25, 2005 in Eastern Europe.

Although she was full of potential, just as all people, Anya had Down syndrome and was therefore abandonded and placed in an orphanage. 

This precious little girl was underestimated from the day she was born. 

Anya died recently, just weeks before her fifth birthday, and before her imminent transfer to a mental institution. She died alone, without ever having known the love of a family, despite the fact that many were advocating for her. 

She was much loved by the Reece's Rainbow community, and I can't say exactly why no one came forward for her specifically.  I know there were plenty of families "considering" her, but either the timing wasn't right or the funds weren't there.

Anya was in the same baby home as Alina, and was listed along with her on Reece's Rainbow.  The two girls were not in the same groupa, and we don't know if they ever crossed paths at the orphanage.  But we know that they were both there at the same time, in that complex of buildings behind the fence--in the place known as Solnishko.  When we went for Alina, we had hoped to see "Anne Marie" and tell others all about her.

We did not get the chance to meet her in person, although several other families who traveled to our orphanage were able to see Anya and spend time with her. She was said to be inquisitive, sweet and innocent.

From Gretchen's blog: 
Born with a heart defect, which likely could have been repaired had she been born in the the U.S. or a healthier society, Anya entered a low-stimulation room and stayed there day after day. Her days and nights were spent in a crib. Mostly likely she slept in one crib and played in another. In the warm months she made frequent trips to the doctor's office in the orphanage to get IV hydration. She was not allowed to walk because "it was too hard on her heart." When families would ask about her she was waved off as a piece of filth. The caretakers, who seemed very kind, would point to her heart, draw a heart on their own chest, scowl, and wave their hand at her as if to "shoo" her away, and let me know she wasn't worth taking. Their hand gesture let us know that she wasn't even worth our inquiry.

One warm summer day...we brought lotion, baby bath and baby powder to Anya and Taya's group. We saw their group once or twice a day sitting outside under the tree in little umbrella strollers. Many lay in portable cribs or buggies. Their room was on a lower level by an outside door which allowed them to bring strollers and cribs outside for fresher air. Feeling a little brazen, I put lotion on my hands and started giving some mini-massages. First to Taya and then to Anya....oh, that felt so good....for me. It was fascinating to see little Anya come to life after that massage. Her senses were awakened. She craved attention. Every time we walked by she watched our every step. Every picture we have, with her in the background, she was watching intently.
Anya, with Gretchen's daughter Lizzy in June
My daughter Lizzy spent some nice time with her and has some beautiful pictures with her playing "patty cake", "peek-a-boo", and giving her a little hand massage. I'm glad she got to experience this little innocent soul. Anya touched her deeply.

Anya represents every other child in Eastern Europe with Down syndrome or any other disability whose life here on earth will be snuffed out because they were not born "typical." They were born into a post-communist society that is repressed and unable to care for the "least among them." The society doesn't know what to do with these children/people. In communism, the focus was on productivity, and from a work-force perspective, they weren't productive. So...they got sent away. There are those in Eastern Europe who advocate for their own children or others with special needs and we can pray that someday they welcome these precious children and learn that they are the best teachers we have....

Between the age of 4-6 years old (depending on the region and the country), children in Eastern Europe with special needs are transferred to mental institutions. Their prognosis is bleak. Around 80% of these children die within the first year of transfer. The life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome in the United States is 65. In Eastern Europe, if a child is institutionalized, it's 5-6.

Anya left this world as an orphan.  She's found her forever home in Heaven, but much too soon.  Share her story to celebrate and remember her short life, and to help the others find homes here on earth.

Can you help?  Can you bring a child into your home?  Pray, advocate, donate?  Every little bit helps.  

**Donations for waiting children EXPONENTIALLY and directly increase a child's chances of finding his or her "forever family". Go to Reece's Rainbow to donate to a child's grant fund, or to learn more about how to adopt any of the beautiful children waiting for a home.


  1. may God bless anya and keep her safe and sound with him! she was an angel. and now i'm off to cry for a while, pray a lot, and hug my babies.

    lisa, thank you for sharing and advocating. love you.

  2. This situation breaks my heart for all of the people involved. These children are precious, innocent and loving individuals. They have so much potential if only given the chance. I can't imagine discounting a human life no matter what the circumstances. If God allowed them to come into this world then He made them to be loved. I wish I could do so much more.

  3. Thanks Lisa. Having a different day today. So sad for those left behind. Happy for where Anya is now...yes, too soon...but can you even begin to imagine, after receiving so little here below, what she must have seen as she passed from this earth? The entrance to heaven must have radiated and there must have been so many arms reaching out to her.....More than any of us have seen or felt in all of our lives combined.

    For those left behind....let's pray they get to experience those outreached arms on this side of life.

  4. Oh Gretchen, I am having such a hard time processing what has happened.

    I look at Anya's baby picture, and the pictures you took of her, and see the life and potential and value that was deliberately tossed aside. I think that if someone had known and had gone for her earlier, that her heart could have been repaired...that if...if...if...

    The fact that she was right under our noses, and we had no idea that she was in such dire circumstances (her heart, her low-activity groupa, no one on the verge of committing to her), just makes me so sad. And all the others who are in the same dire circumstances. It is easy to say "we can't save them all". It is just hard to swallow.

    Alina has been sick, and so incredibly sweet. Every time I snuggle her, wipe her nose, or tuck a stuffed animal under her arm...she looks up at me and smiles.

    I know her pain is now gone, but I grieve for the years Anya spent without someone to love her.

    I hope her story will make a difference, that we will see how her life had purpose.

    Must keep writing, sharing, advocating...

  5. thank you for all that you do to share these stories, bring awareness, open hearts... i will do more of the same, inspired by you and your family.

  6. Your comment, Lisa, expresses exactly how I feel...

    Oh, I can not stop thinking about sweet Ann Marie...