One year ago, I stepped off of a plane holding the hands of two scared and exhausted boys as they stepped into a new life. Their days marked by survival are now long gone. They are thriving, able to dream and to grow in so many ways in the security of knowing they have a family. They soaked up English like a sponge and we can have full conversations, deep and meaningful discussions about their lives before they came to us. What they share is both heartbreaking and sweet. As their trust grows, I am gifted a bigger piece of their puzzle and it’s a privilege I’m well aware of. My sweet son, the extra blessing I wasn’t expecting when we began our adoption in 2014, told me that the orphanage is all about surviving.

Everything survival mama“, he explained. “In family, we no need to survive.” I pondered his words long after they filled my kitchen. I was amazed at how perceptive he was. Survival. They have no one to take the burden off of their tiny shoulders. It’s a crushing weight that bends their small frame and clouds their futures. They have no one to parent them; no one to remove the burden from them. I remembered the total absence of a parental figure in their orphanage. I was shocked by that. These kids were literally on their own. I thought that the staff would be their mother figure in the absence of a mom. They were not. They sat behind a desk, did their laundry and served their food. The majority were not parents. I did see one teacher that was different. She sat with the kids, she cared. The absence of a parent made their need for one deep. They were hungry for my attention and they desperately wanted to be included.

Our days in the boys’ orphanage were spent next to the kids that now are “too old” to be adopted. Sweet, precious kids that took up permanent space in my heart. I tried my best to mother them when I could, fixing a thrown together dinner with them squished around my dining table. Their laughter and thick Russian words filling my ears as I filled their bellies and hopefully their hearts; knowing in a matter of days, I would leave them behind. The ache of it, the sadness to be home in my cozy kitchen, with my son, remembering the kids in that small apartment kitchen. They waited and waited for someone to claim them. Waited for someone to see them and deem them worthy to fight for. No one came. Family after family came and went with other children but they remained. What does that do to a child?

Our boys waited. I saw them in the spring of 2013. I don’t know why I was even on that particular page of Reece’s Rainbow- the 10+ Page. We’d adopted two toddlers in different years from China. I knew about attachment and the importance of those first three years of life, so what was I doing looking at teenagers?! Yet, I was drawn to them. I watched and waited for months until “Shawn” had a newly updated photo that took my breath away. He was the spitting image of our son, Jack. Try as I may, I could not get this kid out of my head. He was no longer just a photo of a cute kid somewhere across the ocean, he was my son. I waited for my husband to know that too. Nearly a year after I saw him, my husband said yes and we began our adoption. The son who became my extra blessing waited too. He had several families fall through and I watched as he was listed and claimed only to see him listed again. We heard that he had said “No” to a family. We knew we were taking a leap of faith when we added him to our adoption, but we felt confident that everything would work out the way it was supposed to in the end, we just needed to be willing. Here we are, one year home and while it has been hard, it has also been wonderful. In many ways, adopting two teens was easier than our toddler adoptions. You can reason with a teen, even one whose language you don’t speak with the help of Google Translate! Our older kids knew what it was to be without a family. While they are still kids and have a sense of entitlement about some things, they do appreciate their family. When my son’s missionary friend from his birth country asked him what the best thing about America was, he answered, “family“.

Please consider these children! If you feel pulled to one of them, don’t brush that aside. Please don’t think that someone else will come to their rescue if you don’t. There are so many who will turn 16 and lose their opportunity for a family forever. They will be forced to survive in a world without the love and guidance of a mom and dad. What a scary thought. These are the kids that all too often fall victim to suicide, gangs or prostitution. They are vulnerable and their hunger for a mom and dad is palpable. I stay in touch with the kids who have a piece of my heart. I send them small things with traveling families when I can, but it is not the same as having a family.

My sons had two strikes against them; they were over 10 years of age and they were boys. I don’t for the life of me know why, but that makes them hard to place. Please know, they are the sweetest boys! They are just children that want a family. They are not scary, not a risk to my other children. They have enriched my life and my family in ways I can’t even explain. Don’t be scared, be prepared. Prepare for anything and have the supports in place. Do your research on attachment and trauma in kids. Be prepared for orphanage behaviors and take precautions, but don’t be afraid to adopt an older child.

What about the children below who wait with HIV? They are just children, they are healthy children and rarely get sick. HIV requires a visit to the doctor every three months and daily pills. With these medications, the virus is undectable.  FYI, HIV is NOT in urine, feces or saliva. It is only found in blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. You can only contract HIV from having unprotected sex, breast feeding/mother to child transmission or by sharing needles with an HIV+ person. For more information, please vistit Project Hopeful at It is considered more easily managed than diabetes.

Finances- that’s always the number one reason people think about adopting but don’t. I was one of you! I would not even start our first adoption until all of the money was sitting in the bank. Thankfully, we had enough equity to refinance and that was possible. Our second adoption, we had most of what we needed, but had to sell a boat and travel trailer to get the rest. I could see where the money would come from and I only had to have a little faith to move forward. With our last adoptions, we had ZERO! We had no equity, nothing big to sell and no savings account. I couldn’t imagine where the money would come from, but it did, little by little. I knew it would be stepping out in faith and that if it was truly the Lord’s will, it would be provided. I came home with $100 leftover. He provided everything we needed to get our boys, exactly when we needed it. Our upfront fees were exactly the amount we had in our 401K plus two checks from photography jobs I’d done. That got us started and then donations came in, fundraisers were held and small loans were taken out to fully fund our adoption. Were there sleepless nights? Yes. Exhaustion from fundraising relentlessly? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes!!

Heres some amazing news- after May 6th, Reece’s Rainbow is making every child over 10 eligible to receive a $10,000 grant towards their adoption!! That’s a huge help for families wanting to bring an older child home. If you aren’t able to adopt, please consider donating towards these grants. We were able to bring our second son home only because he had just over $3,000 in his grant and that nearly covered the additional adoption fees. I cannot tell you how important those grants are! All of the money you donate is tax deductible as well. Spread the word!

Finally, here are some of the precious kids who wait!

Scottie turns 16 in August!! A family must file their I600 before his 16th birthday. He will age out after that and will have no chance to be adopted. He is described as a kind-hearted and smart boy who desperately wants a family. Please share him!

Eric who turns 13 in just a few short weeks. He’s been waiting a long time! He is the same age that my boys were. One of my sons was 13 and wore a size 6/7. My other son was also 13 and barely fit in a size 9/10. What a beautiful boy he is and he needs a family. Are you his family?

Next is Avery. He turns 12 this summer. He’s a beautiful boy with deep brown eyes. There is nothing written in his description, but some things are universal. He needs a family. Are you his family?

Alexandra is a beautiful girl born in 2003. She is described as a very good and loyal friend, sweet and neat/well organized. She needs a family. See her here:

Alissa is from the same orphanage as my boys! She is described as a sweet girl who likes to mother the younger children. Alissa is breathtakingly beautiful and will make a wonderful daughter. Please see her and help her find her family!

Devon has been waiting for a long time as well. He is such a cute kid with a sweet smile. He was born in 2001 and has over $2K in his current grant. I don’t know how someone hasn’t scooped him up yet!

Finally, please donate by clicking here: