This is one of those painful stories. One that I try to push out of my mind. One that I wish I had never experienced. One that I'm glad I did.
There are many faces. Faces of children with Down syndrome. The faces that I see when I close my eyes at night. The faces that cause me to weep. Faces that deserve a family, love and a home. These faces are real children. They remind me of why I will get on a plane soon and have no fear.
In July 2011, pictures of a sweet girl named Teri Lynn started spreading across the Internet. A desperate attempt to save a little girl from a life and early death in a mental institution. At the young age of five years old Teri was moved from an orphanage in Eastern Europe to a mental institution. Just weeks after her transfer an update photo of her became public and was devastating to anyone with a heart, especially those of us who have a child with Down syndrome.
These are the before and after photos of Teri Lynn.
When I saw the transformation of this child I had an immediate physical reaction. I found myself sobbing and sick in the restroom where I work. I shared these photos with my husband and we were one of the many families that inquired about adopting her. Everyone rejoiced as the news came that Teri Lynn had a family that was going to adopt her. I will never forget how this stirred me inside. Thus, our adoption journey began.
Through many twists, turns and even heartbreak we were led to Gracie. Yes, we were led. In quite an interesting turn of events it was clear that she was the one.
Now, there is another. Another story of a child transferred. Pictures that will break your heart.
Ksenia is nine years old and (sigh) I have no words. You can read more about her here. She is only available for adoption to Canadian families at this time. Share her story, blog about her, scream out to those in Canada and please pray for her to find a family soon.
There are many more who will and already are in this same situation. One of neglect, abuse, starvation and being drugged so that they will just sleep quietly.
This is not just what happened to two unlucky little girls. This is what will happen to all of these precious children if they do not have a family come for them. This is the reality that won't go away.
My heart breaks that I cannot save every last one of them. But rejoice, it will, when I have Gracie in my arms, can fill her tummy like she's never known and can tuck her into a warm bed at night with more hugs and kisses than she has had in over three years.
This is why I cannot let fear lead or consume me. I have to be led by faith and trust in God. Every time I have doubt, I remember these pictures. They are not just pictures; they are precious children.