Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Story 'Til Now

Mike and Amber met in October of 1998 at the University of New Mexico Institute of Religion.  They were in the same choir class.  Amber was newly transferred from a smaller college in Oklahoma and Mike was recently returned from a two year religious mission.  They began dating in January of 1999 and were engaged by the end of the year.

They were married in April of 2000 in the Albuquerque Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Mike and Amber were immediately planning for a large family of a minimum of four children, but a preferred total of six or more.  They started trying to have a family the moment they were married and planned to have a child every two years.  Both agreed that they had a heart for adoption and when their many children were grown they would adopt from foster care and create a second round of their family.  

Shortly following their marriage, they became pregnant with their first child, S, who is now almost 13.

After a long struggle with hormone problem and miscarriages, they had their daughter E in very early 2004

At that point they were informed that another child would never happen.  Amber's pregnancies were difficult and dangerous, sustained only through medical intervention and resulting in life-threatening conditions for both mother and babies.  The medication needed to produce another pregnancy would not be offered by any doctors they approached.  They gave up on their dream of a large family, alternating between comfort from concepts like private school and expensive vacations possible with only two children, and the painful desire for more children.

In 2006 they decided to submit their papers to social services in hopes of adopting a child from foster care.  In the middle of the process, Mike was force-shaped from the military by changes in force size and job changes and moving followed soon after.  There was far too much change in their home to bring in a child who would desperately need consistency.  They withdrew their case.

In 2009, Amber became 'baby hungry' and they began attended classes and training to adopt privately from LDS social services in hopes of finding a baby to add to their family.  In the middle of this process, Mike felt strongly that the best course of action was to wait before committing.  Amber did NOT want to wait.  But in the end, she deferred and they waited.  Shortly thereafter, a miracle happened.  Amber discovered that, after nearly six years, she was pregnant.  Medical intervention was still needed to sustain pregnancy and Amber was no healthier during the process, resulting in a premature baby who spent 10 days in the NICU.  Now baby G is 3 years old and a bundle of crazy energy.

They have tons of fun as a family and love all of their time together.

Once G was a year old they decided it was time to start again and they went through the extensive process to become certified foster and adoptive parents for the state foster care system.  They asked for a small sibling group of two or three children to round out their family.  They were put on a waiting list and contacted only once in years with a folder of two children who were then somehow lost in the system and never followed up on by their social worker.  But they continued to wait.

Approximately a month ago, someone's random link on Facebook about a friend's adoption led Amber to Reece's Rainbow, an adoption advocacy group specializing in foreign adoptions of special needs children, most especially those with Down Syndrome.  Amber spent all day looking at the site and a little girl caught her attention.  She emailed the coordinator and received a lengthy answer about the requirements to adopt from this Eastern European country.  Amber read the email and thought, 'wow, that sounds like a lot of trouble' and she put the idea aside.  But she kept going back to Reece's Rainbow.  She read every profile there.  Then she read them again.  She began to research the conditions present in these orphanages and institutions.

Perhaps the second or third time through, Amber read the profile of an Eastern European Orphan, from the same country as the first she inquired after, with significant special needs.  This little girl's name is unknown to Amber and Mike, but the advocacy group calls her something very similar to "Jane" so they will call her 'Jane' here on this blog until they have permission to speak of the specific children they hope to adopt.

Jane's issues are not clear.  She does not walk, but she does have voluntary motion in all of her limbs.  She does not talk, but the reasons are not clear.  It's entirely possible that with American medical intervention, Jane might well be able to walk.  It's possible Jane doesn't speak because no one speaks to her.  Because Jane doesn't walk she spends her time in what is called the 'Laying Down' room, where children who can't move on their own power are consigned to spend their days in cribs being fed through modified bottles.

It should be noted that Jane is not a baby.  She's eight years old.  But she still spends her day staring at the four walls that constitute her world, between the bars of a baby crib.  She is not offered the opportunity to join her fellow orphans at the table.  She is fed in her crib.  Any second now, Jane will be transferred from the orphanage to an adult mental institution where she will spend the rest of her life bedridden.  She will never have any hope of escape unless, like nearly 80% of small children sent to adult institutions in this country, she dies within the first year.

All of these children in orphanages all over the world have tragic stories.  Jane's is no different.  But it was different for Amber.  In an instant she knew this was to be their child and that she was to join their family as soon as possible.  She shared Jane's profile with Mike, unable to stop the tears for her child, accidentally born in another country.

They made a decision to pursue Jane, despite the amount of work, and money, involved.  Originally, Mike and Amber hoped to find a sibling group, so their goal is to adopt a boy from this Eastern European country at the same time.  They haven't yet found their son, but they are looking.  

Amber and Mike already have a homestudy, but it isn't the right one for this particular country.  They will need a new homestudy as well as many thousands of dollars to pay the ransom for these sweet forgotten children and bring them home to be with their family.

Thank you so much for joining them in their journey to complete their family.  Together, you can help this family grow and save lives in the process.


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