Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Four years ago this month, I saw two beautiful little faces on the Reece's Rainbow site. Both of them were listed under Russia's "Additional Children" category - children with not enough information to have their own profiles or adoption grants. Those two boys captured my heart for good. They became my prayer children, a part of my "heart family." I emailed Andrea a year later to request that they be given full profiles and grants, and I was allowed to name them as well. Those two little boys became Donovan and Caiden.

Caiden was born in May of 2004 in Novosibirsk, Russia. He was a darling, healthy baby boy who happened to be born with Down syndrome. That little extra chromosome, combined with his country of birth, decided his fate - he would live out his life in orphanages and institutions, never knowing the love of a family. 
Despite his orphan status, he was still a happy little guy. His first biography, made when he was a toddler, said that he liked to be held and soothed. He had the sweetest brown eyes and wispy auburn hair, and the cutest chubby cheeks in the world! Anyone would have been lucky to have this gorgeous baby boy as their son, brother, grandson or playmate. 

Caiden grew up in a lovely little baby orphanage, and lived there until he was seven years old. He stayed at the baby house longer than most orphans with special needs, so he was very lucky in that sense. However, around October 2011, he was transferred to an adult mental institution.

This was his first updated photo at that institution. 

When I first saw this picture, my heart completely shattered. The look on his face still haunts me to this day. Trying to imagine what this baby boy was going hurts, it really hurts. He'd been ripped away from the loving arms of his nannies, stolen from the only home he'd known for seven years. The pain and confusion on Caiden's sweet face is obvious. He didn't understand what was happening to him. He didn't know what this place was going to do to him. He couldn't have known that when they brought him in, shaved his head, and set him lying down in a crib, that he would stay in that crib, in that horrid room, for the rest of his very short life.

In 2012, less than a year after his transfer, a family adopting from Caiden's institution was able to visit the room he was living in. Her description of the room and the conditions of the children inside was something out of my nightmares. She said the room was called "The Dying Room", and that the children inside were all severely malnourished, affection starved and bedridden. She was able to comfort him for a few moments and I am forever thankful to her, that she was able to do that for him. It may have only been a fleeting moment, but she was able to show him more love than he'd experienced in a long time.
In the end of 2012, the Russian government banned adoptions to the US & Canada, and to this day, adoptions have not reopened. This essentially sealed Caiden's fate.

In 2013, another updated picture came.

This picture just sickens me. He'd gotten so frail. His chubby cheeks were gone, his beautiful auburn hair was gone, the innocent look in his eyes...gone. It didn't look like the same child. I didn't want to believe this was Caiden, but here he was. A little under two years in an adult mental institution had turned this sweet little boy into a broken shell of a child. The redness around his face suggested he'd been crying, the bite mark on his wrist and the bruising near his eyes suggested self-harming habits: he'd become so starved of human contact that the only way to keep his mind occupied, the only way he'd receive human touch, was to hurt himself. His eyes...angry, confused, tired, hurt, betrayed, desperate. His new description said he was "restless" and "doesn't like contact." When I think about the person who kept taking these updated pictures, I just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them. How could you walk away from this child? How could you leave him here like that? How could you snap a photo and then disappear from his life? 

Waiting for these updates, waiting to see this child, that I loved so much, deteriorate with each new picture...was torture. But it was nothing compared to what Caiden was going through. 

In July 2014, the last update came.

Look at him. Look at his battered face, look at his lifeless eyes. In the righthand bottom corner of this photo, you can see part of a strap - they strapped him down in that bed, probably to stop him from hurting himself. He was malnourished. He was probably drugged. He was neglected. He was only 10 years old. What they did to him...unspeakable. What started out as a precious, vibrant baby boy, ended up as this wounded child. 

I kept checking for updates every month. His profile still stayed on the database, but there wasn't ever to be another new picture. Still I checked, on the first of every new month, and halfway through the month on occasion. I prayed hard. I tried to send waves of love and light from across the ocean. I begged God to let Caiden know he was wanted and loved.

In February 2015, I forgot to check on the first of the month. Halfway through the month I remembered, and hurried to go check.

Caiden was gone. 

It hit me like a tidal wave. I knew what this meant. He'd fought so very hard, for so long. He died never knowing what it meant to have a happy life. He never knew the kiss of a mother, the embrace of a father. He had siblings, and they never knew what it was like to hold his hand. Caiden died and was buried and the world kept turning. 

Caiden, I gave you that name because it means "valiant fighter." That's the hope I had for you, and that's exactly what you were - you fought so valiantly, and I am so proud of you. I'm so sorry for what happened to you, and I'm so sorry you died so young. Your life mattered to me, and it still matters. Even though you couldn't feel it, I loved you very much, and I still do. I grieve your loss, and grieve what could have been, what should have been. I know you've passed into eternal light and glory and I hope and pray that one day, I'll be able to hold you in my arms and love you like your caregivers on earth should have done. But until then, I can only remember you with love in my heart. Soar with the angels, sweetheart. I will always love you.

Max Sh. 


May 2004 - February 2015


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18


In my fantasy I see a just world,
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty.
I dream of souls that are always free
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that float

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That blows into the city, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free,
Like the clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.


Unable are the loved to die,
For love is immortality.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weeks of mourning

This week has been excruciatingly tough for the Reece's Rainbow community
Two beautiful adoptive families lost their children whom they'd adopted through RR. 
One little boy passed in his sleep, the other after a long fight for his life.
Timothy and Xavier, rest peacefully in heaven.


Caiden is gone from the database.

I am beyond devastated. I know what this means. 

I'm so proud of him for fighting a battle he was destined to lose for so long. I have never been prouder. Caiden was a fighter and he didn't give up. He fought long and hard and he won his wings. 

Words can never express how much I love him and Donovan.

I am thankful that neither of them are suffering any longer, and that they only know love now.

I'll make a post on Caiden's life soon. I just need some time to process this one.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Donovan's life

Sometimes God picks a flower that's still in full bloom.
Sometimes the flower that is chosen, we feel He's picked too soon.
We're at peace knowing; in God's heavenly garden,
He has placed the ones we treasure.
You have changed our lives forever.

I do not think my song will end
While flowers, grass and trees
Abound with birds and butterflies
For I am one with these.

And I believe my voice will sound
Upon the whispering wind
So long as even one remains
Among those I call "friend."

I shall remain in hearts and minds
Of loved ones that I knew,
And in the rocks and hills and streams
Because I love those, too.

So long as love and hope and dreams
Abide in earth and sky,
Weep not for me, though I be gone.
I shall not really die.

God saw him getting tired, a cure was not to be.
He wrapped him in His loving arms and whispered ‘Come to Me.’
He suffered much in silence, his spirit did not bend,
He faced his pain with courage, until the very end.
He tried so hard to stay with us but his fight was not in vain,
God took him to His loving home and freed him of his pain.

Think of your child, then, not as dead, but as living; not as a flower that has withered, but as one that is transplanted, and touched by a Divine hand, is blooming in richer colors and sweeter shades than those of earth.

Ivan N.


July 2004 - July 2014

Forever in our hearts.


It's so, so hard to advocate nowadays. I'm know I'm not alone but it sure feels like it.
You'd think that losing children would make you want to advocate more, but for some reason it's just taken the fight out of me. 
I look at the savings jar for adoption grants on my shelf, filled with cash and change, and I have no motivation to count it out and donate it. 
I see fundraising events happening on Facebook and I have no desire to join them.
I stare at the faces of the forgotten on Reece's Rainbow and I just feel completely defeated.
Why do I feel this way?


This year has been really difficult. I went through a life-changing event (hosting a Chinese exchange student and then going over to China; I even visited a Chinese orphanage for kids with special needs), lost many, many people I knew or loved. Doors closed, new ones opened. There's been so much change lately and it's making my head swim.


Two days ago was Dakota's 4 years in heaven. I went to the Grotto as usual, just walking in the gardens and remembering him. As I was walking, I kept imagining finding a baby bird along the path and nursing it back to health or calling the Audubon Society. I could not stop thinking about that little bird. All of a sudden, I looked off the path near a shrine and there was the most beautiful bird lying dead in a cluster of fallen leaves. It had died sometime early in the morning due to the cold. I saw this bird and just felt so sad, so angry, that I'd been picturing finding this sweet little bird, healthy and alive, and instead I find one that's dead. I covered its body with leaves and twigs and couldn't help scoff at how my intuition was close, but not quite right. That's the way of things, isn't it?


Donovan never reappeared on the database and we never found out what happened. At this point, I don't think I need to know. I'm amazed that he managed to stay alive for as long as he did. An adoptive family met him in 2012 while on a trip for their child and got to hold him and love him for a few minutes. Here is what she said about him (summer 2012):

"Yes, I held him.  Not for very long, I was kicked out of the room.  (At least I think it was him--I wasn't told names).  He was very clingy, desperate for any attention.  Very, very delayed.  Super skinny.  I fear he is going to die. He can walk if you are holding his hand.  I think he would be able to walk if he wasn't so neglected and malnourished."

She also mentioned that he was "concentration camp victim skinny" and he was probably a size 2T. This was when he was eight years old.
He disappeared off the database in August and I just know. 
He's gone.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Angel Tree 2014

The sign ups for the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree 2014 have begun!

My child for this year is...

He was born in August 2001 with Down syndrome in the "B" country and a few other medical conditions. 
This photo was taken in May 2009.
He currently has $2,103 in his adoption grant and I will work hard to raise that!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Oregon & Washington RR Reunion

On July 26th, we had our annual Oregon & Southwest Washington Reece's Rainbow Advocates & Adoptive Families reunion :) 
Here are some pictures...

Amanda and her little brother Jaxon (home 2013)

Elaina (Alyssa), home 2013

Sebastian (Linden), home 2013

Livetta, home 2013

Emily (Emilie), home 2012

Veronika (Sydney), home 2012

Ethan (Beacan), home 2013

Caitlin and Sebastian

Caitlin and Elaina

Me and Sebastian

Me and Ethan

Dasha (Abigail), home in 2012, and David

Reece's Rainbow kids - Bulgaria

Reece's Rainbow kid - China

Reece's Rainbow kids - Russia

Reece's Rainbow kids - Ukraine

Group picture!

I had so, so much fun this year, and I can't wait for the next one :)

Long time, no see

Well, hello again.

As you can see, it's been quite a while since I last posted.

To tell you the truth, my passion to advocate has seriously dropped. It's because of a combination of things: the ban on Russian adoptions, losing children, and feeling like nothing I can do will ever make a difference. It's difficult when you're in your late teens and everything is changing. I graduated high school and became a legal adult this year. This fall, I'm starting college. That alone could make your head spin. However, these excuses are just that...excuses. I'm going to try and be a better advocate this upcoming year.

A few things have happened since I've been away.

- A section of Ukraine has experienced Russian invasion, and the children in that section are currently unavailable for adoption. This includes every child in the institution where Dakota passed away. Valiant, Kiril and Araminta are all currently unavailable, but I have hope that the conflict will be resolved soon.

- We got an updated picture of Caiden last month. When I saw it, my heart sank. I still feel such grief over what's happened to this beautiful child. The abuse done to him is beyond horrific.

Yes, that is Caiden. God, please don't make him suffer. He doesn't deserve to hurt so badly. I wish more than anything that I could rush over there and bust him out of that institution, out of that country.

- Daniel died this month. He was eight years old. He had been in an institution, and his hydrocephalus was left untreated until it killed him.

January 2006 - August 2014

Soar with the angels, sweet child. You are so very loved.

- Reece's Rainbow lost seven other children while I wasn't posting. Three of those seven died from institutional neglect. 

I am angry.

- Donovan is no longer on the database. I don't know what happened to him. I am trying to see if we can find out. However, I think it's likely that he is dead as well. His two most recent pictures were heartbreaking. He was emaciated and lifeless. If God has ended his suffering, I am thankful, even though I don't want him to be gone. No child deserves a life of pain like Donovan's, or Daniel's, or Hanson's, or Dakota's. If I get an update, I'll write again.

That's all I can think of right now.

Please pray for these children.

Images by Freepik