Monday, December 17, 2012

Further Details of Court Proceedings against Former Pleven Director

This post was taken in its entirety from More to the Story at the Blessing of Verity:

Dear blog readers,
Before you go on to read the further explanation, which was carefully stated by a good friend of mine who has the authority and knowledge to speak on the matter, it is vital that you understand two things.
1.  There is a lot more to the story than should be told here, for the sake of legal strategy.  I won’t be able to answer the questions that will most likely be raised in your mind.
2.  Legal strategies are being and will be pursued.  I hate like anything to sound so patronizingly school-marmish, but this time, because of what’s at stake, I urge you to refrain from publicly suggesting any possible legal strategies, either here or in other public forums.  There are many eyes reading this blog now, and not all of them are friendly.  This was our only hesitation in publishing further details about the situation.
The reason we are providing this explanation is to prevent you from thinking that all the progress that has been made so far has been pointless.
God is on His throne, and our hope is in Him and in Him alone!

“The former director was dismissed by the now-former minister of health in December 2011. The stated motives for her dismissal were to a large degree formal – and only the tip of the iceberg! – 1. That she had not appointed a general practitioner to each child in the institution; 2. That the children had not undergone annual dental check ups; and 3. That the children did not have individualized activity plans for their development and treatment. From the three stated violations, the court upheld only the second one and acknowledged that the institution did indeed not have a dentist appointed on its staff.
The position which a local non-governmental organization, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, sent to the minister of healthcare, the chair of the State Child Protection Agency and the media stated the non-governmental organization’s concern that the motives for which the former director was dismissed in December 2011 were “inadequate,” and reiterated the findings of the state agencies that had established a large number of deaths, gross neglect, and undernourishment. It stressed that that the situation of the children was not due to their ‘disabilities’, as we have been told too many times, but due to lack of proper care, and the growth spurts that the children experienced during the first months after finding their families is proof of that.
The statement further reiterated the findings of the non-governmental organization and Toni Vladimirova’s signal to the authorities from January 2012 with findings of feeding the children with beer bottles with huge openings leading to frequent chokings, the bad quality food they received, the feeding in the cribs, lack of rehabilitation, etc. etc. It also reiterated the findings of the child protection agency that gave the first push for the director’s dismissal back in December 2011.  Finally, the statement appeals to the authorities that should the director be reinstated, they should reconsider the possibility for her to continue to hold her position, as her return would constitute a serious risk for the health and life of the children placed there.
As Toni said, the relevant governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations are on board and acting.
Please pray that the prosecution finds enough evidence to bring those responsible for the deaths of the children in the institution to justice. That is the only way that they can be held responsible for their acts and not have children entrusted to their care ever again.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tokuda Hospital Partner for 2012

From Toni Vladimoriva, our attorney in Bulgaria, and Shelley Bedford our social worker in the states...

On 12.12.2012 Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, where children sponsored by Pleven Fund have been treated, gave the award below. All children at Pleven have been having treatments at Tokuda, orthopedic surgeries performed, cataract surgeries carried out and lenses implanted, shunts for Hydrocephalus placed, tested profoundly, CT scans and MRI's have been performed, medicines and orthopedic devices have be
en purchased and the list can go on. This was all possible because of YOU, dear contributors and donors. But it was also the utter dedication of Shelley Bedford and Eli Fund.
Therefore, I am dedicating this award to my wonderful, dear, tireless and resolved friend, Shelley Bedford. The award is in Bulgarian but it reads:

"Tokuda Hospital gives this award, a "Partner for 2012", for the integral contribution, for providing and financing the medical treatment of children deprived of parental care, and for demonstrated spirit of good will for co-operation with Tokuda Hospital.
12.12.2012, Sofia
Dr. Yavor Drenski,
Executive Director
of Tokuda Hospital, Sofia"
Huge "Thank you" also to all of you who donated to Pleven Fund! Your contribution made possible to have the children taken a good care of after the long years of starvation and neglect by the old director.
 God Bless You All,
Toni Vladimirova, with Shelley Bedford

As a parent whose child has benefited from the donations to the Pleven Fund, 'Thank you for caring unselfishly and being a contributor for change!'  Donations to the Pleven Fund can be made through the Eli  Fund.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Former Director found to be Illegally Dismissed

The former director at Gemma's orphanage was found to be illegally dismissed and is to be reinstated.  This is very tragic and we are very upset  and worried by this finding.   

Toni, our Bulgarian attorney, has made the following statement:

“I think right now things are under control and all governmental and non-governmental institutions are on board and acting: Bulgaria Helsinki Committee, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, State Agency for Child Protection, etc. I further want to tell you that their involvement very early on, were critical and very timely and beneficial.
There’s still one month for appeal to the High Court of Appeals of Bulgaria in Sofia. However, how politics and administrations’ reactions will work out together, will be very important too.
I am sorry it sounds so fragmentary and confused but that’s how it is right now.”

Prayers are all we give right now.  Prayers for the government officials to seek justice and seek protection for the children, prayers for the children waiting, and prayers for the current director to remain in place and to not be discouraged by the court's decision.

 Google translation of Bulgarian article:

 Reinstatement infamous director of an orphanage?

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) concerned to learn that the former director of Home for Medical and Social Care for Children (0-3) in Pleven Jiri Kostova to be reinstated, reports BHC official position on the topic sent to the Minister of Health Desislava Atanasova and Chairperson of the SACP Kalin Kamenov."This happened after the Pleven District Court of December 7, 2012, which announced the dismissal illegal and quashed it. Believe that the court's decision comes due to inadequate grounds for Ms. Kostova was dismissed in December 2011 - such as the fact that children had no choice doctor that they are advised by a dentist that did not have a program plan for treatment, "said the position of the BHC."We remind you that during the reign of Jiri Kostova home in Pleven were conducted numerous inspections, including the State Agency for Child Protection, which reveals a very disturbing low care facility. During the last inspection, it is ordered by the Ministry of Health, it was found that in the house for a year and a half, 18 children died. were found huge lack of care, severe neglect, malnourishment. This home has a child skeletons - eg C, which weighs in at 11 under 5.6 kg P and that of 16 years weighs 8.6 kg. condition of these children is not such because of their disabilities, we used to hear, but because of lack of adequate care, and the jump in development that they do in the first months after by finding families to prove it, "said the opinion."During the reign of Jiri Kostova, as stated BHC lawyer. Antonia Vladimirova, children with disabilities in Pleven orphanage, regardless of age, fed with old green beer bottles, a bottle whose opening is almost the size of an adult fingernail, causing frequent gagging when eating. signals in your state regarding the home attorney. Vladimirova also signaled that no one attempted to spoon feed children over the age of three, children are fed a liquid-like in appearance, smell and taste of toasted flour mixed with water, children eat lying down on his back as they insert the nipple in the mouth, the liquid begins to flow into their throats and run around their heads, leading to drowning, diaper change once, at most twice a day, all the children spend their time lying in bed, trying not to move, to play with them, communicate with them, to be taught the simple, age-appropriate, skills and knowledge. During his inspection in September 2011 found SACP cases where children have been systematically kept in bed, the head stained with urine and feces. was found that in all examined deaths in the home in the period 2005 to 2011 was a "hypotrophy" (malnutrition) in varying degrees, "cachexia" (pathological emaciation). SACP notes and cases of death due to aspiration of gastric contents caused by mechanical asphyxia and that no evidence of risk to children was introduced a special diet to prevent disease and death. SACP audit found that children living in one of the wards for children with disabilities to hypotrophy cachexia and severe contractures of the limbs, "recalled BHC."The decision of Pleven District Court may be appealed to the Supreme Court within one month. Where Kostova still be reinstated as director of the orphanage in Pleven, demand immediate review by the Ministry of the possibility it will continue to manage this establishment. believe that the above findings, the return of former director of work represents a serious risk to the health and lives of children in the orphanage in Pleven, "is the conclusion in the opinion of the BHC.Editor: E. Gigova
The Bulgarian Abandoned Children's Trust website:

Friday, November 30, 2012


UPDATE: Zoey has a family!! You can follow the journey of the Winslow family as they bring home two children on their blog

This week a little face came into the light.  A small fragile little girl that has been locked away for many years is now available for adoption.  "Zoey" is six years old and weighs less than 10 pounds.  She has been neglected and left hungry, but she held on.  Her little blurry picture is outdated and disturbing.  But it must be shared if she is to find a family.  I have heard from people "We've often thought about adopting..." when I have shared our adoption news.  I can't imagine a child more in need of a family.

It might be easier to get mad, really mad, and ask "how could anyone do this to a child?", "THEY must be evil", "SOMEONE should do something!", "the government should step in..." And we frantically search for a way other than being a voice for "the least of these."  If you aren't her parents, let's find her parents, we can do it together...PRAY, SHARE, GIVE, ADOPT!

Zoey DOB: 2006
Diagnosis: Congenital anomaly of the broncho-pulmonary system; Infantile cerebral palsy – spastic quadric paresis; severe malnutrition
is almost 6 years old and weighs less than 10 pounds. She is currently fed through a feeding tube, though it is obvious that she is not receiving the nutrition that she needs. We have very little information on Zoey at this time, though we are working to get more detailed medical information. The current information indicates that she moves her upper extremities and that she smiles and responds positively while being fed and when caregivers interact with her, change her, bathe her or talk to her.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to share some amazing stats from Susanna over at Blessing of Verity.  She has posted "one year home" growth statistics on her daughter Katie.  Susanna was instrumental in breaking open the doors of Pleven for the world to see the damage done to so many children at the hands of orphanage staff and leadership. Please head over to her post to see the before and after growth numbers and pics.  All families engaged in adopting or thinking about adopting should find these numbers very comforting!

This Thanksgiving, among many things, I am thankful for Susanna, and Katie, and their entire family for propagating change and leading us to our daughter-to-be, Gemma.  Blessings to them as they start their second year at home with Katie and work to bring home another child, Tommy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pleven Update!!

Shelley, adoptive mom and our social worker, posted on her blog an update about the changes in the Pleven orphanage. Good things are happening!

from Shelley, October 29, 2012

Last week, Toni, who is the director of the Bulgarian NGO responsible for overseeing the Pleven Medical Fund (PMF), went to Pleven to visit with the new director and to see, first hand, the changes that have taken place at the Pleven orphanage. I am very pleased to report that there have been MANY WONDERFUL CHANGES since Dr. Georgieva took over as the director of the orphanage. She is truly working for the good of the children and making a lot of very positive changes at the orphanage. She has a HUGE job ahead of her and she continues to need a lot of help to fund all the necessary projects that need to be completed to ensure that ALL of the children living at the orphanage in Pleven have all of their needs met. There are so many older children who suffered YEARS of neglect and the condition that they are in as a result of that won’t be fixed quickly.
Below is a report of some of the positive changes that have already happened, some of the changes that are in the process of happening and future projects that we will be seeking donations for:
Changes that have already been made:
1.) One of the first changes Dr. Georgieva made was to the kitchen staff. The entire staff was fired and replaced by a staff that would make feeding the children good quality food a priority. The glass beer bottles used to feed the children are GONE. The liquid mixtures of flour and low calorie liquids are GONE. The children are being fed high quality solid foods. All the children that are capable are being taught to eat from a spoon and they are fed foods with as thick of a texture as they can tolerate. The children who still require bottle feeding are fed while sitting upright and given time to digest their food. Their caloric intake has been increased to an acceptable amount needed so that they can grow and gain weight. GONE are the days of the children having a bottle shoved in their mouth while they were lying flat on their back. GONE are the days of the quick 2-3 minute feedings. The staff is required to take time feeding each child individually and this is monitored. How is it monitored? Well, that is the next positive change!
2.) Dr. Georgieva installed CAMERAS throughout the orphanage to monitor the staff’s interactions with the children. This allows her to watch the children being fed, how the staff is holding the children, how often diapers are being changed….and when staff members are sitting around chatting and not working with kids. All of this is being strictly monitored. As you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this change. There has been some staff turn over as Dr. Georgieva works to ensure that only people who truly want to be there caring for the children are on staff.
3.) All the children are having their diapers changed 5-6 times a day at a minimum. Again, this is monitored using the cameras and the director is holding the staff accountable for this as well. For those interested in donating money designated specifically for diapers, this can now be done through the PMF. The diapers will be purchased and given to the orphanage and an official donation receipt will be issued by the orphanage, translated and provided to the donor. If you are interested in doing this, after you make the donation tothe PMF, please send me a copy of the Paypal invoice via email ( so that I can ensure that the correct amount is designated specifically for diapers and that you receive a donation certificate after the diapers are purchased. All donations to the PMF are tax deductible through Eli Project.
4.) If you’ve seen any photos of children that were recently adopted from Pleven (particularly, the older children), one thing that is pretty noticeable is the horrible condition their teeth are in. This was a result of the lack of nutrition and the lack of dental care. EVERY SINGLE CHILD in the orphanage has now seen a dentist (this is paid for by their National Health Insurance) and the children who need it will receive appropriate dental care.
5.) Many of the older children have osteoporosis as a result of years of malnutrition. Dr. Georgieva is in the process of beginning treatment for this. The PMF is covering the cost to have all the children tested for osteoporosis. These tests are being conducted this month. One the results are back, all the children that have a confirmed diagnosis of osteoporosis will begin treatment for it. The estimated cost for this is $1,000, though an exact amount won’t be known until all the testing is complete. The medication required to treat the children diagnosed with osteoporosis will be covered by the Bulgarian national health insurance and treatment will continue for as long as it is needed.

6.) The PMF is currently working to fund a vehicle for the orphanage. This vehicle is used specifically for transporting children to medical appointments, to the hospital if they are sick, etc.  The vehicle that was previously owned and used by the orphanage to transport children broke down about a month ago. The vehicle was assessed by a mechanic and it would cost more to repair the vehicle than to replace it with a different (used) vehicle. Since this vehicle is used to meet medical needs, the director asked if the PMF could help with this expense. Estimates have been received and the total amount needed to fully pay for a vehicle to be used by the orphanage for medical appointments is $2,848, which includes having the new vehicle assessed by a mechanic, purchasing the vehicle, paying the notary that does all the legal paper work and paying for the title. $1715 of that has already been raised through a fundraiser conducted by Susan in which she was raising money for her own adoption from Pleven and pledged to give any money donated above the amount she needed to the PMF specifically to help pay for the vehicle. So, the remaining amount needed to cover the vehicle is $1133. Since over $1700 has already been raised for this purchase, the vehicle has been secured and is already at the orphanage for use to transport the children to medical appointments. Donations can be made through the PMF to help cover the cost of the vehicle. Here are some photos of what it looks like:

7.) Dr. Georgieva has installed a GPS in the vehicle. This is so that she can strictly monitor where the vehicle goes to ensure that it is only used to transport the children to medical appointments and not being abused by the staff for personal use.
8.) Nurses have been interviewed and approved by the director to work on the 6th floor. The money to pay the salaries of these 2 nurses was raised through another NGO (not the PMF) and these nurses will start work as soon as the contracts are signed with the NGO. Both ladies are well qualified and eager to work with the children. One of them is even an foster parent! They are both Christians and are ready to be the hands and feet of Christ while working with the children on the 6th floor. The money was raised to cover the salary of both nurses for an entire year. 
9.) Dr. Georgieva is working to establish a standard of care and expected schedule for the Babas and therapists that work at the orphanage under contract with other NGOs. She is working to ensure that these people are actually doing the job that they are being paid for and the children are receiving the maximum benefit of having these people in the orphanage each day. In the future, there will be an opportunity to fund Babas and other staff members through the PMF. However, at this time, Dr. Georgieva has asked for time to get the currently employees all working efficiently before adding any additional personnel. 
10.) Dr. Georgieva has brought in a Physical Therapist from the University Hospital in Pleven to evaluate all the children. This PT has volunteered her time and evaluation services. The doctor has made the recommendation that each child with special needs such as CP (and any other child with a physical disability or physical delays) receives one hour of physical therapy every single day. This includes massages, positioning and the use of therapy equipment. She is helping to set up a PT schedule for the children to ensure that every child that needs therapy is receiving it. 
Current projects that need funding:Dr. Georgieva has set a goal to bring EVERY CHILD in the orphanage out of their crib and down to the dining room for meal time. She wants to set it up so that at meal-times. the caretakers and the Babas will take all the healthy kids and all the kids with SN who physically could be brought down to the dining room to eat. That would mean getting out of the cribs, diversifying the environment of the children and teach them that the place where you sleep is not a place where you also eat. That will also provide some walking to the kids and some change in their routine. Most importantly, that will teach them the right way of eating, being independent with spoons and get rid as much as possible of the bottles. The director is not aiming at anything luxurious or huge, she just wants to make it a cozy, bright place, as it should be for children. Several things need to be done in order for this to happen:
1.) The dining room must be completely renovated. This is what the dining room looks like now:

  For THREE DECADES, it has been used as a storage room. It is in desperate need of repairs. A quote has been given for the cost to make the repairs to the dining room. This includes: removing all the old sinks and buying new ones and installing them/getting them operational; removing the old paint from the walls; ground coat of all walls; painting of all walls; removing the old windows which leak and are broken, buying new ones and installing them, replacing the doors and the lights and any other repairs that are needed to make the dining room functional. The total cost for this, which includes supplies and labor is $1,800

We have stepped out in faith and said, “People will step up and fund this” and the work to clear out the dining room has already started this week. 

2.) Adaptive high chairs are needed for the children with physical disabilities to sit in while in the dining room
. These can be purchased for $60-100 each. Due to the fact that there are many children with CP and other disabilities that physically limit the children’s movement, several adaptive high chairs are going to be needed in order to accommodate all the children.
$3,000 could renovate the dining room AND provide 12 adaptive high chairs so that EVERY CHILD at Pleven could be brought out of their crib and down to the dining room for meals.

If you'd like to make a donation toward the dining room renovation project, tax deductible donations can be made through Eli Project for the PMF. 
Additional needs:
The orphanage needs several gait trainer walkers for use with the children. These walkers support the children’s chest while working with them on building strength and mobility. These are especially important for the older children. Dr. Georgieva is currently pricing gait trainer walkers and donations will be accepted to cover the purchase of these as well. 
The final recommendation from the University doctor who has done the PT evaluations is the purchase of four specific therapy devices to be used on the children with CP, paralysis and those with disabilities that cause respiratory or lung issues. The total cost for these 4 devices, including a 2 year warranty on each device, transportation/shipping cost to get them from Sofia (where they have to be purchased from) and training on how to use the devices for the staff is $5, 200. If you'd like to make a donation toward the purchase of these devices, you can do so through the PMF.
Just as a general update on how the money from the PMF has been spent to date: Children from the orphanage are continuing to go to Tokuda for evaluations and treatment. Surgeries are being performed, children are being fitted for orthopedic shoes and splints (and these are being purchased through the PMF), blood tests, genetics test, metabolic tests, CT scans, lenses for cataract surgeries and any other medically necessary procedures are being done. Dr. Georgieva has also found doctors at the University Hospital in Pleven that are willing to provide some treatments and testing for the children at a reduced price. This option is being explored as a possibility to meet some more of the immediate needs and the medical expenses for some of the younger children that are not suffering from malnutrition and only need immediate medical care/testing, so that travel to Sofia is not required.  There is $20,600 remaining in the PMF as of the end of last week. 
Now that the medical needs of the children are being met and the nutritional needs are being addressed, Dr. Georgieva has begun looking forward to what her DREAM is for the orphanage. We asked her for her “wish list” and this is what she said:
1.) Renovating the day center, which is where the Babas and caregivers take the children to play by adding new educational toys and learning items that have a specific purpose in improving the development of the children.
2.) A sensory room
3.) A physical therapy ROOM (renovating the current space): to be equipped with a ball pit, floor to ceiling mirrors and other items used specifically for motor development.
4.) Oxygen treatment equipment for the children with severe medical needs that require oxygen in order to live. 

 Just as a side note to these "dream" items and how many children would benefit from them, since we are often asked how many children currently live in this particular orphanage:
The orphanage has 3 different "sections" that fall under Dr. Georgieva's care. One section is what most people typically think of as a "baby orphanage"...the place where orphans from birth to age 3-4 live until they are old enough to be transferred on to the "older child orphanage" in Pleven. The second section is the older children with special needs. This is why there are older children at this orphanage. These children all have some type of medical issue or more serious special need and they stay in this section at Pleven instead of being transferred to an institution. The third section is a mother and child section. Here, mothers come with their newborns and live there. They learn how to care for their child and have the child's physical and medical needs met. The goal of this section of the orphanage is to teach these mothers how to meet the needs of their new baby. Sadly, Dr. Georgieva reports that many of these mothers still end up leaving their babies at the orphanage. Thankfully, Bulgaria has a very active domestic adoption program, so the newborns who are healthy are adopted very quickly. The babies with special needs stay at the orphanage longer. Those with more significant special needs that are rejected by Bulgarian families for adoption are eventually registered for international adoption. Since there are 3 different sections to this orphanage, MANY children would benefit from all the proposed changes to the orphanage. 
We are THRILLED to see so many positive changes happening at Pleven. The need is still great and there is still much work to be done. There are several projects that will need funding over the next year and we are praying that people will step out and offer the financial support needed to see this complete overhaul of the conditions at this orphanage come to fruition. It is a BIG job, but it can be done with the prayer and support of many. 
I have debated sharing this part of the update that I received, but I believe that it is just as important as all of the rest: We are asking for those who believe accordingly to PRAY for Dr. Georgieva and the work that she is doing. MANY changes have been made and much work has been done. Not everyone is happy with what she is doing. There are people who thought that nothing was wrong with the previous conditions at Pleven. There are many who still think that the children are not worth it. There are those standing in the background watching...and hoping that Dr. Georgieva fails at what she is doing. She still faces opposition to the changes. SHE IS IN THE TRENCHES fighting for the children of Pleven and she needs the prayers of Christians to lift her up as she continues the fight.  Even if you can not provide a monetary donation toward all the projects happening at Pleven, you can pray for the director, for the children and for all the good things that are in the works to come to fruition so that the CHILDREN of Pleven reap the benefits of all that is being done. 
As a final recap, the current needs through the PMF are:
1.) The remainder of the funds for the vehicle- $1,133
2.) The dining room renovation: $1,800
3.) Adaptive high chairs for the dining room: $1,200
4.) Physical therapy equipment: $5,200
As quickly as these financial needs are met, we will begin working with Dr. Georgieva on her "dream" list!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Christmas 2012 Hosting

New Horizons for Children advocates for the orphan by seeking older children from Latvia and Ukraine, and soon to be China, to come stay with American host families for 4 - 6 weeks in the summer and at Christmas.  The deadlines for Christmas 2012 are November 1st for Latvia and November 1st, or November 12th for some, for Ukraine.

Friday, October 19, 2012


What happens to orphans who aren't adopted?  Well, it depends.  Sometimes they are shown the door at 16.  Told to fend off life on their own.  Without intervention, upon leaving the orphanage, 60% of girls will end up in prostitution, 70% of boys will be on the streets or in jail, and 15% will commit suicide within the first two years on their own.
Image from New Horizons for Children

In some countries, orphans that have not be chosen are transferred to adult mental institutions at age 5. Like little Sonny.  Among an adult population, they can be beaten, molested, left hungry.
Sonny after being transferred
Sonny before being transferred

Sometimes they are put in cages....yep, cages.  Julia over at Micah 6:8, spent 6 weeks in Ukraine, a requirement when adopting from Ukraine.  Please head over to her blog to read what she witnessed.  Her newly adopted son, Aaron, was living in an institution where sheds, cages, beds and cribs were used to contain the children.   Then when they age out of that "institution" there is an adult version. 
Boorie Ooglie, a men's institution, where those prone to running or violence are kept in cages

Boorie Ooglie, a men's institution, sheds for those who can't run
There is a ministry going on now, to help raise funds to purchase 200 fruit trees for the men at Boorie Ooglie.  You can read more about that project and purchase an apple tree for $5 on Natalie's blog, My Ukrainian Mission of Love.

There is so much need it can be overwhelming.  But no one is being called to do it alone.  Pray, share, give, adopt.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Six more to yell for!

Keith used to wait for someone to love him...
Keith before leaving the orphanage, 5 years old,  and 12 pounds
'But now, after just about 7 weeks home, this is our 5 year old Keith -- up to 21 pounds, full cheeks, crawling, sitting up on his own, standing if he holds on to something, laughing, loving, full of life and spunk, beautiful!!' (follow the Unroe's story at
What a difference that love made!  Now please consider the little ones that are still waiting in Gemma's orphanage...

 Harvey DOB: 2009

Diagnosis: Congenital anomaly of the central nervous system; Prosencephaly; Microcephalus; Symptomatic epilepsy; Spastic quadric paresis; Facial dismorphism
Harvey has a lot of complex medical needs. He’s currently tube fed to receive nutrition. Details on his medical condition and development are coming soon.

Theodore DOB: 2002

Diagnosis: spastic diplegia cerebral palsy (only effects lower body), severe malnutrition, lagging behind in all aspects of development.
Theodore has spent his life in an orphanage where he’s received very little care for his physical, mental or emotional needs. He’s recently been hospitalized several times to address some of his medical needs.
Theodore is 10 years old. He has CP and due to a lack of therapy, he does currently have contractures in some of his joints. Though he is 10 years old, he currently only weighs 36 pounds. His medical reports indicates that he can stand, feed himself with a spoon, makes sounds but isn’t yet talking, understands everything that is said to him, engages adults appropriately (shakes hands) and plays with toys. He’s described as a very happy little boy.
Additional photos are available for interested families.

Chad DOB: 2003

Diagnosis: delays in all aspects of development
Chad has lived his entire life in an orphanage where he has received very little medical care, therapy,education or intervention to help him to learn and grow. He’s very small for his age and delayed in all aspects of his development. In June 2012, he tested positive for TB and has been taking medication to treat it.
Additional photos and a video are available.

Kramer DOB: 2004

Diagnosis: Cerebral Palsy
Kramer has lived his entire life in an orphanage where he has received very little medical care, therapy, interventions or attention. As a result, he’s significantly delayed in all aspects of his development. He is extremely small for his age, weighing just 25 pounds at 8 years old. In June 2012, he was hospitalized for evaluation and orthopedic medical intervention. A tenotomy was performed in the pelvic area to assist in his ability to better use his legs.
Kramer needs a family willing to provide the physical therapy and other medical/developmental care that he needs in order to reach his full potential. He’s never been given the opportunity to learn or do anything other than lie in a crib all day.
Additional photos of Kramer are available.

Garnet DOB: 2002

Diagnosis: Cerebral Palsy- quadriplegic
Garnet is 10 years old. She has spent her entire life in a crib. She can move her head and her upper body some. She is aware of everything going on around her and will follow activities with her eyes/head. She turns her head to look when people are talking. She can hold onto toys when they are given to her. She smiles at people when they talk to her and responds positively to touch.
She eats blended food from a bottle, though she is learning to eat from a spoon.
Additional photos and videos from August 2012 of Garnet are available.

UPDATE: Penny has a family!! You can read their story at
Penny is 11 years old.  She weighs 21 lbs!  She also has spent her life in the crib and she has cerebral palsy.  She has been neglected and forgotten but still smiles for the camera!  There are additional pictures and a video of her if you contact Shelley Bedford at with interest in making her your little one.

All of these children need families to RUN for them. Their files will be going back to their country in days! Penny's file has already returned. That means that other than by word-of-mouth, no one is advocating for them. We don't want their country to think that are truly unwanted! Pray, Share, Donate, Adopt!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

While We are Waiting...

Well, we are waiting on the State department now to apostille our FBI clearances.  That is the last item for our dossier.  Then away it will go.  After they arrive in Bulgaria, it will take at least 5 weeks to hear about  a travel date. I am not sure how far in advance travel dates are offered, so it maybe into the new year before we travel.  The time frame that we are thinking she will be home keeps slipping.  I am trying to remain without expectations, and then be grateful for the time God chooses to make it happen.

In the meantime, we are fundraising through several small companies or individuals that offered to help.

Susan Godfrey is doing an online tupperware fundraiser for us through October 5th.

Wild Olive Tees has chosen us to be a featured family for their adoption fundraising program.  Wild Olive Tees is an online store for t-shirts for women and children.  The t-shirts all have beautiful graphics along with  an inspiring bible verse.  We need to sell 15 t-shirts to qualify for the fundraising program.  Starting with the 15th t-shirt sold $7.50 will be donated to Gemma's adoption fund.  The t-shirts are such a nice way to express faith that we will just do what we can, and if we make some money to cover some costs, all the better!

Wild Olive Adoption Fundraiser Tees

Our family code for ordering is BROWN927.

This code  MUST be used when checking out for it to benefit Gemma's adoption! During the checkout process, there will be a coupon code option under the shopping cart. Click on that box and it will open the coupon code field up in the left hand corner. That is where the code is applied.  This code will NOT provide a discount on the Adoption fundraiser Tees, it will be used solely to help track sales for our Fundraising efforts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shout out for Zack!

UPDATE:  Zack has a FAMILY coming for him!!

Adeye at met at an 11 year old boy, Zack, on her trip to Bulgaria to meet Hasya and tells his story on her blog.  Zack needs a family to step forward in the next six weeks before his file is sent back to Bulgaria.  He desperately wants to reunite with his 'sister'.  Please read the post below and share!

From Adeye....
As we drove out of the orphanage gates that Friday just a few weeks ago, we headed to a different orphanage on our way back to the capital city, Sofia. Our driver needed to get updated pictures and video of a little boy who had recently been listed for adoption.

We arrived at the institution, and both Susan and I knew that we just had to meet this little boy. Our driver agreed that we could come in with him.

We were greeted by many children as we entered the building that day.

Beautiful, precious, and amazing children all created by the Master Craftsman Himself.

Each one with many needs.

But mostly, the need for someone to come for them. The need to be loved. The need to be accepted for who they are—His beautiful creations--fearfully and wonderfully made just the way they are.

My heart was breaking before we even entered the front door.

We were ushered into a smaller room.

And within minutes...he came in.

The most darling little boy. I thought him to be maybe around eight years old. Later I found out that he is eleven.

His name is Zack.

Susan and I sat watching as our driver tried to interview Zack for a video for prospective parents. Neither of us understanding Bulgarian, we had no idea what he and the orphanage director were saying to the boy. He seemed to do okay for a few minutes and answered their questions politely.

Then, all of a sudden, tears started streaming down his little cheeks. He sobbed quietly—unable to get out a single word.

He was clearly heartbroken.

We both choked back tears—not wanting the little guy to see us all weepy. We did not know why in the world this sweet and tender little boy was so upset. It was very obvious though that he had such deep pain and that his heart was aching.

Sitting there and observing this dear little boy crying heart-wrenching sobs just about ripped my heart out! Everything in me wanted to rush over and hold him tightly—calming his anxious heart and assuring him that God had not forsaken him—that his Daddy in heaven knew what was tearing him apart.

Later that day, we heard Zack’s story….

And I knew instantly that I would go to the ends of the earth to help this little boy get the one thing in this life that he has never had, never known.

The one thing that made him cry until he literally could not stop!

I listened as my attorney shared Zack’s story with me.

It began with his best friend, Maria. They grew up in a very decent orphanage (as far as orphanages go) and spent the first eleven years bonding—being together. I am told that they are more than just best friends—but more like family. Until recently, the only family either of them had ever known. Zack and Maria shared a room (very normal for Eastern European orphanages) and spent every waking moment together—inseparable!

But everything was soon to change. Maria was blessed! Unbeknownst to her, she had been found, chosen by an amazing single mom who just knew that Maria was the daughter of her heart.

Maria was soon to know what it meant to be FAMILY.

I am so thankful that Katherine shared Maria and Zack’s story with me. She met Maria for the first time last December. The social worker at the orphanage informed Katherine that she would be meeting Maria’s best friend, telling her that they were extremely close. She got to know Zack pretty well during that first trip to his country.

Months passed and finally Katherine was able to return to Eastern Europe to complete the adoption process for Maria.

Here’s her account of that day—“Gotcha Day,” as it is known for adoptive parents.

My Gotcha Day was horrible, to say the least. We were asked to be at the orphanage by 11 am so that one staff member could say goodbye to Maria. I got there and did ask about Zack's availability to be adopted. I wanted to help him find his mom. I was told that Zack was being moved that very same day to a new orphanage.  These days I understand why he had to be moved and I understand why it was easier to do it all at once....sort of rip the band aid off. 

My heart still weeps for the memory of that day. 

You see, the orphanage that Maria and Zack were at was for children birth through seven years. The orphanage had kept both Maria and Zack until they were 11 1/2, because they knew that the kids were special that they needed the additional care. So, on my pick up date I was looking through the photo album I was given of Maria by the orphanage. The director came in and told me I needed to be strong because the kids (Maria and Zack) were not handling the separation well. I quickly gathered my things and went to the lobby. 

I saw Zack first. He was in his chair wailing (it wasn't just crying). I walked over to him and gave him the gift I had bought specially for him and tried to tell him that it would all be okay, that Maria would be taken care of. The whole time Maria was wailing over by the stairs while another adult spoke with her. Zack quickly rolled himself back to Maria. These two were hugging and kissing each other....truly like siblings.....weeping and crying the whole time.

Finally a staff member rolled Zack outside in his wheelchair. Maria quickly followed. She no sooner got one step outside and was quickly scooped up by the director and taken to our car. It was only made more difficult by the fact that the two cars for the kids were facing each other. So, they could see each other the whole time we were getting everything into the cars and they never stopped crying. Sasha and the orphanage's social worker were with Zack and took him to his new orphanage. Maria cried so much as we left and throughout the day for her friend."

Oh my goodness! I cannot even imagine being eleven years old and having to lose the one person in the world you love…and who loves you back!

AND be moved that very same day to an unfamiliar new home.


And so, on the same day that Maria was adopted, Zack was transferred from his place of safety to an institutional-type facility for children and adults with special needs.

And there he has struggled to adjust to his new normal.



Katherine returned to the U.S with her new daughter and has done everything she possibly could to keep a promise she made Maria.

To find a family to adopt Zack!

Thankfully, with the help of the attorney we are using to adopt our children, God has moved mountains and Zack is finally listed for adoption.

He has HOPE!

I have thought back to that day a few weeks ago when Susan and I fought back tears as we watched Zack weeping while sitting in his wheelchair.

And I thank God that I didn’t know at that very moment…

That he was crying inconsolably simply because the absolute desire of his heart is to have a family of his own too. And to come to America where he can, once again, have contact with the girl who is like a sister to him.

I just don’t think I would have been strong enough to hold it together.

And so today I come to you all, the amazing readers of my blog, pleading for your help. I KNOW there is a family out there for Zack. What a sweet blessing he would be to a family—he truly is just the most gentle, loving little boy. Zack has CP (which only seems to affect his lower limbs) and scoliosis. He is going GREAT mentally and I’m told that he is on target developmentally. His only “issue” is that he cannot walk. I have, however, seen a picture of him standing up while holding onto a chair. With good medical treatment, there is no telling how far Zack will go.

Would you share his story wherever you possibly can? I would appreciate that so much. Zack has about six weeks left to find a family! That’s it!

Thank you for sharing Zack's story! Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to this little lovie who wants nothing more in this life than to belong—to love and be loved.

"Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." 
                                                                                                                      ~Ephesians 3:20 

Anyone wanting more information about adopting Zack can contact Shelley at

Donations to Zack's adoption fund can be made here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inspiring Ramblings, and an Update

Just a quick 'hello' and discussion of an interesting phenomenon.

Interesting Phenomenon
With both of my children, while I was pregnant, I began dreaming about them some point in the pregnancy.  It always seemed to about the time I felt the first movements.  With my second child it was a little earlier, because a second mom KNOWS the fluttering feeling is her baby moving.   So somewhere around 10 weeks - 14 weeks into the pregnancies I felt the movement and then started incorporating them into my dreams of our family while I slept.  So this is totally subconscious, right?  Well, now I have an updated hypothesis as to the causality of this theory.  I don't think it was the movement that brought on the dreams, but something about the number of days or weeks that have gone by with the realization that you are on your way to being a parent again.  Last week for the first time my dreams included Gemma.  Last week marked 12 weeks from telling the adoption agency, "Look no further, we are on our way!"  God's design for parents included a loving heart for their children, no matter how they come to you. 

Quick 'Hello'
Today, we are on our way to get our biometric fingerprints done.  This is necessary for the Immigration service in the Washington to approve us for immigrating Gemma to the United States. I  received my FBI clearance back yesterday.  Paul's request for clearance was submitted 5 days after mine, so it should be here soon.  Those will get turned around and sent to DC to get apostilled by the Department of State.  Those are the remaining items left for our dossier to Bulgaria.  After the dossier goes to Bulgaria, get translated, and authenticated, and then goes to Minister of Justice, we can get our travel dates for our first trip.  Still, several months off probably.  Everyday is one less though....

I encourage you to stop by No Greater Joy Mom and read of her experiences at Gemma's orphanage.  Adeye and Anthony have adopted from China and Ukraine in the past; they are now adopting two children from Bulgaria. Their daughter, Hasya, lives in Gemma's orphanage and has for 14 years!  Adeye details in her post the conditions that Hasya and Gemma are living in and how they are worse then anything she has ever experienced in her prior adoptions.  Another post shows the difference a loving touch can make after just 4 days.  The posts are here and here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Over 800 Families Blessed!

Reece's Rainbow is celebrating six years of advocating for international special needs adoption.  Over 800 orphans with special needs have come home with this ministry's help. 

Grab a tissue, watch the video, share it with someone else, and then head over to Reece's Rainbow to see how you can help save lives.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Four that Still Wait

We have been busy busy around here.  My daughter and I were part of VBS at our church two weeks ago; she as a participant and I as the Games Coordinator.  It was lots of fun, but amazingly exhausting.  By the end of the week there were over 100 tired little faces still having a blast but showing small signs of wear.  Our daughter referred to it as a party that happened every day.  I came home and napped nearly every day!  We have been visiting with family from out of town this past week.  Two cousins for my daughter and son to romp around with, and the parents getting to swap stories and compare notes on raising up the next generation. :)   All good stuff.  But I fear I have been neglecting the blog updates.

Last week we wrapped up the Facebook auction that Ruth had started for Gemma, Kimberly and Alexandra.  It was highly succesful.  Gemma's account now reads $235.00!  Kimberly and Alexandra, while they don't have families yet, both earned more for their accounts as well.  They read $100.10 and $5113.10 respectively.  Aren't they adorable? 

UPDATE: Alexandra has a family coming for her!  You can view their blog at

The auction went so well, more people have stepped forward with more items to donate for the next round of bidding.  Really amazing.  As people have been paying for the items that closed last week, many have included a few extra dollars for "making it a nice round number" or for "shipping" or "just because."  In the end a Thank you! through Facebook doesn't quite seem to cut it.

We had another joyous moment on Saturday....we received our finalized home study in the mail.  So a copy got turned around and mailed right back out to USCIS for approval to immigrate Gemma into the United States.  We need their approval to send in the dossier that goes to Gemma's country to get her country's approval of us.  Their approval will come in the form of a letter stating that we can travel to meet her!!  We also sent out a request for another FBI background check on Paul and I to be include in the dossier as well.  Both of these things can take awhile; several months, if I have heard accurate estimates.  So still quite a bit of waiting.   

Tonight I want to close with the pictures of two children still waiting in Gemma's orphanage for their forever families.

UPDATE: Payton has a FAMILY coming for him.  Their journey to adoption can be found at

UPDATE:  Penny and Payton's files have been sent back to their home country!  They can still be adopted, but their information is no longer on Reece's Rainbow, so the only way their families will see it to through blog posts and sharing via whatever means you find most convenient!

'Payton' is 8 years old.  He weighs 17 pounds!  'Payton' has spent his life in a crib.  He has cerebral palsy and has had surgery to correct cataracts with the funds from the Pleven Medical Fund.  He enjoys attention and shows an interest in what is going on around him.  There are additional pictures and a video of him available. Please contact Shelley Bedford at if you think you might be his family!

Payton, recently

Payton, as a younger child

UPDATE: Penny has a family! You can follow their story at

'Penny' is 11 years old.  She weighs 21 lbs!  She also has spent her life in the crib and she has cerebral palsy.  She has been neglected and forgotten but still smiles for the camera!  There are additional pictures and a video of her if you contact Shelley Bedford at with interest in making her your little one.

You needn't have even started your home study to commit to either of these children!  Simply contact Shelley if you even just want to talk about the possibility of being the ones blessed to parent them!  More information is available at Reece's Rainbow on how to get started with international adoption.  

So many parents who already have stepped out to empty the Pleven orphanage are advocating for Payton and Penny.  Please read Lydia's advocacy post.  She is offering a giveaway to those who share the urgency of Payton and Penny's situation with others.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Commitment Paperwork Delivered!

I found it interesting to follow the was an expensive "stamp" but thinking of the all places it was sorted and routed along the way it now seems reasonable.

Sofia, Bulgaria


11:32 A.M.

Sofia, Bulgaria 07/30/2012 10:30 A.M. Destination Scan
07/30/2012 10:30 A.M.  Import Scan
07/30/2012 7:38 A.M. Arrival Scan
Ghiroda, Romania 07/30/2012 6:35 A.M. Departure Scan
07/30/2012 6:03 A.M. Arrival Scan
Koeln, Germany 07/30/2012 2:27 A.M. Departure Scan
Koeln, Germany 07/27/2012 7:16 P.M. Arrival Scan
Louisville, KY, US 07/27/2012 5:19 A.M. Departure Scan
07/27/2012 3:15 A.M. Export Scan
Seattle, WA, US 07/26/2012 6:47 P.M. Arrival Scan
Redmond, WA, US 07/26/2012 6:32 P.M. Departure Scan
07/26/2012 5:33 P.M. Origin Scan
07/26/2012 2:57 P.M. Pickup Scan
United States 07/26/2012 5:55 P.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS