Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Commitment Paperwork Delivered!

I found it interesting to follow the paperwork...it 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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Help in the Process

A fellow Washingtonian has offered to help us fundraise for Gemma and advocate for other orphans through her blog and facebook account.  Ruth is a small business owner, homeschooling mom of 12, and has a heart for adoption.  You can follow her blog at www.11blessings.blogspot.com , her business at www.snapez.com, and her facebook auction for Gemma and Alexandra and Kimberly.  Anyone can bid and anyone can donate items to the auction.  Really cool.  We are very grateful for the attention she is giving us on our journey. 

On the adoption front we are waiting to receive a document back from Olympia,WA from the apostille to mail to the adoption agency in-country.  They have received verbal notification that Gemma is "desperately wanted" but we must make it official and file the commitment paperwork. 

Now for a short cute story....My mother-in-law normally comes over to play with the kids once a week.  With my daughter, who is 5, she is usually left playing doctor, or Sunday school, or dance show/dress-up.  The other day my daughter told me that she plays "adoption" now with Grandma.  Curious for her perspective, I asked "How do you play adoption?"  Her response, "Well, Grandma holds all the babies, I pretend to work on my computer, and Grandma tells me which babies I can have." Smile.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Horizons for Children

This morning I wanted to mention another way to become involved in the life of an orphan without adopting.  New Horizons for Children is an international hosting program that carefully selects orphaned children from Eastern Europe twice a year to visit and stay in the United States with Christian host families.   The children gain a glimpse of healthy family relationships, exposure to our culture, experience with the English language, and hear of God's love for them.  The children are between the ages of 10 and 15 and are at risk of aging out of the orphanage within a few short years.  The experiences they have in the United States in a healthy environment can greatly change the choices they make at 16 and are living on their own.  You do NOT have to be considering adoption to be a host family and New Horizons is not an adoption agency.
from newhorizonsforchildren.org

Monday, July 16, 2012

He's almost 16 and he needs a family!

UPDATE:  Tommy has a FAMILY coming for him....Susanna and her family found a way to adopt another child.  You can view their journey at www.theblessingofverity.com

Tonight I want to share with you a posting from Susanna's blog.  She is advocating for an almost 16 year old that will be "lost" in the system when he turns 16.  There will be no more chances for him to be adopted.  You can see in the pictures below he is very small and is delayed due to neglect.  His underlying diagnosis is cerebral palsy.  Please read Susanna's words below and share his story with all who will listen.  Susanna was interested in adopting him herself but has been denied to adopt again this year. Let's find him a family!

From Susanna's blog:

URGENT NEED!  Please share this post wherever you can!  

Friends, I am crying out to the Lord and writing to you with my heart in my throat.  Please, O God, give me the words!  Bring the right family to see this post and say YES!

There is a boy sitting in the driveway with a Suburban backing toward him.
He is helpless to get himself to safety.  
He needs a family to kick off their shoes and run for his life.
Before it’s too late.

There are three things I may not tell you about him:

1.  I may not say where he is located.  If you think you know, I plead with you, do not speak it aloud!  Whisper it only to God!  It is absolutely imperative for this boy’s future that his location not be publicly revealed in any way!
2.  I may not tell you his birth name.
3.  I may not tell you his exact birth date.

Here’s what I can tell you:

This boy already has a story!  God has already been working in amazing ways to bring him out of obscurity into the light!
From the first time I saw him, he was Tommy to me, and until one night last week, I hoped he would someday be our little boy.  Our family is in the same category as some of you.  Our hearts are wide open to adopting children with special needs, but we do not qualify to adopt this year.  When I looked at this small boy, I thought, “We have time.”

Here he is again.  We didn’t know whether he was even available for adoption.

In the videos we have of him, his face lights up with the purest, sweetest, most joyous smile that I’ve ever seen shining out of a dark pit.  The million-dollar-smile!  Here is the video I can share with you:

And here’s a picture to help you get an idea of his size:

I should have known better than to guess at his age.  In this photo, he appears to be the size of a three-year-old, and I guessed his age to be maybe nine?  Ten?  Eleven at the most?
But when the news came, it struck with shocking, crushing finality.

Tommy turns sixteen early next year.

This sweet boy does not have time to wait for our family.  He doesn’t have much time at all.  His family would need to qualify now and move for him quickly, and we didn’t even know whether he was available for adoption!
As I sobbed my heart out over the death of my hopes, I also pled with the Lord!  O God!  Please!  Send him a mother who will love him as much as I do!    

Not long afterward, we learned that Tommy’s file was actually registered long ago with his government!  He is available for adoption!  Praised be God!!
From his official file:
Male child at 15 years of age, with the following diagnoses: Infantile Cerebral Palsy – Hypotonic form; Severe lagging behind in the physical and neuro-psychical development; Severe protein-caloric malnutrition – unspecified; Ectopic [undescended] testicle – condition after surgery for correction.  

It needs to be perfectly clear and understood:
No agency has Tommy’s file yet.  Here’s what needs to happen in order for an agency to obtain it and here’s what the process will look like:
His file can only be requested from his government at this point if there is a specific family “seriously” interested in him and “considering to adopt him” – according to the authorities’ official wording.  They will need to file a notarized (apostille is not necessary at this point) application with their personal data and some other specific information.  On the basis of this application the authorities will decide whether to assign the agency with his file or not.  As soon as the agency receives the file, they will obtain additional information (written, photos, videos) and will provide it to the family.  Then the family will officially and finally decide whether to commit to him or not.  From that point on, the adoption process would follow the usual procedure.

NOTE!  We are being careful to strictly follow the laws of his country in every particular of this post, and it has been reviewed and approved by a legal authority from his country.

If you think God may have Tommy for your family, or have any related questions that are not answered in this post, please email Shelley Bedford directly at shele337@gmail.com.

Pray!  Pray that God will send parents to love this precious little boy!  Pray that every obstacle will be swept from the path before them!  Pray that he will escape being sentenced to life imprisonment in a mental institution, like the one in this blog post, or this news article.  Please pray for Tommy and his future family!

And friends, I beg you shamelessly!  Would you please consider an act of love on Tommy’s behalf?  Even if you have never advocated for a child before, could you find it in your heart to share this post wherever you can?  The fact that Tommy is now being shown to the world is part of the unfolding miracle of his story.  Please share this post, and ask others to help pass it on.
To share on Facebook, Twitter, and by email, please click on the title of this post, then scroll down and look directly under Tommy’s picture below for the links you need.
Thank you, dear friends, with all my heart!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday, Gemma!

Gemma is turning five today in an orphanage in Bulgaria.  We are planning on formally announcing our adoption plans today; announcing that she 'will be an orphan no more' seems like the best present we can give her from here.  Coincidentally, today, we are going a birthday party with extended family to celebrate all of the family's June, July, and August birthdays together.  

It occurred to me that I haven't really posted details about Gemma.  First off, Gemma is not her real name.  The children are given alias while they are being advocated for and "advertised" as being available for adoption.  We DO know her real name, but I'm not going to post it here, since this is a public blog.  We don't know if we are going to change her name or not.  Right now, we are simply referring to her as Gemma.

She IS five but her delays from years of neglect and starvation in her orphanage has seriously delayed all aspects of growth.  She is very small.  She weighted 19lbs at the hospital in May 2012.  She was 32 inches tall at the same appointment.  According to growth charts used by pediatricians in the USA, she weighs as much as an 11 month old and is as tall as a 18 month old. So there you go she is small!  Perhaps more shocking is her ability level is that of a 5 month old. She has laid in a crib for so long with so little to stimulate her that she wasn't sitting or crawling, walking, talking, verbalizing, crying, laughing, or showing any signs of emotions other than pain after eating (I'll get to that.)  But after news of the atrocities at her orphanage broke in April 2012, she was seen by a doctor in May and then June.  Within the month between, she learned to sit and crawl.  You see, there was plenty of toys in a unused playroom at the orphanage, but the children were never taken there!  But when things started changing, personnel began using them.  So Gemma, now crawls to reach toys!  This is huge, in my opinion!  Furthermore, with the introduction of the Babas program, she has formed a bond with her caregiver.  Again, huge!  She has the capability to show emotion and she does care how she is treated!

So now for some of the underlying diagnoses Gemma has.  First off, as with a lot doctors' reports from orphanages, Gemma's diagnoses are to be 'taken with a grain of salt,' as they say.  She has a diagnosis of epilepsy, gastritis, and neuro-dysplasia of the intestine.  We have enlisted the help of Dr. Davies from University of Washington Adoption Medicine Center. to help us sort through it, prepare as much as we can, and offer on the ground support when we travel.  He gave us the worst case scenarios to prepare for.  But basically, it is hard to tell what is a true condition and what is a result of her atrocious living conditions.  We can count on the fact that she probably does have epilepsy, although, we don't know what kind, and she that does get very bloated and very sore after eating, but we probably don't have an accurate diagnosis of why.  Worst case scenarios involve her not progressing out of her current abilities and remaining very dependent on us for the remainder of her life.  But Paul and I, hmmmm..., we just don't believe this. ;)  We think there is a little kid in there that WILL smile when she is happy, cry when she is sad, walk, talk, and has the ability to learn beyond  that.  And we are going to love her no matter where her abilities take her.

The pictures we have of Gemma


Friday, July 13, 2012

So I have been trying to figure out where I want to post updates and news from the Pleven orphanage. I'm thinking the 'Pleven' tab will get unwieldy if I just keeping appending on to it. So updates will be posted on the main blog page and will have the label as 'Pleven.'

So this was actually posted on Shelley's blog 'Only 1 Mom'  May 3, 2012.  It details how some of the funds from the Pleven Medical Fund and Nurses for Pleven Fund have been used thus far.  I don't know for sure but the medical documents we have seen for Gemma are from May and June, so she may have been one of the earliest children to get seen at the hospital with the funds. 

From Shelley:
Two weeks ago, there was a big meeting in Sofia with the Vice Minister of Health, representatives from the Child Protection Agency and a whole lot of other people, including representatives from various Bulgarian NGOs. The meeting’s purpose was to develop a plan for improving the conditions at the orphanage in Pleven and to see who (what organizations) could do what RIGHT NOW to help the children of Pleven and meet their current needs.

The Vice Minister of Health was pleasantly surprised to hear how much money has been raised so far to meet the medical needs of the children at Pleven (The fund is currently at $36,000).

Earlier this week, the official proposal was released. As expected, the 2 projects we are advocating for are on the list and “officially assigned” to be done.

So, we continue to need your help!!!!!

Here are the 2 tasks we are trying to complete as part of the efforts to reform the conditions and level of care the children at Pleven receive and how you can help:
1.) One Heart Bulgaria will be employing 2 nurses full time to work on the 6th floor, where the children with the most severe special needs live.  These nurses will be trained by Prof. Lilova and will have the responsibility to ensure that the children are properly fed and that all medical needs are addressed.

We are raising the funds to cover the salary and training of these 2 nurses for a minimum of one year.  Initially, the goal was to fund more nurses for less time. But, after the inspection of the orphanage and the findings there, it was determined that the greatest need is for well trained supervised nurses on the 6th floor. To date, this project has raised over $6,000, with a projected need of $10, 815.

To donate to this project, you can make an online donation using the chip in at the bottom of this post or you can send a check with the designation,
 “Pleven nurse fund” on it to:
One Heart Bulgaria
561 N. 150 W.
Centerville, UT 84014 USA
All donations made by check or through the chip in are tax deductible through One Heart Bulgaria.

2.) Through a partnership with Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, Dreams Foundation (in Bulgaria) and Eli Project (in the US) have established a medical fund to provide surgeries and other medical care above what is covered by Bulgaria’s national health insurance to the children at Pleven.

The money raised through this effort will fund the medical treatment and cover the transportation costs to get the children from the orphanage in Pleven to the hospital in Sofia. Tokuda Hospital will in no way profit from this partnership, as Prof. Lilova and the hospital have volunteered their services for the children at Pleven.  Per the agreement with the hospital, detailed expense reports on each child that receives care will be provided so that every dollar donated to this account is accounted for.  Updates on the care provided and the number of children benefiting from this fund will be shared.

The first child to have surgery covered under this fund will receive his surgery TOMORROW! He’ll be having an eye lens implant done. The surgery is covered under the Bulgarian health plan, but the lenses are not. So, the Pleven Medical Fund will cover the cost of the lenses so that this little boy can SEE! Six children have already received evaluations and basic feeding care and those expenses will be paid as well.

Currently, the medical fund has received $36,000 in donations. As fabulous as this is, more is needed. I wish that I could say that only a few children need extensive medical care, but the reality is that there are many many children that need treatment and procedures to improve their health.

Donations to the medical fund can be made via the chip in below or directly through Eli Project on their specific page for the Pleven Medical Fund Project, which is located here.   All donations are tax deductible through Eli Project.

Several people have asked about donating Pediasure, clothes, toys and other items to the orphanage in Pleven. One of the things revealed in the investigation is that over $300,000 worth of donations are “missing”. Donations and funds were mismanaged by those previously entrusted with the care of the children. All donations made to any orphanage in Bulgaria should be legally documented in writing, which wasn’t happening at Pleven. IT IS NOW. Pediasure, formula, food items and medications (including things like diaper rash cream) all have strict guidelines on what can and can not be accepted. That is why, at this time, we are NOT asking for these types of donations. There are organizations going in and providing food and diapers and such. These things need to be bought in Bulgaria
We are currently trying to determine if there is a way to get specialized formula that is not able to be purchased in Bulgaria in for the children who need it. There is a legal process that must be followed in order for that to be done and we'll update as soon as we have information on that. There are also families traveling to adopt children from Pleven that are taking donations to purchase diapers and other items once they are in Bulgaria, so that the donations can be legally documented. One Heart Bulgaria is also accepting donations to provide diapers and food to the orphanage in Pleven. They have a provider in Bulgaria that provides diapers at a discounted price. People wishing to donate for food and diapers can do so through this link, and specify that the money is for “food and diapers for Pleven”.  We are thankful that there are many organizations stepping in to meet the day to day needs of ALL the children at Pleven.

If you’d like to help the children with medical needs and those with the most severe special needs, please consider a donation to one of the 2 above mentioned projects. Both projects are being supported by US non-profit organizations for accountability and so that all donations are tax deductible to donors.

The next update on Pleven will be about all the children benefiting from these efforts!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This short film is from The Bulgarian Abandoned Children Trust (TBACT), a British Charity that campaigns for the end of institutional care settings for children in Bulgaria.
One of the managers of the core team is Kate Blewett who filmed the original BBC documentary 'Bulgaria's Abandoned Children' that showcased the Social Care Home in Mogilino, Bulgaria. The film aired in 2007. I find this particularly relevant to our adoption, as 'Mogilino-2' was the headline in the Bulgarian newspapers when the conditions at Pleven went public in 2012. (Click on the Pleven tab to read the translated version.)

On June 18th, 2012 Kate released her next project on the BBC, Ukraine's Forgotten Children; this documentary like the Bulgarian documentary is 'disturbing', according to the BBC.

 TBACT has created the Babas program as part of their response to the effects of institutions on young children and infants.  This program aims to nurture children living in orphanages in Bulgaria by employing a  surrogate grandmother. The team is managed by psychologists and provides two children for every woman to care for as the primary caregiver 20 hours every week. As you can imagine, the Babas are the highlight of the children's day once a bond is established.

You can support the Babas program at http://www.giveagranny.org/. The Babas program at the Pleven orphanage can be seen in the video from 2011.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Before and After Pictures!

Susanna, over at The Blessing of Verity, posted some before and after pictures of some of the children who are already home and getting the love, food, medical care, etc that they needed!  Obviously, we are very anxious about the steps ahead of us, but 'woohoo!' this is so inspiring.  Hang in there Gemma, life is going to get better!
Ana in orphanage
Ana at home
Katie in orphanage
Katie at home
Lina at home
Lina in orphanage