Romaniv Through Addy’s Eyes

Addy, our 11 year old daughter, has gone with us to Romaniv the past couple of days for day camp. She is an awesome helper, and today we gave her the camera so we see her view of the Boys. I absolutely loved looking through her photos. I’m always the one taking pictures, so for me there’s just something kind of special about seeing the boys through someone else’s eyes, especially someone as special as our Addy. 🙂 



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A Week in Photos: May 4th

Spring has sprung!  I know, I know, I said that before- but then it snowed a couple days later.  I think I can say it with confidence this time.  SPRING HAS SPRUNG.  I declare it!

This is one of those weeks when so much happened that I don’t even know where to start.  I don’t think I’ll try to describe it all, I’ll just put it out there and maybe the descriptions will come out over the next couple of weeks.  

-Grammy and Papa are here visiting from Montana.  YAY!!!!  They leave on Wednesday.  BOO.

-We drove to Lutsk last weekend (a town about 3 hours away)  to visit some of Grammy and Papa’s friends who pastor a church there.  It was fun to take the van on our first family road trip.  🙂

-A team from Hull Vineyard in the UK came to Ukraine for a Vineyard conference and spent a few days with us here in Zhytomyr.  They got to meet our Boys, encourage our church, and just be all around awesome.  Their visit was such a HUGE blessing to us as a family.  We were so sad for them to leave!  We posted an awesome video of the team on our Wide Awake Facebook page.  Check it out!

-One of the Vineyard team members was a speech and language therapist and she and I got to spend two days at Romaniv observing meals, helping with feedings, and advising the staff.  It was a very valuable time and the staff seemed very receptive.  Follow-up will be key.  Being at Romaniv for meals and in the early morning hours was very insightful for me, personally.  Peeling back the layer of what makes our boys and that place who they are and what it is.  I’ll probably blog about that at length on another day.

-We had a super fun game night with the young adults with disabilities.  How awesome to be able to meet outside in the sunshine!  Our pasty white skin needed that!

-My fingerprints were rejected again for our adoption- this time they were rejected for US immigration approval.  SO FRUSTRATING.  So, now I might be flying to London to get them redone.  Grrrrrrrr.  Apparently women who do a lot of dishes and nurses have a higher likelihood of having poor quality fingerprints.  Double whammy for me. 🙁

Now for pics.  If you have any questions, of course you know you can always ask!  🙂


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A Week in Photos: March 8th

Oh my goooooodness! What an awesome week we had! It was go go go and packed with amazingness.

Jed was in America for 12 days and just got home last Thursday. He had an awesome time of connecting with supporters and churches. He went with the purpose of building a Wide Awake Medical Advisory Team and made lots of great contacts toward that end. It will be exciting to see what comes of it.  We realize that we are at the far limits of our own personal knowledge for how to best help the boys at Romaniv.  It’s time to pull in the big guns. The people Jed met with were so gracious and excited to help. Our Boys are loved by so many!

These past few days we had an extra special treat. You see Wide Awake gets to partner with some pretty special people, and two of them visited this past week. Suzy and Lois visited from Hands of Hope Adoption and Orphan Care and we had a super great time. We got to talk about how we can best work together and how we, along with Mission to Ukraine, can best join forces to care for our Boys. It was incredible!!! We didn’t want them to leave!  Talk about kindred spirits… I’ll share more about that later. Now for the pics!

On Tuesday we celebrated Valera’s 30th birthday! He was over the moon excited!

That pink box was his only birthday wish 🙂

Suzy, Lois, and Romaniv Directors. All four, so precious to us

Baking, baking, baking in preparation for a BIG party for Romaniv nannies!

Four handsome MEN- all ready for their special performances

Addy and Ez came along to help with the party. They were so happy to see their Romaniv buddies!!!

Sweet nannies. We love them.

Stasik welcoming everyone to the special party!

Hands of Hope gave each nanny their own multicooker! They are all the rage here and cost almost a full month’s salary! The nannies were just a tad bit excited.

Meanwhile, the boys were busy being adorable…

Maxim’s first selfie 🙂

Our Friday afternoon team is back in action!

All in all it was a fabulous week. Good things are happening left and right. We are so blessed to partner with MTU and Hands of Hope.

On another note, our fam is battling some sickness and just all around exhaustion, so we would appreciate your prayer. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉

Till next time! Say yes to Jesus this week, okay?

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A Nervous Confidence

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you were afraid to ask God for it, afraid of what His answer might be?

Me too.

I remember back in 2011 when Jed and I were planning our first trip to scout out Ukraine. We had no idea what God had in mind, but we just knew we had to get over here and see in person what was being done for orphans with special needs. One night I was away from home, having some quiet time alone with the Lord and I had a big wish in my heart. I wanted this wish to come true so badly that I was almost afraid to speak it out loud- even to God.

“Lord, please let us see the Lost Boys. Please let us in that institution, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.”

That institution is locked and many times the volunteer teams are turned away when they want to see the Boys. It’s very much like Romaniv, but bigger, and in a different part of the country. That was the very place that drew our hearts to Ukraine in the first place and we were desperate to touch and see the boys face to face.

Guess what? God granted that wish. He is amazing.

Another time I remember was when we got home from that scouting trip to Ukraine. We had fallen in love with the country and her people. We had visited the Lost Boys and Romaniv and knew in our hearts we were made for that work. It was so hard to ask God about that dream…afraid of what his answer might be.


“Lord, do you want us to move to Ukraine to serve those Boys? They already have our hearts. Please say yes!!”

Guess what? Here I sit in Ukraine, my heart full of 80 Boys who have changed my life forever.

Now I have another dream. This one is BIG. I’m so afraid to even type it out. But the time has come.

“Lord, please let 2015 be the year of Romaniv Adoption. Please bring every one of our adoptable boys a family this year.”

(See, I’m so afraid to ask that I just deleted that prayer and had to re-type it.)


We have several Boys who are available for adoption and they can’t wait any longer. They shouldn’t have to wait any longer. We can be their voice, and now it’s time to speak. I know I warned before that I was going to start advocating hardcore for them, but some unexpected things kept us from really going for it, till now. Recently, in desperation I wrote about our one sweet boy who is suffering so much. The outpouring of prayer and support and encouragement was amazing. It’s time to go for it.


Adoption can’t save every boy at Romaniv. The vast majority of the Boys are not, and will not be available for adoption. But it is our responsibility to give a voice to the ones who can’t speak for themselves- and for the adoptable ones that means looking high and low for a Mommy and Daddy to call their own. Our Boys can’t reach out on a blog or on Facebook. They can’t tell their story or share their picture. All they can do is wait. But I can do those things. I can reach out. I can share their faces and their stories. So I will. They deserve it.


God is doing a new thing.
AND, we hope to have some very good news to share about our Sweet One very shortly!! Yay!

God is moving hearts.

I have no idea how God plans to bring these families out, but it’s not my job to understand. All I’m supposed to do is tell the story and be faithful with what’s been given to me.

I have confidence and I have anxiety at the same time. I write with ease one minute and delete paragraphs in another. I remember God’s truth and promises in the morning and forget them in the afternoon. I have issues. 🙂

All this is to say, get ready. Open your eyes. Open your hearts.
2015 is their year. You’re about to meet some true treasures. We love them so much it hurts. PRECIOUS.

I can’t wait to introduce them to you!!!!


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About a Boy

One year ago, at seven years old, he was transferred to our institution. We were shocked when we saw him. He was so beautiful. His skin was soft and unblemished, his eyes were bright, his smile mischievous. We said he didn’t belong in that place of suffering, but honestly, no one does.

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The nannies doted on him, laughing when he only wanted to eat milk and cookies instead of borscht. They would sneak him candy and rub his soft cheeks.

Then time moved on, and the darkness weighed down on him. Those bright eyes and that beautiful smile began to fade. Children are not made for institutions. Children are made for families- and he had none.

By spring he was less social. He allowed us to hold him, but didn’t seek out the physical affection like he had before. Soon he began to self-harm- just a bit- and not always, mostly just when he was stressed.


Summer came and he was regularly self-harming. We tried to take him to the Sensory Room but he would cry and try to escape. There are so many of them and so few of us, we had to focus our precious Sensory Room time on boys who would tolerate the therapy. And in the background he was fading away.


Fall brought brisk wind and the time had come for us to stay inside.  When we would arrive for our visits we rarely saw him up walking in the hall.  He was more and more often found in bed, arms restrained in an effort to keep him from harming himself. He would smile when we entered his room. We would stand over his crib talking softly to him and he would laugh. Then we would take the restraints off, hoping to give him some moments of love and he would cry, reaching for the restraints and the comfort they had come to provide. It was almost as if he knew he needed them- he knew he couldn’t help but self-harm- and he had no Mommy or Daddy to protect him from himself. I remember never wanting to leave him on those fall days, but having no choice.


December came along and he was almost always in bed. I do remember one day, December 12th, when he was up and had a light in his eyes- almost like before! We all praised him and cuddled him and hope filled our hearts. He and I played in the hall for quite a long time and I was reminded of how far he had come from the boy he used to be. But I hoped he was coming around.


Then came January and our hopes were dashed. He stays in bed all the time now. He doesn’t smile when people enter his room now to fetch him from bed, in fact he doesn’t smile at all. He is like a ghost boy. He is a shadow of his former self and we are lost on how to help him. The nurses and doctors try music and massage and attention, but he only declines. It seems that he has given up.

The thing is, I don’t blame him. He is only a boy- yet he is without a childhood. He suffers day after day and he has no one to comfort him. Overworked nannies simply can not give him what he needs. The nurses are stumped and worry night and day about him. I dream about him at night. His eyes have no light. He is a shell.



But it doesn’t have to be this way. You see, out of 80 boys at our institution only 12 are available for adoption, and he is one of them. He is legally free to have a family, and now we need to find them.

Do you have room at your table for one more precious child? Do you have room in your heart for one more invaluable soul? No, I cannot tell you how he will develop or if he will ever speak or if he will ever live on his own. I cannot tell you how he will respond to a Mommy and Daddy or how long it will take him to trust or how long before he will accept your love. But I can tell you that he is valuable and he was created with purpose and he is worth any inconvenience adoptive parents could encounter on his behalf.



Please stop and pray. Please ask God how you should respond. We are watching our boy waste away before our very eyes and I almost want to beg for someone to come take him away. But all I can ask of you is to be open to saying yes.

Open your heart and trust that if God is asking you to respond He will give you everything you need to do what He is asking you to do.

Time is of the essence.

*Any serious inquiries can be sent by email or left in a comment. I approve the comments before they are published, so if you want your comment to be private it will stay that way.

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A Christmas Wish: Meet Boris and Vladik


We are having a cozy day at home, just the six of us.  We’re cuddling in, eating yummy food, playing with toys,sipping coffee.  It’s perfect.

Today, on this glorious day, I have just one Christmas wish.  Today I have a wish that all of our Boys at Romaniv would be truly seen.  I have a wish that they would be seen by many as the beautiful souls that they are.

When I first met our Boys all I could see was their outward appearance.  I saw the filth, the snot, the vomit, the disabilities, the deformities.  I smelled the stench.  My ears were full of the awkward noises.  I knew God had called us to give our lives to these Boys, so I prayed that He would help me to see/smell/hear past all that.

And He did!

That was then.  Now, when I see our Boys I see Boris, Slavik, Yaroslav, Misha, Valera, Orhan, Irakli, Ivan, Dima, Andrei, Seriozha, Vova, Zhenya, Vitya, Vladik, Ilya, and Danya.  I see friends.  I see my babies.  I see my treasures.  When I hear the awkward noises they mean something to me.  They are cries of joy or yells of anger or first babbles or moments of sadness and pain.  They are not inappropriate noises now.  They are communication.  They are voices I love.  I’m not gonna lie, I still smell the stench 🙂  Hehe…I’m only human…that’s for stinkin’ sure.  (pun intended)

My Christmas wish is that today you, and many many more will see our Boys as individuals worthy of dignity and love.  I know that if people will really look- past the differences and into the eyes, they will see.  They will see our Boys as they were meant to be seen; as children of God.

And if you really see, then you will never be the same. I’m changed forever for having known them.

So, will you take a Christmas moment and meet my friends?  You won’t be sorry.  🙂



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The Most Important Post

November is a good month.  We have two family birthdays, it’s Thanksgiving, the holiday season begins, the weather is cozy, and it’s National Adoption Month!  Did you know?  Have you heard?  There is a whole month designated for sharing about the plight of orphans and the blessing of adoption.  Yep, that sounds just about perfect to me.

We’ve been sitting on some important information for a few months now, considering how, when, and where we would share our hearts.  Well, now is the time, and here is the place.  After all, it is National Adoption Month!

With a bit of fear and trembling I’m going to share, and then I’m going to ask you to prayerfully respond.  There are many different great responses, and your response will likely be different than mine.  For the sake of our Boys, every response is important.


The work we do, and Mission to Ukraine has done for many years at Romaniv is important and necessary.  It is life-altering for our Boys.  Boys who were once strangers who flinched at touch and cowered from any human interaction are now dear loved ones who come scooting and crawling and hobbling as soon as they hear our voices.  One boy who used to avoid eye contact at all costs now seeks out our gaze and will sit forehead to forehead with Jed as the guitar is played- just looking into Jed’s eyes. No words, just a look.  It is enough for us to see that God is doing miracles.

And yet.

No work we do could ever be more beneficial than a family.

No treatment could ever be as effective as the love of a family.

No weighted vest could be more comforting than a mother’s arms.

No helmet could offer better protection than a father’s embrace. 

This work we do is a stopgap.  It is the next best thing possible in this situation.  But it is not a family, and it is not nearly enough.  There is no future for our Boys here.  Even if our dreams come true and we build group homes where they can be loved and cared for, it still won’t hold a candle to a life spent as part of a loving family.  There are nannies at Romaniv that do care for the Boys deeply, but they face an impossible task.  How can 2 nannies care for more than 20 boys with severe disabilities and do an even satisfactory job?

Most of the boys and men at Romaniv are not legally free to be adopted.  Either their parents still maintain their parental rights, or the boys are over the age of 18 which prevents them from being adopted.  To those boys and men, we commit to doing whatever we possibly can to love them, care for them, and give them a future worth living until the day they are made whole in heaven.


Some of our Boys, though, ARE available for international adoption.  We haven’t shared this with you before for several reasons that might be hard to understand.  There are many layers to this.  We feel protective of our Boys and the work that is being done; we want to avoid any exploitation; we have a relationship to maintain with the orphanage directors that requires vigilant care.  Nothing about this is simple, so we tread lightly with steps full of prayer.  And yet, one of our Boys is not thriving.  He is wasting away before our eyes and we can’t stand by and watch without acting.  He is ill and will never thrive in an institutional setting.  He needs the best medical care.  He needs a nutrition plan.  He needs therapy of all kinds.  Most of all he needs a mommy and daddy to love him as their son- to believe in him, to fight for him, and shower him with affection.  We are compelled to act and we can’t hold off any longer.  Time is of the essence.

So I’m asking that you see our Boys.  I’m asking that you stop and see them for the treasures they are.  See their immense value.  See their precious beauty.  Consider their lives as weighty as your own and ask the Lord how you should respond to this knowledge that some of them are waiting for families.  If you follow Jesus you are called to care for the orphan in some way.  Even if you don’t believe in Jesus I bet you can agree that this is a justice issue that can not be ignored.

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Maybe you are supposed to pray.  A million times thank you!  Prayer is important and essential.  Any of the progress that’s been made has only come through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our Boys need prayer!

Maybe you are supposed to give financially to help improve the quality of life for our Boys.  Yes!  Thank you so very much!  None of this would even be happening if we didn’t have faithful financial supporters on the team.

Maybe you are supposed to adopt.  Please don’t dismiss this response.  I am confident that some of you who read this are called to respond through adoption.  Children were made for families!  Children were not made for institutions.  One hour spent at Romaniv will prove that point.  I must warn you though that any romanticism concerning the adoption of one of our Boys ends with the fuzzy feelings you may be feeling as you read this post.  It will not be romantic.  It will be a hard road and much faith will be required.  But- it will be a road worth walking.  I am confident of that.  Orphans are very important to our God and He has gone to great lengths to prove His love for these particular Boys.  He will not allow the world to forget them now, and He’s not about to forget them when they step out of Romaniv’s gates.


I was with these Boys yesterday.  I held them in my arms.  I kissed their cheeks.  I held their hands so they wouldn’t harm themselves.  They are real people.  They were created with purpose and God has good plans for them.  I can’t even imagine one of my four children living like our Boys.  I can’t imagine my Ezra, nearly 9 years old but the size of a toddler, sitting day after day rocking back and forth in his bed.  I can’t imagine him sitting and sitting and waiting and waiting for his life to begin.  I can’t imagine not going to him and taking him out of that place.  Our Boys are as real as Ezra and they are as deserving of love as he.  They were created with just as much purpose and intentionality.  They were created in the image of God and God does not make mistakes.

There you have it.  Now you know, and I now humbly ask you to respond.  I ask you to stop and pray and ask the Lord what He would have you to do.  Please pray that adoptive families would step out with boldness and faith.  Any serious inquiries can be emailed to and I would be happy to talk with you more.  If you have questions about what adopting an institutionalized child looks like in real life I can connect you with adoptive parents who have walked that path.

Please share this post and give our Boys a voice this month.  Thank you!

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8

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(God’s) Timing is Everything

So yesterday was basically amazing.

We had the extreme honor and pleasure of meeting with a woman in Kyiv who has worked for twenty years to provide rights for, and secure the rights of people with disabilities.  She and her team have worked tirelessly to rewrite laws and create legislation and lobby for the ones we love.  This incredible woman was fighting for our Boys before we even had a clue they existed.  This incredible woman deserves a standing ovation.


As a mother of an adult son with disabilities she recognized the holes in the social system of Ukraine.  She saw how her own son would fall between those cracks.  She knew the value of his life and decided to do something about it.

As Ukraine attempts to move toward European Standards of Care for institutionalized children and adults it has become obvious that the current model of care can not continue “as is”.  Major overhauls must happen.  Major change must come.  And it will have to be MAJOR.

Before we moved here we told people that the whole social system here in Ukraine would have to change in order for the dreams God has given us to come about.  We dream of community living for people of all abilities where they are not isolated, but are active members of society.  We dream of homes where children are not confined to their beds, but they are truly living and thriving, surrounded by loving support for all their days.  Those dreams are legally impossible with the current system.  BUT, change is coming.  We don’t know when (but we do know it will be soon), we don’t now how, but now we know the people who have been dreaming this dream long before we arrived.


Timing is everything.  The harvest is so ripe.  How can we honor those who have gone before us? How can we thank them enough for their tireless, unrecognized efforts?  It’s truly humbling and so encouraging!  I mean, think about this: we knew at some point we would have to hire a legal team to dig in to, and fight to change the laws here concerning people with disabilities.  Then yesterday we learned that there are people here already doing that- and with much success!


There is much, much work to be done, and many battles yet to be fought, but we are not alone. We are a teeny-tiny piece of a great big puzzle here in Ukraine.  There are others who care, and it is personal to them.  We met one of them yesterday.

I’m a concrete thinker.  I like to know what to do next.  All these policies and plans and multi-year projects are nearly impossible for me to wrap my brain around.  But, in our meeting we were given a solid next step to work toward.  We learned that it is important to register Wide Awake International as an NGO here in Ukraine.  That will be to our benefit once the big changes start to take place.  So, we’ll get working on that right away.


In the meantime we’ll keep in touch with our new contact in Kyiv, and faithfully serve the Boys God has put right in front of us.  It’s more and more obvious as time goes by that this is the exact place we are supposed to be at this exact time in history.  Because of that we can rest.  Even though Ukraine is at war and the task before us seems insurmountable, we can be confident that God is truly in control.  Yay for that!!!!  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.  You are making a difference in many lives!

The photos are from last week at Romaniv.  Little Ilya was cracking us up with his absolute love for music.  It really helps him to regulate.  He even tried to climb inside the guitar!  Don’t miss him on Jed’s lap in the pics.  Hilarious and awesome.  



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An Update on the Littles!

You’ve been asking and wondering, so I won’t leave you in anticipation any longer.

Everyone’s been asking, “How are the Littles???”

(You can also read about them here:

Okay, you’ve twisted my arm. I guess I can spare a few to chat about the sweetest little boys you ever did see. 😉

The Littles are doing really well. I’ll tell you that it was obvious to us right away that they looked physically healthier. A small church here in Zhytomyr that does great orphan care here in our region went to Romaniv while we were in Lviv. They also saw the need for more nannies and donated money to hire another nanny for the Littles! With our forces combined, we now have a nanny with the Littles 7 days a week from 7am-7pm. This is HUGE. How can they not improve?? Impossible.

Jed and I go to Romaniv twice a week now. We go on Friday with the team, like usual, but we also go on Tuesdays. Our dream is to form another Isolation Hall team for Tuesdays, but we just don’t have the manpower for it right now. There is a church from another city that has joined MTU at Romaniv on Fridays for years. They bring a group to Romaniv on Tuesdays as well, and they mostly work with the older boys. We are so thankful for them! They are absolutely fabulous people. So, for the last two weeks, while they work with the older boys, Jed and I have taken aside a couple of our Isolation Boys to work with them more individually. In the group setting on Fridays, it’s really difficult to connect well with each individual boy. We are really excited about this time on Tuesdays to observe and connect with boys more strategically.

Yesterday I got to spend some very quality time with “Little #1” (the bigger of the two) and one of our nannies. The other Little was with the orphanage nurses, so I didn’t get to interact with him. The time was awesome! Our friend Alosha came along to translate and I got to talk with the nanny very freely about the boys and their care. We discussed feeding progress and difficulties and I learned that it takes her over an hour to feed the boys at each meal. Little #1 eats well and is improving his feeding skills with the spoon (yay!), but #2’s reflux is still a big problem. Thank The Lord we have those nannies! The other nannies do not have nearly that amount of time to spend feeding just two boys. Our nannies are able to feed them slowly enough that they finally hold down 100% of every meal. WOOHOO! They are not losing more weight, but are now maintaining. The next step will be working toward weight gain.

I got to work with Little #1 on the floor, showing the nanny how to do some stretches and exercises with him. I was amazed to see that he is now able to briefly lift his head while lying on his tummy! This is huge. I can tell that our nannies really work with the boys and want them to grow and improve.

I think the biggest and best thing that I noticed during my time with him was the change in his socialization. These boys get 2 to 1 attention all day long and IT SHOWS. He would turn to look for his nanny when she spoke. She reported that the boys each cry when she is giving attention to the other one. THIS IS GREAT! These are Littles who were silent when they arrived at Romaniv. They weren’t silent because they had no needs. They were silent because they had learned that crying got them nowhere. There would not be a response, so why cry out? A silent orphanage is not a good sign. It is healthy and right that children should cry out or call out when they have a need. I was ecstatic to hear that the boys cry for their nanny. Woot! My heart was full to hear her talk about their likes and dislikes. She described how Little #1 reaches for his mobile that we brought him before we left in August. She reported that he loves it, but his greatest love is going for walks outside. Every day the boys get to go out for a walk. Every day!!!! She laughed as she described how all the orphanage staff from maintenance men to cooks have to stop and ooh and aaah over the Littles when they see them outside. Of course, a family is their very best option, but if that can not be at this time, then we will work with what is possible. I’m so thankful this is possible.

Praise God. Praise God that He made a way for these two lives to be saved. Praise God that he put a dream to help our Boys in the heart of a 13-year-old boy all the way back in Oregon. Praise God for the church here in Zhytomyr that also saw the need and joined in to help. Praise God for nannies who truly love our Boys. Praise God that we have the funds to continue this care for 4 more months.

There is so much need at Romaniv. There is so much injustice and sadness. The need can be overwhelming and suffocating, but yesterday I got to see a glimmer of things to come. There is one room in that building where joy abounds. May it continue and spread and grow like wildfire. May God grant us abundant wisdom beyond ourselves to know what steps come next. Seventy-eight other boys sit and wait day after day for their turn. The same God who saw the Littles and made a way for them will make a way for the rest. We are confident of that!

P.S. We will share more about our work at Romaniv in our September newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletters in your inbox you can subscribe here!

P.P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures. We’re finishing up some discussions about posting pics of the Boys. I’ll post more as soon as I can!

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Big News: A Wide Awake Nanny!

Oh guys, today was a good day.  I think you’re going to be pretty excited about today.  I know I’m excited.  Maybe that’s why it’s 12:52am and I’m still awake and just crazy enough to start writing a blog post.  Forgive the late-night typos and the lack of pictures, this news just can’t wait.

About a month ago I shared with you about our two newest additions to the Isolation Building.  I wrote about it here:  Our two new little guys (the “Littles”) are teeny tiny and we knew they would need a lot of extra support to be able to thrive.  Right before we left for camp in July we brought a bunch of supplies to Romaniv to help the nannies care for them more easily.  We left for camp unsure of how they would do at Romaniv, in their new environment, but hopeful.

Last Friday we finally made it back to Romaniv after three awesome weeks at camp.  Oh my, it felt amazing to be back with all our boys.  They were visibly happy to see us (which was a blessing all on it’s own!) and we were ecstatic to be back with them.  We missed those faces!

We could see right away that the Littles have not been thriving.  I don’t fault the institution, the nannies in the Isolation Building genuinely do care about them and do their best to meet their needs.  I fault a system that sets people up for failure.  Simply put, there is no way it is possible for 2 nannies to give 22 boys with severe disabilities the care they desperately need.  Once you add the needs of the Littles to all the others it becomes over-the-top impossible.  The Littles are still learning to eat from a spoon instead of only by bottle.  Bravo nannies for trying to teach them to take food from a spoon!  They are unable to walk, and one of them is unable to even sit, but who has the time to help them weight bear and learn to crawl and learn to grasp toys and learn to interact with their environment?  With a building full of other boys who don’t understand personal space or boundaries or how to be gentle with “babies” , how do you keep these little ones safe without keeping them in their cribs all day long?  I don’t fault the nannies.  I’m not at all sure how I would do different if I were in their shoes.

The honest truth we saw right away is that there is no way these boys could thrive without a big intervention.

So, we went home last Friday and asked God how Wide Awake could or should intervene.

The thing is, we will be at a language intensive for the next bit and won’t be able to be at Romaniv for 3 weeks.  We couldn’t help but feel a desperation to help before we leave, and on Tuesday Jed and I met with the orphanage’s Assistant Director (who came in on his vacation) to see what that help could look like.

I can’t brag enough about this orphanage administration.  They are so open to help and to new ideas and we are beyond thankful for that.  They genuinely care about the boys and they really do want to improve their lives.  They know they need help and they don’t turn it away when it’s offered.  Thanks to those who have served them faithfully for years, we get to see the fruit that is cooperation and trust and encouragement.  It’s awesome.

In our meeting the Assistant Director was super open to our ideas.  He said “You know our boys.  If you have ideas to make their lives better we will do our best to help you reach those goals.”  Praise God.

We presented the idea of Wide Awake International hiring an extra nanny to care specifically for the Littles for the next three weeks while we are away.  The purpose of the nanny would be:

1.  To feed the boys the way they need to be fed so that they are able to keep down the nutrition they work so hard to take in.  They both have reflux and one of them is still very lacking in the oral skills needed to eat safely from a spoon.  Feeding them properly takes a long time and the regular nannies just don’t have that time with their normal workload.

2.  To provide therapeutic interventions that will help the boys build strength and motor skills- both gross and fine.  They need to bear weight on their legs and arms.  They need to learn to crawl.  They need to learn to grasp toys.  They need to have tummy time and neck control….and and and….  🙂  Any attention to their bodies, any play will help them come closer to achieving those goals.

3.  To love.  These little ones live confined to their beds.  Oh how they would thrive with time and attention and physical touch.  Oh how they would thrive with a walk in a stroller, to feel the sun on their faces.  Oh how they would thrive when being held, just for the sake of being held.

The Assistant Director liked the idea.  He presented it to the Director who liked the idea,

Annnnnnddddd….today we met our nanny!  Wahooooooo!

She is a kind, gentle woman who seems to be just the right fit.  We pray it is so.  She was visibly touched when she first met the boys and she was open to all our instructions and ideas.  Today we discussed our ideas for working with the boys’ bodies and how we would like them to be fed.  If she implements these ideas we won’t help but see improvement. Improvement in their overall well-being is inevitable.  🙂

Our Wide Awake nanny will work from 8-5, Monday through Friday (with possible some time on Saturdays) and her main focus will be the Littles.  If they are sleeping she can help out some with the others, but we were very clear about our expectations that she focus on the Littles.  We really want to see how they improve and how they respond to this care, so as much as we love all our other boys, we need our nanny to be pretty focused.  The Little’s room is like the ICU of Romaniv.  Yes, all the other patients in a hospital need care, but the ones in ICU need special attention for some time.  So it is with them.

Want to know something really awesome that’s like icing on the cake?  There’s this awesome kid in Portland, Oregon.  His name is Athen.  God really gave Athen a big heart for our Boys. He loves them and for the past several months he’s been working hard to raise money to help them.  He’s done a pancake breakfast and raffles and t-shirt sales.  He made bracelets and sold them during school lunch.  He worked hard.  On Monday, the day before Jed and I met at Romaniv to present our idea about the nanny, Athen gave us his total from his fundraisers:  $820.  SHUT UP!!!!!  So, not only did we have a really cool idea to present to the orphanage administration, but we had a big chunk of money to pay the bill for the idea (plus some!).  Too stinkin’ awesome.  Really.

When we get back from our language course we will see how it went with our nanny and at that point we will talk with the directors about a more long-term plan for improving the Littles’ health and well-being.  The rest of the money Athen raised will be put to good use at that time.  I’m confident of that!

So, there you have it!  Now is that good news or what?  How amazing that God sees and He knows our Littles.  He loves them so much that He moved the heart of a boy across the world who didn’t even know them to work his tail off so they could have a nanny just for them.  He loves them so much that He opened the hearts of the Directors to come to work on their vacation to find a nanny and sign papers and talk business and money and schedules.  He loves them so much that He moved the heart of a kind woman to love them and serve them for these next three weeks.

Oh how He loves us!  Woohoooooooo!

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