Thursday, October 21, 2010

Connecting the Rainbow

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you likely have the impression that Reece's Rainbow is only about adoptions of children with Down syndrome. In fact, the early days were just that: finding and disseminating information on children with Down syndrome who were available for adoption. Over four years later, however, Reece's Rainbow is about so much more. We expanded to include children with other special needs on our website probably three years ago. We have sent handmade blankets to orphans. We are heavily involved in fundraising and grant proposal writing.

None of those activities, however, float my boat like our latest venture:  Connecting the Rainbow. I am shamelessly copying text from the website so you can see the goal:

The ultimate goal of Reece's Rainbow is to eliminate the need for the organization to exist. This goal can only be accomplished by educating and supporting families all over the world who have children with Down syndrome; giving them knowledge and resources needed to keep and raise their children with Down syndrome in the loving family environment they were meant to have. This is our mission.

Families in Eastern Europe are just starting to realize that they could raise their children with Ds at home rather than surrendering them to an orphanage as has always been encouraged. These families are truly pioneers; no special schools exist for their kids, no daycares will take them, few therapists are trained to help their children exceed the low expectations society has foisted upon them.

Small groups of parents are reaching out to each other and to Reece's Rainbow for help. Members of our large leadership team are rising to the challenge by travelling to Eastern Europe, bringing trunk loads of donated supplies and loads of hope, encouragement and training!

I can think of no greater joy than to see the Reece's Rainbow website empty of faces in need of families. I can think of no greater joy than to know that families across Europe had resources to help them raise their children with special needs, to know that their children were being accepted into a society that has long been steeped in indifference and sometimes outright cruelty.

We really aren't that far ahead of them; not so many decades ago we also hid our children with special needs in institutions and nursing homes at the advice of doctors and friends. We were led into our present atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion by strong parents who just couldn't do it, couldn't leave their precious child in the care of strangers and who demanded that their child be educated, be involved, be seen as a valuable member of society.

Connecting the Rainbow is just getting started, just getting a toehold in countries that are graciously receiving our help. More than anything, prayers are needed. Pray that the tide would turn as it did here, pray that all children would be seen as a blessing and not a curse, pray that Connecting the Rainbow could come alongside the parents in love and with great sensitivity.

Pray that Reece's Rainbow could work itself out of business.

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