Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Today is a significant day. Today two families in two different countries experienced two victories. You remember these families from prior posts here. Today we get to celebrate with them.

The Hartman family was granted the adoption of little Judd Danil Hartman!

This is a huge victory because his adoption is from an older institution - one that is very remote, poor and often forgotten. It is well know, that once a child is transferred to an institution like this, their chances of both survival and adoption decrease significantly.

But ... God ...

God intervened for a little boy today - and Judd is coming home!

You can visit the Hartman's here and congratulate them on their victory. This is not just a victory for them, but for the forgotten children still residing in this institution. This means that there is still hope ... that they too can be redeemed.

Like little Heath pictured below. His picture grips my heart. It really does. He is still there, in that forgotten place, where the Hartmans are right now getting Judd. He is older, and because of that is often passed over. He will require more initial work, and that often intimidates. He can not walk on his own just yet, and that makes him less desirable. BUT - God created this boy, knowing all of the challenges. He, too is fearfully and wonderfully made. Look past the stained shirt and dirty socks. Look at his beautiful face, look hard. He is worth it people. He is worthy of a family. Worthy of your time. Worthy of the investment. He too, can be redeemed. Yes, it takes work. I won't lie. But, is that reason enough for us to turn our heads? To pass him by yet again? This extra leaf is worth saving. He holds potential - and he is still waiting ...

Let's not forget Heath. Please.

Go here to read more on Heath.

In yet, another country - another case was being heard. This time the Supreme Court. The Davis family were denied the adoption of Kirill earlier this year. The reason: the judge decided that Kirill would be better off in an institutional setting than that of a family - all because he too, has Down syndrome. Well, today - with the prayers of thousands throughout this nation and across the globe - the Lord granted the Davis family their most earnest prayer: and the Supreme Court judge granted the adoption of Kirill Davis - effective immediately!

You can congratulate them on this huge victory here. When I say huge victory: that is exactly what I mean. This case helps pave the way for other children from this region to also be adopted.

Congratulations to both these families. Praise the Lord for these two children being redeemed!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Noodles For Noah

Tomorrow - a local family is having a Spaghetti Fundraiser Dinner to help in the costs with bringing home a little boy with Down syndrome from a very poor orphanage in Eastern Europe.

We will be there - and look forward to sharing our experience with our own adoption process.

If you can make it here is the location:

2111 117th Ave NE
Lake Stevens, WA

Dinner times:

5:00pm, 6:00pm or 7:00pm

You can go here for more information.

Maybe we will see you there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Do you remember Brady? The little boy who was transferred to an older mental institution last year? Well, his waiting is over. This week he no longer sits lonely. This week is being played with by his Mama and Papa - oh the JOY that fills my heart at such a notion. A lost boy ... found.

Brady aka Judd - is now no longer going to be weighed down with such hard burdens. His little six year old frame can safely melt into the strength of his father, Ben Hartman. A father. His father.

Judd no longer will cry tears in a dark place alone. No. His Mama, Melanie Hartman, is there to wipe them away and kiss his cheek. Oh, the healing touch of a mother.

... or at least that is what we pray for ...

You see, it isn't over yet. Court needs to take place, and of course the judge needs to grant the Hartman family the right to adopt little Judd. This is where you and I enter.

Court is already scheduled and fast approaching. The Hartmans are in a remote village - and by remote I mean REMOTE. You and I - need to pray. There has never been a court case held in this village - or possibly with this judge. The court needs to assemble a jury as well. I am coming to you and asking for prayer. Please pray. There is much oppression and I am sure that there will continue to be - as it is not in the norm to let these children go from a place they were supposed to be exiled forever.

I'm asking that you pray. It is needful. Pray for the judge's heart to be pricked now - and tender toward Judd's need of a family. Pray for the jury, that they would be desiring to do right by both the Hartman's and Judd. Pray for the facilitator to have the right words to speak. Pray for the Hartmans to be encouraged and have peace.

Pray ... pray ... pray.

God will hear. He will answer and honor the prayers of His people.

Let's fill the ears of our Lord with the sweet pleas for this family.

If not ... if the judge's heart is hardened, if the jury is skeptical, if the facilitator makes a mistake ... Judd will remain and the Hartmans will go home leaving him there - exiled and lost forever.

Stop by the Hartman's blog here to follow their story and leave a word of encouragement. If you could leave a comment to let them know you are praying - that would be a blessing. I know it takes time to comment, but those can be SO impactful when you are away from your other children, culture, friends and country. Thank you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Say What?

You know, Sunday mornings around the Browning home can sometimes be a bit hectic. Eight kids means sixteen shoes to look for, at least ten little oatmeal grubby hands to wipe clean, three dresses to press and five button down shirts to be sure are crisp, and all the while my coffee is cooling as we go. Often times this is a recipe for ... chaos. Sunday morning chaos. During such a busy morning, there is not a whole lot of time to take notice or spend time with particulars that can otherwise wait. The rush is to get every child clean, happy and ... into the van, hoping we can maybe this time - make it to church without being late.

Today though ... was a little different.

Max. Our little quiet boy. Non verbal except for the occasional sound and constant laughter. Max decided he would cause a bit more excitement.

As I quickly got his shoes on - I kept saying "ma ma ma" - and then out of the blue, Max repeated what I had just said. He copied me!!! I couldn't believe it! He was repeating, ma ma ma ma!

And then ...

He said MAMA!

Now I know he probably has no idea that he put that together to form a word, but to me it is a START. A clear sign that he can mimic sounds/words and say them. He has the ability!

This might just be the end of it, or me over reacting. Maybe. BUT, today - for a brief moment in our busy morning - my heart burst and I began to hope that Max just might have the ability to talk after all.

Five months home from the orphanage and both children are not just doing well, but really thriving. Thank you for the on going prayer and encouragement. That you choose to continue with us in this journey is humbling and very encouraging.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two Years Ago

Two years ago today - my husband and I welcomed our sixth child into this world. A blessing from our Lord - in so many ways.

Justus Theodore Browning

Our very first 'extra leaf' blessing ...

Labor started early in the morning - but I was too stubborn to admit it or maybe I was just too grouchy to want to have to deal with it. Either way, that morning I dropped my husband off at the ferry for his morning commute - not knowing that he would just have to come right back.

My friend, Amanda, had been staying with us - and thankfully she was able to drive me to the hospital as Phillip diligently sought to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. My contractions quickened - and his stress level raised while the boat slowly made it's way back toward home.

It was during this time that God guided Phillip to Psalm 139 - which in just a few hours would prove to be a great comfort.

My husband made it in time for the delivery - and I was thankful. He is my best friend - and feel lost without him. My labor progressed, and soon little Justus Theodore Browning entered into this world.

When the doctor placed Justus in my arms and I looked into his eyes - I could tell that something was ... different. I, exhausted, could not place my thoughts as to what it might be - and the doctor and nurses said nothing - so I assumed everything was fine ... but the feeling lingered.

In a few hours we had visitors here and there - and while some friends held our son, I looked up from my meal to see my new son's foot - almost black it was so purple. (this shot above was randomly taken earlier in the day just of his feet, not meaning to capture his purple feet - but when I saw him, his feet were much much darker)

I gasped, and asked if his feet were cold. They were not, and my husband called for the nurse - who then called the pediatrician in right away.

The doctor listened to Justus' chest and looked up. He asked if we wanted our friends to leave, we stated no -

He then proceeded to tell us that Justus had a significant heart murmur and he suspected that he also had Down syndrome.

I'm so glad that God directed his speech so that the heart murmur was mentioned first. It may sound odd, but my mind was fixated on that. I heard the Down syndrome part, and really was not shocked - given my lingering feeling earlier. It was the heart condition that scared me - and made me weep. I broke down and sobbed.

I held my son, as my husband and our Pastor and his wife encircled me. Then, that scripture that God had laid on my husband's heart during his ferry ride back - was being spoken out loud by Phillip. He was reading it to me - Psalm 139

Verses 13 and 14 stuck out:
13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

I can't explain it - and it may sound goofy - but an instant peace invaded my soul that moment.

Justus was transported to another city to be placed in a NICU. It was later determined that he did indeed have Down syndrome, and a heart condition known as Tetrology of Fallot (TOF) and would need open heart surgery.

~ Our going home picture from NICU~

Justus Theodore Browning

Four months after Justus was born, we were back in a different hospital, preparing for what was one of the hardest things I have ever done as a mother. I handed my sweet baby over to the heart specialists - who would perform a six hour surgery on Justus to repair his heart. I knew it was needed - required to sustain his life, I just wanted so badly to hold on to him and not let go.

Justus did well and was recovering -

Only, the next day his sternum came apart and needed to be repaired. That was done, and soon Justus was fighting an unexplained fever that made his heart race, and threatened his life. It was during this time that God was truly touching hearts. I'll never forget how churches across the nation knelt in prayer on behalf of our son - many that I will never know, but I am forever grateful for.

Many more things happened during this time, too much to go into now - perhaps another post. One thing that really struck us, was the many battles being fought by the other children we saw laying in ICU rooms or trudging the halls with IV's attached. It was a truly humbling experience being in that children's hospital.

After 10 days in the hospital, Justus was able to come home - and we began to settle into a routine.

We began early intervention therapy as soon as he was okay to move around and sit up.

We praise God for each of our children. We believe that Justus is a special gift. One that we don't exactly have to train up to leave our home - and that may be a strange way of looking at it, but I am truly thankful that he gets to be my buddy for life.

Justus has taught us so much already. Through allowing Justus to be born into our family, God has taught us what it is to be broken in prayer. There is NOTHING like nearly losing a child that will drive you to your knees harder. Nothing. We also became aware of the BLESSING of Down syndrome. Before I had Justus, I would feel awkward around other moms who had a child with special needs. How was I to act around her, or the child? I felt ... sorry for her. To my shame. I had no idea. I can't explain it really. I really feel like God gave us such a special gift in Justus. One that not everyone gets to have. I find such joy in what others might think of as unfortunate.

My other children do too. I love how having Justus has changed the perspective my kids will have for life. I am thrilled to see a more benevolent spirit in each of my children. It makes me teary eyed to think at how my other children gravitate towards those with special needs. They literally will seek to strike up a conversation or go out of their way to be sure that they can interact with that child.

It was because of having Justus that our hearts became burdened for orphans with Ds - thus our journey to adopt Max and Ivanna. We would have never entertained the idea of a costly international adoption for two children with Ds otherwise.

God is teaching our family so much through the blessing of Down syndrome.

My husband and I tend to joke that every family should have the blessing of having a child with Down syndrome.

It truly has been such a beautiful journey, and promises to continue to be.


Thank you Lord for such a gift of a son!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Few Heart Tuggers

This morning, while pondering our trip last fall for the adoption, I started to think of those children still left behind. Still waiting for families. They all tug at my heart. They all seem to speak to you through the computer monitor. While, difficult to confront these emotions at times - I never want to forget either. The reason? I just feel very burdened over these little ones. Maybe it's having been there. Maybe it's me seeing pieces of my own children in each child that is listed on Reece's Rainbow. I don't "like" being confronted with the grief associated with knowing where these children are, what they face day to day. However, I also don't want to forget them. I don't want to neglect them in prayer. They are real little ones - in need of real hope. That said, there are a few that weigh heavily on my mind this morning.

~ ~ LORIE ~ ~

Lorie does not have Down syndrome. She was born with CP and Spina Bifida. The hernia from her spine was removed. The caretaker showed me her scar one day. This has affected her ability to walk. Although, I did see that she can walk a bit when assisted. One morning, as I entered her groupa - it was not a caretaker who greeted me at the door, but Lorie. She smiled up at me, like her usual self. She reached up for me, and seeing that she was not to be refused - I reached forth my hands to her. I held her hands, and bent down to smile at her. I helped her walk back into the groupa area, and sat her down at "her" bench. When I let go of her hands, she cried. The first time I had ever heard her cry. My heart sank. I knew she wanted me to hold her. To love on her, like she had been witnessing me doing with her groupa mate, Ivanna. She may not talk, or walk - but she is a smart cookie. I think she had figured out why I was there every day.

I felt horribly, and that day when I went back to the apartment - I lamented our inability to bring her home too. We had put in for a blind referral, but it was as if the SDA did not see it - and it was not okay to be pushy. I dug through my suitcase and pulled out the doll I had purchased back in the states for Ivanna. Ivanna was not interested in even holding a toy at that time. I decided that the doll was for Lorie. She is holding it in the picture above. The day after I gave it to her, I noticed the doll had been shelved. That was a cruel little reality. Even though I gave the doll to Lorie - it isn't really hers. Orphans have nothing. I had forgotten that.

Lorie needs a family. She resides in the same groupa Ivanna was in. A laying room. She may be able to crawl and get around that way, but due to her inability to really walk - this is where she stays. No stimuli. No outside walks. I watched as she would crawl to a crying baby and try to soothe him. She is a beautiful little girl. Truly.

Lorie turns six this month. This orphanage does not keep a child past six. She is due to be transferred to an adult mental institution. Please help by sharing her profile. Pray for her.

You can see her profile here.

~ ~ Angela ~ ~

Angela is a cutie. She was just recently added to Reece's Rainbow and is available for adoption. We saw this sweet girl too. Although, we were not able to interact with her. She has Down syndrome and has had one heart repair. She is a tiny little peanut, and just beautiful. This particular region was not difficult at all. No long train rides - and no difficulty in court. She just turned three in December. To read more about Angela or inquire go here.

~ ~ Heath ~ ~
** I see my Justus in Heath's face**

Heath breaks my heart. He is already in a mental institution. He has been seen in a wheel chair, and has little stimulation. He also has Down syndrome, and most assuredly receives no therapy, no stimulation. A family has seen him - and blogged about Heath. You can read these posts here and here. You can also read his Reece's Rainbow profile here. Yes, Heath is older. Please remember that EVERY child deserves a chance. If nothing else, please pray for this little guy. Yes, even at ten years old - he is a little guy.

If you think of it, please join me in prayer this next week for these three children.


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