Last year, on this day, I wrote about Reece's Rainbow, an International Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry, and shared our family's experience with donating to the adoption fund of a little boy named Antonio*.
(* If you read my blog post last year, you will see that I call him Alexander. There was a little mix-up at first at Reece's Rainbow as to the little boy's name... when you're dealing with hundreds of children and people speaking different languages overseas, there's bound to be some mix-ups here and there! However, we found out his name was Antonio. Just didn't want you to wonder if you noticed the name difference. And if you didn't notice, then nevermind.)
Adding to Antonio's adoption fund really felt good. It felt like we were doing something to help. I really liked that the kids were involved and, at some level, understood we were helping this little boy. (According to them, we were "sending money to buy him a Mom and Dad." Ummm..... close enough.)
Having the neat ornament from Reece's Rainbow to thank us was just icing on the cake... we liked seeing Antonio's face on our tree, and I thought about him a lot through the holidays.
Then, the seasons changed... ornaments were wrapped up carefully and stored. The Christmas tree was
I won't say that I stopped thinking about Antonio. There were days when I didn't stop thinking about him, and what it might be like to travel over to his country and scoop him up and bring him to our house.
But there were days that were filled with spelling words and muddy shoes and laundry and swinging on the swingset and cleaning gum out of the carpet and riding bikes and kissing owies, and I didn't think about Antonio.
In some ways, the year went quickly, and before we knew it, we were unwrapping the ornaments again.
When we came across Antonio's ornament, we were quickly reminded that it was time.
Time to pick out another child to help.
So, just as we had done the year before, the kids climbed up on my lap in the office chair. We typed in reecesrainbow.org and were ready to find another sweet, deserving child.
And as we looked, it was difficult to find one child that stood out more than the others... we knew all of them were deserving of a family, and so it didn't really matter who we picked.
And then we saw him.
It was a really indescribable feeling. Part of my heart felt as though I had just reconnected with a long-lost family member... part of my heart felt as though he was my child, and I had "lost" him for some time but he was back... and part of my heart was simply broken.
He was still there.
All of those days, when the kids were outside playing, laughing...
All of those Friday nights, when our family was having a "Popcorn/Movie" night, he was still there.
All of those moments that families share... we were sharing them, and he was still there.
It wasn't hard to pick out the child we were going to help.
He was still there.
And so, once again, the kids knew we were "sending money to buy Antonio a Mom and Dad."
And once again, Antonio's beautiful face hung on our Christmas tree... his face a little older, but still recognizable as the beautiful face that hung on our tree the year before.
Neither of the kids asked why Antonio was still there.
Neither asked why he didn't have a Mom and Dad yet.
But I wanted to.
* * * * *
Please consider donating to Antonio's adoption fund today in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.
My heart knows his family is out there... maybe a family is ready to bring him home with the help of a few more dollars in his fund.
This Christmas, when the kids and I sit down to pick out a Reece's Rainbow child to help...
I don't want to see Antonio's face.
* * * * *For more information, visit Reece's Rainbow or World Down Syndrome Day.