Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hope, Faith, Fear, and Memory

I remember the first time I ever heard about Reece's Rainbow. Ever. A girl named Lydia Hollis was raising thousands of Dollars in mere days, to bring home a little girl from Ukraine with Down Syndrome. In  a mere 9 days, Lydia had raised $25,000. That was 5,000 over what her family needed to adopt. So what did they do with that extra 5k? Well, like any good Christian Family would do, they gave it. Gave it to another family desperately yearning to adopt. The Hook Family. That extra $5,000 has changed the Hook Family's lives, its changed my life, but above all, it's affected one little girl:

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Eva Noel "Evan" Hook. This little girl has had one of the most steadfast families in the world fighting to bring her home. Her adoption is what introduced me to her amazing family, and over the last year, I've had the privilege of getting to know them. They are an amazingly faith-filled, loving family who just want their little girl, plain and simple. They aren't asking for a mountain to be moved- at least not in the physical sense.

The Judge and/or prosecutor they face turned away another family looking to adopt a little boy with Special Needs. They have been hurt in the past year by the shocking choice of an American mother to send her Russian son (from that region) BACK when she felt too overwhelmed with his "issues." Besides that,  the stigma against Special Needs in Eastern Europe is VERY high. In some ways, Communist ideas still hang in the air where they once ruled the streets. But the Hooks (along with the Davis and the Moreno families, also adopting from this region) have persisted on, and in about T-minus an hour from when I type this, they will be fully immersed in the fight for their lives as they want them, with Evan's days in the orphanage being numbered, not because of the all-feared transfer, but because her mommy and daddy are bringing her home.

So if you are up reading this and praying at 1 or 2 in the morning, PRAY, and if you read this in the morning,
PRAY for whatever the verdict was. If, Godwilling, they are indeed cleared to take home their little girl, pray for a speedy return home. No matter what, pray we can all SEE GOD through all this. I have hope, I have fear, but most importantly, I have the will to TRUST God will come through in this.

God in Heaven above, we pray to you as the years have turned into months, months into weeks, weeks into hours, hours into minutes, minutes into seconds, seconds into the moment of truth. Help us to SEE your Face in whatever happens, and that you are in control, and hold our hearts. We pray for this, not only because this family has answered your call to care for the widows and orphans, but because they could be the people that open the door wider for MORE of this amazing work of mercy to happen through other families. We pray all of this, in your name, Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Josh here! I'm a prayer warrior now and look at who I got!

His name is Ethan and he's in EE. He's receiving fine motor skills therapy. He can stand on his own for a little bit and can walk with assistance. There's so much he can do that I'm just gonna copy his bio so you can see all he can do:

DOB: February 2009
Ethan has Down syndrome and strabismus. He is physically healthy at this time.
Testing done when he was 22 months old placed him at the developmental level of a 13.5 month old. At that time, he was standing for periods of time without support and walking with support. He's receiving therapy for motor skills.  He can hold a spoon and feed himself with assistance.  He's learning to eat "hard to chew" foods at this time. He is able to place objects into a box after mimicing the activity and can stack 2 blocks on top of each other once the task was introduced to him (after he was shown how to do it, he could do it).  He will hold a pencil and leave random marks on a piece of paper.  He is already pronouncing several words. He reacts positively to adults and enjoys being hugged. He plays with other children and is described as "smiling and communicative".

AMAZING ISN'T IT! For a two year old boy living in a orphanage he can do all that. He is a special little boy who really needs a family!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Look at this little face!

Hey! Josh again. The other day I was disappointed to see that this little girl lost another family.

She is so adorable!!!!!!!!!! When I saw her little face I had to read her bio. Then I saw under her name: CHARITY LOST HER FAMILY! Then I kid you not, I cried. I went to mom and I said, "Have you seen this little girl Charity?" Then my mom told me, "Actually shes lost two families." This is what you'll see on Reece's Rainbow if you look her up:
 What a munchkin!  Big brown eyes :)    More photos available.  Charity is a beautiful girl with Down syndrome.  She was born with a heart condition, but has had corrective surgery and is healthy and doing well now.  She is still crawling, and will greatly benefit from a loving family to encourage her development!!

This little girl has kept a big space in my heart ever since I first saw her. As said in her bio if she gets the benefit of a loving family she will blossom developmentally. Please keep this little girl in her prayers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear Sonya...

When the world first met you...

 ...You were a sad little girl looking for hope. It's a hard thing to do where you are now, but you were fighting for it, and thats already a testimony to just how strong you are.

Then me and my compadres Josh and Autumn got over there, and, well, we had the privelege of showing the world what a ray of sunshine you really are.


And after that came a lull, where people came together and prayed over you and the pictures that were a portal into your happy little self. And then God opened a door through tragedy, and as Steven Curtis Chapman once wrote, "Out of these ashes, Beauty Will Rise." And boy did it RISE!!! Because now you've got an amazing Mommy and Daddy and Brother and sister coming for you and your roomate Dusty!! But while they bide their time and wait for the SDA to kindly "invite" them to see you, they have some awesome friends who have the honor of showing you a little glimpse into your new life...

                                                 ...And I'd reckon you quite enjoyed it!!

          You are still the same happy little tyke I met 3 months ago on Christmas Day, 2010, and your happy little face just lit up my day :)

                                 (and to be quite honest, I think you probably made Mrs. Schwenzer's as well :) )

And the next time I'll be posting about you, sweetheart, you're gonna be in the arms of your brand new Mommy and Daddy ,who are just the best people ever, I assure you :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is the Stuff (8 Days of Hope)

No, I'm not going to do what  I would normally do when I use a music track as a title (which you'd know if you follow my other blog), but it's an appropriate title nonetheless. And IF you're after some upbeat Christian Pop, definitely check out Francesca Battistelli's new album, Hundred More Years. More awesome stuff from the NYC singer we've all come to know and love :)

So as the title may indicate, there are LOTS of things to chat about today!

1.- Happy Belated World Down Syndrome Day! I was going to/should have posted about it here, but I was giving my family's blog and my other blog some attention for a little change of scenery :) Anyway, WDSD is probably the MOST undercelebrated holiday on the planet! An entire day devoted to the blessing of a 21st chromosome should be a national holiday if I do say so myself ;)

2.- keep Tori in your prayers- by now she is probably IN PERU! here's a little picture of her (bottom row, second from the left) and her group at Franklin Airport pre-departure!

Looks like one happy group o' missionaries! You can follow their adventures @

3.- While I haven't gotten to officially post them yet, the Schwenzer Family is over at my (Caleb's) sister Julia's Orphanage adopting two little kids, and oh my goodness, they are PRECIOUS!! You can follow their awesome journey here. We also have the Hinz Family waiting for a travel date, but I am still PUMPED for their first meeting with our precious little lovies, Dusty and Sonya! I am BEYOND eagerly anticipating that!!

4th, and finally, SPRING has finally began to come! It feels SO refreshing to have finally evaded endless barrages of snow that are commonplace up here in NY. So in honor of the fact that  I can finally see the sun and walk on grass again, here's a little Slideshow!! It's also meant to serenade anyone who has gone through tough times of any sort this winter.

"Spring Is Coming" Slideshow from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Hope you enjoyed! Also, we continue to keep the Hook Family in our prayers, as they approach the Court Date to hopefully complete the adoption they have been working on for almost 2 years! Join me in the 8 days for Hope, as we pray the Team that Tori is with down in Peru through their week-long mission trip, and pray her parents through their court date!

Friday, March 18, 2011

This is Caleb

Hey everyone! Josh again. The other day I was on Reece's Rainbow and I saw this cute little face.

Isn't that such a cute little guy! This little guy is in need of a family. Here is the description of him from Reece's Rainbow:
CalebBoy, Born November 29, 2007
From a missionary who visited with him in August 2010:  “  Caleb is extroverted, active and restless. He has a ready smile, enjoys playing with other children. He loves listening to music, watching cartoons. He is energetic and likes being outdoors!”    More photos available, along with full social history and medical records.                        
                  He is so cute and as is description states he is very active. He also has $1023 towards his adoption! Even though that isn't alot it still helps just to have a little head start. Please pray for this little chinese boy, and that a family will come along for him.

P.S.- Caleb's info is now also on the "Our Orphan Loves" Page and the "Donate" Page! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Belated Birthdays and Missions!

Well, again inspired by Mrs. Nalle's latest post, "Dad's Girl," I decided to look up if any of the sweeties we sponsor/advocate for here had March Birthdays. Turned out we missed our sweet Shawna on the 2nd :(.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. God has blessed you to be kept two whole years past when you should have been transferred so that your Forever Family can find you. I pray so hard they will. Whether it's coincidence or not, it's certainly a God thing the day after your birthday this year, your next-crib-neighbor, Sonya got her forever family. They may have even felt their prayers were answered that day before, giving the world a double blessing on March 2nd, 2011. We hope her luck will go to the next crib over. :)

I have one more prayer request for you! Our team member (and my new co-administrator, as well as my Family's good friend) Tori is leaving for Peru on the 22nd to start up a sponsoring program at the Sagrada Familia Orphanage there, and prayers for her, her 6 fellow teenage teammates and their three adult leaders are much appreciated!

Wow, March is a busy month in Orphan Care :)

P.S.- feel free to check out all of our updated pages! I promise you the charity one IS being updated very soon, but I've been getting kids reorganized and doing lots of donation linking and stuff :D

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When They Don't Live Life

Well, it's a task in and of itself to follow a very moving post, let alone one by Tori :) But in all seriousness, congrats to Tori on facing and speaking about an issue few of us in the Advocacy world for orphans want to face. It's hard to see and trust God will take care of them, but the courage to know that and write about it is something worth noting.

I met a little boy in a similar situation when I was in Ukraine. This little boy would never be adoptable because his parents hadn't (or wouldn't) give up their rights to him. So he sits in his little crib, a ward of the state waiting for his mommy or daddy to come pick him up. And the sad thing is, its not even that he has a disability that would "degrade" him in the eyes of his Society. Its just that Mom is somewhere where she can't take care of him and Dad won't.

But we have to trust, because trusting God will provide is what will inevitably change the world. But  Mrs. Nalle's latest post, "Abandoned and Aborted", brought another problem to mind.

The Problem? It happens in America, under a different name, in a different place.  

I have learned/know plenty of statistics for different things in the orphan world. 147,000,000 orphans. Estimated. Only about 5% are adopted. But there's One that's even more saddening.

In America, 95% of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth are aborted.

Yeah, like life ended in womb ABORTED.

Sanctity of life is a touchy issue. No situation fits the mold perfectly. There's always that extra circumstance, that curveball, that one bit that makes it seem "appropriate" to abort the child.

But the fact is, life is life, in any form.

When people learn, read, or watch a movie about the Holocaust, it inevitably evokes tears, whether its during the movie/book/lecture, 5 minutes afterwards or 5 years later. How could Hitler, who had promised "bright new beginnings" to Germany, kill off what was easily half of the population, because of someone's religious identity? Or their looks?

The fact is, we're doing the same thing in America, in a different way, 8.6 TIMES worse. Yeah, that's right, we've repeated the Holocaust 8.6 TIMES over to date.

And counting.

Now, Thank God, I have never had to be in such a situation of unplanned pregnancy, in my own life or in those of my friends. And to some my saying all of this will seem naive because I've never felt that fear. The fear that encompasses you after you realize you've made a big "mistake" that has resulted in human life, compounded by a "debilitating" special need (or needs). Special Needs can seem daunting. I was afraid when we first decided to adopt Julia that we were going to be going to endless doctor's appointments for a child who was so fragile we wouldn't be able to play with her or do anything. But the fact is, we're not in the stone age. There are so many resources to help with Special needs, no matter how big or how small. And ADOPTION  is always there. And if a mother and/or father wants it, they can even request an open adoption where the Parents meet the family their child is going to.

So are we any better? In stead of letting the baby be born and then abandoning them, we abandon them in the WOMB! Before they even meet us, see the world, breath fresh air, we disown them.

Think about a person with Special Needs who has changed YOU. I've had the pleasure of knowing two. I obviously have Julia now, but before Julia, there was a little boy I used to play with every friday morning named Connor. He was 8 and he couldn't talk. For many people, they looked at him and didn't think he could accomplish things. But for those of us who know him, he has reached above and beyond, and just does a great job living life happily.

And the big question is, where would we be, where would I be, without these little gems? We need them, and they need us.

P.S.- check out all of the changes to the pages- many have been afoot!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When They Can't Come Home

In the summer of 2010, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Comas, Peru for ten days. One of the days we were there, we went to the Sagrada Familia Orphanage.

When we pulled up the dirty driveway, I saw lines of brightly colored laundry hanging all over, and dusty buildings, one after another. As the orphanage director gave us a tour of the orphanage, I was shocked to see how huge it was. He told us that there were 813 children in that orphanage.

As we walked along, Peruvian orphans would peek out behind doorways and through windows, trying to get a glimpse of the Americans. Soon, it was time for us to get to work. After all, we were there to help them. We had two options that morning - make the older kids breakfast or go to the baby house and change diapers.

I was not to be fooled by the "diaper description". I knew babies meant a lot more than diapers - they also meant cute and cuddly. So of course I chose to visit the baby house.

When we got there, they were just waking up and getting the kids ready for the day. They took the children up to the "bath room" for lack of better words. What I saw there made me cry.

The room was freezing, as it was winter in Peru when we went. On the left side of the room was a very large table that was backed against the wall. Across from it were piles of clothes stacked up to the ceiling. On the other side of the room, there were plastic mats leading all the way to a sort of enclosed area that had a tub of water and a hard bar of soap in it. When the children walked in, they were roughly stripped of their clothes. Their diapers were removed, not changed, and they screamed as the freezing bathwater hit their skin and their faces were scrubbed hard with soap. They were then dried off with a towel, and sent to sit, shivering and naked, on the table until someone could come and dress them. It was painful to watch.

Now, it was a little crazy for the workers, I think, because us Americans were there. I remember there being a swirl of chaos, not knowing what was going on exactly, until I saw her. A little girl with pigtails, a pink shirt, and crossed eyes limped into the room. She had trouble walking and seeing, that was obvious. I kept my eyes on her as she slowly made her way to the room, until I reached out and caught her when she fell.

I think she was scared of me at first, but she finally crawled up into my arms, put her head against my shoulder, and refused to let go. She wouldn't even let me move position. She cried as one of the orphanage workers took her away to be bathed. I cried too. I watched them scrub her and strip her of her diaper. The other teenagers on the trip were grabbing kids and going down to the main room. Not me. I was waiting for my little girl. The one with the limp and the crossed eyes.

As an orphanage worker brushed her hair and put it back into pigtails, I used my limited Spanish vocabulary to ask what the girl's name was and how old she was. Her name was Carmensita, which means Little Carmen. She was six years old. Most of the kids in the baby house were four or under. I knew why they had kept her back. And it made me mad.

We played together all morning, and when it was time for breakfast, I sat down in a little chair and motioned for her to come sit next to me. But she walked over to a high chair and started climbing up into it. A wave of fury built up in me. They still had her in a high chair!? Just because she couldn't see or walk very well!? I sat and ate breakfast with her.

Afterward, I held her in my arms against a wall, and she asked me to sing. I didn't know any songs in Spanish, so I just sang "Jesus Loves Me." She fell asleep on me. I held her there for over an hour.

It was the most painful thing in the world when I had to put her down. I tried to do it gently, so she wouldn't wake up. It didn't work. She screamed bloody murder and held onto my legs with a claw-like grip. "MAMA, MAMA!" she screamed. I felt tears running down my face as my team leaders had to drag me out of there.

Later, I asked the pastor of our church about Peruvian adoption, having spoken to my parents, who were willing to adopt her. He said it took a while, but it was possible. I told him about Carmensita. "Oh, no," he said, looking sad. "All of those children are unadoptable. Their parents didn't give up legal rights, or they just don't have them."

I felt like I had been punched. Not adoptable? My heart felt like it had ripped in half. I loved Carmensita. I loved her like she was my sister.

She would never come home.

So what could I do? I did the only thing I could do. I sent her money so she could get her eyes examined and see if she needed surgery. Maybe we could get her a visa. I sent her Christmas presents with a Spanish children's bible, letting her know how much I loved her and how much Jesus loved her.

Because I realized something. I couldn't save her, but Jesus could. And I pray every night, every morning, and every time in between that she knows how much Jesus loves her.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The One

Christian Music is my domain as far as it goes with musical interest. Both stylistically and Lyrically, only a few secular artists are up to the bar talent-wise for me.  Recently one of the latest and greatest in the business, Brandon Heath, released a new album entitled Leaving Eden. The album's message was a simple one: as the world walks away from the perfection God intended in the Garden of Eden, we should walk towards the light of God in Heaven. While all of the tracks are pretty great, there is a track I especially like called "The One," talking about how much difference one person can make.

My mind is still reeling from the thought that Sonya has a family only a couple months away from getting her. How I long to see pictures of her with her Mommy and Daddy. I really can't wait to see her and her new little brother (and orphanage comrade) Dusty coming down the terminal of an airport with their new parents to their excited family. And what I REALLY can't wait for is getting to meet them someday! Mrs. Hinz (who was kind enough to post on most of my recent posts) has said she would love to get together since we'll have three kids (their two and my little sis Julia) who were in the same room in the orphanage for 4 years! Boy would that be a dream!

Sonya's homecoming was not just one person's effort. A network of people across the world had been praying and writing for/about her for a long time, and if it weren't for Helle in Noggieland, Josh and Autumn winkles, my fellow adopting-from-Ukraine buddies who also got to see her, and countless other people woh posted Sonya's picture and prayed for her, all factored into this amazing event.

But I hardly thought that I would ever make a difference. that me, with my tiny little pro-beginner camera, could take part in that through one little picture. It took exactly 1/8th (one eighth) of a second to take, and I really thought it would be my personal memoir of a sweet little girl from Ukraine. But it helped make that difference.

If you are one person trying to make a difference and you think you can't, I don't blame you, you've possibly got a mountain the size of Everest in front of you that may seem hard at times. But you can make a difference. GOD can help you make that difference.

Below is a little open letter type thing I wrote to the Hinz family and their two soon-to-additions, Sonya and Dusty. Sonya was my inspiration for this blog, for orphan ministry in general. I wanted to salute her and the heroes, who, through the loss of one of their soon-to-be adopted sons, kept the strength they needed to still adopt a second child.

"Dear Heinz Family and your precious Sonya and Dusty

                               I want to step out and say your courage, strength, and perseverance through this process is truly inspiring and you amaze me so much. You will never realize how truly you have been the answer to everyone's prayers, stepping out in faith after losing precious Nikita Frederick to bring Home Sonya. I should particularly mention our buddy Helle on the other side of the globe, and Josh and Autumn Winkles.  As you know, I met Sonya only a few short months ago in a small little room on the second floor of an orphanage very close to both our hearts. Sonya reached out to me, grabbing my attention with her cute, infectious little smile and her sweet laugh.  10 minutes may not be much on a grand scale, but if ten minutes can move a heart, it moved mine. Your new daughter is the thing that inspired me to get off my seat and stand up for those who have no voice, and for that I will always be grateful. I look forward to seeing you someday soon with Sonya and her new little brother Dusty. All the best wishes to you, your family, and your two new additions who I hope will be home soon.

                             Yours in Christ,

                                             Caleb Lococo"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Heart Full of Praise

Every now and then, a family steps out  in faith to adopt and I admire them for their courage and their love for orphans. But Never before have I thanked one of these families.

But today, I have a heart full of praise for my God and a HUGE love for a very special family.


There were truly no words to describe my excitement. Because this little face has a much happier thing to count down to then her transfer.

And God has shown himself more clearly than daylight itself.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 Month's Change

about a week ago, as I was advocating for my little buddy Jonah there, I hadn't realized that I had an anniversary happening a couple days later! It was my sister Julia's 2 month Gotcha-Day anniversary. February 25th marks 2 big months since me and my dad took our last car ride out of the city in Ukraine we were staying in to the orphanage in the countryside where Julia spent the first four years of her life. It's been an amazing two months with an amazing little girl who is changing my life, as well as my family's, one little heartbeat at a time. And it also marked the event (or events, depending on your perspective) that brought on the story I told in two of my recent posts, "The Ride" parts 1 and 2.

Rarely a day goes by I don't think about my Ukrainian journey. The beautiful Apartment me and Dad were blessed to have, the awesome friends we were blessed with (thank you Winkles!), and of course the little Ukrainian princess that put our hearts, hands, and feet in motion to bring her home at all costs. And then there are those other little ones, who we didn't bring home that bear on my mind and heart. Julia's room was a pinkish/coral type color with cream white shades on the two far windows. there's a little winter gear/coatroom that leads into that room, and coming from the same coatroom into the "bedroom" is a small bathroom for hand-washing and whatnot. There are about 7 cribs in use in the room. One kind of acts as a storage container, and I only recall one aside from Julia's not in use the day I went in there. You have my buddy Bruiser, the little boy who's stuck in the orphanage until his parents are able to come for him, for reasons I won't openly disclose. Two cribs over you have Shawna from Reece's Rainbow, featured on the "Our Orphan Loves" page. Then you had Julia, now safely home with us. Next to her is a little boy named Dusty on Reece's Rainbow, who, praise God, has a family coming for him. He was supposed to be adopted as a brother to one of his roomates, but unfortunately his soon-to-be brother was diagnosed and died of Leukemia.Not in the room to my knowledge (when I was there), but in the groupa is Lindsay, also on our Orphan Loves page.

And in between Shawna and my buddy Bruiser, you have precious little Sonya.

I know it probably seems absolutely ridiculous to care so much about somebody you met for a whopping 10 minutes, and I'm not gonna deny it. Honestly orphan ministry involves one of the blindest forms of love on earth, because most of us never meet the children we advocate for. But Sonya is my special girl because I did meet her, short  time though it might have been. I am so happy to see that her grant has went up a good $2,000! If any of you who have read this blog have something to do with that, thank you beyond much. But I wish I could just walk down that linoleum hallway one more time and pick her up out of her crib and spin her around in the air and hear that sweet laugh. I wish there there would be a mommy and daddy that are coming to get her before her birthday this October, when she'll take that fateful car ride that will be her doom. Heck, I wish I could get all the photography lighting and studio gear I want and set it up in the waiting room at the end of the hallway and take a picture of each kid in the whole place, just to know their adorable little smile and show them their worth.

It's funny how two months can change your goals and you perspective. And I hope I am doing something to speak for the voiceless right now and that someday I'll be able to do something that will really change/help/heal these little kids, who have no one to love them unconditionally forever, and tell them about the God who's watching over them day and night.