Friday, October 7, 2011
10 People in 10 Days
Andrea Roberts and Michelle Zoromski
Andrea Roberts and Michelle Zoromski
Once we committed to adopting Sterling (which we did on May 14, 2011) we officially became a Reece’s Rainbow family. If you have somehow managed to follow the adoption this long without knowing or understanding what Reece’s Rainbow is or does let me sum it up for you.
Reece’s Rainbow is a non-profit Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry that promotes and raises grant funds for the international adoptions of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs.
The amazing thing about Reece’s Rainbow (aside from the fact that they save orphans worldwide) is the community network that exists as part of the system. I have been very blessed and have made some VERY good friends along the way through this network.
Since our homestudy was already complete when we committed to Sterling, there were some tweaks that needed to be made to it. Since our social worker had never aided in an international adoption, especially in a special needs international adoption (although licensed to do so), there were a lot of emails and questions those first few weeks.
With the help of Andrea Roberts and Michelle Zoromski we were able to able to get all of our paperwork completed and get on track for our following through with our adoption.
These are their stories!
Andrea is not only the director of Reece’s Rainbow, she is also its founder. Aside from all of this (and the responsibilities that go with it) she is also the mother of a 9 year old boy with Down Syndrome – Reece!
Reece’s Rainbow started in 2004 as an outreach program at a local hospital. After Reece’s birth a nurse at the hospital asked Andrea if she would be willing to come talk to new parents of children with Down Syndrome before they were discharged to share what she had learned and experienced since Reece’s birth. She agreed. Fast forward to 2006, this is when the program expanded to include advocating for the international adoptions of children with Down Syndrome. Reece’s Rainbow is going strong; in the past 5 years (since the inception of the international program) the program has helped to bring over 500 orphans home from around the globe.
Andrea has been instrumental in our adoption. She is always available to talk to and answer questions. She has offered advice, given encouragement and has made herself available to us nearly all the time. She is always available on Yahoo Messenger and she responds readily to emails. She has never let us down and she has never failed to come through when we needed her.
Andrea, thank you for your devotion and your advocacy to children with Down Syndrome. We are genuinely so very grateful for your mission. Without you (and without Reece’s Rainbow) we would not have even known Sterling existed! Please know that we will advocate for Reece’s Rainbow for many, many years to come.
I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of Andrea or Reece! There is one here: http://reecesrainbow.org/background
But they are on vacation and I refuse to use pictures on my blog without asking (this one is public so I will share the page.)
Michelle is the donations coordinator for Reece’s Rainbow (and therefore is beloved by all!) I think she was the third Reece’s Rainbow staff member I had direct contact with. She is also the one that I have grown closest too. She is amazing!
Michelle has 4 children at home and manages not only their care and schooling, but also their therapies, extracurricular activities and the grants of every child on the Reece’s Rainbow website. (I told you she was amazing!)
Michelle’s story is more than unique. Her oldest daughter Karly is in high school and is a cancer survivor! (I LOVE to see the word survivor after the word cancer!) She is doing well and continues to have clear exams (YAY!) She is the oldest of the Zoromski children and I can only imagine that she is a great older sister.
Karly and Braden
After Karly came Braden – and he might be the cutest little thing ever (aside from Sterling of course – and Michelle I’m sure you understand!) Braden is in 2nd grade and is very active in Cub Scouts. He is a great big brother to his two little sisters and I’m sure he will grow into a very tolerant and well rounded young man as he ages. I love reading Michelle’s blogs on Braden as much as I love reading the ones about the girls because they put into perspective the life of being the sibling of children with DS. And, I can tell you from reading that Braden loves his sisters regardless of that extra chromosome.
Cub Scout Braden
Ru, Braden and Lil
Here is where the story gets sad (apparently more people are going to cry today.) After Braden, Michelle got pregnant again! With girl-girl twins! They did not know ahead of time that the girls had Down Syndrome. Lydia had soft markers for Down Syndrome but we all know that doesn’t necessarily mean much and it didn’t matter to Michelle and Brian (yes…another Brian!) They were thrilled and they knew they wanted the girls regardless of how many chromosomes they showed up with. Unfortunately, during her 37th week at a routine ultrasound visit, Michelle found out that one of the twins, Lydia, hadn’t made it. (This part always makes me cry…) The girls, Lydia and Ruby, were born in May 2007.
In Michelle’s words (and yes used with her permission), “…losing Lydia gave everyone so much perspective. No one cared that Ruby had Down syndrome, we were just so grateful to have her with us. That was Lydia's gift to Ruby. Perspective.”
Well, if that isn’t enough to open your eyes (and your hearts) what comes next certainly will.
Michelle and Brian felt like Ruby had been robbed of a sister. A sister with Down Syndrome. A sister just like her. So, after hearing about Reece’s Rainbow from the pictures and stories of others, they began to follow one little girl. That little girl was soon matched with a family and the Zoromski’s found “the one.”
Lilya was an orphan in Ukraine. An orphan that was a twin. A twin given to an orphanage because of her extra chromosome while HER “healthy” twin went home with the family. They had found Ruby’s sister!
Again in Michelle’s words, “[Lilya was] a twin without a family ... and we were a family missing a twin.”
Lilya has been home for over a year and is doing so well! She is all girl – she loves to dance and sing – and she recently decided that she enjoys swimming! She is too cute for words (as is Ruby!
Lil and Ru on their first day of school this year!
But, the story doesn’t end there! This summer Michelle announced that she is pregnant – with a boy! (I’m sure Braden is stoked!) And no, they aren’t having any testing done…I think they’ve more than proven that their hearts are big enough for whatever God gives them!
Thanks Michelle for your commitment to all people who have Down Syndrome – especially thanks for your support, encouragement and most of all your friendship!
We hope one day we can get together for a real-live play date with the girls!
(If you are interested, Michelle’s blog can be found here: http://zoromski.blogspot.com )