June 9, 2012 marks 6 years that Reece's Rainbow has been trying to change hearts, minds, and laws to save the lives of children with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world. 6 years....more than 700 children have been located, given a voice, and found their forever family through RR. More than $3 million in adoption grant funding has been disbursed to make that happen, and another $1.5 million is already raised for many more who are waiting. It is exactly what I envisioned when I sat down in 2006 and tried my hand at creating a website in Frontpage. I decided right then and there that it simply was not ok for children with Down syndrome to be abandoned, and especially not for them to be hidden away and neglected.
I am nobody. My name is Andrea Roberts, I am married with two kids, and I am nobody. I'm not Wonder Woman, I'm not an over-achiever, I wasn't a straight-A student, I still prefer to be on the sidelines, I am still shy. After 40 years, I am still the mousy brown-haired girl I always was. Nobody.
But you know who else was nobody? Harriet Tubman was nobody. Oskar Schindler was nobody. Martin Luther King was nobody. Gandhi and Mother Teresa were nobodies. They were nobodies who stood up and fought for those who had no voice. They fought against the status-quo, they fought for CHANGE, by setting the example of love and acceptance, not with physical violence. Not with hate and anger. They fought for the rights and dignity that every human being deserves, just because it was the right thing to do! I do not liken myself to these people in any other way than I too am a nobody. We're all a big bunch of nobodies. None of them ever did what they did in the hopes that they'd be remembered in history. They didn't get into it for recognition, or for a memorial, or for countless books and movies to be made about them. Not for People Magazine or Congressional awards. Not for ABC, NBC, or Fox News. They saw a need and they stepped up to fill it.
Definition of "change": Verb. To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one's name; to change one's opinion; to change the course of history.
Someone had to step up to CHANGE the existing mentality towards orphans with special needs, CHANGE the laws that keep them prisoners. We at RR have done that...lovingly, gently, and without making a cent from it. SEVEN HUNDRED children in 6 years. I'm pretty sure those 700 kids are glad we stood up. I am a follower of Christ. I strive to learn from Him, do what He expects of me (even when it is REALLY hard), and do what He would do for the reasons WHY He would do them. For the most part I hold my tongue when I am slandered. I sit in bewilderment that anyone could feel as much hate as they do for me and RR. We have enough challenges to overcome on a daily basis without that too! I strive to "be the change I want to see in the world". (Gandhi) I do everything I can to keep my focus on the children, because it should never stray from them. They are the only reason I do this every day. They are the only reason our entire leadership staff and group of volunteers do this every day. But even for the many donors and advocates and even adoptive families who are not Christians, the very bottom line is human dignity and doing right by these children. Giving them the best chance for a prosperous life, that their adoption will bless their family, but make a very clear statement to the orphanage staff, directors, and officials abroad....they have value. They have potential. They are wanted. They are CHOSEN. Families come from thousands of miles away, at a huge expense, to save THAT child. BECAUSE he/she has Down syndrome, or CP, or spina bifida, or HIV.....and to show foreign officials without any question that our program works, and it matters in the lives of each of these kids.
My name doesn't matter. And it won't matter 50 years from now. Or 100 years from now. The RESULTS are what matter. That children with Down syndrome are no longer aborted or abandoned....THAT is what matters. The lives saved. The hearts and minds that are changed with the seeds of truth. The laws that are modified to proactively seek families for those who need them. The long term social change that occurs when the truth is revealed. You can't just *wait* for change while children are dying. You can't just *expect* change without irrefutable proof that you're right and that the change is warranted. All you can do is *hope* for change and save as many as you can within the existing system, and pray that the system evolves over time.
Anyone who would intentionally stand in the way of that change happening really needs to take a look inside and find their own inner "nobody". Do the right thing. Stand up for CHANGE, not perpetuating the status-quo. For goodness' sake, don't slander those who are working for change.
A great quote from one of my favorite movies, "Braveheart"....William Wallace says to his friend Hamish "Know what happens if we don't take that chance"? "What?", Hamish replies. "NOTHING".
Happy Anniversary, Reece's Rainbow!I am logging off now to spend the weekend with one of our "colors". Auntie is going to take her to the pool, get her some ice cream, paint her toe nails, tuck her in a Disney Princess sleeping bag.....then I'm going to thank God for the new life she has and marvel with wonder at what her future can be now that she was given a *chance*.
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