Reece's Rainbow was founded by a Christian mom named Andrea Roberts whose first born child Reece has Down syndrome. During the first few years of her son's life, the Lord gripped her heart for the plight of orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world who are left to languish in poorly run orphanages and mental institutions. Many of these children are never even given the opportunity to be adopted. With a lack of nurture, early intervention, and medical treatment, several of these children do not progress in their development and many ultimately die. Andrea had the strong conviction that she could not sit back and do nothing. Thus Reece's Rainbow took flight, raising awareness and adoption funds and advocating for these precious children hidden away from the eyes of the world. Proverbs 31:8-9 became a motto for the ministry: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves...defend the rights of the needy. Their mission statement is: "to advocate and find families for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs by raising funds for adoption grants and promoting awareness through an online community, media communications and other events." There are many families willing to adopt these vulnerable children, but overseas adoption costs are very high, averaging about $25,000 for each child. However, with a faithful group of volunteers, prayer warriors, and generous donors, in only 8 years time 1500+ children with Down syndrome and other special needs have been placed with their "forever families" through this ministry!
The more I've learned more about the devastating realities of life for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world, the more my heart has been broken. I have watched my own sweet son blossom in an atmosphere of love as he has received the necessary early intervention to assist with his development. He has been given nurture, praise, and affection every step of the way. He has received life-saving medical procedures that are now allowing him to thrive. In fact, without the repairs made to his heart as an infant, he would not have lived to see his first birthday. Today he is a happy, active five year old! Yet thousands of children around the world are not given the same opportunities, and many lives and destinies have been cut short as a result.
Over these last four years, it has been a joy and a privilege for our family to find ways to support Reece's Rainbow. I was inspired for Benjamin's second birthday to think outside the box to this end. When we sent out invitations for our little guy's party, we requested that instead of bringing a gift for our son, friends would bring a donation for this ministry to orphans. After enjoying cake and watching our diaper clad son cover himself with chocolate frosting, we all gathered in our living room and watched a DVD about Reece's Rainbow. We then took time to pray together for this ministry and for our sweet birthday boy. It was such a special day! (And yes, unless anyone was concerned, Benjamin still received gifts from family and a few friends!)
We have also participated in their Christmas Angel Tree fundraisers by sponsoring a specific child and helping to raise funds for his/her adoption. The personalized Christmas ornament we received for each sponsored child reminded us to pray, and we were able to rejoice upon hearing that these precious ones had come home to their "forever families!" I would encourage everyone to get involved this Christmas!
Has your heart been gripped yet? I hope so. October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In honor of this I have decided to donate all book royalties earned from Reflections from Holland: A New Mother's Journey with Down Syndrome to Reece's Rainbow for the entire month. You can follow the link to my book at the top of this blog to order a copy from amazon.com. Do you already have a copy? Please consider giving a copy to a friend who you think would be encouraged by our story or donate a copy to a local support group. Many have lending libraries and enjoy receiving new materials. I also encourage you to visit www.reecesrainbow.org and learn more about this remarkable ministry and how you can be a part of placing children who were once unloved with a loving family. Let's invest in this ministry that is so near to the heart of Jesus! Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world, (James 1:27).