Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Chelsea Pearce's "Do You Know the Difference Between an Orphan and a Potato Salad" post popped up on my Blogger Dashboard when I refreshed it earlier today, and the picture below immediately grabbed my attention.

This is Ivey. She is 12 or 13, depending on when her birthday is. (All I know is that she was born in 2001) Here is a link to another post about her. (You really should read this post -- Alexis has a lot more information about Ivey than I've posted here.)

When I looked at her picture, my mind immediately went back to my friend, Marilyn Schmalz.

(You can read more about Marilyn here. When you get to the page, do a search for "Marilyn" and you'll find her. The above picture came from this website.)

Born in 1948, "LONG before rehab knew what to do with people like me," Marilyn was apparently higher functioning (physically) in the years before I knew her. By the time I met her in about 1985, she was more like Ivey than the way she describes herself in the linked article above -- except that she lived in the US, and had a lot of adaptive equipment to help her.

We were living in Alabama when we first met her through a mutual friend. She was a Senior Occupational Therapist at the "Independent Living Program at the Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia," about 50 miles from our home. We enjoyed her company in our home over many weekends, and, when we moved away, she drove herself the 200+ miles to our new home at least twice. 

Yes, you read that right -- she drove herself. Her van was specially equipped so she could use her mouth stick to help her drive it.

Looking at Ivey's picture, and remembering Marilyn, I see no reason why Ivey couldn't develop close the same level of functionality Marilyn had. She lived alone much of her adult life, with the assistance of personal care assistants who helped her several hours a day.

I wish I could talk to her now, and refer prospective adoptive families to her. Unfortunately, her life came to an end in 2003 or 2004. In talking to the friend who was with her when she died, I learned that, in attempting to roll over in bed one night, Marilyn apparently twisted part of her small intestines. By the time the doctors figured out (through surgery) what was causing her severe abdominal pain, the part of her intestines that had become twisted had died, gangrene had set in, and there was nothing they could do for her except to keep her comfortable for the last few hours of her life.

My oldest daughter, Pam (who graduates with a clinical doctorate in Physical Therapy on August 3, 2014) visited her in her adapted home in Columbus, GA (the one Marilyn refers to in the article linked to above). Pam and I were just reminiscing about her yesterday, and Pam was telling me how much she enjoyed visiting Marilyn in her home in the fall of 2000, and seeing all the "inventions" she'd come up with. She even had a brush rigged so she could brush her own hair without assistance. (Our friendship with Marilyn is part of what propelled Pam into starting her PT training in 2011 -- 11 years after finishing college.)

Here is Pam's blog post about her memories of Marilyn (Forget-Me-Not-Friday -- Institution Worthy?), written in March of 2012. You'll notice she used the same picture I did.

What does all this have to do with Ivey? While I don't know all of her medical details, just from looking at her picture and reading what little information is available to me, it seems to me that, with proper medical treatment, she could, in her own way, make the same positive impact on others that Marilyn did. She only has a couple of years for a family to find her before she "ages out," and becomes a permanent resident of a mental institution due to her physical limitations. 

I don't have accounts on Facebook, or Twitter, or any of those other "social media" sites, and not very many people read my little blog. It doesn't take a lot of people to make Ivey part of their family, though -- only one Mom and Dad. Could you, whoever you are that is reading this, be her her Mom or Dad? If not, do you have a relative, friend, or acquaintance who might be able to be that "special someone" that can help Ivey reach her full potential? Would you be willing to help her find a family by sharing her on your own social media accounts? (Or, if you have a blog -- write a blog post about her?)

Don't know anything about International Special Needs Adoption? No problem. The folks at Reece's Rainbow (RR) will be more than happy to help you! You should start with their "Adoption Process" page, and then move on to their "New Family Info" page before actually calling them.

You'll also find a whole host of other families who are going through, or have already been through the process [some more than once] who will be more than happy to encourage you.
If you check out the families listed on RR's "Progress" pages, you'll find that many of them have links to their blogs about their adoption journey. I find them fascinating reading:
Concerned about adopting an older child? Check out Christi M's "Parenting that Heals" blog. She and her husband, Mike, raised 4 boys -- and then went on to adopt four older girls. Christi has a lot of good information on her blog to help you understand the challenges of adopting children from trauma backgrounds (living in an institution is, in and of itself, a major trauma!!), and how to help your child work through that background to become a well-adjusted individual.

If you don't feel you are in a position to adopt Ivey, there are still things you can do:
  1. Pray. Pray for Ivey, for her biological family (whoever and where ever they are), for her current caretakers, and for her adoptive family (whoever and where ever they are).
  2. Donate to her Reece's Rainbow (RR) adoption fund. International adoption is expensive, but many small donations over time add up, and every little bit eases the financial burden for the family who adopts her. (You can donate online through the PayPal button at the bottom of her profile page, or, to save PayPal fees, you can mail a check to Reece's Rainbow, PO Box 4024, Gaithersburg, MD 20885. Be sure to let RR know that the donation is for Ivey,
  3. Pray some more.
  4. Share her need through whatever social media outlets are available to you.
  5. Pray some more.
Thanks for "hearing me out," and for helping me find a family for Ivey!


P. S. All of the children with arthrogryposis Pam mentioned in her 2012 blog post (linked to above) are now home with families, but there are others on Reece's Rainbow -- like Ivey -- who still need families!

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