About colleenawilliams22

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Balraj

30810993812_16512680e3_kOn May 23, 2015 I walked into the “playroom” at Rescue. I had been in India less then 24 hours and was completely overwhelmed and second guessing myself. As I scanned the room around me I saw lots of little kids but I found myself drawn to Balraj’s (Thomas’) bed. He was just laying there amid the chaos and as I sat with him I felt comfortable. I may not have any idea how to say anyone’s name or knew what I was supposed to be doing here but I knew what to do with Balraj. I knew how to sit him up, talk to him, and sing to him. And in that hour that I sat with him I found the first beginning of my piece of home in India. I spent many nights in my first 2 months in India on Balraj’s bed, hanging with him and his bud Valor. And when we moved up to the rooftop along with Katherine, Salim, Penny, Valor, and Julie I knew that I had found my little piece of home along with Balraj.

Over the next couple of years that piece of home grew to include more kids, a new home, and Brittany as my co-foster. And despite the growing chaos I always knew I could recenter myself with some stolen moments with Balraj. We spent afternoons on the porch, soaking in the last sunrays of the day and reading books together. Or somedays we simply sat and I sipped chai and did Balraj’s stretches in between sips. Balraj was usually content to just be and gave me the rare gift of slowing down. Balraj was an old soul we always said. He may have never spoken but he had a presence around him that held peace that drew people in.

Balraj was easy to overlook but once you got to know him you came to appreciate his side eyes that he threw frequently, especially when you tried to plop a baby or a puppy in his lap. He had a great laugh and smile that didn’t appear often but when it did there was no mistaking it. He loved to take long walks. One of the greatest things about our move to Anchor was the ability to go on walks easier. No more carrying Balraj and his wheelchair up and down stairs. Although it was much easier before he had a big growth sprout! Balraj also loved a good outing and even though it got harder as he got older we still tried to make sure he got out into the community as much as possible. Balraj saw movies, went to the zoo, went to the park, and once even went to Starbucks and had some whipped cream.

When I kissed Balraj goodbye on my last day in India I didn’t know that it would be the last day I kissed his checks on this side of heaven. My heart wasn’t prepared to let this piece of home go but God has a plan greater then my own. Balraj always struggled with his health. There were many days and nights of breathing treatments and being hooked up to monitors.  This past year was one respiratory infection after another and it all finally got to be too much for his body to handle this past Saturday.

Balraj spent most of his life at SCH and although the injustice of him dying without a family is not lost on me I do feel peace that he died loved. The fact that people are mourning his death and he is not another nameless child who died is a blessing in and of itself. And although it pains me that I won’t see him again I know that his body is finally free from all the pain he has endured. Thomas was never successful by worldly standards but he taught me what unconditional love looks like. The lives he changed through his presence is the legacy he leaves behind. I wrote a blog about Balraj back in February that I was rereading and the last words still ring true to me today and everyday.  “But I do know this. That in a world full of uncertainty and pain that Thomas (Balraj) shows us what it means to love and to be still and let God work through him. And that is a powerful lessons we can all learn from.”

Advertisements

Waiting Wednesday: Julie

Julie is a sassy but sweet 9 year old girl who needs a family to call her own!

durga

Julie has hydrocephalus and has a VP shunt that she received 4 years ago. Because Julie did not receive a shunt until she was older she has some physical delays that may be related to damage from untreated hydrocephalus. When Julie first received her shunt 3 years ago she had some medical complications and regressed in almost all areas. With the help of her teachers and therapists she has regained the skills she previously had and has learned and progressed ever since then. Julie’s official age is 13 but we believe that she is younger, closer to 9 or 10. We are in the process of getting her age changed but a family should be open to the fact that she may be a bit younger then what is officially listed.

Julie speaks over 100 words in English and speaks many more in her native language. She understands most of what is being said to her in English and she can identify all of the children and adults in the house she lives in. Julie can count up to 5, identify some basic colors, and answer basic questions. For a long time Julie told everyone her name was baby and refused to say her name. Now she says her name is Julie but her nickname “Julie Baby” has stuck! Julie loves to attend circle time every morning and requests her favorite preschool songs. She can identify a photo of her herself and choose the letter that her name starts with. After circle time she works 1:1 with a teacher on identifying shapes and colors and working on fine motor skills. Academically Julie is around a 4-5 year old level.

40955990431_c03566daee_k

Julie is a great sister to all the children she lives with. She loves to ask to “hold” the kids, even if they are bigger then her. She will hold babies and the older kids alike and give them kisses. Sometimes we let Sarita and Julie lay on the same bed for a bit before going to sleep. Julie loves these mini sleepovers and gets so excited when we let Sarita her “take care of” Sarita. On nights when she doesn’t have Sarita to take care of Julie loves to snuggle with one of her baby dolls and give it kisses. Julie loves to give out kisses and hugs to everyone in the house and always greets visitors who come into the house. It’s not unusual to find her bossing around a new visitor to the house, asking them to get her a book off the shelf or bring a toy to her. Julie is very compassionate towards everyone in the house and likes to be in on whatever action is going on. Nearly everyone who meets Julie uses the words diva, sassy, and sweet to describe her. Julie is well known for her “duck lips” which she pulls out when you ask her to smile for a photo.

37308094691_544b9f145f_k

Working with her PT

Julie gets physical therapy five times a week. She has been working with the same physical therapist for the past 2 years and they gave made some great gains together. Julie and her physical therapist have a unique relationship and her PT knows how to get Julie to participate in therapy even on days when Julie would rather not do anything! Julie crawls as her main mode of transport. She wears AFOs to help stabilize her ankles when she weight bears and to to keep her from developing contractures. Julie can pull into a tall kneel and can pull up to stand from a seated position with help. Julie does not always enjoy physical therapy and can often be found complaining about it and saying things like “It’s too cold” or “Oh my goodness” during PT that keep everyone laughing! Julie will eventually need a hip surgery to help with hip dysplasia. Her PT and orthopedic surgeon would like to see her build up some more muscles before she undergoes surgery. Although we are not sure if Julie will ever walk without assistance she will benefit from specially made wheelchairs, standers, and other orthopedic devices that she cannot currently access.

Julie is a very smart child and benefits from structure and routine. We believe in a family with consistent routines and care she would be fully potty trained and some of the attention seeking behaviors we currently see would be lessen with consistent attention and love.

Julie-300x300

Right before I left to return home to the States I told the kids I would be leaving and going home and not returning. During this time we talked about S, another child who was recently adopted, and how he left with his mommy and did not return. Julie asked during this conversation “Julie’s Mommy and Daddy?” and it broke all of our hearts. It was the first time Julie has voiced wanting a mommy or daddy. Several other kids in the home Julie lives in will be adopted over the course of the next year and I have no doubt that Julie will mourn the loss of the kids she has loved as siblings. Julie has done well and made so much progress in her years at Sarah’s Covenant Homes but Julie needs a family that will love her and help her achieve her maximum potential.

Family Requirements

  • Available to both single women and married couples between the ages of 25-55. Married couples must be married for a minimum of 2 years and couples with more than 1 divorce are considered on a case-by-case basis. Married couples combined ages should not be more than 110.
  • No more than 4 children already in the home (Julie could be the 5th child)
  • Adoptive parents should be more than 25 years older then the child they are adopting. (This requirement can be relaxed on a case by case basis)
  • Cost is between $30,000-$40,000 but there are grants and other ways to fundraise to defray the costs associated with her adoption. Julie is eligible for a $10,000 older child grant through Reece’s Rainbow 
  • The process can take between 18-24 months but recently the process has been speeding up and families are getting kids home faster
  • Either 2 shorter trips or 1 longer trip to her country is required to finalize her adoption and bring her home.

For more info about the requirements to adopt Julie please click here

For more info about Julie and to inquire about adopting her please visit her Reece’s Rainbow profile

Even if you can’t adopt Julie please share this blog post so that her family can find her! And please pray for a family to step up for Julie so that she can know the love of a forever family.

While Julie waits she needs monthly child sponsors to help ensure she receives everything she needs. Please click on this link for more info or to sign up to be one of Julie’s sponsors!

Julie2-300x300

Thoughts on “Coming Home”

I’ve been back in Texas for about a month now. The closest comparison I can find to coming home is when you put on a pair of jeans that used to fit but now are just a little too tight. You wiggle around a bit, suck your breath in, and finally get them on but it’s not the fit it used to be. You make do but it will never fit like it used to. That’s what life if like for me in the States. Some of my Indian habits are still sticking around. I still want to go turn on the hot water heater so I can have a warm shower. Fruits and vegetables don’t taste right to me after years of eating them fresh and in season. And as much as I complained about how hot the church I went to was during the hot season I miss the simplicity that it offered to me. Somehow I arrived during one of the coldest springs in my memory and I’ve been freezing ever since I got home, my body can’t seem to adjust to the cold after too long spent in a tropical climate.

Sometimes it seems like my time in India was just a dream, like a story that I read and filed away in my memories. And other days I can close my eyes and perfectly retrace the steps I took through Anchor Home every day and still picture the streets of India I called home. I miss the kids so much it hurts some days and I feel guilty for everything I left behind that was unfinished. And I’m having to remind myself that I could have spent the rest of my life there and there would still be things unfinished as that’s just a part of life. Some things on our to-do lists will never be completely finished and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I’m struggling with readjusting to the ways things are done in America. I’m still discovering parts of culture here that I had either purposefully ignored in the past 3 years or just plain missed out on. I learned what it meant to “be woke” and am having to wade through the current political climate and figure out what’s actually going on and what role I need to play. I’m also rediscovering things that I enjoy doing. For most of the past 3 years I lived in crisis mode. There was always something going wrong- both big and small. There was always a sick child, or a child who needed surgery, or we were understaffed, or there was a fight over rice, or we have no power. There was always something going on and I never really relaxed. Even during my time off I was still connected and took phone calls about issues going on. I’m finding it hard to have so much free time on my hands and I want to savor it as much as possible and get over the guilt of having the free time. I’m finding it harder and I have to be purposefully about reconnecting to things I love to do such as reading books or lingering over the newspaper with a cup of coffee in a quiet house.

I’m learning how to define myself without the context of what I did in India. I always tried to keep God at the center of my work in India and not make it about anything else but doing his will. But that’s difficult to do and I slipped often. For 3 years I was Colleen who worked with orphans in India with special needs. And now I’m Colleen who is going to graduate school. That’s a big role shift that I’m having to learn to be okay with while redefining some external parts of my identity. I’m serving the same God in the States that I served in India and what I’m doing now is no less important then what I did there. But I’m slowly processing through what I experienced over the past 3 years and figuring out how to tell my story and teasing out the experiences and lessons that I want to carry with me into the next chapter of my life.

Recently I was talking with a friend who has also recently returned to the States. And she said something to the essence that she wasn’t okay but felt okay not being okay. And right now I’m okay with not always being okay. Sometimes the most random things still hurt, like seeing a Pizza Hut and being reminded of some evenings spent with the kids at the Pizza Hut in India. Or certain smells or songs that remind me of the home I left behind. And that has been the hardest thing, leaving behind a home that was full of memories, people, and places that I had come to love.

So for right now I’m still slowly trying to gather all my thoughts and “renter” into life in the States. I’m getting everything in order to start graduate school in August and slowly reconnecting with the people, places, and memories that I love here. I remember very vividly my last week in India stopping and thinking that this part of my life was firmly closing. Even if I returned to India to visit or even long tern someday things would never be exactly the way they were when I left. I’ve had to grieve for this fact and then finish out that chapter in my life so I could start writing a new one. It’s been hard and difficult but I know this is where God wants me to be. I grieve for the people I left behind in India though. The decision to go to India wasn’t nearly as difficult as the decision to leave. But I’m slowly trying to remake my home here in Texas even if the jeans don’t quite fit right.

Waiting Wednesday: Penny

Penny-3-300x300Penny is the sweetest 8 year old who is in need of a forever family to call her own! Penny has the greatest giggle and the brightest smile. Penny has been in the care of Sarah’s Covenant Homes for the past 4 years and although she is receiving great care she needs a family that is willing to call her their daughter and give her unconditional love.

Penny’s official age is 8 but we believe that she might be a year or two younger. She is small for her age, which might be due to malnutrition or related to her genetic syndrome. We are unsure of Penny’s official diagnosis but several guesses we have are Rubinstein–Taybi syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, or some other genetic condition potentially coupled with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Penny is also profoundly deaf and wears glasses.

Penny’s joints hyperextend but with extensive physical therapy and leg braces we have

IMG_7023

Penny practices standing several times a day 

seen some improvement with her ability to weight bear. She started crawling in the Fall of 2017 and now crawls all over her house. She recently started taking steps when supported at the waist and her physical therapist thinks she will be ready for a gait trainer soon. Now that Penny is on the move she loves to crawl and find her favorite things! Penny loves to find cups that have something in them and is known for her ability to find the one cup in the whole house that has water in it. She will pull up to kneeling to get a cup on a table and has even pulled over a whole mop bucket in her quest to find water! Penny also loves the color green and her favorite toys are green. She doesn’t have good play skills but will entertain herself for hours with her favorite green toys.

Although Penny loves everyone she is attached to “her people”. Recently when her long time caregiver was out of town and myself and her IMG_6349other house mom where out of town to attend a conference she was upset for the 3 days when we were all gone. When we got back she wanted to be hugged and picked up and would cry every time we put her down. Even if she cannot speak she is well aware of the comings and goings of everyone and would thrive in a family with a consistent routine. Penny is currently learning to communicate through picture symbols. She uses pictures squares and was recently introduced to the Ipad where she is learning with the same picture symbols. We tried sign language for a while but she never caught on so we switched over to picture symbols and she does much better! She will use the pictures to request more of an activity and could so much more with consistent speech therapy.

IMG_5162

Penny loves to play with shaving cream

Penny has also started to feed herself with her hands and she loves to eat! One of the few times Penny gets upset is if her mealtimes are late. She is drinking out of an open cup with assistance and Penny loves to drink milk, water, and juice. Some of Penny’s other favorite activities besides eating are swinging, going for walks, attending class with her teacher, playing with sensory materials especially water beads, and finding green toys.

Whenever I think of Penny the word joy comes to mind. Penny is the most joy filled child I have ever met. She has a joy that supersedes her circumstances. And she would bring such joy to a family! It will not be an easy journey for her family, Penny will need life long care and there will be challenges, but Penny is a child that helps you find joy in the ordinary and laughter in the mundane task of brushing teeth or changing a shirt. Penny loves to be on the go and would do great in an active family who was willing to put her in a stroller and bring her along on their adventures and everyday tasks. I have known Penny for the past 3 years and it is heavy on my heart currently to find her a family that will love her and encourage her as she grows. She may not be able to verbalize her want for a family but she will thrive in a family and bring joy to a family she can call her own.

Family Requirements

  • Available to both single women and married couples between the ages of 25-55. Married couples must be married for a minimum of 2 years and couples with more than 1 divorce are considered on a case-by-case basis. Married couples combined ages should not be more than 110.
  • No more than 4 children already in the home (Penny could be the 5th child)
  • Adoptive parents should be more than 25 years older then the child they are adopting. (This requirement can be relaxed on a case by case basis)
  • Cost is between $30,000-$40,000 but there are grants and other ways to fundraise to defray the costs associated with her adoption.
  • The process can take between 18-24 months but recently the process has been speeding up and families are getting kids home faster
  • Either 2 shorter trips or 1 longer trip to her country is required to finalize her adoption and bring her home.

For more info about the requirements to adopt Penny please click here

For more info about Penny and to inquire about adopting her please visit her Reece’s Rainbow profile

Even if you can’t adopt Penny please share this blog post so that her family can find her! And please pray for a family to step up for Penny so that she can know the love of a forever family.

40607971951_0bf10957d6_k