Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Celebrating Evan

Today is Evan's 4th birthday. For most, their 4th birthday holds little significance. It is just another year in their lives. A day of celebration, with cake, ice cream, presents and friends. But for Evan, this may quite possibly be one of the most significant birthdays he will ever celebrate. You see, had Evan remained in Ukraine, today is the day that a car would have pulled up in front of Orphanage 13 in Artemivsk, Donetsk, Ukraine to transport him to an institution known as Torez. The word alone strikes fear and sadness into the hearts of those who know of it, for Torez is a place where children with special needs such as Evan's are sent to die. The caretakers in Evan's orphanage do not celebrate the birthday's of the children there because they know that birthday's simply bring these children, children who they love and care for, another year closer to this unspeakable fate.

My heart rejoices today, knowing that a car will NOT pull up in front of that orphanage to take my beautiful little boy to Torez. My heart rejoices knowing that he will not be robbed of the opportunity to live a long and full life, surrounded by people who love and cherish him. My heart rejoices today knowing that my sweet, smart and funny little boy will have the opportunity to reach his full potential. My heart rejoices knowing that, for the first time, his life will be celebrated on this day and every day for many, many, many years to come.

My heart is full of gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is mindful of each and every one of His children and whose love is evident through the many miracles that He has worked in our lives!

The following is a video tribute that Richard and I put together in celebration of Evan's life. It is a bit long, but we hope that you will take the time to watch it and celebrate with us today! We are so blessed to have Evan in our lives and so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate the incredible person that he is!

Unfortunately, there are hundreds and thousands of children throughout the world who will not find their families in time. For friends and family who would like to help us celebrate Evan's birthday, in lieu of gifts (because heaven knows he will be getting enough of those), we are asking you to consider donating to the following organizations that exist to help make the lives of these children a little brighter. Each of these organizations have a special meaning to us and/or to Evan and we have witnessed first hand the amazing things that they can do!

Life to Orphans - This organization works directly with orphanages in Ukraine to help improve the lives of orphans throughout the country. They have done amazing things in all of the orphanages they work with, but we are especially grateful for the work that they do in Torez, the institution where Evan would have been living after his 4th birthday.

Operation Ukraine - This organization provides humanitarian aid to the orphanages in Artemivsk, Ukraine, including the orphanage where Evan spent the first 3+ years of his life. We have seen first-hand the work that they have done here and it is incredible the difference they have made in the lives of these children. We will be forever grateful to its director, Kelly Baehr, for being the instrument in God's hands who brought Evan and our family together. Without her, and the work that she does, Evan would not be here with us today.

Reece's Rainbow - This ministry provides adoption, advocacy, outreach and aid to orphans with Down Syndrome and other special needs throughout the world. This is where we first saw our sweet Evan! We are incredibly grateful to Andrea Roberts, director of Reece's Rainbow, whose hard work and dedication to this ministry has helped more than 50 children find their forever families since 2006!

22 comments:

Kelly said...

Fantastic!!! I watched the entire video. Awesome. Evan is so darn cute. Happy Birthday to Evan.

Stacey said...

Oh Val. Your slide show was PERFECT. I cried through the whole thing. Evan is such a special little boy to have you guys in his life. I am so happy this wonderful little man is going to have a chance in life to shine. You guys are the best!

Charity Brown said...

That video is so beautiful! I can't even begin to express how touching that was. It sure was a tear jerker! I am so happy for you guys and for Evan that you are able to be a forever family! Your family is wonderful and such an inspiration!

Tracey said...

Happy Birthday Evan!! I can't wait to meet you and your amazing parents at convention!!

Delahne said...

Celebrating with you what the Lord has done for Evan through your family.

Jill said...

What a wonderful video! It made me cry - Evan is so beautiful and I'm so glad that you found him. Happy Birthday Evan!!!

Michelle said...

Evan has been on my heart since the first time I saw his description on RR, watching him be so fully enveloped in love and family has been the most incredible thing. Happy Birthday, little man...dream big.

smctiver said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Evan!!!

first lady said...

Happy Birthday Evan !!!! Thanks for meeting me up at the garden thing. and I finally got to meet your little ones .... They all are cute.

Barbara & Family said...

Beautiful video.....what a blessing.....Evan is a very happy & handsome young man,your family is so blessed to have him as a son and a brother.....god made a wonderful choice to have Evan in your forever family....

Happy 4th birthday Evan

Katie and Pete said...

More tears here! Happy Birthday Evan. I am so happy that you are surrounded by your family to celebrate your 4th birthday.

Katie

barbara & family said...

Awesome video......what a beautiful happy boy he is!!!!

Ute said...

Valerie, this video was wonderful and I had tears in my eyes. Evan is very special and so are all your children - like I told you before, Valerie, you are my hero!

Tiana said...

I also watched the entire video...made me cry! Congrats to Evan and your family...sending love from Texas!

melzmidnightbrew said...

Valerie & hubby,

I want you both to know that you are the ones that inspired my husband & I to adopt. Of course, we were told how crazy it was to even consider adopting after already having triplets (2 w/special needs!), but we knew without a doubt that God was calling us. It was even more encouraging to see you guys go through the process!

LOVED the video, and yes, it made me cry too!! Evan is such a little miracle. A beautiful little boy. Thank you for taking the time to put this video together for all of us to enjoy!!

I will be making a donation in Evan's name to Life To Orphans.

God bless you guys,

Melanie

melzmidnightbrew said...

Ok, I just made my donation. I wanted you to know that we decided to commit to the $10/month to help a bedridden child in Torez. The pictures on the website alone were enough to inspire me to help these precious children. I'm curious... are any of the children in Torez adoptable?

Janet said...

Hello amazing people! I just can't express how amazed and thrilled I am to run across you two and your beautiful family! Your video touched my heart and I am in awe of how you guys can handle the emotions of these adoptions and everything! What a beautiful story. I feel so bad we have not kept in touch but am just tickled to run into you guys! I hope things continue to go swell for your family!
Miss ya, Janet and Levi

Dani said...

A special birthday for a special boy who's a member of a very special family. Your family is beautiful!

AZmomto8 said...

It was such a poignant video, just wonderful, I loved watching his progress, he was and is a very handsome little boy and so lucky he found you!

Happiest of birthdays dear Evan, we are so very happy you turned 4 in Amaerica, praise God.

adoptedthree said...

Happy Birthday Evan you are one special boy!

Staci and Damon said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son! I am so glad you found each other. Many blessings to your family!
Staci

Christine said...

Beautiful Valerie! Thanks for sharing!