Just when we thought that our plate was full in life, God dished us up some dessert!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


...devastated, crushed, just hurting....

Anne Marie...Anya...has gone to a far greater place. She is now in the loving arms of her Father. She is in the arms of her Savior, Jesus, and wrapped in the mantle of her heavenly Mother, the perfect mother, Mary. Why then does it hurt so much to all of us who advocated for her and loved her here below?

Anya was a beautiful girl, born November 25, 2005 in Eastern Europe. She had Down syndrome.

She was likely born to parents who were shocked, fearful and felt helpless. She was likely abandoned at the local hospital, as most are, and stayed there for two weeks before she was moved to the regional hospital until she reached two months of age. From there she went to the region's orphanage. The same orphanage as our sweet Stas.

A beautiful picture that Heather made to advocate for AnneMarie.
She is another person that would have gotten her had she been able.

Born with a heart defect, which likely could have been repaired had she been born in the the U.S. or a healthier society, Anya entered a low-stimulation room and stayed there day after day. Her days and nights were spent in a crib. Mostly likely she slept in one crib and played in another. In the warm months she made frequent trips to the doctor's office in the orphanage to get IV hydration. She was not allowed to walk because "it was too hard on her heart." When families would ask about her she was waved off as a piece of filth. The caretakers, who seemed very kind, would point to her heart, draw a heart on their own chest, scowl, and wave their hand at her as if to "shoo" her away, and let me know she wasn't worth taking. Their hand gesture let us know that she wasn't even worth our inquiry. They were quick to point us to another child or two...one of whom was sweet Taya. She had her forever family coming for her shortly...praise God!

Anya had weaseled her way into our hearts before the trip to go get our precious Stas, but after meeting her and spending time with her (though not enough) she bedded down in our hearts. My daughter Lizzy spent some nice time with her and has some beautiful pictures with her playing "patty cake", "peek-a-boo", and giving her a little hand massage. I'm glad she got to experience this little innocent soul. Anya touched her deeply. I haven't told Lizzy the news yet and know she will hurt deeply.

One warm summer day while visiting Stas we brought lotion, baby bath and baby powder to Anya and Taya's group. We saw their group once or twice a day sitting outside under the tree in little umbrella strollers. Many lay in portable cribs or buggies. There room was on a lower level by an outside door which allowed them to bring strollers and cribs outside for fresher air. Feeling a little brazen, I put lotion on my hands and started giving some mini-massages. First to Taya and then to Anya....oh, that felt so good....for me. It was fascinating to see little Anya come to life after that massage. Her senses were awakened. She craved attention. Every time we walked by she watched our every step. Every picture we have, with her in the background, she was watching intently.

I ponder why it hurts so much for us that loved her so much. Don't we want heaven for all people? Yes.  Anya was loved and we WAITED for her forever family to find her. She found her heavenly family, the best there is. Shouldn't we be rejoicing? Of course...at some level. But, Anya represents every other child in Eastern Europe with Down syndrome or any other disability whose life here on earth will be snuffed out because they were not born "typical." They were born into a post-communism society that is repressed and unable to care for the "least among them." The society doesn't know what to do with these children/people. In communism, the focus was on productivity, and from a work-force perspective, they weren't productive. So...they got sent away. There are those in Eastern Europe who advocate for their own children or others with special needs and we can pray that someday they welcome these precious children and learn that they are the best teachers we have. Of course, we in the U.S. have a lot to learn too...with an abortion rate of 90% among those discovered to have Down syndrome our hearts are not where they should be yet. These precious children are teachers of our souls. They do our heart so much good.

By the age of 4-6 years old, children in Eastern Europe with special needs are transferred to mental institutions. Their prognosis is bleak. I have been told that 80% of these children die within the first year of transfer.

If you see this post and are moved, please pray for these children. Go to www.ReecesRainbow.org and see if you are being called to adopt one of God's special children. Yes, it is expensive. The reward is unbeatable. These children need a loving family. A mom to hold them in their sadness and praise them in their accomplishments. They need a dad to love them and cherish their goodness, throw them in the air and make them giggle. They need siblings to be their lifelong cheerleaders and unconditional friends. Might you be that family?

Here is Anya....look at her inquisitive nature. Look at her giggle when Lizzy just waved at her. I wish I would have ripped her out of that stroller and just hugged her and hugged her....

Rest in peace sweet Anya!


  1. Beautiful post Gretchen.

    I know you loved her and you honored her well.

  2. Beautiful tribute Gretchen! I might "steal" this for my blog as well...that is if I ever get to blog this week. :(

    Still grieving for this little one even though I know she's in a MUCH better place!

  3. So sad....mourning for her as well :-( I, too, would like to copy to my blog ("And Then There Were Three") if that is ok. I think you said this perfectly. We are trying to adopt Sonny (41).

  4. so so so sad, words just can't express my sorrow that ANY child should die without a mommy and daddy :(

  5. This is beautiful, Gretchen. My heart is breaking for so many reasons. I thought of you when I heard the news. Will the weeping ever end for these little ones?

    May I post some of this on my blog?

    That second picture of Anya...where did it come from? It is beautiful. She was a beautiful little girl, a precious little soul.

    You did a wonderful job memoralizing her and making a plea for the others.

    Love and hugs to you...

  6. Beautiful tribute to little Anya. Would you mind if I repost this to my blog? I have been advocating for a little girl on RR who now has a family--but I am keeping the blog up for now as a way to help them bring her home.


  7. Thank you for asking to use this post to advocate for other dear children. I would be honored of course....Anyone can...

  8. I agree with Kristin, what a beautiful tribute. At least for those few moments she knew what it was to be loved and now forever will know and be in the presence of her Father in Heaven with all the love she can take.

    I am planning to adopt Sophia C. so she will know her forever family.

  9. Beautifully put, Gretchen. Thanks for sharing your pictures & memories with us.

  10. Thanks, Gretchen. I was in process of posting about her as well. I would love to borrow part of your post because you spoke it so well and knew her personally so your words are so full of heart.

  11. She was a beautiful little girl, perfect in God's eyes and in mine...

  12. She will be so missed! My heart aches for her! I am so glad you got to give her some love.


  13. Gretchen, this was beautiful. She is now a light up above and an orphan no more. Thank you for posting a tribute. I linked to your post and the video montage which Lizzie did. It shows Anne Marie in a new light.

  14. Oh sweet Anne Marie. To see her sweet smile. Oh to know that even for a minute she was happy. She looks a lot like my Anthony, and if he would have been born there, probably would be with her right now. Thank you so much for this.

  15. my heart is breaking.=( so glad that she felt the love and attention of your family and that you tried to find her a family. she mattered!

  16. What a beautful post. I was attracted to it because my name is Anna Marie.Its amazing- Anya was born the day after our sweet lil G. Weve had G home 2.5 months and its amazing what a family and love can do for an orphan.

  17. I feel you. This weekend at our Buddy Walk I am going to talk about her and have her photo framed for the table. She will move many to action this Sunday, I just know she will, her life is not in vain, not in the least.

  18. these kids break my heart. wish my husband would be willing to adopt one!

  19. This is so heartbreaking... Thank you for honoring her so lovingly.