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Family seeks unusual adoption

Staff writer

Anna and Jared Woods of Hillsboro thought they were crazy for wanting to adopt a child. They were already caring for a 5-year-old and an 8-month-old baby.

But adoption was a desire that Anna Woods could not shake from her soul. The couple looked into adoption before they conceived their second child. Soon they found out about Reece’s Rainbow, a website dedicated to finding homes for orphaned children with special needs. Reece’s Rainbow specializes in children with Down syndrome.

Anna went through the stories of each child on the site. She became more determined to adopt when she learned that many special needs children in eastern European countries have a life expectancy of less than five years because they are confined to beds in mental institutions if they are not adopted.

Anna said she has always had a unique affection for people with Down syndrome. When she was a child, she was friends with her next door neighbor who suffered from the genetic disorder. She worked with children in special needs classes while she was in school. As a personal trainer, she works with multiple adults with Down syndrome in Hutchinson.

She knows that while the are often stubborn, Down syndrome children are especially loving and are much more intelligent than people often perceive.

At first, Jared was against the idea because the Woods family was already growing. He was far more compassionate than his words made him seen. One day, Jared was looking at a profile of a new-born child named Blake on Reece’s Rainbow.

“I think that is supposed to be our little boy,” Jared told Anna.

Anna had already noticed Blake. Blake is not his real name. The Woodses do not even know the country where Blake lives. All they know is that Blake is 6 months old and has Down syndrome.

The Woodses have started the tedious paper work for the program. They have filled out forms about their family history, health-related history, and criminal history. They have gathered six letters of reference to show that Blake has a loving and healthy home waiting for him in Hillsboro.

They have met with a social worker and have sent documents from the county appraiser, detailing the space in their home, to ensure they meet all of the qualifications for the program. Anna said the Woodses are still two months away, but that they will visit Blake for 10 weeks before they take him home.

Another hurdle in the adoption process is the cost of bringing Blake here. Anna said it will cost the young family $25,000.

Their expenses are the main reason the Woods looking to raise funds through community events.

The other reason is to raise awareness about the Reece’s Rainbow. Anna found out about the program by communicating with a family in Washington.

“It just felt like God laid it on our hearts to do this,” Anna said. “We already feel like he’s ours.”

The Woodses know that parenting for Blake will not be easy. He may not emotionally connect with them and he could have psychological trauma +compounded by his mental disability.

“You don’t know whether mental delays will cause more or less problems,” Anna said.

They also expect there will not be a Hollywood moment when they meet Blake in his home country. While they would love for him to immediately acknowledge them and come running into their arms, he will more likely treat them with the apprehension which he bestows on every stranger he encounters.

The Woodses have taken classes to address Blake’s probable emotional detachment. They know that they need to stay with the boy for nearly every waking moment the first week he is living with them.

One member of the Woods family has little trepidation about eventually meeting her younger brother. Five-year-old Leah kept the adoption a secret until recently blabbing to her friends at day care.

“She said she’s happy to be a mommy to two little babies,” Anna said.

Last modified June 15, 2011

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