Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome: Visit Reece’s Rainbow

by Laura Christianson

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This morning I chatted with Andrea Roberts, executive director of Reece’s Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry. She had just returned from the vet, where she adopted a pair of 8-week-old kittens.

In addition to the kittens, Andrea and her husband are in the process of adopting sibling boys, ages 6 and 4, from Estonia. Andrea is also the mother of two birth children, Reece, age 5, who has Down syndrome, and a 2 ½-year-old. “Better busy than bored,” is Andrea’s motto.

Andrea, who founded the non-profit, all-volunteer Reece’s Rainbow, donates 60 hours a week of her “free time” to the ministry. Reece’s Rainbow is not an adoption agency. They do not complete adoption home studies. “We are a connecting point,” says Andrea.

Reece’s Rainbow connects:

  • U.S. families who seek to adopt a child with Down syndrome internationally
  • U.S. families who seek an adoptive family for their child with Down syndrome
  • International families who seek an adoptive family for their child with Down syndrome
  • Birth families of children with Down syndrome who seek counseling

Reece’s Rainbow works with about 15 adoption agencies and has programs in 27 countries. Those countries include:

  • Armenia
  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Eastern Europe
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Republic of Georgia
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Korea
  • Latin America
  • Latvia
  • Moldova
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

They are in the process of adding Liberia and Philippines.

During the past 11 months, Reece’s Rainbow has helped find adoptive families for 37 children who have Down syndrome. Their Web site features more than 115 children with Down syndrome who are waiting for adoptive families.

Here’s how Reece’s Rainbow connects adoptive families with children who have Down syndrome:

  • Adoption agencies who have waiting children with Down syndrome contact Andrea.
  • Andrea posts profiles (and oftentimes, photos) of those children at the Reece’s Rainbow Website (agencies do not pay any fees to post the profiles).
  • Families interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome visit “The International Adoption Process” page at Reece’s Rainbow.
  • After acquainting themselves with the adoption process, families compare the requirements for each country’s adoption program.
  • After choosing a country that seems like the best fit, families choose a child from the gallery for that country. Not all the country pages display photos of the children available for adoption, but Andrea notes that there are many children waiting (particularly in Ukraine) who are not listed on the Web site.
  • Andrea creates a private gallery page for each family, customized by country, the child’s age, the family’s travel abilities, number of children at home, etc. These private pages include both the profiles and photos of children who are waiting to be adopted.
  • Once the adopting family chooses a particular child, the family works directly with the agency who referred that child (noted on the child’s profile page) to complete the adoption.

Helping make international adoption more affordable for families who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome is a huge part of the Reece’s Rainbow ministry. Andrea notes that many of the agencies significantly reduce agency fees and/or make grants available for children with special needs.

Andrea sets up a donation account for each child who is featured on the site. “That becomes the child’s grant fund,” she explains. All tax-deductible contributions to a child’s grant fund are disbursed to the referring adoption agency after a family commits to adopt the child, submits their dossier, and has been given an appointment to travel.

Adopting families can also apply to join the Family Sponsorship Program.  Families who are members of this program post information about themselves and the child they are hoping to adopt. Friends, colleagues, church members, and total strangers can make a tax-deductible donation, via Paypal, towards the adoption. This grant money is also disbursed to the referring adoption agency.

“This money has been the key to giving potential adoptive families the strength and courage they need to step forward in faith,” says Andrea. “International adoptions are very expensive, even for children with special needs, so to see available grant money really makes a big difference.”

In the next post:
Q & A with Andrea Roberts, executive director of Reece’s Rainbow

For more news and information about adoption, visit www.laurachristianson.com, and
check out my Exploring
Adoption bookstore
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kayla November 13, 2008 at 10:56 PM

Hello I am glad I found this blog. My 11 month old was born with down syndrome esophageal atresia and other complications and i am all about people adopting down syndrome kids, they really dono what they are missing out on they are a chunk of heaven. I was wondering if i added your link which i am going to anyways if you would be willing to add my site as a link on your page. I think you so much for your wonderful blog.

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