This Journey That's Called Life

Where two roads meet

Who I was in 2012

The beginning of this new year is perfect to look at myself. Not to write out resolutions, I stopped doing that last year, but to take a good look at who I am and what I’m doing right now. It would be even more wonderful to use this post next year to see where I am then. And yes, I know it’s much more interesting to add pictures, and I might one day, but for now: enjoy my words!

I’m still as impulsive as ever. For instance, on April 16th, I told Anneke I would love to visit her again. On April 19th I had booked and paid for my tickets to Namibia in December. Also, in a matter of days, I decided I would not only start religious studies, but also a teacher education. Both without actual plans to do something with it, but ‘for fun’. Just like the sign language course I graduated in May. It’s obvious that learning was a big hobby of mine in 2012 too.

Scouting was another hobby that took up a lot of time and helped me grow. Not only did I lead the girls, I also made sure I had the skills to take them on a week-long camp. I participated in several leadership activities and a formation camp for leaders. The girls taught me so much about patience, love, kindness and self-sacrifice. Just like I think everyone should stay a few months at home taking care of their little brother and the house (as I did in September 2008 – April 2009), I also believe everyone should organize a week for children and take care of them, be the one responsible for them and love them. It’s hard but it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Other hobbies this year included mostly watching films and DVD’s from the library. To be honest, I spent way too much time on that (luckily, they were free, so I didn’t spend money on it). But I  also sang in our church’s choir, was responsible for a children’s service once a month, sat in our church’s “team” (where all the decision are made), helped start up a bible study group, read books, babysat my brother, helped my mom out around the house and more.

Religion wise, 2012 was most certainly a year of growth. As I was still a neophyte for part of the year, Lent was a special period: it was the first time I went through it as a Catholic. I had the honor to assist our bishop as an altar server for almost all of the masses during holy week and it was an amazing experience. Even after Easter, when I wasn’t a neophyte anymore, I learned so much. I grew in various ways and I’ve started visiting the traditional Latin mass more often. Even though I like the reverence of it, I’m glad I have our ‘normal’ parish to come home to. Another aspect of the Catholic Church that really enriched me this year was the sacrament of confession. Taking a good hard look at myself, sharing it with God through the priest, being invited to work on it and getting to leave with a clean slate has really changed me. There’s still so much room for improvement, but at least I know I’m working on it and going in the right direction.

2012 is also the year where I started trying to get forward by going backwards and tackling some stuff from the past first. Not much progress there yet, but I hope it will come this year. Maybe this year will bring a boyfriend too? For the moment, I enjoy seeing my friends together. I had the most wonderful time seeing Anneke and Hartmut being happy together and every time I visit Cléo and Jan, I can’t help but smile at their love for each other. 2012 is also the year of ‘the boyfriend’ for my sister, which I am so happy about. He’s just a wonderful young man and he makes her so happy! Siem loves him too which is, of course, a big bonus.

Work-wise, this has been an interesting year. In April, I became a published author. Of course, I didn’t write a whole book, but I did write a few chapters, which were actually published in a real book. Instead of the expected feeling of pride, I felt mostly relieved when the book came out. Finally, it was here! Also in 2012, I went from three projects to only one in a matter of weeks. Though I’m still responsible for the two projects, there’s hardly any work to do, mainly reprints and keeping the website ea up to date. Luckily, I received two new books to work on and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the subjects. I still enjoy my work a lot. I love my colleagues, the bike ride to my work, my boss and of course the work itself. It’s also special that I can work closely with my mother and a good friend on one of the books.

At the moment, I’ve been living  at a little apartment for several years and I love it. I had been wondering this year if I should buy a place to live, but to be honest, I don’t think I could ever find something as nice and as cheap as my current home. At the moment the plan is to live here for at least two more years. As usual, my plants are pretty dead, but I was able to revive one. My herbs are doing okay-ish, as long as I don’t take them indoors. Ichtje and Pipa, my goldfishes, are still alive, even though I barely clean their tank and they ate every plant in there over a year ago.

Other living beings in my life that I adore: my precious goddaughter who learned to walk and is starting to talk, my precious godchild that will be born in six weeks, my awesome brother who learned to read and many other little ones that make every moment bright! 2012 was also the year Kate finally went home to her family, together with her now-sister Dasha.

In short: 2012 was full of fun hobbies and interesting classes. I still love my work a lot and my family and friends are amazing!


Kate and Dasha – Part 1

Even though Kate’s family doesn’t have a blog, they are blogging through the blog of Vicky. Go here to read their first post!

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Kate and Dasha are almost home!

In just a few days, on Wednesday, Carey and Shane (the future parents of Kate and Dasha) have their appointment. Which means they’re leaving very, very soon! And … they’re still not fully funded. However you can help out by donating and even have the chance to win something!

Go to Vicky’s blog to donate to the Doyles and maybe you win a Brit Goody Box!


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Dasha is going home too!

Kate’s family has decided to adopt Dasha too! Dasha lives at the same orphanage as Kate and is just a few months older. I assume they’re in the same groupa, though I don’t know for sure. They have grown up together and will now be sisters for life!

What a wonderful news to hear right after Easter: Dasha will be able to have a real life, out of orphanages or institutions!


Kate’s family!

There’s some more information about Kate: she will have three little brothers and two younger sisters. One of the girls has DS too. Unfortunately, it seems they don’t have a blog.

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Still Can’t Really Believe It …

I’ve been reopening the ‘My Family Found Me’-page every twenty minutes. I still can’t believe it … Her family found her! She’s going home!

I’m so curious to get to know her family, I hope they have a blog. :-)


The Day I’ve Been Praying and Waiting for for Years!!!!!!!



Wordless Wednesday – Guess who’s Child of the Month!


Happy Birthday Katie Darling!

Have a very happy 8th birthday! I wish I were there with you.

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7 Quick Takes Friday (All About Kate)

1. This post is all about Kate. I posted this over a year ago and only edited some details here and there. Please take some time to read about this special little girl. Kate is seven and lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. She was send there because she has Down Syndrome. About two years ago, I signed up to become a prayer warrior for a child. They sent me Kate’s information and I’ve been praying for her ever since. I don’t know much about Kate, but I want to share with you what I know about her and why I blog about her.


2. Kate was born on December 28th, 2003, right between Christmas and New Year. In a few weeks, she’ll be eight. As you can imagine, eight is “old” in adoption terms. Few people want to adopt a child her age, and even fewer people want to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. Even though Kate is a beautiful girl, she’s not a cute little baby anymore.

3. Even though Kate lives in an orphanage, Kate was lucky. At age four, most children with special needs in the baby houses are transferred to a mental institution where they usually wither and die within a year. Kate was sent to a “school” for special needs children. They dance, they do handicrafts, they learn, it’s a great place. However, it’s not a family. There is no one to love her unconditionally, there is no one to kiss her goodnight, there is no one who would fight to get the best for her. She needs a family.

4. The following is a guess, but I’m pretty sure it’s an accurate guess. I believe the reason they sent Kate to this “school” is because she is able to learn and because she is eager to learn. As you can see from the picture, Kate looks great. As far as I can tell, she’s healthy. She does have cardiomyopathy, but I assume she’s getting medication for it. A combination of a healthy lifestyle and medication assures that the disease doesn’t worsen and that the effects are minimal. Cardiomyopathy is a disease she will always have, but it is very well possible that she has little problems because of it.

5. Kate is beautiful. She is. Just look at those beautiful dark almond eyes, the thick hair, her sweet little mouth. She’s beautiful. She’s a joy to look at. Seriously, I want to hug her like crazy. I love the picture of her on my fridge. I just wish I had a colour print of it.


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Katie Darling

It’s been several months since I wrote a post about Kate. Sweet little girl.

Last week I had a visitor and when he saw a picture of Kate, he asked me who she was. “She reminds me a lot of Siem” he said. And yes, she does look a bit like Siem and like my older sister. If I would show friends a picture of Kate and say she was my cousin or my niece, they would probably believe me.

Several people have asked me if I would adopt her if it was possible. I have no idea. It’s not legal in Belgium to “pick” a child to adopt and I think that is wise. You can’t pick your own child either, but if someone would tell me “here’s Kate, do you want to adopt her?” I would be over the moon.

It’s hard to believe that no one has stepped forward to adopt her. She’s beautiful, smart and very sweet. And  she has a beautiful amount in her grant: more than 3000 dollars!



World Down Syndrome Day

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More about Kate

After writing my last post, I received some responses with questions about Kate. I decided to answer those in a separate post.

First picture I ever saw of Kate

Kate was born on December 28th, 2003 in a country in Eastern Europe. I can’t tell you what country she’s from because of the laws in her country. Also, ‘Kate’ isn’t her real name, but a pseudonym given to her to protect her identity. In the country she’s from, people with a handicap are considered inferior. When a child is born with a limb difference, blindness, down syndrome … parents are advised to place their child in an institution. After all, they believe the children will never be able to be part of the community. Better to lock them away and spare the parents the grieve of raising the child. (I want to point out that fifty years ago, this was the general reaction in America and Western-Europe too.)

Where as healthy children are adopted fairly often from Eastern Europe, children with Down Syndrome aren’t. They enter the orphanage at birth and they only leave it to be transported to an institution where they will live until the day they die. In the society of this Eastern European country, there is no place for them. Even if parents decide to raise their child themselves, they have to fight prejudice every day. They know their child will never find a job. Not because they aren’t able to work, but because no one will hire them. They know their child will never be able to live on their own, no one wants to be their landlord. Placing their child in an orphanage is thought to be the best solution. The orphanages (or ‘baby houses’) are not too bad, but the institutions where the children are placed are much worse. One mother who adopted her little boy from an institution (not where Kate lives) wrote about it here and here.The institution where Kate lives is much better. The people who work there really care about the children and there is quite some outside help too. They receive donations from America every now and then, and have good therapy material to work with the children. The beauty about the institution where Kate lives is that they teach the children. They have classes, and one thing they learn is to sew. When they are older, they work in the workshop that is also part of the institution. There are about two hundred children there, from ages 4 to 18 and some twenty adults (18-35) with a disability.

Adoption from Eastern Europe is expensive. I believe it will cost between 15.000 and 25.000 to adopt Kate from the United States.

I have several pictures of Kate and know where she lives, but I can’t share that here. If you want more information, you can contact me (click on “e-mail me” on top of this page). If you want to help Kate, you can do so by spreading the word about her. Talk about her with your friends and your family, pray for her …

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Too old

It’s hard to believe that a seven-year old child is believed by many to be too old to be adopted. It’s hard to see Kate grow older and older, without someone coming forward to adopt her. Every day she grows older and with that, she grows further away from the chance of having a family. It’s depressing to think about it.

However, these last few weeks, many older children found their families.

Ahnja, April 1, 2002 – My family found me!

Michaela, December 21, 2003 – My family found me!

 Philip, March 7, 2004 – My family found me!

 Lee, June 5, 2002 – My family found me!

Stacie, April 12, 2004 – My family found me!

At the moment, I feel very hopeful that Kate will find her family!

Kate, December 28, 2003 – Please help me find her family!

More about Kate on this blog:


Happy Birthday Little Girl!

Dear, sweet Kate

It’s your birthday today! Seven. Wow

I hope you have a great day. Against my better judgement, I hope someone will make your birthday special. I hope they cheer for you and sing a song. But most of all, I hope a family is thinking of you too today. I hope they’re trying to bring you home, where you belong.

Sweet little Kate, happy birthday!

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Another update on Kate

Oh my, she’s beautiful!!! Marsha posted some pictures of Kate. Go to her blog to see all the pictures. Here’s my favourite.


Guest post about Kate

Marsha (from the blog Isaiah 43) was recently in Kate’s country to work on the adoption of their precious (and gorgeous!) daughter Nadya. Nadya and Kate are in the same orphanage and even in the same class. On her blog, Marsha wrote about meeting dear little Kate. She gave me permission to repost her blogpost here. You might want to keep tissues ready.

The hallways exhibit an enormous amount of art work done by various sizes of hands.   As I caroused the halls looking for my little girl, it was impossible not to keep glancing them over wondering how in the world they got so many girls to sit still and do such daunting work.  Down one hallway and then another—but no little girl for me.

Finally, I was told to find her outside.  We threw our coats back on and out we went.  As we viewed the girls clustered around the several play yards, we looked for the littlest bodies which we knew would be our Nadya’s class.

They were lined up on a bench with little pointed hats on little round heads; the sun and wind had painted a rosy tint on each cheek.  They looked like elves waiting for Christmas.

Nadya saw me and yelled out, “Mama!”  She jumped up and ran towards me and jumped into my arms.  This is the best feeling in the world!  She is so happy to see me!

What was a surprise, however, was that Nadya was not the only little elf-girl to run towards me.  In fact, her whole class did. But, out of her class, there was one little girl who did more than that.  She ran up to me, looked longingly into my face, then pat herself on her chest and then grabbed my legs and held me tightly while still keeping my gaze,  and she asked “My mama?”

Just like that, a two-word question from a tiny girl rocked my world. My heart spun around me and fell back down by my feet.  How can anyone listen to a question like this and be unchanged?  How can I not feel like shouting from the mountain tops the needs of these littlest creatures?   How?

So, my heart cries out tonight.  I so wish that there could be a way that Alan and I could bring little Kate home with us, too.  We thought about it even before I met her.  Her picture is on the web-site and our heart was already pulled.

But, then, right now, our heart is already pulled to pieces.  We are at the end of what we can do.  This will be our last adoption.  We know we will have so much to do for Nadya, and this we are adding to what we already do for the other kids.  We know we aren’t as young and strong as we were ten years ago when we began this adventure.  And, we know we want to meet all of kids needs, and meet them the best way we can.  We feel God telling us that Kate is not for us, she is for someone else.

And now I cry out to you.  Can you help me find who belongs to Kate? Can you help me find whose family is cut out of the right cloth to adopt Kate?  Can you help me find the mother who is ready to jump in and take a chubby little hand, and let a tiny little girl grab her legs while her big ole eyes look up into hers and listen to the question, “My mama?”

Which mother out there will be there to listen to that question next time and then bend over and kiss her cheek and answer,

“Yes sweetheart, I am your mother.”


Jane Cameron

Have you ever heard about Jane Cameron? Her parents were told to put her in an institution and to forget about her, but they fought and Jane’s story is a beautiful testimony of what love and dedication can do for a child with down syndrome. The text below comes from the website that was published in her honor.

Born in High River, Alberta, in 1949, Jane Cameron had an exemplary life. She travelled the globe, met dignitaries and stars, filled her room with medals and trophies commemorating her feats, and earned the esteem of countless individuals who praise her art and her grace.

When she was diagnosed with Down syndrome at four months old, Jane’s parents were told their daughter was “retarded” and that they should: “Put her in an institution and forget about her.” They were shocked and, despite knowing little to nothing about Down syndrome they decided that what their child needed was as much love, care and education as they could possibly give her.

When Jane was thirteen her school in Montreal implemented a policy that “these children” needed no academic training apart from such things as street signs and signs for Danger, Men and Women. Unwilling to accept that Jane deserved anything less in life than any other child, the Cameron’s enrolled her into the internationally renowned Doctor Franklin Perkins School in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

After ten years at the Perkins school Jane joined the sheltered workshop, “Le Fil d’Ariane” back in Montreal. This workshop or Atelier was quite unique; it is more of an art school than a workshop. Jane quickly demonstrated that she was much more than a stitcher who could follow patterns. Jane soon became the atelier’s chief designer. Many of her designs were turned into huge tapestries that were commissioned by such organizations as the office of the Prime Minister, Mirabel Airport and Reader’s Digest Canada.

Although her artistic talent was not discovered until Jane was about twenty, her tapestries now hang across the world. Jane’s embroidered tapestries are glowing statements of her imagination and her love and affection for all living things. A life that could have been a tragedy became one of joy for Jane’s parents and hope for other parents of children with Down syndrome.

Jane was also an accomplished swimmer with many medals for her success including the two silver ones she won in international competition at the Special Olympics in Brockport, New York. She was featured in the film on the Special Olympics: “It’s in Everyone of Us”, and has appeared on television in Montreal and Calgary.

Perhaps Jane’s greatest accolade is the book written about her and her art by Dr. M. Klager, a professor of art at Heidleberg University.

Jane is an example of the unknown potential hidden in many Down Syndrome children which only needs the opportunity to be discovered and developed.


I read about Kate

An adoptive family is in Kate’s country right now, adopting their little girl from the same orphanage Kate is in. Even meeting little Kate, as the two girls are in the same group. I read a beautiful post about Kate on her blog and I would love to post it here, but I’ll have to get permission first. So, for now, go over here to read about Kate.


147 million orphans?

For several years now, I have thought there were 147 million orphans in the world, all in need of a home. That’s not a random number, it’s the name of an organization trying to find a home for orphans. The words “147 orphans” are widely spread on the internet, especially on adoption sites. You can find the website of the organisation here. 147 million orphans … It’s incomprehensible. It’s huge. It’s a challenge. And it’s completely untrue. That’s right. There are no 147 million orphans. Nowhere near that number in fact.

What’s an orphan? A child without parents. Or, you could even say, a child who lost his parents (not only by death, but also by abandonment). An orphan is a child without a father or a mother, that isn’t adopted by other caretakers.

But what does UNICEF say?

Of the more than 132 million children classified as orphans, only 13 million have lost both parents. Evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member.  95 per cent of all orphans are over the age of five. (full article)

So, in fact, there are only 13 million orphans. And “the vast majority” of those children lives with a caretaker (grandparents, family members etc.). UNICEF doesn’t even mention the number 147.000.000. There are no 147 million orphans needing a home. It’s safe to say that at least 95% of these ‘orphans’ are cared for. They don’t need to be adopted. They can’t even be adopted!

Do 147 million children need our help? Most certainly. That number is even low, many more children need our help. Should those 147 million children be adopted? No. 147 million orphans is a myth. There are many children who desperately need to be adopted, but not 147 million.

I’m trying to find a home for Kate. She is living in an institution. There is no one who stands up to be her parent. Kate needs a home. Please help spread the word by posting this picture on your blog or website and linking back to



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