Exposure led to change of direction

When my husband and I named our daughters, we put a lot of thought into it.

We made sure our girls didn?t have any awkward initial combinations?PBJ, for instance. We avoided weird names like Pilot Inspektor?seriously, that?s the name of actor Jason Lee?s son. Yikes! And we wanted traditional names with a twist. I think we succeeded with Gracelyn and Jemma.

But, most importantly, we focused on the meanings of the names. Gracelyn means ?refreshing grace? and Jemma means ?precious jewel; precious gem.? Perfect for our beloved girls.

Names are important. And to a local family, one particular name carries much significance.


Blake is an orphan. He is from Ukraine. He has Down syndrome. And friends Jerad and Anna Woods are adopting him through an organization called Reece?s Rainbow.

This is how Anna explains the beginning stages of the adoption process on her blog:

?If someone would have said, ?You will be adopting a precious little blond-haired, brown-eyed boy with Down syndrome from another country? four years ago?shoot?even four months ago, I would have said, ?You are crazy!?

?As I?ve been reflecting on how my husband and I reached this point in our lives, I now see the plan God has slowly been revealing to us over time. He has gently introduced people, experiences, struggles and joys bit-by-bit to soften our hearts and prepare us for Blake.

?You see, my personal journey began about four years ago. I was introduced to Amy. Amy has Down syndrome. Amy was considered obese, and her family had tried desperately to motivate her to lose weight for fear that her life would end all too soon. That?s where I came in.

?Her family hired me as her personal trainer to get her on-track with her eating and exercise. Amy and I began to meet two times a week. Slowly her weight began to fall off, pound by pound. Within the first year, she lost almost 88 pounds!

?But much more than that, I began an endearing, personal relationship with Amy. She shared her desires, hopes and dreams with me. We became dear friends. Soon Amy introduced me to her other friends. Not long after, I was providing exercise sessions for many of Amy?s friends. Those in wheelchairs, those with autism, Down syndrome, genetic disorders and much more.

?I now base my wellness business solely on serving those with special needs. These are my best friends. No. They are my second family. I no longer see their disabilities, but their capabilities, their motivation and their joy. They have changed my life more than I could ever change theirs.

?This change is probably the single-most effective factor in bringing Blake into our family.

?So, thank you Amy and Amy?s friends. You know who you are. You don?t know what an impact you are having on my life, but also on improving the life of our soon-to-be son, Blake.

?I can?t wait to share the details of the journey that brought us to this place.

?The only way to explain it is?it has been all God. Nothing humanly possible could have created this opportunity for our family.?

Are you touched? Would you like to play a part in this story of sacrificial love? Would you like to help bring Blake home?

Jerad and Anna have several fundraising opportunities coming up in the next months. Visit her blog: homeonthekansasrange.blogspot.com to follow the adoption process and to aid in the financial responsibility of an international adoption.

Remember, names are important. Add yours to the list of supporters helping to bring Blake home.

Written By
More from Malinda Just
Passivity never pedaled a bike
Six years ago was an agonizing time. As we awaited my then...
Read More