Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Godone-Maresca Story: A Story that Needs to be Told

The Godone-Maresca Story: A Story that Needs to be Told

The Godone-Maresca adoption story as of Christmas 2012

I was really impacted, and touched, by this family's "faith and togetherness", as Lillian herself phrases it as she shares her family's amazing story in her blog. Particularly I was impressed by the enormous sacrifices made by LIllian's mother and by her three biological children in a society where regrettably grandparents and older siblings tend to have  less significant roles in the lives of the younger siblings as each day goes by. This is an inspirational story that needs to be told. Also I'd like to invite any readers to please share her FSP with Reece's Rainbow just ni case someone may feel led to help a little towards the final fee and expenses in their rush against time before the pick-up trip, which is scheduled for January 5, 2013.

And this is their story:

For the last few years everything for the Godone-Maresca family has been revolving around the international adoption of children with special needs. Despite being widowed, and therefore a single applicant, when talking about adoption Lillian always uses the plural due to the total, absolute, unconditional support of her mother and her three biological children in each and all of the processes.

The above pictures were taken in their backyard on 03/11/12, only five days before E. Nydia Soracco-Godone would be taken to hospital and diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Lillian's mom and children on Mother's Day 2011


The degree to which the grandmother and the three older siblings gave of themselves for the sake of the adoptions is completely unusual, if not unique.

A totally happy grandma

Christmas 2011

Five days after she'd be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. She was feeling unwell already. She was starting having shortness of breath. Yet, she always had a smile for all her grandkids. All she wanted was to hug and kiss them, and to be hugged and kissed in return.

When people praise Lillian for what she is doing, she always makes sure to give credit to the enormous sacrifices her mother and her older children made. In a five-year period Lillian went from being a mother of three to becoming a mother of eight. Lillian’s mother, E. Nydia Soracco-Godone, was called by the Lord on September 1, 2012, leaving behind a legacy of unlimited love, unconditional generosity, and unparalleled selflessness. She was a retired professor of literature, but as she had never worked in U.S., instead of paying the monthly premium that Medicare would have charged her, she spontaneously preferred not to have knee replacement and cataracts surgeries and contribute those monies to the international adoption expenses of her younger grandkids instead, first from Haiti and then from Bulgaria, with two failed adoptions from Russia and Uzbekistan in between.  She could also have paid out of pocket for those surgeries also—but selected not to do it either. Even after finding herself almost blind and in a wheelchair, she never had any regrets. By the time when she could have had Medicare at no cost, her heart was too weak for any kind of surgical intervention.

Lillian’s biological children are Catherine, now 26, and Gerard and Warren, 16-year-old twins. Catherine has a master’s and almost a Psy.D., and works as a lead therapist with children with special needs—and does have a very special place in her heart for special kids. She spends lots of time looking for the perfect educational toys to target each specific skill for each one of her younger brothers.

Together with Gerard (front) and Warren (back), Catherine was taking care of the family's Thanksgiving dinner, 2011--that year and always.

A very happy sister with younger brothers Nicholas and Stephen.

Catherine sledding in the snow with Stephen, Jan. 2012, in their front yard. The sled had been one out of the many Christmas presents she had bought for Christmas for her younger brothers.

Catherine with Nicholas and Thomas.

Catherine with Stephen.

Catherine's enthusiasm over Nicholas' birthday cake says it all!

In July 2008 when Thomas and Nicholas arrived home from Haiti, Gerard and Warren were only 11. Since then they have been acting more like fathers than older brothers to their younger siblings, also adding Stephen, who would join the family from Bulgaria in December 2010 right before Christmas and his ninth birthday. The same as their older sister, Gerard and Warren have been helping with absolutely everything, including hygiene and personal needs.

From left to right: Gerard, Catherine, Nicholas, and Warren

Gerard with Stephen, summer 2011

Warren with Thomas, Christmas 2011.

Gerard with Stephen, Christmas 2011.

Catherine's present for the twins on the day of their Confirmation, March 2012

From left to right: Gerard, Catherine, Warren, and Nicholas, fall 2011

Letting him do it--but being there just in case. Warren keeping behind Thomas in order to eventually cushion a fall. Spring 2012

Warren helping Stephen with the monkey bars.

Gerard helping Thomas with the monkey bars.

Warren holding Thomas on Mr. Potato Head's arm, Roger Williams Park, Providence, spring 2012

Warren is making Stephen climb up Mr. Potato Head now.

Gerard looking after Nicholas and Thomas on the rolling slide.

Big brother-younger brother moment (one moment out of countless similar ones). They both cherish sporting similar t-shirts.

When Stephen got his new wheelchair, Gerard accompanied their mom--and he would be the one to learn how to do everything.
Thomas and Nicholas, now 11, were 7 years old at the time of their homecoming. They are three months apart. They both have mild cerebral palsy, and both of them are loving, caring, adorable children who are liked by anyone who interacts with them. 

Mom with Thomas and Nicholas at their school, fall 2011

Catherine with Nicholas.

Mom with Thomas. 

Stephen still has some unresolved anger issues, but is also a very affectionate child who seeks human contact. He has spina bifida, but his sparking, larger-than-life personality prevents people from even noticing his wheelchair.

A brother-to-brother hug: Warren and Stephen

Always smiling and always brave--even before his corrective surgery for esotropia, Nov. 2011

Stephen's enthusiasm with the snow is evident. Also in the picture: Catherine and Warren.

Despite some minor instances of misbehavior, Thomas, Nicholas, and Stephen have a solid sense of family, loyalty, truthfulness, and reaching out to anyone in distress.  They have assimilated some core values that are paramount in the Godone-Maresca family, where the most cherished principles derive from the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church.  Lillian shares her “recipe” for a successful adoption outcome by saying that when it is the whole family that is unconditionally involved as opposed to being just the parent or parents, children end up responding accordingly.  Actually, Lillian even confesses that her younger children behave much better with their older siblings than they do with her.

Maximilian, 10, and Philip, 7, will be picked up in Bulgaria by Lillian on January 7, and the three of them will be flying back home on January 12, 2013. Their adoptions meant a long process fraught with delays and tears that finally is now arriving to a happy ending. Maximilian and Philip have mild c.p. as well. Maximilian uses a wheelchair. Philip has club feet which do not prevent him from being in constant movement and from running all over the place. Philip also has articulation problems, which impair his expressive but not his receptive communication skills. Both are very affectionate children who cannot wait to be home. Needless to say, their family cannot wait to have them home. Sometimes Lillian, Catherine, and the twins feel they cannot even say how much those two children need their new family because they very well know how very much their new family needs them as well.

Mom with Maximilian

Mom with Philip

Pictures from the day of Lillian's last visit with Maximilian and Philip, May 2012

Rather than waiting the inexorable, inflexible six-month period imposed by their local homestudy agency in Southern California before approving Lillian for the adoption of two more kids, in early 2011 the whole family took a huge leap of faith and moved all the way from San Diego County, CA, to RI. For Gerard and Warren, having Maximilian and Philip home sooner was more important than what would have been an easier pathway in their studies through the UC system from junior college to a four-year college without ACT or SAT, and then priority for grad school admission.  Catherine didn’t mind saying good-bye to her parochial Young Adults group where she had been a leader since her youth ministry days and putting a coast-to-coast distance between her and the grad school where she had completed her master’s and doctoral coursework but where her dissertation is still due.  They all faked enthusiasm over the move—because having their younger brothers home as early as possible was more important.

Nevertheless, the leap of faith was a huge one, and some other delays were unavoidable. Lillian was used to a very privileged upbringing in her childhood days—but things are not the same in her adulthood. Catherine and the twins were happy to make many sacrifices that typical older siblings wouldn’t even consider making in this self-centered society in which we live.  Catherine voluntarily contributed grad student loan monies meant for her living expenses, and for which she is now obligated in her own name. Gerard and Warren decided to skip lunch in college. Every day, upon arriving back home in the evening, the twins would be really hungry—but also happy that they were silently helping towards a sooner homecoming for Maximilian and Philip to be once and for all, and forever, where they already belong.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Each person got put in, some more than once who had big donations.  The winners are:

FIRST PRIZE 64 Lillith Bear - $250 waiting child donation
SECOND PRIZE 4 Lisa Brown - she asked that her prize be used in a future fundraiser.
THIRD PRIZE 45 Lillith Bear - Cecille doll
44 Lillith Bear - passed on prize
19 Allison Tuinstra - passed on prize
20 Allison Tuinstra - passed on prize
FOURTH PRIZE 7 Gina Christianson - Jewelry Lot 1
SIXTH PRIZE 43 Beth Barnes
57 Lillith Bear - passed on prize
SEVENTH PRIZE 1 Michael Revilak
52 Lillith Bear - passed on prize
EIGHTH PRIZE 24 Emily Beldon

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Baby Home in Tanzania

I personally know a family that has a baby home in Tanzania.  It is called "Cradle of Love".  Many children have come and gone over the years.  Many have gone back to their families.  Some have been adopted.  Sadly, a few have passed away.  They receive excellent care from volunteers and staff.
The family who runs the baby home has seven children, almost all of them are grown up now.  They love children!  They don't intend to leave Africa for long-term anytime soon.  Tanzania is their home!
Here is their blog:

Adoption Related Services

Adoption Related Services is a great program to help unite children with adoptive families.  They work in Armenia, Latvia, and Ukraine.  They work in every U.S. state.  They are based in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania.  Phone: 1-717-227-9560.
Some waiting children now are:

"Twins3" from Eastern Europe.  They were born on 5/24/2007.  They are HIV positive.
"Boy 6" from Eastern Europe. He was born on 2/11/2006.
"Two sisters ages 9 and 10" from Eastern Europe.
"Sibs 6" from Eastern Europe.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Project Hopeful

There is a great organization for helping children with HIV.  They help the orphans get adopted.  They also provide education and basic needs for children with HIV.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giveaway for orphans!!!!!!

It will raise funds for orphan's adoption!I decided to have a giveaway in honor of Lionel, an orphan who passed away in April 2011 in orphanage (1).  Orphanage (1) is an institution for children and adults with physical and mental handicaps.  Children with special needs are transferred to places such as from baby homes when they are about five years old.  (43) seems to also be one of those homes.  If their biological families don't pick them up or nobody adopts them, they normally stay in the institution for the rest of their lives.  Some with less visable handicaps will be turned out on the streets. The best option for them is to be adopted.
Many children die in the institutions because of lack of medical care, good food, and stimulation.  Each child featured here can easily become a statistic.
The children featured here are on the charity site "Reece's Rainbow".  Reece's Rainbow raises grants for the adoption of children.  Two of the children are under the age of six and have their own individual grants for adoption.  The rest of the children have a collective grant for the next child adopted on the "older children's page".  Two of the children are blind.

In Memoriam
Lionel 2000-2011, resident of (1)

This giveaway is for the collective older child grant.  It will go to the next older orphan on the site who is adopted.  The giveaway goes until May 1.  I will announce winners then.  Please donate for the older orphans!
Link to Older Girl's Page
Link to Older Boy's Page
Being given away:

#1 Purse necklace.  This silvery purse necklace is from Swarovski. 16" chain, 18K White Gold.

#2: Necklace of many crosses.  Made of nickel, bought in South Korea.  I wore it once.
*pic coming soon*

#3. Maple leaf gold necklace.  100% brand new, Nickel Free Alloy w 18K Rose Gold, Plated, Swarovski Crystal, Necklace Length : 18 inches, Pendant Length : 25mm,
Pendant Width : 20mm, Lobster clasp

Now let's meet the children:
The children of (1):

Leo: Born December 4, 2002
Leo’s needs are mostly physical.  He is a happy and social child. 
From his medical records: lower paraplegia, secondary arthrogryposis, right-side scoliosis, convergent squint
Link to Leo's profile: CLICK HERE
Link to Kya's Krusade, a support group and charity for families affected by arthrogryposis:  Kya's Krusade

Dakota: born May 1, 2003

Dakota seems like a sweet boy…curious about the camera…beautiful, deep eyes. 
From his medical records: congenital hydrocephalus, divergent squint, atrophy of the optical nerve, iron-deficient anemia 1 degree
Link to Dakota's profile CLICK HERE
Colin, born December 16, 2002
He was born with CP and is not able to walk on his own yet. His upper body seems to be fine, but his legs are affected by the spasticity. Colin has tremendous potential for improvement with therapy and a loving family. He is medically healthy besides his CP.
Link to Colin's profile: CLICK HERE
Glenn: born August 16, 2003
Gleen has blonde hair and blue eyes.  He struggles with the effects of FAS.   With this comes strabismus and a valvular heart defect.  Despite this, he is doing well, mobile and active and friendly.
From his medical records: Cross-eyes, congenital defect of the heart(valvular disease)
For Glenn's profile: CLICK HERE
Alex: May 30, 2001
Alex is a handsome young man who is already living in the mental institution.    Despite this he has a  wonderful, open, and affectionate personality.  His medical records indicate congenital hydrocephaly, but he does not appear “hydrocephalic”.  Alex is able to walk with assistance, and will truly blossom with family support and therapy.
From his medical records:  severe grade of mental delay, congenital hydrocephaly, divergent/external squint, glaucoma, lower paraparesis, and flat foot
For Alex's profile, CLICK HERE
Andrew: born December 3, 2001
Look at Andrew!  You know he is the one, when you walk into the building, he runs to greet you and takes you for a tour of the place.  :)   Andrew is medically healthy, but shows many of the facial characteristics of FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome).   
For Andrew's profile, CLICK HERE
Alisha: born March 24, 2003
Alisha was born with Penn-Sjogren Syndrome.    
For a link to her profile, CLICK HERE
Justine: June 11, 2001
Justine is a pretty girl with dark hair and eyes.  She is fully mobile and active.   Her face bears features of FAS, but this is not documented and is only a cautionary disclosure. 
From her medical records:  congenital microcephaly, autism
I'm not sure how autistic Justine is. She is giving eye contact in the photo.  There is a whole autism spectrum with different levels.  Her autism may be institutional, caused by her living conditions.
For Justine's profile, CLICK HERE

For Janine's profile, CLICK HERE

Kiersten: born April 1, 2000

Isn't Kiersten beautiful?  She is  10 years old but is still very much a toddler.   She is not able to walk on her own.  There is nothing in her medical records to indicate why she is so delayed, and she does not show obvious facial features of any other common conditions.    
From her medical records: significant mental delay, congenital hypothyroidism
For Kiersten's profile, CLICK HERE
Natalia: Born March 6, 2003
Natalia is a GORGEOUS little girl with brown hair and giant blue eyes.   She is 6 years old.   She is a very smart little girl, but her medical records show cognitive delay and some epileptic issues.   Her seizures are infrequent, and she does take medication to control it.   Her cognitive delay is likely a result of the seizures though.   She also has some strabismus (crossed/lazy eye), but this can be corrected in the US.  Natalia is able to speak, and when our missionary asked her if she would tell us something , she was trying to rehearse a little poem!  Natalia is not able to walk on her own.  She is carried everywhere.   We are uncertain as to WHY this is, but can only know in our hearts that her life will be greatly improved to have therapy and a family of her own.   She is a very nice little girl, happy and friendly and beautiful.   She will truly thrive in a family environment.
For Natalia's profile, CLICK HERE
Girl, Born December 12, 2002
I can't wait to see Victoria with long, flowing hair!   
Miss Victoria was born arthrogryposis, which only appears to affect her legs/feet.   She has a glowing personality and is a caregiver favorite.    Will be wonderful to see her, after surgery and therapy, walking on her own!!   If she is not adopted, she will spend the rest of her life bedridden.   
From her medical records:  congenital arthrogryposis, divergent squint. 
For Victoria's profile CLICK HERE
Born January 22, 2002
Lauren says “HI Mama!!  I’m here waiting for you!”  (in this photo she is riding a rocking horse!)   
Lauren is a super-sweet and active little girl.  She is very social and affectionate, and will do well in a family setting. 
From her medical records: achondroplasia
Achondroplasia is a purely physical handicap.  Any delays with Lauren will most likely be from institutionalization.
For Lauren's profile CLICK HERE
Don't forget us in (43)!  There may  be no photos of us, but we are real children who need families!  If you ask about us, I'm sure you'll get some photos soon!

Dmitri (43)

BOY, born July 5, 2003 Diagnosis: vegetative-vascular dystonia, scoliosis

Victoria (43)

Girl, Born December 4, 2004

Diagnosis: mental delay, microcephaly, partial hemiparesis, kyphoscoliosis, crossed eyes.

BOY, born January 15, 2004
Diagnosis: severe scoliosis

Those with individual grants:

Dmitriy: born December 26, 2005
Dmitriy was born with only one eye and the other eye doesn't work.  Families who visited his baby home to adopt other children liked Dmitriy very much. He walked around the home on his own.  He recently was transferred to (1) because he turned five years old.  He needs a family to help him be all he can be. I hope he gets a family soon. 

There is $611.50 in his grant fund now.  Click HERE to donate.

Genesis:  born Dec. 21, 2006
Genesis is a sweet girl who is blind. She was also just transferred to (1) just after Dmitriy.  She is very able.  Genesis needs a loving family to love her.
Genesis has $47.50 in her grant fund. Click HERE to donate.