Adoption group’s mission is ‘saving one child at a time’

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Family waiting to adopt 2 children with Down syndrome

Andrea Roberts of Gaithersburg, Md., founded Reece’s Rainbow five years ago after hearing about the treatment of children with Down syndrome in some Eastern European countries. The accounts she heard of institutionalization and poor conditions hit close to home because Roberts has a 9-year-old son with Down syndrome. Since then, the organization has coordinated more than 600 adoptions, including about 200 that are pending, Roberts said.

It serves as a clearinghouse for children with disabilities who are up for adoption and raises money for adoptions at its website. The organization is registered as an active nonprofit with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, according to the office’s website. Roberts recently moved from Dacula, Ga. to Gaithersburg, Md., but is not yet registered as a charity in Maryland per state law. Roberts said she is awaiting an audit to complete her registration in Maryland.

Reece’s Rainbow also connects families to respective adoption agencies or independent facilitators. Parents have to be approved to adopt outside the country by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The parents are then subject to the laws and procedures of the country where the adoption takes place. Cost and time spent in country can vary from nation to nation, Roberts said.

Reece’s Rainbow asks prospective parents not to disclose the origin of their selected child because media coverage of the conditions under which some orphans live has the potential of derailing adoptions. For example, Romania stopped all international adoptions in 2001 after allegations of widespread corruption in the adoption process.

“It’s not our effort to expose human rights issues in an exposé kind of way,” Roberts said. “That doesn’t help. We are saving one child at a time. We are changing hearts and minds, from the staff in the orphanages, the court system, the doctors. They begin to see these children are valuable. People are spending thousands of dollars and traveling thousands of miles to adopt these children.”

— Paris Achen