The Jenkses had researched adopting a child with a disability for about a year before committing to adopt two children with Down syndrome from an orphanage in Eastern Europe: Sydney, a 3-month-old girl, and Lucien, a 2-month-old baby boy. Their names are assigned by the adoption agency; the Jenkses will change them when they take legal custody.
“We said, ‘What if we look into a child who really needs a home rather than healthy children,’” Rebecca Jenks said. “We looked into blind, deaf, cerebral palsy, HIV, Down syndrome. We kept going back to Down syndrome.”
The couple found Sydney first on the Reece’s Rainbow Down syndrome Adoption Ministry website. The nonprofit organization connects American families with children with disabilities or HIV from Third World countries and helps families raise money to pay for the adoption. They later found Lucien through the same site. Sydney’s and Lucien’s adoptions will cost a total of about $30,000. So far, the family has raised $1,301 through its two blogs, the Reece’s Rainbow website and its church community.
Rebecca Jenks’ 15-year-old daughter, Tamara Emler, first spotted Sydney’s photograph.
“Tamara saw her and said, ‘Come look. There’s my sister,’” Rebecca Jenks recounted. “My heart fell out of my chest. That’s our little girl. There was no thought about it.”
The Jenkses were married in 2008. Rebecca Jenks, a preschool teacher, has four children from her previous marriage. Two of them are adults and have moved away from home. The other two children, Tamara and Brandon Emler, 13, live with the Jenkses at their home in Meadow Estates, just north of Walnut Grove. Mark Jenks, a computer help desk technician, has no children of his own. He and Rebecca Jenks said they want to experience having children together.