Scott and Judy Robinson, mid-town Ventura residents, are planning to adopt a two-year old boy with Down syndrome from Bulgaria to provide him with a better life, and a future. Already parents of a 7-year old child with Down syndrome, Reece, they know the joys and challenges of raising a special needs child, and they can't wait to welcome "baby R" into their home.
But adoption is not cheap - and this particular case requires two trips to Bulgaria (one to meet "baby R", and the other to bring him home), plus a
$20,000 adoption fee.
To help in their pursuit, they've enlisted the help of neighbors and friends for a Halloween Pirate Ship Extravaganza like no other. Scott, a craftsman by trade, erected a 30 foot pirate shop on their front lawn - complete with three cannons, two sailing masts, and a viewing deck for great photos. A neighbor and local artist painted the ship and brought it to life, inspired by the Black Pearl from the "Pirates of the Caribbean." Other friends have been enlisted to dress in pirate garb to lure trick-or-treaters, and help manage the crowd expected on Halloween eve.
While this is Scott's third year building a pirate ship, this year's model is three times bigger than the previous two years. "The first year I built it for my son Reece. And it was such a hit with the neighborhood kids, that I did it again the second year. This year, though, I thought I'd go much bigger and use it as an adoption fundraiser so we can bring "baby R" home as soon as possible."
Already the outpouring of support has been heart-warming, and they have already raised $ 1,400.
Judy has been involved with Down syndrome education and fundraising groups like Reece's Rainbow and the Down Syndrome Association Annual Buddy Walk for several years. Through her involvement with these causes, she has become acutely aware of the plight of Down syndrome children in Eastern Europe.
"Children born with special needs in Eastern Europe rarely leave the hospital with their families," says Judy. "Keeping a baby with a disability is looked down upon, so most are sent away to orphanages and then mental institutions for the rest of their lives." In most cases, when the child turns four years old or close to it they are sent off to a mental institution to live the remainder of their lives. Statistics reveal that 40 to 80% die within the first year.
"While it's true that some orphanages are better than others, these children will never get the attention from, or the benefit of, a loving family,"
comments Judy. "Every child deserves a family and we feel blessed that we have an opportunity to add a special boy to our family!"The community is invited to stop by
Halloween night from 6 pm to 10 pm for pirate fun at 397 So. Emma Avenue in Ventura. Kids are welcome on board the ship if accompanied by an adult. Donations are encouraged.
Those who cannot make it on October 31, but would like to support the cause, may arrange a special visit on by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org