About a week ago, a communications student here at VT contacted me after finding this blog and wanted to write her final article about us for her media class. I was thrilled.
For us, we get exposure that we didn't even solicit. For Lindsey, she gets to write an article about something she is passionate about.
Doesn't get much better than that, folks.
Below is the article she wrote about us. Would you please pray that perhaps this turns into something bigger? That local newspapers or television stations become interested? I know God can take our two fishes and 5 loaves of bread and multiply them. Please join me in praying for Him to multiply this exposure. The more people know about Riley's story, the better...not only for him but for the hundreds of other children like him.
Written By Lindsey Peters.
A Blacksburg couple is hoping to give an Eastern European orphan something of his very own: a family.What Jessica St. Clair and her husband, Rob, are working around the clock to give to a two-year old boy named Riley.Riley was born with mild cerebral palsy and is HIV positive.Adoption was something they discussed before getting married in 2008, it was just something they thought would happen after children of their own and never of a child with special needs.That all changed during a summer mission trip to an orphanage where Jessica worked with kids ages zero to five and fell in love with a little girl.“I had a feeling before I went that I would want to bring home a kid,” St. Clair said. “I fell in love with a little girl named Vika and started working towards her adoption. When we found out we couldn’t adopt her right away, it led me to Reece’s Rainbow where I came upon Riley’s picture.”Reece’s Rainbow is a website that promotes the adoption of children with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world and was started in 2004 by Andrea Roberts.While looking through the website “I was instantly drawn to children who were HIV positive and felt it was something I could handle,” St. Clair said. “I saw Riley’s picture and kept coming back to him and it became an obsessive state. I told my husband about him, he freaked out about the HIV, and so we prayed about it, and then we decided to commit to Riley.”Deciding to become Riley’s parents was the easy part but getting him to the United States is the real struggle.“We are trying to raise $27, 000 to get Riley here,” St. Clair said. “We have already paid $5,000 of our own money but are hoping we can raise the rest.”The St. Clair’s started to help with “funding, awareness, and to document the journey for others to see.”The website has a place for people to click and donate money through pay pal as well as through a coffee fundraiser called “Just Love Coffee” where $5 from every purchase will go to the St. Clair’s for Riley’s adoption.“We are also asking for donations and trying to get the word out as much as possible,” St. Clair said, “As well as applying for grants from local companies.”Riley turned two Friday and though he wasn’t with them, the St. Clair’s held a special birthday fundraising party for him at their church, New Life Christian Fellowship, in Blacksburg.“We had a cake and blew out candles,” St. Clair said. “It was a celebration, welcoming him into the church family.”The St. Clair’s do have a few back-up plans for the money situation. “We can probably get a loan or dip into our savings,” St. Clair said. “Neither option is very desirable but we could do it if need be. The hope is that there won’t be a need.”Financial issues aside there is still the issue of physically getting Riley to Blacksburg.“Riley’s country's government stops accepting Dossier’s, official translated applications, in November and won’t start accepting it again until at least February,” St. Clair said. “Once it is submitted it can take one to three months before it is approved and you can travel.”Luckily for 27-year-old Jessica she is finishing up her PhD in math at Virginia Tech this spring and can’t travel until that’s done in May which is about the time they should be approved.Once they are in the country the couple has to stay there for six weeks.“The first ten days both parents have to go to court, meet the child, do paperwork and go through a three-week waiting period,” St. Clair said. “The waiting period gives the family time to spend with the child and bond or change their mind. It is also a chance for relatives to come out of the wood work and protest the adoption.”“After the waiting period there is another court date to finalize the adoption and then the next two weeks are spent getting the child ready to come to the United States,” St. Clair said.Besides spending time and money to adopt there is also tons of paperwork, home studies, and online coursework that must be completed.Jessica said this process is “like a part-time job” spending up to twenty hours a week on it.“A lot of adoptive families refer to the process as a paper pregnancy because the whole thing can take up to ninth months and unfortunately nothing is definite until the adoption is final in court,” St. Clair said.Adopting is a long and expensive process and “not for the faint of heart.”“We just feel that he is meant to be our son and we will do what we have to do. Without adoption he has no future. In Riley's country there is no place in society for these kids,” St. Clair said. “When kids with disabilities are born Dr’s tell the parents they’re going to die and to put them in orphanages.”Once Riley is with the St. Clair’s in Blacksburg Jessica will stay home with him for the first year to help him adjust.“He will need physical therapy for his cerebral palsy and daily medications for his HIV,” St. Clair said.Though the St. Clair’s have really good insurance to cover most of Riley’s needs, they will “keep the coffee fundraiser open indefinitely for those who want to continue their financial help.”The St. Clair’s are aware that their adoption journey is far from over and that they are a long way off from their financial goal but they continue to keep their faith and trust that God will provide for all their needs.Luckily the St. Clair’s have not experienced direct negativity about their choice to adopt an HIV positive child and that “when people and family members do have concerns its more about educating them.”“You stop seeing the disability and start seeing the person,” St. Clair said.Jessica and Rob hope to be traveling back to Blacksburg in July with Riley as their son.For additional information about the St. Clair’s, Riley, Vika, Reece’s Rainbow or to make a donation go to or .