Polly is five years old and is heading into mainstream Kindergarten in the fall. Her extra chromosome, a stroke, a diagnosis of Moyamoya Disease and two brain surgeries haven’t slowed her down one bit. She likes it when I sing to her at night before bed. One of our favorites is “You are my sunshine.” I am sunburned from loving Polly.
Evangeline is four years old. She came to our family through International Adoption with Reece’s Rainbow, an organization dedicated to helping kids with Down syndrome all over the world find forever families. Evie fits in well with her light complexion and corn silk hair. Usually people can’t tell which child of ours is adopted. Although in many ways we are still getting to know one another, my heart is tethered to this little girl.
My name is Gillian. I am a Christian, wife, mother, writer, and speaker. I’m also a small town girl from Michigan who has spent the majority of her married life in big cities; Kiev, Ukraine for three and a half years church planting, and now Chicago, where I live with my husband Sergei and our four daughters; Elaina, Zoya, Polly and Evangeline. Polly and Evangeline both have Down syndrome. Evie, the youngest of the girls, came to us through international adoption from Ukraine in 2009.
Most Sundays, you’ll find me there in the back row of the church Sergei pastors, bouncing a toddler on my knee and giving the older girls /the look/. It’s been said that wives of clergy live in fish bowls. Let me be the first to tell you that my bowl is cracked and most of the water has seeped out.
I love good reads, yoga, stringing words together, speaking Russian, eating peanut butter out of the can with a spoon, and advocating for my girls with special needs.
To learn more about Gillian and her girls, visit her website: Gillian Marchenko