Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Year in Review.

I have never been one to write an end of the year letter, a year in review. But this year seems worth doing. It has been a year like none I can remember.
When I was young, I found pride in my life, which was full of adventure and never quite knowing where I would be in six months. I traveled as much as possible. When I got married, it was honestly my biggest fear, giving up the adventurous, unpredictable life. And my mom so wisely told me that the biggest adventure was just beginning. She was right. Life married, then with one, two, three, four kids is A HUGE adventure. And we moved a lot. I never felt like I was missing anything.
And this year seemed to be a year of final calm. We had a good job. A good community. New friends. Life was good and I was starting to get content. It scared me. Because when I am content I forget that the world is full of other people. When I get content, my world gets full of first world problems, like no Starbucks for twenty miles! And I forget that life is to be lived to the fullest.
It is such a balance of being content in the life we have and not too content to live without awareness of a world outside of me.
This year, 2013, was going to be our first "normal" year in a while.
And then January happened. And my heart stirred about adoption and a little boy's face I had seen just eight months earlier on a blog. We started the year taking this step of faith to start the adoption process. And a year later, we have raised all the money, we have travelled to Eastern Europe and met him, and we are getting very close to going back to bring him home.
Then we decided to try swim team. The girls loved swimming and swam every day. We joined the pool and David learned to swim. Verity learned she is not really that afraid of water.
This year was a year of firsts. Nathan made his first feature length film. A film that in January we never imagined would become as big as it has. A film with actors that people have heard of and a much bigger budget than imagined. The film is Killing Poe. He is currently editing it.
There were more firsts. I ran my first marathon. Anya joined a volleyball team. Karis and David joined soccer teams.
Karis has learned a lot about horseback riding, she takes lessons once a week. And she can now walk to trot and stop on her own. Her confidence has grown, and it has been a blessing to watch.
We have made it through another year of homeschooling and continue with our Classical Conversation co-op. Anya has started playing the flute. She goes every day to the intermediate school for an hour in the afternoon.
We have had friends move away and made many new friends.
We are completely blessed!
And we are not keeping our fingers crossed. But really hoping that by January 1st we might have another first... all the kids potty trained. At least for a couple of months! She is definitely not interested, but M&M's and cheerleading are getting her a little more interested. And we are hoping that by January 1st we might be there.
I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings!
So from our house to YOU! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THANK YOU!

This will be a short post, but OH so necessary!  It has not been quite a year since we started this whole process. When we started the cost of adoption seemed so HUGE! I tried to be realistic. I figured the most for everything. And the amount it came to was $35,000.00

$35,000!!!!

That was staggering. I honestly have no idea what made me think we could come up with that money! We are not rich by any stretch of any imagination. But we also knew that God could provide. So we stepped in faith. And our church came along side us and supported us financially beyond what we could imagine. And friends started giving a little here and there and some gave a whole lot. We were part of Give1Save1, that helped us raise money. Our church did a fundraiser. And I even had a friend raise money through a race she was running and donate the money to our fundraising. And slowly it started coming in. Then once we were past the homestudy, we were able to start applying for grants. We applied for a few. It is a LONG process. We got one really quickly. A grant for $5000 in October.

We went on our first trip last month and it cost less than I had planned. I also found out because we are adopting a child with special needs, we get a "discount" from the NGO we are working with. Our final costs, which are mostly estimates, dropped to around $30,000.00 instead of $35,000.00

This weekend we got an email from someone saying they wanted to donate $1000.00 and another phone call stating we had received a grant for $2500.00.

I have done the numbers over and over. And with all of this, travel being an estimate, it seems that we are fully funded! These last amounts will cover our final country fees and finish covering the cost of travel for our second trip. That second trip is kind of a guess as far as cost, but we are trusting that what we have is enough. It seems like it should be.

And so I want to say Thank You! We want to say thank you for joining with us on this journey. I never imagined last January how this would work, how it would all come together. But it has! And we are SO thankful!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Trip... Part 2

First, I just wanted to say "Thank You" for all the encouragement I heard about my "Part 1" of Our Trip. It was such a blessing.

This one was harder to write....

The meeting and the newness and the unknown were a lot. But those I could deal with better, because those were the things that were familiar. It was not easy, but I have loved and I know what love is, I know what comes.

But then you add the politics of it all. The politics of two countries and an institution, they do not go well with the heart. They are all about rules and bending of rules and looking out for themselves, not necessarily the life of a child. And it is hard to live in a world where I cannot wrap my head around how we can put our own good and advancement over the lives of children.

And that is what it felt like what was happening so much of the time.

So the days we spent on a strict schedule, only allowed to see him at certain hours because of his strict schedule. But that "schedule" that could not be altered involved a snack, that never came. We were told he was small because of his disability. We were told they feed him extra. But the words did not match the actions. And we wanted the words, "We just don't have enough to feed them all," to come. Just something to admit they are trying, but it is too hard to have enough for them all. THAT we could deal with, but they were not telling the truth. And explaining this is hard because why would they lie? I do not know. I do not know why some people are treated better than others, but I know that prejudice runs thick.

We struggled to focused on what we were there for, not all the politics.

When we went to the orphanage, we kept our mouths shut and nodded enthusiastically as we heard about this country (which I LOVE) and looked the other way when things happened that we were not supposed to see. These things were not bad or awful, just part of a world that seems so secretive, at the sake of protecting the children. But the secrets make it seem so much more than that.

And we focused on what we were there for, to love this little boy. 

And we dealt with phone calls and people trying desperately to prove that they are better than others and we should trust them. And we listened to more lies. And we desperately tried to make decisions based on truth. And it was exhausting.

People say that adoption is not for the faint of heart, and they are right. There is so much mess that goes into this.

And the trip, it all combined, the fears and unknowns, the politics and the egos, were all just A LOT to take in.

But in the end, we know his life is worth fighting for. HE is worth fighting for. And he belongs in our family. So we came back weary and jet lagged, ready for some normal. And now, I am ready to GO again. To get done what needs doing.

And our amazing case worker here, who will fight for these children, so much better than I can is helping us fight for him. She is already giving her kidney to one of the kids who came home. A different adoptive family. Who does that? Someone who geuninely cares about these children! And she has made it known to his country that our little boy needs to have his needs met! And we are going to ask for tests to be done, to get him to a doctor to start having him cared for there as soon as possible if it is possible.

All our paperwork is in, we are waiting for a final I800 approval and then it goes back to Eastern Europe after it has been apostilled and then there is a pre-interview with the Embassy, then an Artice 5 is issued, the MOJ signs it and we get a court date. Then there is court and we pray we pass without ny hiccups. Then he is ours! Then we get to go back to bring him home.

So for now, we wait and we pray.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Trip, Part 1... We choose Love

It is hard to explain the trip, the one I had waited for. In a few words, it was just "A LOT." It was a lot of emotion, a lot of feeling overwhelmed, a lot of frustration, and a lot of heartache.

I do not know how to describe the moment we saw him, the little boy who we had been waiting for. I was not prepared to see how small he was. I was not prepared to see the fear in his eyes. Part of me wanted to look away. It is painful to see someone starving. I did not FEEL love.

My mind raced back to when my daughter was born eleven years ago. I was one of those weird moms that did not FEEL love then either. I was not overwhelmed with affection for her. I knew, though, that she needed me. So, I loved her. I made that choice. It was not that hard, but it was a choice. I knew I wanted to keep her safe. I sang to her and I did the actions of love. And, over time, affection grew.

Love is a choice, NOT a feeling.

Each of my children, except my fourth, came with the same fear and unknowing. And each of them needed the actions of love from which grew affection. By my fourth, I knew what was coming and affection could not be contained. From the moment I saw her, I knew already what it would feel like and the feelings came quickly.

But, each day, when it gets hard and no one listens and I am tired, I choose to love. It becomes a habit, a good habit, and one that happens naturally after you have chosen it enough.

These things are what filled my mind as I looked at a terrified little boy. I was so uncertain that we could meet his needs. It is so difficult to look at a child who is hurting. It is easier to look away, to pretend I do not see. And a small part of me -- a part that I am horribly ashamed of -- wished I had never looked at that blog and seen those eyes. Because then I would not have to make this choice. Life could go on being easy. Not that life is ever easy, but we live a pretty easy, comfortable, and blessed life. BUT I did look, and it was time to make my feet, my actions do the walking that my heart and mind have believed in for so long. The actions that declare each child deserves a home, a family, and to be loved -- this little boy as much as any. And just because it is hard does not mean I should not do it. Because I know that one day I will stand before my God, and on that day I cannot say, "It was too hard or too uncomfortable."

So, we choose love. We choose to do the actions of love. Love is patient and kind and not self seeking. I will hold and sing and protect. I will stay up late and get up in the middle of the night to soothe and comfort. I will take him to appointments and to doctors and care for his needs. It will be hard and exhausting. It is scary. But I know the actions of love will someday turn into affection.

And affection grows.

I choose love, to hold him and put his cheek on mine. We fed him. When he cried about food that they took away or when he was afraid, we wiped his tears. We held him. He wanted to look out the window ALL - THE - TIME. So, we did, and I dreamed dreams for him that he may not even know to dream, whispering about the world that waits for him.

And just days after leaving, we are starting to do the actions. We are starting to fight for him here, to put a plan in place for when this little man gets home to his family. We are preparing our family for what lies ahead because they are excited and thrilled. But, it is going to be hard, and we want them to know their place, that they ALL are part of this family. We are planning to start a schedule, to put things in an order that the kids can count on. We are working on figuring out what medical needs we need to meet immediately and setting up appointments.

We are choosing love.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Birthday to David!

Today, this boy turns 6!!!!

He is a blessing!
Truly like no one I have ever met.
He is full of life and joy. Compassion and kindness. He is 100% boy and all wonderful!
His life is worth celebrating!
I am thankful to be his mom!
He has brought so much to our family.
His oldest sister says if you have not spent a lot of time with him, you really should because he is so great. His littlest sister dresses in his clothes because she really just wants to BE him. And none of us blame her, because honestly, we all wish we were a little more like David. And Karis spends most of her day playing with him.
He is handsome and smart and an amazing artist. He plays soccer and loves to build legos. He loves boy movies and guys nights with his dad. But spends most of his days with the girls in his life. His smile melts my heart every time. He has a soft heart that overflows with laughter most of the time. He is absolutely one of my most favorite people in the whole world! And I am so thankful that I have spent the past six years knowing him! I am a so blessed to be his mom! And am so excited to see the man that he is growing up to be.
Happy Birthday sweet David! You are SO loved!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Plane Tickets!

We have waited and waited until we could not wait any more. And then we waited longer. Our hearts grew weary and tired in the wait. And then yesterday we did not have to wait any longer. We got the okay to buy some plane tickets.

Adoption has proven to not be for the faint of heart as so many have said.

Everything about this process has been exhausting. It has completely broken me, I have realized I am horrible at waiting. I am horrible at the unknown. I am awful at giving up control. All are necessary for adoption. My friend described it like working with the DMV, only worse and then make that times two. Because every government has it's issues. And we are working with two. Everytime you think, "We are almost there!" Time stands still and THEN nothing happens and then maybe something does.

We are leaving in a week to go meet this little boy who has had my heart for over a year. It has not quite been a year since we started the process, and it will be over a year til it is all complete. This step. This HUGE step. This one that we have been waiting for is only that, a step. There are still many more. The country we are adopting from requires two trips. They are usually three to five months apart. So we are going, and then we will leave him there. I have heard it is about the hardest thing you could do.

This trip is the trip where there is a chance to change our minds. Where we can say "no." He does not know we are coming. He does not know who we are. And we will have a chance to say no, it is too much, we don't want him.

We won't.

I am not sure what to expect. I know it is going to be hard, and I am a bit nervous. But nothing about motherhood has ever been predictable or easy. And I am one hundred percent sure this little man belongs with us. I am also one hundred percent sure that every day from now until he is grown, I will wonder if I am the best mom for him. Just like I have wondered each day with each of our four children. I am going into this already in love, sure that life is hard, surer that Hamilton is precious and more than anything he needs a family. And surer even more that Hamilton was created by God, and is treasured by his Heavenly Father.

Thank you for praying with us, thank you for your support in bringing this little guy home. We are getting closer. We can see the finish line.

But that is just the beginning of life. Of the everyday. And that is what I need to remember in the wait. That this year, these months, as frustrating and difficult as they are, are just that, months in years of life.

We appreciate your continued prayers as we are traveling; for our children that are staying in the states, that they will have peace and fun. That they will not be anxious or fearful. And for those dear people caring for our children that they will not be overwhelmed!

We have so much to be thankful for!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Prayer Request....

Just when you think you cannot wait any longer, you have to keep waiting. It has been over three weeks, almost four since we got our verbal referral. Our case worker said, usually it is a week maybe two. She expects it any day. Hopes, she will hear this week. And I sit here and wonder why! Why are we waiting... I know God's timing is perfect. But why the wait. We are ready. We have the money for this trip, we have the money for our next country fee. We have talked to friends and family to work out details of who will take care of our precious children for the week we have to go. We are READY! But we are still waiting. Apparently it has something to do with paperwork that is not there or outdated on that end of things, in country stuff, that I cannot do anything about.

And the wait makes me anxious. And I would love if you could join us in praying that this mountain will move, that in my wait, I can be patient. And that we can hear soon.

Thank you so many friends who have joined with us praying and listening to me struggle with the wait. Please join us as we pray that this week we can hear, that all the details can be put into place, and we will continue to be ready to go.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Marathon...

Yesterday I completed one of the things I have always wanted to complete. I ran a marathon. It was harder than just about anything I have ever done. It took just about everything in me to finish.



I started training this summer. Using the Hanson method of training which involves longer runs throughout the week. I ran just about six days every week. I actually loved it. I love running. It makes me weird, but it is what I would prefer to do any day. So this seemed like the perfect training for me. By the end of September I had not missed a day of training. I had even gone further than I usually was supposed to. I would think at the end of eight miles, I feel good, I can run one or two more. And I would. Ten miles was a "normal" run for me. I could do it without any trouble. I ran sixteen miles a couple of times and felt good. Then I thought, I should run a twenty miler. The Hanson method tops out at sixteen miles. The point of the training is you are always running on tired legs. And this would prepare me for a race like this. But psychologically I thought, I need to run twenty. That day was a rough day. I ran only 17.8 before my body just gave up. I was so discouraged and worried. I was in pain. I lost all my confidence in my ability to run. But I told myself, I did the training. I should be able to do this. Stick with the training. My friend encouraged me, that I had picked this training for a reason, so to trust that it would prepare me. And my runs after that slowly started to improve again. I started feeling really good again during the runs. Again, running longer than I had originally planned on most runs. My last ten miler the week before the race flew by. I felt like the miles were just ticking off. Miles 6-10 felt like maybe one. And I thought, I am ready for this!

Then the week leading up to the race, we started getting sick. My kids had colds, but nothing bad. Thursday, it hit me. Sinus pressure, aches, sore throat, and I started panicking. There was no way I could get sick right now! I started to do EVERYTHING I could to get healthy. I was drinking massive amounts of "Emergen-C," lemon water, apple cider vinegar water, spraying "thieves" oil, using saline spray, drinking tea and MASSIVE amounts of water. It was working, I did not get much worse. And by Sunday morning, the day of the race, I was feeling okay. I could feel a little bit of a cough, which as a person with asthma makes me a bit nervous, but I was going to be okay. I slept well the night before, and got up ready to run. Even though I felt like throwing up from nerves, I felt ready. I was SO thankful Nathan could be there with me. There were these amazing girls and lots of awesome friends that watched my children and helped juggle soccer games and birthday parties so we could go, and our kids could still do things here. They did a great job, and allowed Nathan and I to go to St. Louis together.

It was FREEZING cold to start the race, right around 33 degrees. Which is perfect when you are running, not when you are waiting to run. I had one friend there running too, but we were planning to just run on our own and meet up afterwards, so I did not see her before the race started. I started out okay, but feeling SO tired, and by mile four I felt like my legs just did not want to run. I was so discouraged. At mile twelve I thought maybe I had missed the turn off for the full marathon, and was running the half marathon race instead, and I kind of secretly hoped it was true, because I could not imagine running that far again and still some. But there was the turn off right after mile twelve. And I turned off, to finish this race I had started. I was running between a nine and a half and a ten and a half mile pace, which was my goal, to stay slow so I could finish. But mile thirteen felt like mile seventeen of that run I had a few weeks ago. Mile fifteen I stopped and took off my shoe to fix my sock, that was causing a blister to form on my foot, a blister that would only get worse over the next ELEVEN miles!!! This was when I saw my friend pass me. I got my shoe back on and tried to catch up, but my foot just stopped working. I had surgery to repair a tendon after falling down stairs just about two years ago, and sometimes, it still hurts, a lot. And at mile fifteen I was limping. Tears were stinging my eyes and I wanted to quit. I thought of all the reasons I should quit. I was limping. My lungs were burning, it hurt to take a deep breath. I needed my inhaler. I had passed Nathan with it just two miles ago, I did not know if I would see him again before the finish. I was walking with tears just burning my eyes. I was psyching myself out. I did not want to run anymore. I wanted to go home and quit and not have to talk to anyone again. I knew people would be gracious. And I could explain how bad my foot hurt and my lungs were struggling for air. BUT I also knew, I had four kids at home, four kids who believed their mom could run a marathon. I knew I had signed up for this race to raise money to bring my fifth child home. I knew that I had trained for this and it was supposed to be hard. I also knew that if I did not finish this, I would have to do it again. I had always wanted to run a marathon, and if I did not do this one, I would have to do it again. So, I walked for awhile. Thankful for all the people out there who where t-shirts with the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strenghthens me." And I talked to God about getting my foot to carry me on now the next ten miles. And I started to run again. It was slow and  not consistent, but I was moving ahead again. With purpose, to finish this race. And when I walked it was a fast walk, not an "I give up" walk, it was the walk that let my lungs breathe. And then I saw Nathan and I yelled, "Get my inhaler!" I took a couple of puffs at mile 22. And said "See you at the finish!" I was going to do this. I finished, running my last mile at my ten minute pace.
(Mile 22)

(finishing the race)


I hurt like crazy, my foot got wrapped in layers of ice and I walked the half mile to the hotel without a shoe, with a foot wrapped in ice. I showered and we walked a block to eat, then took a cab back to where our car was. It was only two miles, but at that point, I could not walk two more miles. We then drove five hours home. Which may not be the best thing to do after you run. The whole way back, all I could think was how I can be better prepared for next time....I am a runner. I love running, pain and all!
(Medal, ice pack and all)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Repost on Patience

This is a repost of a blog I wrote on patience over a year ago. Back before we had started this adoption process, before I think I ever knew what it meant to really wait patiently. I remembered writing these words while cleaning bathrooms, and it resonated so much with where I am at today... I thought I would repost it....

Waiting ... standing still.

Patience ... enduring.

I wait for people to change, for circumstances to change, for something to change, but sometimes it does not - or, at least, not when or how I want it to. And waiting is not enough. I need to practice patience - to keep walking, to keep moving, to keep going and to endure. For there is still life to live. I must endure until I know where I will go next. My feet are moving forward but I am standing still - enduring until I see where I am to go.

And I practice patience - whispering prayers under my breath, waiting with movement.

And I practice patience - washing dishes, doing laundry, picking up toys. I wait with movement.

And I practice patience.

I am tired and I really want to stop spinning in circles, waiting with movement. But the movement is not always graceful. The movement is rarely beautiful. It is often marked with tears and stumbles, but it is changing. Because I know that "tribulation works patience: and patience experience; and experience hope, and hope makes not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5KJV)

And I am changing because there is work in the patience; movement that is happening within as I am enduring without; work that is producing experience and HOPE.

And I practice....patience...waiting with movement.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

God's Faithfulness...

Sometimes I wonder, about how much to share. But I never want to miss a chance to say that God is working to give this little boy a family. To say that God loves this little boy more than I ever could. And that when God asks you to do something, He takes care of all the details.
Adoption allows you to learn patience. There is nothing quick about the process. And sometimes you wonder how in the world you will pay the next fee.
For us, we are getting ready to travel, and we will have a country fee due. These two put together equal about $10,000. (depending on plane tickets, hotel costs, etc.) But it is approximately TEN THOUSAND dollars. That is a lot of money. And we had about half...We have been blessed with friends and family and a church that have given SO much to help bring Hamilton home. How can you ask for any more?
We applied for a grant, actually three grants.
Today, in the mail we got a check for $5000 from one of those grants. Did I mention we had about half.... well $5000 equals the other half.
And then just for a little extra blessing, my sister has decided to run for Hamilton in the Detroit hal-marathon next weekend, she has raised almost $100.00. And my friend has decided to run for Hamilton. She posted on facebook last night that her goal is to raise $1000.00. Since last night, she has raised $500 towards his adoption.
We are getting so close! We have a fundraiser coming up at our church and a couple other grants we are waiting to see if we get.
I have been amazed at God's faithfulness and provision through His people, throughout this journey.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Waiting Child

The waiting is the hardest. I wrote it last week, and this week we had a light in the waiting, a "next big step." I was reading about the different types of adoption the other day. And one stood out, the "waiting child" adoption. It is the kind of adoption we are doing, but the NAME had not struck me until last night. Because for all my waiting, they wait more. They might not have a "light" in their waiting. They might wait their whole life.

The "waiting child" adoption is different than traditional adoption. In traditional adoption, in most countries, you put in a list of things you are willing to accept. You put in age/gender/disabilities, etc. Often people going through traditional adoption are looking for a specific type of child and usually a younger child. I am generalizing here, if there is anything true all the time about adoption is nothing is always the same. The people going through traditional adoption often have to wait years. The country we are adopting from it is about a three year wait. That is good because apparently the country where we are adopting has a high adoption rate. The generally healthy kids are adopted pretty quickly by people in their own country, so if you are waiting for a relatively healthy child under three, you could wait years or it may not happen, these kids are wanted! 

But the kids on the "waiting child" list, they are the ones that much of the world has turned its back on. They are the older kids, the ones that have special needs. Some of these needs are small, some big, most bigger than they would be because of institutions. Some countries, including the one we are adopting from are moving to foster home type settings, and a lot of these kids are making improvements. Some children are blind, some born with heart defects or other physical defects, some have downs syndrome, some need a surgery that their country was not able to do. And they have suffered years of waiting. 

I know that two years ago... these were the children I did not want. I am ashamed to say it. I remember when my Anya was born and the first couple of years of her life, just loving her so much, but so looking forward to her going to school, the days would be MINE again. And then I had three more children, and I thought maybe those days would never be mine. And, we decided to homeschool, maybe for a few years? And those days seemed further away. Now, it is hard to imagine not homeschooling. Not that I love it every day but it is our life. And again those days, the ones I was clinging to, the ones that would help me to become me again instead of "just a mom," were getting further away. But I knew one day it would happen. I married young, and had kids right away, so we would have years to do those things....

And then Hamilton came along. I do not know the extent of his needs. But it is possible he will not be independent ever. It is possible he will be completely independent. But I need to know it is possible he will not be. Those days, the days that were MINE, the ones I had looked forward to for ten years that kept getting further away. They vanished. And my heart broke. Not for my days, but because this child, the one who is waiting for someone to be his family, matters. And all those days that were mine, I thought, do. not. matter. when there are children that need homes. Jesus said in Matthew: 
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
These children, the ones that are waiting. They are the ones the world has turned away. And this world the ones with the days that are MINE is momentary, it is a blink in eternity. If you want to see some of these waiting children you can contact an agency, they have lists of children waiting, or you can go to RainbowKids.com and set up an account. There are hundereds of children waiting!



Friday, October 11, 2013

Adoption Grants

Today I finally finished our third grant application.
After months of filling out paperwork, probably the LAST thing one wants to do is start in another stack of paperwork.
BUT it is what I did. We have only applied for three, it has taken me several weeks to get through all the paperwork, getting all the resources and references together.

There are several things to pay attention to before applying, and it is probably worth looking at the grants as soon as your homestudy is approved. I kind of felt like I could breathe and some dead lines have passed in my breathing. So it is really important to make a list of grants you plan to apply for and watch for deadlines as soon as your homestudy is approved. Many organizations have deadlines, they review at only certain times of the year, some are monthly or quarterly. It is also important to read the requirements. Some are given to special needs adoptions/single moms/married couples/Christians/ only those living in a certain state, etc.

There are all types of grants available for adoption. There are grants, direct grants that give money toward the adoption. These are harder to get and harder to find. But they are available. Here is a list of some grants that accept applications and give direct grants. Most of the time, this money is sent directly to your agency to cover needed expenses.
Show Hope: http://showhope.org/
Gift of Adoption Fund: http://showhope.org/
JSC Foundation: http://www.jscfoundation.org
Fund Your Adoption http://fundyouradoption.org/


Another type of grant is a matching one. These are a little more common. The idea behind them, is that you get family/friends to donate to your adoption and the grant will match up to a certain amount. They also can allow donors to give with a tax deductible gift. Most I have heard are $1000-$4000. That means if family/friends donate $1000-$4000/the funds to the adoption are actually $2000-$8000. Here is a list of several matching grants!
Life Song: http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/
Hand in Hand adopt: http://www.handinhandadopt.org
Titus Task: http://www.thetitustask.com/matching-grants.html (for Northwest Arkansas families)

Another option is to register with an organization that helps you fundraise, but allows donors to receive a tax deduction for their contribution. Two that we are applying for/or are using:
Adopt Together: https://www.adopttogether.org/
Grace Haven Ministries: http://gracehavenhome.com/

A final option is interest free loans. This allows indivduals to take out loans without interest to pay for part of the adoption. Here are severa links to these loans:
Lifesong: http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/
Abba Fund: http://www.abbafund.org/

This is just a brief list of grants/loan/matching grants available to adoptive families. There are lots of complete lists. Life's Amazing Journey has a huge list of grants available.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

WE GOT IT!!!!

This will just be a quick update...

We have been waiting for today. I have been waiting for today! It is not the end of the waiting, but each of these steps gets us a little closer. I knew yesterday was a meeting... I knew they might have reviewed our dossier, I knew we might get a referral. I knew we also might not, they might have reviewed others ahead of us. And we might wait another week. But, today, WE GOT IT!!! It is a verbal referral. The official referral will come in the next few weeks, in writing. At that point we will make travel plans. We will be going to meet our son, our Hamilton, next month. I cannot wait to meet him! It brings tears to my eyes, and makes me want to jump up and down all at the same time! This journey, it seems has taken so long and we have a long ways to go, but we are getting closer.

Every day, Every. Day. Verity asks, "When is Hami coming home." She is ready. She has been ready for so long. I do not know how she even understands at three that he belongs here, and she is waiting for him. She is going to be his sister! And David has told me he misses him. I do to. I miss him. How is it you can miss someone  you have never met? I do not know how to describe it but it is like part of our family is not here, we cannot wait to bring him home!

The first step will be to travel and meet him. We will go for 7 days and spend time with Hamilton in November. After we get back, it is usually 3-5 months until we are able to go back and bring him home. I imagine a really hard 3-5 months of more waiting.

But for now I am thankful, we are getting closer!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Few of the Differences...

This is day 9 I know, and I have only posted eight times, I am giving myself some grace with this and just saying.. it is okay. I actually wrote yesterday, but really was not sure I was ready to post it, so maybe another time...
But for now, Day 9...

I am blessed. We have been blessed with four biological children. And with so many friends who have struggled to have children of their own, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think how really very blessed I am. And I am blessed to adopt. To add another child to our family, I am thankful. We have not brought Hamilton home or even met him in person yet. But in my heart he already part of our family. I have thought through this whole process; how very different the adoption process is than having a biological child.

1. In pregnancy, there is a lot of waiting. But the waiting is different. Some things you know for sure, like the baby will come in the next 9 months. There is a due date, and somewhere around that due date, Lord willing you will have a baby. In adoption, depending on the type, it could be years.

2. In pregnancy, you can do a lot of research and classes and gain information. But there is nothing required. Adoption requires training, hours of training. In both, no child or situation is exactly how you expect it will be and you can prepare a lot, but  never be fully prepared.

3. Pregnancy is expensive, thousands of dollars, most of the time, this is covered by insurance. Adoption is similarly expensive, thounsands of dollars, none of it is covered by insurance.

4. In adoption the government gets involved from the beginning to decide if you are able to be a parent, background checks are done, for international adoptions, the federal goverment does background checks and both make the decision if you are able to take care of a child. In pregnancy, this does not happen.

5. In pregnancy, you do not get to pick your child. This is the hardest part for me. How to ethically go about this. How do we state, I will take this or that child because they have this or that, but not that one because he has this wrong with him? You can make a list of disabilities you will take and then decide what you want. And even after you decide you can change your mind. This does not happen with a biological child. You do not get to pick what you want. It is one of the hardest things about adoption for me because all of these children deserve a family.

6. In pregnancy, the child does not get to pick the parents. In adoption this does not really happen either, BUT in domestic adoptions in the U.S. parents put together sort of "scrap books" that tell about themselves so birthparents can pick what kind of family they wants their child to be raised in. Again, this makes sense to some extent, but it seems a bit odd, often there are really great families that wait long times just because of this or that, people can be really picky!

7. Both can involve lots of labor, but very different kinds. There is a lot to carrying a baby, and caring for a baby while pregnant, and all those who have been through labor know it is a difficult thing. But adoption comes with it's own heart break, and labor of finding funding, passing homestudies, filling out paperwork, it is a really long, hard process. Many people have told me a phrase they have heard, and I fully agree, "Adoption is not for the faint of heart!" and one friend added on, "Adoption is for the Brave!" and I fully agree with both.

8. And the obvious, pregnancy comes with the blessing of a newborn. Adoption often ends with the blessing of a child, but at different stages with different backgrounds and different issues. They both involve adjustment. A newborn brings little sleep and middle of the night feedings. A newborn does not know how to express his feelings but to cry. A newborn trusts his mom from the start.  A child through adoption has a mom that may or may not have struggled through those new things with him, but now has new struggles to face with you. An adopted child is in a house they do not know, possibly in a country in a language they do not understand. An adopted child may not trust you from the start. And may be able to express himself with words but choose not to, or not know how to do it appropriately.

Both Lord willing end with a blessing, a child



Monday, October 7, 2013

A Little more About a Fundraiser...

I am trying to make this month not just about our adoption, but adoption in general. HOWEVER, we are in the process, so I thought I would just plug one of our fundraisers a little bit more!

I am training for a marathon. This will be my first. I decided to try the Hansen Method, which is where you run a lot of miles on really tired legs. However, the long run never goes past 16 miles. Psychologically this is hard for me. I really think I need a twenty miler to make it. SO, I tried last Friday to make it twenty miles. I died about mile 17.8. I still was a long ways to my car, but had to walk the remaining distance. Every inch of my body hurt. I felt like I would never walk again. I got home and collapsed. I slept for hours, and was in pain all day. I honestly have no idea what happened. I had run seventeen the week before and then gone on to play kickball and take all four kids shopping for the day. Now the feeling like dying thing sounds more normal to me than the other. But I was ready for the other. I had run 16 miles several times before and felt okay all day too. Tired, but okay. And the 17.8 killed me. I took two days off and made myself get up and run today. It was "just" 10 miles. I was terrified. But it was amazing! And I have had to tell myself that for whatever reason I just had a bad run, and everyone has a bad run. And I am running for Hamilton. It is what I tell myself on that bad run, and it is what I tell myself when I really am scared to get up and run again.

So I am running because it is one thing I can do. We are fortunate to be able to have people donate to our Adopt Together fund, which allows them to get a tax deductible donation.

And there are others running. It has been a blessing for me, because I am part of a running community, my friends, most of them run. And my sister runs. She is running a race in two weeks. She decided to run for Hamilton too! If you donate to sponsor her, it is the same place, you just leave a note with her name, and I have another friend thinking about running for Hamilton too. I am wearing a t-shirt for Hamilton during the race with all those who have sponsored my run to bring him home in the past month and leading up to this race on the 27th of October. If you are interested in supporting us to bring Hamilton home by sponsoring me to run this race, we would be thrilled! AND if you are running or race or thinking about running a race and want to run for Hamilton, and help raise some money, I would love to talk to you about how others are doing this! You can donate at our Adopt Together fund, anyone who give here or just on the donate button on this blog in the past month or over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting on the shirt! Thank you for your support in advance!




Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Little Bit of the Process...

When you step into adoption, it is kind of like you need a dictionary to carry on the journey or a tour guide to walk you through the process. So I thought I would just walk through some of the basics, some of the terms that you will hear. And if you have friends adopting, it might help have some idea of what they are doing. And this is a very amature review of our adoption process. Each agency and country is different and things change all the time. This is meant to just give you an idea of the steps and some of the language used in adoption. It is really our experience, I am sure there are lots of things different or that I might be missing!

The first step is identifying an adoption agency. There are loads out there. I do not know anything about any of them.  There are lots of ways about going about adoption, so that is probably the first decision to make. Am I going to adopt internationally or domestically? Am I going to foster children and see if it leads to adoption? Am I going to open my home to foster children without a plan of adoption? There are all sorts of decisions to make at the beginning. Once you know what kind of adoption you are going to pursue, or non-adoption/fostering, then you can pick an agency. It is probably a good idea to do some research. OR you can go the other route, the one we did. You fall madly in love with a child, and then just go with the agency they are matched with. I think it works this way in other countries, but in the one we are working with, the children who are waiting are divided among different foundations. These foundations then work with different agencies to advocate to find homes for these children. Every once in a while the children are moved to different foundations so that other individuals will have a chance to see them if they are with different U.S. agencies. And if a child is seen on a network as "waiting" they can request that the child be moved to a certain foundation so they can adopt them. Lost yet? Well, we were really blessed to have our agency be a really great one. We did  not do any research. But I could not ask for a better case worker. However, she lives in a completely different state. Which means for the next step, Home Study, we needed a different agency. (just for home study, we could still use our agency for the adoption)

When we first told our agency that we wanted to adopt "Hamilton," we had to fill our paperwork to put him on "hold." Which seems weird, but it said, we want him, and we tell the country we are adopting from that he is who we want. And they gave us six months to get the paperwork complete.

We got fingerprints. And sent them off to the U.S. government to have them "apostilled." Apostilled, means having papers extra officiated. That is my definition. But basically it is saying, "these are real." Our fingerprints had to be apostilled at the federal level.

We requested birth certificates and our marriage certificate. And they had to be apostilled in the state they were issued.  So the state goverment gave their official word that everything was real.

Our agency had a list of agencies they had worked with in our state successfully for home studies. So we went with them on this. The home study consists of four visits. But starts with an insane amount of paper work. The paperwork consisted of thirty pages each of our life stories. We had letters of recommendation written. And we had background checks done. We also had doctors visits done, blood work done to ensure we were healthy and more paperwork for agencies. The home study visits started once we had our paperwork complete. The first visit was a joint visit with Nathan and I. Then I met one on one with our caseworker, then Nathan met one on one. Then she visited our home and met with our children and made sure we had a place for Hamilton. I was really concerned about this and ran out of time to mow the lawn and my friend reassured me that if she says that your home is not fit for him because the lawn is not mowed than there is something wrong. It gave me some peace.

Then we waited for it to be written. Once it was written, and reviewed and fixed. We had all our documents notarized, this is done at bank or by anyone who is a notary. We learned the importance of wording after all our documents were notarized: passport copies, medical reports, home study, hold paperwork, other random paper work from our adoption agency; and it was sent off to be apostilled at the state level. It was all returned because we were missing a statement saying it was a true document and what county it was notaraized in. We had to redo all of our notarizing and send it back for apostille.

Once we had our homestudy complete we also sent off our paperwork for our I800A. This is a federal piece of paperwork that requests that we can adopt a child or two. This paperwork goes through the US immigration department and requires a copy of our homestudy and biometrics fingerprinting. Biometrics fingerprinting are done in certain cities in each state and done by appointment, electronically.

Once ALL this paperwork is complete you have a complete dossier! And you are so relieved to have gotten so far. The dossier is sent to the country you are adopting from.The dossier is then translated by the foundation your child is matched with. In the country we are adopting from, the translated dossier then goes to an International Adoption Committee that gives a verbal referral. If you do not have a child you are matched with, I am not certain what happens next. But for those matched this verbal referral is then made a written referral and translated. The referral is then given to the adoption agency and the family is notified. The family is then given dates they can travel. Often this is just a couple of weeks later.

Before we go we have to fill our paperwork for an I800, this petitions to classify a convention adoptee as a family relative.

Then all countries are different and there are probably different steps. In our country, the one we are adopting from we have to take two trips. In some countries it is just one. In the country we are adopting. We go for 7 days. Half way through we have the chance to say we are really committed. Then we take this child to apply for a Visa. We come home. And we wait for I800 to be approved and if it is and the child is found legal to immigrate to the U.S. an Article 5 is issued. And we have to get fingerprints done again and another doctor's note stating we are healthy. Then our case is seen before the court and then we get to go again. It is usually three to five months after our first visit . Then WE BRING HIM HOME!



Saturday, October 5, 2013

My favorite blogs on adoption...

One of the things I love is reading the stories of those who are adopting or have adopted or who advocate for orphans! There are some real heroes out there for the orphan. These are some of my favorite blogs about adoption. Some I have just recently stumbled upon, some moved us to take the first steps of adoption, and some are friends who are walking the journey of adoption!

1. THIS is the newest blog I have come across... it is beautiful, the story, the pictures, the heart

2. This WOMAN just amazes me!

3. A family with an amazing heart and courage!

4. A family starting their second adoption, a FAMILY I love!

5. This is the blog that started it for me, that got my heart stirred enough to take the first step of faith...

6. You have probably read her, and she writes on more than just adoption, but she is an amazing writer and LOTS OF FUN!




Friday, October 4, 2013

Fundraising and Adoption

There are quite a few ways to fund an adoption. One of the most popular is fundraising. Fundraising is a hard thing. Some people will say, it is worth doing, others (usually those not adopting) will say that you should not fundraise for adoption. "If you do not have the money to pay for adoption, than you should just not adopt." The thing is I really know hardly anyone who has $35,000 extra, just sitting in their bank account. And if they do then by all means ADOPT! There is a REALLY good blog post on this, at Embracing the Odyssey.

I have personally found fundraising stressful. Partly because with adoption, nothing is guaranteed, and most people are not able to make tax deductible donations, which makes it sometimes stressful when asking or explaining fundraising. There are lots of really good ideas though, I have read a lot on fundraising and there are so many good ideas! I wanted to make just a starter list for those looking for ideas. The other thing to remember in fundraising, is that every dollar counts. Five dollars really does make a difference because if twenty people give five dollars, you have a hundred dollars which is what we would need to pay for our little boys medical visit for Visa. Every dollar counts! So here is a list of ideas....

Auction (a friend of ours auctioned off jewelry, or you could auction off art, or baskets for presents. people are sometimes willing to give a "something" to auction because it is what they have, and it can grow their business)
Bake sale ( you could do this before or after church for a few weeks)
Birthday Party (a friend of mine did this on her adoptive son's birthday, the hope is for the next party he will be here, but for this year, they threw him a party fundraising for his adoption, great idea!!!)
Make something and sell it! (A woman in our adoption group makes "Owls for Orphans" She used it to help fund her adoption and now helps other adoptions with her sales) If you have a craft or trade, sell it. There is a spot on etsy for adoption fundraisers!
Make a signature quilt or puzzle. Each person who gives so much gets their name on a quilt or helps complete the puzzle piece. We are doing the signature quilt throughout this adoption process. Anyone who gives $10 or more, we will sign their name on the quilt that we are making for Hamilton. I am so excited to give it to him to let him know how many people worked together to bring him home!
Have a Drawing. Set a goal and when you get to that goal draw for a prize. I have seen this a lot lately, for example, set a goal of $1000, once you get to that goal you randomly draw a name of all the people who donated and they receive a prize. There have been some pretty great prizes, like a kindle or a $100 amazon gift card.
Host a Dinner or Party- Have a dinner or party, sell tickets, make the food yourself to offset costs. I have heard several of these have been quite successful!
Run a Race- This is another one I am doing. It is one of the things I can do, is run. So for each person that donates to our adoption in the weeks leading up to the adoption, I am going to run with their names on a shirt that I wear that says, "Bringing Hamilton Home" You could run a race or run as a team, or if you are really ambitious design a race, that the race entry fees go to funraising.

This is a short list of fundraisers. There are lots more lists out there. I would love to add to THIS list! If you have any ideas, leave a comment!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The hardest part... is the waiting

The hardest part... is the waiting.

My heart weighs heavy knowing there is nothing more I can do.

We have applied for grants, all our paperwork is overseas, and we are waiting.

We are in a stage of this adoption that is just waiting. Waiting for grants, to see if we get them, waiting for a referral and a signature. There is a possibility that the committee that give referrals will meet every week this month. There is a possiblity that they will review our dossier. There is a possiblity that they will not. That we will still wait.

I clean the bathroom and tears fill my eyes because there is a child on the other side of the world I am waiting for. He is not waiting for me, he does not even know I exist. But how can bathrooms HAVE to be cleaned and dishes HAVE to be done and laundry HAVE to be put away? How can it all still have to go on while I am waiting?

I am sure in any moment of wait this is how we all feel.

And sometimes the waiting is honestly paralyzing. Because I really do not want to do anything but wait. So I sit and dream and pray for this little boy.

And in the waiting and after the waiting, I want to be a voice for this children that deserve so much more. Who are valuable just because they are created by God, their lives matter just as much as any of ours.

A voice for a little girl who sits in an orphanage, blind, cast off because all that is seen is that she cannot see. She is, "not able to learn" not even given a chance, because she cannot see. A voice for a little girl that twice has had families commit, and then for a little boy in who needs heart surgery, his country cannot provide it and his life is on the line. A voice for a twelve year old boy with spina bifida that asks for a family, but may never find one. And a little girl that twice had families committed, that were not able to complete the adoption. She has spina bifida and is really smart her report says. She is five. All of these are real children, in different countries around the world. And they wait too. They are waiting for families. And they are the ones that might wait longer because they have special needs and are older.

If you are thinking about adoption or want information on any of these children or others waiting, let me know, I will be so happy to connect you with our case worker who can give more information.

And I continue to wait. There are definitely some things worth waiting for!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Adopt Internationally...

I have heard a lot lately about intenational adoption, not being a good thing. How we are really encouraging an industry, because there is money to be made in children. I have heard that there are plenty of children here that need homes, why not adopt domestically.

I think some of those people are right. Unfortunately, people do see money in adoption, and maybe it is happening. Maybe people are giving up their children because they want them to have a better life, or they cannot care for them. Maybe, definitely, there needs to be something done. We need to make resources available to people to make giving their children up not a real option. We need to educate them, that just because a child has a special need, does not mean they cannot raise them. And can I just say, does it not happen here? In this country, people give up their babies because they do not feel like they can care for them. I have a friend, who's child is the fourth child of a woman. She kept the first three and gave up her fourth for adoption. As heartbreaking as that is, she did it so her child would have a better life, and she is with an amazing family. There are moms in this country that feel unable to care for their children and give them up for adoption. I have another friend who had her baby when she was a teenager and just did not feel like she could care for her, she gave her up for adoption. It does not just happen in other countries... there are children here available for adoption for reasons other than their parents are no longer living. We live in a broken world. Nothing is perfect.

The country we are adopting from there is poverty and people are told they are not able to take care of children with special needs. They are told when the child is born that they cannot do it. There is stigma that comes with these needs. There is an idea that the child is cursed and will bring curse on their family. This should change.

But does that mean we should stop adopting internationally? Will this fix the problem? I do not think it will, at least not immediately. And immediately, there is a need for these children who are living in orphanages to have a home. There are hundreds of children waiting, thousands waiting. And maybe they were given up for the right reason or the "wrong", but I can guarantee that regardless of the reason, right now, they need a family.

International adoption is expensive, but that money goes to real things,  not to people making  money off adoption, at least from our experience. We have a case worker, who needs to get paid. And another case worker who did our homestudy who also needs to get paid. Our government requires paperwork to be filled out and every bit of paperwork has a fee. And there are organizations overseas that are advocating for these orphans, that need to be paid, they translate all the paperwork, they meet with adoptive families and bring them to the orphanage and translate for them while overseas, there is a government overseas that we are working with that also has fees for paperwork and meetings and court just like our country. There is travel and visas and passports and plane tickets. It is expensive, but there is not a lot of "extra" in there.

So, after all that, why international adoption? In short, because there are kids that need homes. There are children here and there. Their lives are not any less valuable than the ones here.

I always thought I would adopt domestically. It was always the plan. Until the day my eyes saw this little boy. I never thought I would adopt outside of birth order, or a child with special needs.  But then I saw the children, this little boy, and I realized no matter what their lives are worth fighting for.

So YES, please let us find a way to educate parents around the world about special needs, to take the stigma away, let us find a way to provide resources for families that give them options and allow them to keep raising their children. But let's not stop adopting. There are just too many. The stories we hear about these things happening, I have no doubt are true, but I do doubt they are the norm. And if we believe them and stop, then we are leaving these children behind, and really nobody wins.

And someone wrote it much better than me here... http://bee-queen.com/my-truth-about-adoption/


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So Far the Scariest Part for Me....

The scariest thing about adoption, was not saying yes, the scariest thing, for me, was telling family. Actually telling anyone. It is one thing to hear God tell you to do something, it is a different story to then have to share it out loud. Partly because if family and friends are not supportive, then you think they are just waiting for you to fail. And partly because if you don't do it, if you don't follow through, then everyone knows you failed. There are lots of things I say I am going to do, like "I am not going to eat chocolate for a month" or "I am going to read my Bible every day." And I always fail. So sometimes I think I should not say it. And neither of these things are as big as, we are going to adopt a child, and at that an older child with special needs. And, no we really do not know what the special needs are, we have an idea, but there is nothing guaranteed. And so if I fail, what if I want to be obedient, but I don't. And there are lots of opportunities to fail, or give up. So far, thankfully, the little face that is waiting for us, has kept me moving forward in obedience, stepping forward in faith.

It becomes easy, to live a life, one that is comfortable or even crazy, like mine. Right now I have decided to do this, this writing for a month, and I am training for a marathon (more on fundraising later:) AND I have four kids, that I homeschool AND they do things like have two soccer games and volleyball games on the same day at the same time, in different places; add in music lessons, horseback riding and trying to eat together as a family. And most people would say, you do not need to adopt. You have so much else going on. And in the middle of it ALL it is hard to remember that this is not ALL. That there is so much more. And today if I had to, I would give it all up, because what matters is my family, and this little boy needs a family, and we want to be his family, and you do what you have to for family. I do not think it would be right to say that my other kids, if they had to give up all their lessons, games, "extra's" would be missing out, if it was what we had to do for this adoption. I think they would realize that people are what matter, are lives are to be poured out. And if that means giving up somethings for the better of others, than that is what love lived out looks like, and I do not think that is too much to ask from children, if I really want them to see Christ's love, as long as I am willing to live it out as well. 

And that is the reaction some people had, some said our children already had to go without because of where we are at, go without, does not mean without food, clothing, shelter or love, go without means without all the extras. But those extras, as fun as they are, are just that fun and temporary. Some family told us that after praying they would have nothing to do with our adoption. I cannot say, how confusing this was, as they say they are Christians, but in prayer God told them they did not have to have anything to do with it. I think my heart broke for them that day, and I knew what anger felt like. Not because I really care if they are part of the adoption, yes it is nice to have family supportive, but because I cannot help but wonder if this is the problem. That Christians are praying, and hearing from God what they want to hear, rather than what is matches up with scripture. We had other family members hesitantly supportive and cautiously supportive. Some are really supportive. It was a mixed bag.

And it was the hardest part of this step of faith. The telling, and knowing there would be reactions. I have learned some about thickening my skin. And I know why we are adopting. And I know that fear of man and what he thinks is not what matters. I have learned that sometimes when you really want to see God work, you need to take a step of faith that allows him to work, to step out of my crazy, comfortable world and do what He is asking. 

Tonight I read a story to my three year old, it was after a HUGE screaming fit, we have had a lot lately. I have no idea why, but she is back to her two year old self, that I thought we had outgrown. After a lot of "NO! I DO NOT WANT TO'S!!!" by her and a lot of time outs, or attempts at time out by me, she ended up in bed. When she finally calmed down, we talked through what had happened. She then asked me to read her Bible to her. We read a children's Bible version of Moses. And she listened as I explained how at first God had told Moses to do something, and Moses said, "No." Now Moses' reasons were different than hers for saying no, he was afraid, but she had spent the night saying no to her mom, and I think she could relate. And I could relate, my fears were huge like Moses.' We talked about how God still accomplished His purpose and used Aaron to help Moses. We finished the story and then were singing, she stopped me, and said, "MOM, Moses said NO to God!" "I know baby." was my response. God still accomplished His purpose, and Moses was a big part of that but He used someone else too. God's heart is for rescuing these orphans. For giving them homes with families that love them, and this time we did not say "no" to God, we said "yes" and it has been AMAZING to see God work! A blessing to be just a small part in this masterpiece that He is working and was working long before we said "yes!" 


Monday, September 30, 2013

It is time for 31 Days Of....

It is that time of year again... the 31 days of! There is this thing over at the blog The Nester where you blog on a topic for 31 days. That is right, every day you write. And, last year I wrote 31 days of "Things I have Learned from my Children." I loved it. I learned during that month and over the past year, that I do like some discipline in my life. The accountability of actually sitting down and writing because I said I would do it, even if no one is actually reading is good for me. Because as a mom, with days that go on, laundry that is always being done, and put away and needs to be done again, it seems no one really notices if I actually accomplished something in that day. Yes, moms accomplish lots in that day, but sometimes it is hard to tell even when you are the mom accomplishing it all, and looking behind you to see, it does not really look any different. Well, writing is different. It is there, an accomplishment, a goal that can be seen and that is why I am writing again this month. Not because I really have time to fit one more thing in my day, but because I have find time to fit this in.

One year ago, we had just moved to a new town, starting a new job and we were starting to get back into the normal of life. I never imagined that a year later we would be here in the middle of one of the biggest steps of faith we had ever taken, and so completely sure of it being where we were meant to be. This thing has taken over quite a bit of my life... this thing called adoption. SO, this month, October, will be thirty one days of Adoption! My hope is to cover some of it, probably not all. Some of the bumps of the journey, some of the fears, some of the things that I have learned and where our family is at on the journey. BUT I also hope to talk about some other families adopting, my world has gotten a whole lot bigger with this journey, and we know so many people walking this journey with us! AND, I want to talk about the kids, some of those who are waiting. There are thousands, and my prayer is maybe God, will work in some hearts to move maybe even just one family to take a step of faith. And I want to give faces to people to pray. These children are not known and not prayed for, they are often alone and hungry, and I know that God can meet them exactly where they are at, so I am hoping I can share some pictures at least some stories of children who need someone to pray for them. AND finally some of it will just be the practical stuff of adoption, grants to apply for, fundraising hiccups, talking to family, etc. I think I probably could write for one hundred and thirty one days on Adoption. I would love if you would join me, and read along for 31 Days of Adoption!

Day 1: Introduction to 31 Days
Day 2: So Far the Scariest Part for Me...
Day 3: The Hardest Part...is the Waiting
Day 4: Fundraising and Adoption
Day 5: My Favorite Blogs on Adoption
Day 6: A Little Bit More of a Fundraiser
Day 7: A Few of the Differences
Day 8: We Got It!!!
Day 9: Adoption Grants


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A bit of a repeat that came with a Warning-- this post is still a little Sappy!

This time of year I am full of thankfulness. I love fall and cooler weather, although it is taking longer to get here in Arkansas, than back in Wisconsin. But I also get to celebrate two of my favorite people. Monday was Anya's birthday and today, Nathan! Eleven years ago, we came home from the hospital, on his birthday. It was my present to him, his first baby girl, and I have never been able to top it.

Each year though, I have fallen more in love with this man! He is amazing and funny and smart! Last year I wrote a post that described my love for him so well, that I am going to repost it, but add on one more "I Love" for the one more year of life I have had with him!

This year has been crazy and life even crazier, but there is no one I would rather spend my crazy life with than you, Nathan Jacobs!

So here is my post from last year... (it still applies, even more)

Sometimes I hold my breath, trying to change the rhythm. Breathing on cue; I panic because suddenly, it does not work like it is supposed to. I feel like I am drowning and I can not breathe. Or, I stop blinking and then try to start and it is hard to see because every blink is an effort, and I wonder maybe this is what my life will be like forever, the effort of breathing and blinking. But then in the middle of all my work I realize I am doing it on my own again. This is not a habit or something I learned. It is part of who I am. I am alive; breathing, blinking alive. And somehow or time or where that is what happened to my heart, with you.

If I tried to stop loving you, to start a different rhythm, I would feel like I was going to die. Because my heart is not in the habit of loving you. My love for you has become a part of who I am. My love for you is just like breathing and blinking, it is part my living. The kind of love that when things go wrong, I start to panic, because my heart is off. I work to make it right, I try to make my heart beat right. But then, I realize in the midst that my heart is right back to where it is supposed to be. It knows you so completely, the rhythm of you.

And, today we are celebrating YOU, my love. Your day! Today I get to celebrate what an amazing man I love with all my heart.

In honor of 35 36 years of life, here are thirty six things I love about you!

I LOVE
1.That for twenty one days you officially get to be one year older than me.

I LOVE
2. Your laugh

I LOVE
3. Your smile

AND I LOVE....
4. That you always put our family first.
5. You care about the hearts of our children
6. Your eyes
7. That you can make up something to eat in the kitchen from WHATEVER is available...
8. and that you always let the kids help
9. That you work hard
10. Watching you paint
11. Watching you hold our children for the first time.
12. Watching you hold our children as they have grown.
13. Going for walks with you
14. Going on adventures with you
15. When you make up stories
16. That you always stop for people on the side of the road
17. You do not get mad when I call you just because I need to
18. That you hate to fight as much as I do
19. That you support most of my crazy plans
20. That you go camping with me even though you hate it...
21. That when I realize camping is not as much fun as an adult and whine a lot you still go camping with me again in case it is going to get better.
22. What you believe
23. Your passion for what you believe
24. That you have full faith in me in crisis situations, most husbands might run to the rescue when their wife is lost in the dark and rain, but you with full confidence just ask me to call when I am safe:)
25. Holding your hand
26. Seeing you live your dreams
27. Sharing our dreams with each other
28. That you cry when you think about our kids growing  up
29. Laughing with you
30. Kissing you
31. That I can trust you completely.
32. Playing Ticket to Ride with you....
33. That you understand that I cry when I lose at Ticket to Ride or any game for that matter
34. Your faith
35. That my love for you is part of who I am
36. That our hearts break for the very same thing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to Anya!

It has been another year...

My sweet Anya, today, you turn eleven! I can hardly imagine you are that old, but I can also not imagine that I had a world, a life before you were ever a part of it. I think of you and think of our song, the one I sang when you were little...

dance with me Anastasia Grace and we will go to a faraway place...

Oh the adventures we have had and the places we have been since those days I sang you that song. I remember it so clearly in your grandparents living room, in the late night before we moved across the country, ready to start a new adventure in life. I sang to you, and you quieted and slept, so sure that I could take care of you, me, not so sure. But I was ever so sure to try.

Now eleven years later, we have been a lot of places and you are starting to have adventures of your own. You are learning to play the flute and volleyball. You play with the fierceness that you have taken on all of your life. Often in tears because you cannot do it just right. But you do not stop, you keep working and trying and you make it, you get better, you play the song all the way through. I admire you for your drive. I am so proud of the girl you are and look forward to the girl you are becoming.

You are a great friend and sister! You are smart, determined, creative, thoughtful, kind, generous, sweet and so much fun. You are beautiful inside and out, and I am so thankful that you are my daughter!

Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Adopt Together

Really quick and short...
Today we were approved to be apart of adopt together. This is a crowd fundraising site that allows donors to donate to a non profit organization that is then tax deductible. You can designate donations to our family, if you are interested in doing this, at this website... https://www.adopttogether.org/00614. You can still donate on this site, but it is not tax deductible. Anyone that donates over $10 in these two months leading up to my race again will be put on my shirt for the race to bring Hami Home! And everyone over the past seven months and months to go giving more than $5 will be put on our signature quilt we are giving Hami when he gets home, to let him know all the people who cared enough to bring him here. Since Saturday, we have received over $1000.00 in donations, we are SO, SO thankful!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Another Update

A week and a half ago I called again to ask if they had ANY updates on our I800A, the last document we need approved for our dossier to be complete. They said,"No, you have not been assigned an officer yet." An officer is what you need to get an adopotion application approved, and we still did not have one. Last Friday, I called back and they said, "Congratulations, you got approved today!" "Your letter should come next week." So, we are approved. Once we get this document in the mail, we will have to have it notarized and apostilled and then our dossier will be complete. The rest is already in Eastern Europe being translated.

The committee that meets for International Adoptions was meeting on September 4th. I knew this document would not be there in time. I was okay with this; there was nothing I could do. I waited. Tuesday the document did not come. Wednesday it did not come. I was sure it should have by Wednesday. I began to wonder if they had made a mistake. What if we really were not approved? I was so disappointed on Wednesday.

Thursday the 5th I woke up, and in my facebook group I saw that the committee had not met. They had postponed their meeting a couple of weeks. If the document had come Tuesday or Wednesday, I would have mailed it to our Secretary of State; but if I had done that, there would be no guarantee it would make it to our agency and then on to Eastern Europe in time. BUT it had not come, not until after the meeting had been delayed. I asked my case worker if it arrived before the postponed meeting, would the committee review it? She said, "Maybe." So, I moved out on a maybe, since maybe is better than impossible.

I called some great college girls who have offered to watch our children when we need them. They worked out their schedules and came for the entire day on Friday. I once again made the four hour trip to Little Rock to have this last document apostilled. They remembered me, the crazy lady who drives hours for documents. They apostilled it in fifteen minutes. It was in the mail ten minutes later, and it will be at our adoption agency Monday, ready to go to Bulgaria and maybe in time for the postponed committee meeting. I drove four hours home again.

There is no guarantee that the committee will review our dossier at this meeting, but there is a chance. We are praying they do. We would appreciate it if others pray with us. Once we get our referral, a few weeks later we will go and meet our little man in Eastern Europe.

So, what now? While we wait we are going to fundraise like crazy. Now that we are through these stages, we will apply for grants and keep asking and trusting. We have raised $17,494 toward our goal, which is amazing. We are over half way there. It will take another $14,000-17,000 to bring Hamilton home. I am putting the "Cost of Adoption" bit below to show where we are and what we have left.

Here it goes.

Application $500-$700 (paid)
Homestudy $1000- $3000 (paid)
Country Fees $5000-$10000 ($2600 paid--$8000 left)
Agency Fee $6000- $8000 (paid)
Post-Adoption $300-$1000
Adoption Education Courses $50-$150 (paid)_
United States Citizenship/Immigration Filing Fee $740 (paid)
Fingerprinting (2) $84 (paid)
Passports (2) $270 (paid)
Notarizing $500 (so far we have someone who does this for free! Yeah!)-- although this Apostilling thing probably goes in here and it costs $2-$10/document/everything needs to be apostilled  (paid)
2 round trip airfares for two adults $4000-6000 (estimate)
Child's one way airfare (I can't wait til we get to get this!) $500-1000 (estimate)
In country lodging/meals $1000-3000 (complete estimate)
Medical for Child's visa $100
Child's US Visa $230
Incidentals $500 (just an estimate again!)

Just for real numbers before our first trip, the country fee and the cost of travel is approximately $8,000-$9000.

I am training for my first marathon. I am registered for the St. Louis Rock-n-Roll marathon October 27th. Often when I run I think of this little boy who cannot run, who spends his days not running or playing. It makes me run more. And, I would love to run this marathon for him. If you would like to donate $10 or more, I will put your name on a shirt that I am planning to wear for the race. The shirt will have Hami's picture, and will say I am running to bring Hami home. It will have on it all the names of those joining with me to bring him home.

We are also applying for grants and working on getting some other things together to help fundraise. We are also continuing to keep names to put on a quilt for Hami. Anyone who has given $5 or more will be named on a signature quilt for Hamilton when he arrives home.

If you have any questions, please let us know! If you want to donate, you can click on the donate button on this blog.