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 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:
Gift of Adoption Fund:
JSC Foundation:
Fund Your Adoption

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:
Hand in Hand adopt:
Titus Task: (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:
Grace Haven Ministries:

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:
Abba Fund:

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


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...

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!"