Friday, December 26, 2014

Just a little more about our adoption #2...

One thing I am thankful for this Christmas is that we did NOT have a baby in the house this week. Poor little one would have most certianly caught the "crud" (my name for the unnamable virus that struck our house this week). Kurt and the girls both came down with an icky-nasty virus and, while they tested negative for the flu, I am not entirely convinced that it wasn't a strain of the dreaded stuff. Hazel had it easiest, while poor Kurt and Mabelle had high fevers. Little sister was definitely unlucky in getting tummy symptoms to go along with hers. Somehow--and I am crediting it to all that vitamin D and B12 I have to take in general, I have managed not to be stricken. Usually, I am the first to fall victim, so this is something new and encouraging. However, in the midst of the battle, I did fall victim to a pulled muscle in my back. Talk about pain!! I could only walk in a hunched over ape-like position that does nothing for ones self esteem! This morning, we are doing so much better and are on our way to our next Christmas celebration. 

So, where are we now in our adoption journey? Right now, we are in the middle of paperwork!! We've started our home study and are in the process of gathering all sorts of information. There are several different background checks we have to do and we sort of have to pull double time there because we've lived in two different states. We've ordered copies of birth certificates, our marriage certificate, been finger-printed, have appts for physicals and many other forms we are in the process of filling out. The next step in this process will be to turn over all the information to our social worker and have our home visit/ interview with her. We've also gotten our application for the consulting group we will be using and are working on filling that out too. It's exciting and overwhelming to see all of these forms. I think I've read them each many times, afraid that I'll mark the wrong box or write the wrong thing and be forced to do them again!

Once our home study is complete, we will be able to start applying for grants and loans, so there will be more paperwork yet to go. We're looking into different ways to receive tax-free donations but those are a bit more complicated and must go through the appropriate channels to count. Part of our goal in early fundraiser was to be able to pay the home study fees and the agency fee with cash. Thankfully, our home study is completely paid for and we have a little over $1,000 for the agency fee so far (it's $3,500.)  Because of our move last year, we depleted a lot of our savings, but we know God will provide and Kurt should have a timely bounus to cover the agency fee soon. It's crazy to think, but I added it up yesterday and I think we've spent almost $300 on paperwork fees, so far. 

Part of what we will apply for after our home study is complete is an interest free loan. We know we'll get $13K tax credit for adopting and Kurt's job offers $5k towards adoption. However, we can't claim this money up front. We'll need to prove we adopted before that can happen, so the loan will help cover the gap while we wait. 

We've had several conversations with the girls and both are excited over the idea of a new baby. They have both said they want a brother too! Hazel seems to understand a great deal and we've had some interesting conversations about what adoption means, how this baby will not be in my tummy, and how he might look different than our family. We've talked a lot about how our hearts are the same and how love is what makes a family. Since Hazel accepted Jesus into her heart this summer, we've also been able to start talking about how we're adopted into Jesus' family. We're all adopted and this just makes adopting a baby make sense! 

As the year comes to a close, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how incredible this last year has been. If you'd asked us last December if we'd be adopting next year, we would have said "There's no way!" We had just moved, we were buying a house and had the burden of would have seemed impossible....but then does Jesus changes everything. How incredible that He brought us to a church body that is so willing to adopt--to love, love, love?! How  amazing that we heard message after message that challenged and changed us, messages where I wanted to run out of the room rather than "deal with it"! How wonderful that we met person after person who showed us love and welcomed us into their lives? And then Jesus said to our hearts "Go rescue my little one". We want to know how and when but really we don't need to know all that. We just need to "go" and do. 

Each time a person has given us a gift of money for adoption or supported our fundraiser, I have been so humbled and moved. It seems as though each gift came right after a moment of dispair or doubt. I'd  be wallowing in my own inability to do this and there would be an email or message waiting for me with hope. God is constantly whispering to me, "You can't do this, but I can. I will." Boy, the tears I have already shed from the way people are loving on us and on this little one we don't even know yet! 

Right before Christmas, I did some last minute shopping and I saw this canvas print for sale in Hobbly Lobby. As many of you know, both the girls had "literary" nurseries. Hazel's was Peter Rabbit (traditional Beatrix Potter version) and Mabelle's is Olivia by Ian Falconer. I've always, always wanted a "Where the Wild Things Are" baby room. When I saw this print, I new it would be the first thing I bought for this new little one. It's sitting up in our guest room as a beacon of hope for the newest little member of our family. Oh yes, we will love him so...

Two special things also happened at Christmas: First my mom, who has embroidered and quilted blankets for both the girls ran across some cute quilt squares to embroider for a nursery. She told me she bought them to start  working on a blanket for the new baby. Again, hope against all odds. Love bursting forth out of darkness. Then, Christmas Eve came and we opened gifts at our house. Since we knew we would be adopting Kurt and I have both refrained from buying anything we don't absolutely need. We agreed that we wouldn't exchange gifts for Christmas and we've both put any birthday money or extras into the adoption fund. So, I didn't expect a gift for Christmas. Well, I've wanted a Vitamix blender for's one of those crazy things you think you might save up for one day...maybe. I love to make as many things from "scratch" as possible and just thought it was an awesome (made in the USA!!!) gadget. During our move, we got rid of almost all of our "baby" items including our handy little baby bullet. So, on Christmas morning when Kurt pushed this huge box over to me, I had no idea what it could be. In fact, I imagined all sorts of awful things because usually with gifts Kurt is either right on the money or way off :). When I pulled the paper off, I just sat there for a second. The first thing, I thought was "we have to take this back" but I didn't say that out loud. Kurt must have known what I was thinking because he immediately said, "I've had this planned and it's ok." He also added, "I thought we would use it to make baby food!" Well, that's all it took to have me crying (all this crying business is so odd for someone who hates to cry in public and refrains at all costs)! So, I'm enjoying a gift from my sweet hubby that I know he's sacrificed for, making it all the sweeter. We will defintely be making lots of baby food!! We made smoothies last night and they were a big hit all around. I can definitely tell I am a mom because I am already thinking of how many green veggies I can sneak into things! 

We'll keep updating on our process. Perhaps by sharing we can also encourage another family to embark on a journey Jesus is urging their hearts to consider. Above all we can share love, and that, after all, is our goal.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Just a little more about our adoption...#1

We're adopting and we've gotten many questions about why we are chosing to adopt and the route we are taking. I just wanted to pop on the blog to be able to share some of our thoughts! 

Normally, this blog has been a place to discuss decorating, cooking, and fun family projects! Well, adopting is the biggest family project we've ever undertaken! Our journey to adoption probably started before Kurt and I were ever married or ever met! I think we've both grown-up being exposed to adoption and the joy that it can bring. Kurt, coming from a larger community than me, saw several families in his home church adopt and he already had a love for helping kids and youth--which explains why I met him when we were both camp counselors! I remmber saying when I was pretty young that I'd love to adopt becasue I knew there were already so many children in the world who needed homes. I remember on one of our first dates, Kurt and I discussed families and children and we both remarked that we'd be open to adoption. In fact, I'm pretty sure the topic also came up in our premarital counseling. 

Fastfoward nine years and here we are with two beautiful daughters of our own. I have to admit that when we were able to get pregnant pretty easily with our first daughter--adoption wasn't a prominent thought of mine. However, when Hazel was still small, I witnessed, via the powers of the media, the horiffic events during the earth quake in Hati. I was glued to the screen as I tried to process in some sense the devestation the beautiful people of Hati were dealing with. One image struck me to the core: a tiny child in an orphanage who had the same exact kind of paci in her mouth that Hazel used. I realized at that moment that the child I saw was "a Hazel"-- someone who desperately needed to be resuced, loved, and made a part of a family. I remember sobbing that night because physically I couldn't go there and rescue these trapped children. I felt God speaking to my heart that night and reitering in greater detail what I already knew deep down--that those precious children were just a valuable to Him as my darling daughter. Both Hazel and the little girl with the paci ultimately belonged to Him--He'd graciously given me the opportunity to parent Hazel and, if I was willing, I could also parent a child in need. 

It was later that year, we discovered that we were pregnant with our second child. Because of health issues after Hazel's birth, I poured myself into being as healthy as I could and felt "guarenteed" to have a much easier time after this little one arrived. Mabelle arrived as healthy as one could wish and for the first eight weeks my health seemed as though it was stable. Shortly after that time, things took a turn for the worst. After weeks of testing, heart monitors, and different medications, I was left with an indefinite diagnosis though feeling better. It wasn't until two years later (after dealing with relapses of all my strange symptoms and feeling pretty hopeless), that I was able to see a wonderful doctor who "listened" and did thorough testing that I finally got a dignosis: I had hypothyroidism, was vitamin D deficient, and I have a genetic mutation called MTHFR (you can read more about that here: MTHFR). I have a mutation on the C677 gene and thankfully it is a milder form of the mutation, though I can still cause symptoms and is probably linked to my lower levels of B12. Never have I been so glad to see some abnormal test results! I immediately started treatment and have improved so much! There are still days when I am more tired than normal, but I'm doing great! 

All this goes to say, that before Mabelle was even a year old, we made the decision that we wouldn't have any more biological children. We felt like God had closed that door. Shortly after we'd made that decsion and while it was on my heart, I remember getting into our van and hearing the song "I'm Adopted" come on our radio. If you haven't heard this song by Randall Goodgame (who is also an adoptive parent) on his album "Slugs and Bugs: Under where?", then you should listen to it now! I'm Adopted Song. My heart felt broken in some ways and, at the same time, as though it was about to take flight on a new adventure. 

Last Fall, we made the decision (after Kurt received a job offer) that we we would move to be closer to my parents. I am an only child and had been dreaming about this for a long time. It was a very big, scary, and hard change though. I've sworn now that I'll never move again!! Ha ha! But, boy was God working for us--even though things were terrible at times! We could not sell our house! Offer after low offer came; days with nothing. We replaced carpet, we treated mold in our crawl space (and lost money when the first company we used wemt out of business suddenly), we waited and still it didn't sell. We took a leap of faith, in order to take some of the stress off of Kurt from driving every day, and bought a home. Our house still didn't sell. We didn't really understand why God wasn't allowing it to sell and I am still not sure I see the "whole picture" but I desperately wanted to be in control and sell that house myself! God had other plans and led us to a renter. 

It was during this time that we felt like God was teaching us more and more about "not living for the dot" as our pastor was teaching us. We had spent most of our time thinking about the future in terms of vaction, family time, what we could buy one day...and while there isn't anything necessarily wrong with that, we were putting any dreams of adoption on hold. We wanted to be in control of that too and do it at a time when "we had the money", "we'd been in our house longer", "we woudln't need to ask for help from others", We were living for the "dot" right now and not thinking in terms of how God wanted us to make a greater eternal impact. We wanted to be in control and not take a "leap of faith". I know I was in the boat with no plans to bail out! There were many days when I convinced myself that I was the last person who should adopt--the least patient mother, the mom who hates to get up at night, the mom who needs time to herself, the mom who just couldn't have a baby again! 

And this was the time, right when our house rented, when God told us to "get out of the boat". What? Now? This is the worst possible time! Why not before we moved? Why not in another year when we've been saving? Why not another mom who was better suited thatn me? I can't speak entirely for Kurt (maybe I can coax him onto the blog one day!), but God clearly said to both of us that it was time to stop talking and just dreaming and actually do something. 

There is so much that went into this that I could go on and on about forever: how God brought us to our church here, the adoptive families we met this year, friends in our small group who are/have adopted---but I'll bring this to a close before I write a novel! 

So, we got out of the boat...and we're scared, crazy excited, and just keeping our eyes on the One who is in control and who knows the little one that He wants us to parent. He doesn't need us but we are very thankful to be used by Him. 

In the next post, I'll share more about our specifc adoption plan! 

Much love, 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

And we have a winner!

As many of you know, I did an "enveople sale" including my One-of-A-Kind Ju-Ju-Be bag to raise money for our adoption. What you don't know is the sweet story behind the winner! I'd had the sale going for several days without garnering much interest and was pretty discouraged. I checked my email shortly before the time ended and what I found was several paypal emails in a row all from my sweet cousin! I went from discouraged to laughing out loud and trying to wipe the misty tears from my eyes. So, the winner of my darling OOAK is my cousin, Taryn. She's a cousin by marriage and just one of the many great reason I am glad I married Kurt :). Since we annouced that we are adopting, Taryn has been an encourager to me and has made me feel like we are "expecting a new baby"! Sometimes it's hard to feel that way without all those fun pregnancy symptoms (and there is some scarcasm in that "fun"). I am so blessed to have her in my life and I know she'll probably murder me for posting a photo of her and her girlie!