Friday, May 29, 2015

Adoption T-Shirt Gallery

I'll continue to update this as I get more photos! If you have a photo, please feel free to send it to me via facebook or message me for my email address! 

We're Active: Week 10 and we have a 1st Grader!!

Last Thursday, our little H graduated Kindergarten and become a 1st grader. It seems like just yesterday she was toddling around in a cloth diaper quoting "Moo, Baa La La La!" to me. H loved school this year and made great strides in reading and math. She won the "Helping Hand" award for being helpful to others in her class. On Thursday, we attended her closing ceremony and both sets of grandparents were able to be there. It was a special day! 

 H and some school chums 

 H with her teacher 

 H and M with their grandparents 

 Family photo with our graduate! 

Grandma and Grandpa J were able to stay and visit several days with us. M enjoyed opening her birthday gift from them, while H got a special treat for graduating Kindergarten. 

 H and M were able to give Grandma her Mother's Day gift. You can't see it very well but they painted butterflies on this flower pot with their feet. They also picked out the purple flower especially for Grandma. It was really hard getting a photo where we could see Grandma's face, as you can see from out outtake below...

 M and Grandpa spent some time relaxing together. 

H enjoyed reading her Winnie-the-Pooh book with Grandma

We also enjoyed a trip to the Children's Garden with Grandma and Grandpa! 

 Grandma asked M to smile for a picture after seeing her peek through this window. Instead, she sat down in it. Typical M...

 Grandpa and M had a lot of fun together. Those two are so silly! 

Besides having a great time with family over Memorial weekend (we got to visit my parents too and pick strawberries!), we've also been busier with some adoption things. We are currently presenting to three moms and have decided to go ahead and have our profile book professionally done. It's pretty expensive to have a book professionally made and we decided to try presenting with one that we made ourselves for a bit at first. Since we haven't matched, our consultant suggested that we go ahead and have one made. Hopefully, it will be finished in about two weeks. We will continue to present in the meantime with the one we have. I was both glad and sad for her suggestion. I'm always a "second guesser" on big discussions and have a hard time with wondering what if we had just gone the professional route in the first place. It's kind of a hard topic--professionally made books. We want to put our best foot forward and have the birthmom be able to see our family and really understand the love we have for her and her little one. If a professional book accomplishes that task better, then we are on board. It's just hard to swallow the cost (which I know is worth it for the work, but it's hard when you are saving every penny!). I don't want to feel like we are "selling" our family either, but the reality is that the book the birthmom sees is the only glimpse she has of the future family for her child. At least this way, we'll know we've done all that we can do! Ultimately I know God is in control and He clearly has a plan for waiting and for the route waiting is taking us. Waiting will take us to the right moment to meet the right birth mom and our son or daughter. 

I also finished two grant applications this week and sent those off. One is for a "regular ol' grant" but the other is through an organization called Both Hands. This group presents the opportunity for us to help a local widow in need while raising money for our adoption! We'd basically get a team of around 10 people, who would in turn get sponsors, and then we would be able to work on various tasks for a widow one day (mowing, repairs, cleaning, painting, etc.). We're pretty excited about this opportunity! We feel like so many people have already helped us and that this gives us a way to serve someone else through our adoption. From reading stories from families who have participated, it seems as though they were able to raise funds pretty easily and had great work days. We hope to hear from them soon and find out if we are approved. 

We're ten weeks closer to meeting our little one...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We're Active: Week 9

As I am writing today, we're well into week 10 but I didn't want to forget to re-cap our 9th week on this journey. It has been a quiet week in some ways, but not without waiting and work. We are currently active to present to two birthmoms. I think this brings the total of cases we've seen to 22. We know that one birthmom has had books for a few days and the other will probably see our book next week. While it's hard to wait, I know it is so much harder for these brave women who are making an incredible sacrifice for their child. 

I've also been working on several grant applications for awhile and sending those off feels so good! The paperwork for general adoption documents is crazy but there's even more to apply for grants and interest-free loans. Thankfully, K helped by compiling all of our financial information into one document so that I can copy and paste. Part of the work with searching for grants is figuring out which ones we are eligible for! I have a few lists supplied by our consultant and the local agency we did our homestudy through, but I still have to sort through and read the requirements for each individual grant/loan. I'm hopeful I'll get the rest of the major ones we want to apply for in the mail this week! 

I recently had someone ask me about adoption and they made a remark that they thought it was inexpensive to adopt! I almost laughed out loud! I know that they were thinking primarily of foster care (whose goal is to ultimately reunite children to parents, though that doesn't always happen and sometimes adoption does), but it still surprised me that most people probably don't understand the financial burden of adoption. Still yet, financial burdens seem only a piece of the puzzle. Emotional and physical demands of travel, caring for a little one (in many cases little ones with difficult medical needs), the roller coaster ride of waiting to be matched, failed matches, developing a relationship with the birth family, explaining and helping siblings understand adoption, fundraising--adoption is a huge undertaking. I often think of this as my most difficult time "expecting" and yet it has already been a time of tucking in and drawing close to God. We know He will accomplish what He has called us to do---in His way, His time, and to His perfection. Relinquishing control has never been a strength of mine and adoption challenges me every day in this way. I send off grant applications with no way of ensuring they will be accepted and we say "yes" to presenting ourselves to a birth mom when we have no other way of communicating to her all the billions of things we'd like to say about how we'll love this child. However, I think that by taking us to a place where we have no control, God will clearly display His glory in bringing a child who needs us home to our family. We stand with arms open, willing to be a part of a child's redemption story--vessels ready to be used. 

I recently read a startling statistic that said that there are almost 2 billion people in the world who say they are "Christians" (now I realize that many use that term loosely and may not be believers) and that there are around 132 million orphans. If only 7% of people who say they are Christians adopted there would essentially be no more orphans. Wow. I know not everyone is called to adopt but even helping families with adoption expenses, fundraisers, babysitting while they travel, can enable families that are feeling called to accomplish the task. We are charged in James to care for the widows and orphans--the defenseless and weak. How we each are called to care for them might look different on an individual level as some are called to adopt, others to help those adopting, serving in a ministry that helps widows with household tasks, visiting, making cards, encouraging, praying...but we are all called to such sacrificial love. Why? Because it reflects the very essence of God and the reason Jesus came. Can we do it on our own? No. Sometimes K and I just shake our heads at the crazy road we are traveling. If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have said "No way!" I was thinking of what we were capable of affording and what we could do on our own. When God called us, He clearly said to us that there wasn't a way we could do this but that He most certainly could if we were obedient and allowed ourselves to be used. And so here we are...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

We're Active: Week 8, a Birthday Party, and Mother's Day

This weekend we were able to finally celebrate M's 4th Birthday! She was so excited to finally have it be "party day" and counted down till Saturday all week. We were also blessed that so many friends and family members could come even though we had to switch the day. It was particularly nice that we were able to have a great time with some friends from church while our kiddos played. The fellowship that we have with our small group has been so important to us feeling at home here in Kentucky. We also appreciate how they challenge us and encourage us! So basically, I think Kurt and I enjoyed the party as much as the girls did! 

This weekend was also Mother's Day! The girls helped me make a creative gift for their Grandma and Mamaw, but I won't share them here yet, as Grandma won't get hers until they visit next week! K and the girls also treated me to dinner out Sunday evening. We all had fun at Chewy's (a Mexican-style restaurant). I was just happy to have a Dr. Pepper! K was able to get a photo of the three of us in our matching skirts after church. As you can tell, we all look a bit tired! Probably the best gift I had that day was an afternoon nap! Thank you, K! 

Things have been rather quiet this week with adoption news. It is probably a blessing that our consultants were able to catch up because they had five babies born in 2 days last week. I love seeing their updates on families and being able to pray for and rejoice with them. One of the birth moms we are presenting to should have gotten our book last Friday, so hopefully, we will hear news this week. Last night, we were also sent two profiles and chose to present to one of those moms. There have only been 2 or 3 out of almost 20 cases we haven't chosen to present to and those were difficult decisions. Whether the decision is based on the financial burden we can bare or other factors, saying "no" is very hard for me. I've spent a lot of time in prayer about wisdom and having God lead us to the right answer in unity and, praise Him, that is exactly what has happened. Last night, both Kurt and I responded with the same thoughts, in unity, and we knew that God was leading us to answer in this way at this time. 

We are continuing to save and raise funds for when we are matched. Our adopttogether account is still active and we have a little over $2,400 in that account! If you'd like to share or donate the link to that account is here: Adopttogether Your donation is a tax-free, so you'll be able to get a tax deduction for your donation. We also won't have to pay taxes on what we receive and we don't have to handle the money physically. Adopttogether can pay our agency directly! It's really a great program and a great way to give, if you are so inclined. We're also planning another yard sale...probably mid-June. 

Above all, we appreciate your prayers. Pray for our birth mother and our future son/daughter. More than likely she is already pregnant and our little one is growing this very day! We pray for safety, protection, and good health for our birth mother and our little one. Please pray for wisdom, increased faith, and a deeper relationship with Christ for K and I as we wait. Also pray that God will make financial provisions available as we need them. Thank you! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

We're Active Week #7 and a Frozen (literally) Cake!

We ended the week with a bit of adoption craziness--the kind that spans an hour or two and involves disappointment followed by hope. You know?! This roller coaster is the very essence of adoption!

Anyway, we drove down to my parent's house on Saturday to celebrate my "nephew T's" first birthday. Technically, T and his brother J are my cousins, but since their dad is more like my brother than first cousin, I claim them as nephews. I figure as an only child, I can do that! T's first year of life has been an eventful one. He has an undiagnosed genetic condition (well, they know part of the puzzle but not the entirety of the picture, but I won't go into all that). He spent the first 6 months of his life in the hospital, but is now home with his vent and feeding tube and doing great. His life is such a miracle and his parents are so positive and always giving God glory for everything regarding T that it is a blessing to even just be in the room with them. We were definitely going to party for this occasion. I think the highlight for me was watching T as he tasted a bit of icing. He hasn't gotten to have many things orally and it was so cute to see his face light up with curiosity!

While we were there, we got a flurry of emails from our consultant. She told us that while we had gotten "no" answers on two of the cases, we were being asked to present on another. So, we reviewed the information and sent our "yes" back to her. As of today, we are presenting to two birth moms and waiting to hear back from those. I think we're up to 17 cases that we've seen so far. I should probably stop counting so I don't get hung up on a number, but I want to remember the details of the journey and to share those with others who are thinking of or are adopting. We went from being a bit sad at not being chosen to filled with hope about a new baby. Each one we see, especially if there is an ultrasound photo, I only allow myself to study it for a few minutes wondering "Is that our son or daughter?" I then have to put it away, as it is painful too. However, I have enjoyed praying for each of these moms and babies. I continue to pray for those who have chosen another family--and those families. Prayer is definitely an area that God is using this situation to grow me through.

On Saturday night, my parents kept the girls as we did party prep at our house for M's 4th birthday party. Kurt and I had to work at the nursery at church the next day and while we were there my mom called to say M had thrown up in their car! I thought that perhaps she was carsick so they took her home to rest for a bit. An hour later, she threw up a bit more and we decided we'd have call off the party! It was pretty sad to pack up all the decorations and figure out how to freeze the cake I had made and the cupcakes! Thankfully, we got to the store before they filled the balloons! After the girls got home, they both asked about the party but weren't too sad. We explained that we'd have it another day. Auntie did brave the germs to bring over M's presents and the Frozen scooter she got did cheer her up! Since those two incidents on Sunday, she has been 100% fine! I'm not sure if she was carsick after all or if it was a virus. We're going to try to have the party this weekend and I'm hoping the cake does melt as it thaws! I did get all my photos of it with my good camera before we froze it, just in case!

We'll be on Birthday Party Take 2 later this week, but I can't wait to snuggle M on her last night as a three-year-old tonight. She is such a beautiful, vibrant gift! I can't believe she can possibly be four! It seems like she was just a tiny baby!

P.S. Our T-Shirt Fund ended on May 1st and we sold 52 t-shirts and made $482! Thank you so much to everyone one who purchased one! I am going to try to thank each of you personally. I also can't wait to start a gallery post of everyone wearing their shirts!