Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Journey

In January 2013 we felt the call to adopt.  The timing was crazy, we had a 15 month old and a 4 year old.  We had debt we wanted to pay off before expanding our family, but there was a small voice in my head that kept saying "What are you waiting for?".  And so our journey began with Lifeline Children's Services.

We were required to choose a country where we wanted to adopt.  This was probably the hardest part.  We tried to choose a country with the greatest need, but when you are looking at over 153 million orphans worldwide, how do you decide who has the greatest need?  We finally settled on Ethiopia because of the extreme poverty.

After about a year of paperwork, home studies, and adoption training, we hit a road block.  Ethiopia had temporarily shut down international adoptions when a new Prime Minister was appointed who wanted to make changes to the program.  We began to feel a bit uneasy but felt that we must be committed to Ethiopia.  By summer of 2014, Ethiopia had made dramatic changes to their program and the average wait time to adopt a child was 5+ years.  We no longer felt we could commit to this program.  Ethiopia is not a Hague country and the new Prime Minister wasn't favorable of International Adoption.  New programs have been started in Ethiopia for foster care, matching widows and orphans to create families in their community.

We still felt the call to adopt but my (Amber's) heart was hardened toward International Adoption.  So we started Foster Care training classes in hopes to foster-to-adopt.  In August 2014 we attended our last training class and our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  This meant a huge, stressful lifestyle change for our family, especially our kids.  We could no longer eat whatever we wanted but spent hours researching and reading labels.  As parents we knew that this was not the right time to bring a foster child into our home.  We needed to focus on our daughter and her health.  At this point adoption was on the back burner.  It still dwelt in our hearts but it was something we would pursue down the road, maybe in a few years.

In November 2014 Lifeline posted on their Facebook page about 9 month old twin boys in Poland who were about to be separated if they were not adopted together soon.  We had previously considered adopting a sibling group so we contacted the case worker about the twins.  We were told that several families had already asked about the boys so we shouldn't get our hopes up.  After consulting with our pediatrician we continued to pursue the boys.  But we had to renew our home study and tons of new paperwork to switch from Ethiopia to Poland.  Along the way we continued to be told that if another family was further in the adoption process they may get the boys instead of us.  But no one else pursued the boys.  God was clearly at work here!  We completed our Dossier and were officially matched with the boys in the spring of 2015.

It has been a long, bumpy road but we can see God at work in our family and our adoption.  While we still pray for and love the children of Ethiopia, we know that we would not have opened our eyes to these sweet boys if we had not faced the road blocks with Ethiopia.  We are thankful for a God who has gone before us, who knows the beginning and the end!  We are thankful for a God who provides! When we were matched with the boys, our savings account was empty.  When we had placed adoption on the back burner, we donated all of our adoption savings.  We knew this money was God's money, not our own, so we didn't feel it was right to keep it in savings if we were not currently pursuing adoption.  We had no idea what He had in store for us!  Over the last 6 months God has provided in the way that only He can.  We have made each adoption payment in perfect timing.  We have been blessed with an amazing church family that has walked along side us and supported us with everything from prayer to fundraising.  And we have received donations from complete strangers who felt God's call to help bring our boys home!  If you are thinking about adopting but don't think you have the money, remember that God provides!!

Currently we are waiting for our travel date.  We ask that you join us in praying for the boys and for our travel.  The boys are now 15 months old.  One of the boys has been in the hospital with several health issues.  Please pray for their health and pray that God may allow us to travel soon!  Please pray for the judge in Poland, that the Judge's heart may be softened toward our boys and our family, that we may have a short stay in Poland.  Please pray for our family, especially our daughters as we grow from a family of 4 to a family of 6.  Please pray that God may prepare their hearts to welcome 2 siblings!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

By Faith Alone: Special Needs Adoption

Last summer we faced many struggles with our adoption.  The Ethiopia program had come to a halt for us with a 5+ year wait time. And we didn't feel that our family was suited for foster care.  I was ready to give up on adoption.  In fact, when people asked I told them we would probably revisit the idea of adoption in a few years.  But God was still stirring in my heart.

I began to feel pulled towards special needs adoption.  In the world of adoption, special needs can carry many definitions, often times referring to healthy kids who might be older, or part of a sibling group.  It can also be used to describe minor correctible issues, like eczema!  But I felt pulled towards a true special need.  I began praying about what God might have in store for us.  Surely we could handle a child with down syndrome or something of that sort.

In November we requested the files for twin boys who were about to be separated.  Apparently one child seemed more "adoptable" than his twin.  We read and researched, and talked to medical practitioners, and came to the conclusion that while both boys have developmental delays, one of them is very likely to have Cerebral Palsy (CP).

And we said YES!

Yes we want BOTH boys.  Our future holds lots of uncertainties.  CP has such a broad spectrum and the boys are so young that we just don't know how severe it might be.  We know we have lots of appointments and therapies ahead of us.  All of the rest we place in God's hands and put our faith in Him!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Great Composer

In 2013 my brother's wife Cathi was pregnant with twin girls.  She had some complications in her pregnancy which left her on bed rest in the hospital during the last several weeks before their birth.  It was a stressful time for them, as well as the rest of the family.  I prayed A LOT for the babies and Cathi.  

You may have heard of sympathy pains before.  Sometimes it's experienced by men when their wives are pregnant or giving birth.  Throughout Cathi's pregnancy I had a recurring dream that I was pregnant with twins....and they were boys.  At the time I assumed this was because I had been worrying so much about Cathi and my nieces.  This worry must have been weighing on my subconscious.  The dreams came regularly, and they were always the same.  I was always pregnant with twin boys.  In fact, I was convinced that my sweet little nieces were actually going to be boys!  

While Cathi spent weeks in the hospital, the rest of the family tried to guess her delivery date.  One night in particular, I had my same recurring dream, twin boys again, and they were born in February.  I recall telling Cathi about this dream, trying to relate it to her pregnancy, and Cathi telling me there was no way she was going to wait that long!  Her babies were due late December/early January.  Of course I must have dreamed about babies in February because my sweet Abby's birthday is in February.

On December 26, 2013 my nieces were born and sometime thereafter my recurring dream finally stopped.  But I awoke this morning thinking about that dream.  And at 6:30am I was tempted to text Cathi to see if she remembered, but I thought that was a bit too early for a "Hey you remember that crazy dream I used to have" kinda text.

At this point you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with anything.  Well, in 2013, our babies, the TWIN BOYS we are adopting were growing in their mother's womb.  And their birthday, is in FEBRUARY!  While I was dreaming about giving birth to twin boys, halfway across the world they were about to be born, in Poland.  God is such an amazing composer, writing every detail into our lives!  

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Got Books?

Got Books?

Our used book fundraiser is well under way!  We have received donations from several families and have raised $202 from used books so far!!!  We are still accepting books to help us reach our January goal.  

Got Cookies?

White's Auction hosted our first baked goods raffle Friday night.  We successfully raised $106 from the raffle.  They will continue to host a raffle for us every week!  We are in need of baked good donations.  Sign up at we are in need of baked goods every Thursday to be raffled on Friday.  Free on Friday night?  Visit White's Auction :) 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Hearts Grew 2 Sizes

One week before Thanksgiving our adoption agency shared a post on Facebook about twin baby boys in Poland who would be separated if a family was not found for them soon.  This was like a last call, and their files had been sent to several different adoption agencies.  On a crazy whim, we contacted the social worker about the boys.  By Thanksgiving, a copy of our home study was in Poland for review, and we had received the news that the boys were still available.  While the social worker had received several inquiries, we were the only ones to proceed, sending our files to Poland.  What comes next is complicated.

The boys are not officially ours, we have not received an official acceptance letter and will not receive one until our Dossier is received in Poland.  Right now we are working as fast as we can to update our home study (everything was specific to Ethiopia before, a different country means different demands).  Once our home study is complete, we will file for immigration again.  We had filed an I-600A for Ethiopia and Poland requires and I-800.  I don't understand all the reasoning behind these little details, we are just pushing through and doing what is required.  After we file for I-800 status, we will finally be able to send our Dossier to Poland.  And then we will wait for an "official" acceptance.  

In so many ways, it feels like we are in limbo, rushing to complete things while we still don't know anything is completely certain.  At the same time, my heart rests knowing that God led us to this and WE are the ONLY family pursuing the boys.  Next week is Christmas, and we are still the only family that has submitted paperwork to Poland in hopes to adopt these babies.  So we continue to push through as though they are OURS.  

Tomorrow we make one huge step towards completing the new home study, one final home study visit!  Prayers from our sweet friends that we might wrap up all the loose ends quickly!

Moving forward, we need to raise $19,973 in a short 4 months.  We anticipate to travel to Poland late Spring.  On top of that we will be saving for our travel expenses.  We are praying Uncle Sam has a nice tax refund in store for us to cover most of the travel costs.  And here is where I ask all of you to help us.  Everyone can do something to help us bring the boys home, no matter how small or meek it may seem.  We have lots of needs that we need help with over the next few months.

  • PRAY.  We need prayer warriors.  Pray for the babies.  Pray for our family.  Pray for our finances.
  • Donations.  We are setting up a fund with Lifesong where our family and friends can make TAX DEDUCTIBLE financial donations.  More to come on this!
  • GRANTS.  We are applying for every adoption grant we can find.  Pray that we will be awarded grants!
  • STUFF.  We will most likely have a yard sale of some sort early spring.  If you have any stuff you would like to donate, we would love to take it off your hands!  One man's trash is another man's treasure!
  • CRAFTS.  Calling all of my crafty friends -  We will be raffling items at White's Auction in Bloomfield every Friday night.  Your crafty donations are needed!
  • BAKED GOODS.  I have a sweet tooth but was not blessed to be a baker.  We will be raffling items at White's Auction in Bloomfield every Friday night, that includes baked goods.  We would love your baked good donations!  
  • SPRING CONSIGNEMNT.  The spring consignment sale is coming up quickly.  I am seeking donations of kids clothes, toys, and baby items to sell at the Sweet Repeats Consignment sale in the Spring!  
  • BABY BOY STUFF.  We have specific needs for the boys.  We specifically need a crib and mattress, crib sheets, high chairs, and infant toys.  We will also need clothes but at this time we don't have a realistic idea of what size?!  Hand-me-downs are welcome and appreciated!  
Please consider one or more of these ways above to support us!  Our financial goal for January is to raise $4643 to cover our next payment.

Merry Christmas and may you be Blessed in 2015!

Monday, September 29, 2014

When God's Plans are not MY Plans

A little over a year ago, we felt God's call to adopt.  Since then we have faced 3 major road blocks. 

1. Ethiopia shut down the adoption process for 7 long months for investigations.  This made us anxious but we faithfully waited,

2. Ethiopia wait time is up to 5 years, verses the previous 18-24 month wait.  Just before sending out our dossier, we were informed that the wait time changed.  With the adoption process being on such rocky ground, and knowing that Ethiopia is a non-hague country, we decided we can not proceed with International adoption at this time.  We started Foster Care training in hopes to foster-to-adopt.

3. Our sweet daughter has been sick.  Just before our last day of Foster training, Abby was given a possible diagnosis of Celiac disease.  Further testing and diet changes have confirmed that she does indeed have celiac.  We are thankful to the Lord that this is a very manageable condition, and we are already seeing improvement with her new diet changes.  We also know that these changes are very stressful for our family, especially the kids who can no longer eat some of their favorite foods, and coping with the fact that this is a lifelong condition.  With all of this stress in our home, it's not the right time for us to pursue foster care.

So now what?  Honestly, we don't know.  From all of the training, and home visits, and background checks, we are certified to provide respite care for other foster families.  So while we are not able to pursue our original plans, we are able to bless several foster families in our church.  

Today I leave you with this beautiful verse:

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Road Ahead

Where We've Been:

We have spent the last year training, completing piles of paperwork, and preparing to adopt from Ethiopia.  God was preparing our hearts for something BIG and we felt confident.  Then the Ethiopia program was placed on hold for 7 long months with no adoptions being processed.  Orphanages were investigated.  And laws were changed.  The wait time to adopt a younger child from Ethiopia increased from 18-24 months to 3-5 years.

Where We Are Now:

My heart aches for the Ethiopia children waiting in these orphanages and all of the families waiting to adopt.  When our social worker confirmed the wait time is up to 5 years I wanted to cry, mourning for the loss of something I never had.  Our paperwork has not been submitted to Ethiopia yet so we are closer to the 5 year spectrum.  After lots of prayer we decided the Ethiopia program is not right for our family at this time.  We may revisit this later, but right now we can't continue to invest in a program that has experienced so many changes in such a short time.  How much more will change over the course of 5 years?

The Road Ahead:

We still have a heart for adoption, and adoption is still in our future.  We started training for foster-adoption with our local state program.  And we are praying that God will lead us in the way that we should go.

What About The Adoption Funds?

Let's face it, I know some of you are wondering this, I mean we just did a t-shirt fundraiser.  Honestly, we don't have much in the adoption fund.  Most of our funds have already been paid to the agency and there are no refunds at this point in the program.  What little we have in funds will help us prepare for foster care (provide a bed, clothes, etc for the child) and we will donate some funds to other families in the adoption program or to our church adoption fund.  We will continue to support International adoption although we are not currently pursuing International adoption.