Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Josie has already changed us

In the process of adoption, it's so easy to think of what a difference a family will make to a child that doesn't have one. Love, safety, security, medical care, food and opportunity to live a full life. With each of our adoptions, I have seen the changes in our children when they know they belong, but this story is not about that. I wanted to share how Josie has already given us the most beautiful gift.

This is our daughter Eve. She was adopted nearly 3 years ago with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. We knew we would encounter many unknowns as her medical diagnosis was not based on any testing, just an educated guess. Over the years, Eve began having more seizures, her body started moving involuntarily (dystonia), we found out she was deaf and we had a few crises that left her doctors baffled. We were referred to genetics to see if we could find a cause.

A few months after Eve's first genetic testing, we learned about Josie. We took a long time to discuss what saying yes to a child with cancer would mean to our family and how we would manage all her needs. We looked at the outcomes for her tumors and what life would look like for her. Welcoming Josie into our family would definitely be better for her than being alone in an orphanage. And while we prayed for clarity, we had discussions about all our children. The truth is, that we think we have control over our children's health, future and longevity of their lives. With Josie, the odds might be against her, but she really needed a family to increase those odds. It was so much easier to say yes to her, when we gave all our perceived control to God and knew that He knew the number of her days, all of our days.

Then, we received news about Eve's health. She was diagnosed with a devastating rare syndrome. It's progressive and most children do not survive into their teen years. It's awful, plain and simple. We have grieved this information but at the same time, Josie had given us a gift already. Just as we had given her life to God, Eve's life was no different. There was the peace that passes all understanding. The quiet whispers that comes from an all knowing God. He is with us, He knows this about Eve and we are to increase her odds by being her family. In working through these emotions with Josie, we were already a few steps ahead with Eve.

Two girls, soon to be sisters. We are so blessed.

If you would like to be part of Josie's journey, you find see our Reece's Rainbow account here

Our fundraising thermometer is on the sidebar, once we reach $10,700 we will receive $2,000 as a matching grant.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

We Swapped Mugs

Last night, I attended a mug swap fundraiser a dear friend had organized as part of a mug swap fundraiser we are doing online. Just a few ladies got together, brought mugs to share and we caught up on life and such.

The mugs were fun and creative, I received this fun ice cream sundae mug, it was super cute and my kids are drooling over the toppings.

The ladies were beyond generous and combined with another mug swap, I have updated our thermometer for our matching grant! When it hits $10,700, we will receive our $2,000 matching grant!!!! Would you help us get there?

Our Reece's Rainbow, tac deductible account is HERE

I can't wait to see pictures of the online mug swap when they begin to pour in!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sometimes fundraising looks a lot like work

It's funny, each of our adoptions have been funded differently, but God has provided. Always. Since this is our 3rd adoption, we didn't start with a hefty savings account but did have enough to get started. Quickly, our friends joined in and participated in our initial fundraisers. Our homestudy was funded.

After that, it's been harder to climb up the financial mountain for each fee. I took on some extra work and each of those checks have gone into our adoption account. We squeeze little things out of our budget and that goes in the account. We were turned down for our first grant....that hurt....but of course I know there are so many deserving families applying and waiting just like us. So I took on more work and worked on the next fee.

Thankfully, our church gave us a grant toward the next fee. AND they gave us a $2000 matching grant. The next $2000 we raise (when our thermometer hits $10,700) they will match that amount by $2000. This would cover our next fees and give us a bit breathing room to save up more.

Two ways you can donate:

Tax deductible donation to our Reece's Rainbow Account (starting point for the match was $48.50)
Non tax deductible YouCaring Account (starting point here was $958)

Our t-shirts are selling for 2 more days HERE and we can use the proceeds towards the matching grant also.

We are so thankful for your support. If you have any fundraising ideas, I would love to hear them. Please keep watching the thermometer and I will be so happy to announce it when we have met the matching grant!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

i800a approved!

i800a is one of the government approvals we need to adopt. Yesterday, I was surprised to find our approval letter in the mail, as we were told it would be another 1-2 weeks for it. We had a top neuro-oncologist who specializes in pediatric brain tumors write a letter requesting an expedited processing and we were told the request was denied. There has been misuse of the expedited processing in the past and now the result is that very few people are allowed to expedite. It's sad.

In that letter, the doctor wrote many things that outline our Josie's medical condition. It's a tough read because all her needs seem serious and at times overwhelming. At the same time, we are so glad to be her parents and give her all the opportunities for world class medical care. We live within 30 minute drive to 4 children's hospitals, there is always an expert in one of them.

When our dossier is ready to be sent, which is soon, we will also have our next fees due. Currently we have a matching grant of $2000, so when our thermometer (on the right column of the blog) hits $10,700, we will receive an additional $2000. Wonderful, right? We would love for your consideration in helping us reach that matching grant.

One way you can donate that is tax deductible, is through our Reece's Rainbow account. You can also check out our t-shirt fundraiser and Mother's Day Mug Swap.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How Josie captured our hearts

So often, I am asked why we are adopting Josie specifically or why we are adopting again in general. We have 5 children and they keep us busy. We have been through the adoption process twice and know how easy (or not) bringing a child home is. Eve, our youngest, has special needs and requires total care. I know all the questions have been from either curiosity or wanting to know the story, so I am not bothered. I am glad to share.
waiting in adoption
Almost a year ago, a friend sent me a picture from an adoption advocacy group and asked if we knew a family that would be open to adopting a little girl with special needs. She had a diagnosis of brain and spine tumors and currently she was paralyzed due to the tumors. She may never walk again so the family would need to be open to a wheelchair possibility. To our family, that would not be a barrier to adopting but at that time, we were not thinking about adoption. We were in a challenging season with Eve’s care and all our focus was directed to that. I prayed for this little one and passed her picture on to a friend who might be able to help.
I joined the advocacy group to see if there were any updates about this sweet little one and each time someone reviewed her file, I prayed. But her family had not found her yet. In total, she had waited for a year and each day, the tumors would grow and she would be alone. 
quote adoption 2
We finally reached a season where Eve’s care was easier and we had more resources for her long term care. I took some time to reflect and Eric and I spoke about if we would adopt again. I told him about a little girl who I had now known for 6 months and he said we should learn more. I didn’t waste any time and we learned about the seriousness of her medical condition. We prayed and felt at peace with the unknowns.
Then we found out her file was being reviewed by two homestudy ready families. We withdrew our application because they could get to Josie quicker. As much as we had fallen in love with her, we were willing to step back so she could be adopted sooner. It broke my heart and we hadn’t told no one.
A week later, we contacted another agency to talk about adopting from Josie’s country in general. They mentioned that they could ask if she had been indeed matched or if she was still waiting. There was no harm in asking and they sent an inquiry about her file. Turns out, neither of the interested families had chosen her so she was still available. We said an immediate YES to Josie and started the adoption process. 6 months of waiting, praying, saying yes, then walking away and then yes again. All this confirmed in our hearts that we were ready. For the unknowns and the hard times. And ready for the love and blessing that she will be. 
We are excited to partner with Reece’s Rainbow again to help with our adoption costs. If you have ever thought about adopting and are not sure how to make it happen, I welcome your questions. And Reece’s Rainbow is a great resource also to begin exploring adopting a child with special needs. 

Homestudy is done!

(originally written February 15th, 2016)

We have had a homestudy and a homestudy update done before. When we adopted from Ghana, we were able to get through the process quickly and smoothly. Our social worker warned us that a Hague homestudy would be more involved and it was. Add in some additional requirements of our home state and oh boy…this one was a lot of work. But we made it to the finish line and were approved. 
The home study was picked up this week and we are so glad! Now it’s off to fingerprinting and collecting our dossier to send to China. At each step, we are thankful to be on this journey again. I don’t take a single moment for granted as we know it will be all worth it. We have 5 amazing kids who are working alongside of us. They know the sacrifices and they know the rewards. Some have been on the other side of waiting and they are anxious to get their sister home. 
In China, a little girl does not know that we are coming. She has no idea how hard we are working to get to her. Next week we will consult with a local oncologist as well as link up with the adoption medicine clinic that will help us in the initial weeks after homecoming. As much as we are committed to Josie regardless of her health and prognosis, we want to be wise and plan her medical care as much as possible. We have an awesome tumor clinic in our town that people travel to from other states. We want them to know about her and hit the ground running when she comes home. 
Sweet Josie, we are coming! One day not too long from now, I will tell you the stories of how we made our way to you. 

How far does you love travel?

If you have nieces or nephews and there became a day that they needed a safe place to stay, would you open your home?
If your neighbor’s children needed temporary or permanent care, would your family extend kindness and love? How about a church member or someone you know about through friends?
I think most of us, if at all possible, would make room, pool resources, look at our budget and make it work if someone we knew had a need like this. And there are stories of families coming together after various tragedies and making the seemingly impossible situation work. I see that at my workplace where addiction and illness and brokenness of this world robs children of their parents and grandparents or aunts and uncles step in to bring stability and familiarity.
As I thought about the concept of family, I couldn’t help but wonder where is my limit when it comes to love? Once the neighbor becomes someone further away geographically, are we no longer as compassionate toward a child in need? Do we view different countries as not our problem, not our responsibility, or can we look at a child in a distant country with the same compassion and be moved to action? Where do we draw the line of compassion? How far does your love travel?
I have been in the realm of adoption long enough to know that it’s not as easy as seeing the need and opening our home. There are qualifications, home studies, finances to consider and some countries are not open to international adoption. I write a  lot about adoption ethics and in country solutions, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about a child who is waiting, today, for a family. A child that is most likely older or has a medical condition or is part of a sibling group. The 5% of children who are hardest to place for adoption. Is the problem so big that we experience compassion fatigue? Do we draw the line around United States and say it’s not our problem? Or do we roll our sleeves up and say “yes, I will be part of the solution, however big or small part is meant to be mine”.
Our family is going to do our small part  and adopt once again. We are excited and honored to welcome a new daughter into our family. Our love is traveling to China and back. She is almost 4 years old and has waited too long for a family. Her special needs are different from Eve’s but she does have a medical condition that is serious. She will likely use a wheelchair as Eve does, which is familiar to us. Our children are absolutely over the moon excited to welcome another sister into our family. They are busy picking names, fighting over room arrangements and looking at her pictures on my phone. I wish I could share her picture so you could see the sweet little one that has captured our hearts, but for now you will have to take my word for it.
adoption announcement
We invite you to follow our journey here. If you have any questions or wonder how your family can extend extravagant love to others, you can always email me at joyfuljourney4me at gmail dot com  For some families it will look like adoption, for others it may be fostering or supporting adoptive families. Some may find their calling in family preservation and sponsorship. No matter what your thing is, take the first step.