Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last Days to Raise Funds

We are just 3 days away from travel, which is exciting to get this close. It also means that we don't have much time to raise funds for our adoption. I sat down, crunched the numbers again, tried to see what needs to happen today, what we can come up with later and where we can squeeze money out of our budget.

 We have just a little bit time but there is also an amazing opportunity to witness yet another miracle. This Momma just can't give up when we are so close!

In the China program, travel is costly. It's a 2 week trip and you take a large donation with you (in cash) that will help with caring for the children in the orphanage. Here are the costs involved in this trip:

 Trains and Flights in country $471 PAID!!!
In Country Guide Services $1121 PAID!!!
 Hotel in Province 1 $1061 PAID!!!
Province Fees $831 PAID!!
Orphanage Donation Fee $2735 $950 NEEDED
Hotel in Province 2 $1530
Medical Exam $350

My second job helps us afford the other costs of the adoption like food and other costs while in country. Would you partner with us and get us to China and home? I will update this post as we cross off the orphanage donation fee and move on to the second hotel fee. We are so close!

All donations are tax-deductible through Reece's Rainbow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Travel Preparations, One Week to go!!!

The last few days has been very busy in preparing for the travel. Plane tickets were purchased after an amazing financial blessing (did you see our Reece's Rainbow Account grow?) God is so good and provides just what we need each step of the way. A friend recently posted "God answers prayers through people" and I have definitely seen that in action.

We also received our travel itinerary that lists each day and what will happen during the trip. Sunday the 4th is the day that Eric will meet Josie for the first time and she will become our youngest daughter. We decided to cut down the trip to bare bones to be frugal as we still raise funds for the adoption costs. Some families take a few days to get rid of jet lag and experience cultural things before family day, but we decided to skip that and get right to business. This will give Eric a few extra vacation days later on this year too, which will help with medical things.

There is so much to do still but we remain hopeful everything will come together as it should. We want to focus our prayers on Josie and all the changes she will be going through in the next few weeks.

She will likely move from her foster home back to the orphanage for a few days before Eric has custody of her. That can be scary even in a familiar place. Then begins the slow process of attachment through language barrier.

Here are our current prayer requests:

1. Pray for Josie as she joins our family and leaves all familiar things behind
2. Pray for Eric and our friend who will be traveling a tight schedule while in China
3. Pray for all the people handling the adoption paperwork. No errors, smooth process and quick visa printing so Josie can come home to medical care.
4. Pray for those of us at home waiting for Josie
5. Pray for the finances as we are still short on being fully funded.
6. Pray for our family as we begin the journey of attachment and bonding with our new daughter

Please join us here for travel updates. Once Eric has custody, we can start posting pictures. Thank you for supporting us on this journey.

I received a private message just yesterday from a person who said they donated to our account and apologized that it wasn't more. I think so often we think that what we have to offer isn't sufficient or it doesn't matter. But at that moment, it was the exact encouragement that I needed. The timing was perfect and gave me the boost to keep working on the adoption preparations and fundraising. Please know, that every donation is appreciated and each gets us closer to Josie.

(all donation to our Reece's Rainbow FSP are tax-deductible)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Travel Approval

We received the official Travel Approval from Josie's country today. Our agency will now coordinate a few appointments in country at the US Consulate as well as in Josie's province and then we will get the green light to book our flights.

We requested the shortest in country option to forego any sight seeing to keep our travel cost low and also help Josie get home sooner. Because our last part was expedited, they should be able to honor that request when setting up our in country appointments.

This is an exciting time but there is also much to do. Medical appointments need to be lined up, packing, paperwork that always accompanies every stage of adoption and of course we are still fundraising.

Please consider joining our journey to bring Josie home. Our Reece's Rainbow account donations are tax-deductible.

We are also holding a small auction starting tomorrow on FACEBOOK . The page has an album titled "Auction for Josie" that has all the items you can bid on. It will be fun!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This is it!

We learned this week that we were approved for a medical expedite for the last steps of our adoption! How exciting! And terrifying! (Just being honest) The terrifying part is raising the remaining funds we need to get to Josie.

We have worked from day one to fund the adoption and have personally been "all in" with our finances. Our other children have not complained about the extras they have missed because some of them know what it's like to live in an orphanage. They want a family for Josie.

Recently,  we were approved for a grant, that was going to get us close to fully funded, only to find out they ran out of funds until the end of the year. Then I received an email with a generous donation promise, only to find out a few days later it was a person without any intention of following through. Not sure what they get out of it but it makes my heart weary to have these things not work out.

This coming week will likely bring our travel approval and then we need to be ready to make large purchases and money transfers. 

When we started Josie's adoption, I told a few trusted adoptive Mommas about Josie and if we should take this leap of faith. I felt bad if she had to wait because of our fundraising and one friend's answer stayed with me: "Jenni, she has waited for so long, no other family is saying yes. So it's either your family with your family's timeline, or no one." She had waited and with her tumors, waiting is not good. Many other children had come and gone from her orphanage and she had to wonder why she didn't have a family coming. So it was my greatest joy to send her an album with our pictures and say that we are coming! 

Would you share our need and give if you are able to? 

Our Reece's Rainbow tax-deductible account can be found on the sidebar or CLICK HERE

Monday, August 1, 2016

I800 Approved!

I started to write a post this morning while Eve was in therapy. It included a prayer request that our I800 would go to an officer and approved without delay. These days and add into weeks quickly if we have even small delays. I saved the post to finish later, but actually, there was no need to publish it.

I called to ask about our application status and found out that we were already approved! Such unexpected good news on a Monday. We are on the home stretch and still tracking to travel later this month, early September. We are hopefully expedited at the last steps which moves our timeline up from the usual estimates.

Passports for Eric and our friend were sent off to get travel visas. I filled out travel documents for our agency and it really starts to feel real! Travel is approaching and we need to be ready.

We are not at our fundraising goal yet, but living in hopeful anticipation that we will be when the time comes to purchase our plane tickets. You can partner with us the following ways:

1. Support the 5/5/5 Families and help 5 families all at once! We are one of the July families and the account remains open until August 5th.
2. Give directly to our tax-deductible Reece's Rainbow account 
3. Participate in our Compassionate Fundraiser by purchasing a bracelet or a tote bag. It benefits our adoption and provides a living wage for a woman who made the items.

Pray for us as we work hard to cross the finish line. We can see it, it's so close. Every ounce of effort is worth it in order to Josie to have a family and hope for the future.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

i800 filed!

It's been a busy day on the adoption front. We received the hard copy of the LOA (letter of acceptance) and signed it indicating that YES we want to adopt Josie.

At the top of this document, is Josie's name and our names. When I saw that, I became emotional because it signified the merging of our stories. She doesn't know about us yet, but soon, she will belong to a family again. We happily signed this document and indicated that we accept this match!

At the same time, our agency sent off our i800 to begin the final leg of the paperwork process. There is a chance that we will be expedited through the last steps, but if not, we are still getting incredibly close to travel. Our agency's estimate is late August or early September.

We have many documents to fill and we will start our travel plans. In order to save money and also to bring Josie here to medical care, we will forego extra touring and unnecessary travel in country. We will also try to get the most condensed schedule in country to bring her home. Eric will travel with a friend who is a nurse and she can help with the daily medical needs that we know Josie has as well as any unexpected needs that may arise. We also have our international adoption doctor available to consult while in country and she will see us day after Josie arrives home.  While most families will get 2-3 weeks notice to travel, our agency is hoping to get us to China in 1 week. That means we must be ready at a moment's notice to go.

We are continuing to raise awareness and funds through the 5/5/5 Families program with Reece's Rainbow. It benefits 5 families in the adoption process and is a great ongoing program to be a part of. We also have our individual Reece's Rainbow grant that we will use for our travel. Our fundraising thermometer has gone up a little bit, but the need is still there. Please pray as we get ready for the final steps in this process.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Today, I received a call from our agency that we have our Letter of Acceptance or LOA. This matches us officially with Josie and we are approved to adopt her. We will sign a letter early next week saying we will accept her and then we will begin the final parts of the process with our government for immigration purposes.

It's impossible to know how soon we will travel, but I have been told an estimated 8 weeks if we move at the anticipated pace. There is one part where we can be expedited due to Josie's health and that could help things along even faster. This is where we need you!!!!!

1. Prayer: we would be so honored if you would pray for us during the final weeks of the process. Not only for the adoption to keep moving forward as it has been, but for Josie as well as she is about to experience so many changes in her life. Pray for her health that she would be ok to travel and that we can meet her medical needs in country. Pray for the finances to fall into place as we are still short on travel funds. We want to be able to go as soon as we are allowed to. Pray for two grant applications specifically that we are waiting to hear back from.

2. Support: We will have a fundraiser soon that will benefit family preservation efforts as well as our adoption. Please stay tuned, it will be ready to kick off soon.
We also have our Reece's Rainbow account for donations, if you feel lead to give.
And for the month of July, we are on of the 5/5/5 families on Reece's Rainbow if you would like to help 5 families at a time, monthly.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

5/5/5 Families

I have shared before how dear Reece's Rainbow is to us. They were instrumental in helping Eve home in 2013 and they are also part of Josie's journey into our family. The grant program is 10 years old and has assisted 1600 children into forever families.

A year ago we went to a Reece's Rainbow reunion and it allowed us to meet so many families and advocates in person. I absolutely love that they want to stay in touch after the children come home.

There is a special program within Reece's Rainbow called 5/5/5 for Families that focuses on 5 adoptive families and raises a special grant just for them, $5 at a time. I was glad to find out that we were chosen as a 5/5/5 family for the month of July along with 4 other adoptive families.

I would love to find 10 people who would like to join this program. $5 donation monthly along with other supporters lifts the burden off adoptive families and children come home! I don't know what could be an easier way to be part of adoptions.

If you join the program, could you let me know? I would like to send you a personal thank you note to let you know how much this means to us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grants, Grants and More Grants

This is so my life right now...filling out grant applications. We need to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Praying for an expedite!

This week, we should find out if the current part of our adoption process will be expedited. Our dossier is in China and our wonderful agency is requesting a faster process due to Josie's medical needs. We know her long term health and life expectancy requires quick medical intervention here, but expediting requires the person deciding it to agree with that. There was a time Josie had frequent medical care and surgeries but lately the information has been harder to obtain. These tumors grow without chemotherapy and our local experts are urging us to expedite. So we pray that the people deciding these things will agree with the medical opinions we are presenting to them.

Would you pray for Josie as she waits? And pray for this process to be expedited for her?

We were so blessed to meet our matching grant and also to receive another grant recently. That has allowed our agency fees to be paid on time and our adoption to move forward. Praising God for this need being met!

There is still a financial need to be met to complete our adoption. As we learn how soon we can travel for Josie, we want to make sure we are prepared. Please come back to the blog to find out about our fundraisers and we also humbly accept donations through our Reece's Rainbow account, which is a tax deductible way to give.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Adoption Update

We made our matching grant last week, which was a huge financial blessing. We will now add another $2000 to our adoption. The thermometer on the right column can sometimes look intimidating, but slowly, we will get there.

Imagine my surprise, when I was notified that we received a grant that will add even more to our adoption funds and of course to our lovely thermometer. It was such a positive boost that I needed during an otherwise difficult time.

Eve was hospitalized 3 weeks ago and she is still recovering. We are also leaving out of state to visit a specialist and the preparations are occupying my mind. I want to keep Josie at the forefront of our minds at all times as we continue to parent our children at home. It will be a busy summer but it's the good kind of busy. Sports, preparations for Josie and hopefully travel. Our adoption paperwork is all done on our end so we just have to wait as China processes it.

Prayer request: would you pray that Josie's adoption is going to be expedited in China? Her medical condition can take a turn at any moment and we have everything ready to care for her tumors here.

We are also in need of funding for our travel related costs. Please check back here for new fundraisers soon. We also have an account with Reece's Rainbow that is tax deductible. You can access it HERE

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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Yes, we are adopting again!

I wanted to have a place where I can keep all our friends and family update on our adoption as it unfolds. We have been working on completing our homestudy over the last couple of months and now we are getting all documents to China. There is a little girl who doesn't know a family is coming for her yet, but we are working so hard to make it soon.

Stay tuned for a few posts that tells you what has happened so far in our journey.