Thursday, January 31, 2013

Priscilla and Amazing Grace

OK, I need to pinch myself!  I thought it would be another week or so before we could reveal who we were trying to adopt.  But today is the day!  As you can see in the banner, we are trying to adopt a little girl who's name is something like "Priscilla."  We will be changing her name once we adopt her, but probably retaining her real name as her middle name.  We now have an official Family Sponsorship Program (FSP) and you can see it HERE!  You may notice that I Photo-Shopped her photo for this blog and the Facebook page. I just can't stand for little girls to wear boy clothes!

Doesn't she look so huggable?
So here's what we know about Priscilla.  She is 2 1/2, her birthday is August 5, 2010.  She was born around the time that we usually have another baby (around 2 years apart) if the Lord had blessed in that was after Esther was born.  She was born with a heart defect, which was repaired.  She has some respiratory issues (she's had several bouts with pneumonia) that we are hoping will improve when she comes home to us.  I've learned a few tricks that have really helped Esther through the years.  She was abandoned at the hospital at birth and has had no contact with any family members.  She is left handed, and is beginning to make words and is learning to sit all by herself.   With good therapy I'm sure she'll catch up quickly.  She's tiny - she just a few pounds bigger than our "tiny for her age" 10 month old!

You may also notice that there is a new block in the right hand column.  You can now donate to our adoption funds and get tax credit.  The only catch with this is that those funds will not be made available to us until we have our "referral."  A referral means that we have been approved in her country to adopt her and we have been invited to travel for our first trip, to meet her and confirm that we want to adopt her.  We have a LOT of expenses to cover before then.

But God knows that.  Just this week we were feeling pressure about some bills that had come up (dentist/electrician etc), and needing to pay for the medical physicals that we have scheduled tomorrow.  We also need to purchase some home safety items for the home safety visit (fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detectors (3), one smoke detector,  a gun safe etc).  Due to a delay in some income that we were planning on we were getting really strapped!

Tuesday morning, Daryl commented that in order for this adoption to work, somebody is going to have to step in and make a difference.  Within 24 hours someone had offered to get our van running again (it needed transmission work done), and then today Daryl got an unexpected bonus at work!  The van running again is such a relief, as the truck I've been using is really at the end of it's life (260,000 miles), and taking 2 - 3 vehicles to church is getting old, not to mention my not being able to take all the kids anywhere if Daryl is at work.  And then the bonus!  While it isn't enough to take care of everything, we can take care of the smaller bills, knock down a few of the middle size bills, and pay off one big bill, and also get the items we need for the home study!  I just crunched the numbers and this bonus added to the tax return we will be getting in a few weeks will make it possible for us to wipe out all our bills and pay for the remaining cost of our home study and possibly pay for our passports.  Amazing

That doesn't mean we are fully funded mind you.  Once our home study is complete and we have to send in our I-800a ($720), assemble our dossier (pay to have every document apostilled at $20 ea), get more fingerprints sent in to the FBI, and get psychological evaluations done.  Then we have to submit the $6,000 with the dossier and have the money for the trip.  Once that is all done, we wait for our "referral."  Then after we return, we have to submit the remaining $4000 for the program fee and another $1250.00 for the home study follow up visits (4 visits over a 2 year period).  The last step is to have the money to travel again once the adoption is final!  So, yeah, God's going to have to do a few more miracles for this adoption to go through!  We plan to apply for every adoption grant that we qualify for, so hopefully we'll get some funding that way.

Oh - and did I mention that Daryl and I will not be going back into debt to do this adoption?  We have paid off all our personal debt (aside from our home mortgage) and business debt over the last 2 years and we feel strongly that we should not go back in that direction.   Hudson Taylor once said "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Day, Another Project Completed

Yesterday I received the documents for our commitment to our child that will be sent to his/her country.  Once they approve our documents, we will be officially committed to our child and we will be able to reveal who we are trying to adopt!  I can't wait to be able to share this with you all!

Late yesterday and today I worked to complete these papers.  Then I went to town and met up with Daryl so we could get these documents notarized.  Now I am copying these documents to be emailed to our coordinator who will forward them to "the country" for pre-approval.

I also got the application for the Reece's Rainbow Grants notarized and send those copies off too - I'll be sending in the originals tomorrow.

My next job is to get the original documents apostilled and then send them to "the country."

Yesterday and today were a whirlwind!  It started out with a little conversation early in the morning where we were looking at all the money we don't have that will be needed to complete our adoption, and the fact that our vehicles are at the end of their lives (all our running vehicles have over 230,000 miles on them!).  Daryl made a comment that "someone is going to have to step forward and do something" in order for us to complete this adoption and for us to have reliable transportation.

We ended up looking at a possible replacement car (a station wagon) for my truck as it has 260,000 miles on it and is showing many signs of wear and tear.  The car we went to look at was not worth purchasing.   But someone stepped forward and offered to purchase a newer car for us - a gift!  We were astounded.  Really?  God is truly amazing.  The car they offered to purchase for us was really nice - sleek, black, low miles.  A nicer car than we have even owned.  But reality set in.  This car would only carry 5 people, and that meant that we would need 3 cars to take everyone to church. However much is would improve our appearance, that car would just not meet our needs.  So we asked if they were willing to pay to have the transmission repaired or replace in our 12 passenger van (we rebuilt the engine last year and it only has 133,000 miles on it!).  They agreed to our proposal!

So today, I got the van jump-started and got it to the transmission shop.  We will hear tomorrow whether or not the transmission needs to be just repaired, rebuilt or replaced.  We stand amazed.  So thankful for the generous hearts that have followed God's leading to provide this for us.  So thankful that God would so quickly show that He is more than able to meet our needs.

These are some more photos I took while we were waiting at the Sheriff's Office for our finger printing.  A funny thing happened yesterday.  That car we went to look at?  The lady I talked to was so sweet and shared that they were selling car to help one of their sons go on a missions trip!  I shared about our adoption and she told me that they had adopted a 2 1/2 year old boy from Russia nearly 20 years ago, getting him the medical care he needed and a home to be loved in.  When we got there, her husband came out to show us the car. I thought the man looked familiar, but just couldn't place him.  I enjoyed talking with him.  As we were leaving, he shook Daryl's hand and congratulated us on our pending adoption, and said that his name was Bill, Bill Elfo.  Man was I shocked!  Bill Elfo is our county's Sheriff, the man whose photo was on the wall in the office where we sat waiting for our fingerprinting!  That was why he looked so familiar!  We talked a little about that too!  What a friendly man, nice as you'd ever meet!  I almost wanted to buy the car from him, but it needed too much interior work, and that is not our specialty!

Tomorrow I will get the last document for the last shipment of papers for our home study. I will also be working on signing up for Daryl and I to take CPR classes.  We will be having our medical physicals on Friday, and then we start working to prepare the house for the home safety visit.  We need to put child locks on some cupboards, tidy up the garage, create a first aid kit, clean up the back yard and storage shed areas,  purchase and install carbon monoxide (3) and smoke (1) detectors and acquire a fire extinguisher (we found out that ours was empty recently!).  Not a lot of work, but I also want to re-arrange the little girls room with having our adoptive child sleeping in there.  We still have Esther's crib up in there but she's no longer sleeping in it, so we'll use that when he/she comes home.

And for your viewing pleasure - here's a photo of the six sisters we already have (notice that Rebekah's lap is empty?)

Our First Big Steps

So far, we have taken just a couple of big steps in this adoption.

The first was to begin our home study.  This required sending in the application and fee to Bethany Christian Services.  Then we got a large package of paperwork and I set to work.  There were so many things - referrals, Finger printing, legal forms to read and sign, Questionaires for Daryl and I to fill out, copies of birth and marriage certificates to acquire and scan, medical insurance documentation, financial statements and tax return to copy and much much more.

I took all that and a 3 ring binder that I purchased for the adoption paperwork and dug in.  I received the package on a Friday and was able to mail in the majority of the papers the following Tuesday.  Tomorrow I'll be mailing in the rest.  It was overwhelming at first, but they included a check list and I just took it one document/task at a time.

On Monday we were able to sign our adoption agency documents and send in our commitments fee.  Then we received several documents that we needed to fill out that will be sent to the country where we are adopting from.  These will need to be notarized, photocopied and emailed to the agency and they will forward them to "the country" and then we can be officially committed to our child and announce who she is to the world!  Then I have to take the original documents and send them in to have them apostilled (the secretary of state confirms that the notarization is legal and in order), and then we send the original documents in the mail to "the country."

You may wonder why all the secrecy.  The children in orphanage need to have their privacy protected.  The governments in these countries do not look kindly on having their orphans "out there" in a way that make it potentially possibly to locate them.  It's for the children's safety. After the adoption is final, we will be able to talk about where he/she was living.  Even the name we will be using will not be her real name. if all goes well, I will be able to email the scanned copies of these documents and soon be able to reveal his/her identity!  I can't wait to be able to share!

I have started a few auctions on my Auctions for A Seventh Sister Facebook page - here's a few photos to whet your appetite   We will be using the funds from these auctions to cover some of the expenses we are incurring as we prepare our documents and get ready for our home visit (like doctor bills, new carbon monoxide detectors, getting documents apostilled and such).  Until our home visit is completed, there are no grants that we can apply for.  Our tax return will not show up for a few weeks yet, but we need to keep moving forward with preparations, but our budget is tight right now.

An original matted Photograph by my sister, Beth!
If you aren't interested in the items in our current auctions, check back next week as we'll have more new items for February!  Also, you can donate items for our auction - just comment below if you need help in adding your donated item to my auctions!

You can also help in several other ways:

1. Use the link in the sidebar to search Amazon and shop there.  Anything you purchase after using my link will produce a commission for us!

2. Use the "Chip In" box to donate directly to our paypal account!

3.  If you want to send us a check instead of using paypal, please send me an email and I'll give your our mailing information!

4.  Pray for us.  Pray that the Lord will provide all we need to ransom this little child and bring him/her home!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Finger Printing Saga

Last Friday five members of our family went in to get our fingerprints taken and sent in to the FBI for a background check.  This was an amazing experience.

First let me tell you the relatively difficult preparation for getting this done.  There is paperwork to fill out for the background check.  These have to be notarized   Then there is the money order to be secured, made out to the Treasury of the United States.  Then you have to determine where and when to get the finger printing done.

Here's how we accomplished this:

The day before we planned to head in to get the fingerprinting done, Esther had an appointment for her orthotics, so I emptied our jar that says "Bring Her Home" into a zip lock baggies.  I took that to the grocery store after her appointment and got cash for all the change.  Then I took that to the bank and used it to get the money order for the FBI background checks ($18 per person).  I even had some extra money, which I deposited into our bank account to help cover the fingerprinting charges ($20/person).

We found out that the cities in our area had a waiting list of at least 2 weeks for a fingerprinting appointment, so that meant going to the sheriff's office.  They only do fingerprinting Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon.  We also found out that due to recent threats to the current gun safety laws, there is great demand for the concealed pistol permits, and these require finger printing.  We were told that people were arriving 2 hours early in order to secure a place in line - they only process 25 people per session.

So we made plans.  We set up an appointment to get the documents notarized  and both Daryl and Jonathan had to get most of the day off from work.   We tried to plan this so that we could be at the sheriff's office around 10:30 - 2 1/2 hours before it opened for finger printing, as rescheduling just wasn't a good option!

As we were leaving the house, I suddenly realized that Rebekah did not have any photo ID!  She was working on getting a permit, but she didn't have one yet!  ACK!  I frantically checked the "wait time" at the DOL and found that Thursdays they didn't open until 9:30 - it was just after 9 am, so we could squeeze this in and possibly make it early to the sheriff's office, but it would take a miracle.  So I quickly grabbed her birth certificate and her social security card (just in case, but I didn't think we needed that).  We called Jonathan and Daryl and told them to meet us at the DOL instead.  Jonathan arrived before us and secured a place in line.

When we arrived at the DOL the doors had been opened, and Jonathan was about 5 people from the front of the line.  We took his place and he headed over to our church with Jessica to start the notarization process with Daryl.

After getting our number, I decided to make things go as smoothly as possible and began to write out the check, but before I could even write out the check, they called our number!  We were in and out of the DOL in under 10 minutes!  THAT is a Miracle!

We headed over to church and arrived just as they were ready for the next signature.  We got that done and headed to the sheriff's office.  After messing around with paying for parking, we headed in...feeling mildly panicky that we had not gotten there soon enough (even though it was only 10:15!).

Much to my relief, there was only one person ahead of us in line!  We even got chairs to sit on, indoors!  We had done it!  What a relief.

Now it was time to wait....2 1/2 long hours.  But is was an amazing experience.  By 11:45 or so, the 25 people were all there.  It was like a little community forum.  The banter between a few of the people was fun to listen to - tales of military service, hunting adventures and comparing scars/wound stories seemed endless!

Finally it was time - we got the cards, paid the fees, filled them out and then we were called back one by one.  It was a very slick process.  It took a while - mostly as I filled out most of the papers, but we were out of there by 2:30.  We headed right across the street to mail the fingerprints to the FBI.

We were done!  We accomplished what we needed to do.  Getting the background check reports back will take 8 - 10 weeks.  This is the one step that can hold up completing a home study.  But we now have this behind us.

What's next?

We have physicals scheduled for this Friday and we need to get a letter from our veterinarian about Jessica's dog's temperament.  I have send in requests for the two missing birth certificates.  I have a few papers that I have finally gotten completed, plus our tax return copy, that need to be sent in as well.  Once I have the birth certificates and vet letter, I'll have all the documents ready to send in that need to be done for the home study  (the physician's reports are send directly from the doctor's office).  I'm hoping to be able to send these papers in before the end of the week.

The next big step in the home study process is to have the "visits."  That means that we have our social worker come to our home to see if our home is safe for a child.  We have some work to do for this (like securing all our medicines in a locked cupboard and installing carbon monoxide detectors on each floor, for example).  We hope to have the first visit sometime in February.  I have read that they do 4 visits.  These visits also include interviews with family members.

One BIG step we are taking this week is to submit our commitment papers and fees to the adoption agency. This will mean sending some paperwork to the country that we are hoping to adopt from, requesting a specific child.  If our paperwork if approved, we will be officially committed to this child, and he/she will not be available for adoption outside of her country while we pursue adopting him/her.  He/she could still be adopted by a family from her country during this time though.

Today I added a "Chip In" box in the right hand column here.  We had our tax appointment last Friday, and while we are getting a substantial tax return, it is not enough to cover the cost of the home study, the commitment fee AND the cost of submitting out dossier. Most grants are not available until after you have submitted your dossier and it has been accepted by the country you are adopting from.  Their acceptance results in an invitation to travel to meet your child.  This is when most grants become available to meet the costs of the adoption and the traveling costs.  We will need help to come up with the $6,000 that is needed to submit our dossier.  Once we have competed our home study, there will be a few grants we can apply for, but nothing is guaranteed with grant applications.

Any help is appreciated!  Even just a few dollars can help!  If you can't "chip in", maybe you can share my blog with your friends and maybe one of them can help!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Adoption Adventure Begins!

We have begun our home study.  We have submitted all those forms and are just waiting to complete things like physicals and having the referrals we gave out turned in.  We have gotten finger printed (I'll blog about that in my next post).  We have been accepted by our adoption agency, About A Child, and are ready for the next step (commitment to our child), once our tax return hits our bank account!

We will have enough money for the initial things from our tax return, but from there on out God is going to have to perform some major miracles. Hudson Taylor is quoted to have said ""God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply."

This I am praying will be manifested in our adoption journey.

There are three ways you can help us in our adoption journey:

1. Pray!

2. Advocate - share our story, share our fundraising efforts

3. Support us financially:

We have started some fundraising auctions on our new Auction For A Seventh Sister Facebook page.  You can donate items for the auctions, bid on items and share them!

If you want to directly support us, but are not interested in these auctions, you are welcome to send any donation to us through paypal for this email address, or request my mailing address if you want to send a check!  At this time, any donations will not be tax deductible.  Once we are officially committed to a child, you will be able to donate through Reece's Rainbow.  

We do plan to apply for grants, but nearly all grant funds are not available until we have been invited to travel to meet our child, but we have financial needs before that point.  Some are available after our home study is completed, and we will be applying for those as soon as we can!

I will be blogging about all the steps along the way, and making updates on how you can support us. 

Thanks for being a part of this amazing journey!