Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Did you see?

Check out our Reece's Rainbow FSP account - it doubled since yesterday!

And so did our FundRazr account!

Plus we also got a donation directly to our paypal account!

Just so you know, Reece's Rainbow is no longer covering the paypal charges, so your donations will be reduced by about 3%.

FundRazr takes around 6% off the top, and then we get another 3% taken off when your donation hits our paypal account.

So, for getting the most of your money, directly donating to our paypal account ( is the best way to donate online.

For 100% of the donation being applied to our adoption, please ask about sending us a check!

So yesterday we received over $400 in donations -  that translates to over $800 with our matching grant!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far!  I am amazed!

And, yes, I use that word too much!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

5 Weeks of Miracles - $25 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway!

I've decided to call this time frame for our matching grant "5 Weeks of Miracles."  We have from yesterday until April 30 to make the most of this amazing matching grant for our adoption.  It is feasible that we could be fully funded by then if we can raise $14,000 by the end of April.  I can't even fathom that, but I know that with God all things are possible.

Let me make it clear - I am NOT expecting this to happen.  Any amounts donated towards our adoption this month is worth double it's value, so I will be thankful for each and every penny donated!  I will NOT be disappointed if we do not reach the $14,000 magical number.  I just wanted everyone to know that right now.

So, to kick off our "5 Weeks of Miracles" Campaign I am going to do an 11 day give away for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate (donated by a sweet FB friend!).  Eleven days because that is when we will be having our "Ransom Priscilla Spaghetti Feed/Date Night" here in Bellingham.  I really want to get word out about this, and try to procure more donations for the silent auction we will be holding that night.  I know this is only local, but donations can come from anywhere, especially if the business is online and accessible to anyone.

Katie, 16 months ago, 9 years old, 11 pounds
I am doing this in hopes of reaching a new audience.  People who have not heard about our adoption yet.  Since we have received nearly 300 page views of our short blog post yesterday about "I am barefooted", I know that our reach is growing.  Please take a minute and see how you can earn entries for the giveaway and help grow our audience.

This isn't just about Priscilla and our family though - it's about the plight of orphans around the world.  Priscilla is on of millions who have never known the love of a family and who are being damaged in their environments.  Yes, not all orphanages are bad, but none of them are a forever family.

Katie at her birthday party this week
She turned 11 years old!
1 year after adoption, she weighed in
at 33 1./2 pounds
(that was back in November)
I have followed Katie's mother's blog since way before they adopted Katie.  But her post yesterday brought the reality of the transformation that has occurred in Katie's life because a family was willing to do anything and everything to pay the ransom and go rescue her.  Katie was living in a notorious orphanage in the same country that Priscilla lives in. Her orphanage is definitely worse than Priscilla's, but I really have no  idea as I have yet to find any adoptive parents who have adopted from Priscilla's orphanage.

There are still children in that place, that awful place.  The Mussners (Katie's family) are working to adopt a little boy, Tommy, from that orphanage right now!  Tommy turned 16 years old this week, but is the size of a toddler.

Susanna blogged of her experiences in this orphanage when she went to meet Tommy recently. Please take a  moment to read what she shared in her blog post, Precious In His Sight.

So. without further ado  here's the give away.  Please take a moment and help spread the word!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 25, 2013

Unmerited. Undeserved. Unlimited.

God's Amazing Grace.

Where to start.  The last time I blogged, I had opened a savings account so I'd have a place to hold any money donated as we work to bring in the funds needed for our I800a ($1100) and our dossier (roughly $6000, including postage and document preparation).  Since then it seems that on every turn, the Lord is granting us grace.

Did you know that the term "Grace" is defined as unmerited favor?  I was pondering on that today as I was driving home from gleaners, overwhelmed by God's amazing outpouring of blessings over the past week.  Who am I, Who are we, to be given such amazing grace?  We aren't all the special.  We aren't even that great of parents.  I see so many other parents who are doing what seems to be so much more for their children.  I am so flawed.  I am so inadequate.  I am so not the energizer bunny.  I am so inherently selfish.  I am so easily tempted to take the easy way, to give in to selfish interests, to escaping from the things that matter to do things that are a complete waste of time.  But that is the amazing thing about God.  He doesn't give us what we deserve.  He doesn't give us what we have earned.  He doesn't give us what will get us by.  He gives to us with amazing generosity according to His will for us, regardless of our merit.

I know, some of you will say, "but look at how great your older kids have turned out!"  And yes, our older children are all amazing young adults.  But I can't take credit for that!  I made so many mistakes as a young mother, and as a not-so-young mother.  God has led and directed our lives and stepped in to shown us so many things that have changed who we are as parents over the years, but He has also worked in their lives to work His good will.  I can not take credit for the good that I see in our children.  God gets all the credit.  I know that without His grace, I would have failed miserably as a parent.

But God has taught me so much.  He has taught us so much.  I have come so far.  I praise God for the dynamics of our family today.  We are not perfect, we are all sinners living together under one roof.  We sin against each other, we get impatient with each other.  But we all love each other and are quick to forgive and forget.  And He has drawn us to walk down a road that surprises even us.

So many times since we started down this road I have questioned the wisdom of this.  How can I care for one more, how can I learn to care for a child damaged from living in an institution?  How can I continued to meet the needs of the children I already have and another child with medical and special needs?  How in the world can we afford to adopt when we have never even had a saving account when we seem to have more month than money most of the time?

But God keeps stepping in and showing me that this is NOT about me.  This is not even about US.  This is about HIM.  Look at every man and woman who is in the hall of fame in the Bible and you will see flawed people il-equipped for the job that God gave them.  You will see parents who make mistakes, people who sinned greatly, even people who didn't learn from their mistakes.  But you will see a God who orchestrates HIS will regardless of the worth of the people He chose to use.

I just wanted to share with you that I have doubts, I feel ill-equipped to take this new adventure on, but God continues to show us that this is HIS will.  And so many times, when people follow God's leading, everyone, even those called, feel that it is crazy, reckless and ill-advised.  But God does know what He is doing.  Every time.

So, now to specifics.  I'm going to list my recent doubts, and then how God has answered...

We have not met the standards of BCS to pass our home study, how will we adopt Priscilla now?  God knew what was best.  Being rejected by BCS, although it looked like a dead end, was in reality a ticket for an upgrade!  Our new home study agency,  Adoption Home Study Service, has been a breath of fresh air.  Mike has answered our questions quickly and patiently.  His visit with us last Thursday was comfortable and friendly.  Esther was even sharing a book with the social worker that Mike brought with him once she warmed up to them.  He found nothing that would prevent us from being approved, but did give us a little home work (we need to install 2 more fire extinguishers and create a couple of documents).  He plans to have our home study completed in under 3 weeks from now!  It was definitely an upgrade to switch to Mike's home study agency!

How can we afford this?  God has already caused Daryl's boss to grant him an unexpected bonus, then last week a raise, and now he has the opportunity to work overtime.  He has blessed my business when we needed it to make ends meet.  People have stepped in to donate towards the spaghetti feed to cover the supplies we needed.  We were able to sell some exercise equipment to cover the cost of some documents.  Our tax return covered our commitment fees, as well as our home study fees and also pay off our dental bill from this past winter.  And to top it all off, we now have a family stepping in to match all funds raised in the next 5 weeks!  It is not if WE can afford it, it is really a question of How is He going to provide.

How can I handle another child with special/medical needs?  Looking back, I was not equipped in the slightest when Esther was given to us.  But God knew that, and He gave her to us anyway.  We are being equipped for this every day, every hour.  And He will give us the grace we need when we need it.  He has always come through in the past, and I must trust.  But I must also prepare.  I'm reading about attachment disorders, sensory disorders and we will be working with a team at the University of Washington to prepare for her medical needs. Looking into the future is futile as a  human.  We can't change it or even know what is coming.  We can prepare for probably situations.  But I know from experience that God does put us in situations where we can only go on by His grace.  And I know from experience, that it is not that bad a place to be is an amazing place to be in.

Another year without a swing set for our younger children (we had planned to use our tax return to purchase a new play set for the kids as swinging is great for kids, especially for Esther right now).  Last week a family we know locally asked if we wanted their "old" swing set.  Now we have a 4 year old swing set just the right size for Esther (as well as Dayton, Elizabeth and Carese soon).  And just in time for the wonderful sunny weather we are having around here! (photos courtesy of our daughter, Rachel).

What if the spaghetti feed is a bust....we can't afford to purchase the supplies even!  Well, I still have no idea if we'll have a decent attendance  but in the last couple of weeks we've had lots of encouragement in the way of donations - gift cards for businesses, commitments to cover all the noodles, half the sauce, and all of the corn.  Plus two families have donated $100 ea for us to use to purchase the remaining ingredients.  I'm still not sure if it will cover everything, but I'm sure we are close!

You know, adopting Priscilla is such an amazing picture of God's grace.  She doesn't know about us,  she doesn't understand that God is working to ransom her.  She has no idea.  She has done absolutely nothing to earn our love.  She has nothing to offer us.  She is seen by the world as flawed.  She is seen by her culture as unworthy of keeping, even seen as a curse by some.  But God sees her a His child.  His creation.  Worth of everything it takes to ransom her.  To save her life.  To give her love.  To give her a place to call home.  He's done this for me.  I did not deserve His love, I did not deserve anything, but He loved me enough to die for me and adopt me as His child.  To pay the ultimate price. I hope you have experienced His amazing grace in your life.  I pray that someday Priscilla will experience and know God's amazing grace and that she too will become His child.

So, here we are.  Experiencing God's amazing grace.  Unmerited.  Undeserved. Unlimited.

We will work hard to be faithful to His call, His provision, His mercy.

Will you work with us?  Will you help us to make the most of this gift of a matching grant?  Please share our story. No, wait.  It isn't our story, it's His Story!  Please share what God is doing to ransom our Priscilla.  Share how He is moving mountains to give this little one a new life, a new home, and a new family.

And just to be clear.  The matching grant offered to us is not limited to funds sent to Reece's Rainbow or to monetary gifts.  They have offered to match dollar for dollar all funds raised whether it is via Reece's Rainbow, our FundraiZr account, directly to our paypal account, donated to us in person or even if it is an item donated for auctions or raffles.  Amazing, just Amazing!

37 days to see miracles happen!

I am barefoot...

Because God has blessed my socks off once again....we're talking so big that I think my socks were blown all the way to Priscilla's country!

There is a family who had considered adopting Priscilla, but when we stepped forward for her, they knew it was God's will and they looked for the window that was open to them and they are now in the process of adopting 2 girls from China.

But, it doesn't end there.  They still have a heart for Priscilla and have been following my blog.  This family has been led by God to offer a matching grant for all donations that come in between now and the end of April.  The only limit is when we reach the point that we are fully funded (I'm working on getting a dollar amount for that today!).

I have to run...more details to follow.

Please praise God with me as He has me astounded...I can't even wrap my brain around this one.

I stand amazed, humbled, overwhelmed at God's goodness to me, I just don't deserve this.

If you want to read all the details, read my next post!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Savings Account Opened!

I needed to start keeping our personal money separate from the adoption money, so today I opened a savings account!  Now I have somewhere to transfer my paypal money to, and a place to set aside money for future adoption expenses!  One more step!

Thursday is our first visit with Mike, our new homestudy agent.  I am looking forward to it and have a couple projects to tackle tomorrow for my peace of mind.  I'm looking forward to meeting him, as he was so nice on the phone and so helpful answering all my questions via email promptly and patiently!

And we have now had 2 commitments of people donating money for purchasing supplies for the Spaghetti Feed/Date Night we are having in April!  We also have commitments for all the noodles and half the spaghetti sauce we need!  We are still looking for items for the silent auction, so if you know of a business that would like to donate a gift card/gift certificate/service, please tell them about the event and/or contact me for more info!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

You'd Better Not Watch This

or it might make you want to have a child with Down Syndrome in your family!

If God has blessed your family with a love one with Down Syndrome, then Praise God!  If He hasn't....yet...maybe it's time to see if you can adopt one!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just In - Background Checks!

I just got the digital copies of our FBI Background Checks and the DSHS Child Abuse Registry Checks!  These are some of the most common things that can slow down completing a home study!

If course, we were all "clean"!

Yeah!  One more hurdle over this week!

To celebrate - here's another photo of our sweet Priscilla that I have not shared yet!  She is in a chair that converts to a standing assistant type of thing.  I think she likes this toy!

A Roller Coaster Ride Kind of Week!

I know, no updates in a week...Guilty as charged.


I have an exceptionally good reason.

Last Monday night at 9 pm I got an email in my inbox and rocked my world.  Our social worker sent me an EMAIL telling me that she had talked to her supervisor and they were recommending that we withdraw from our home study and they did not think that they would be able to approve us.  The reasons listed were vague and not clearly defined and most of them were things that could be worked out.  Several of them were things that they were well aware of right from the start (several young children in the home, size of our home etc...). It felt like a smoke screen.  I still have not had a reply to me email back to her asking for her to elaborate so that we could be aware of what was "wrong" if we pursued adoption the future.


I cried, and cried, and cried...  Daryl was already in bed and had gone to bed very tired, so I didn't dare wake him as he had to work the next day.  Then I went to my Reece's Rainbow Facebook group (a secure, closed group for people actively involved with RR, and lots of other adoptive families are there).  There I found out much about why the agency we had been using is not recommended.  I found out that they do not like to approve families who have several younger children in the home (I'm sorry, but 1, 41/2 and 7 is NOT a problem...I have it the easiest that I have had it in over 20 years right now!).  They also do not approve of families who do not actively avoid pregnancy while in the adoption if that is any of their business!  But here's the clincher.  They will  not approve a family for adoption unless the sign a form committing to NEVER us corporal discipline for their adoptive child.  SAY WHAT?  They admit in this form that corporal discipline is Biblical and legal, but since many children who are adopted come from situations of abuse, they will not allow any of "their children" experience corporal discipline.  Again, SAY WHAT?  Corporal discipline is legal in our state and most states.  We explained to them that physical punishment is our last resort, and how we discipline each of our children is different according to their needs/personalities etc.  We incorporate rebuke, with holding of privileges (like ice cream or going to a birthday party), or what some might call a "time out", which for us means sitting next to me until they are calm enough to listen to what I have to say or take care of whatever conflict they are involved in.  During our interview our children were almost all present and it was obvious that they are all happy, well adjusted, healthy children.  Our older children all turned in references that showed that we were good parents.  But policy is policy.

Let me back up a little.  When we shared with people what we were adopting, often they would ask which agencies we were using.  When I shared which agency we were using, almost everyone was surprised and many shared concerns about this choice.  I had chosen them on a couple of recommendations, but I guess I had talked to the few that had good experiences with them.  As time went by, I began to have second thoughts about our choice, but everything had been going smoothly so far, so I was thinking that maybe we were going to be one of those who had a good experience with them. Boy was I wrong.  My concerns escalated as we moved into the home study portion as our social worker was hard to get in touch with.  And when Carese got sick the day before the first visit, I left a message for her the night before the appointment, but didn't hear back from her until the day after the appointment.  That means that that entire day of the scheduled appointment I had no idea if she had received my message, and so I had to continue to prepare our home for the visit while dealing with a very sick little girl.  All the stress could have been alleviated if she had just taken a moment to call and say she wasn't coming!  I felt that was inconsiderate, and she didn't even apologize when she called the night before.  Obviously she is not a very considerate person, since she also chose to send me that devastating email right before bedtime.

Back to my time that evening talking with other adoptive moms on the RR facebook page.  They were so encouraging.  They were convinced that it was a Bethany policy problem and not a problem with our family. Several of the moms even sent me private emails sharing with me their difficulties with this particular agency.  All of them now had  children in their home adopted internationally.  All of them had been told by this particular agency that they would not be approved for one reason or another.  Several of them recommended the same agency for our area, even our adoption agency!

So the next afternoon I left a message for Mike, which he return not long afterward.  After just 30 minutes on the phone with him, I felt like we had been given a second chance.  I read the email I got from the social worker and we talked through each of the vague concerns that he had, and I told him the truth about everything.  He said that he did not see any reason why he could not approve us, and that our problems were related to this particular agency's policies.  He sent over all the paperwork within the hour and I got right to work.

That was Tuesday night.  Thursday morning I had sent him every document via email, with the only exception being our medical reports.  I have two of the children's medical in hand, but Daryl and I had to have a blood test done that had not been done originally.  If all goes well, I'll have the rest of the medical paperwork in hand by Monday!  Our first of two home visits with Mike will be on Thursday!

No for the good news.  So often a blessing comes wrapped up looking like a trial.  That email seemed to shatter my world.  At first it looked like a dead end, but soon it looked like a detour/delay at least.  But not that we are into this switch a few days it looks more like an upgrade!

First of all, Mike charges less than 1/2 of what we were expecting to pay the first agency.  Secondly, we were expecting our home study to wrap up in about a month (I had just asked the social worker about this), but Mike completes home studies beginning to end in 4 - 6 weeks.  Since we have much of our leg work done (our background checks are due to come back any day), he believes we can be wrapped up in under 30 days!


Much of the paperwork had to be redone for the new agency, but since we had done this before, it went really fast.  One of the documents that needed to be done again was the employment verification. when he got the document back, he found out that he had gotten a raise!

Talk about a wild week!

Oh - and I forgot to mention that we applied for our passports a week ago.  We should have them in hand in about 4 weeks.

So we are back on track, about the same expected completion date for our home study.

Hope you enjoyed the ride..I'm still not sure I enjoyed it, but so glad to be at the other end of it now!

Here's another photo of Priscilla that I have not shared until this week.  Most of her photos are not complimentary and she looks either bored or sad..but I think it's time to share those so you can see why we so desperately want to get her into our home!

And here is that song, in a video highlighting children with Down Syndrome who are languishing in orphanages around the word:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Awesome Auctions!

We have had some amazing items donated to our auctions!  Check these out:

Hand Made, Fabric Covered Notebook

Hand Made Waldorf style Doll!

Hand Knit Wool Blend Socks

And I am making these personalized bookmarks
 you choose the word(s),  colors and charms!
We had our first home study visit and I think it went well.  Tuesday is our next visit and that will be for my interview!  I had a little homework to do, like tracking down the medical physical paperwork, but I've gotten everything done already!  Now to enjoy a day of relaxation, no pressure to do anything!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I was hoping...

Large Snap-EZ Giraffe Fur Pocket Diaper
Is Now Up For Auction!
4 copies of "Rescue"
The Movie were
...that I'd be blogging about our first home study visit/inspection by now, but that was not meant to be.  First Carese got really sick, and then the social worker was sick this past Monday.  So now we are scheduled for tomorrow night.  I have to admit that it has given us more time to do some of the smaller projects that will lower my stress level (like a thorough cleaning of my business room).

A Geir Gift Set was also donated!
A handmade Notebook
was donated too!
I have been very, very busy!  Our Facebook auctions went really well for  February, bringing in over $100 for our adoption expenses!  I am shipping those out today!  Also donations have been coming in - both items for our auctions and monetary donations to our FSP on Reece's Rainbow, and through the FundRazr button, as well as in person donations!  What an encouragement!  I even have my first sponsor for Sugar Free for Priscy!  I'm now earning $1 for every inch I lose!

We attempted to apply for our passports yesterday, but silly me I remembered their closing time wrong.  We will attempt it again today!  I mailed off our first set of documents via FedEx to Priscilla's country.  They left Blaine yesterday, were in Seattle last night, and today they were at Memphis TN!  We are tracking the package on our world map with pins/yarn!

Brambleberry Soap - I purchased this
and it's now up for auction!
My friend owns Will Tree and she donated
a gift set too!
I almost feel like I am nesting around here.  You know, when your baby is due and you feel the need to get everything in order in your home, knowing that you will be "out of commission," as far as house cleaning goes, for a while.  But this is two fold - to prepare for our home safety inspections, and to simplify our home and belongings to ease the time when I will be traveling and the first few months that Priscilla is in our home as there will be some major adjustments happening and I will be pre-occupied for a while, much like having a newborn, only very different!
Elizabeth homeschooling her baby dolls!

One of the projects was purging and re-organizing our school/play room.  I have been purging this room for a couple of years now - every time I'm  more drastic.  I'm very pleased with the results.  The kids coats/shoes are now so more accessible and it's so easy for them to put their stuff away!  Esther especially loves this new set up!  Fewer toys also means easier clean up and everyone likes that!

Here's what the home study finalization is going to look like - 4 home visits including the safety inspection, interviewing me, interviewing the kids, and interviewing Daryl.  Then she creates her report (she said it will take about a week). Then the person in charge will make the final determination (about 1 - 2 weeks).  So we are looking at having at least a verbal determination (approved or not approved) around the first week of April.  We will have the official documents within a week of the determination.  Then we move on the earnestly preparing our dossier!  I hope to update the adoption timeline page so that it shows now only what we have done but also what remains to be done and what expenses we foresee.