Monday, December 30, 2013


For some reason the last few days I have struggled with feeling discouraged. There isn't really a logical reason why, everything is moving on schedule in the paperwork department, and we have seen God provide in so many ways. This morning I heard Steve whistling "Great Is His Faithfulness" as he got ready to go to work, and it was just the reminder I needed.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
 If I had to pick a theme for us in 2013 it would be that He has been faithful. We have seen changes in different areas of our lives this year, and in each one God has shown His faithfulness time and again. Some days trust comes naturally, and some days I have to CHOOSE to trust that He sees the big picture while I see just a snapshot. 

We ask for your prayers - for our hearts to rest in peace, for His hand of love and protection to be on Tavin, and for perfect timing in everything from paperwork to finances to travel dates! Thank you for sharing this journey with us!


P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Kindle Fire giveaway - please share with your friends and enter in the link to the right on our blog! To be legal we must provide a way for people to enter without donating, but each donation, no matter how small, would be so greatly appreciated! Thank you to all who have already so generously given!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kidle Fire giveaway going on NOW!

Who doesn't want one of these babies?

as seen here

Kindle Fire HD 7" 

Here are a few of the features:

The all-new Kindle Fire HD is a full-featured HD tablet at an SD price. With a new, stunning HD display, faster processor, longer battery life, and lighter design than the previous generation Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD offers best-in-class hardware and the ultimate HD entertainment while still being excellent for productivity and easy to use. Stay connected with fast web browsing over built-in Wi-Fi, email and calendar support including Gmail and Outlook, and view documents easily on the go with built-in OfficeSuite. Plus, the functionality to create multiple profiles and set time limits for children with Kindle FreeTime makes this the perfect family tablet.
  • 7" HD touchscreen with advanced polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology (1280 x 800)
  • 8GB of internal storage
  • 1.5GHz Dual-Core CPU, with 1GB of RAM
  • Ultra-fast web browsing over built-in Wi-Fi, plus updated e-mail and calendar support for Gmail, Outlook, and more
  • USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) port for connection to a PC or Macintosh computer or to charge your device with the included power adapter
  • 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio engine
  • Free unlimited Cloud storage for all your Amazon content
  • Prime members can now download hundreds of Prime Instant Video movies and TV shows to watch anywhere—on a plane, on vacation, or in the car
  • Powered by the latest version of Fire OS—Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito"
  • Up to 10 hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • Dimensions: 7.5"(L) x 5.0"(W) x 0.42"(D) (12.2 ounces)
  • 1 Year warranty
So here's how this giveaway works. On the right side of the blog, there at the top, is a "enter to win" tab. Click on that and you will have several options to enter - you can give a donation of $5 or more, and/or like our facebook page "Bring Tavin Home" for a total of two entries. Already like our page? You can still get an entry for that. You can donate every day for additional entries! The drawing will take place on Jan 1st, and we will ship the Kindle to the winner. Two weeks, so..... get ready, get set, and GO! 

Obviously all the proceeds donated are to our Family Sponsorship Fund for our adoption of Tavin. We need to raise $21,000 before we travel. We are currently almost 1/3 the way there!

May the best man (or woman) win!


Sunday, December 15, 2013


I've been reading Fragments that Remain, compiled by Bee Trehane from the notes and letters of Amy Carmichael. She worked in India to spread the gospel, and rescued hundreds of children from temple prostitution from 1895 to 1951. I remember hearing her story as a child and how she would stain her skin with coffee to pass as Indian. 

I am always inspired and challenged to read of missionaries such as Amy Carmichael or Jim & Elizabeth Elliott, and realize again that nothing is new under the see how they spoke to the same challenges we face daily, and the Truth they depended on is exactly the same Truth we hold today. There is something very reassuring in that realization. 

This poem she wrote especially resonated:


There are some brave souls, and God know them well,
Though magazines may not their praises swell,
Whose life breathes a frangrance, just felt, not seen,
Like the scent of the violet lost in green,
Trusted with pain in the shaded room,
Trusted with office, or shop, or loom,
Such, day by day, toil, suffer and pray,
Contented to serve their God any way.
But some there are, super-finely molded,
Who sit with hands submissively folded;
Who vegetate rather than live, and suggest
Good cabbages - doing no harm at best,
Of the poor dark world's dark need they know;
They take a great interest in missions, and oh!
At times they are almost ready to go-
But then, by some flaw in their calculation, 
They mistake laziness for resignation.

For they are so speedily persuaded
That all the reasons by which they are aided
To gravitate back to the easy chair
Are fully as solid as they are fair.
They "can't be spared", they have surely heard,
And they don't recollect the rather obsurd
Little fad that, most  certainly, never a word
Would be raised did the question involved a Ring,
For "Of course, that is quite a different thing."

They have "so few gifts", and "they cannot speak";
'Tis their "Cross in life" to be timid and weak-
Alas that we call by such sacred name,
Excuses, invented to save us from pain,
Far, far removed from the Cross and shame!
Perhaps the Society's door was locked
When with somewhat uncertain knuckle they knocked,
And everyone said "Ah! now it's plain
You cannot be meant to try again.
How terrible should you the business shirk
Of life's most serious fancy-work
For our Father's business is temple's murk!"
They sigh, and suppose so. The argumentation
Transforms laziness into resignation.
If such a deluded one reads this rhyme
Oh will she not waken while there is time?
Don't think that "Sit still" will infallibly be
A life motto written expressly for thee.
It may be the word is "Go forward" --if not,
If before the Master you stand in your lot,
He will flame your soul with a burning hot
And passionate fire, and you shall know
The joy of setting some other aglow.

And now, won't you face it, and have a cremation
Of the laziness which you called "resignation"?
It's so much easier to vegetate, but what a high cost we would pay at The End, if we miss the true call God has on our lives. All summer this was our struggle - were we willing to leave the comfort of our present and step out of our comfort zone . It's not the first time in our life we have faced that type of fork in the road, but certainly one of the more important. What is the Lord calling you to? Could it me one of these little ones?

Salome - soon to age out and spend what will remain of her life in a crib
Pearl - Unfortunately she drank some lye and didn’t get proper treatment. Until recently her tongue was stuck to the roof her of her mouth. She has had surgery but it is unknown if she will now learn to talk.
Take a minute and really see the kids listed on Reece's Rainbow. Each one could be your invitation to cremate the laziness we have called resignation. To one child, it could be enough.


We will receive our completed home study any day and anticipate travel late winter/early spring. We invite you to make a year end tax deductible donation to our family sponsorship fund. We are so grateful for each donation that helps us move closer to our goal - to bringing Tavin home.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What is's like to adopt a waiting child

Adopting a waiting child feels something like getting a call from, say, your childs preschool. "You left your child here today, but it's no problem - we have plenty of food, and a place for them to sleep. We will watch them till you come, but before you pick them up there is a mountain of paperwork you have to work though, and you will need $25,000." So what do you do? You bust it every day to get it done. And every day it feels like maybe you could have done more, maybe you should have squeezed in one more form. It's always in the back of your mind, while doing anything else, that this child of yours isn't with you. It's that nagging feeling that you forgot something, the kind of feeling that never goes away. I find myself loading the boys into the car, or playing outside with them, and glancing around for the 3rd, only to realize he isn't here yet.

Does that sound strange, to feel that way for a child you've never met? Yes - it does. But it doesn't change that that's the way it is. 

We have reached a lull in the paperwork while we wait for our home study draft, then the final. It's the first time in 8 weeks I feel like I can breath, but then maybe I'd rather feel like I was doing something, anything to move things along. So I pray, release it to the Lord, rest Tavin in His hands, knowing that He cares for him so much more than we do. And we wait.


Monday, December 2, 2013

About arthrogryposis (AMC)

Today I wanted to explain a bit about Tavin's medical needs. I am by no means an expert, but I've read quite a bit and I will do my best, ok? Here we go.

Tavin has a medical condition called "arthrogryposis multiplex congenital". Memorize that and you will sound really smart. Let's just use the abbreviation for it and say AMC ok? Much easier. AMC literally means "curving of joints", and is used to describe joint contractures accuring in two or more areas of the body (that's the "multiplex" part), that were present at birth (that's the "congenital" part) It can look different in different kids, often affecting all four limbs, but in Tavin's case it only affects his lower body, primarily his feet, causing club feet. It likely also affects his knees to some degree, and possibly his hips, we just don't know for sure.

 Had Tavin been born in the states, treatment would have started within weeks of his birth, and it's likely he would have been only mildly delayed in terms of crawling, walking, etc. Since he did not receive treatment, he is currently unable to walk, and is living in a crib. Living in a crib. I don't mean sleeping in a crib, that's normal for an almost two year old, but actually living in it for most, if not all of each day. Because he has had very limited interaction or stimulation it is very likely he will be delayed in many areas such as speech, ability to chew, play with toys, show empathy or affection, will likely become over stimulated easily, and may not desire or enjoy affection given to him. All of these things are not because of any medical need he was born with, but because he has not received the loving interactions that a baby would normally experience in a family. Kids need families.
We anticipate that he will need a variety of treatments for his AMC when he comes home, including leg braces, serial casting (to help straighten affected joints), possibly surgery to clip shortened tendons and lots of physical therapy. The good news is that treatment of AMC is very successful, even starting at two years old, and we have every reason to believe he will be walking and running in a few years. 

Hopefully that answers questions you may have about our little guy!

In other news, we are in a holding pattern for a bit as we wait for our completed home study. Once we have it in hand we will be very near the end of the paperwork needed for our dossier. We anticipate that we are still on track to possibly travel to Eastern Europe for his adoption around April, maybe even sooner. We will be in country for a month and he will come home with us at the end of that time. Only one trip, but a long one.  

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Would you consider a donation to our sponsorship fund? We are currently at $6291, which is just incredible. We are only 8 weeks into our journey, and so close to $7000 which will mark 1/3 of the way to our goal! You can make a tax deductable donation here, or use the "donate" button on the right side of our blog.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Auction success!

We closed out our facebook auction on Saturday, and raised just over $2,000 to help bring Tavin home! Can we just take a second to look at his sweet little face? In the words of our six year old, Tucker, "He's just the cutie-est baby!" I have to agree.

Being that it's Thanksgiving and all, it's fitting that we feel incredible gratitude this week. The last 7 weeks have been a whirlwind, since we committed to Tavin on Oct 7. We have done most of the paperwork required in 7 weeks, that would typically take 6-9 months for most international adoptions, add in fundraising, and lots of long hours for Steve, and it's been a little crazy. But we have been so blessed in that short time as well, by friends and strangers reaching out to support, pray, encourage and cheer us on. We have met people we wouldn't have ever had reason to meet otherwise, and that is probably one of the sweetest parts of this whole process. 

It's been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are like that scene in Cinderella with the little birds making her gown. The house is filled with happy boys playing sweetly, laughing loudly, running wildly, and I think "Of course, why would we NOT add a 3rd??" Then there are other days. Today was an "other day". Maybe it was the freezing rain, or the meltdowns, or just being plain tired. I stood in the UPS office feeling that the sweet cashier was being kinder to my sweet boys than I felt and I thought "How can we add a 3rd?" Funny how parenting goes like that. Comforting to know that plenty of parents have walked this road-to-more-children before and it all worked out. Through it all we have no doubt of God's calling and an underlying assurance that we are right where we should be. Obedience often looks much more like action and much less like a feeling. We are so excited to move forward towards our travel to Eastern Europe, to fall in love with the real little boy version of the little boy in our minds. It's days like today though when these words ring sweetly in my ear..
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope you take a moment to not only be grateful for God's blessings, but to ask Him what He would call you do to with those blessings in the year ahead.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More auction finds!

We are midway through our auction fundraiser! Today I wanted to highlight two of my favorite donations, and the creative minds behind them.

The first is my friend Shelby's shop called The Honeysuckle Shop.
Visit her Etsy store!

She sells on Etsy as well as in Pastiche at Main. If you live in the 'burg, please tell me you have visited Pastiche! If you haven't, well I'm here to tell you that it's a one stop shop for the best, meaningful gifts around. She sells beautiful vintage finds like this:

..and designs lovely prints like this:

Shelby donated a $25 gift certificate for her etsy shop to our auction!

Second, is another gift certificate for $40 to:
Little Brick House Creations on Etsy  
Kerry makes handmade items for your little ones and let me tell you, they are precious! They can be found in her Etsy shop and also at Pastiche at Main. I mean seriously - look at this:
Chevron + aqua + yellow = what's not to love?

Custom magnet alphabet set
Custom embroidered fox doll
Custom ruffle chevron diaper cover
So there you have it! Plenty of awesome, one of a kind gifts from either of these talented ladies. So head on over and happy bidding!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Auction preview - The Funky Junk Shop

Today I want to say a special thank you to The Funky Junk Shop!

Check out her blog!

I messaged her a week or two ago about possibly donating to our online auction, because, well, frankly I love everything she makes and I knew anything she could contribute would be a hit. We had never met, and I wasn't sure how she would feel about donating to a complete stranger, good cause or not. I was so blessed to receive a reply that she has followed Reece's Rainbow for several years, and was so excited about our adoption! She was happy to donate for it, and when I left her house today and peeked in the bag, she had included even more than promised!

I know you want to see!

You can never have too many globes.

Custom chalk board - all ready for Christmas!

Aren't they just perfect? And that's not all of them either! You'll have to be patient to see the rest. I can think of a dozen places in my house they would be perfect. But I will enjoy them this week and then give you a chance to enjoy them in your own home....or they would make great gifts!

Thanks again to The Funky Junk Shop for your generosity!


P.S. Don't forget - our auction starts Sunday on our facebook page Bring Tavin Home!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Auction art sneak peak

Every day I am more excited for our auction fundraiser starting THIS SUNDAY on our facebook page! Yes that's the 17th. It will run for 7 days, closing on the 23rd. (Don't forget to like and share our facebook page Bring Tavin Home so you can join in the fun). I will be highlighting donations throughout this week so you can be as excited as I am.

The very first donations I received for the auction were from my very talented friend Rachel. Now I know a lot of folks claim to be artists these days, but once in a while you come across a real one. Rachel is one of those. Her artwork makes me stop and stare at the details - just beautiful!

They would make awesome Christmas gifts. Grab a lovely frame and you are ready to wrap!

Thanks Rachel for these beautiful prints!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fundraising auction coming up!

We are excited to announce our November fundraiser! But first, I want to say that we are over 10% of the way to our goal!! I can hardly believe it, but it's true. We have been blessed at every turn by so many. Thank you hardly seems adequate.

Now back to the fundraiser - I have been collecting amazing hand made items, as well as vintage finds and new/like new jewelry and accessories, for an online auction we will be hosting the week before Thanksgiving on our facebook page! That's week after next folks!

Before you forget, go here to like our facebook page "Bring Tavin Home" for updates!

Let me tell you, there are some talented ladies here in the 'burg, and I am SO excited about the items I have collected. Think Stella & Dot jewelry,  original art prints, one of a kind chalkboards, family photo sessions, and more. Who doesn't want to knock out some Christmas shopping early?

Next week I will feature items on the blog to give you a sneak peak of what to expect...but for now I am keeping you in suspense. So head on over and like our page or follow our blog! I can't wait to share more details!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Paper progress

There is progress in the paperwork department!

Last week we accomplished two big things:

1) We mailed our I600A application to USCIS

2) We sent our first packet to Richmond to have it apostilled, got it back, and sent it off to a family traveling to Tavin's country to carry it over for us.

I took these two things, along with a background check I needed to mail, to the post office, then about had a heart attack that I mixed up the paperwork, or sent something wrong, or included the money order stub instead of the actual check, or put the wrong check in the wrong envelopes. In reality it was all fine! Phew! I guess the lady at the post office could tell I was nervous, because when it was all sealed she said "now you can breathe!" And I thought I was keeping all cool and collected. Apparently not so much.

We meet with our social worker next week for our 3 in home visits, so we are working on completing the online courses we are required to take before we meet.

There are still a lot to do, but we are checking things off and making progress! Please pray that everything will go smoothly and we will be ready to submit the rest of the dossier soon!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday has special meaning for us today...

The faceless, nameless 147 million orphans have a face and a name for us today, and his name is Tavin. Would you consider making a donation towards his adoption in honor of Orphan Sunday?

Someone shared this video with me, and I wanted to share it with you, you can watch it here. Please pray for families to step forward to adopt!


Friday, November 1, 2013

We reached $1000 for October!

When we committed to tavin 3 1/2 weeks ago, I thought "it would be great if we could reach $1000 by the end of October," but knowing we wouldn't be pulling together any major fundraisers at first as we pushed through paperwork, it didn't really seem realistic to expect. But I felt a nudge to put it out there anyway. Somehow the first $1000 felt like a big hurdle.

Last night, as I headed to bed, I hit refresh one more time on our family sponsorship page, and was shocked to see our donations had jumped! Combined with money we have received directly it came to $1000.96! God yet again said "I heard you".

We have a very busy day ahead, so I will keep this short, but wanted to say "thank you" to each person who has donated to help us reach our first $1000 in fundraising! I know God will continue to provide!


Thursday, October 31, 2013


 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, ESV)
I never considered us to be rich. We rarely eat out, don't have cable, and if it weren't for my husbands company vehicle he can use for work only, we would be a one car family. We budget each month, and buy second hand or on sale. Then I went to Uganda last year, and again this year, and my perspective will never be the same.

I came back haunted by the knowledge that we were rich! As I would walk through our modest brick ranch, built in the 1950's, every day I would think "3 mud huts could fit in just our living could fit in our moderately sized master bedroom. What does that mean for us?" And the weight of responsibility for our wealth rested heavy.

Some days it felt easier to sell what we have and move to Uganda. I don't think I would fight the call much if it came. But I knew we were here, with our "wealth" for a purpose. I pondered 1 Tim: They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. But what did that mean for us? For us it meant adoption. I'm sure next year at this time it will mean something different, but for us, right now, it meant adoption.

Generosity....what a difficult thing to learn. Often I hold one hand out to the Lord "Anything you ask us to do, anything you want us to give, we will!", while the other hand is tightly fisted "I don't want to give anything, I like my comfortable life". Ah, I often wonder if our "blessings" are actually such, when they so distract us from following God's call.

Anyway, I wanted to share a way that generosity was shown to us this week.

Soon after committing to Tavin, I received a facebook message from a woman who found us through another Reece's Rainbow adoptive families blog. She realized we live in the same city, and has been a advocate for Reece's Rainbow for the past two year. She reached out to congratulate and encourage us, and offered her help with anything we need during the adoption and fundraising process. Turns out she and her husband attend my parents church, although because it's huge, they haven't met.

They could have easily left it at that. But they didn't. Last week she reached out again, and said that she and her husband had a "small gift" they wanted to give us, and wondered if we could meet. We quickly agreed, and she invited us over for dinner, kids in tow, even though they do not have kids. We had a wonderful evening, sharing our stories and getting to know each other. At the end they gave the boys a nerf bow and arrow that they had been playing with (they were SO excited!!) and gave us an envelope. We got home and opened it to find a check for $500! A small gift? I think not! We were blown away by their generosity. They could have easily mailed it to us, but instead chose to have us in their home, and build a relationship. We look forward to spending more time with this awesome couple. So if you noticed the other day that our thermometer jumped $500, that's why!

God continually humbles us as we see others holding their hands open to Him, living lives of generosity.

Thank you to all who are supporting our journey!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Waiting Child

Before starting to research adoption agencies and countries, I was not aware of the waiting child. Perhaps you are not either. Would you like to see what a waiting child looks like?


Did you know there are thousands of children, released for adoption internationally, waiting in databases? They are waiting in countries like China, South Korea, Africa, Eastern Europe, Columbia, and the list goes on. Why are they waiting? Because they are classified as "special needs". You probably have a picture in your head of what a special needs child looks like...I know I did. I was wrong. Special needs can look like any child. Being a toddler can classify a child as "special needs" in some countries, as they are less likely to be adopted than a baby. A sibling group is considered special needs for the same reason, as is an older child who may have no medical needs at all.


Many of the children do have medical needs as well. Did you know that these medical needs could have already been addressed but yet they still wait as a "special needs" child? You heard me right. They may have already had their cleft lip repaired, already had a heart surgery, but yet they wait. Many have correctable medical needs, but are not able to receive the medical care they need in their country. The children with more severe medical needs desperately need a family to thrive. There are so many amazing blogs of families who have adopted children written off as hopeless, useless, and worthless, who are thriving in the love and care of a family. Often a childs developmental delays are due to the neglect they have experienced in an institutional setting. The more I learn about the emotional needs of a waiting child, the more I see medical needs as secondary to the emotional need to be loved and accepted. So much will follow when those needs are met first.

This is the first blog I read that opened my eyes to "the waiting child": Take a few minutes to read the stories of redemption of each of her adopted children. Forgotten, now found! What a beautiful thing to see!

So take a minute and SEE, really see these children. They are just several of hundreds listed on Reece's Rainbow. You can find hundreds of other children waiting on adoption agency websites as well. They need a family, their time is running out. Many will soon "age out" and be transferred to a mental institution for life. Could one of them be your child?





Tavin is waiting for us, as all these children are waiting for a family to step forward. We need to raise over $20,000 before we travel in late winter or early spring. Would you consider a donation today to our family sponsorship fund? We only need $136 to reach $1000! If you would like to donate, please use the button on the right of our blog, or visit our family sponsorship page.
 We are so grateful for your love and support!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Updated picture of Tavin!

Someone came across Tavin on an advocacy site (from another country) and was so kind to direct us to it Friday night! I cannot share it here, but there were several videos of him, something we certainly did not expect to come across! We almost didn't recognize him, he has really filled out, or maybe the picture on Reece's Rainbow is older? I'm not sure. We were able to get a pretty good look at his range of mobility, which was amazing as we had not expected to know anything more till we were in country. It was encouraging to see and I can't wait to help him get the treatments he needs to be able to walk. Mostly he just looked so quiet and sad. This little boy needs love, and interaction.

Here is a pic from the site. Is he crying or laughing? I think crying. But look at his little face.

I keep this up on my computer now...I watch the videos over and over. I see how kind the woman was who played with him for the video, how she gently stroked his head as she held him. And I know that for that one day, for a few minutes, my daily prayer was answered. My prayer that someone would take him out of the crib, hold him, speak kindly to him, and play with him till we can.

Every time I feel like I'm getting overwhelmed with the whole process, God sends some encouragement, whether its a kind word from a stranger who found our story somehow, encouragement from other moms of kids with AMC (arthrogryposis), or this amazing gift of seeing him in an video. God has been so kind, gentle and encouraging through our questioning, searching and praying this whole year. So very faithful.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Process from Here to There

In case you might be wondering what the process is like from start to finish I will try to give you a little run down. We are not allowed to publicly state what country Tavin is in until the adoption is final, so I will say "his country".

  1. Since we found Tavin on the Reece's Rainbow site, our first step was to file commitment paperwork with them, and find a agency to do our home study. I did not have one lined up, but was able to get recommendations from the Reece's Rainbow facebook room and we settled on an agency within a couple days. We have been super happy with them so far.
  2. The first few months are just a massive paper chase. I got the paperwork for the home study and thought "wow!" then got the paperwork for the dossier and thought "WOW! The home study is a piece of cake!" The good news is, if you can read, fill out paperwork, read more, fill out paperwork more, run around town to gather documents, get 10,000 pages notorized and follow very specific directions, anyone can do this! It just takes time. This process also includes filing paperwork (I600-A) with USCIS to get approval for adoption. This whole paperwork process typically takes about 2-3 months. (Note: the dossier is a packet of...well...everything! Everything from employment verification, to medical exams of parents, to home owner verification, to 4 copies each of passport, to marriage certificates, birth certificates, you name it. Every single piece has to be notarized, then sent to Richmond to be apostilled, which is a verification of the notarization, then its ultimately submitted to his country.)
  3. Submit our completed dossier to his country. We are trying to get it in before the close for the holidays in early December but it will be really tight. I think it's more likely we will have it ready when they reopen after the new year, but we are doing our best to work fast.
  4. The Long Wait. We will be waiting for an invitation from his country to travel, and there's nothing to do but to wait...and wait. That will be killer! During this time we will focus hard on fundraising. The Long Wait usually lasts about 3 months but can vary. Really that's not a long wait at all as most international adoptions take at least 18 months.
  5. The invitation!! Finally we will receive an invitation to travel, with a specific date we have to be in country to view Tavin's file. We could have anywhere from 1-3 weeks notice (on average) before the date we need to be there.
  6. In country time is estimated at about a month total. Both of us have to be there for the first 3 weeks then one of us could fly home after our court date when he becomes legally ours. We are undecided if we will just both stay at that point for the final week or not. He will come home with us at the end of the month!

So there you have it! All told we are estimating about 7 months from start to travel, which would put us around April for traveling. But that could change between now and then depending on how soon paperwork gets done, and how quickly we get that invitation so we will keep you posted!

Also, we want to say thank you to whoever donated yesterday to put us at $325!! We will be able to request a list of donors from Reece's Rainbow to personally thank each of you. It was so exciting to hit "refresh" and see that our family sponsorship fund had grown!
We are also working on our first fundraiser for next month - its going to be awesome, I am super excited! Stay tuned. And keep praying! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Warming Up

Since we started talking to the boys about adopting Tavin, Tucker was instantly on board and totally accepting of it as if that's just how you naturally get a new brother. It has been really so sweet to see. Maddox, being not quite three....well it's harder to explain it to him, and he just would reply "no" whenever I would try to talk about it with him. I've been praying that God would prepare his heart for another brother, and this week whenever he's seen Tavin's picture (on my phone, on my binder, on the computer - yes I like to see his face a lot) he has gotten so excited and recognized him. When I asked if he wanted to bring him to our house he said "yes" instead of "no". Progress!

Tonight when I put the boys to bed, Maddox wanted to pray (seriously, so sweet) for "dada" who has been oversees the last 12 days and comes home tonight. After he did, and said "amen", he said "Ah forgot pray Tavin!" I asked if he wanted to, and he said yes, so he prayed "Tavin come home safe...Tavin come Maddox's house. (mumbling more about Tavin), amen." Its probably the 3rd or 4th prayer he has initiated on his own.

Answer to prayer! Melted my heart. I love my boys...can't wait to welcome our third.


If you would be willing to support our adoption of Tavin, you can click on the link to the right of the blog, or click  here for our family sponsorship page. It is already humbling to see the love and support we have felt in a few short weeks! It would be incredible if we could reach $1000 by the end of the month!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Binder

As you may or may not know, there are approximately 10,000 documents and papers required for an adoption! Ok that might be a slight exaggeration. Really its not hard, there's just a ton of it. Last week when I got all the packets for the dossier and home study, I felt like I needed a bag to breath into. It was all swimming around in my head, waking me up at night as I thought about what I should be doing, what I might be forgetting, etc. Loose ends stress me out and it all felt like one giant loose end! Thankfully my social worker (who has been fantastic) suggested a 3 ring binder. I'm not sure why my mind had gone to using hanging files, when a 3 ring binder is much easier to flip through and portable! Friday I went to Target and came home with this:

I put his sweet picture on the front, so when I am out gathering stuff people can see who they are helping. Also I love the reminder when I feel bogged down with what needs to be done.

Inside I put tons of clear sleeves, for all the documents that shouldn't be hole punched, which really is most of them, a clear zipper pouch with sticky notes, a black pen, and a blue pen, because some things have to be signed in specific colors. I also put some envelopes in the front for easy mailing of said documents. For now I have both my home study docs and dossier docs organized in one folder, but if it grows too much I may need two.

The last week has been a little crazy, with my sweet grandma's passing, filling out and gathering as much paperwork as possible, home schooling, and more. But things are moving forward, one document at a time, and each day is one day closer to meeting Tavin!

Steve and I both need to get tested for HIV and STD's, as well as TB for our medical exams. I have read on other blogs that HIV alone can run over $150 for the test, so I called the Health Dept and found that they offer a free STD clinic every week. So off I went and it was an interesting experience. But I got all the tests I needed for $8 so totally worth the 1 1/2 hour's spent there! And everyone was super nice and happy for our adoption, which was sweet. Then I headed down town to get 3 certified copies of our marriage license, because, well that's how many I needed. $9.50 for the 3.

I also filled out the Parent History form this week for the home study, full of questions about life growing up, parents, siblings, our marriage, our kids, adoption, why we feel we are ready, strengths and weaknesses as parents, etc. My social worker will know us well by the time we are done!

We pray for Tavin every day, and Tucker is so sweet and accepting that this is how he will have another brother. Maddox doesn't get it, and when I tried to talk about it with him this morning, he just said "no". I think it will be the biggest adjustment for him.

Yesterday someone made the first donation to our family sponsorship fund! Would you consider donating as well? Even if its just a few dollars it is exciting to see it grow and know each dollar gets us that much closer. We won't be able to do this on our own! Here is the link to our sponsorship page on Reece's Rainbow.

 Thanks for all the prayers, kind words and encouragement! Its been amazing to have support from so many, even from people we've never met.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Introducing Tavin!

As some of you have heard, we will be welcoming a new addition to our family in 2014! And no, I am not pregnant (thanks to everyone who called and texted congratulations thinking I was -seriously, I loved that). We are adopting a beautiful little boy from Eastern Europe. He has been waiting for his family for almost two years - I can't believe we get to be the lucky ones.

Without further ado (because seriously we are so excited we can't wait), meet Tavin!

View our profile on Reece's Rainbow here!

I'm sure you are wondering how this all happened! Well, I'll tell you in bits and pieces because, quite frankly, its sort of a long story. Today you will get the short version, but look out for long versions to come!

Steve and I have always wanted to adopt "at some point". Back in Jan when the boys were 5 and 2, we started to think about what was next for our family. We had been talking again about adoption for several months, and set aside January to pray about several big decisions, adoption being one of them. Steve fasted for several weeks as we prayed. We felt confirmation, through scripture mostly, that it was our next step. Now just to be clear, there was never a sign, or a big feeling, but its just one of those things that you can't avoid if you read the Bible much. Its just there. Adoption fits.

I started a temporary 6 month position soon after, working from home and from office, juggling all that brought so researching adoption took a back burner for a few months. We announced in April or so to our families that we would be pursuing adoption, but reassured them we would be adopting a "healthy" child, boy or girl was fine, under the age of one. That just made sense. You hold your breath through an ultrasound hoping to get a clean bill of health for your new munchkin, and we couldn't imagine intentionally pursuing a child that would need medical attention. I am just being honest here, as selfish as it sounds to read.

Literally THE NEXT DAY, I got online to research and through an adoption blog, heard of Reece's Rainbow, a non profit organization that advocates for children with down syndrome and other special needs. Reading that families blog of how they had adopted not one, but several children with special needs broke my heart. I wish I could remember their blog now. Seeing hundreds of children WAITING on Reece's Rainbow brought me to tears. I showed it to Steve, thinking "this is crazy, we could never do that". I started researching waiting children and discovered there are thousands of children, already identified, already legally released to be adopted, in databases, waiting....and waiting. Just waiting for a family to step up and say "we will". I learned that for some, their "special need" is their age (toddler or older), or a medical need that can be addressed if they have a family to advocate for them, and quality medical care. Some just need surgery, physical therapy, etc. Others have much greater needs, but at the end of the day, ALL of them have one great need - a family to love and accept them.

So pretty quickly we realized that if we were to pursue an international adoption, it would be a waiting child. We just couldn't imagine putting ourselves on a waiting list for a baby, knowing there were thousands of other children ALREADY waiting. I started searching through any waiting child listings I could find, googling endless medical terms like cerebral palsy, strabismus, microcphaly, and countless others.

Since this is the short version, I will skip through the next few months and save them for later. One day about 6 weeks ago, I was scrolling through the new listings on Reece's Rainbow, and scrolled past Tavin's profile. His sweet sad eyes grabbed me. I couldn't stop looking at him. I had no idea what "congenital multiple arthrogryposis" was but that's nothing a quick search can't fix. I shared his profile with Steve and looked at his profile every day. A few weeks later I read a blog post that advocated for Tavin, and we decided to email Reece's to see if we could learn more. Frankly it wasn't much. All his country releases is birthdate, picture and diagnosis. We also were informed about how his country process works, in Eastern Europe. 4 week stay in country....and we have two kids to leave behind. Not ideal. Awesome that we could meet him before proceeding with adoption, super scary to travel with no more info than what was on his listing. I read as many blogs as I could of families who had adopted from his country and realized that a lot could change when you are in country and view their file, causing some families to make the difficult decision to chose a different waiting child to adopt.

We decided to pray on it more, and continued researching arthrogryposis (aka AMC for short, or Halls contracture). About this time we stopped praying for peace about what to do, and started praying that we would be obedient to whatever He asked us to do. For the next two weeks or so, I had a growing sense that this might be where He was leading. We talked again, and Steve wasn't do you chose a child? Saying yes to one is saying no to so many others.

Last Wed I was giving the kids a bath, and thinking of Tavin. As I had many times before, I watched my boys playing in the water, laughing, fighting over a toy, smiling, and thought of Tavin and the countless others who miss those simple moments. I wished more than anything that we could talk to someone that had SEEN him. But what were the odds. He was a new listing, and out of literally thousands of children waiting in orphanages in his country how would we get lucky enough for someone else to be there, at HIS orphanage, recognize he was listed, and take the time to give an update on him. I didn't even pray for it, because it felt so unrealistic. It was almost 10 before the boys were settled and I was SO tired but I just couldn't stop thinking about him, so I decided to read a few more blogs from Reece's of families who had adopted from his country. I read a couple, then as I read of a young couple who returned about 5 weeks ago with their son, she went on to describe several other children they had loved at his orphanage:

And my heart aches for all the little ones left behind in his orphanage.  We met about five little kids available for adoption at his orphanage. There was an 18 month old girl who melted our hearts. She is so tiny and had the biggest smile.  She would blend right in with any family. 

Another little boy we met was about 2 years old and confined to a crib 24/7 because he couldn't walk. He reminds me so much of our Hollis with his big eyes and sweet demeanor. 

They are both listed on Reece's Rainbow as "Billie" and "Tavin".  They need their happy ending too.
My heart stopped and I started to sob. I'm talking ugly cry. I felt like God was whispering in my ear "what else do you need to know?" so sweetly and gently. Steve was out of town, and I was crying too hard to call so I texted him. He replied "Let's get him".

And so began our journey to Tavin. We requested the commitment paperwork the next morning. We got to speak to that lovely mother on Saturday, and wept as we heard simple sweet details about Tavin that you don't get from a listing. I will be forever grateful to them for that tiny post that gave us the last small push we needed to take the leap.

We have started the home study process, and our Dossier. There will be a massive paper chase for the next 3 months or so, then several months of waiting (which will probably be worse!) for an invitation to travel, probably around April.

Please pray for us in the months to come that we can get everything filed quickly, for protection for Tavin, for someone to hold him and kiss him until we can, for God to provide the funding we need (as we work our tails off with fundraisers). We have fallen in love with this little guy. Crazy I know, but true.


We pray we can bring him home soon, and welcome you to follow our journey!

We will need to raise aprox $20,000 for adoption fees in country and travel expenses. You can view our profile here and if you find it in your heart to partner with us we would be forever grateful! Every little bit will add up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


So here's the thing. I am always a little behind in this whole blogging thing. I think it doesn't really bother me that much either, so the fact that I am just now posting about Christmas...well, sometimes thats just how it is! So be warned....this is a long one, and mostly for myself just to keep the memories in one place!

I made this advent calender to open each day with the boys using an old board, clothespins, a little paint, fabric, and stencils. It has a scripture to read each day, and hershey kisses. Lets be honest, I think at this age they mostly loved the kisses, although Tucker had some insightful questions that led to some good, short discussions.

Actually I'm getting ahead of myself. Steve's parents came to visit early Dec, and it was so great to have them here! Also so great to not be the ones traveling. Haha. We really enjoyed the visit, and his mom brought these adorable gingerbread sleighs to decorate. Maddox of course only cared about eating as much of the candy as he could get his hands on.

Yes, this is Tucker's "say cheese" face

Maddox's "say cheese" face.

Love his parents.
Now just so you know, there are plenty of moments like this (could they BE any cuter):
Promptly followed by this:
Oh yes. Plenty of drama.

Then there was the Lynchburg Christmas Parade. I have to say, we went a few years ago and it was really fun. This time it was lame-o!! lots of vehicles with business sign on the side and most of them not decorated. At all. Come on folks, at least throw some light on there! Thankfully Tucker didn't mind, and there were enough firetrucks to keep Maddox entertained.

He loves his uncle Ian!
Decorating the tree was fun, except for the part where Maddox wanted to throw the balls on the floor. for about a week afterwards. He LOVED the tree!

Decorating sure can wear a fellow out!

A little birthday celebration for Daddy:

Reese's peanut butter cupcakes-delish!
There were fun times at grandpa and grandma's house (aren't they the cutest?):
Then we all got the flu. The weekend before Christmas. Thankfully we were over the fever stage by Christmas day, although I think we all look better in the pictures than we felt! But we still had a really wonderful day celebrating Jesus birthday. It was extra special this year since Tucker was old enough to "get it".

Blue Dinoco Lightning was Tucker's favorite gift!

Maddox has loved Charlie brown movies, so Snoopy was a big hit

We had a wonderful Christmas. I am so thankful for this time together to remember the birth of Christ and celebrate it with the boys. It was a really special time!