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!