Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blog features for Tavin, and new total!

So first of all, take a peek at the little thermometer over there on the right! Yes you read right we have UNDER $1000 to go!! What the heck?!? Amazing and incredible, and a thousand other words I can't think of right now! I had to add it like 10 times because it kept coming our different because my mind wasn't working right from excitement. Wow, THANK YOU!!

Our friend Brian stayed overnight with Steve and a couple other friends Friday night to smoke all  300 lbs of meat for the fundraiser. He is a poet, and has a blog called waystationone. He wrote a poem on his blog about the fundraiser and Tavin that I read today and of course it made me cry.

  I have had quite a few comments from his readers, one of which asked if she could write a post about Tavin on her blog My Five Men, which you can read here. Betsy's post also made me cry. (I'm telling you, it's like a daily occurrence around here. I tell myself it's good for the soul.) Just as meaningful as the posts themselves were the 50+ comments on one blog, and 80+ on the other, ALL of which were encouraging. (Yes they kept the tears flowing).

Here's Brian's poem "Dear Tavin":

"i haven't slept in 36 hours
& the world swims like a cup of water spilled
on a still wet canvas

i couldn't get warm after
dozing off a moment on the concrete
& it sucked

all the heat from my body.
the ice left in the coolers after the all the drinks were gone
didn't melt building a small berg in the parking lot.

i talked to several hundred people
in two hours as they waited in line, one was a West Virginia fan
& regional director of WalMart.

we ran out of barbecue when the 300th lb. was bought,
leaving 20 or so people without.

some paid anyway

& after all, it's quiet now,
all the trash in a pile: posters, cans, plates, plastic bags,
empty bottles of sauce. chairs wait patient to be taken
to the closet.

your future dad & i sit on thin carpet stairs in the back.
we don't talk about your twisted legs,
that you've been confined to a crib since birth because of them,
labeled an outcast cripple unworthy of society
or a gentle touch, destined to die
in a mental hospital for physical deformity

unless adopted, but

these don't cause the tears in his eyes,
they are a joy
                   they are a joy
because soon
you will learn the meaning of 'home'
is not alone,
                     hold on.

for Poets United

Friday night into Saturday I helped a good friend prepare for a fundraiser in order to raise money for the adoption of a child. We cooked 300 pounds of meat---and sold out in less than 2 hours. It was crazy, in a good way and they raised quite a bit more toward their goal. You can read more about Tavin here.

I rewrote this one numerous times...maybe i am just too tired or too close to it. I dunno."

WSET also did a followup story on how the fundraiser went which you can check out here. We weren't expecting that, so extra cool to see.

Ok that's all for now. I might need to find a tissue again. 


Sunday, January 26, 2014

BBQ fundraiser turnout!

The day dawned with the most beautiful sunrise. Steve was awake all night tending to the meat with some faithful friends who stayed up for the night with him. We had no idea what to expect. We had many conversations leading up to placing the order for the meat that went like this "how much meat should we smoke, do you think?" " well, I'm not sure, we don't know how many people will come...and will they order in bulk? Or sandwiches? And how many ribs should we get in relation to the pork and brisket? And should we get more brisket or pork or the same of both?" We had decided on an amount to order, but then this week after the news article, we debated again..."how much meat should we smoke, do you think?" " well, I'm not sure, we don't know how many people will come...and will they order in bulk? Or sandwiches? And how many ribs should we get in relation to the pork and brisket? And should we get more brisket or pork or the same of both?" Yes it was the same conversation all over again. We decided last minute to get a second smoker, double the # of ribs, and increase the brisket to the same amount as the pork, for a total of 300lbs of meat, with two packed smokers.

A very close friend and mentor wisely encouraged us that it could only be a success, no matter the outcome. Either we would sell out and raise a lot of money, or we wouldn't but we would still have an incredible story to tell Tavin one day. He encouraged us that all we could do was to be faithful with what we COULD do and trust the results to the Lord, whatever they would be.

Somewhere in the midst of setting up I sort of lost my mind thinking I had locked my keys in the car (we really should get a spare!!) and frantically looking for it, until I finally found them...where I left them, in my purse in the exact spot I put it. Also a moment of panic realizing we had both failed to get cash from the bank for change (!!!) and a friend ran to get it with not much time to spare. Phew! 

By 11:15 we had a line to the door.


  It didn't stop until we ran out of meat less than two hours later! And the incredible thing was that we ran out of all three within about 3 orders of each other. Only God could have orchestrated so perfectly. If we had another 200lbs I think we could have sold it.

We met so many amazing people...many who just saw the sign outside and came in, many who had followed our facebook page but we hadn't met, friends, friends of friends, and people who saw the flyer. Everyone was incredibly sweet and encouraging. Truly an incredible day that we will never forget. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. this community is incredible. People continued to trickle in even after we took the signs down, and many still gave a donation and took time to encourage us. Such a blessing.

Our friends and support system are more than we could have ever asked for, and we are so grateful. I'm sort of at a loss to express how we felt when the day was done. Elated, humbled, exhausted, emotional, full of joy. We started out unable to wrap our minds around how we would possibly raise the money needed for an adoption in several years time, much less in 4-6 months. Time and again God has whispered that we simply must be faithful in obedience, and trust Him with the outcome. And again He showed himself faithful. We are less than 4 months in right now.

So everyone has been asking how much we raised. Ready? Ok. drumroll please......after expenses we raised $3450!! We were blown away! THANK YOU! This puts us with only about $2000 left to raise till we are FULLY FUNDED!

Wow. Thank you thank you, thank you to all our friends who volunteered their Saturday to help out, everyone who came to show support and love, who took the time to tell us they were excited for us, praying for us, who shared their adoption stories, for the smiles, hugs, handshakes, and additional donations. It was overwhelming in the best possible way. 

Please pray with us now for fast submission for travel dates, for no paperwork issues on our end, or for Tavin's paperwork in country to be in order. Please pray for his health and safety. 

Thank you so very much.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

The why

I've been thinking a lot this week about WHY we are doing what we are doing, as we have worked our tails off to get ready for today's fundraiser. I have followed multiple families the last few months as they have journeyed to Eastern Europe to meet their new sons and daughters, and I have seen the reality of the statistics below. I have seen the 6 year old who weighs less than 29 lbs and size 2T falls off them. I have seen the older boy who was told he could never have a meaningful life or even meaningful interactions, because of cerebral palsy, who was often tied to his bed, now laughing and learning and beginning to thrive after only a week home. I have seen the before and after pictures and stories of sweet children, transferred to the mental institutions who have died...the "lucky" ones who somehow survived despite severe neglect, beatings that caused hearing loss, fear that caused them to become non-verbal, massive weight loss, bruises the size of adult fists, being dragged and slammed on the concrete, denied water in the heat of summer, ridiculed and yet somehow they survived until a family came. And they are finding healing and thriving.

So why were we compelled to adopt from Eastern Europe? Because there, to be born with special needs means:
  • to be abandoned at birth in the hospital
  • to live in a orphanage till around the age of 5
  • to be transferred to a mental institution somewhere between the age of 4-6 where they will live and die
  • 50% (and that's the conservative estimate) will die within the first year of transfer
  • a child who cannot walk will spend their life living in a crib, which will likely not be a long life
Thank you for helping give hope and a future to one little boy. One sweet little guy we are moving heaven and earth to get to as soon as we can. 

 Come see us today! We can't wait to see our friends and meet many new ones!

And lastly, take a few minutes to visit Reece's Rainbow. Countless other children wait...pray, advocate, and ask God if your family might have room for one more. See you soon!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Smoked meat fundraiser THIS SATURDAY!

Only 2 more days till the big smoked meat fest of a fundraiser! For all you non-locals, I apologize for this post - it might feel a little mean to see what you will be missing. 

We have handed out 1200 flyers, been on the news, submitted the event to the local radio stations (hoping they will announce it, but I'm not sure). We have boiled 60 lbs of potatoes, 70 hard boiled eggs, shredded 15 lbs of cabbage for slaw, and ordered a couple hundred lbs of meat. The meat will hit the smoker late tomorrow evening, where it will soak in the deliciousness of hickory and oak, dry rub and lots of love. The pit master is none other my other half, Steve, and we can't wait to share the deliciousness!! 

Feel free to join our event page on facebook, and respond as "going".  We're taking a stab of a guess at the turnout, so we'd love to know if you are planning to come by!

The menu
If you hailed from Texas, brisket would be your meat of choice. Most smoke houses there don't offer pulled pork. But around here it's rather the opposite. Now believe you me, we will be serving up outstanding pulled pork! Steve's method delivers nothing but the best. But what is brisket, you ask? Well....for one thing, it's beef, not pork. For another thing, it's often severely mistreated in the south, and turned into pot roast. Oh the travesty!! We will not be serving pot roast on Saturday. How about a visual? Words fall short.
See that pink? That's called a smoke ring. Flavor, friends, is another word for it. A bite of good brisket is a little taste of heaven. Close your eyes and savor every morsel.

And we can't forget the baby back ribs! A perfect blend of sweet with a nice background of heat. Every bite will leave you wanting more!

Let's talk sauce. We love some good sauce here in VA! Now don't get me wrong I like some Sweet Baby Rays, but Steve has a sauce to rival any sauce you will taste. It's just downright deliciousness in a bottle. We brewed up a couple gallons because to run out would just be sad.

It's sweet, has a kick, and is perfect for anything. You might just want to grab a spoon and dig in. And for all you vinegar lovers we will offer a outstanding pig pickin' vinegar based sauce.

So for a refresher, here's the flyer:

It all kick's off at 11am and goes till we sell out or 3:00. Please share with your friends and we will see you there!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We made the news! (and a progress update)

 To anyone just joining our journey, welcome! Yesterday we were featured on WSET ABC13 news, and have already received a wonderful response from it. To read the full story and watch the video, check out the link here: Campbell Co. Family Raising Money to Adopt

We hope to see you this Saturday the 25th for the smoked meat fundraiser! Like our facebook page Bring Tavin Home for updates, and I will post more info here on the blog as well.
 Also, if you just joined us, you can check out the post "how we arrived at adoption - introducing Tavin" for back story.

Here's a little overview of the process and our progress recently:
  • Oct 7th - committed to Tavin through Reece's Rainbow, and also started the home study through Forever Family Adoption Services (they were fantastic!!)
  • worked through home study paperwork, and the huge list of documents required for our dossier, which is a packet that gets sent to Tavin's country
  • Jan 2nd - Received our completed home study in the mail
  • Jan 4th, mailed a copy to USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services)
  • Jan 6th - home study received at USCIS
  • Jan 8th - called to make sure it was matched to our application, which we sent in October. They said it was, and we should receive a date for biometrics in the mail soon.
  • Jan 13th - received our biometrics appt in the mail just 7 days after they received our home study! Date was for the 29th, but we plan to try walking in early
  • Jan 16th - drive 2 1/2 hours to walk in, thankfully they took us right back, and we were in and out in 15 minutes! Phew!
So now we are waiting to receive an approval from USCIS, which will be the last dossier document to send to Tavins country. While we were working through the home study process, we were also gathering, notarizing, and apostilling dozens of documents required by his country. We sent them over in several batches, the last packet just arrived there last Sunday. 

From here, our facilitators in country will finish translating the paperwork we have sent, then when we send the approval form from USCIS (hopefully in the next week or two!) we should be ready to be "submitted" which means we have met all the requirements from his country and will be put in rotation to receive travel dates. From that point we could be traveling in 4-12 weeks. Yes its a wide window! We will be able to guess based on when the other families who were submitted before us are receiving dates, but really it's anyone's guess. Dates are often handed out in what seems like a random pattern, with one date 1 or 2 weeks out, and another 4 weeks out. Basically when they say jump, we say HOW HIGH?? and grab plane tickets to GO! We would LOVE to be traveling as soon as possible to bring Tavin home. Please pray with us that we get approval from USCIS this week. I will call today again to check on the progress of it.

We are sitting right at $15,500 in funds raised!! We have received such incredible support from friends, family, the local community, and people we have never met across the US. Our local community has been amazing...truly amazing!! Thank you to everyone who has gotten us so close to our goal!! Only $5,500 and we will be fully funded and ready to travel at a moments notice!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Adoption brain and a Very Exciting Morning

After having been sick the last several days, I was woken up this morning by Steve stumbling into the bedroom writhing in pain, which quickly led to piling the boys into the car in their pajamas, rushing to the urgent care center, where, I am here to tell you they do NOT rush you back for writhing in pain, maybe we should have yelled "I THINK I'M HAVING A HEART ATTACK!" as I hear that gets a fast response. Oh no, please sign in and wait. Please sign here and there, insurance and co pay please, we will call you in a minute. My mom ran over and took the boys, and eventually it all ended when a very tiny innocent kidney stone was passed, and Steve declared that if the pain is similar to giving birth, as many say it is, then I should never be pregnant again, and I said maybe it was all worth it for that gained perspective. Anyway, that was our Very Exciting Morning, which has nothing to do with the rest of the post. 

Adoption and pregnancy have a surprising number of things in common, not the least of which is that you end up with an addition to the family at the end. You might be interested to know other similarities...here are a few I've noticed:
  1. Adoption brain - pretty much the same as pregnancy brain, adoption brain causes you to forget helpful things like thawing out the meat for dinner, putting the coffee pot under the coffee maker, and causes you to mindlessly say helpful things like "um-hum, yeah, ok, sure" in a conversation when in reality you have no idea what's being discussed. 
  2. Sleep difficulties - waking up in the night to obsess about important things like did the notary date match the signature date, did I review everything ten thousand times before mailing it yesterday, how will we do that fundraiser, what if Tavin is sick and no one is helping him, what if he breaks his leg but they don't care because he isn't using it, what if he is increasingly mal-nurished, how long should it take to get a fingerprint appt, furiously trying to calculate our travel date with too many variables in play, and so on. Nothing that needs to be worried about at 3:30 am, which seems to be the time I like to wake up and think about such things.
  3. Imagining what the new little guy will be like - how will he adjust? What will his personality be like, likes/dislikes, will he cry a lot? How will we adjust?
  4. Waffling between excitement and nervousness, both on any given day
  5. Reading helpful parenting books

So there you have it, a few ways that adoption feels like pregnancy. Do you have more things to add to this list?


Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Marathon to Bring Tavin home

Soon after committing to Tavin, another adoptive family, Jon and Michelle Nuckolls, reached out to us. They brought home their daughter from Eastern Europe last spring, and wanted to help another adoptive family raise funds. Would we be interested? Um...let me think...YES! 
Look at their sweet girl!
Here is little Olha on "gotcha day"....
And here she is now - adorable little super hero!

She came to them a very fearful little girl. Slowly but surely they have helped her develop trust as she experiences consistent love in their family. Her mom related this to me a few days ago:
When we got home she could not sit still for more than a few minutes. She was extremely anxious. It's hard to describe. She barely slept. Now she is very joyful and happy. She is in "felt safety" possibly for the first time in her life. There are still a lot of flashbacks and will be for a long time. Orphanages are not good places for children to grow up.

Right now Olha is sitting across from me, coloring and she just said that this is her home? forever and ever?
Me: Yes Olha, this is your home forever.

Olha: Olha niet (not) go away?

Me: no we will keep you and protect you forever and ever.

Olha: Olha is precious daughter forever and ever. I love you mama.

me: I love you too Olha, you are my precious daughter.

Sometimes she says things like, "mama niet hurt Olha." like it is dawning on her that we really are not going to hurt her.
That has to be music to her mama's ears.
Curious about the fundraiser? Well, Jon is running a marathon. I know...who does that? That's a lot of running. He ran one last year to raise money to bring home Olha, this year he is running the Houston Marathon on January 19th to help bring Tavin home! 

For details on how to get involved, please go to the event page "Jon Runs a Race for Tavin And The Anders Family". Their goal is to raise $3000 for us which would be amazing! It would push us over the 50% mark for our fundraising! We are halfway through the process to get to Tavin, and it would be a huge blessing to be 50% funded. So...go check it out and please share on your own walls as well. Thank you for your ongoing love and support!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Home study complete!

I know it's old news if you follow Bring Tavin Home on facebook, but for the sake of documenting the highlights of our journey on our blog, we were SO excited to receive our completed home study in the mail yesterday! It was raining, but thankfully the package was dry in the mailbox. Phew!

 Next we will mail the home study to USCIS to join the application they already have, then wait for a appointment to get fingerprinted YET AGAIN because apparently a state police clearance and FBI clearance just aren't enough. THEN we will be issued a golden ticket of approval by USCIS and that's the LAST thing we need for our dossier. Guys, we are SO CLOSE to the end of the paper work! I realize that was a LOT of caps used, but seriously, I'll do it again...SO CLOSE!! We committed to Tavin on Oct 7, so we are almost 3 months in at this point, if you are interested in following the time line.

In other news, we are now at $8396 for funds raised! $10,500 will be 50% of our goal. Crazy that just 3 months ago we were hesitant to commit to Tavin because we couldn't imagine how we would ever raise the funds, and now we are close to being halfway there! THANK YOU! (ok I'm done with caps now :)