Sunday, March 16, 2014

One year - Live the adventure God gives you

One year ago today I had a conversation with a social worker at an adoption placing agency and verbally committed to adorable little brown eyed baby from Latin America. 
About a week prior, I had come to the heartbreak realization that as much as my heart wanted to believe that laws would change in R, the reality was that the law was the law.  Almost immediately after coming to peace with that realization, I also decided (after A LOT of prayer and thinking and more prayer) that I would switch countries in the adoption process.

One year ago, yesterday, another adoptive Mama, who had just arrived home with her daughter from the same Latin American country, wrote a blog post on a little girl who desperately needed a Mama.  I read that post almost immediately after I had made the decision to move forward with adopting from a new country and I knew INSTANTLY that I needed to bring this little girl home.  Her 'alias' was/is 'Seraphina'.  I looked her up on RR and there was not picture (as stated in the blog post that her picture could  not be shared publicly) but the information about her drew me in.  I messaged this other Mama and she had a picture which she quickly shared and I immediately fell in love with that smile. 

The adoption process starts with the agency.  Those are the people who have a waiting child's file and who can share information, approve someone for adoption and then help them along with the process.  Every waiting child from Latin America is not with the same agency (and Reece's Rainbow is not an agency, they provide grant funding and LOTS of support, which is super helpful as well, but it is the agency who approves an individual and so the process begins.  I made that first contact, one year ago today and sent in my application to be approved to begin working with the agency to adopt 'Seraphina' year ago today.  It seems so fitting that just a few days ago, Josie's referral paperwork arrived at my door.  That just a few days ago, I received that wonderful phone call from the agency stating that the referral had been received and was being mailed out to me right then.  One year later. 

It certainly has been a long year.  (and an even longer year prior too) but I know this journey will be more then worth it in the end.  I know I will be blessed to be able to call Josie my daughter (even if some days are tough!) and will LOVE to hear her call me Mama!

I think it is also pretty fitting that the series the youth at church have been studying (The Me I Want to Be, becoming God's best version of you) was about 'Transforming My Experience' tonight.  (side note - Even though we've been going through this study with the youth, it's a pretty great one and I highly recommend it for adults, too!) There were a couple of quotes that jumped out for me tonight.  We were talking about the mountains that we have in our faith.  Those struggles or adventures that God leads us through. 
'God has a Mountain with your name on it.'  Our faith is not suppose to be 'easy', it's more then just a walk in the park.  (Not that believing is hard, but truly following should put us out of our comfort zone a little).
"Your Mountain combines the stuff that your best at, with the stuff that you care about." 

I am fairly certain that I am in the middle of a Mountain right now.  I wonder if adoption for every person is in  a way, their 'mountain'.  So many people are such amazing advocates, following true to God's command to "look after the orphans (and widows) in their distress." 

I certainly can attest that this past year has felt like nothing short of climbing a mountain (not that I've ever really climbed one!).  I knew I was ready to move forward to bring my girl home and that I would do whatever it takes to make that happen.  Including climbing whatever mountain was put in front of me. 

It's a little hard to believe that after such a long climb, the top is so very near.  And I will continue to keep climbing, filling out every last form, renewing and updating paperwork to travel, raising the last bit of money, putting together care packages and photo books, spending weeks in a foreign country...all to be able to bring my girl home. 

And begin the rest of our adventure together....

Friday, March 14, 2014

Referral - My girl is amazing

This week could not have ended any better.  After a (somewhat quiet) day at work, I arrived home to this most wonderful packet at my door.  Inside contained a very VERY important folder containing the official referral information on my girl.

It's really nothing I didn't already know.  Some things made me cry.  Her little life certainly did not have an easy start.  I knew that she had arrived at the orphanage in a unfortunate way, but reading the details breaks my heart. I want so much to just take her in my arms and bring her into a life full of unconditional love and the care that she needs and deserves.  Though I know there will be some work to overcome her start in life. 

Some things in this binder AMAZED me.  My girl amazes me.  I can not wait until she is home and growing and learning.  I just know she will keep amazing me everyday.  One of the 'requirements' for the next item I need to complete (or should say needed to complete as it was sent via email to the agency this evening...lets keep on moving!!) is a sentence that describes a 'positive aspect of the child as shown in the reports'.  My amazing girl is one little (and I do mean little) ball full of positive aspects.  I guess she is not one to let her start in life effect her outlook on life. 

"Her facial expressions draw attention and allow her to interact easily". 
Yep, I've see those expressions.  And got sucked right in!

"She enjoys activities on the seesaw showing happiness."
I love this statement so much.  Not just because she 'enjoys the seesaw' and 'shows happiness' but this means that she was ON.A.SEESAW.  If it was only one time and even if it was for a short time.  
My girl got to be happy out of her crib and playing on a seesaw.  
That makes my heart SO happy.

One of my favorites...
"she is calm and tender"
Even with all of the negativity that she has endured in her short little life,
 her heart is still full of love.
So wonderful to be 'described' as "calm and tender".  
She is truly amazing. 

There is so much information in those 14 pages.  And at the same time.  
Three ENTIRE years of my sweet baby's life only fills up 14 pages. 

You just wait little bunny, I promise that we will fill up page after page after page of experiences,
 new things to love (and dislike), firsts, (seconds, thirds and fourths!), 
and moments that make you happy and feel confident that you are loved.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Finish it up - March Miracles

This is a month of Miracles.(not just madness!)  The tagline #marchmiracles has been used regularly around the group where Josie has a grant set up.  Reece's Rainbow has been raising funds for kids who are waiting for families.  Giving them the miracle of a grant to hopefully help when they get their miracle of finding a family.  

This is a very special month, full of miracles already!  The month started with the best miracle.
My girl's birthday.
A celebration of the miracle that she is.

March also has another special day.  A day dedicated just for individuals with Down syndrome.
Trisomy 21 is the 'label' for the main form of Down syndrome.  A 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome. There couldn't be a better day to dedicate as National Down syndrome day, than March 21st.   3.21 perfect
March is just a great month!

And almost as special as J's birthday being this month....
I received Official Referral yesterday!  Truly #marchmiracles are happening all around.

We need one more miracle though... a BIG one.

This is it.  The end is SO CLOSE!  And with the end of the process, brings the end of the fundraising.
(Or at least I'm hoping this will be the end!)  We are down to the final $8000.  That's it.
I am praying hard for this miracle.  This final monetary hurdle.
The miracle of being able to be 'Fully Funded'!!

When I think of how much has already been funded in this process and given to help bring this sweet girl home, I feel like $8000 really is nothing.  It's like tossing a candy bar in your shopping car at the grocery store.  The $5 movie from the discount bin.  Grabbing a chapstick/flashlight/kleenex while standing in the checkout lane.  Picking a 'just because' toy from the dollar bin.  Adding that cute stack of post-it's, those colorful hand towels, or the 4 set of mini bowls because they are 75% now that we are in a new season/holiday/event of the year.

It's a  little less than 25%.  That means over 75% is already accounted for.  How AWESOME is that!?! 
When I look at it that way, I am just amazed.

The reality is that there IS still $8000 left to raise.  
So here we are, The Finish It Up Fundraiser. 
If successful, the final fundraiser!

I'm praying for our March Miracle.
Do you want to be a part of it?

There are three ways to be a part of our miracle and help
Finish It Up!!

1 - There is a gofundme account set up for Josie's adoption fees.
The amount needs to read $9764 to be fully funded.
You can click the link and it will take you directly to her page.
This account is not tax deductible BUT these funds are accessible right now.

 2- You can make a donation directly to the placing agency.
The agency that I'm with is a non-profit.
If you'd like to make a donation and send it directly to them,
send me a message and I will share their contact information.
The fees needed for both the agency and in country expenses can all go through them.
They will disburse it all where it needs to go.
This step is tax deductible and funds would also be accessible right now.

3 - I have a grant with Reece's Rainbow, through their Family Sponsorship Program.
This grant will be given once travel dates are set.
This will be great to have for all of the in country expenses!
This is also tax deductible.
You can click the link above to make a donation.
To help protect the identity of the children that receive grants through Reece's Rainbow,
they use 'code' names for each child.
Josie's 'code name' on RR is "Seraphina".

 Do you want to be a part of Josie's #marchmiracle and get her home?

Saturday, March 1, 2014


My tiny girl with her chunky little cheeks.
Her baby face.  Her bitty hands.
She turns three today. Three.

She will be 'celebrating' her LAST birthday alone.
I was really hoping and praying to have been with her for this birthday 
but as I am continually reminding myself throughout this's all in His timing.

But, I am SO.CLOSE.
Every day it seems there is something else that moves us one step closer.
A letter, a new piece of information, the next set of 'things to do' from the agency.  
It's like that sprint at the end of the race...
I feel like I started sprinting last week and the finish line is getting closer and closer!

The age that she should have pretty good input into the party choice.
I wonder if it would be princesses?  Dress up?  Garden party?  Rainbows?  Ponies?
Maybe a bouncy house?  Face painting? Or a beach party?
Cake? Cupcakes? 
So many choices that she should be able to make.
She should have friends to celebrate with. 
Party games. Presents to open. Treats to eat. Party favors to share.
Giggles and laughter. Birthday pictures.
Exhaustion at the end of a very fun and full day.

She's not home yet though.  So it will have to wait until next year.
Next year when she has her 'FIRST' birthday with her family.
Be prepared, it's gonna be the best 'first, fourth birthday' you've ever experienced!!
(We won't discuss how old FOUR sounds right now!!)

This will be her last birthday without her Mama. Ever.
I'd like to make it the best, last birthday.

Really, that is what's best.  That this will be the last.
The last time she doesn't get celebrated on such a special day.

I am celebrating for her today.
Enjoying a cupcake. Hanging her new birthday clothes in her closet.
Placing her new birthday toys on her shelf.
Saving birthday cards in her scrapbook.

She may not realize today, what a special day this is,
but she will know when she gets home,
how much she was loved before she was known.

 Happy Birthday Josie bunny.
Te Amo Mija!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Approval of the higher kind

Tears. Happy, Joyful, Excited, Anxious, Tears.  

As I was checking my email at the end of the day and saw my agency's name, I figured they'd gotten the updated psych information they were waiting for from the new psychologist.  (It was supposed to arrive early this week).  Then, I read the subject...
News from Colombia!!!
(notice the multiple exclamation points!!! *grin*)

I was.not.expecting the actual news inside.  I thought it might have been new pics, or an update on the girl.  Or ICBF had a question about something in my dossier or ugh, were requesting more information. 
(I must have been unconsciously ignoring the multiple exclamation points!)

I opened it.  Knowing the agency was closed and it would be too late to actually return a call but I could at least start on whatever they needed or at least know what I would need to do first thing in the morning.

Congratulations!!! More exclamation points.  This must be good.

 You were approved by La Casa and the ICBF to adopt "Josie"!!!
(she didn't call her Josie, she used her full Colombian name, which I can't use here...yet!)

Uh, yea, I slept not.a.wink. last night.  My brain is going CRAZY.  
My stomach is full of butterflies and my heart literally feels like it is going to explode.

No extra information needed.  No more questions. 

"The committee endorses the suitability given to adopt from Colombia...
It is for us a pleasure to welcome the family to "the name of her orphanage"."

I sat in my living room and cried tears of joy.  I had to read and reread and then reread it again, just to 'hear' those words over and over.  And the exclamation points.  I love that my caseworker used multiple exclamation points at multiple times.  I know that she is so excited to have been able to share this news.

I have 10 million things running through my head of what needs to be done now.
My brain is going to be worthless today.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Start to Finish

Saturday was race day.  The race didn't end up being a grand fundraiser as I'd originally hoped it would (next time, I'll plan ahead a little better!), but it was still a fun day to fulfill a personal challenge. 

After picking up my BIB and t-shirt the day before, I got everything ready to go for the early morning start. Clothes depending on morning weather, play list created, phone charged. I needed to leave my house extra early to be there in time for the start. (especially knowing there would be traffic)   And wanted it all out and ready to go, so I could sleep as late as possible!!  Yellow and Pink.  J's colors. It's in her nursery, it's in the bracelets that were made for her, and well, I really think yellow is gonna be her addition to pink, of course!  (L's was Green and Pink.  So I had to add the sock.) 

I really was running for my girls.
I woke up to rain...blah!  Not looking forward to running the bridge on wet pavement!  But it quickly ended and by the time I left the house a short time later, it was looking to be a gorgeous sunny morning!  
I think that's a view I can enjoy while running.

The parking line was CRAZY.  So much for early arrival.  I sat in line for almost an hour!!!

 At least the scenery was beautiful while sitting in the car.
 But I still made it on time, got a little warm up in and a had time for few more pics!

This kite had a camera attached.  And the man attached to the other end, followed the runners.  He truly got a birds eye view of the event.  The helicopter was hovering throughout the morning. 
 It was apparently a well covered event. 
My best friend for the next 30 minutes.
   I started in the last 1/3 of the pack.  Which was okay, I knew I wasn't running really to compete.  My main goal was to run the entire bridge (no walking) and not be last....*wink*
 It felt a little like being in a herd of cattle.... because I've been in a herd of cattle and should know what that feels like, right?!?... but what I imagine being in a herd of cattle would feel like, happened at the start of the race.  I was weaving in and out of people trying to set my pace at first, then found a few 'buddies' who seemed to be keeping the same pace and away we went.  The first uphill was really not bad.  I actually snapped a few pics while I was jogging up.  And got chuckled at as I was passing by a few walkers with the phone up taking pictures.  Multitasking at it's finest!

I did pause slightly at the top to get a clear picture.  It was hard to not to keep looking to the sides while running because the view is simply amazing.  The sun was shining, the tide high, birds chirping and a few boats below.  It was REALLY windy though.  Good old ocean breezes.  
At least I never got too hot while running.

 There was a water station at the bottom, at the turn around, after the downhill kick.  
It was a good spot before having to head back up again.

For a split second, my head thought... uh, the top of that bridge sure does look far.  
Then I looked right, and watching this view made it seem to go by quickly.

I will admit my time over the first leg was a little over a minute shorter then the second leg. 
That second climb was a little tougher.  But the view at the top was just as amazing.  Ah, that sky...

There was a band set up at the top, and a small 'cheering squad'.  It was fun to have that little boost before heading back down.  I really had convinced myself that I just needed to make it back to the top, 
seeing as then I'd just be running downhill and letting momentum do the work to the finish.
The last 1/4 was probably the easiest, which is odd to say about a run. 

 I'm really not sure what these two pics are about?  I guess this is what happens when you're trying to run, take pictures and put your phone back into the arm band, all at the same time?
I loved watching my shadow (is that vain?).  Gosh do I wish my legs were really that long.  Shadow me would be able to reach things on the top shelf all.the.time.

I was too focused on my finish to get a 'crossing the finish line' picture.  But I was able to go back afterward for a photo shoot.  It was nice to cross under that sign at the end.  
And hilarious to pass these signs....
 editors not....Yes, I did smile, but no, I did NOT pee, 
and I filled my beverage cup with some nice cold Vitamin Water
(to take my pain killer with).  *wink*

Today was the first check mark to the start of a resolution. It's a little strange, if you asked me 3 years ago, if I would be running over a bridge and back, or even running a 5K of any type, or really  I probably would have laughed.  There are a number of things I wouldn't have guessed 
would be happening in my life right now.  
I wouldn't have thought I'd be a mere couple of months away from bringing my daughter home.
I feel like running this bridge was a pretty good illustration to the adoption process.  
 You start fresh, well rested, warmed up, energetic.  
Going uphill is tough, but you're set on getting to the top and
 excited to see what's on the other side so you keep chugging along.  
Once you get to the top, there is this bit of relief.  
You pick up momentum going down the other side.
The water break at the bottom is refreshing, a little boost before starting back up the hill.
That second time up is harder.  You think you might not reach the top.
It seems sooo far away, even though you've already come so far.
You're more than halfway there, but it's a struggle.
You can only keep focused on the end on what or who, is waiting for you at the finish.
You reach the top for a second time and it almost seems like you've forgotten EVERYTHING else in the world, except for what is at the bottom of that hill.
And that downhill rush is just that, a rush.  A whirlwind of getting to the finish.
You almost don't realize you're still running, 
because you're simply using the downhill slope to keep you moving.
Except you feel like you might need to slow down so you don't fall, 
but you really can't slow down...
or you might fall.
 And then you see the sign.
It's right there in front of you and you kind of want to cry and laugh (and maybe puke) all at the same time.
Going through that finish is such a sense of relief.
Only to realize that, gosh, you're exhausted now.  Relieved, you've finished, excited because you did it, 
but so tired. And a little in awe of what you just accomplished.
You walk around to cool down.
Still in that rush of completion, but now starting to feel the ache of what the process really was.
And the joy of having completed it.
 Now you can't wait to share with everyone and...
You might even be looking into how soon you can do it again.
 This was a good run.

This IS a good run.
I feel like I'm at the top of the hill, waiting for the downhill momentum to kick in and 
that final rush toward my Josie bunny.
What a finish that will be.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I want to begin this post with the exciting news....
The most recent fees have been paid in full!!! 
That's right, one more chunk down.  Josie's adoption is over 50% funded, only about $14,000 to go.  Whew, what a great feeling that is!  I can't even explain the sense of relief I've had this weekend.

This process is stressful, and I've been struggling, a lot, with some major doubt for the past few weeks.  I think I've gone through an entire large bottle of Tylenol in the past month.  And I know I've ingested more than the 'suggested amount' of tums.  I hope I've been able to contain the grumpy part of my stress, though some days it was easier thought than done!  (Sorry to those who are local if I've been grouchy!!) 
Why the extra stress? Frankly, because I let doubt take over.  I tried, I really did. And at moments, on some days, my faith kept the front seat and the doubt was squelched.  But most days, I struggled.

There are a lot things that kind of stink about the adoption process. 
(Forgive my rant here for a minute.) 
The scrutiny involved.... Will you be a good enough parent? Will you have enough space? Will your family be involved? If so, What is your family like? If not, Why? Give a detailed description of your family tree.  How often do you see your extended family and why? What kind of schools will your adopted child attend? Will they have friends? Who will provide medical care? Where will they play? Who will they play with? What will they eat? Will they have proper clothing? Do you make enough money? Who will take care of them if you can't? Will they go to daycare, if so, Where? How will you pay for their, medical care, clothing, food, schooling, daycare, toys, books, shoes, on and on and on?  Are you healthy? Are you sane? Are you educated?  The months and months of having to prove yourself worthy to parent, it takes a toll. 
And then even once you have proven that you are worthy (you're educated, healthy, sane...), that your house is acceptable (your baseboards are clean, your laundry all folded and put away, your bathrooms shining...), that your family is not crazy (and if they are, they are not involved), that your community is award winning (top notch schools, parks and libraries..) and excellent medical care is easily accessible.  Once you've been 'stamped' acceptable...none of it matters if the monetary fees are there to back it up.  It's 'joked' about in the adoption world that it's a good thing you take the psychological evaluation at the beginning of the process, because by the end, you just might not pass... because the process itself might just be enough to drive a person insane. 

I was struggling this past month, because I took a leap of faith to adopt internationally.  I honestly didn't know how I could afford it, I knew I didn't just have tens of thousands of dollars laying around.  But I wanted to be a parent.  I wanted to be a Mama. And adoption is how that is going to happen. We are called to help the orphan.  James 1:27 ~ Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  I strongly believe that this is God's plan for my life. 

I chose Russia, because I felt called to Lizzy specifically, not just because I thought, 'oh Russia sounds like a nice place to go'. And when He changed the plans, and dropped Josie into my lap, who is in a completely different country, I knew I had to move forward because He was leadingMark 9:37 ~ "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."  I had faith.  I know adoption is God's plan for me.  Even though all of the  money wasn't there to back it up and at the time, I didn't have the answers to the HUNDREDS of questions that would be thrown at me, I knew this was the path I was meant to be on.  I had faith that when I needed answers, they would come.  Some of it by researching, by meeting professional after professional, by talking to people with experience, by some hard work, but the answers would all be there.  And they have been.

I had faith that he would provide monetarily as well.  Not that it would simply fall from the sky, but that somehow it would all work out in the end.  I would have to work more, fundraise, sell, reduce my 'extra' spending. (You know you can actually live without cable! And packing your lunch to take to work really isn't that hard!)

I believe(d) if God called, He would provide. 

This past month, was a big one.  The completion of all of those months of paperwork.
The biggest 'packet' complete.  What a relief.  A happy joyous occasion.  (Really, this was a BIG step!!!)
The only downside is that meant the next agency fee was also due.  A big chunk of change that I did not have sitting in my bank account.  And I began to worry.  I began to doubt.  I was praying for what I wanted.  Not what was God's plan.  I was praying for what I wanted to happen, when I wanted it to happen.  I doubted. 
But then, something clicked, something changed and I realized it wasn't about me.  It obviously wasn't happening when I wanted (it certainly hadn't happened yet, and I wanted it a month ago!)  I realized I needed to give it back over to God (and no, that doesn't mean I just sat there and waited for money to fall from the sky or grow on a tree in my back yard)  It meant I needed to remember that God WILL provide, in His timing, in His way

And the second that I let it go, He let it happen.  From a source that I couldn't have planned on. And I can't shared in entirety, but God does provide.  There is always a reason in His planning.  Sometimes we may never know, sometimes it just takes awhile. But ALL of the time, we simply have to have faith.  We have to sincerely trust..not just say that we do.  Matthew 21:22 ~ "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

This adoption process is difficult.  It's time consuming, it's hard, it's frustrating.

But, I look at this face...

And I'm reminded to keep believing.  Keep my faith strong.  I am on the right path.  The path to bring this sweet bunny home.  The path that God has led me too.  No more doubt, just faith (and lots of hard work!) 
(mmmm...I can NOT wait to cover that little face with kisses!!!)

editors note:  I had this post all ready to go this afternoon, but didn't publish it because I wanted to read through one more time and was out of time. I needed to head out the door.  It's Sunday night, youth group.  We're doing a four part study with the kids right now.  It's called surrender. Surrender Stuff, Surrender Status, Surrender Sin and Surrender Self.  I know the lesson is really for the kids but as I sit in the room and watch the video portion of the study there is a lot to take away as an adult, as well.  Tonight, we talked on Surrender Self... And I sat there thinking about everything I'd written in this post and how much I needed the lesson tonight.  How much it had tied into my 'revelation' this past week.  A great reminder that it is all in His hands and I simply need to surrender and let Him lead.

Growing funds for J