Friday, August 28, 2015

Where we are now... an exercise in waiting

SO, last week was a big week.  It's been crazy, but I've finally found a few minutes to update...

After what felt like a million delays, our homestudy was FINALLY ready, so last Monday (8/17) I went to pick it up. Since the homestudy agency is in the OKC metro I took the bulk of our dossier to be apostilled at the same time.  An apostille is a state seal, where the state verifies that the notary is valid.  Anyway, we live about 4 1/2 hours from the homestudy agency & state capitol, so we drove up to take care of it in one day.  We saved probably about 2 weeks of mail time that way. 

My mom went with me (BLESS HER!), which was awesome because it was a very stressful day.  We had a couple of hiccups, a lot of driving across the OKC metro, and a crazy day, but at the end of the day, this is where we are at:

Our completed homestudy was overnighted to USCIS to catch up with the application that we filed last March.  They have had it over a week now, so we are hoping for a letter giving us a fingerprint appointment soon. 

Our dossier is about 90% complete and is now in the hands of the facilitation team in Eastern Europe.  We basically lack 3 sets of documents - one of which is our USCIS approval.  The other 2 sets are in the works & will be easy to finish up.

SO, what does that mean?  Now we wait.  Which I obviously love.  But, besides that...  We are in a holding pattern, waiting on an approval from USCIS, so that we can have our dossier submitted to her country.  However, PRAISE THE LORD FOR PROGRESS!  Seriously, I can't get over the fact that the homestudy is DONE, and we are finally able to make some progress!

Our next big step is to fundraise while we wait.  We'll crunch numbers this weekend and post an update, and maybe even a cool thermometer or something if I can figure it out!  Ha!  In the mean time, please pray for us as we continue this process, and for our daughter as she waits. 

For those of you just now following our story, please check out a couple of my posts that talk about what we are doing and why, written back when I had more brain power! Haha.  I recommend: 

http://15milesfromnowhere.blogspot.com/2014/04/were-adopting.html

and

http://15milesfromnowhere.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-you-have-enough-kids-already.html



Friday, August 7, 2015

A long overdue update

So... I haven't blogged in a VERY long time.  Here's what has been going on with the adoption process since last summer...

Last summer we had to put the adoption on hold for a little bit while we sold our house in Yukon.  It had been a rental property, and when the tenants moved out, we decided to put it on the market and use the proceeds toward the adoption.  Well, it didn't sell for several months.  And by the time we repaired things for sale, paid the mortgage for several months, and lowered the price we ended up basically breaking even.  So that plan failed.  Oh well, that's life!  But while paying two mortgages, having to do necessary repairs to this house (which we had just bought the prior winter & needed quite a bit more than we thought), we were financially drained. So we put everything on pause. 

Then last August I went back to work.  I'd say that was a mistake for our family, but it gave us a big boost financially, so I can't.  But it was an insane time for us as a family.  That, coupled with some issues in the workplace, pushed my resignation even though I loved the job.  We made the decision for me to return to being a SAHM at the end of April.  I don't particularly love being a SAHM, but it's what is right for my family and I am blessed that we can afford for me to be here with the kids.  We feel that when we return from this adoption it will be critical for me to be here with our newly adopted princess.

SO, back to the adoption, which is what you really care about. We picked things up back in February.  Things have drug out FOREVER with getting the homestudy done.  Because of the delays we have experienced, we chose to make our Reece's Rainbow grant account inactive until our homestudy was finished.  We also chose to keep our progress pretty quiet.  It's hard to blog about no progress.  Also, to be completely honest, there was a lot of pain involved in pausing things.  It is hard to know that a child is suffering because you wait.  It is hard to know what to say when you are in limbo.  It is easy to doubt yourself when nothing seems to go your way.  It is hard to lean on God and trust that it will work when you can't see how it will, and we made the mistake of believing that.  Honestly, I might never forgive myself for the delay.  But all we can do now is move forward.

Here is where we are at now:
The last document required for our homestudy was dropped off a couple of days ago, so there are a few details for the social worker to update and it will be done!  We filed with US immigration in March and our application is currently waiting for our homestudy to catch up to it.  The bulk of our dossier (the documents we will send to her country) is done.  We have a couple more documents to chase, but the bulk of it will head to the country as soon as we get the homestudy.  At that point, we are just waiting for approval from USCIS, which we will send to her country, and then we'll need their approval to travel to meet her!  We are praying that we will be done by Christmas.  But that depends largely on the governments of two different countries, so delays can happen at any point!  And since we've experienced so many delays, we're assuming there will be more!  So I'm not really sure that's realistic.  We will still be short financially, but we have enough in savings to pay all expenses until right before travel, so we have chosen to wait to fundraise actively until our homestudy has been released and we are just waiting on USCIS.  We feel like with the delays we have faced, it's only fair to potential donors to not ask for money until we are closer to being done.  We won't have long to raise the money, but we are confident that if we do our part, God will see us through!  I will post a financial update soon.  My brain is a little fried today and I'm not sure I have the mental energy to crunch numbers.  Haha

Current prayer requests: 
 - that things move quickly
 - financial provision for the rest of the adoption
 - that her heart be prepared for entering our family & she is able to bond with us easily
 - for her health and safety while she waits
 - for all of the children waiting for a family, both in the US and abroad
 - for the body of Christ to be moved to be the hands and feet of Jesus to orphans and families in the US and abroad

Thank you for your support in this long, crazy, exhausting endeavor.  So many of our friends and family have encouraged us to not give up, even in the hard times.  Some day I will be able to thank you all properly.  I do know without a doubt that there is a little girl in an orphanage in Eastern Europe who is very, very loved by a whole crazy slew of people! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mommy wars

Mommy wars - What a dumb term.  Seriously, so dumb.  But the worst part is that this warring between women actually exists.  Sure, you can deny its’ existence, because it’s not always apparent – it usually doesn't even involve heated conversations.  Mommy wars exist in the form of judgmental looks, gossip behind closed doors, and breaking ourselves off into cliques.  It is a much subtler way of warring against each other, but the effect is the same – shattered self esteem, doubt over our every step, fear of judgment if we shake up the status quo.  These wars exist.  They exist between homeschoolers and public schoolers, big families and small families, SAHMs and working moms, single moms and married moms, and any other dividing line.  These lines exist and crossing them is tantamount to treason.  Once you cross a line, there’s a good chance your social circle will be altered.  Maybe our good friends will stay the same, but most likely you will lose a few, or face their judgment and criticism.

This war is blamed on many things, but let’s be clear: it’s a war on women and it’s being waged by women.  We are doing this to ourselves.  It is not society’s views that are causing this war, it is not feminism, it is not men viewing us a certain way, it is women destroying other women.

I’m a SAHM.  I was a single mom and a career woman.  I got married and became a SAHM.  We had multiple kids and became a big family.  Public school failed us and I became a homeschooling mom.  I have been all over the spectrum of motherhood, and this is what I have found:  I was judged.  When I was a single mom, so were my friends.  Most of my friends now are married moms.  When I worked, my friends were career moms, now many are SAHMs.  A few friends have survived the entire spectrum, but not many.  And now, I have a job offer and I spent over a week debating whether or not to take it, and shockingly, I had this thought very frequently:  If I take the job I will be judged by my friends and my community, and I will most likely lose friends.  That scared me.  Now I will admit that any of my friends reading this will say they won’t judge me and I won’t lose friendships.  But by taking the job I will insert a gap in between our lives and I won’t be at all of the same things that they are, and inevitably a few people will drift away.  And yes, they won’t purposely judge me, but then I will miss an activity and they will think “see, I am here and she is not, it is BETTER not to work.”  I will not fault them, because I have done it too – the silent judgment, the comparison that we seem to all need to validate our own choices.  I have done it far too often.

I think we need this comparison because we somehow have gotten the message that there is one perfect way to exist as a family, and we need to find that way.  I think we ALL have a fear that we are doing things wrong, and we need validation.  Somehow, women in America have gotten this idea that we can never be enough.  There is no amount of volunteer work, church attendance, educational activities that is enough.  Our houses, clothes, and bodies can never be perfect enough.  We must always strive for more of something.  We are striving to meet some impossible standard of perfection.  We will never meet this standard, because all of us moms and all of our families are different and will never fit into one “perfect” mold.  We will never be able to fit into everyone else’s molds, no matter how hard we try.

It is time for us, as women to take the power back.  It is time for us to stop the mommy wars.  I don’t have an answer, but I think maybe I know where to start.  I will start by accepting myself and telling the world that I AM ENOUGH.  I am good enough, smart enough, pretty enough JUST THE WAY I AM!  I was knit together by an amazing God who did not make a mistake.  And I DO NOT NEED TO BE LIKE ANYONE ELSE.  My personality, my gifts, and my family are unique.  I do not need to compare myself to any other woman or her house, job, income, clothing, body type, well behaved children, etc.  I am me and my family is unique and we are just fine the way we are.  And the flip side of that is I will set aside judgment and become other moms biggest fans.  If homeschooling is best for her kids and not for mine – GREAT!  Let’s cheer each other on!  If she loves staying home and I need work to stay fulfilled and happy – GREAT!  I’m her biggest fan.  I will not judge, I will not criticize.  And when I know that I’m being judged, I will not walk timidly, wondering what everyone’s opinions might be.  I will no longer apologize for my differences.  We were created to be different, and that should be celebrated.  It is time for women to band together and love each other.  It is time for us to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.  And we need to start by loving ourselves and the women around us.  Let’s end the mommy wars for good.

Who is with me?  Let’s make this a revolution!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Blessed. (an update)

Wanted to take a minute and update you on how the adoption is going and what are prayer needs are.

First of all, we are SO BLESSED by the outpouring of love that we have received.  I honestly expected at least a little bit of negativity, simply because we are doing something so out of the ordinary.  Something this big and crazy tends to welcome criticism.

I have also been so HUMBLED by the outpouring of help.  I hate asking for help, I really do.  I knew from the beginning that by asking us to do this, God was asking us to put ourselves out there and ask for help.  We are in the early stages and haven't needed a ton of help yet, but I'm already BLOWN AWAY by the love that has been showered on us.  Our cinnamon roll fundraiser was the perfect example.  We set up to sell at a local consignment sale.  We had no idea what to expect, so we baked a bunch.  We had people buy like crazy and got a few cash donations.  We had friends spreading the word on Facebook and stepping up to buy lots of extra cinnamon rolls for their freezers so we didn't take home tons.  We even had the owners of the sale hook us up with a local MOPS group who sold FOR US at their garage sale.  Let me make sure that was clear - we had a group of people who we had NEVER MET before that day selling cinnamon rolls for us to bring our daughter home!  How amazing is that?  Friends have stepped up in so many ways - fundraising, spreading the word, donating, etc and we're still in the beginning.  I feel like we have an army behind us, spreading the word, helping with fundraisers, walking this journey with us.  It gives me such peace to know that we are surrounded by so many amazing advocates. I see a donation come in from a single mom who I KNOW can't have that much extra laying around (I was a single mom, I KNOW), and I think WOW! She has that much confidence in us, NOTHING IS GONNA STOP US!  And I get that boost with every donation, every time my blog is shared, every time someone steps up and helps.  God. Is. Good.  That is all.

So here is where we are at:  Still in the beginning.  It feels like it is going slooooow.  Things are moving, but not as fast as I want.  The home study agency has all of our information now, but we were slowed down because we left some information off of the application and it had to be sent back to us.  Twice.  Ugh.  I was very frustrated about that, but I am cutting myself some slack.  The packet of information was HUGE and I missed 2 small lines.  I have never done anything this intensive!  Our HS with our last adoption was thorough, but not nearly as intense because we were adopting a child that we had custody of for the previous 2 1/2 years, it was private and local.  But since I have the paperwork done and we now all know my toothpaste preference, I think we are rolling. :)

We are working on our dossier while we wait on the HS, so as soon as we get it done we can move pretty quickly.  The country we are adopting from is pretty quick process, so we're looking forward to meeting our daughter within the next several months, which is a pretty exciting thought!

I'll post a financial update soon, when I've had a chance to crunch numbers, but for now I'll estimate that between a garage sale, selling cinnamon rolls, selling clothes at a consignment sale, jewelry sales and a few donations, we've reached about $1,000ish.  We're SUPER excited about this, because now that our HS is going, very soon we'll be filing with USCIS, and the fee is about $900.  God is good.  Total expenditures are, well, significantly more than the $1,000 we've raised, but it is a SMALL price to pay for the life of a child.

Needs:

Prayer: For the home study to go well & quickly, for Antoinette's health and safety while she waits, for children being left behind, for financial provision during the process.  And maybe a prayer for my sanity during the process - haha!

Local friends: We will be having a garage sale later this summer.  We need stuff donated.  So, start saving stuff and I'll get dates set up soon. :)

Crafty friends:  In August or September we're going to do an online auction with hand-crafted items and we need donations.  You can do whatever you want, but it should be easy to ship.  Let me know if you are interested in helping and we'll talk details.

Donations:  If you would like to donate, we would appreciate donations to our YouCaring account, because we can use it to help with expenses prior to travel; and our Reece's Rainbow account is only available when we travel.  BUT, donations to our Reece's Rainbow account are tax-deductible, so absolutely donate there if you want to claim the tax deduction!  (Both links are on the sidebar - I LEARNED HOW TO ADD THEM! I'm almost a real blogger! Yay me!)

THANK YOU!  You have no idea how much your prayers and support mean to us.  They strengthen us as we walk on this long journey.  On frustrating days I think about the support we have around us and think to myself.  NOTHING WILL STOP US!

...If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31







Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why not US adoption?

This is a hot button topic that I would like to delve into.  Often adoptive parents are asked questions like this:  Why not adopt from the U.S.?  How can you go outside of the country to adopt when there are plenty of kids in U.S. foster care that need families?  This is a very complex and personal issue, and I cannot answer for anyone else.  But I will share how and why we came to our decision. 

First, you should know that we believe in orphan care for ALL orphans.  All of them.  That means those in the U.S. and those abroad.  And really, not just orphans – children in abusive situations, in poverty, in foster care, kids who just need adult attention, and on and on.  We need to find the needs and meet them.  Children are our future, and we need to take care of them!  It is my personal belief that it is far better to reach out and care for children than it is to attempt to reform them later on in life when they are in trouble.  Yes, there is absolutely a need for more foster homes and adoptive parents in the U.S.  There is a need for after school programs, mentors, family reunification programs.  There is need for a lot.  And I pray that if you feel a burden for hurting children, that you will find YOUR area.  The need that YOU are called to fill, and fill it.  But for us, right now, U.S. foster care or adoption is not our place.  Not right now.  I won’t say never; because that’s up to God, but not right now.

Second, international adoption is a momentous undertaking! (You should seriously see the stack of paperwork that I have!)  We have already completed one domestic adoption, and we are prepared for this.  God knows that our previous adoption stretched us and now we can be stretched further, and that is what He is doing.  (I also have a theory that you have to be just a *tiny* bit crazy to commit to something this big, and He knows that on the taking-on-huge-things craziness scale, we’re pretty close to the top!)

Most importantly, YES, we need to take care of OUR children AT HOME in the U.S.  If we want to consider the U.S. to be OUR area to take care of because we live here and everywhere else to be someone else’s problem, because it’s THEIR country.  But here’s the bottom line for us as Christians:  They are ALL God’s children!  Kids in the U.S. don’t get preference because we live here.  Those are HIS children in orphanages!  The lonely, starving, abandoned – they are ALL His children.  We have to look beyond our own limitations and see that God cares for all of them equally.  I believe that God has purposefully orchestrated events to bring us to this point, to unite us with a child that is thousands of miles away.  I believe that He understands what a huge leap of faith this is for us, and that is part of the plan.  But I also believe that to God, her distance from us is of very little importance.  We are talking about the Creator who spoke our universe into existence!  How big of an obstacle is an ocean in His eyes?  Probably not very.  God plans to unite a child with our family, and the miles that we have to cross to make that happen are the least important part of the equation.

So yes, there are many children in the U.S. that need homes.  If you feel convicted about that, pray about opening your home to one of those children.  If you are already an advocate for needy children in the U.S., I applaud you.  But God has called us all to do different things.  For us, right now, God has called us to commit money we don’t have, to fly across an ocean to a country we've never seen, and adopt a child we've never met, who has unknown special needs, and to bring her home as our daughter.  Simple, right?  It is to God.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Walking in the Dark

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7

I’m pretty sure I’ve recited that verse at least a million times a day for the last few weeks.  Right now we’re walking in the dark.  It’s pitch black out and we’re following a pin prick of light ahead of us.  We know where we’re going, but have no idea how we’re going to get there.  It’s seriously scary.

The weird thing is, for the most part I feel calm.  This is not our journey – it’s God’s journey.  Since it’s His journey I know that there’s nothing I can do through my own power to get to the end – He has to guide me.  That’s the weird thing about walking completely blindly – you can’t help but rely on the One that is guiding you.  You can’t second guess where you’re going, because you don’t know.  You can’t try to change the path or take a shortcut, because you don’t know where the path is going next.  All you can do is take the hand of your guide and take one step at a time.  So that’s what we’re doing.

We’ve committed to this adoption even though it seems impossible.  It has a price tag of over $25,000.  We don’t have even close to that much money on hand and we have no idea where it’s going to come from.  But God does.  We’re an imperfect family, maybe the home visit won’t go well.  But God chose us.  We don’t know how we’re going to manage to travel for several weeks with 5 kids at home.  But God will show us.  We have no idea what kind of health needs our new daughter will have and whether they can be met in our rural area.  But God directed us to her.  We’re nervous about how exhausting life will be with 2 children with intense special needs plus 4 others.  But God will strengthen us.

This adoption seems impossible.  We’re not the perfect family.  We’re not wealthy, our house needs work, our cars are old, and we have a million things competing for our time and energy.  We have days where we’re exhausted beyond belief.  We’re not the family that you imagine when you think of someone adopting internationally.  And that, my friends, is EXACTLY why I think God chose us.  Because if we can do this, anyone can do this.  It is my prayer that someone will see us, talk to us, hear about us, and think “wow – I can do that”.  That’s when lives will be saved.  That is why I push forward – not just for the life of our little girl, but for the lives of the millions of other orphans that need families.  Not families with tons of money and fancy houses – families with lots of love.

So we will continue to walk in the dark.  And sitting here, in the beginning of the long, scary journey through the darkness, I already know one thing – this journey will forever impact the souls of our family.  This journey will be the single most powerful thing we have ever done.  Not because of the end result, but because of the walk.  It will be life-changing because we will spend the next several months walking blindly, being led by nothing but Jesus holding our hands and leading us through the dark.  We won’t be able to see the path, but if we stay focused, we will be able to feel our Savior with us every hour of every day.  Yes, it will be scary.  We already know that there will be bumps along the way.  Maybe there will be days when we feel like we’ve wandered off the path and we’re falling into the abyss, but those days might just be the most powerful – when we fall toward the bottom but God catches us.  When we are reminded that God is in control, even when it feels like He is not. 

My continued prayer for the next several months is that we can continue to lean into God each step of the way and that this journey will build a stronger faith in our family.  Please join us in praying daily for the adoption process, and for our daughter as she waits.  Please pray for the staff as well as the orphans being left behind.  Please pray for the millions of orphans throughout the world, especially those with special needs.  Please pray for cultural changes to occur that would end the practice of families giving precious children up simply because of a special needs diagnosis. 


“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13



Thank you for following our family’s journey and praying for us.  If you feel led to give financially toward the cost of our adoption, you may do so at: http://reecesrainbow.org/76200/sponsoroden

Every dime will go toward bringing our precious daughter home.  Any extra funds raised will go directly to orphan care. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Don't you have enough kids already?

Why Adoption?

Why on earth are they adopting?

Don’t they have enough kids?

I’m sure these are the top questions on most people’s minds right now.  So I’m going to go ahead and put them out there and answer them.

YES, we have enough kids!  We have 5 beautiful, vibrant, wonderful kids.  Two are mine from a previous marriage but 100% loved by my husband as his own.  One joined our family through a temporary guardianship and we later had the joy of adopting him.  Two are ours together.  The 7 of us are close.  As tight knit as any biological family, and I would venture to say more tight knit than many.  We are strong.  We've weathered challenges.  We've seen God’s glory.  We've cried, praised, worshiped, and conquered together.  We've learned that blood and genetics do not define family – love does. 

YES, we have enough kids!  Our house is full, and our bank accounts not nearly as full.  We work hard to keep up with the physical, financial, and emotional demands of such a big household.  It is hard work and my husband and I live in a constant state of exhaustion.  But it is powerful, wonderful, holy exhaustion, where we know that we have poured ourselves out daily to fulfill God’s call for us.  So yes, we have enough.  We have enough bills, doctor appointments, laundry, dishes, diapers, and stresses.  We don’t need more.  But God has asked us to add more to our lives.  So we will.  And we’ll gladly stay up later, work harder, and do more hard stuff in exchange for more smiles, cuddles, bedtime prayers, stories, and joy.  Because it’s not just our job – it’s our calling; and the payoff is incredible. 

YES, we have enough kids.  We already have one more than we ever planned.  But it’s not about us.  It’s not about what we want, what we once dreamed for our lives, or any other agenda we once had. 

It’s about obedience.  God has asked us to do this.  He has spent 5 years preparing us for this very assignment.  We could say no.  He would still love us just as much and He would forgive us if we just said “No, God, we’re tired.  We’ve poured out the very last drop of ourselves and we just don’t have enough time, energy, money, etc.”  Or we could say “YES!” and let Him meet every need and fill us to overflowing like He says He will.  We could trust and obey.  We can rest in God when we’re too tired to go on.  So we will.  We blindly said yes and stepped out in faith; because it’s not about us.

It’s about love.  It’s about a little girl in an Eastern European orphanage with no family.  It’s about a child with special needs that has been cast aside, a child with very little hope for the future simply because she is different.  Yes, we have enough children.  But it’s not about us, it’s about her.  You see, we may have enough children, but she doesn’t have enough family.  She doesn’t have enough love.  She is running short on laughter, and hugs, and the pure joy of being a carefree little girl.  And I just happen to know of a big, loud, boisterous family with plenty of joy, laughter, hugs, and an unending supply of love to share.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

We are so thankful that you are joining us for this journey.  Please pray with us daily for God's will in this adoption.  

If you would like to help, you may contribute to our adoption fund at:  

Or make a tax-deductible donation at:

Even $5 can help us rescue this child.

Every dime will go to getting our child home, and every little bit counts.