Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Are Getting There

First of all....a big huge THANK YOU to whoever donated to our FSP recently!!!  We are so humbled and grateful and amazingly blessed when people we don't know (or do know!) donate toward OUR ADOPTION!!!    


I thought I'd post a little adoption update and let everyone know where we are at this point.

We are getting SUPER close to traveling!!  

Our Article 5 paperwork is due to be picked up on June 6th.  That is next Wednesday!!  It will be picked up by our agency's representative in C and then it will be mailed to the CCCWA.  About 2 or 3 weeks from then, we will receive our travel approval notices!!


What that means is we will probably be traveling in early to mid July.  Seriously...this is super exciting!!!  I would really LOVE to be able to make it there in time for Hailey's birthday.  She will turn 6 years old on July 7th!!  Wouldn't it be so awesome if we were there to celebrate that day with her?!  We would appreciate any prayers that we would have all funds needed and be ready to travel just in case we do get approvals that quickly!  That actually really freaks me out because as of this point, I don't feel ready in the least to leave the country.  :) 

Anyway, things have been super busy.  We are still doing lots of paperwork!!! Ugh...  I sure thought that by this time in the process we'd be pretty much done with most of that. 

But nope...

We had to get 4 power of attorneys signed and notarized by Mark since he is not traveling with me.  I just got them mailed off to the Secretary of State to be certified yesterday, and then I will send them to Wash DC to be authenticated.  I got our Chinese visa applications filled out today.  That was a bit of a stress, so I am relieved to have that done!  When our paperwork arrives back from the Sec. of State, we will send it altogether with our visa applications to the Chinese Consulate in D.C.  That will be about another $800 by the time it's all said and done, and more than I budgeted for the visa expenses, but oh well.  Our sweet beautiful girlies are worth every single penny!!  :)  I also had to fill out an "older child action plan" (3 pages of questions for each girl) because we are adopting children older than 3 years.  I got that done today and emailed it to our agency.  I love our agency, but I don't like doing all this paperwork.  I know it's a good thing though, as they are really thorough and want to make sure that adoptive families know what they are getting into.  I guess that is what makes them such a great agency!!

Be looking for a post coming soon with our next (last) big fundraiser.  We still need a large amount of money, but we know that God has this!!  He has everything under control and we are just having faith that He will provide it when we need it.    So be sure and keep your eyes peeled!!  There are going to be some awesome prizes that you will want a chance to win!!  :))

Get ready girls...we are coming soon!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Weekend Trip Pt 2 - The Zoo

So we went to the Denver zoo before Madalyn's sleep study. It was really nice.  The weather wasn't too hot and the kids all had a great time. 

The girls enjoyed their safari jeep ride.  Although they would've much rather walked everywhere we went...
Toria did not like the hyena!!  She cried the minute she saw him pacing all over his pen.  I don't blame you Toria, he is definitely not the cutest boy on the block...

This girl is crazy flexible.  I think she is holding on to her foot for dear life.  That hyena is so SCARY!!

Riding the train was a big thrill for the littlest of our clan!  It was quite scenic but definitely much too short for their taste.

Mark's favorites were of course the bears.  I think maybe he was dreaming more about what it would be like to hunt one, but still... 

Madalyn was still super excited about the train and the goose that kept following us around because he knew we had snacks that I'm sure he was thinking we should share...

Here's Madalyn signing train to Anna.  I just love how she is really blossoming with her language even though she has no "words".  :)

Toria just being super cute as usual.

We liked the flamingos so much we had to get a picture with them.  They are such pretty birds.  

Our kids would've loved being pioneer kids and riding across the country in a covered wagon.   For the first 2 hours at least...  ha ha

Hippos really are big.  Just saying.
My personal fav...the polar bear.  They just seem so magnificent and noble.  

I just had to add a picture of our buddy the Canadian goose.  I really think he wanted to come home with us!!

Miss cutie patootie again.  I just love her!!!

We had a great time at the zoo, but we were pretty exhausted by the time we left 4 hours later.  And we didn't even get to see the elephants or the giraffes. 
Next up...   
I actually don't know.  You will just have to wait and see.  :))

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our Weekend Trip Part 3

We are finally home and settling back in to "normal".  It has been a super busy and exhausting last 5 days.  We left for Denver on Thursday and got home Sunday evening. I have lots of pictures and extra stuff to blog about.  But it has been taking me awhile to get back in the groove...  I will be sharing it with you here on the blog but not necessarily in the order in which it occurred.  Lol 

We went to a wedding at the Air Force Academy on Saturday.  It was really nice. The son of some very good friends of ours who is also the good friend of our son, Jordan, got married.  He was a recent AFA graduate as well.  I didn't get any pictures though, because as usual we were running late... just like every other event we go to. ha ha!   I wish we could've taken some pics of the kids with the huge model planes on the base.  They were really cool!!

We had to walk quite a ways from the parking lot to the AFA Chapel.  It is so beautiful, but I honestly thought I might get carried away walking to the Chapel.  I was seriously hanging on tight to my 4 year old.
It.  Was.  Windy.

Friday night was Madalyn's sleep study.  I got more and more nervous the closer we got to it.  I was DREADING it.  (and I wasn't even going to have to be with her this time...).  If you've ever had to go through a sleep study with your kid, you know what I mean. 

NO.  FUN.  

I bought Madalyn some new pajamas on the trip up.  Somehow I thought that might help her.  But really I think it was just therapeutic shopping for me.  

Justin and Dillon were really upset when she finally had to go. I felt so bad for them. 

This is the only picture I have of Madalyn after she was all wired up and wrapped for her study.  Mark texted it to me.  He said she held up very well during it all.  He said she did not cry at all, but when they were done, he took the picture and she had her lower lip out all sad and breathing hard... but no real tears.    

He said she was up about 9-10 times during the night and he had to get up with her and settle her back down each time.  Needless to say, neither one of them got much "sleep".  I'm not sure why they call it a sleep study.

Here's Madalyn the next morning after a bath and after all the gunk was washed out of her hair.

Daddy giving his baby girl lots of lovin'...

She was very happy to be back with her family!  But so very tired!!  All she wanted to do was sleep and was not her busy little self at all.

Next up...the Zoo and a swallow study.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Prayer Requests

"Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you." 
–George Mueller

This quote by George Mueller has given me a lot of encouragement lately. Do you know who who George Mueller is and what he accomplished in his life?  Just briefly, Mueller pastored a church of over 1000 members, operated Sunday schools that taught thousands of children, all while at the same time housing, feeding, clothing, and teaching over 2000 orphans annually for several decades.  Impressive, huh? 

Even more impressive... He is known for relying solely on God's Word and prayer to support all of these works!! 

Here's an example of one of the many stories of him relying on prayer to support the orphans:

Isn't that so awesome!!  

The following is another quote by Mueller.  I especially like this one.  It has been very encouraging to me, especially during this adoption journey.  When things are not going the way you think they should be or the way you want, sometimes you start to question if you are doing the right thing.  That is something I have done a little bit of lately.  :(   I especially like the last sentence!!

“Seek to depend entirely on God for everything. Put yourself and your work into His hands. When thinking of any new undertaking, ask, Is this agreeable to the mind of God? Is it for His glory? If it is not for His glory, it is not for your good, and you must have nothing to do with it. Mind that! Having settled that a certain course is for the glory of God, begin it in His name and continue in it to the end. Undertake it in prayer and faith, and never give up!"

Beautiful, right?!  We know with all our hearts that we are supposed to be doing this! We know that those 2 beautiful girls waiting for us across the ocean are our daughters!  They are supposed to be here with us. We have settled that this course we are on is for the glory of God, and we have begun it.  So what is left?  We will continue it to the end and we will pray, have faith, and never give up!  

We have asked for help both prayerfully and financially here on the blog.  We have been so blessed and humbled by the generosity we have seen!  Thank you all so very much!  We know the power of prayer does amazing things!!  I am going to list a few prayer requests and if you would pray for us, we would really appreciate it.  These are not necessarily in order of importance, just the list. :)
1. Pray that all the money that we need to finish this adoption would come in.

2. Pray that our matching money will come in at just the right time and before we travel.

3. Pray that the IRS will release our tax refund money.  We filed our taxes last fall, thinking (hoping) our refund would come in plenty of time to help pay for this adoption.  We have sent in "proof" to them several times now, and we have finally had to ask for help from our congressman.  Pray that will be effective.  

4. Pray for the girls for health and safety.  Also for an easy and smooth transition to our family.  Pray especially for Ruby, as she will most likely have to leave the foster family that she has been with most of her life, and head back to the orphanage several weeks before we travel.  I know that is going to be very hard for her.  :((

5. Pray for us to not give in to the stress and to enjoy the process and everyday as we finish out this adoption.  It is hard not to get caught up in the worry of the money and all that is going on, and be upset over it.  
Thank you all so much!  If you feel like you can help us financially as well as prayerfully, that would be such a blessing to us!  You can donate either to our FSP (which is tax deductible) or our Chip-In.  If you can pray for us, that is super awesome!!  We appreciate every single prayer!!

We also are still selling T-shirts here.  We get a portion of the sale of each shirt sold.  They are pretty cool shirts.  

Our online clothing sale is going on here.  Feel free to check it out.  

If you would like to see a breakdown of our adoption expenses, you can see this post where it explains our financial needs for this adoption.

Once again we thank you for supporting us on this adoption journey.  It is a wild ride of ups and downs and highs and lows, but it is so worth it.  Our sweet girls are worth every struggle and stress, all the endless paperwork, and every single penny!!  

Blessings everyone and have a great week!!!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Tough Post

I've been struggling with whether or not to share this here on the blog.  I am not one to share the gory details of the hard part of our adoptions or life to the general public.  I am not that way in person either.  Unless you know me really well, I just don't share a lot of personal stuff about myself or my family. It's just the way I am I guess.

When it comes to our adoptions, I just love to talk about what amazing blessings God has given us.  We have so much to be thankful for!!!  I just like to share about that. I want people to know how great it can be to adopt.  And how great it is to have a child with Down syndrome.  It truly is such a blessing!!

I am passionate about orphans and trying to make people to understand what is really happening outside the safe and easy borders of the U.S.  I'm not saying life is just peachy all the time and people don't have real (and big) problems.  I just think people don't know.  I didn't...  But now I do, and I just want people to know that children are suffering and people are dying and things outside of suburban America are far worse than we could ever imagine.  And one way I try to do that is through this blog.  

I hope in some small way people are encouraged, and would consider adopting a child with Down syndrome or some other special need.  I hope they can see that what we are doing is a blessing to us.  Not a burden.  We are the ones who are blessed to have these kids.  It's not the other way around. 

Anyway...back to the original point of this post.  We have done a few fundraisers, and we have been amazingly blessed by very generous people who have donated to our cause.  And we are so very thankful for that!!!  I've always been a bit nervous about asking for money.  I'm not sure why.  I've never really had anyone say anything negative to me.  Except for the once in a while person who leaves a not-so-nice comment about how we are not being responsible with our money if we don't have every penny saved before we started the adoption.  But I am not really worried about that. I  guess I don't like to burden people with what I feel is our responsibility.  We chose to move forward with this adoption.  So why should we ask other people to help us pay for it?  

That being said, Mark and I firmly believe that God brought us here.  Without a doubt, He opened doors for us that we thought could not be opened to be able to adopt Hailey.  And we also have faith that He will provide the finances.   The problem for me comes in when I have to start asking for help.  I don't know why, but it is super hard for me to do that.  

So I am sure you are thinking.....get to the point.  Lol

I am here to ask for your help.  We are only about 7 or 8 weeks away from traveling.  That is super exciting!!  But there is one problem. 

We ain't going anywhere unless we come up with the rest of the money we need!  
And as much as I hate to admit this, we are pretty far off from what we need.  I am going to list our adoption expenses, so you can see what we have paid for and what we still have left to pay.  I know people who have not adopted wonder why it is so expensive to adopt and where all the money actually goes.  

I am asking if you would please pray for us.  Please pray that we will be able to raise the money we need in the next 7 weeks.  Please pray that we will continue to have faith that God WILL provide what we need.  That we won't start to panic (me specifically...Lol).  That we can remember that He IS faithful to help us finish this and to provide what we need to bring our daughters home.

If you feel led to help us, we would be so grateful!  If you could share our story and help us get the word out, that would be awesome, too!  I have plans to start a new fundraiser.  Maybe an Ipad fundraiser again. Or something similar. If you or anyone you know, would be willing to donate one or anything else for that matter, that would such a help and a blessing.  

Wow, I sound kind of desperate.  But I guess I am.  

I am desperate to get to my daughters.  My daughters are sitting on the other side of the world...waiting.  And I have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone and do everything I can to get to them.  Which I am.   

Even if it brings a negative comment or two.  These are our daughters.  They need to be here with us.  

I know you would do the same for your child.  :)

Where the money goes:

Agency Application Fee: $275 (paid)
Background checks/ local sheriff dept.fingerprinting: $53 (paid)
CPR training: $50 (paid)
Agency Homestudy Review fee: $300 (paid)
Agency Pre Approval China (child) fee: $500 (paid)
Homestudy Fee: $2000 (paid)
State of CO Homestudy approval fee: $175 (paid)
USCIS 1st child and fingerprinting: $890 (paid)
medicals, birth certificates, vital records (Mark & I): $100 (paid)
Passport (Daniel) : $125 (paid)
1st Agency Fee: $2500 (paid)
Authentications for Dossier: $449 (paid)
Postage/FedEx/Courrier services (all): $440 (paid)
2nd Agency Fee: $3610 (paid)
USCIS 2nd child fee: $720 (paid)
Chinese Entry Visas (me and Daniel): $280
Flights to China (me): $2300 estimated
Flights to China (Daniel): $1900 (paid) - Praise God (in our FSP)
In Country travel/flights/hotels: $3500 
Adoption fees in China for 2 girls (passport,registrations, notaries, visas): $1800 approx.
Orphanage donation (required) for 2 girls: $11,500 approx.
Post placement Agency fee: $1650

Black = funds already paid   Red = working and trusting that God will provide.

As you can see, we still have a long ways to go.  So far we have paid $12,187. We still have $20,030 dollars to go.  When I look at that number and realize we only have 7-8 weeks to come up with it, that's when I start to panic.  We do have a matching grant of about $6000 that we have had some trouble getting when it was expected, but it is still supposed to come at the end of June.  So that leaves us still needing $14,030 to raise. That number does look a lot better than the other one.  Lol  :)

We cannot take out a loan for this adoption.  We already have one from our adoption in 2010 that we are still paying on.

If you feel like you could help us with prayers or donations, we would be so thankful!  (Remember, any donations toward our RR FSP are tax deductible). If you would like to donate towards a specific expense that you want to help us with, please let me know.  I will also have a Chip-In set up so that there is another option besides just our FSP to donate to.   

I am going to leave you with this video.  It's very moving and it helps to explain why we do what we do.  God bless you!!

Online Clothing Yard Sale - Gymboree and Other Cute Stuff

We are going to be starting a type of online yard sale.  I have a ton of little kids clothes that I have been meaning to sell on ebay.  But that is super time consuming, and one thing I don't have alot of these days is time.  And, as anyone who has ever done a real life yard sale knows, those are super time consuming, too.  

We still need to raise money for this adoption... so I thought what better way to get rid of the clothes that are sitting in boxes in the garage and the kids' closets and maybe bring in a little money to help with adoption expenses!?!

This will make my hubby super happy as well, and that is a big added bonus.   Lol 

So I decided to try this. I will be posting pictures of individual clothing pieces, sets, or "lots" of clothing for your shopping enjoyment.  I will probably ask a starting price, and I will be open to negotiation.  I will also have to charge shipping, and that will depend on what you decide to buy.

These are just the basics, and I will probably have to add more details as I go.  Most of the clothes I have are Gymboree, Children's Place, Carters, and others. (I seem to have a Gymboree addiction problem). Lol  Most of the clothes are in excellent used condition, although there may be some with small stains.  If something has a stain, I will definitely mention it and try to have good pictures of everything. (Although I am not a professional photographer by any means)! Also, most of the clothes are little girl and little boy sizes up to size far.

I have a Chip-In set up for payments. Email or message me for more details on any items or any other questions.  

Are you anxious to get shopping?   Okay!!  Let's get started!!

Visit my new clothing store/blog here!!!

Enjoy and happy shopping.  I will be adding more items as my time allows, so be sure and come back and check again!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adoption News and More

We received our I-800 approvals today!!  Well, we didn't really receive them, the paper copy will be coming in the mail sometime in the next couple of days. But I did get confirmation from our USCIS officer that she had approved them and that she would be putting them in the mail today.  Yay!!!   Because C is a Hague country, the process is a little different than it was when we adopted from Ukraine.  You receive approval of your I-800A after you are fingerprinted, which you include when you send your dossier.  Then, once you receive your Letter Seeking Confirmation (LOA) from C, you fill out the I-800 and wait on something called a Provisional Approval (PA).  This is what we received today.  We got 2 PA's since we are adopting 2 precious girlies!

Next we will wait on the National Visa Center to forward our case (file) to the consulate in C. That should be about a week or so.  Then we wait a couple more weeks for our Article 5 to be issued.  Once that is issued, it will be taken to the CCCWA, who will issue our travel approval (in approximately another 2-3 weeks).  That is about 6 weeks away.  Holy cow!!  We are not far off now! Once we receive our TA, we will travel about 2-3 weeks later.  We're talking early July!!!!  Oh my gosh!!


In other news, we traveled to Golden, CO this weekend to watch our 2nd oldest graduate from Colorado School of Mines.  We had a really great time and we are super proud of our son!!  He graduated Summa cum Laude, and received some other amazing honors, too!  Then he hosted a wonderful graduation party which we enjoyed very much.  The kids did, too!

Way to go Jord!!!

Jordan with his brothers and some of his cousins.  It was super cold, even snowflakes were falling down here and there....that is why my kids are wrapped up in blankets for the picture.  Lol  Gotta love May in Colorado!

We are still trying to sell T-shirts to raise money.  We are getting so close to traveling and we still have quite a bit of money to raise.  Click here to see the details again.  

Also, just a reminder, you can donate to our Reece's Rainbow FSP (family sponsorship page) if you would just like to donate.  Don't forget, it is totally tax deductible!!  :)  That button is on the top right of our sidebar.

We sincerely thank everyone for the awesome support you have shown us.  Without you, we could not do this!  So thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Faith Hope Love T-Shirts!!!

We have a new fundraiser going that I am really excited about! This new fundraiser is super fun!   We're selling T-Shirts!! I really thought these shirts were a good sequel to our last fundraiser with the Faith/Hope/Love stones and goes along with our blog.  :) 

I'm really hoping ya'll will love these shirts!  If you have adopted, know someone that has, or are planning on adopting from China, Ukraine, Russia, or even Bulgaria, you will want to get some of these shirts!!  You may not even have anything to do with adoption, you might just like the shirts!  (The shirts don't specifically say anything about adoption on them).
The shirts say faith, hope, and love in English and in Chinese, Russian, or Bulgarian. Very cool!  The small print at the bottom of the shirt reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   I Corinthians 13:13”

I also really like the black Orphans T-shirt!! 

You will definitely want one of these shirts!

Faith Hope and Love Chinese (brown)                                Faith Hope and Love Russian (white) 

 Faith Hope and Love Chinese (white)                                  Faith Hope and Love Bulgarian (brown)

Orphans t shirt (black)

We also have the Faith Hope and Love T-shirt in Russian (brown).  It is just not pictured here.  :)  Please go and visit our store to see more details and to see what exactly what the shirts look like! 

You will order through our store on the Adoption Bug website and they will ship the shirts directly to you!  Our family will receive a portion of each T-shirt sold!!  

I love these shirts!!  I hope you will, too! 

I also wanted to let you know that we still have Faith, Hope, and Love stones that we are happy to send to those of you who would like them and decide to donate.  We still really need funding for this adoption, so please consider if you could help us.  The Casting Stones fundraiser is technically over, but if you would like to help us out you can receive these cool Blessing Stones.  I will have a new Chip-In set up, but you can also donate to our Reece's Rainbow FSP as well. Once I know you have donated, I will send these sweet little stones your way!  Be sure and leave me a comment to let me know and you will have to send me your address as well. 

If you can send a donation of $20 dollars or more, we will send you this precious little bag with your Faith/Hope/Love stones!!

And now to end this post.  I made a little video about how life has  brought us to this point over the past few years.  Kind of a brief story of why we adopted and why we are adopting AGAIN...  Enjoy.
(Remember to turn the music off below to hear the video music).  :)

Fun Stuff!!

Yay I have some fun news!  We finally get to send care packages to our girls!!  This is so exciting!  Here's a peak of what the girls will be getting!  
This is probably the funnest (yeah, I know not really a word but I like it) thing so far in this process!!  :)  Oh I forgot they have photo albums and letters from us, too!  

And yes, the letters to them are written in Chinese!  
Ha!!  Bet you didn't know I could write in Chinese!  Lol
And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it", whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

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Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.