28 September 2012

Fundraising Friday

Well I don't know if this counts as "fundraising" because we didn't raise it. It was plopped in our laps.

I was contacted on Monday by a total stranger (not like, we've met or have a mutual friend; I mean total) who found us pretty randomly. A check from her came in the mail today for our adoption. IT'S FOR $2,000.00!

I know, I was running around telling everyone too. I just can't believe how good God's system is - that he blesses us immensely and uses his people to do it. You get a twofer - fellowship with the one God and fellowship with your brother/sister. Loved by Father and loved by neighbor. It's just crazy.

So we've sent off the next fee. The last fee until we accept the referral of our child! Crazy, right?!? There aren't too many expenses until then: I need to order a new diploma ($50) unless by some miracle I find it. I don't understand how I can lose something like that - it's not like I move it or use it ever, and this is only the second place we've lived since I got it. Harumph. Another is to get Ezra's passport, and to finish our immunizations. That should round out at about $500 (the yellow fever vaccine alone will cost $280 for the 3 of us). By the grace of God, we currently have almost $2,200 in our adoption account!

I'll definitely update when we get put on the waiting list - hopefully on Monday!

27 September 2012


I just knew it would come when we left town. The whole "watched pot" thing. Here is the best part of our beautiful, expensive piece of paper, in all its glory:

That filing date is based on the time we filed it with our signatures. It was originally sent in on July 20th. I'm sad my little slip of the mind cost us two weeks, but I suppose that's up to the Lord. Use it for your glory, I mean, if anyone can eke some glory out of such a silly thing, it's you, God!

Look, it's what we get. Now our His Kids, Too! grant is closed. Or will be at some point today... All in all, We raised $2,232* with them. It also means that, in the past few weeks, people have given $172* to our adoption with His Kids, Too! THANK YOU!
*I'm kind of extrapolating from the amount of the check they're mailing to our agency. It could be slightly more than that, since they have to remove the credit card/paypal fees from the amount given.*

I have some crazy exciting news to also tell you, but I'm waiting on permission. Stay tuned (for now, just enjoy the grainy screen capture of that piece of paper up there. I love you, piece of paper)!

24 September 2012

Fundraising Sunday

Because Friday is for PLAYING!

Anyway, so with the sale of $50 worth of jewelry (!!!) (including my first sale to a stranger, wahooo), and with a little we put in from my last paycheck, our next fee is paid for again! YAY! Now all we're waiting on is our danged 171H (our USCIS approval) to come. I BEEEELIEEEEVE it will come this week or I WILL have a hissy fit. I'm just being up-front about it.

Anyway, I thought I'd take the time to go over the rest of our fees, just to give you an idea of what the process is like and where the money goes. All in all I'd say we have over $19,500 left to raise (which makes people's eyes bug out, myself included). As you'll see, that's mostly travel costs.

Money we've put in so far: ~$4200 (I can only approximate because I wasn't super-organized about things like gas money, stamps, printing costs, and the like. Maybe next time? Probably not; it's just hard for me to be that organized)

Our next fee (that I so hope we can pay by this weekend!): $3,000

Expenses down the road:

Agency fees left: $3,500
Lawyer and court fee: $2,500
Orphanage services/humanitarian aid: $2,250
Baby A's visa: $230 (the Department of State lowered this fee by $174!)
In-country medical exam (required for visa): $100
Document mailing US-Uganda-US-Uganda, etc: $300
Immunizations: $400 (only a couple are expensive, but boy are they!)
Airfare estimate: $6,000 (round trip for us 3 + one way for baby A)
Ugandan visas for 3: $150
Lodging for 30 days: $1,800 (we'll be there 3-5 weeks)
Food estimate: $300
Car service estimate: $1,000 (seems crazy expensive! but what are you gonna do with two little ones?)
Court report for re-adoption in the US: $500
Citizenship certificate: $550

GRAND TOTAL left: $19,580

Holey moley that's a lot of money. But you know what? God has all the money in the world (literally He's in control of it all). If He wanted to plop it in our laps tomorrow, it wouldn't be difficult for Him. I think He won't, but if there's one thing I've learned in the last seven years, it's that God loves for His will to be accomplished through His people. And God loves adoption.

As I know there's been a bit of confusion (totally my fault): we won't close our His Kids, Too! grant until we have our 171H because we can't. I wish I could and send it to our agency so it was taken care of and done, but we can't until we have a bill from the agency, and they can't send that until we have our USCIS approval.

[also, you may notice that the airfare is a huge amount of the cost. I have no idea how airline miles work, but if you wanted to donate those to us, I'll try real hard to use them! ;)]

19 September 2012

Birth Family Thoughts

This is kind of a me coming out of a closet post. [not THE closet, obvs.]

Some of you may not know that I'm a birthmom. But I am. I placed my first child, a boy named M, for adoption in January 2006 with a wonderful family. I found out I was pregnant at the beginning of June, just two weeks after choosing to let Jesus be the Lord of my life.

I'm telling you this because my experience gives me a little bit of a different perspective on the why and when of adoption. Something very popular right now is to say that children should be kept with their birth family if at all possible. I do not agree with that. I'm not militant about it or something, because I understand the heart - you want to enable people who aren't able to take care of the children they want.

But it's not as black and white as that. I wanted M; I loved him desperately (as expectant mothers do). I still love M and want the best for him very much. It wasn't that I couldn't take care of him; I had a job that paid well enough for us to get by (ish), and I know my parents wouldn't have let us become homeless or starve. But M's birthdad wasn't a really stable guy - he wasn't a bad person or crazy or anything; he just wasn't anywhere near being ready to be a dad. And I wanted M to have a family that was established in Jesus and his love. I wanted for M to not be raised by daycare workers but by people who loved him. I wanted him to be able to play soccer or t-ball. I wanted to get my degree and not be stuck working whatever job just so I could support us. I wanted to be ready to have children, so I could minimize the frustration at them when I felt the strains of growing up (and killing my selfishness). I wanted more than I could give him myself, and so I gave him that.

I remember the time when I was 5 or 6 months pregnant with him, wrestling within myself over whether I could place him or not. During a worship time one Sunday morning, God made it very clear that his will for this child was for me to place him for adoption - he literally said in my head, "This must be."

I don't hear like clear words from God often (though I did more during that time - oh the mercy of God!), so I knew without a doubt what God's will was in the matter. I know I have this instrumental difference - the Holy Spirit within me - that other birthmoms don't have which makes my heart at peace even as it's broken. So I feel I can know without a doubt that it's not always best for the child to stay with his birth family even if it's possible. Just because I could have cared for M doesn't mean I should have.

So no, I don't think it's always in the best interests of the child to stay with his birth family if possible, but I do very much want to help women/families in crisis to keep their families intact. Do I grieve over this loss? A lot, even still. But there's so much peace that I did what was right in the eyes of the Lord in our situation. I look forward to explaining to M when he's older all of the ways God helped me to put him in the family God meant M to have since the foundation of the earth. What M lost in his adoption is less than what he gained in being adopted. I have a confident hope that he, in time (or maybe always) will know this too. God is good, and he redeems everything.

I know it's a singular kind of experience, so I hope what I said makes sense. I don't think every person who hasn't decided to get pregnant should place their children at all. And I'm 100% for helping families stay together. But I don't think adoption should be viewed as a very last resort.

17 September 2012

Dear mailman,

I want to like you. Really. I know you're just doing your job and you do it well and usually while smiling. Thank you for bringing us our mail.

Just, come on, find a way to bring our 171. Please? I really really don't want to resent you, but I kind of am. This yo-yo hope isn't working wonders for our relationship. Seeing your little truck come by, waiting until you're far enough down the road that you don't see me excitedly scurrying (yes, I totally scurry) to the mailbox, and having my hopes dashed every day for three weeks!

Okay, I know that three weeks ago was not a time when I should have been hoping to get that piece of mail, but I did anyway. It's just what I do. I hope a lot, but I don't hope very well. I'm sure this process will strengthen my hoping muscles. I may even be a beefcake hoper by the time we are leaving Uganda with baby A in tow. But I'm not there yet.

I know my attempts to space out our outgoing mail so that you have to stop by every day don't do anything except make more work for you. I'm sorry. I'm going to keep doing it, but I know I will be making your life slightly harder until you bring our 171. So come on, just put it in the little box, and I'll go right back to loving you, mister mailman.

The pink house on the right

11 September 2012

An Embarrassing Admission

So, you know how I said we were fully funded for this next fee? Well, that's no longer accurate.

There are a number of things that are totally legitimate - we overnighted our immigration paperwork twice (well, I'm not sure forgetting to sign it is legitimate, but still) so that it would be received before the weekend. Then we had gas for getting to Houston and back for our fingerprinting. Then we've written a couple of small checks to the grant programs that require it (usually $10 or $20). I may have also gotten our FBI clearances which are $11 or $12 each (honestly, so much gathering, I'm not really sure when I got what).

None of that is really embarrassing. The embarrassing bit is that I used some of the funds we'd received from previous jewelry orders to buy more things to make more jewelry. But none of that has sold yet. I'm definitely not going to buy any more! I really wish I hadn't done that, even though I thought it could turn out really well (because people make positive comments), but it just hasn't really. My bad... :/ I've thought about having a trunk show, but I'm not sure that's really my community's thing...

All in all we need about $100 more. Well, I think we do. The grant agency doesn't tell us every time we get a gift (remember that gift we received in May that they didn't tell us about until a couple of weeks ago? I do.), so we could be covered.

As I was telling Stephen, he (indirectly) challenged me to tell you anyway, because I've kind of been hiding it out of shame for making that bad decision. Our 171 can come back any day now (it's been 4 weeks since we were fingerprinted), so we could really use the funds. If you feel led to give, here's a good way (and it's tax deductible). If you don't, that's okay too! I know God will pull through for our child, in spite of me.

I hope to have exciting news this week - we could totally have our 171 back! Here's praying for a speedy government process - that can happen, right? ;)

09 September 2012

Serious Sunday

I'll be brief (HA! I mean as brief as I can be). Ezra's been sleeping poorly. And by that I mean, like last night: he woke up 5 times from 3:30-5, and then came into bed with us, where he rolled around until 6:30 and Stephen held him down in his crib until he went to sleep. But he just woke back up 5 minutes later, so I spent the rest of the night sleeping on the floor in his room with my arm in his crib.You know he climbed out of his crib, so we can't ever let him cry, even though he's just being stubborn about sleep (so it seems? Anybody know of a reason why an 18 month old would be awake - not ready to play awake, just not going to sleep - for 1-3 hours every night for over a week?).

I've been pretty complainy about it to the Lord. I mean, who wants to be this tired? I really have to watch my driving because I'm just not very safe anymore. I have to focus, or I get dangerous. So we were talking about God's discipline this morning during the worship time, and I was reminded - God doesn't lose patience with me, even when I'm being really slow to learn something, or even when I'm being stubborn in giving in to him. He's just persistent, to the bitter end he persists with me.

This season is unpleasant, and he let me know it's okay to admit that. But I don't get to complain about Ezra's difficulties with sleeping anymore. I need to take it as an opportunity to grow in patience because God knows I need more. I mean, I also know in theory that I need more, and I kind of want more patience, but I don't really want to go through the season required to grow that patience, you know?

But God reminded me, as I started to go into my old routine of thinking of obedience as a leash that gets shorter or a collar that gets tighter: he's not like that. He's a good dad. Good parents discipline their kids so that they can move into a greater freedom with the ability to be responsible with it. Ezra gets disciplined when he runs away from me because he could be hurt or killed if he ran away at the wrong time. Once he learns to stop when I say, "Stop!" then he can have more freedom - maybe to walk in the parking lot or something like that.

I guess what I mean by all that is that I sometimes get into a rut of thinking that God grows my character just so he can throw harder things onto my back. But I think I have it backwards. God knows that this is the easiest it's going to be maybe until I die. Who knows, maybe I'll have times when life slows down and I'm rested and things are tranquil, but I just kind of doubt it. I think life just gets harder because that's what life does here, and God wants me to be ready to walk in freedom, and to handle that freedom responsibly. He wants for my future to not be so burdensome as it will be if I don't grow now. He doesn't want to turn me into a circus animal who just does whatever he says when he says it; he wants me to not be a toddler for the rest of my life! I [sometimes] want that too.

For now, we're transitioning Ezra into a "toddler bed" (which, around these parts, means a mattress on the floor) tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell this week!

Oh, and he also said "grass" and "up" today. And he tried to say "robot" but was unsuccessful (bobo? Not a word). It's exciting to hear him speaking after so long of not understanding annnnything. Luckily we still aren't developed to the point of getting frustrated with Mommy for not understanding toddlerspeak.

05 September 2012


You will never guess where we found E sleeping this morning. Lemme splain.

So every so often, we close the door on Ezra in the middle of the night. He sleeps across the hall from us, so we don't need a monitor to hear when he wakes up (and he's always sure to tell us when he does). We don't close the doors frequently, just when we're sure that he's not hurting or in need of comfort, but when he just doesn't want to go back to sleep (he has never ever been okay with hanging out in his crib without us there). So when it's clear he's just being kind of naughty, and we've tried everything we know to do, and it's been an hour and a half for crying out loud, we close the door. Usually I'll go back in there after a few minutes to settle him down, and he'll lay down and go to sleep. But not last night. So we closed the doors again and went to sleep because I physically couldn't stay awake any longer.

I really do love my child, but I also know that I still have to take care of him the next day, and I can't do that well if he's kept me up for three precious hours (in fact I tend to dislike him on those days, which is sad). The fact that Ezra hasn't slept through the night since before the Staff Retreat (a month) doesn't help.

So we set our alarm for 6:30 - when he typically wakes up - and I open the door to find things blocking the way into the room and I'm like !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEREISHEWHEREISHEWHEEERREISSSSSHEEEEEEE

Like that. Turns out, he decided to sleep on top of his changing table. Regardless of whatever you just pictured in your head, THIS is what his table looks like:
Does that look sturdy to you? No? No! It's not! I don't even know how he got up there, but I guess the same way he got out of his crib with no bumper rails or stuffed animals or any other type of leverage. 

I need a moment to calm back down.

So, we're trying to figure out what to do, once we can get up off our needs thanking God that E didn't hurt himself on the many sharp and dangerous things we have in that room. Really, it's just for sleeping; we keep the door closed during the day and everything.

I feel like a really bad parent, but is it normal for a small 18 month old to climb out of a crib that's fully lowered? I mean, he's only 31 inches tall. There's 21 inches between his crib mattress and the top of his crib. And that table is 36 inches tall! I certainly don't have that kind of upper body strength, and he's a toddler.

I need another moment. I've needed lots today. You mommas you, when did you put your kiddo on a mattress on the floor, or in a toddler bed? Or should we just move his crib into our front bedroom, which is free of enticing things like my sewing machine and our totally-full bookcase? 

01 September 2012

Fundraising Fri... Saturday :/

Whoops! With the first week of school come a crazy amount of work. Sorry for the silence! Our semester is starting up well, with 17 people actively interested in our small group. Yay! But that's not the point of today's post.

Since I'm already a day late on this, I'll keep it short. We're going to be closing our His Kids, Too! grant next Friday, September 7th. It will take a little bit of time for them to send it to our agency, and we want to have it ready to go when we get our advance orphan processing approval from USCIS.

So, if you want to support our adoption in a tax-deductible manner, just go here!

I didn't submit a grant application this week - just working too much. But hopefully I can get one out next week!

The only other thing is that I sold some oreo cookie balls at our church's office and made $5. I think maybe I should've made them a little smaller (and not at the beginning of the semester, when people are trying to work out and be healthy). Lesson learned! Still, $5 is $5 more than we had. Onward!