Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The major components of our home study were sent off today! Shouldn't be long now! we have a lot of work to do, but now we can see the light at the end of the home study tunnel. zack was just saying the other day that it really doesnt feel real. It feels like a lot of paperwork, which, lol, it is. When he was training and running and selling soap, that was palpable to him. Now it's like, what's going on? Even for me as I've been doing a majority of the paper chasing, it feels less like something exciting and more like something... I don't know... Papery? Well in any case, we can sense progress and that is exciting!
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Now, here's a few of my favorite photos from our family pictures. Do you think they say, "We are fun and warm and would like you to join us"?
Saturday, September 14, 2013
God is full of surprises, some are fun and some are just... surprising. We had a really fun one happen on labor day weekend. A lovely young lady that I didn't recognize had her daughter out in the lobby at our church during the service. We were on our way to the nursery so we invited her along. Turns out, she is from Ukraine and her fiancee is from Russia. She has adopted (get this) 5 kids in her home country of Ukraine and they all have special needs or were older, etc. Why was she in our little church in humble Millersburg? She had seen a movie about the Amish and wanted to come to Holmes County to experience the culture. She is currently living in Chicago so her daughter can have surgery. The other children are at home with a nanny. She ended up at Hotel Millersburg, and on this God-orchestrated Sunday, at our church. They asked us, "Where are the Amish?", we asked her to "tell us about your adoption experience!" It was a win-win as we spent the day with Tetiana and Alex and little Sophia. They got to meet Grandma and Abe and Esther and get a tour of the back roads of Amish country, and we got to pick Tetiana's brain about adoption. The state of the orphanages, and the need these kids have for love and stability was confirmed in the picture she painted of her adoption journey. Little Sophia herself is a living testament to the power of a loving and determined parent. They said she wouldn't live, but there she was running around, happy and playing. Kids need parents. Parents need kids. We felt so incredibly blessed by this divine meeting. I mean, seriously, how cool was that?
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't think the wielder knew what a blow she threw, or how I sat in my car for several minutes deep in thought. It was a well-meaning comment, and not altogether a horrible suggestion. However, it was like one of my fears peeking into my reality and it made me not a little uncomfortable. "What if we are supposed to wait?"
The comment was referencing some small setbacks that had happened shortly prior. A prayer for provision was met with a job interview and an interest in buying some land we own. The job interview ended with no job, and the interest in the land fizzled. Also, the first home study agency we went with was our choice because the representative I talked to thought that our small house would work fine, even though our boys' space wouldn't have a door. An application was filed, $1,000 paid, and this was met by a phone call even before the application was approved that the house situation just wasn't going to work. "But I had talked to K-- and she had informed me that it wouldn't be a problem." "Oh, K-- doesn't work here any more. I replaced her, and your house just isn't going to work. You could wait until you live somewhere else, or find another agency." Ouch. I was discussing this with a friend and she was unafraid to bring up the aforementioned possibility. She was saying the comment partly out of love, and partly to make conversation. I really don't think she realized how much it stirred me.
It stirred me enough to mention to Zack that we needed to fast and pray again. Quickly. And a lot. So this sent us into a week-long discernment process (again? how often do we need to do this? answer - as often as it takes). Two verses came out of that intentional prayer week, which I will share with you. Zack and I were in total unity even though we reported back at the end of each day what the other had heard. Our thoughts were strikingly similar each day. That encouraged me that we were working together with the Holy Spirit speaking to us both.
Romans 12:12: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Joyful in hope. Joyful. In hope. Patient in affliction. Patient. Faithful in prayer. Faithful. The words rung in my head day after day after day. Joyful, hopeful, patient, faithful, praying. It spoke a message that God is leading us - and we must follow.
And here it is: Hebrews 10. Verses 32-39 convinced me that we must press on. Hey, if it does indeed take several years to adopt this child (or children), it won't be because we did not persist in our call. We pray that God continues to take the reigns even if that looks very different from our expected timeline. His timing is always perfect. Zack and I are ready to endure and persevere and continue on in our call.
Monday, August 5, 2013
1. What do we really have to offer? I know even kids in orphanages know some of what they are missing. Will they think we are perfectly fashionable people living in L.A. (cuz, what American doesn't come from L.A., hello?) who have a big suburban home with huge rooms and granite countertops and waxed floors and a big bedroom with a canopy bed and frilly stuffed animals adorning the laced pillows? What will they think when they find out that that is not how things are? If you didn't get the drift - our house is nothing like that. We are nothing like that. We shop at garage sales and our house has something of a poison ivy problem and it takes literally 12 steps to walk across the widest part of our house and I can't remember the last time I shopped at a traditional clothing store. You know what's really cool about us? We have got so much love just overflowing in our hearts for our children I think our kids are overwhelmed at times. We are going through this because we feel like we have so much love to give and to offer up to children in desperate need of it. Our prayer is that all of our children will see through our humble material possessions and see the joy that we have in having each one in our family. They are worth more than all the sparkly shoes and lifesize princess unicorns and video game systems in the world.
2. Will I truly love them like my biological kids? Will I always be trying to please/ impress them (see above) or trying to prove we are a good, put-together, non-dysfunctional family? Do I love Kian more than Logan? No. Do I love my children more than I love Zack? No. Do I love them all with a crazy depth that surpasses all understanding? Yes. I have confidence that I will keep my expectations real about the first meeting of these children and not expect to "fall in love with them at first sight", and grow to the feelings I have for my bio kids. I hear it time and time again. The loving actions blossom into loving feelings. Also, perfection is boring. And we are good, which is better than perfect.
3. What if they are complete toots? What if raising them is hell? What if they scream all day and night and spread poop on the walls and terrorize Kian and Logan? I absolutely love my awesome family, it's so cute and fun and we have so much fun together! Why ruin it? Why not quit while we're ahead! Also, what makes me think I can handle a child like this? I can get very frustrated with my 2 very good (generally), healthy children!!! What must I be thinking? Every. Child. Is. Worth it. We are determined to keep our children safe from each other, bio or otherwise, and we are preparing ourselves to deal with difficult behaviour and get help if we need it. Even if things go sour, any love we can give them, I believe, will be worth the effort. Mary Hopkins-Best states in various places in her book "Toddler Adoption" : "The family who makes an informed adoption decision, has realistic expectations, who came to their decision as a result of a careful refining process, and are willing to accept imperfection has an increased likelihood of a positive and successful outcome." I could give you a list of the books I have read or am reading about behaviour management and adoption attachment and it would likely fill multiple pages. We have spoken to real people who have done this (and a few more yet to talk to), and followed countless blogs. We haven't even gone through the home study and official training yet! We are doing our best to learn the realities of what we are doing and keep our minds focused on God and his calling. Even with all the potentially difficult realities we have heard, we have not lost our momentum for our desire to go through this adoption. Also, who says these kids will have difficult behaviours? Or that our biological kids would NOT have difficult behaviours? Who was it that gave those guarantees? Oh, no one, that's right now I remember.
4. What if we can't afford their meds or medical treatments? Will people say, "I told you so!" Will they whisper, "They said they were 'trusting God.' *eye roll*"? Will I be strong enough to rest in the fact that we followed a call? These are scary things. All I can say is, we are being blown away day after day at God's provision for our adoption expenses. How can we think he is going to stop once the children are home? God is giving us just what we need just when we need it. I believe that's how he operates many times. It keeps our focus in trusting in him. Also, because we believe God gifted us with brains that operate and that we ought to use them in a spirit of gratitude, we have made a plan A, B, C and D. Fun? No. Healthy? Yes.
6. What about surprises or delays? Welcome to the adoption process. Glad to have you on board. No birth is absolutely perfect (we don't have to go into details). No adoption is either.
Friday, August 2, 2013
So last we talked we were not sure about our house being approved for a home study. We think we have found an agency that will work with our house, so the process had begin with them. Finally! If we didn't live in such a teensy house we could have been so much further in the process by now, but I'm happy that things are still moving.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Grab. Your. Tissues.
Never in my life have I been so humbled and amazed at the outpouring of love and giving that this adoption has shown us. We have had people give large sums that blew us away, and some that went out of their way to show us support. I just have to share with you what a young girl did for us this past week.
Oriana, a daughter of my coworker, had a birthday party. In lieu of gifts, she asked each of her guests to bring donations to give to... you guessed it... little old us and our adoption. My coworker surprised me at work on Wednesday with a huge plastic bag full of change and a few bills. Isn't. that. amazing????
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Charlottesville, my residence at the time, is located not far off a piece of the A.T. (Appalachian Trail). My friends who have hiked it say that twenty-five miles is a fairly reasonable estimate for a good day of hiking- ambitious but not impossible. So I decided that while fifty miles of running might just kill me, I could handle twenty-five miles of hiking on the A.T.
Hiking the A.T. has been a dream of mine for awhile so I was pumped up and determined to carve away the miles. Honestly the first eighteen were not bad at all and not even boring really. The woods had their charm and that entertained for quite awhile. By mile twenty I was more than ready for the rest stop we had planned. We laid in the grass, visited the hole-in-the ground bathroom and ate our now mushy peanut butter and banana sandwiches. In hind sight I wonder if this break at mile twenty was worth it because it was a long enough rest to trick our bodies. Aches I hadn't noticed for the first twenty miles were now settling in and making themselves known.
The last five miles were tough. We ran much of this last part just to use different muscles and to see the end come sooner. Every now and then I would think of Zack and imagine that he was quite possibly still running, having started his journey an hour and a half before us and with twice the distance in mind.
At the end of the trail we had completed 24.9 miles so a few of us ran laps around the parking lot until we had safely covered a point-one-mile distance.
I was sufficiently tired, but it was the best kind if tired. I knew I could now tell my donors of our twenty-five mile distance. With all my team of friends with me, we piled in the car and celebrated with pizza: the dinner of champions."
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Thank you just does not convey the gratitude we feel at the donations that have been given for zack's race. Receiving money from strangers and seeing an outpouring of support from family and friends is certainly humbling to say the least!
So it looks like our house is a little unorthodox to be considered for a home study. Those of you who know us and our house are smacking your foreheads going "duh". Apparently the presence of doors on ALL rooms matters to some and not to others. Some fire extinguisher tagging and buying and extension cord changing and fire escape ladder buying and preliminary fire inspection walk throughs later, it is very up in the air whether this house could be approved. We are going to keep trying to continue with our home study while living here in this house, but it is growing increasingly more evident that we will probably have to wait until we move to my parents house to complete the paperwork process. That could well be a year from now. The only solace in that is as long as our current house could be approved, we can do a lot of the paperwork now, and special needs adoptions are expidited. The submission to travel should be relatively short. We continue to follow the path we are shown, trusting God to reveal every step. If it must be an arduous, slow process, then we would be joining the ranks of many an adoptive parent that had traveled before us! It's probably a blessing in disguise as we will have more time to make the adjustment, learn more, and beef up our funds!
Monday, June 17, 2013
We want to express our deep gratitude to those who prayed for Zack during his training and run. Thank you so very much. And to those who prayed for nice weather, the day could not have been more beautiful! We couldn't have done it without you!
We also want to thank those who pledged support and sponsored his many miles financially. It looks like this fundraising effort will get us through the home study fees! Praise the Lord, God is providing through awesome people like you!
Paypal: through the donate button on the side of this blog, you can securely send money directly to us. There is a tiny fee taken out which, NOTE: I thought wouldn't be evident to you, but looks like they do tack it on top of the total.
Checks or cash can be given to us, our sent to our home address. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the address.
If you have forgotten how much you pledged, just email me at email@example.com and I will look it up!
Just a reminder that if you donate in the above ways, the giving cannot be claimed as a deduction on your taxes, as we are not a nonprofit agency.
God bless you for giving!!!
Thanks again to everyone! It was quite an experience!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
If you think about it on Saturday, say a prayer for no falling and adequate nutrition and hydration and low humidity! But also that our eyes would be opened once again and all the clearer to the bigger picture. There is a bigger purpose to this race. We wish to grow as people in our adoption journey, to gain all the more insight into how God loves and provides and strengthens us in journeys that can seem oh, so, long.
Since this is also a fundraising effort, I want to say huge thanks to all who have pledged donations for this race! Every cent per mile is huge to us! (psst, Heather and Jason - your letter meant so much!) I do want to plug in a quick reminder that it's not too late to sign up to pledge a donation! Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We will have information after the race is completed (watch this blog) with instructions on options for paying. Thanks again!!!
Also please remember my sister Carrie and team who will also be doing a dawn-dusk hike as a fundraiser for us on the same day!
Friday, June 7, 2013
Sometimes I wonder, really wonder, if we are a little bit crazy. It's becoming more and more apparent. It's also becoming more apparent that God is blessing us richly with time and energy when it comes to the adoption process. It still gets me nervously excited to rifle through novel-length applications and peer into the distance at the long road ahead. How do we find the time when we are involved in so so so much else? Hobbies, work, family, work, church, work. Honestly, I haven't the foggiest. How does anyone find any time for anything they enjoy? They make it, or God gifts it to them. We've had a little combo of both. An evening here, a rare both-kids-are-napping opportunity there, a 20 minute do-this-tiny-task-while-you-are-both-playing-nicely over there, and a read-this-thing-while-breastfeeding here. Somehow the time has been found. Sometimes it feels like I'm squeezing blood from a stone. Yes, there are the moments when I get an important phone call and as much as I am wringing my hands and hoping that it ends soon because Logan is crying in his crib and Kian needs to use the potty, then something happens like Dad shows up out of the blue cuz he was in the area and wanted to see the boys (true story)! Those moments are thankfully not the majority. Still, God provides, yo. It's a fact.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Back story! My son Kian has a Veggie Tales video about the Bible character Gideon. He trusted God to help him when he was called to lead a teensy army in a battle that looked completely impossible to win. Not only did he win it, but God did all the work for him. All he needed to do was trust! Gideon wasn't sure at first, however, and so God gracefully allowed him to "put out a fleece" and to test if God was surely in this calling. His tests pointed him to the fact that God was indeed calling him to this and could be trusted to fulfill his promise. It's a cute video - I encourage the watching of it. "Gideon, the Tuba Warrior" or something like that. Anyway, what struck me is the fact that we are teaching our children these things. Do I fully believe them? Do I put these things into practice? Do I trust God? Do I believe that he will help us in what he's called us to? After introspection and review - yes.
Admittedly, I also was sortof inspired by the fleece idea. The next day I decided to lay one out. Partly in jest, I prayed "God, if the doctors are on time today (
When I arrived, the midwife was already there. I want to say that again. Jessica was already there. Trust me on this, that's pretty cool. It's maaaaaaybe happened one other time to me since I've worked there. K. "Woah," I thought, pausing pensively with a slight dismissal being still unconvinced that my fleece is not a stupid idea, "but Dr Cain still has to be on time". Hey, little red devil, let's just see what happens, shall we? Cuz - kablooie - in walks Dr Cain 20 minutes early. That has happened more than once, albeit rarely. That day it was because a scanner came that he wanted to play with and set up. It was cool because it was supposed to come the day before, but came that day because the truck got lost! Divine intervention? Distinct possibility. Fleece? Decidedly less and less stupid.
So there you have it. What Veggie Tales has been telling Kian is true!!! God is present and active and wants to help us! As much as we get discouraged with the rising hurdles that come up in this process, I know more certainly now that God will surprise us and come through. I don't know why I ever questioned it, but Thanks for the assurance, God. You're awesome.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Poor Logan has just had a horrible time this winter. He's getting over the second cold of his life. It's been two weeks of coughing nights and can't-breathe-through-nose junkies. When you consider that the first illness put him in the hospital and we were clearing snot from his nose for a full month afterwards, it feels like he's been sick his whole life! I thought breastfeeding really helps with this kind of thing... But it hasn't saved me from what seems like endless nasal suction for 7 of my baby's 16 weeks thus far. This flu season has kicked my tender behind. Don't let the door hit you on your way out, flu season 2012/13. Or I hope it does. Either way, be gone!
Monday, March 18, 2013
Adoption is expensive. It's the number one reason I hear from others as to why they feel they cannot adopt. The costs can seem astronomical, especially here at the outset. Believe me when I say, Zack and I share this sentiment. We do not have a lot of money to throw around. Therefore, Zack and I are trusting in the Lord and his provision. He has already provided for us in ways we never thought we'd get to witness. We are planning on doing some fundraising. First and foremost in importance, however, we feel it necessary to bring our personal finances and savings in humble submission to God. If I was giving to a cause like this, it would be encouraging to know that they are trying to be good stewards. Thats what we aspire to be.
In a series of posts about this topic, I'd like to highlight ways that we try to save money where we can. Also ways we try to use our spending power to do good. This has been heavy on our minds as we begin the adoption process- how can we maximize the money we already have?
The picture I've included is one way we are trying to do just that. Yes, since Kian was born, we have been one of those "cloth - diapering" parents. The picture is a representation of my stash. About half of the parents we know also do this, so we are not alone. There are several different approaches. There are many fantastic options in the cloth diapering world, yet many have large up front costs. All in ones, pocket, hemp, fleece, organic cotton, etc.
We decided early on that we were quite happy with buying a few covers (the colorful ones in the picture), and using hand me down diapers from my mother. To that we ended up adding some cheap gerber trifolds from an amish store, a few more covers bought second hand, and a few more cloth hand me downs from a friend. (i love knowing that we are using diapers that were on my butt! these things are lasting generations!) We also use cloth wipes. When our second one was to be born, we knew we would need more of those in our stash (hello, twice the poop!). I bought flannel and terry on sale (a few bucks), and made some of my own. I hardly feel more thrifty when making one diaper purchase every other month (we use pampers at night and with certain sitters). So there you have it. Maybe the second cheapest way one can do cloth diapers (besides good old rubber pants, which we do also own just in case we get in a bind!)
On average, those with two in diapers spend about $80- 100 a month on pampers. We spend about $10. Sometimes nothing. Hooray for saving money! When trying to eke out for adoption expenses, every little bit counts!
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
We think we chose one! We decided on an out-of-state agency. We would have to use a separate home study agency, but we decided that that wasn't a big deal to us. This agency really seems to specialize in special needs and has the most experience in Ukraine that we found. Also, the aid they provide to the unadopted is extensive. So there you have it! Printed out the application this weekend and will try to fill it out this week. Some essays that seem daunting, but I'm sure won't be too bad.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
It's 5am over here. I was just up with our littlest (3mo old). He's ben asleep for a bit, but I'm up thinking about this adoption.
This happens a lot these days. I wouldn't say that I'm consumed with worry. Not at all. I wouldn't say that I'm paralyzed by fear. Hardly. I consider these moments of nervous vulnerability... counting the cost. It even gives me some comfort to know that I'm uncomfortable. This discomfort lets me know that I'm going into a place where God will be present, and since I have faith in his trustworthiness, that's a big deal. Stretching, to me, equals growth. Heaven knows I'm all for growth. As my grandmother taught me, you must always be going forward. So forward we march! Yet to say that I have pure unadulterated confidence, and not a hint of nerves, would be lying. We are being called to trust in a lot of big ways. Trust for provisions, trust for healing, trust in a big God to fill the big gaps in our human-ness. We are entering this devine calling as humans. That is never more evident to me than when I'm sitting awake in the wee hours in the dark with nothing but my thoughts.
We have not taken this journey lightly. I think some of my immediate family has asked some very important questions to that effect, and I hope that we have been able to adequately assure them. They will be a big part of our children's lives, so we want them on board but also assured of our commitment. We have been taking some measures to ensure that we stay focused on prayer here in these early days.
Zack had been fasting every Monday from 7pm Sunday night to 6pm Monday night. He spends that time in reflection and prayer. I have been fasting from my phone every day until 2pm except for calls and texts. That means blogs, internet, pinterest, facebook, etc. Every time I think of picking up my phone to check a blog or look something up, I say a prayer for leading and for this adoption. The days get so full so fast and we often forget to sit down together and pray. These deliberate actions keep prayer happening when it is of utmost importance. We don't have a support network per se of others who have walked this road. Prayer is our lifeline.
Please join us in prayer. Count the cost for yourself. What part can you play in God's work in the world?
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Mission: usurp attention!
Stand by for breastfeeding session or rocking to sleep...
Troops mobilize! Lower lip pout! Hang onto leg! Go go go!
Rice. Definitely NOT food. Yeeeee-ugch
Paper towel roll with bits still stuck to it. Definitely food. Mmmmmm.
The wonders of the toddler mind never cease.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Here we are together again. I have doubts anyone will read this post, but perhaps when we are further in our adoption journey someone will want to go back and read the beginnings. So that's what this post is.
First I'll wrap up the previous posts. In short, the house became "Living Acts", a place of intentional community where several of us lived and experimented with faith and life. It was a good chapter, one I am grateful for. We had our first child, Kian, in 2011 and Logan 2 months ago. Before which we had moved to the house we purchased. The Living Acts program had a beginning and an end, and now we are collaborating together with other area churches to form a new vision for the house.
This is our next chapter. We (Zack and Rachel) are pursuing international special needs adoption. We have been praying and fasting about this calling for about a year. Through a random post of a friend of a friend on facebook, we found Reece's Rainbow. The need of the special needs orphan was weighed heavy on our hearts from the moment we saw "Susan's" (pseudomym) picture. she was adopted in her country (which we rejoice in) but the plight of so many if her kind nagged us. Now that we are settling onto a routine with our youngest, we are ready to pursue this.
Stay tuned. And pray, please.