Home Study and Updates

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So we SHOULD be getting our official approved home study this week, and once we get that, we will be able to start applying for grants. Time seems to be moving slowly, and each day I’m feeling anxious. Adoption is always a test in patience, for sure.

So far, we’ve paid around $6,000 in adoption fees. Of that amount, God has provided all of it. Praise God! Thank you to all who have been so generous. It has been truly a blessing.

However, in the next week or two, we will have to write two checks. One to the government for fingerprinting FBI checks ($1,115) and the 2nd will be our first big payment to our agency ($3,500).

We do have an auction later next month, but until then, we will most likely have to pay for most of these payments with borrowed money, minus the money that the window decals, socks, and M&Ms are bringing in, which will put a small dent into that. Prayers for our auction to be successful so we can quickly pay back that debt before much interest is tacked on.
Diamond Ombre for Men

HERE IS A LINK IF YOU WANT SOME REALLY NICE AND COLORFUL SOCKS

On a positive note, we received notification from our agency that our boys were feeling sad because the process is taking so long. (I’m right there with you boys!) They (the foreign agency) asked us to write a new letter to them to lift their spirits. I’m sad that they are anxious and sad, but the fact that they are WANTING to hear from us brings me a lot of joy and hope and now, a determination to move things along quickly.¬† But unfortunately, it isn’t on us right now. We are waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

And as far as timeframe goes, they are expecting our first trip to meet them will be late December. And they said they might be home in April-May of next year. Prayers please that that whole timeline can be bumped up a little, as Pete plants in April and that will cause some time conflicts. And also prayers that our next round of paperwork will move quickly. ūüôā

Thanks again for all the support.

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Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

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Recently I was talking to a friend and she had no idea that adoption could be so expensive. In her mind, it was just a few thosand dollars.

Unfortunatly, that isn’t the case.

Those of you who read my blog, or my facebook posts, already know that it is crazy expensive. I’ve shared the figures on here, but I thought it might be helpful to know why it costs so much.

Several agencies and government pieces play a role.¬† Not to mention airfare and travel fees and many other aspects of travel and documents and pieces of the puzzle. It isn’t just a greedy agency wanting to take your money; matter of fact, there are a lot of agencies, such as ours, that are actually non-profit. But even so, adoption is a lot.

And even though we’ve put our faith in God to provide, we am feeling the pinch of anxiety, especially in the next month. You see, we have a lot of payments coming up as we move forward, with very little prospects of fundraising in that amount of time. Here are the fees that we’d need once our home study is done, which could be completed by the end of this month…

 

Homestudy Fees: $975
Post Placement Fees (in advance): $3,200

After we complete that, we apply to the government to see if we are eligible to adopt from a Hague country. Get fingerprinted by the FBI, etc.

USCIS 1-800A ($775 + $85 per adult): $1,115

Right after the home study is complete, we get billed from the agency that is handling our international side of things.

Initial WACAP agency fees: $3,200
Home Study Review Fee: $350
Document Processing Fee: $1,000
IAAME Monitoring & Oversite Fee: $500

And then we get a bill from Bulgaria agency for taking care of their part.

Foreign Agency Charge: $3,000

We have about $1,500 left after our first home study fee ($975) doing fingerprints ($250) and paying for education ($150), left from donations and fundraisers.

So in the next month or two, we still need about $11,840. ūüė≥

And that is the now, not the fees we need later.

It is crazy expensive. So please try not to get annoyed about us asking for money, or doing yet ANOTHER fundraiser. We are working our tails off with paperwork and fundraisers, and applying for grants, and in return, we hope to give two boys who need a loving family a home. 

However… We NEED help.

Not just financially. We need advocates to help support our efforts.

So if you see one of our fundraisers that we are pouring in time and energy into, please consider making it a priority to come. We try and make everything affordable and even fun to build community. We don’t want to cause anyone any hardship for their support. And we honestly are trying to raise money without just sticking out our hands and asking for it.

If you can’t come or donate, please consider standing by us as advocates. More than just the sharing an event on Facebook. Our pool of resources is limited. If all of you can advocate to the people YOU know; it increases our outreach significantly!

If you are interested in an event, please considering committing to it, instead of just clicking on “interested” and only coming if nothing else seems better. Please make our little events a priority, if you are able. AND INVITE FRIENDS!

We do accept donations, as well. We’ve been asked by a few people about the best way to give us support. You can pay on our YouCaring page if you’d like. They do take a small percentage out that way, though. Otherwise, you can always write a check or cash. It will go into a separate fund that is set aside and deposited as we need to make a payment.

I also know that we could adopt locally in the USA foster system for practically free. We do have a foster license. And we have had the opportunity to take an adoptable child. But it never felt right. There was an unease in the easier (and much cheaper) path. But in the end, we do it God’s way. HE doesn’t want us to adopt that way. I truly believe that we are meant to do this path, not just to adopt, but to raise awareness about the need of the orphan, not just in our country, but for those in the world.
Again, we appreciate any and all help with this process. Every small bit of support means the world to us.

 

A Letter to Our Potential Sons

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So today I just submitted a letter to the boys. We were requested to write a one-page letter and include 8 or so pictures of our family, house, etc.

We’ve done things like this before. When we submitted our Dossier (our paperwork to Bulgaria) during our last adoption, we had to do something similar to show the government who we were. We’ve also had to do it for our foster license, including writing a letter to a child that might be coming to our home.

This letter, however, was different. It wasn’t a government agency. It wasn’t a child who would be forced into our home (although, I doubt they ever used that letter at all). This time, it is going directly to the boys to see if they want to come.

It is a strange feeling trying to promote yourself, but be completely honest. I love our family. Every strength and flaw. It was hard to choose the right pictures that define our relationships. And a letter and a few pictures only give them a snapshot of who we are.

But I guess it is similar to what we’ve seen of them. A few videos. Some pictures. A few pages of description. This whole process probably has less information that an internet dating site. This is when leaning on God becomes so essential. So I pray if this isn’t his will, the boys will turn us down.

 


 

On another note… We are still raising money for our home study. Once we get the green light, we are going to jump right in. My first go at a fundraiser isn’t progressing as well as I hoped.¬† And I admit, we are trying not to feel discouraged. We are still $500 away from starting the homestudy.

That is one probably with being a writer with an overactive imagination: I can imagine huge things happening, hundreds of people stepping forward to donate.  I can see it all in my mind!

So seeing the slow progress instead does cause some anxiety. Not that God won’t make it happen. We still have ideas in the works and He is in control. But it truly is faith to step out with something big and not know where the money is coming from.

And I know people could look at it as our problem. I mean, WE are the ones going through this. We could have adopted here in the United States for free! However, that isn’t where God is leading us. We’ve actually tried that path multiple times over the years, and it always felt wrong. It is far easier… especially financially, but God’s paths aren’t always the easiest. Sometimes we have to ignore the dollar signs and do what God wants us to do. In the end, doing what God wants always turns out for the best.

And as far as it is our problem, our choice, our responsibility… God commands everyone to take care of the widows and the orphans. Not just a few.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Looking after widows and orphans isn’t a calling. It isn’t a spiritual gift. It’s not something that you do once and check off your list. I mean, it is tempting to feel that way. We adopted. We did foster care. We did our part. We did more than most. And trust me, we tried to ignore God’s prompting and say we were done with everything.

Taking care of widows and orphans is our responsibility as Christians. Does that mean everyone should adopt? No. Does that mean that everyone should give all their money to orphans? No. Should everyone do foster care? No.

What that means for each person is different. God called us to adopt. But for others, it could be to pray for those who are called. It could be making a meal for a foster family and offering support. A pure and faultless faith is one that does something.

If you can’t think of a way to serve God in this way… feel free to pray for us!

 

 

God Can Move Mountains — A Road Back to Adoption

 

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The last few weeks, Pete and I have been going through a jumble of emotions as we maneuver through the possibility of adopting again. There have been a few children that have caught our attention. You can see those posts here, here, and here.

After prayer and the boys feeling right for both of us, we’ve made the first step toward adding older boys (13 and 10) to¬†our family. Just yesterday, our new adopting agency send our letter of intent to two waiting children in Eastern Europe.

So now we wait to see what the government says. And if they say yes, then we will need to write a letter and send pictures to the two boys to see if they want us. ūüôā

Adopting older children is very different than younger children for sure. Poor Lukas didn’t know what happened to him and was blindsided when he was literally ripped from his foster mother’s arms. When the children are older, they know what is going on. I can only imagine how it would feel. Probably both exciting and intimidating with the prospect of leaving the country they’ve known their whole lives and being tossed into a culture where they don’t even speak the same language.

If they say yes… Well, that is when mountains will start to move. To get officially¬†started, we will need over $5,000. As I mentioned in a previous post, we don’t have the money for an expensive, international adoption. But we are taking a step that God will provide the nearly $40,000 that we will need in this next year.

Not to mention the emotional obstacles. Not everyone in our family is on board. We can understand. Adding more to our family is a big change. And adding older children has the potential of a whole different chaos than adopting a toddler¬†(which, is still chaos…and still is pretty much every day). But there are risks involved when with a child who has experienced trauma. And every adoption starts with loss. Loss of parents. Loss of foster parents. Loss of country and language and everything they’ve known. It will be hard, but even older boys deserve a chance at a family.

But here is the catch. We need help.

  • We need help with fundraising: We need people to join us to brainstorm and stand beside us to organize fundraisers. We need people to help support us financially.
  • We need prayer: For our family as we emotional deal with this change and for the mountains that have to be moved¬†and the changes that need to even be made to our home to accommodate adding two more.¬† We need comfort to those in our family who are still struggling with the idea.

And if the boys say no and the door closes, we will also accept that as God’s will.

So in the next few days, I will be starting some fundraising opportunities. We need $1,000 to START the home study¬†process. I’ll also be reaching out to those of you who are willing to partner with us with your ideas and skills. This will be a huge undertaking, more than Pete and I can handle on our own.

Would you be willing to help us bring two boys home?

Adoption Money Doesn’t Grow in Your Garden

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So from my blog post the other day, I talked about adoption again. Pete and I have been mulling over the idea of adding an older child (or children) from Bulgaria to our family. It depends on the moment, really.

Sometimes we are at a strong, “No!”.
Other days we are at an indecisive, “Maybe.”
And still others, we are at a hesitant, “Yes.”

There are a set of brothers (13 and 10) that seem like really sweet boys, but I’ m just not sure what God wants us to do. I can picture them living with us. They even popped in my dream the other night. But the hill to and after the adoption seems huge.

I know that adoption is hard. I also know that some older child adoption works well, and there are other times, not so much. But I do know those older children long for parents too. And few people are willing to even look at those older children. Part of me feels like we are CRAZY for even considering it. The other part of me has my heart pulling towards these kids. But no matter how I feel, there are hurdles, besides our feelings and uncertainties, that stand in our way.

We just don’t have the money for it. We don’t. Not at all.

At least not now while we are supporting a child through college. And not with the general cost of living, etc. We know that it would have to be a God thing. And I don’t doubt that God would provide if that is what he wants us to do.

BTW… did you know it costs $30,000 – $40,000 to adopt internationally?

And when you choose a waiting child(ren), the time it takes for the adoption to finalize speeds up considerably. So basically, we’d need that money all in a speedy 8-12 months? No years of saving, and even then, we couldn’t save that much money at this time in our lives.

To even START the process, it would be $11,000 all right in the first couple of months. And to be able to apply for grants, you need an approved home study that takes $2,000 to complete. Our previous home study agency said they could get our home study done in a month, which is great! BUT, we don’t have $2,000 laying around. (Plus, the other $9,000 for agency fees to get the ball rolling)

Did I mention that Pete and I stink at fundraising?

We tried to do a little our last adoption, but none of it really did much of anything, so we ended up with some God money falling into our laps and quite a bit of debt. We just can’t do debt right now. And unfortunately, you can’t plant money and grow it in your garden.

So my question is this: IF–and I’m stressing IF–we did decide to proceed with this idea of adoption again, would anyone be willing to partner with us to help us fundraise? Would any of our friends join us to form a fundraising team?

Just getting some feelers out to see if that is even an option and ask for prayers for God to give us peace about our decision.

And even if we don’t adopt, I may consider doing fundraising for families who are.

God’s Many Doors

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Back in February, I had written a blog post about a child that was on my heart for adoption. You can read the post here.¬† Since then, he’s been on my mind off and on. I even kept his files on my computer because I didn’t have the heart to delete them.

The other day, I was looking at the waiting child list on Rainbow Kids. It is a website with a database of children who need to be adopted all over the world. I was searching through the children, and I saw him.¬†The same boy who’d caught my attention a couple of months ago. But this time, he was paired with his sister.

Now, when I had read his files, it had mentioned that he had an older sister that didn’t want to be adopted. So now, of course, I was really confused. Had the sister changed her mind? Are they now both up for adoption as a sibling group? So I contacted the agency linked to them on Rainbow Kids and they did some digging and told me that their files were taken down months ago. So I guess this was an old posting? Or was it? There is an agency looking into it for me. I do assume that he is still matched with a different family, and that was just an old posting, but it opened an old longing for me. The open door cracked open a bit and I found myself peeking through.

So it got me looking at other children. I have also connected with another adoptive mom, one who brought home two teenage boys just last year. I’ve heard many parents who’ve had a bad experience adopting older children, but here God connected me to a mom who got two great kids who’d nearly given up on ever getting a family. And they are thriving in their home. I’ve been hesitant to look at the older children, but she made me consider it. So I ran across a file of a boy who was fifteen.

At the age of sixteen, children age-out in Bulgaria. They are thrust into the world. Many of the kids are approached to sell drugs or engage or other unlawful acts to make money to survive. And according to my new online friend, most do… because it is money.

So I found a boy that struck a chord with me and I showed him to my husband, and this boy tugged at his heart. For days, he thought about him. Which for Pete is HUGE. He doesn’t get like that for the most part. Usually, I’m the gas pedal and he is the breaks. So I thought about how we could make it work. If he had gotten my¬†husband’s mind, then I needed to pay attention.

But just yesterday, we found out some information about him that would make it impossible to add him to our family. Another child who’d been in his foster home, one who was now adopted, accused him of some bad things, things that we can’t risk for our children. The agency would no longer advocate for him because of these charges and an investigation would probably take place.

It makes you hurt for the boy because the experiences he’d had in the past probably caused him to hurt others now. But, for the safety of my family, he was no longer for consideration.

So Pete said to me yesterday, almost the exact same words that I had typed a few months ago.

“Why?”

Why would God place a child on his heart and then take that child away? What was the purpose of it? We are still trying to figure it out, and these are those moments when you wish there was an email from God plotting out exactly why.  And I admit, we are both a little discouraged.

There are a few other children that I’ve seen. There are SOOO many. But I’m just not sure. I am feeling gun shy about God’s pull and what door, if any, to walk through. There are just so…many…doors.

  • There is the door to adopt again from Bulgaria.
  • There is the door to focus on foster care.
  • There is a door to adopt from foster care.
  • There is a door just to do respite from foster care.
  • There is a door to forget about adoption entirely.
  • There is the door to focus just on advocating for the orphans.
  • There is a door to forget about foster and adoption and move on.

My head and heart hurt. I know the last door, the door that does nothing, isn’t a choice for me. God has made me passionate about adoption/foster care, so doing nothing isn’t an option.

I don’t have any good answers. But I do know that I need to do SOMETHING. Throughout scripture, God commands us to do SOMETHING. But what is that something? Being obedient to God is hard when you don’t know what door he wants you to take. So we’ll continue to pray and hope that he makes a door stand wide open.

 

 

 

 

 

God Didn’t Create Autism

 

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I’ve been toying with writing several topics on autism. And since April is Autism Awareness Month, I figured it was as good of a time as any.

 

Those of you who know me, know my son, Adam. He is an awesome kid. He’s sweet and kind (most of the time), and quite smart if you look past his disability. And those who have the pleasure to know Adam, love Adam. Everyone loves¬†Adam.

Before he started school, I prayed that he wouldn’t be targeted by bullies. And God has been faithful. They not only not bully him, but he gave Adam a class of kids that not only like him, but they also support and defend him. And I feel blessed that he has given him the classmates he has. Matter of fact, throughout the years, teachers have all talked about what a great group of kids the class of 2019 is. And they are. A few years ago, I was talking to one of his teachers and told her how I much I love his class, and how great they are. And her comment to me brought me to sobbing, ugly tears.

She told me… “That class is special. And I think they are special because of your son.”

Now… How can I deny God working through my son after hearing those words?¬†I don’t deny it. God has used my son without him even knowing it. He’s impacted those around him. However, one thing I don’t agree with is that God made him that way. Not any more than a child getting cancer, becoming blind, or paralyzed from an accident. When Adam was born, he was not autistic. He slipped into autism.

God didn’t design him to be autistic; he¬†allowed him to be.

As much as I see the impact he’s made on people, I still pray for God to heal him. And yes, I believe autism can be healed. When I tell people that I pray for him to be healed, many times I hear something along the lines of “God created him that way.”

But I don’t believe it for one second.

The other thing I hear is: “Well if he didn’t have autism, he wouldn’t be Adam.”¬† This is even more untrue. Adam is special because he is Adam, not because he has autism. Autism is holding him back from being even more amazing.

Autism keeps him from forming deep relationships. He can’t drive. He can’t date. He won’t marry and have children. He won’t go to college (at least in the near, foreseeable future), and more than likely, he will live with us until we die. And worst of all,¬†It keeps him from a close, personal relationship with God. He knows about God (as much as he knows about bedtime stories), but he can’t connect with him or serve him or speak to him like a normal person can. The bible is too much for him to read, and his autism makes him selfish to care about serving others. And as much as it hurts my heart to see him miss out on all the experiences and relationships of life, him not being able to have the joy of serving God is the worst of all.

When God created man, he designed man to be in his image, to be in a relationship with him. Autism interferes with relationships. God would not create someone who cannot be in a relationship with him.

And… Adam is mild on the spectrum. I can’t help but think of those who aren’t so mild. Of thousands of children who are even more disconnected, who injure themselves. Kids who smear poop on the walls. Kids who bite themselves until they bleed, or bang their heads. Children who turn into adults and have to be put into institutions because they hurt their caregivers or themselves. Kids who don’t talk, don’t communicate. God wouldn’t create people who can’t be in a relationship with people or be able to serve him. There are people who have no quality of life because they are affected by¬†autism. God wouldn’t create autism.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Autism doesn’t allow this.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Autism takes away empathy and makes a person selfish. It is hard for them to think of others.

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Someone trapped in their thoughts, quoting the same YouTube video, banging their head on the wall, can’t do good works. They can’t serve God. God has prepared his creation to serve and love him, and autism doesn’t allow this.

So I pray.

Just like the blind man he made to see, I pray.

Like the crippled man Jesus made to walk, I pray.

Like the man with the withered hand, I pray.

God didn’t create my son’s autism. He created Adam, who is amazing. But I know that he is still trapped in the box of autism. I can’t help but wonder what he could accomplish without it weighing him down. And I often think about how incredible it would be for Got to heal him, of all the people who would see and believe the power of God. Yes…God may choose to use him with Autism still, and he may not want him to be healed of it. But even so, like the parable of the widow who kept going back to the unjust judge, I will continue to pray that cage will be removed from his mind. Until the day comes when I talk to God myself about my request, I will pray my big, bold prayers. If Jesus can make a dead man to rise again, he can repair what is broken in my son’s mind. I believe this. But I also know that the final decision is God’s.