Not my will, but your's be done.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Explaination of the Adoption Fees

Wow. I just have not been able to come up with any good titles for my blog posts lately. I guess my brain is drained. If you are here visiting this blog looking for entertainment, you might want to just keep clicking. My posts lately have lost their luster, and tend to focus more on practicality.

For a while now I have been meaning to write a post that breaks down and explains all the fees and expenses associated with our adoption. Somewhere along the way I got side tracked, and completely forgot about it. I have been so immersed in the whole thing, that I forget that those around me(especially those who are completely unfamiliar with international adoption in general) really have no clue why in the world adoption costs so much. I can see why when you start hearing amounts like $22,000 and $28,000, you could possibly start to wonder if something unethical is happing somewhere down the line for an adoption to cost so much. I hope that this break down helps explain where all the money is going and why it costs so much. If you get to the end of the post and still have questions, please feel free to ask. If I know the answer I will readily give it. Here goes:

$1000-Promise Trust Deposit
This was our very first adoption fee. :) This deposit put Daniel on hold for our family with Reece's Rainbow. It takes him off the waiting child list, so that we can start the process of adopting him. The reason Reece's Rainbow charges this Promise Trust Deposit fee is because when anyone with half a heart looks at their website, they immediately want to adopt about 20 of the children on there! But once the rubber hits the road, not everyone is cut out or prepared to do so. It would be unfair to a child to take him off the waiting child list because someone has great intentions, but isn't actually going to be able to adopt them. Being removed from the list they miss out on the chance of a family seeing them that is truly equipped to go through the process of bringing them home. It is basically a safety measure for the child. Our Promise Trust Deposit will be applied towards our travel expenses when it comes time for us to travel.

$275-Love Offering to Reece's Rainbow and Family Sponsorship Application
I really wish that we could give them more. What they do for these children is just amazing. They provide an avenue for children who have been written off as useless. Not only have they helped united over 300 children with families(that would not have been adopted without the exposure they received from RR), but they also provide hope and help to so many more!
The Family Sponsorship program helps to raise money for our adoption grant. (Aren't they just great?!) RR truly does everything in their power to make sure that every child finds a loving family.

We were super blessed to be able to have our homestudy done at such a reasonable price. Reece's Rainbow informed us that the average fee is about $2000 for a homestudy, and I have heard of others paying closer to $2800 for their homestudy. Praise the Lord that we were able to have ours done for such a reasonable price, and that our social worker was nice, speedy, and knowledgable about the requirements of homestudies for Daniel's country. Such a blessing!!

$830-USCIS, I-600a, and FBI fingerprinting
Can I just say that we were blessed here too?! We barely slid our application in before fees went up on this one. This is all the immigration paperwork that we file with our government. It is a petition that requests that we bring a foreign orphan in to the states.

$1000-Various Document Fees
This is everything from aquiring "official" copies of documents needed for our adoption, to copying, faxing, notarizing, apostilling...(those four steps are done over, and over, and over again.)

$1000-Medical Expenses
We haven't gotten the lab bill in yet, and insurance doesn't cover the bloodwork part of our medical expenses, so I am praying that we don't go waaaay over this figure.

This was an estimate given to us by RR(Reece's Rainbow), of what we can expect to have to pay. From the research I've done, I'm thinking that we can expect to pay a good bit more. We will be bringing Kellen(which we are pretty sure won't be a full ticket fee, but there will be a fee). Also, there is a very good possibility that we will be bringing a friend or family member to keep the baby while we are at the orphanage and in court. I have to find out for sure if Daniel's orphanage will allow him in or not. If we do have to bring someone with us, we will of course, be paying their ticket and expenses. The main reason I am thinking that we will be paying more than that is because when we anticipate traveling, the prices will be approaching peak season prices. $5000 is just an estimate, but I am prepared to have to pay more than that.

$1700-First trip lodging($80/night for 3 weeks)

$1100-Second trip lodging($80/night for 2 weeks)
This is just an estimate too. It is very possible that we could end up paying a little more or less. From what I've seen from other families experience, I think this is a pretty good estimate.

$700-Food and supplies for 1st and 2nd trip

-to and from orphanage everyday(sometimes twice a day. yay!!!)
-to and from court and all other appointments
-to and from the airport/train station

$600-Daniel's passport

$555-Daniel's visa and medicals in country

$1000-Orphanage donation/dossier prep
It makes me sad that this is all we are giving the orphanage. If we raise money over our intended goal, it will either go to another waiting child with special needs, or to Daniel's orphanage.

$8600-Facilitator Fee
I put this one last so that I could explain it in detail. You probably saw $8600 and went "Facilitator What?!!" I know it seems like a huge amount of money(because, well, it is), but I want to explain to you how it is saving us literally thousands of dollars.
We are doing an independent adoption, which means that we are not using an adoption agency. The facilitators are people in Daniel's country who are helping us tremendously with our adoption. We have one main facilitator that we are working with, with several others assisting her. Let me just say, the facilitators do it all!
-Review and approve all our dossier documents. They check them over thoroughly and check for errors and make sure that they will pass the scrutiny of the SDA
-Translate all dossier documents
-Notarization of dossier documents
-Submission of dossier to the State Department of Adoption(SDA)
-Work with the SDA until dossier is approved
-Pay the legal and expedition fees
-Translation of all Daniel's documents required for the US Embassy to get his visa
-make all our appointments and go with us to translate
-Set up living arrangements and transportation
-they know the system, the region, and help us navigate through it all
-show you where and how to get food(markets and restaurants)

Basically, they are amazing! Without their help we would need an adoption agency to do this adoption. Paying a facilitator as opposed to an adoption agency saves THOUSANDS. I love our facilitator already!!

I hope this helped explain where the money goes. Alot of the expenses are travel related. The money isn't going to the government or an agency, and just a small portion actually goes to the orphanage. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask! I may have failed to fully explain one of the fees or expenses. It is my hope that we raise more than enough money to fund our adoption, so that any of the extra proceeds can go to another waiting orphan's grant, or to provided needed items for Daniel's orphanage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Laptop Fundraiser Reminder

For anyone interested, the laptop fundraiser is still going! The drawing will be held Nov 23, so you only have a few days left to enter! 1 entry is $10, 2 is $20, and 3 for $25!

The laptop fundraiser is being put on by a wonderful lady named Lisa. She is Daniel's Christmas Warrior. The Christmas Warrior program is a program through Reece's Rainbow that helps raise grant money for waiting orphans(all with special needs, of course). Lisa has such a heart for orphans, and Daniel inparticularly. It blesses my heart beyond measure to know that there are people out there that advocate for and love Daniel, just like we do! In fact, there are people out there that have been loving and advocating for him before we even knew he exisisted! Amazing!

Anyway, you only have a few days left to get in on the raffle, if you are interested in doing so. Tonight I will be looking over our homestudy in detail and seeing if every. single. aspect. lines up with Daniel's country's criteria. Once again, it has to be worded just so. Exhausting process. Our social worker is 100% awesome though! I've heard some horror stories about other adopting family's social workers, and we have been very blessed to have a super nice, extremely knowledgable, and easy to work with social worker. During our home visit, she and Luke even had a long discussion to the pros and cons of different video gaming systems. She's the mom of 4 boys and Luke was pretty impressed with her game system knowledge.

Anyway, besides reading the homestudy, I play on playing Uno with the kids and spending time doing absolutely n.o.t.h.i.n.g with Josh. Hooray for doing nothing for one night! Let's see if I can actually make myself do nothing.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Update(I seriously couldn't think of a better title)

This has been quite a week. Overall, we made steps in the right direction, but it was not without much stress, prayer, worry, prayer....and more prayer.

-I finished all my medical clearance stuff. I am officially HIV, syphilis, and TB free! Whew! *wink* I am also free of drugs, alcohol, and mental disease. And shocker of all, apparantly I am completely sane. Yeah, even I was surprised at that one. Inspite of passing all my medicals with flying colors, I'm not completely done with the process. There are two documents that I needed from the dr and one was signed in black ink, instead of blue. Out of the 900 documents that have to be done for our adoption, this is the ONLY one that has to be signed in blue ink. Now the whole document has to be redone. Not the dr's fault though. The document criteria can be a tad bit ridiculous. I have to go get the document redone this week and I'm not looking forward to it. Like I said before, I don't like telling people that it wasn't done right, especially when they have gone to alot of effort to do it right in the first place, but they just messed up on one out of 32 rules for filling out the paper. Ugh.

-We filled out our I-600A form and got it in the mail, but it took running around like a chicken with my head cut off all afternoon one day to do it. Guess I should explain what the I-600A is. It is our immigration paperwork. It is basically a petition filed with the government seeking there approval for us to adopt a foreign orphan and bring them back in to the United States. I mailed in the application form, our marriage license, mine and Josh's birth certificates, and a cashiers check for $830. Yep. The application fee is $670, and then it is $80 a piece for Josh and I to be fingerprinted with the FBI. Once they receive our application, they will put our case on file, but they won't process it until they receive a copy of our completed homestudy. I went ahead and filed our application, though, because the fees are going up on November 23. This was another form that had to be filled out very precisly. I am pretty sure that I am going to have a head full of gray hair by the time this adoption is finalized. The documents are killing me, man!

-Last week I mentioned that Ray was going to have to have a test done on her bladder this week. I dreaded it all week. Ray was pretty traumatized by her recent hospital experience, and this test was going to be worse than anything she experienced while in the hospital. Needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to having to subject her to that. I made arrangements for Josh's mom to keep the boys so that Josh and I could both be with her for the test. We got the hospital and did the whole admissions, hospital bracelet, argue with the folks about how much they want you to pay, and get her in to the hospital gown thing. Only one parent could go back with her for the test. As much as I wanted to be with her, we let her pick, knowing that she would pick Josh. This girl is a major Daddy's girl.
They got in the room where they would do the test, and as soon as the nurse said "catheter", Ray started screaming. I don't think the nurse expecter her to know what that was, but after her hospital stay, she knew exactly what it was. Josh couldn't pry her off of him to put her on the table. After a few minutes of trying to fight her, the nurses basically talked him out of having the test done. They said that they were pretty sure that they wouldn't be able to do it with her fighting like she was and that she could be injured in the process of trying to start the catheter. So, the test didn't get done. Now we're not really sure what our next step is with her....

-Packet 1. Remember the packet of documents that I made the trip to Austin to have apostilled, then I paid good money to have with shipped overnight to Daniel's country?? When they did NOT arrive overnight. That was ok. I really figured the overnight thing was too good to be true anyway. I kept checking everyday with the tracking number to see where they were. The last updat on the USPS website, was that they left Chicago to go overseas on Nov 10th. By the time Wednesday rolled around and they still hadn't arrived, I started to freak out. Thursday I called USPS and put a trace on them. (Which really doen't help me at all, since they said it can take up to 30 days to trace the package!!!!) Thursday evening I got an email from my Reece's Rainbow stateside helper(she is the one helping us through the dossier document gathering process) saying that I should probably go to Austin and have another set of documents apostilled and sent overseas through UPS, not USPS. Sigh. I was pretty upset about this. It felt like starting over. These are such important documents though, that I really didn't have a choice. So yesterday I resigned myself to the fact that I would be making a trip to Austin on Tuesday. I figured out how I would get the documents printed, signed, notarized, and faxed to Reece's Rainbow tomorrow, and apostilled and sent overseas on Tuesday. Then tonight after church I come home and check the computer and low and behold my documents made it over the ocean!!!!! They arrived in Daniel's country and made it through customs!! They haven't been delivered to our facilitator yet, but I am expecting them to tomorrow or Tuesday. PRAISE THE LORD!!!! We still need to pray that the are delivered to our facilatator and translated ASAP, but it is sooooo good to know that they FINALLY made it overseas.

-We also got a draft of our homestudy!! It just needs to be checked over by us and Reece's Rainbow to make sure everything is worded right and that all the information is correct, and then she will send us the final draft!! Oh, and we were APPROVED!!! YAY!!! I was pretty sure that she was going to approve us to adopt after how great our home visit went, but it really good to see it in black and white. I've heard alot of social worker horror stories, so how wonderful our homestudy went was a HUGE blessing!!

-Last, but most importantly, the vote in Daniel's country has been scheduled. We got official word today that the bill is scheduled to be read in Parliment sometime between December 14-17. If it passes this second vote, then all adoptions between Daniel's country and the United States will be closed. Closed, not postponed. Completely closed. Even those adoptions in progress. I cannot even begin to tell you how important it is that this DOES NOT HAPPEN. Not just for Daniel's sake, but for the sake of literally hundreds of families that are in the process of adopting from Daniel's country right now. I'll post more about it this week, but please be praying about this. The only saving grace right now is that the bill is close to the end of the list of bills to be read, so we are PRAYING that they don't have a chance to get to it. That is only a temporary fix, but it'll work for me for now.

That's my update of this week. Be praying that our documents make it to our facilatator tomorrow! Praise the Lord for the victories that we have won so far!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Want to know his secret?

(That is Daniel on the right. His friend, Timothy, is on the left.)
Somebody whispered in my little boy's ear, "Hang on, baby! Your mama is coming!"

Why else do you think he would be smiling so big. Hey, he may not know english, but I'm pretty sure he understood her. ;)
Doesn't that little face just make you want to smile?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paper Chase Update

Things are progressing quite well, paper wise. The only part of the adoption process that we really have any control over is part of the paper chase. And even then, it isn't really in our hands all that much. For a control freak/planner like me, this can be very stressful. So doing what I can do helps take my mind off of all the things that are out of my control in my life(adoption related or otherwise).

When I was in Austin getting documents apostilled to be sent over seas, I went ahead and got 3 documents for our dossier apostilled. There is another adoption term. Dossier. Our dossier(pronounced dos-ee-ay) is all the documents that will be sent over seas together and submitted to their government so that we can adopt Daniel. All different sorts of documents and papers make up a dossier: our homestudy, marriage license, medical records, proof of homeownership......and the list goes on and on and on. Almost every single document in our dossier has to be apostilled in Austin. In fact, off of the top of my head, I can't think of a single document that doesn't have to be apostilled. But long before getting apostilled comes things like official letter head, notarization, and tracking down the right folks to fill out and sign each and every document. Once you have it done perfectly, then it has to be faxed off, looked over by the document checker people, and approved, before it is ready to be apostilled. It can be quite a processes. I've tried to take it one step at a time and keep chipping away at it, instead of looking at the big picture, which can be very overwhelming.

So anyway, while I was in Austin getting our pre-dossier apostilled, I had a few dossier documents ready to be apostilled also. I went ahead and had it done so that I could set them aside completely finished. So far I have 3 documents completely dossier ready, and I have 9 others ready to faxed off to be checked over and (hopefully) approved to be apostilled. The document gathering part is pretty stressful to me, and I have a serious case of document paranoia. Each document has to be done very precisely in order to pass the scrutiny of the international courts. I don't like telling complete strangers how to do their job, so explaining how each document much be done has been stressful for me. I pray the entire time someone is working on a document that God will guide their hands, because I really do not want to have to tell them that it isn't done right. So far only one document has been messed up in the notarization process, so that has been a huge blessing!

I also had my blood work and TB test done today, so once those results come back, my medical paperwork can be done. Josh should be getting his bloodwork done this week also, so that's another step in the right direction.

Non-adoption news:
The baby cut tooth 7. I think it was painful for the entire family. Yikes! Number 8 is coming in right behind it, but hopefully it won't be as bad.
The baby's new hobby is pulling all the books off the bottom two shelves of each and every bookshelf in our house. We have alot of bookshelves, so that equals alot of books.
The baby(he does have a name, but usually just gets called "the baby") has figured out where Luke and Ray's rooms are and he can crawl there from any point in the house in about 7 seconds. We do have a small house, and that kiddo is fast when he's on a mission. He also has learned that he can push open the bedroom and bathroom doors if they aren't completely shut. It's been interesting.

We thought Ray had completely recovered from her UTI, high fever, dehydration, hospitalization thing. But when I took her to her post-hospitalization check up today, the dr found that she has a UTI. Don't know if it is the same UTI or a new UTI, either way she has to have a urinary tract test done now. The test is invasive and we were really hoping to avoid having to do it, but it looks like that is what she needs. Depending on what the results are, she may wind up having surgery. Pray for her, when you think about it. Her test is on Friday morning and I am dreading having to subject her to that.

Last but not least, please continue to pray for the upcoming legislative vote in Daniel's country. Still don't have a date on when the vote is going to take place, but it could be as early as next week. The wording in the bills states that all adoptions will be halted(even those in progress) until new laws are put in place. Pray that the wording in the bill will be changed! Russia did/is doing some things very similar to what Daniel's country is trying to do, but they have continued to process adoptions while they are working out there new system. Daniel's country could do the very same thing, but that is not the way they are leaning right now. Pray they will change there minds and allow adoptions to be processed while they re-vamp things.

Thank you for all your prayer and support!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Sweet

The unknowns hang over our heads like big dark coulds,
and sometimes it feels like I'm waiting to be swallowed up in the deluge.

This paper chase seems never ending.

The process is stressful,

and exhausting.

And the results are completely out of my hands.

But that sweet little boy has been waiting for me, for 4 years too long.

So I can't stop now.
Gotta keep moving. Gotta keep doing. Gotta keep praying.
until he is home,
where he belongs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Raffle!

It's time to start a new raffle!!

My friend, Carol, made this GORGEOUS bracelet to raffle off.
Yeah. That's right. I said she M.A.D.E. it. She is a very talented jewelry maker(Do jewelry makers have a title? Jeweler? Oh, I don't know...We'll just call her a jewelry maker.) Anyway, she made this beautiful(and very expensive!) bracelet and donated it to be raffled! How sweet!
The entries go as this: 1 entry for $3, 2 entries for $6, and 4 entries for $10. The drawing will take place on Monday, December 13th, so get your entries in now! One entry could win it!! And here's one last look at this little work of art.

Seriously, I don't know how she does it! That is a talent!
Don't forget that there are still two other raffles going on right now, also. The laptop raffle, which goes until November 23, and the diamond ring raffle, which goes until December 10th. Entries for the laptop raffle can be made here. Entries for both the diamond ring and bracelet raffle can be made through PayPal by clicking on the Chip-In at the top of the page. Make sure that you note in the comment box which raffle you are donating for. You are more than welcome to entry both raffles with one donation if you so choose(i.e. An $8 donation can be one entry in both the ring and bracelet raffles). Just make sure that you say in the comment box when you pay with paypal what raffle you are wanting to enter. Thanks!

The Heart of a Child

I have a sweet tenderhearted friend from our homeschool co-op.(I actually have also of sweet mama friends from co-op, but I am talking about one in particular here.) Through reading about orphans and adoption, along with some other truths the Lord has been revealing to her recently, she has found her heart broken for orphans. Her oldest is a year younger than Luke, and he and Luke are friends. He son has seen her looking at and reading about orphans online and has been asking questions. She showed him Daniel's picture and then explained to him that Daniel is an orphan. She told him(on first grader terms) what it is like for orphans in Eastern Europe, and how orphans with special needs are sent to institutions if they aren't adopted by age 5 or so.

A day or two later while she was in the kitchen, her son came up to her and said, "Mom, do you know that if I was an orphan and I lived over there, that I wouldn't be able to be adopted because I am already 7?"

"Yeah, you're right" she said.

He walked off and returned a few minutes later with a bag. He gave her the bag and said, "I want to give my money to Luke's family to help them adopt that little boy."

My friend figured that he had gathered all of his change and given it as a sweet tenderhearted gesture. But when she looked inside the bag it was full of dollar bills.

This first grader, already sensitive to the things of the Lord, was selfless enough to give everything he had to help someone he doesn't even know. Sure, his gift is only a drop in the bucket in the face of the total cost of adoption, but his example supersedes his donation. Instead of spending his money on a new toy, or thinking "I'm just a kid, what can I possibly give?", he gave what he had, desiring for it to be used to help someone else.

I want to be more like that. I want to be more spiritually sensitive. I want to have a heart for the things of the Lord. I want to give to others without abandon. I want to be able to bless others through my obedience to God. Colby gave what he had to help someone less fortunate than him. I see Jesus in Colby, and it makes me want to be more like Jesus myself. I am so very thankful that the Lord used a child to teach me how to be more like him.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are you Kate's mama?

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that November is adoption aweness month, and that my goal for this month is to make my readers more aware of adoption and the needs of orphans. I have a blog post I'd love to share with you. For those of you who are locals and attend Hillcrest Baptist Church with me, this will be an extra treat for you. The lady who wrote the blog post I am going to link it is Cheryl Johnson's sister!! Cheryl is our Minister of Educations wife, and I know that you will be thrilled to have a little peek in to her sister's life. Her sister has adopted several kids from Russia and EE, and is actually in the process of adopting a little girl from EE at this very moment. She is in Daniel's country and is just a doll! The blog post was written on Sunday, which was Orphan Sunday, and it could not be more fitting. Her post called, "Kate" broke my heart. While I am thrilled to my core and praising God that he has chosen us to have a hand in saving Daniel's life, my heart is constantly breaking for the ones left behind. My Reece's Rainbow friend, Mel, who is adopting a little boy from Daniel's orphanage right now, says that the children understand. The nannies explained to her(through a facilitator) that the children have seen parents come to the orphanage and adopt other boys and girls. They know what a mama and papa are and what a family is. They may not fully understand, because they have yet to experience it, but they know that the boys and girls who leave the orphanage with parents stay forever with the people who have been coming everyday for several weeks to love on them. Mel said that when she walks by the children they point and say that she is Timothy's mama. They know. When she is with Timothy near the other children, if she squats down to talk to him or give him hugs, the other children crowd around. They want to share a bit of Timothy's experience. They want a bit of Timothy's mama, since they have no mama of their own.

This breaks my heart. And this isn't an isolated case. You can check out Cheryl's sister, Marsha, at A Bunch of Whaleys(and boy, there is a bunch of them!), and you can also read about sweet Kate, who is waiting for her mama to come for her.

*Here is a link to Kate on the Reece's Rainbow website.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CSP. POA. And apostilling.

Today I made a trip to Austin in order to get our CSP's and POA's apostilled. What's that you say? You aren't familiar with the international adoption lingo? Let me interpret what has become every day vernacular around the Carlin household. A CSP(Child Specific Petition) is the document stating that we desire to adopt a specific child. The majority of international adoptions do not work this way. Normally with international adoptions, being matched with a specific child comes way down the road in the adoption process. In fact, in Daniel's birth country, being matched with a child(also called, receiving a referral, in adoption lingo), doesn't usually happen until you are there in country to adopt. Special needs adoptions work very differently. The adoption process starts with the desire to adopt a specific child. POA is Power of Attorney. I'm sure you know what that is, but you might want to know why that is an important part of the first packet sent overseas. The POA's give the Reece's Rainbow facilatator the ability to act on our behalf in Daniel's country. Simple enough. On to "apostilled".... Pretty much every document sent overseas for our adoption has to be notarized. An apostille is just and additional authentication the is required for our documents to accepted internationally. A sheet of paper authenticating the notarization or certification of each and every one of our documents is attached each paper. It is on the Secretary of State letterhead and has The Department of State seal on it. Very official.

Our CSP and POA documents need to be in Daniel's country ASAP. We are praying that these are the documents that will hold his transfer. While the orphanage has been notified, through our facilitators, that Daniel has a family coming for him, these documents are the first "official" notification that we are in the process of adopting him. We are praying that once "official" word reaches them that we are coming, that that will be enough to keep him for being transferred to an institution. Continue to keep that in your prayers until we are told otherwise.

So here is the apostille story, which could also be called the God-is-so-amazing-and-continues-to-make-his-presence-very-evident-in-my-life story. But since "apostille story" is alot shorter, we'll go with that.

As most of you already know, Daniel is scheduled to be transferred to an institution sometime this month. When God called us to adopt him, we knew that we were going to have to go into battle mode, and that one of the main enemies that we would be at war with would be time. Time is not something that Daniel has much of, so we have been fighting hard to get to him as fast as possible. Documents can be apostille in person, or by mail. They are apostilled by walk-in at the Secretary of State's office. Having the documents done by mail takes about 10 days. Austin is a bit of a drive for me to make with 3 young kiddos, round trip in one day. But I also knew that Daniel doesn't have 10 days to waste. My documents were approved to be apostilled and sent overseas Saturday morning. Going to Austin on Monday wasn't an option for me, but Tuesday or Thursday would work. Of course, I wanted to get it done as soon as possible so I talked with my mom, and she was able to get off work on Tuesday to help me with the kids.

We left at about 7 this morning. We drove to Houston and I dropped my mom and the kids off at my sister's house, and headed to the Capitol! Once I was in the quiet of my car by myself,(that rarely happens), I started to worry and panic. I have been stressed the past several days to the point of feeling downright oppressed. I've gone from worrying about Daniel being transferred, to Ray in the hospital, the super-fast last minute home study home visit prep, to demolition in my kitchen and complete disarry in my house, to being completely distraught over the legislative mess in Daniel's country. I know that worrying is wrong and doesn't change anything anyway. But try telling that to a mama who has the possibility of not being able to see her child ever dangled over her head. Daniel is my son. It may not be legal yet, but he is mine. I know that the outcome is in God's hands, I'm just fighting my human mama nature to worry about my child. So, the terms stressed and oppressed fit me perfectly in recent days.

All that to say, once I got in the car alone in the quiet, I really started to feel the panic. I started praying fervently, but quickly realized that I should enlist some help. I texted a sweet friend, who I knew would really pray, and asked her to pray about my trip. I spent most of my trip to Austin praying. Every time I would stop praying, I would start thinking, which made me start worrying, so I would go right back to praying. I was so heavy hearted that my chest hurt. Literal heartache. I kept my hand on my chest for most of the trip(I guess because it hurt), and at one point I was praying so fervently that I started raising my other hand. I quickly noticed that I had no hands on the steering wheel, and decided that maybe I should pray quite so hard while I'm driving.

I made it to Austin in a very timely manner and in one piece(in spite of the no handed driving). I found the building super easy, thanks to GPS. Then came the task of parking. Ugh. The problem wasn't that I couldn't find a parking spot, the problem was that I've never used a parking meter and I wasn't sure what to do. I know that sounds ridiculous. I was even thinking that to myself. I mean I'm 31 years old and I don't know how to work a parking meter?? I felt like "little country girl done gone to the big city". I moved to a couple of different spots before giving up and deciding that I was just going to have to figure the darn thing out. I waiting until no one was walking by(which took a few minute because down town Austin right by the capitol building happens to be a busy place.), then I got out with my wallet and a handful of change. I've seen people in movies put change in the machines, so I was hoping that knowledge would serve me well. I was fully prepared for it to require some secret code, known only to city folks, or have to swipe some special badge that us country folk don't have. Turns out, they do take change. Apparently, is one thing I learned from the movies that is correct. Parking meters taking change? True. Couples making out in the bed right after waking up and before brushing their teeth? Not true. Don't believe everything you see in movies.

Back to the story though....
After I put money in the parking meter, I got back in the car. I hadn't expected the whole parking meter thing to go so smoothly, so I wasn't mentally prepared to head straight to the building I needed to go to. I took a minute to pray, check over my documents for the ten millionth time, and pray again. To you, it may sound silly to be so stressed about this papers, but in an international adoption, your documents are everything. Leave one out, mess one up, lose one, and it messes the entire thing up. So after re-checking, yet again, I get out and head to the building. I find it, go inside, sign in, and the officer points me to where the room is that I need to go. When I go in, I'm the only person in the waiting area. The employee gets me started on the paperwork, which was super easy. While she was looking over my papers she pointed out some pictures of several kids on the wall behind her and said that those are kids whom have been adopted internationally that they have apostilled documents for their parents. I look up and see Wade and Yuri. You know who Wade and Yuri are, but I do. Wade and Yuri are two little boys from Eastern Europe. Josh and I read about them back in July, and God used their story and sweet faces to call us to adopt. Now, right in front of my face, was the exact same pictures, of the exact same boys, that God used to break our hearts for orphans in EE. Can we say, God thing, or what??? As soon as I saw them I said,(a little too loudly), "I know who those boys are!" The very nice worker lady, who ignored the fact that I yelled in the Secretary of State's office, was pretty shocked herself.

Right after that, while she was still working on my documents, a man and his pre-teen/early teenish daughter walk in. The lady asks him what he needs. Wanna guess what he needed? I'll just skip the suspense and tell you what he needed. He needed documents apostilled for his international adoption from Daniel's country. Hum. Another God thing. It was wonderful to be able to chat for a minute, in person, with another parent that is going through the exact same stress and worry over the legislative vote in Daniel's country. Not to mention that we got to talk adoption document talk and have a few laughs while speculating if we will survive the paperwork monster. It was refreshing to talk to someone that is in the process like we are.

While we were talking a lady came in. She needed a document apostilled for her Chinese adoption. And right behind them came in two guys. When they found out where we were adopting from, they started speaking Daniel's native language, which is NOT a common language for random folks to know how to speak fluently. Not only that, but the lady adopting from China started speaking the language too! These guys had a wealth of knowledge, not just about Daniel's country, but where I can find native food for him to eat, and where I can learn about the language and history of his country. At this point I've started to feel like I'm in the twilight zone. After I got all my paperwork done, I said my good byes to everyone and left. As I was walking out of the building, I stopped and sat in a chair close to the exit for a few minutes. I prayed and thanked God for the supernaturally smooth apostilling process. Then I thought about the people I had just met, and wondered if may I had been with angels unaware. The whole thing was just too far fetched to be a conincidence. God's hand was obviously at work. He knew I need those folks. Even though we only met for a moment, it completely lifted my spirits. I'm not totally convinced that the two dudes with fairly ratty clothes and shaggy hair, weren't actually angels.

I headed home, with plenty of time left on the parking meter.(Once I found out it took coins, I put in all the coins I had. I may need to find a parking meter tutorial on youtube before my next Austin trip.) I stopped at the first post office I came across(which turned out to be about 3 miles down the road), and overnighted the papers overseas. Once the documents arrive in Daniel's country and are translated by our facilitator, I am praying that we will know something more definite about the status of Daniel's transfer.

While I do find myself falling struggling with worry over the many unknows, in one day alone, God has shown me how his mighty hand is guiding me and going before me to prepare a way. I can not stop praising him for the incredible way which he showed himself present and active in my life today.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

I'm going to link to a post that I feel that every Christian adult should read. It speaks of the conditions in special needs mental institutions in Eastern Europe. The images the words paint are difficult to wrap your mind around, but the photograph is heart shattering.

Alot of people have asked us, "Why Eastern Europe?" We have been informed that there are special need children all around the whole, including right here in our own backyard(USA). This is so very true. There are children all around the world, the United States included, that are in desperate need of someone to show them the love of Christ. They need to be shown, tangibly, what Christ's love looks like, in their desperate time of need. God is looking for Christian men and women to be his hands and feet to orphans everywhere. God is the one who placed Eastern Europe in our hearts. It is, by far, one of the more difficult routes to take, for a family of our size and financial standings and if it had been our choice, we would haven't picked it. But it is the road God called us to, and after choosing to follow him in obedience, we now see why this is what he had planned for us. His call to our family right is to a little boy in Eastern Europe, who is scheduled to be transferred to a mental institution this month. We are crying out to the Lord daily on his behalf, that this will not happen. Mental institutions are no place for four year old little boys. The Lord is mighty to save, and that is exactly what we are asking of him for Daniel.

While I am not trying to be a downer or ruin anyones weekend, I am trying to raise awareness of the plight of special needs orphans in Eastern Europe. If not adopted, there is no hope for them whatsoever. The statistics I have read say that between 80-85% of children die within a year of being transferred from the "Baby House"(orphanage) to an institution. While abuse and neglect do exisist in some of the orphanages and institutions(as it does all over the world, including in the homes of your friends and neighbors), the poor conditions of older special needs orphans in EE stems more from poverty, than from abuse and neglect.

Please read this post written by a mom and dad who recently returned home from Eastern Europe, bring with them a son whom they adopted from an institution in the same country where Daniel is located. Their hearts are so very full from what they witnessed while in the process of adopting their son. Consider it your duty as a Christian(and in honor of Orphan Sunday, which is today), that you will allow yourself to become aware. You may feel uncomfortable, sad, or down right broken hearted after reading it, but avoiding the truth would just be wrong. Just because you live the American dream, doesn't mean that you can turn a blind eye to people(especially children) who are not so fortunate as to be born middle class Americans. November is adoption awareness month, so be prepared to become aware.

*I may have some minors who have come across my blog via Facebook, or a link from another blog. If this is the case, please check with your parents before reading the blog post that I link to. As your parents, they should be the ones to decided if the article/photograph is appropriate for your viewing. Thanks for your cooperation in showing this respect to your parents.*

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A little linky you just must read...

A friend shared this post with me today and, after reading it, I just had to share. I have gotten very tired of the prosperity gospel that has been popularized as of late. God isn't some Santa Claus that rewards us with monitary blessings in exchange for our obedience. I can get very wound up talking about this topic, as I get so sad when I see so many of my Christian brothers and sisters getting caught up in the lies mixed with truth. I think I'll just post the link, because she ends up saying most of what I want to say anyway(and she is probably alot nicer about it than I would be.). Right now I've had prosperity gospel up to my ears, and quite honestly, I could vomit. Ok, I'm really stopping now. Check out the link at It's Almost Naptime. And for the record, I don't want my children to be happy either. ;)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Destruction: Day 1

*I was too tired to actually finish this post last night, so Destruction: Day 2 is actually already underway. I may (or may not) post about it later today.*

I was having a rough evening last night and I almost posted and had myself a little pity party whine fest. To be completely honest with you, the only reason I didn't is because I was too tired. We are trying to finish up our online adoption training. Before Ray was hospitalized we had complete 4 of the required 10 hours. We planned on having the rest done by our homestudy home visit, but once Ray got sick that just didn't happen. Now that's she is home we are trying to finish it up. Our adoption training certificates, pictures of the outside of our home, and 1 single solitary document, are the last of the things we need to get to our social worker. Last night we were trying to finish up the training, but after a couple hours I was just too tired to concentrate anymore. I was also a little down. We had gotten some disconcerting news earlier that evening. Daniel's birth country had a vote yesterday regarding their international adoption policies. They voted, "Yes" to change things(I'm totally simplifying this for those of you who aren't interested in all the adoption legality mumbo jumbo). While the yes vote doesn't mean that things are necessarily going to change, it does mean that they are seriously thinking about it. They will have a re-vote sometime in the next 4 months. God willing, we will be overseas and almost back home with Daniel 4 months from now. So if they wait for whole months to vote again and the vote is yes again, then it probably won't affect us. But if they decided to vote again next month and vote yes, then it could possibly be very detrimental to getting Daniel home in a timely manner. We were informed by Reece's Rainbow to NOT PANIC right now. But in my personal opinion, I think that the reason we aren't supposed to panic is because panicing won't change whatever the outcome will be. Ok. I'm going to stop now, before I start getting upset again. I just have to trust that God has a plan.

On to the destruction part...
A month or two ago a bump came up in our kitchen floor. What started out as a little bump became a bit bump, and from a big bump it became a ridge. The kids used it as a ramp for their matchbox cars and scooters. Josh marveled at what could have caused it. And I tripped over it. With in a matter of 2 weeks or so, we had a bump similar to a mountain ridge in the middle of our kitchen. Josh called the insurance and they sent out an adjuster. The adjuster sent out a engineer/plumber to tests the plumbing and see if there was a leak. No leak. No one knows what caused it. Insurance isn't paying for it. Lovely.

My pawpaw said that he would help Josh fix it, so they planned on fixing it the week before the homestudy. The morning came to start the floor work and after a little prying we quickly found that the problem was more complicated than we originally thought. At the risk of the kitchen being in complete disarry on the day of our home visit, we decided to put off the demolition until AFTER the home visit. Of course, we had to explain to our social worker that the ridge in the floor was going to be fixed, but that was much better than a giant hole in the kitchen floor and the contents of my kitchen in complete upheaval. For the record, the social worker was understanding(Praise God!!).

Now that the home visit is over and Ray is home from the hospital, it was time to start on the kitchen floor. I took the kiddos to the library this morning. Story hour for the littles, and school work for Luke. On my way home I got a call from Josh. He knows that it takes me a minute to roll with the punches, and he called to inform me(so that I didn't have to discover it for myself), that when they pulled up the top floor there was tons of mold and mildew under it. Nice. Mold stinks. Literally. Not to mention that my carpet has been ruined because of of mold being tracked on to it. Sigh. Oh well. I can't quit thanking God that we decided against trying to fix the floor before the homestudy. I'm pretty sure I would have had a nervous breakdown at the thought of the social worker seeing my kitchen in the state it is now in.(Still working on the whole not worrying thing.) Thankfully, the mold and mildew was mostly contained to the second layer of flooring, and not as much on the actual sub-flooring.

I was able to find some good in the bad though. Luke knocked out several school subjects for the day by helping with the floor. He had a wood shop lesson when PawPaw taught him how use a hammer and crow bar to break apart the slats on the hardwood floor. He had a science lesson when PawPaw taught him all about leverage. And he definitely got his P.E. for the day. That kid is such a great helper!

Josh keeps telling me that I'm going to be so happy when the floor is fixed, but right now I keep thinking that I honestly didn't mind that bump all that much. I'm going to look at the bright side and be thankful that:

-I have a husband that has an excellent attitude about spending his days off working on the kitchen floor, instead of catching up on his sleep after spending 5 nights sleeping in a hospital bed with Ray. He definitely gets my vote for dad of the year!
-I'm learning patience and perseverance. (James 1:2-4)
-In spite of my exhaustion and disaster area of a house, I can't help but be so very excited about what God is doing in my life and in our family!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Need a diamond ring??

Maybe not. I'm sure most of you probably don't need a diamond ring. Especially not a wedding set like the one pictured below. But for $5 dollars you can be entered in a raffle for this very wedding set. While you may not need a diamond ring, but what about a diamond? The diamond in this ring is the perfect size to make a beautiful diamond pendant necklace. Gold is valued at an all time high right now, so $5 could win you not only a diamond that could make a beautiful necklace, but it could win you some extra cash with Christmas right around the corner. The drawing will be held on December 10th(plenty of time to get you some cash for gold before Christmas, or turn the diamond in to a necklace for yourself or someone else.) Every $5 is a raffle entry, and every $25 gets you an extra entry(so that would be 6 entries instead of 5). Feel free to donate in any amount: $6.00, 0.76 cents, $2.11, $9.91. Every single donation is appreciated, and as I've said before, God truly does multiply even the smallest of donations. Just for one day, make some Maxwell House at home and skip the Starbucks. Donate that 5 bucks you saved to our adoption fund, and that just might win you a beautiful diamond and some extra cash!! Use the Chip In thingy on the top right side of my blog to enter the raffle. Chip In uses paypal, so if you don't have Paypal, or rather donate another way, just email me at, and let me know.

Here is one last look at what your entering to win....

Gorgeous picture, right?! It was taken by a talented photographer friend that uses her talent as a ministry. What a blessing!
Now go enter the raffle!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Completely Exhausted

I am so very tired, but I know that I owe all of you an update. I'm going to make it short and sweet. Unfortunately, I do not have the energy to be my usual charming self (*wink*), so you will just have to make due with tired boring me.

First off, Ray went to bed fine on Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning with a high fever. I am a pretty laid back mama when it comes to my children being sick(probably partially because my children are rarely sick), but Ray's fever scared me. When your 3 year old is running a temp of 105.9, and that is a full degree higher than any tempature I've ever seen before, I think that qualifies as freak out time. I've read that high fever can cause siezures, so even though we had given her fever reducer and it had come down a little, we were still watching her very closely. Sure enough, she started having convulsions or siezures or something very scary. Of course we went straight to the ER. After way too many tests it was determined that she was very dehydrated and had a bad UTI. Ray just got out of the hospital today, and to make what could be a very long story short, I think that she, Josh, and I were all traumatized because of the whole ordeal. She's not 100% yet, but she is exponintially better than she was 6 days ago.

Our homestudy was scheduled for Sunday morning, and when we realized that Ray wouldn't be out of the hospital in time for it, I contacted our social worker to cancel. Cancelling would have been a HUGE set back, because her next opening for a home visit wasn't until December. God worked it out though, and the social worked did our home visit AND went to the hospital and met with Ray. How awesome is she?! The social worker was super nice and very knowledgeable about special needs adoptions from the country in Eastern Europe where Daniel is located. What a blessing!! Homestudies are a huge piece of the packet which gets sent over seas for our adoption. Even something as minute as a wording error or a seemingly unimportant piece of information being left out can cause a homestudy to be rejected and therefore delay the whole process significantly. So please pray for our social worker in the next couple of weeks while she is writing the preliminary and final drafts of our homestudy.

We have completed our first packet of paperwork to be sent over seas. It has been signed and notarized. Reece's Rainbows just needs to look over it and make sure that there are no errors, and then we can send it to Austin to be apostilled(have an official government signature put on it), and then it can be sent over seas. ALOT of steps to every single part of the process. But it will all be worth it when I get to hold Daniel in my arms for the first time.

Well, this mama is beat. I think it's time for a shower and for bed. Lord willing, I plan on launching an awesome new fundraiser tomorrow, so make sure you check back for details!!