Monday, March 20, 2017

Exhausting & Emotional - An Adoption Story | Reece's Rainbow

We are getting close, and things are wrapping up. The bulk of our dossier came back from the apostille last week, and will be sent overseas to be translated, later this week.  We got our FBI background checks in the mail, and they'll be on their way to DC tomorrow. And our homestudy came in last week, too, so we are able to apply for grants and get our homestudy apostilled and translated! Today we got letters from immigration, giving us a date and time to go get our biometrics fingerprinting done, so we can get approval from USCIS soon! Yes, things are wrapping up and coming to a close for us on this side of the ocean.  And I'm relieved!

Fundraising is creeping along. Honestly I'm struggling with it. On the one hand, I know that God is going to provide. He will see us through this, and I trust Him. But my sinful, human nature spends many nights stressing the dollar signs, and knowing how much more we need to raise to afford to bring "Mila" home. I'm praying over these grant applications. Praying God gives me the words to convey our need and our desire to love and parent this child. And I'm just going to let it go. I'm going to apply to every grant I can, do my best with fundraising, and know that He is in control. God loves "Mila," He knows every hair on her precious little head, and He will not forsake us. He's got this!

We had a birthday party this past weekend for two of my sons.  It was bittersweet, because I couldn't stop thinking about how our sweet girl has never had a mother to make her a cake, never blown out candles. She's never been celebrated. I don't even know her birthday, only the year! I can't wait to know her birthday. I can't wait to know everything about her, to make her a cake, to wrap gifts that were bought specifically with her in mind, and to be her mother for as long as I live.

I'm feeling all the feels tonight. Just looking forward to my girl. <3

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Compiling Dossier | Reece's Rainbow

We've moved up a step in our journey! If you follow any family pages on Reece's Rainbow, you'll quickly see that the family's progress is documented on the bottom. Our "Mila" has gone from a waiting child, to "My Family Found Me" (which totally made me cry), to our family page which said "Homestudy in Process" to now "Compiling Dossier!" This means that our home study is officially, and finally, wrapped up, approved, done and over with!  A copy is on it's way to immigration to match with our forms and be ready for approval, and copies are on their way to us to be put in our dossier (and also to be used for grant applications).

Actually, though we are listed as "Compiling Dossier," the truth is we are nearly finished with it! We've been actively working on our dossier at the same time we were going through home study, and the vast majority of our dossier is at the Secretary of State to be apostilled as I type. Or, will be, actually. It's due to arrive tomorrow (Monday). :) So, for those following along, here are our next steps:

1) Apostille copies of our home study and agency licenses, once they arrive, to go in our dossier.
2) Receive our FBI clearance papers (our fingerprints had to be done again, this time in ink, and are on their way to biometrics, also due to arrive tomorrow), and send them to apostille in DC.
3) Get immigration/USCIS approval and get that approval letter apostilled.
4) Send everything to "Mila's" country.
5) Be submitted!!!

We are chugging right along! Some days it feels like this is taking forever, but we only committed to adopting "Mila" at the end of November, so we actually have come a very long way in a short amount of time.  We're coming for you, Sweet Girl!

Money is currently the biggest obstacle in our way.  We will need at least a good $15,000 when we travel, but as close to $18,000 as possible to be covered in the event things don't go according to plan, which is more the rule than the exception, lol.  As I write this, our FSP (family sponsorship page) reads $1,405.  So yeah, we have a ways to go to being fully funded.  I waiver between stressed out about the money, which seems insurmountable, to at peace about it, knowing God is in control.  As a friend gently reminded me yesterday, God has not forgotten "Mila." Deep within her country, in whatever region and whatever orphanage, in whatever room and whatever crib, she is not hidden from His sight.  I find a great deal of peace knowing He knows every hair on her precious little head.

That said, we do still have a few fundraisers going on that you can help with!  Today and tomorrow are the last days to buy a vehicle decal sticker to help advocate for orphans in general but specifically to help bring "Mila" home to us. The decals say #AdoptionRocks and are available in several color options, and can be ordered HERE for only $7! Also if you'd like to donate directly to our FSP page on Reece's Rainbow, we currently have a matching grant, matching every donation dollar to dollar up to $450! We have another local fundraiser, this time at Dairy Queen, on Wednesday, too, and I'm excited about that! Things are moving closer every day. :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Update | Reece's Rainbow

As usual, lots of things are going on at once, in our efforts to bring "Mila" home! Our home study is wrapping up quickly, with a draft having been sent to our Hague oversight agency. Soon the edits will be finished, and a completed copy of our home study will be sent to join our forms already at the USCIS office. We are on the road to getting immigration approval which is a huge step that finalizes our stateside adoption efforts! BIG news!

In other stateside news, our dossier is mostly ready to be sent to apostille! We need the final home study after edits to get it apostilled, along with our agency license, but most of our paper chase (on this side of the ocean) has come to an end! Soon we won't have anything to do but wait on travel dates, apply for adoption grants, and fundraise our little tails off!

Speaking of fundraising, there is so much going on there! 1) The local consignment sale is finished, and our sweet friend raised roughly $190 for our family, which she's going to be offering as a matching grant, so that's a huge help! So thankful for her willingness to serve our family in that way, though she's committed to another family as their "warrior." She has such a servant's heart! 2) Tonight we have a much anticipated fundraiser at a local steak house, which is excellent news!  We love, love, love the family that's doing this for us, and truly believe God will bless their efforts, both for "Mila's" adoption and in their own family. They have such wonderful, giving hearts! Truly beautiful people.  3) I'm back to selling things in my own little small business, Heart to Home Organics. I've been fortunate to be able to bless other adopting families through this small business in the past, and I'm so glad that God has provided the opportunity to add to our own adoption funds in this way, now! 4) I'm in talks with a local photographer who is generously offering to do mini shoots as a fundraiser for us! And 5) Another generous friend is selling vehicle decal stickers to donate proceeds to us!  These are $7 and will only cost a stamp to ship, and you can fill our her Google Doc to place an order HERE. 5) LOVING CUP TEAS is offering 10% off with code WELCOMEMILA and 25% of sales with this code will be donated to us!

We continue to be so amazed and thankful for the generous, loving people God has placed in our lives and who are helping us bring our daughter out of the orphanage and into her forever family!  We look forward to meeting "Mila" this summer, giving her a new name and a new title that is of beloved, wanted, forever cherished DAUGHTER and SISTER and orphan no more! Thanks for following us on this journey!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Home Study Wrap Up + More | Reece's Rainbow

There's been a lot of progress made since my last blog! We had our final home study visit with our social worker, and it went pretty well! Our social worker is working on the write up for that right now, then our umbrella agency has to approve it all, and then we will be ready to submit it to USCIS for our immigration approval! Aside from that, our paperwork is ready to be sent to apostille (some things are at apostille right now, actually) and then submitted! We are really making huge progress and wrapping things up here, stateside!

I'm going to be honest about something weighing on me, though. Our social worker will only approve us for one child. I haven't shared publicly our desire to adopt two, but it was something we discussed with our social worker. Unfortunately our agency has a blanket statement for not approving the adoption of two unrelated children at the same time. She did hear us out, and really seemed to understand our desire, but ultimately the answer was a no. I'm not going to lie, it really hurt. With the rejoicing in the approval for us to proceed with "Mila's" adoption came some grieving for another child we can't adopt right now. And while I definitely do understand the agency's reasoning, and I won't pretend to believe that adopting two children at once (specifically two children with special needs) would be easy, I'll say that it's very, very difficult to recognize the enormous need, and only be able to bring home one. There is just so much work to be done. Millions of orphans all around the world need homes. Some have huge need for medical attention. Some are starving. Others are being abused and neglected and ultimately there just aren't enough people who are willing to say "yes." And so it did sting, that we are so very willing, but can only bring home one. But what it boils down to is God is sovereign over this. I prayed and prayed that He would open the door for us to be able to adopt two children, if that were His will for our family, and the door remained closed.  So while He didn't open this particular door, I will praise His great name in the hallway, for He has opened many more.  He said no to a second for our family right now. But He has said yes over and over for Mila. <3

In other news, the ball is rolling! We have several local fundraisers coming up. Restaurants doing fundraising nights for us and donating proceeds.  I'm really excited for that! Even in this, it's obvious to me how God has orchestrated so many things to come together for His plan for "Mila." People I didn't even know just a few months ago have gone out of their way to help us, from fundraising at restaurants to selling clothing in a consignment shop on our behalf. It's truly incredible! I had no idea, when we were looking to buy our house, that even the home we bought would be a part of God's plan for us and for Mila, to connect us with so many people who would be a part of this journey. God is so good!

Please continue to pray for us as we raise money for in-country expenses, which is the bulk of our need! We are so close to wrapping things up on this side of her adoption, but the need on the other side is great. I have absolute faith that it will all come together, because it's been evident in every step of this process that God is on the move. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve Him and witness His miracles for our daughter-to-be!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Making it Happen | Reece's Rainbow

The other day in a facebook group for those who have adopted or are in the process, the topic of grants came up.  I was a little surprised to learn that many, many members of the group said they'd applied to every grant listed on google, and had received none.  I'll be honest and say that I had been really hoping, maybe even depending, on grant money to make this adoption happy.  I was a little dismayed for a while, and worry really started to set in.  How in the world were we going to pay for this adoption?  Was it going to actually happen, when it came down to the wire for the funding?

After a gentle rebuke from a faithful friend reminding me that fear is not of the Lord and that, if He is bringing me to "Mila" then nothing in the world can stop that, I began to breath again.  God has been faithful over and over in this adoption already! Goals have been shared and met on repeat. He keeps showing up in mighty ways!  But let me share some encouragement for anyone considering the process and worried about funding: don't.

We are not rich people. Actually, I laughed as I typed that sentence, because the idea is so hilarious.  Granted, we are rich when you consider the bulk of the world and those in poverty.  We're rich because we have indoor plumbing and electricity and we don't worry about our next meal.  But in America's mind, we are not rich. Honestly we're probably lower middle class.  You know, the "Working Poor" who doesn't qualify for assistance but struggles at times to make ends meet.  We have six children, who are eating 23 hours and 45 minutes out of every day, I think, and one has celiac disease, meaning our house eats a gluten free diet to avoid him becoming cross exposed and having a serious medical reaction.  My 12 passenger van is 17 years old.  The other day I grabbed a shirt out of my closet and later saw in my facebook "on this day" that I had worn the same shirt eight years ago. Ha! So we are not rich. Not by most standards, anyway.

But, we are determined.

As I type this, my husband is on the second half of a 16 hour shift.  I have packages in the mailbox outside, because I've been selling my daughter's outgrown dresses in facebook resale groups. I have 425 hearts on my wall (still more to go, but my hand started cramping at all the cutting, lol) that I sold for $1 each in a fundraiser.  I have three boxes of gently used clothing I've been gathering for a local friend selling in a consignment sale to benefit us.  I annoy the snot out of everyone on my facebook friends list ON THE DAILY to help us, to see her sweet face, to see the faces of OTHER kids, too, and to get involved.  We are waiting on our tax returns to file the i600-a immigration paperwork we need to be allowed to bring her into our country.  Each dress I can sell or every 10 hearts means one more sheet of paper I can get apostilled for our dossier.  I'm working with Walmart to do a bake sale. There are two friends who own/manage restaurants that are doing fundraisers for us.

We work our tail ends off to get it done, because when something is important to you, you find a way, not an excuse.  And she is important to us.  Her life is valuable, and we will do what it takes.

A friend used this analogy and it hit home for me. Pretend for a moment that your child was kidnapped and held for, let's say, $30,000 ransom.  Would you walk away, sadly, shaking your head? "Well, that's impossible.  I guess she's just gone now."  No! You'd sell everything not nailed down and beg everyone you knew to help! You'd work as many hours as your employer allowed for overtime. You'd empty your 401K.  If you'd take out a loan for a house, you'd certainly take out a loan for your child's life.

So that's where we are.  If you would ask if we're CRAZY, I would laugh and tell you that absolutely, yes, we are crazy.  But if you ask how we can afford it, well, this is how.  Sheer determination, a Mighty and Faithful God, and a large amounts of coffee.

She's worth it.  And she's not alone.  There are millions more like her, waiting to be worth it to someone else.  Are you ready to make the sacrifice?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Heart Attack | Reece's Rainbow

Our house is under a "heart attack!"

I posted a video of my son sharing about this adorable Valentine inspired fundraiser for our adoption, and word spread like wildfire! Every $1 donated equals one heart on our wall, which may be personalized with a name (or phrase, bible verse etc).  This visual representation of all the people supporting us and "praying Mila home" has been so encouraging and inspiring to our family!  

I see post after post about the forgotten orphans. Children who have died -usually of starvation, drug overdose, or abuse- before families found them. And while these posts are incredibly hard to read, they're so important, because this is reality.  This is a serious issue, and people need to know just how urgent the need is.  However, it's incredibly draining.  It's difficult to think about all our girl may be experiencing before she's in our arms, but seeing that she's not forgotten, that our girl is SEEN by the people in our lives and even strangers who care,...I can't tell you what it means to us.  She's so real in our lives and hearts already, so much more than a picture.  She's our daughter.

In other news, our first dossier packet came back from the apostille yesterday! Actually apostilled, this time, haha. Hopefully I can find another family traveling soon who's willing to take our papers with them, and they'll be in her country before long!

There's really not much else to report, honestly.  We are working on our educational requirements for the home study and umbrella agency.  Watching videos, reading books. I spend lots of time each day googling adoption grants that we can't yet apply for but I'm getting everything ready to send the day our home study comes back completed.  We are just at work.  It's a full time job, but it's the absolute best kind of "work."

Thanks for the "heart attack," Guys! The fundraiser is going on through Valentine's Day! If we aren't facebook friends, there's a link to our Reece's Rainbow page here on my blog, and you can donate there. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Community | Reece's Rainbow

I just have to share this because it's really on my heart. Yesterday our social worker asked us about "community." Not where we live, but a community of friends and family around us who care for our family and support our adoption process, and whom we can count on to love and care for us and "Mila" once she's home.
We have that.
Honestly we have lived in this city for only two months and at least three or four of the people in mind as our "community" are local to our new home. Isn't that incredible? I feel like the Lord really went before us and prepared and ordained every step of us buying our house exactly where we did, so that we would meet the people we've met. But they aren't the only "community." There are many people in our lives who love our family so well. Whether that means sharing clothing your kids have outgrown, helping out with fundraising, offering to keep kids while we attend appointments to meet dossier requirements, or just simply asking how things are going and letting us know you are thinking of/praying for us, this community built around "Mila's" adoption is absolutely immeasurable in value to us.
So, yes, we have a "community." Mila has a community.That sweet girl doesn't even know we exist yet, but she is loved beyond measure, prayed for daily by many mouths, and faithfully cared for, to prepare her way home.
So thank you, to each of you who are a part of our community. I hope there comes a time when we can return to favor and be more on the giving end of things, but for now we are more thankful than I think many of you realize, for your love and support while we go through to process of bringing "Mila" from orphan to daughter. I had no hesitation at all in telling our social worker that "Mila" will have community here, when she's home. She is already so well loved.