Friday, January 30, 2015

Anxiety Sets In

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Round one of paperwork came through my inbox earlier this week-the referral acceptance paperwork. This is usually comes later in the game, but because we already have a child identified we are getting this paperwork before we’ve even been officially accepted into the program. I began to feel a little anxious, mainly because I didn’t have a clear picture of how this was all supposed to go. I am a planner and need to know what to expect each step, preferably a nice little time line. I can do this… a little bit at a time…I thought. (Ha! In hindsight, “I” cannot do this, but I know God can!)

But then, yesterday our official “you’ve been accepted into the China program” paperwork came through and a few minutes later the “let’s begin your home study paperwork” came through. I printed 100 pages off easily. 100 pages! Seriously! I sorted through it all, making sure I had all the attachments that were listed in the email, and organized it into stacks. Then began to read through the material. One document gave us a nice little overview of the process, with a handy little flowchart, which made me happy. I love a visual! But as I looked at each phase (there are 5 main phases) and the hefty fees that are due at each phase, I realized that we have almost completed phase four (the referral phase) and have just started phase one (the “Begin the process” phase). And the fees, oh my, the fees! I started to panic a little, I could feel the anxiety swelling inside of me. How are we going to raise this money this quickly??

After talking on the phone to the social worker who will be completing our home study yesterday, I asked her “What’s the fastest we could possibly bring “The Mayor” home?” Her answer was, of course, a ballpark, but she said realistically, depending on how quickly we get the home study and dossier completed, it could be six months. Six months!?! That’s like in…well…six months! That’s not very long to raise the money. Thoughts started swirling in my mind…I need a timeline, I need an action plan, I need to figure out when and how we need to raise the money, I need deadlines! SLOW DOWN! We don’t HAVE to make it happen this quickly! This is really happening! This is REAL, y’all! I tried to slow my mind and give my worry and anxiety to God. I know that this anxiety and worry comes from Satan. He wants to derail us. He wants to make us quit. He doesn’t want us to complete God’s work and purpose. He wants to make us doubt God. But, we know this, so that’s not going to happen!

I slept restlessly last night, despite me telling myself this. I had the first stress dream of I’m sure many to come. I woke up with anxiety in my heart! Then I checked my email this morning…my daily devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries (If you don’t subscribe to this, I highly recommend it), entitled “How do I Stop Worrying”. Isn’t it amazing how the Lord speaks to us and the avenues he uses to make that happen? The key verse was Philippians 4: 6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” How I needed to hear that this morning. I closed my eyes and prayed “Thank you, Lord, for the gifts you’ve given us, for the miracles you’ve already made happen along this journey, and for the people in our lives and the support and prayers that we have already experienced. I pray that you show us the plans we need to make for fundraising and direct our steps every second of the way. I know that this is your calling and your will and I know that you’ve got this! I know that you will make miracles happen and we will raise the money needed and complete the paperwork all in your perfect timing. Amen.” And then…peace.

So here we are. We are in the works completing phase one and four, simultaneously. We are going to compete the agreement paperwork for AWAA (Which, by the way, I don’t think I mentioned before, but the agency we are using is America World Adoption Agency, aka AWAA, AW, or America World) and get that returned early next week. And we have our first home study interview scheduled for February 9th, so we will begin working on that paperwork soon. And we will take it one step at a time. Prayers, at this point, are much needed, for us to focus and trust and rely on God and his perfect timing, for miracles in fundraising so that we have the needed fees for the next phase. Thanks for your prayers and thanks for your support!

For those of you who are curious…here are the phases:

1.) Begin the process- complete agreement paperwork and begin the home study. Once the home study is finalized we apply with USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) and wait for their approval, which can take 6-8 weeks.

2.) Dossier building- Ideally we work on this while waiting for approval from the USCIS and submit the Dossier to China as soon as that comes through. And some of this is duplicate information from the home study. The dossier is a compilation of paperwork that represents our family to the CCCWA (Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption), who will review the documents and approve us (or not) for the adoption. It typically takes 4-8 months from application to Dossier submission. Once China receives our paperwork, we then have a “Log in Date” (LID), which is what you would need to review children who are not on the “Waiting Child” list.

3.) Waiting- which is the phase you enter when waiting for a referral, which could take anywhere from months to years. We will skip this phase, since we already have identified our child.

4.) Referral phase- This is the phase we’ve almost completed. This is where you get child’s file to review, take to a medical professional for review and consult and then complete the “acceptance paperwork” to send in for “Electronic Acceptance” (EA), then all documents have to be submitted, I believe, again by in hard copies (?) for the official “RA” (referral acceptance). Not exactly clear on this phase, just working on the EA paperwork at the moment, which can’t be officially sent in until we have a completed and approved home study. Once this paperwork is submitted and we have our EA, we have 6 months to submit our dossier or we lose our referral, our “Mayor.”

5.) Travel phase- complete travel preparation and spend approximately two weeks in China completing paperwork for the adoption finalization.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Psalm 119:45 “And I will walk at liberty and ease, for I have sought and inquired for Your precepts.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Won't You Be a Part of Our Journey?

We want to invite you to be a part of our journey. To help bring Zack home. To be like Jesus to the least of these. There are many ways you can be a part of this journey, including prayers, supporting our fundraising efforts, sharing our story, and financial contribution. '

It’s no secret that international adoption is very expensive. It is not “buying a child” and I don’t believe others are actually profiting from the fees. The fees go toward paying those people who are working hard to manage the paperwork, navigate the system, making sure that the children being adopted are legally up for adoption and that the families and children are safe while traveling. The fees also include travel expenses covering a two-week stay in China with a 24-7 in-country guide/interpreter to ensure the safety and well-being of the families and children. The total cost is estimated to be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000, probably on the lower end because Zack is a “special focus” child and the adoption can happen pretty quickly. Depending on how fast we gather our documents, complete the paperwork, and of course make the payments that are due at various phases of the process, we could possibly bring him home in 2015. With that said, it’s going to take a miracle to raise this much money in such a short period of time. Mountains will need to be moved! We have made adjustments to our household budget and plan on saving every extra dime to put toward this adoption and we will be applying for grants, but the reality is that we will have to raise most of the money through fundraising. We need your help! And we need your prayers! There is no doubt in our minds that we will raise this money. We believe that when God calls you to live out his purpose, he makes miracles happen. We have witnessed these miracles time and time again in our lives. We’ve already experienced our first financial miracle on this journey. The first, we know, of many to come. You need at least $5000 just to begin the process, which of course we didn’t have just lying around. However, after meeting with our CPA a couple of weeks ago, we got some very good news—we owed significantly less for our January quarterly estimated tax payment than we had saved for. So, we had enough money to begin the process. Praise the Lord! We've officially applied, reviewed Zack's file with a medical professional, and we are accepting the referral. Next step is to begin the home study. We'll keep you posted as we progress along.

If you would like to help and be a part of this journey and a part of Zack’s story, there are several ways you can do this.

1.) Prayers. Lots and lots of prayers!

2.) We are kicking off our first fundraiser-a puzzle piece fundraiser. It is the largest fundraiser we will be doing and will be ongoing until we travel to China to bring Zack home. Read about it below.

3.) We will also be selling various handmade items as ongoing fundraisers. Consider purchasing one of the items and/or spreading the word to help us sell the items. Details to come very soon!

4.) We will be holding at least one garage sale to raise money for the adoption. The date is to be determined. If you are cleaning out your closets and getting rid of anything, especially larger items (furniture, electronics, exercise equipment, etc.) please consider donating the items to our garage sale. If you don’t live near us, consider holding your own garage sale or list the items on craigslist or eBay to raise funds for our adoption. Email me if you have something to you’d like to donate.

5.) We will likely be holding other events to raise funds throughout the year and will inform you of these events as they are being planned. You can support the events by sharing the information with others or by helping with the event in some way.

6.) Consider hosting a fundraising event at your church, work, or in your community to help us raise money or if you have a talent, such as photography, baking, or crafting, consider selling your goods or services to donate a portion toward our adoption.

7.) And last but not least, share our story with everyone you know! You never know who might feel compelled to help us provide Zack with a family.

Puzzle Piece Fundraiser
The first and largest fundraiser we want to share with you is our Puzzle Piece fundraiser. Every person who donates to our adoption becomes a part of our story; a piece of our puzzle. Here’s how it works:

We have purchased a 1000-piece puzzle (We were looking for a 500 piece puzzle, but the one I loved had 1000 pieces) Here it is below. Isn’t it beautiful?

Each piece costs $10. You can purchase one piece or multiple pieces. Maybe your small group, book club, co-workers, etc. want to chip in a dollar or two and purchase a puzzle piece together. Or maybe each one of you wants to buy a puzzle piece on your own. For every piece purchased, we will write your name on the back. The goal is to get all 1000 pieces purchased so the puzzle will be complete and we'll be $10,000 closer to raising the money we need to complete our adoption.

This isn’t going to be easy! 1000 pieces is A LOT of pieces. We won't get all 1000 pieces purchased unless the word gets out! So please help us by sharing this with friends and family. Share via email or Facebook or any other social media outlet.

When the puzzle is all put together, we will frame it in a double-sided glass frame and hang it in “The Mayor’s” bedroom. And one day, we will take it off the wall and read to him all the names on the back and tell him how God’s love was shown through all of YOU who gave so generously to help bring him home to live with his forever family!
We’ll post pictures as the puzzle comes together so you can see how this beautiful story unfolds.

To purchase a puzzle piece and become a piece of our puzzle, you can email me at Let me know how many pieces you would like to sponsor and the names for each. You can then mail us a check or donate using the PayPal button on the right hand side of this blog. Please note that there is a 2.9% + $.30 service fee that is taken out of each donation when you donate through PayPal.

Also, very soon, we will have an option to make your payment through America World’s Eternal Family program so that your donation can be tax deductible.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, January 16, 2015

Adoption Journey...Round Two

So we are officially making the announcement that we are beginning our second adoption journey! After visiting an orphanage in China in November, Todd and I will be adoption internationally! Jump over to my blog post on to read the story of our decision if you haven't already. And my apologies to those of you who were following along with our first adoption story. I just realized I never actually finished the story. The last post, ironically, was on the day Natalie was born. We received THE phone call on January 2nd and Natalie was placed in our arms the next day. Our lives were forever changed. I guess in the whirlwind of getting a baby so quickly and unexpectedly, I forgot to actually blog about it! Here we are three years later...and the journey is beginning again.