Saturday, December 31, 2011

registry and timeline update

Greetings everyone!  
We are just a few hours away from 2012, hallelujah!  Back in 2010 I secretly declared that to be the year of a baby.  Obviously that didn't happen, but I have a good feeling for 2012.  Gia will prayerfully be coming home in the next few months!  How do I know?  Well, just look at the fortune cookie message I got last night.

See?  You can't ignore the power of the fortune cookie.

In order for me to get a good feel of our timeline, I emailed our agency to see what paperwork we were waiting on.  I learned...
1. our daughter's legals will be the next step
2. I600
3. I600 approval
4. wait for Korea to finalize her paperwork in Korea so she can travel

Sounds simple, huh?  Here's hoping.  

With her potentially coming home soon, we are anxious to get her room ready.  Call it nesting, if you will.  Some dear friends of ours are hosting an Ikea shower for us next month, so our first step in this nesting stage was to make a little registry of our Ikea likes.  We found the most precious bed that we cannot wait to get set up!  We did buy one thing while we were there.

Kevin found this sweet purpley-pink rug on sale.  We had to get it for fear it would be gone by next month!  Plus, our shower is in Atlanta and we were at the Ohio Ikea, so we didn't even know if ATL would have it.  
Side note:  We were in Ohio visiting our new little niece, Florence.  PRECIOUS!  Out of respect for my sister and BIL, I won't post her pic unless they give me permission.  Trust me though, Italian beauty. :)

With all this shower talk, my sister encouraged me to finish our scrawny little registry that we started a few weeks ago.  I literally think we had 10 things on the registry, ha!  So, Kevin and I spent about 3 hours yesterday beefing it up.  It was....fun.  Actually, it was overwhelming and stressful, but fun sounds better.  Regardless, the registry is finished.  I have no plans to add to it, though we may need to edit it a little in the next couple weeks.  

This is me picking out about 183 Baby Einstein books, DVDs, and CDs.  I know she won't be a baby when we get her but she will be Korean.  Thus, she will need to learn English starting with the basics.  This was my favorite part of the registry adventure.  Kevin caught me in a very pensive moment, which explains why I'm lipless.

We found diaper bags.  That was fun.  And expensive.

And then Kevin found a Beatles stroller and the world almost came to an end.  Our daughter will not be getting this, but I did think it was cute to take a picture with him enjoying the moment.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable New Year's Eve tonight.  Be safe and have fun!  

Sending Hugs

Saturday, December 24, 2011

tis the season

Hello everyone!
At this time of year I cannot say that without thinking about Aunt Bethany when she arrives at the Griswald's in all her glory.
"Aunt Bethany, why don't you go into the living room and say hello to everyone."
"Hello everyone?  I should say it?"

Yes, please.

So today is Christmas Eve and Santa is on his way tonight for most of the world, but he has already visited the Huguley home.  Two days ago Kevin and I received a great present.
Something, real nice, Clark.  Sorry, had to.  :)

We have an updated picture of Gia!  

Did you see that she's holding our photo album and the Frosty book?  Sweet!  Kevin quickly noted that she has "her daddy's haircut."  Ha!

If that wasn't enough, Gia has gotten Christmas presents from family too.  I was completely not expecting that, but it was sweet that she was being thought of even though she wasn't with us this Christmas.  It warms my soul to know next Christmas that child will be tearing through boxes and wrapping paper with us. 

Gia will be 1 year old next month, so Kevin and I wanted to send her another care package.  This time we are sending some snacks for her, inspired from a blog I saw a couple weeks ago.  

Kevin has named this outfit "going out for coffee."  Apparently it's very hipster. 

I have some things I'd like you to join us in praying for...

EP approval
Since being matched with Gia in October, the number one question we've gotten is When is she coming home?  We have gladly answered this to the best of our ability, but the answer has always been the same: We don't know.   I am happy to say that starting in January the EP (emigration permits) will reset and children will be released to their families again!  From my understanding, the EP quota was met in March or April of this year, so the EPs will resume with the April families.  We are a November matched family.  This doesn't necessarily move in chronological, but it does seem we will be pretty far down the EP list.  I'm not discouraged by that because I know that eventually she WILL come home.  I just want that travel call/EP approval to come before summertime.

We still have $16,000 left to raise before we can bring her home.  I know that God has even in His hands too, but I can feel myself getting more and more stressed about it.  
  • We are still planning a 5K race for March, but the progress is slower than I'd like.  
  • We also applied for a grant through Steven Curtis Chapman's ShowHope organization.  We will know January 15th if they are giving any money to us.  I've been praying for $5,000.  
If the 5K does well and we are granted the ShowHope money, I will feel so much better.  Regardless, we still have a long way to go.

Speaking of raising money...
Our dear friend Andrea has offered to sell burp cloths and bibs for Gia.  They are $20 for a set.  Please consider buy some for a little one in your life.  Just let me know if you're interested and I'll make sure you get in touch with Andrea.  

Please please please pray for Gia's transitioning time.  When we saw the updated picture of her holding our gifts, we couldn't help but think that she loves her foster mom and will not want to leave.  I know we will face attachment issues and bumps in the transitioning process, but we are praying that God would start to soften her heart to this big move.  We are ready, and I want her to be too!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! 

Sending Hugs

Monday, December 12, 2011

well baby checkup

Tonight we received the December well baby checkup (WBC) for Gia.  She's doing so well!  When we first "met" her, she was at a 6 month developmental level even though she was 9 months old.  That isn't so terrible, but it's still a delay that we knew we'd  probably have to deal with once she was home.  I'm happy to say that she's now at a 10 month level and she's 11 months old.  Saturday was her "birthday" and we anxiously awaited info on her WBC.  I've learned that we get these reports about the same time each month, and they typically come after her "birthday."  Unfortunately, we still haven't gotten an updated picture, so this Momma is holding strong to this sweet face...
I just can't get enough of those perfect lips!  And those ears are screaming to be pinched.  Come on home, girl!

Ok, so in the last post I mentioned that we sent her a video in her care package.  I debated on sharing it or not, but I think I'd like to.  Enjoy.

Now that I have access to my camera cord, I can share more pictures from the care package we sent.

This is the outfit Kevin calls her "going out" outfit.  So funny!

I love this precious little onesie.  Kevin named this one her "relaxing around the house" outfit.  

Here's the whole kit and kaboodle.  Hope she gets it soon!

Sending Hugs

Thursday, December 1, 2011

care package #1

My apologies for no pictures....yet.  You see, my camera hooker-upper cord (probably known as a USB cable to you) is MIA.  I have searched high and low and sideways.  I think I have an idea of where it's hiding, but I can't access that spot for another few days.  Regardless, I didn't want that to stop me from sharing with you all.

We bought Gia's gifts the day after we were matched, Oct 21.  So we've had these items for over a month. How in the world I've kept them here without sending them sooner is beyond me!  Clearly, I've been busy, to say the least.  Busy. You have no idea.  I finally found a spare minute to search through my emails and retrieve her mailing address.  Well, it isn't her address, but the Holt office in Korea.  Off the package went on Tuesday, yay!

We sent her...
1.  a voice recordable Frosty the Snowman book with us reading it
2.  a onesie that had a cute little "peas in a pod" graphic
3.  a pink super soft sleeper outfit that said "daddy's girl"
4.  a black matching pants and top outfit with neon flowers.  Kevin calls this her "going out" outfit.  Cracks me up!
5.  a photobook with lots of pics of me, Kevin, and Belle
6.  pink teddy bear
7.  and my favorite....a DVD of us sending our love, playing with Belle, and a picture slideshow with Rush of Fools' "No Other Love" playing in the background

My prayer is that the book with our voices plus the DVD will get her acquainted with how we look and sound so that we aren't complete strangers when we meet for the first time.

It was so fun getting it all together.  I wish I had access to her likes and dislikes so we could send her more personal stuff, but for now we will send things that let her get to know us.  I read on another blog that a family sent those puff snacks for toddlers.  What a good idea for introducing more American-type foods.  Or do they have those in Korea too?  Oh me, I'm too naive.

I promise to post pictures once I can get them.  Until then...

Sending Hugs

Friday, November 25, 2011

happy black friday

Today we are hosting our own Black Friday sale.

Get the Sending Hugs tee for only $15!  Pass the word along and let's get closer to getting this chick home.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Sending Hugs

Monday, November 21, 2011

orphan awareness month

When I was growing up, no one really talked about orphans and adoption.  I don't think it was out of fear as much as ignorance.  I don't know of anyone I went to school or church with that was adopted or in foster care or orphaned.  Though I never had a negative image of fatherless kids, it's hard to care for what you don't know much about.  In the midst of all that, God gave me a heart for adoption.  I'll be honest, it was probably spurred by lots of people thinking I was Chinese.  I still get that, too, believe it or not.

Anyway, I became interested in the idea of adopting an Asian baby at some point in my life.
Looking back, I wish we had known more about orphans.  I wish my church had walked us through the realities of James 1:27.  I wish I had known an adoptee.  Maybe I did, and I just never knew it.  I wish it would have been a more open topic.

Being at Auburn exposed me to a more international community, but orphan care was still never addressed by the church.  At least not that I recall, which means it wasn't addressed well.  It wasn't until about two years ago that I knew an orphan awareness month existed!  And boy are we a church of awareness!  Not only do we celebrate orphan education, pray for the orphans, and care for them through various ministries, but we are an adopting church.  I guess what I'm saying is we put our money where our mouth is (literally when you're looking at $18K!).  I have absolutely loved watching our new friends walk through the adoption journey.

Now that we are adopting, Orphan Awareness month has a deeper meaning.  Our orphan has a face and a name now!

November is Orphan Awareness month.  Kevin and I wanted to take November 6, which is Orphan Awareness Sunday, to do a little something for our orphan. Our church hosted a potato bar for lunch with the money going towards orphan care.  I was anxious to head this up.

I spent a couple hours at Sams' Club buying 150 lbs of potatoes, 7 lbs of butter, 10 lbs of sour cream, 15 lbs of cheese, and many other items.  People stared.  A lot.  Especially because I was alone with two buggies.  I can't lie, for a brief moment I thought How will I get all this in the car by myself?  Slightly overwhelming.

So with the help of lots of sweet CCC people, we set up the orphan potato bar, and I really think it was a hit.  Praise God!

We were also blessed this month to have a sweet friend do a baked goods fundraiser for us.

Maggie's family is adopting from Ethiopia, but she still wanted to help us out.  Tell me that is not precious! Her heart is sold out for doing good for the Kingdom of God. She has started her own ministry, Children of God, where she wants to do monthly fundraisers for people in ministry.  Seriously, it's convicting.  The most amazing part of this is that she and her family were praying the sale made $250 for  us.  God delivered that and then some!  I love watching His hand provide over and over again.  I was absolutely blown away that she had us in mind for her first step into ministry, and I'm praying that God will continue to use her obedient and willing heart to serve His purposes further.  Faith like a child...

On a slightly different note, Kevin and I are headed to downtown B'ham tomorrow to get our biometrics measured, whatever that means.  I honestly cannot wait to get back home and tell you all about it.  I've been telling people lately that if every parent had to go through all the paperwork and tests we've had to, we'd have less crime.  :)

While I'm thinking about it...   I know we aren't getting Gia for several more months, but I'd love for y'all to join us in praying for her transition once we do get her.  We know we've been matched, but she doesn't know that.  She doesn't know that her forever family is anxiously waiting and praying for her.  She's happy where she is right now.  She doesn't want to leave.   I definitely don't want to be the person that ruins that for her, but I know I will.  So, please pray that God will start preparing her heart for the huge change she will soon face.

Sending Hugs

Sunday, November 13, 2011

facebook yardsale

At the suggestion of my sweet friend Grace, I am holding a Facebook yardsale.  There are movies, exercise DVDs, clothes, and Playstation games.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 month b'day

Happy 10 month Birthday, Gia!!

Today has been bittersweet.
Knowing that Gia is ours and today is a special day for her but not being able to share it is heart-breaking. I'm sure we will miss her 1 year birthday too. We knew this was part of the journey, but just because you know something in your head doesn't mean your heart is on board.

I say this all the time, and I'll say it again: I just don't know how people do something like this without faith in God.  During our years of infertility I clung for dear life to this verse...
"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage.  Yes, wait on the Lord."
~Psalm 27:13-14

We have seen the goodness of the Lord through this adoption, and now we are in the waiting stage.  Everyone's #1 question (including mine!) is When do you go get her?   I always respond with We are in that 6-9 month waiting period.  What exactly are we waiting on?   The "right" answer is that we need EP quotas to reset and her papers to be processed.  The real answer is we are waiting on God.  His timing has NEVER been on target with mine.  I didn't get married when I thought I would, I didn't get a job when I thought I would, Kevin's job wasn't what we planned, our biological clocks didn't work like we thought, and so on...  I promise, we are living proof that God has bigger and better plans.

So, I rest in Psalm 27 through this adoption as well.  How can you live having no faith when everything around you seems to be spinning out of control?   I pray that God uses our journey and this blog to prick the hearts of some of the people reading.  I want our journey to be so much more than just "yeah, they got that cute little baby."  This is about GOD.   Yes, He loves adoption, but I need our story to tell the truth of His life, death, and resurrection too.  I need people to see that we absolutely cannot do this without Him.  I'm not speaking strictly in terms of finances, though we are relying on Him for that too, but about the emotional side that has no black and white answers.  This road is hard.  It's not fun.  There are glimmers of hope that we hold on to, and those glimmers are from the Lord.   I'm convinced He lets us see those moments so we know He is still with us.  More than that, He's in the dark and sad spots of this journey too.  How could we worship a God that wasn't involved in the bad stuff?  I need Him in those times more desperately!   God knew that today would be bittersweet.  In fact, He made it bittersweet for me.  He didn't do it to be mean and hateful, but to show me His peace and love.  He gave me this bittersweet day to remind me to rest in Him, not Gia.  HE is my salvation, not a baby.  HE is my priority, not a family.  I say those truths as a reminder, because Lord knows it's not easy to live out.

So, happy birthday Gia.  And praise be to GOD for blessing us with a precious child that He picked just for us that we haven't met yet.  I cannot wait to be her mommy.  Until then, I'll trust in God that He's making me the Mom that Gia needs.

Sending Hugs

Sunday, November 6, 2011

extra, extra, read all about it

I ran across this blog today after a friend posted a link.  Here is an excerpt.  This is information that I've been wanting to sit and compile for you for a while, but I've been lazy and/or overwhelmed with the task.  I'm grateful for this sweet blogger for posting it, and I'm excited to pass it along to you.  

If you are family or close friends with us, know that this information will directly effect you.  Please soak in every word. 

Supporting Families Before the Airport

Your friends are adopting. They’re in the middle of dossiers and home studies, and most of them are somewhere in the middle of Waiting Purgatory. Please let me explain something about WP: It sucks in every way. Oh sure, we try to make it sound better than it feels by using phrases like “We’re trusting in God’s plan” and “God is refining me” and “Sovereignty trumps my feelings” and crazy bidness like that. But we are crying and aching and getting angry and going bonkers when you’re not watching. It’s hard. It hurts. It feels like an eternity even though you can see that it is not. It is harder for us to see that, because many of us have pictures on our refrigerators of these beautiful darlings stuck in an orphanage somewhere while we’re bogged down in bureaucracy and delays. 

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.

2. “Are you going to have your own kids?” (Also in this category: “You’ll probably get pregnant the minute your adoption clears!” “Since this is so hard, why don’t you just try to have your own kids?” “Well, at least you have your own kids.”) The subtle message here is: You can always have legitimate biological kids if this thing tanks. It places adoption in the Back-up Plan Category, where it does not belong for us. When we flew to Ethiopia with our first travel group from our agency, out of 8 couples, we were the only parents with biological kids. The other 7 couples chose adoption first. Several of them were on birth control. Adoption counts as real parenting, and if you believe stuff Jesus said, it might even be closer to the heart of God than regular old procreation. (Not to mention the couples that grieved through infertility already. So when you say, “Are you going to have your own kids?” to a woman who tried for eight years, then don’t be surprised if she pulls your beating heart out like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

3. For those of you in Christian community, it is extremely frustrating to hear: “Don’t give up on God!” or “Don’t lose faith!” It implies that we are one nanosecond away from tossing our entire belief system in the compost pile because we are acting sad or discouraged. It’s condescending and misses the crux of our emotions. I can assure you, at no point in our story did we think about kicking Jesus to the curb, but we still get to cry tears and feel our feelings, folks. Jesus did. And I’m pretty sure he went to heaven when he died. 

4. We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.) The most hurtful thing we heard during our wait was from a black pastor who said, “Whatever you do, don’t change their last name to Hatmaker, because they are NOT Hatmakers. They’ll never be Hatmakers. They are African.” What the??? I wonder if he’d launch the same grenade if we adopted white kids from Russia? If you’d like to know what we’re learning about raising children of another race or ask respectful, legitimate questions, by all means, do so. We care about this and take it seriously, and we realize we will traverse racial landmines with our family. You don’t need to point out that we are adopting black kids and we are, in fact, white. We’ve actually already thought of that.

5. Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately. 

Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:

1. Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy CafĂ© and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde. 

2. Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)

3. When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day. 

4. If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits. 

Supporting Families After the Airport

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.) 

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things: 

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair. 

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries. 

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from. 

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better. 

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days. 

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag. 

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart. 

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process. 

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine. 

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here. 

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy. 

Sending Hugs

Thursday, November 3, 2011

last call

Don't forget to check out our Scentsy fundraiser.  Every single dime will go into Gia's "get me home now" fund.

We are thankful for those of you that have supported it.

Pass the word on!  I think it's ending in just a couple of days.

Doesn't this one make you think of Asian things?  Like Gia?  :)

I love snowmen so much.

Sending Hugs

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

business as usual

I promised an update on the business end, and I shall deliver.

A few weeks ago we filled out our i600a forms to mail off.  Those were sent to Dallas, TX and somehow made it to the Department of Homeland Security.  Is that in TX?  Probably, because they have all the guns, right?   No jokes, got it.  It never occurred to me to make copies of all those documents, but that would have been a very smart thing.  Lesson learned in case we adopt again.  Well, after that was mailed off we were matched with Gia (yay!) and then promptly sent a mess load of more documents to fill out.  Let me see if I can remember them all...

  • 864
  • 864a
  • tax documents (all, not just the top copy) from the past 3 years
  • travel form
  • affidavit for EP
  • statement of adoption
  • travel release
  • placement agreement
  • transmittal form
  • marriage license
  • birth certificates
  • my favorite BBQ recipe from my mother
  • burned cd of my last itunes purchase
  • essay on why Gilmore Girls is the best written show ever
Ok, those last three may be made up, but WOW it felt like we were sending anything and everything about our lives.  

It took us about a week to gather everything, notarize a lot of the papers, and get Kevin back in town to sign them.  And then I read it.  I scanned through the instructions on the Holt email again and I saw where it said the primary parent was the one who had to fill out the 864 forms.  Who is that exactly?  Well, the primary parent is the same one who filled out the aforementioned i600a.  You know, the one we sealed up weeks ago never to be looked at again.  That very one!  So a new set of anxieties set it.  

If I fill it out incorrectly, will it delay our travel?
If so, how long will we have to wait?
Can't I just call and ask the people who the primary parent is?
If they can't/won't tell us, should we just sent two copies filled out by each of us?

These, and many other, questions swam around my brain for about three days.  I finally sat on my bed and asked God to please give me a peace about who's name we put on the i600a so that I could get this other paperwork sent off.  And He did.  Hallelujah.  I took my peaceful God-given confidence and filled the 864 out as me being the primary parent.   As it turns out, that was exactly right, so we at least know those papers were correct.  
Side note:  I did call the TX people several times but they kept telling me I'd have to wait for a confirmation in the mail before they could tell me.  

After a stressful week of paperwork, we overnighted the papers ($79 by the way) Monday.  Korea will *prayerfully* be getting our papers next week, and we will officially be on the waiting list for an EP (emigration permit).  Only a certain amount of EPs are released each year.  The quota will reset in January, so we are praying that we will be in one of the first groups.  Once Gia's EP is approved we will travel to get her!  

Again, we are praying for April travel.  We have had many kind and educated people explain to us how unlikely this is.  We are fine with that.  I've said it several times in the past two weeks and I'll say it again: We serve a big God.  He can make it happen if it's in His will.  We are soberly aware that this is a long shot, but we simply don't care.  :)   God is going to do mighty things through our prayers, even if it's only to change our hearts and teach us patience.  

I want to take just a minute to brag on God.  We were matched with Gia on a Thursday.  Friday is when we received all the acceptance paperwork.  Part of that paperwork was an invoice for $18,500.  I immediately emailed Holt back and asked when the money was due.  Their response:  upon acceptance. What?!   We ended up agreeing on a monthly payment plan, but they were clear that they needed money asap in order to process the paperwork.  Saturday morning I woke up to a $500 check in the mail from some very sweet college friends of ours.  They had no idea how God-ordained their timing was.  And then, we went to visit some other friends who gave us a precious card with a $1000 gift.  Seriously!  Another God timing thing.  I don't think any of these people desire recognition, but they know who they are.  THANK YOU!!  Y'all have shown us how wonderful God is through His people.  We only hope to be able to do the same for others in the future.  Those couples are not the only generous people that have helped us, but they are the most recent.  We are completely grateful to every single one of you that have donated or bought shirts.  We love you and can't wait for Gia to meet you!

Sending Hugs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

just call me Hannah

Just call me Hannah...

The situation might be different, but the heart's desire is the same. Thank you, God, for answering our prayer! We cannot wait to be parents to this precious little girl.

And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."

I have several business/paperwork updates, but I've been too excited to talk business. Maybe soon. :)

Sending Hugs

Monday, October 24, 2011

scentsy ending soon....buy now!

Don't forget to order some Scentsy gifts! ALL money will help bring Gia home. Yes, Gia, who now has a face to the name. Praise the Lord!

The invoice we received Friday was a HUGE number, but a sweet friend quickly reminded me that it's pocket change to our God. I love that. We are trusting that the fundraisers we are working on, including Scentsy, are honoring to Him and His call for our Gia's adoption.

Sending Hugs

Thursday, October 20, 2011

tricks and treats

Disclaimer: My head is full tonight, so I might ramble. I promise I'll try to make it make sense.

I'll start with the treats...

Today Kevin and I got a very fun phone call. As I sat at lunch with my teacher friends in a loud, adolescent filled cafeteria my phone rang. We had all been glued to it, waiting for the news. Side note here: I love love love working at my school. There is just so much support. So when it finally rang at 12:42 pm I practically ran into the hallway. J from Holt greeted me and I asked if I could call Kevin to 3-way him in. Once he was on the phone, she said something like, "I'm glad you're both on the phone for this because I have some great news. You've been selected!" We both thanked her profusely. Why did we thank her? She didn't do anything. Maybe it was our natural southern instinct to just express our appreciation. Regardless, she was thrown at least six thank yous between the two of us. And that was it. The whole call lasted about 3 minutes.
Everyone has the same two questions now: When will we get her? What are the next steps?
I know you're shocked to hear this answer, but we don't know. We have read the wait time is anywhere between 3-9 months. My guess is we'll be on the latter end of that. Kevin and I have agreed to pray for travel in April. As far as what's next, I am waiting on an email that tells me those steps. All I know is that Korea will be informed of the match and we'll go from there.
When I walked back into the lunchroom after taking the phone call, the ENTIRE cafeteria was cheering and clapping, teachers and students. I'm not sure the students knew why they were cheering, but they were completely sold out for it!
In fact, one kid told me later, "So I thought something big happened."
To which I responded, "Well, that was kinda big for me."
And he said, "No, I mean, like, to America."


Lots of hugs, tears, and high-fives (I don't hug my male students) were exchanged and it was a grand 2 minute celebration. Ahhhh....

I had TONS, absolutely tons of texts and emails coming in immediately, and they were all precious and warmed my soul. The one that really made the news real was from my friend Liz. Her email was only two sentences.
Just saw this on the photo listing site. We are so blessed to know her family.
With this picture attached.

Oh. My. Word. I was speechless.

So here's the colorful picture because I know you'd rather see that. :)

My students also left me these little messages on my board after lunch.

And now for the tricks...

Upon hearing my news, my students went into full Q&A mode. This can be dangerous when you teach unfiltered teenagers. These are some of the lovely conversations I was involved in today.

Student: Why are you adopting? Can't you just make one?
Me: Well, God told us to adopt so we did.
Student: Whatever.

Student #1: What are you gonna name her?
Me: Probably Gia.
Student #2: What? What kind of name is Gia?
Me: Seriously? You don't think that was kind of rude the way you asked that?
Student #2: I just think it's a stupid name.

Student: When she comes home, she'll just speak Korean for the rest of her life, huh?
Me: Yep, they come pre-programmed like that.

Student: Are you adopting from Korea so she can do your nails?
Me: I had no comment for this one. And it was wise that I held my tongue. I'm sure my face said it all.

Despite those pearls of wisdom, today was really great.

Sending Hugs

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

14 hours and counting...

How can I describe how I'm feeling right now?

I think Jessie Spano said it best.

"I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so....scared."


Sending Hugs

Monday, October 17, 2011

interview today, committee Thursday

Our interview for Baby Girl is TODAY at 5:00 our time. That's 20 minutes!
Committee will meet Thursday to pick a family (between us and one other family). We will know something Thursday afternoon, probably.

Pray for us for clarity and peace. Pray for Baby Girl that God would start preparing her heart to leave the only place she knows as home. This process will be far worse for her than the family getting her.

Sending Hugs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

new friends and new referrals

First of all, I cannot figure out why my own blog won't let me comment on it anymore, so I want to take a moment to say THANKS to the nize07 for your very sweet comment. I got it in my email this morning as I arrived at school and it blessed my day! It was precious to read, and I will absolutely send a shirt to Australia!!! That's so cool. Just tell me how to get it there, ha!
Also, a big THANKS to the Gronewold family and Eunice (The Korean). It was fun to hear from you guys and I'm happy you found the blog! I'd love to keep in touch and hear more about your stories.

Now on to some very exciting news...

Over the past 10 days we have received three or four Korean referrals. This is such a refreshing blessing because I've been a little bummed about just doing the business side of the adoption and missing out on the babies' faces! Our patience has been answered with two precious girls that we want to pursue. Each referral is $350 to have reviewed by the clinic we are using, and we knew we couldn't send both files over because that would be $700 that we didn't have. So, we prayed about it and felt a draw to one specific girl, and we sent her file over yesterday.

Let me tell you how cool God is right now. Not only did we not have $700, but truly we weren't sure where the $350 would come from. I remembered we had had a lot of tshirt orders lately, so I checked my PayPal where I found $200. Yay! Transfer to bank, done. Plus we had $80 from RoF's release show last week where a few people bought shirts. Another yay! So $280 is definitely better than none. We pulled the remaining $70 from our own little checking account and sent the baby's file over.

The doctor called today to give us a run down of her current and potential medical needs. We liked what she said, and we felt comfortable with her explanations.

Much like before, we now enter a waiting game. There are two other families that are looking at her file, I know. I'm not sure if they will decide to move forward with her, but we have put in our "yes." So now we wait. If we are the only "yes" family, then she will be ours! We are both hesitant to even discuss how this will turn out because we know all too well that it could be in another family's favor. We are praying for this girl to find the family God has for her, whether it's us or not. Please join us in that prayer. We'd love love love to parent her, but we know that God's ways are higher than our own and we want to be obedient to His will for our lives (and that baby's) instead of our own selfish will.

Updates to follow soon, I hope!!

Sending Hugs

Friday, October 7, 2011

i am adopted

I just finished filling out the last of our Show Hope application. One question asked for a statement of faith from each parent, and as I typed mine I realized I hadn't shared it with you. How does this relate to adoption, you ask? Because I'm adopted. If you are a child of God, you are adopted too. God has picked us to be his children. We were once strangers and rebels, and he brought us into his Kingdom home to be his children. Wow. Seriously, let that sink in.

There is nothing, not one thing, that we can do to earn God's love and favor. We cannot work our way into his heart or into Heaven. We can't pray enough or read the Bible enough or be good enough to be His. 1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.” If it were up to me to initiate this relationship, I never would have done it. I'm human, made to crave the things of this world. God is holy. Why would I want that if the world offers things to tantalize my figurative taste buds? Why have broccoli when there's cookies? The things of God are not a natural craving; God places that desire in us.

Ok, so here's my story in a nutshell...

I became aware of my salvation in 7th grade at a Disciple Now weekend my church hosted. I say I became aware because in Jeremiah 1:5 the bible teaches, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." I believe I’ve been saved and set apart from before I was born but I came to fully understand that at the age of 12ish.

However, I have known since I was young that there’s a God, that’s He’s real, and that I’m something to Him. I didn’t know how I fit into all that, but I did have a basic understanding of it. I remember being 7 or 8 and trying to sit still enough in my house so that I could audibly hear God because someone told me that God talks to us.
God used my youth minister a lot leading up to my “salvation experience.” He constantly shared with us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-18). The truth of the matter was that I thought being a good person was all I needed in my Christian walk and my pride kept telling me that I wasn’t as bad as those other people. The fact is that I AM that bad, and WORSE! God gave me a clear view of who I really am, not who America tried to tell me I was. At that moment I knew I needed a Savior. Someone perfect that would take the wrap for me. Enter, Jesus. My life verse has become “Since my youth, oh God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds," Psalm 71:17.

I still struggle with anger, pride, selfishness, greed, just to name a few, but the good news is that God is showing me my sin and refining me through the sanctification process. I’m no longer blind to my sin, no longer think I’ve got it all figured out. I’m a sinner and God is telling me that on a daily basis. Thank God for Jesus!

Let me tell you that NOTHING you have done or can ever do is too bad for God. He takes the worst of the worst into his arms and makes us his children. I may not have been saved from drug addiction or prostitution, but I was saved from myself. I can tell you that that is a miracle!

Sending Hugs

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

hi new friends!

Kevin's been out and about doing his thang with the new album release, and I learned that he's been sharing our adoption story from stage. How exciting! We are such open people (sometime too open and honest), so we love having new friends hopping in on our journey. I'd like to take this moment to say hello to those new people that may be finding this blog for the first time.

Hey, y'all! That's southern for "hello all of you." :)

Please stop by regularly and pray with us and for us. We also have A LOT of friends adopting, so please check out their sites and pray for them too.

Sending Hugs

Sunday, September 25, 2011


We have officially encountered Paperwork Mountain #2.

A couple of weeks ago I started our Show Hope application; part of the application is getting reference a letter from Holt stating that we have completed our home study. So Holt sent us a letter in the mail that week and I put it in my Show Hope folder. (I know, I'm a nerd. I love any reason to have a notebook.) Then, a few days later, another letter from Holt came in the mail. I put that one in the Show Hope notebook too. Not sure why, though. I guess in the midst of my busy busy schedule I assumed it was the reference letter we were waiting on. Anyway, last week I sat down to finally organize the notebook and when I opened the two Holt letters I learned that only one was the reference; the other was instructions on how to send our I600a to Korea.


As it turns out, we are now moving forward with Korea, at least on the business end. We still don't have a referral, but the paperwork keeps moving. Korea has our homestudy and we are now only working with the Korea department at Holt. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds official, right?

What is an I600a? The easiest way I know to explain it is it's the pre-approval application for our baby's visa. Once we're matched we will send off the I600, which is the formal visa application. This little 3 page form is very expensive too. $890 expensive. Oh me...
But it is very exciting to know that we are really requesting permission to bring home a baby! I just wish we knew who she was! According to the letter from Holt, once the I600a is submitted we only wait 3-6 months to travel when we're matched. Yay!

Lately I've been a little bummed about the whole process. This summer we had lots of referrals to look at (two of which we pursued), so it kept my mind constantly thinking about our future baby. We've had no progress on the referral front for several weeks, which has made me apathetic. Not good. I hate admitting that because I'm afraid it sounds like I don't want to adopt. I do! I cannot wait to get this going again. It's just that right now everything is so business oriented that I don't get time to think about the actual child.

On a separate note, we are still full force with fundraising. Here is a list of things that are potentially on our to-do list.
1. baked potato or chili lunch at church
2. 5K in March (this one is for sure!)
3. Malerie does your Christmas shopping for you! (this one is also for sure)
4. a dinner and silent auction (with items from Diamond's Direct and such...) in February
5. Scentsy fundraiser
6. t-shirts

If you can or want to help with any of these, just let me know. And if you know someone that has big ticket items they can donate to the dinner-auction send them my way.

Hopefully we will have a baby update soon!

Sending Hugs