Thursday, October 18, 2012

grand finale:: one week home

This blog was started for the "seoul" purpose (ha, see what I did there?) of documenting our journey to Gia for several reasons.  
  • We wanted to have a place to keep family and friends updated throughout this nearly 2 year adventure.  We both have family and friends scattered all over the US (or world, in some cases!) and a blog just seemed to be the best fit for updates.  
  • This also gave us a place to offer and receive encouragement.  If you haven't adopted and/or don't know anyone close to you that has, you need to know that it's a crazy emotional time.  If we had not had support from our friends and family, I'm really not sure we would have made it to this end sane.  On the opposite end of that spectrum, it was important to me to give back some of what was given to me, meaning I wanted God to use our story to light another path for another family that needed support.  I'm so happy to know that happened with at least two families!  Maybe there are more, but Gia's story is beginning to hold the hand of other friends of ours walking down Adoption Lane.  
  • Finally, I want Gia to know her story.  I need her to know how God orchestrated every single tear and smile in these two years.  This blog was the best way I knew to record everything so that one day she could read it and know how loved she was before we ever met.  By the way, she was two months old when this blog was started.  I just love knowing that she started her little life around the same time we started looking for her.  :)

With that said, please understand that I may or may not add more to this.  Call me old school, but there is something slightly weird about posting all kinds of things about your kids and family online.  Since the purpose of the blog has been fulfilled, I don't feel obligated to keep it updated much longer.  Sorry.  

I'm happy to email with any of you that have my contact info!

Before we sign off...one more post...

Today marks one week of us being a family of three.  As I sit here trying to think of how to recap this week, only one word comes to mind: full.  

We feel blessed.  Gia has had SUCH an amazing (and easy) transition period so far.  I'm not pretending that we're out of the woods just yet, but the part we were dreading the most is behind us. She is a happy and seemingly healthy little one.  Her first doctor's appointment will be next week, hopefully.  We'll know more medical info at that time.  She is a good little eater too, as we have introduced her basically every southern food I can think of, including black eyed peas.  No cokes, though.  She loves the pups, especially our little 9 lb Maggie.  Gia and Maggie have adopted each other as best buds. Precious.  She is sleeping in her own bed in her own room---YAY!  Huge step for her!  She likes slides, but not swings...yet.  And pistachios are her favorite snack.  I leave you with a couple pictures from our first week together.  

Thank you all so much for being a support system to us!  We can never ever repay you for helping us get our daughter home!  

Hugs have been sent.  Hugs have come home.  And hugs were given tonight at bedtime.

Friday, October 12, 2012

airport welcome

There are no words to express the joy we have tonight.  Thank you all!

If you were able to come to the airport, we thank you for sharing that moment with us.  Even if we did look like a hot mess!  If you weren't able, please know that we had you in our hearts as we left the plane to join the celebration.

We are humbled at the amount of love our family has been shown for the past year or so.  Thank you just simply isn't enough.

Here's a glimpse of the airport reception for those that couldn't be there.  We may just have to crop you in. ;)

Special thanks to Heather and Rusty for documenting this for us!

And yes, we are now...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eating and shopping and tea, oh my!

(Kevin here. So it won't sound as smart as it usually does with Mal.. but she will say something at the bottom, so don't miss it.)

It's been a long day, so the easier route to blogging about our adventures is to share photos. Thus, I'll take you through our day via pictures and short captions. Enjoy.

I was excited about the day, so my body decided to wake up at 5:00am. The bad news is I couldn't get back to sleep. The good news is that I caught the beautiful sunrise from our room:

Our first and main order of business today was to take a tour of the city. We were accompanied and guided by our friend, Hyuna. She was awesome. Our first stop was at a the largest palace in Seoul, where Malerie really enjoyed hanging with the guards. And hanging LIKE the guards:

Then I found a piano in the middle of the city, so I played it. No tips were given. They don't tip in Korea. For real. They actually don't. No restaurant, taxi, or bellman tips. Ever. Here's the piano:

We fulfilled our desire to rule a country by dressing up like a king and queen:

An authentic Korean lunch included dumplings, some sort of fried "cakes" and of course, kimchi. Malerie attempted the chopsticks, but after much frustration, the nice lady at the restaurant reluctantly delivered that new age utensil, the fork. We also made sure to sport our family love, war eagle:

Right next to the restaurant was Hyuna's favorite tea cafe in the city. It was super delicious:

The atmosphere was even cooler. We sat on mats on the floor... without shoes (a traditional custom in Korea) by the way. Look:

Malerie was a natural. She even looked Asian drinking it:

And we found a cartoon character, who fell into the trap of taking the stereotypical Asian shot, meaning it couldn't resist the release of the peace sign from its hand. Good times:

There was definitely more to our day but the camera got put away, and it's almost 1:00am here. It's unfathomable that we will MEET GIA in NINE HOURS. Wow. God is so good to us.

Prayers are so appreciated on one of the wildest days of our life tomorrow. Or later today for most of you guys. :) Until then, we sleep. You go to work. And Gia is with us soon.


I just want to share two really amazing moments from today.

Our tour guide was really sweet about us adopting from her country.  It never occurred to me how awkward I would feel walking around a country and knowing that I'm adopting one of their own babies.  I felt guilty at times as Hyuna asked us about Gia.  I'm nervous about what tomorrow will be like as we walk around with her as first time parents.  Anyway, at one point of today Hyuna asked what our baby's name was, so we gave her the Korean name and the American name.  She lit up and said, "That sounds much like a Korean name."  And then I lit up, "Really?!" Apparently Giha is a popular Korean name, and it's pronounced just like Gia.  How fun!  We didn't even know how culturally relevant we were when we chose that name.

The next amazing thing from today will not be amazing unless you know me.  I mean really know me.  I wore tennis shoes all day long.  All day.  No heels at all.  No flip flops at all. Just the tennis shoes.  Go ahead and catch your breath.  :)   But seriously, most every single woman here wears heels of various sizes.  I'm so impressed.  However, not one person wears flip flops, and that makes me all kinds of sad.  

Alrighty... time for some shut eye.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hashtag Bring Gia Home

(Guest entry from the husband, yo.)

Our twitter feed has been blowing up in the past 36 hours. If you don't have a twitter account, you're a loser, by the way. :) But for real, if you follow Malerie (@malhugs) or myself (@kevinhuguley), just click on the hashtag (#BringGiaHome) and see the insane amount of support and encouragement we've had. I'm sure the odds are likely that many of you that are reading this are the same ones actually sending those sweet tweets. Trust us, they've been both read and felt by us.

Malerie is currently busy working and organizing away (no surprise there...) on our gift bags for the many people we will be meeting over the next few days.. Check it:

Yeah, this "hotel" room is pretty ballin' if I say so myself. I use the quotation marks intentionally, as this is much more like an apartment than a hotel. In fact, that's exactly what it is. A two bedroom, two bath, apartment, which is good for Gia's transition.. seeing that our HOUSE is a two and two as well. :) The main difference in this apartment and our house (other than the fact that it's on the other side of the planet) is the view. At home, we pretty much have the front porch view of a typical neighborhood street. Here, on the other hand...

As for the other hours of the day so far, our adventures have led us around the city, having already walked more than two miles (or 3.218688 kilometers, trying to contextualize, ya know) in just a few hours. In that time, we managed to be typical Americans by stopping by a McDonald's AND a Baskin Robins. We're pathetic. But not as pathetic as the size of those shameful milkshakes they made us for dessert. It was basically a shot glass of chocolate shake. But don't let those food joints fool you. We've been pretty 'local' here with shopping so far. The markets are boisterous, crowded, and awesome. I may take the camera out tomorrow to share more of our experiences.

That's all for now. Seeing that it's around 3am right now back home, I wish you all well, hoping for some Matchbox Twenty to serenade you while you sleep. "She only sleeps when it's raining... and she screams... and her voice is straining..."

Okay. This is why Malerie does this. Bye.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

day 1

Greetings from Korea!

We arrived safely this morning around 4:15 Korean time, meaning around 2:00 for you Americans.  We slept the majority of the 14 hour flight, believe it or not.  I didn't know I was capable of sleeping that much at one time, but the past few days have caught up to me apparently.  And maybe God is preparing me to NOT sleep at all on the way home.  Oh lordy...  

Whatever the case may be, I'm grateful we are well rested because I'm updating this from the Incheon Airport, where is it 6:45 am.  Remember the part where I said we landed around 4:15?  We have been patiently waiting for our van service to pick us up, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  Things could be worse.  I mean we are sitting in a nice airport with free wifi while eating Dunkin Donuts.  Holt's Korean office opens at 9:00 (I think) so we will either call and tell them their van service never showed, or we will get one of the hundreds of taxis/buses/vans outside to take us.  Never fear, we will get to our hotel at some point today.

Today is a free day for us.  We will have our city tour tomorrow in the morning, and then tomorrow afternoon will be another free time for us.  I'm hoping our hotel can schedule us a tour of the DMZ tomorrow.  It's the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.  I would love to tell you all about it, but I don't know much about it.  More on that later, if we get it scheduled.  I would love to hit up some of the markets today and get some prizes to take back home.  Santa Clause is coming soon, after all!  ;)

Until next time....

Sending Hugs are Here

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

THE call

First of all, let me graciously accept the worst blogger award.  I apologize for being lazy in my updates. At some recent point of this journey, any update felt redundant.  It's just waiting to wait, ya know.  Regardless, we have had some really huge news this week, so I'll start from the beginning...

After checking my email briefly during break, I noticed my sister had sent me a message asking if we'd gotten anything that I could share unofficially.  I didn't have anything to share.  But, for the last couple of weeks I'd been calling DC to ask for Gia's visa update, and I figured that was what my sister was asking about.  So I called DC one more time after reading her email to get a status update and reply to her email.

Me: Hi, can I get a update on my file?

DC rep: Sure, can I have the number please?

<this is when I give the appropriate info so the nice lady can access her file>

DC rep: Oh my, she's beauuuuutiful.  Congratulations.

Me:  Oh my goodness.  The picture only shows up when the visa interview has been scheduled!!  Really?!

DC:  Her interview is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:00.

Me:  Ok, thank you!  Thank you so much!

I was a giddy child for the rest of the day.  I knew that the visa interview was THE LAST STEP before travel call, so we were almost home free.  The problem was that travel call could come one day after VI or a month...no real way of knowing.  So, back to the waiting game we went.

Fast forward to today, Wednesday.

I'm sitting at school working with some kids in a tutoring session when my phone rings.  I normally do not leave my phone turned on or out on my desk, but when a TC is on the line you leave your phone out!  When I check the caller ID there's an Oregon number.  It's Holt.  I knew it!  This was the TRAVEL CALL we had waited for for the last 18 long months.  I asked my kids to give me a minute and answered.

Me:  Hello??  (real anxious because I KNEW it was the TC)
Holt:  May I speak with Malerie?
Me:  Hey, this is she!  (getting extra excited)
Holt:  This is your travel call...
Me:  YAYYYYY!! Oh this is so exciting!  Oh, sorry, go ahead...
Holt:  That's ok, I like getting those reactions for travel calls.

And we proceeded to discuss the logistics of traveling to get the baby girl.

So here I sit with a flight itinerary to Korea sitting in my email.  It's real, y'all!  That girl is coming home and soon!  The cool thing is we will take custody of her on her 21st birthday.  I know it's weird to be excited about that, but we've missed so much already that I'm happy to start spending these milestones with her.

We are still a little bit away from being fully funded, though I know God is working some things out already to take care of that burden.  We have seen his hand in all of this, and I can't start doubting now.

In the next week please join us in praying for Gia and her transition.  That is just so heavy on my heart. I have read lots of stories recently of babies that just didn't want anything to do with new mom and dad.  While that is a good sign of attachment, it's still hard to know that we will be the ones pulling her away from everything she knows and loves.  So, please pray that God will start doing a big work in her heart and mind now to prepare for this change.

Can't wait to update from Seoul!

Sending Hugs

Monday, September 3, 2012

a place of her own

Today our guest room became Gia's room!

My parents were gracious enough to come up to B'ham and help with the transformation.  We emptied all the old furniture and started pulling down boxes of Gia's stuff from the attic that's been there since January.  So much stuff.  I didn't realize we had it all.

We did a lot of work and I am TIRED, but there's still a bit to go.  My plan is to finish the curtains this week, and we are waiting on a piece to come in for her bed.  Hopefully it will all be done before our TC!

Gia now has a place of her own, and I love it.  I've had to correct myself from saying "guest room" and now say "Gia's room."  It feels so weird, haha.

I so appreciate my parents' help, but I also want to share a gift they brought to us.

Can you see that it's her name?  It's written in traditional Korean cultural symbols and it was made IN KOREA!  I don't know how they pulled that off, but I'm in love with it.  It's a really sweet silk (?) scroll too.  So special.  The artist also sent a paper explaining what each symbol means.

Hopefully I will get around to sharing some other goodies from her new room.  For now, we rest.  :)

Sending Hugs

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I loved puzzles growing up.

So this post won't read brilliantly like the others, since this is the male side of the family talking. But I'm just stopping by to thank each of you for your commitment to be a part of our adoption story. We're comforted by the reality that we know we could have NEVER walked this path on our own, and watching the Kingdom of God do only what it can do has been humbling and encouraging. Let me just say that it'll be exciting to one day explain to little Gia how people from all over the WORLD (literally) helped us get her home. For that, the Huguleys say thanks. A ton. Now please consider helping us in our last stretch of fundraising by giving $10 for every puzzle piece you wish to have your name on the back of. That will be a neat day, when we take this puzzle from its frame, flip it over, and show Gia how many of you joined us in this journey. I think 4 pieces fit names really well. :)

And I also want to say thanks to many of you for your comments here. They have been doses of encouragement, and I know that both of us have enjoyed reading them. Lastly, I know why many of you have continued walking with us through this... and that's because Malerie is a GREAT writer! Love seeing her gifts shine for the glory of God.

***Look to the write of the page for the DONATE button to buy a puzzle piece(s).***


Sending Hugs

Thursday, August 16, 2012

short and sweet

1.  Today I've been overly anxious to meet Gia.  Not sure why, but I'm ok with it!

2.  While doing some house chores today, God gave me a really huge peace about this last bit of the journey.  Again, not sure what "bit" we're talking about here, but I feel very chill about all this crazy preparation stuff coming our way in the next weeks.

3.  I love my husband.  As we were cleaning the other day I found the latest RoF record and I started re-reading the thank you lines.  Kevin is a brilliant songwriter, and his thank you's don't disappoint.  Ever.  The We Once Were record was extra special because he thanked Gia.  I wish I could take a picture of it to show you, but the size and font are crazy.  Instead, I'll try to rewrite it from memory...

I also want to thank our Korean daughter who God is sending us.  I cannot wait to meet you and be the best Daddy I can.

Melt my heart.  I'll have to find the album cover soon to make sure I'm quoting him correctly.

Sending Hugs

Friday, August 10, 2012

story time

I have two funny Gia stories to share today, both are fictional though.

Story #1--I'm sharing without permission from Grace so I hope she doesn't care!!

I got a text from Grace yesterday.  Here's what it said:

Last night I dreamt that we took E (her daughter) and Gia to Abby Lee (dance company...Do you watch TLC??) and she made them do Asian style dance.  You said, "Uh, no, FALSE. Gia and E are AMERICAN CITIZENS!"
You also yelled, "Discrimination!" and we stomped out with the girls.  

Hilarious!  If I ever did go to Abby Lee's studio that probably would really happen.  That woman is nuts!  But I do like the idea of Gia being a little dancer.  And maybe a Toddler & Tiara.  :)

Story #2--from my dream last night

Gia was freshly home and was 17.  She and I were riding in the backseat of the car (hopefully Kevin was driving) talking about the whole process of her getting here.  She spoke fluent southern English and laughed a lot.  We talked about things I had done to get her home and what she had done over in Korea to leave, ha ha!  I wish I could remember some of the funny comments, but we did A LOT of laughing in the dream.

Hopefully, these are not prophetic dreams.  Oh Lord...

Sending Hugs

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Everytime I turn around there is one more person offering to help fundraise for our adoption!  It's humbling, to say the least.  Today I got one such phone call.  Here are the details...

If you like to send cards (for any occasion) we have a DEAL for you that will also help Gia come home.  30 cards for $30.  That's $1 per card!  Seriously, you cannot get better than that.  And these cards are CUTE!  You'll probably want like 17 boxes, just sayin'.  :)

The cards are from the Usborne company.  If you want to read more about Cards for a Cause, click here.

Here's the link to the FB page for the fundraiser.  https://www.facebook.com/events/367919963278242/ 

If you need to message me for more details, please do.
Oh, and PLEASE pass the word; we are so close to getting this girl home!

Special thanks to Jeni Parrish for offering this amazing deal!

Sending Hugs

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


What do we want?  VP!  What's that?  Visa Physical!

That's how a former cheerleader tells you that her daughter has a visa physical scheduled for August 30.

We got the email today that Gia's visa physical will, in fact, take place on Aug 30.  I have weird mixed emotions about it because while it's another HUGE step for us, it's still three weeks away.  You know when you're running and you know you only have another 45 seconds left but somehow it feels like you run for 45 more minutes?  That's how this feels to me.  It's almost like I'd rather not know how close we are because it makes it that much further away.  

Kidding, I do want to know!  I take it back!  

I love updating people as we get these last bits of news because the reaction is always the same.... "Great, so what does that mean?" 

So here's what it means:
Gia's EP was approved already (big step) and the only thing separating us from the travel call (TC) was the visa physical and visa interview.  Well now that the VP is scheduled, we are just one tiny little step away!  I'm pretty sure the VI can take place before the VP, so that may be done even this week.  Regardless, we are CLOSE.  So close that part of the email from today said to start packing her suitcase and getting our hotel arrangements figured out....AGHH!!  It's so overwhelming, in a good way.  

Another part of the email said to get all our fees taken care of before we can travel.  I know it probably doesn't seem like it, but I really haven't been incredibly stressed out about the money because I just knew God would provide where needed.  And He has!  But now, if I'm being honest, I'm slightly starting to feel it.  I think it's because I know there's a deadline now: 3 weeks.  Oh my...

We still have puzzle pieces and t-shirts, if you are interested in helping that way, but more than that we want your prayers as we start planning this trip.  
  • safety
  • travel arrangements (flights and hotels are not included in our fee for Holt)
  • Gia's transition and ours
  • our jobs (mine particularly) as we take time off
  • Gia's foster family as they are losing a child they've known for almost 2 years 
  • for us to have opportunities to share Jesus with people as we travel

Sending Hugs

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

know more families

home improvements for a cause

Tomorrow we greet August, our 10th month in waiting.  So you could say that news of the EP submission was the end of our adoption "pregnancy."  We are very much looking forward to Gia's homecoming, but it's getting very overwhelming as THE day approaches.  So much to do!  We've cleaned her room out, painted, bought more clothes, and put together storage shelves and such, but that's just the beginning.  I keep thinking of all the little things we'll need to prepare for as travel approaches and it just makes me crazy, but in a good way.  Here we are, a couple with no children, traveling to a foreign country to get our sweet daughter who will likely be 20 months old by that time.  We have no clue what to pack or how to prepare for what she might need!  Ahhh!  Please don't hear this as a complaint...I'm simply giving you a glimpse of what's going on in my mind.  Our agency does a great job preparing us for travel and how to pack, not to mention all the friends we have that have walked this road before.  We'll be fine.  :)

I am happy to say that we can finally see the light at the end of the financial tunnel.  I checked with Holt today about our balance and it's a little less than what I thought.  We're definitely in the home stretch for fundraising, whew!  That's been the toughest part of this whole year!  We are still selling any t-shirts we have left and the puzzle pieces too.  One last fundraiser was presented to us by another adopting family just a couple weeks ago, and we had to jump on it.  If you are in Birmingham (or surrounding area) you have the opportunity to help Gia come home and get your house in order too.  Contact Precision (message me for contact info) this week and all proceeds will go to Gia.  Precision is owned by a guy we go to church with and his family is adopting too, so it makes it extra special to us that he's giving this week to Gia.  He can do literally anything you need.  We've used him for heating and air stuff, he's built retaining walls for friends, he's a plumbing expert, or can just screw in a lightbulb for you.  You name it, he can do it!  This fundraiser is for this week only, so pass the word quickly.  Make sure you tell him your with the Huguley adoption so we will get the Gia dollars.  :)

Sending Hugs

Monday, July 16, 2012

puzzle winner

51 puzzles pieces so far.  Keep 'em coming, everyone!  

I'm sure you're dying to know which picture we chose, right?

Well, the winner is...

It was fun to read all the texts, emails, and blog comments about the pictures you guys liked.  I liked them all, but at the end of the day Kevin and I both thought this one represented our journey the best.  The path, a little beaten but still beautiful, lined with cherry blossoms...perfect.  The only thing I'm not loving is that this pic is from Japan.  Oopsie on my part.  I thought they were all Korea pictures.  Oh well, the idea is the same.

This has been an intense year.  At the end of the day, we really can't complain because our adoption has been much shorter than most.  We were blessed with a relatively calm process, though we didn't know it at the time since this is our only experience.  Even so, there's been lots of (good and bad) emotions and we're glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  After she's home a new set of issues will surface, but right now we are focusing on getting her here!  

Only a few more weeks!!

I just placed the order for the puzzle, and I promise to update with pictures of the puzzle as we put it together with your help!

Sending Hugs

Thursday, July 12, 2012

EP is submitted

Gia's EP was submitted today!  

We got the email today.  I was at church working and I took a quick break to check my email and Twitter and FB....all the necessities, ya know.  Anyway, I saw that a Holt email had come through, which was odd because they normally update on Mondays.  Plus, I've been under the impression that we wouldn't have more updates until at least September.  Well, surprise surprise, Korea submitted another batch of EPs TODAY, and we were in it!   
I just stood there in the church hallway tearing up and trying to call Kevin.  It doesn't matter how long we wait, those big moments always catch me off guard.  Even though we know the news is coming, there's something surreal about actually reading it.  I'm sure the travel call will be the same, whenever that may happen.  

Which brings me to the FAQ section...
  • What does "EP submission" mean?
    • The EP is her emigration permit.  It's basically her permission to leave the country.    
  • How long does the submission take?
    • All we know is approval takes about a month.  Beyond that, who knows how long it will take.  
  • When will we travel?
    • It will be at least a month because her EP will have to be approved.  From what I understand, the travel call can happen anytime from approval to the end of the year.  My personal assumption is about 8 weeks, but it will likely be longer. 
  • What else are we waiting on besides the EP approval?  What takes so long to get the travel call?
    • After her EP is approved (about a month), we still have to wait on her travel certificate, visa physical, P3 packet, and visa interview.  We are not responsible for any of those things, so we're at the mercy of Holt, Holt-Korea, or the foster family to make sure those things are completed in a timely manner.  

Please continue, more than ever, to pray for Gia's transition.  This has been such a biggie to me in the last few months, and I continue to pray that God would prepare her for all the craziness that's about to happen in her little world.  We covet your prayers for our transition as well, obviously.  

Sending Hugs (sooner than later!)

Monday, July 9, 2012

cherry blossom choices

You know, girls always seem to have that certain high maintenance taste.  This fundraiser is no different.  Apparently there are no cherry blossom puzzles that meet all my requirements, so I'm ordering a custom one.  It ends up being about the same amount of money though, no big deal.  The fun part is that I get to choose the picture we use now!

Korea is home to the world's largest amount of flowering cherry blossom trees and they host several festivals in the spring celebrating its beauty.   (You can read more here.)  So naturally I found tons of great pictures from the Korean festivals, and now I can't choose which one to use.

This is where you come in.  Which picture should we use for the puzzle?

I'm going to order this by the end of the week, so send your vote in quickly.

And if you haven't sponsored a puzzle piece yet, it's not too late!  We have already had about 20 people sponsor!

Sending Hugs

Saturday, July 7, 2012

puzzle preparation

Happy independence week!  I hope everyone found lots of bbq and watermelon...yum!  

Alright, here's the latest details in our journey to Gia.  It seems that all the families through Oct 2011 have now been processed.  We sent our paperwork to Korea in November.  If everything falls into place (ha!) then we *could* be traveling as soon as October to get our sweet daughter.  Yay!  
While we are SUPER excited that our wait is coming to a close in the coming months, we are still facing an $8300 mountain.  This seems like a lot, I know.  As we look back over the last 9 months-ish it is so cool to see what God has done with the fundraising, so we can't really complain.  It is a lot to raise within just a few months, but we've come so far so fast that I just don't feel overwhelmed by it.  

With that said, I do want to launch one last fundraiser in an attempt to get this last bit taken care of.  I know we have lots of friends around the country (and some around the world!) that have followed our journey, and I think this is the PERFECT opportunity to incorporate those people especially.  

We are purchasing a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle to hang in Gia's room.  It will be of cherry blossoms because that has been such a sweet symbol for us throughout this journey.  Plus, we got this picture recently that just made us melt.  

See the cherry blossoms in the background?  
Doesn't she look like a little model??

So, the puzzle will be put together only when a piece is sponsored.  That's where you come in.  For $10 you can sponsor a puzzle piece and we will write your name on it as a reminder of who God used to bring her to us.  I cannot wait to pray a prayer of thanks over each piece as they are sponsored!  500 pieces at $10 a piece will get us pretty darn close to finished...hallelujah!

You can sponsor a piece via the PayPal "donate" button or you can message me for an address, if you'd rather donate that way.  Make sure you hit the "donate" button and not "buy now" or you'll be buying a shirt.  We do still have plenty of those too, but puzzle pieces are a good option for those of you that aren't t-shirt people.  

Please pass the word!

Sending Hugs

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Another batch of EPs was sent out today, but we were not on the list.  Sad day.  Who knows what this means, but it looks like it could be January once the EPs reset again before we are contacted. There is a slim possibility that we could still hear something by the end of the year, but it isn't looking promising.  

Also, we applied for a grant a few months ago that I'm fairly certain we didn't get.  I checked the website today and saw the deadline for notification was June 15.  Their site made it sound like they would notify families with a yes or no.  We got nothing.  So I emailed them to see what was going on and why we hadn't heard anything.  

Double whammy today...

Sending Hugs

Sunday, June 17, 2012

maybe possibly???

Please pray with us this week as another batch of EPs is hopefully submitted.  We want to be in that group!

Monday, June 11, 2012

pop goes the 90s

We had so much fun at Pop Goes the 90s last week!  

Kevin and lots of our friends graciously donated their talents to make this happen. It was incredible!  I heard many people say it was better than they expected. 

God was good to make this a profitable fundraiser, and I'm so grateful for that.  I just mailed the check off today, hallelujah!  I want to take a brief moment to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you that made this happen.  I am humbled and blessed to call you friends, and I cannot wait for Gia to be home and start meeting and loving all the people that helped us bring her home.  So exciting!

If you weren't able to attend, here's sampling of what you missed.  Don't be too sad; they've already been contacted to play a "gig" at a local university.  We'll see...  :)

Sending Hugs

Monday, June 4, 2012

new pictures

Today I got a grand surprise.  323 pictures of GIA!
About a month ago I asked our agency to schedule a candid photo shoot that we would gladly pay for, but we were told it couldn't happen.
So it was extra wonderful when I checked the mail today and found a disc with 323 pictures (4 of them videos)!

Here's one of my faves.  :)

Sending Hugs

Thursday, May 31, 2012

pop goes the 90s

I was born a product of the 80s. My parents, which I describe as Jesus-loving hippies, brought me up on classic rock for the most part, and being from Alabama, I was a rare breed in the sense that the only country artist I remember us listening to on a semi-regular basis was Johnny Cash. As I grew into the adolescence of my teenage years, I found myself falling in love with the alt-rock station in our city known as "The X" (formerly, "The Bear"). This was largely given to the fact that I'm a baby of three boys, so rock music stayed on constant in our house and in our vehicles, though as rock evolved, it was the 90s alternative that influenced my love for music more than any other genre. Most influential were the songs and sounds from collaboration records like, "Live in the X Lounge."

Fast forward going on twenty years, I reminisce about the days and the bands of my youth such as Weezer, Third Eye Blind, Oasis, Matchbox 20, Counting Crows and others. Living even today as a full time musician, I still reflect on my high school days where we left the windows down and the music blaring, so that the back roads of Alabama became the perfect audience to the soundtrack of our lives.

This next week, I get to pull some personal ammunition (relationships) together to recreate the music of our high school car stereos. With some of my really close friends that just so happen to be some of the best musicians and live production professionals in our part of the country, we will celebrate on June 6th in Birmingham the musical decade of the 90s, all in hopes to help bring our daughter home from South Korea. Consider this my personal invitation to a night you don't want to miss... the very first performance from Pop Goes The 90s. Join us, and let your $10 cover charge help us bring Gia home.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PopGoesThe90s and/or follow @PopGoesThe90s on twitter. Thanks so much!

Mal's guest blogger,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

shopping spree

We found some items at Target to get for Gia.  Luckily, she was there to try them on.  :)   What do you think?

Monday, May 28, 2012

orphan run

Well, it's official.  
I've survived my first 5K event as a promoter.  I've run enough of them to know what runners expect, but being on the other end is very different.  When I first dreamed this fundraiser up, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  It turned out to be a really great event overall.  

Things I loved...
  • our volunteers
    • Sometimes I think people say "I couldn't have done this without you" because they feel obligated to say it.  Not the case here.  I honest to goodness could NOT have pulled this off without all of my amazing volunteers.  If I tried to list you all, I'd forget some, so I'm just going to say THANK YOU!  
  • my husband being home to help
    • I have to specifically mention Kevin because he took the weekend off of work, which I know was not fun for him.  As difficult as that was for him to do, I am so thankful he did. When I think back to the day of the race, I'm overwhelmed picturing it without his help.  So to Kevin I say another big THANKS!
  • the turnout
    • We tried to schedule this race for November because that's Orphan Awareness Month.  No such luck.  Then we moved it to March.  Again, no luck.  So we tried for a third date, which worked!  The downside was that it was Memorial Day weekend.  You know, the weekend everyone goes out of town.  I had to laugh that God would give us the weekend that was vacation-packed as our big fundraiser.  What a sense of humor!  It was as if He was forcing us to a place of trusting Him with this event.  I know it sounds silly, but that's how I have to see it.  Regardless of all my worries, the date was perfect and the turnout was even better!  We were praying for 150-200 runners, and we got 150.  Yay!  

  • the venue
    • I chose Veteran's Park because it was a venue that was an "all in one" package.  In one fee we took care of parking EMTs, police, seating, a pre-measured course, etc.  The course is absolutely beautiful.  Definitely a favorite now!

Things I will change next year...
  • committees
    • To say that planning this event was overwhelming is an understatement.  Wow, so much work.  I have somewhat of a control-freak problem.  There's no way I can take this on alone again, so next year I'll be recruiting some other peeps to carry some of the load
  • volunteers
    • Thankfully we just barely had enough volunteers this year.  It was cutting close.  In fact, me and a couple other people had to do double duty on some of the stations.  Can you say panic attack?  'Cause that's how I was feeling for a minute.  I learned just how many volunteers I need to make a 5K happen.  
  • advertising/marketing
    • The goal is to make the Orphan Run 5K an annual event, with proceeds going to various companies/families that are involved in orphan care.  The number one question I fielded from people this year was "Where is the money going?" That was tough to answer because with this being a Christ City Church event, we aren't really responsible for where the funds go.  We just offered to organize an event that would help our city care for orphans. We are excited, though, to know that our Gia will be one of the benefactors of this year's race.  
  • time of year
    • It was stinkin' HOT.  There's no way around it.  I am so proud of the brave souls that raced in this crazy Bama summer heat.  Go you!  I'd like to see the next race be schedule for October 2013.  Probably the same weekend as Race for the Cure.  NOT!  I'll definitely have to plan around that monstrous 5K.  
  • Fun Run
    • Along with the 5K, we hosted a one mile "Fun Run" too.  We were thinking a lot people might like to show up last minute and participate in a little family friendly run.  I'm not sure it was as productive as we had hoped, so that will probably be tossed next year.  We'll see... 

Things I was pleasantly surprised with...
  • the venue
    • I touched on this earlier, but I just cannot get over how pretty this course is.  
  • generosity of sponsors
    • We were very blessed to have enough business sponsors to get this thing going.  I was even more surprised that some of our sponsors went over and beyond what was expected of them.   

Thanks so much for all of you that have prayed for this event and helped us with it.  We are thankful for your love and friendship.

Next up...  Pop Goes the 90s!   I'll get Kevin to guest post about that event this week sometime.  It's going to be awesome!

Sending Hugs

Monday, May 21, 2012

the power of a picture

My precious little niece is just over 2 years old.
Every time we see her she reaches for our phones and chants "Gia, Gia, Gia" because we have the wallpaper set as a picture of Gia.  It's so cute!  Kids really soak up more than we know.  Anyway, it never occurred to me that this "Gia spotting" would happen outside of her seeing our phones.  But it did!

Recently, my MIL had E (my niece) in Walmart, where an Asian woman was standing in front of them in the checkout line.  E begins to point at her and say "Gia, Gia."  E thought the woman was Gia...ha!  The woman, not knowing what was going on, cooed back at her.  My MIL then explained to the cashier that E was talking about her cousin halfway around the world whom she'd never met.


I'm anxious to see how the real life meeting will go down.

Sending Hugs

Sunday, May 6, 2012

baby bedding

I am so excited to share this new fundraising opportunity with you.  Our sweet friend Karen has an amazing sewing talent.  A talent I wish I had!  She has been so kind as to offer a great deal for anyone wanting to support our adoption.  Her message is below...

Sending Hugs

Bedding for Babies!

On my first overseas mission trip my mom’s biggest fear was that I would smuggle a baby back with me as a souvenir. (I did have a mom ask me to take her baby back with her but I did not give in). However, I did come back from that trip with a heart for adoption. Currently my husband and I care for the orphan by supporting an orphanage in South East Asia that rescues children, provides them with a loving environment, shares the gospel and provides a Christian education. We don’t know what our journey will look like with adoption but we do know we desire to come alongside those on that journey.

I’m excited to come alongside Malerie and Kevin to help bring home baby Gia. 50% of the proceeds from orders made “for Gia” will go to help bring her home.

A 3-piece set; bedding, bed skirt and blanket is $250 and you can choose your own fabrics. Below are some samples. Please email me at karenisbell@gmail.com to place an order. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

things learned

Welcome to May.  The month after April.  April, the month we'd hoped to travel to get our lovely daughter.

Welcome, May.

It's not so bad, actually.  May is also the month of our biggest fundraiser, the Orphan Run.  Not traveling right now gives us more time to organize finances and fund raise and pray and prepare.  It gives us more time for us; and like everyone has so kindly reminded me, this time with just the two of us is precious and should be cherished.

Oh, May...

When April was drawing to a close I started thinking about how peaceful I felt that we had not been called to travel.  Did that make me a bad mother, that I was okay with not seeing our daughter now?  I don't think it does.  I think it makes me aware of God's presence in this whole process.  About four years ago (may be little longer, hard to tell at this point), Kevin and I began walking down the very dark and lonesome road of infertility.  We didn't know it at the time, though.  Denial.  Anyway, when we realized what this monster was that we were facing, the weight of the world fell on me.  There was nothing, not one thing, I could do to make it go away.

It: the fear of not being in control, the sadness of thinking you'll never look into the face of a child and see yourself, the anger at everyone around you for not understanding (though you don't really expect them to), the loneliness of going through a death (yes, a death) seemingly by yourself, the frustration that every monthly test result confirms, the wasted wishful thinking.  It.  I couldn't make it go away.

And that was my problem.  I, me, myself.  I couldn't make it go away.  But God could, and He did.  Praise the Lord!

Let me stop here before I have some sweet friends interpret this the wrong way.  God does not work on out time table, nor does He work within our expectations.  The Bible is very clear about that.  Just because we want something that is good and godly does not mean it will be provided in the manner we ask.  Or at all, for that matter.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

During those terrible years--yes, years--I prayed that God would answer me:  Why would He give me this desire for kids and not let me conceive?  That was a daily, almost hourly prayer.  I desperately wanted to know how I was out of His will.  Was I asking for something immoral and unbiblical?  Nope.  So, why no pregnancy?  If no pregnancy, at least an answer would be nice.  What was the purpose of us having to go through this valley?  We were willing to hear from God and let Him teach us whatever we were supposed to be learning.  The more I prayed, the more frustrated I became.  No answer.  Nothing.

So how can I say that was a fruitful time?  How can I look back and acknowledge that God was indeed with us at every step, every tear, every sleepless night, every failed pregnancy test, every empty doctor's visit?  I can only do so because that's what the Word teaches.  Our plans were made, but His purpose reigned.  

So what have I learned through all these years of craziness, now that we are wrapping up this season of out life expecting OUR DAUGHTER to come home?  :)  

I've learned to trust Him.  He's God.  He knows what He's doing.  

I know that sounds trivial, and I know I'm not living that truth out daily, but that's what I believe God has been teaching me.  He took the most precious thing to me at this time of my life and forced me to a place that required me to trust Him.  Not trust in my own plans, but in His.  That is so hard to do.  Even now I'm thinking of all the fundraising stuff we need to do in the coming weeks, and I have to remind myself that He is still with us in every single mundane step.

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God. 

Now there's two commands that are near impossible for me.  Be still.  Know I'm God.  He is teaching me through all this that He is God, and He will do what He says.  Now, that may not look like what I want, but He will come through.

I'm writing this from the opposite side of the valley.  I'm no longer blinded by the what-ifs and anger that come with infertility.  Being on this side doesn't make the journey easier, it just means God has given me His eyes to see it through.  I hurt for the women who are mommas in their hearts but have no baby to love on.  That's still me.  I hurt for me and Kevin too.  We are in an incredibly joyful time right now as we wait to get our daughter, but adopting brings its own set of challenges and hurt.  Ask anyone adopting and they will confirm that!

I'm not sure what I expect you to take away from this; I just thought it was important for me to purge my thoughts on what it means for me to now be in May 2012 with no immediate hope of seeing my daughter.

I'm still trusting, and God is still faithful to remind me who's boss.  :)

Sending Hugs

Sunday, April 22, 2012

the waiting games

You see what I did there?  The Waiting Games...a play on The Hunger Games.  Ok, that was just for me. Got it.

Tonight's update will be in list form for a couple of reasons:  I'm not feeling very writery tonight and the updates are so random that transitions will be messy.  Onward!

1. Did I tell you about the Progress Report we got?  Every month we get a medical checklist of her progress, but we've never gotten a PR.  It was basically an explanation of "a day in the life of."  It told about her likes, dislikes, sleeping habits, favorite foods, favorite playmates, etc.  It was precious.  I know every single parent cherishes those nuggets about his/her child, and it's no different for us so I won't bore you with it all.  She likes the things most every baby likes, such as dancing to music and reading books.  And she's outdoorsy.   I'm not.  I learned that today when I participated in the Sozo Adventure Race.  Wow.  That's intense.  I did have fun, and I have proof.  :)

That's me in the red.  Can you see the mud WALL in front of me?  Yeah, my laughing stopped when I realized that was next.  

Anyway, back to G.  Getting the PR made her come to life for us.  She feels more real now that we can  imagine her giggling when she knows she's going outside, or snuggling in someone's neck as they rock her to sleep.  She's not just a checklist baby anymore.  I'm not sure how often PRs get sent out because this was our first one.  Maybe this will become a monthly thing too.

2.  5K planning is well on it's way for sure!  Sozo was nice enough to put advertisements in their goody bags today for our run.  We have enough sponsors now to get the race off the ground financially.  Any additional funding will go towards the "bells and whistles" of making a good 5K.  As it stands right now, we are hosting a very basic 5K.  But it will ROCK!  I'm feeling very good about where we are in the registrants, volunteers, and sponsors.  And I've recently found businesses to donate prizes.  You know you don't want to miss out on this so go now and sign up!

3.  Kevin and some buddies are planning another fundraiser for June.  Apparently it's very top secret because the only thing that's for sure "real" is the name: Pop Goes the 90s!  Once I know more, you'll know more.  He's laughing at me right now as I type this.  Silly boy.

4.  Now for the two biggest questions I've gotten lately.  When will we travel?  I know we've been waiting a few months, and we thought once EPs started moving again that we would know a better date range.  Well, we don't.  All we know is that prayerfully we will go sometime this year.  That is just an assumption, we haven't heard that from anyone.  What's the hold up?  The easy answer to that is paperwork.  We are simply waiting on her documents to go the courts.  From there it should be about another month before travel.  God has been good to give us lots of peace during this time.  Neither of us feel anxious or worried, which is good since that's sinful.  We are excited to meet G whenever the Lord opens the door.

How can you join us in prayer?
  • 5K planning and fundraising
  • that our hearts would be molded and prepared for attachment and transition issues
  • that G's heart would be molded and prepared for leaving her home and attaching to us (Remember, we know we are matched, she doesn't.)
  • that Foster Family will continue loving her and caring for her 
  • that her developmental delays will make progress

Thanks, friends!

Sending Hugs

Sunday, March 18, 2012

knots and more

It was one year ago (almost) today that we submitted our adoption paperwork.  It's overwhelming and exciting to think how much has changed in the last year.  We have a daughter!  Honestly, it still feels surreal to say it out loud.  There are days when she's nothing but a picture, and other days she might as well be asleep in the next room because I feel so close to her.  Regardless, everyday is a day closer to her being home.  And being 'real' to us.  I guess that sounds harsh to say, but if you've adopted (or are in the process of) then you know what I mean.  There's so much unknown but we are anxious to uncover it!

So, what's the latest update?  It's hard to know what I can and can't say.  I'll fill in as much as I can.  

The Korean Ministry has begun releasing EPs (emigration permits)...yay!   This is something that many many families have been waiting for.  We all thought EPs would start January 1, but it's taken until March for whatever reason.  It doesn't matter now; we are finally moving!  Since we were match with G later in 2011, I knew it would be unlikely for us to get EP approval quickly.  It was so unlikely that Kevin and I had started purchasing things for a 2 year old, since more than likely that's when she would come home.  We still don't know for sure when we will meet her, but we have good reason to believe it will be soon!  Prayerfully by the end of summer.  
When we were initially matched with her, we began praying for an April travel date.  Though we know how big our God is, we were also soberly aware of how slow this process can move.  Now that EPs are moving so quickly, I can't help but wonder if it was God that placed April in my mind.  Hmm...  :)

Even with such good news on the horizon, we are still facing a BEAST of an invoice.  Let me update a little bit on that end.

1.  The Orphan Run 5K is up and running.  We are excited to see what God is going to provide through this.  Planning this run has been stressful, but I know it will all be worth it in the end.  Check out the Orphan Run on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @OrphanRun5K.

2.  We still have plenty of shirts for sale!  I'm happy to sell them for $10 for the next couple of weeks, if anyone is interested. 

3.  Our dear sweet precious friends recently traveled through Korea on their way home and they picked up some GREAT items for us to sell.  Let me tell you, I'm dying to keep them all!  Here they are with the price listed.  If you are interested, just message me.  

Here we have what's called cho-chung-do.  It's basically paintings of plants and animals and was created to send warm greetings to loved ones.  This artist is (was?) one of the leading female artists of this genre. It looks like there are two paintings in this package.  It's a cloth background, about 12 in x 12 in.  $20

This is a basic little tote, black and gold.  I have two of them to share.  $10 a piece

Journals, both for $10.  Filled with blank pages for you to write away!

Gorgeous red earrings with gold designs.  Love these so much!  $20

These earrings are made in the traditional art of knotting, or maedeup.  The pair on the left is white with silver knots, and the ones on the right are (textured) gold with black knots.  These are beautiful.  Words cannot do them justice.    $30 each

Another cute little tote!  This one is white with blue designs, and I only have one of these to sell. $10

Alrighty, more updates to come hopefully!  Until then...

Sending Hugs

Saturday, February 25, 2012

matched and mismatched

I have been asked a lot lately (well, not a lot, but more than usual) if we are certain that we're definitely matched with Gia.  My answer: yes!

And then I ran across this blog today.

This family is hurting because their daughter (from Korea) is now being adopted by her foster mother after they've waited 18 months to get her.  Now, this family is using a different placing agency, so I'm praying this isn't even an option for us.  Plus, Gia's foster mom is a little older, so I doubt it's even a thought for her.  Regardless, I'm so shocked and curious.

I just emailed our social worker to find out the scoop on that particular topic, so hopefully my nerves will be eased this week.

Please pray for that sweet family.  I just cannot imagine...

In other news, there is no others news. :)
We are still hanging out waiting on a green light to get our hopes up for something.  With each passing day, I know we are closer to bringing her home, and I take a lot of comfort in that.  It's crazy to think that in less than a year we will be a family of three!  I'll be honest though, sometimes I wonder if it won't be longer than a year.  Either way, we are trusting that God has given her to us and that we will be able to love on her in the coming future.

Oh, I did call our credit card company yesterday to check on our travel points because we've been paying every single bill with that card in hopes of racking up some major travel rewards.  Turns out, not so much luck with that.  It seems we have about $500 of "money" to use for travel with our points, which is not even one ticket to Korea.  Kevin was quick to remind me that it's $500 less than what we'll have to pay.  True!  If any of you out there have flyer points of some sort that you want to give to a good home, just let me know.  :)

Sending Hugs

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

legals and art collecting

I feel like my blogging updates have been skimpy at best lately.  Oopsie.

The good news is that I do have an update to share.  Yay!
Kevin and I got a really cool surprise last week when our agency sent us an updated pic of Gia.  My favorite part of the picture was that her sleeves and pants legs were rolled up.  A lot.  It was precious.  In a way, it makes me happy to think she is still so little, regardless that she's now 13 months old.  I've learned that her foster mom will send us a new picture whenever we send gifts.  So, naturally, I was about to be on mission to send a gift every week.  This time we got the picture without having to send anything.  Not to worry, there's another gift for her sitting on the kitchen table right now.  I just need to pack it up this week and mail it off.  

And then today, we got another surprise...  Holt emailed to say that her legals will be here this week.  Legals....what is that?  Hard to answer that one.  I'm assuming it's just a set of paperwork to help us fill out the remaining paperwork for Korea, the I600.  We sent off the I600a several weeks ago, and now it's time for the last form to be filed.  

The last form.
I think I really can hear the angels singing with me.  

From my understanding, there are a couple other smaller things we'll need to do before travel call, but this is the last piece of paperwork.  This is a huge milestone!  

Unfortunately, it still sounds as if we are still waiting for EPs to begin being processed, so our timeframe is unknown.  We are still praying for this summer, and I would be humbled if you all would join us in that prayer. 

Prayer.  I feel like God's been teaching me a lot about prayer lately.  Maybe it's because I just read Heaven is For Real.  

Whatever the reason, God is slowly showing me my unbelief.  I pray, yes, but do I truly believe that God hears my requests?  No, not all the time.  I have to admit that most of the time my prayers are out of obedience than actual belief that my Father is listening and anxious to hear from me.  My prayer for myself these days is that God will show me His hand in the things I'm lifting up to Him.    

Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.     ~Psalm 62:8

Through this mini-revelation, I've realized that I rarely pray for Gia to come home.  I know that we are still waiting for a lot of things to fall into place before she can come home, so that's prevented me from fully telling God how badly I want her home.  It's prevented me from begging Him to intervene supernaturally.  Not anymore! :) 

So, as I said before, I'd love for you to join us in praying that we will see God move in a big way to get her home.  Not only in time but in finances as well. 

Speaking of finances...
I mentioned in a previous blog that our good friend Brooke is donating her talents to help us in fundraising. She has a great Etsy shop that is set up to fund her family's mission trip to India, but she has a couple of pieces completely designated to Gia.  

If collegiate art is not your thing, well then shame on you.  
But seriously, Brooke has lots of really great pieces.  Check this one out. Love it!

Any art purchased at her Etsy shop will send a percentage to our adoption.  Just let Brooke know that I sent you!  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sending Hugs