Friday, July 24, 2009

One Love Coffees!

So you may have noticed some changes in the sidebar...One Love Coffees!

One Love Coffees is a new company started by Rob Webb, an adoptive dad who also happens to be in the coffee business. In a seamless transition between work and faith that is rarely seen these days, Rob is starting a new coffee business to support adoption.

We received notice of One Love Coffees through our agency, and immediately checked it out. As is the way with God, the email from our agency came just as I was trying to formulate our "anticipated funding plan" for our home study writer. It was as though it was one of the 5 smooth round stones needed to slay the giant!

Here's how it works: When One Love Coffees launches this fall, we will have a "storefront" on their site. Anybody, anywhere, can get online, go through our coffee storefront, and purchase their coffee...really good coffee, I might add! For each pound of coffee sold, One Love Coffees will mail us $5. Think about that. Just 100 people (I'm sure we have a network, from coast to coast, bigger than that!) buying 1 bag of coffee/month will raise $6000 in one year!

We're so excited about the way God can use this to provide for our adoption needs. And it's not just through our agency...if you're in the adoption process, head over to One Love Coffees to sign up! Rob is actually embarrassed by his, and I really quote, "cheesy little site." I guess the "real deal" will be rolled out soon.

In the meantime, spread the word, and thank you for considering us for all your coffee needs! I'll keep you posted on when they're ready to launch!

Official Certificates

I finally ordered our official birth certificates and our marriage certificate. And in typical NY fashion, each certificate (my birth cert. and our marriage cert.) was $45! Plus handling fees, etc, the state of NY is $97.25 richer.
For Mark's PA birth certificate? A whopping $18. Go figure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two down, two to go

Our whole home study process is ironing out smoothly. I mentioned in my last post that we might have two more interviews amidst our camping trip.

Well on Thursday, in preparation for camping and needing to get other groceries, I ended up making a very impromptu run to Anchorage, with all the kids, for a quick Costco trip. I called Judy to see how well it would work for her to meet with us over the weekend, which ended up not being feasible for her. But when I mentioned that I was actually in Anchorage, she said "Let's meet and get another visit out of the way!" So we arranged to meet at a playground after my shopping was done, so we could talk while the kids played. That gets us to two down of the four home study visits we need. The timing of it didn't even give me enough time to get nervous.

But seriously, God is amazing. I mean, picture this scenario: Wake up the kids so they have time for breakfast and chores, go to town to meet Mark for a lunch hour swim (read: tired out children), come home, grab a quick lunch, load up van, drive two hours, shop in Costco for an hour, obviously all three kids in tow. Would this scenario and the likelihood of your children's "cranky quotient" being up leave you in a great place to meet with a social worker who will analyze you and your parenting? No way! But God's faithfulness is beyond reasoning.

You see, the kids and I had a great day. A fabulous day. The rare kind of day in which I wasn't even once tempted to raise my voice at them, a day in which there was no squabbling. They were all helpful, and kind, and loving, and obedient. All. day. long. Does this happen in your life? If it happens often, I'd love to come be a fly on your wall to see how you do it. For me, I was blown-away grateful for this fantastically fun, rare "Parenting is easy!" kind of day.

We were relaxed. We were having fun. My children made it easy for me to look like "super-mom." We had a nice picnic, Judy came and visited, they played and I supervised while carrying on an easy conversation about my life, my schooling, my family, etc. The kids and I were still thoroughly enjoying our Hallmark moment when she took her leave.

Don't get me kids and I do enjoy each other. We do have generally really good days. They're great kids. God holds my tongue. But siblings that aren't squabbling and a mom that's still relaxed and having fun after a tiring swim, a 2-hr. drive and costco shopping? That, my friends, is the hand of God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Phew, what a day!

Two nights ago, I spent a few hours researching different adoption grant programs online, and began drafting an email to our home study writer, trying to come up with our plan of "how we anticipate funding the adoption expenses." I listed names of grant organizations, their websites, and the average amounts they award in grants.

Still, I was nearly paralyzed to move forward. It was as if it was better to have an "I don't know if I'm willing to sign off on your home study" than a definite "no." This has definitely been a week of drawing near to God in prayer!

This morning, Jen sent me the most encouraging email, affirming our "what right does she have to hold this up?!" feelings, while at the same time giving some concrete ideas on how to handle it. And it was as if the Spirit of the Lord descended on my computer at that moment, and by 3 p.m. I had a document I felt confident in sending to Judy!

Right after I sent it, I went to church for music practice, and my email was lifted up in prayer by everyone there. I checked for a reply immediately upon returning home, but was disappointed. Checked after dinner. After the kids were in bed. Finally...after a load of laundry folded and put away, a reply!

To quote her (and boy, am I thankful I never gave her this blog address!), "Wow. You've done a great job. Now I'm willing to continue the process."

I could shout it from the mountaintops...SHE'S WILLING TO CONTINUE THE PROCESS!!!

It is so true...It's not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.

For those of you who have been praying us through this past week, thank you.

And for those of you who have felt led to give financially, all I can say is that I'm both impressed with the way God works and blessed by the way you listen. As soon as our home study is completed, we can apply for a few different "matching grant" programs, so that every little bit will be doubled. I'll keep you posted on that front. If you'd like to remain anonymous, you can email my friend Kindra at ckleaders at gmail dot com, and she can help you proceed in donating anonymously until we get set up with a matching grant organization. Blessings...rejoice with us!

Monday, July 13, 2009

...three steps back.

Our adoption agency requires 4 interviews with a Home Study writer, which is apparently more than the norm. However, we can be a little flexible with the interviews since there are so many required...two of them can be meetings with just me, as long as she gets at least one interview with just Mark and one with us together.

That being the case, I had my first interview with our writer, Judy, on Monday when I went to get my fingerprints done. Before I had talked with her on the phone, in the previous week, I had been a bit nervous about our meetings. But she seemed quite easy to work with, and my nerves lessened.

Well, we covered only two topics in our meeting, which lasted just over an hour. The first was establishing some sense of cultural identity for our daughter, considering the demographics of our community. She seemed pleased with how we had thought through the issues and approved of our ideas on how to overcome the challenges. Moving on.

Then came discussing our finances, and my nerves resumed their previous position. She is concerned with how we are going to finance the rest of the adoption process, considering our income vs. our monthly expenses and debt. She claims that she doesn't intend to discourage us, and that she just wants to help us be realistic, but that she would like in writing our plan for financing the rest of the adoption. According to her thoughts, that includes contacting grant agencies to inquire about amounts that they are potentially awarding, and finding donors who will give lump sums or monthly amounts. She says that she won't "feel comfortable signing off" on our home study if we don't have a feasible plan in place.

Quite honestly, I don't know if, since we meet our agency's requirements, she even has the right to hold up our home study based on her perspective of our finances. That's something I'm looking into.

I cried nearly the whole drive home, crying out to God in my discouragement for His provision and help. And the very next lyric on the CD I was listening to played, "Blessed are the poor..." Yes, God...apparently that's us.

I've really prayed over what to post about all this, and this post may hang out in my drafts for a while, until we have some answers. In the meantime, we're taking some action. Mark is cleaning out his car, as I write, to put it up for sale (we have our van, his car, and his old pick-up. If we plan outings, errands, and appointments carefully, we can get by with just one "good gas mileage" vehicle, with Mark using the van to commute to work regularly, and on days I need the van, he can just drive the truck). Selling his car will pay off half of our credit card debt (we don't owe that much), which will help, since Judy's looking at it as "how will you add to your debt $20,000 more debt to finance the rest of the adoption and still make it?" I'm also making calls and comparisons, that I've been meaning to get to anyway, on our vehicle insurance and my health insurance, to find better rates to lower our monthly expenses.

In trying to encourage us, someone said of Judy that "it's her problem if she doesn't have the faith you have for God to provide." In actuality, it is our problem that she doesn't have faith. So we're just asking God, and asking repeatedly, for Him to provide for us. We know that He didn't lead us into this adoption journey and that He didn't provide so much already to just leave us hanging here to figure the rest out on our own. He's faithful, and He is continuing to be faithful in His way and His time.

Update: Okay, this didn't sit in my drafts folder very long. I just got an email from Judy, our Home Study writer, which said that she contacted our family coordinator at America World, and they "support my request for a more detailed plan of how to anticipate financing the adoption."
So, yes, she does have the right to hold things up till we submit a satisfactory plan to her.

If you would, please pray with us for the following: A quick, good sale of Mark's car; favor in finding better insurance rates; creativity and wisdom in planning fundraisers; direction and favor in pursuing grant assistance; and any other way you feel led to pray for us! We know that in everything, it's not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord our God!

Two Steps Forward...

The second week of June, the kids and I stayed a few days at my parents' house while one of the construction crews was working in the basement. We planned on heading home on Thursday night, so that I could get my fingerprints done on Friday...the new fingerprint card had arrived in the mail from our social worker.

Before we left on Thursday, I used my mom's computer to check my email for the first time in several days. There was a comment on my "Bummer!" post from Jen, recommending the use of Corn Huskers Lotion...the "Gold Standard" in helping moisturize for good fingerprints! So after my sister called the store to be sure they even carried it, my mom fed the kids dinner while I zipped back into town to retrieve some Corn Huskers Lotion!

I used the lotion religiously for the next 16 hours, praying that it would make a difference in such a short time frame.

Well, I headed to down to the Sew. PD during Mark's lunch hour the next day. The officer doing the prints looked at the photocopy I had of my rejected prints, was quite surprised that they hadn't passed, and assured me he'd do his best to get a better set this time around.

We made another set of prints, and honestly, they looked worse than the copy of my first set. I asked him to please do it again on one of their cards, and I would transfer agency information later. He tried again...and produced yet another set of "rejects." What to do?

Both the officer and our Home Study writer, whom I'd been in phone conversation with, recommended that I pay to get the prints done at a business in Anchorage which does digital fingerprinting. So this past Monday, I headed to Anchorage to both get my fingerprints taken, and to have my first interview with our Home Study writer.

I told my "reject" story to the guy taking my fingerprints, and after looking at my fingers, he was a bit baffled. "There's nothing wrong with these fingerprints...where did you have them done?" A knowing smirk crossed his face when I told him. His wife chimed in..."Let's just say that the Sew. PD isn't at the top of their game when it comes to fingerprinting." Who knew? At least now they are done, and seemingly done well!