Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crazy In Love With Masha

UPDATE: "Oh my!! Today while we were waiting for Carrington (Anastasia) we had about 15 minutes of watching the children in her groupa. Sitting right in front of us and just chatting away and smiling was little Masha!! Oh she is so so precious and smart and friendly!! She kept playing peek a boo with us and waving and talking to us in her language but never the less she was talking. The speech therapist came in to work with the kids and soon it was Masha's turn. But here is where it gets very sad....the doctors were there to do medicals for the children being transferred to the adult mental institute sometime in the next week and Masha is one of them. Oh Please someone come forward right now and be her family. Stop her from going where our sweet Reagan(Tori) is. We are getting such negative reports about where Reagan is and there is no way Masha belongs there. She just turned 4 in January and is maybe 18 month to 2 year size. Help her!"

Masha will be transferred NEXT WEEK! Someone please save her!


Ok, time to share the burden that has been on my heart....

Sweet little (and I do mean little!) Masha:
She just turned four years old. That's right, F-O-U-R! Does that look like a four-year-old to you???

Little Masha was born with FAS and she is in a very poor orphanage. You can tell just by looking at her, how little she is, she is undernourished and unstimulated. Her little body has literally stopped producing growth hormone because of the conditions she lives in. This past summer she weighed just 15 pounds. 15 POUNDS!

Oh, how I long to bring her home...but God has clearly told us "No" once again. She is in a different orphanage from Riley, one that transfers their kids to the institution immediately at the age of four. She has very little time left and needs a family NOW!

I have struggled with not being that family, but God has a plan. God has a plan for Masha, and He cares about her more than I can ever understand.
Are you my mother?!
You can check our her page on Reece's Rainbow here for more information about her. Right now she has a $5300 grant!

Stephanie is having a giveaway fundraiser for Masha, you can read more about it here. She's got some great items to give away, and the drawing will be held in just two days, Jan. 31!

I just donated to her Chip-In fund. Will you join me in doing the same? The more money she has in her grant fund, the more likely her family will step forward soon.

Most of all, please pray for Masha. Pray she will not be transferred before her family finds her. Pray for her new family, and pray for her grant fund to grow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I went to get the mail today. I sorted the mail. My heart skipped a beat when I saw a letter from U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

What could this be?

Is it a rejection letter?

Maybe we didn't send enough money.

Maybe they are sending our application back because it was incomplete!

Wait, this envelope is too thin for that.

OH MY GOSH could this be our fingerprinting appointments?!?!?!

Try to open letter carefully with fingers. Too stuck. Go looking for letter opener. Give up on the letter opener and being careful; rip the envelope apart with fingers. Look at the top of the page:

"I-797C, Notice of Action"

D) None of the above.

It's a form telling us they received our application (good to know) and it is now "in process". That's all.

Oh, well. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet Anya's Family!

Remember sweet Anya?
I shared previously that she now has a committed family, but at the time I didn't know who that family was!

But now....

I would like to present....

The Haddick Family!
Here's their bio:
The Haddicks are so excited that God has chosen them to be Anya’s family!  Nathan and Angela have been married for 9 years.  Nathan is a Civil Engineer and Angela is a stay-at-home mom.
Anya will be their fourth child, and their first through adoption.  The Haddicks started considering a special needs adoption after their daughter, Ally, was born with special needs in October of 2009.  Anya will have two brothers looking out for her:  Drew (5) and Cooper (3).
Anya has had many people praying for her, since long before God brought the Haddicks into her life.  Thank you so much to everyone who cared enough about Anya to pray for her, visit her, and try to find her a family.  You made all the difference in her life, and you are the reason Anya has a family now.
They also have a blog, please check it out!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dossier Update

With all the craziness of last week I forgot to mention that we F-I-N-A-L-L-Y got our paperwork sent to USCIS. Basically this is an application to U.S. Immigration for permission to bring home a foreign-born child. This part of the paperwork process is notoriously long and unpredictable...and the approval form is often called your "Golden Ticket". From what I understand, first your application has to be assigned to an officer. Then your officer sets up a fingerprinting appointment for you for federal digital fingerprints. After that you wait...and wait...and wait...until finally your golden ticket comes in the mail. Please pray for our application to get processed quickly! It could literally be months before we have that precious piece of paper in our hands.

The rest of our dossier paperwork is coming along quite well! I'm actually starting to believe that it will get done, haha. My dissertation on the other hand...I still needs lots of faith and prayer :).

Another reminder that if you grabbed our button and put it on your blog, please re-grab it because I had to change some of the code. I got fussed at (in a kind way) for not having the button link directly to our Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow. Whoops.

We are getting close to starting TWO fundraisers, so stay tuned for updates! Here's a clue: they all involve jewelry. And thank you to whomever donated $50 to our grant fund yesterday! It really lifted my spirits.

One final thought and prayer request...God is really stirring our hearts up again and it's not clear yet what He is asking us to do. I can't say much more than that right now, please just pray for clarity...and QUICKLY! There is really no time to sit around and play the "wait-and-see" game. Oh, dear Lord...what are you asking us to do this time?!?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Loving Memory

There's a lot of talk amongst adoptive families about the spiritual attack that often comes with committing to an adoption. I've mentioned a few things that I've been struggling with personally here on this blog. But up until now, it's mostly been between me, Rob, and Satan.

That changed this week.

When Satan decides he isn't getting his way, he goes in for the kill....literally.

All this to say, Rob's grandfather had a heart attack on Monday night and passed away. We had the funeral and burial this morning, with full military honors. It has been a hard week, to say the least.

In Loving Memory of Wallace Asa Tanner:
Proudly served in the U.S. Navy
With his wife of 65 years, Lillian Tanner
And this one is my personal favorite:
Yes, that is Rob with his Granddaddy :)
Wally was so excited to meet Riley, and I so wish he could have. But we know he is in Heaven now and will hopefully meet Riley there someday. Wally lived a full life of 87 years and we celebrated his life today. He will be missed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If You've Grabbed Our Button...

...please "re-grab" it!

I had to make some changes to the html code so that when people click on our button it will link back to our Reece's Rainbow family sponsorship page instead of this blog. The code to the right is corrected, so just right-click, select all, copy, and paste!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is the Church's role in Adoption?

Lately I've been pondering this question. I'll get more specific in a minute, but first I want to throw out a few disclaimers:
  1. This post may be long and rambling. :)
  2. I am not claiming to have any expertise in this area, quite the opposite! 
  3. I am NOT NOT NOT judging any particular church, ESPECIALLY my own! 
But here is what is on my heart. I'm hoping this post will generate a good discussion in the comments section, and I hope to hear from many of you what your thoughts/personal experiences are.

Ok, Jess, get to the point already :).

As I've been swept along this road to adoption, I've come across something that doesn't feel quite right. It seems that some adoptive families don't get support from their church. I'm talking big churches and small churches, all across the country. I'm blessed to be a part of an adoption Yahoo group and have been able to hear from many people about this.

Support from churches seems to vary. Some not at all. Some will not allow members to announce their adoption plans to the congregation, but it is ok to ask individuals for support. Some churches are great about announcements and encouragement (including my own). Some will take up a specific offering. What I haven't seen a lot of, (and that doesn't mean it isn't happening, this is where YOU come in!), is churches giving directly from their budget (you know, what people tithe) to financially support adoptive families.

I've heard various reasons for this, and they all make logical sense. I am a very logical person, so my head understands very clearly the reasons. For small churches, they often have very little money to give. For large churches, they have so many members that if they support one family they would need to support them all, so they don't support anybody.

Now, I have never been a part of a budget committee and I'm sure it is a VERY hard job! That is why I'd like to hear from you, if you have any insight. My head gets it, but my heart doesn't. Especially when I think of the early church, in Acts 2:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46
Is this part of the reason for the tithe? So that the church could support "anyone who had need"? Again, I don't know the answers to these questions, help a girl out here! :)

But I wonder...

Would more people consider adoption if the church (in general) regularly and openly helped adoptive families financially? Maybe they could budget adoption grants and families could apply for them? Are there any churches out there that do this? I am curious if you know about one.

Money IS the biggest obstacle for adoptive families. There are many scripts I have played out in my head as to why we shouldn't adopt now:
  • Lord, we're too young. We haven't worked for very long and don't have much savings.
  • Lord, just let us pay off our student loans first.
  • Lord, it makes more sense to work for a year to save up the money.
  • Lord, we are losing my income so I can stay home with Riley and help him adjust to his new life in a family.
  • Lord, I am graduating and will have to start making payments on my student loans.
  • Lord, Riley's medical needs will bring more expenses than we have ever had before.
  • Lord, we might have to take out another loan for the adoption....
Oh, I could go on and on! Note that all those excuses boil down to money. But God's calling for us has been clear: NOW. These children CAN'T wait!

All that to say, what are your thoughts? I'm sure this discussion has been had "behind the scenes" at budget meetings galore, but I think it's important for us "lay" people to know.

If you've never commented before, please take this as a personal invitation from me to share your thoughts and experiences.

I want to hear from you! Sound off.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Timmy Has A Family!!

Oh I am SO excited to announce that Timmy has a committed family now!
Pray that Timmy gets home soon to his new family so he can get the surgery he needs so desperately!! I am PRAYING that I won't see either Timmy or Ivan again this summer...because it means they will be HOME! :)

Pic of the day:
This is how my kittens (Tika and Neko) help me write my dissertation:
Just makes me want to take a nap!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Unexpected Blessing

I have good news and better news:

1. The good news is that our first set of dossier paperwork made it to That Far Away Land on Monday! In case you are wondering, we cannot discuss on this blog what country we are adopting from. Many of you already know, and that's fine, and if you're curious you can send me an email. But this blog is too public (I have readers?!! lol) to go into details.

2. The better news: Remember how it cost $116? Well yesterday, as I was in my Vicodin-induced zombie-like state, I got a phone call from the UPS store. There is a sweet guy who works there, K., who has taken a personal interest in this package. We live in a small town and they don't do many international shipments. Anyway, K. called me yesterday and I tried not to sound like a druggie as he told me that he was requesting a refund for us! Apparently they will only refund $106 of our $116...the other $10 is a non-refundable fuel charge. But still! I'm a bit unclear as to why we are getting the refund...?! It either has something to do with the fact that our package didn't show up as being received for over 36 hours, or that it was supposed to be delivered on the 6th and instead made it there on the 10th. One of the two, I think. Either way, thank you God!!! Of course we'll just be using that refund to send more documents to That Far Away Land in the future...but it's the little things that keep you going :).

The cough that came with The Crud is still lingering, but I think getting better. I've also taken to wrapping my chest up in an ace bandage like a corset. It's amazing how good that feels! I've also decided to avoid Vicodin and am trying out Aleve today...pray for healing! I don't want to start teaching next week with my chest wrapped in an ace bandage, using only my right arm :).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Crud

Hi there, friends.

This post isn't going to be very witty, I'm afraid, but I need some prayer. For the last two weeks I have been battling what my husband affectionately calls, "The Crud". The Crud is some mysterious virus that just. won't. quit. I've been to the doctor three times in a week. This past Friday I was coughing so much that it feels like I cracked a rib. I went to the doctor about it, and it's probably just a pulled muscle, but HOLY COW THE PAIN. It seriously feels broken, and it's not getting better. I just took a Vicodin for the first time in my life and it's still not helping.

I told Satan yesterday that he can do whatever he wants to me, but we're still adopting Riley. I feel very strongly that this is spiritual attack. Could you please pray? Pray for my body to heal, for Satan to leave me alone, and pray for funds to come in because I haven't had the energy to do any fundraisers lately due to this illness and working on our dossier. Oh, and writing my dissertation. Don't forget about that one. UGH!

Thanks, friends. Your prayers and comments mean the world to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Magic Blog?!

Remember Ivan? The boy we thought had passed away? The boy who, 4 weeks ago, had $0 in his grant fund??
The boy who received $11,250 in his grant fund just a few weeks ago??!

Yes, I'm sure you remember him. :)


To let you know...

IVAN HAS A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm starting to think my blog has magic powers :). First Anya, now up: Timmy, Vanessa and Lilly! (In no particular order...)

Just kidding about the "magic" part...PRAISE GOD for how He moves in peoples' hearts!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Apostilled! (huh?)

As promised, here's my post on Apostilles. I had never heard of them before we started researching international adoption. It took me a long time just to figure out how to pronounce the word (and I'm still not sure I've got it right!). To the best of my knowledge, it's pronounced "uh-POS-tle" (don't forget the "t", otherwise you are referring to Jesus' disciples!).

So what are these things anyway?

It's a state seal (in our case, from Virginia) that verifies that the notary who notarized our document is a valid notary in the state of Virginia. We have to have MANY documents notarized, and then we need an apostille for EACH one.

To get the apostille you mail your documents to the Secretary of the Commonwealth office in Richmond and they mail them back to you with the apostilles attached (for a fee, of course). We mailed our first set of nine documents on Thursday, Dec. 30, and received them back with apostilles on Monday, Jan 3. I am VERY impressed with that turn-around time!

Here's a picture of one of our apostilles:
Now that our first packet is apostilled it is ready to be sent to Riley's country! I went to the UPS store this morning to mail them. You will not believe what it cost to mail nine documents with apostilles overseas!


$116 !!!!!!

For those of you that are wondering, USPS does NOT deliver mail to where these documents are going, so we had to use another (more expensive) service.

Thank goodness we only have to do this a minimum of two more times. YIKES!

But...our first set of dossier documents is now ON ITS WAY!!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm A New Year Warrior...

...for Vanessa and Lilly!
Basically what this means is that I am going to be praying and advocating specifically for these two beautiful girls until they find their families in 2011! I've essentially been doing that unofficially for Anya (who now has a family!), Timmy, and Ivan (who now both have HUGE grants!).

I chose to advocate for these specific girls because both have very serious heart conditions. They will not receive surgery for these conditions in their current county (it is considered a "waste"). Both are doing ok for now, but the danger of them dying is VERY REAL if they don't get the surgeries they need. Their only hope is an international adoption.

Both girls live in the same region in the same country, but are not biologically related so they cannot be adopted together. That means we need to find two separate families to save these beautiful girls.

And now...

I present...

Vanessa is diagnosed with Down syndrome and a heart condition. Isn't she beautiful??!! She was born in March 2009 and her nature is described as "calm". Go visit her page on Reece's Rainbow for more information! She currently has over $600 in her grant fund.

And last but not least...

I give you...

This sweet angel is also diagnosed with Down syndrome and a significant heart defect. She will turn 4 this February. That is the "dreaded age" when most children are transferred to a mental institution, and she will not live long there. She needs a family fast!! Right now she has $1000 in her grant fund. Visit her page on Reece's Rainbow for more information!

BOTH girls are available to Canadian families and single moms!

Please pray for their families to step forward soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Family In Need

Our journey to adoption really began before Rob and I ever met.

It started with a family in need: Rob's friends Eric and Gina. They had a baby boy in 2004, named Gabriel, aka, Gabe.

Both Eric and Gina were working at the time and needed some help babysitting. Rob stepped in whenever he was needed, from the time Gabe was 3 months old.

Rob feeding Gabe in 2004

Gabe's 2nd birthday party, 2006
 When Rob and I started dating, I began helping take care of Gabe when it was needed.

Rob with Gabe in 2007
We always had a lot of fun with Gabe, and I especially loved taking him to the pool.

Gabe at the pool with me in 2007
Through caring for Gabe, both Rob and I came to realize how easily we could love and care for a child that wasn't biologically related to us.

Gabe with me at our wedding in 2008
Two years ago, Eric, Gina and Gabe moved to Oklahoma, but they come back to visit a few times a year as Gina has family in the area. They were in town this week and we got to spend a good bit of time with them, including breakfast at Denny's this morning.

Gabe and I at Denny's on 1-1-11
Sadly, the reason for their visit this time was for a funeral. Gina's brother, James Matthew McPeak ("Matt"), was murdered just before Christmas by his estranged wife and her boyfriend. They have two children, Gabe's cousins, E. and A. (names withheld for privacy).

Gabe's cousins
E. and A. are now living with Gabe's grandparents in Christiansburg. Eric and Gina started a blog and opened a fund for donations for these kids as they transition to a new life. So far they have raised almost $11,000! Some of the money will be used for immediate expenses, like building a bedroom for E. and A., and the rest will be saved for their future needs as they arise.

Please help us help this family in need. They could really use lots of prayers right now. The kids don't know what has happened yet, only that Mommy and Daddy are gone and not coming back for a long time. The kids cry for their daddy every night.

Prayers and donations of money or physical items (clothes, toys, etc) are greatly appreciated! Visit the blog for information on how to help.