Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Did It!!!

Thank you SO much to all who contributed to our necklace giveaway! We indeed made our goal of $1000! God is so good. We will do the drawing for the winner tomorrow!

Prayer request: Tomorrow I have to submit a final draft of my dissertation to my committee. I've been working all day and still have a few kinks to be worked out in the morning. Could you please pray that I would finish those quickly tomorrow? Thank you so much.


Today is the LAST DAY to get your entries in for our necklace giveaway!! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has contributed so far. I would love to reach $1000 with this giveaway and we are getting so close!! Please please continue to share and donate $5 (or more!) if you can. I believe we can make it to $1000 today, let's go for it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Your $5 Matters

We have just two days left of our necklace giveaway fundraiser. I would LOVE to raise $1000 with this fundraiser and we are getting so close!! It especially warms my heart to see the $5 donations. It may not seem like much, but it truly does MATTER! It matters to us, it matters to Riley, and most of all it matters to God.

This blog gets an average of 79 visits per day. If every visiting person today gave just $5, that would be $395 in one day alone! That's what God does, He takes our five fishes and two loaves of bread and He multiplies them. That's why your $5 matters. Will you join me??

And now, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, here are the details one more time :)
  • For every $5 you donate through our Chip-In above you get one entry in the virtual "hat".
  • After midnight TOMORROW the giveaway ends!
  • On Friday, April 1 we will randomly draw the winner.
  • You can enter for FREE just by sharing about our giveaway! Five entries each time you share (blog, twitter, facebook, etc)! Just post a comment on here so I can get your entries in the "hat".
In Other News....
1. Carrington is doing GREAT! She weighs a solid 13 pounds now (up from 11 when she arrived home), is keeping down her feeds (no reflux!) and her feeds are up to 32 cc's/hour! And the other day she started smiling and laughing:
Isn't she soo beautiful??!!!

2. The actress Patricia Heaton, from Everybody Loves Raymond, will donate $10,000 to RR if we can get 10,000 follows of @reecesrainbow on Twitter! Now, I've always been anti-Twitter and never, EVER saw the need to sign up...but I'm signing up this morning and following. Will you join me??

3. For you local folks, don't forget to check out our sale of services!! So far we've raised nearly $100 from this fundraiser and I think it is the coolest thing ever! Thanks Dianne for having this idea and setting it up :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Please Don't Forget...Just A Few Days Left!

The giveaway for this beautiful necklace is quickly coming to an end! Please help bring Riley home (and get a chance to win something nice for yourself) by donating to our Chip-In above. Every $5 you donate gets you one entry in the virtual "hat". You have until midnight on March 31 (that's this Thursday!) to get your donations in! We will draw the winning name on Friday, April 1.

And....if you share about this giveaway on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc, you'll get an additional five FREE entries! Post a link in the comments to let me know you've shared so I can get your entries in.

And for those of you who are local, don't forget about our awesome sale of services that's going on right now! There are some really great services that people have donated to help us bring Riley home, such as car detailing by Evan (if you know him you know he's amazing at this!) and a Healthy Pantry Makeover by Gabrielle (who's already sold three of these!). Check it out!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Journey of the Heart-Part One

This week I had the privilege of being a "guest blogger" on my church's downtown womens' ministry blog! Click here to check out my post from yesterday!

Here's an excerpt:
"I'll be honest. When we started this journey to try to adopt a little girl I met last summer, Vika, a special needs adoption was the farthest thing from my mind. Vika is a healthy, adorable, almost two-year-old, and in the process of trying to adopt her we discovered that she is not available for adoption.
But God knew that. He knew that I wasn't ready to pursue a special needs adoption, and so he sent Vika to capture my heart and get us started on the journey. We discovered Reece's Rainbow in the process, an organization that serves as a voice of hope for special needs children. I would occasionally look at the waiting children on their website and wonder who would ever adopt some of them, their needs were so great.

Then I saw the children who were HIV+. Completely healthy, most of them, except for that. "Why are these children so rejected?", I wondered. "All they need is some medication and a little extra precaution. There's no chance of 'catching' HIV from any of them". I have since come to realize that many people are very uneducated about HIV.  It is considered a very minor special need. I said to myself, "I could handle that!".

Then I saw Riley's picture and fell in love..."
Part Two will be posted next Friday....stay tuned :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Three Things Thursday (err...Friday!)

I know it's Friday, but "Three Things Friday" doesn't have the same ring to it and I may as well have written this post yesterday :)

1. ONE WEEK LEFT to enter our giveaway to win this beautiful, one-of-a-kind, handcarved necklace! To be entered simply donate through our Chip-In button above. Every $5 you donate gives you one entry in the drawing. We will be closing this giveaway next Friday! Also, if you share about our giveaway (facebook, twitter, blog, etc) you will get another FIVE entries! Just leave a comment so I know you've shared and I will put those entries into the virtual "hat". I would LOVE to raise $1000 with this fundraiser and we're over halfway to that goal...can you please help us reach it??

2. CARRINGTON UPDATE: Little Carrington is holding her own. She is a fighter! 

They have increased her feeds to 20 cc's per hour, and although she is still refluxing pretty badly and bringing up some of her feeds, the doctors don't think anything can be done about that until she has corrective surgery. Right now they are trying to "fatten her up" to be able to survive the surgery. Her weight has fluctuated: up to twelve pounds but now back down to eleven. Apparently that is pretty normal for her severe condition, so the doctors aren't worried. Her body is relearning what to do with food! When she is ready for surgery she will also get a g-button and they will try to take care of her teeth, which are mostly rotten and broken :(

3. PRAYER NEEDED for this family who was recently denied the adoption of their son. They are currently appealing the decision. Here is an incredibly touching video of them meeting their son for the first time in August:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

This video is a glimpse into the life of institutionalized children. The rocking you see them all doing is called "stimming": they do not have enough stimulation so they have these self-soothing behaviors.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carrington Says "Hi!"

"Thanks for praying for me! I have been sleeping more and am able to hold down 10cc's of food per hour. This morning I even had a teeny, tiny poo! (They tell me this is a good thing). I'm going to see lots of doctors today so please pray for the Lord to give them wisdom on how best to continue treating me. Thanks!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh! Carrington...

I have some updates on sweet Carrington. She is in very, very critical condition and is fighting for her life as I type this.
The facts:
  1. At age 3.5, Carrington weighed just ELEVEN pounds when she arrived at the hospital a few days ago. This morning she has lost half a pound :(.
  2. Her severe reflux is not allowing her body to keep any food down, not even 5cc's/hour through a feeding tube.
  3. The doctors have now put the tube directly into her intestine, bypassing the stomach in the hopes of getting her some nutrition.
  4. Her body is shutting down in preparation for death.
  5. An MRI of her brain shows that part of it is missing. They will investigate this further after she is more stable.
It is a MIRACLE that she has lived this long! Please pray for her recovery. You can check this blog for updates on Carrington's status. I will also mention news here as I receive it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Double Digits!

We are now over 50% funded!!!

Yesterday our grant fund jumped up $3000! I know where $1000 of that came from, but the other $2000 I have no idea! THANK YOU, whoever you are! May God bless you richly for your generosity.

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I want to share something very real with you, but first you have to bear with me as I tell a story.

In June 2006 I went on my first missions trip to the Dominican Republic. Our first day out we stopped to visit a Haitian batey (bah-TAY). This is basically a slum where legal and illegal immigrants from Haiti live. They cross the border hoping for work. This particular slum was located next to a sugarcane field in the middle of absolutely nowhere, accessible only by a dirt road littered with potholes. No running water. No electricity. No hope. The "homes" were made out of scrap metal, if they can even be called homes.

You see pictures of places like this on TV, but seeing it first-hand is something entirely different. I was in shock. As we walked around on a little tour, two children, probably 9 or 10 years old, silently came up to me, one on each side, and held my hands as I walked. They didn't ask for candy, they didn't speak, they didn't look at me. But they held onto me as if for dear life.

I took the next three pictures of the kids who live in that batey:

 No smiles on any of their faces.

Since that day, nothing has ever shocked me in quite the same way. Saddened me, yes, greatly, but shocked me? No, not after seeing the worst of the worst. In March 2007 I went on a missions trip to Camalote (cam-a-LO-tay), Honduras, a rural village in the mountains. I saw great need and children with severe malnutrition. But I was not shocked.
Picture I took in Camalote, Honduras, of severely malnourished children.
I have visited an orphanage in Riley's country and seen the way the children live there. It is no way for a child to grow up, but it did not shock me.

This morning I saw an image that shocked me.

Meet Carrington:
Carrington was just adopted from Masha's orphanage. She looks so cute with those chubby cheeks, doesn't she?

Here she is on her "Gotcha Day" earlier this week:
What a beautiful little girl.


Here's what her new momma found when she went to change her diaper:

Yes, this IS the same little girl.

Since taking her from the orphanage, Carrington has not been able to keep anything down. She has such severe reflux she probably needs a G-tube. She probably needed one four years ago when she was born.

Yes, she is four years old.

Happily, Carrington is now on a plane with her momma back to the U.S.....and headed straight for the emergency room. Doctor's orders. Saved just in time.

Shocking, yes. Real, yes. We cannot ignore this neglect. We cannot. We must go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bullet-Point Wednesday

Not quite as catchy as "Wordless Wednesday", but it'll hafta do. :)
  • I have officially rescheduled my dissertation defense for April 14. That gives me another two weeks before I need to send a draft to my committee. I plan to participate in the Fall ceremony since: a) I won't make the Spring commencement deadline, and b) We'll probably be traveling in mid-May anyhow. As my advisor put it, "The fall ceremony is shorter and not as hot!". Works for me.
  • We have now raised over $7000! So amazing to see God working. Thank you so much to all who have donated and prayed for us.
  • Unfortunately we still need another $13,000 to be fully funded and we are running out of time. We have about six weeks to raise the rest. I keep praying that the Large Donor Fairy will show up soon :). I've seen it happen with other families...our turn now, please?!
  • We got 31 documents back from Richmond with shiny apostilles yesterday! Now we're just waiting on our 2010 taxes to send the last few documents off for apostilles, and then we'll be ready to mail our Dossier to a Far Away Land!
  • That Far Away Land is once again considering putting a hold on adoptions while they change over to the Hague agreements, possibly as early as May. Please pray that adoptions remain open during the changeover, especially for special needs children. I don't think our adoption is in danger, but there are so, so many other families in the process that might potentially lose their children.
  • Completely off topic, I went for a run today with some great women from my church! It felt so good to be out there again, I haven't run in months because it was just too dang cold. Now that we're back on Daylight Savings Time (best day of the year in my opinion!) we can resume our 5:30-??pm runs without getting caught in the dark on the trail.
  • There are several orphans weighing heavily on my heart. Literally, on my heart, because they need heart, yesterday! I know we're saving Riley but can't I save them all?? At least the ones that will die if they don't get the surgery they need SOON? Why do they have to be in different countries and at different orphanages? Where are their families? I can't believe Vanessa doesn't have a family yet :(. I'll post more about this another day.
And as much as I love Daylight Savings Time, I don't love what it does to my body clock. Time for bed :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Community Effort

I love my church, nlcf, and the community we have here. The last few weeks I have been blown away by friends offering to organize and execute fundraisers for us:
  1. April is organizing a benefit yard sale. More details to come. We'll need donations, volunteers, and help spreading the word. The goal of this yard sale is to get more of the Blacksburg community aware of and involved in Riley's adoption. This adoption goes beyond our church family!
  2. Dianne has set up a "sale of services" website. You can donate a service (e.g: babysitting for a night) or buy a service being offered. All proceeds benefit our adoption. Again, we hope to get the larger community involved in this!
  3. My Lifegroup gals are organizing an all-you-can-eat pancake dinner for $5! More details to come on that, too.
  4. Our church has generously offered a $500 matching grant during the month of March. This should bring in another $1000!
I strongly believe that adoption is a community effort. We cannot do this alone. We are not the only ones affected by this. We need help, and it's ok to ask for it. We'll need help after Riley gets home, too! I'll be a first-time, stay-at-home-mom to a child who's never had a family before and will probably have some trauma from being institutionalized. Any other SAHMs out there in Blacksburg/Christiansburg?! I'm going to need you!!

And since we have ZILCH in the way of supplies (not a single item of clothing, toy, diaper, furniture, etc) I finally went ahead and registered at Target for some stuff that I know we will we need, if you feel like helping us out in that way! Most of the stuff is only available online, but it can be shipped directly to us.

Thank you, everyone. From the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Dollar A Day

Yesterday I got an email from a friend with an idea: She is going to give up $1 every day during the season of Lent and donate what she saves to Riley's adoption fund! I thought this was such a great idea that I just had to share it on here. If you've been looking for something to "give up" for Lent, please consider this! That would be $40 per person who did this and that could really add up! So cool!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Golden Ticket! No So Golden, Actually

Well, IT arrived in the mail yesterday, the infamous Golden Ticket! We are officially approved by USCIS to bring home two children, ages 0-6, with special needs, from U-Know-Where! The piece of paper itself is quite plain, however. Unfortunately we found out we need to get our 2010 taxes done before we submit our dossier as they will no longer accept 2009 returns.

BUT...this morning I sent (almost) everything off for apostilles! We're getting closer and closer to completing one of my two Big D's: Dossier and Dissertation.

This morning I was blessed to join a group of women from our church for an EARLY time of prayer and cinnamon rolls. I really enjoyed seeing the sun rise and getting to know these other women better. This was my first week going and I hope to make it a habit. One of the first books I read as a new Christian was Too Busy Not To Pray, and that is how I've been feeling lately. I knew I needed some accountability and I think this group is going to be really helpful. Thanks for having me, ladies!

And now it's time for me to beg: I haven't wanted to do this, but as it seems that we will be traveling sooner than expected we need the money sooner than we thought. Right now we are short about $13,000. I know some people have told me they plan to give, but not how much. If you could let me know when you plan to give and how much, that would be extremely helpful in our planning. If you have been waiting for a good time, NOW IS GOOD!

If you want a chance to win our necklace then please donate through the Chip-In; otherwise you can donate through Reece's Rainbow via PayPal or check. And PLEASE spread the word about our giveaway! I'm begging you, unashamedly. For Riley, not for ourselves.
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matt. 6:20-21

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I got some exciting, unexpected news yesterday afternoon: United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has APPROVED our application to bring Riley home! Our "golden ticket" went in the mail yesterday and we should have it early next week! WHEEEE!!

We also got that dang employment verification letter RIGHT! Fifth time IS apparently the charm :). Now it's off for apostilles and very soon we can mail our Dossier to That Far Away Land!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

There's Always One...

It seems like there is always ONE dossier document that takes forever. For us it has been Rob's employment verification letter. It seems simple enough: A few sentences, on company letterhead, stating his annual salary, 6 month salary, date of employment, and that he is in "good standing". Signed by an employer representative and notarized. No big deal, right?


It's become almost comical now, and I just laugh when we find something wrong with the latest "attempt".

Attempt #1: Letter arrives from Maryland (where their personnel office is located) but the notary's commission expired less than a year from the date of signing. That is a big no-no in the world of international adoption.

Attempt #2: The notary renews her commission (just for us!) and tries again. But this time we notice that the annual salary is the same as the six-month salary, and those should be different numbers.

Attempt #3: The numbers are fixed, everything looks good...until we realize that a Maryland notary needs a Maryland apostille, and a Maryland apostille needs a county certification. It is at this point that the notary realizes she renewed her commission in a different county than the stamp! And she can't do anything about it until her new stamp arrives.

It is decided that the letter will be signed by someone in Virginia (enter me singing "Hallelujah! No Maryland apostille!").

Attempt #4: This one came in on Wednesday. At first glance it looked great. But as I went to fax it to be checked over, I realized that the typed date of the letter was different from the dates of the signatures. Again, a big no-no. Then our state-side helper discovered that the notary had written her name on the line where the employer representative's name should have been.

Attempt #5: ...will hopefully come today. Let's hope 5th time's the charm! :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is This Your Son?

Meet "Easton":
Little Easton is badly in need of a family. He was recently transferred to a mental institution :(.

From his profile:
Easton is a sweet little boy who was born wtih CP.  He is quite high functioning, able to walk and play independently, even ride a rocking horse!   He is considered very smart.  He does have some strabismus (crossed eyes), and will greatly benefit from having a loving family of his own. 
From an adoptive family who visited with him in October 2010:
Easton is VERY active, he loves to laugh and he loves to play
with trucks. He seems almost silly but he loves attention. He and Alina are buddies, they seem to play well together and she gets really excited when she sees him. If you speak to him he listens intently and really studies your face.  He's a cute cute cute little boy!"
Easton currently has $1,221 in his grant fund!

Could Easton be your son??

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Calling

I hear this a lot: "Not everyone is called to adopt". Yes, that is true. But we are ALL called to care for orphans in some way.

For anyone reading this who feels like they are not called to adopt, I want to ask you something: Have you given God a chance to move your heart towards adoption? I have a few suggestions for you:
  1. Take some time (a period of weeks or months) to repeatedly ask God in prayer how He would have you care for orphans. Pray together with your spouse if you have one.
  2. Look at the beautiful children who are waiting for families and pray over them. Ask God to move your heart towards one of them if it is His will.
  3. Read some stories of families who have been through the process and see the amazing changes in their children! This has been extremely helpful to me. I recommend this blog to start with.
  4. Consider a short-term missions trip to visit an orphanage and meet a few of these children personally.
  5. Don't think about the money. Just ask God to reveal His will to you.
Perhaps you've done all of those things, or after you do all of those things, you still don't feel called to adopt (or at least not yet). That is FINE! But you can still be an enormous help to those who are called to adopt! Here are some things you can do:
  1. Choose a child (or two!) on Reece's Rainbow and be their Prayer Warrior. Organize a few fundraisers for them to raise their grant fund and advocate for them to find their family. This really works.
  2. Help an adoptive family either by donating or helping with fundraising in some way! For example, are you low on cash but have some time? You could help organize and run a fundraiser for a family that needs help.
  3. Do you have an Etsy shop? Consider having a sale or a period of time where you donate a percentage of your sales to a family or child's grant fund.
  4. Got lots of junk to get rid of? Organize a yard sale and donate all the proceeds to an adoptive family or a child's grant fund. This one's a bonus because you get a clean house in the process!
  5. Go on a missions trip to visit an orphanage. Minister to the children there to aid them in finding a family.
  6. Blog, twitter and share on Facebook about children who need families or families who need funds. 
I'm sure there are other ways to help that I can't think of at the moment. If you think of something, leave it in the comments below!