Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Honor of Henry...

Today the world lost a little light. Today a precious heart stopped and a family was left behind to grieve. Precious Henry Dobrovits passed away today at the age of two. His family fought long and hard to bring him home just last year.

Henry had a very rare condition called Larsen Syndrome and was doing very well in his loving family. A few weeks ago, Henry had VEPTR rods placed. He developed an infection around the rods and was readmitted earlier this week. Today, sweet Henry suddenly crashed, was revived, and crashed again. This time, there was nothing that could be done. Henry's mother, Carla helped me press on when we were struggling with everything breaking during our commitment process. I do not think she realizes how influential she has been and how much her story inspires those around her. To read about Henry and his family's journey to rescue him, check out Bringing Henry Home.

Right now, the Dobrovits family needs prayer and lots of it. Please say a quick prayer for their comfort and healing at this time. They know Henry is in a perfect place, but their hearts are broken because he could not stay here with them.

The Reece's Rainbow community is obviously very heartbroken for the Dobrovits family. Everyone is praying, yet wishing there was something tangible we could do to honor Henry. One lady suggested donating to another Reece's Rainbow child with Larsen Syndrome in honor of Henry. I love this idea. There is one child listed who has Larsen Syndrome, and the family is in country right now and still in need of funds. The Basas Family is adopting sweet Delilah who has Larsen Syndrome like Henry and while there, they added Brett who has Cerebral Palsy. Please consider donating to the Basas Family in honor of Henry. We can't do much to ease the pain of the Dobrovits family, but we can do this.

I have just started a local fundraiser for our adoption of Carolina, but I would like to help the Basas family in honor of Henry. As incentive for my blog followers, the first 5 people to donate $10 or more to the Basas Family FSP and email me their receipt, will receive a dozen chocolate Buckeyes from me. Lower 48 U.S. States only.

(Image from Google)
Give $10, help honor the memory of a child, help bring another 2 children home, and indulge in chocolatey peanut butter goodness.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Here in the United States, today is a holiday. It is a day we set aside to eat large amounts of delicious, homemade foods and give thanks to our Lord and Creator for the abundance in our lives.  My family will be loading up and driving to my grandmother's house where we will feast with her, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters, parents and cousins. Grandma's basement will have several tables lined up into one long table. In recent years, Grandma has decided she doesn't enjoy the turkey leftovers and has just made ham and chicken and noodles. Not this year. I will be bringing a turkey breast because it's just not Thanksgiving without turkey! We will feast on homemade rolls, baked macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken & noodles, deviled eggs, salads, sugar cream pie and pumpkin pie....with sorghum on it! I know some people feel whipped cream is the topper of choice for pumpkin pie, but I am here to assure you that sorghum is better! (Think molasses only sweeter and without the bitter bite.)

After scarfing down their plates of food, the men will head upstairs to watch the football game on television. Actually, that is what they say they will do, but most of them will be asleep within ten minutes. The kids will hurry and eat so they can get back to playing with all the cool toys Grandma keeps (many of which my brothers and I played with as children when we went there). The boys will surely have a "battle" going with the wooden guns my late grandfather made for my brothers. The girls will likely join in for a bit and then move on to their own "house" style games. And the women...we have the best time. We stay at the table talking for hours, and of course, continue eating those lovely pies and desserts. It's a wonderful time. We are spread across 4 states and don't get to see each other often, so the Holidays are all the more special to us. 

I am thankful for the land in which I live. I am thankful for my faith and the freedom I have to practice it. I am thankful for my immediate and extended family. I am thankful for the friends I have all over this great nation and the world. I am thankful for a home that keeps us sheltered from the elements. I am thankful for wonderful medical care that is readily available. I did nothing to deserve all of these things, yet I have them because I was born here. Not everyone is so fortunate. 

Somewhere in Eastern Europe, a six year old girl is going about her day. Just the same as any other day. Her meager meals are the same as they are any other day. Perhaps a watery porridge for breakfast, maybe a potato soup for lunch and dinner...maybe with a tiny bit of bread if she is lucky. Perhaps she is able to walk...perhaps she cannot and must rely on others to help her. And there she sits and waits, day in and day out. I wonder, what are her dreams? Does she dare to have any? Does she get to go outside of the institution walls? Do her caretakers treat her as a person or as an inanimate object? Does she want a family? Does she dare to hope? Is she warm? Is she sick? Does she get proper care if she is?

Little "Carolina" has no idea that a family is coming for her. She has no idea how many people have prayed for her over the years. How I long for the day I can wrap my arms around her and tell her she is loved by so many! I desperately desire to show her that she is of infinite worth and importance. And next year - God willing - she will spend Thanksgiving eating turkey, ham, chicken & noodles, rolls, veggies, mashed potatoes and pie...and being adored by her family

Remember to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Whether your gathering is large or small, at home or far away, we are all blessed beyond measure.

In Gratitude,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some thoughts...

The past couple of weeks have been quite interesting around here. Obviously, committing to Carolina has started some major rearranging of the house. We are still bouncing ideas around, but the plan is coming into place rather well.

It's hard to explain the feelings associated with the adoption process. I suppose, in many ways, it is not unlike being pregnant. Each time I have realized I was pregnant, there was an initial shock. This time there was sort of an, "Oh my goodness, here we go!" kind of feeling. Like the start of a roller coaster. It's scary and thrilling and so wonderful all rolled into one. But there is another feeling that I hadn't expected. When I am pregnant, I have the little "mantra" going in the back of my mind, no matter what else I happen to be doing. This mantra says, "I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant." There is no time when that baby is not somewhere on my mind and so I make all decisions with his/her best interest in mind. I am not carrying a child inside of me right now, but I am feeling those same feelings. All future plans have our new daughter in them. I think of her as we're preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. My heart aches that she has never known either.

Someone once said "Being a mother is making a choice to allow your heart to walk around outside of your body." This is very true. I feel like an invisible force binds my heart to each of my kids. This week, that force stretched an ocean. Though we've never met, Carolina is in my heart. I wonder as I am going to bed at night whether she is up for the day. I wonder if she is talked to, or if anyone notices her at all. I wonder if she can get around on her own. I wonder if she's being fed and if she has warm clothes and blankets and heat. These are not guarantees in Eastern Europe the way they are here.

With all of these new feelings and emotions, it is hard to answer questions objectively, but it is even harder to take criticism of our decision. Thus far, I have done well, but it isn't easy...hence the reason I am up writing at 3am and not in bed.

Last week, my husband spoke at church. He doesn't enjoy being asked to speak in front of the entire congregation, but he did it. He spoke about our experience that led us to commit to Carolina. This was the first time that most of our church heard of our plans to adopt. To say people were shocked was an understatement, but we have another adoptive family who has been a wonderful example, so most were pretty excited for us.
 But our closest friends were not.
 My family is not.
 It makes life very hard because the people we are closest to in the world are pulling away from us. I do not believe any of this will be permanent. We continue to spend time with our friends and we talk about it. They ask questions, we answer. As for my family, they will come around. But I guess I was having a really hard time this week with my family and friends avoiding normal, non-adoption conversation with me because of our decision. Why are they being this way? Here are some reasons I have come up with....come....psychoanalyze with me;)

1.) Fear for our safety. This is a big one. Friends and especially family fear us heading to an Eastern European nation where we know no one and do not speak the language.

Why are we not afraid? Because we are not truly "alone." There are people in country ready to assist us 24/7. They make the arrangements for our lodging and ensure it is a safe place. They help us get from place to place. It is their job and they are quite good at it according to the other families who have used why worry? Will it be tough to communicate? Yes. But that is not an impossible hurdle and will give us a little first-hand experience of what our daughter will feel like when she first comes home.

2.) Feeling guilty or judged.

This is probably the biggest issue. If there was one thing I could say to people who do not feel called to adopt, it would be, "That's ok!" I think sometimes people feel that those who adopt look down on those who don't. That could not be further from the truth, at least for me. Everyone in our faith is called to "care for the widows and the orphans" but NOT everyone is called to adopt. Not everyone can adopt due to rules and regulations. Not everyone SHOULD adopt due to dynamics and other reasons. It does not make your personal mission any less valuable just because OURS is different. We all find ways to serve and do good in the world (all who want to anyway) and one person's good is not better than another person's good. There are plenty of ways to serve our fellow man and to ease human suffering besides adoption. We all are to do what WE can do. Our best is not measured against someone else's. What is good for me might be terrible for your family, so please, don't think that an excited adoptive family is somehow looking down on you for not adopting...we're not.

3.) Worry for our biological kids.

All I can say here is that my biological kids have adjusted just fine to each new sibling. I have no reason to suspect that they will not again rise to the occasion and welcome their new sister. They will miss us while we are in country, but I know they will be in good hands. Daddy will not stay the entire time, so he can be back with the kids and keep them in their routine as much as possible. My biological kids are quite excited about this. Of course, one wishes he could travel with us and that just won't be possible, but he'll get over that. As for issues once home, there is just no way to know what it will bring. But we are well-researched on the topic and we have many resources available to help aid us in the transition.

4.) Different viewpoints

This is kind of vague so let me just put it this way. When I explained the way children were left to starve...or nearly starve for years on end in cribs simply because they had an extra chromosome or other difference that made them "undesirable" in their country, I related a story. The story was of a little boy who died waiting for a family. The medical treatments available in the U.S. would have saved his life, but his orphanage director would not let him be adopted unless someone who was the "right" denomination adopted him. 1 Catholic Family, 1 LDS family and 2 non-Christian families wanted this child, but they were not deemed good enough, and the child died. I found that to be horrible. I find it horrible when kids waste away in cribs...teenagers who still look like babies from lack of nourishment. And when I relate these stories with all the passion I have, I am met with a blank stare and a shrug. And what comes next just blows my mind, "Well, better for the child to die and be with the Savior. They have a straight shot to heaven."
WOW! REALLY?! I agree that yes, the child is in heaven and will not suffer anymore, but how awful to think it better to let a child die that way...slowly, painfully, alone and unwanted. It won't affect where the child's soul goes, but what will that attitude do to our souls? Think about it. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of have done it unto me." These are the words of Jesus Christ, whom these people and I worship as Lord and Savior.
Do we forget that the Savior expects His people to care for "the least of these" as we would for Him? And do we forget that NOT doing those things is as though Christ came before us and we did NOT help Him?
 No, not everyone should adopt. But everyone CAN do something. Christians of all denominations not only CAN but are COMMANDED to do something. Adoption is ONE thing people can do. Helping those in process is another thing people CAN do. Donating to charities that aid orphans is also something people CAN do. Aiding people who are down-trodden in ANY way is something people CAN do.
Being anything less than supportive of any of these efforts is a great way to land on the wrong side of "ye have done it unto me."

And thus concludes my late night thoughts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holy Paperwork Batman!

Today we received all the paperwork and instructions for our dossier. It took 3 email attachments to get it all to us...eek! Not that I didn't know this was going to happen, but something about actually seeing it all drives home just how in-depth a process this will really be. But never fear! We are on top of it. It WILL get completed. How? One form, one notary at a time.

We are also in the middle of a home study and should have our first visit in the next couple of days. And of course, that means even more paper! It also means we have to begin "the great migration." O.k. so that may be a bit of an overstatement, but moving bedrooms when kids are involved can sure feel like a cross-country move.

So how are my bio kids handling everything?
I am glad you asked! They are hilarious about it all. M asks constantly when "the girl in the pony shirt is going to come?" and she is beyond thrilled at getting a bunk bed to share with E. This means they are big like their brothers you know. M is still trying to figure out how this 6 year old is going to come out of my stomach....she hasn't figured out adoption versus birth. And find it all quite endearing.
 A is pretty laid back about the whole thing and has taken to calling Carolina "California." It reminds me of the Jodee Messina song, "Heads, Carolina Tails California." He has a hard time understanding the orphan situation and why parents would not choose to raise their special needs children. I get a kick out of hearing him say, " cute!" over and over as he looks at the RR site. Don't let his tough, macho 11 year old going on 20 facade fool you. He's a softee.
 R is a bit different. He is a spectrum kid and he had it in his head that we were adopting a little brother for him (which was our original intent, but we were led to a girl). He has finally started coming around about it and he understands that we feel Heavenly Father led us to this child....but he's now lobbying for us to bring home a boy too. We only intend to adopt one, but his determination is priceless. This is the kid who claimed he would not love our now 2 year old if she was not a boy. Right....he loves that child more than I ever thought possible for a little boy of his age. She is HIS baby you know;)
 And that brings us to little E. She isn't quite sure what adoption means, but she likes the idea of picking out a new child to come live here...a GIRL of course. She wants to like everything sister M likes. In all likelihood, she really won't remember a time when C was not with us and that will be a very special thing.

And now you know a little bit about the dynamics in our household. Pretty normal in a crazy, zany, off the wall kind of way.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In awe..

We are finally able to announce that we are Carolina's family! We are thrilled to be bringing this sweet girl home to be loved, receive an education, receive therapy, and all the other things she is missing out on by living in an orphanage. This is an exciting day for us, though it marks the beginning of a TON of paperwork...but we are up to the challenge! She is absolutely worth it.

This day would not be possible without the support of some very special anonymous donors who helped us raise the funds we needed to get started. We are forever grateful for those wonderful people who look for ways to help others. It's a very humbling experience to have to fundraise, but I know that God is in control and this experience will be for our benefit. I cannot count how many times I prayed to know what we should do and was granted peace. I cried tears of joy and gratitude when I received a large donation just at the point when we thought we would have to release commitment. There are truly angels among us.

To quote Toy Story 3...."And we are eternally grateful."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's Angel Tree season!

For those of you who may not know, November and December are very special over at Reece's Rainbow. During these two months, hundreds of advocates work like crazy to raise funds for the children listed on the Angel Tree. The children listed on Angel Tree are typically ones who have little money in their grant funds or those who have been listed for a long time but whose disabilities or country regulations make it difficult to find families for them. Each child listed on Angel Tree has at least one "Angel Tree Warrior" who advocates for that one child and tries to raise $1,000 for him/her by Christmas. It's a tall order to be sure, but these Warriors work selflessly to get it done for these precious, forgotten children.

One such warrior is Randi over at What is My Life Worth? Randi is raising money for little Lene. And check out the picture on her page! Sweet Lene is holding her hands out as if to say, "Mama! Hold me!" She is a beautiful 2 year old little girl with Down Syndrome. Lene is from a Latin American country and is available for adoption by married couples, single women and large families. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Lene's family found her during Angel Tree? Three little Angels have been so blessed already, and it has only been one week. But if you donate a few dollars to Lene's grant, Randi will enter you into her giveaway which has lots of great prizes including Christmas wreaths, hairbows, and many others.

To view all the children listed on the Angel Tree, click on the button on my right sidebar. Be prepared for a cuteness overload. If you donate $35 or more to a child through their Angel Tree button, you can have an ornament sent to you with that child's picture on it to hang on your tree. What a special way to celebrate the Holiday Season.  Why not start a family tradition this year of donating to a child? Little children are particularly sensitive to the needs of other children. It is a precious thing to see them caring for others and hanging those special ornaments on the tree. So involve the whole family and make a difference in the life of an orphan child...and make a forever impression on your family's heart.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The "Why's"

I imagine that every adoptive family is hit with the question of "why?" at some point or another. If that family already has children and chooses international adoption, well, the "Why?" quickly turns into "WHY ON EARTH?!" This is an understandable reaction, so I will attempt to break down the one big "WHY?" Into smaller "why's" in order to shed some light on our thought process.

 Why would you adopt when you already have kids?

 While adoption is a beautiful way to become first-time parents, the reality is that there are far more children who need families than there are child-less couples who want to adopt them. When a child is over four and/or has special needs, the odds of a child being chosen by first-time parents, drops significantly. After four children, we have learned that the true bond between parent and child is cemented in the home through daily care and interaction. There really are three options for kids who are waiting in orphanages. Number one is to wait until they are chosen by a child-less couple. Number two is to be adopted by families who have other children. Number three is to remain exactly where they are without the love of a family. Those really are the options. For us, adoption is not about feeling we don't have enough. It is about realizing we are truly blessed beyond measure and desiring to do what we believe our Father in Heaven would want us to do to aid HIS children. We don't think it is what EVERYONE should do, but we feel it is what WE need to do.

 Why not wait until your kids are older?

 Very good question. In fact, that was sort of "the plan." We figured we would wait until later to adopt when we were hopefully a two income family and maybe even living in a bigger house with acreage. It was a good plan. It was a righteous plan. But something just kept tugging at my heart. It was actually my husband who said one day that we could look into adoption. This really surprised me. Not that I hadn't thought about it many times before, but that HE would bring it up. As I thought about it, I was reminded of all the years I have served in the nursery and Primary programs at church. I once asked why they saw fit to always ask the women with young kids at home to do those jobs? The answer made quite an impact on me and my attitude. It was simply, "Because women who no longer have little kids tend to forget just how to come down to their level and teach them." As I thought on our adoption, that answer was brought to my remembrance and I realized that it would not take long after my kids got older for me to "move on" mentally and forget the details of raising little ones.
 In addition, siblings are some of the best friends and gifts a child can ever have. I could raise an adopted child when my others kids were grown, but he/she would miss out on the experiences that only siblings bring. And my biological children would miss out on the opportunity to learn about service, sacrifice, and true Christ-like love that they are experiencing now.

 Why don't you just adopt here in the United States from Foster Care?

 The short answer to this is, "Because the Lord sent us elsewhere." But the answer is a bit deeper. I have friends who have fostered and some who have been able to grow their families through foster to adopt. I admire these people very much. We considered this program as well. I am quite sure I could not abide by the ridiculous levels of "privacy" that are rigged into the system to protect the birth families. I would not fare well with raising children and having them taken away at any time...possibly returned to the deplorable conditions from which they were removed.
Fostering and adoption are really two different things. I heard it phrased once, "do foster care to foster and adoption to adopt." If a family intends to ADOPT a child, then they need to be pursuing ADOPTION, not foster care as the ideal end-game of foster care is to place the child back with the birth family or a biological relative. There are many amazing families who love foster care and have adopted from the system, but it is not for everyone, just as international adoption is not for everyone. 

Why aren't you concerned with all the needy kids here in the U.S.? 

 I am concerned with them. I have a goal to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate one day for children "in the system" here. But as for the idea that kids here are somehow more deserving of a loving home and family than those overseas? I can only say that I am certainly grateful that my Savior, Jesus Christ didn't feel that way. Otherwise perhaps He would only have sacrificed himself for the people from Nazareth. Think about that. As an American and and Army veteran, I am fiercely patriotic. But as a Christian, I know that God is no respecter of persons and I should not be either. I'll go where He tells me to go.

 Why are you fundraising? 

 It seems a lot of people have this idea that needing to raise funds to adopt means a family cannot afford to have more children. These people likely don't know how much adoption actually costs. Depending on the country, adopting one child can run from about $12,000 to over $60,000. Not many families have that kind of cash sitting around. In the adoption community, the fees required to save a child are often referred to as "raising a ransom." And that is exactly how it feels. The hurdles can seem insurmountable.
There are people who feel, "If you can't afford it, then maybe you shouldn't adopt." To those people I say, "If you cannot buy your house or your car outright, perhaps you should not have one." The fact is, most families who step out in faith to adopt an orphan CAN afford to raise them. It's just getting them through all the red tape and home that presents a barrier. For instance, one requirement for an international adoption is fingerprinting of every adult in the home. This costs $50/person or so. But then there is the form that must be sent in with said fingerprints. That form that goes to USCIS costs $800. FOR ONE FORM. And that is just what goes into the U.S. side of things. There are generally agency fees which run around $24,000 and then in-country fees for drivers, lodging, food, airfare, medical evals, court fees, embassy and passport paperwork, and I am sure I am forgetting a bunch. So yeah, if only those "who could afford it" adopted these kids, it's doubtful that ANY of them would know the love of a family.

 Why are you always posting stuff about orphans on Facebook? 

 The only answer I can give here is that once your eyes are opened to a need, it's hard to be quiet about it. You want to shout it from the rooftops. You want others to care even though they'd rather look away. And that is what happened to me. I couldn't look away anymore. I may not be able to get anyone else to take up the cause of advocacy, but I cannot be silent. If something I post gets a waiting child just a little more exposure so his/her family can find them, it's worthwhile. If it makes just one person look at their life and re-evaluate "needs" then it is worthwhile. If one person contributes to an adoption fund for one child, it is worthwhile. Surely these children are some of "the least of these" spoken of by Jesus Christ. How can I turn my back on them?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

When it rains...trees fall!

I have been pretty quiet on here about our own adoption progress. This is because there wasn't much I could share. I am excited to announce that we have selected a child to pursue from Reece's Rainbow. When I think of this sweet child being denied a family, an education, love, affection and all the typical experiences of childhood, I am heartbroken. So we had many discussions and prayed countless prayers. One child remained in our hearts. We knew that this was our child.
And so we sent our paperwork in to commit. It involved moving some money around. We got things moving quickly and then....One of our vehicles started to die. It was severe engine trouble in a 15 year old vehicle. Most people would have scrapped it at that point, but we believe in making things work for as long as possible, so we were babying it along and it seemed like it just might make a come-back...and then...a windstorm blew through here and a giant tree limb fell on said car, thus finishing it off and necessitating the removal of said tree. $$ But we were not deterred. We continued with the paperwork and the payments and then...the furnace died. Yep, quit lighting up and started blowing cold air. Great. Just great. We know that when something good is in the works, Satan tries his best to stop it. We are in a real bind now. We still wish to move forward, but we need just a little help to get the fees so that we can get our paperwork submitted. We are tightening our belts and selling all that we can to try and make the ransom for one precious child.

If you feel led, we would appreciate any help on our chip in. Every single dollar helps. I don't have any great prizes to offer, but if you make a donation in any amount, you may submit a name in the comments for us to vote on....who knows? You may end up naming our girl! Obviously, inappropriate names or names that would subject her to ridicule will be vetoed.

If my local friends wish to hire Ammon for any of their plumbing/home improvement projects, I am renting him out to help raise funds. We have local references who will attest to the great job he does.

If any local friends wish to have home-cooked meals delivered for their family in lieu of pizza, I am also starting a page where you can order main dishes, sides and desserts to be delivered hot at dinner time or freezer-ready for future quick meals. You all know I love to cook and I take requests for all special diets as well.

And finally, my friend Valerie over at From The Trenches of Adoption has come up with a DELICIOUS Holiday Chocolate fundraiser and recruited some other ladies from our church to help, so we have LOTS in the works to raise the rest of the ransom for our child, we just need a little help over this hurdle. The question mark at the top of my page, will be replaced with our child's picture as soon as we are able to announce....I promise, you will find her adorable, just as we do. We welcome you to follow our journey. Cheer with us, cry with us, and please do pray for us. We ask for your prayers most of all. It is a lot to do and it's quite akin to jumping off of a cliff, but her life is worth it.