Sunday, April 29, 2012

Update and First Fundraiser!

Enjoying apples last summer.

Tonight we finalized our appointments for the home study!  They will be next Sunday (May 6th), Monday and Wednesday.  Our social worker is very excited that we're adopting a child through Reece's Rainbow, and knows our urgency at getting everything done quickly.  This is such a blessing, and I pray that things will go smoothly.

We've also decided, upon the urging of some great friends, that we will have a yard sale fundraiser!  If you aren't aware, the costs to adopt from Arnold's country are enormous, around $35,000.00-40,000.00.  Not many of us have that kind of money hanging around waiting to be spent :)  We have secured nearly 2/3 of that so far, and are trying to come up with the last $10,000.00.  Will you help me get the word out?  If you are in the Treasure Valley area, and would like to help, let me know if you have some items you'd like to donate to the yard sale.  I can pick them up, or you are welcome to drop them by our house any time!  Email me at and I can give you our address and my phone number.  Things that sell well at yard sales: clothing, books, furniture, tools, home accessories, and more.  Thank you in advance for anything you can do to help!  We plan on having some baked goods to sell also, as well as a drink cooler, so if you don't have anything to donate you are always welcome to bake something or donate some beverages for us to sell!  Anything helps, and we are so appreciative!  The tentative day of the yard sale is May 26th.  I am hoping to hold it in the parking lot at Columbia High or Skyview High.  I would welcome any ideas you might have to make our yard sale a success, so if you're a yard sale pro, or frequently visit yard sales, let me know your secrets!  :)


A few other random things:

Tonight after the kids were all in bed, Kennedy came wandering out, saying she couldn't get to sleep.  She had only been laying in bed for five minutes, so I told her to go try again.  Then she said, "well, I can't stop thinking about Arnold.  Sometimes I worry about him."  We talked about what she was worried about, and I assured her that his caregivers truly care for him, and he also has a special friend who visits him every week and loves him dearly.  That made her feel better, then she asked if we could say a prayer together for Arnold.  It was a very special moment for me.  This girl amazes me, with her awareness of others and her sensitivity to what goes on in the world.  She is the best big sister to her siblings, and just has a strong inner sense of what is truly important in life.  I love her more than words could ever express.  She is so excited to get another little brother.


Why aren't we adopting a child from our own country?  We know that there is a need in the US for babies with Down syndrome and other special needs who need families, especially older children.  However, after much thought and prayer, we determined that although helping a child here would also be wonderful, the circumstances under which children in Arnold's country live just could not be ignored.  An orphan with special needs in the US does not live in an orphanage, but with foster families, most who truly love and care for these children and give them their best.  An orphan here does not get sent to a mental institution as a child, sometimes tied to their cribs, malnourished, ending up dead within months from these conditions.  An orphan here receives treatment for all major medical problems. A six-year-old orphan in Arnold's country/area of the world may weigh as little as 15-20 pounds and be severely delayed, not just from a medical diagnosis, but more from simply a lack of basic human needs like touch, human interaction, food, etc.  In other words, adopting an orphan from Eastern Europe means saving a life. I  keep picturing our little Jake in that kind of situation.  How could I turn my back on him?  I know I can't save them all, but I can save one.  "When ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have only done it unto me."  Adopting from Eastern Europe has nothing to do with not being patriotic, taking care of "our own," or being elitist.  It has to do with a belief that all children are children of God.  We believe God is no respecter of people,that he doesn't see borders like we do.  We believe He does care what we do with our lives, and has commanded us to love one another with the same love that He has for us.  We just feel that adoption is one way we can follow that commandment.  This is what I love about the world, there are many ways to show our love for each other as human beings.  I know many people who do many amazing and wonderful things for others.  I hope to come close to being that kind of person.  And of course, the connection we feel to Arnold as our son is real.  We have come to love him so much already, and know that he is meant to be in our family.  

Thank  you again for your love and support.  We love you all and are so glad you are on this journey with us!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Today I hand-delivered a huge stack of paperwork and a large check to our home study agency!!!  Once they look over them & make sure we did everything correctly (cross your fingers), she'll have a social worker contact us to schedule the visits.  One big step down, many more to go.... we're getting there Arnold.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thank You

I just got home from the grocery store to find a letter in my mailbox.  There was no return address, and only a small note inside that said, "Here is a little something to help with Arnold's adoption.  Best Regards."    There was a $20.00 bill with the note.  I just want this person to know that $20.00 is not "a little" something.  It is a grand something.  It is a gesture that means so much to us.  It is proof that there are people out there who want to see not only the life of Arnold changed forever for the good, but the lives of other orphans in his same situation.  I am just so humbled by the goodness of others.  We can feel your prayers and good wishes, we really can.  So thank you, all of you, for your support.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birthday Time


Tonight I will party with my oldest-a beautiful daughter who will turn 8 years old come Monday.  Holy smokes!  Who said she could grow so quickly?  Sometimes it feels like yesterday that we bundled her up for the car ride home from the hospital.  It felt almost like we were fooling someone, for them to let us take home this perfect little being!  We were  young (25) and had no experience being parents.  The longer I am a mother, the more I realize that my own mother must have felt like I do at times....learning as I go!  That is also why I admire and respect her so much.  She went through a lot in her young marriage, including the death of my father when we were all small children.  I'm not sure how she did it, but she survived, even went back to college and got her nursing degree and has become an excellent labor & delivery nurse.  I know she is a favorite around the hospital, because every time I've visited and people find out I'm her daughter, they always tell me how wonderful she is.  She was my inspiration for completing a college degree.  She showed me how important it was to be prepared for anything in life.

I guess having these big moments in your children's lives makes you think about your own mother too.  It also makes me think about my other children, and now, about Arnold.  His birthday is in July.  He'll be four years old.  I am really, really, hoping we can get our first travel date before his birthday.  I want him to know that this will be his last birthday without a family.  I want him to feel the joy of blowing out the candles on a delicious cake.  I want him to be surprised with the presents he'll receive.  I want him to see the smiling faces of his brother and sisters, friends and family who will celebrate with us.  I want so much for him.

Today is a glorious day in Idaho.  The sun is shining down and it is near 70 degrees.  My tulips are in full bloom and the grass is green.  We've planted peas in our garden, and the birds wake us up with their songs.  I feel so full and happy today.  I think Arnold is the missing piece of the puzzle that I didn't realize wasn't finished yet.  Knowing that the missing piece will soon be here, I feel fulfilled.  In many ways it's like going through a pregnancy, the anticipation I feel.  There are all the emotions present: hope, fear, impatience, longing, worry, excitement.  It is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Update and some rambling on....

Tomorrow night we're having a family night to go over our emergency evacuation plan.  That's the last requirement we have left of our home study paperwork.  I also am going to my doctor's office tomorrow to get my medical form notarized with his signature, and picking up Brian's medical form from his doctor.  After that, we are done with the paperwork part of the home study!!!!  We're just waiting for an email back about our finished adoption education requirement, and I can deliver the package to the home study agency.  I hope to be able to do that Friday.  Woo hoo!  It feels so great to be wrapping the home study up.

After the home study is turned in, I can begin on our Dossier paperwork.  This will include our home study final copy, and other things like copies of our passports, 15 photos of us, our home & community, another medical form, financial information, etc.  I plan to burn through that pile as fast as I can, because all indications are that Arnold's city will open back up to adoptions in May (please!!!!!) and we want to be ready to send our dossier in to be translated and registered.

Something else that has been on my mind a lot is the cost of the adoption, and different people's take on that.  I have gone back and forth about having the "chip-in" on this page, and the Reece's Rainbow button as well, for donations.  Yes, we need to come up with $10,000.00 more out of of the $35,000.00 estimated cost.  I know when we started this process, we had planned on saving up, doing a home study, and then we would choose a child.  But sometimes God doesn't work to our schedule.  Sometimes, he says do it now.  Sometimes he says have faith.  And all the time, he knows what he is doing.  We listened and leaped.  We knew that if we wanted Arnold, we had to start now because he was set to be transferred in July.  If we hadn't have made the formal commitment for Arnold when we did, his transfer papers would have been sent within days.  Days!

Do you know what transfer means for an orphan in Eastern Europe (I didn't until recently)?  It means almost certain death, 90% within one year of transfer.  It means malnourishment.  It means neglect.  It means loneliness, isolation, fear, being treated as a number rather than a human being.  It means laying in your own waste for hours upon hours.  It means learning not to cry or be verbal at all because it gets you nowhere.  In many ways, death would be a relief.  So we took a leap of faith by not having the additional $10,000.00 already saved, but we trusted in God that since he had lined everything else up so perfectly, practically throwing this boy in our laps, that he would also see us through the last ten thousand dollars.  Yes, we can put it on a credit card if it comes to that.  I even took down the chip-in for a while, because anyone that knows me knows that I'm as stubborn as they come, and prideful too.  But then I had people asking me how they could help.  And I realized that leaving the donation option open allows other people to make a truly meaningful, life-changing decision to help an orphan, a child of god, go from certain death to certain happiness.  Instead of being strapped to a toilet seat for an hour, he will be sliding down slides; instead of an aching belly and shrinking frame, he will fill out and get dessert.  In other words, the donation box is there for you as much as for us.  I know that the donations I have made to orphans have been the most meaningful for me, because I know I am helping to save a child.  And now, I get to be the one to take this child a dear friend said the other day, how often do we get the chance to actually save a life?  This is our chance.

It reminds me of the story of the star fish.  You've probably heard it: the boy who was walking the beach, throwing stranded star fish back into the water, one at a time.  There were so many that a passerby laughed at his efforts.  He asked the boy why he was doing this, since he couldn't save them all.  The boy held up a star fish, and before throwing it back to the ocean said, "but I can save this one." I may not be able to save every orphan who needs a home (over 100 million of them), but I can save this one, my son who was born in my heart.

Star fish

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Get a Kleenex

I have seen this video posted several places, but I've never had the chance to sit down and watch it.  But when I came across it again today, I decided to make the time.  I have to say this is the best six minutes I've spent a in a long time.  I laughed, I cried, I felt renewed hope for the world after watching.  It reminded me so much of Jake and Leah, and Kennedy & Jake when she was younger.  Please take the time, you won't regret it :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thank You

She turned 3!
Hi brother, I'm Leah, and I love looking at your pictures and talking about how you'll be coming to live at  our house.  I love to play pretend, dig in the dirt, run as fast as I can, ride my tricycle, give mischevious grins (after doing mischevious things!), tease my brother Jake, and many other fun things.  I turned three years old in March, and although I'm not thrilled that I'll still be the youngest, I promise I'll love you anyway!

Since posting a note on Facebook about our adoption, we have received an outpouring of love and support, and it has really buoyed us up and made us feel incredibly blessed.  I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words, recent donations, offers of help, thoughts and prayers.  They have meant the world to us.  As soon as she heard the news, a very special person at Jake's school made a very generous donation to our chip-in.  Wow!  We also saw our Reece's Rainbow sponsorship page go up by $50.00 (we aren't able to see who made that donation(s), so please know we sincerely thank you).   And you probably noticed another large donation to our chip-in a few days ago; I don't know if that person wants to be identified, but she knows that I know who she is, and I just think she is the most incredible person, not just for donating money, but for her heart.  Her desire to help others in this process is more than admirable, it is very humbling.  I know that one of the best things about this adoption process is getting to see the best side of people.

I just want you to know that when we share this blog with you, we are not sharing to ask you for a donation, but because we love you, and want you to share this journey with us as our friends, family members, and new acquaintances.  Thanks for taking the time out of your day to stop in, see how we're doing, and most importantly, see how Arnold is doing!!

I read an article on this morning about that mother from Tennessee who sent her Russian child back to Russia a couple of years ago.  It was outrageous then, and it still hurts my heart today.  The article gives an update on how the child is doing (fairly well, which is amazing).  The adoption agency that she went through is suing her for child support for the child.  Good for them!  Anyway, if you want to read it, you can go here

It is because of this mother that Russia shut down adoptions to the U.S.  Russia and the U.S. have worked out an agreement, which is supposed to be ratified in May by their DUMA (congress).  Please pray that it will be ratified so that the many families who are waiting to adopt will be able to do so.  Many of these orphans are living in mental institutions, severely malnourished, neglected, and aching for someone to love them.  The photos I have seen have been so heart-wrenching and almost indescribable.  I know there are many families, willing and able to take these children in and provide them a safe home, love, and any necessary treatment/therapy they might need.  Thankfully for us, Arnold is in a decent orphanage where he is fed, allowed to play outdoors, and receives interaction every day.  He is much better off than most, I am afraid.

Well, I am off to update our folder for the home study agency.  I'm adding copies of our social security cards, drivers licences, autobiographies, doctor's report (mine, Brian's hasn't come back yet), a questionnaire about adopting from a different culture, and how we intend to discipline.  And that's just a drop in the bucket, whew!  I love to see these things added to the growing binder, because it means we are that much closer to traveling to Arnold's country and meeting him for the first time!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Look at those dark brown eyes!  They are so beautiful.

We're closing in on the end of our paperwork for our home study.  Finally!  We had our passport appointments Monday.  I had my fingerprinting done yesterday (Brian already did his).  Just a few more forms to fill out and one more hour of adoption education classes and we can send it all in to our home study agency.  After they receive it, they assign us a social worker who will make a couple of visits to our home.  We'll also go in to their office for a couple of interviews.  I can't wait!

After that process we begin to compile our Dossier, which is just a binder FULL of documents from every source you can imagine that the government in his country requires.  When we get that finished, we mail it to our adoption agency, who then checks to make sure it's complete, who then mails it to Arnold's country to be translated.  Once translated, and accepted, we can be officially "registered" in his country to adopt, and they send us our first travel date.

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the support we've received so far.  Reaction to our adoption has been mixed, which was expected, but overall it's been a very positive reception and we appreciate it so much.  It is hard to explain the why's and how's of something that took us by surprise as well, but when something is right in your heart, you just have to trust that it's the right thing to do.  Do I have my fears and doubts?  Of course, like any expecting mother would have.  But I am thrilled beyond belief to make this child ours, and help him see that there is a whole world out there who loves him and wants him to have a happy, safe, loved life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Hope of Spring

Apple blossoms at my mom's house.
Apple blossoms at my mom's house.

There are so many metaphors for life, new hope, a fresh start, new growth, all of which probably are the reason spring is my favorite season. This spring, for me, has an even more special meaning, as I think of our little boy half-way around the world, waiting for spring. He doesn't even know it's coming, but little Arnold, it IS coming.


I thought I'd post a few pictures from our weekend visiting our parents. I didn't take too many photos, which I always regret, but I was just enjoying myself and the people I was with. We stayed at my parents house, where my mom always succeeds in sending us home fatter than when we came. Her cooking is always delicious, and I eat way too much when I'm there (my step-dad's dark chocolate "heart medicine" didn't help the waistline either-but it sure was delicious!). Our kids love the barrage of cousins and Aunts & Uncles that arrive and make grandma's house full of little girls (and Jake!). I always realize how terribly I miss the mountains when I go home to Utah. They are so beautiful in every season.  I am so glad I grew up there, able to hike and explore so many places in the mountains above my home.  I have many memories in those mountains.

Filling in another trench (unauthorized...sorry Grandpa!)
Jake "helping" to fill in a sprinkler trench (oops, Grandpa, this one wasn't supposed to be filled in yet-sorry :)

Filling in trenches

L digging in the dirt under the apple tree.

Kennedy under the apple tree at Grandma's

Easter eggs at Grandma's
Of course we had to color Easter eggs!

We also spent some time at Brian's parents house on the other side of the mountains. Once again, the cousins filled the house and there was always something going on. The kids had a really fun Easter egg hunt. Brian's mom does a fun thing-putting pretend money in the plastic eggs that the kids can use to buy toys from her "store". We had yet another delicious dinner and left feeling loved and thankful for our families.

The best part of the trip for me was finally sharing our news about Arnold with our families! It was emotional for me to see them become emotional while we told our story. It was wonderful the way they immediately supported us and congratulated us and accepted Arnold into our family. We have the best families! I can't wait to share this journey with them!

An update on our home study progress:

We had our medical appointments last week, to verify that we are healthy with no major health issues.  This week I have my passport appointment and fingerprint/background check appointment.  We're almost done with our 10 hours of adoption education classes that we're required to complete.  While we wait for our passports, background checks and lab tests to come back, we'll finish up our autobiographies, along with some other paperwork from the home study agency.  They weren't kidding when they said there would be mountains of paperwork!  So far I'm doing a good job of keeping it all organized in a binder.  It has never felt so great to be able to check items off a list as "complete"!  Little by little, we are getting there.  

The Hope of Spring