Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ryleigh's Big Idea

Our little nosy-nellie, Ryleigh, has gotten in the middle of several of our conversations about funding Ethan's adoption.  She and Becca sat down and made a list of fundraisers that they thought we could do.  One of them was actually a perfect idea!  So, on Friday, June 15th at 7:00 at Lifepoint Church, we are having a benefit concert titled "Fiddling for the Fatherless".  Our sweet little friend Brett, who is Ryleigh's age, happens to be a superstar on the fiddle.  No kidding, he is really, really, really good!  Ryleigh got it all set up with very little help from us and we are all very excited!  Our Praise Team will open the night and then Brett and his guitar player will play for about 45 minutes.  We will be taking donations and hopefully everyone will be inspired to give generously.  It's going to be a great night!  Brett's new cd comes out tomorrow, so it will be on sale, too.

In the middle of getting the concert and our garage sale organized, we had more financial bad news today.  One of Tim's college classes was cancelled because only two students signed up for it.  Apparently, a lot of students aren't taking summer classes because they can't get their Pell grants.  This is a huge setback for us, as we have counted on that money for Ethan's adoption.  This has never happened before, so we never even considered not counting on it.  STUPID.  Lots of tears today and tonight.  I feel so desperate and frustrated.  We try so hard and it feels like we keep getting slapped in the face.  As it was with Bright Beginnings a couple of years ago, deep down I know that Satan only attacks when he has a reason.  If you are doing good for God, then the enemy will notice and try to get a foothold.  I am praying that we can remain faithful and keep our eyes on the Lord, who has a plan for each of us (a plan that doesn't harm us!).  Maybe this is an opportunity for someone we know to listen to God and use their James 1:27 gift to help bring Ethan home.

I have been thinking a lot about the fees we are required to pay and how a lot of people use that as an excuse to never adopt.  Yes, there are instances of corruption (which happens EVERYWHERE!) and yes, there are some fees that do not seem fair (like having to redo fingerprints when they expire), however, I choose to believe that for the most part, the fees are logical and are meant to benefit the children.  For example, we are required to give a $5,500 donation to Ethan's orphanage.  This will not be used for him, but for those children left behind.  When you look into the faces of the orphans you leave behind, you know that even if every penny doesn't go directly to the kids, your money is used to help them survive until they find their forever families.  By giving to our family, you are giving to those precious children who are waiting to know the love of a family. 

I would like to address my feelings about some of the comments people have made to us or other adopting families over the years...

"If you can't afford it, you shouldn't adopt"  Really...  so rich people are the only ones who can make good parents?  Hmm.  that's interesting.  Or maybe people who get paid to do illegal activities, like sell drugs, should adopt because they can afford it.  I said it before and I'll say it again, God expects everyone to take care of orphans.  If you have not experienced an orphanage, you have no right to judge people who have it on their hearts to adopt and don't have an extra $30,000 sitting around.  Read the blogs of people who have answered God's call, look at the pictures of how children come alive when they are adopted, listen to the thousands of testimonies. Don't just sit back and do nothing and have a negative opinion about fundraisers.

"The foreign governments just want your money"  Wow, that's genius.  But, who cares?  Does that mean that every child doesn't deserve a home?  I wish more energy was spent trying to change the way the general population feels about orphans and less energy complaining about the government, whether it's here, there, or anywhere.  Face it, government officials will probably always cheat us to improve themselves.  It really has nothing to do with God choosing a child for a family.  Leave the government out of your decision to support someone or not.  It's not the child's fault and adoptive families need love, moral support, and financial help, not a lecture about governments!!!!!

I think I better stop at those two, before I really get carried away!  Our Club 56 memory verse for this week is Ephesians 4:29 "Don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth..."  I need to remember that for sure!

Please pray that our LOA/LSC comes tomorrow (actually I guess it already is tomorrow).  We are so ready to be done with this wait.  Day 111 is over.  Maybe day 112 will be the one. 

One last thought...  we have had MANY generous family members and friends who have helped us fund our adoptions in the past.  I don't ever want to forget that there are those amazing people who have left us speechless with their generosity!  And there are people in our lives that have always supported us in our choices to build our family through adoption.  We are so thankful for you guys!

This is the first picture we saw of Ethan on September 28, 2011.  I thought his special need was part of his thumb was missing, but it is just tucked under in this photo!  He's gotten so big since then, but I like to look at this picture and remember seeing him for the first time!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Too Much Mt. Dew

Well, we had a great evening at my in-laws house.  The girls got to swim for several hours and Tim and I got to sit and visit.  It's nice that the girls are old enough to swim without us having to get in.  However, I would have given just about anything to have Ethan home to enjoy this holiday weekend with us.  I would have been glad to have had him with us, even if it meant getting in water that was still pretty cold!  Anyway, I drank a Mt. Dew on the way home, so here I am wide awake while the rest of my family is snoozing away!  I have been thinking about fundraising A LOT the last few days.  It's very uncomfortable for me to talk about how much money we need to complete this adoption.  Part of me wants to just put it on credit cards and be in debt forever, but #1 that's not the right thing to do and #2 one thing we learned at The Summitt 8 conference was that God allows adoptions to be expensive because families are not meant to do it alone.  Who really has $30,000 sitting around?  Very few people I know!  But if every church in America would support just one family's adoption, there would be no more orphans!  But, people cannot help if we don't ask for it, so Tim and I are trying to find the best way to fundraise.  We really thought we would get the Show Hope grant and I feel like a fool for putting "all of our eggs in one basket."  I guess it is pride that prevents us from humbling ourselves sometimes and the fact that I know that there are a lot of people who judge adoptive families.  Our Winter DTC facebook group has had several comments lately about how unsupportive family members can be and how hard it is to get financial support from some of the people that are supposed to love you the most!  It's very interesting to me.  I wish I could remember a time in my life before I was in the "adoption" world so I could remember what I might have felt if someone asked me to support their adoption.  Adoption has been such an important part of our life for so long, I honestly can't remember!  I do think back to when I was closed-minded about us adopting, thinking I wanted to get pregnant so bad and that adoption was a last resort.  Thank you, God, for changing my heart and giving me the precious gift of Reagan, Isabella, and Becca.  They are proof that my plans stink and God's plans are perfect!  Anyway, not everyone gets it.  In coaching basketball and even watching Becca's Jr. High teams, Tim and I often comment on how you can't teach passion. You can tell when a player really has that competitive streak that makes them hustle more and give more of themselves because they really want to win.  I think you can't teach a person to care about orphans, but I do believe God can change people's hearts.  Most people need a tangible example, which reminds me of a story from The Summitt 8...

Picture this scenerio...  There's a family, let's call them the Smiths.  They have a 2 year old little girl.  One morning when the Smiths wake up, they go to check on their little girl, let's call her Abby.  Abby is not in her little toddler bed where she should be.  Before they panic, mommy and daddy Smith check all the rooms in the house.  They wake up big brother and big sister and ask if they have seen Abby.  After about 10 minutes, the Smith family realizes something is definitely wrong.  They call 9-1-1 to report Abby missing and begin to frantically call neighbors, family, and friends.  People begin posting on facebook, sending out mass texts, notifying anyone they can think of.  All the Smiths want is for their sweet little girl to be back in their arms.  12 hours pass and people begin to realize that this might not turn out so well for the Smith family.  Amber alerts go out, flyers are put up, the whole community begins to rally around this family.  They all have one goal, to find Abby safe and sound and reunite her with her family.  There are those who write little Abby off as dead, there are people who judge the family and say they are guilty of covering up some horrible crime.  There are others on the opposite end of the spectrum, the faithful ones who pray and know that God can protect this little girl, the ones who love this family so much they know they are innocent, the ones who will do whatever they can to help.  People begin thinking of ways to help by using their own talents and resources.  People take off work to search the entire town, t-shirts are made with Abby's picture on them, meals are cooked for the search parties, media is used to the max to get the word out.  So, the point of this story is this...

There are 143 million orphans in the world who are lost.  They are in desperate need of a mommy and daddy to find them.  It takes a village (so to speak) to put their resources together to unite children with families.  Why are more people outside the adoption community (because these people already get it) not absolutely appalled at the number 143 MILLION.  That's more kids than I can comprehend.  And how do we solve the orphan crisis?  By supporting people who are willing to step out on faith and provide a home for an orphan.  I used to be bothered by that word.  ORPHAN.  It just seems so sad.  I used to picture the kids in the move Annie when they sing that song "It's a Hard Knock Life For Us".  Now I picture Reagan Lynsi Tucker.  And Isabella Agnese Tucker.  And Becca Daniela Tucker. 

And Ethan Thomas Tucker. 

Orphans are just normal kids who have every right to a mommy and daddy and a house and a bed and enough food to eat.  They deserve medical care and birthday parties and happy memories.  Just like the pretend "Abby", they deserve to be at home with a family.  Most of all they deserve to know the love of Jesus Christ.  After all isn't adoption the most perfect example of God's love for us.  We are messed up and full of sin, but our heavenly father accepts us and loves us and calls us His sons and daughters.  He adopts us even though we are not perfect.  He adopts us because he loves us so much that He gave His one and only son for us.  Yes, for me!  And you!  And all those children who are orphans right now.  His plan was not to have 143 million orphans for us to ignore.  There are enough families and enough resources to end the orphan crisis, but people are going to have to step up and follow God' example.  James 1:27 is not a suggestion.  It is a command.  Take care of widows and orphans.  Oh, by the way, orphanage IS NOT a word that is found in the Bible.  It is not God's plan.  We should be emptying orphanages, not building them.  Instead of worrying about what a family is thinking when they adopt another child, think about how you can be a support system.  Adoption is not for everyone, but we all have a James 1:27 gift.  Maybe you have extra money to donate towards someone's adoption.  Maybe you could offer to help in another way.  There are so many ways every person can help.  It really is selfish not to.  Think about the pretend scenerio of the Smith family, you know you would be a person who would get caught up in the situation and help in any way you could.  Children should not be out in this big world alone.  Maybe adoption doesn't make sense to everyone, but a lost child does.  So try to think about each orphan as a child who needs help from you to be united with a forever family. 

Okay, all that to say... Tim and I need help to bring Ethan home.  We want to try to raise $8,000 in the next 10 weeks.  We have a lot of ideas and not much time and we are praying hard about which fundraising option to pursue.  We are swallowing our pride and insecurities and giving it to God.  If He puts it on your heart, please listen.  I think that criticism is born out of conviction because sometimes we try to fight what God wants us to do because it isn't what the world tells us we should do.  We can all make excuses.  Let me just say that if I kept making excuses not to adopt when God called us to, I would be a mommy of one lonely little girl who would not have the joy of being a sister.  There are so many people that I never would have met and so many others who may not have adopted.  God has used our family in a great way and I am honored that He chose me to be an adoptive mommy!  Ethan is my son because God chose him for us.  He made it so obvious to Tim and to each of the girls that we were meant to have this little boy in our family.  I can't wait to bring him home to all of his big sisters and to see what God has in store for his life.  Will it be easy?  NO!  Will we have to sacrifice material stuff?  YES!  Will it be worth it?  YES!  Will YOU be a part of it?  I hope so.

God Bless and good-night!  (wow,  no more mt. dew for me!!!!!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Retail Therapy

Had to go to Sam's today to get food for the Daycare, so we loaded up the whole family and made a day of a trip to Springfield.  Ryleigh had won a gift certificate to Houlihan's and it was about to expire, so we ate there.  Isabella was in rare form and dominated the conversation, but in a very good way.  Every once in awhile (like maybe 4 or 5 times since I have known her) she wants to talk about her life in Latvia.  We talked a lot about her birth mom.  Isabella went on and on about memories of her, mostly ones that break your heart.  It came up that they had 3 sisters in Latvia, one older, two younger, which of course we knew, but I don't think Ryleigh and Reagan did.  We also told them about the brother that they never knew because he was born and taken away from their birthmom after they were in foster care.  So sad.  Isabella also told me that she never saw a baby picture of herself, ever.  It really bothers her.  She said she saw a picture of Becca once, but never herself.  It hurts to the deepest part of my heart for her.  She loves looking at pictures and taking pictures and I know she feels a huge void in her life because she doesn't know what she looked like as a baby.  Both the girls have said they wished they would've been babies at our house and not in Latvia.  It is so, so, so sad.  Becca was very quiet during the lunchtime conversation today.  I wish I knew what she was thinking.  Isabella wanted to know if she was Vietnamese because their birth fathers were supposedly from Vietnam.  It's very confusing for them, as their birthmom probably didn't know who their fathers even were.  She named one of the sisters after some pop singer in Latvia and tried to tell the kids that they were related to him.  Kinda like someone here claiming that Justin Bieber is the father of their child.  Anyway, I love that Isabella feels safe enough to talk about things and that it was in an atmosphere that was not overly serious, so we had a deep conversation with deep thoughts, but it was never uncomfortable and I couldn't burst into tears either!  God has a way of opening those doors at the right time.  Praise Him!

We went to Target and I decided to buy diapers!  Since we got his updated measurements, we were able to know we needed to buy size 4 diapers!  Hoepfully he won't need them for long, I forgot how expensive they are!  I also found a couple of shirts and a pair of pants on clearance for him.  And a hat! And some socks!  I love looking at little boy stuff!  I haven't bought anything except clearance stuff, so I love Target for that!  The girls love to shop for their brother and Tim is always a good sport.  I think he knew to be patient today after the week we had.  He knows that retail therapy helps the most when we are waiting, waiting, waiting...

We also went to Sequiota Park and fed the ducks.  The girls tried very hard to catch some massive crawdads, too, but they didn't have any luck (thank goodness!).  It was a beautiful day and we had fun just being outside and not being on any kind of time schedule.  That's rare for us!  I did carry my phone around in hopes that we would get the call today, but no such luck.  It did ring a few times and I practically jump out of my skin trying to look and see if it says "Great Wall". 

Hopefully I am not getting my hopes up, but the latest email from our agency is that we should expect our letter "soon" because they inquired about our paperwork and the CCCWA let them know we have moved from the Review Room to the Matching Room.  Even though to a rational thinking American, it would seem like the matching room could just grab Ethan's file and our dossier and put them together and send us our letter, it apparently is not that simple. Although nobody really knows why.  It occurred to me today that sometime in the near future, this wait will not seem so bad.  As soon as the letter comes, things move relatively quickly and the last steps in this process are much more predictable.  Pretty soon I will be freaking out about what to pack! 

We a letter from Show Hope informing us that we did not receive a grant.  It sounds bad, but we were a little shocked and a lot disappointed.  We had received $5,000 from them for Isabella and Becca's adoption.  I know that they prayerfully consider each application and I know that God will provide for us in another way, but I am a little worried.  We are planning a huge garage sale with some other adoptive families at our church, and after cleaning out the 3 big girls' closets, I think we could fund our entire adoptin of we could sell all the clothes we have to get rid of.  Tim has some stuff to list on ebay, too.  Luckily he will have time to work on all that in the next few weeks before he has to start teaching his summer classes.  I think God teaches a lot of lesson during adoptions and one of them is how to be creative in fundraising and how to find ways to humble yourself and allow others to help. 
Here Ducky, Ducky...

On a mission to feed the ducks!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 100

This a really stinky milestone... Day 100 of our LSC wait.  UGH!  I have found a lot of comfort and support from a Winter DTC Facebook group.  Yes, I am actually looking at FB, excpet it's on Tim's account so he can let me know if there is anything going on.  Although I am pretty addicted to looking now for myself.  I find it very frustrating to know there are so many mommies and daddies waiting for their children and so many precious children waiting unnecessarily for their forever families.  Weird how a situation can be comforting and frustrating all at the same time.  Love that we have people who truly understand but hate that others are going through the agony of not knowing anything.  All I know is God must really be preparing all of us with lots of patience for a reason.  I am sure my son is going to be one of those naughty kids that end up in the Thinking Spot in my office.  Yeah, I am a sucker for those boys, so that is a good thing!  Ethan looks so adorable in his pictures, he looks like he is going to be a handful.  I might have to be reminded how badly I wanted him home when he is giving me a run for my money! 

School is out.  As I predicted, Ryleigh was full of tears saying good-bye to Mrs. Starnes and all of her friends in her class.  She definitely had the best school year ever!  I teared up reading Mrs. Starnes' letter to the class.  She is one-of-a-kind and I am so thankful Ryleigh was in her class.  I went to Reagan's class for lunch on the last day and it was also as I predicted... 
Becca and Isabella are officially through with Junior High.  We got a letter in the mail saying we need to set up a meeting at the HS to come up with their 6 year plan.  Oh my, that is scary!  They have only been Tuckers for 2.5 years, it's hard to imagine what kinds of changes they have already been through, let alone having enough experience to plan out the next 6 years.  Yikes.  I guess denying it won't help anything!  They both brought home journals that Mrs. Palmer had them write in every day all year.  I really enjoyed reading them, their entries were very insightful.  I will treasure them forever. 

Bright Beginnings finished out a fabulous year!  So emotional to say good-bye to the kids and parents.  Our pre-k graduation was awesome!  The kids were perfectly behaved up on stage and Ms. Bridget and Ms. Tricia did a wonderful job giving out the individual awards for each precious child!  We all shed a few tears!  Pastor Terry gave a great speech to the kids.  All of the BB staff worked so hard to make it a very special evening.  So thankful to the Lord for putting all the right people together to carry out His plan for our school.  Now on to Summer School!  Hooray!

Decided I really need to make a list of "Before Ethan" projects around the house.  Maybe that will help pass the time!  Praying we will know something THIS WEEK!!!!!

A Few Pictures

 Becca and Isabella ready for the All School Party at the JH, Ryleigh a little bit pouty because there was nothing special for her, and Reagan ready for Skills Night at Esther Elementary.
 So blessed to be their mom!
 Mahdar from His Little Feet Orphan Choir at the Summit 8.  Praying she will be adopted ASAP! 
Sweet Gracia from HLF!  So happy to see her again!  Wish she was adoptable.

Show Hope Booth.  This extremely nice lady reads all the grant applications.  We had a great chat with her.  She even told some stories about Steven Curtis Chapman! 
Tim overlooking the Saddleback Campus.  What an amazing place (and an amazing guy, too!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Tim called me this morning in the middle of a very busy time at Bright Beginnings to tell me we got our update.  At first it didn't register, then he said something about him being so cute and then I realized what he was talking about!  Of course, the internet wouldn't work in my office, or the sanctuary, so luckily Janice, the church secretary let me use hers.  THANKS a million to her for dropping everything so I could get the pictures!  Kelli and Carsyn were with me and I love that they got to share the moment with me!  We got 5 pictures and the answers to all of our questions that we sent several months ago and then had to wait for May 1st to offricially request the update.  Anyway, I may be a little biased but I think he is a cutie pie!  He is growing and looks so healthy and happy!  In one picture he is sliding head first down a slide with a huge grin!  That's my favorite one!  Tim's favorite is one where he is standing in the corridor of the CWI looking very handsome!  He is wearing boy clothes, but not the ones we mailed.  He seems to be right on target with his measurements and milestones.  Not really sure what they meant by it but we asked what words he was saying and their answer was "dad, take me home".  WHAT?!?!?!?!?!!?  He surely doesn't say that and if he does, someone would have had to have told him to say it.  Or does he just somehow know that the best daddy in the world is so ready to come get him and he's ready to come home!  Who knows.

They sent a picture of his hydrocele and it appears to be gone!  Everything seems normal with that part of his body, except he has a tiny wee-wee or as his paperwork says "hiding cock" (oh my!).  Hopefully that is not a big deal.  I tried to ask Tim if he thought it would be since all this boy-part stuff is new to me and in typical Tim fashion he said "I never had to worry about it".  SHEESH, what did I expect :)

Sad week at Bright Beginnings, saying good-bye is never easy.  I love the kids so much and we have had the most fantastic year!  It has flown by and so many great memories have been made!  I have been extremely impressed with the amount of progress each class has made and the amount of work the teachers have put in to making this year so awesome has been extreme.  How blessed am I to be surrounded by such amazing women!  It will be an emotional pre-k graduation Thursday night for sure.  I know some mommies who are going to need lots of kleenex!  I just pray that everything the kids have learned about Jesus stays with them forever.  I wish I had recorded some of their sweet prayers.  Kids are so real when they pray, I love it! 

Hopefully the next post will be good news about our LSC coming! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day should be one of my favorite days of the year since being a mom is one of the biggest blessings I have ever received from God.  But I kinda feel like I do on Valentine's Day.  I don't really need a holiday to let Tim know I love him and I don't need a holiday to celebrate being a mommy.  I try to do that every day.  I don't like watching Tim try to find the perfect gift and worrying about making the day something extra special.  I enjoyed the waffle maker that I got and the hand made cards from each of my children.  I loved having my parents come for lunch.  I loved church this morning and hearing a beautiful testimony of a special mom who God chose to parent a daughter with Down's Syndrome.  I love being a mom, every day!  Besides, what I really wanted I couldn't have and that is my son home safe and sound in my arms. 

The wait is at this point making me very anxious and full of anxiety.  I feel like we can't make any plans for summer until we know something and it is looking more and more like we won't travel in June or July, which means the beginning of school, which for our family is a really crappy time.  Yes, I know God's timing is perfect.  Yes, I do pray for His will to be done.  I just sometimes need to whine about it!  It's where Ryleigh gets her whining from... ME!  No wonder it bugs me so much!

We have now had 5 failed attempts at getting new pictures of Ethan.  Two families visited the orphanage last week and the people in charge (actually one lady in particular who has earned the name Nasty Ni) would not let them see Ethan.  They make all these excuses.  Here's a thought, I am going to give a mandatory $5,500 donation to them, how about they give me a stinkin' picture.  It's all so stupid and ridiculous.  The people who are high up in the Chinese government have no clue how adoptive families feel.  They don't even have the same emotions as us.  People in China learn to live in a society that is so completely different than ours.  You have one class of people that can't even think for themselves, who have no options in life whatsoever, but are strangely that nicest, most generous people you will ever meet.  Then you have the officials who care nothing about people and about love and compassion.  Of course, these are my opinions based on my experiences and I am really being stereotypical here.  But it's my blog and I can!

Tim and I had the distinct honor of attending the Orphan Summit 8 last week.  It was so amazing!  This year it was held at Saddlback church in Southern California.  What a blessing to be in the presence of so many of the best advocates for orphans in the entire world.  Oh my goodness, Saddleback is an amazing place!  It's a community in and of itself.  I loved being there!  I did miss my kids, but it was a fanstastic opportunity for us as the Adoption Ministry Leaders at LifePoint.  We came back with so many ideas and resources and we are excited to share them!  We are ready to continue to be used by God to help orphans find their mommies and daddies.  We have been blessed to be a small part of His plan for many families in our area and I love watching God's plan play out.  We have children adopted from China, Latvia, Kazahkstan, and Ethiopia at our church and more to come from China, Thailand, and Ethiopia.  Not to mention foster parents and domestically adopted kids.  So proud to be a part of the Lifepoint family and to have my children grow up in a church that is centered around LOVE!  Love for eachother, love for God, love for orphans, love for the poor, love for the lost, love for the Word! 

The school year is winding down.  I am sad for Ryleigh to leave Mrs. Starnes.  She has been a phenomenal teacher!  Ryleigh has had a fabulous year.  Reagan on the other hand is ready to move on.  First grade has pretty much been a bust for her.  So sad :(    And then there's Isabella and Becca, who are moving on to the High School!  AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!  So scary!  I am praying that the transition will be smooth and they can stay away from all the bad things that the HS has to offer.  Hopefully we know enough of the teachers that we can have "eyes" on them! 

Hopefully my next post will be about FINALLY getting our LSC from China.  If not, it will probably be me whining about it!