Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blessed Beyond Measure

Our Give1, Save1 time just ended and we have received $826!!!! I am amazed at how many people gave and shared the link on their FB pages. God is so good! One thing we have talked about multiple times this week is that you can really tell who is guided by The Holy Spirit. Our church family and other Christians in our circle of friends, relatives, and even strangers really stepped up and not only gave financially, but continue to pray for us, as well. It is so humbling to know so many people give of their time and resources to help bring Ethan home! Blessed is the only word I can think of to express how I am feeling. I pray that someday Ethan will be able to understand how many people were a part of his adoption. It has been awesome to be able to talk with Isabella, Becca, and Reagan about their adoption stories so they can start to comprehend how big our God is! We are "nesting" just a little bit at this point! I went on a mission in the kitchen to clean everything. You just don't realize how gross things get! We decluttered and organized all the cabinets, drawers, and countertops. It's a bummer we already had the garage sale because I found quite a bit of stuff that I have now decided I can live without! Oh well! Ethan's room is cleaned up and organized, except for the crib, which is now full of stuff to pack! We have been trying to collect things, like medicine, snacks, etc. over the last few weeks so we don't have to get it all at once. I am so ready to just pack once and for all and get on the plane. I am nervous about leaving Isabella and Becca. I know that they will be fine and we will survive, but I really prefer us all together. I am excited to see how this trip will change Ryleigh and Reagan's lives. I remember how it affected Ryleigh when we adopted Reagan and I just think it is going to be neat to experience it again with both of them. It was such a hard decision to make to spend the extra money for them to go, but I feel so at peace about our final decision. I know that it opens us up for criticism, but no matter what we do there's that potential. People can get over it if they have a problem because really at the end of the day, we know what is best for our family! God knows the right timing and the best way and I trust in His plan. We are really hoping we hear about our TA early this week so we can be on track to leave on August 17th. I know that I shouldn't have my heart set on it, but I really would love for Tim and the girls to have a couple of days of school and I really, really, really, I mean, really do not want to miss Isabella's 16th birthday on September 5th. I know we could celebrate before or after, but it's not the same. She never had a real birthday in Latvia, so she has only had 2 special days in her whole life. She wants to go bowling this year and get her ears pierced. Very thankful that we are not worrying about driving yet. Coming from a background of barely ever riding in a car for most of her life, she just isnt' ready to learn that yet. I think she will be very nervous to start learning. We have been watching the Olympics and the girls really like it! I love watching all the countries come together. Kinda cool to think we have 3 countries represented in our house! And several more in our church family! I love it! Coming from a girl who never cared much about geography, I am pretty fascinated by it now! Reagan is super excited about the "girl's gymnastics" she was not so impressed with the "boys" because "they don't even get to wear pretty outfits". She didn't even realize there was such a thing as boys doing gymnastics. So cute! She also doesn't understand how the volleyball players and divers can have wedgies without wanting to pick them. She is constantly picking wedgies out of her behind! Funny girl! Hopefully we will be posting our travel dates SOON!

Monday, July 23, 2012


There are many reasons people choose to be involved in adoption. I don't mean just adopting a child, rather getting involved by actively praying for adoptive families, giving financially to adoptive families or adoption ministries, advocating for orphans, etc. I believe James 1:27 is for everyone, as I have mentioned before! I love when people want to be involved with Ethan's story. Our family feels so blessed to have the support of family members, friends, church, co-workers, other adoptive parents, and even some strangers! We have raised about $4500 in various fundraisers because of so many wonderful people! Praise God! We are very thankful for each and every dollar that has been given. Because Ethan's adoption is going to total about $31,000, we have applied for several grants and two different loans. We have been denied 2 of the grants already, due to a lack of funds in these various organizations. We are praying that we receive good news soon from the other places we have applied. We did get chosen to be featured on the Give1Save1-Asia site! We heard about this opportunity from some friends of ours, The Belotes, who were featured there also. We are the first family on the new Asia site that was just launched today! We feel this is an answer to prayer, as it is one more way to raise money and awareness about adoption. Please consider giving, even $1 helps! Thanks! We know some people do not understand our constant asking for money. Some have the mentality that if you can't afford it, don't adopt. If you feel this way, please just go ahead and stop reading this blog. We do not need any more criticism, judgement, or negativity! Take your closemindedness and go on your way! I can think of a lot of people who could afford it, but shouldn't adopt! I know that it was our choice to adopt and we are responsible for all aspects of it, including the money. I think it is a good lesson to share with others that as a society we waste a lot of money every day. We overspend and foolishly spend as Americans. All we are asking is for each individual that hears our story to stop for a moment and think about the plight of orphans. Giving a little bit (not even enough to hurt)to us, or any other adoptive family who has limited financial means, should hopefully make you pause and think about the orphan whose life is about to change. We want Ethan's testimony to start with the way God provided the finances to bring him home. We love to tell stories of how generous people are and how the money really does come in just when you need it. So many families tell us that they would adopt if it wasn't so expensive. I say go for it, and watch God work it out. In the future I want to tell people about how amazing the Give1Save1 site was for us! We do not like asking for money. I feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and down right guilty for asking people to donate to us. But I do feel like God will provide for us when we humble ourselves and let Him work through people. He doesn't want us to be alone in our journey to Ethan. He has laid it on many hearts and many people have answered the call. Maybe there is someone out there that has thought they might want to do something but didn't know how. If this is you, please consider going to the Give1Save1 site and donating to us. Be an active part of James 1:27 and help us reduce the debt that we will accumulate in the next month. Thank you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Waiting for TA!

If you are not in the International Adoption community, there are some acronyms that mean nothing, but to adoptive parents, they mean a great deal!  TA is one of those things!  We are officially waiting for Travel Approval, which could come this week or next (I suppose, technically it could be longer, but that is what the TA's are averaging).  After that, our agency will request CA (Consulate Appointment) which will set our travel dates.  So, we are looking at less than a month until we meet Ethan!  After all these months of waiting, all the disappointments, set-backs, fundraising, praying, stressing, rejoicing, sharing, crying, smiling, anticipating, and connecting WE ARE SO CLOSE to the end of the process and the beginning of Ethan's new life.  We are expecting that he is going to have a difficult time and ask that everyone please pray for a smooth transition for him.  Although we have been preparing for him, there has been no way for him to comprehend or prepare for the changes that are about to happen.  We already love him so much, but it will more than likely take him awhile to trust and love us.  For this reason, we will not want him to be held, fed, or changed by anybody but us.  Adopting an almost two year old is very different than adopting Reagan at age 9 months or Isabella and Becca at ages 12 and 13.  He will have to have time and opportunity to grieve the life he has been used to and the nannies who have cared for him.  Even though he can't remember his birth parents and being abandoned by them, it is still the second huge loss for him in his short life.  Not to mention his health problems that he has faced without the love and care of a family.  We can never go back and change his past, but we can try to give him the best possible future.  I am so thankful that God chose us to be his family!  I am in awe at how all the right people and circumstances led us to him.  It's been a long road, but I know we have learned lots of lessons, learned to rely on others, and made a lot of friends along the way.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart, but it's a community (or Club, as my friend, Angie says :) )  I can't imagine not being a part of! 

We went to an adoptive family get together last night with families from our church who have been blessed by adoption already or are in the process or both!  We had kids from Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and China, plus some American born, too!  Soon there will be a few more Ethiopian, Chinese, and Thailand!  Who knows where else God will send Lifepoint members!  We were hoping we could someday see a child from every continent at our church.  So, it was so much fun to watch all 18 kids play, swim, and laugh with eachother.  What a great reminder that God doesn't see color!  He loves and cherishes each one of us.  Thank you, Lord for planting us at Lifepoint and surround us with the Ledbetters, Jays, Segebarths, Doughtys, Zacharys, and the Rhoades.  We are blessed...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Thoughts!

We have the privilege of pool sitting for the Elsea family for the past few summers when they go out of town.  It has been a huge blessing this year, as it is a little mini-vacation for us!  Here are some pictures of earlier today!

If you notice, Tim is not swimming.  Look closely at his leg and you can see why.  He slid in his last softball game of the season and tore all the skin off.   This has happened several times.  It is completely disgusting and very painful.  Hopefully he will learn his leasson this time!  It takes so long to heal.  I hope it looks better before we leave, it might scare Ethan to see something so gross! 

Speaking of Ethan...  we finally got notice from our agency that our LSC package was dropped off at the embassy on July 3rd, so it should be picked up on July 17th or possibly the 18th if they were a day behind because of the 4th of July holiday.  Then someone from the Beijing office of our agency will deliever it to the CCCWA and our wait for travel approval will officially begin!  Many families have been receiving their TA in a very short time, like 7 days, but the most common seems to be about 2 weeks.  Then we could possibly travel a week-3 weeks after that.  So, we are so close!  Leaving on the 17th would give Tim, Ryleigh, and Reagan a chance to start school, so at least they could meet their classes.  I am confident that God has all the timing worked out and me trying to figure it out is really unnecessary.  The fact is, it is not easy to leave for 2 weeks, it really stinks for Isabella and Becca to be at home while we leave, and it is a very difficult trip.  The exhaustion is something I still remember from our first China adoption and I am dreading it!  But, I look forward to the day that we are all home together where we belong and settled into our new normal routine!  I have been looking at pictures and watching videos of other families getting home to their family and friends at the airport.  That moment is one of the most exciting things about adoption!  The night we got home from Latvia and ran to Ryleigh and Reagan (and ended up in a pile on the floor!) was so emotional for me and I know it will be the same this time.  I know Isabella and Becca will handle us being gone and they will be so excited to be at the High School and getting to know all the ins and outs of that.  The time in China will pass more quickly than it did in Latvia, but nevertheless, I am sad that our family will not all be together for two weeks. 

I feel like we are to the point that we cannot prepare ourselves any better to have Ethan join our family.  We are all so excited to know him and see how he acts and how he will react to things.  If it weren't for the money we are still short, I would say we were ready to step on a plane tomorrow.  It's getting to the point where we are fully relying on God to move the mountain of debt that we are facing with the rest of the finances.  Yes, we have relied on Him all along, but we have also looked to Him for ways we could work to raise the money.  Now, it's going to take a grant or loan (which we have applied for several and haven't heard from) to prevent us from using credit cards.  So many generous people have helped us so far and I know that God will work it out.  So thankful for that!

A friend of ours found out that she is pregnant, which is super awesome because this baby will be joining his/her brother and sister who were both adopted.  Just to put this out there for non-adoptive parents and people...  This is a perfect example of God's plan.  They got to adopt their first 2 children and now they are giving birth to one.  None of their children are God's second choice.  He meant for this family to come together in this way.  It is very hurtful to adoptive parents and children for people to think (and sometimes comment) that they got pregnant because they adopted or that they shouldn't have adopted since they ended up with a biological child.  As soon as we announced years ago that we were adopting, we had so many people say "now you'll get pregnant".  Let me tell you that being pregnant is not better or worse than adopting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's just another way to grow a family.  People are sometimes led to adopt because of infertility but it doesn't mean that they are settling for an adopted child.  I feel incredibly blessed to be infertile.  Have I always felt that way?  NOOOOO!  But, now I can clearly see the people, circumstances, and plan that God knew all along.  He gave me my children, each one of them, and I am so grateful for the things I have learned about God's love through the miracle of adoption.  I am blessed to have learned so many lessons along the journey to each of my children.  God knew this would grow me closer to Him.  I am so thankful that His ways are so much better than ours!

Friday, July 6, 2012

If You Think My Hands are Full, You Should See My Heart!

Okay, I totally stole the title from someone else's blog, but I couldn't help it!  So true, that being a mommy to four, almost five, kids is a handful... but God gave me enough love in my heart for the job! 

I am officially starting the packing process, even though, I believe that my husband thinks I am crazy.  I just don't want to wait until the last minute.  The time of year that we are traveling is one of the busiest times for us (the beginning of school)and I want to be able to spend time at work getting things ready for a new school year.  So, I have picked out all of Ethan's clothes and shoes.  I am going to get it all washed and put into ziplock baggies for easy packing.  I went through toys and picked out the ones I thought would be the best for bonding and playing together.  We found some sunglasses and a hat in case the sun shines through the smog, plus it adds to the cute factor!  We have started collecting the other items on the list that are not so fun, like medicines, travel size toiletries, etc.  It is nice that we are going during shorts weather and not winter like last time, it is much easier to pack summer clothes and so glad we don't have to take winter coats, hats, gloves, etc. 

Lots of our Facebook DTC friends are in China now and it is so exciting to read their blogs!  It is so addicting to follow different people's journeys and amazing to read the stories of how the Lord works out every detail.  There is just something so awesome about the bond you can make with families you have never met, yet you can share your worries, fears, blessings, etc. and you just know there's so many others that know exactly what you mean!  We have connected with some of the families that will travel at the same time and cannot wait to meet them in person and see all the kids, too!

With all the excitement in the adoption community lately, I foget that there are people out there that do not treasure children.  We spent several hours last night trying to chat back and forth on facebook with someone related to us that is going to have an abortion as soon as she gets the money and can get to the nearest city to get it done.  It is honestly the first time I have had the chance to express my heart about this subject.  I called a dear friend who works at the Pregnancy Support Center for advice and was thankful she gave me some things to say and some things to avoid saying.  I feel like we did our best, but this person is just completely lost and doesn't even consider this child a human life.  She claims she would NEVER put it up for adoption because that would be abandonment and that is not what her choice is.  I was so upset and angry just thinking that so many people are trying to raise money to adopt a child, to make one less orphan in the world and then there are people saving up money to pay to kill their baby.  We really do live in a fallen world.  I am praying that someone will intervene and talk this person out of this decision.  She blocked us from sending her anymore messages, which is fine because I feel like we said everything we had to say, and I really don't think I want to read the post about her "terminating" as she puts it.  My views have been tested and I feel like God has given me the right answers and the courage it took to confront the situation.  Praying also that I can raise my children to value human life and never, ever, ever, in a million years ever think that abortion is anything but murdering an innocent life.  So many people would give so much to love a baby and would adopt in a heartbeat any child that they could.  Our culture is so self-centered and all about what makes ME happy, not what God wants.  There's such a burden in my heart to change this!  I will never forget Ryan Baumberger at the Summit who was the child of a rape victim and all he talked about on this subject.  He was so inspirational. 

We had an pretty uneventful 4th of July this year, too dry to do fireworks, which was fine with me!  We went out to Tim's grandma's and had a good time.  Here are some pictures...

Hopefully that was the last holiday that Ethan wasn't with us!  Can't wait to celebrate him being an American boy! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Little Bit of Rambling

I've had a lot I want to blog about, but then I worry who will read it and what Ethan might think someday when he reads about his story.  I don't want to say things that will make him think that people weren't supportive of us adopting him.  But, then again, that is reality.  But then again, I want to think about the positive, so I guess i will just start typing and see where this goes...

We have done really well the last month pinching every penny.  We have never been the kind of family that spends money on frivilous things, but we are taking it to a whole new level!  In some ways it's a real sense of accomplishment, and it some ways it still really stinks!  I am so proud of my kids for not ever asking for things, though.  They have not asked to eat out or go somewhere that costs money all summer.  We have enjoyed doing normal things for us, like playing games and hanging out.  We took Reagan out of gymnastics, which was way more emotional for me than her.  She enjoys doing cartwheels, backbends, handstands, etc. everywhere she goes.  Even when several of her friends left summer school to go to a team bonding activity, it never bothered her.  One of my friends (who didn't know why we pulled her out) asked her if she was doing summer gymnastics and she answered "no, we are saving that money for Ethan" with a grin on her face.  So sweet.  I am so proud of her heart.  She is learning to put others before herself and she is only 7. 

We have a friend at church who has been handing us a handful of money every week.  I am sure she has no idea how much it means to us.  I always feel awkward and don't know how to properly say thank you, so instead I thank God for putting it on her heart to give to us.  I believe He does this all the time and people don't answer the call.  Not just for Ethan, but for adoptive families everywhere.  There is enough money in America to adopt all 143 million orphans, but people just choose to spend it selfishly.  It makes me sick to think of how overpaid pro athletes, movie stars, etc. are.  How can anyone feel good about life when there are 143 million children who need a family.  Our messed up society will pay a verbally abused bus monitor $700,000, but practically ignores 143 million orphans.  It's making me a little crazy.

I've been hearing the comment lately over and over that adopting is so expensive, governments charge ridiculous fees, blah, blah, blah...  Yes, all of that is true, trust me I KNOW!  However, most businesses in this country do the same thing.  Air conditioner repairmen, drug companies, food at the movies, gas for your car... getting overcharged for products and services is a part of our culture.  The same people who say they could never adopt because of the money, need to take on a different perspective.  God is bigger than any money issue.  He is not going to lead you to your child and then not work out every detail.  I firmly believe that God is showing us how to manage our money better through this adoption.  I thought we were doing pretty well, but now I have prioritized things in our life and cut out what we can.  Am I neglecting my kids?  Some will judge us and say yes.  I say that part of being in a family is working together to make the most of what you are blessed with.  It does stink that we won't go to Silver dollar City this year or Six Flags.  We aren't going to Springfield unless absolutely necessary.  We are eating at home, even though we all love to go out (even if it is just McDonalds).  We didn't buy any flowers to plant this year.  It may seem like a small thing, but it saved us money we normally would've spent.  And who really cares if our flower pots are empty this year.  There's a million over ways I have cut back a little bit at a time and let me tell you, I am not any less happy because of it.  And neither are my kids!  And neither is Tim! 

I love my kids.  I really try to parent them in a way that will help them grow up to be productive members of society.  I want them to be shining lights for Jesus in every aspect of their lives.  They each have amazing testimonies to share and I am thankful that God has given them to me so I can be a part of their lives.  Tim and I talk all the time about how awesome our kids are!  They are polite and helpful and spiritual and caring.  They are not perfect, but they are unbelievably terrific!  I cannot wait to add Ethan to the mix and see how he reacts to each of his sisters.  I imagine Reagan showing him how to sniff a raggy and do a cartwheel.  I imagine Ryleigh teaching him how to read and telling him about the science stuff in his room.  I imagine Becca wrestling with him and teaching him how to kick a soccer ball.  I imagine Isabella sharing her love of animals and helping him keep his room clean.  I feel like this little boy is going to change us all in a way we can't even imagine yet.  We laugh about how he might be wild and bratty and that he may not even like science!  I am just ready to know him!  I hope he likes to rock and cuddle and that he will bond with us quickly.  I pray that he will be healthy and feel loved immediately.  I pray that every lonely moment he has had in his first two years of life will be erased when he gets to be spoiled by the six of us.  I pray that he will someday understand the number of people it took to bring him home. 

Our small group studied about Freedom tonight.  Part of our discussion was about being a slave to God and having the only kind of freedom that matters, freedom in Jesus Christ.  We talked about how people in America take freedom for granted and abuse the freedom our society provides.  It is such a blessing to have brothers and sisters in Christ to talk and learn with.  I love how close our small group has become and how special they are to us.  We have been able to share some of our deepest hurts and exciting moments with them.  God knew exactly what He was doing when He put our group together!

So, we are waiting to hear from Great Wall about when our paperwork is/was dropped off at the Consulate in Guangzhou, China.  This is the Article 5 wait, which is the most predictable part of all.  Provided GW tells us the drop-off day, we will know that it will be picked up in exactly two weeks.  Then our wait for Travel Approval begins.  This is averaging between 10 and 14 days for all the families in our group.  Although GW still says we are several weeks away from a travel date, I know better!  That is why we have made so many connections with other adopting families.  We could travel as soon as a week after we receive TA. Of course, this depends on how quickly GW schedules our Consulate Appointment, which determines our travel dates.  We are guessing that somewhere around the 3rd week of August, but it all depends on GW and how quickly they work for us.  I don't even want to get started about how disappointed we are with them throughout this entire adoption.  Completely different experience than with Reagan's adoption.  Praying that our in-China experience is the same.

We found out who Ryleigh and Reagan's teachers are for next school year.  God answered our prayers for both!  So excited that Reagan has Mrs. Bechtel, it's going to be a great year!  She was one of Ry's favorite teachers and just an amazing person!  We don't know Ry's homeroom teacher but know that she has a great reputation.  She's a cancer survivor and lover of the Lord, so we are so thankful!  Both girls have several friends in their class, so that is also very exciting!  Praise God!

A friend from church fixed the AC in the suburban, so now we have one vehicle that has air.  Thank God for that, since we have had record breaking temperatures this past week.  So blessed by good friends! 

Tomorrow officially starts summer, as summer school finished on Friday at Bright Beginnings.  I have a very long to do list, especially to get ready to be gone and not knowing how much work I will get done when Ethan is with me.  I hope to get a lot accomplished this month and I also hope it flies by!