Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fundraising Friends

One of the best parts of our adoption journey thus far is the people we have met and the friendships we have made with fellow adoptive parents. It has been awesome to connect both on-line and in real life with other families who are called to care for orphans.

Another thing that has been such a blessing to us is connecting with "old" friends who have responded to the call to adopt.

My friend, Cole e-mailed me a few weeks ago to let me know that she and her husband Chad are going to adopt their third child (they have two bio kids) from Ethiopia. I was so excited to hear this news. Cole and I went to college (Louisiana Tech) together and although we haven't seen each other much since then I am happy that we have reconnected. I am so excited to follow their journey to a baby boy in Africa.

Like many of us adoptive parents, they need to raise the funds to bring home their son. Another good friend of ours from college designed these t-shirts for Cole and Chad. I think they look awesome! I can't wait to get mine. You can read more about their adoption journey and find out how to order one of these awesome shirts here.
Another friend, Tanya, contacted me a few months ago to introduce herself and let me know that she and her husband are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. I have never met Tanya, but she knows Justin and his family. You can read more about Tanya's adoption journey on her blog. Tanya has a really great fundraiser going on right now. It is a raffle to win an American Girl Doll.
You can donate $10 for one raffle entry to win or $25 for 3 entries. I for one am super excited about the chance to win a doll for our future daughter. Go here to find out how to win a doll for the special girl in your life.

So, head on over to my friends' blogs and say hi and take part in helping them bring their sweet children home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Things That Make Me Smile

We leave in two days to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with a team from our church. I have been busy all day packing and checking things off of my to-do list, but I wanted to take a moment to list a few things that have made me smile lately.

Dates With My Love
Date nights with Justin definitely make me smile. Justin's sister came to town last week and kept the boys for us one night, so we could celebrate our anniversary. Our boys had fun with their aunt while we enjoyed a nice, quiet dinner. Thank you, Aunt Jessica! Dinner and dessert was delicious. After dinner we did a little shopping to purchase things we need for our trip to the Dominican Republic. We also bought little gifts for the boys to open each day that we are gone. Which brings me to the next thing that makes me smile.

Surprising the People I Love

Justin and I picked out small treats for the boys to open each day that we are away from them. Today I wrote them notes on the back of each bag to remind them that they are loved. This is the longest time either of us have been away from the boys, and I know we are going to miss them a ton. I also know they will be well taken care of and have a blast with Justin's parents.

Winning a Giveaway

My AGCI friend, Courtney, had a giveaway on her blog last week and I won! She makes these beautiful greeting cards. Aren't they pretty?
She is on a scrap booking retreat this week and I can't wait to see what she creates.

Crafty Friends

My friend Megan made these cute bag tags for the boys. I needed something to help distinguish their suitcases, because they are identical.
I thought these were just the perfect thing! On the back she put their initials and our home address.
She also made a tag for Sawyer's backpack. He will be entering Kindergarten in the fall. The school mascot is the lions. I love this bag tag! Jax loved it too, so I think she is going to make one for his school bag as well.
Thoughtful Friends

My sweet friend Katie bought me this t-shirt last week.
All of the proceeds of the shirt go to help feed orphans in Ethiopia. She knew I would love a gift that helps the sweet children of Ethiopia.
Katie and her husband, Michael are in the process of becoming foster parents. It has been wonderful to get to know them and hear their hearts for adoption.

So, these are just a few things that make me happy. I need to get to bed or I will not be smiling in the morning. =)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How We Got Here

This is the picture we submitted with our application to AGCI last summer. It was one year ago this month that we were accepted into AGCI's Rwanda program. The main difference I see when I look at this picture is that the boys are bigger and more grown up now. Jax looks like such a baby in this picture. In some ways not much has changed. We are still a family of 4 pursuing adoption, but the truth is we have changed so much over this past year. God has grown Justin and I closer to each other and to Himself.

I mentioned in my last post that we are changing our parameters to 0-3 years for a girl or a sibling group with at least one girl. This is not the first time we felt the Lord leading us to open our parameters. It may seem that we are just very indecisive and can't make up our minds. I wanted to share a little bit about how we got to where we are now.

So, as I said, last July we were accepted into the Rwanda program. We had dreams of adopting a 0-12 month old baby girl from Rwanda. We decided to name our daughter Mia Grace and began to pray for her by name. I was already dreaming about my sweet daughter and couldn't wait to hold her in my arms.

In August my dreams started to change a little and I kept picturing Mia with a sister. It was strange, because Justin and I agreed that we would only be adopting 1 child at a time. A couple of weeks after I started daydreaming about 2 littles from Africa, we found out that Rwanda would no longer be accepting dossiers, at least for now. So many thoughts were going through my head as I spoke to our caseworker about the changes and what it meant for our family. The most surprising thought that entered my head during our conversation was, "maybe we can switch to Ethiopia and adopt siblings." My next thought was, "you are crazy! Justin would never agree to adopt siblings."

That night I had a very vivid dream. In the dream I spoke to Justin and told him that I felt like God was leading us to possibly adopt siblings. He said he agreed with me. I woke up knowing it was indeed a dream, because there is no way he would say yes. It's not that my husband was opposed to more children, but he is very practical and level-headed and this wasn't exactly the most practical and level-headed decision for our family.

So, I decided that since I couldn't stop thinking about sisters I should have a real life conversation with my husband. I told him about the dream and about the "crazy" thoughts I had been having. To my surprise he didn't say no. He didn't say yes, but he didn't say no either.

We decided to withdraw from the Rwanda program and apply for the Ethiopia program with AGCI. I went for a walk one morning before I started our application. I had such an uneasy feeling about everything. I seriously didn't know if we were supposed to continue on with the adoption at this point. I prayed to the Lord asking Him to show us what to do. I began to think about our parameters and I realized that is what I was feeling uneasy about. I talked to Justin and we decided to change our parameters to 0-20 months for a girl. We also decided to go ahead and get on the siblings list. At the time, we thought that two girls made the most since, so they could share a room.

So, fast forward about 5 months. We were officially waiting for our girl or girls. The Lord started speaking to me about why we make the decisions we make. He showed me clearly that there are some decisions I make because of fear and that is not what He desires for my life. I really started looking at a lot of areas in my life including our parameters. I prayed that God would reveal anything we should change. We started researching special needs and talking to our case workers about what God was showing us. We also prayed about adopting an "older" child, meaning a child over the age of 2.

We finally decided that we would expand the age of our child to up to 3. Jax will be 4 in September and since our agency has a rule that our adopted child must be at least 10 months younger than our youngest child, a 3 year old is the oldest we can adopt. We also decided that we would not have any problems with adopting a little boy. We both still feel that God has a little girl for us, so if we adopt siblings, it will be with at least one girl.

Our Heavenly Father has lovingly provided for our adoption thus far and we trust that He will continue to do so. One of our biggest fears in the beginning was about how we would pay for the adoption. We still have a ways to go in raising/saving for what we need, but so far we have had just what we needed when we needed it.

I have no idea if we will adopt siblings or why He has lead us to change our parameters. We could still end up with an infant daughter and that would be just fine with us. Maybe the Lord just wants us to trust Him a little more, to let go of a some of our control.

We found out this week that we are unofficially #18 for siblings. We are so excited to be in the teens!!! It is a little bit scary not knowing how many children we will add to our family, or how old they will be, or exactly how much money we will need to get them home. Thankfully, we have a God who has all the answers and who knows what is best for us. I can't wait to see who He has picked out for our family.

We love you baby or babies and we are coming for you!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Numbers!

We received our July numbers today. I am happy to report that several referrals went out last month and we are moving right along. We moved 7 spots on the girls list putting us at #:

This means we have moved exactly 40 spots since getting on the list in December. If you remember from last month our siblings number had actually increased. I am so happy to say that we moved 6 spots in June putting us at #

This number is especially sweet, because it is our half way point. We got on the list at #41 for siblings. I have been praying all month that our number would be 20 or 21. Hooray for answered prayers. Now, I am really hoping for a number in the teens next month!!

Also, just to remind you our parameters are 0-20 months for a girl and 0-24 months for sibling girls. Justin and I decided a few months ago that we would like to expand our parameters a little. After much prayer and several discussions with our case workers we have decided to change our parameters to 0-3 years for a girl and 0-3 years with at least one girl on the siblings list. Nothing is official yet. We will most likely wait until we update our home study to make these changes official. Our home study will have to be updated in November. We will let you know when these changes happen. We are so excited to see what God has in store for our family and who He has picked out for our us.

I have one more special number to share with you today. Justin and I have been married for 9 wonderful years today.
I am so thankful for my husband and the life we have together. I can't help but wonder what we will be doing next year for our tenth anniversary. Here's hoping our family is a little bigger by this time next year. =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011

We got back Saturday night from our family vacation to Tennessee. It was a great week! We did so much in 5 days and it was hard to narrow down the pics.

We stayed with Justin's brother, Jon and his wife Kelsey at their home in Murfreesboro. Kelsey got the boys lots of fun goodies like water balloons, swords, and silly string. We started off our vacation on Monday morning with donuts and a silly string fight in the front yard.

Then we went swimming at a friends house. We spent most of our time outside last week, so the boys have nice little tans now.
We had a fun and relaxing 4th of July. After swimming Justin and Kelsey cooked breakfast for dinner. Then we had a water balloon fight. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or the adults. Our kids loved watching us act like kids! We ended the day by watching fire works.

Tuesday we took a little walk to see the waterfalls. We were only there a couple of minutes when Sawyer slipped in the water.
After making a run to get Sawyer some dry clothes we met some fun friends for lunch and a play date at the Children's Discovery Center. The Spence's moved from Monroe to Murfreesboro last year, so it was great to reconnect with them.

That evening we met some more fun friends for a picnic dinner at the park. Amber and Amy are two AGCI adoptive mamas that I have enjoyed getting to know. Amy was so sweet to visit with us the night before she went to Ethiopia on a mission trip.
Jax really wanted to love on Elijah, but little E just wanted to play.
Wednesday we drove to Rock Island for a little hiking. It was so beautiful! We did not miss the hot and humid Louisiana weather at all last week.
The boys loved swimming in the freezing cold river. I preferred to stay on the rocks and take pictures. =)
We turned back when we saw dark clouds moving in, but we didn't leave soon enough. It poured on us the entire way back. I prayed the whole time that we would not be struck by lightning. We made it back safely and completely soaked.
Thursday, we woke up bright and early to drive to Santa Claus, Indiana. We spent the day at Holiday World and Spashin Safari. We had a blast!
Friday we woke up, ate donuts one more time, and packed up. We drove to Chattanooga to visit with my aunt, uncle, and cousins before heading home.
We all had fun at the aquarium.
The boys played in the fountains outside the aquariums while we visited.
It was a busy and fun week! Looking through these pictures really makes me want to go back! But right now I need to finish laundry, unpack, and start getting ready for our trip to Dominican Republic next week.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grab Some Popcorn and Don't Forget the Tissues

I just have to share these super sweet Gotcha videos. All three of these beautiful families adopted through AGCI. It makes my heart happy to see these precious children come home to their families. All these videos also footage of Hannah's Hope, the transition home where are child/ren will be. Oh, how my heart longs to enter those black gates. Several of my AGCI friends have brought home their sweeties in the last month, so I look forward to many more wonderful videos. Watching kiddos come home to their families is by far the best part of the wait! Take a few minutes to watch these videos.