Auction Success

Before I give you the run-down of our auction success, I have to share this:

We're only just *almost* through the first of 3 or 4 major steps toward completing our adoption, and I've already been disappointed a few times. We couldn't work with our first choice agency because our little guy was already affiliated with another agency. It took us a long time to get our homestudy started because our caseworker was so busy before Christmas. The weather made us postpone our homestudy appointments twice. Russia has temporarily suspended adoptions. Now we've been waiting for weeks to get our homestudy finalized so it can be approved by our placing agency. It's all part of the process, but still: it can be disappointing and it feels excruciatingly slow.


There is one organization- one organism- one body- that has not disappointed us and has not failed. One group of people that has come together faster, better, and with more incredible results than we could have every anticipated:

The Church. The body of Christ.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ have rallied around this adoption with incredible support. We have been covered with unceasing prayer. We have received daily encouragement. And we've been moving toward our fundraising goal FASTER than we hoped for. Far from a disappointment, the Church has been the very breath and heartbeat of our adoption. I know this is of God and not of ourselves because many of our donors and necklace/t-shirt/coffee buyers are Christians with whom we are not particularly close. Some we don't even know! These people aren't donating because John and I are so impressive or winsome, but because the Spirit of Christ has moved in their hearts. God is working to make this adoption happen and he is using people we would not have expected! I cannot tell you how this humbles and encourages me.


With that, here's the breakdown of our auction success:

Items donated: over 20!
Total bidding time: exactly two weeks.

Highest bids:
Runner up: Salmon fishing trip: $250!
Highest bid: Choose a scripture passage for John to preach on: $500! (I'm eager to see what the passage will be!)

Most bid-over items:
Runner up: Home Beer Brewing Session with 7 bids
Most bids: Custom painting of a favorite lyric or scripture with 11 bids!

Total money raised to bring our boy home......


THANK YOU so much to all our donors and bidders! You made this auction an enormous success. John and I are over the moon excited about how much money this auction raised. Our goal was $750. We raised over twice that. God raised it for us. Wow.wow.wow.

Those floodgates are thrown open, once again!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

(And remember our fundraising pancake breakfast THIS SATURDAY at our church, from 9am-11am. Hope to see you there!)


Homework and coming to peace

Last week John and I finished the homework that was required for our pre-adoption homestudy. We used an online course from adopteducation.com, which I would highly recommend. Our certificate came a few days ago:

There's a lot of scary stuff to face in the homework. Kids who start their lives in orphanages just don't often get what they need to thrive. In some cases, they don't get what they need to thrive in the womb either. In the course of our study, we learned about things like sensory integration disorder, where kids are unable to process sensory information correctly- so even the touch of a new adoptive parent might feel painful. We learned about difficult task children face when they come home and attempt to bond with their parents; when you haven't had a consistent caregiver in your whole life, your learn not to get attached. We even learned some very interesting things about how the fact of being adopted effects every stage and it's tasks (think Erickson).

Here's something I've been working through:

From my experience as a nanny and daycare provider and my education in childhood faith development, I know how important the first 3 years of life are. And I LOVE the first five years of life. I love watching babies grow- the first giggle, the first tastes of solid foods, the first attempt at crawling, the first steps, first words. Right now I love the way the 5 month old baby in my daycare reaches up to feel my face while he's drinking his bottle; I love knowing that just by feeling safe enough to do that, he's learning to trust the world around him. Then I love the sense of wonder, the cute things kids say and the way they say them, the independent, "I do it MYSELF!" stage, and the, "Why? Why? Why?" stage. I even love doing the potty dance after a successful tinkle in the toilet. I love seeing kids grow and THRIVE.

It has been a journey for me to come to peace with the fact that even though I love those first three years and I'm good at them and fairly confidant in them... that even though the first three years are my thing, God seems to have it in his plan for me to miss out on them- or most of them- with our son. Before we started pursuing our little guy I was fairly convinced that God would not want us to adopt a toddler because why would he want to waste my talents? I see now how prideful I was to think that and thank God he is changing my heart.

One of the ways I am learning to come to peace with this, is recognizing that my love of those first 3 years is what's going to help me empathize and work with our son toward healing when he comes home. Once and a while I look at the vivacious little 2 1/2 year old girl in my daycare and I think about how devastating it would be for her to loose everything; all the people in her life, all her familiar foods and routines, even the only language she knows. Then the full impact of what our son will go through hits me. In our homework we were told to "expect tantrums" (among other behaviors) for the first few weeks and months as our little guy works through this grief. Yea- I can see that. I'd want to throw a tantrum too.

I'm very much still in the process of coming to terms with this, but I'm learning that as I make peace with missing out on the first couple years, I begin to see how God's still going to put my gifts to use. Even though our homework was filled with scary stuff, I am gaining confidence in my ability to face those challenges. Actually, I am gaining confidence in God's ability to equip and strengthen me to face those challenges.

He gave me my gifts; shouldn't I trust him to put them to use? For his purposes and his glory. Again and again I learn: it's not about me.


Teachability / T-shirts for love

This week has been a tough one for me, emotionally, as we learned that Moscow has suspended adoptions for one month, until regulations which allow Russian officials to better monitor adoptions are put into place. At least that's how I understand it.

To be honest, I get it. There have been some terrible, terrible stories in the news over past few years about adoptive parents abusing their children and even, in one case, sending a son back to Russia on a plane with a note of rejection pinned inside his jacket. That is unacceptable. The Russian government wants to prevent this from happening and I absolutely agree.

At the same time, it awakens a sense of fear in me. It reminds me how very much not in control of this adoption I am. It is an unsettling feeling.

I've heard other adoptive parents talk about the bumps and the long wait of adoption and say things like, "I prayed that God would hurry the process up, but he didn't because he had to teach me something during the wait."

I could be wrong, but I just don't think this kind of stuff happens so that God can teach us a lesson. I don't think John and I had to survive a long distance marriage for over a year because God had to teach us something. I don't think God had my family endure my mom's long near-death illness to teach us something. And I don't think God allows the adoption process to be so long and hard in order to teach us something.

I think those things happen because we live in a fallen world with lots of brokenness and sin in it. Our son is living without his birth mother because of brokenness. He is waiting in an orphanage because of the fall. We can't get to him tomorrow, even though we'd get on a plane in 20 minutes if we could, because the world is not as it should be. That's why these things happen. Not because God wants to teach us something.


I also believe in the power of a teachable spirit. No, God is not causing this bump and all this worry and fear in our adoption journey so that we'll learn a lesson. But, if I put on a teachable spirit I believe he will use this journey to teach me something. Or lots of things.

I see this kind of teachable spirit in Joseph who says to his brothers in Gen 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

And of course in the popular verse Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I'm sure that God did not delight in the sin that caused Joseph's brothers to sell him as a slave. Or in all the disease and hunger and thirst which causes the entire creation to groan in pain and suffering. And I don't think he is satisfied with an adoption process that allows children to wait for months and years in orphanages without families.

Somehow, though, he is working it out for good. That's a leap of faith I take as a Christian. Some days I feel like I'm making the jump with the strength of my own legs. And other days (like the day when I found out Moscow's suspending adoptions for a month) I realize that I'm only making the leap because the Spirit's been carrying me on eagle's wings.

I believe, help my unbelief!

So now, in the face of a potential roadblock, I pray for a teachable spirit. I pray that in the face of all my inability, I will learn to rest in God's ability. That I will learn to believe that when I can't hold my son, God will. That when I can't wipe his tears, God will comfort him. That when I can't enjoy his laughter, God will take delight in it. And even that when I can't figure out how to fill out that next adoption form, or remember where I put all those photocopies of my birth certificate, or figure out which social worker at what agency I need to call in order to figure out the answer to a question I'm not even quite sure how to ask- that God will give me the wisdom, the strength, and the clarity to move forward. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, form by form, question by question, and pen stroke by pen stroke.

God is able to make me teachable in my inability. God is able to use this bump in our journey to teach me to trust in him, even though he is not the author of the sin and brokenness that has caused it.


I pray he also ends the suspension ASAP. I really want to get to my son.


Of course the "getting to our son" journey also depends on buying those plane tickets! John and I owed less than we saved for our taxes this year which means we got to fill up our fundraising thermometer something to the effect of $3,000! Praise God!

We're getting closer to our goal! Remember to check out our auction and bid on some sweet stuff like a family photo session or a cozy sweater or a set of five whimsical pennant banners!

We also have our tshirts for sale! My sister and sister-in-law designed these incredible shirts and local printing company Sonscreens gave us a generous deal to print them! Thank you Jenna, Kaitlin, and Sonscreens!

The first design by my sister Jenna captures a phrase that has been dancing on my heart and mind through this whole adoption journey: "It takes a village." Of course you'd usually end that phrase, "to raise a child," and I'm sure that's true, but our village has been so vital even before we've gotten to the child-raising part...

It takes a village to ADOPT a child!

Available in NAVY: women's V-neck or unisex crewneck.

John and I are electrically aware of the fact that we could not do this alone. It is a fact that both humbles us and hold us up.

For everyone in our village, whether you've been praying, sending us encouraging messages/emails/texts, donating, buying coffee or a card or a necklace, whether you're planning on coming to our breakfast, whether you read my blog, or if you're going to buy this shirt: you're our people and our son could NOT come home to us without you.

The "village" sitting on the "E" is a nod to the gorgeous St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow.

We hope you'll wear this design with pride.

The second design is by my sister-in-law Kaitlin and warms my heart. Though I haven't yet learned the Russian alphabet (but plan to!), the Cyrillic lettering already has a very special place in my heart. When we started this adoption I didn't know how much I would come to love Russian culture. I find myself wanting to learn everything I can about this country that holds our baby boy. I haven't even been there but Russia already has my heart.

Available in Men's NAVY v-neck, women's CHARCOAL v-neck, or unisex CHARCOAL v-neck.

The shirt simply says "love" in Russian and the letter "o" looks like a heart because Kaitlin loves any excuse for a heart. And so do I!

You can you can see available styles and sizes at my etsy shop where of course you can also purchase a shirt! And you can also purchase one by messaging/emailing/leaving me a comment or grabbing me in person!

Shirts are 100% cotton and $20 each. In stock sizes will be available right away for shipping or pickup and out of stock will be available in 1-2 weeks.

We can't wait to see you sporting these shirts for our baby boy!




I see that bid; I see that bid.

Our online auction is up and running!

John and I are so excited about all the goods and services donated to help us bring our little guy home! We've started most of the bids at 25-50% of the item's value, so we hope you'll be excited about the great deals in addition to supporting what we think is an incredible cause.

Click here to get to our auction!

It will be open from now until Feb 29 at 9pm.

We used a site called 32auctions which has better user fees than ebay or any other auction site we've found. However with the version we're using we can only upload one itty bitty little photo of each item, so we've also added an auction page to this blog where you can see bigger/additional pictures of the items listed on the 32auctions site.

Please share our auction site, this post, or individual items with your friends/on your blog/through facebook or twitter. The more people know about the auction, the more people can bid and the closer we will be to bringing our little guy home!

Thank you and HAVE FUN with this!


Fundraising Friday (2 days late!)

This week's Fundraising Friday is two days late because John and I spent Friday night up North with a group of friends at a cabin. (Which was great fun!) After a late, late night we had to leave early to get home in time for our final homestudy meeting: the home visit. Sadly, after a week of cleaning and tidying to make our house nice and shiny, the weather refused to cooperate and our caseworker was not able to make the drive to our place. What a bummer! Thankfully I have a short day of work on Monday and John's schedule is flexible enough that we were able to reschedule for tomorrow (Monday) afternoon. Keep us in your prayers!

We hope to open up our online auction for bids starting Wednesday, so this fundraising post will be short. Here's the rundown of our journey so far:

Donations: $13,784
Necklace Fundraiser: $1,250
Coffee Fundraiser: $47
Card Fundraiser: $46
Spaghetti Dinner (by my childhood church): $755
Out of Pocket: $4,150

TOTAL: $20,032

Praise God for his provision!

We received a donation from someone who is from Russia a few days ago and he shared this wonderful Russian saying with us: a single thread from everyone - and there's a shirt for a naked one. Truly, every thread makes a difference. When we started we we had little more than one thread and a prayer.

Although we don't have the full shirt in hand quite yet, we can surely see its form coming together! And it looks pretty cute on the back of a sweet, sweet little Russian boy.


On loneliness

Of all the emotions I've ever experienced, loneliness is among the most devastating. Loneliness is a painful, hollow place in your chest. A space your heart knocks on with every beat, as if to remind you, "I'm still here. You're still alone."

Those who have felt this empty aching will know exactly what I mean when I say loneliness is an ache that sensitizes; it sensitizes you to all your insecurities, frustrations, fears, and griefs. One of my favorite authors Walter Wangerin Jr. describes this feeling when he talks about the loneliness he experienced during his first year of graduate school:

I was overwhelmed by sense of exile and by the suspicion that this would never end, that I had just entered the real world and discovered what life would be like forever.... If anything troubled the simple schedule of my day, I felt as though I would burst into tears. The snow itself seemed to suffocate me, and little criticisms in red pencil on my paper were intolerable.... When I bumped my head on the corner of the cupboard- no more than a little knock- I suffered a whole range of emotions from fury to pitiful tears.

I've experienced seasons of this kind of loneliness. But only for a season. Still, I so clearly remember with dread that awful, empty ache. Even now when I hear someone express a sense of loneliness, I waver between empathy and the temptation of apathy. Loneliness is so painful I can hardly bear to go near it.

That's why what devastates me the most about an orphan, it the loneliness. The alone-ness. The without-ness. And the fact that the fear that you've just discovered what life will be like forever- might actually be true.

In Russia children age out of the orphanage system around age 17. That's about 15,000 orphans every year. 10% will take their own lives. Loneliness kills. The majority of boys will turn to a life of crime. The majority of girls will turn to prostitution. Loneliness devastates.

This weekend I was reading a blog post by an adoption advocacy group and in the post the author quoted a young orphan boy in Eastern Europe. He said:

Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me? I would really like for a visitor at least, because I am all alone and I have no one.

A visitor, at least. Someone to break the loneliness. Just for a bit. Relief from the ache. If only for a little while. I. have. no one.

I've been devastated by this little boy's words all weekend. And I guess all week since we're now pushing onto Wednesday.

And I think I should be. Because that loneliness fear- that this is what life will be like forever- should be just that: a fear. And not a reality, for anyone. Especially not a child.

I have to admit that in the face of 143 million orphans, adopting one seems so small. I know what a difference we will make for our son (and he for us), but the fact of 142, 999, 999 lonely children out there is something that will always bring me to my knees.

And I guess I want to end this post by saying: not everyone is called to adopt. Many are called to orphan care through financial or other means. John and I would not be able to adopt without those people. BUT- there are so many couples and individuals out there who say to themselves at some point, "I'd like to adopt," and there are too few who actually follow through.
This happens for many reasons- fear, finances, lack of time, anxiety about what it would do to the other kids or family dynamic, etc. And you know what? I'm scared about all those things too. But I also have to say: if God has placed the desire to adopt on your heart- follow that calling.

As long as there are orphans in the world there are people whom God is calling to adopt who have not answered. If you think you have this calling, you probably do.

I will be the first to testify to God's faithfulness in this calling. I urge you: step out in faith and open yourself up to watch God work.

Be someone for a child who has no one and put the awful ache of loneliness to death.


Fundraising Friday: Pancakes!

Our homestudy will be wrapping up in the next few weeks and that means it's time for John and I to start the next leg of our adoption journey: applying to the Russia program at our agency and starting the paperwork for our little guy's visa. Right now it takes about 50 days to get that visa (that does not mean we're bringing him home in 50 days). We want to have all the paperwork ready to mail as soon as we get our home study approved by our placing agency.

This is very exciting! It is also very expensive!

Which means we are swallowing hard and sweating a little bit as we think about the $15,000 we need to reach our goal.

Lord I believe, help my unbelief!

We have three new fundraisers planned for this month, so let me just apologize in advance for filling your news feeds with fundraising announcements, event invitations, donation requests and the like. I have mixed feelings about my posts lately; on one hand, I know I'm probably getting a little (a lot) repetitive and a smidgen boring with all my fundraising posts. Right now that's what we're spending most of our time and energy. On the other hand, I don't feel bad at all because I have this Mama Bear thing going on where I'm basically going to do anything to get to my cub.

Mountains of paperwork? Yep.
Three trips to Russia? Yes I will.
Tear down a wall with my bear hands? In a heartbeat.
Get a little monotonous with my fundraising posts? A touch annoying on Facebook? I'm okay with that.

Once you see his face I think you'll agree- he's worth it.

He's also worth eating pancakes for! (Grammar people: how do I not end that sentence in a preposition?)

You are cordially invited to a Russian Pancake Breakfast, held at our church, on Saturday March 3. That's one month from today!

(Find the invitation on facebook through me or John and we'll post a link on our church's FB page as well.)

As I have recently discovered, Russians love their pancakes and have a number of varieties. John and I will be trying out different recipes in the next few weeks in order to decide which kind to serve. Our choice will be based on taste and ease of making in mass quantities (based heavily on flipability (read: blini are unlikely)). If you have a Russian pancake recipe send it our way!

I'm also looking to borrow a LOT of patterned tablecloths. Any shape, any size, any pattern (except Christmas patterned). They will be laundered and returned. (Disclaimer: They may come into contact with jam, coffee, or other staining foods so don't lend me your great Aunt's hand-stitched heirloom tablecloth.)

We so hope to see you there!

In other fundraising news:

We are less than 2 weeks away from starting our online auction- thank you to all who have donated! We've been so blessed by people's generosity. Before we made the decision to start our adoption journey we went to an adoption event and I so clearly remember the speaker saying, "When you are fundraising ask everyone for help. You will be surprised at who gives and who doesn't give." We have been blown away by people from all different parts of our lives stepping forward to help us. Some friends we haven't even seen in years! We are humbled and have been inspired to be more generous ourselves. Thank you!! We have a few item spaces left open, so if you have an item or service you were thinking about donating we would LOVE to include it! The items we have right now range from $30 dollars up to one valued at $1,000! If you're worried your item is too small- it's not. :-)

And finally, we have our T-shirt designs, we've met with the printer and we are weeks away from having them in hand! I cannot wait to share them!

Wishing you love and lots of pancake cravings in the coming weeks. :-) xo

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