Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Two Big Questions: Part 1 The Cost

I have said before how glad we are that in this adoption we are walking a well worn path. A path forged by thousands of families who have said, "Yes Lord" before us. We are even more fortunate to count a few of those families as our good friends!

In following some of our friends' journeys to their little ones, reading their blogs and facebook pages, and, in being an advocate for Reeces Rainbow there are two questions that I've seen families have to answer time and again. The first is always something similar to: If you have to fundraise to adopt, can you really afford another child, or, shouldn't you wait until you can afford to adopt before you adopt (something along those lines). This is the question I want to cover in this blog. The second question is a little harder, "Why international adoption, don't you know there are plenty of kids that need good homes here in the US?!" I want to cover the second one from our hearts soon but wanted to get to the first one first, because, well we're in that place right now of having to fundraise to cover most of our adoption expenses.

I want to say first of all that I know when most people ask this question they're not being mean or nosey. Most have never really thought about the cost of an adoption. Most people know, at least remotely, someone who has adopted. But, often you're not aware of the process and the huge financial output that is required. I want to be totally transparent when it comes to the money part of this adoption and that's why I decided to write this blog. Most adopting families have written similar blogs. We want people to understand the costs and why most of us fundraise them.

For Steve and I, adoption was not in our immediate plans so we had not been saving for it. I saw our son on a Friday, on Tuesday we emailed the agency to let them know we wanted to move forward. If you haven't read Our God Story you might want to start there. But, in all honesty even if we had known we'd be taking this step soon we would have been very hard pressed to save up $25,000+ and most families are the same way.

We live in a culture that accepts that most major purchases are paid for on some kind of credit. Most people I know could not buy a house without a mortgage or a new car without a car payment. Most Americans have credit card debt, student loans, personal loans etc. and we don't think twice about it. We have a mortgage and student loans. But, no one asked me when I decided to return to school to get my Masters degree if I could afford it. No one blinked when I mentioned student loans. Yet, a lot of people think that only families with the money on hand to adopt should move forward.

With no question in our minds, we can afford to raise another child. We have room in our home, we have the income to meet the needs and many of the wants of two children. We're even skipping the most expensive first two years of a child's life by bringing home an older child! But, no, unfortunately we don't have the cash on hand to cover the majority of our son's adoption.

But, I think of it this way. If Nicholas were kidnapped and held hostage I would do almost any thing to come up with the money to pay his ransom and bring him home to us. Nick's brother needs to come home, he needs a family. He's waited over 5 years for a family, we wouldn't dream of making him wait any longer while we tried to come up with the entire ransom ourselves.

We are working to raise the money. We have an Auction going on right now on facebook. And, our Adoption Bug Tshirt Fundraiser just went live about an hour ago. We also have a friend who is doing an Origami Owl fundraiser for us. And, that is just the start! We have been so abundantly blessed since starting this process by family and friends and friends of friends who have stepped up and offered to help us, who have donated to sow a seed into our adoption.

I am actually thankful for our need to fundraise because I get to watch God work through his people. Though I admit a part of me does wish I just had that kind of money laying around and all we had to worry about was paperwork and travel dates!

Right now we are working on getting officially committed to our son in his country. To send our commitment paperwork over we have to pay our first set of agency fees which are $3500.

During this same time we will be starting our homestudy, a process which will take about 12 weeks and cost $3300 (spread over three payments).

We do want to be upfront and let anyone who gives to us know, right now this is not a 100% sure thing. Something could come up to stop our process. We don't foresee any thing happening, but, its always a possibility. At this point anyone that chooses to give to our adoption fund is taking a leap of faith with us. If you compare adoption to a pregnancy, we are in the early stages of the first trimester. We are filled with hope and joy and happiness. We have faith that God has said this is our child and trust that He will provide. But, just like with a pregnancy there is some uncertainty, and nothing is guaranteed until we have our son home.

We'd love to have you step out on faith with us!

If you are not interested in any of our fundraisers but would like to give towards our adoption you can use the ChipIn on the right hand side of the blog or message me for our address at if you'd like to mail a check.

Every $1 adds up and gets us a step closer to bringing our son home. If you can't give we'd love to have you cover us in prayer and maybe share our story on your social networking sites.

~Steve and Brooke

Friday, January 11, 2013

Our God Story

My friend Mandy often talks about, and, has blogged about God stories. I love reading and hearing about these stories. While one could argue that the universe itself is a God story, I think a true God story is one where you see events unfold in such a way that only God could've made that happen. Where there's really no rhyme or reason by human understanding for things to have played out the way they did and the story really is miraculous.

When you get to be in your own God story its amazing and humbling and awe inspiring, and for me, hard to put into words. I've been trying since this past Tuesday night. Its not that I don't think our story is worth telling its that I feel like its so important to tell that I won't possibly tell it well. So, I've been praying for God to give me the words to tell our story in a way that he, and only he, shines through. So, here's my attempt:

Adoption was not really something I saw for our family as recently as 2 years ago. I thought adoption was for people that could not have children, or maybe people with children that were grown who wanted to fill a void. I knew a few people growing up who were adopted and they were all pretty much only children or part of a set of adopted kids. I saw the commercial about starving children in Africa but never really put it together that those kids were most likely orphans.

I met Mandy through a friend of a friend around June of 2011 when we decided to homeschool our son. She was a blessing to me as a new homeschooling Mom, she answered all of my questions, reassured me when I was sure I was failing, and introduced me to some amazing women that are now some of my best friends. The first time we met in person she shared that they were in the process of adopting two little boys with Down Syndrome from Eastern Europe. I'm pretty sure I said something along the lines of, "That's so amazing of you." And, Mandy is amazing in that she is a woman of extraordinary faith with an incredible heart. (Her husband Marty is pretty great too).

Through Mandy I learned more than I really ever wanted to know about the orphan crisis and the plight especially of special needs orphans internationally. I found Reeces Rainbow and would sometimes look through the pages of all of the little ones waiting for a family and God started to work in my heart. An idea that at first seemed prety out there to me over time started to seem less and less scary. Eventually I started sharing my desire to maybe one day adopt one of these little ones with my husband and his response was pretty much always the same, "You're crazy." The objections usually hinged around finances, the cost of an international adoption, the cost of raising a special needs child etc.

But, my Mama's heart was already broken. In those little faces I saw my child. The world of special needs is not new to us, Nicholas was born prematurely and had a host of medical complications the first few years of his life. We found out he has a genetic condition called a balanced translocation and we were thrust into a world of doctors and therapists. We are blessed in that today Nick is doing incredible considering his rough start. He is a little small, he has ears that are exceptionally cute, and he is developmentally at or above age level for almost every thing.

I felt like given our background we would be good parents for a child with special needs, choosing to walk a road doesn't guarantee it'll be easy but its often easier than when that decision is thrust upon you unexpectedly. About a year ago I started to pray and I told God that if he wanted us to adopt one of these children I was willing but he would have to break Steve's heart. Occassionally I'd see a child posted whose story really broke my heart and I'd share their picture with Steve to get pretty much the same response and I'd pray exceptionally hard that night.

But, I never really felt like his heart was changing any. Then a week ago today a friend posted a photo and a short description of a little boy. I looked at his picture and I couldn't look away. I kept asking questions until my friend said, "Hey, you should contact my friend at his agency, she could answer your questions, send you his file." I did, she did, and in the first miracle of my story, Steve agreed to look at him. By the time I had worked up the courage to show him the pictures and the file on Saturday (6 days ago) I was in love. I really felt like this was our child and I was pretty much in constant prayer. I told God I would go but he was going to have to work a miracle to get Steve to agree.

See, by this point I was fairly certain that God intended for us to adopt one day. My heart was broken, I was advocating for RR children and adopting families and doing what I could to make the tiniest of differences to any child or family that I could. I told God that when I finished school, (did I mention I'm starting the Master's program in professional counseling this Monday?!) and found a job and we were more financially solvent, if by then he had broken Steve's heart too, we'd look together on Reece's Rainbow and find a child/ren to go and get.

Instead God broke my heart for this little boy. I was hesitant to even go to Steve because I was already in love at this point and I knew when he said no I would be heartbroken. So this past Saturday I did finally show him every thing and we talked some and we went grocery shopping and we came home and get Nick to bed and lay in bed and talk. Ultimately he's sorry, but, no. I was heartbroken.

I laid in bed and cried angry tears and went to God in angry prayer. I could've tried to pray differently but God would've known my heart. God let me vent, he listened as I told him that if he wasn't going to break Steve's heart why did he break mine so completely, why did he let me feel so sure that this was our son? I was telling myself and God if he was even listening at this point that I was done. It hurt too much, I was not going back on Reece's Rainbow or our facebook group. I would continue to help our personal friends fundraise for their adoptions but I was done. I wasn't even going to go to church in the morning, I was too hurt, too miserable.

Then the most incredible thing I have ever experienced in my life happend, I felt God speak directly into my heart. I immediately had peace and overwhelming joy. He told me this was our son. He told me he was working in Steve's heart. He told me that Steve would say yes. Then he told me I'd have to ask three times.

I said, "Ok." and I went to sleep. The next morning I think Steve was expecting me to be in a bad mood, to be angry or upset. Instead I told him it was ok, God had given me peace that this was our son and that he was working in his heart. I said something along the lines of ,"God said this is our son, if you want to keep denying it go ahead." I hate to admit it but I don't really remember what Steve said other than it wasn't no. We went to church and I wrote him a note with one ear on the sermon, nudging him when I felt like the sermon was going right along with what I was trying to say.

We went to lunch afterwards for an early birthday celebration for me with about 26 adults and kids including family and members of our life group from church. At lunch Steve agreed we could show pictures of our boy to our famly and friends, tell them we were considering adoption, and ask them to pray for us. At this point I felt confident that he was going to say yes. I knew God had something about asking three times, but, hey technically I'd asked like 20 right so surely that night he'd say yes.

That night we got Nick to bed then we talked, this time on the couch. This time it was even harder for both of us. He said he could see how sure I was, that I was heartbroken for this child, that he didn't want to see me so upset....but, that he didn't have the faith that I did that the money would just come through and again he said no. I hate to admit this, because I just said that the night before God had spoken to me, told me this was our son and that I'd have to ask three times, but, it hurt more the 2nd time he said No than the first. Again, I went to God in angry prayer because I'm human and I'm weak. Again, I asked God to give me peace about letting go of this child. Again, God spoke to my heart, gave me instant peace, told me this was our son.

Monday morning on my birthday he left before I woke up. I texted him that I was still sure that this was our son, that once again God had put peace in my heart. Throughout that day and then that night while he was at his second job I randomly texted him facts about adoption, information about fundraising and grants, the offers of help from family and friends, the amazing support we were receiving. And, then God told me to be quiet. Steve would probably tell you he doesn't remember me being quiet on the subject, but, Monday night I didn't ask him for the third time, I felt like God was still working and as hard as it was that I needed to just pray and be still.

I had been sharing our progress/lack thereof with my friend including the fact that I was sure God had spoken directly to me that this was our son. I even told her about the fact that I was going to have to ask three times. Tuesday morning I was reading in the Daily Guidepost Devotional that my Nana gives all of her kids and grandkids for Christmas. Something new for 2013 is that at the bottome there is a 'Digging Deeper' section with 2 or three Bible passages you can look up. I had not looked any of them up prior, then Tuesday the 8th, I did. There were three passages referenced and the third one said: 2 Cor 12:8-10 I looked it up and found this:

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I was overwhelmed with God's faithfulness, in awe, joyous and really just at peace that we were going to go get our son. I messaged my friend to share what I had just read. (My friend is writing her own blog and knows that I didn't see this passage then work backwards in case anyone reading this may think that).

I continued to talk to Steve about our boy, about stepping out on faith and letting God handle the financial part of the adoption, reminding him of the support and love we were already receiving. He got off early that day, he and Nick went for haircuts, I had a post op appointment with my GI. We got back together in time to have dinner and go to Nick's first basketball practice. About halfway through I couldn't take it any more and I said, "Are we going to go get our son or what?" And. He. Said. Yes.

I started crying. I think I smiled and laughed too then went outside to make some phone calls! I'm sure people around us thought he had divorced me or something, but, I didn't care we were going to get our son. God delivered on his promise despite my weaknesses. Despite the fact that I doubted even after he spoke to me, despite the fact that twice I went to him with anger and bitterness in my heart. My God is good. And, that is our God story.

I hope that in my fumbling attempts to write this story, you see God and not us. We will get our son, God told me so. But, again, I'm human and I'm weak. I am already anxious even though I try to stay in a place of peace.

We need to get to our son as soon as possible. As we were not planning to jump into an international adoption, we do not have the money on hand to do it. It is humbling to have to ask for financial help. But, we won't let pride stand in the way of our son.

Our immediate need is $3500 to send the commitment documents to our son's country. We need to pay $250 to submit our application to our homestudy agency. Within the next 12 or so weeks we will need the $3300 to pay for and complete our homestudy. We need to get passports and I'm not even sure how much that will be exactly.

It looks like a lot in a small amount of time, but, we trust. I know that if God could take my husband from thinking the whole idea of an international adoption is crazy to saying yes in less than 4 days the money is not going to be what holds us back. We have had some donations come in and to all of you that have donated we are extremely grateful. We know God will bless you for your generosity.

We are blessed beyond measure to have such a large support system and there are lots of fundraisers in the works. But, the truth is we need the first $3500 before the end of the month. We are praying that people will read our story and feel led to give, to sow a seed into our adoption and reap the rewards with us.

I know this story was long, speaking succinctly is not really my thing but I promise I tried.

Please pray for our journey, please share our story. Please pray for our friends and all of the families that are also in this same process, that took the same leap of faith that we did.

Thank you!

PS If you feel led to give there is a Chip In on the right hand side of this blog where you can donate via Paypal. If you would like to mail your donation you can message me at Donations are not currently tax deductible at this stage in our process, but, once we are committed and homestudy approved that will change!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We're Expecting...

A brother for Nicholas! Except I'm not pregnant and our son has already been born, across an ocean, and left waiting for far too long. It's sudden and not the plan we were working on for our lives, but, we believe it is God's plan for our family.

The whole decision process was not easy and I'm going to write a blogpost about it soon, because its so completely a God story and every God story should be told, but, I wanted to get this blog post up, to share our news with you all now!

We are stepping out on faith, trusting the details to God and pushing forward. We have already been so abundantly blessed with support and offers of help from our closest family and friends. There aren't words to describe how touched our hearts are by every thing that has happened in just the last 24-72 hours.

I know everyone will have questions, I'll do my best to answer them. In the coming week I will get a blog up about the details of the financial aspect of this adoption. We are sure that this child is our son, we are also sure that we won't be able to do it alone. We simply don't have the roughly $25,000 this adoption will likely cost on hand. But, we can't leave our son waiting while we try to save the money.

To put it simply, we need your help to rescue our son. It's humbling to be the one to ask for money, but, I would do any thing to bring our son home including asking for help to do it. I have set up a Chip In to raise the first immediate funds we are in need of. The $3500 we need in order to submit the paperwork to tell our son's country that we want him. He's waited a long time for someone to say that and even though he doesn't know it yet, we're saying it.

James 1:27 says that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after oprhans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

If you're reading this I pray that you'll prayerfully consider giving to our adoption. I promise you'll be blessed for it, I've seen God work in incredible ways to bring children into the families He had planned for them. We invite you to be part of our journey.

((While I figure out how to get the ChipIn on the side of my blog I'm going to just add it here))