Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our Booster is LIVE!!!!

Our t-shirt booster is LIVE and will run for the next 30 days. If you'd like one of our fun "No Place Like Home" shirts (and you DO!), follow this link: 

Thank you for your support! And share, share, share!
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up: So Much Good...

We had an absolutely amazing weekend for so many reasons.

On the surface, it doesn't sound too special...a garage sale, errands, football with friends...but there were just so many little nudges that confirmed to us this weekend that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at this moment in time and in our process.

We held a garage sale fundraiser Saturday morning that we had been planning for a few weeks. (I know I'm biased, but my little cowboy helper is seriously the cutest thing ever. He was such a trooper!) We didn't price things or spend a ton of time on it, but it was physically tiring to do all the loading, sorting, moving furniture, and whatnot. We advertised it online in yard sale sites, on Craigslist, and on our neighborhood Facebook page, and we ended up making just shy of $1,000 in five hours! Such a blessing!

The financial gain was awesome, but it was the conversations and connections we made that day that blew me away. We made no secret as to what we were raising money for, and throughout the morning, I had some amazing conversations. One sweet neighbor brought her beautiful family over to shop because she had adopted two precious kiddos from South Korea, and she wanted to support us. We discovered we were using the same agency, we talked about our mutual disdain for the "special needs" label our kids will share, and she bought her children all kinds of things they didn't need and way overpaid for all of them. We exchanged numbers, she is praying for us, and she even offered to bring us a meal once we are home with our new little one.

Another neighbor of mine is currently in Uganda bringing home her precious new son, and she made sure her husband (who is back here in the States with their two older children) came over to massively overpay for two baby items they needed. She is in UGANDA, y' herself...caring for her brand new baby boy...and yet she still wanted to contribute to us from thousands of miles away. Unreal.

Additionally, a sweet lady definitely didn't have much to spare, but after spending $2 on a candle, she handed me her remaining $3, held my hands together so tightly as those precious senior ladies do, and said to me, "It's all I can spare, but I want you to go get that baby. Children belong in families." Yes, they do.

One last moment that truly brought me to tears was my mother-in-law sharing that she had a very special $5 contribution from a woman she had met at my niece's soccer practice who is raising her two grandsons and was touched by our adoption story. She couldn't contribute much, but she wanted to help and gave my mother-in-law what she could. She is standing in the gap for her grandchildren, and she wanted to support our family who hopes to do the same for a child in need. She has never met me, will likely never see my mother-in-law again, and will never know us personally...yet, she felt compelled to help a child who needs a home. I was nearly brought to tears.

There were so many moments like that this weekend that just absolutely took my breath away.

I know we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by the negative, and I'll be the first to admit that I am scared out of my mind for my children's future...but if you look for it hard enough, I am convinced more than ever that there is still SO MUCH good in the world, y'all. It's not easy to find, but it is there.

After a truly remarkable morning of fundraising and conversation, we packed it up and found our LAST home study document sitting our mailbox. EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKS!! I have been working on these documents for SEVEN WEEKS, and as of 2:55pm yesterday, they are finally done and out of my hands! It's a blessed miracle! Our documents are on their way to Austin, and we are hopefully very close to closing the book on our home study. The first big step in this process is almost done. Thank you, LORD!

We capped off our weekend by celebrating with dinner at Macaroni Grill...because we're fancy like that. ;) Carter sat quietly coloring and ate his pizza neatly, and Hot Mess confirmed that her nickname from the colic days still fits. 

This girl, y'all. She keeps us on our toes. There's a special seat in heaven for the poor soul who had to clean up that table tonight. 

Have a great week!
Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Wish For You...

For last few weeks, I've been keeping a prayer journal of things I hope for with regards to our new son or daughter. The odds are pretty good that our child has already been born, and although we haven't officially been matched with a child yet, I have felt such a burden to pray for that baby who will one day call me "mom." It's ambiguous (and probably a little silly even) given that we don't even know the gender yet, but there's this strange thing adoption does to your feel a connection in this strange, cosmic way to someone you've never seen, never spoken to, never touched, and, in our case, who lives half a world away. I can't explain it any other way than that. Deep down inside, I know there is a missing piece of my heart that is living and breathing more than 7,000 miles away from me, so when it's late at night and I have no other way to cope with missing that baby I've never met, I pray.

And the overwhelming prayer and wish I have for our child is this...

Lord, please let my baby feel loved. I pray for hugs, kisses, and that someone holds that little one close every day.

I realize for most of us, this is SO simple. Of course, you hold a baby every day. Of course, you hug and kiss him. Of course you do. But our child is more than likely living in an orphanage, sleeping in a long row of dozens of cribs at night. When he or she cries at night, I can't know with 100% certainty that someone goes to the baby to see what's wrong. When it's feeding time, there is no guarantee in an orphanage that a human being holds the bottle and feeds our child while looking into his eyes. I hope, I pray, that someone is engaging our child with songs and touch and toys at play time...but I just don't know that to be true. 

But, oh, I can pray for it.

I can pray that our child is cared for and loved on by a consistent nanny who shows him how to love in return. I can pray that she holds and hugs and kisses and nurtures him the way we would if we could.

I can pray that when that baby feels sad or lonely, that God would surround her with love in our absence.

I can pray that our child is embraced by happy and energetic nannies who encourage his development through songs and colorful toys and reading. 

I can pray that our little one receives solid nutrition each day that is being fed to her by a human being and not a prop. 

I can pray that those caregivers celebrate all the milestones we are missing and write them down so that we can one day tell our child when he began sitting up, got that tiny first tooth, and took those perfectly clumsy first steps. 

I can pray that the orphanage seeks medical attention for our child when she has that first cold or needs to be evaluated for her medical needs. 

I can pray that, even in some cosmic sense, our sweet child feels our love from half a world away.

It may all be wishful thinking...but it's what I can do for now. I can pray. I can pray daily, hourly, every minute. There's not much I can control about my child's early days since I won't be there to see them or intervene. There's a lot that I will miss out on, and that hurts. Some days, it's unbearable to even think about. And in those moments, I do the one thing I can do - pray. I give my worries to God and pray for someone to shower our child with hugs and kisses. Again, and again, and again. 

And for now, that is enough.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7)  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"But There Aren't Any Boys in China..."

A lot of my conversations regarding our adoption lately have gone a little something like this...

Friend: So, I read on your blog that you guys are open to either gender. Doesn't everyone who adopts from China get a girl? Don't the Chinese families keep all the boys?

Me: Well, actually, by not specifying that we want a girl, we are actually more likely to be matched with a boy. Adopting from China has changed so much in the last ten years that the children who are eligible for adoption from China are actually pretty 50/50 boys and girls. There are just WAY more families requesting girls, so we'll probably get a boy. And we would be thrilled with that.

Friend: But don't they just abandon all the girls because they want boys? Because of the one-child  thing?

Me: Yes and no. The rural families do prefer boys because they need to care for the family as they age, but they only want the healthy boys. We are adopting from the "Waiting Child" program which means our baby will have at least some minor/correctable medical needs. There are just as many boys in this program as there are girls...just fewer families requesting the boys.

Friend: (Quietly) So, are you, like, adopting a kid who will be wheelchair-bound and never be independent? (insert look of horror)

Me: Well, we are mostly open to minor and correctable needs like cleft lip, minor birthmarks, and minor heart defects, so most likely, no. But we never really know what cards we'll be dealt in life, do we? Any of us - Carter, Kate, me, you - could be injured and left wheelchair-bound tomorrow in a car accident, and we'd do what we need to do to carry on. There are just no guarantees in life, are there?

Friend: (Crickets chirping)

Okay, so in all seriousness, I do have conversations like this ALL. THE. TIME. I keep having to fight this misconception that there are only girls adopted from China, so I wanted to take a minute to address it.

FACT: In the 1990s, there were THOUSANDS of healthy infant girls who were adopted to the United States due to the one-child law and China's societal preference for boys. 

FACT: As much as I'd love the return of parachute pants and Paula Abdul, thank God it's not the 90s anymore...

FACT: In 2015, families pursuing the "healthy infant" program from China are waiting 9+ years for a baby, and virtually no agencies are even offering this program to new families anymore. Almost all adoptions from China in the last 5 years have been children with identified medical needs...many of which are very minor or repaired prior to adoption.

FACT: China does have a societal preference for boys...but that preference is for HEALTHY boys. Boys who are born with any sort of deformity (correctable or not), medical concern, or illness are considered bad luck for the family, so these boys are typically abandoned somewhere they will be quickly be found.

FACT: China does not have affordable, quality health insurance. Children who have medical needs and need corrective surgery (even minor surgeries like cleft lip repair) are often the ones discarded by families because they cannot afford the expensive upfront cost of the surgery. They literally have no choice but to abandon and hope someone can care for their child. In the cases of babies with heart defects, the decision is often life or death. 

FACT: Health care in China do I say this...not up to par with the USA. Often, children are misdiagnosed and families abandon their children out of fear. I read about the precious little boy you see below on a blog yesterday. This beautiful boy was found near a trash pile at just a few weeks old. Let that sink in a second. A trash pile. He was diagnosed with a very mild heart condition once he came to his orphanage that simply needs monitoring. No scary surgery. Just watching and regular check-ups. The foster home that cares for him now speculates that a doctor probably got it wrong and told these parents he had something much more serious when he was born. Talk about tragic...on so many levels.

[I mean...y'all. That perfect little face. The sassy tongue. The perfect little almond eyes. I die.]

FACT: More than 80% of families who apply to adopt from China specifically request a girl, according to our agency. I have no idea why. I wish I did. I don't know the answer as to why...but thinking of all the boys with minor medical needs who wait longer for families JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE BOYS breaks my heart. One agency we spoke to actually told us that merely being a boy was considered a special need because so few families requested boys. When we told our agency that we were open to either gender (but I shared that I secretly preferred a boy...), she literally cheered on the phone and told us how thrilled she was to hear that.

So, let's sum it up. YES, there are boys who will walk and talk and one day leave the nest available for adoption in China. It's not a myth! We will continue to remain open to either a boy OR a girl. We know that God wrote our perfect story long before we were even walking this planet, and we cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

Last night, I finished the most compassionate, affirming, and freeing book I've read in quite some time, and I just couldn't let the day go by without sharing it! 

If you are a woman over 18, mom or not, this book is a MUST-READ for you. Not only does Jen Hatmaker manage to simultaneously challenge and love you through her words, she does so in a way that is understanding, forgiving, and, most importantly, hysterical!

I love that she really touches on the fact that, as women, we feel this constant need to "keep up" with everyone around us and to only share with others that small portion of ourselves that appears organized and happy and put-together. A picture of my two children posing with chalkboards proclaiming a milestone is expected; these posts garner exponentially more "likes" (a.k.a. affirmation) and comments than a #keepitreal post revealing the nine (okay, twelve) piles of laundry on my dining room table that have yet to be folded or my daughter throwing a tantrum because it's 7am and I refuse to let her eat Skittles for breakfast. (The candy struggle over here is REAL, y'all.) We don't want people to know that this parenting and marriage thing is HARD sometimes...we don't want to let people into those moments...and it's tremendously isolating to feel like we are the only ones navigating those battles.

Jen is a breath of fresh air. She encourages you to take the excess off your plate, prioritize what's important, and offer yourself grace. We are SO hard on ourselves sometimes, and we have expectations for ourselves that we would NEVER put on others. She also has some really "deep" moments where she discusses things like leggings as pants, her disdain for Pinterest, and an unfortunate situation with an automatically-flushing toilet. ;)   

If you need a "refresh" this fall, go grab this book!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Goals


Ahhhh, one of my absolute favorite months of the year.

School is starting again, college football is coming back (WHOOP!), life goes back to a somewhat predictable routine, bed times get earlier (ALL the praise hands), pumpkin everything comes out on the shelves, and the heat at least minimally decreases...some days. ;) 

With all the positives that happen in September, I'll be honest. September can be incredibly overwhelming as a parent. There are new teachers and new routines to get used to, and that is typically met (at least from my kids) with some resistance. We are trading lazy days at home with no schedule and too many popsicles for an early bedtime and learning the's hard to blame them for protesting!

(This made me LOL.)

This September is different for me. In addition to all the change for my kids, I'm starting a part-time job teaching at my children's preschool AND we are in the thick of a home study for our adoption. So, last night I made a list of my goals for the month...and I thought I'd share them here more for accountability than anything. (Oh, and don't mind the coffee stain. It's fine. It may have been my fifth cup of the day, but it's fine.)

We have only TWO...TWO, y'all...outstanding pieces of paperwork left before we can submit our packet to our social worker and schedule a home visit to wrap up the home study process. WA-FREAKING-HOO! It has been absolutely insane few weeks of gathering the list of 25+ documents we needed for this. This is big, y'all...big step here. 

We are planning a t-shirt fundraiser through Booster for October, and we need to finalize the design. We plan to launch October 1, so stay tuned for details! I am THRILLED at the idea we came up with for this!

As I mentioned in my last post, we are still working on the medical needs checklist...continued prayers for us there as we seek out my cousin (a pediatrician) for wisdom and guidance here.

Pray...every day, every hour, nearly every minute, I fight the urge to feel overwhelmed and give up in all of this. It's just sometimes too much for me. The money, the time, the paperwork, the thought of parenting THREE KIDS...but I know that we are being guided, prayed for, and led here, so I continually pray for God to be in total control here as we move forward. It is a daily, hourly prayer of mine...that HE be in the driver's seat and not me. I have to remind myself all the time that we wouldn't be here without his leading and that I need to trust in that. And, more importantly, trust in HIM. 

And lastly, we are somehow going to pull off a garage sale fundraiser the last weekend of the month. Several of our friends and family members have donated items to this for us, so it will be quite large...and full of "treasures" as my dad calls them. :) If you're local and have items you'd like to contribute, shoot me an email and I'm happy to come pick them up! 

Thank you all for continuing to journey this with us...

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