Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why the Journey Takes Time

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." 

Hebrews 11:1

Faith has seemed to play a huge role in our lives.

Gary had to have faith that he would be okay moving to a foreign country alone even before he became a Christian.

I had to have faith that God knew what He was doing when He asked me to change my career path after I had almost completed my degree.

I had to have faith that God would send me a Godly husband.

Gary and I had to have faith that God knew what He was doing when we felt the call to move to Georgia away from everything and everyone close to us and take care of us financially.

Gary and I had to have faith that God knew what He was doing when He did not allow us to become pregnant the traditional way.

Gary and I had to have faith knowing God would provide a way for us to become parents.

Gary and I must have faith once again that God will provide - not only a child this time, but the financial resources as well that we need. 

All of our lives, if we are Christians, are driven by faith. It is the one thing that can bring us to Christ as His child and it is the one thing that keeps us close to Him in our journey called life.

Many of you have asked us lately where we are in our adoption process. To be completely honest with all of you, we have not turned in our paperwork yet. The reason we have not is that we do not feel complete peace in doing so. One reason for our lack of peace we know is financially based. Declan was home in less than 9 months, our agency we plan to work with gave us a 4 month placement time. That is not a lot of time once all of our paperwork has been completed.

In the beginning of our marriage, we knew we were on the same page when it came to finances. When we first moved to Georgia, this became even more important after we both read Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace book and went to his workshop at First Baptist Woodstock. We attended a second class at our church last year.  Through all of his teaching on finances and what the Bible has to say about finances, Dave says to save money for big ticket items such as trips, large purchases, etc. We began the plan and began to see our debt disappear. 

By this time in our marriage, if we had followed his plan completely, we should be debt free. Of course, facing infertility tends to put a dent in paying off other debt and instead adds to debt. It also adds to stress in a  marriage over finances. We knew we wanted to move forward in life, but we also knew we desperately wanted to be parents. We questioned whether completing infertility treatments would fit into our budget and our overall goals for life, but we were willing to pay whatever it took to become parents. We were optimistic. We knew God gave us the desire to be parents. We had faith He would allow us to have children. We ended our fertility treatments without a child and with a lot of debt. We knew God could've worked a miracle had He seen fit, but He had not and we didn't know why. 

We came to the point that our marriage and my health was more important than having a child. We knew we both desperately still wanted to be parents, but we knew we still had each other and that may have to be enough. We realized then that God had other plans for us and that He would bring us children another way. This was a very low point in our lives. Low enough that Gary and I almost lost our faith in God and what He could do for us. We cried out to Him in our pain and tears and this is when He led us to the option of adoption.

Little did we know at the time how expensive it would become, but we trudged through the paperwork and the classes and the waiting knowing we would have a child at the end of the wait. We didn't have to wait long either. God knew what He was doing and the process took less than 9 months. I had prayed to God during this time specifically for a short wait after all we had been through. We did complete fundraising, but it wasn't enough so we had more debt added. But, we didn't mind because we had Declan and we were so happy. God had answered our prayers.

After paying for fertility treatments and our first adoption, we are a little apprehensive at going into this again a second time without fundraising first. We have still followed Dave Ramsey as closely as we can. We do not want to go into debt again this time. 

Going into this process is also very emotional. We have the answered prayer in our lives because we see Declan everyday and we remember what God can do. But, old emotions tend to resurface and old fears do come back into our minds. 

Because of our shared apprehension with beginning this process again, I felt like I could do more research and gain more ideas in order to fund raise. We want to also raise awareness for adoption through our fundraising efforts. We feel the more we open up to others about our story, the more awareness will come. We still are in awe at the questions we are sometimes asked about adoption. There really isn't a lot of information available to most people. There are also a lot of stereotypes and a lot of misinformation. 

All of this to say that I am currently reading a book entitled, You Can Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm and Dave Ramsey is mentioned in this book. 

I am hoping to gain some useful knowledge from this book that can work for Gary and I. 

One of the statements in this book so far that struck me is that we don't have to be embarrassed about asking for help in this journey. But, this is a lesson in humility for us. We have always felt guilty asking for help. 

But, as I have read, many people want to give to a worthy cause, but just don't know how. We have to have faith that God will supply our needs using other people.

We do not want to overwhelm the same people with fund raisers. We have also gone through our own home to get rid of a lot of things for a garage sale. Previously (Declan's Adoption), we sold our motorcycle to help with cost and are now selling all of our motorcycle gear as well. 

We are still selling T shirts which we hope that when people wear them will send a message and bring more awareness to adoption. So, if you have one and someone asks, don't just tell them you are supporting a friend who is adopting. Share with them some information about adoption - the importance of giving these kids a home or the costs associated with adoption. 

We are also in the process of getting an online JamBerry party started. I am excited about this because a custom nail wrap was designed to focus on adoption. 

We are also planning to sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts in several different neighborhoods. For this one, we would need help. If you think your neighborhood would like to have doughnuts delivered one Saturday morning (especially when it gets cooler weather), we would love to have your help. We would advertise on neighborhood websites/FB pages and have one Saturday for pickup and delivery. 

All of these ideas we know will lead to success. But, even though money is needed, the prayers and support mean so much more to us. We really do covet your prayers as the enemy tries to sway us and tries to keep our eyes off of the main goal of bringing a child home to her forever family. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Update on our adoption process

We have had several people approach us and ask what our status is with our adoption. I wanted to let you all know where we are right now. Because of our process with Declan and how quickly is happened, our goal is to complete fundraising before moving forward with paperwork. The group we are working with now had told us that their placement time is generally 4 months once all of the paperwork is finished. Because of this short timeline, we are trying to prepare as much as we can beforehand.

When we adopted Declan, this was our process:
  • Finished fertility treatments in 2011 (we began these in 2010 with 3 IUI procedures and 1 IVF) and felt the leading in March that God wanted us to adopt
  • Researched our different options and chose the agency 
  • Began fundraising with T-shirts, garage sales, and an online auction - looked into grants but discovered we needed a match already before we could apply
  • Created our profile for the agency  
  • June completed our Home Study and other paperwork (this included physicals for both of us, classes on how to care for a newborn and CPR certification, fingerprinting, background checks, interviews with our social worker (3 in all at an hour each - one with Gary alone, one with myself alone, one together and a home visit) as well as several forms and biography from both of us 
  • June- Began what we thought was a long wait
  • July- chosen by our birth mother
  • August- drove to meet our birth mother
  • November- flew to meet Declan (he was supposed to be due in December)
  • November- had a car wreck while taking Declan to his pediatrician  appointment (a man ran a red light and hit us) 
  • November- spent Thanksgiving in another state in an extended stay hotel
  • December- finally came back home with our little family 

Positives from our adoption:
  • Ability to have PRIVATE BONDING TIME with Declan in a small hotel room with just daddy, mommy and baby (this was actually priceless) I didn't have to cook or clean a house. I had time to sleep because daddy and I took turns being a parent and we didn't have people asking to come visit so we were open to visit a lot when we returned to Georgia 
  • Ability to develop a close relationship with our birthmother and her family (they helped us when we had the wreck and had no car, they hosted us at their home for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and allowed us to do laundry) 
  • We felt a ton of support from friends and family and we were given a lot in terms of support and things we needed (friends donated and bought T-Shirts, friends gave us a ride to and from the airport, etc.) 
Cons from our adoption:
  • It happened very quickly (which is also a positive), but we were not able to raise the money we needed 
  • We had a wreck which has caused a lot of my back pain over the last year (positive from back pain, my Hashimotos was diagnosed) 

So, all of that said, we are taking this adoption a little slower. Everything in my being is SCREAMING to move forward because I am ready to have another little baby in this house and Declan keeps asking when God is going to be finished with her so we can meet her. But, we also want to be more prepared financially this time. We know God has our baby already chosen for us to parent. It is just a matter of when we get to meet her. 

So, at this time we have filled out our initial paperwork and we have begun our fundraising. We are currently selling T-shirts. 

Because Gary and I are also wearing our T-shirts, the owner of Chic-Fil-A reached out to us and wants to help us. His idea is much larger than what we originally even dreamed. 

Gary and I have always been very open about our experiences with adoption. We have wanted to share and speak up in a candid and open way, but really haven't had the platform before now. 

We have also found that there is a lot of stigma attached to adoption. The questions we have been asked before, during and now are questions that need to be answered (I am going to write another post about this). There is also a lack of information for people who wish to adopt, wish to support others in adoption or are just curious and really don't know why or what goes into a couple deciding to adopt. America also has the highest adoption rate. People in other countries are not led to adopt very often. There is often a stigma attached to adoption in other countries as well. (More on this later)

The plans are just in the initial stages right now and we welcome any input from our readers, but we plan to have a Family Night at Chic-Fil-A geared toward adoption. This night will be a night for us to sell T-Shirts which will directly help our adoption, but we want this to be (and the owner does as well) a time where people can gain useful information relating to adoption and people can gather together who wish to learn more and support the cause of adoption. There was also discussion of offering percentage of online catering orders in the future. 

Gary and I had the goal originally of funding our adoption to help offset the costs. Now we are excited that this could help not only us, but be the beginnings of helping another couple to fund their adoption as well. With advertising and support, this could be something that could be long lasting. 

Gary and I know the pain involved with not being able to have children. We know the pain in being told you probably never will. We know the financial strain placed on a family who wishes to pursue fertility treatments and or adoption. All of this puts a strain on a marriage. Adoption puts a strain on a family as well. There are a lot of different emotions involved. 

Through all of this time God has never taken away our desire to be parents. But, He did prepare our hearts for adoption. We do not know what God has planned for our family. We do know God led us to adopt. We do know Declan was the child chosen for us to parent. We also know that we are to adopt again. We also know that our child is begin planned for and designed already by God for us. 

We covet your prayers during this time. Beginning this adoption process again a second time has brought us a lot of old emotions and fears. It seems easier to trust God this time around, but those feelings are human feelings that were buried after we met Declan for the first time. Now some feelings are resurfacing and we need prayer to go the distance whatever that looks like for our family. 

Psalms 139 A Psalm of David
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17How precious to me are your thoughts,a God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.