Saturday, September 29, 2012

Miracle on facebook street

When we decided to adopt, we had no idea how we would pay for it. We certainly have enough to raise another child, just didn't have thousands of dollars at our fingertips. We paid for most of the initial costs (home study, passports, USCIS fees, etc) ourselves, but that left the remaining bulk of it (airfare, lodging, food, time off work, translation, etc.). At the beginning of this week, we still needed $5400. I was out of fundraising ideas and didn't have time for those suggested to me. We expect to be traveling in a few weeks.

A few weeks ago, we found out we were rejected by the one grant for which we qualified. I was devastated. They gave the reason that they're a small organization and can't help everyone, but I was convinced it was really because I didn't do a very good job in the phone interview. I posted this on facebook: 
Our Lifesong application for a matching grant was denied. I am reeling. :( I have been a sobbing mess. I feel like it's all my fault. I knew I didn't connect with the lady who called & interviewed me.
As soon as she read that, my friend, Nicki, got an idea. She conspired with another young friend, Emily, who is a journalism major at Ball State University. Unbeknownst to me (but known to my husband) they decided to make a video and launch a website to share our story and our need. I didn't learn that they were conspiring for us until the night before they shot the video. This is the result:

*Be sure and watch the video to see a glimpse of our crazy life. :)

They launched the fundraising campaign at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, they had raised $5500!!!  Fully funded in 25 HOURS!!! 

Incredible, awesome, unbelievable, amazing...all words we have repeated over and over. We've alternated between weeping and laughing and, quite frankly, we're exhausted! But it's a GREAT kind of tired. :)
Beyond the money and the obvious move of God on behalf of our new child, the stories and encouragement people have shared with us have humbled me and filled me with gratitude. As I sent thank you emails, people responded. Some shared their stories of why they were moved to give:
 Thanks Tara! I'm so excited for you guys. I'm the oldest of 4 siblings and my younger brother Jacob is a downs kid. My parents actually run a not-for-profit back home that provides therapy for special needs kids so I know what a blessing they can be! Best of luck to you all! --Josh Frigo
Many blessings to you! My husband and I have a heart for adoption and hope to adopt someday, yet our time has not come. I’m glad that we can help in a little way... --Greta Lundby
I have never considered adopting before. I want several kids, but have never wanted to adopt. Even after traveling to Haiti and Peru on mission trips and working in orphanages, I didn't want to adopt. I wanted to have MY kids, biologically. But after watching the video and learning your story, my heart was totally changed. I texted my fiance yesterday after watching it and asked him "would you be open to adoption once we decide to have a family?" Because he's wonderful, he said "of course!" I just wanted to say thank you for your witness to God's love, because through you and your "yes" to this adoption, my heart was totally changed. Maybe someday, I'll get the chance to give a precious child a whole new life through adoption. God is good. --Valerie Carnevale
 Others simply gave us words of encouragement:
I am honored and extremely humbled to be given the opportunity to be a part of this. All of us our being blessed by this. This adoption isn't just changing one child's life. It's changing an entire community of people. It's one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever been touched by. Can't wait to meet a kid I already love :) --Grace Mitchell
...I hope you feel the love and support of not just those of us donating and making noise, but most importantly of your Heavenly Father who loves, adopts, and supports you.  I'll be praying for you and your family.  --Eric McCoy

How humbled we are that others would choose to partner with us in rescuing a child. That they, too, would see beyond our circumstances, our desires, our plans and see the heart of God. What happened here was holy, of that I have no doubt. We would be foolish to think this was about us. This is clearly about He who instructs:

 "Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don't stand back and let them die. Don't try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn't know about it. For God knows all hearts, and he sees you. He keeps watch over your soul, and he knows you knew! And he will judge all people according to what they have done." Prov. 24:11, 12 NLT

And who calls the care of orphans "true religion." (James 1:27)

And who tells us that when we care for the least of these, we are doing it to Him. (Matthew 25:40) 

We are thrilled to have the funding, don't get me wrong! It was a HUGE faith builder for us, but we are even more excited that others see the need that moved us to action. God is using our story to change hearts because it was never really ours, was it? It has been His story all along.
He is so good!

* We are continuing to receive donations because, well, adoption expenses are not set in stone and circumstances may conspire to increase them. :) We plan to take some toys along to share with an orphanage or two, also. With whatever funds we do not use, we will bless one of the many precious families we know who are still waiting to bring their special child home.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Deep Water

It was my privilege to attend the True Woman 2012 Conference from Revive Our Hearts Ministries this weekend, here in Indianapolis. The worship was amazing, thanks to the Gettys, a husband/wife duo from Ireland and the messages were challenging and encouraging.

Last night, Priscilla Shirer spoke and she is a lot of fun to hear. Her text was Luke 5, and she made many excellent points as she led to the portion that rocked my world. 

I tell my children that there are three parts to obedience: They need to do what I say, when I say it, and with a good attitude. Admittedly, I have yet to master that last one.  

If I know that God has spoken, I will obey. But often, I will do so begrudgingly, counting the cost loudly and kicking the whole way. Adopting a child with special needs has been no different. I know that God has told us to do this. No question. But, I have been ruminating on worst case scenarios in an effort to prepare myself. I have been lamenting the financial cost. I have been worrying about the logistics of travel and the care of the others left at home. I have been wondering what it will be like to parent a child I don't yet know.

Even yesterday, I watched Priscilla in her stylish outfit and thought, "How come God calls some people to study His Word and wear cute shoes," implying that someone else's calling is easier...classier...better than mine.

Luke 5 is the passage in which Simon Peter has been out all night fishing to no avail. He caught nothing and is busy cleaning his nets when Jesus arrives on the scene, commandeers his boat, and preaches to the crowd. After the crowd disperses, Jesus tells Simon to pick up his nets and get back in the boat to cast them again in the deep water. 

"Master," Simon answered, "we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets."  Priscilla pointed out that God often calls us to that which contradicts our experience. His calling often goes against conventional wisdom because His ways are not our ways.

Priscilla stated, "It's better to go into the deep water with Jesus, than to stay in the shallow without Him, where you're able to stand on your own two feet."  The shallow water we can handle by ourselves, with our own giftings and talents. But it's in the deep water where God shows us His glory. It's in the deep water where He shows His strength. It's in the deep water where He shows us His power.

When Simon Peter did as Jesus said, he caught so many fish his boat could not contain them. The passage says he signaled to his partners to bring their boat, too. Priscilla pointed out that he signaled to them...he didn't shout, probably because he was speechless. "That kind of miracle only happens in the risky place of faith," she said.

While she was speaking, my heart was filled with hope! 

If my Jesus is in the deep water, then that's where I want to be. If my Jesus is in a Serbian orphanage caring for a child that has been discarded, then I want to be there, too. I want to throw caution to the wind, to plunge ahead, to embrace my calling, even though it flies in the face of common sense. I want to behold His glory, to observe His strength, and to experience His power. I want my faith to become sight.  I want to obey

*We still need several thousand dollars and hope to travel in about 3 short weeks. We would be so grateful if you could contribute any amount and/or share our chip-in.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's Next?

I keep getting asked what the timeline is for our adoption. I'm learning that having an accurate timeline for adoption is like stopping a river with a's just not possible.

But, we shipped our dossier, today! Yay! Which means, it is all out of my hands. Finally! It should arrive in Serbia next Monday or Tuesday. It should take about a week to translate and then will be delivered to the Ministry.

Once it's reviewed by the Ministry, we should receive a list of referrals within a couple of days. 

That's the hardest part. We must choose a child from those available. I've mentioned before my reluctance to choose one child over another, but we're only approved for one. We do have a child in mind that we've heard about, but we'll see.

After we accept a referral, we need to be prepared to travel within the week. 

Did you read the number of "should"s? Not a real definite timeline, but in the absence of any snafus, travel is very, very close.

We still need funds. My friend, Melissa, herself an adoptive momma of a cutie from Serbia, is offering a gift to the first fifteen people who contribute at least $10 to our chip-in. Would you consider donating? Every little bit really does help!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Life With My Boy

Our little farmer
Eon is 3 1/2 years-old. He continues to be an absolute delight...when he's not too busy being an absolute stinker! :) He thrives on routine, but loves new experiences, too.

Little sister KJ
He adores his little sister, KJ (now 21 mos.). They are each other's favorite playmate. Eon will wait for her to wake up in the morning and the minute he hears her call, he bursts in her room with a loud, "Hiiiiiiiii!" Then there is a general love fest that lasts about 5 minutes with lots of hugs and kisses and smiles until one of them tries to shove the other down the stairs. ;)

He attends developmental preschool three afternoons a week and rides the bus, which is new this year. He loves it! From the reaction of the staff, it's easy to see that he's a class favorite. 
First day of school.
Needs a little work on applying the backpack!

Speech continues to be his biggest issue. His receptive language is spot on, but he is hugely delayed in expressive speech. We recently started taking him to a local outpatient clinic for additional speech therapy as we felt the school therapy wasn't nearly enough. (and I felt the therapist did a poor job of communicating with me last year, so I wasn't real optimistic about this year.) I can tell Eon is frustrated with his inability to communicate sometimes. It frustrates me, too, and is my greatest area of concern for him.

He's made some real gains in the last few months. He no longer needs his liquids thickened and can drink from an open cup with rare spillage. We have not actually had a recent swallow study to confirm that he's not aspirating on thin liquids, but he has no signs of aspiration, nor has he had any congestion since we stopped thickening, so I think we're good.

He doesn't bolt from us in public nearly as often, which is HUGE! When I allow him to let go of my hand to run ahead, like at the park, he stops and checks with me several times for reassurance that it's okay, so I think he's starting to understand what's expected. At the state fair this year, he started to run and I caught him. I squatted down and asked him where he was going. He pointed off somewhere and I said, "If you run off, I'm afraid you will get lost and I love you too much to lose you." He threw his arms around me and just leaned in for the longest hug. I think he really understood and stayed with us the rest of the visit.

Eon is about 75% accurate with his colors and is starting to learn shapes. We're also working on recognizing his written name. That reminds me of a story: When he gets in trouble or I really want him to listen to me, I will use his given and middle names, Simeon Israel. Recently, his 5-year-old brother, Zak, asked me, "Why do you always say Eon's real and not me?" "What are you talking about?" I responded.  "You say, 'Simeon IS real,'" he answered. "No, Zak, I'm not saying that he's real. Israel is his middle name! " LOL! Years of therapy avoided with one question. Whew!

Eon loves coffee! Child after my own heart. :) If he gets up before I leave for work, we'll have coffee and breakfast together. (Don't worry...decaf for him.) It's a special time.

He continues to be just one of the boys in our family, and yet, his chromosomal enhancement does set him apart. He's very sensitive and, while he will get physically hurt and barely notice, if there is an emotional component attached, he will be almost inconsolable. He has an empathy for others that is rare for a child his age, too. And kids with low muscle tone give the best hugs. He's a joy and we are so blessed to be his parents!
Boys and dirt...awesome combination!