Friday, December 21, 2012

A very quick update

Hello everyone,

We just want to let you know that we did not go back to Columbus today. I called the Warren County Probate Court and explained the situation, and asked if they could redo the form. The woman was very nice, but explained that the judge was out today, and they would be closed Monday and Tuesday, so the earliest I could get the form would be Wednesday, and it was very likely that I couldn't have it until Thursday. We were disappointed, but also a little relieved to have this completely taken out of our hands and know that we can just relax and enjoy Christmas. I got a call at the very end of the day from the Probate Court, and the woman told me that to her very great surprise, the form was already done, and I could pick it up whenever I wanted to on Wednesday. That is perfect, because I have to drive right past the court office for another errand on Wednesday morning, and Greg and I have to drive right through Columbus to visit his family on Thursday. Please pray that the form will be perfect this time, and that everything will work out. If it does, it won't add more than about half an hour to our trip.

We had a wonderful and relaxing day today with our kids, and we are very thankful for that. We even got a few presents wrapped. We did learn today that HANDinHAND has not received any donations yet for our matching grant. That is a bit disappointing, but we are still trusting that God will bring it all in His perfect time.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

We made it to Columbus but...

Thank you all for your prayers and support as we have worked to gather the documents for our dossier. As many of you know, we have had most of the pieces for over a week now, and we have been hoping to go to Columbus to get the state certifications that we need as our next step. We thought we were going to be able to go up last Friday, but then discovered that our medical forms had to be redone again. Fortunately, our doctor's office was very understanding and willing to help us, and both doctors patiently filled out the forms three different times so that they met all of the requirements for China. We are very thankful to them! We were finally able to pick those up yesterday, so we planned to get their county certifications this morning, and then go up to Columbus this afternoon. Then, as we were getting ready to leave this morning, Greg noticed that our local police checks had our names written as Greg and Kristen Goodwin instead of Godwin. I can't believe I missed that! I read over those forms several times and thought that I had checked everything. I called the woman at the sheriff's department, and she agreed to fix the mistake and print them out again for us right away. So we left our house about 9:45 this morning, and headed nearly an hour south east to get the county certifications for our medical forms. Then we drove back up to Hamilton to pick up our police checks, and Greg took the kids to my parents' house while I got the county certifications for those (They were from a different county than the medical forms, so they had to be done in a different office). Once the kids were settled in, he came back and picked me up, we grabbed lunch, and set off for Columbus. I started this post while we were sitting in the Secretary of State's office, waiting while they processed all our forms. I was in the process of explaining that, if there are no mistakes, we would send these documents off tomorrow to a courier service that will get the federal certifications and the certifications from the Chinese Embassy. As I was typing all of that, the man at the Secretary of State's office came out to tell us that they had successfully processed thirteen of our fourteen documents. We couldn't believe it! Our marriage license has to be redone! Certified copies of marriage licenses (at least in Ohio) are signed by the Deputy Clerk at the judge's office. But now, the Secretary of State will not attach the necessary certification unless they are signed by the judge himself. This is a new rule, and we didn't have any idea. We are going to call tomorrow and find out if the judge will be available to sign our form in the morning, and if he is, we will go back to Columbus tomorrow afternoon and try again. We were very, very discouraged at first, but feel calm and peaceful now. We know that God will bring our daughters home to us in His perfect timing, and we are content to trust Him. We would appreciate your prayers during the day tomorrow.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Craft Items for Sale

As most of you know, we had a large fundraising event last Saturday, and although the turn-out was smaller than we had hoped, it was still a time of great encouragement for us and our friends. Some friends of ours are having a Christmas party tonight, and they have offered to let us continue the fundraiser there and try to auction off some of the items that did not sell the first time around. In addition, we are selling many of the craft items online through facebook. We have decided to sell them for low prices rather than holding an online auction, partly because we think people might want to use these for Christmas presents, and since it is getting so close to Christmas, we want them to be able to order them and get them right away without waiting a week or so to find out if they have the winning bid. We have the items in several different albums - Dog coats, hats, and misc. craft items. Check them out, and please share the link with anyone you think might be interested. All proceeds will be split between our adoption and the Brewer's adoption. Thanks!

Kristie - For some reason I cannot get this to work as a link. If you copy and paste it to your browser, it does take you to the right place. I will keep working on it, but in the meantime, that will at least allow you to see the items we have for sale if you are interested.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not the Day We Thought It Would Be

Last night I said that we were planning to head up to Columbus this afternoon to have our dossier documents state-certified, and that way we'd be ready to submit our dossier as soon as the last paper arrives (should be early next week) and we have enough money (praying hard for that). Well, that's not what happened today. We never made it to Columbus, because we found out this morning that our medical forms have to be filled out, for the third time! The first time we had to ask the doctors to redo them, I faxed blank forms over to the office several days ahead of time so that they wouldn't be rushed when filling them out. I never even thought about the fact that most fax machines print a line of identifying information at the top or bottom of the page when the fax arrives. That didn't even cross my mind. Apparently, however, that little bit of information is enough to invalidate the forms, so they have to be done. Again. That meant that there was no point in traveling up to Columbus today, since we'd just have to do it again as soon as our medical forms are done. So, we'll just have to wait until next week to go.

We were obviously disappointed about this news, but we know that God is good and wise and sovereign, and that even this apparent setback is part of His plan for our adoptions. We want to get our papers done as quickly as possible so that our girls don't have to stay in their orphanages one day longer than is absolutely necessary, but the truth is that we couldn't have submitted our dossier today, anyway. My birth certificate is still in Pennsylvania receiving its state certification, and I won't have that in-hand until Monday or Tuesday. And, we don't have the money that we need to submit our dossier. So, even if we had made it up to Columbus today, we'd still be waiting on those other two pieces to fall into place. I don't know exactly what God's plan is in all of this, but I do know that He works all things together for the good of those that love Him (Rom. 8:28), and He has graciously encouraged us this past week that He is indeed planning to bring Isabelle and Hallie home to us. Why He wants us to wait a few more days at this point, I don't know, but I suspect that it's something similar to what kids experience when their parents tell them to wait. Most mornings, our kids start creeping into the kitchen while I'm working on breakfast. Matthias often tries to scale the side of his chair, Mikaela grabs hold of her seat and starts trying to buckle the straps (without her being in the chair!), and Josiah and/or Gabriela come out and say not-so-subtle things like, "What are we having for breakfast?" to let me know that they're hungry. It's especially confusing for them if they can see food on their plates and their juice cups ready, but if there's something else that I need to do to finish getting breakfast ready, then they have to trust that I know what I'm doing (at least in that specific area) and wait for my timing. The analogy isn't perfect, but I suspect that God is doing something similar here. I'm not saying that He has something better in store than what we're expecting; we would be thrilled if He would enable us to send our dossier off one week from today. Even that would require some serious work of His. But we are trying to stay peaceful as we look to Him, remind ourselves that He is good, and wait for His timing.

Good night everyone, and have a blessed weekend and Sabbath.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Matching Grant!!!!

Thank you all for following our story as we work to bring Isabelle and Hallie home from China. As you know, one of the greatest obstacles toward bringing these girls home has been the finances, as the total cost of the adoptions will be around $55,000.

Many of you have been praying with us that we would receive some of the grants that we had applied for. We are very excited to report that we have been awarded a $4,000 matching grant from HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc. a non-profit private operating foundation. Since it is a matching grant, they do not give us the funds outright. Friends and family members can make donations, and they will match each dollar that comes in, up to $4,000. All donations made to HANDinHAND are tax-deductible. So that means, that if we do raise the full $4,000, then we will have a total of $8,000 to send to our agency. This would be wonderful, because that is a huge portion of the amount that we owe them right now. We have gotten several new donations, and we think that with that $8,000 we would have enough to cover all of the certification fees and to submit our dossier. We are really praying that God will raise up the $4,000 and allow us to send in our dossier and be that much closer to getting our girls home. We are posting a Dropbox link to a Grant Award Letter that explains some of the details more clearly. You can find out more about HANDinHAND through their website at If you have further questions about the HANDinHAND matching grant program please feel free to contact HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc. with any questions you may have.  They can be reached at 913-248-5015 or by e-mail at Also feel free to contact us directly at

If you do feel led to contribute to this grant, you can send donations made payable to “HANDinHAND Christian Adoption” postmarked by January 18, 2013. Please note that for tax purposes, It is very important that you do NOT put our name on the check, ONLY on the outside of the envelope. Checks can be sent to:

HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc.
Greg and Kristie Godwin Family
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardner, KS  66030

There is some urgency here, as donations will only count toward our grant if they are postmarked by January 18th. If you are planning to make a donation, please keep that in mind. Thank you very much.

Greg & Kristie

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blessings and Chaos

It always seems like the more we have going on in our adoption, and the more we need prayer from everyone, the less time we have for blogging or emailing about it. Of course that makes sense, but it can also be a bit frustrating.

Last week was a time of intense trial and attack. As many of you know, we spent the last two weeks of November at my parents' house watching their children while they were in China adopting two more children. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting with the kids, but it was also very draining as we tried to balance the needs of the Rosenow kids with the needs of our own kids. Several of the younger Rosenows have neurological complications that make it difficult for them to cope during any time that deviates from their normal routine. It took a lot of my time and attention to help them feel safe and stable during this time without their parents, and my own children, especially Mikaela, had a hard time accepting that so much of my time and attention were consumed by others. We did find a balance that worked very well for everyone, and made some really fun memories, and I am thankful for the experience.

The trip, however, ended on a very challenging note. Five or six of the Rosenow children came down with a stomach bug right at the end, and they were pretty miserable. During the last couple of days of our stay at their house, I learned that my background checks (for my employment, not for the adoption) had never made it to the proper department, and if I couldn't track them down, I would be in danger of losing my job. We came home exhausted and frustrated by the confusion with my background checks. Last week, we all came down with the stomach bug, and I continued to fight to find my background checks. I made phone call after phone call trying to get in touch with the right person. Josiah and I were both running fever, and I had terrible body aches and chills the whole time. Everything just felt black and grim, and it was so clear that there was a spiritual component to the whole thing. Then, on top of everything else, our Jeep stopped running again. We have taken it in to the mechanic three times in the last six months, and we could not afford one more mechanic bill. We also can not function with only one vehicle. We just didn't have any idea what to do. Then suddenly, and unexpectedly, everything turned around starting Thursday afternoon and throughout the weekend. Some young friends made a small donation to Isabelle and Hallie's adoption. The mechanic agreed to fix the Jeep without charging us, because he felt like he should have caught this problem the last time he repaired it. They found my background checks, and everything is completely fine with my job now. We were awarded a $4000 matching grant!!! (More on that in a minute). Our 797 came in the mail!! Two more people made donations to our adoption! After a full week of wondering where God was and why He wouldn't rescue us, He began pouring blessings in faster than we could even process them. It seemed like we were still in the middle of thanking Him for one blessing when He sent the next one.

Now that we have our 797, we are in the process of putting our dossier all together. We have all the pieces of it except for one reference letter that we are going to pick up tomorrow, and all except for three pieces have their county certifications. We are going to try to get the state certifications on Friday, and then we will be able to mail it off to the agency. We won't be able to send it to China until we finish paying them the agency fee, but we are going to send it out and trust God to send those funds quickly. If we are able to raise the full $4000 for the matching grant, that will give us $8000 of the approximately $10,000 that we need, so we would be pretty close. That is our prayer right now. I am going to do a separate post about exactly how the matching grant will work, so it is clear and concise.

We are thanking and praising God for all of His blessings, and praying that He will sustain us through this very difficult week of intense dossier preparation. Please join us in praying that He will supply everything we need to submit our dossier. We know that He is good, and He will do this think in His perfect timing.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Fundraiser this Satuday

Hello everyone,

First of all, my parents are back from China. They had a safe trip and my new brother and sister are doing quite well all things considered. They still have some adjusting to do, but really are wonderful children, and we are all enjoying them very much. The last two weeks were even crazier than we thought they might be, but everyone did really well, and their weren't any major crises. Nothing worse than a vicious stomach bug, anyway. :-(

Now we are back home and getting all geared up for Saturday's fundraiser. We do have a facebook page with all the details at Dessert & Silent Auction Fundraiser. It even has pictures of many of the items that we have for sale. The event will be held in Fairfield Township, Ohio at 6:30 pm. Bob Evans is donating dessert, and Starbucks is donating the coffee. If you are free, we would love to see you there.

We are also still working hard on our dossier. We have had a few disappointing set-backs, and we are trying to remember that it will all happen in God's time. We picked up our medical forms today, and it turns out that both of them will have to be re-done, so we are trying to find a time to get everyone back together for that. We are still having difficulty with my employment letter. The CPA we used last time confirmed that he definitely cannot do them, and the second accountant that we talked to said he would love to help us, but he is a corporate accountant, not a CPA. We are praying that we will find a CPA who is able to write it for us, because this piece MUST be in our dossier. On a more positive note, all three of our reference letters are done (Many, many thanks to Dan, Jamie, and Abby) and the agency liaison said that they all look good.

We have a had encouragement from a few other unexpected sources, but I will save those for another blog post. For now, I will close with a few prayer requests.

#1. Please pray that we will find a CPA quickly.

#2. Please pray for Saturday's fundraiser. Pray that we will be able to trust God completely with the results of that, and that He will be glorified.

#3. Three grant organizations are supposed to make their decisions this month, so please pray that God will grant us favor with them. We hope to have our dossier completed by the end of the month, but we will not be able to submit it until we pay the agency fee, which is around $10,000.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thirty-one Fundraiser

Hello Everyone,

I want to let everyone know about one very specific way that you can help us raise money for our adoption.

A little while back, one of my college friends was telling our story to an online friend of hers. This woman, whose name is Shannon was very touched by our story, because she has a teenage son with Down Syndrome. Shannon is a consultant for Thirty-one gifts, and decided to do a Thirty-one party and donate her entire commission to Isabelle and Hallie's adoption. We were shocked and thrilled that a complete stranger would want to help us in this way. My sister-in-law, Maegan agreed to host the party for us, and they chose yesterday for the event. They raised more than seventy dollars for our adoption. For those who don't live in the greater Pittsburgh area, but would still like to participate in this fundraiser, Shannon has set up an on-line event. Follow the link to her page Then click on either "My parties" or "Place an Order." Both of these take you to a list of her parties. The hostess is Maegan Godwin, and the event name is Godwin adoption fundraiser. Twenty-five percent of anything spent as part of this event will go directly to our adoption. If you (or someone on your Christmas list) likes purses, totes, or organizational supplies, check it out. Shannon will leave this event active until November 24th.

Our updates might not be very regular over the next few weeks. My parents leave for China this Friday to bring home their two newest children, and we will be living at their house taking care of their fourteen children who still live at home. Several of those children are teenagers and are very mature, so we will have help taking care of the little ones. We are excited to have the extra time to spend with them, but we know things are going to be even busier than usual. We are going to try to continue updating everyone on our process, but if we seem very quite, that is why. We would greatly appreciate your prayers during this time!



Friday, November 2, 2012

Just a little bit of news

As the title of this post indicates, we don't have much to share at this point. We do have a few items of praise.

#1. We now have a location for our fundraising event on December 8th. It will be held at Community Christian Church in Fairfield Township. I have never had any connection to this church before, but both the head pastor and executive pastor have been as gracious and accommodating as they could possibly be. We have been surprised and touched by the warmth of their interaction with us.

#2. God has continued to provide funds, and we were able to make another payment to our agency this month.

#3. We have already gotten our fingerprinting appointment for our USCIS approval. For those of you who are not familiar with all the steps of an adoption, one of the pieces that is always necessary for an international adoption is approval from the US department of Immigration. First, you submit a form and fee to the department. Then they send the form to the part of the department that actually processes it. (We still can't figure out why they won't let us send the form directly to the correct part of the department, but that is just the way that it works.) Then you get a letter from the department with an appointment to get fingerprinted. Often the appointment is as much as three weeks to a month away, but ours was only a week out. Once they have your fingerprints, the department processes your request and sends you a letter of approval. That letter (the 797) is a really big deal, and usually the last piece you wait for before sending in your dossier. We are very thankful to have our appointment scheduled, and much, much sooner than we thought would be the case.

#4. We have our first coffee buyer! Thanks to their purchase, Isabelle and Hallie's adoption fund now has five dollars in it. We bought some of the Just Love Coffee through a friend's store front, and we can tell you that it is very good. We tried their Sumatra, and were quite impressed.

We also have some prayer requests.

#1. Please pray that God will bless our fundraising efforts. We have submitted another grant, are working hard to plan this silent auction fundraiser, and are still trying to spread the word about our wristbands and coffee store front. We also have a Thirty-one gifts sale scheduled for November 10th. If you live in the Pittsburgh area and would like to attend, let me know, and I will have an invitation sent to you. If you live anywhere else, the Facebook page is now active, so you can participate there. Just let me know that you would like an invitation, and I will send you one.

#2. Please pray for us as we work on our dossier. The two most challenging parts at this point are our medical exams and employment letters. Because I am self-employed, mine must be written by a CPA, and that can be challenging. Pray that God will enable us to gather all the needed pieces.

#3. Pray about our fingerprinting appointment. My fingerprints have been rejected in the past, especially in the winter time, because my hands get so dry that my fingers crack. I am using lots of lotion, and praying that the prints will be accepted this time around.

#4. Pray for Hallie tomorrow. November 3rd is her birthday, and it makes us very sad to think about how far away she is with no one to celebrate with her. She will be three years old.

Wow, I guess we had more to share than I realized. I expected this to be a much shorter post. Sometimes it is good for me to sit down and write out everything that is going on, because it reminds me how much God is working in our story.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Update and a change of date

I have a few quick updates. Donations are continuing to come in, and we will be able to make another payment to our adoption agency this month. Although we are still far short of the amount that we owe them, we are thankful for each step, and greatly appreciate all of the people who are helping us bring our daughters home.

In our last update, we mentioned that we had a silent auction fundraiser coming up on November 10th, but we are going to have to move the date. As you might remember, we are hosting this event with our good friends, and they just got news that their paperwork is being processed several weeks ahead of schedule, and they will be in Russia for the first of their three trips during the first half of November. We are overjoyed for them, and quite relieved to have an extra month to plan this event. The new date for this fundraiser is December 8th. We already had a craft sale planned for that week, so we are going to combine the two events. If you are in the Cincinnati area, please stop by. You might be able to find some great Christmas presents there. And for those of you who don't live in the Cincinnati area, the items that don't sell on the 8th will be available online afterward.

My sister-in-law is going to be hosting a Thirty-one party for us in the greater Pittsburgh area. The Thirty-one consultant has agreed to donate her entire commission to Isabelle and Hallie's adoption. That will be 25% of the sales that day. This event will be on November 10th (That is not a mistake. The date really is the same as the original plan for our silent auction), and again there will be a way for people to participate on-line if they don't live near Pittsburgh, so stay tuned for details about that. This could be another way to help our girls while doing some Christmas shopping, so please considering being a part of this.

Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement. This process is long and tiring at times, but we just keep thinking about how wonderful it will be to have our girls home with us.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fundraising Update

We just want to give everyone a quick update on the fundraising opportunities for our adoption.

We submitted a grant to National Adoption Foundation the middle of last month. Their board was supposed to meet the last week of September, and recipients were to be notified in the next two weeks. We are now two full weeks into October, so we are assuming we did not get that grant. We are disappointed, but we know that God has the perfect plan of the funding of our adoption. We are able to resubmit our application for consideration next quarter, so we are planning to do that.

We submitted an application to Help Us Adopt near the end of last month. The deadline is the middle of this month, but they won't make a decision until early December. We would appreciate your prayers, as they tend to give priority to childless couples.

We are nearly finished with our application to Show Hope. The deadline for that one is the end of this month, and we anticipate sending it in at the beginning of next week. They will make a decision within 90 days of that point.

Other fundraisers:

As I mentioned in a previous post, our pancake breakfast and silent auction fundraiser was a great success in spite of a smaller crowd than we had hoped for. As a result of this fundraiser and a few donations that came in afterward, we were able to submit our 800a and make a small payment to our agency. Praise God!

We're having a similar fundraiser on this end of town next month. Since November is national Adoption Month, we are hoping for a better turn-out. We are also having this event in the evening, not the morning, so hopefully we won't have all the sports and work conflicts that we had the first time around. We are going to do a dessert and silent auction this time, and might even have some live entertainment. We already have a few donations in hand, and several more are already pledged.

Greg already wrote a brief post about our wristband fundraiser, and we have had some success with that.

We also have a new opportunity to benefit our adoption just by buying coffee. Simply follow the link to our store front Anything you buy will benefit our adoption. All of their coffee is Fair Trade, and as much as possible is also organic and shade grown. Check it out.

I think that's probably enough for now. We have two more fundraisers in the early planning stages, but I will save them for a later post.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wristbands for Our Girls

As a way of raising funds for Isabelle's and Hallie's adoptions, we are selling wristbands imprinted with their names. We are wearing them as a way of reminding us to pray for our girls constantly, and as a way of starting conversations with others about them. I haven't had any luck with that so far, but who knows, maybe someday somebody will ask me why I have a couple of wristbands on my arm. If you'd like to have a pair to wear along with us, then click here to order a pair. We're asking for $5 per pair, and you'll get a receipt for a tax-deductible donation of $4.23, per IRS regulations. They'll be up on the right-hand side of our blog, too, so you'll always be able to find them there.

I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week. Everyone in the family—except for Gabriela—has gotten sick over the past five days, and we're spending our evenings working on grant applications. Over the past two weeks, we've managed to submit two applications and have another just over half-way done. We expect to get an answer on the first grant we applied for in the next 7-10 days, and we are anxious to hear their answer. Thanks for all of your prayers, and we hope to give you a longer update before too long!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fundraiser Update

Well, we had our fundraiser today, and it went really, really well. We were praying that it would bring in enough money for us to submit for our USCIS approval, and although we didn't quite make that goal, we did get pretty close. I think we are only going to be about $200 short now. We were so touched by the people who came out to support us by volunteering, bidding or donating. We are planning to meet with the Brewer family in the next week or so to discuss what we did well and what can be improved for future fundraising events. If you were there, we would love to have your feedback on that.

We are all four very tired and sore (Greg's back is bothering him, and I seem to have messed up my knee), but we are happy and feel very blessed by the day. Thank you so much to everyone who came or helped.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tomorrow is the big day!

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is our big pancake breakfast and silent auction fundraiser. We would really appreciate prayers as we try to pull together all the last minute details. I think the part that scares me most is knowing that we have to leave here with all four kids at seven 'o clock tomorrow morning. Wish us luck! :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pancake Breakfast and Silent Auction

I have mentioned in the last post or two that we have been working on a large fund raiser, and I promised that I would blog about it soon. I am finally getting around to that now.

Some of our very close friends, Dan and Sarah Brewer, are in the process of adopting a little girl named Anna from Russia. Anna is HIV+, and she will be six years old in December. A few months ago, Sarah suggested that our two families work together to do a pancake breakfast and silent auction fund raiser to support both their adoption and the adoption of our girls. We agreed, and we have been busily putting pieces in place ever since.

The first step was to find a location and a date, and that part was pretty easy. North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio has agreed to host it for us, and their kitchen manager and his daughter have even agreed to make the pancakes. The event will be held on Saturday, September 29th from 9:00-11:00.

Once we found the location, it was time to start tracking down donations for the auction. Sarah and I have spent almost every free minute making phone calls, writing letters, dropping those letters off, sending emails, etc. The work has really paid off, though, and the response from the community has been very, very positive. We have received donations from restaurants, entertainment industries, and individuals. Both our family and the Brewer family are really excited about everything that we have received, and we are looking forward to the event.

Now the only challenge that remains is to spread the word and get people to come. We are working on fliers and having announcements put in church bulletins, but the best way to let people know is word-of-mouth. If you live in the greater Cincinnati area and are free that day, please try to come. Please also tell your friends, neighbors, and family members about it. We are hoping to have between 150 and 200 people.

Please join us in praying that this fund-raising event will be a success and that it will get both our family and the Brewers closer to their adoption goals. Even more importantly, please pray that we will glorify God through our actions during this event and throughout the adoption process.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Some wonderful news!

Guess what? We got our home study! This was an unexpected blessing, because we have still not been able to pay our adoption agency everything that we were supposed to pay them before the completion of our home study. We knew that our home study agency had sent the paperwork to the adoption agency, but we expected that they would just hold on to these forms until we had raised the rest of that fee. We were completely shocked and overjoyed when it showed up at our house yesterday. So now, we are working like crazy on grant applications. Most of those require a completed home study before you apply, so we haven't been able to move on those until this point. I just submitted our first application, and Greg is working on a second right now. We have made a list of all the documents we need for a third application, and we are going to start tracking those down tomorrow. In addition to the work on grants, we are also holding a large fund raising event on Sept 29th. Stay tuned for details about that. I am hoping to put together a blog post all about this fund raiser in the next couple of days.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hallie Elizabeth

Here are a few pictures of our beautiful new girl. We can't wait to bring her home.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Unexpected Gift

Normally I try to write blog posts that are specific to the blog, but this one time I am just going to post the exact same update we sent out to our email list. If you receive the email updates, this will be completely redundant.

Dear Friends,

Well, we finally have some exciting news to report. Please bear with me, as this is going to be a longer e-mail than many of our updates.

I realize the subject line of this e-mail might have caused you to wonder if God has given us a large financial blessing. The answer is no. Although He continues to provide for us, the unexpected gift we are referring to is a completely different kind of blessing. To explain, I need to back up a bit in the story. Some of this information might be familiar to some of you.

When Greg and I became convinced that we were supposed to adopt a second time, it was very difficult for us to choose a child. We never did have that moment when we looked at a child's picture and just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were looking at our daughter. So we gathered information and prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And during that long period of seeking and praying, we had wondered if God was calling us to adopt two children instead of one, and perhaps that was why we were having so much trouble deciding on one child. We asked our contact if it would be possible for us to adopt two, and she told us that it was not. Her answer was clear and firm, so we let go of that idea and went back to seeking God's council to find out which one child he wanted us to adopt. Finally God did make it abundantly clear to us that we were supposed to adopt Isabelle, and we have pursued her adoption with confidence and joy. Then, shortly after we were granted pre-approval from China to move forward with Isabelle's adoption, our agency added a few more children to their list. One of these was a two and a half year old little girl with Down Syndrome. I saw her picture first, and then Greg saw it a few hours later. We were both struck with the same powerful impression. We knew that Isabelle was the one that God was calling us to adopt, but we couldn't forget this little girl or get her beautiful face out of our minds. We wrote our contact again to ask if there was any way we could pursue two children at the same time. Her answer was the same as before: No. Time passed and no one else inquired about this child. We were so confused about that. She is such a beautiful little girl, we didn't understand how anyone could resist her. We continued moving forward with Isabelle's adoption and prayed that this little girl would find a family. Then, three weeks ago, we got an e-mail from our contact. She told us that based on the approval that China had given to a few other families, she thought that there was a pretty good chance that we could be approved for two children. Did we want to try to adopt this little girl as well? We were floored at this possibility, and confusion, fear, and excitement all settled into our hearts at the same time. We took the next day to pray and seek God's will, even though we knew there was really no way we could turn our backs on her. The more we prayed, the clearer the decision became. We wrote our contact back and told her that we would try. The first step was to get the permission of our social worker. Now we are so thankful that our home study wasn't done weeks ago like we had hoped it would be, because it was originally written for only one child. Because it hadn’t been finished yet, the social worker could easily change that to two if she wanted. After a few e-mails back and forth, she agreed enthusiastically that we could pursue the adoptions of two children. Then we had to get permission from the executive director of our adoption agency. As you all know, we still owe them a good bit of money for Isabelle's program fee, and we were concerned that they would not allow us to add a second child until we paid them all that we owed for the first. To our very great surprise, they agreed to help us pursue this little girl right now. We completed the paperwork for her pre-approval application, and they submitted it on Friday August 31. We are hoping to hear back from China some time early next week. Please join us in praying that they will approve us to bring this little girl home as well as Isabelle. We have chosen the name "Hallie Elizabeth" which means "unexpected gift, consecrated to God." Interestingly enough after we chose the name, we found out that using different etymologies for both names would give us the meaning, "My God is bountiful, praise the Lord," which is certainly true as well.

Our story is unfolding faster than we can report it. I wrote all of the above a few nights ago, but wanted Greg to look over it before I sent it out. In the meantime, we got word from our agency that China has granted us pre-approval for Hallie, as well as Isabelle! We are shocked that the answer came so quickly! Please join us in thanking and praising God for this answer to prayer. Now, we need to compile our dossier and raise nearly $60,000. This figure is huge and daunting, but we know that God is faithful, and He will give us the means to accomplish everything He has called us to do.

Please continue to pray for us during this process. We know that in our own strength, we could never adopt one child, and certainly not two. Pray that we will find our strength in Him, and that He will continue to supply all our needs.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crazy busy!

I don't have time for a real update right now, but we just want everyone to know that we are still here, and our adoption story is crazier than ever. I have been working on an update for days now, but the story really is unfolding faster than I can write it down right now. Just bear with us. We will have a LONG update out as soon as we can, and it will be full of details.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One step at a time...

We don't have much news to report, but we do want everyone to know that we are still working on this process and trying to take things one step at a time. We have finished everything that we need to do for our home study. All our background checks and child abuse clearances have come in. It took us longer to finish our online education than we had expected, but that too is now behind us. So now we just wait. God has continued to provide the money for the adoption, but for reasons that are unknown to us, He is providing it very slowly this time around. We are closer now than we were before, but we are still short of the funds that we need for the first half of our program fee. We are still trusting Him, and we know that He will give us everything we need in His own perfect time. It is hard to wait when we want to bring our daughter home so badly, but we do trust Him.

We will be having our first big fund raiser next month, so stay tuned for details about that. Our good friends, Dan and Sarah are adopting a little girl from Russia, and we are working together to raise some of the funds needed to bring our daughters home. We are having a big pancake breakfast and silent auction on September 29th in Mason, Ohio. Like I said, we will provide more details as it gets closer, but if that day is free for you, plan to come. (If you live in this area, of course.)

Both Gabriela and Mikaela celebrated their third birthday this month. Unfortunately, I can't post pictures yet, because they are all on my dad's camera, and I keep forgetting to get them when we are over at my parents' house. They both had a blast! Greg and I are looking forward to next summer when we will be celebrating three little girls' birthdays.

Greg and I left the kids with my parents today and went out for a date. For the first time in months, we decided that this would be a day of fun and relaxation -- no errand running allowed. It was wonderful! We went down to one of our favorite restaurants in the City called "It's Just Crepes." We both fell in love with crepes in Ukraine, and it is hard to find good ones here in the states. Not only are the crepes at this place incredibly tasty, they are also very reasonably priced. It makes for a fun and cheap date. :-) Then we walked a few blocks down to a really cool antique book store. We had never been there before, but we will certainly be going back. We both have a weakness for old buildings and old books, so a Victorian house converted to an antique bookstore is definitely our kind of place. We picked up two used books on Chinese history. One of them has great pictures, and I think it will be really good for showing the kids some of the things in Isabelle's country. We then went to Barnes and Noble to look for a travel guide to China. We used the Lonely Planet travel guide for Ukraine, so I started with that one, but I don't think it is going to work out for us. It focused mainly on Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong - three places we probably won't even see. Out of the hundreds of pages in the book, only about 10 were even about Isabelle's province. We ended up not getting anything there. It was interesting, though, because it confirmed what we had read before that Isabelle's province is the poorest in all of China. The book was divided into sections on the different provinces of China, and each section began with a reason to visit that specific province. The "Why you should visit Guizhou" section started by saying, "Oh, poor Guizhou..." Not very encouraging. The book did say that the people living in Guizhou were some of the friendliest in all of China, so that should be nice. Apparently they don't get very many visitors, so they get really excited whenever foreigners do come. I wonder if we will be the first white people that Isabelle has ever seen? Poor little girl. It is going to be quite an adjustment for her.

As always, thank you for your prayers. I means so much to us during this time to know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are continuing to ask God for his favor and provision for us. Blessings.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Almost finished with the home study...

The process has continued to progress, and we really are almost finished with our home study. We met with our social worker twice last weekend, and both visits went very well. This social worker is a wonderful woman who truly cares about the children who are being adopted, and she couldn't have been any kinder or more encouraging. It is always a treat to see her. Greg and Matthias have already had their medical visits, and their forms are filled out. My visit is today, and the other three children have appointments for Wednesday. We replaced the fire extinguisher and took down the old smoke detector, so as soon as we can get the fire inspector back to our house, our fire inspection will be done. Our background checks and Child Abuse Clearances are in process, and we are just waiting for results on those. We even got both employment letters, so we are praising God for that. As I mentioned before, mine tends to be more complicated because I am self-employed, but we did find a CPA who was willing to write it, and that step is done now.

In our last update, we shared that our Agency Fee was due at this time, and that we owed them nearly $7000. We still do not have the money to pay that, and we are feeling a bit discouraged. The agency has been very kind, and they have agreed to break the fee into two parts. We can pay $3300 now, and the rest of it when we submit our dossier. This is helpful, but we don't have enough money for even this part of the fee. The agency will not be able to approve our home study until we pay this fee, so if we don't have the money that we need by the time our social worker is done writing our narrative, Isabelle's adoption will be completely halted while we wait for that money to come in. Our prayer from the beginning has been that God will not allow her adoption to be delayed even a single day because of lack of funds, and up until this point, He has answered that prayer. We know that He can still send the money that we need in time for her process to continue without delay, but He will have to send it quickly. That is still our prayer. We cannot proceed with immigration approval, dossier submission, or grant applications until we have the home study. That piece is key for everything that comes later in the process. Please join us in praying that God will send this money quickly so that we can continue working to bring Isabelle home. We know that we serve a mighty and loving God, and we are looking forward to watching Him work in this situation.

On a lighter note, Gabriela and Mikaela both have birthdays next month, and we are very excited about that. Mikaela came to us just before her first birthday, and it is hard to believe how much she has changed in two years. At that point, she was a sickly baby who didn't take much interest in anything. Now, she has chosen her own birthday decorations (from three choices) and picked her own birthday meal. It is such a privilege to be a part of her transformation, and we can't wait to watch Isabelle blossom in some of the same ways. Mikaela wants Hello Kitty decorations (I really expected her to pick My Little Pony, but she was emphatic that she preferred Hello Kitty) and hamburgers for dinner. We will make sure that we post some pictures of her celebration.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A quick update

Hello Everyone,

Sorry that it has been so long since our last update. Things have continued to progress, but everything moves more slowly than we would like it to. No Longer Alone, the orphan-awareness event that the Shepherd's Crook Ministries held on June 22, was a huge success, and we were very thankful to have been able to participate in that. Since that point, we have been throwing pretty much all of our time and energy into the home study for Isabelle's adoption. We are finally beginning to see the light at the end of that tunnel. We mailed a big bundle of papers for that this morning, and we had our fire inspection this afternoon. Everything looks good, except that we need a new fire extinguisher, because ours is over a year old, and we have to take down an old smoke detector that no longer works. We will fix those things this weekend, and then the inspector will come back early next week and sign off on our form. Greg and I both have our home study physicals next week as well. Our only big obstacle left with the home study is our employment letters. Greg's will be easy, because my dad writes it, but mine is much more challenging, because I am self-employed. We would appreciate prayers as we try to figure out exactly what to do about that.

Funds have continued to come in for Isabelle's adoption, and we thank and praise God for that. We now have enough money for the home study, and almost everything we need for our USCIS approval. God continues to provide things as we need it. We are hoping to see his abundant provision in this area very soon, as we now need to send around $7000 to our agency. We don't have any idea how He is going to send this money, but we trust Him, and we know that He is good. We would appreciate prayers in this area as well.

Thank you for all of your support and encouragement.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another gift

This will be another short post, but I wanted to let everyone know that we received another gift today, and that we now have all the money that we need for Isabelle's home study. We are thanking and praising God for this, and we will be able to start our home study as soon as we are finished with the orphan awareness event in two days. Please pray that our home study will be completed quickly, and that we will be approved to continue Isabelle's adoption. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Wonderful news!

Today we found out that China has given us pre-approval to adopt Isabelle. This all by itself would have been enough to make today wonderful, but about half an hour after we got the news about the pre-approval, we found out that we are receiving a very generous financial gift that will cover a large portion of our home study. We are overjoyed and marveling at the goodness of God. Please join us in thanking and praising Him tonight.

We don't have time for a longer update right now, because we are still pretty consumed by the orphan-awareness event that Greg has mentioned here before. The event is one week from tonight, and things are really coming down to the wire. We are all tired from the work we have been putting in, but we are also thrilled with the way that it is coming together and very, very excited about the event. If you are local, or if you can make it to Cincinnati next Friday, then I strongly encourage you to come. Go to for more information and to reserve your seat. We would to have as many of you there as possible.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lesson Learned . . . Again

Throughout Mikaela's adoption, God taught us a lot about what it means to trust Him and to follow Him, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He taught us more about the Gospel, about what it means to be adopted by Him and, in turn, what that shows us about the responsibility and privilege of being an adoptive parent. And, as Mikaela's adoption drew to a close, He taught us to take each day, each step of the process, and pray for it specifically and persistently. Jesus's statement in Matthew 6:34 that each day has enough trouble of its own, and that we therefore ought not worry about the next day, was frequently in the front of our minds. We learned that we could not take even the smallest step for granted, and that lesson was highlighted over and over again in Mikaela's story. Maybe it's because I had finally realized what He was trying to teach us, but our last few days in Ukraine seemed especially full of moments that demanded that we look to God and to God alone for answers. Things that should have been relatively simple, things that we often take for granted—getting Mikaela's passport, taking a train ride back to Kyiv (the capital of Ukraine), making it onto our flights on time, and arriving home with all of our luggage—turned out not to be so simple, after all. We did make it home, obviously, but that's a story for another time. The point is that, somewhere in the past two years, I've let that lesson fade. We all make assumptions about the regularity of life, but my focus on trusting God and God alone for the things that we need has slipped a bit. Already, though, He is recalling to our minds that lesson about taking life one day at a time, and that came to light this past week.

In our last e-mail, we said that our agency expected that it would submit our pre-approval application yesterday. Alas, that did not happen. There was a question with one of the aspects of our application that they needed to verify with us first (it turned out to be a non-issue, just a slight miscommunication), but that means that the process has been delayed again. We are still praying that we will be granted pre-approval for Isabelle's adoption, but now our prayers have backed up a step, so that we are now asking God that our application would be submitted to China as soon as possible. (Just to be clear: we are not frustrated with the agency at all. They were absolutely right to double-check the accuracy of the application, because it would be far worse to submit an inaccurate form to China and to try to correct it later, than it is to wait another day or two at the outset.) Adoption is one of those areas in the Christian life that brings the believer into a place of having to submit fully to God's will, to trust in Him and Him alone for every good thing. That means that nothing can be taken for granted, not even the successful completion and submission of the first bit of paperwork necessary for us to bring home our daughter, the one that God has led us to adopt. It's hard to slow down and pray, painstakingly, over each step in the process, but that is exactly what must be done. There really is no looking forward. The only kind of forward-thinking that seems permitted is the hope that we will soon have Isabelle here in our home with us.

One final note before signing off for the night: The biggest reason that we haven't been sending out e-mails or putting up new blog posts very frequently is that we are in the late stages of planning a big orphan awareness event here in Cincinnati. Kristie's parents founded a non-profit organization, The Shepherd's Crook Orphan Ministry, ten years ago, and I have been working for them for the past four years. In just over two weeks, we are going to hold an event that aims to educate people about the plight of orphans around the world and what they can do about it. The night will be interactive, and we hope that this will be a powerful evening for those who come. You can view an invitation video here, and if you'd like to come, there's a place to register on that same site. Admission is free, but each person coming must register for his/her seat. If you will be in the area on June 22, we'd love to see you there!

~ Greg

Monday, May 14, 2012

Delayed, For Now

When I posted my last entry, I fully expected to have completed the pre-approval application by the end of the day yesterday. That, however, did not happen. I haven't been feeling well since Friday, and yesterday the cold settled in, preventing me from going to church. Kristie managed to go with both of our girls (well, both of our girls at home), but she got quite sick yesterday afternoon. Two of our kids are also manifesting some symptoms of the cold (thankfully not severe), and so today has left us knocked flat again, meaning that we haven't been able to wrap up our paperwork. I still feel the need to finish the papers in short order, and so far our prayer that Isabelle's adoption wouldn't be delayed a single day due to a lack of funds has been answered affirmatively. We just didn't expect to have things delayed because of illness. There's always something, isn't there? I'm hoping that we will feel well enough tomorrow evening to put the finishing touches on this paperwork, but we will have to see what tomorrow holds. As badly as we want to complete the application and submit it, it seems that God has answered our recent prayer for rest by forcing us to stop for a couple of days. Perhaps a good night's sleep tonight will set us up well for tomorrow and Wednesday.

I want to thank everyone for praying for us and for our daughter over these past few days. In spite of the fact that we are still not where we would like to be in this process, we have not been tempted to despair. And thank you to those who have donated to her adoption. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your generosity, nor how much encouragement that has given us. Thank you, and I pray that you will all enjoy peaceful, restful nights tonight.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

The First Real Sense of Urgency

We knew when we began Isabelle's adoption that we could only move as quickly as God would provide the money. Each step in the process has fees associated with it, and so we committed to pursue her adoption fully aware that we were following Him by stepping out into the great-somewhat-unknown. I put it that way because it is only somewhat unknown. We don't know how He is planning to provide for Isabelle's adoption (indeed, any time in the past that we have tried to guess where His provision would come from, we have been dead wrong), but we know that He is going to supply the money. Why? Because He has called us to adopt her, and He has shown Himself over and over again throughout history to be the One who keeps His promises. In fact, the Lord has a pattern of asking His people to step out and take the first step, trusting in Him to bring the journey to a successful completion. An older, wiser Christian man whom I met only a few weeks ago made this very point, learning from the account of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River under Joshua's command. They were told that the waters would not part until the priests bearing the ark of the covenant should stand in the river. Then, and only then, would God stop the flow of water and allow His people to cross to the other side on dry land. (Joshua 3:7-13) Many situations in the Christian life mirror this; we are asked to take a step into what seems to be an unknown, crazy, irrational situation, and what He really wants from us is to trust Him to be the firm ground on which we'll walk. And even though we have done this before, it's hard to fight the doubts that assail us daily, begging us to question seriously whether God will follow through with what He has asked us to begin. We can only remind ourselves of His loving faithfulness and ask Him to give us the faith that we need to trust Him completely.

Along those lines, we are now feeling a strong sense of urgency to complete our pre-approval paperwork. Technically, we have another two-and-a-half months before these papers are due, but we don't want to wait that long. Isabelle has a heart condition that has deprived her of fully-oxygenated blood her entire life. Her blood is part-oxygenated, part-deoxygenated, and that means that her little heart has been working overtime since she was born. We don't know exactly how bad her condition is, but it certainly isn't helping her. Moreover, we long to have our daughter home with us. There's a hole in our house right now, an empty bed in her bedroom, an empty seat at our table, that needs to be filled by this little one. She needs to be home with us because this is where she belongs, to put it simply. We are nearly finished with this pre-approval application, and we expect to have it done by the end of the day tomorrow. (FYI, the application for pre-approval will be submitted to the Chinese authorities. If they approve us, then Isabelle will be officially matched with us and we will be allowed to continue her adoption. If they reject us, then we won't be allowed to adopt her. Please pray with us that they will grant our pre-approval request!) The problem with this is that we have only 1/5 of the money needed to submit this application. Rather than wait for the money before completing the paperwork, we feel that we need to complete the papers first, so that we can be ready to submit it as soon as God provides enough money. I don't say this to try to influence anyone to give towards her adoption. I mainly ask that you pray with us and for us, that we would look to God and God alone as the One who will bring our daughter home to us, and that He would work in such a way that not one step of this process will be delayed because of a lack of funds. Right now, that isn't the case because we are not ready to submit for pre-approval. But we hope to be by Monday, and something is going to have to happen between now and then if we are going to be able to send everything in that day.

Thank you for your prayers for us and for our daughter. It means a lot to us to have you all coming alongside us in this incredible journey.

- Greg

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Most Significant $50 We've Ever Been Given

(Note: I was planning to post this earlier today, thus the mention in Kristie's post of an earlier entry.)

What difference can $50 make? Apparently, a rather large one. Before I get to that, however, I need to back up about a week and start the story there.
Kristie and I have been feeling for months that God was preparing us to adopt in the not-too-distant future, and so we have been praying and seeking His will for us, our family, and our future child(ren) during that time. Briefly—for a week—we thought that He was leading us to adopt a little girl named Abigail from Taiwan. In fact, we were so convinced that He was leading us to her that we chose the name Evelyn Amanda for her. One week after we began calling her Evelyn, we found out that she was being pursued by another family, which left us disappointed, discouraged, and confused. I still think of her often, and I know that if she were ever to become available again, it would take me almost no time to think of her as my daughter, so close had I grown to her from November to March. Whatever they might be, God has His reasons for having led us to her, and after trying once more two weeks ago to confirm whether she was being adopted, we made the difficult but necessary decision to consider her door closed and to consider carefully the other children that He had drawn our attention to recently.
In the middle of last week, we focused our prayers on four children whom we had been drawn to, in an attempt to discern God's will more clearly. They were: (1) Aaron - 2½, Philippines, Klippel-Feil syndrome; (2) YNX - 3, China, Down Syndrome; (3) WY - 2½, China, Down Syndrome, heart defect; (4) WFC - 2½, China, Tetralogy of Fallot, heart defect. By last Saturday, we had narrowed our search to the two girls with Down Syndrome. That day I made an offhand comment in our kitchen that perhaps God wanted us to adopt both of them. I wasn't convinced of that, but I recognized that it was possible and that we therefore needed to remain open to that possibility. Kristie was leaning strongly toward one of the girls, but I had only the slightest leaning and was feeling more than a little directionless about all of this. Neither of us told the other which way we were leaning. Our prayer was that God would give us a clear answer by the end of the weekend, and we have learned that it's often a good indication of His will when the two of us reach the same conclusion independently. So, I was resolved not to tip my hand until my conviction was sure, and I continued to pray.
On our drive to church that Sunday morning, the whole situation changed dramatically. When I woke up that morning without any more clarity than I had had the day before, I was initially discouraged. I said as much in the minivan, and I even told her that I was slightly more drawn to YNX than to WY, strongly suspecting that she would be leaning the other way. She was. That led us to discuss more seriously the possibility of adopting both girls. As crazy as that sounded—after all, that would leave us with four three-year-olds—was that any crazier than adding "only" one more to our family? If we were going to trust God to provide the funds for one adoption, to open up our hearts and the hearts of our children so that we could rescue one more orphan, who was to say that we couldn't—nay, shouldn't—trust Him to do that for two children? The thought of adopting two children was terrifying, but by the time we arrived at church, we were almost convinced that He wanted us at least to try to adopt both of these girls. Interestingly enough, we almost didn't go to church that day because we had had a bad night and had consequently slept in, but we made it to church and, in a shocking turn of events, with a few minutes to spare. Boy, am I glad that we were there! Our pastors have been preaching through the book of Revelation, and the sermon was on the fifth chapter, a scene which takes place before the throne of God. The music selections had the effect of focusing our attention on God: His majesty, His worthiness, His holiness, and the awe of being in His presence. It had been a long time since I had felt that close to God in a worship service. in fact, the last time that I can recall sensing His presence that clearly was our first time back at NCCC after returning from Ukraine with Mikaela. At the conclusion of the service, we were fully convinced that He wanted us to try to get both girls. The idea still seemed crazy, but we were at peace with it—so long as we didn't think too much about the paperwork and the fund-raising ahead.
That night, we caught our Core Group up on what God had done in our hearts that day and asked them to pray for us as we continued to seek His will in this process. As part of that seeking, Kristie wrote to Cheryl Graham on Sunday afternoon to find out whether we even had a shot at adopting both girls. We found out Monday evening that the chances of that were essentially nil. That news hit us hard, and it hit me harder than I had expected it to. I withdrew a little bit Monday evening and through the first part of the day on Tuesday, largely because I couldn't fathom why God would be so clear in leading us to pursue both girls, only to tell us the next day that we could only have one of them. What frightened me about the news we received on Monday was that I was rather at peace with it. Did that mean that I didn't care enough about the YNX? (Kristie's concern for WY was such that there was no way we could leave her behind.) Why would God seemingly change directions so suddenly? Had we misread Him? I can answer the first and last questions negatively, but I'm still not sure about the second. Maybe we'll never know, and I'm okay with that. I pray that YNX will have a family someday soon, and we did commit to adopt WY—whom we are calling Isabelle Noelani—on Tuesday evening.
We knew that we were starting this adoption with no money in our pockets to start anything, and we were nearly thrown into the fire right from the outset. Isabelle was on the Shared List, and Cheryl put in a request on Wednesday morning to have her assigned to Heartsent's list, which would give us three months to submit our papers for PA (along with the requisite $1,300). If, however, China should deny her request, we would have only forty-eight hours to complete the PA application and raise that $1,300. Yikes! Knowing on Tuesday evening that this was a possibility, we stayed up that night in order to get a good start on the paperwork, all the while praying that she would be assigned to Heartsent's list the next day. Cheryl had said that we'd know for sure by the end of Wednesday morning, and so when 1:00 rolled around and we still hadn't heard anything, we were really wondering what was going on. Thankfully, her request was granted, which has given us a chance to breathe. We are not resting on our laurels, though, as we have no intention of waiting long at all before submitting for PA. But, at least we weren't put in dire straits right off the bat.
Soon after committing to her adoption, fear of the unknown began to settle in. How would God provide all of the money that we'll need? How will we have enough strength and patience and focus to complete our paperwork accurately and promptly? Are we crazy?!?! Well, yes, we are, but that's not the point. The point is, God has taken us back to a place where we have to rely completely on Him and, just as it has been with TSC in the past (and present) and with Mikaela's adoption, it's almost equal parts exciting and terrifying. There is a profound joy and thankfulness that comes from receiving one's daily bread almost directly from His hand, and it is also frightening to have to relinquish all control. That's where we are, and all of this hit home this afternoon over a measly $50.
When we filled out our tax return this year, we were due $418 from the federal government, easily the biggest refund we've ever received. But, we owed $711 to the state of Ohio, which was actually not a bad tax situation for us. (Because Kristie is self-employed, we get hit hard at tax time.) That left us with a total of $293 that we would need to pay Ohio, a total which we didn't have after having just bought our first house—and all the necessary household items that can't be collected while living in an apartment—in February. As we were preparing to move, however, I found the security deposit refund check from our second apartment (which we left in 2009), that had never been cashed! The funds had been sent to the Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds, so we had to submit a form to them in order to receive the funds. We did that shortly after moving into our house. And then we waited. And waited. We received no confirmation that they had received or processed our request, and at a couple of points I nearly gave up hope that we would ever see that money. The day after we committed to adopt WY, the very next day, that refund check showed up in the mail, for $254 and some change. Amazing! When Kristie sat down this afternoon to write the check to pay for our state taxes, we decided just to go ahead and pay the last $39 out of our pocket right now and be done with it. After all, having to pay only $39 of our own isn't too bad, right? Well, apparently God thought so. A few hours after writing that check, we found an unexpected and completely unlooked for check in our mailbox. Our mortgage lender sent us a $50 refund check for our appraisal. We had no idea that this was coming, and the timing of its arrival did not seem coincidental in the least. We had been praying for months that God would provide what we needed to pay our taxes this year, and sure enough, He did. And, as is often the case with Him, we never would have been able to guess where and how He would provide,. Our only certainty was that He would. The arrival of that $50 check this afternoon cemented not only that it is right for us to embark on Isabelle's adoption, but also that He has us right where He wants us: in the palm of His hand. It's a terror to be so close to His might, and yet a comfort to be held so dearly by Him. I pray that He will use Isabelle's adoption to draw us closer to Him, and that He will use her story to manifest His glory to those around us, just as He did with Mikaela's adoption.

- Greg

Meet Isabelle

Unfortunately, we have our posts a little bit out of order here. Greg posted earlier today about some encouragement we received during the first few days if Isabelle's adoption, and now I am writing the post that formally announces that adoption. I guess it is just more evidence that we still aren't very good at this whole blogging thing, right. :)

As Greg said in his most recent post, we have been convinced for a while that God was calling us to adopt again. We looked through many different lists of children, and fairly quickly narrowed our decision down to four children. Then, it took days of praying, talking, thinking, reading, and praying some more before we finally chose our daughter. She is a little girl in China who will be three years old next month, and like Mikaela, she has Down Syndrome. The initial uncertainty was a little strange for us, because with Mikaela's adoption, it was clear from the very first time we saw her that she was supposed to be ours. Even though it took us a lot longer to make the decision this time, we both felt completely confident in it once we did decide.

Our next step was to choose a name for our new daughter. Even that was harder this time around. We both looked at this little girl's picture and felt that she needed a name that was very soft and feminine, and we both liked the names Isabelle, Sophia, Lydia, and Alayna, but couldn't seem to come up with the right combination of first and middle name. On Saturday afternoon my parents kept our four kids, and Greg and I sat down at Panera, each with a copy of a baby name book. We read though the girl sections from beginning to end, and did finally find a name that seemed perfect for our little girl. We chose Isabelle Noelani (No eh LA nee) which means "beautiful girl from heaven, consecrated to God." This seems like the perfect name for this precious child that God has given to us, while also reminding us that she ultimately belongs to Him.

The next step in the process is to submit our packet of information to China to request their pre-approval to adopt Isabelle. We are almost finished filling out the forms, but we won't be able to submit the packet until we have the $1300 fee that goes along with it. We are praying that God will send that money soon, because until we have that, we can't even officially begin her process. We know that the timing is all in His hands, but it is so hard to wait when we want so badly to bring this little girl home.

Isabelle's picture is attached below. This photo is about a year old, but we don't have anything more recent right now. Isn't she beautiful.