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.