Sunday, April 29, 2012


I am so happy to type that title.  Fingerprints! Our fingerprints for our I 800 A are complete! We received our invitation for biometrics earlier this week and were determined to complete them early.  Jon had immediate success, but mine was not so favorable.  I drove over an hour in terrible traffic, only to discover that my wallet was at home.  Without photo ID, I couldn't get my prints done.  I was so frustrated and angry that day! 

Two days later, on our way out for vacation, I walked into the USCIS office in Philadelphia and was out in FIFTEEN MINUTES.  God must have had mercy on me that day!  The staff was very kind and everyone who helped me was wonderful.  I know some of you are local to my area, and you may be adopting someday.  Although I cannot stand where the USCIS office is located, the people in there could not have been kinder.  The woman guard at the reception desk waved as I left, saying, "Good luck to you!" and I offered my sincere "Thank you!" and "God Bless!"

With that, we phoned our USCIS caseworker and informed her that we had completed our fingerprints, more than two weeks ahead of time.  She was happy to hear this and we encouraged her to continue working on our application.  I heard of a family who received their approval within one week of their biometrics.  Could that be us?  Could it???

Only God knows for sure, and as anxious as we are to meet our future son and finally see him with our own eyes, we must be patient, because God's timing is perfect.

For anyone local to us, we visited Storybook Land in New Jersey.  It was a sweet and lovely little amusement park; not terribly inexpensive, but a wonderful afternoon nonetheless. 

In New Jersey, they do not have real cows.  (I am only kidding!)

A somewhat sour daughter, who wasn't happy that the "North Pole" felt so cold and wet.  "Dry your hands?" she kept asking.

The happiest face...she would have ridden on the Merry Go Round forever.  I wonder what her brother will think of a Merry Go Round?

There are some very serious conversations that go on with Daddy while sitting inside an amusement park balloon ride:

We both said (at different times) that we just knew there was room in that balloon for one more.  We thought of him so often; what would he think of a place like this?  What would he do with his sister?  What would his sister do with him?  When will we see him?  When do we get to meet him?

I don't know the answer; only God knows that answer.

What I do know is that many people have cared enough to purchase things from us.  To update you on the Avon purchases, six kind people have purchased Avon from me, and their purchases have netted over $100 toward our adoption fund! We could not be more pleased.  THANK YOU.  If you like Avon products, please purchase them from me! If you don't like Avon products - that's okay! There are so many ways to help!  And if you truly cannot afford to help, I'll bet you can afford to take a moment and share our blog and story with others.  If you could, could you click on the "Avon Lady" button, cut and paste my personal website (or just cut it from here: or ) and share it with others?  That would help SO MUCH!  And please let every person know - you don't have to live near me to buy Avon products from me!  By choosing "direct delivery", your purchase will be shipped directly to you.  And shipping costs nothing when you spend $30. 

If you are local to me, I am happy to deliver to you!  (Probably just an excuse to hang out, though, so be warned).

I know so many of you are praying for our little Dude, our little Joshua.  You are praying and supporting our family.  THANK YOU.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Please continue to support our fundraising efforts with contributions and prayer.  We are moving ever closer to the day when we will travel on Trip 1 to meet our future son.  We need your help to get there.

Thank you for caring for us, for sharing our story, and for your thoughts and prayers. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Avon! For me AND for you!

You may notice the new "Avon Lady" button on our blog.  That's for me!  To help fund our adoption, I have started selling Avon products.  Every single purchase made there goes into our Bulgarian Adoption fund to help offset our adoption expenses.  Avon is very affordable and you can have it delivered right to your door.  No visits - you don't have to live locally to shop!  Simply click on the button or go to to shop and have your purchase credited to us.  Shipping is FREE with any $30 purchase.

But this is for you, too.  Are you adopting?  Do you need a fundraiser?

With an Avon online event or "e-party", I can set up a way for your guests (using my link and a special code to enter at checkout) to shop for Avon items and you'll get most of the rewards.  For every sale that is made to your fundraiser, I give 80% of the profits to you.  (20% of the profits go to offset the costs associated with Avon.)  Anything above that will go into our adoption fund to help rescue our precious son from The Bad Place. 

However, to make sure that every family who participates in a fundraiser benefits, I will guarantee you at least $10 toward your adoption, even if not a single person shops your fundraiser.  Yes, that is a donation on our part, but we want to support those who are adopting, even as we are supported.  We are not Bystanders.  We believe in blessing others, and believing that God will ultimately provide for all.  So many people I read about in blogs are looking for ways to earn money.  And every dollar counts!  If you're one of those people that needs every dollar, we want to help.

If you are interested in scheduling an event, all you need to do is click on the link on the right and use the "contact me" feature on the page.  That will send me an email where we can plan your event.  Then, all you need to do is promote it! 

If you don't need a fundraiser, would you consider purchasing something lovely from our site?  Every purchase brings us closer to our future son; to rescue him out of The Bad Place. 

And if you cannot purchase and do not need a fundraiser, would you please share this with someone who may need any of these things?

Thank you for sharing, for praying, for caring.  Please continue to share our blog with others, share our links.  Feel free to link to this entry in your own blog if you wish. 

(psst! I may get fingerprinted tomorrow as a walk in for our I 800 A application!  Someone I just heard about who went in early got their approval back a week later! Let's see what God has in store!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Song (this time it's not mine, sorry!) :)

Jon here.  I've been waaaaaay lacking in my blog contributions lately and had thought over the last day or two that I needed to get back in here.  Well I read Jenn's entry from yesterday and I thought of a song that pretty much summed up what I think she was trying to say.  As you all probably know, I'm a huge acapella music nerd (I'm going to need to adopt about 3 more boys to complete by group LOL), and this song happens to be by a group called, appropriately enough, Acapella.

See below.

Couldn't have said it any better myself :)

Acappella- every body said

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

USCIS & bystanders.

Another strange title to convey very different information!

For starters, yesterday we received our appointment notification for fingerprinting for our I 800 A application!  I had prayed the letter would come this week and we were blessed that it was yesterday.  As discussed by others, we made arrangements to get our fingerprints taken early.  Jon walked in to the USCIS office and was done in less than 30 minutes as a walk in. It looks like I will go tomorrow, so we will be finished long before our May 16th scheduled time. We'll make a call to our case worker at USCIS to inform him or her and then continue to wait. 

This is an exciting development.  For those following our timeline, our application for our I 800 A was registered 2 weeks ago on Monday, April 9th.  We received our fingerprint appointment in 2 weeks from that date.  Things appear to be moving. 

I've been overwhelmed with college classes.  I have seven classes remaining before I complete my bachelor's degree in Psychology and Human Services (Social Work).  These weeks are the last two I have before I get a two week break.  Then, I must plan carefully, because there is a good chance I will be traveling during Bulgaria during my online semester!

I've learned so much in my education; so much more than I ever thought I would, and so much that helps me with Chelsea's needs and things I know will help our future son.  Human behavior is fascinating, and learning how and why people think what they do is so interesting to me. 

I read so many people's blogs and stories about their adoptions; about adoptions from The Bad Place, or other special needs adoptions, or domestic adoptions.  The common theme from all of them is that, in most cases, these families need help to complete their adoptions and they are asking for it.  Whether they are doing fundraisers, giveaways, or simply asking for donations, these families are asking for help.

Often, no matter how many page views they have, or how many followers care, their pleas are ignored.  It's probably because there are just so many people out there asking.  It becomes overwhelming to some, I'm sure.  Others feel that they can't make a difference.  Still others feel pressured to help, but tell themselves that "someone else will help.  I'm not in a position to do it because..."

Scriptural references aside, it reminded me of the case study I learned in my Social Psychology class about the Bystander Effect.  (If you are really, really interested in hearing about this, you can look here:  Wikipedia isn't really a scholarly reference, but you'll get the idea).

One of the famous experiments about the Bystander Effect was studied as a result of a woman in the city of New York who was killed.  Her name was Kitty Genovese.  She was in a heavily populated area and screamed for help.  Dozens of people heard her cries, yet no one called the police.  Why?

There are many reasons why; many clinical, scholarly reasons why that are studied and proven. Things about cognitive dissonance and intepreting social cues, and so on.  But one of the reasons - an easy reason, really - was that the people who heard her HEARD her, but thought, "I'm sure someone else will take care of that.  I don't want to get involved because [insert reason here]." 

Everyone thought that someone else would help Kitty Genovese, and the net result was that no one helped. 

Are you still with me, or did I cause your eyes to glaze over with my scholarly stuff? :)

I'll bet you see my point.

We read blogs and stories of families who choose to adopt, who support special needs adoptions or foster children, or raise money for good causes (like funds for medical care to The Bad Place), and perhaps we get stuck in our thinking of, "I can't do anything. Someone else will do it."

This may surprise you, but our family - in spite of our need, which is very real - continues to support others who are adopting, and other children in need.

In spite of our need, we continue to sponsor not one, not two, but THREE children in foreign countries (two of them through Compassion International, one through a private orphanage in Honduras).  In spite of our need, we make donations to Reece's Rainbow accounts, medical fundraising for The Bad Place, and even sometimes giveaways.  We take the attitude that as we give out of our need, God will bless our family too.  We take the attitude that it does not fall on "others" to help.  We must help. 

Every single one of us is equipped to help in some way.  I see so many families (ours included) who find unique and different ways to help.  Some are doing giveaways of various things.  Others sell t-shirts (we just bought one today from here:  We are selling Avon, bracelets, tshirts, a downloadable song.  There are people doing virtual yard sales with all kinds of things.  The excuse cannot be that there is nothing that interests you.  Because if you don't want to win a Kindle, someone will be giving away an Ipad.  If you don't want an Ipad, you might want something from a yard sale.  If you don't want anything there, you might want to buy coffee (may I suggest  And if you don't want anything, collect your loose change for a week and contribute to a family from Reece's Rainbow! 

Do you really have nothing to give?  Share a family's story - share links to their fundraisers and blogs.  Maybe you really can't help, but maybe you are connected to someone who can. Pray.  Don't just say you are praying - really take two minutes to pray.  Lift a family up in prayer; God is powerful.  Sometimes, I pray while I am doing something else.  Washing bottles is a good time for me.  It's somewhat mindless and a bit time consuming; a great time to bring my mind elsewhere and present my needs and a Godly family's needs to the feet of the Throne. 

Don't suffer as a Bystander.  We are not called to be Bystanders.

What is so wonderful is that I know most of you are NOT Bystanders.  That is why I thank you; for sharing our story, for praying for us, and for helping.  For praying about children who are orphans and without families and care.  For contributing to our causes, and encouraging others to as well.  For thinking of us, for our little boy, and for the millions of little boys who need families. 

Thank you.  You are a blessing. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Avon...and courage.

It's an odd title, I admit, but I have two very separate concerns to communicate as I write this entry, and I simply could not find a proper title to convey them.

My future son, our little Joshua, lives in a place where EIGHTEEN precious lives were lost in the last 18 months.  It is The Bad Place.  Though not mentioned here by name, many of you know where he is.  From reading recent articles posted in the Bulgarian Press, I have learned that the government there is very aware of what is happening to the children in that Terrible Place.  What they continue to uncover makes me upset, angry, and shocked. 

Caregivers who do not know the names of the children they minister to.  Authorities who cannot always account for donations, who spend money on vending machines for coffee instead of proper nutrition.  Children who are fed sickly concoctions of milk and sweet sugar syrup (making the milk appear a strange brownish color), waffles, and other sweets instead of fruits and vegetables.  (The sugary sweetness makes sure the children will eat quickly - those who can eat! - but provides very little nutrition).  Rations for fish which, while supposed to be served to the children weekly, sits gathering ice in a cooler that looks rarely opened. 

This is on top of few diaper changes in a day, putrid, unclean conditions, and virtually no personal interaction.  The Bad Place is Bad for well known reasons, and as it comes to light, it is shocking and saddening.

My little boy, our little Joshua, is in that place; in a place where once per month, someone (perhaps a friend of his?) dies.

What if HE died?  What if he died before we got to him?

It is certainly true that his condition, while urgent, is not as dire as some.  I have no real reason to believe that he would perish before we reached him, but what if he did?

A government official quoted in one of the translated articles I read stated unequivocally that this Bad Place is simply not equipped to care for these children, and that the best solution for these little ones is to be adopted.  Pure and simple.  I do not always believe that adoption is the answer - I pray for a day when adoption is not necessary and everyone can afford to properly and safely care for the children they have.  But since that day is not now - adoption is the answer for these children.

Adoption is the answer for our Little Dude; for our Joshua.  He must leave this place, and we must raise the funds we need to redeem him.

I need courage because, while I know that our Little Dude sits squarely in the hands of a loving God, and that not one thing will happen to him that isn't ordained, I am frightened for him.  I am frightened that we will not raise the funds we need to redeem him.  I do not want our little one to wait for one moment longer than he must.

This is why I began to sell Avon.  I am selling Avon to work to raise the funds we need - and I am also selling Avon to help others who are adopting too.  If you are interested, I would be happy to arrange an e-event and give the majority of the profits to your fundraiser.  If you are a Reece's Rainbow family, I can donate to that account, or simply send the funds to you.

Whether you are interested in doing a fundraiser for your own adoption, or supporting our adoption by shopping with Avon, my website is:

If you are local to me and reading this - and if you are interested - I am happy to deliver your items personally, and would love to give you extra brochures if you know of anyone else that might wish to order.  But anyone can order from the website, and when you do, I get 20% of your sale.  (If you order directly from me and I place the order for you, I earn 40% of the sale!) 

Avon is only one way to help us; there are several ways to shop, donate, or pray. 

You are reading this because you have interest in our story.  Thank you.  The greatest gift you can give us is prayers for our son.  Tonight, I do not ask for prayers for us.  It will bring peace to my spirit to know that there are people out there thinking of our future son and praying for him.  He needs prayer. Our family is not fond of fundraising, but our little boy is in trouble.  He needs to be redeemed.  He needs to LEAVE that horrid place.  There is nothing that is too much for us when it comes to the welfare of a child of ours.  If I needed this for our daughter, I would plead just as loudly.  Thank you for listening and sharing :)

And, as always, THANK YOU for sharing our blog, for sharing my avon website and our Reece's Rainbow account, for caring about our special little boy, and most of all - really - your prayers. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

saying their names.

For a mother who lost two children, it is always a special day when I can talk about my twin boys and say their names and really think about them. Today I got that chance, as I spoke in front of a group of Mothers, who listened to hear stories of motherhood.  I know my story is...interesting, to say the least!  But I was happy to share it. Yes, I hate speaking in front of groups - I dread it, actually - but when I am supremely motivated, I can, by God's grace, do a good job.

Of course, I never feel like I say enough (or maybe I say too much!) or I wish I could say things a million different ways.  But I pray my message gets through to everyone:  We lost two of our children.  God called our twin boys home to be with Him, and it was awful.  We were blessed with a daughter, but she is diagnosed with autism.  And yet, through means that I cannot understand and likely never will, God used those events to weave together a scenario that made us perfectly able to parent a special needs child.

A child who needs a name!

He has a Reece's Rainbow name, of course.  He has a birth name, given to him by (I hope) a loving birth mother who could not take care of her sixth child.  We want to retain his birth name so he can use it if he chooses.  But he needs a name that we can give him, too...a name that marries the combining of his "birth" life and his future family's life.

Once upon a time, a woman was pregnant with twin boys.  And she and her husband had three names for two twins:  Jacob, Zachary, and Joshua. 

They couldn't decide what name to choose for their twins.  At the moment when they were told the fateful news that their boys would be born but could not be saved, they were struck with a quandary:  What should we name them?

The twins were called Jacob (Daddy's favorite name) and Zachary (Mommy's favorite name), and the name Joshua (Mommy and Daddy's mutual favorite name) was set aside.

But when this family decided to find their son in Bulgaria, they weren't sure they could use the third name for their son, because whenever they thought of the name Joshua, they thought of their twins.  And they were sad. 

Then, one day, they sat and really thought about it.  They remembered the joy they felt as they went through the baby books, searching for names for their twins.  Suddenly, remembering the name "Joshua" brought a bit of happiness instead of sorrow.

One of the meanings of the name Joshua is "God rescues".

God will rescue Joshua through us. 

Chelsea's brother will be Joshua [his birth name].  Because there was a reason God made it so challenging for us to choose two names for three boys. 

There was always supposed to be three.

Will you help us bring Joshua ("Ian") home?  There are so many ways to help.  Donations to our Reece's Rainbow account are always helpful.  The Barefoot Books fundraiser (with a special coupon for 20% off!) is still running.  We have a great selection of t-shirts that we personally chose, a song you can download (courtesy of my husband) and even bracelets if you "believe"!

There are ways to help that cost nothing, and help immeasurably.

Pray for us.  Think of us.  Pray for our Joshua.  Pray for the place he lives in, that God would touch those who work there.  Share our blog with anyone you know.  We want God's work to be glorified in our lives.  We want the story of Joshua to be known, and The Bad Place to be further illuminated.  We want everyone to know how God works all things for good.  Pray for the USCIS; that they would work quickly to approve us. 

Thank you for your support, for your prayers and thoughts, and for sharing our story.

Barefoot Books - coupon savings!

If you've been thinking about our Barefoot Books fundraiser, we have a special surprise! 

If you're a new shopper with Barefoot Books, and you shop with our fundraising link:

(or click the button on the left)

use the coupon code WELCOME to get 20% OFF your first order!

I love that!  You can help us and save some money too!  Share our link with anyone you think might be interested in a discount on Barefoot Books.  We've only received four orders in our fundraiser, so we would love anyone to spread the word.  We are so appreciative to the lovely woman who is running this for us for offering a special way to save.

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

happy anniversary!

Today, my husband and I have been married for eight very...interesting...years.  :)  It is amazing to realize how much we went through during that time:  three different homes, the death of our twin boys, the birth of our daughter, the adoption of our son. And a million things in between, not all of them very good and some of them wonderful.

One of the gifts that God gives to us is the restriction of seeing the future.  As much as I (and so many) want to know "what's going to happen", God doesn't allow that and He's pretty smart that way.  If I had known all of the struggles and heartaches that would happen in my marriage, would I still have made the choice to marry?  Intellect says no.  Would I have chosen to become pregnant at all?  Intellect, again, says no. 

Yet were these really wrong choices? 

Can God use all things for good for those who love Him?

This time, the Bible says yes, even if Intellect says no. 

If I could see the future with our future son, would I adopt him?

I don't know the future, but if I did, perhaps Intellect would say no.  Yet would that be the wrong decision?


This is why God does not allow us to know the future.  Our flawed intellect does not always serve us very well.  Like the careful handler of the horses, who gently shields his eyes from the flames to lead him out of the burning barn to safety, so too is our Father in Heaven gently shielding our eyes, asking us only to trust in Him and believe with all sincerity that He is able to take the worst situations and bring them into a positive light in His own time (definitely not MINE!). 

I do not know what the future holds for my future son, just as I don't know what the future holds for my marriage.  I certainly didn't know what the future held eight years ago!  Yet, I have never looked back.  I believe that I am married to the man I will spend the rest of my life with, and I believe the little child we are connected to in Bulgaria is going to be a special addition to our family.  I trust that God will bless our efforts, and trust in His word to make all things good as we trust in Him. He has made my marriage to my husband a wonderful thing, and that is why I rejoice today; because today is the day I married the man I vowed to spend the rest of my miserable :) life with. 

We have also vowed to bring home our future son from Bulgaria.  Thank you to everyone who has helped with this effort.  Will you consider sharing our blog with someone new, someone who might be interested in our journey?  We love prayers as much as financial assistance, because financial assistance comes through the prayers and supplications.  Sometimes, it is hard to stay positive when fundraisers are not going well; when only a small handful of t-shirts have sold or when just a very few people have purchased books or bracelets or something else.  But God doesn't allow us to see the future, so we try never to feel too downtrodden when things seem bleak. 

Thank you for sharing our story, for reading and praying for us, for donating if you can, or sharing our fundraisers with others who might want to support the redemption of a child from the terrible Bad Place.  Thank you for your prayers for us on our wedding anniversary, which will likely be the very last one we have as a family of three (and two in heaven).

Friday, April 13, 2012


We finally have a terrific t-shirt fundraiser!  We have partnered with to offer a t-shirt fundraiser.  This is one we really like because we got to choose the t-shirts we most loved.  There is such a vareity in what we chose and we made sure to offer a variety of colors (black, light blue, and even grey) to give maximum choices.  Some of them are even "Bulgarianized" with special touches to demonstrate a love for Bulgarian adoption.  Others are just terrific to wear, whether you want to support orphans or simply show your love for faith, hope, love, and family.

Please follow the link below to connect with our family's fundraiser, or use the button on the left:

We receive a percentage of the sales of these t-shirts.  Although we do not earn as much as others who offer t-shirts, we definitely wanted to choose ones that we really liked and would even wear ourselves! (I purchased the Bulgarian 'adoption rocks' t shirt from another family myself - I love it!)

We have heard good news about the USCIS; the 'scuttlebut' is that USCIS has been moving pretty quickly these days.  It's our hope that God continues to move the mountains that stand in the way of meeting our future son.  We have watched with gratefulness and awe as God has moved the hearts of some to consider adoption from The Bad Place.  Others have been led to offer generously to their causes.  Others are really praying.  It is all so needed!

You can help financially by purchasing a bracelet for $3 (website on the right side), considering purchasing from Barefoot Books (website on the left side), downloading the beautiful song my husband created (button on the left - it's only $1!), giving directly to our family's Reece's Rainbow account (any amount helps) or wearing a t-shirt. We're trying to give everyone who wants to lots of ways to help and support us, through big ways and small ways.

How can you help most of all?

2 Corinthians 1:11:
"You must also help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many."

Pray for our family.  Pray for our Little Dude.  Pray for The Bad Place.  If you don't pray, think of us.  Think of our future son.  We are real people, doing a really big thing, and sometimes we are really scared. 

I take time at the end of nearly every writing to thank you.  Thank you for reading this blog, for sharing our story, for helping us and for caring about us.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  "And let the peace of God be in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be thankful."  (Col 3:15).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good Morning from the USCIS

Found in our email box this morning:

Dear Applicant/Petitioner:

Your USCIS application/petition has been received and routed to the National Benefit Center for processing. Within 7 - 10 days by standard mail you will receive your official Receipt Notice (Form I-797) with your Receipt Number XXXXX. If you have any questions please contact the Hague Unit at (877) 424-8374 or NBC.HAGUE@DHS.GOV


You know; there's a part of me that just WANTS to reply to that message, only because they put in such big letters for me NOT TO.  But don't worry.  I don't intend to anger the USCIS "Gods" in any way.  I pray daily that whoever has our file is in good spirits, reads our letter of medical necessity, and gets a move on it. 

Only God knows. 

James 5:7-8:

"Be patient, therefore, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruits of the earth, being patient about it, until he receives the early and late rains.  You, also, be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."

I took my daughter for a hearing test as part of her evaluation for special services when she turns three.  Her hearing was fantastic.  I was more pleased with her ability to follow two-step commands and perform age appropriately.  The audiologist was pleased.  I made mental notes for our future son, because he will need all of this testing and a lot more. 

Experience with special needs counts.  We are not reinventing the wheel here.  We know many resources that will help us as we work to bring home our Little Dude.  I can't wait to see how he benefits from the care and help he's going to receive.  As the neglect of The Bad Place slowly begins to fade, I rejoice to think of what his life will ultimately be. 

We've been really encouraged about the response to our Barefoot Books fundraiser! (Button on the left).  Thank you for everyone who has graciously purchased books for THEIR little ones in a way to help OUR little one.  We are planning on some new fundraising efforts in the coming days, including some local opportunities.  We continue to thank God for the gracious way we have been received and we hope to continue to connect with those local to us as a way to build our support system. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are choosing to adopt from The Bad Place, in spite of fear, to fight for those who have no voice.  Our Little Dude has no voice, but we are going to give him the means to have one very soon.  We are coming for you, sweetheart.  Do not fear, for God is with you, and we will be soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Barefoot books

Kindness is overwhelming sometimes.  The kindness of strangers is even more overwhelming; those who have no "vested interest" in caring sometimes care anyway.  It is unfortunate that this is still a shock to us when it happens, for I wish for a world where kindness and generosity abounds. 

A friend of ours has offered to host a fundraiser to help our adoption.  She works with Barefoot Books, and has agreed to give a portion of the profits to our fundraising efforts.  There is a widget (on the left) that will take you directly to the bookstore, or you may follow the link here:

This link will bring you directly to the page that will credit sales to our account. Please know that if you follow another link, it will not credit to us.  Be sure it says "Menges Adoption Fundraiser" in your cart if you are purchasing to help us. 

Reality continues to emerge as we grow closer to the day we will meet our future son, and it is an exciting time.  We are honestly excited and nervous all at once.  Sometimes, one emotion overshadows another, and then it flip flops again.  Anyone who is endeavoring to adopt a special needs child must have some measure of fear.  We would not be human if we did not have fear at the thought of the unknown. 

Today I choose a verse from the book of Joshua, in part because it is such a good principle to meditate on and in part because Joshua is one of the names we are considering naming our Little Dude.

Joshua 1: 3-9

"I promise you what I promised Moses:  'Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you..."

This, for me, means that God will be with us in the darkness and stench of That Bad Place; He will walk with us as we enter the halls where our future son has lived for almost three years.

"No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live.  For I will be with you as I with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you."
(Even in the darkest place, even in The Bad Place, even against people who do not see the children there as valuable and worthy).

"Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all of the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all of the instructions that Moses gave you.  Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left.  Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Medidate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command - be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged."

And the last line, my favorite:  "For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Into The Bad Place, into Bulgaria, into the life of this little one, into the future with him, as we fundraise...all of it.  We know God is with us, ever-present and guiding our hands.  We watch with gladness as others step forward to be counted among those who care about children who are voiceless and without hope, and we smile.  We are grateful.  Some are adopting, others are helping, and others are praying.  Whenever you stand personally, we thank you for your thoughts and prayers, for sharing our story and supporting us.  God is with us, wherever we go.

Day One

Today is officially Day One of our wait with USCIS.  As of 10:30 central time, our package was received in the lockbox facility in Texas.  The question will be, how long will we wait?  God knows, and apparently, He isn't telling!

We had a wonderful Easter with mixed emotions as we thought of our special Little Dude who is not with us.  I can't imagine what his day was like, but I know next year at this time, it will be significantly different. I sat in church with our sweet little girl, trying to imagine another child sitting in the pew also.

But life moves on, and life has been busy.  I have a class (Biology) that I am taking (one of three classes this semester!) and today's assignment was to dissect a sheep's heart.  (hold your stomach!) I have no constitution for this sort of thing, but thankfully I had a terrific (and may I say HANDSOME!) lab partner that I tried to flirt with the entire time he was cutting up that thing.  (Naturally, it's my husband!)

My daughter's therapy is changing as she transitions out of the birth to three program and to the three to five program, and I have to be watchful of what she needs and how best to utilize the services we will have.  There are documents to complete.  I have letters that must be sent, grant applications to work on, a house to keep, and a daughter to raise.  I'm busy, but I suppose it is in the best sense of the word.  Still, I don't have enough hours in the day to do all that I would like.  Update and read here, update and read in other places too, finish my classwork, do all the house work I know needs done, work on more grants and fundraising ideas, and wait.  It's a full plate.  I'm trying to finish a book called "Raising a child with high functioning autism" that is turning out to be a compelling read - if I could ever finish it!  That is what my daughter's classification is, so I want to read all I can.  I need to find a competent eye doctor to check my daughter's eyes and also for the future, for our future son as well.  He will need eye exams and care to help with his vision, so if Chelsea can pave the way, it's great practice!

The days tick by quickly, though.  A busy life and a little girl can make the time fly by.  Soon enough, we will have our USCIS approval.  And one more step will be completed.  One day soon (not soon enough!) we will be on our way to Bulgaria.  I know it will happen.  It's so exciting to think about.  Thank you for following on this journey with us, for caring about us and sharing our story.  Thank you for your prayers and support. It means so much to us.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just Another Day...

Jon posting this morning.  Good morning and Happy Easter!

I was thinking about this yesterday and it made me a little bit sad, and gave me a little bit of hope.  I remember back growing up how special holidays felt.  There was a certain feeling that came on Christmas, Easter, my birthday, etc.  It just felt like a special day.  We gave Chelsea the "dry run" last night of making sure her Easter dress fit for church this morning and put everything together, and it made me realize that in that Bad Place, where Little Dude is having his Easter today - it's just another day.

Nobody's hiding Easter eggs.  Nobody's making ham and sweet potatoes and fruit salad.  Nobody's visiting or hosting relatives.  The sad realization that I came to yesterday is that Christmas, birthdays, etc. probably go by pretty unnoticed for the inmates of the Bad Place.

Not for much longer Little Dude.  You're going to learning the meaning behind Christmas and Easter.  You're going to get a cake on your birthday.  It's not going to be easy for you or for us all the time, that's for sure...but for certain no child should spend his or her life not opening a Christmas present or going on an Easter egg hunt.

Happy Easter everyone!  Especially you, Little Dude.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I-800 A...waaaaay!

Goodbye home study phase.  It was nice knowing you. You were annoying, but doable.  You are over now. Thank you, bye now.

Hello USCIS phase.  Hello I-800 A.

Rather, Good BYE, I-800 A! 

It is on its way (actually will be in the mail in just an hour or so) to the USCIS.  Our home study barely stayed in our hands for an hour before it was in an envelope again, ready to race to Texas.  A cursory once-over, and it was done.

Reviewed (and re-reviewed!) the documentation and paperwork for the forms, then wrote a very big check. It is not the largest check I've ever written, not by a long shot.  The largest check (single check) we ever wrote was for IVF (invitro fertilization).  It was $20,000.  I can still remember my husband writing that check, standing at a desk in a clinic.  It was monumental. 

Where did the money for the I 800 A come from?

A good chunk (more) of our savings.  Who says those who adopt are just a bunch of beggars?  Hmm....

The wait for USCIS approval will begin on Monday.  I am hopeful and praying that we will receive our approval in less than 45 days.  Our Little Dude needs a visit from us, and we desire to visit him so badly too.

The Bad Place continues to be Bad and the darkness that overshadows the children there remains.  There are so many good people working to reduce the darkness that exists in that place; with medical fundraisers and nonprofit organizations who have a heart for the little ones there.  I am grateful for this, but I know the best solution is for these children to reside in permanent, loving homes.  Even the Bulgarian government, as they continue to review the conditions there, have stated that they are not able to properly care for the number of orphans there and that it would be best for the children there to find permanent homes.

Someone asked me once how I would feel if our special Little Dude was no longer available for adoption because biological family stepped forward to care for him. 

After the work we've done, naturally we would be disappointed for a time.  But more importantly, we would rejoice that this little one would have a family to care for him. We would pray that he was well cared for and treasured and be grateful that he would not lose his biological ties or some of his heritage.  Those are the sadnesses of adoption; when children cannot be raised by their kin and leave their birth country.  There are miracles in adoption, to be absolutely sure.  Those miracles outweigh the sadness, but it is foolish to suggest that there is no loss in adoption. There is.  We will do all we can to preserve our little boy's history and heritage, because that is important.

Meanwhile, we rejoice in the spirit of the Resurrection that we have taken another huge step and entered a new phase of our adoption process.  Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day of Jesus' suffering on the cross.  Redemption with sacrifice, right? 

Please think of our little Dude today.  Please pray for him.  Please pray for protection for him. He continues to deteriorate in that horrid place.  He continues to need permanency and therapy.  Thank you for your prayers, for your thoughts, and for caring about our family and the story of our Little Dude in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


For those wanting to follow the process, today was the day our home study was approved by our adoption agency.  We have four notarized copies coming to us, and our immigration paperwork (the I-800 A form) will be at UCSIS this week.

We will have to wait anywhere from 30-60 days for approval from USCIS.

What happens next?

-We get USCIS approval;
-Once we receive favorable determination, we send off our dossier to our adoption agency (during the wait for approval, we will be finishing up apostilling our documents so that we are ready to submit our dossier when we receive approval)
-The dossier gets sent to Bulgaria and is translated;
-The dossier is registered with the Ministry of Justice
-We receive the written referral for our future son - and travel dates for our first trip!
-We go on our first trip
-We come home, wait 2-5 months (depending on a host of factors), submit MORE paperwork, and then wait for court to happen (in Bulgaria)
-Court happens, hopefully favorably for us;
-We get dates for second and FINAL trip to Bulgaria
-We come home, and then the REAL work begins as we attempt to undo years of neglect and delay as a result of our Little Dude's stay in the horrid Bad Place.

Of course, throughout this, we owe money at various stages.  Naturally, for those who have been reading, you know that we have paid all of our adoption expenses ourselves (meaning, out of our pockets) and we have some additional funds to continue.  This is our money.  Those who suggest that all people who adopt do is "beg for donations" are not correct, though the people that say this honestly don't take the time to read anything.  They just type, spewing mostly illiterate venom.  The truth is that we have paid, and will continue to pay, for our future son's expenses.

But at some point, it is true, the money will run out.  That is why we fundraise; because at some point, there is going to be a bill that comes due and we won't have the money.  This is why Mulligan Stew was so important and so very needed, and why we are so grateful for the support we've received.  No child deserves to be in that Bad Place, and we are working as quickly as we can to redeem him.

I want to steal, for a moment, from one of the people I admire so much; one who adopted from The Bad Place and has literally changed (SAVED!) a life from The Bad Place.  Her entry's title was "No Redemption without Sacrifice".

Redemption with sacrifice.  Redemption takes sacrifice.  The most well known story of redemption was Jesus' work on the cross.  He died to redeem us. 

Thankfully, no one is asking us to die to redeem our Little Dude.  For that, I am grateful!  But we carefully save what we can, put our Little Dude's needs above our own as we wait on a new washer, or dreams of a new car, or a trip to Orlando.  It is sacrifice.  The sacrifice will not stop once he comes home to us, but he will be redeemed.  There will be redemption with sacrifice. 

"Do not do anything with rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only on your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Phillipians 2: 3-4.

As you (hopefully!) continue to think about our family, pray for us and share our blog, consider that verse in your life.  Think of ways you can look to the interests of others.  Can you consider adopting a child? Can you consider helping someone else adopt?  Can you think of a way to help orphans through missions, donations, or child sponsorship? (We sponsor two children through Compassion International and one directly from an orphanage in Honduras)

We are entering the Easter season, the season when the most costly sacrifice was paid for our redemption.  We, too, will sacrifice to redeem our Little Dude from the darkness of the Bad Place.  One more step toward that goal happened today!