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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Closet Sale!

I'm in the middle of a great background story of "how it all started" with Brooklyn's adoption, so sit tight.  But in the meantime, I'm cleaning out our closets and I need your help!  I've mentioned it from time to time, but the little house we've rented for the past 10 (??!!) years is 900-square-feet.  That is not a typo.  We have 2 adults, 2 kids, and one large dog living up in here, and we have classic 1950's closets up in this joint.  (AKA: there is no wall just for my shoes nor is there any type of ottoman on which to sit and ponder wardrobe choices or really any walking-in-ability whatsoever.)  ;)

I've been watching a few friends and strangers on the interwebs as they've played around with the concept of "capsule closets."  I'm not sure I can get all of my clothes, outerwear, shoes, AND accessories down to 33 items (holy cow, that seems ambitious slash makes me feel like a clothes glutton!), but I have been ruthlessly making cuts in my closets to get myself close.

As a result, I have some favorite clothes that I can't bring myself to cast into a yard sale pile just yet because they are great clothes that just didn't make my "capsule" cut.  Would you help me out and take some into your closet and love them for me?

My closet sale is going up on Instagram at @shoprbcloset.  Here's how it works: find something you like, post your email address and your "bid" (and don't worry about offending me with a low bid--I would rather than sell than not at all!) and wait until the sale times out.  (My first one is over on Wednesday at 10p.)  If you get outbid, then jump back in or tap out.  I'll probably be taking unbid items over to Facebook in the final hours of the sale.

Right now I have spring/fall/winter items in small & medium sizes from J.Crew, Gap, Anthropologie, and Old Navy.  Help me in my quest for space and simplicity!   

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brooklyn's Medical Updates

To keep all of Brooklyn's medical updates in one place, I've created a separate page on the blog for them.  Anytime we have news to share, it will be posted at the top of the Medical Update page.  I'll post on the blog that an update has been made and you can click over there to view it.  Speaking of which, I just put our first bit of news up today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

Hello from the land of bottles, bibs, and baby babbles!  Over here on the blog, no news has been good news--in the true fashion of this adoption process, we received last minute travel approval to go get Brooklyn, and we jumped on a plane 2 days later.  Fifteen days later, we returned to Memphis with our new daughter!

The past couple of weeks have been a blur of transition, but I'm ready to tell the story God has been writing about His glory and His great love for Brooklyn.

First things first, though, because I know you guys are wanting an update.  Here it is, in bullet points:

- We were able to get Brooklyn in to see our GI Team in Memphis a day and a half after returning from China.  Her blood labs returned with some good (normal) numbers and some pretty bad numbers.  We expected this, so there were no surprises there.  She is in liver failure, she does need a transplant, but her health for the time being is stable.

- Later that first week we were home, we got some news that initially disappointed us: our health insurance will not cover a transplant here in Memphis.  They require that we go elsewhere to a designated "center of excellence," which are centers that meet a certain criteria set by the insurance company (including number of transplants done per year, success rates, cost effectiveness, etc.).  While we were still dealing with our first week home and jet-lagging, this news was a little overwhelming to take in.  The closest center of excellence to us does not have any direct flights to it, and it takes about 5 hours of driving time.  But we started looking at the list of approved centers for pediatric liver transplants, and we realized something that changed our perspective: yes, traveling elsewhere is inconvenient and uncomfortable, but we have the change to CHOOSE where our child will receive care.  And we had some great choices as far as programs go.  So, we looked at that list with new eyes, pitting programs against each other, looking at success rates & wait times, and considering national rankings.  We chose Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago--they have relatively inexpensive and short direct flights from Memphis, they are ranked #2 in the nation for GI/GI surgery, and most providentially, Chicago is the home of a very special person to us--the woman who found Brooklyn in her orphanage and advocated for her, which led to our agency working to complete her file and find a family for her, and you mostly know the rest of that story!  ;)  Another friend who just took the enormous burden of fundraising off of our plates lives just 2 hours away from Chicago.  Between the two of them, they have an army of friends who have already supported us financially and in prayer.  We are confident (and oh-so-humbled!) that we will be well taken care of in Chicago.  (Also, you may remember my fun little tag-along trip with Nick to Chicago back in June--I fell in love with the place and had a lot of fun exploring with the trains and buses.)

- We're set up for an evaluation next Tuesday (February 17th) at Lurie, after which Brooklyn will be placed on the transplant list.  More to come about what all of that will involve.

- Our family transition has been fun, hard, joy-filled, frustrating, lots of work, and completely covered with help and prayers from people we love.  (THANK YOU, Team Brooklyn!!!)

Many people have asked how they can help, so here are some immediate needs:
- Formula!  Brooklyn's liver can't process the some of the nutrients in regular formula, so we are feeding her special formula called Pregestimil.  You can order it online through Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, etc or I can also order it through my local pharmacy.  It ranges in price from $28-38 per 1 lb can, and we go through 1 can every three days or so.  (Cha-ching!!)  We would be SO grateful, if you want to send us formula or a gift card to help us purchase it!

- My friend Elizabeth set up a Meal List for us, and your food has been manna from heaven!  I can't tell you how awesome it is not to have to worry about grocery shopping and cooking as we deal with transitioning and getting our medical help lined up!  Several friends from out of town even signed up, and have told us they'll have something delivered.  (In the process, I found this nifty meal delivery service that will deliver from several restaurants in our area!)

- Giftcards to Target--we're still making those "oh, I forgot we would need that for a baby" trips.  :)

- Cash to help with our many trips to Chicago this year!  We're keeping the Razoo site open for now to help with medical costs, but we may switch over to something more medically related in the future.

- Diapers are always welcomed--Little Biscuit is currently a size 2, and we've been using Pampers Swaddlers.  (We also like Pampers Cruisers once she's big enough, but her little 14-lb self is so teeny that they don't sell them in her size yet!)

- We are good on clothes for a bit, although I know it is so much fun to shop for baby girls!  (In fact it is so much fun, I like to do the shopping!  Old Navy, Baby Gap, Target, and Carter's are our favorites for little girl clothes.)

We are so, so thankful for all of your prayers and well-wishes.  I can't even begin to tell you how much God has done and used you to do, but I'm going to attempt to tell the story of His provision and power over the next few weeks during naptimes!  

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Life in the Fast Lane

Just a quick update tonight to let you know where we are in the process, which is: ALMOST DONE. Seriously. 

I had grand plans of writing about all of the crazyawesome things God has done in the last 11, but things just keep zipping along. Don't worry...the stories are coming! But I think I'm going to have to save them for Brooklyn's naptimes or as a post-bedtime activity. 

Because we are waiting for the very last step before we get on a plane: TA, also known as Travel Approval. An important packet of documents is getting picked up tonight (Monday) in China and sent somewhere else, after which we're praying we'll receive TA as early as tomorrow night (Tuesday). (It's weird how everything happens "in the future"--because China is 12 hours ahead, their tomorrow is done when ours is just getting started!) We are praying, praying, praying that we can get on a plane to go get our little gal this next weekend!!! 

Please continue to pray for appointments and approvals to be issued as needed, for travel arrangements, for sweet Rhet as she handles transitions and our absence during the trip, for Brooklyn's health and healing and transitions, and for peace for all in the midst of all this crazy! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Star of Wonder

Throughout our adoption process with Brooklyn (all 8 weeks of it so far!), we've experienced so many instances in which we could say "only God."  Now looking back, I am seeing even more ways God made a way for us to pursue Brooklyn.  I'm hoping to share as many as I can remember here, as a testimony to the power of God and for my own memory's sake.

But first, I have to start with Facebook.  Ohhhhh, Facebook.

I was late to the game, having graduated college before FB was sweeping the collegiate nation.  I remember hearing about the concept one evening when I was hanging out with a younger friend, and I thought it was the dumbest idea ever.  You just make friends with your friends?  And then you poke them?  And yet, shortly before Facebook opened its gates to the general public, I weaseled my way in with my old Auburn email address.  It was the summer of 2006, and I was already married, thus missing out on the thrill of changing my relationship statuses.  Those were good times, with statuses like "Jesse is wearing a scarf today, even if everyone else thinks it's silly" and photo albums for every month...

Ah, the dawn of social networking.

But Facebook lost its luster along the years for me.  Shortly before Rhet came home, I remember feeling really sensitive to what I was going to put "out there" about my child.  I felt a new desire for privacy.  I didn't love reading all of the judge-y rants or knowing everyone and their Great-Aunt Sue was weighing my own words with a critical eye.  (And I hated myself for doing the same.)  Over the past several years, I used FB mostly as the tool to keep up with my long-distance friends' happenings.  I had even deleted the app from my phone this year, finding that I was happier to spend my time elsewhere.

Please don't read that has a "high and mighty" state of being.  I just feel it's important to start there with what happens next...

On the evening of Sunday, October 12th, our family had just gotten home to Memphis from a roadtrip.  We had unpacked, had a quick dinner, and I was finally laid out and catching up on Facebook within the browser of my phone.  And I saw her face.

That face.  It gripped me.  And I immediately passed the phone over to Nick.  I can't remember his exact reaction, but it was probably a light-hearted eye roll or a snarky comment to make me giggle.

Brooklyn's picture and a short plea for a family had been posted on a waiting child advocacy page by the adoption agency social worker that day.  And a close friend of mine had shared the link.  There were 90 likes and 103 comments on the original picture.

Something in me needed to know more.  I emailed the social worker that night asking for more information on the little girl they were calling "Brooke."

The rest, as your mostly know, is history.  There were other things happening during this time period, but I'm sticking with the Facebook-centric stories for this post, so we'll fast forward to the night we asked God for a clear answer that we needed to say yes to Brooke.  I shared a little bit about that in this post, but just to remind you, the answer we received came via a (then) stranger's personal message sent to me on Facebook.

We've befriended a couple strangers over Facebook through that first personal message, and they have become not only dear friends but part of Brooklyn's larger family in the way we regard them.  I can't wait to share more about them in another post!

The day we announced on the waiting child advocacy page that Brooke had found a family and the family was ours, we had something like 90 likes within 10 minutes.  (The post ended up receiving 293 total likes!)  I'm not sharing that to highlight the the popularity, but to show the way this little girl of us just grips people.  When you see her picture, you keep looking.  You want to know more.  This interest on Facebook, in my opinion, has brought many people to their knees in prayer for her.  And it is these prayers that have influenced the hand of God in her paperwork and our process.

Shortly into the process, a friend added me to a group of a small number of families completing medical expedited adoptions in China.  This group has been like GOLD, helping me learn the fastest way to complete the paperwork for our medically fragile child.

Last week, we started on online fundraising campaign.  We were asking for $22,000 to cover travel expenses and fees for the rest of our adoption process with Brooklyn.  It was a very large amount to try to raise.  And it was during the holidays.  But we had been given the hope that if things continued on the trajectory they were on, we could be traveling to bring our girl home in January, so something needed to be done.  3 days.  THREE DAYS.  The news went out over Facebook, over this blog, over a few personal emails.  And the amount was raised in three days.  By family, by friends, by strangers.  We were amazed but not surprised.

And here is what I'm left thinking about Facebook: of all vehicles, of all platforms, of all ways that God could bring us to this little girl...it was this one.  And it has been how He has spurred on prayer and given wisdom and brought provision.  All through this social network that I had very recently pretty much despised.

He does that.  He can take our avenues of common culture and lead people to Himself.

Many years ago, three wise men were studying the stars.  As in, I'm guessing, astrology.  And what did God send?  A star.  The brightest one.  And it led them to worship.  

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more