a little and a lot

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TOTAL RAISED (as of Saturday, 12/13 @ 10pm)

$22,000 of our $22,000 goal!!

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.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fundraising Update

We are completely floored, overwhelmed, humbled, honored, blown away, overjoyed, in awe {ETC!} of your donations toward our fundraising to bring Brooklyn home!! 

All $22,000 of our goal has been raised, plus some extra.

Be assured that the extra will go toward our "bringing Brooklyn home expenses," which will include multiple post adoption reports from our home study agency after she gets home and medical expenses, of which we're sure there will be many.

We'll be drawing the raffle winner on Friday.  If you gave or shared, PLEASE fill out the Rafflecopter form below OR contact me via Facebook or email--I will take your entries and put them into our "Random Picker" raffle generator.  I want to make sure everyone is entered that wanted to be!

THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for your gifts.  You are all amazing, and we are in awe of God's hand in every step of Brooklyn's adoption process!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Raffle for Brooklyn

*** UPDATE ON RAFFLE: Friends, we are having such exciting responses from our fundraising efforts that I'm changing the program that we'll use to draw our winner.  We will be using "Random Picker," an internet raffle drawing generator.  Continue to purchase raffle entries for $10 (worth 2 pts each) and share our fundraising website on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog for an entry (worth 1 pt each).  You can purchase as many tickets or share as many times as you'd like!  IF YOU HAVE DONATED OR SHARED, PLEASE TELL US IN SOME WAY SO WE CAN ADD YOU TO THE "RANDOM PICKER" LIST--THRU FB COMMENT, BLOG COMMENT, EMAIL, OR BY FILLING OUT THE RAFFLECOPTER BELOW.  We also have friends hosting their own private fundraisers, and therefore we're accepting offline donations (which go into a separate account we have just for adoption expenses).  We're looking into how to reflect the change in offline donations given, and we'll be showing that as soon as we can.  We are blown away by your generosity, friends!!! ***

Immediately after sharing our exciting news, some dear friends of ours jumped into action.  One of them was Brian Crenshaw, a fellow adoptive parent, student ministry director of our church (Fellowship Memphis), and a very talented artist.  He expressed a desire to paint a piece for us to put in a raffle or auction off.  He got right to work on it, and brought it over shortly thereafter.



Isn't it beautiful?  It is entitled "For Brooklyn."  It is approximately 24x24 painted on wood plank and trimmed with a simple wood frame.  I am in LOVE with this painting--the colors are some of my favorites, and it makes me feel peaceful.

But alas, it's not "For Jesse," so here's what we're going to do blog friends: we're going to raffle off this painting.  It is worth an estimated retail price of $400+.  It would make an unforgettable Christmas gift for a loved one...or for yourself!  I'll ship this beauty anywhere within the United States, and shipping is on us! 

TO ENTER THE "FOR BROOKLYN" RAFFLE:
1. Entries can be purchased for $10 each by donating on our Razoo fundraising website.
(If you purchase more than one ticket, just let me know in the the appropriate place on Rafflecopter and I'll adjust your number of entries manually.)

2. Tickets can also be "earned" by sharing our Razoo fundraising website on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog and asking your friends to donate!
(One ticket per social networking platform per day--just let me know if you share on more than one platform and I'll adjust your number of entries.)

**PURCHASED ENTRIES receive 2 POINTS PER ENTRY, and social networking entries will receive 1 point her entry.  However, you never know which entry will win!  May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

White Lightning Christmas

Hello from the land of warp speed!  I've been a little radio silent lately due to some crazy paper-workin' and holiday travel and post-holiday illness.

But I'm back with great news: our dossier heads to China this week!

For you international adoption novices, let me do my best to catch you up to speed, but first let me cut to the chase: WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Our timeline is just moving along supercrazyfast, and it is likely that we will be able travel to get Brooklyn in JANUARY!  Whoa, people.  WHOA.

We need to raise $22,000 in a month.  Can you help us?  Can you ask your friends to help us?  It takes less than 5 minutes to click over to our Razoo crowdsourcing site and give as you feel led.  We would be incredibly grateful if you would take part in Brooklyn's story!

Back to how this is all going down:
There are two labor intensive, paperwork-heavy processes that you participate in when you get started on an international adoption...

(1) The home study: This is basically a report that a social worker will write up on your family, ultimately giving their official and trusted "thumbs up" for adopting.  You have to provide your social worker with LOADS of proof that you will be a good parent to the child/ren you wish to adopt.  (Proof = medical reports, financial analyses, letters of recommendation, autobiographies from both spouses, birth certificates, marriage certificate, ok you get the idea, etc etc)

(2) The dossier: This is confusing, because the home study IS PART OF the dossier.  The dossier includes a lot of the aforementioned types of documents plus more legal proof of your family stability--it is a collection of documents that get authenticated to the highest level and then translated and sent to the country you're adopting from. Two of the last documents that join this collection are (1) your home study and (2) your immigration approval to adopt from the specific country (which also requires your completed home study before it is issued).

See how this whole thing becomes a revolving door of papers?

Every document in your dossier is notarized by a local notary, and then (if it's notarized in some states like here in Tennessee) you must go to your County Clerk and get them to authenticate your documents--they basically stamp the documents and say, "yes, this notary from our county is legit."  Then the documents go to the Secretary of State in your state's capital city and those guys say, "yep, that county clerk is legit."  Then the documents (if you're in certain states such as Tennessee) travel to Washington DC, first to the US Department of State who vouches for your Secretary of State's authentication and then on to the Chinese Embassy who sees the Department of State's ok and puts their seal of approval on it as well.  THEN and only then does it get translated into (in this case) Chinese and sent to the appropriate government people in China.

You guys.  All of that process has happened in 7 weeks.  That is awesomecrazy. (Awezy?  Crawsome?)

Here's what we have ahead of us:
Our dossier gets "logged in" when it makes it into the appropriate Chinese office.
We will receive a "Letter of Approval" from China to adopt Brooklyn.
US Immigration will issue an approval for us to adopt Brooklyn (specifically).
Some other paperwork happens behind the scenes that sends that approval through the appropriate channels.
Then, China issues us "Travel Approval" and we can fly on over 1-2 weeks later to scoop up our brand new daughter!

This process usually happens in an average of 3 months for an average special needs case.  We are praying that this process will take 4 weeks.  Y'all, the Lord has moved mountain after molehill to plow through these checkpoints.  We are just along for the ride.  And we're so glad you're with us! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GodSpeed

Four weeks ago, we officially decided to pursue Brooklyn's adoption.

Every yes that led us to that decision kept leading us to more and more yeses.  And then picture a dam crumbling and flooding us with the blessing and yeses and provision and presence of God after that big yes.

In four weeks, we have completed the home study and dossier.  (For frame of reference, that took four MONTHS with Rhet, and I had thought we were being speedy!)

There have been so, SO many answered prayers and God-instances in this four-week journey.  The Lord has truly THROWN open the doors to get us to our girl.

And then I was given a humbling reminder...

This past weekend, we had a series of events that had the appearance of everything unraveling.  We'd had some rooms painted last week and the painter took a day longer than agreed.  All the furniture was in the middle of the floor on the morning of our home visit.  The TV wall mount wouldn't work as planned.  One of our vehicles surprised us by refusing to show any signs of life.  My last document for our dossier had been promised by Friday and had yet to show up.

We worked like crazy people getting the furniture back in place.  Friends came to help with the TV.  At least we still had one working vehicle.  And our needed document appeared in the mailbox. Home visit went smoothly.

But the TiVo.  It was not working.  I mean, eh, it wasn't a big deal, right?

But it just bugged me.  Here I am moving heaven and earth to get all of this paperwork finished and we can't get the TiVo working.  So I did what anyone used to being on a mission would do: I put all of my adoption paperwork fervor into this one small task of getting the TiVo up and running.

But wait, it turned out the hard drive had crashed.  We can work with that--I found out how to replace the unit inexpensively and ran right out and purchased a new unit.  But wait, TiVo didn't want to honor our past subscription price.  Well, I worked something out with the customer service reps.  But wait, when we pulled the new unit out of the box, we realized we didn't have a way to hook it up.  (Our HDMI port is "burnt out" on our TV.)  Ok, I'll find a way to convert it to the ports we can use.  But wait, the promised conversion box was not in stock at the store.  But wait, I'll try another store.  No luck there either.  But wait, here's a different port that may work--let's try it.  But wait, it needs an extra cord.  That can be fixed by yet another store run.  But wait, they don't carry that specific cord.  I reached the end of the night with nothing fixed.

And as I laid my head on the pillow, I sensed the Lord reminding me:
Hey Jesse?  I am the one moving heaven and earth to get all of this paperwork finished.  If you want to keep working out of your OWN efforts, they will all end up like this TiVo.

BOOM.  He was so right.

And lo and behold, we hit a snag with the final home study completion this week.  Something that threatened a long delay.  And I wrung my hands and stressed and blamed last night.  And God is already fixing it.  (You can pray about that, by the way!)

Getting to Brooklyn is not by our OWN efforts and in our OWN speed.  It is all Him, my friends.

Please pray for our immigration clearance and dossier authorization, which are the next steps after this home study gets signed off.

My mom sent me this quote last night, and you can pray this over us as well:
"When I feel anxiety begin to rise up in me, it helps to hold an empty bowl--a reminder that my soul is made to receive from God rather than achieve for God."  (Emily Freeman)

Oh, and our dead vehicle was raised to life yesterday.  Costly repairs?  Naaaahhhh.  Just a dud battery that had been installed last month.  Under warranty, of course.  Grace upon grace upon grace...

Via Brim Papery (and hanging on our freshly painted wall!)


Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more