Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome the Pachciarz Family!

Say hello to Robert and Angela Pachciarz and their daughter Julia and son Yuli!

After adopting their son Yuli from Bulgaria in 2011, the Pachciarzes knew that they would adopt again. They assumed that they would be going back to Bulgaria as they loved the country. However, God had other plans for them. Lucy, a two year old girl born HIV+, was waiting for them in Albania. When they saw little Lucy's file for the first time, they watched that first video over and over, and fell utterly and completely in love.  Robert and Angela knew that Lucy was their daughter. Now Robert and Angela and working to quickly complete the adoption. They hope to be traveling in June to bring Lucy home! Follow their adoption at their blog.

Let's rain blessings on the Pachciarz family! Please, give $1 and share by email, blog, and social media!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Golden Family and a GIVEAWAY

Oh my stars. Oh my stars. Stop whatever you are doing and go watch this video. Now. Like right now.

The Golden's son Max, well, he is Max and I am pretty sure I just repeated a video so many times that youtube is going to ban me. He dances! I mean like the world's cutest little toosh wiggle, and jumping and rolling and a kissy face.

Okay, so I know it happens. You start to watch a video and you click off within the first minute. Don't do it! This one just keeps getting cuter and better the whole time!!

Behind the adorable Max are some really sweet parents who are passionate about adoption. Dan and Kelsey knew they would be adopting from the beginning of "them." I love that, don't you?

They fell in love with a little boy's picture. It happens to the best of us, right? Yours truly has been on the receiving end of that heart-stopping moment. So, they are adopting Michael and rushing to finish this adoption!

They recently received an update that Michael's health is not doing well right now. You guys, I have been there and that is tough. Can we all lift Michael up in prayer and his mom and dad? If you personally know them, can you give their family a helping hand. I know from experience that a surprise meal would be SO appreciated!!

So, watch the video, head to Pure Charity with their link, visit their blog and enter the giveaway and let's pray this adoption through to the very end. 

There is so much more I want to say, but I can't. Because I have to go watch that adorable video again.....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Older Child Adoption: Challenges and Ideas For Parents {Guest Post by Marissa}

I have no idea how to raise my kids.

I read all the books, listened to the seminars, formed friendships with other adoptive parents, and did all the other things a good adoptive mommy is supposed to do.

And every day I am faced with challenges and behavioral issues that I have no idea how to overcome.

I have older kids. A son, 15 , and a daughter, 9 (and an 11 year old on the way! :)). They've been home 16 months, and they are AMAZING. If you'd told me four years ago when we started the adoption process that we would have big kids, I would have laughed. I mean, our age range started out 0-5. My husband and I are super young ourselves. And now I can't imagine adopting UNDER the age of 8. Funny how things change.

Older kids are such an amazing joy to have. They are incredible people with amazing potential. My kids have filled my life with so much sunshine and love. It's like having two best friends. I can't say enough about how much I love being a family with them. There are so many precious older children waiting to be adopted, but sadly, there are a lot of fears and stigmas that come attached to the thought of adopting older kids. And to be truthful, there ARE lot of unique challenges. I want to address some of the ones that we have personally faced, and that I believe to be common among older adopted children. I want to share some of our experience and provide a realistic view of what adopting an older child can look like. These kids are phenomenal, and this is the most amazing and rewarding experience, but that does not mean that it's an easy one. Some challenges we have faced are:
  • Skin color and minority/majority status: My kids are from Ethiopia, and they are not used to being the minority, or looking different. It's uncomfortable for them. And it makes our status as a family more questionable to those around us; no one ever thinks that my kids are actually my biological kids. People always assume we are babysitting or in some Big Brother/Big Sister program. (Part of this is also because my husband and I are so young.) We are never left alone....the topic of adoption ALWAYS comes up, and it frustrates my kids. They want to be seen as a "normal" family. They don't want to be approached, questioned and petted every five minutes, or given dirty looks when we go out. Neither do I. It almost feels like having paparazzi....we CANNOT escape. My kids are also frustrated that we are a different color than they are. We live in a very diverse town and know many interracial and adoptive families, but they realize that in America, a large percent of the population is Caucasian. And for the first time in their lives, they feel inferior because of their skin color. They want our family to match. They want to pretend that they are my biological kids. They want to be white. And nothing I can say about how beautiful and special, how perfect and amazing they are, can change this. 
  • Intense grieving: Adopted kids, no matter how they come to us, have been traumatized. Uprooted from everything and everyone they knew. Brought to a different place, with a different culture, language, and expectations, and placed permanently with a family that they just met. And that's not including whatever their personal history has been up to that point, and the possible pain from that.
  • Cultural Differences: Clothing, hairstyles, earrings/piercings, how much and what area of skin is exposed, makeup, views on beauty, inappropriate comments or behavior when something is disliked, time values, appropriate greetings, daily schedules, food, holidays, stereotypes and stigmas (my kids believed some WEIRD things about specific other cultures/races) are some of the cultural differences we have faced. 
  • Previous life history: Adoption comes from brokenness. One family is built from the destruction of another. Abandonment. Death. Abuse. Starvation. Illness. War. These are some of the circumstances that bring these precious children into our families. And there is always pain. 
  • Fears: Older children often struggle with fears such as abandonment, not being loved because they aren't babies, fear of the dark, of being alone, fear of being "sent back", fear of never succeeding, etc. Their previous life history and the fears that may accompany that can also haunt them. 
  • Independence: Many older children are almost completely independent in their birth country, carrying huge responsibilities, and acting as an adult. When they are adopted, and take on the title as someone's child, this new role can be an issue. I think of it similarly to an elderly person having their license taken away. Losing that kind of independence can be devastating and beyond frustrating. Having to accept a stranger as the role of your parent (when that is a role YOU may have had) is equally as hard.  
  • Personal Beliefs: Again, their personalities and how they view the world are already established. They don't just come to America and accept everything we may think or believe here. 
  • Self Worth: Many things can impact this.....shame, abandonment, past history, skin color, education level or lack thereof, language, etc. 

So after 16 months, do I finally feel like I have an idea of how to parent my kids??? Nope. I still just basically go off my "adoption gut" instinct. Typical American parenting techniques DO. NOT. APPLY. "Let them cry it out." "Send them to their room." "Use tough love." Ignore them." "Take away their possessions as punishment." No, no, NO.

Figuring out how to train your precious adopted kiddos is TOUGH. I want to show grace and love, and yet there also have to be boundaries. I have to figure out if a behavior problem is an adoption issue, or a heart issue. I have to teach them how to handle struggles and situations appropriately. And every day, I am winging it. So here are the things that are working for our family:
  • No isolation. Period. No being left alone in a room..... no PERCEIVED isolation or abandonment. EVER. We don't send our kids to their room to think over their behavior if they need a time-out. Instead, we use "time-ins" when needed, which for us means we go to the living room and sit together on the couch. We stay with them for the entire duration of the "time-in". 
  • No walking off when you're upset, because this can trigger the list of FEARS. For us, this means we have to deal with things in the moment. Staying calm, not getting upset, and addressing an issue immediately, is key for us when dealing with any misbehavior. We stay together and solve it as a family. Even if it means hours of sitting in a room together. And by hours, I mean, I have sat for 36 hours STRAIGHT in a room with a child who needed to realize that this family will NEVER leave them. 
  • If they have a fear, don't try and break it by forcing them to face it. This only seems to intensify the fear and make it more of an issue. The more I ignore something (as far as not constantly bringing attention to it), the less of an issue it becomes (for the most part). Example: Child X is afraid of the dark. So I go first EVERWHERE. Every time. It doesn't matter if I am in the middle of something and it's inconvenient (and it often is). I go, turn the light on, then walk them to the area, show them it's safe, and stay with them till they are done with whatever it is that they needed to do. I don't leave them alone, EVER. Is this time-consuming? YES. Inconvenient? YES (especially because this happens like 15x a day at our house). Who cares. I want my child to feel SAFE. And for older adopted kids, that may be a feeling/concept that they have never experienced. 
  • Constant reassuring. I tell my kids a thousand times a day how much I love them, how I will never leave them or let them go, how they light up my life. If I go out and my husband is home, I text them and tell them how much I love them and how I can't wait to see them. We FaceTime a million times when I travel. They need to KNOW that they are cherished, and that I am coming back. Permanency is a new concept for them. 
  • Words of Affirmation. My kids need to hear daily, a thousand times, that they are loved, beautiful, smart, kind, precious. That I am proud of them. That they are treasures. My gift from God. My blessings.
  • Make a big deal when a family member walks in the door after being out. No matter who it is, when one of us walks through the door, everyone stops what they are doing and runs to greet the returning family member with big hugs. We tell them how much we missed them and how much we love them. 
  • Hugs/Safe Touch. I hug my kids about 50,000x a day. I hold their hands. I high-five them. They sit next to me/on my lap. My daughter hangs on me like a monkey. Actually, we nicknamed her "The 60lb Appendage". :)

  • Write love notes. I write them notes and leave them everywhere for my kids to find. Somehow having it down on paper as proof seems to help with reassurance. I write them little notes and leave them on their pillows when they are sleeping. I put notes in their sock drawers. In their school books. In the iPad. My son actually showed me that he has kept almost every note I've written him. We had to get a big bag for them. :)
  • Wear the same clothes/accessories. Lots of adoption books recommend rubbing a baby with your lotion or shampoo, etc. We apply the same concept to our big kids. My son loves to look like my husband. They use the same deodorant scent. And he and I try to match with baseball hats or sweatshirts, or paracord bracelets. My daughter and I will wear the same color clothes, nail polish, and matching earrings. I spray her with my body-splash. This is a huge deal to our kids. 
  • Give them something that's of value to you. I gave my kids each one of my rings and they wear them on a necklace. It really helped them feel secure. It helped them know that I trusted them. It helped them feel like I wouldn't ever just walk away from them when they had something "expensive" of mine. The ring that my daughter wears has their names engraved on it, which also goes a long way in making her feel secure. Extra tip....yes, give them something valuable, but also prepare for the item to be something you may never see again, due to multiple possibilities (accidental loss, or possible decimation in a meltdown where they may not be thinking clearly......).  
  • Be honest and open. My kids' personal experiences have caused them to have a desperate need for openness. I mean, we talk about EVERYTHING as a family. This was tough for me and my husband at first, because we didn't expect to have to share everything as if we were in a four-person marriage, but it's what helped us gain our kids' trust. Their background dictates how they perceive their surroundings and situations, and in order to assure them that we were not doing damage to them behind their backs, we became a family who talks everything out. All the time. Even the smallest, most innocent things. There are no secrets. Sound ridiculous? Maybe it is. It doesn't matter. My kids needed absolute transparency. And now that we have the hang of it, it's kind of nice. And also, now that we have earned their trust, we don't have to be as extreme as we were in the beginning. 
  • Offer re-dos, and show them/act out the various options for handling situations and then have them act it out too. We do re-do's about 1,000x a day. The goal of a re-do (for us) is to teach our kids how to appropriately and respectfully handle a request or situation. The two examples below are pretty much how re-dos in our house go now, but originally, they didn't start out this smoothly! :) 
Me: "Child X, can you please come help me set the table?"
Child X: "No! I don't want to. I'm tired."
Me: "I understand that you're tired. But that is not how you answer Mommy. If Mommy asks you to do something, you need to do it or ask respectfully to be excused. Then Mommy will say yes or no.  Whatever my answer is, you need to accept it without complaining. You may always ask to be excused, but you must be respectful. I'm going to ask you again:
Me: "Child X, can you please help me set the table?'
Child X: "Mommy, may I please stay here? I am tired."              
Me: "I'm sorry you're tired sweetie. Yes, you may stay. Thank you for such nice asking."


Child X: "Mom, I'm hungry."
Me: "You may eat a banana."
Child X: "Yuck. I want an orange!"
Me: "That's not a respectful response.Can you please try again?"
Child X: "Mom, I don't want a banana. Can I please have an orange?"
Me: "That was great asking! Yes, of course you can have an orange."
  • Lots of  "yes's". Similar to the "re-do's" example above, we try to say "yes" to our kids as much as possible. Even if what they are asking isn't my preferred option for them, I want to teach them how to ask in a kind and respectful manner. For example, my kids love the iPad. And although I hate to admit it, they play on it more than I want. But if they are asking for it in a polite, respectful manner, and it is within reason, I will give them permission to use it (with a time limit). Teaching them how to ask was a huge thing for us, and has made everyone's life more enjoyable. 
  • Allow food to be available 24/7. A lot of adopted kids have food issues. Many have never had enough to eat, and will gorge or hide food out of self-preservation. Our kids have a need to know food is always available to them and they are allowed to eat fruit, toast, or pretzels any time of day.
  • If you give options, keep it simple. Especially when you first come home. Kids who have not had a lot of possessions or options are easily over-stimulated. We kept it super simple. As in, two choices. Red or blue? Even that can be overwhelming for them. We noticed that when our kids had unlimited choices, they became greedier, crankier, and were unable to decide on one thing, much less, one of the actual options. Example: Don't ask, "What fruit do you want?" (My kids would take a hundred years to pick something and then wouldn't eat it and would want something else entirely.) Instead, ask, "Do you want an apple, or a banana?"
  • Write out a daily schedule. For some reason, this helps my kids feel more secure (when they know in advance everything that will be happening), and it gives us a chance to talk about the day, and what will be expected. It also gives us a chance to review proper behavior for certain settings (bank/meeting new people/etc.)
  • If your kids don't want to talk about something that is bothering them, trying writing about it back and forth. I am referring to eliminating speech, literally. Even if they don't have a lot of language, sometimes it is easier to express themselves through writing, plus it removes the need for eye contact, which can be scary for them. So try writing and pictograms. This worked great for one of our kids until they had enough trust and language to express themselves.  
  • Allow your kids to talk. My kids tend to start talking (specifically about their past life) at the most inconvenient times (school, bedtimes, etc.) and will talk for HOURS. Not kidding. But it is so necessary. For their healing. For you to fill in some gaps about their past. For them to share their burdens. To build trust. It will help you understand why they react to situations and triggers the way that they do. It's exhausting and can eat up half your day, but it is something my kids desperately crave. Definitely set a time limit if necessary (we do that for minor topics), but let them talk. I often feel like, "We don't have time!!!" but then I remember that if I cut them off, they might never open up to me again. Now, or ever. NOW is the time to establish that trust and vulnerability. 
  • Set some crucial rules and stick with them. We have six rules in our house. We wrote them out and posted them in our kitchen. 1. No ignoring. 2. No complaining. 3. No bossing each other around. 4. If you have a problem, tell Mom or Dad (no sulking/fighting/bad attitudes). 5. LOVE. FORGIVE. 6. No lying.  
  • Be consistent. Be consistent with your rules. EVERY time. Exhausting? Inconvenient? Yup. Worth it? YUP. 
  • Understand that your kids are often little kids in big kid bodies. There's a general rule in the adoptive community that says something like, "For every six months in an institution, estimate your child's emotional development back one year." So, someone who is age 5, and spent two years in an institution would most likely have the emotional development of a one year old. 
  • Don't overreact to bad behavior and use positive reinforcement for good behavior. Lots of times, adopted kids may do something to try and get a rise out of us. Example: Don't like that we said no dessert until dinner is eaten? Let's vomit up our dinner. A possible response could be, "I'm sorry you threw up. Let's go ahead and clean it up. If you are so sick that you are throwing up, then dessert would just make you sicker, so no dessert tonight.". Example two: Don't like that we said physical reactions mean we can't go out with friends today? Let's break something. (Sigh. Stay calm and carry on. Oh, and removing electronic privileges is a good motivator!) When they do something good, or kind, or thoughtful, or respectfully, praise the heck out of them!
  • Logic doesn't apply. Our kids have different backgrounds, culture, and experiences than us. When afraid, or in a meltdown, they are in survival mode. Logic is not part of this equation.   
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. It is a little overwhelming to think of all the possible behavioral issues that may need to be addressed, so don't sweat the small stuff. Worry about the big stuff, and the matters of the heart. Worry about if your child is blatantly disobeying you, versus when they grab your cup from in front of you without asking and take a swig. Worry about how they are addressing people and not about the fact that when they shower, the bathroom floods. Definitely explain table and shower etiquette to them, and help them clean the bathroom, but don't worry about it. That will come. Address the big things first. I also feel like this helps the relationship grow; otherwise I would be nagging them all the time! Maybe one child's chore is the dishes, and they didn't get done, BUT the child has been exceptional to their sibling all day. Praise them for that. And forget the dishes (or wash them yourself). They're just dishes. 
  • Offer them the opportunity to earn money. It teaches them to be responsible. It teaches them the value of things. It teaches them hard work and motivates them. And it gives them life skills. My kids have ALL my cash. They shovel, do laundry, can clean the fridge or microwave, mow the grass, and clean the basement. They LOVE earning money. They have a few regular daily chores, but these are optional extras, with the chance to earn some $$$. And they feel good about themselves. Plus, it keeps them off the iPad. ;) 
  • Hurtful words hurt. But your child is probably hurting worse. Sometimes you will get hit with words. Words that cut, lacerate, and destroy. Words that truly crush your heart. It sucks. But hopefully, it's a season. And often, they aren't truly what the child is feeling. They are a reaction (probably to fear of some sort, or extreme pain from their loss). When these daggers are thrown at you, try your best to respond with something that gently counters them. Example: "I DON'T LOVE YOU!!!!" "Baby, I am SO sorry that you are hurting. I wish I could take your pain. I love you, baby." "YOU'RE NOT MY MOM!!!!" (After thousands of hours fighting for them, nurturing them, giving them everything, this one HURTSSSSS.) "Baby, you will always have two moms. Your first Mommy loved you so much! And I do too. I am so sorry that life can be cruel. I can't imagine what you are going through. I'm so sorry, hunny! But I love you very, VERY much. Forever. Hunny, it's okay to be mad. It's okay to cry. Baby, when you hurt, I hurt. Because I LOVE you. My heart is your heart." 
  • These kids may have had to be adults in their previous life. So acting like a child may not be natural. My kids had life experiences that caused them to be independent. And that carries over to our current family life. Also, because of cultural differences, my kids had a hard time with some of the boundaries here. No, you can't stay at a location alone. No, you may not go grocery shopping alone. No, you may not bike through heavy traffic miles away by yourself. No, you can't go swimming by yourself. Yes, you need to go to bed when I tell you. Yes, you need to eat what I tell you. Etc, etc.  
  • Set the example you want to be. In everything. And apologize first. Try to respond to your kids in the way you want them to respond, even if it doesn't make sense. And apologize first. Even when you're not technically wrong. Example (this scenario just happened to us a couple days ago): Child X does something with a silly face and crazy eyes that remind me of a character from the movie, "A Shark's Tale", (this child's favorite). I teasingly say, "Okay, my little Fish, enough of your silliness, come get your coat on so we can go out." Child X beings to cry and then becomes hysterical. In-between sobs, they manage to say (after coaxing) that I didn't respect them and called them a bad name and they are angry and hurt. I am completely confused (and slightly annoyed). But I pulled Child X into my arms and said, "Heyyyyyyyyyy. I am so sorry that you feel hurt. Baby, "Fish" isn't a bad name. I didn't call you that to be mean. I said it because you reminded me of 'A Shark's Tale' with your silly face. I didn't know that you would be hurt by it. I really am sorry, hunny." Child X, after resisting for a minute, buried their face in my shoulder and began to sob and tell me something that had happened multiple times in their previous life regarding being called names, and it broke my heart and also gave me more insight to their behavior. And it reminded me that apologizing first breaks down barriers, promotes humility, and teaches your child the correct way to handle a situation. 
  • Tell them they are loved, even when you want to scream. When my kids have a meltdown, the worse they get, the more I try to love on them. I may have to be firm and not back down, but instead of disicpline or punishment, I often just sit with my kids and tell them how much I love them. This isn't easy. In the heat of the moment, when something outrageous has happened, the last thing I want to do when they are pitching a fit is tell them how much they mean to me. But this method has actually brought my kids to tears and stopped a meltdown. When they are out of control, I tell them what incredible people they are. What I love about them (smiles, laughs, personality traits, hair, eyes, etc.). How much I loved them before I knew them. Before I met them. Before I saw pictures. I tell them how wonderful and special they are, how much God loves them, and what wonderful people they are going to be. I tell them how proud I am of them. At first it was hard. REALLY hard. When I wanted to react in frustration or anger, telling them a million reasons why I loved them seemed weird. But the result was stunning. I literally watched the walls that surrounded my kids' hearts crumble to dust after hearing they were loved, even during their worst moments.  

  • When you are going through a hard time, make some "love lists" for them. Page 1. "Words and Phrases for ____________." My page included words like "always", "forever", "mine", "always a family," etc. Page 2. "Words I Associate with _________." (Insert positive words that make you think of this child.) Page 3. "Reasons Why I Love ______ (insert child's name)." (A list of reasons why you love them.) For us, making these lists during a hard time showed our kids that we don't only love them when they are "good", but that we love them when times get tough. 
Does all this sound scary and/or overwhelming? Sure it does! You are taking a half grown person into your family and trying to balance everything they know and are, with everything you know and are. And you know what? It is the coolest thing ever. That doesn't mean it's easy, or perfect. But it's incredible. These kids just need one thing. Unconditional love. You aren't responsible for how they have been raised, what happened to them in the past, and how that impacts them now. Your job is to love them; to let them know that no matter what happens, no matter what they do, they are your precious child, and you will always LOVE them. My kids have developed and matured SO much since coming home. I could cry every time I think about how far they have come, and what incredible people they are growing to be. I am so, so proud of them. They are truly proof that circumstances don't have to define you. That the hardest days don't last forever. That love conquers all.

They are proof of redemption.

A big thank you to Marissa Ruper for writing this blog post for Give1Save1! She blogs regularly at their family's adoption blog here. (The Rupers were our featured family last November. Click here for the Ruper's featured family post.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Welcome the Long Family!!

Jerry and Jennifer's children, Brooks, Reese, and Hannah, are ready to bring their brother home very soon!
Hannah and Chazz were in the same nanny group at the orphanage in Shenyang, China. They have spent the last 5 years praying for him as they looked at pictures of the two children together! This family knows that this boy is the one God is sending them to and even though there will be extra challenges along the way, they are trusting God will help them through. He has microtia autresia - meaning he doesn't have fully formed external ears and is hearing impaired. Learning English at 8 years old with hearing impairment won't be easy, but having a family behind him supporting him and getting him the help he needs will make it possible! Follow their adoption at their blog here.

How do you know Brooks and Reese are excited about having Chazz as their brother?
These boys made the video for their week on Give1Save1!! I can't wait for you to see it :)
Now, it is time to do what we do every week!
Watch. Give. Share.
Watch the video.
Share their story with your friends and family.
That's it folks! This simple act is helping bring children home to their forever families every. single. week. one dollar at time!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Solecki Update!

Seriously! You all amaze me.
Thank you so much for blessing this family and their 12 year old son who is patiently waiting for their return to Uganda. Thank you for sharing their story/blog, their video, and their Paypal link so your friends could donate too. Thank you for praying for them!
REMEMBER... This total is being doubled by Legacy 685 and Lifesong for Orphans!!
$508.99 x 2 =  $1,017.98
AND we are only on day #Solecki4.
Share this blog post on Facebook with the hashtag #Solecki4 and you will be in the running for a giveaway from our family of the week at the end of the day!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parenting through chronic illness

I'm still navigating the world of parenting a child with a chronic illness. It's a new world and some days are great and some are terrible. Here are just a few things I have learned and I'm going to keep it simple because lets be real, if you are a parent of a child with chronic illness you're dog tired and have the attention span of a gnat. 
1. Grieve what you have lost
This is important. What we lose as parents of these children is huge. We lose everything we dreamed of for them. And if like me you adopted and knew ahead of time what was coming you still need to grieve the life you had, the life you think your child deserves. It's painful and gritty. There is no way around it and your heart needs to grieve in order to move forward. 
2. Find support groups
One thing that has kept me going is the huge support of friends that have children with the same condition as my son. My particular support group is for adoptive moms only, which binds us even closer as a group. Ask your local hospital if they have groups for the specific illness you are dealing with in your life. Get on facebook and look for a good group there as well. 
3. Keep a good sense of humor
Life is crazy. Learn to laugh at it. Remember to find humor wherever it happens to land. Sometimes I get a good giggle when my son's iv of benadryl kicks in and he starts bobbing off like a bobble head. Some days it makes me cry but on the days when I feel a giggle in my throat I let it burst forth. The very sound can be shocking in an oncology unit, but I enjoy seeing others smile back at me. Together we find a small bit of sunshine in an otherwise 
long day.

If you have people willing to help you in your life, take it!! If someone offers to bring you a meal, take it, eat it and be grateful. None of us are superhuman and we all need each other to survive this life!  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Welcome the Solecki Family!

This is so special for me to be able to introduce this family! When my family started the adoption process for Uganda, I was blessed to be connected with Melissa Solecki who had just recently gotten back to the states bringing home the one who was supposed to complete their family. Melissa is an encourager and a prayer warrior and a great friend and one of a few God used to help me feel comfortable committing to international adoption and... well, you get the point. Okay. Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Welcome the Solecki Family!!
Michael, Melissa, and their four b-e-a-utiful daughters. Their story pulls at your heartstrings. God calling them to Bridget in Uganda. Raising funds. Sacrificing to make it happen. Watching God bring it all together. Then, they go to the orphanage to bring her home and there. he. is. Their son. A 12 year old boy with a heart for the Lord and a contagious joy.

She shared with us a few words about how it happened...

"We never considered adopting an older boy - or really a boy. With four girls at home, we were pretty content with glitter, princesses, and pink - I can only describe our connection with J as God sent." 

... and then later...

"We weren't going to be the Solecki 6... ironic because in the Bible, 7 is a number that represents completion - so, in a way, that trip did complete our family - we just didn't know we were missing a piece."

Here is that missing piece with his arm around me. Looking at a photo of his beautiful Mom. Thanking me for showing him. Asking for more photos. Calling his friends to come look. Telling me to tell his family that he loves them. It was only ten or fifteen minutes that I spent talking to him, but you don't need more time then that to see the love and connection this young man has with his family... his family that is trying to bring him home. Without further ado, here is that family's video!

Want some good news? They should be traveling in April or May! Want more good news? They have been awarded a $5,000 matching grant!! That means your $1 turns in to $2 or your $5 turns in to $10 or your $10 turns in to $20. For people like me who like to find good deals (I'm a sucker for 50% sales and BOGO deals!), this is money well spent.

Check out their blog for some giveaways and, also, if you want to save them the fees for using Paypal, go to for directions on how to mail your donation directly to Lifesong for Orphans.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Creative Fundraising {Guest Post by Chantel}

Hey friends, I'm Chantel and blog over at A Harvest of Blessing. My husband and I are in the process of adopting from South Africa and I think the only person that is more excited than us is our three year old daughter, she keeps asking for a brother AND a sister.

When we decided to take the first steps forward in our adoption nearly two and a half years ago, we knew that it wouldn't be financially possible for us to do this on our own, which is probably one of the reasons God asked us to step forward - our trust needed to be in Him. That being said, I don't think that gives us license to just sit by and ask God to move - we need to be willing to put work in too. Over the last few years we've done a few different things to help fundraise for our adoption, some of them have been official fundraisers and other things have been unofficial (like when we sold our kitchen table and chairs, we didn't tell the people that bought it that the money was going towards our adoption).

Since most couples I know don't have savings accounts of $30,000+ already waiting for them, I am excited to share a few of the things we have done to raise the money needed. We haven't had one huge fundraiser that brought in $20,000, we've raised it $100 here and $100 there, and over time it adds up to $1,000 and then $10,000.

  • extra work – since I have my teaching certificate I am very fortunate to be able to work as a substitute teacher. I’ve been getting a few days a month and we have been able to use all that money towards adoption expenses. My husband has also been doing some web stuff on the side in the evenings and on the weekends. For us this brings in about an extra $500 a month (except in the summer when I don't teach). 
  • arts and crafts – I have seen many people turn their creativity into something they can sell (Beth Cupitt is the master at this and the one that totally inspired me). I made canvases for a few months and was able to raise around $1,000-$1,500. I have also made and sold some herb planter boxes and wooden growth charts, that was about another $800-$1,000. Each year shortly before November our town has a craft and bake sale, this year there were a few families that are adopting that were selling baking and I was there selling some crafty stuff, right before Christmas is a great time too because everyone has someone to shop for!
  • photography – I had a photography business a few years ago and decided to use those skills. Two years ago I booked sessions over the course of a few months and did the shoots by donation. This last fall I set aside two weeks and advertised 30 minute sessions (again by donation), I had about 12 sessions and made about $1,500 during those two weeks. (I know not everyone is a photographer, but if you know someone who is, chances are they would be willing to donate their services for a few sessions.) I also have a photography workshop I teach, both in-person and online which has brought in just over $1,000 in the last few months. 
  • selling stuff – we have gone through our house and purged a lot (like the aforementioned kitchen table) as well as clothes, other furniture, books and videos. Most of it I've sold on a local Facebook buy and sell page (in our area that's the easiest and quickest place to sell stuff). 
  • affiliate programs – there are a couple different affiliate programs out there, we were able to fundraise through Ordinary Hero and Once Was Lost
  • furniture restoration - last summer we were able to find some awesome vintage pieces at garage sales and thrift stores that we repainted and then sold, like an awesome vintage ladder, wooden chairs, night stands and old school desks turned into chalkboard desks. We even have a couple projects sitting in our basement now, waiting for the weather to warm up so we can start working again! (Just a tip if you go this route: most of our paint we were able to buy was mis-tinted so it was quite a bit cheaper than buying new paint off the shelf.) 
In the last two years we've been able to raise about $20,000 through our various avenues, a HUGE help! There are so many other ideas out there as well, these are just the ones that we have done. I hope this has helped to inspire you a little. Even if you don't think these are things you can do on your own I would always recommend asking a friend to help. Furniture restoration not your thing? Ask a friend who would be great at it to help, you can purchase the supplies and they can donate their time!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kitui Baby Home

Hey guys!

We've got something a little different for you this week, we're not featuring a family, but a project that we'd love for you to partner with us on, I'd like to introduce you to the Kitui Baby Home

The Kitui Baby Home is located in Kenya, and was started in 1978.  It is designed to house up to 44 babies, and has 13 staff members serving at the home. 

This home needs $50,000 to stay open..yes that's right, you totally read right $50,000, but these littles are worth it! Usually we ask you to give $1, and that is still totally an option, but I'm also asking you to pray about considering looking at some of the others options to be involved, whether that means you sponsor a half crib ($30/month) or a full crib ($50/month) or heck, just give them $1 and share share share! 

You visit this link to go! Go donate! This baby home needs to stay open!