Thursday, December 29, 2011

check check check

To-do lists galore!

Shew. I wonder what we will forget? ha.

So far, our flights are booked, our FSP money has been moved into our account, our new bills are ordered from the bank, childcare has been arranged, the twins' bday party has been planned...

surely there was more?  Oh, I did start collecting condiment packets to take since they won't be available over there!
I think the rest of my busy-work was creating more lists, cleaning house, putting away Christmas decor, etc.

Today, I will pack for AG, order pics for our (2nd) photobook, order contacts for Nathan, print our dossier and start on all the other necessary paperwork, maybe start packing my things. In addition to cleaning house (Groundhog Day...), making dinner for a friend, and making cupcakes for another friend. I just realized last night that my military ID expired and my drivers license will expire while I'm in country (because I'm turning 30!), and Nathan's expired last week when he turned 30, so we need to renew those too.

It is recommended that we get flu shots (Nathan already got his on base), but I've never had one. It is also recommended that we get a doctor to prescribe generic antibiotics to take with us, just incases. We don't have a doctor (ha), so...  have to think on that one.

We need to get space bags to maximize packing, buys cigs and whiskey for the team (lawsy...). I still need cuddle duds and pants for court that I can wear with my boots, we needs lots of baggies and chip clips, dvds to watch (anyone have full seasons of some great shows we could borrow?!).  We need to complete Layla's school application and get haircuts. We need to pack the big kids since they won't be at home, maybe include a few surprises :) Pay bills.

Hmmm... what else. Someone needs to do my thinking for me! I can do or I can think- I'm having a little trouble doing both at the same time! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flights are booked!

"We" booked our flights last night!!

And by "we", I mean a complete stranger whom we've never met.

Not a travel agent, not a Reece's Rainbow facilitator... just a man. A man who heard our story and wanted to help. Is that not the most incredible thing?!  He is choosing to remain anonymous and let God get all the glory- as He should! Even in our fears and worries throughout this process, we have not been able to deny God's hand every.step.of.the.way. We have done nothing deserving, and yet He just keeps waving his mercy around us and letting His light shine! Why would we be worried when we have front row seats?! Why would He show His grace over and over to get us there and then NOT let us bring her home? We are so close!

To Mr.Generous,
THANK YOU.
Words are not enough.
Thank you for listening when God spoke to you. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you for blessing us.

And to sweet Kacie- thank YOU for sharing our story. Thank you for your constant encouragement and prayers. We love you, dear (and we would even if you hadn't done so much for us!)!!
On another note- I'm going to Paris... airport :) Yay! I'll take it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Donations/Gifts/Financial support

We have had a couple people ask today about donations...
It's uncomfortable, but I'll just answer honestly and as frankly as I can.


1) No, we are not fully funded. In all honesty, we are still about $10K short.
We have had our socks knocked off by the support (of all kinds!) that we have received and we are so incredibly grateful. Seriously, there are no words. If we are not funded before we leave, we do have a backup plan that will get us there and back with our daughter. It obviously isn't ideal, but we will do whatever it takes. God said He would provide, and He will.

2) Yes, our FSP and grant money (as in... the money attached to that button near the bottom right with her sweet face on it) was forwarded to our bank account TODAY to prepare for travel (woot!). IF you would still like to give financially in the coming days, please use the ChipIn button at the top right of the blog, which is attached directly to the bank account for Anna Gray's adoption.

And still... more info to share tonight I hope :)

WE GOT OUR DATE!!!!!

Our appointment with the SDA is January 16th at 11am!!!!

We are booking our flights today (more on that later), but in less than three weeks we will be in country to get our baby girl!!!!

Even more amazing- there are TEN families all going about the same time, so we will all be together to celebrate! PARTY AT THE TGIFRIDAYS!!

Aaahhh.... I can NOT think right now, I am pacing back and forth trying to figure out where to start :) I can barely type, my hands are shaking so badly.

All I know is we are THAT much closer to Anna Gray... and that the kids and I are having cupcakes for breakfast!!

I'll update later today when things get a little more organized!

Monday, December 26, 2011

No new dates today... I guess?

We usually get notified that there were no new dates... today, we didn't hear either way.
We do know that the facilitation team in country was working hard for some of our other families who had big days today (yay!), so they haven't had a chance to respond to our inquiries.

We also know that at least one family has their appointment tomorrow so someone from the team will be over at the DAP to get our dates, if some have been issued.

I hate the word TOMORROW. Blech.
But....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

One of the other waiting moms wrote this tonight.
It's beautiful. And perfect.

Twas the night before Monday and all through the land. . .
Not a creature was stirring - all too full to stand!
The stockings were scattered, with nary a care,
...
A sign that St. Nicholas once had been there.

The children were waiting in a land far away.
Not knowing that soon in a family they'd play.
A girl wore a kerchief, a boy wore a cap,
But no one got kisses before every nap.

Sitting at home, each family did pray,
That word of appointments would come the next day.
Some had their bags packed, all ready to go.
While others were fearful they still wouldn't know.

One mom packaged leftovers from a fat Christmas feast,
Another prayed for those that the Lord called, "the least."
One dad hugged his children, longing for more,
Another gazed at a photo he'd come to adore.

Of the thousands of children who just needed love,
Families stepped out in faith (with some help from above!).
Within someone's heart, each ignited a flame,
And each of these children was given a name.

There's Vanya, and "Gracie," and "Owen" (called Dan),
"Broderick," "Patrick," and little "Kylen."
And so many others, like "Reese" and "Francine,"
Their futures so full of hope, unforeseen.


And laying their heads, hoping sleep just might come,
Each family dreamed of a laughter-filled home.
And we'll hear each exclaim, if tomorrow's the day. . .
"Please, God, let our babies know love's on its way!"


Thank you, Jennifer!
And to our "Gracie"... praying we see you SOON, Baby girl.
Until tomorrow...
I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.
I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree.
I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know.
Make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is you...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still no date...

Blerg.

But we did get some sleep last night! Not necessarily because our brains were quiet, but because we were exhausted.  We've been running on about three hours a night and every 7-10 days or so, our bodies give in and pass out. It feels pretty awesome really.

I got up when Nathan left at 4:30, hoping for the phone call- no such luck. The teams says still maybe this week though, so we aren't giving up hope!

I'm starting to get a little excited again... I think.
I thought I was really going to struggle with her not being here for Christmas- it just feels like the world should stop until our girl is safe and sound at home. But... opening gifts without her sort of makes me anticipate what's to come instead. We had our first big Christmas last night with all my parents and siblings-
Anna Gray got a Madame Alexander doll that represents her country!



My niece, Catalina, checking out AG's doll...

Cale's teacher, Miss Sarah, also got Anna Gray a Christmas gift from their class, which I thought was VERY thoughtful. And I'll be packing it up to take with us when we go :)

We really appreciate those who have called/emailed/texted that they are praying.
We'll keep you updated!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Noteworthy.

"Hush little baby, don't say a word. Sissy's gonna buy you a mockingbird..."
Overheard Layla as she was putting a diaper on her kangaroo- "just practicing".



**************************************************************

Another tough weekend with more sad news. Even though it doesn't effect us directly, we care so much about the ones it does. And we know that a lot of people don't fully understand their grief. Every time we hear more, it breaks our hearts a little and lets the fears rise. I was opening the mail late Saturday night, feeling a little beaten down. I opened it to find this:


With a little note that a sweet friend had purchased it on our behalf.
I really needed that reminder right that second. I needed to remember why we are putting ourselves through this.
Thank you, Cayce.

******************************************************************

As much as it stinks, we are having to think about what we will do if we get all the way over there and find out that she is no longer available for adoption.  We won't spend a whole lot of thought on it, because we are staying positive and believe it won't be a decision we have to make.

 The powers that be, keep "gently" suggesting that we just pick another child.  Neither of us really know how we feel about that right now. Our gut reaction is, of course, we don't want another child- we want HER. We didn't just choose to adopt right now, we didn't just choose to adopt internationally, or from this specific country. We chose HER. We would feel like we were replacing her and that's NOT what we want.

But at the same time, we would have the opportunity to give an orphan a life worth living, and it's really hard to consider walking away from that. AND we know that God will bring us together with the child that is meant to be our's. We really, really (really) want it to be her.

Will you be in prayer for our hearts?

God has been clear with His purpose thus far and I pray our fears don't smother our ability to keep hearing it.

Just FYI-
When we do get our date (please please please please please), I may make the blog public again. We believe the initial threat that prompted privacy is over with, and to be honest- there are just too many people that want to read (how cool is that, btw?!). We want to be able to share our experience with anyone who wants to hear it. Reading the blogs of those that have gone before us has been really beneficial/inspiring/relatable/tear-jerking. If our blog can educate someone else, make them aware, give them hope, or let them see that they are not alone in their own experience- I want the option to do that.

Hopefully, the next thing I post is our DATE!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moving forward.


We feel less threatened today by "the one who shall not be named" and his ability to take Anna Gray. It's always a possibility, we just choose not to believe that he effects our daughter, personally. Although, it is still very scary and painful for some of our waiting friends and we are grieving with those who have already lost their child to him.

We are still very anxious at the idea that there could be someone else in the world on their way to "Gracie", believing she is their daughter, just as much as we do. In our minds and hearts, she is already our's. But until the court agrees, anything can happen.

It sucks. It's a terrible, terrible feeling.
I want to get back to the place of excitement and anticipation! When we do get our date, I want to be overwhelmed with the realization that it is actually happening- not be sick with worry that it will go wrong.

We are choosing faith.
"Don't forget in the dark what God told you in the light."

Each and every step gets us closer to her. For now, we pray for the phone call that we have an appointment.

Today-
I am going to shop for Christmas gifts and enjoy it. I'm going to stock up on snacks, toiletries, and meds that we will need to take with us and continue piling them up in the corner. I'm going to work on my lists and instructions for those helping while we are gone. I'm going to look for vintage crib sheets so I can show the judge where our daughter will be sleeping. I'm going to stalk the ones who are already in country and might get a glimpse at our girl. I'm going to make plans with friends who will be in country with us AND I'm going to make friends with one of those people who need to give away $$ for tax purposes :)  haha.... J/K on the last one!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just keep swimming.


Yesterday was torturous.
We get almost daily updates related to our adoption, her country, and how this whole thing is gonna work, but yesterday things were happening so fast we couldn't keep up. It got confusing trying to separate rumors/speculation/emotions from fact (of which, there is very little at this point). We both wanted to be sitting at the computer all day so that we could stay on top of it and beg for answers, but alas- life goes on and you have to go with it, no matter how crazy it makes you. Crazy, as in distracted and emotional and spastically oversharing with random strangers because you just.can't.think.

We have gotten more information on the situation that caused the most recent panic, and while that much does ease our minds a little in that particular area, we are -all- just so much more aware of the fragility of our adoptions at this point. As scary as it all is (and it absolutely sucks being reminded that anything can still happen), we have to just keep pushing forward with what we know.

We KNOW that God told us to go get this child.
We KNOW that God has provided ways for us to do that, ways that we couldn't have imagined.
We KNOW that we love her and will do whatever it takes.

Gosh, we love her.


We still expect to hear in the next week or so when we will be traveling. At this point, we just need to get there as.soon.as.possible. December is not possible, and they close for Orthodox Christmas Dec 31 until basically January 10th- as far as appointments go anyway. After that, we need to get there ASAP and get our girl home. There is absolute nothing we can do until then. Nothing except celebrate 30 years of Nathan (today!), and help the kids prepare to sing/sign in front of our church on Sunday, and have pajama parties at school, and have a birthday party for Jesus, and wrap and unwrap presents, and plan a 5th (what?!) birthday party... and that's what we will do.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Privacy.

This makes me so sad.
We haven't blogged in nearly 10 days. There is SO much going on, and it's so frustrating/scary/emotional- even moreso when we aren't "allowed" to share any of it.

I still can't tell you the details, but there are some families who will not be bringing their children home.

Every day we become more worried that we are going to be one of those families.

Once I know for sure that the blog really is inaccessible from outside parties, I will update more. Reece's Rainbow will also be removing our FSP from their website, although we will need to continue fundraising privately- somehow- since we are still $10K short.

For now, I can only tell you that we are still waiting for our travel date and ask for prayer, for our family and the other waiting families.

Also, just a reminder- this blog is for me to share my thoughts, feelings, experiences related specifically to this adoption. Any other goings on in our family are shared at our family blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good things.

The kids' sibling shirts came (in record time, I might add). I love getting packages, but I really love getting packages that mean she's close to coming home. I only got one really dark, cruddy phone pic, but trust me- the kiddos look adorable in their "Big Sis/Big Bro" shirts and they are SOOOO excited to wear them to our airport party.


In another fun package- the photo book we had made for the judge/Anna Gray.



We put it together pretty quickly (thinking we would be leaving sooner), but I think it turned out pretty well :) It's very sweet and a nice little representation of our family. Now to just keep it clean and sparkly for the next several weeks....


The first group of families arrived in country this weekend. It's been SO neat to hear from them, hear what the country is like, what the facilitation team is like, what to expect,what they wish they'd brought with them. They are answering questions for us and letting us know what needs to pray for specifically; it's pretty cool! It makes me even more excited to be over there and do the same for the rest of the waiting families. I can't wait until that daydream becomes reality!!  The last group of December families got their dates today, which is still good for us. It means we will almost definitely be the next group (NO reason we shouldn't, but the way the last few weeks have gone, I'm not counting on anything until it's DONE). I hate to wish time away, but I really hope the next few weeks fly by.

Here are a couple new pics of some of our favorite people rocking Annie tees:

Jody and Laura



The Wright Family



Also, another waiting family has new shirts ready too! If you'd like to help bring yet another sweet child home to their family, check them out here. I just ordered mine :) I love them!

Pretty sure that was meant for fitness, but I found it applicable to this adoption.

Monday, December 5, 2011

You know what I've figured out?
...That most of the things indicative that a baby is on the way are not pregnancy-specific.


We are not sleeping well.
We are gaining weight (stress eating!).
We have headches daily.
We are getting impatient/excited/nervous/hopeful knowing that the baby is soooo close to coming.
We are emotional and overly sensitive.
We are having breakouts like pre-teens.
We are reading on how to care for our child.
We get way too excited over teeny tiny pajamas.
We are leary to put much on our calendar, not knowing when she's coming.
We daydream about what she looks like, her sweet little voice, and what she'll be when she grows up.




Most of those are typically associated with pregnancy (and I, of course, am not pregnant), but we do have a baby on the way!

Short and... well:

We will not be traveling in December.
I could go on and on about all the different emotions we have about that, but it took me about three days just to post this much.

We are TRYING to focus on the positive and enjoy the Christmas season with our children at home.

So... ya know. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Changed my mind.

I don't want to reside in a bitter bubble today.

It shouldn't be anti-climatic for the ones who got dates today or for anyone to feel like they can't rejoice(!) due to someone else's disappointment! Five more littles are about to meet their families!! And honestly, that's great for ALL of us! That means things are moving and we will all get our turn soon :) As long as things are moving, there will always be someone else waiting and as long as someone else is waiting, that means another child will be getting a family! It's when there AREN'T families waiting and ready to go that we need to be upset.

We need to be genuinely excited for each and every one :) It doesn't necessarily lessen the disappointment for those that had their hopes up- self included- but I can be happy for you and sad for me/us at the same time. CONGRATS to those about to meet their babies!! :)

Well...

Five more families got their dates. We were expecting seven, hoping for nine at our house, but only five :/
It is obviously great that five more families will be on their way to their littles! Our team says more dates may come in the next couple of days or early next week, but the appointments issued today are so late in the month, that it's likely to only be the two who missed out on this batch and no more.

We should plan to travel in January, and since they will be closed for their holidays the first chunk, we will probably go sometime in the middle. A whole month later than we had hoped.

I am really trying not to be a Debbie Downer, but we're disappointed. It doesn't feel right to do Christmas without her. If we had gotten a date, we wouldn't be home for Christmas, but no one would be alone. Going in January means being there thru February... gosh I don't want her to spend her birthday in that orphanage. I know God's timing is perfect, but it's a really hard pill to swallow right now.

We just want our girl.
And we're exhausted. Staying up late, getting up early- hopes up, hopes down, hopes up, hopes down. Mad rush to be ready, just incase. EVERYTHING in limbo. No answers for the kids. It's... exhausting. And now we do it all over again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

blerg.

Still no date. The only update is that they are pushing thru a lot of appointments (not just for RR, or even just for the U.S. for that matter), which have been signed, but not registered. Apparently, it takes several minutes to register each one so it's just taking a little time and dates will be issued tomorrow. (I'm beginning to hate that word. At this point, so many of us have spent our share of sleepless nights waiting for news to come tomorrow. And since their country is 7 hours ahead of us, we all start stalking our group page around 3am waiting to hear.)

Part of our team in country did say that those submitted in November (we were submitted Nov 3rd) would most likely get a January date at this point. Pretty bummed, but not giving up home just yet- there's still a chance, she was just making a guess.

Edit: We just got word that they extended the appointments! The last appt was supposed to be Dec 21 and now they are making appts thru Dec 29! Hoping that means they added some!! Pray pray pray we get our date!!!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

We have a winner! (Well, two actually)

What an AWESOME response to the Opryland giveaway! We raised nearly $500 to help bring Anna Gray home! I will tell you in my next post why that is SO SO significant. THANK YOU ALL.

We had 23 people enter :)
As a reminder, the FIRST person to complete their ChipIn transaction and comment won the concert tickets to the world famous Wildhorse Saloon. And that person was...

Jennifer Thomas!

I will message you privately about your tickets.

Now the big item: TWO night stay in an upgraded room at Opryland Hotel and Resort AND dinner for two at Ravello.
The winner, chosen by a randomizer at random.org is...

Drumroll... drumroll!
Where are cousin Catherine and Ellen when you need them?
Aw, man, I am SO ready for some Christmas Vacation.

Anyway... the winner is...

MATT AND TC BUSH!!

I am SO happy for you. I will message you privately about your prize :)

Thank you again to Pete with Gaylord for donating such an incredible gift AND to all our family and friends for spreading the word and your participation!!
Thank you thank you thank you!!

Another "No Update" Update

I've written 2-3 posts already with small updates, but before I could get them published- things change. Such is the life of a waiting adoptive parent.

As you know, we didn't get our date Thursday, but there was another batch of appointment dates coming Monday. Our stateside helper (LOVE her) emailed us Friday to let us know we were not on the list of potential families to get an appointment Monday, so that we wouldn't spend our weekend waiting anxiously. Well, as it turns out... no one got appointments today. They are hopefully coming tomorrow, but they have now told us that these will be the last appointments for December.

We don't know yet if they have added anymore families to that list (which would mean us, and potentially three other families that had missed the cut-offs for Batch #2). I realize this is all extremely confusing from the outside. You cannot begin to imagine all the emotions on the inside.

I'm a wreck. I can't focus on ANYTHING today and I'm just feeling downright discouraged.  The good news is, tomorrow (hopefully), we will know. It may not be the answer we are hoping for, but we won't be in limbo anymore. The bad news is, if we don't get an appointment tomorrow, and are one of the January appointments- anything else could change. Including, but not limited to, paperwork which is already done and approved and would have to be re-done. Lord help me, I'm gonna cry. Or puke. Or both.

So... you know, you guys are apparently extremely good prayer warriors bc every time we've asked you to take something big to Him, He has sent very clear answers. We are asking again. We want to travel in December, desperately. We are fully aware that if we don't, it is for good reason that will be revealed at the right time. BUT... we really, really want to.

I'm going to attempt to fold this massive pile of laundry and then in just over an hour, we will have a winner for the Opryland package! Woot woot. We have a big meeting scheduled for this afternoon that I'm excited about, so hopefully I will have more positive things to share later :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

No news is still good news!

Well, we didn't get our date today as we were hoping... BUT three other families did! That's still very exciting as it means things are moving and for THAT we are thankful! Hopefully, we will get our's next week!

There are two other families going to our region probably just a few days before us, so we're hoping that means we will get a sneak peek at our girl just before we get there too ;) AND that means at least four of us will be in country together and have each other's support, specifically when the hubbies come home.

Good things! SO EXCITED.

Taking today off from the anticipation and spending it enjoying our time together as a five-pack and then later with extended family. Golly, I sure do love these people!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This needs to be said.

I... well, we (a group of moms waiting to travel to get our children from the same country)... fasted on Sunday. Some fasted from food, some from internet or other distracting things. In whatever way we could, we fasted and focused our time and efforts on praying. We prayed for ALL of our children. We prayed for progress. We prayed for decisions.

Not much more than 24 hours after the fast ended, we all got word. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but there is most definitely progress. The kind of progress that leads you to making 8 different kinds of lists and praying some more.

The praying some more leads to people coming out of the woodwork to help. Again, people who don't know us, but somehow they know that we are doing God's work and they want to be a part of it.

Satan is absolutely attacking us. Of course he is, he.is.terrified.
He's just now realizing that God just might pull this thing off! And not only that, but our faith stayed in tact! That is agitating the fire out of that devil!
But God is sneaky too... He likes to surprise you, He likes to do amazing things and watch you give Him the Glory.
And He's gonna.

Needless to say, with all this progress, things are more than a little insane around here. It's probably no accident that Nathan is off for the next two days so we can start checking things off those 8 lists. We are gathering our items to pack and figuring out what's left to buy, we are making childcare arrangements and petcare arrangements, we are applying for every grant and loan left uncovered, we are making photobooks to show our girl (and the judge) her new family, we are trying to begin Christmas shopping and finish in a day or two, trying to spend QT with the kids before we leave... throw all that into the normal holiday craziness and well, there's a lot of coffee and a lot more praying involved.

Slightly unrelated to the chaotic exciting frazzled last day and a half, I just want to say two things very clearly (even though I don't need to). For those that are "worried":

1. While we can care for her when she gets home, no, we did not have the $25K needed to cover these adoption fees... because we didn't set out to adopt this child. God chose her for us. And if not us, then who? Who will go to this baby girl and free her from life in an orphanage? Who will teach our kids about obedience and faith in our God? Which one of you is willing to stand up, swallow your own pride, and love like Jesus? And I'm not saying everyone is meant to adopt orphans, I'm saying- fight for what God called YOU to do.

2. It is not ideal for one or both of us to be gone over Christmas. Will we be sad to be away from our children at such a magical time? Absolutely. Will they miss us terribly and us them? Yep. But our CHILDREN- our 4 and 7 year old children... they get it. We have asked them repeatedly (bc this is their family too) how they feel about it and the response is always the same, "Just bring Annie home." They are not asking for much for Christmas. They obviously see all the things on TV and in catalogues that they would enjoy having, but if you ask them what they really want- there's very little that they are that excited about. They get it. They get that the world is bigger than whatever little thing Toys R Us tells them to want.  They get that a few weeks without us is nothing compared to a lifetime in the orphanage for her. I'm so, so proud of them.

** Things are changing every minute! EXCITING things! We will keep you updated in ways that we can :) Please be in prayer as we run around in circles watching God move!**

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PRAY PRAY PRAY!

We got word today that we could be traveling VERY soon!
We are running in circles trying to start packing and more than anything, secure the rest of the funds needed. Please pray for quick resolution!!

Also, if anyone feels called to donate frequent flyer miles, we'd be glad to take them off your hands ;)

We'll keep you updated!


Here's hoping we get to meet our little girl soon!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Item #2... with a twist.

***For the sake of legal precaution, some of the words used have been changed! There is no mention of buying, purchasing, or a raffle. Think of it more as a potential giveaway for your donation ;)***


Well, the first item didn't go as we'd hoped. As in, NO ONE got a ticket. You guys are crazy! Adoption or not, I'd love to donate $10 for two concert tix! Lol.

We are going to go ahead with the 2nd item anyway because it's just too good.


Seriously, TOO good.

Ready?

I'm excited!

Up for grabs is...

A TWO NIGHT stay at Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort, UPGRADED room AND dinner at RAVELLO for two!!!

Isn't that amazing?! How FUN would it be to get two nights at the hotel, with dinner and a fancy room?! Would make an awesome Christmas gift as well!

Nathan and I spend a kid-free weekend at Opryland every year, it's one of our absolute favorite things to do! There is just so much to do in and around the hotel :)

Thank you sooo much to Pete Weien with Gaylord for donating such an incredible package in support of our adoption!!

You have until noon NEXT Monday, November 28th to enter.
As before:
You can get ONE ticket for $10. Each additional ticket is $5. (i.e. 1/$10, 2/$15, 3/$20, etc.). Your name is entered for each TICKET. Only one transaction is needed, no matter how many tickets you want.


To enter:


  • Click the ChipIn Widget at the top right of the blog.
  • Leave me a comment here letting me know that you have donated and for how many.
  • Tell your friends!

Now, here comes the "twist":
The FIRST person to donate AND leave a comment saying they did so will get the two concert tickets to the Wildhorse Saloon for the concert of your choice.

You have to both make the donatin AND leave the comment to qualify, the FIRST person to do that- gets the concert tickets. **You CAN win the concert tickets without getting the Opryland Hotel package.** The first person to enter isn't necessarily the one who will get the Opryland package, they will only for sure win the concert tickets.

This is an AMAZING prize, so make sure to tell everyone to make their donations for the chance to win (Oh, and help bring a sweet baby home to her family)!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I already regret my pity party.

I'm not sure I should delete it, because I don't want to hide that part of me... and I don't want anyone to see my smile and wonder what about it is fake? I guess if you read that, you'll know. If you're on pinterest (and why wouldn't you be?!), you may have seen this sign:



That's it in a nutshell. So if you see my "fake" smile, don't assume it means I'm not being genuine. It's just that my muscles are being pulled in all different directions by my heart right now. 

I apologize in advance for the lack of rainbows and puppy dogs in this post.

It also will most likely be grammatically incorrect. I'm just going to start typing...


It's just all too much.
My mind, body, and soul are not unified in their decisions. I recognize this feeling, but I don't like it. It creeps up on you so unexpectedly; not an easy way to come for little miss control freak.  I know what I want to be doing (getting my kids ready for school, fixing dinners for my family, working out), I know what I need to be doing (cleaning my house, completing grant applications). My inside is feverishly in constant creation of a to-do list, but my outide doesn't give a crap what my inside says. My outside is tired. And sad. And frustrated. My outside doesn't want to do anything.

I'm so overwhelmed with what needs to be done that I can't function well enough to do it. My head is spinning-there are a million things going on. There are always a million things going on, I just usually juggle them much better. Not right now. I'm shutting down. I feel like any minute you will see the steam coming out of my ears and my head will spin right off into the corner of the room like on Looney Tunes, then the rest of me will sink into the ground, deflated.

There's so much no one tells you about adoption. Maybe it's because they don't have time. Maybe it's because they don't want to complain. Maybe it's because they forget. Maybe it's because they just don't know how. Maybe it's because they know you just won't get it.

I'm going to get blasted for saying this, but it's the only thing I can think of... I imagine that what we're going thru feels somewhat similar to having a missing child.  I am NOT saying it's the same, at all. Only that the emotions you feel- knowing your child is out there somewhere but not knowing where they are, who they are with... worrying about how they are being treated. When will they come home?! Are they okay?! Are they hurting?! Are they scared?! Are they hungry or sad or sitting in dirty clothes?! The frustration of waiting on someone else to give you some kind of news, staring at their picture for way too long, the constant state of prayer, willing to do whatever.it.takes. to get your child home. It consumes you. How are you supposed to just keep on going thru each day like you aren't consumed by this?

Please please please know that I am not minimalizing the experience of a missing child. I am simply relating to SOME of the emotions I imagine would exist in those circumstances.

I'm sure you've heard adoption called an emotional roller coaster. Highs and lows are an understatement.

You don't expect it when random acquaintances, people you never thought in a million years would care, work their butts off to get your child home. They donate time and money and pray relentlessly for you and your child- because they can. They watch your kids so you can check things off your to-do list, or prepare to so you can go get your baby girl. They share hand-me-down clothes, furniture, and blankets.  They tell people her story, so they can pray too.

You don't expect it when family or friends that you are close to are discouraging or intentionally disappear when you need them most.You don't expect to see your husband cry for a child he's never met or sitting on the couch holding clothes that will be worn by her when she gets here. You don't expect to hear rumors of good news and cry in anticipation. You don't expect your children to pray for her, out loud, every.single.day. You don't expect them to be sad too. You don't expect to panic that you might not be able to bring her home when you get there (it happens). You don't expect to wake up at 4am (11am her time) to see if there's news. You don't expect to be THAT relieved to meet someone else who is waiting too. You don't expect to rejoice with those who get to go before you, because you know how they feel.

Excited... and scared... and exhausted... and emotional... and hopeful.
Ready.



I don't have any good way to end this post. I just needed to get it out. There is so much going on, more than you know. I feel like I'm not supposed to let any of this show. It doesn't change the fact that we are blessed and grateful and praising Him for all he's already given us. On the inside. My outside is just struggling to keep up right now.


There's a story here, but this has been "our" song for this adoption since before we committed to her. And I can't tell you how many times I've gotten in the car feeling numb and it has come on.

I hear you.

John Waller

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience, yeah
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You Lord
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chick-Fil-A for Anna Gray!



We had an AMAZING turn-out last night!




We counted 67 people who intentionally came into the resturant to support the adoption, numerous others that hit the drive thru (even though the line wrapped around the building and carried out into the road!) and have been hearing from more and more people today who came and we somehow missed them in the craziness.




From about 6-7p the joint was HOPPIN'! The manager of the Chick-Fil-A said this was one of the biggest fundraisers they've had.



We have the  most incredible friends, family, and church family.




We haven't gotten confirmation on our grand total just yet, but we have an idea and we are SO stinking grateful ;)





THANK YOU ALL who came out and ate chicken for Annie, who sent your prayers and encouragement, and/or spread the word and invited others.




Some positive steps have been made in her country to resume the adoptions and get things moving, but every day we find out more and more of what is left to face. And it's a lot.  Today, I have spent a significant amount of time making lists and notes and reminders. I have sobbed while reading other people's coming home stories. Gosh, I can't wait to write that story.





We have joy in our hearts over what's to (eventually) come, but also fear in the unknown and a heaviness thick as mud. I wish I could rant share more details, but obviously don't want to do anything that could slow us down anymore. Of course, we're hopeful and encouraged in our spirits that this is God's plan. It is NOT going to be easy (never thought it would be, but we had NOOOOO idea) and it is not going to be quick. But His will WILL be done.




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tonight's the night!

We are so excited to see our family and friends at Chick-Fil-A tonight in support!

Don't forget to come between 5-8pm! 10% of ALL sales will help bring Anna Gray home :)
{Glenbrook only}




Thanks SO much to Chick-Fil-A for the opportunity, Revolution Church for sponsoring us, and all our incredible family and friends for spreading the word!!

See you SOON!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adoption Education

Quick update!
We just got word that our dossier has been submitted to the court in her country. It could take two weeks to be reviewed. Please pray they don't find any problems and we are invited to travel!!

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An adoption friend of mine recently wrote a blog about adoption myths. I had just said I should do the same after a conversation Nathan and I had. We have both been encountering a LOT of people recently (even people close to us) who just aren't educated on adoption. It's frustrating sometimes ,but really and truly- people just don't know. And it's our job to get the truth out there. Feel free to read my friend, Katie's, blog here, and I'm going to answer some of the same questions myself- since not all answers are the same for everyone.



1) Is adopting a child really expensive?
First, let me be clear that you are not making a purchase. The fees associated with adoption include paperwork, processing the paperwork, attorney fees, homestudy fees, travel fees, etc. You are paying for the process, not the child. As far as how costly all that is, well- it's all relative. A lot of factors play into the cost of adoption. For example, if you do foster-to-adopt through your state, it will most likely cost next to nothing (if anything at all). Private independent adoptions (typically domestic) can range from court cost only (couple thousand dollars) to VERY expensive if you choose to pay birthmother expenses, have to make travel arrangements, etc. A lot of agencies base their fees on a sliding scale. I know families who have spent $1,300 and I know families who have spent $40,000.

And really... can you put a price on changing a life? Saving a life?

Do NOT let the money aspect scare you away. If you believe this is what you are called to do, it will be done. There are tons of grants available out there if you do the leg-work. It is VERY common in the adoption community to fundraise (obviously- we've doing it for MONTHS) for your fees. It's not ideal, but it's worth it.

2) What if the birthmom wants the baby back?
Ugh. We hear this ALL the time. Storylines like the one on Glee right now are NOT helping. That one hasn't completely played out yet, so I'm hoping they discuss the legalities at some point before it's all said and done. Every state has it's own laws when it comes to terminating the rights of the birthparents. In TN, the birthmother can't sign away her rights for 48 hours. And then it takes ten business days for it to be effective. Once it's done, it's DONE.

3) How involved is the birthmom?
That differs with every case too. We have a very closed adoption- their choice. We used to send letters/pictures to the agency just incase their birthparents ever wanted them. We do know that they came to get them at least twice. Other than that, we have no contact. However, I know some families who see and/or speak to their child's birthmother regularly, who do birthday parties and vacations together. And then there's everything in between. That decision is up to the birthmother and the adoptive families (and child, if old enough). There has been plenty of research supporting the psychological benefits of knowing where you come from. There is nothing natural about a child who is not with their biological family, any ties you can make- helps.

4) Why adopt domestically? Why adopt internationally?
Again, everyone has a different answer to this question. When we first started the process, we had no idea which direction we would go. It turned out, because we were only 24 and had only been married for three years, we didn't qualify to adopt from any international countries thru the agency we chose.  We opted for a domestic infant adoption for those reasons. Although I had always fantasized about having a multicultural family, I never expected we would actually do it at this point. There are so many babies here that need homes and I'm not a patient person. Not to mention, it didn't make sense FOR US to spend the money when we could adopt domestically for less. We even discussed foster for a while (not due to the financial aspect, but because we weren't sure if it was something we should be open to). You know that saying... if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him YOUR plans?! Ha. Indeed. He practically slapped us in the face with Anna Gray and VERY clearly told us to go get her. Neither of us could deny that. It was/is scary. This is not what WE planned, but we have to trust Him. I don't feel loyalty to only help the children in our country. I want to, I want to help them all. But I'm very much a "One World, One God" kind of gal and I believe in obedience. Pray about your decision and trust your spiritual discernment. God will lead you down the right path for your family.

5) Can you really love your adopted children the same as your biological child?
In a word- YES.
For some, it takes a little longer to bond with their children, whether they are adopted or not.

I loved Layla from the day I knew she existed. I hadn't seen her, or held her, but I loved her. I cared so much about how she was doing and if she felt safe. She was something I wanted, something I dreamed about. I looked at her ultrasound picture and imagined who she was going to be. And then she was born. The moment I saw her, she was MINE. I would do ANYTHING for her.

With the twins, the first time I read about them, I loved them. I hadn't seen them, or held them, but I loved them. I cared so much about how they were doing and if they felt safe. They were something I wanted, something I dreamed about. I looked at the picture of them the agency sent us and imagined who they were going to be. And then I met them. The moment I saw them, they were MINE. I would do ANYTHING for them.

With Anna Gray, I saw her picture first. And I loved her. I cared so much about how she was doing and if she felt safe. She is something I didn't even know I wanted and now I dream about. I can't wait to meet her, to see who she is going to be, but I know she is MINE. I would do ANYTHING for her.

I have to tell you, it is the strangest feeling in the world to look at a picture of a little girl on the other side of the world and know that she's your child. That this little person you've never met, never touched, is meant to be with you. It's not something you can control, it's not something you can force. You can only accept it, but it is very, very strange.

**************
I'd be glad to answer any more questions you have about adoption in general, domestic adoption, international adoption, transracial adoption- at least as they relate to us. Because... well, I don't know everything. I only know what our experiences have been, but I can share those :) Just ask!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!!

Alright, folks-
Mark your calendars:
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH

If you live in our area, PLEASE come eat dinner at the Hendersonville Chick-Fil-A between the hours of 5-8pm.

Chick-Fil-A (Hendersonville only) will be donating 10% of their sales during those hours on November 10th to benefit our adoption!!

Spread the word!
(Please) Invite everyone you know to come eat at Chick-Fil-A on Nov 10th between 5-8pm!!!
The more people that come out to eat with us, the closer we are to bringing Anna Gray home :)



Also, Reminder:
The raffle for the Wildhorse concert tickets ends at midnight tonight! Buy your tickets today (and let's just say, you have a good chance of winning). Ha. They don't have to be used for NYE if another night works for better for you. We can work that part out ;)

Another also,
November is NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH!
Stay tuned on ways you can help spread awareness!!

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Hope to see you all on the 10th!!
Tell your friends :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NEW FUNDRAISER!!

Hi, friends!
It's time to start the next fundraiser that's going to help bring Anna Gray HOME!


We are really excited as this one should be fun for us to do AND give something great back in return :)


We are going to have a raffle!


For our first item, we will be raffling off...


TWO TICKETS TO THE NEW YEAR'S EVE CONCERT AT THE WILDHORSE SALOON!!
The Wildhorse gift will also include several other items only found at Nashville's world famous Wildhorse Saloon :)
Check out:
www.wildhorsesaloon.com


Nathan and I have spent a few different NYE at the Wildhorse and it was SO much fun! It's a great party! This year, they are featuring three different bands- inlcuding McKenzie's Mill and Brian Davis!

You have until midnight (central time) November 1 to enter *for THIS item*. I will be drawing the winner using random.org and will announce the winner Wednesday, November 2nd.


You can "purchase" ONE raffle ticket for $10. Each additional ticket is $5. (i.e. 1/$10, 2/$15, 3/$20, etc.). Your name is entered for each TICKET you buy (not each donation). Only one transaction is needed, no matter how many tickets you purchase.


To enter the raffle:

  • Click the ChipIn Widget at the top right of the blog.
  • Leave me a comment here letting me know that you have purchased your ticket/s and how many.
  • Tell your friends!

Thank you so, so much to the sales team of the Wildhorse Saloon for donating this item for us to raffle off for our adoption! The next item is pretty awesome too, so keep checking back to win!


*If you have any goods or services you would like to donate for our raffle, please contact me and we will set it up! I know you guys have some great stuff to offer!! THANK YOU!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Provision.

I had another post written out, but I don't like it.
I'm feeling kind of panicky today about funding the adoption (maybe it's this enormous energy drink?). I don't want to feel that way and I have no reason to. God said He would provide and He will.

  • A couple of weeks ago, we needed $900 for our homestudy and $500 for translating the dossier ($1400 total). The same day, I deposited $1467 in tshirt/bottle money.

  • We rent a storage unit from a family friend. She sent a note saying to put two months rent toward the adoption (totals $130). The same day we received the note, we payed EXACTLY $130 to authenticate our dossier.

So why worry now?
HE'S GOT THIS.

Not only is God going to provide, but He's doing it in ways that glorify HIM.
We spent a significant amount of time praying about this before ever starting the process and He was very clear about that in His response.

So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:21

So, instead of the other panicky post, I'll just post some pics of proof. As a reminder to myself that He's already doing it. As a reminder to keep the faith. As a reminder that we have some amazing family and friends supporting us, praying for us, and we are not in this alone.


McAughty's- LOVE them!


Our nephew, Evan- VERY excited to meet his new cousin!


E's little sister, Catalina- she learned to say Anna Gray yesterday :) It was a complete coincidence that we were both wearing our shirts!


My dance partner! Hoping to get a pic soon of all the dancers wearing their shirts! I love my dance family!!





And I forgot to post this the other day:
The kids and I putting our dossier in the mail!


Friday, October 21, 2011

So long, dossier! Have a safe trip! Hope to see you soon!

Oh.my.word.
I could cry.

I can't believe it's done. Just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed to be a mountain we would never see the top of. It's weird to have poured everything we have into those papers for MONTHS and now... we just send them away. And we wait. We wait and we pray.

I have always felt really tuned in to my discerning spirit, and I truly don't want to be naive. I really understand what we are being told. I understand that everyone telling us about what this process is going to look like has WAY more knowledge and experience than I.  I hear ya, I do.  But...

But I just feel like... something unexpected might happen.

I don't know, maybe not. I don't like to spill my super secret spiritual thoughts because I'm afraid I'll jinx them somehow, but there's even a date showing up in front of me. I don't know what it represents, it's just there.

Either way, the dossier is done and ON IT'S WAY! We are THAT much closer to bringing her home! And that's a LOT closer!

Special shout out to the ladies at the Dept of State who stayed 45 minutes after work to make sure everything got apostilled for us. Mega props, government ladies.

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Also, thank you all for the encouragement yesterday. I don't like to have dark days (at all) but I won't pretend that I don't from time-to-time. You all were there for me/us, as always.

As we enter the next phase, I beg you to pray with us. As always, pray for her. Pray for her care, pray for her soul. I appreciated so much yesterday when a friend said she was praying Annie could feel our love from here. Pray for that, would you? Pray for the three children we have at home who are growing impatient waiting for their baby sister to come home. Pray for understanding and acceptance of their sweet hearts. Pray for Nathan and I as we prepare for a different kind of roller coaster. Pray that our eyes and ears are opened to the financial opportunities God provides to bring her home. There are still shirts to sell, bottles to fill, and two more fundraiser announcements coming soon. We have had our socks blessed off already and we are incredibly grateful for the consideration of all our family and friends- even total strangers- but there are some LARGE fees ahead of us. We've got work to do.

Also, I hope you understand that we aren't looking for handouts. This isn't about us. At all. This is about saving the life of a baby girl in need. When you give, in any form or fashion, you very literally contribute to SAVING HER LIFE. If we are able to fund her adoption, she will be spared from life in an adult mental institution and receive ALL the love and squeezes and smooches and opportunities that she deserves, and then some.

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You all have been an AMAZING rock for us to stand on. I have racked my brain relentlessly and I just cannot find an appropriate way to say thank you. I'll keep trying.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Golly Molly, my heart is tender today.

The first part of the day started not so good.

(In chronological order, not order of relevance)
Not good#1-
It's hard to understand, when we are in the middle of bringing home a beautiful baby girl, that I could still struggle with my feelings about our infertility. I've said it before, but our children don't replace that feeling of being broken. I OBVIOUSLY love my children more than anything in the world, but that has nothing to do with how they got here. For me, loving my children and being grateful for them is totally separate from the frustration and sadness that comes with being "broken".  Being around those that take their fertility for granted tends to bring those feelings to the surface... quickly.


Not good#2-
I was already down and out when I found out my grandfather was being rushed to the emergency room with a possible stroke. We still don't really know what's going on, but it's not good. He is being admitted now and his screams have been sedated. My heart hurts for him.


Not good#3-
Shortly after that, we found out that our travel hopes to bring Annie home will be delayed for reasons beyond our control. She will not be home for Christmas. There are changes taking place in Annie's country and we knew there was a possiblilty it would effect us, but knowing it now- makes me very, very sad. I am physically and emotionally exhausted from fighting to save my child and she's on the other side of the world.

It's just been a sad day.

Still, I am NOT having a pity party. I hear a constant reminder in my spirit that it could be worse. I prayed about my feelings and asked our friends and family to share their praises with me so I could focus on the GOOD.

I managed to go through the motions of grocery shopping and errands like a zombie, just so I didn't have to add guilt of an unproductive day to my list of emotions.  The truth is, I'm ridiculously thankful for the chance to go to the grocery store.  I have a family to feed. I have a vehicle and I had gas to get there. My children have food to eat. And I paid for it. In fact, they eat EVERY day. More than once. That's a big deal. Yes, I am thankful.

The day has taken a turn for the better where it can.
Good#1-
Nathan got some news regarding job changes. Nothing confirmed yet, but it does sound hopeful.

Good#2-
When I came home, our "golden ticket" (written approval from USCIS) was in the mailbox. That's it, that's all we needed. Our dossier will go in the mail tomorrow and then... we wait.

Good#3-
Layla and Cale both had good days at school. My perfectly imperfect husband is home, and I'm looking forward to tonight's gig. Dancing makes me happy.

I am sad. But I am most definitely grateful. And hopeful.
Just incase you need a reminder to be, read here.
I've read it three times today so far. I wish I would have written it. Just glad it was written.

And just because I love quotes and they make everything more worldly somehow:

"Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you 're alive, it isn't." -Robert Frost

"Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and in between the two- my life moves."

"I cannot control the world around me, only my reaction to it."

"Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite, forever orbiting
I knew all the rules,
but the rules did not know me
Guaranteed."

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Cor 5:7




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I realize this whole post was all over the place, really. But that's just where I am today.
"I don't like the term 'insane'. I prefer 'mentally hilarious."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Me and God are Facebook friends.

First of all,
THANK YOU
THANK YOU
THANK YOU

To everyone who was making phone calls, sending emails and faxed letters, etc to our Congressman (and anyone else that might be able to help) on our behalf. It means SO much to us that you would take the time to do that. We are so incredibly blessed to have friends and family fight for our girl like that. Really and truly, thank you.

Wanna hear a story about how God works? 

Two weeks ago, I wrote on my FB wall that I would be doing photo sessions to raise money for the adoption. A friend re-posted on her page. A friend of that friend asked me to call her about setting up a session. That friend of a friend wanted me to do headshots for the staff of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.
I did those on Tuesday. While there, I got to talking to the GM of the hotel. The GM of the hotel happened to have a friend working for another one of our Congressmen. Since we hadn't heard back from the representative for our own district, I threw caution to the wind and emailed him, asking for the contact info for the friend (of the GM of the hotel). He made a call.  This a.m., the Chief of Staff of the Congressmen that works with someone that's friends with the GM of the hotel called me. Our officer with USCIS also called me. It's done and WE ARE APPROVED!

Aaaand that Congressman and his Chief of Staff also believe they may be able to help later on in the game as well.

Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Slap my knee and kiss my cousin, it is DONE.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Congressman and his Chief of Staff. Thank you, Jesus, for the GM of the hotel. Thank you, Jesus, for the friend of a friend and the friend. Thank you, Jesus, for Facebook.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us as soon as the golden ticket reaches our mailbox. We have more to get county certified and apostilled (can all be done in one day as soon as it's in our hands!) and then it will be on it's waaayy. Once it gets there, a whole new battle starts.

Oh, goodness. I can almost feel that little chipmunk in my arms. So close.

Thank you, friends, for being there. You all and your prayers are saving a life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October.

We are all aware of how much pink arrives during the month of October to support breast cancer awareness. Great thing! I'm all about spreading awareness, I even have pink hair right now to do so and use the opportunity to talk about my amazing friend, Traci, her fight, and The Right to Fight Foundation she has started to help other's with their's.

But where's the blue and gold? I'll admit... Until this year, I never knew that October was also Down Syndrome Awareness month. And now, I am so very aware.

In case you don't know, humans have 23 pair of chromosomes. Down Syndrome occurs when #21 has one extra chromosome (three instead of two). There are some specific physical characteristics that are typically affected by "Trisomy 21" (the scientific / genetic term for Down syndrome). They are all possibilities, but do not affect every child with Down syndrome. These characteristics are:

Low Muscle Tone
broader face (flatter mid-face)
flatter nose bridge
•smaller nasal passages
slant upward "almond eyes"
•epicanthal folds at corners
•"Brushfield spots" in colored part of iris
 •small mouth
•shallow roof of mouth
   Teeth come in late
•come in an unusual order
•small
•unusually shaped
•out of place
     Ears:
small
•fold over at top
•small or absent ear lobes
•set slightly lower on head
•smaller ear passages
     Head Shape slightly smaller than normal
•back of head - flatter and shorter
•neck may appear shorter
•loose folds of skin on back of nexk
•Stature - average weight & height, but slow growth with smaller final adult
•smaller hands
•shorter fingers (especially the 5th finger)
•only 1 crease in palm
gap between first and second toes
•flat feet
fair, sensitive skin
Soft, thin hair

There are also numerous intellectual and development delays, heart conditions, and other things associated with Down Syndrome.

Again, not everyone with DS will have every characteristic. Anyone could have any combination, and the effect of each can vary greatly from person to person.



Here are a few ways YOU can spread awareness about Down Syndrome. Now you know.

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Check out this beautiful blanket that family friend, Anne, made to bring our baby girl home in. She chose the colors based on the flag for Annie's country.



Isn't it an interesting coincidence that the colors that represent DS are the same colors?
Each one of my children have come in the blankets that sweet Anne has made for them.

I love love love this tradition!
Thank you, Anne, for another beautiful blanket.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First packet SHIPPED!

Our first set of notarized, county certified, apostilled paperwork is ON IT'S WAY to Annie's country!!  We have officially requested to adopt her and bring her here :)
So excited! And nervous. Ha.

COME ON, IMMIGRATION!! Still need that golden ticket to come ASAP.

I did happen to make a contact today with someone who may be able to help with that. More to come :)

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I picked up a certified letter from the post office today.
My jaw dropped.

It was from Dr.Rude.

She paid $6 to send us a letter telling us that she is resigning as a physician.
Mmhhmm.
I promise we didn't send her any threats or egg her house. We didn't do anything AT ALL, actually.

We had/have? full intentions of filing formal complaints with the hospital and medical board when all is said and done with the adoption, but we wanted to make sure everything was taken care of first.  Surely to goodness she didn't spend $6 on a letter for each of her patients? Maybe she just wanted to make sure we knew? I hate to say it, but I've even questioned if it were the truth. Or if she just wanted us to think that so that we didn't take further action against her. It makes me sad that it even crossed my mind, but at this point- nothing would surprise me.

Oh, well. It's over and done... I hope.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Darn you, Christopher Columbus (I know, not really).

We are nearly ready to send over our first packet of paperwork. And it needs to go ASAP. I woke up on this first day of fall break ready to knock.it.out. I got everybody up and out the door with a massive to do list:
County Clerk to get the paperwork county certified.
Dept of State to get them apostilled.
Fed Ex to get them mailed.
Post Office to mail some t-shirts and pick up a letter we missed on Saturday (Golden ticket?!).
Bank to deposit t-shirt and bottle money.

Drove 30 minutes to the first stop before I realized today is Columbus Day and they were ALL closed.

Fluster.

I have three photo appointments tomorrow (which is good!), but we WILL get it done.


In entertainment news for the day...

Nathan, the littles, and Oakley (the dog) walked to a market close by to get some milk yesterday afternoon and who is out walking her dogs? Dr.Rude. Nathan said she literally picked up her dogs and started basically running up the hill to get away from them. Distressed enough that she actually dropped one of the dogs! Even Cale said, "Mama- a lady ran from us with her dogs! She was not nice and did not say hi". ha.

Here's Pastor K and the lovely Jen representing Annie at DisneyWorld this week!


And my beautiful sister in law waiting for her neice :)



Thursday, October 6, 2011

She signed!

Dr.Rude signed the notary form!

Hallelujah.

Now the ONLY thing we are waiting on is approval from immigration. PRAY PRAY PRAY- almost there!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2 (big) steps forward, 3 steps back into a wall that's hard as a brickbat.

Drama. Drama. Drama.

First, a little good news. Mama Stang and I (that's my mom, btw, and she's a fiesty son-of-a-gun) visited the office of Dr.Rude on Monday.  I did give Mama Stang a wee bit of a lecture beforehand. We agreed to "kill her with kindness". Going to jail wasn't going to get the form filled out any faster.

So, we went. Actually, first we visited the hospital's one and only notary to make sure she was available to notarize our medical statements a third time so that Dr.Rude couldn't use that as an excuse (again). Unfortunately, the notary was out sick and her sub was gone for the day. The real Dr.Rude - please stand up, please stand up- would not come into the front office. She stayed in her office just on the other side of the door. She and her office manager- who at this point, is just as troublesome and terrified of doing something that's going to cost her her job- agreed that they could NOT change the code on the medical statement. (She also claimed to not be aware of our situation, yet greeted me by my first name when I walked in the door and referred to Nathan by his after she said she doesn't remember ever talking to him?!) After some explaining and a phone call to our stateside helper, I convinced her to lose the code alltogether and just write "normal". She attempted to use the notary excuse (again), but we assured her that someone would be there at 7:30am. Then the problem became her not having TIME to sign her name. She literally said that Dr.Rude wouldn't have time to walk from her office to the front office (a DOOR separates the two). I left it anyway and just let her know we'd appreciate it if she'd try.

Low and behold at 9:30am the next morning, she called me to say everything was signed and notarized. Nathan picked it up and it was correct! Yay! Over one big hurdle. Now that meant we were going to need a copy of her medical license, which she has refused to give us from day one. It's been a day long battle today between us, them, the hospital, their attorney, and Reese's Rainbow. And several other friends who have really tried to help. Right now, it's ended with us being labeled as "fishy" for asking for her license and them implying that we may actually want it so we can get drugs for ourselves.  Really.

Waiting on the attorney to call back in the morning and (*hopefully, please little tiny baby Jesus!!) say they can sign the notary form that simply acknowledges that she is, in fact, a doctor (at least, according to the Board of Medicine).

Ugh. I never in a million years dreamed that a doctor would work SO hard to hinder our adoption.  I just don't get it?! She doesn't benefit at all from making things difficult (if anything, it's been more work for her) and our adoption most certainly won't hurt her at all.

Oh, and another interesting twist... We found out she lives ONE house away from us. Not. Kidding.

****************************************************

In other news... we got our biometrics appointment for immigration on Monday. It was for October 27th. That's too late. So... we just drove down there today and walked in. We were out in ten minutes and it.was.done.  That is huge in getting our immigration processed sooner!

AND it's the closest thing to a date that we've had in a while :) Side-by-side fingerprinting! How romantic :)  Hey... we'll take what we can get!

Our congressman has been flooded with calls and emails from us, family, and friends. We will follow up now to let her know that we are only waiting on approval!!

SOOOOO      CLOOOOSE.
Keep praying!!! It's working!! :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We need you to pray.

This week is huge.

Tomorrow, we will confront the doctor one last time.  I will go to her office for the 7th time.  I will beg and plead, if needed.  I will not let Satan use her to hurt us.  I will ask nicely and always do the right thing and hope she does the same. But just incase she doesn't, I'm taking Momma Stang with me. And you do NOT want to mess with Momma Stang. Please pray for this doctor. Pray that God changes her heart and she wants to help. Pray that she corrects the mistakes she made. At the very least, pray that she does the job she is being paid to do.

Also, we are in a very serious race against the clock and we just might lose.  We do not know if our immigration approval is going to get back in time. Honestly, it shouldn't, but I believe in a God who can do anything.  We are being encouraged to write to our congressmen and ask them to intervene on our behalf. As much as we want her home for ourselves, it breaks my heart to think of our baby girl staying in that orphanage longer than she has to. Please, PLEASE, pray with us. Pray that that we get the attention of our congress woman. Pray that she acts on our behalf. Pray that immigration processes our application at record speed. Please pray that our child comes home sooner, rather than later.

Please and thank you.
We're scared, folks.



*If anyone else would like to write to our representative on our behalf, email me for contact info.