Our Little Family

Our Little Family

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Outward Not Inward

This life is not about me.  It's about others.  I was not put on this planet to spend 80+ years trying to figure out how to make myself the most happy, comfortable and content.  Nope.  This life is about others, all of those people around me.  Don't believe me?  Go watch The Christmas Carol right now!  Want to end up like Scrooge?!!  Seriously though, think about this, when you are having a bad day, who is your focus on? Usually self right?  Want to turn that day around super fast?  Try buying a homeless man lunch, holding a door open for a mom with her hands full of groceries and little people, genuinely compliment the cashier at the store about themselves, send a friend a fun, thinking of you e-card, stop and pick up an item for an older gentleman who dropped it, you know what you will find?  By getting your mind off of yourself and your situation and on to others, your day will start to turn around!  You will gain joy by seeing and doing for others!!

This is a lesson that I have been learning so much recently, and it applies to all areas of life!  Think about it, school, work, friendships, marriage, parenting, and yes even adoption journeys, in all of these things we have the chance to see others, to love others and not just focus on ourselves!  Isn't this the lesson that we always hear being taught at Christmas time?  It's about others, it's about giving not receiving?  How come we start talking about that lesson each holiday season but forget that it is something to work on the whole year through?

I would love for it to be said of me at the end of my life that I genuinely saw others and cared about them.  I will be honest though, I've got a long way to go!  You know, so much of the time in this journey to adopt, I get so wrapped up in how it is affecting me, that I forget about the others that it is also affecting.  This journey also involves an amazing, hard working husband, two big-hearted little boys, tons of unbelievably supportive family and friends, several adoption agency workers, a birth mom facing the hardest decision of her life, and a tiny baby whose world is about to be turned upside-down.  See?  It's not just about me.  This journey is about all of us.  Your life always touches someone else's life.  Always.  

And speaking of our adoption journey, I realize it has been a while since I have updated you all on what is going on.  Welp, we finished our paperwork for our new agency and turned it all in at the beginning of November.  Our next step is a mandatory adoption training that our agency is hosting next Friday, December 13th.  After completing the training, we will be assigned our case worker.  Our case worker will then do our home visit and personal interviews.  Once those are completed, we will once again be home study approved, but this time in South Carolina!  Which means that sometime at the beginning of 2014, we should be ready to be matched!  We'll keep you all posted as we progress!

From our family to yours, we hope you have an amazing and blessed holiday season!  We are so very thankful for each and every one of you!  Your love, prayer, support and encouragement mean the world to us!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Enjoy the Ride

An Attitude Adjustment.  That's what my dad use to call it.  You see, I was not a defiant or rebellious kid, but oh man, I was queen of the attitude department!  I can't tell you how many times I would hear him say to me, "Nichole, you need an attitude adjustment."  Well, I'm all grown up now, and have I now out grown the need for attitude adjustments?  Um....no.  They just come in different forms now.  I received a couple out of the blue this weekend.

You see, on Friday I was at Costco for my normal shopping.  As I'm walking through Costco I see quite a few moms with little people in tow.  I started getting sad that both of my little people were in school and I was there shopping alone.  Then I walked by the toy section that they are putting up to get ready for Christmas.  As I'm walking through that section I'm feeling even more sorry for myself because most of the toys are for little people, and I am so sad that my guys are too big for a lot of it and that I don't have a new little person to give those things to.  By the time I get to the check out line, I have tears in my eyes over how big my kids are getting, how long this adoption process is taking, and how alone I am at that moment.  Well, my cashier and the guy who was loading my cart were both very friendly and happy people, so they had me smiling and laughing within seconds.  As I am walking away from the check out, I'm still smiling about something that they had said, and I hear, "Would you look at that lady's smile!  I bet she has a lot to live for!"  I turned toward the voice and saw this sweet older gentleman looking at me.  As soon as my eyes connected with his, he asks me, "Do you have a lot to live for?"  Yeah, can you say attitude adjustment??  Immediately I am reminded of all I have been blessed with and all I have to be thankful for!

Then the second adjustment came on Sunday.  Our pastor spoke on joy.  The things he was saying were just hammering me, like "Often we don't experience joy because we're preoccupied with self."  And "What are you waiting for to happen before you will be joyful?"  Oh and, "Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!" Okay seriously, I was expecting someone to tap me on the shoulder and say, "You know he is giving this message specifically for you right?"  But that wasn't even the attiutde adjustment part, that came while leaving church.  We had picked up the boys and were driving through the parking lot, and Joey remarks, "Why is everyone SO happy?"  Um, yeah, so I immediate ask myself, why does joy look so foreign to my 9 year old?  What am I showing him every day?

Here's the thing guys, if I didn't received ONE MORE THING for the rest of my life, I would die an EXTREMELY blessed woman!!  Why am I letting days go by without noticing and overflowing with thankfulness for the amazing little boys I have been given, the awesome, hunky man I get to live with, all of the "stuff" that makes my life so cushy, an abundance of friends and family who love me and my family?!!  I have been blessed!!

In some ways, I am thankful that this adoption journey has taken so many twists and turns, because it has ended up being more of a journey for me then a journey to a child.  My true heart has been laid bare so many times, because I need to learn, heal, grow.  This journey is not just taking us to the perfect little girl for our family, but it is making us into the perfect family for her!  So while part of me wishes I could just wave a magic wand and have a baby girl in my arms right now, the other part of me is thankful for this journey, however long it is going to be, and for all of the lessons I am learning along the way.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

If I could give one piece of advice to families considering adoption, it would be that - expect the unexpected.  It is a journey that requires patience, endurance and flexibility.  It is a journey that will change you and shape you in ways that you never thought possible.

In our last post, we had said that we were waiting to hear back from the Thai government to see if we could proceed with our international paperwork.  Well, on the 15th of this month we got the word.  We had been turned down to adopt from Thailand.  It seems the Thai government is getting stricter on the criteria that they are requiring from potential adoptive families, and we no longer met the program requirements.  This is one of the challenges with international adoption.  You have to go into it understanding that things can change.  While we understood that, it was still hard to hear.  So, we had some decisions to make.  We had been talking and praying about our options for over a month, since we first got word from our adoption agency that this might be a possibility.  We did even more research on the different countries that fit our family.  We still wanted to be able to request a girl, and we didn't want to have to travel more then once.  And so, after much prayer and discussion, we have decided that the best fit for our family is to switch to a domestic adoption and adopt right here in the US.

Screeeeeech!!  I can almost hear the brakes squealing to a stop as you all are processing that piece of news.  Yes, it's true.  We have decided to adopt domestically instead of internationally.  We are already approved to adopt her in the US, and we are still able to request a girl.  Plus, because we are open to any ethnicity, our wait time is going to be a lot less then it would have with Thailand!

Now this is not completely out of left field.  A few posts ago I mentioned a training that we went to as a part of our home study.  At this training they covered both international and domestic adoption.  Honestly, this was our first look at what domestic adoption really was.  I have to be honest with you, when we originally started this journey of adoption, domestic adoption was NOT something that we wanted at all!  What we have learned along the way though, has opened our eyes so much to both international and domestic adoption and how both options work.  We both had come in to this process with so many preconceived ideas, but me more then Daniel.  I was absolutely SURE that it had to look this way and that way, and I wasn't willing to consider anything else.  Along the way, part of my journey has been me having to lay down all of my preconceived ideas.  The thing that the Lord has been showing me is that it's not so much about WHERE you adopt from, as it is about the HEART for adoption that He has put in us!  And so, one by one, roadblock by roadblock, I am having to open up my vice-grip on what I think it should look like.  It is actually very freeing!

Funny side note, all of this time, seriously since we first started talking about adopting, Titus has been referring to Ezra as "Baby Ezra".  Despite many people trying to explain to him that she would actually be a toddler and not a baby at all, he has insisted that she is Baby Ezra.  And from the very beginning, Joey has been begging us to please adopt a baby!  He has a super soft spot for babies and REALLY wanted his new sister to be tiny!  Of course, I was adamant that we were NOT going to have another small baby in this house!  Nope. No way.  I was so done with the baby phase. (Can you say my way or the highway?) ;-)

Weeeeell, we are now going to be welcoming a small baby into our home, not a toddler!  How am I feeling about that you ask?  I couldn't be more excited!  Yup, I've done a complete 180!  I have got baby fever like crazy, and have already been looking in to cloth diapers, cribs, strollers, the whole lot!

It's just funny to see the journey that the Lord had to take us on to get us to this spot, because honestly, if you had asked us to consider domestic infant adoption when we had first started our process, we both would have just laughed and said "nope, not for us!" .  Yet, here we are, doing just that!

Now, practically speaking, what does that look like for us?  Well, because our agency was only international adoptions, we had to switch to a new agency.  We have found one that we are very excited to partner with!  We will have to do a little more paperwork, because of the switch, but it's not going to be like the paperwork we had ahead of us in the international process!  Once all of the paperwork and interviews with the new agency are done, we will be ready to be matched!

It's crazy to think of how close we may be to our sweet girl!  We'll keep you all posted as our journey progresses!  Again, thank you all for your love, prayers, support and encouragement!!  We are SO blessed to have friends and family like you!

Monday, July 1, 2013

That Four Letter Word....

WAIT!  Oh how I hate that word!  If anything has shown me just how impatient I can be, it is this adoption journey.  Now, I can wait patiently in a long line at Walmart or patiently save my money for something over a long period of time, but I think only because I am actively doing something.  However, when I have to just sit patiently and wait, oh man how I squirm!  My brain goes 100 miles an hour just trying to come up with a solution on how to bring the situation to a quicker close.  Sometimes the answer though is just learning to wait.  Learning to have peace in the ups and downs of the process.

We have once again hit a little snag in our process and are waiting for the word from the Thai government to see if we can continue in our process or not.  I gotta admit, it's hard.  It's been three weeks so far, and our agency is not sure when they will have an answer for us to proceed.

If you think of us, could you please be praying for us?  We are trying to discern what are closed doors, what are just hiccups along the way, and what makes the most sense for our family.

The journey of adoption is not an easy one, but it is one filled with hope and joy!  It is not for everyone, but adoption is something that is on our hearts for our family.  We know we are right where we are suppose to be!  And we know that a precious little girl is at the end of this journey.  That makes every little issue completely and totally worth it!  We will fight, persevere, and wait patiently for a little girl who already fills our hearts.  Soon, she will fill our home as well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Home Study Approved!!!

That's right folks!  We are officially home study approved!!  Our home study agency just let us know that they got the last of our background checks back and were able to complete our home study and turn it in to our adoption agency!

Slowly, slowly we are creeping forward in this process!  Our next step is to do a home study update, so that all of our info is current with our move to South Carolina.  Then we've got our Dossier to work on, which is the paperwork that will go over to Thailand.  That should take place in July.  Once our Dossier is in to our adoption agency, we are put on the waiting list to be matched!  It gives me butterflies to think we are that close to the waiting list!!  It's getting real!  :-D

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adoption is a Life-long Journey

We just completed the adoption training hours that are required for your home study process in the state of Colorado, and that above phrase really sums up what we came away with.  The moment of adoption is just the beginning!  This is a journey that will last a lifetime! After going through all of the different training they had us do both in person and online, we really feel like we are going in to this adoption with our eyes wide open.  We feel like our focus has shifted so much from us and what the process is to us, to Ezra and what this means for her and how it will affect the rest of her life.  We feel very excited and more prepared to keep moving forward in this process!  We would honestly encourage everyone who is considering adoption or has adopted to go through any training adoption agencies provide!  The tools and resources we have available to us today are priceless!

So, you may be wondering where exactly we are in the whole process right now.  Well, this Friday and Saturday are our last two home study interviews and will complete everything needed on our end for our home study!  As of next week, the only thing holding up our home study will be our background check from the state of Colorado.  Once that comes in (hopefully the end of this month or beginning of June), they can send our completed home study to Holt (our adoption agency), and we will be home study approved!  As soon as that happens, we will do a quick home study update in South Carolina with all of our new info and a South Carolina background check, and then we'll be able to move on to the international paperwork!  Once the international paperwork is done (this process should be a TON shorter then our home study process), we'll be placed on the waiting list to be matched with our little girl!!!

We are very excited about what this summer will hold for us!  By the end of the summer, we should be officially on the waiting list and then the waiting starts!  But first, we need to move and complete a little more paperwork.  Bring it on! :-D

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Exciting Changes!

Wow, things can change so quickly!  Since our last post a month ago, we had some pretty exciting news for our family!  Daniel was offered a position at Google, and this means super amazing things for our family!!

First of all, we will be moving our family once again, but this time for good.  Google is relocating our family to South Carolina!!  Goodbye snow, hello ocean!!  :-D  We are very excited about moving to the south!

Another big thing this means for our family, but specifically for our adoption of Ezra, is this.  We have been praying since we made the decision to adopt, that God would provide the money needed.  We had NO idea where it would come from.  Well, again and again we have seen Him provide!!  Unbelievable stories, money provided at the very moment it was needed!  We have seen His hand and His favor on our adoption from the start!  Once again, we are here to testify and say that the Lord provides!  Because of this new job for Daniel, from this point on in our adoption, we will have ALL of the money we will need for our Dossier, our Country Fee, our Travel, everything!!  We are overwhelmed by His blessings!!

Plus, it gets even better you guys!  Google has an adoption fund, where after your adoption is completed, they refund some of your adoption costs!!  AND, as if all of that wasn't enough, when we are ready to travel to get Ezra and bring her home, Google will give Daniel Adoption Leave for up to 7 weeks at 100% of his normal pay!!!!  We are completely undone by how God is moving on our behalf and on behalf of a precious little girl!

So, from this point on, any posts that you see about our adoption are simply going to be updates on our progress!  Please let me just say though, we are eternally grateful for each and every one of you that gave to our adoption and helped us along the first part of this journey!  We would not have made it to this point without your generosity and love!!

That being said, we are going to celebrate by cutting our Puzzle Fundraiser short.  We are still going to do the puzzle, but now it will be more of a memorial for us of the first part of our journey.  We are going to put the names of each and every one of you who ever gave even a dollar to help us!  Every one of your names will be hanging in Ezra's room for us to look at and remember you precious, wonderful friends and family that mean the world to us!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for coming along side us throughout this journey and for celebrating the things yet to come with us!

On a practical note, we are hoping to finish our Home Study here in Colorado before we move, so we can be Home Study approved.  Then, all we would need to do after moving is a quick Home Study update, and then get our International Paperwork in as usual.  We are praying that our background info comes back quickly from the state of Colorado, so we can finish all of our interviews before the end of May when our move will take place.  We'll keep you posted on how all of that is progressing. :-)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Rollercoaster

Honestly, that's what this journey feels like.  Good news!  Yay!  Set back. Bummer.  Shortened time frame! Yay!  Another set back.  You get the picture.

We were so excited to hear that our matching time frame may be shorter then expected, and we rushed to complete all of our Home Study paperwork to get it in as soon as possible.  All we have left to do for our Home Study is our medical exams, then we can turn in all of our paperwork!  Yay!!  However, we found out today that the state of Colorado is updating their system for background checks.  This has put them extremely behind, and the turn around for background checks is now 14-15 weeks.  What this means for us is that our background check for Colorado won't get back to our agency for another 8-9 weeks.  We can't proceed with interviews until that is back, which means we won't be Home Study approved for another three months.

Honestly, this delay was hard to take.  However, I know that God is fully in control.  I know that every delay, as well as every advancement, is taking us to the perfect little girl for our family.  This is all a part of our journey.  This delay will also give us more time to collect the money we still need for our Dossier and Immigration paperwork.  Blessings in disguise. :-)

So here's an update on the latest FUNdraiser we have going!  We are currently collecting names for the back of an adorable puzzle we are going to put together and hang in Ezra room.  For every $2 donation toward our adoption, your name goes on the back of one puzzle piece.  The puzzle is a 1000 piece puzzle, and we currently have 220 names to put on the back!!  I can't wait to see it all put together!  There's still time to get your name on some puzzle pieces, so if you were wanting in on this one, you still can!

There are no words to express how much we appreciate each and every one of you.  From financial help, to prayers prayed on our behalf, to emails, to notes on Facebook, to questions when you see us, you all are SUCH an encouragement to us!  This journey is made so much easier with you.  Thank you for all that you are, have done, and are doing to help us bring Ezra home.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun News!

Late last week, we received an update from our adoption agency.  They had been saying that once our paperwork was turned in and we were put on the waiting list to get matched, it would take up to 18 months to receive a referral.  As of this last update however, the wait time to receive a referral is now about 12 months!!!  This is SUCH good news!!  It means that by spring time next year, we should have a picture of our little girl!!

Our paperwork is going well.  We just have a couple of things left, and by next week, we should be able to turn in all of our Home Study paperwork!  We are SO close to being Home Study approved!

We are also still selling puzzle pieces, so if you are wanting to get in on that, you still can!  So far we have 20 out of 1000 pieces with names on them.  We really want to see all 1000 with names on the back!  Just a reminder, for every $2 donation toward our adoption, your name will go on the back of one puzzle piece.  Would you consider putting your name on this puzzle?  We really don't care if you give $2 or $100!  We just want to get as many of your names on the back of this puzzle as possible!  You all have meant SO much to us through this process.  This is a sort of memorial that will help us and Ezra to remember every one of you forever.

Lastly, I would like to leave you all with the following trailer.  This is a documentary that is being made on all of the orphans around the world who are stuck in orphanages.  At the beginning of the clip, you will hear them say that a normal international adoption takes about 3 years and costs about $28,000.  This is totally accurate.  That is just about what our adoption will look like.  Every child deserves a home and a family.  We are so thankful to be able to do that for one very special little girl.  Click on the following link to see the trailer for "Stuck".


Thursday, January 24, 2013

For the Love of Ezra

We are officially half way through all of the paperwork and making good progress on the other half!  We're hoping to have all of the paperwork and appointments done by the middle of February, so we can turn it in, have our last couple of interviews, and then be home study approved!  We've also begun the paperwork that will be sent in our Dossier to Thailand once our Home Study has been finished.  Once all of our Home Study and Dossier paperwork has been submitted to our agency, we will be placed on the list to receive our daughter's referral!  Man does that thought make it real!

But first, as we are coming down to the finalization of all of the paperwork, we are looking at the last of our fees needed for phase one.  In the next few months, we will need about $4,000.  Then, we will have a bit of a break in fees while we are on the waiting list to be matched.  The next chunk in fees won't be due until we receive Ezra's referral, which will be 12 to 18 months from now.

So, once again, we will be doing an adorable fundraiser idea!  I have seen a few adoptive families do this one and thought it was such a great idea!  It will work as follows  ~  The picture you see below is a puzzle we will be putting together and hanging in Ezra's room.  This puzzle has 1000 pieces.  For every $2 donation, your name (or your family's name) will be written on the back of a puzzle piece.  So for instance, if you gave $10 for Ezra, we would put your name on the back of 5 puzzle pieces.  Once all of the pieces have been claimed, we will put the puzzle together, frame it, and hang it in Ezra's room.  This will be something she can keep forever, and at any time she will be able to see all of the names of the people who loved her before they even knew her and helped to bring her home.

If you would like to get your name on some puzzle pieces, simply click on the "Donate" button listed on the right of our blog or send a check to the address listed.  Be sure to indicate how many pieces you are claiming.  I am so excited to see all of the names that will make their own puzzle on the back of this one!

Thank you all again and again for your love and support of our family!!  This is a process that we truly and honestly couldn't do without you.  We value each and every one of you more then we could ever say.  You are now and forever embedded in our hearts.