Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Miracle!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  For those who have been following my journey, I hope that after you read this post you are filled with encouragement, wonder, and awe of our mighty God!

There are many details that I can't include just because it would be a book instead of a post.  Also,  I have to be somewhat covert with some of the details because the children aren't legally ours yet.... BUT I feel truly blessed to be a part of this journey and I hope you enjoy this amazing story!

Rewind to June when I first saw Sofia and requested her file.  The agency who was "representing" her wouldn't accept any payment until I received the official match from Ind*a.  I thought this was odd, but since she was the specific child I wanted, and I wasn't just waiting for a referral in general it kind of made sense?  D. at agency A was very nice on the phone when I talked to her, but there were many times when I felt frustrated with lack of information.  Let's just say I had a subtle uneasy feeling.  Then, July 22nd comes and I'm informed that Ind*a has temporarily placed a suspension on accepting NEW dossiers until they can get their backlog up to date.  I'm not freaking out because this is a Hague country. Frustrated? Yes.  So, I'm supposed to wait until September.  Communication between D. and me is spotty and it feels like I'm pulling teeth to get info.  Not a great feeling.  Again, always pleasant and nice just not forthcoming with information, and that is what I think is bugging me.  End of September and Ind*a is still not caught up, so the suspension is pushed back until 12/31/2011.  UGH!!!  Again, I find this out on my own by pursuing the info.... are you catching the trend?

November 14th I win the grant for Baby Joaquin's adoption!!!!  WOO HOO!!!  I haven't even had a chance to crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate because 29 minutes later (literally!) I received an email from D. at agency A stating that she is formally putting the waiting children program from Ind*a on hold, that when they go in January they hope it will be a productive trip, and that she's sorry she wished she had better news for me.  Yeah.   I felt so sick, as if I were re-living the closure of Nepal-only a million and one times worse.  I've been praying for sweet Sofia every day since June 16th, look at her picture every day, have dreams about her, know her story, have been reading every resource available about adopting older children, and so many other things that the thought of NOT having her?  I would not let myself think negative because I couldn't go there again.  I kept praying that somehow, God would work it out and I started praying like crazy for the trip in January.  So far, I have no guarantees that I can adopt her.

I kept this up for about a month.  At the same time I had this feeling, kind of like when you keep looking over your shoulder for something, or you think you see something out of the corner of your eye, only I didn't want to come face to face with it.  That didn't last very long.  I realized that I just needed to face it and so around the second week of December I finally broke down and surrendered it all to the Lord.  I told him that if it wasn't His will for her to be my daughter then I knew He must have another family in mind for her and another child in mind for me and that no matter how painful it would be, somehow, never eventually, it would make sense.  I was a mess but I was surrendered.  And the thing about surrender is that even though there is pain, there is also peace.

The VERY next day, I get a comment on my blog from someone named Sarah.  Little did I know what a Godsend Sarah would become!  The following day I get a message from her friend Meredith.  After we exchange a bunch of emails and figure out timelines and such, we surmise that we all started our adoptions at almost the exact same time!  They are also adopting from Ind*a and from the same area where Sofia is.  It also turns out that they are using agency A.  Their girls are waiting children too, so I asked for their code names.  My jaw hit the floor when I saw their pictures because I had been praying for these two sweet babes since the summer!  I can't reveal details but because of their specific needs, they caught my attention which prompted me to pray for them in the first place and then months later when I saw who they were going home to, I couldn't believe it!  Well, these two ladies fast became a lifeline for me.  Not only did they encourage me, but they also had a backup plan for me.  Sarah was calling people, including D. from agency A, and advocating for Sofia and me.  I can't even begin to put into words how much those actions of love meant to me.  This has been a very difficult journey so to have someone stand up for me and take the bull by the horns was exactly what I needed.   Clearly, through Sarah and Meredith I felt like God was answering my prayers and reminded me of the verse:

"Yet those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."  - Isaiah 40:13

They were the wind beneath my wings!  I was on fire!  I was going to pray and fast and believe that the trip in January would be fruitful!  Then, just a few day before Christmas, I got another email from Sarah.  She had been talking to H. at agency B. who told her about the database that has been created to list all the special needs children available.  That database  is going live come January 1st.  This means that any licensed agency in any country licensed to adopt from Ind*a could have access to Sofia's file and a family could request to adopt her BECAUSE I HAVEN'T PAID ANY FEES AND AGENCY A STILL HASN'T GOTTEN HER FILE FOR ME!!!!

Freaking. OUT!!!!!  I didn't even know this database  existed because D. at agency A never told me.  Unfortunately for me and the dude next to me, I was in the parking lot of Burlington's when I read Sarah's email.  I tried to process and remain calm but like when a little kid falls and there's that span of a few seconds of silence before they start wailing? That was me.  What was thinking that I could go in the store???  Turned around and told the dude I was o.k.  I think I scared the crap out of him.

First I called Sarah.  Good move on my part because she was very calm and reassuring and said all the right things.  She had already spoken to H. at agency B and informed me that H was expecting me to call and they thought for sure they could help me and Sofia.

I call H. at agency B.  Right from the get go I like this woman.  I'm sniffling and my voice is cracking and I'm not completing my sentences because I'm all over the place asking a million different questions, and she very calmly answered every one of them, never interrupted and not once did she make me feel like an idiot.  After we get through the pertinent information, H assures me that they can get this done for me.  They have an agent who is Ind*an, who understands the culture, and who is there.  It will be a long process, but it will get done.  Also, they can get Sofia's file earmarked for me before January 1st so that she NEVER gets put into the database system!!!  If I could do a backflip, I would do 50 of them!!!!

So now I'm feeling bold and tell H. that the only pictures I have of Sofia are from September of 2010.  Does she think there's any way that I will be able to get a new picture of her?  She told me that for sure I will get at least one update during the process.  THEN, this is where is gets awesome.  H. tells me that she too, is adopting from the same area and that her daughter is in the same orphanage as Sofia.  Get out!!  She asks me how old is Sofia.  We realize that her daughter and Sofia are very close in age and that they are probably playmates or in the same area in the orphanage.  Then she tells me that a lot of the parents will take pictures of the kids for the other parents who are waiting.  So, she asks me to describe Sofia because H. is going to be traveling in a couple of months or so.  Well, Sofia has a very distinct scar on her forehead.  I start describing this to H. and she says, "Wait a minute, I think your daughter is in the background of my daughter's referral picture."   I'm on the phone with H. as she emails me her first referral picture of her daughter.  It takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to download.  And when it does finally download, it starts from the top.  H.'s daughter is in the forefront of the picture and there's another little girl in the background.  Little by little the picture is filling in top down.  It starts on the head of the little girl in the background, and as soon as it starts on the forehead, I know it's Sofia.  That little peanut.  She had only been in the orphanage 4 months when that picture was taken.

What are the chances?
Of all the children who are orphans in that country
That those two little girls would be in the same orphanage
in a very difficult area to adopt from
that someone would snap a referral picture
with another little girl in the background
that two years later
a woman would randomly comment on a blog
and they would discover their mutual adoptive country
that one would advocate for the other
that by advocating for her, she would change the course forever!
that she would be led away from one agency
and led to the caseworker adopting the little girl
who was photographed with her daughter in the background

You know what I think?  There are no chances!

And since it's Christmas, I will end with my favorite Christmas song.  I love the second verse of this song and Faith Hill just kills it!!  His Power and Glory Ever More Proclaim!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Ten Baby!!!

I am now #10 on the Congo list!!! My caseworker said not to expect any movement until after the first of the year with the courts being closed for Christmas.  Slowly but surely I'm inching my way up to the number 1 spot!

There have been some incredible things going on with Sofia's adoption but I can't say anything yet.  It amazes me how BIG and AWESOME our God is.  I was getting really discouraged and felt like my faith was on eggshells.  At just the right time, the Lord provided me with the EXACT encouragement I needed.  I can't wait to be able to share the entire story but that won't be for a little while.  I promise that when I do share, you will be amazed at how much God cares for us and orchestrates things perfectly!

And on a side note, I found a lump on Rollie's abdomen about 3-4 weeks ago.  Rollie is my sweetie boy, the one who follows me room to room, the one who if someone else ever takes them on a walk looks back for me, the one who sleeps with me, so I was not processing this well.  My mind was trying to get me to think of the worst case scenario while at the same time I was somewhat in denial.  If I didn't KNOW what it was, then I didn't have to DEAL with it.  Childish I know, but it was one more thing I couldn't handle.  I finally took him to the vet to get a biopsy and deal with whatever the outcome would be.  I went in knowing that I would do whatever was in Rollie's best interest, not mine.  As long as he's not suffering, that's what's important to me.  I learned this from my experience with my childhood dog who had cancer.  It was a very painful lesson to learn.  So, it seemed like F-O-R-E-V-E-R for the doctor to come back with the lab results and in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "It's not a tumor!!"  Apparently, Rollie's affinity for food trolling has given him a fatty pocket.  I just have to keep monitoring it.  Completely dodged a bullet on that one!!!  I am SO relieved.  I love my Rollie Poly boy and he's only seven so I'm glad he's o.k.

10 days until Christmas and I haven't even started my Christmas shopping!  Things have been so hectic I am picturing another Christmas Eve in the mall up until the shops close.  It seems like no matter how hard I try and plan, I find myself in this predicament!  And then there's the Most Exquisitely Wrapped Gift competition that I win every year.  I can't surrender my title so time to get my game face on!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Am George Bailey


I WON THE GRANT!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe it!!!  I was 2nd place so the $500 grant + 40% of my sales = over $1200 going to Joaquin's adoption expenses!!!  WAHOO!!!!!!
There are no words for the amount of love I have felt over the last week!!!!  Fundraising is hard because it stretches you and humbles you in the best way.  This journey has had so many highs and lows and this grant contest ranks near the top (behind getting the final news that I can FINALLY go get my babies!) so much so that it really reminded me of one of my all time favorite movies.  I watch It's A Wonderful Life every Christmas.  And every time I watch it, I cry.  Every. Time.  There's something about human compassion that just gets me.



Every day I checked my balance with Ordinary Hero only to find it moving up, up and away!  More and more people would msg me and let me know they bought something.  And then there were the silent givers :)  Every single one of you has blessed me and Baby Joaquin immeasurably!  I can't wait until he's old enough to understand all of the miracles that happened in order to bring him home.  I also got in on the action and scored some cute gear for them.   The next time you see these, there will be two sweet faces wearing them HOME!!!


I can't express enough how thankful I am for all of the support I've received.  THANK YOU!!!

"...For God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

Monday, November 7, 2011

In it to WIN it!!

I'm feelin' the love!!!  My sales so far are at $867 and there's still 6 days left of the contest!!  Woo HOO!!!!  I'm in serious running to win this grant!!  Here's my product blast of the day:

http://www.ordinaryherostore.org/On-The-GO/Stainless-Travel-Tumbler-p152.html


This is for all you java lovers out there!  How cool is it that everywhere you go, you will be showing people that you changed the world for one?  And, it is on sale for just $13.95!!!  Your $13.95 purchase could really help me win the $500 grant!  Go on and get your java on!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday 2011

Today is Orphan Sunday 2011.  There are 163 million orphans in the world.  YOU can help change the world for one by purchasing something through the Ordinary Hero store.  40% of the sale goes directly towards my Congo adoption!  AND I am in the running to win a $500 grant!  The top 3 sellers each get a $500 grant that goes towards my adoption expenses!!  Here are some really cool necklaces that are handmade by ladies in Ethiopia.  They would make some great stocking stuffers!  Make sure you select my name from the affiliate pull down menu during checkout or else I don't get credit for the sale!  And remember, you are changing the world for one - Baby Joaquin!!  
http://www.ordinaryherostore.org/Accessories/Necklaces-Handmade-from-Ethiopia/Brown-7-Bead-Design-p188.html


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fundraising Grant!!!

Hello All!!

Well,  Ordinary Hero is doing another $500 Grant give-away and guess what?  I am in the top 15 sellers!!! They've added a bunch of really cool stuff to their store!  Your $20 or $30 purchase could really, really help me win this grant!  Plus, 40% of all sales go to my adoption fund- it's a win-win situation!  You get a bunch of really cool gear and I get help with my adoption expenses!  There are 7 days left for me to win this Grant- PLEASE help me win!!

I just purchased this cool t-shirt:
http://www.ordinaryherostore.org/Women-s-Apparel/Aqua-Change-The-World-For-One-Tee-p147.html

and this awesome hoodie:
http://www.ordinaryherostore.org/Mens-Women-s-Unisex-Apparel/Eco-Fleece-Zip-Hoodie-p27.html

And they have a bunch of cool jewelry too.  Do you need ideas for Christmas presents?  Well, go to the Ordinary Hero store and check it out!  I'm sure you will find something awesome!

When you are checking out, you need to make sure that from the affiliate pull down menu, you select my name, Kristen Williams or else I won't get credit for the sale.

We can do this!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why didn't I think of that?

I saw this little number, laughed out loud and thought, "Dude- I'm with you on that!"  If only I could've been that clever ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I am an Elephant


Elephants are pregnant for 22 months.  My "paper pregnancy" is hitting that mark.  At least I can take comfort that I'm not going to deliver a 230lb baby!  I'm still #12 in the Congo line, although my caseworker said she hopes that I will be moving up soon.  This waiting thing is not all it's cracked up to be.  I'll be honest, I've been frustrated.  I *know* that God is working behind the scenes and in other areas of my life to help me become the best mom I can be for these kiddos.  There are good days when I'm completely fine with this and trust that things are going to happen at the perfect time.  And then there are the bad days.....

I am really struggling with Sofia's case.  It's driving me crazy that she is just sitting over there in an orphanage and has no idea that there's a mom WAITING TO LOVE HER!!!   I was praying about this, confessing my frustrations and asking for some patience.  Then God gave me this verse:

"The Lord says, 'I will give you back the years you lost....and you will praise the Lord your God who does these miracles for you.'"  Joel 2:25-26

I have been clinging to this verse because it physically hurts my heart that I have already missed out on her first 5 years.  I don't want to miss out on any more time with her!

So if I come across your mind, please pray that I will have patience and more importantly, comfort while I wait and trust that she will indeed come home at the perfect time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

little by little!



I have moved up to the #12 spot in the Congo line!!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the Meantime

I've been busy teaching, slingin' pizza and photographing families while I wait for more news, hoping that something good in the "let's move forward" direction will happen soon.  In the meantime, I have been having so much fun with the photography fundraiser!  It's been great hanging out with families and also seeing how happy they are with the pictures!  I love being able to give someone something that they will cherish so this has been a total blessing!  Below are a few shots from several of the shoots I've done.


A very good friend of mine and her sweet family!

I love her expression!

He was all smiles!  and a little bit a spit up :)




I got to spend a day in the park with this father and son duo.  They were so fun as you can see from the pics!

Goofing around!

He has the bluest eyes!

LOVE the grass stains- they were acquired during the photo shoot!

If you are interested in getting some great pictures of your own family, email me at kgraephotography@gmail.com so we can set something up!  It's great weather right now in Cincinnati!!

I absolutely loved the 90's.  I know, I'm showing my age, but seriously- the music was so amazing!!!  Whenever I hear a song from that era, man does it take me back and I'm filled with great memories.  Spacehog was one of those bands that had an amazing sound and their breakout hit always puts me in a great mood.  It also just happens to be titled, "In the Meantime."  Since I happen to be in a perpetual "meantime" state, I figured it was clearly my Fall theme song.  My friend Janet knows that I like to have theme songs for each season.  I know I'm nerdy fly like that so, for your viewing and listening pleasure, I will leave you with this video from their Jay Leno promo performance!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Calling All Prayer Warriors

I received an email today that was very unsettling and brought back remnants of how I felt during the Nepal Crisis.  My initial thought was to panic, but I reminded myself that I am trying to stay positive and also that I'm believing that God has Sofia in the palm of his hand.  I'm still not sure how all of this is going to pan out but this is what I know so far.

My agency informed me that CARA has pushed back accepting new dossiers until December.  This is disappointing since originally they had said it would begin accepting dossiers again after September 30th.  Then my agency went on to say that specifically, things have been moving slow in AP (where Sofia is) because of political agitation in the city.  I will remind you that this particular state in India has proved difficult in the past to complete adoptions.  Furthermore, she added that she didn't know how viable of a program this would be after all...and that she would have to consult with the India program director and get back to me.  Yeah.  That last part made me want to vomit.  I emailed her back and told her that I am 110% committed to bringing Sofia home- that if it takes longer, then that just gives me more time to save more money to pay for her adoption.  I also told her that I don't want to give up on her- that I've been praying for her every single day since June 16th-the first time I saw her face.  She wrote me back saying she understood and told me that she would see what kind of plan they could devise.

I got this email while I was in school and I did manage to keep it together until the day was over.  I talked to my sweet friend in the parking lot after school who reminded me that I don't know what the bigger picture is- and that I have to keep trusting that this is all part of the plan.

When I got home, I spent some time on my front porch praying about everything.  I needed a word. A word of confirmation.  A word that He has everything under control.  A word to not freak out.  So, I started reading my bible and stumbled upon this verse:

"When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and raging waves.  Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.  Then he asked them, 'Where is your faith?'" - Luke 8:24-25

I just kind of laughed out loud because I thought how many times during this journey have I felt like I was in the midst of a raging storm?  And when they are both finally home, will I look back and think to myself, "where was my faith during that trial?"  This has definitely been a battle and sometimes the wounds hurt more but at least I'm learning that it's not up to me and what I'm capable of but that everything is in God's hand and I just need to trust that it is going to work out the way it's supposed to in his perfect timing.

And just to keep things interesting, I also heard from my other agency today.  I have moved up on the list!  I am now the proud real estate owner of spot #14 on the waiting list!!!  Just 3 short weeks ago I was number #17, so I am thrilled to be movin' on up!

Finally,  I am begging you to PLEASE, PLEASE pray that Sofia's adoption would go through and that I would get the official match paperwork.  She deserves a family of her own.  I know that she is safe in the orphanage and her basic needs are being met, but FAMILY is something that no one should be deprived of and it breaks my heart with each passing day that she is missing out on time with her family.

Thank you so much for all of your support!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This for That

Short and sweet.  If you live in the greater Cincinnati area, I want to bless you so that you can bless me!  I am doing an adoption FUNdraiser for Sofía's adoption.  I have been passionate about photography for many, many years.  I've even had some of my photos published, including one in Photographer's Forum Magazine.   I've been praying and praying about different ways to raise funds and I really feel that God brought this to my mind so....  I think that pictures are such sweet memories and at least for me, I feel like the older I get the faster time flies :(  Anyway, what better way to document the sweet years of life than through pictures?  So, here's the deal:  I will come to the location of your choice and photograph your family (including the furry kind!) for an hour, do some minor editing if needed, and save all of the pictures to a disc so that you can make as many prints in as many sizes as you like!   I consider myself a "natural light" photographer, so I prefer to stick to the outdoors.  Besides, natural lighting is way more flattering! All of this for the sweet price of $125!  A steal, right?!!  AND, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping me get 1 step closer to bringing Sofía home since 100% of the session fee will go directly towards her adoption!  

A dear friend took me up on this offer and I got to spend a wonderful September afternoon photographing her beautiful family!

we crashed a wedding to get this shot!











I love how they are looking at each other!





If you are interested, email me at kgraephotography@gmail.com   I would love to hang out with you and your family and get you some great family photos!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Year Ago Today

I opened my email to find the "Welcome :)"  subject line staring at me!  I was so excited and couldn't believe that I was officially accepted into the Congo program!  There were several miracles that took place for that to happen and seeing the welcome sign completely flooded my heart with joy.  As I reflect back on this year I am still so amazed, humbled, and encouraged by everything that God has accomplished with these adoptions and also with me.  I can truly say that this journey has been the most life-changing experience and they're not even here yet!

I asked my caseworker if I'm still holding strong at #17 or if I've moved up at all.  She told me that I'm still #17 that things were slow for a couple of weeks but that referrals are starting to come in again.  I am anxiously awaiting to see baby Joaquín's referral picture!

In regards to India, my homestudy visit is next Wednesday.  I will be crazy busy cleaning and gardening and trying to not stress out.  I just might serve dinner on the floor after she leaves because I know it will be clean enough to eat off of it!!  I still need to have the Fire Marshall come over and hang out and tell me that my house is safe, update my medical that was just done in March and a couple of other things.  I am really going to believe and trust that the reason AP asked for the resubmission of all the paperwork is because of the implementation of the new procedures at the end of September.  I want to be ready to go so I can start working on my dossier and apply for immigration.  I can't do ANY of this until I get that stinkin' MATCH PAPERWORK back!  PLEASE, PLEASE pray that at the end of the month they get their booties movin' and issue the match.  Once I have that precious piece of paper it's GAME ON BABY!!!
I love Jesus and I know he loves children and has a heart for the orphans.  I'm going to cling to the promise he gave us:

"According to your faith, let it be done to you." - Matthew 9:29

Can I get a witness??!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Tortoise not the Hare

I just heard from my agency who just heard from AP (Andhra Pradesh) that they would like them to RESUBMIT all of the homestudies for the waiting children they are trying to match.  There are 3 other families with my agency who are in the same situation as me.  It's been over 2 months since I requested the official match paperwork and permission from India to adopt Sofia.  *Sigh*  On the bright side, I'm hoping that this is a sign that they are getting things in order for all of the new guidelines that are supposed to be implemented at the end of the month.  My agency is submitting the homestudies tomorrow.  Please pray that AP will accept and MATCH ALL 4 of these sweet girls with their waiting families!  I am trying to stay positive and believe that I didn't spend the last 2 and half months waiting to just start back at square one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

So there's this couple that have been coming into the restaurant for about a year and a half.  I waited on them the first time they came in.  They are strict vegetarians and it took awhile to figure out if they could eat any of our cheese or not because we had to do some research to see if it contained a certain enzyme.  Well, they were very appreciative of the customer service, because where I work we "take it to the next level :)"  Anyway, since then, every time they come in and I'm working, they are always very friendly to me and we talk.  They both have accents and I don't make it a habit to ask where people are from but last night when I was working, they came in and I noticed that she had henna tattoos all over her hands.  I know that India just celebrated it's independence day and Ramadan just ended, so I asked her if she was from India.  Lo and behold, yes, they are from India.  Here's where it gets C-R-A-Z-Y.

me:  So what part of India are you from?

her:  Hyderabad.

me:  get out!  that's in Andhra Pradresh, right?

her :  Yes! (with a look of, "how does this chick know this?")

me:  I'm adopting a little girl from Hyderabad!

him:  Oh!  we can help you!

me:  PLEASE DO!!  How?

him:  her dad is a lawyer over there!  It helps to have a lawyer over there if you get stuck.  Do you have to go and get her?

me:  yes, and I just found out that I will probably have to stay there for a month while everything gets processed.

him:  Oh, you must stay in her father's guest house.  When do you think you will be going?  She is planning on going in November or December.  Wouldn't that be fantastic if you two could fly over together?

me:  Yes, yes it would.

We exchanged emails and phone numbers and now I have a new Indian friend who is going to help me with some of the language that Sofia speaks and she told me that she would tat me up before I go! SCORE!  I am SO excited!!!  It reminded me of the verse in Hebrews 13:2

"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"

I know these people aren't angels, but it's a reminder to always be kind!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jammin' in my PUNJAMMIES

There are days when I stop and wonder what the F*@# is wrong with people.  I apologize for the crass opening of this post but I just got finished reading an article about Raiding a Brothel in India.  Amongst the girls they rescued was a 5 year old.  5. years. old.  That's Sofia's age.  It made me want to vomit.  I am torn between wanting to put my head in the sand because it stresses me out so much and wanting to do SOMETHING.
  It is estimated that one million children will be forced into prostitution this year.  In India, there are over 2 million women and children working as prostitutes (1).  Every day, about 200 girls and women enter prostitution, 80% of them against their will (2).
  It's a vicious cycle of poverty, caste system, disease and illiteracy.  A child of a prostitute is not allowed by law to enter the public school system.  It's basically a done deal; a fate sealed for life.
  There are at least 80 organizations working to rescue and provide healing and after care for these women and children.  Successful transition back into society and keeping them from re-victimization is dependent upon these women and children learning a sustainable skill that provides a viable lifestyle.
  Enter PUNJAMMIES by International Princess Project.  These pajamas are awesome!  Not only do they look amazing, but they are super comfy.  The tops are 100% organic cotton.  And the best part?  Every PUNJAMMIE purchase creates
A fair trade wage
Deposit into a savings account
Financial support for holistic care
Capacity building for more women to enter the after-care center
HOPE to a woman who once was voiceless

Get your PUNJAMMIES on!!!  I got mine!



(1) BBC Report on Number of Sex Workers in India
(2) Dr KK Mukherjee NGO report on prostitution

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patti LaBelle is my new BFF

You know how you get a song stuck in your head? and it's usually one that has a really bad hook to it?  Well here's a throwback to Patti LaBelle's classic from the 80's "I Got a New Attitude."  Well, I got one and a new blog design to go with it!

What it is about our human misery that is seems like we try to one up each other in this category as well?  I've been around so many women who, when the conversation turns to pregnancy or childbirth, I always felt badly for the one who had an 'easy' pregnancy or quick labor with no drama because the other moms jumped all over her about how lucky she was then proceeded to list off all the things that went wrong with their situation.  It's like it becomes a bidding war on who's experience was worse so they can win the pats on the back.

I realized that there's a subtle undercurrent of this same sensationalism and competition in the adoption world and I was quickly becoming a part of it.  I've been following people's blogs who are adopting from the same countries as I am.  I caught myself rolling my eyes when one hopeful adoptive mom was lamenting about how long she has had to wait (less than a year) to go and pick up her babies that she received a referral for 6 weeks after she submitted paperwork.  It's a slippery, slippery slope to Bitterness Boulevard!  I caught myself and thought, "You are such a B*tch!"  I found myself having an internal dialogue listing off all the things that have gone wrong or not according to MY plan in this adoption journey, and how long I've been waiting, and how much money I've spent and lost, and blah, blah, blah...I am no different from the women who complained about their horrible pregnancies and birth stories.  I should not begrudge anyone their journey.  It is their journey. AND, I was her!  I remember being fresh on the adoption journey and you want that baby here, NOW. So, I get it- I just forgot it.  I needed a slap upside the head.

I still haven't received the match paperwork back from India. But I'm not bitter :)  I asked my agency about the families who just completed their adoptions from the same area of India how it worked for them.  She told me, and I quote, "it took a LONG time for them to get their match paperwork."  Score.  Too bad I have a new attitude because I could add that to my arsenal to win my award for the most complicated adoption ever!  Tomorrow there is supposed to be a webinar where we receive enlightenment on the process- more info on time frames, etc.  I think it's most fortunate for me that I will be teaching class at that time and will instead receive it via email in powerpoint format.  Part of my attitude adjustment is that I'm not bankin' on any of this time frame stuff.  From here on out, I'm day to day.

So in honor of my new attitude I will leave you with this amazing video- I don't think you will find a finer music video out there!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shouting from the rooftops!



I (KINDA) HAVE A DAUGHTER!!!!!!! 

I have been dying to post this since the end of June but with how everything went down with Nepal, I guess I was a little apprehensive and wanted to wait until I had some official paperwork back from India. I kept waiting and waiting and praying and praying.  And then I realized that in my quest to be "safe" I was also lacking faith.  Adoption is HARD.  Wow is it hard.  Looking back, I see that I got a lot of my strength to get through the really rough parts from all of the prayers and support of others.  SO I am asking if you would please read the rest of this post and PLEASE PRAY that it will all work out the way it's supposed to :)  O.K., so here's how it all went down:

God sure works in CRAZY ways and I still can't believe how everything came together.  Back in 2009 when I started my country search, I originally looked into India.  I wrote it off because for a single, non-Indian you had to be open to older children or special needs and long wait times.  Jokes on me!!  Funny thing is that 3 months ago when I felt like God was leading me to India and special needs, it was a total and complete surrender of my dream. I submitted to the fact that it would be at least 18-24 months and the original "idea" (baby, nepalese) of how I thought she would be was gone.  I was even to the point of wondering if it was in His plan for me to have a daughter.   I went back through my journal to when I first started out on this journey and all of my prayers went something along the lines of, "please let her be as young as possible...."  "Please let her be free of any emotional trauma..."  "Protect her from this and that..." I was so myopic in my quest for a daughter that I would have missed out on the most beautiful, precious little girl!  I can see now that God used Nepal and the suspension to change my heart- to OPEN it to HIS will for my life.  I can honestly say that I am SO THANKFUL that I went through what seemed like a torturous hell in order to come out on this side of it.  It's unbelievable to me that only a  week after I withdrew from the Nepal program, I found my little girl.  It's almost as if  God was waiting for me to get to the point where I was open to whoever He had in store for me and BAM!  Here she is!! I had to come full circle.  Now, I can't imagine anyone else being my daughter!  She has completely grabbed ahold of my heart - I cannot wait to finally meet her!  I am so completely in love with her and I can't look at her picture enough!

If you have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, then I'm pretty sure that you are aware of how horrible the conditions are for orphans in India and probably learned about the amount of neglect and abuse that they live through on a daily basis.  I'm not going to go into details, but I'm thankful for the orphanages there.  They provide a much needed refuge for many of those children.  Sofía was found when she was 2-3ish years old in 2009 (coincidentally, right around the time I started my country search).  She has some scarring that occurred sometime during her first short 2-3 years.  She is considered special needs because she is not a baby/toddler and has the scarring.  Cognitively and physically she has met all of her milestones.  I think she is the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  The first picture I got of her, there was something in her eyes that I just felt like - here's a little fighter.  She's got determination.  She has had a rough start and now all I want to do is get on that plane and bring her home!!!!  This child has so much love coming her way and I am so BLESSED that I get to be her mommy!

So now I am waiting to get the official match paperwork back from India.  This is what I have been waiting for over a month.  I need this in order to move forward with her adoption.  THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT PIECE OF PAPER!!!!  Once I have that, I have to get my homestudy switched to India and the immigration paperwork filed.  One big drawback in all of this is that none of the money I spent on Nepal can transfer and neither can the immigration.  But, I am confident that God will provide!  I have been picking up mad shifts at the restaurant and I've already found a couple of grants online for waiting/special needs children that I'm going to look into and see if I/ she qualifies.  I'm really, really praying that she will be home by Christmas.  This would be miraculous since she happens to be in a part of India that moves especially slow with their international adoptions.  Go figure, right?  However, I KNOW that God has provided in the past so I'm praying for that CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

 I have to give a special shout out to the Dew Crew because they have been SUPER supportive and were so excited for me and gushed over her picture, shed tears with me, and made me feel like one proud mama!  I wish I could post it, but legally I am not allowed until she is legally mine.  As soon as this little lovebug is home, you will be inundated with pics of her beautiful face!  My agency also sent me a 35 second video of her.  I can't even put into words the emotions that video brought to the surface.  It was such a precious gift but at the same time my heart aches for her even more.  I am in continual prayer that her adoption will seriously be the quickest Indian adoption EVER.

I do have a couple of prayer requests please:))-

1) that I would receive the official match paperwork from India ASAP!!!  I need this to move forward!!

2) Um - for the fastest adoption EVER!  Seriously, this comes from concern.  She has had a rough start and I want to get her into her family environment ASAP to start the emotional healing.  The healing that comes from a family is miraculous.  It has been documented many, many times!  I want Sofía to  experience her childhood the way every child should-IN A FAMILY!!!.

3) Moolah- cheese, cheddar, paper, dough, flow, cashola whatever you want to call it, I need it to bring her home.  I've been looking into some grants for waiting/special needs but haven't been able to apply to any yet because I am waiting to hear back from India that they officially accept me.  Please pray that something will come of these!  And also, that the funds will become available however God chooses to provide.  I know that adoption and caring for orphans is in line with His will, so I know He will bless this:)

4) Patience for me while I wait.  It's about a gazillion times harder to be here waiting when I know her past, can look at her face every day, watch her video (over and over:))), know that she has no idea that there's a mommy waiting for her halfway across the world, and have to trust that all of my paperwork is being handled by strangers, and all I want to do is put my arms around her and hold her.   This is really hard for me to trust that God will bring us together in his perfect time.  I have also been praying that God would put hope in her little heart.  She won't know about me until almost the very end.  Obviously, this is done out of protection for the children in the event that something crazy happens and an adoption can't be completed.

I would really appreciate it if you would be praying these things for her/me/us!!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me on this journey!  I can't wait until you get to meet this special little one in person :)

xoxo,
kgrae

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sofía

This is a baby Crissy doll.  A black baby Crissy doll from 1973.  I got this for a Christmas present.  My grandma was not pleased and went right out and bought a white baby Crissy doll.  I did not like the white baby Crissy doll.  I only wanted to play with the black baby Crissy doll.  In fact, whenever I played dolls with my friend Jen, I made her be the mommy of the white baby Crissy doll because the black baby Crissy doll was MY baby!  I don't know if this is when the seed was planted or if this baby doll is the reason, but I have always pictured my daughter to be similar to this doll.  I know it sounds crazy, but then here I am 38 years later from playing with that doll, finding myself on a adoption journey towards a daughter who will probably look somewhat like that baby doll.

When I look back over the last 2 years, I can't believe how much has happened and at the same time, how much hasn't happened.  Physically, you can say that nothing has happened because I don't have a daughter home.  Emotionally and spiritually, I can say a million and one things have happened.  I am not the same person.  Man, have I been s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d! Too  bad I don't do yoga.  Maybe it wouldn't have been so painful! Seriously, I am getting to a point where I can honestly say I am thankful for Nepal. Really.  My faith and relationship with Christ has grown in ways I didn't think possible.  I have seen miracles.  I have shared some and kept some private.  I have written them down for the babies so that they can one day, if they choose, share them as part of their story.  It is their story anyway.  I have been broken down and I have been lifted up.  My perspective and ideas about things have been changed.  I realize that I've been really stupid about a lot of things.  Maybe ignorant is a better word.  But it's all good because I'm learning and continue to learn.

So, ever since my watershed moment I've been praying about what God wants me to do about Sofía.  I was really, really sad about Nepal and part of me was questioning if I was lacking faith by withdrawing- should I keep my paperwork in the program?  I had a very long talk with my agency.  I appreciated her honesty and she said to me essentially that doors close for a reason and that my daughter is not in Nepal.  That she has been in the business for over 20 years and she has seen time and again whether a birth parent changes her mind at the last minute, a country closes, parents don't accept the first referral but that when they finally get their child, they all say, "THIS child was meant for us- they are PERFECT for our family."  It kinda made me feel better.  Kinda.  But I was still wrestling with it.  She did tell me that Nepal was extremely offended by the U.S. which, duh, anyone could have figured that out by their statement, and she thought that even if the U.S. lifted the suspension she didn't think Nepal would oblige the U.S. and allow intercountry adoptions.  

At this point I would like to say that I give Nepal a lot of credit.  It took the U.S. 14 YEARS to become fully Hague compliant.  The U.S. is a first world country.  Nepal is a 3rd world country and they have been working on becoming Hague compliant since 2007.  When Cambodia, Guatemala and Vietnam closed several years ago, there were many pipeline families with referrals for their children who STILL DON'T HAVE THEIR CHILDREN!  Nepal worked VERY hard to make sure that EVERY single child was able to go home with their parents.  They supplied everything they were asked of and cooperated with the U.S. government every step of the way.

I told her that I needed to think about it still because I didn't have peace about it yet.  Well, later that afternoon is when I got the phone call about Joaquín's grant.  I talked with Becky for a long time.  One of the things I told her was that I was so sad about Nepal, this was much needed good news.  The first thing she said to me was, "Kristen- your daughter is not in Nepal."  It was so weird that she said the exact same thing my caseworker said on the same day.  I got that buzzing feeling like God was giving me confirmation.  We talked for awhile and I'm so thankful for her!  What she had done with Help Us Adopt is incredible.  Her story is amazing and she continues to change peoples' lives. I am SO THANKFUL that I received that grant and that we are now part of the HUA family!  After I hung up with her, I sat in my garden and just prayed.  I prayed until I felt peace.

The next day, I called my agency and I officially withdrew from the Nepal program.  I can't begin to explain the emotions you have - it's weird because for the last year and a half I've been so connected to this country.  But, I know that God has a plan.

Funny how God works.  Seeing now the direction I'm heading, I can see how he was lining things up.  One of the positives of the Nepal process is that the homestudy I had to do was Hague compliant - the reason for all the crazy hoops I had to jump through.  The country I am pursuing is a country that I was originally interested in and fully Hague compliant, but the wait times were longer and the old me was discouraged and impatient.  God has since been working on me in that department :)  Also, it's tricky for singles to adopt. 

 Late last fall, I was on the rainbowkids website and reading about special needs/waiting kids.  Something in my heart fluttered.  I thought, "hmm. Once the babies are home and settled, God- I would be open to a 3rd if it's your will."  I thought a lot about that verse in Matthew 25:40 - "Truly I tell you, Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me."  I know that everyone wants their child to be healthy, beautiful, smart, and the best they can possibly be.  I get it- that's totally natural and I had and have that desire.  But there's also a longing for the children who are left behind because they aren't "perfect."  So I'm starting to question, who defines "perfect?"  Then, there's a blog I follow, http://weloveourlucy.blogspot.com/
(which is how I got hooked up with Ordinary Hero fundraising!!) and their journey of adopting a waiting/special needs baby, and the pieces just started to all fall into place.  I was talking to my mom about it and when I actually said it out loud, this wave of peace washed over me.  It was crazy!  I researched a ton of agencies and talked to them.  I found one agency that I connected with immediately.  I spent about 2 hours talking on the phone asking all kinds of questions, told them all about Nepal, everything that is going on with the Congo, asked about a zillion and one questions and he patiently answered them all!  So here's the deal:

-My homestudy is in India being reviewed by the Indian officials to see if they will allow me to adopt a special needs baby girl.  Adoption by singles is case-by-case basis.
-The process is lengthy, about 18-24 months or so.  I have total peace about this.  
-As I was praying about this whole situation, God gave me this verse:  "According to your faith, let it be done to you." - Matthew 9:29  I am at a place where I am completely open to God's plan.  If it's his will for her to come home from India, then I know that all things will work out accordingly.  I don't have any sense of anxiousness or worry or stress.  And I don't have any money!  All the money I spent on Nepal is gone so I'm starting from square one.  But I know that God will provide.  He has shown me that.  That's what is even stranger to me because you would think that it would stress me out even more but I just have peace.  I don't know, I'm just trusting him that he will bring everything to pass.

The great thing is that the agency that I've been working with for India has done everything for free!  Crazy, right?  He did tell me that in India they have no sense of urgency.  I laughed when he told me that.  I have no idea when I will hear back from them but I don't expect it to be soon.  In the meantime, I will pray.  Pray for God's will, that he will lead me to Sofía wherever she may be, in his timing and that I will continue to have peace and patience while I wait.

I can't begin to express how much your support and love has meant to me throughout this journey.  Seriously.  

Much love,
Kristen






Monday, June 6, 2011

I am 50!



Today I got the second best phone call next to a referral!  The lovely ladies at Help Us Adopt called to inform me that they approved my grant!!!!  WOO HOO!!!  You see, this is the only organization I could find that doesn't discriminate against singles.  I talked with the founder for quite some time, after regaining my composure, and she told me that I am the 50th family that they have been able to help unite with a child since starting the organization 4 years ago.  They have granted $380,000 to these families to help bring these babies home.  I told her that she must love her job every day of the year!!!  Her story and how she started this foundation is pretty incredible.  You can check it out here.  I am BEYOND thrilled!!!  As you know, I have been pretty down in the dumps.  Let's just say this was a ray of much needed sunshine!  With this grant, the money I've been making at my second job, and the donations I've received I am now only about $1600 away from having all of Joaquin's country fee!  I can't believe it!  That means the rest of the summer I will be saving for airfare, medical evaluations, embassy fees and little things here and there!  I still don't think it has totally sunk in.  I think that I will have very sweet dreams tonight:)


Sofía


I am planning on posting about her adoption soon.  There have been some things happening, not in Nepal, just happening in my life that I know God is leading me to my daughter. I am still processing the loss of Nepal.  I want to thank everyone who has sent me emails, letters and notes of encouragement, ideas, and support.  You have no idea how much I've relied on them.  The positive in all of this is that God is speaking to me and he has been faithful to me- even when it hurts and I don't understand.  I may not ever understand but I'm learning to be o.k. with that.  As I get more information, I will be able to post a more concrete and coherent post about where the direction of her adoption is heading.


Abrazos-
kgrae

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Levee Broke



It finally broke.  My emotions have been seriously bottled up and busting at the seams.  In public, I've barely been holding it together and in private I've been all weepy and sad.  Finally during one of my busiest shifts at the restaurant where I work, in the words of one of my co-workers, a switch went off.  That switch was acceptance.  I did manage to make it through the shift without a meltdown.  Then my poor manager during my cash out told me I looked so sad and that's all it took.  My face crumpled and off to the bathroom I went.  I think it took me about 7-10 minutes to get it together enough to go back out.  Thankfully, he told me to just go and he would take care of everything.  I got to my car and couldn't stop crying.  
  I talked, or more like sobbed, to my mom the next day for an hour and a half.  It was the first time that I said it out loud.  Another milestone in my journey, but not one that I wanted to make.  A couple of weeks ago the US Department of State posted Nepal's official statement on intercountry adoption.  So far, everything has come from the US side.  That's what makes this so different.  This is coming from Nepal.  And, in essence, they are giving everyone the big middle finger.  You can read their statement here. Just scroll down to the notice 1 on January 5, 2011.  For some reason, this wasn't posted until April 23, 2011 and that's when I found out about it.  I've been processing, or more like denying it for over a month.  Last Friday, I snapped.
  So where do I go from here?  I don't know.  I have so many emotions going on I don't even know where to start.  I still can't talk about it without crying so if you see me, please don't ask me anything about it, or tell me you are sorry or mention anything about it at all.  You see, I have no control over public crying.  The poor guy at the Starbuck's drive-thru got some of that when I was talking to my mom about everything. I can't even begin to put into words how devastated I am and how awful it feels.  I have so many questions- so.many.questions.- that I just don't understand.  I know that I have trusted God through this entire process and He has provided and showed up in ways that I couldn't have imagined. So, in this moment of what seems incredibly cruel and awful to me, I'm going to trust that he has a better plan.  I'm going to trust that somehow, someway, Sofía will make it home- from where, I have no idea.


The Congo


My little sunshine.  Baby Joaquin has been a ray of hope for me since day one.  Staying true to form, I broke down and asked my case worker if I should expect a referral call this summer or just put that out of my head and not even think about that stuff until fall.  She told me that you can't predict anything, but she certainly would expect that I would hear something this summer:)
  I can not WAIT for summer to start. 3 days.  I need to re-group and get some peace in my heart.  I'm looking forward to working in my garden (my roses are looking so pretty:) and taking long walks with the puppy dogs.  And just maybe, God will smile down upon me and let me get that much anticipated phone call for a sweet baby boy waiting in the Congo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Mustard Seed

The last couple of weeks I've been feeling all hostile inside, frustrated with the things that were going wrong, the blatant attacks from the jackass enemy,  and  I could feel myself about to go all D-Generation X on someone when the illness descended upon me.  I really believe it was from God.  And for good reason.  I was laid out for 5 days straight- fever, cold, and a nasty, viral cough that made me sound like I had been smoking a carton of menthols daily since the day I was born.  It was during my malaise that I realized AGAIN that it's not up to me to get things accomplished.  I was reading in Matthew one of Jesus' snazzy little metaphors and it really struck me.


"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them.  "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible."  -  Matthew 17:20


First he tells them that they don't have enough faith and then proceeds to tell them if they had it the size of a mustard seed they could move a mountain.  Huh?  The mustard seed was the smallest thing imaginable.  So if faith even as small or underdeveloped as a mustard seed  is sufficient to move mountains, then I realized I must still be relying on MY own ability. Big mistake.  The more I thought about this verse I realized that it only takes a little bit of faith, the amount of a tiny mustard seed, BUT the amount that trusts in God's power.  Chalk up another "a-ha!" moment for me!  Right there in my weakened, sickly state, I again surrendered the whole process and all of the stress to God and told him, Your will be done in Your timing.


I don't know what it is about surrender, but man it feels good.  And it just so happens that I have some good turn-of-events-news- since the surrender moment!


Nepal


That represents the number of families waiting to get their visas approved.  That's right- ZERO!!!  Every single pipeline family has received their visa and if not already home, they are on their way home! AND NOT ONE SINGLE CASE OF FRAUD WAS FOUND!!!!!  Now, well, I don't know.  I do know that I need your prayers more than ever because I believe that there is a major spiritual battle going on.  There are two main organizations that have had a role in policy making and these organizations happen to have a history of being very anti-adoption when it comes to international adoption.  They think it would be better for a child to grow up in an orphanage and maintain his/her culture than to grow up in a family that is not of his/her country of origin.  I have to really exhale before I start this conversation.  You see, I am a language teacher.  I "get" the whole culture thing and understand how important it is.  However, culture evolves- like language, like technology, like life...... so at what point does culture supersede the right of a child to grow up in a family when there is no family in his/her culture willing/able to adopt that child?  Call me crazy but I think family trumps culture. Every time.  


The Congo




Signed.  Sealed.  Delivered!  My dossier has been sent in and I am "officially" on the list for a baby boy!  What this really means is that I am OFFICIALLY WAITING!!!!!!  Next comes a referral:)  You know, the day when I get "the call" for the referral of a baby.  Once I accept the referral, I will fill out a tribunal letter, wait some more and then travel to pick him up!!  I have no idea of where I am on the list and honestly, I don't want to know.  I think it's better for me to not know and to just take it one day at a time, praying for baby Joaquin, trusting that I will get the call in God's perfect timing!  Let's just say that I feel like I'm going to have a really great summer!


Thank you so much to everyone who has been sending me support both financially and emotionally!  I can't begin to tell you how awesome it is to get a letter of encouragement in the mail!  It makes my day!  I've saved every single one so that one day, these little ones will be able to look back and see everyone who was cheering them on!


On the eve of cinco de mayo-
¡Salud!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Jerry Maguire Kind of Moment

I'm feeling a lot like Jerry Maguire after he delivers his mission statement that he so passionately believes and he's trying to convince people to come with him.




Fundraising is hard.  It is very hard to ask people for money.  It is also very humbling.  There is nothing "Fun" about it so I think they should find a different word.  I am glad that I am only trying to raise 1/5th of his adoption costs.  I don't know how families do it who have to raise their entire amount.  It is a challenging, hard and faith-building process.  I will say that I know that adoption has forever changed my life.  In the same way that my mission trip to Africa changed my life many years ago.  I get it.  And from now on, this will be a part of my world that I will always campaign for, whether for my own adoption, for other families trying to adopt or for the rights of orphans around the world.

I came upon these statistics the other day and found them to be staggering.  They were from a Christian publication, so the emphasis was on Christian families.

34% of Christian families consider adoption
ONLY 1% do it
There are 163+ million orphans in the world who need a Forever Family
If only 7% of Christian families would adopt, there would be NO MORE ORPHANS

I know not everyone is "called" to adopt.  But, did you know the number one reason why people DON'T adopt is because of the financial costs of adoption?  If you can in any way contribute, you are literally, at least in Joaquin's case, saving a life.

Ordinary Hero is doing another $500 grant give away for the top seller between today and Sunday night.  I did not win the last grant, BUT a VERY kind donor gave me the $500 grant since I didn't win it:)  If you feel moved, you should check out their store http://www.ordinaryhero.org/  They have added some really cool jewelry, sheep to feed a village, and there are sales on some of the hoodies.  Just don't forget to click my name from the affiliates pull down menu on the billing page during checkout so I can get credit for the sale.  40% of each sale goes directly to the costs of my adoption.

Finally, I read this quote and it has stayed with me for the last several days:

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day. - E. B. White

I know for me I've found my greatest, lasting enjoyment usually has come from doing something that has involved giving a part of myself away- my time, my talent or my money.  I hope you will choose to pay it forward and in doing so, you will be paid back:)

Peace,
kgrae

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monsoon Season


It's been a month. wow.  Lola is driving me crazy.  Her list of offenses are described below:
1) chewed the passport - $ 225
2) chewed my leather planner - $80
3) peed on my bed - *&%$@
4) chewed up pictures that were in plastic bags in basement bookshelf - $ priceless
5) chewed up my ray bans that were on the dining room table - $175
6) chewed up my lip gloss and other magazines/papers making a huge, gloppy mess!

I am so irritated with her!!  Save the passport, I don't have the money to replace these items!  The sunglasses were a gift, which really tick me off.  She does not do well with thunderstorms, so I know she is acting out of her nervousness but my wallet cannot afford her anxiety attacks!  The last month has been a monsoon here.  She has broken out of her crate multiple times, I swear she is like Houdini.  I don't know how she does it.  I now have 45lbs of weight on top of her crate and lock the basement door.  She is slowly destroying my house:(  On top of all that, my basement completely flooded and my washing machine broke.  Sweet.  I just wish all of these storms and rain would go away!  There is a reason I don't live in Seattle - I need some sunshine!!!

The Congo

On the brighter side, I finally received my new, ELECTRONIC passport! and my birth certificate! Yeah!  So now I have all of my documents needed to send my dossier!!  I was just about to do the celebration dance when in a Murphy's law kind of way, an unexpected expense arose so that now I have to WAIT a little while longer before I can send in the check.  I'm trying not to be bitter. Seriously.  I keep telling myself that God has this under control and that HIS timing is perfect.  He knows where Baby Joaquin is, when he is coming home, and when that perfect time will be.  I've been spending a lot of time in the psalms and 57 has been on my mind much- specifically verses 2-3

"I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.  He will send help from heaven to rescue me... My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness."

Again, I'm trying to align my head knowledge with my heart knowledge.  Trust is such a hard thing to learn in your heart!

Nepal

So far, the suspension is still in effect.  The US government is not satisfied with the changes the Nepal government has made with intercountry adoption procedures so until they make more changes, the suspension will stay in place.  The good news is that in all of the families processed so far, there has been no fraud found.  As far as I know, there is still ONE family pending.  I am praying for them, that their visa will be issued quickly.  Please pray that the Nepal government will implement the necessary changes in order to lift the suspension.  In the end, it is the children who ultimately suffer.  I feel very strongly that God is making the way "straight" for Sofia to get out of there. Again, His timing is perfect and I continue to trust that he is working things out, breaking down barriers and providing the necessary means to bring her home.
  I'm done with April showers and really looking forward to May flowers. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Dog Ate My Passport

Finally received medical clearance report. check.
Finally received State police background clearance. check.
Finally received expedited passport. cheee..... well, I received a letter that said I needed to explain exactly what happened to the mutilated passport that I sent in with my application for a new one.  Please keep in mind that on my application I had to state that I am a teacher.  Here is the notarized letter I sent to them:

I hope that at least one person in the passport office can find the humor in this.  So, as soon as I get this back, I will have everything I need to send to my agency.  Once they get my dossier, it will be translated into French and then sent to the Congo.  I'm not sure how long the translation process takes.  I hope that my dossier is on it's way to the Congo by the end of May!  We shall see!


That's the number of pipeline families left waiting to receive visas.  I can't believe it!!!  And the best part?  NOT ONE SINGLE CASE OF FRAUD WAS FOUND!!!  I'll admit that I'm starting to get butterflies.  In a good way.  I don't know how to explain it, but when the suspension went into effect, I put myself in "neutral" idling away, just waiting to be able to shift back into "drive!"  To think that I may be able to do that soon is very exciting!  But I'm still hesitant to let my emotions get out of control.  On the fun side, I'm starting to think that I might have to have my own The Amazing Race betting pool!  Who will make it home first? Will it be Joaquín? Or will Sofía pull a fast one and end up making it home first after all? Let's just say that the rest of this year is going to be very, very interesting:))))


After my depressing, nightmare having, curve ball throwing week, God completely rained down blessings upon me.  After I had the dream of my car spinning wildly out of control, I felt a release that things were going to happen when they were going to happen.  It was freeing.  I really felt peace and the verse I had read a few days before, "Be still and know that I am God" was resonating within me.  First, because I'm not good at being still and secondly, I've been trying to make my head knowledge and my heart knowledge match up. I caught myself several times starting to calculate or plan and then I thought about that verse and told myself to just be still and not worry about it!  God has it under control!  So a couple of days later, I received several letters in the mail with notes of encouragement and financial support towards the adoption.  I am still trying to process all of it.  I am sincerely blown away by the generosity and the faithfulness of these people.  Here is an update of the fundraising so far:
Ordinary Hero                 $137.10
Check donations            $850.00


My goal is to raise $4,250, half of his country fee, which is $8500. That leaves $3,263.  His entire adoption will cost $21,450.  After I send in the dossier, I will have paid almost $7800.  I also just applied for the only grant I could find that doesn't discriminate against singles.  I won't find out if I am awarded the grant until the first week or so of June.  I am super excited for summer and being able to pick up as many extra shifts as possible.  I've seen how quickly every extra dollar can add up!  


 For those of you who have been wanting to get your super cool Ordinary Hero gear but the busyness of life has gotten in the way, NOW is the time to do it!!!  They are having a huge sale this weekend and on top of that, whoever has the most sales through this SUNDAY will receive a $500 GRANT from Ordinary Hero!!!  Can you please help me get this grant??!!! Don't forget to click on my name when checking out and remember, you are changing the world for one!!