Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Best Year of My Life!

"I love you Mommy"
Those were the words I woke up to Tuesday morning as we snuggled under the covers.  I can't think of a better way to start the last day of 2013 :)
This time last year, I celebrated New Year's Eve at a friend's house and managed to laugh and smile through all the necessary social interactions.  Inside though, my heart was breaking because a week before I had done the most heartbreaking thing I've ever done in my life:  I dropped Munni off back at the orphanage and had to tell her goodbye.  I will never, ever forget the look in her eyes.
Today, 10 months later after bringing her home, I still have to pinch myself when I look at her beautiful face and see joy in her eyes.
Her life has been transformed and my world has been rocked.
As I reflect on 2013, I am blown away at the goodness of God.  He has sustained me through the most difficult days and lifted me up to highest peaks of pure joy and happiness.
He moved mountains to bring her home.
He provided the best medical care that saved her life.
He sustained me during the hard days of her emotional healing.
He whispered his love and comfort while anxiously waiting for her surgeries to be over.
He led me back to India to find her baby sister.
He opened the floodgates of heaven and poured out blessings through generous hearts.  A village of  people who purchased Spread More Love t-shirts, sent donations, and bought books to help bring Baby R home.
He provided encouragement and hope through emails, prayers, hugs, and shared tears.
He has made the crooked paths straight through miraculously moving Baby R's case- my dossier is sent and I was able to get fingerprinted today, AHEAD of my scheduled appointment.

Today as we were walking into the USCIS building to plead with them to fingerprint me ahead of time, Munni held my hand and skipped as she told me, "Mommy! you and R and me are family!"  I couldn't even answer her because the lump in my throat wouldn't let me.  The wisdom and love she has for R and our family and what it means for Baby R just completely blows me away.

Adoption is by FAR the most challenging, life changing, humbling, faith building journey I've ever experienced.  There are dark, dark days where it seems impossible to hold onto faith.  And then there are days of inconceivable love and joy.  But through it all, I've learned that God will never, ever leave me.  He is faithful and he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."  - Isaiah 42:16

It is with this confidence that I look forward to 2014 and the unfamiliar paths before me.  Happy New Year and may the God of peace that transcends all understanding, shower you with his love in the year to come!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Progress And Remembering A Year Ago...

Monday morning I put in the order for 36 books!  In addition to the books, some people included extra donations, which completely humbled me.  At lunch on Monday, a colleague and I were talking about the fundraiser and she asked me how much was raised because she knew the total amount I need.  I told her, "It was close to $1,000 and after paying the immigration, I have $1,000 left in savings, so, I've got $2,000."  There was a moment of silence and then we both started laughing.  Another colleague sitting next to us asked why that was so funny and we told her because I still need $6,000 but we know God will provide somehow, someway.

That made me reflect on when Munni's referral came and they told me on a Friday that I needed $18,000 by Monday.  And God provided every last cent including answering a prayer I prayed a month before that someone I knew would win the mega lottery and use part of the winning to help me:)  It was a faith affirming conversation to say the least!

When I got home from school on Monday there was a check in the mail from a church in Florida.  My friend Kristen whose husband authored the books, The King's Christmas List and The Battle For Christmas Castle had shared my story with her mom.  Her mom is a pastor and an amazing woman.  Apparently, she spoke about Munni, me and sweet baby R in her sermon the week before and that touched many people's hearts.  They sent me a check for $1,000!!!  I was a sobbing mess.  I called Kristen immediately and it went to her voicemail.  I left a message for her in that high, squeaky voice when you are crying and trying to talk at the same time….I'm not sure if it was intelligible :)  She called me back and told me she knew it was coming and wanted me to be surprised!  Well, surprised, humbled, overwhelmed and completely filled with joy is a better description!  Then today, I received another check for a $100 from an old friend I haven't seen or spoken to in almost 18 years.  A little while later I received a notification of another donation for $250.

There are no words.

I am blown away by the outpouring of love for Sweet R.  I told Kristen when I talked to her that this fall I felt my heart being guarded against R.  I'm not quite sure how to explain it but she, a mother of 4, told me, "Welcome to your second child."  You see, when I found Munni I think I cried over her every day and prayed for her constantly.  I was DESPERATE to get her home.  Her situation was obviously very different and her adoption was uncertain for a long time which probably added to the anxiety.  Anyway, I cried the first few days I found out about R but after that, I had more of a stiff upper lip.  I was so overwhelmed with Munni's medical stuff this fall that I honestly don't think my heart had room to allow me to FULLY let go and let my heart completely embrace R.  I was struggling big time with guilt because it wasn't that I don't love her and pray for her, it was just different.

I told Kristen that last Friday as I stepped out of the post office after mailing out all of the updated documents to get the apostille, I lost it.  I started crying and my heart was flooded with an overwhelming love for R- it finally felt REAL.  It was happening!  I also think because Munni's surgery is behind me now, I am free of that stress.  Well, that act of mailing out those documents have opened the floodgates of tears of joy :)  I have a renewed sense of hope, love, and joy about R and her adoption.  It reminded me of the man that came to Jesus with his child who was possessed.

20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” - Mark 9:20-24

I believed that God was working in R's adoption but there were/are still seeds of doubt and unbelief- Would God really provide again?  Would he move on R's behalf the way he moved for Munni?  He is showing me in only the way he can that indeed he is working things out for Sweet R!  Will you please continue to pray that God would continue to move and provide the remaining $4,600?

I am also *almost* finished with allllllllllllllllll the paperwork!  In my excitement to send everything off, I forgot to get the notary on my home study certified before sending it for the apostille.  Grrr. The state capital sent it back with a note telling me to take of it and then send it back.  The county were the notary is registered is 4 hours away.  So, I overnighted it yesterday and they received it today.  I should get it back by Thursday and I will turn around and overnight it back to Columbus.  The thing that stinks is I was hoping to overnight my complete, updated dossier to my caseworker on Monday because she is leaving the country for Christmas.  I'm still waiting to hear when R's CSR is in- we know it's in route!  Please pray that I would have patience and continue to trust and not be frustrated with more waiting.  I realize that I just asked for a miracle ;)

Finally, TODAY one year ago, I met Munni for the very first time :))))))))  Words cannot even begin to describe how incredibly blessed my life has been ever since she became a part of it!  I broke down several times today, completely in awe of the miracle she is.  I love my Munni Bird!

THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone to has been praying, encouraging, and donating.  My prayer for you is that God would bless your socks off!





Sunday, December 8, 2013

Answered Prayers and Miracles On The Way!!

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!  I LOVE waking up to WONDERFUL NEWS!
But first, Munni's medical update:  Friday I got the results from Munni's MRI.  Her brain development is normal!!!!  WOOOO HOOOOOO!!!  This is such an answer to prayer!  They didn't see anything abnormal in the brain itself.  They did note that she is missing quite a bit of fat on one side of her head- the side where some of the major trauma took place.  I was expecting something like that since when you actually feel Munni's head, it is quite lumpy in that spot.  I still have to meet with the neurologist, but this phone call provided an amazing sense of relief.  THANK YOU FOR PRAYING!!!!

In regards to her mouth, they extracted 3 teeth, did a root canal, filled 8 cavities, took x-rays, and silver sealed 5 of her baby teeth that are not in good shape.  Poor thing was in a lot of pain :(  I LOVED her dentist who is also an adoptive mom.  She was so very kind to us.  She met with my mom and me beforehand and told us her adoption story.  It was so touching I even cried!  She never made me feel rushed and instead, it felt like we were meeting for coffee.  She was that personable!  When the surgery was over, she did such an awesome job explaining everything she had to do and also made sure that all my questions were answered.

On Friday we had a severe snow storm so we stay cuddled up inside with the fire.  The night before my attorney friend came over and notarized a butt-load of paperwork for R's adoption.  I emailed my caseworker to clarify some things.  She told me to pray because the orphanage was saying that they were waiting on notification from C*RA in order to send R's CSR, and C*RA was saying that they had already sent the email awhile ago.  My heart sunk.  I know how things can go in her country and this added to the stress I was already feeling because at this point, I was still waiting on the MRI results.  I called several of my friends and asked them to please pray.  I have been matched on the website with R since August 7th so I was already feeling like it was taking too long for her CSR to arrive.

Saturday morning I woke up, got my coffee going, let the dogs out and then sat down at my computer to check my email.  I couldn't believe it.  There was an email from my caseworker and the subject title was:
R's CSR is in the mail!!!!!!!!!!

I screamed with joy and woke up Munni :)  Her email said the prayers worked!!!  It was on it's way and we should receive it THIS WEEK!!!!!  PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is where it gets exciting because God is about to pull off another miracle :)  I need to pay the referral fee- gasp!  With Munni's adoption, God answered those prayers in the most amazing ways.  I only had 3 days to get almost $19,000 and it all came in time.  For R, it is not nearly that much because I've made payments along the way.  I will owe $7,950 and $805 for the immigration.  I have the money for the immigration and also I have $1,000 of referral fee saved so I will still need $6,950.

Last week, my good friends contacted me about donating all of the proceeds from his Kindle book, The Battle For Christmas Castle.  I was overwhelmed by their generosity.  I called them on Saturday to tell them about the good news of Baby R's CSR.  Kristen and I were talking about everything and how many people had requested a hard copy.  Then, Kristen came up with most amazing and generous idea.  You see, Eldon had written the first book in this series and had it published through Thomson Neslon publishing.  They had sent me a copy when I found Munni.  Kristen and Eldon prayed over this decision and told me to sell as many hardcopies of the book as I could, The King's Christmas List This is a BEAUTIFUL children's book!  The message is beautiful and so are the illustrations!  Munni loves this book!  Here are a few pictures from the book:









Isn't it magical?  So here's how it will work.  The cost of the book including shipping is $20.  In order for me to receive the proceeds, it needs to be purchased through my paypal account on the right in my sidebar or by simply clicking HERE.  Please make sure your address is the correct address!  The sale will run until Sunday, December 15th.  Monday morning, Eldon and Kristen will contact the publishers with the amount of books that have sold.  The publishers will drop ship the books to me and I will send them all out by Thursday, December, 19th so that you will receive them in time for Christmas!!
Again, I am blown away by their generosity and I am hoping that whoever buys a book will think about Baby R when they read it!  The Kindle book The Battle for Christmas Castle is also still available for purchase here.
O.K., I am ready for a miracle :)  Please pray with me that God will provide!  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Battle For Christmas Castle!

My good friends contacted me the week of Thanksgiving with some incredible news.  Eldon wrote a children's book about the battle for Christmas.  It was such a page turner!  They told me that they were feeling that the Lord was telling them to donate all the proceeds from the book to Sweet Baby R's adoption!!!  I am completely overwhelmed by their generosity!  I am waiting to receive my I-800a approval and R's CSR.  Once I receive her CSR, I will have to pay the $7,950 referral fee which includes the humanitarian fee as well.  This is the last payment I will have to make!

I have been pretty strung out this fall with all of Munni's medical stuff going on that all I could do was pray for R's adoption and funds to come from the Lord.  This is such a huge answer to prayer!  I love Eldon's and Kristen's hearts and their willingness to walk beside me on this path to bringing R home.

If you enjoyed any of the series from C.S. Lewis and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, then you will be sure to enjoy this book!

Would you please consider purchasing a copy of this book?  Not only will you be receiving and incredible story to read with your children at Christmas time, but you will also be helping to bring Baby R home :)  You can purchase a copy here.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and I hope you have a wonderful, blessed holiday season with your loved ones!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Barenaked Ladies Made Me Cry

It was gloomy and rainy last Sunday when we were headed to Papa's house for dinner.  I put on my Pandora Christmas station because something about the weather was just feeling wintery.  Simon and Munni were in the backseat and I was explaining to Munni that these were Christmas songs.  She has been asking a ton of questions about Christmas.  When I told her it was Jesus birthday party, she got sooooo excited!
And then it happened.
The Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" started playing on the airwaves.  I lost it.  I couldn't stop crying.  I was so overcome with joy.  Pure, beautiful, and overwhelming joy because in the backseat sat my beautiful daughter for whom I had prayed, hoped, begged, pleaded, yearned, dreamed, imagined, and loved for years - and THIS year, this year we will celebrate Christmas together.  I was undone.  I could barely see through my tears.  Then I hear her say at the end of the song, "Mommy! Hallelujah is Telugu!"
 I said, "It is?  What does it mean?"
She said, "It is songing to Jee-jus.  We sing that in Hyderabad.  You know that?"
I told her, "I do now Munni Bird :)"
The things she tells me never cease to amaze me; man, I love her soooooooooo much!!!!!  I am thrilled for this Christmas.  I can't wait to experience it with her!

In other good news,  I finally got my child abuse clearance back from the state capital, which took f-o-r-e-v-e-r, so now I can move forward with my immigration paperwork and send my updated home study to India.  They didn't want to send Baby R's CSR until they had my updated home study, so I'm happy, happy, happy!  I still have to get the apostille step and 8,000 copies so I'm looking at about 2 weeks before it's probably in the mail but at least now I have a time frame!!!

Finally, if you could please, please pray that Munni's surgery/MRI would still happen on 12/4 I would greatly appreciate it.  She's been fighting a cold.  I've been trying to get this scheduled since JUNE so I think I will cry if it has to be rescheduled.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!!!!!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Urgent Prayer Request Please!!!

On Orphan Sunday, I wrote a post and specifically wrote about a little girl with albinism who had captured my heart when I went to meet Munni for the first time.  I cast my stone across the waters in hopes that God would use that post to find a forever family for her.  Later that night, a family contacted me and asked for more information.

That first email led to daily conversations and prayers and tears and encouragement.  Several days ago they notified me with great joy and love that….THEY ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH HER!!!!!!!  I am THRILLED for them and THRILLED for "E" but it is far from being over.  They are in the midst of a huge spiritual battle and they need your prayers.  I am DYING to tell you the back story on this because already, it is such a beautiful one!  My hope is that one day "E"'s mom and I will be able to blogshare her story :)  It's incredible how God was already weaving our lives together and placing people in our paths so that they would find their way to "E."

During the two weeks when we were praying for them about adopting "E," I kept coming back to the same couple of verses Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:14 - I kept thinking about how when she was being formed in the womb, God knew she would have albinism.  Our human minds label that a special need.  God labels that a special deed!  He knew the plans he had in store for sweet, beautiful "E" from the beginning and let me tell you, I have no doubts that this little one is going to be changing the world!  I also kept thinking about how she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  Yes, her albinism is what captures your attention, but it's her sweet personality and beautiful smile that keeps it!

 Their agency is 100% on board and willing to do whatever they can.  This is where we need your prayers please:

*Theirs is an unusual case to begin with and is already being handled by CARA due to some extenuating circumstances.  Please pray that CARA will contact the RIPA where "E" is and request the CSR so that CARA can match them on the CARINGS website.  It is CRUCIAL that CARA be involved so that they can be matched with "E" on the CARINGS website.   The RIPA is known for being hard to communicate with so please, please pray that the directive would come from CARA.
*Since there has been no interest in "E" and she has been there for several years, it's very possible that her CSR is outdated or possibly "misplaced."  Please pray this is not the case- that her CSR can be forwarded as quickly as possible to CARA and to the family.
*She is not listed on the special needs database but because of her special need being so unique, it should not be difficult for CARA to request the info from the RIPA.

I have been giddy with joy every day since they have contacted me.  The thought that one day she and Munni would meet again - two "sisters" with their two forever families - fills my heart full of so much happiness and love it brings tears to my eyes.

Last night "E"s dad said, "She is becoming the most beautiful girl in the world every time I look at her picture."
That's a father's heart right there.  Let's pray this precious one home!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Little Update

Munni had her EEG yesterday and for the most part, she took it in great stride
The strobe light portion of the test did not bother her at all but when it came to the blowing on the pinwheel, the wheels fell off the wagon :(  I felt so sad for her. Since her lungs are already somewhat compromised, I figured this would be the portion of the test that would cause anxiety and it did.  They try to force hyperventilation.  She was labored in breathing when she had her seizure so I'm not surprised that this caused trepidation for her.  She started to cry and stopped blowing the pinwheel and freaked out a bit.  The nurse tried to get her to respond to some of her questions but Munni wasn't having any of it.  She was upset, scared, clinging to my hand and it took a while to calm her down.
 Afterwards, I took her to buy new socks (that's what she wanted!) and candy.  She picked out her favorite - Tootsie Rolls.  On the way home from the store with Tootsie Rolls in hand, she told me, "Mommy, I can't stop eating this candy!  I don't know what it is!"  She cracks me up :)

We also finally got her surgery/MRI scheduled for December 4th.  The scheduling people were awesome and able to get it scheduled for early in the morning so I won't have to deprive her of any food.  This is a huge bonus for adoptive kiddos and a major answered prayer.  In regards to the EEG, I won't get the results for 7-10 days.   I don't know how long after for the MRI but then we will have a follow up and hopefully it will all be good news.  I would appreciate any prayers for Munni!

On another note, my furnace went out and I had to replace it to the tune of close to $6k.  This all happened right around the time my final installment was due for the first half of my payment to my agency.  Let me pause for a moment and tell you that if you ever want to be tested and tried and have the most unexpected costs and repairs happen to you, start an adoption :)  Throughout this journey there have been times when I've felt God tell me to cry out for help and times when I've felt him tell me to pray in secret.  This was one of those times when I felt like he was telling me to just pull into his presence and trust in him and pray in secret.  The deadline for the payment to my agency came and went and I didn't have the money.  With everything else going on in regards to Munni, I didn't have enough energy to stress over it.  I just kept praying.  
 Last October I had major issues with my transmission and it turned out that Nissan was involved in a class action lawsuit because they installed the faulty radiator that leaked into the transmission of the Xterras and never issued a recall even though they knew.  Those dirty dogs.  The problem didn't kick in until around the 90k mark so I think they thought they would get away with it…. I guess they weren't banking on the fact that a lot of Nissan buyers (like me) bought with the intention of keeping the car for a lonnnnnnnnng time.  Let me tell you, I LOVED my Xterra.  It was my favorite car I ever had.  So when all those problems arose I was highly ticked and even more so when the dealership wouldn't do anything.  Well, I was contacted about the lawsuit, filled out the paperwork, and forgot about it.  
When we got home from the EEG, I grabbed the mail and we walked into the house.  In the mail was a check from Nissan.  Yep.  I couldn't believe it.  It was enough to cover my final payment for the agency fees and my immigration fees!  God is so very good :)  Of all days, that was the day I needed a miracle the most.  Time and time again, God has provided.  He has shown his favor and providence and proven to me over and over what is etched on my arm, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"  That verse was a cornerstone for me for Munni's adoption and continues to be one for R's as well.

I am now waiting on my finalized home study so I can send it to be apostilled and then my dossier will be shipped to India.  I should have it by the end of next week, maybe even the beginning.  My caseworker thought I would have to wait because of Munni's birth certificate (they estimated that it wouldn't come in until the end of December!) so now that I have everything, it's all good to go!  I learned that R's orphanage is thrilled to know that she will have an Indian sister :) They know that I had to update some paperwork since I was only issued guardianship in India instead of full and final adoption.  They are working on her CSR so that it's ready to go once my dossier arrives in India.  Here comes the next miracle making moment…. That is when her referral fee will be due which is $7, 925.  That also includes the humanitarian fee that goes to India.  After that, the *only* thing I have to pay is travel.  I know travel is expensive but I will have some time to save up for that.  I'm planning on spending some time over Thanksgiving break filling out the 3 possible grants for singles and brainstorming :)

So that's where we are.  I look at her and think about all that she's faced and accomplished since she came home and I am amazed by her.  Oh, and did I mention that she got straight As on her first report card with no accommodations?  I was really proud of her because she tries hard and wants to learn.  I purposely did not put her in an ESL class.  My thesis for my Masters degree was in second language acquisition so I have very strong thoughts on the topic :)  She is doing great and learning in leaps and bounds.  I thought she would be learning Spanish as her third language but instead she's learning sign!  She had a hearing impaired friend in Hyderabad who was like a little sister to her and now in her class is a boy who is hearing impaired.  She has learned so much sign I am in awe!  One day after school I was picking her up from the center and the two of them were on the playground.  She was holding his hand and they were signing something.  I wanted to cry -  It was the sweetest thing.

Thank you for all your prayers for Sweet Munni, I appreciate them so much!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Before I started on my adoption journey, I had no idea there was such a thing as "Orphan Sunday."  I knew about adoption, I knew about foster care, I knew about international adoption, but I did not know the magnitude of the orphan crisis in the world today.  The statistics are heartbreaking.  In India alone, there are an estimated 20 million orphans according TO INDIA, which if you know anything about India, that admittance is staggering.

 There is something about the innocent and helpless that  tug at my heartstrings.  These children don't have anyone fighting for them.  I saw with my own eyes and it haunts me.  There is one particular little girl at Munni's orphanage who I pray for constantly, hoping that she will find her forever family.  So far, no one is interested in her simply because of her appearance.  Her crime?  She has albinism.  And she is the most beautiful little girl :)  I spent a lot of time with her when I picked up Munni to bring her home.  She has the sweetest laugh you've ever heard and the most beautiful smile.  She is a little younger than Munni and she and Munni were friends.  She has now seen 5 and soon to be 6 girls in her "room" go home to their forever families while she waits for someone to want her, to cherish her, to call her beloved daughter.  She is stuck in a system of the worst kind of bureaucracy but I will advocate and fight for this little one to find a family because SHE IS WORTHY.

There was a time when Munni was passed over.  Family after family passed on Munni's file.  She was too risky.  Flagged for a future of emotional turmoil that no one was willing to pursue.  Their loss is my incredible gain.

They couldn't see past this:


But God showed me this and burned her face into my heart:
And that started a fire that raged inside me.  That fire burned brighter and brighter which led to biggest battle of my life.  But I didn't do it alone.  Friends, family, strangers... came along beside me and prayed for me, encouraged me, gave me money, cried with me, raged with me, sent me encouraging letters, emails, texts, prayed for Munni, helped distract me when I was overloaded and helped me focus when I need to the most.  They helped me make a gazillion copies and assemble the craziest amount of paperwork you've ever seen in your life!  They wrote letters on my behalf, they allowed me to photograph their families, they bought t-shirts, they bought gear from Ordinary Hero to help me win a grant, they drove to Columbus to help me get my papers apostilled, they made phone calls to the US Embassy in New Delhi, they donated their time and services, they bought me meals to treat me to a night out, they listened to me cry, they hugged me, and most of all, they loved me.  I could have never done this without the community that rose up and surrounded me and supported me.  Adoption is not just about a parent or parents who decide to adopt a child.   It really does take a community to bring a child home.  I think there's a reason for that.  These children have lost so much before they come to their forever families... a loss that many of us could not fathom.  I know that the people who have come along side me are vested in Munni.  I know they love her.  I see it in their eyes when they meet her.  She may not understand this right now, but one day she will and it will be a powerful moment for her- to know that it wasn't just me that fought to bring her home.  She was loved BY MANY.  That is an undeniable and certain truth for the many orphans who do find their forever families.
But what about the ones who don't?  That's what makes me sick to my stomach and why I can't stop thinking and praying about that little girl who is still "stuck."  I know that Munni and now Sweet Baby R. have changed me forever.  I will advocate for the orphan until the day I die.
I know that not everyone is called to adopt but there are many ways you can help.  Here are some suggestions:
If you are feeling a tugging at your heart to adopt, take that next step- it is so worth it :)
Support a family financially.  Adoption is expensive!
Cook them a meal
Donate some of your stuff to their garage sale.  Many families do fundraisers and donations like those help tremendously!
Help assemble paperwork!!!
If they have children, offer to babysit / offer a date night if they are married or selfie if single :)
Send them an encouraging note.  I can't tell you the amount of letters/texts/emails I received at a time when I needed them most.  It is emotionally draining- you need all the encouragement you can get!
Support a child through World Vision
Help spread the word :)
Donate your children's clothes to an orphanage.  I brought two suitcases full of the most beautiful dresses to Munni's orphanages.  If you could have seen the look on the girls' faces... priceless :)
Get creative!  I promise that whatever you do, you will feel fulfilled.  You will be making a difference in a child's life.

I look back over the past 8 months and I am in awe at the change I've seen in Munni.  She has really blossomed into a beautiful person:
I want that for Munni's little friend too.  I want it for all the orphans.  It breaks my heart when I think about the world we live in and that we even have to have "Orphan Sunday," but I also think about 2 things Mother Teresa said:

"If you can't feed 100 people, feed just one."

and

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

So, I'm advocating for one little girl... if you are interested or God pricks your heart about her, please contact me.  I am also casting my stone across the waters and hopefully I am creating many ripples.  My prayer is that there will be a revolution of change.  A true revolt.  That people will stand up and really start fighting for these children- fighting against the system that keeps them stuck.  That wrong ideas and beliefs about adoption will be broken and a new thought foundation put into place.  I hope that in some way I have encouraged you to get involved in the orphan crisis and to "feed the one."  I also hope that you cast your stone and make some ripples :)

And in case you missed it the first time, here is Munni's homecoming video.  She was so worth the battle and so worth the wait.   Every. Single. Minute. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

8 months Home and Deep Thoughts From Munni

Last year if you would have asked me what 8 months home looked like, I wouldn't have expected to be  dealing with so many medical issues.  Quite frankly, all of Munni's medical issues took me by surprise because according to her paperwork, she was healthy.  All of the red flags on her case were considered emotional, not medical in nature.  One positive step forward is that we did celebrate the end of her TB medicine mid-October!!!  That was HUGE!  I would tease her a couple of days afterwards and randomly say, "Hey Munni, did you take your medicine? oh wait- you don't have to take your medicine anymore!!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!!" and she would giggle and laugh every time :)

But, now being home and in a safe environment has led to some other issues.  The neurologist isn't sure what is going on with her and gave me quite a list of all the possibilities.  Sweet.  She has an EEG scheduled for this Tuesday.  I would appreciate any prayers if you happen to think about it.  Also, they are going to do an MRI on her as well.  She has already been under 3 times this year and has another surgery scheduled for early December.  They are trying to coordinate so that they can do the surgery and the MRI on the same day so that she won't have to be put under for a 5th time.  Please pray that the scheduling people can work this out.  Her original date was Friday, December the 6th.  This is Munni's first Christmas celebration and obviously, I want it to be a special one.  I was hoping that we could have the surgery far enough away from Christmas so that she would be healed and not in pain during the Christmas break.

When we went to the consultation with the neurologist, Munni's behavior during the visit was an F-.  I told the doctor that she is one smart cookie and is aware of what is going on.  Thankfully, he is a compassionate and kind doctor and also very tolerant of recently-adopted-scared-out-of-her-mind-so-I'm-going-to-act-as-crazy-as-possible- children.

That night she started to ask me all kinds of questions about dying.  She asked me if Simon was going to die.  I told her yes, one day he will die.  She asked me what day.  I told her I didn't know. Nobody knows.  She told me that when Simon dies he won't be in the bed with us anymore and that will be really sad.  I told her it will be very sad.  Then she hits me with this doozy:

"Mommy, who will die first, you or me?"

I wasn't really prepared for this conversation with her, but I've always been honest so I told her, "Since mommy is a lot older than you, I will probably die first but not for a really long time; not until you are older."
She started to cry and what she said next, made me cry.
She told me, "How will I get to heaven if you aren't here to take me?  I will get lost on the way because I don't know how to get there."
I'm thinking to myself that I cannot believe the depth of this child's heart.  I hugged her and told her that Jesus would take her and when she got there I would be waiting there for her and so would Simon with his wiggling butt, all excited, jumping around so happy to see her!  She wasn't quite convinced.  So I told her, "Remember how when we first got back from India and you had never been to Papa's house?  I took you there in our car.  You didn't know the way, you just sat in the back and got to watch the trees and everything go by as I drove you to her house.  Now you know the way because we've been there so many times and you tell me to turn right and to turn left, but in the beginning, you didn't.  You just trusted me that when I told you we were going to Papa's house, that when we got in the car we would indeed arrive at Papa's house.  You have to trust me on this Munni.  Jesus will come and meet you and take you to heaven.  You will not get lost."  Then we talked about some encounters that she remembers about Jesus from Hyderabad.  It was a very philosophical evening for a seven year old :)  

The next evening, the questions continued.  This time, they were focused on our "new bodies" we would receive in heaven.  She told me, "Mommy, me thinking all day.  When I get new body, no more marks? (that's what she calls her scars) oh man she knows how to pull my heart strings.  
I started crying and I told her, "Yes baby, no more marks." And then again she pulls out a doozy, 

"And I will be white like you?"  

I told her no and she got upset and said she wanted to be white like me and I said that I wanted to be brown like her :)  And then I told her that all of us will be the most beautiful versions of ourselves and color won't matter.  I have to admit though, that it was a positive sign for me that she has attached so much that she wants to assimilate to me.  When she first came home she told me, "Mommy skin no pretty."  I thought is was hilarious at the time (and still do!)  Obviously I don't want Munni to want to be white, I'm just thankful for the attachment aspect of that statement.

Today when I picked her up from school, she got in the car and I told her I loved her.  I asked her if she knew what that meant.  She put her hands over her heart and shook her head yes and smiled.  Then I asked her, "How much do you think mommy loves you?"  She started laughing and stretched both her arms out wide and said, "THIS MUCH!" and I told her, "Nope, you're wrong."  She looked confused for minute and then I smiled at her and told her, "More. SO. MUCH. MORE!"

I made this dress!







 And this is what the end of a photo shoot looks like....
a tired, hungry, little girl with a mommy who won't stop photographing her :)

The blog makeover and the dress were my two creative outlets with all the stress and chaos going on this fall.  I was stoked that I figured out that blog thing since I don't have the money to pay someone to do it!  Plus, I'm not technologically *gifted* I always figure out some weird way that is probably the longest way possible but whatever, I love the new look!  My mom was also a big help with the dress because I forgot a lot from my 8th grade home-ec class.  Sewing takes some serious math skills!  I only had to rip out once so that's cool.  My next project is an advent calendar.  My mom and dad did an amazing job of establishing some cherished Christmas traditions in our family.  I can't wait to start those  with Munni Bird!
Hopefully the surgery/MRI/EEG results will be nothing to worry about and we can move forward and start the new year fresh.
Thank you for all your support and prayers- they mean more than I will ever be able to express in words!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Riptide and Running to Spread More Love...

It was a beautiful, sunny day.
Our "book club" had dreamed of this vacation for a long time and we were thoroughly enjoying it.  I had been down in Mexico studying and the other 3 flew down to join me at the end of my semester.
We drove up the coast about 20 minutes from Zihuatanejo, where we were staying, to Ixtapa.
We had just seen this one-eyed man feed the salt water crocodiles and he let us hold a "baby" one that kept hissing at us.  Looking back, I realize this man had no "business" of any kind, he was just a random person who jumped the fence into the crocodile enclosure. Viva Mexico.
We left that adventure and walked to the beach to get some rays.
After a little while, we decided to get into the water.
We waded in and were having a good time talking smack, laughing, and just goofing off.  Next thing I know, Armando and I are farther out than Cassy and Janet and I am farther out than Armando.  Not good.
It all happened so fast but in slow motion at the same time.
I looked over my shoulder and saw a monster wave.  I was petrified.  I looked back at Armando who was reaching for my hand.  I tried to reach for his hand but the distance between us kept getting greater instead of smaller.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not get to Armando.  I couldn't even hear what he was saying to me.  I could feel the wave pulling me into it and before I knew it I was was under.
I don't even remember having time to get a good lung full of air.
I had absolutely no control of my body.  I was tossed around like a rag doll in a washing machine.  I felt myself doing somersaults and every time I tried to get a sense of direction, I was pushed back down by the force of the water.  I felt myself hitting sand.  Sharp objects punctured my foot.  I was panicking, terrified, and then I guess my sense of survival took over because I opened my mouth in desperation to breathe.  What used to be dark started to become light.  What used to be an extreme sense of fear all of the sudden became this sudden sense of peace.  I remember having this INTENSE feeling of calm...I thought, this is it.  Today I am going to see Jesus!  It really was so strange that all the fear left me.
And the next thing I knew,  I heard this loud crashing noise and I felt airborne.  Then I felt the sting of landing on water like when you do a belly flop from a high dive.  A couple of seconds or so later I felt hands grab me and I was choking and puking up water.  Armando and Janet were pulling me in as the skinny, Mexican lifeguard was cussing us out in Spanish FROM THE BEACH, pointing to the black flag that was posted way down at the other end of the beach that you couldn't see from where our towels were.  He never even helped us! I was too busy choking but Armando and Cassy had some choice words for him :)
Apparently, there was a riptide in effect, hence, the black flag.  What made this situation worse was the size of the waves.  My wave actually took me under and because of the force of it, I couldn't get out.  My friends said they thought I had drown and then I shot out like a rocket.  We surmised that the force from another wave crashing down at just the right place is what catapulted me out of the cycle I was in spinning around and around.  I still have a scar on my ankle from whatever cut my foot.

What does that story have to do with my life?  This autumn has felt like a riptide.  I started the school year with what seemed like a beautiful, little life.   And then a monster wave hit.  And kept hitting, and hitting, and I've felt like I've been that rag doll being tossed about in a washing machine, unable to get my breath and not yet able to reach that place of calm and peace.
Here's a little summary:
-School for Munni has been a harder transition this year.  She was in kindergarten last year for 5 weeks and it was a wonderful experience for her.  First grade, not so much.  I would say that not being able to read yet is her biggest frustration.  She is in Montessori so she is grouped with 1-3 graders.  She does not like to feel different so the fact that her English is still a little behind the others is a point of frustration for her.
- I found out a child was hitting her at school.  Well, it was actually during the time when they are waiting to go to the after care program.  What makes it worse is that it is a "friend."  This has so many layers to it due to her history.  I was extremely stressed out about how to handle this.
-  I also found out that a child was making all kinds of racist comments towards Munni.  Um, at this point, Miss Sally had to restrain me because I was about to go Loca on that little terd.
- We had a week straight of medical appointments.  I made everyone cry at those appointments.  I was crying.  I thought, if one more person tells me that something else is wrong with Munni I'm going to freak the bump out on them.  I'm tired.  I'm tired of things "surfacing."  Don't get me wrong, I want Munni to be healthy.  That's ALL I want.  I think that's why I'm so frustrated because her little body has been through so much that I just want it to be over and let's move forward already.
-  She is supposed to have another surgery that was going to involve 4 departments so I wouldn't have to put her under again multiple times since she's already been under 3 times this year.  We spent all summer setting up consultations with the departments and paying the stupid speciality co-pays only to have 1 department say they are out that it's really another departments area and to have another department's portion denied by insurance because it's considered "cosmetic" thank you very much.  I do not think very highly of insurance at this point and time right now.  Munni has suffered enough and now she gets to deal insensitive people who ask her about her scar on her scalp.  I know it's not a life or death situation but I also know her whole story and for her emotional health, I want this done for her.
-  She had a seizure and has had some fainting spells.  We have no idea why.  It could be the Tuberculosis was in her brain, it could be anything.  Since the Tuberculosis did spread systemically, we have no idea which organs it attacked in her body.  We know it attacked her eye, but other than that, we don't know.  She was on the most aggressive treatment so if it was in her brain, it could be that it was an abscess that could have broken loose, or could have been an infection, or it could have been low blood sugar, or it could have been that her body has been in a state of "fight" for so long and now that it knows it's in a safe place, things are starting to "relax."  Anyway, we have an appointment with the neurologist to get a CT scan or MRI of her brain to get a better idea of what may be going on in there.
-  I cried every day of September and I think every day the first week of October.  Sometimes even at work :)
-  In the midst of all of this I have felt this space between God and me and I hate it :(  And I know it's not him, it's me and it's because I'm so frazzled.  I've realized that I put this insane amount of pressure on myself to be this great, unattainable mom.  Pack the perfect lunch!  Have the perfect schedule!  Keep the house clean and tidy!  Have perfectly planned fun, pintresty activities for each day! Have the weekly meal plan posted on the fridge with the shopping list organized by categories laminated by week! Work out 5 days a week! Smile, smile, smile!
I sent Munni to school commando the other day because she didn't tell me she was out of clean underwear.  I made her wear leggings with her skirt that has built in shorts.  Sometimes, we eat cheese popcorn for dinner.  I may or may not have let her watch Keeping up with the Kardashians with me.  If you walked into my house today, you would wonder why we aren't on an episode of "Hoarders."
My reality is that I am a single mom.  I need to give myself some grace.  I need to prioritize.  I know what's most important to me outside of my relationship with Christ is connecting with Munni.
Last weekend she wanted to know if she could go to my mom's house.  I told her no that I wanted her to hang out with me.  She said, "You and me spend the whole weekend together?  That's a good idea!" I told her, "Yes, Munni Bird, that is a GREAT idea!"
When she is older, I want her to remember our snuggles and our connection times.  I know it's so cliche, but it really is what's important.
We had our home study visit for the update for Baby R.  My social worker could not believe the change in Munni.  As in, she was dumbfounded and kept saying over and over how she couldn't get over how happy Munni is and the sparkle in Munni's eyes.  Hearing that is a reminder to me of what R has waiting for her :)  The last pictures I have of her she is crying.  I know it's probably because she didn't want to get her picture taken but still, she has a family waiting for her.  We are VERY excited for her to come home!  I am almost finished with updating the few pieces I needed in my dossier and my home study.  I hope to be able to file my immigration paperwork mid-Novemeber.
Here comes the crazy part.  After reading about how chaotic my life has been, you will probably think I need to be wearing a straight jacket.
Health For Orphans is willing to sponsor Munni and Baby R in the Disney Tinkerbell Run.  This means that whoever signs up for the Disney Tinkerbell Run and raises the $500 TAX- DEDUCTIBLE fundraising minimum, that money will go towards Munni and Baby R's surgeries (remember when I told you that my insurance denied Munni's surgery?)  Anyway, here's the problem.  Health For Orphans is a non-profit.  They had to reserve 30 spots.  We only have 4 runners registered.  We need 26 more registered by November 1st or it's a no-go because Health For Orphans can't pay the $6,000 registration fee up front.  There are several ways to do this.  If you are a runner, will you consider running?  Munni and I will be there in Disneyland if we get all these spots registered! Are you not a runner but want to "participate?"  You can be a "virtual" runner!  All you have to do is register online and at the estimated time of finish box, write "Virtual" so we know you are a virtual runner.  We are going to contact some high schools in Southern California and try to get some of the girls cross country teams to run for the virtual runners!  When Nicole (the founder of Health For Orphans) and I were talking about this, I told her straight up that it was my fear that was holding me back and not trusting that God could bring 26 runners forward to run this race for Munni and Baby R.  I know He can do it if this is the way He wants to provide for their surgeries.  I also know that he can bring more than 26 runners.  So if this is something you are interested in or someone you know who would love to run a Disney race, please pass this information on to them!  You can no longer just register through Disney as the race itself is sold out.  You can only register through a non-profit.  Health For Orphans has the lowest fundraising requirement at just $500!  I know some places of business have matching funds so this could be a great way to reach the $500!  And think, you are giving a sweet baby girl a NOSE and repairing Munni's scalp from a burn she never should have suffered.
Let's Run to Spread More Love!!
You can register HERE for the Disney Tinkerbell Run!
THANK YOU!!!!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Open Letter To Mer Crosland

Dear Mer,
You complete me.
That is all.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Spread More Love!

We Spread More Love
A WHOLE LOT OF LOVE!!!!
312 t-shirts and hoodies of LOVE
$ 5, 575 of Love
THAT'S A LOT OF LOVE!!!!!!!!

I'd say that the two rounds of this campaign were beyond successful and thanks to all of YOU, 
we SPREAD SOME SERIOUS LOVE!!!!

I hope that every time you wear your shirt, 
you smile and think of R.
I hope that every time you wear your shirt,
someone sees it and they smile.
I hope that every time you wear your shirt,
you get to share how you changed a little girl's life.
I hope that every time you wear your your shirt,
you know that you made a difference.
I hope that every time you wear your shirt,
you know you will always have a special place in my heart for loving my daughter.
I hope that every time you wear your shirt,
you know that you are forever connected to her story.
I hope that every time you wear your shirt,
you spread more love :)
THANK YOU!!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Cup Overfloweth

I kicked off the second round of the Spread More Love campaign with some trepidation.
Words can not describe how blown away I was by the results of the first round.  People I didn't even know supported me from near and far.  God blew my socks off.  Does lightning strike twice?
Yes. Yes it does!
The second round has been funded!!!!
As of today, 61 shirts have been sold!
I am completely amazed.
However, during the midst of all of this, I have been raging on the inside with some personal issues that I can't get into right now.  Hopefully in the near future, I will be able to spill the beans with an amazing solution but let's suffice it to say that the last two weeks I was in a mood.  I was not giving Jesus a good name. In fact, people were probably questioning my salvation.  I'm certain if they are not Calvinist, they were definitely questioning my salvation.  I was low.  Real, real low.
I have been so strung out and stressed out and worn out and at times questioned if am crazy to be pursuing R's adoption.   I haven't prayed about her adoption nearly as much as prayed about Munni's.  The guilt consumes me at times.  I used to pray faithfully for Munni's adoption on my way to school and on my way home from school every day.  Now?  I zone out and listen to Soundgarden or Collective Soul or Pearl Jam, sip my coffee, and fantasize about changing the world and really being something when I grow up. When is that anyway?  My friend M and I have been joking about how adoption can take you to a whole new level that's all Breaking Bad, Thelma and Louise.  For real.  And the crazy thing is that R's adoption in terms of process has been *easy* compared to the nightmare that Munni's was.  So it's not about her process.  I have a friend who started her adoption before I found Munni who STILL doesn't have her daughter home.  Yeah.  I have another friend whose timing was right with me up until I received my NOC and then it all fell apart and her daughter is still not home.  That adds to the rage because I love these women.  They are family to me.  I love their precious daughters and I ache for them.   I sometimes fantasize about going all Jason Bourne and doing an extraction.  I'm not joking.  It makes me feel better.  And it makes me feel like a ninja.

When you start out on the road to adoption you are so doe-eyed and naive.  You have no idea the experiences that await you.  But I think that it probably every significant journey in life.  There are moments of high highs, low lows, doubts, confusion, hurt, sorrow, peace, calm, joy, serenity, love, anger, surprise, selflessness, charity, community, grace, and for me the most important part of this journey- redemption.  There have been so many areas of redemption it's unbelievable.  But I have also never felt so raw in my entire life.

So back to my horrible week I was having.  I was nervous 50 t- shirts wouldn't sell.  I was stressin' that I wouldn't be able to come up with the second installment.  I was in such a foul mood that I just couldn't shake and my prayers seriously were so lame.  You know what?  God loves me anyway.  He whispered to me that in spite of my crappy attitude that He's got this.  He sees my struggles and it's not about me.

The next day I received a letter in the mail.  It was from a couple of regulars who used to come into the pizza place every Friday night where I worked for 6 and half years.  They went through Munni's adoption journey with me.  I quit before I brought Munni home, so they never got to see her.  They were so supportive and always asked me about her adoption.  I still remember their order:  2 Bells Oberon (leave the oranges from the previous beer! ) 2 peppercorn ranch salads 1 with no onions 1 with no tomatoes and an x pepperoni pizza.  I love this couple.  They wrote me the nicest letter and gave me a very generous check.  I sobbed when I read their letter.  I was so touched.

The next day at school, there was a letter in my mailbox from a retired teacher for whom I have mad respect.  He is not only brilliant, but he impacted many middle schoolers for the better.  He also had a huge impact on me when I started there as a new teacher.  He wrote me the nicest letter and included a very nice donation to R's adoption.

I received several emails from people who "stumbled" upon my blog and had been silent readers and felt the urge to contact me now and contribute.  They were moved by Munni's story and now Rs.

It's these types of experiences that renew your hope in God and in humanity.  You never know how people you meet 6 years ago or yesterday will impact your life.  In the same way, it could be you that will impact someone's life who maybe like me, really, really needs it.

Anyway, I am completely overwhelmed by all the love that has been bestowed upon me, Munni and sweet baby R.  My cup truly runneth over.  Thank you for Spreading More Love.  I pray that God blesses you immensely.  I love all of you!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Get In On It!!!!!!

The SPREAD MORE LOVE campaign ends September 23, 2013!!!  Be sure to order your super soft t- shirt, or really comfy hoodie before it ends!!!  Remember, you are helping bring home Sweet Baby R with your purchase!!

Also, Bonfire Funds has flat rate shipping:  $5 for domestic and $8 for international.

BUT- I need to make sure 50 shirts are sold in order to meet the minimum for printing and donations.  If 50 shirts are not sold by 9/23, then no money is exchange and no shirts printed :(  If we meet the minimum, then the shirts will arrive on your doorstep between 10/1-10/5!!!!!

Get in on the fun and YOU TOO could be sporting this super fly T!!!

The best part?  You get to SPREAD MORE LOVE!!!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

They're Back!!

This week was a crazy, emotional week.
I think I had about 5 mental breakdowns :)
I found out that my insurance won't cover the surgery for the burn scar on Munni's scalp.  She has multiple scars on her scalp that we were just going to leave alone, but the big one is on her crown and the sun hits it.  Another reason I was hoping to have it minimized was to hopefully eliminate all the rude comments we get like "What happened to her head?" that people ask RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER.  Seriously, what the heck???  Like Jennifer Aniston said about Brad Pitt, these people are missing a sensitivity chip.  Finding out about the insurance was really frustrating.  Now I'm going to look into applying with Shriner's to see if they can help us.  Luckily, the Shriners here specializes in burns.  Now that we are down to only 2 departments for the surgery instead of the original 4, I'm hoping it will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.  I'm ready for all of this stuff to be behind us so we can continue to move forward.
Wednesday was 9/11 and is usually an emotional day for me.  It still is but this year, however, it was coupled with joy and hope because it is also Sweet Baby R's birthday!  Munni and I wanted to celebrate her even though she isn't home with us yet.  We want her to know she was in our hearts, minds, and prayers long before she physically could be part of our family.  We woke up and sang happy birthday to her and then later that night, went out for dinner and dessert.  Munni blew out the candle for R :)  She's such a great big sister already!  She thinks that R should have a peacock cake for her 3rd birthday and Munni also thinks it will be a really big party HERE!  I am praying that we will be celebrating it with her!

I also found out that my dossier was sent to the orphanage and my caseworker expects to receive R's CSR rather quickly.  She is at a much smaller orphanage than where Munni was and already, they have been VERY responsive to our requests.
This brings mixed emotions.  One of complete JOY and the other of complete PANIC!  Once her CSR gets here, I will have to pay the referral and country/humanitarian fees which are $7,900.  In addition, I will also have to file for her immigration and that's another  $830.
Which brings me to the relaunch of the SPREAD MORE LOVE t-shirts!!!  The first time around was MIND BLOWING!!!  The $4,290 raised through the fundraiser covered a little over half of my first fees.  My agency let me pay the remainder of the balance in two payments due 10/1 and 11/1.  I also raised enough money through my photography to pay for the home study update.

Seriously, how cute does Munni look in this shirt?
I just got my shirts on Thursday and I LOVE them!!!  They turned out better than I thought!  The short sleeve t-shirts are SUPER soft- they are 60% cotton and 40% poly.  They have a little stretch to them as well.  I rocked it the other night with my skinny jeans and heels and it looked great!  The hoodies are my next favorite because they are the perfect weight- not too heavy and not too light plus they too, are SUPER comfy!!  Those are 80% cotton and 20% poly.  Both the long sleeve and the kid t-shirts are 100% cotton.  They aren't quite as soft as the others.

If you wanted to buy a t-shirt last time but didn't get to it, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!!!!!  The fund will run for 10 days until September 23rd.  I still have to sell the 50 shirt minimum in order for the shirts to print and credit cards to be charged.  If I don't sell the minimum of 50, then no shirts are printed and no money is charged.  For example, if only 38 shirts are "sold" before 9/23, then the fund closes and no one is charged any money and no shirts are printed.  This is where I need your help!  If you haven't already, please consider purchasing a shirt!  You can buy one here.  Also, they DO ship internationally!!!!  They have a flat shipping rate of $8 and a flat domestic shipping rate of $5.  If you have purchased a shirt, would you please spread the word and SPREAD MORE LOVE?!!!!!

The remaining fees from the first set of fees are $1,700 due October 1st, $1,700 due November 1st and then the Referral fee and immigration fees I mentioned above.  After that, I will be saving for TRAVEL!!!!!!!  WOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!

Everything about Sweet R's adoption has been so different from Munni's.  From the moment I received the call about her, things have been moving like crazy!  I keep praying for her and the process that it will continue to move.  Hopefully, round 2 of the SPREAD MORE LOVE campaign will keep things hoppin'!!!
THANK YOU!!!!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gratitude and Redemption

This week was an emotional one.  On Thursday, Munni's adoption was finalized in court.  I was not prepared for the Spanish Inquisition that took place in that court room.  My sister, mom, and niece  went with us to the hearing.  I guess since I was only granted guardianship of Munni in India, the US court looked at it differently and felt the need to do their due diligence before signing the final adoption decree.  It started out normal but then she hit the emotionally charged questions.  She started asking me about Munni's past.  I know the judge wasn't trying to be mean, but it was very difficult to talk about that in such an open room- it felt like my heart was getting a vivisection.  I stumbled my way through those questions with a squeaky voice and tears streaming down my face.  And then she asked me all about the medical issues Munni has had since she's been home.  Here comes the zinger.  Very straight faced, she asked me if during all of those procedures and struggles, did I ever regret my decision to adopt Munni.  My heart started beating so fast and my ears started ringing.  Was she really asking me this?  I couldn't breathe because the lump in my throat was so big.  I shook my head and my face crumpled and I told her, "Never.  If anything, it strengthened my resolve even more to be her mother."  She turned to my sister and asked her a bunch of questions about my fight to bring Munni home and what my relationship is like with her kids.  My sister was crying.  And then the judge turned to my mom and asked her if she has accepted Munni as her grandchild.  My mom was also choked up and about to answer when Munni joyfully announced, "Yes!"  We all started laughing :)

Then the judge announced something about everything meeting the requirements and did the gavel and said the adoption was finalized and Munni is now legally Munni G---- W----.  I gave Munni the biggest hug and just sobbed!

Mommy Munni Forever!
Afterwards, the judge came down to talk to me.  She said she still couldn't believe that I was able to get Munni home.  She also told me that she can see that Munni is a very special little girl :)  I hugged her and thanked her and then we went down to file the papers with the records department.  When she handed me the final adoption decree with the seal, she told me,  "Congratulations on your adoption!"  I started crying again!  I was in such disbelief that it was over.  Yes, I still need to file paperwork to receive her birth certificate, ssn, US passport and COC, BUT, the fact that all of her Indian paperwork was stolen and now I have a piece of paper that says unequivocally that Munni is my daughter and NOTHING can change that- well, it's beyond comprehension!

I kept reveling about all the poor decisions I had made in my life that left me single and childless at 40.  My whole life the one thing I've always known with certainty is that I was supposed to be a mom.  When that didn't happen the "conventional" way, I never, ever in my wildest dreams would have imagined that God would bless me in the incredible ways he has throughout Munni's adoption.  I thought I screwed up my chances and I would live the rest of my life in a sea of regret.

But that's not how God's love works.  He loves us no matter what we do.  We can screw up in the worst kind of ways and he will find a way to redeem our mistakes and make something so unbelievably beautiful out of our mess.

I thought about all the people who stepped up and supported me throughout Munni's adoption.  I honestly will never be able to express how eternally grateful I am for all of the love, prayers, financial support, encouragement, favors, etc that people gave to me.  I hope that those people feel connected to Munni.  I hope that when they look at her, their heart swells because they made a difference in her life.  I hope they know that their footsteps are permanently etched beside ours.  I hope that their eyes have been opened to God's redemptive love. I hope that when they hear the word "adoption," they smile and think about Munni and the power it can have to change a life.  I hope they know that they gave a precious little girl a future for her to discover God's amazing plan for her to become all he has intended her to be.

Later that night when we were cuddling, Munni asked me, "Mommy, R coming tomorrow email?"  I love her heart!  I told her it would be awhile before R is here and that when it is time, she won't be coming through email :)

The next day she wanted her hair done like her baby sister.  
sisters!

As I wait for Sweet R's CSR to come, I can't help but hope that people will love her the same way they have loved Munni.  I can't wait for the day I can show her beautiful face to the world.  I can't wait for the day I can share her name and the significant meaning behind it.  I can't wait for Munni to have her little sister home with us.  I can't wait for R to experience the love of not only family, but of friends and strangers, and for her to know that she is VALUABLE, PRECIOUS, and LOVED!

In the end, I hope that all those who have come beside us know that they have spread more love and it has been beyond anything I could have ever dreamed!

"But as the Scriptures say,
'No one has ever seen,
no one has ever heard,
no one has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.' "
1 Corinthians 2:9