Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our debt free adoption story

Last week our adoption story was featured on Money Saving Mom.  We shared how we paid for our adoption without any debt.

I think ours was a bit more challenging than we anticipated - we switched from international to domestic half way through and had spent thousands on paperwork going back and forth to EE.  Another wrench in our plan was we had over $4000 in our RR account that we of course could not use once we committed to a special needs child that was not on RR.  (We actually counted this a blessing - it was what we planned to spend on travel and of course we were not traveling now - and we were able to choose a child to donate the money too - we donated to "Gregory" - who is still waiting with over $4,500 in his account!!).  But we did have new expenses - our coordinator, lawyers, social worker, and some changes to our homestudy.

Had we known we would have ended up in a domestic adoption we could have saved quite a bit - but in that case we would not have been able to donate to Gregory..... and I think that even though it was hard, our journey was beautiful - and oddly enough - we had EXACTLY enough - like literally exactly enough!

I wanted to share our 'We Paid Cash: Our Adoption Process" story with those who might be interested.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

tiny little flip flops make me cry

So I know this blog has become kind of random.  I dont really have a direction for it - but not ready to let it close.  I use it when I have an adoption fundraising idea to share. I use it to share prayer requests and updates for our little Roo. And in this case - as a place for me to write down my thoughts in the hopes they will stop torturing me inside my head and heart.  I don't really expect anyone to really understand, but prayers are appreciated.

As I have said numerous times, I believe we are where God intended us to be all along.  I look at our little 2 month old with all of her challenges and all of her promise and know that she is who God destined to be our daughter.  I know our journey to 'Claire' was always our journey to her.

That being said, I have a weird story that I just need to get off my chest.

Last weekend we went to La Jolla CA and there was an awesome sale at a local surf shop.  We dont ever buy anything unless it is on sale - and 80% off is my kind of sale.  We got brother a button down top and big sister a pair of flip flops two sizes to big in hopes they will work for next year.  We also found baby sister the cutest darn flip flops on the planet.

They are teeny tiny, size baby 5 (about right for a one year old) in hot pink and black & white zebra stripes - and for $4 she just had to have them.

Randomly as I checked out I noticed myself fighting back tears.  I am really good at not crying when my heart really wants to. I've never felt comfortable crying in front of people and can usually fight it off. I was able to suck it down, but it was a fight.

Buying those tiny flip flops for my third child just reminded me...yet again - that there is some kind of weird purgatory inbetween where our journey to Claire abruptly ended to where our successful adoption of our little Roo began.  And dang it - it just wont go away.

'Claire' never would have worn flip flops.  They wouldn't have looked right, and they probably would not have offered the support she would need for her special little feet.

So now I see those little shoes in Roo's closet and they torture me.  I know there are several families that were mid journey to Claire's country when laws started changing.  I know some have been blessed to bring them home.  I know several are in the same boat we are.  We loved a specific child we never met, we worried for and prepared for their very specific special needs only to find out they weren't meant for us.

I don't know - I am writing because I needed to organize it outside of my head, but also maybe to encourage others to know that someone else understands. 

Thanks for reading my random story and praying if you feel inclined.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Easy way to add to your adoption fund.....

So it is funny to me that we still get traffic here even though I don't really update much.

I know lots of our readers are Reece's Rainbow families and one of the hardest things (for us anyway) was fundraising.

One thing we found that helped us save money was using Ebates.com (you can even use it to book your travel).  There are thousands of online retailers and they give you a percentage back in cash.  For example - we got 2% back on our plane tickets and also on our hotels the last time we traveled.  We also got cash back when we both on sites like Walmart.com, OldNavy.com, and just about everything else.  We don't shop online very much but they send a check every 3 months - ours was usually less than $100 - but it was an easy thing to put into our adoption fund.

I'm pointing it out right now because on my main blog we are hosting a sign up incentive giveaway for Ebates.com - one reader will win $50 cash from Ebates.com - no purchase necessary.

I am not sure if anyone is interested - but you can CLICK HERE to enter.  You will need to sign up for Ebates (which you should anyway) and for my blog San Diego Deals and Steals (which often features national freebies too - so it isn't a bad newsletter to get either) - no worries if you aren't interested, but I just think Ebates is a 'no brainer' when you are fundraising =)


Sunday, July 10, 2011

So very thankful...........

So this appears to be the end of our very long adoption journey!  We of course need some paperwork to finalize, but that is too uneventful to blog about really.  We are so excited to be a family of five!

I will probably stop blogging here.....but I can't without about a thousand thank yous.  We have been in the process on some level for over a year.

1st - I want to thank Andrea from Reece's Rainbow (and everyone who is a part of their team!)  - while we did not end up with a Reece's Rainbow angel as we had anticipated, we are so thankful for their organization and the good things they are doing for children around the world - including advocating and educating right here in America!  Perhaps someday we can adopt (WAYYYYY in the future) an older child through RR - but for now we promise to continue donating and sharing their cause!

Thank you to our friend Yahdira who was kind enough to do all of our adoption notary completely for free! This is an amazing ministry!  If you are in the North County SD area (or willing to travel to her) please email me & I will get you in touch - she offers free notary for families adopting for their adoption paperwork!

Thank you to Suzanne, Kathleen, and Kelly (not in any particular order =)) for putting together a beautiful fundraiser - we know it was just as much for 'Claire' as it was for us, and we know you love our Charlotte just as much as you loved Claire.  We are so thankful that so much of the money raised went to Gregory (still waiting on Reece's Rainbow) - we love that God has multiplied the children who have been adopted - first 'Claire', now our Charlotte, and prayerfully Gregory.....and prayerfully even more - we know that fundraiser touched many hearts and we know it helped so many more than just our family!

Thank you to EVERY person who prayed for and supported us in a million different ways!  We had dozens of friends, family members, and total strangers who blessed us with prayers, words of encouragement, and financial support.  We are so thankful and truly humbled - we know not everyone going through an adoption has this kind of support, and we do not take any of it for granted.

Thank you to the RR families we connected with - but especially Sarah - mommy to be of 'Caroline' waiting in Eastern Europe - we shared a lot of ups and downs.  She was a great comfort in that she understood a lot of what we were going through.  We are so thankful her little girl is still available and their paperwork was submitted - we ironically both now have 'heart babies' and we are thankful for the friendship we have been able to have with them! 

Thank you everyone who prayed for us when we got the terrible news that our 'Claire' was not to be ours.  We know we are exactly where we are supposed to be, but it was (and is) terrible for our family that we will never meet her in this lifetime - we are comforted by the fact that she is loved and HER family got to her before the shut down - we can only pray she has a beautiful life and that we can meet her on the other side of eternity.  We know all the prayers for her protection have not gone unanswered - we are sure she is just a treasure in her family.  While we miss her - we are just so happy she is loved.

Thank you to our other virtual friend Ivonne - who told us about Charlotte needing a family ASAP!

Thank you to Michelle at 'Adoption Answer' who took a leap of faith with us.  She needed a family immediately and she didn't know us at all.  She is a woman of integrity who truly wants what is best for all involved - birth mother, child, and adopting family - I'm sure she was nervous not knowing us beforehand - but we truly believe God put us all together.

Thank you to my parents who took our kids for the longest 'about a week' of all time - it turned out to be 3 1/2 weeks that we took before Charlotte was ready to leave.  Our big kids are cute, but they are a lot of work - Grandma & Grandpa shuffled them around everywhere they needed to go and never complained.

Thank you to our friends who helped them out with playdates and dinners when they needed a little break.

Thank you to the Ronald McDonald House for everything they do - because Charlotte was in NICU and we were more than 50 miles from home we were able to stay with the RMH for $10 a night!  We lost a bit of money when our Ukrainian adoption did not go through.  And while our travel obviously was less expensive - there were lots of new expenses with this new adoption - we are thankful our living expenses the last THREE weeks was next to nothing.  RMH serves so many - some families are here for months at a time - even 3 weeks we are so blessed!  Thank you to the volunteers here, those who brought in dinner and brought gifts for us and our kids.  Amazing, amazing people - making the world a much softer place.

And above all else, we thank God for burdening us for orphans.  It has been a much tougher road than the traditional route to a family - but we feel so richly blessed.  We are so thankful for the daughter we made.  But we are also so thankful for the son and daughter that are so perfectly part of our family but that we simply could not have made on our own - how blessed are we that we were put together with these little ones too.  The beauty of our three kids together speaks volumes of Your profound grace, love, and goodness.  Our prayer is to honor You as they grow.  We pray what You have done with us (despite us occasionally complaining, doubting, and crying along the way) will be a testimony others will be encouraged by.  More than that, we pray we honor You as we raise them - looking at all of them so little we just can't wait to see Your plans for them.  We are just people; regular people, and we just don't know why we were so blessed.

Signing off for now ~

All our love and gratitude ~

Kate, Harry, Josie, Silas, and Charlotte Elise

Sunday, June 26, 2011

top 10 things i have learned in NICU

CLICK HERE to read my top ten list if you want =)

Please keep our Charlotte in your prayers....

Charlotte is doing ok - not bad, not great.  She is stable, but still needs a couple surgeries as well as several tests in the next couple months.  She needs heart surgery before her 2 month old birthday - it is unclear whether she will leave NICU before her surgery.

She still is working on eating from a bottle - about half her minimum is still fed through a tube and she seems to have a little reflux - making it harder for her to gain weight.

As we sit in NICU I am constantly aware of how many countries do not have this care and it is overwhelming and heartbreaking - I know if she had not been born where she is she maybe never would have made it this far.

Please take a moment to pray for our little girl, she is not out of the woods yet, please also pray for the millions of orphans world wide who need a family NOW.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome Charlotte Elise.....

Our adoption journey took a very sharp turn yesterday....

Please read our story HERE

We'll write more here later, it just seemed silly to write it out twice.

Blessings ~

Friday, June 3, 2011

A little ghost named 'What if' has moved into my house.

As we move on to the next chapter of our adoption (details to come) I can't help but feel haunted by a little girl we had already made a part of our lives.

She will never physically live here, but we have memories of her, and memories of our dreams for her.  We have pictures and little 2T outfits that would have looked really good with her dark blonde hair and big blue eyes with the tags still on them. I found a paper with Oleksandra's region written on it, and the google search still comes up on my computer.  We researched hospitals and surgeons that might help her little hands and feet, and when we hear a name similiar it hits us that all that information is unnecessary now.

I don't just wonder what she is doing now, I am sure she is doing great with her forever family.  But I feel haunted by what she would be doing with us.  We would likely be traveling now (had circumstances been different) and I can't seem to stop my brain from playing over and over again our trip to our son and wonder what might have been the same, what might have been different.

She will just always be 'missing' in our lives.  I know she was not ever ours and won't be, and we accept that.  But there is a weird little ghost of what could have been that just seems to creep up everywhere and bite me right behind the eyes. 

No matter what beautiful chapter lies ahead, Oleksandra won't be there.  I am sure it is a beautiful chapter, a chapter that could not have happened if she was here - and I hope that opening that chapter with all it's beauty and blessings and challenges will allow us to miss her, but realize that this was what was always 'meant to be'. 

I don't know if I am explaining it right, or if I am just being redundant - I'm just saying - the new 'little sister' will not replace her.  When our new little girl comes home (God willing) we will introduce her to her big sister & brother, and we'll still feel Oleksandra is missing from the picture.

There is no way to 'fix it' - it is just what is going on in my brain right now. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Update - sort of

we did hear back about the little girl in Oleksandra's country - not sure when her release date is & if we would be starting from square one - waiting on that info.  She is a very cute little girl, she has lots of challenges but we feel confident that we could meet them.

Also praying about other options. 

Her country is still a difficult program - feeling so indecisive - please pray God just opens a door WIDE open for us and makes it easy. I know that sounds lame, but that is kinda what we feel we need right now.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

*sigh* rambling update - not really an update on anything except my thoughts really....

So - we are doing our best to be patient.

We have asked about another child in Oleksandra's country - we only know that she will not be released for international adoption until at least August & our paperwork would need to be redone (not all of it - but a lot)

Her medical condition was extremely vague - getting more info has not been easy - we have heard nothing.

We are trying to be patient, with all the upset in her country I am sure there are lots of families keeping the whole RR team very busy.

We are starting to look elsewhere - other countries - we know we will adopt a special needs girl someday - seriously not sure where - it really has only been a few weeks since we heard that Oleksandra had been adopted.

May 4th exactly - it seriously boggles my mind still.  We knew it was legally possible, but I just can't fully wrap my head around it.  I think we will always miss her - I don't know if that is appropriate, but I will.  My heart hopes some day to meet her in heaven, and I don't mean that in a trite way, I honestly mean it.  We seriously loved that little girl.  We know we will never meet her on Earth.  I will continue to pray for her, and I really do look forward to the opportunity of someday meeting her - how awesome would that be?!

I try to remind myself that beautiful girl has been loved and cherished by her family, being jealous of her family has subsided somewhat - but I am still a little jealous.

Please pray for our adoption process - we would like to hear back about this little girl we asked about in Oleksandra's country, we've also asked about (and had info sent over) about a BEAUTIFUL little girl in Tawain.

We want more than anything to support RR - we have prayed for & supported this organization in some way since we found it just a few months after we adopted our son (over 3 years ago) - it has literally been our dream.

Anyway - sorry for the rambling, I just hadn't updated in a while and thought I should.

Please pray for our adoption process -we know God has called us to adopt a special needs orphan...just trying to figure out where she is from.  Please pray for us as we continue to mourn 'Claire'.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Silver lining.........

A few days ago the country we planned to adopt Oleksandra from signed a law saying that children under the age of five could not be adopted by foreigners unless they had one of only a few very specific special needs.

Oleksandra's special need was not listed.  This is absolutely no way we would have made it to her before this law was passed.

This is heartbreaking news for several of our friends still in the process and we pray that they are able to be grandfathered in - although I haven't heard if this will happen.... if you enjoy prayer please pray for these families and these children.

When I heard this news I did sigh a HUGE sigh of completely selfish relief.  As terrible as it is that 'our' Oleksandra was adopted by another couple, we cannot imagine the sadness of knowing she would still be there in an orphanage & then an institution with our hands tied.  All we know is someone jumped through all the hoops we did and just got there first - AND went 'blind referral' - which is a HUGE leap of faith.  Nobody does that without investing a lot of love. 

Overall the new is bad, but in our personal case, I was so happy to know this little girl we worked so hard to bring home to our family for more than 6 months, and who we had been praying for for nearly a year IS NOT AN ORPHAN.  At the end of the day, that is all that really matters.  We are sad, but we thank God she was not left behind.

'Our' little girl was saved, but I ask everyone to keep praying for the tens of thousands of orphans in her country.  Please pray for stability, and that this law will perhaps become more open to allow other children to be adopted as well.


Monday, May 16, 2011

I hate to admit it....but Michael Buble has a point.

So I know this is gonna offend a couple readers - but I REALLY do not like Michael Buble.  I just think he is cheesy.  Don't try to change my mind - I'm really set in this opinion.

That being said....

This morning I was listening to my beloved 'Jeff & Jer' on the radio.  I have been listening to this duo literally since middle school and they make me happy.  What does not make me happy - they are on KyXy - a station they used to make fun of, and that I make fun of. Again, no offense to those who listen to KyXy.

Well, I pretty much know how to time the commercials and the music (so I don't have to listen to them) and I flipped the channel at 'last lame song before Jeff & Jer should be back' time.

Wouldn't you know it - Michael McCheesy comes on - ugh!  Well, I already knew the other station I was flipping between was on a commercial and I knew Jeff and Jer would be back at the end of McCheesy's lameness, so I actually kept the song on.

So, I guess I am in that stage of our issue where every song on the radio is about our situation.

Here's a YouTube video of 'Just Haven't Met You Yet'  with lyrics - and as much as I hate to say it  - Michael Buble made me feel better today. 

Just goes to show you - God can use all kinds of tools ;)

We've been knocked down a couple times, closed doors, unopened doors, doors that looked one way & ended up being another - UGH!  We are confused, but we know 'it'll all work out.'

I know that our confusion is shared by some other RR families or just other adoptive families, maybe this makes you feel better too.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No news.....but we are trying!

I am sorry to report we have no news yet.  We have asked about another little girl listed in Oleksandra's country - we of course would like to continue this journey there.

We've had a lot of closed doors - well, not closed doors I guess - just unanswered when we knocked.

Our 1st question is simply if she is available - we know now we cannot assume - so we asked for the facilitator to check.  They are very busy, and we are trying to be patient.

We have paperwork that is set to expire very soon and we would likely have to resubmit portions of our dossier....

Given the fact that during the 'back & forth' is when 'our' Oleksandra found herself in another family - we are hesitant to continue once that paperwork expires - we just see ourselves falling into the same sadness.

We have a couple other countries we are looking at.  I must admit - we are SO exhausted, emotionally and physically.  It is so hard to hear our kid's ask 'When are we going to find our little sister?'

Who knew it would be so difficult to adopt a 'hard to place' orphan =/

It is a worthy cause and we would do it again, and we will continue this journey, but it has been a rough week or so - it doesn't sound that long, but this past week has seemed to be painfully long and the 'what if's' and the 'what now?' is driving us insane.

We know God has a plan, and we know that we aren't promised easy roads all the time - we know we chose this particularly difficult road (adoption) - we just pray to find the end of the tunnel soon!!

We appreciate your prayers & support in the meantime!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kind of the worst day ever

So for some reason - today seemed worse than the day we heard 'our' Marissa was gone.

We've been hearing lots of well meaning friends say 'take your time to work through your loss' - which would be awesome - but we've put MONTHS into this 'process' and the paperwork is only current for a short period of time - all paperwork is emotionally and physically draining - and frankly costs money - 'taking our time' would be very costly in many ways....

'just picking another' is starting to look more complicated than ever - timing is terrible and because we aren't open to all special needs (please, please don't judge us - there are lots we are open to - but some we aren't) we have some more complications.  Our dossier apparently needs something changed and it will be expired on June 18th (it expires 6 months from the first date on an item - our first date was Dec 18th - a doctors appt) - I don't even know if the whole thing is expired or if we just need to update - I have no idea - anybody know??

We want to exhaust the options in that country - the problem is we don't seem to be getting a lot of options...

There are children in other countries - but the cost of changing countries (and that most countries are more expensive) really screws up our 'adoption fund' - most we simply can't afford.  Even if we could muster up the energy and emotion to jump through the hoops for another country - we simply can't afford it. 

The money aspect of it is a HUGE issue for us - we saved about 25% before we committed to 'Marissa' - we saved and worked extra during the process - but more than 25% was donated - we are SO thankful and humbled by so many family and friends that chose to help fund our adoption process - we want to honor that - but we are hitting so many hurdles.

Please pray we get some answers - that some doors open, that our heart's desire to adopt again, and to adopt a child with some medical special needs can come to fruition.  We are feeling very discouraged.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This is kinda random - but many of you know I have a business blog http://sandiegodealsandsteals.com/ - we have a giveaway going on right now with Scentsy - there are THREE winners - they are going to mail the winners their prizes at no cost.

I was thinking this might be something people here would want to know - maybe you are fundraising - if you win - these are BEAUTIFUL and might make a nice raffle prize - also Crysta might be a great person to get ahold of for fundraising opportunities for your adoption.  I have seen many people do an 'online party' with proceeds going towards their adoption.

Just an idea - here is our original post http://sandiegodealsandsteals.com/2011/05/07/scentsy-giveaway-discount-from-sassy-chic-scents/

We have no news on our adoption - and we are not fundraising - I am just hoping to fill the space with some other opportunities.

Blessings to everyone!

Please donate to 'Gregory's' fund - for extra credit...adopt him!!!!

So 'our' little girl was not available - and that has caused a lot of curiousity & traffic on our blog - I thought I should use that to this little guy's advantage - THIS little boy is still available & my friend is his 5/5/5 Warrior - he is facing institution - likely this year.  We are fully funded for whatever we end up doing next - I know MANY RR blogs include their multiple fundraisers - we thankfully do not need to fundraise at this time -so I hope you will consider donating to Gregory.  The other day we had almost 500 visitors - if each person donated just $5 Gregory could have a fund of $2,500 towards his adoption - I know some of you cannot donate anything, I know some of you can donate more - please pray for & help this little boy if you can.

Check out this serious cuteness......

This handsome little guy is listed on Reece's Rainbow - he lives in the same country as our 'Claire' - his name is 'Gregory' - not really.  I am not sure his real name - Reece's Rainbow is an international photolisting that needs to protect the children listed - their real names are never listed for their own protection.  In any case - we know him as Gregory.

Gregory was born in August 2005 and has a mild heart murmur (no biggie right?) and HIV - but medically healthy. 

Did you know that children born with HIV have a life expectancy of only 6 years LESS than a child without HIV?! Can you believe that- it is TOTALLY true!!  Keep in mind that medical treatment for HIV continues to improve - it is very likely that this small gap will become even smaller as time goes on!

We have a very sweet new friend who has signed on to be Gregory's 'Orphan Warrior' thru Reece's Rainbow - meaning it is her goal to fundraise for him and also advocate for him - to ultimately help him find a home.  She is a great example to us all - even if you cannot adopt at this moment you can still help an orphan!  I know nothing would make her happier than to see him be committed to & then watch his coming home story.

We have been beyond blessed to be fully funded (as always - continue to pray for stability in Claire's country and also for plane tix to not get too crazy expensive!) so when I don't have any news to report I will shamelessly plug other kid's causes. 

I hope you will consider the following options...

1) SHARE Gregory's cuteness with your friends! (there is a 'share' button at the bottom of his profile)

2) Donate to his fund - what if everyone donates $5 - that is doable right??? Can you donate more? Please do! Keep in mind statistically the kids with the largest grants get committed to first - please know you are truly making a difference considering him.

3) Commit to adopt him!! Are you considering adoption? Why not Gregory?!

Want an extra incentive to donate to Mr. Gregory?  If you donate ANY AMOUNT of $5 or more please email me at SanDiegoDealsandSteals 'at' gmail 'dot' com and we will email you a SUPER cute downloadable coloring book drawn by Harry (you may remember we used this as a fundraiser for our adoption before)

Want extra incentive - how about some good old fashioned peer pressure?

Cool people help orphans.  Nerds don't.

Just kidding.

Not really.

Donate to Gregory...because you are cool.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Oleksandra Claire was our inspiration...

So I guess because she is no longer a ward of the state I can use her real name.  Because we still might go to her country, I'm still not gonna mention that on a public forum.

Over a year ago we saw a picture of a little girl on Reeces Rainbow with the code name 'Marissa' and it was a huge turning point in our lives.

We were seriously considering adopting a little girl through a private adoption here in the States.  We had ALWAYS said that we had two healthy 'perfect' children already and if we were blessed enough to adopt again we would adopt a child who was harder to place.  We had discussed a toddler with some kind of medical special need.  Well, through a friend we were put in touch with a very nice young woman who had made the decision to put up her little girl for adoption and we got a little distracted from our original plan.

I saw Marissa's picture and everything changed.  It hit me HARD that if we adopted this infant (who I knew I could help find an amazing family) we would very likely not be able to adopt a special needs 'older' child. Our plan at that time was not exactly to adopt Marissa, but we both felt that was a turning point for us.

Fast forward - through a lot of details.....

In October 2010 we committed to 'Marissa' - we found out her real name was Oleksandra - which we thought was super cute.  We called her 'Oleksandra Claire', and 'Ollie' - since the kids had a hard time saying 'Oleksandra' - we called her 'Claire' on this blog because we were not allowed to call her by her given name until she was not an orphan any more.

October, November, December, January, February....

February she became internationally available and we were told to hurry our dossier over to her country.

Delay, delay, delay - and on May 4th our dossier made it to her country.  Her file was no longer available.  The VERY unlikely event had happened - she was adopted by another family sometime between February and May 4th.

We don't know the family - we had no legal ties to her at all.  We spent months worrying, praying, and loving her even though we had never met her - and it is hard for us to wrap our heads and hearts around the fact that we never (in this lifetime) will. 

We have had all kinds of response to this - mostly friends who are heartbroken with us, we've heard from friends who have suffered through miscarriages and infant loss who know a similar pain.  Friends who have lost referrals and even with a new referral they still wonder about that child they loved for so long.  We've heard the always annoying 'You'll get a new one' - we know this is out of ignorance and not meant to hurt, but it does.  We've had several ask about the money...many people donated to our fund so it is a fair question, but it's frustrating to hear.  We've had plenty of friends and family that have never reached out during the entire process because they thought it was dumb.  Their silence still leads us to believe we are the victims of our own bad decisions - that we could have avoided it without taking the risk - we think the risk was worth taking.

It is a VERY unique feeling.  We had hopes, dreams, prayers, and love for this child for months.  Similar to loving a child in your womb, but very different - because we loved her when we had NO grasp on her - we loved her & worried for her as she lived in a baby house thousands of miles away.  Not that you can't have something go wrong when you are pregnant - but it is true vulnerability to take on the task of loving a child you are months from ever being able to kiss goodnight, not knowing what othes are doing to her in that time.  We will never be her parents, which I guess is comparable to a miscarriage or infant loss, but not really - because she lives on.  She just has other parents.  We are happy she is no longer an orphan, but we are deeply jealous of the family who made it to her before us.  We then feel guilty for being jealous of these people who jumped through every hoop we jumped through, who had no idea who we were or that she was unofficially on hold for us.  We feel guilty that we REALLY want her - because we know we will ultimately adopt again and we will love that child, and if we hadn't lost Oleksandra we would never meet whoever is truly destined for our family.

It's complicated.  I hope this sheds some light.

We plan on keeping this blog to document our journey - but we will add one level of complication to it all for the reader - no matter what we end up doing - we will not be naming a child 'Claire' or middle name 'Claire' - we love that name - but it is her name (in our hearts anyway).

We are thankful for her soulful little eyes that reminded us at a very important time that we were meant to adopt a hard to place child.  We can only assume she is a great treasure to her new family, and while it will always be a little wounded from this turn of events, we accept what is done is done and was always part of the plan.

Please pray for her new family and that they are just as blessed as can be.  Please pray for us, that in the 'rear view mirror' we can see that 'God blessed the broken road....'


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Some have asked about money....it's safe

I know that some have asked about money.  I am guessing even more are wondering but don't know if it is right to ask.  We had a lot of donations and it is totally ok to wonder.

Here's the breakdown.  Everything in our 'family grant fund' ($3333.97) was (and still is) OUR family grant - it can be applied to an adoption of any child on the Reece's Rainbow site.  From what I understand from the email we got - her 'waiting child' grant will also be able to be applied ($545) to a child we adopt from RR - since she is no longer available and was not adopted from a RR family.

We have already submitted our dossier to one particular country - and we would loose $$ if we chose to change countries.

While there are literally hundreds of children on the RR site in the same country as Claire, we aren't open to every child - one thing that makes it difficult is that we specifically requested a girl under 3 (highest request) and while we were open to physical disabilities - we requested 'Marissa' because she was 'congnitively normal' - we aren't sure if we are willing to go outside of our comfort zone there....

We can also go 'blind referral' and still apply that $$ towards our adoption - RR has said that is not a great choice as it leaves a lot of unknowns.  We don't know what to do just yet.

Also - most of the money we had donated and saved from my little side job, craft fairs, etc has gone into a special 'adoption fund' account at our bank & it will be applied towards an adoption.

Anyway - that might be more info than many needed - but I know so many people contributed to this process financially & they are totally entitled to know. 

Bottom line - if we adopt in the same country & through RR - we literally do not loose anything.  If we adopt in a different country but through RR, we loose some.

If we scrap our whole RR journey - the money donated to our family grant will be applied towards another waiting child so it will still go towards a special needs orphan and we still have a substantial account to 'start all over' if necessary.

I hope that answers some questions.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Marissa has been adopted"

We got an email from our coordinator in 'Claire's' country that our dossier made it.

'Marissa' (Claire)'s file was no longer available.

She was either adopted by a family in her country or someone could have gone blind referral.

Josie was in the room when Harry read the email out loud.

She said 'So Claire is not my sister?'

'No baby, I'm sorry, she isn't'


"But we'll get another one right?'

"yeah, honey, but we don't know what is going on just yet."

"But God knows Mommy, Claire is somebody elses sister, we just need to find ours, God knows where she is."

That was a blessing to hear from my little girl.

Still hurts very, very much.

We don't really want a lot of questions - as we have a lot ourselves and feel very overwhelmed - heartbroken, sad, and we just exhausted - still we do not believe God makes mistakes....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dossier update

Ok - so here is where we are at - HOME STRETCH!

Our coordinator says that our Dossier will be translated as soon as it gets to the county where Claire is. 

It should be there on Thursday.  The Dossier will need to be translated - we have confirmed that ALL other Dossiers from RR have been translated & our team is actually just waiting for ours to get there - they said it normally takes about 2 weeks to translate but that they are expediting (not sure how much faster that means - but everyone gets that we are down to the wire) - still probably a week or so.

Once dossiers are submitted you usually get court/travel dates 2 weeks after.

For those doing math - yes, you are right - we are down to the wire.  There is nothing we can do to speed the process up - we hope & pray that everything that can be expedited is and that nothing else gets lots or misplaces (like before - ugh!)

We still do not know what exactly is happening after June 12th - we know that the country will still be accepting Dossiers up until that date - so we hare hopeful that means they will 'grandfather' those of us in process through.

That being said - our Dossier MUST be accepted by June 12th - we have every reason to believe it will be - but please pray for no more delays and just that everything goes according to 'best case scenario'

We'll keep you posted!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dossier SENT!

So - yesterday was REALLY busy....

I'm sorry I didn't update - it was a really crazy day - but with GREAT new!

We have no idea way - but apparently our dossier was sent to our local post office from Sacramento and for some reason our local PO sent it directly back to Sacramento.  The delay was because they actually sent it to us twice! UGH! While it is frustrating that we lost about 3 days with all that silliness - we are really just happy we got it!

We got it at about 11am on Thursday and it was in a Fed Ex envelope and on it's way to Eastern Europe right after lunch.  It should be there by next Thursday (as always - praying for earlier is appreciated).  We were told our dossier could be accepted as early as the next week - with the change of the adoption laws looming - the earlier the better.

Please continue to keep our adoption process and this precious little girl in your prayers.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nobody knows where our papers are.....

Our dossier made it to the State Capital for Apostille last week.  Included was a self adressed prepaid flat rate mailer for it to come back to us in.

Harry called and asked if we could please get ours expedited b/c of our time crunch - they were happy to help.

They let us know it was mailed out (Priority) on Thursday afternoon.

2-3 days 'guaranteed' return.

Friday, Saturday, (no mail Sunday) - should be here Monday or Tuesday


Not in Wednesday's mail either.

We called to double check that it had indeed been sent. Yes it was - about 2:30pm on Thursday.

Do you have record of that or a tracking number.

No, but a postal employee comes to pick up at 2:30pm and your package was in the load on Thursday.

We called our Post Office.  The employee basically told us that there was no protocol for what to do when a package without tracking (we were not able to put tracking on it - only the person sending it could and they just don't do that apparently) gets lost - you just have to wait for it.

And if it doesn't show up?

Oh I am sure it will....

And if it doesn't???

Oh, well then you'll just have to do it again, it isn't guaranteed unless you go Certified mail - that was your mistake.


I proceeded to let her know that I was gonna need a little more customer service from her - that we had literally spent THOUSANDS of dollars making that paperwork and that it is not something we can duplicate.  I also explained to her there is a deadline that they had already pushed us back with.  They advertise 2-3 days NATIONALLY - we are in the same State and on day FIVE.

Something is wrong.  I mail stuff for Ebay all the time via priority mail for years - NEVER had a problem.  Harry addressed it himself so we know we have the right address.  It was prepaid flat rate - no reason it would be sent back for lack of postage. My experience is that it really should have been there on Saturday - and there is just no good reason that 5 business days later a priority package only being sent within the State should still be in waiting.

Anyway - that is where we are - we've called everyone between us and that paperwork and we can't find it.  Our ENTIRE Dossier is in that package - dozens of notarized and apostilled doctors appointments, court documents, our home study, proof of employment, housing info, everything - months of paperwork & a lot of money....not to mention enough personal information to pretty much buy anything you want in our name.....

I get that stuff gets lost in the mail - but this is crazy.  I honestly don't know how we would get everything redone again with the clock ticking like it is - we would do it - but it would be insane & I don't know if it would matter......I am really hoping I am getting ahead of myself and it really will show up tomorrow.

Not to sound trite - but please pray - that is all we have got right now.  Pray that it gets here and also pray for our nerves.....


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

for those of you on the edge of your seat.....

....you can go about your business - nothing in the mail today.

Guaranteed tomorrow.

*crossing fingers*


Monday, April 25, 2011

UPS Guy stood me up

So I sat home all day patiently waiting for the UPS guy to show up.

He never did - hopefully tomorrow.....

Things to think about, numbers to crunch

So right now I am patiently (not patiently actually) waiting for the UPS man (or woman) to bring me my freshly apostilled Dossier.

It SHOULD be here today.  We will Fed Ex it tomorrow to 'Claire's' country - once it is there we will wait for it to be acepted - we have been told this is typically a few days and court dates are assigned just a few weeks out.  There of course are all kinds of new things going on in her country and we don't know if that will speed up or delay our process. 

So we are (theoretically) getting very close *yay*

Right now we are just trying to get ducks in a row.  We are fairly confident we are fully funded - but need a couple things to work out.

First - Tax Credits for adoptions are being given out manually (bummer) - which means the several thousand dollars we anticipated going into our 'adoption fund' has NOT made it in yet - as we near travel dates we are very nervous it won't be there in time for our first trip - it isn't like travel won't happen - but we will feel MUCH better having that money (that we already calculated for) sitting there waiting.

Second - please continue to pray for stability in her country - specifically pertaining to adoptions and those of us in the middle of this transition - we know that this change is in the best interest of children who wait - we are PRAYING it does not delay us any longer and also that it will not require paperwork to be redone or more paperwork to be done - new paperwork is not budgeted for - and we have already waited so long.

Third - please pray that when we do travel that we are able to move FAST - when we went to adopt Silas everything was planned out - we knew exactly how long we were to be in the country.  In this case, it is not so cut & dry - we have two trips - they could each be a week - they could each be 3+ weeks - for MANY reasons we are hoping for the shortest trips possible - if the trips are shorter we hopefully get in and out before June 12th - also - every day we spend in country costs money (apartment, food, translator - it is NOT a fancy trip, but it is expensive), every day we are in country we are missing work - Harry has one week worth of paid vacation - anything more than that is protected, but unpaid.  And of course we have two kids at home - we will miss them terribly and we will be relying on friends and family to care for them while we are gone - we know that everyone involved will be very happy if this can just be a short trip!

Quick praises

- Harry has had quite a bit of freelance work the last month - this is a tremendous blessing - this has helped us stay on track financially and if it keeps up we will hopefully have money saved to make up for that time off at the beginning of the trip (not something we will have to borrow from an emergency fund or CC).

- My little stay at home mommy hobby is really starting to turn into a 'job' - I'm not spending much extra time on it - but I am starting to make a little money.  We pray that it continues to grow - every ad we sell and every commission check goes into our adoption fund (this was always the plan -but it didn't really come to consistent fruition until this last month or so) - we are hoping this will also help fill in the gaps while Harry is not working as much.  Last week we got three commission checks and several emails about advertising (only one new advertiser actually signed on the dotted line so far - but we are hopeful!) - All in all - we are only talking a few hundred dollars - but it was very encouraging to have money to deposit into the adoption account - those of you who dont know about my blog you can check it out at http://sandiegodealsandsteals.com/ (just so you know what I am talking about =)) We are hoping this is just the little extra bonus our family needs to get us through debt free without extra weight on Harry's shoulders - we also hope it will help supplement his income once we have another member of the family and ultimately be an avenue to make more money to donate to help future RR families - anyway - please pray the momentum continues!

Thanks for caring & thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Focusing on the positive!

Still NO new news on what is going on (if anything) in Claire's country.  So we are continuing on just hoping we can get through before anything (if anything) changes.

Today we have a cool thing to report - our freshly apostilled paperwork has already been mailed back to us.  We should get it on Monday and we will Fed Ex it Tuesday to Claire's country. 

This is awesome!  We were told it would take 7-10 days to apostille and then they would mail it back - it looks like we will get it back a couple days earlier & that is a small victory *happy dance*

More info to come! Please keep the whole process in your prayers!


Monday, April 18, 2011


No Claire adoption news.....

In place of what I would have liked to have been an adoption update I will share with you a sweet story.

This afternoon Silas woke up from nap and asked for hot cocoa.  He was still kinda sleepy.

"Sure, Buddy, but it is gonna cost you a big hug."

"Ok Mommy." and he shuffled over to the coach and crawled up in my lap.

"You know, some day you are gonna be so big that you won't even fit in my lap."

"Will I someday be even bigger than Daddy?"

"I bet you will, Russians are bigger than Argentinians"


"Where is Daddy from Bubby?"

"Him's from Argentina."

"Where is Silas from?"

"I'm from Russia."

"Where are you now?"


Takes my breathe away........

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hopes for Monday

So we have two things we are hoping for tomorrow.

1) that some new official information will be released from Claire's country - answers to what will happen when the current law changes in June - what it means to those of us in process - the probability of our dossier even being accepted at this point - what/where/when, etc, etc, etc - we have a thousand questions.

2) that we can get in contact with the supervisor at the apostille office and sweet talk them into going out of order & processing ours Monday instead of going in order they came which would take an estimated week / week and a half.  Only a supervisor can make this call.

- Again - we've been told not to panic, but just to work as quickly as we can.  Countries have closed before and reopened.  The reasons they are changing the laws is ultimately good - it just will very likely take those of us in the process even longer.  This could mean filing new/more paperwork which ultimately takes more time and very likely costs more money - we'd obviously like to avoid that.

The first time we asked for commitment papers for this little girl was nearly a year ago.  One of the bumming things about adoption is you commit to love a child and then have to wait out the process.  We feel like we have already missed out on a year of life together (not to mention the year and a half before we knew of her).  We just want to be her family, as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading and praying - we are so thankful for all those who love her already and support our decision to bring her home!!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just some quick numbers to think about

So there is not much official info out there to read - trust me, we've looked.

What we have found is that there are 143 AMERICAN families who have had Dossiers accepted and have not had their adoptions completed in Claire's country.

There are also MANY other families from other countries who have already had Dossiers accepted.

Note - We are NOT one of these families.  Our Dossier is still at our State Capitol getting all apostilled ready to FedEx - it will hopefully join that group next week or the week after.

Knowing how difficult it is where we sit - we know it is scary for all these people ahead of us too. 

Every single one of those families represents an orphan that has an opportunity to come home to a family - and I just pray that every single one flies through the process quickly.

Again - this change is ultimately in the best interest of the orphans in her country.  Ultimately it should make adoption easier and likely faster.  But those of us in the process right now could potentially wait longer (nobody knows how long) - and it is just terrible that kid's with committed parents have to wait any longer.

Please just pray for those people waiting - not just the Americans, but I wanted to share that number - there are hundreds in our position too - we don't want to fly ahead of anyone - we really just want everyone to get through.

My point is, it just is not about our family and what we want in 'our baby' - it's about these kids that just need families.

Thanks for reading! Thanks for praying!! (good thoughts & happy hippie vibes also accepted)

Friday, April 15, 2011

President signed a law......

OK - so remember way back in the day when we were saying there was gonna be a vote at some point that may or may not change adoptions....

and remember how it kept getting pushed back.  Finally we just stopped listening to all the updates, it's been going on for over a year & just didn't seem to be a priority to the country.  We were thinking it was very likely at this point we would just skate through before anything even happened.


Vote signed - new laws will go into affect on June 12th.

While we will likely travel before June 12th there is little reason to think our adoption would be finalized before June 12th.


There is lots up in the air.  Lots of questions we don't have answers to.  We just know the dept that has been handling adoptions in her country will no longer be valid on June 12th.

We know that the reason for this change is ultimately VERY good!  There is no political upset to make us think that adoptions will end - it will likely make adoption easier in her country eventually.

We don't know if there is a new department already started or if it needs to be created - there are no published (authenticated) answers to those questions yet.

Those of us in the middle of the process though will likely take longer to get through.

Do you have questions?

Please don't ask me - I have no idea and it is just kind of annoying to hear them at this point.  There are TONS of blogs speculating that really have no idea at all.  We kinda just have to wait it out.

So what can we do?

Two things at this point.

Sit on our thumbs.



We are too deep in the process to turn around now - we think to ourselves we just can't stop and not follow through.

Worst case scenario - we'll have to resubmit everything (with a boatload of more stuff I am sure)

Best case scenario - by the grace of God we get through everything somehow before June 12th.  (again, highly unlikely and we still believe God is good if this is not the case....it just sure is the easier of the two options)

We got this insane news (officially) about 30 minutes ago.  I am obviously just now processing it (hence the slight sarcasm) - expect a weepy freak out post to come.....

What is SUPER annoying - we sent our paperwork to apostille yesterday morning to Sacramento. We were told it will take 7 - 10 days to complete & then they'll send it back.  We discussed Harry just driving to LA & sitting there all day to get it done in one day & then he could mail it Fed Ex.  He had a client meeting that he easily could have missed if he really needed to, but it just seemed to be silly to go up just to save one week (if that - there was a possibility they would be too busy to take him that day)

'Oh don't do that Babe, gas is $4.10 a gallon - it's only a couple days, it won't make a huge difference.'


had we known we could have bought ourselves a week we totally would have....

Anyway - buckle up - the roller coaster just got real.

*It is important to note - thus far.....still SIGNIFICANTLY less drama than Silas' adoption.*

We ask for your prayers at this time - now more than ever that we can just smoothly sail through the process - that everything moves as quickly as it possibly can.  We ask that everyone involved at the government level has the best interest of the kids at heart and just gets through whatever this transition is quickly!  Even if we make it through, there are other kids and families slightly behind us in the process - this will affect people - we just pray that children do come home and quickly!

Please also keep 'Claire' in your prayers....it is just so very unfair for her to be so loved and still need to live in a baby house for even one more day.

Thank you for your prayers

Harry & Kate

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'...everything looks great, please send to apostille.'

So right now it is morning in Claire's country and we got the email we have been waiting for all day (well for a couple days really)

Basically - 'everything looks great, please send to apostille'

Best thing we've heard in a while.  We will be sending everything tomorrow morning.


One step closer!!!

spoke too soon

so there were a couple pieces that had to be redone and a completely new piece we had never heard of before that needed to be in our dossier. *sigh*

so it still has not left yet - it hasn't even gone to the state to be apostilled yet. *sigh*

*taps foot impatiently*

ACTUALLY I really can't complain - had we sent our dossier already this new paper we got only a few days ago as we were waiting approval for the last (last, last) change on a couple others) we would have to resend this as well - sending it all together is MUCH better.

We are praying we get the 'all clear' to send our packet to Sacramento for apostille tonight - so hopefully we will be sending tomorrow.....

Hang on Claire - we are coming!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sending dossier for apostille tomorrow!!

Today (our daughter's bday) we got our I717 clearance - woot!  We got this in the mail less than two weeks after getting them done!  We were told 2 weeks - 3 months! Now if that isn't an answer to pray, I really don't know what is. For whatever the reason, we are VERY happy it happened so fast!

We have already had our coordinator over in Claire's country go through EVERY document with a fine toothed comb and she has assured us that everything is ready for apostille (basically - notary of the notary - done at the state level).

We will send everything for apostille tomorrow!  We have been told it takes up to 10 days for our apostilled paperwork to come back. (but we seem to have been kissed by the 'paperwork gets done faster' fairy - so that is what we are hoping for here).  We then send the whole precious paperwork packet - our 'Dossier' to her country - basically everything her country has asked to see - proving we are fit to parent her and specifically requesting to adopt her.

Up until the paperwork gets to her we still have no legal ties to her.  On the very slight chance she is adopted by someone else we would then go to her country as a 'blind referral' - meaning we would essentially pick a child there.  Our prayer is that this is our little girl - but we firmly believe God does not make mistakes! 

We should have travel dates VERY soon at this point!  Please keep all this precious paperwork in your prayers and also 'our' Claire - we are SO close!!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Check out these sweet businesses!!

All the following businesses donated to our fundraiser - we also had several private donations as well.  We were so thankful for these businesses - it would not have been as successful without them.

I hope you will check out the list & keep these businesses in mind if you are ever in need of any of their services!

Famulare Jewelers by the Sea
Linda's Yogurt
Carlsbad Inn
Grand Pacific Palisades
Daily News Cafe
Legoland CA
Coyote Bar & Grill
Kidsville Playtown
Party Lite
Stampin' It Up

My most sincere apology if I missed a business! I think I got them all but there were so many!

Thank you so much for helping us bring our little girl home without the financial worry!

We are so blessed!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sorry for the lack of posts! Things are super good!

Ok - so I know I haven't checked in yet - don't worry - things are AWESOME!

We had a GREAT fundraiser (that I promise to write more about later) - we seem to be FULLY FUNDED - YAY!!!

Our friends (and even strangers) were so generous to come out and support us - I will post a list shortly with all the cool businesses around town (and on the web) who donated to help make it a HUGE success!

They raised $6000 exactly! Now we are just crossing our fingers that plane tickets stay where they are and don't jump any before we travel. Travel is really the only expense that could change, so we just pray it doesn't go up much, even if it does we are SO CLOSE!

If you were looking to donate to a worth cause I hope you will check out 'Matthew' - we have friends who are SERIOUSLY considering him!  They have already committed to another child and have been told they can legally adopt both - the cost to adopt both is significantly less than adopting them seperately (mainly b/c of travel) - but it is still the only barrier for this family - I hope you will consider donating to his fund - even just a few dollars collectively can make an awesome impact in this little guy's chances of a family who already loves him!

Also - we got word that our fingerprint approval is done and we should have it to send to apostille early next week! It will take about a week to get ALL our paperwork back from appostille - once we have this it is ready to FedEx half way around the world to ask legally to adopt 'our' Claire!!!

Things should move pretty quickly once paperwork is in her country. We know that she has been released for International adoption, so it is just a matter of time at this point.

Please keep her in your prayers and also our family as we are just feeling very antsy at this point.  We look forward to sharing travel info soon!!


Thursday, March 10, 2011


So we got some paperwork sent back to do over before we can send it *sigh*

A couple typos in our homestudy that you would think are not a big deal apparently are.

The doctor on Harry's medical info accidentally wrote a '2' when it was the 3rd - she corrected it (you know how you write a 2 & you think 'oops it is supposed to be a 3 and you just add the extra to make it a 3?  that is what she did...apparently that is not acceptable.) So Harry gets to make ANOTHER appointment with the doctor that is not in any way covered by our health insurance and he has to pay for another mobile notary....all in all probably a $300 mistake = awesome (sarcasm).  Not to mention the time it will take and he will maybe even have to miss work just to get the appointment ASAP!


Also - we had been told we'd have a week or two from when our fingerprints are done to have our very important papers we'll need to send over our dossier.

Appparently we were wrong.  It could be as early as a few weeks...........it could be as long as THREE MONTHS! WHAT?! (I think other RR families are shaking their heads at us because they probably knew that already & for some reason we missed it)

We've contacted everyone we can think of including our Congressman about possibly expediting this paperwork.  We've got calls out and from what we have heard - many families have had great success with this.

Our prayer is the same - that this happens as quickly as possible - we hate for her to be in an orphanage any longer than she needs to be when she has a loving family waiting for her here.

Please pray that we have all our paperwork deemed acceptable from here on out and that our immigration papers come here QUICKLY!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hallelujah! Fingerprint appointments TWO WEEKS EARLY!!!

So I know I have two groups of peeps reading this

1) other RR families & adoptive families that totally know what I am talking about.
2) friends that don't quite get the process, but want to stay updated.

I'll try to keep it short & sweet - we have been waiting on appointments for fingerprints for immigration - just one of the hoops we jump through.  This is the LAST piece of paperwork we need before we can send our dossier!!

We were told it would take 'about 6 weeks' - although we know it OFTEN takes more than 6 weeks. Because Claire is already available for blind referral every day counts.

We had asked for others to pray that we would not only get it in 6 weeks, but also (even though it felt a bit greedy) to pray that we might be lucky enough to get it in sooner....

Well - guess what - almost TWO weeks early!! Amazing!  Our appointment is in just two weeks!!

Stay tuned! It looks like we will be sending our dossier THIS MONTH!

please keep the process in your prayers & please continue to pray for 'our' Claire!! We cannot wait to see how it all plays out!

Thanks for reading! Thanks for praying!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Anybody want to WIN a BOB Stroller or Diamond earrings for a sweet cause??

Please check out this amazing fundraiser our very good friends put together!!  I have known these sweet ladies from our church growth group and our own bunco group for years.  I have always been thankful for their friendship, but they have really out done themselves with this event! 

CLICK HERE to see the invite on pingg.com - it is going to be AWESOME!

Our friends put together a 'girls only' brunch/bunco game/silent auction/raffle event for MARCH 19th at 10:30am - in just two weeks!!

It has potential to raise ALL the rest of the $$ we estimate we need and we have already told them if there is (God Willing!) any overage that we want them to pick out a child on Reece's Rainbow to donate to! (they've already picked a child out they are praying for!)

I've got to share some of the amazing auction items they had donated from really cool companies & cool people around town!

BOB Stroller (YES! a brand new BOB stroller - worth over $600!)
Diamond earrings - valued at $1100
Two nights stay at a beautiful Carlsbad CA hotel!
One night stay at the equally beautiful Carlsbad Inn
$50 gift certificates to several restaurants
Gift Certificates to several HIGH END hair salons
One month of dance lessons for a little girl!
Mary Kay gift basket
Partylite gift basket
Beautiful original art & photography
Stampin' Up basket
Kid's Tricycle
TONS of other great prizes!!!

It is $20 to come for brunch & also to play 'bunco' - the winner of bunco gets the diamond earrings!!!!

It is going to be SO much fun! They put this amazing event together and they have room for 100 ladies to come!

Problem!! We've only had 31 people RSVP 'yes' so far! Ahhhhh!  Whoever can come is going to get a STEAL on some amazing things! Even if we packed the house the amount of prizes that were donated are all pretty much gonna go for a GREAT deal!! I really hope you can make it!

I really hope you will RSVP YES!  I also hope you will spread the word and bring a friend!  If you live far away but know someone in SD who has a heart for adoption - would you be so kind and invite them? (tell them to bring a friend too!)

Thanks so much for reading & helping us spread the word!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just had to share some cuteness...

So we have moved from the 'my family found me' to 'homestudy in progress' to our newest spot on Reece's Rainbow 'compiling dossier' *yay* so we should have our dossier in about 6 weeks - please keep praying that 'our' Claire is just happy and loved and waits for us to get there!! We are SOOOO close!

Here is a cute little photo that I had to share - we recently sat with http://www.limelifephoto.com/ as a promo on my other blog http://www.sandiegodealsandsteals.com/ - win win - we really wanted to have a 'family of four' pictures before we become a family of five.

I just had to share this last one...

see the cute little picture we are holding? *sigh* we just love her so much!

Anyway - I wanted to share & I wanted to plug our talented photographer friends!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two upcoming fundraisers - this is it folks!

So we still have our little online stores & are crossing our fingers they will keep sending a few bucks our way in the months we wait to bring our kiddo home!

But our main two fundraisers are as follows...

The LAST 'adoption fund' garage sale will be the last weekend in March at our friend's house (thanks Ben & Karen!) - if you've got stuff you want to clear out before then and were planning on donating anway we hope you'll pass it down to us!  Any funds will be deposited into the 'adoption fund' - left overs will be donated to another worthy cause. These usually only raise a few hundred dollars, but they are totally easy to contribute to & we just couldn't pass up the opportunity! Anyway - keep us in mind! This is the last adoption fund garage sale we will do so we hope it will be the best!!

More exciting than that is our BIG - bunco/silent auction of Claire being put on my our lovely friends Suzanne, Kathleen, & Kelly (thanks ladies!) - evite to follow - but locals ladies need to 'save the date' - March 19th 10am - 2pm - It will be at the Carlsbad Inn (I'm thinkin it is gonna be fancier than our wedding!)
some of the raffle items already are jewelry from Famulare Jeweler, two night stays at local resorts, gift certificates to restaurants, certificates to dance classes, art, and much more!!  Anyway - that is just a teaser - make sure to save the date!

Our prayer has always first been that 'our' Claire is safe and well loved while she waits for us.
second - that we can just get thru all the paperwork, travel, etc with no issues.
and third - that we don't come home with the debt we did with our little boy.  We would do it again in a heartbeat - but it is really hard.  We are so thankful we have had so many come along side us and see that the paperwork/legal fees/travel/etc is all part of a 'mission trip' of sorts - we will give her an awesome life once she gets here! We were a tad worried about how we would finance everything it takes to get her here!! Thank you so much to everyone =)

Email me at katehamernik 'at' sbcglobal 'dot' net if you want me to come and get/you want to drop off - stuff for the garage sale!  You can also email me if your business wants to donate something for the silent auction/bunco prize.

Save the dates!!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

completely unrelated prayer request

This has nothing (really) to do with Claire or our adoption.

I've been playing phone tag with an old friend for about a week now.  Today we finally talked.

She gave me the heart wrenching news that she has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  She has been told she is going to be ok, but that the next 6 months or so are gonna suck.  Radiation, chemo, more surgeries....

If you are the praying type - I'd love for you to pray that 'Kate's super awesome friend' is able to be strong and just get through this with dignity, grace, and just that she can be stronger than ever. I think we forget to pray for things like this until it hits our inner circle.  And anyone doing the '3-day' can count on me for a donation of some kind when you walk in October. (for reals - email me)

Nobody deserves this - but seriously - it could not have happened to a better person. 

Anyway- I'm abusing the fact that I have an audience here to ask for prayers.  Sorry for it not being a Claire update, but we didn't have much news there to report anyway....

Thanks for reading, praying, sending positive thoughts!


Monday, February 14, 2011

one more check off the list!

Heard back this morning that our homestudy rough draft looks good!  The facilitator in Claire's country says to complete, notarize and send over asap!

Our social worker says it could be completed as early as Friday.  Once the homestudy is done we can apply for the LAST piece of paper we need for our dossier.

Just a quick update I guess - not much more to report. But wanted to let everyone know - little by little we are getting there!
Keep praying!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We have nice friends....

Just a little update =)

We  have been so blessed with so much support in this process.  We've had people buy trinkets, donate to our garage sales (we have one planned in March btw - the LAST one!), and even donate directly to Reeces Rainbow! Thank you all so much!

We got a call from several friends who are putting together a bunco for 'Little Sister Claire' fundraiser at the end of March too!!  I will keep local folks updated - we also will need items for a raffle - if you have a business that would like to donate I hope you will keep us in mind!

We are SO thankful!  We started this process with the HOPE that we would not end up buried in debt like our last adoption.  We have squirreled away a small 'adoption fund' before we even committed to Claire, but it was only about 20% of the entire cost. (travel & legal fees really add up!)  We knew ultimately this was our adoption and we would simply save what we could, work a little extra, pray for a few donations - but that ultimately we would take on debt for this cause if we needed to.

We are just about $5000 shy of our goal (since travel is looking to be in late spring / early summer we are realistically off by more than that - but we will cross that bridge when we get to it! - $5000 is a nice round number)  - this is what is left and we have our garage sale & this new bunco fundraiser - hopefully we'll raise everything we need!  My hope is we might even raise MORE & we can donate to a kiddo with $0 in their fund - how awesome would that be?! Donating to another before we are even home?! Maybe I am getting ahead of myself....

Anyway - we just feel really blessed and so so thankful - we know not every family is as supported in their adoption - not everyone sees it as a missions trip of sorts - we are so thankful for our family and friends that see it as such! 

Just wanted to share! I will get the dates & info here asap!


Friday, February 11, 2011

One day at a time....

So here is a bit more info about what is going on...........

1) this has NOTHING to do with RR - nothing at all - this is a change with the country Claire lives in.  There was no way to predict it.  RR is doing it's best to get the kids committed to home with those who committed to them, but there is only so much they can do.

2) I am so thankful this country is still open for Intercountry adoption.  there are many countries with TENS OF THOUSANDS of orphans that do not even allow adoption internationally and their country men wont adopt them.  We are so thankful this country still allows it.

So her country was closed (as many are) for the holidays and the end of the year.  It reopened on February 10th.  Our paperwork got there the day before requesting 'Claire' specifically *yay*

Claire (until that date) could only be adopted by a family in her country.  She became available Internationally on February 10th. 

Oh wait.

When it reopened it reopened with new guidelines - mainly - you cannot have a child 'held' for you.  You MUST go with a 'blind referral'.  ALL that paperwork now means nothing.  Claire is NOT held for us & will not be until our dossier is submitted - in 8 weeks(ish) - assuming she is still available.

We are now technically and legally going on a blind referral - this is how it used to be done in her country - it seems they have decided that is the best way to go.  Blind referral means - you tell them what kind of child you are open to & they find a pool of kids that meet those guidelines & you meet them once you go - then you petition to adopt them there. Our hope is that Claire will be in our pool.  Our hope is she will not meet another family and be chosen before our paperwork gets there.(heartbreaking I know)

Technically she could make it into someone else's pool of kids to choose from - seeing as she is extremely adorable we are scared she would get picked.

There are potentially hundreds of people who will submit dossiers between now and when ours will be submitted.

We are just taking it day by day.  Each day she is NOT chosen is one less day we have to wait to find out.  We will get a child, just maybe not her - seriously how crazy is that?!

*side note* - we do praise the fact that we are concerned that she would have another family - not that she would remain an orphan - but in all selfishness honesty - we want her.

Statistically odds are still very much on our side.  For some reason people shy away from kids with less than 10 fingers and 10 toes.  There are millions of orphans in Eastern Europe alone (that is not an exaggeration - totally true number) - there are so many to choose from - statistically she will still be waiting.

Legally we still need to know and accept where we stand - we have no cards.

It kinda hit me in the stomach when I read on a RR message board that another little girl (only a few months older than 'Claire') was released for International adoption on February 10th - she had a committed family - the committed to her a few months before we committed to Claire and actually we considered her before we saw Claire. Her special need was that she was born quite premature and had CP - but she could walk. Arguably 'less' of an issue than what Claire has going on.

She became available on the 10th.  The same day she was accepted as a blind referral to a French couple that will undoubtably love her to pieces.  But I can't imagine what the RR family that has loved her for 6 months & put so much time/effort/money/ etc into paperwork and the process must be feeling.

Anyway - reading that story made it all the more possible that it could happen to us - that it is happening.

We know there are potential hazards with adoption, specifically Intercountry.  We take that on, but it is really hard.

I'm gonna ask that nobody writes me any 'oh God has a plan, maybe this one just wasn't yours' kind of emails/comments - I would never write that to somebody who suffers a miscarriage, I'm not saying it is exactly the same - but unless you really embrace adoption in your heart you just might not understand the depth of love we have for this little girl & we might just 'go off' on you for making light of a potentially devastating turn of events.  I know that people mean well.... I just had to put that disclaimer out there....

We will be ok, but if she is not ours - it will be hard to not remember her, wonder about her, etc....

Also - we do firmly believe God does not make mistakes. We don't need anyone reminding us of that, we know that....it is just a hard place to sit and trust when you don't know the outcome and you REALLY want something to go a certain way...

Please pray these 6 - 8 weeks go quickly - and that it is just one more piece of our story that ultimately ends up happy.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings - I hope it helps those with questions.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's always something.....


Probably not actually, but we'd like prayer for the latest plot twist if you don't mind.

Today 'our' little girl's country reopened for 2011. *yay*

With a few new rules. *shudder*

mainly - that kids cannot be 'reserved' while you wait to get your info together this side of the pond.

Why we are panicking - because we have another 6 - 8 weeks before our dossier will be submitted (another week before our homestudy is finalized & then there are papers that cannot be done until the homestudy is finished *sigh*) - anyway - at least 6 weeks before she will be 'reserved' for us.

Why we are kinda not panicking - because she has only been on hold for us for a couple weeks anyway, and she is had not been adopted prior to that - domestically or internationally - (we can't wrap our heads around why someone hadn't scooped her up before us anyway).  And now she is older and there are younger children available....so just praying she will just be ignored by those willing to adopt just until we get there - statistics are totally on our side, but it is a hard place for us to sit.

We would still be matched with a child, there is just a teensie chance it won't be our cute little 'Claire' or 'Marissa' as she is called on Reece's Rainbow.  Our hearts are kinda set on her, but we just really don't think God makes mistakes so we are just doing our best to roll with it....

*again - there was SO much more drama when we adopted Silas (different country) - so things really don't ruffle our feathers as quickly as they used to, but it is still scary! 

Thanks for your prayers for us and for Claire and for every child who is still waiting for a family!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Last homestudy done!

Last homestudy meeting completed just moments ago!

Our homestudy 'rough draft' will be done this next week - final the week after!

Lots of little details still wrapping up but we are essentially done at this point.  Paperwork needs to go back & forth between Reece's Rainbow and our Claire's country and then we are just waiting for court dates!

We are still on track for traveling May*ish* although dates are not set at all - just an estimate.

Prayer requests -

-that all our paperwork is considered acceptable *sometimes even the tiniest typo will get paperwork sent back* we just don't want the process to be delayed at all.

-that our jobs continue to be stable (Harry actually had a freelance client push back a project last month and we just can't afford for that to happen again) - please pray for my little side job - our budget is based completely on Harry's income - any extra work he does or anything I make at this point goes into our adoption fund.

-pray for our fundraising - when we factor in our anticipated tax refund, Harry's book commission check, and the affiliate program checks I will get between now & May - we are still just under $5000 short of our goal - we think this number is totally 'doable' & we are just praying for extra momentum to get this goal met and also that airfare & hotel (the only real fluctuating items on our list) will be on the low end *what the estimation is based on* - airfare can fluctuate to her country to almost $1000 difference! (One of us will fly round trip twice, we will both go once, and of course Claire will need a one way ticket - so it could end up to be more, not that big of a deal - if we can hit our main goal of $24,000 we can easily put the rest on credit if necessary - but we would love for travel to just be at an inexpensive time =))

- Most importantly - pray for 'Little Sister Claire's' little heart - we know we were very very lucky that Silas didn't really come home with any 'issues' emotionally - she is a little older, and has a condition that might make her seem less lovable to some....we just pray she is well taken care of & that her little heart is happy, protected, and she is just doing well as she waits for us!

Thanks so much for reading our little blog =)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pray for Fed Ex

I just think that is a funny sounding title....

Anyway - we mailed off some very precious paperwork via Fed Ex to a far away land today.  I kinda wish we had taken a picture of it.  Is that weird?

It is the first set of papers from us specifically requesting our sweet 'Claire', so I kinda wish we had taken pics.

It should take 2 - 3 days for that paperwork to get there - which leaves plenty of time, it 'needs' to be there by February 10th - PLENTY of time!  Right?! Well, we've been through an intercountry adoption before and I just think it is prudent to ask everyone to pray for Fed Ex.

We celebrate our 9 year anniversary tomorrow *yay* and we have our LAST homestudy the next day *yay again*

Big week!

Keep our family (incuding our #3) in your prayers - we truly appreciate it!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unexpected Blessing

Today we got a check in the mail.

A check from a person who has asked us to not reveal his identity.

And for $5,000 we are more than willing to accomodate that request.

For reals.  We got a check for $5,000 today.  So, so thankful.  Our gap now to have before travel (again likely May) is $5,000 - he literally cut our gap in half.  That $5,000 seems like such a doable goal now!

We'll have another fundraising garage sale, and we still have all our online fundraisers.  Harry is hoping to get another web design client for February and I continue to make a little extra every month with my website.

Please keep our little fundraisers in mind and also of course please keep our little girl and the entire process in your thoughts and prayers. 


Friday, January 28, 2011

big week ahead!

This week is gonna be awesome! *God willing*

We live for checking things off the list.

We should have 'packet 1' all freshly apostilled and back in our hands to Fed Ex to a far away land by Tuesday - hopefully in the far away land before the end of the week!  (those who have been thru the process know how much goes into this packet and what a HUGE weight is lifted to have it done!)

Friday we have our LAST homestudy visit - that's right - the last one!!  *homestudy should be complete one week after that as well as packet 2*

We also celebrate our 9 year anniversary on February 2nd! *we would like to thank Groupon for sponsoring our nearly free date night when we really can't be spending any dinero but really think it is important to celebrate*

We'll keep you posted - please pray everything goes as expected (or even a little faster =))

Monday, January 24, 2011

Etsy store - finally!

Quick link - here is our Etsy Store!

Click Here!

thanks for checking it out & I hope you'll share =)


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Web design for Claire? And a couple other fundraisers...

Still not much to report - last week we had quite a bit of running around to do - there is SOOO much you need to do when you are requesting to let a little one join your family. They need everything from notarized doctor's notes, to multiple personal referrals, to a signed letter from the bank saying we are up to date on our mortgage, and of course everyone's birth certs, marriage certs, and on and on....anyway - we pretty much got that all done and our first set (of many) papers are likely on a plane on it's way to a little country in Eastern Europe officially requesting to adopt a specific little lady. *sigh*

So anyway, right now it is just paperwork going back and forth. Details that are likely not that interesting to those reading this.

So right now we are just trying to get travel paid for! Our goal has always been to complete our adoption without debt - we didn't start the process until we had our upfront fees and a little extra - that being said we still have quite a bit left to raise (seriously - a lot - like $10,000)

We have LOTS of little fundraisers in the works -

We hoped our $5 downloadable coloring book media blast would have made a bit more....we only sold 14 so far, which we are thankful for, but we were hoping for more - it will be ongoing and I hope you will check it out! ALL of the $5 goes towards our adoption!

We've also got a BOAT LOAD of little girls hair pretties & crocheted hats with sweet little bows & flower clips for sale - $6 - $12 - if you need a little girl gift please contact me! (see previous post)

Check out our Just Love Coffee Store - $5 of every sale goes towards our adoption!

Check out our Cafe Press and Zazzle Stores - if you need an adoption gift please buy from our store!!

My facebook friend (and fellow adoptive mommy) Kris is donating proceeds from her Discovery Toys sale to our adoption fund.

If you are a local & enjoy Kidsville Playtown - they are offering a $1 off coupon AND for every one redeemed they are donating $1 to our adoption fund too! CLICK HERE

My website makes a little money - San Diego Deals and Steals might save you some money - it won't cost you anything - also several of the ads I make a small amount of $$ if someone signs up! I would really appreciate you checking it out or even subscribing =)

Of course you can always make a 100% tax deductible donation via REECE'S RAINBOW - if you've ever thought 'wow I think adoption is cool and such a good idea but it isn't something I really want to do' - this is a small & maybe easy way you can help bring an orphan home and we would truly appreciate it!

We will also be having another 'adoption fund' garage sale, selling on craigslist, and ebay. (yes we would love donations from locals for our adoption fund garage sales - contact me!)

Harry also (as many of you know) is a web and graphic designer. He pointed out that if he could get one more 'average' client a month between now and when we travel (likely May & then again in June) we would be very close to meeting our fundraising goal! I really hope you will check out his site, if you ever need web or graphic design we'd love for you to consider him and refer him!

My apologies for the constant sales pitch - it is humbling to be in a place where we can't simply write a check for the full amount. We aren't asking for anyone to do/buy/donate anything they aren't comfortable with - but just keep us in mind - many of our items are things many of you might be purchasing in the future anyway - I hope you'll consider!  Please know every time we have recieved money of any kind/amount we are so thankful!

Thanks for reading & considering!

We'll keep ya posted!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hair Pretties for Miss Claire ~ a fundraiser!

So last holiday season we bought and made LOTS of hair accessories (bows and flowers) for little girls - we also have very cute hats and headbands that you can clip the bows and flowers on.  I had a booth at a couple craft fairs and sold quite a few - which was great!

Problem - we still have well over 100 left!! We have to sell these and if you are interested in several we can make a deal!

Here are just a few pictures to give you an idea

headbands with the bow/flower of your choice is $6

crocheted hat with the bow/flower of your choice is $12

Don't see the color you are looking for? NO WORRIES! Email me at sandiegodealsandsteals@gmail.com and tell me what - chances are we have something!

Here are a couple pics....

if you live far away and need them mailed we will charge just $1 for each two items shipped (ie - if you are kind enough to buy 6 it will be only $3 to ship!) - IF YOU BUY 10 items or more we will pay all the shipping costs! (Seriously - we just REALLY need these sold!)

I see very similar items being sold at boutiques and department stores for double the price! I hope you will consider our inventory first!