Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ok... I was wrong

It took more than a few hours to get back to blog.  I apologize.  So much has happened. 

First, we were given our I800 approval to adopt Christiana and our article 5 letter from the US embassy in her country should be in our Lawyer's hands in just a few hours.  She already has all of our court documents, so now we begin the process of formally petitioning for her adoption. 

In the coming days and weeks Toni will present our documents to the Ministry and gain the minister's signature that is needed to be assigned a judge.  Once we're assigned a judge, he or she will assign a court date for our adoption proceedings.  After that... it should just be a matter of weeks before we can bring her home!

All of our adoption fees and country fees have now been paid and we're beginning our final fundraisers.  All that is left to pay for is her homecoming.  We need  round trip airfare for 2 adults, a 1 way ticket for Christiana, funds for 7-10 days (hotel and food) in her country, and about $300 to cover taxis, medical exams (for the US embassy), etc. 

So far, we've raised around $1300 of the approximately $7000 we need to be fully funded for our trip.  So in the coming weeks (and there are very few left) we will be working hard to raise the remaining $5700 that we need. 

In order to do that... I will continue to take orders for key fobs and other crafts and we will be having another auction and a large item giveaway that will include diamond jewelry, celebrity autographs and memorabilia among other great items! 

As always, donations can be made directly to our Chipin or to our FSP at Reece's Rainbow.  All donations made through Reece's Rainbow via Paypal or check are fully tax deductible. 
If you would like to donate to our Reece's Rainbow fund via paypal, just click this link.  If you would prefer to send a check, please send it to Reece's Rainbow (be sure to put "Carissa/Christiana for the Matthews Family" on your check) at:

Reece's Rainbow
PO Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

We will also be having a "Text To Donate" day on December 23rd that is being sponsored by Wish Upon A Hero.  Any time on the 23rd of December you can donate $5 by texting "WISH" to 80077 .   It's that easy!  Just remember to click "YES" to confirm the charges.
Please help us make this a success by sharing this on your blog/website or your Facebook or other social websites.  Tell your friends and family, please!  This will be a one day only event.

Monday, December 17, 2012


So much has happened in the past few weeks.  I'll be back tonight to give a real update.  Until then... I would like to announce that Sevenly has chosen Reece's Rainbow as their charity to sponsor this year! is an organization committed to raising awareness for the many charities around the world through their hip and trendy shirt designs! Each week of the year, one charity is chosen. Sevenly design artists create a unique graphic for that charity, and fundraise through the sale of those items over a 7-day period only!
THIS week, December 17-24, Reece’s Rainbow is Sevenly’s chosen charity! We are SO BLESSED to have this incredible opportunity to *reach outside of our existing Down syndrome/special needs/adoption community*, and to share our ministry and the needs of these children with the general public. HELP US MAXIMIZE THIS SPECIAL WEEK BY:
1) Buy a shirt or two, they make great gifts, even for teenagers and us 40-somethings who *think* we’re still 17!
2) Share the link
3) Take one of the various “headers” shown here and change your timeline cover pic on FB.
4) Grab one of the blog buttons and add to your blog.
4) Follow RR on Twitter ( and be sure to RT our posts multiple times a day.
5) Same goes for Facebook and your blogs.
6) Continue to reach out to celebs and other influential folks to help you tweet.


Please help us support Reece's Rainbow.  They're the reason we found Christiana and they've helped us so much!  All of the money that is raised will be used to find homes for waiting children.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Please help the Davis family!

I just received this from Denise today.  They are desperate for help because they have been told their fees are due ASAP.  Like me last week... they thought they had more time. 

Could anyone please, please donate to their fund and help?  These are good people who desperately need help to get to their boys overseas.  They've had many setbacks this year and if anyone deserves help this holiday season... it's them.

From Denise Davis
Please I am asking for everyone's help!
I know this is probably the worse time of the year
to ask for donations with Christmas coming.
But we need help now during this part of our adoption.
So please help both Braska and Zack.

AND I am at the point of begging everyone for help. We are due for a court date IN A MATTER OF DAYS and WE need to pay on our agency fees NOW.
Like most families this last 2 weeks all agency fees are due prior to court and there are no exceptions.
There is little time to try and raise these funds with my daughter in the hospital.

IF We do not come up with these funds:O(((((we will not be assigned our court date this next month.
I know a lot of you read my posts and think, oh my..
But honestly I would not post if I did not love our children Braska and Zack.
I promised them with my heart we would come back for them.
And now our children will have to wait once again for the medical care they need to survive if we do not raise these funds in a matter of days.
Both Braska and Zack have lung issues that require additional medical care and need to come home quickly.
This pass month both children have been having breathing issues and need this extra medical attention.

OUR FAMILY'S FSP account needs to read at least $6500. At the moment there is only $148 available to use.
Much of the prior funds were used for my airline ticket to travel on trip one.
ALL funds donated after today will be given directly to our agency to help secure a court date.
And I can show a receipt for these funds given to view.
If we do not have help we may lose our children and little Zack will be transfer even if he is sick.
And both kids will be separated, so this is these kids only chance to stay together.
PLEASE if your church or organization wants to help a family during Christmas please consider our family.
Gary and I are hard workers and love our children with all our hearts.

My husband and I had carefully planned and save towards this adoption but we had some major medical problems with our children.
Again this is nothing we chose to happen during our adoption.
With two of our children Makayla & Samantha in the hospital this pass month much of our savings is gone for their medical.
And their illnesses were not minor ones. Our Makayla is now being treated for over 30 brain tumors and being able to meet little Braska and Zack.
We adopted Makayla at age 3 years and have been caring for her major medical care for years without any additional help.
So this means a lot for our daughter Makayla and the rest of our family.

Again I am praying and now begging for some help with donations.
All donations are tax deductible through Reece's Rainbow
Or you can immediately donate to our PAYPAL CHIP IN.

If we do not send in all fees within the next few weeks we will have to update much of our paperwork.
And this may also cause further delays.
I have cried over and over and again and I have saved every nickle we have to complete our adoption travels but this is now going towards remaining agency fees.
Please again I ask or your prayers and support.
I truly love these children and pray for them nightly that they do not suffer with any additional illnesses till we bring them home.
God bless and help us save our children.PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ALL..
Gary and Denise

Monday, November 19, 2012

Our Christas gift auction!

Please take the time to visit our Christmas gift auction on Facebook.   We have lots of beautiful things including some lovely hand crafted pottery bowls that I brought home from Bulgaria with me.

We also have some beautiful boutique style items that are just darling and were donated by their makers.

It's very easy to bid on the items.  Just visit the auction page and click "like"... then leave a comment in the comment area with the photo of the item you are bidding on with the amount of the bid.  Easy-peasy.  If you're not on Facebook and would like to bid... just email me and I can tell you the current bid amount and post a bid for you if you would like. 

I am also still making lots of key fobs, so please remember them, too. 

If you love great tshirts, visit our AdoptionBug fundraising store and buy an awesome adoption advocacy tshirt! Every sale from our shop raises money for our adoption!

We still need to raise around $7000 in order to complete our adoption.   That includes $4000 in country fees and $3000 in travel, lodging, etc that we will need to bring her home. 

We're praying that we will be able to bring her home early in the new year. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Back from Bulgaria

Well... I got to travel to Bulgaria to see my daughter on October 26th.  It was short notice.  Basically I had 5 days to book my trip (normally you have about 3 weeks to do this),  get ready to leave Jason in charge of the three boys for a week (scary), pack, and somehow get over my fear of flying. 

I did everything except the last thing.  I'm still scared of flying, even after flying halfway across the globe - twice.  Turbulence isn't nice... but landings terrify me.  It didn't help that we skidded on the runway while trying to land in Frankfurt.  (Icy runway and LOTS of wind)   It also didn't help that the turbulence was so bad on my flight into Sofia that almost EVERY row I passed (I sat near the back) on my way off of the plane contained at least one used "sick bag".  Ick.  That plane smelled awful by the time we landed!

But I made it and it was worth it!  Christiana is amazing.  She's so beautiful, smart, and just all around perfect. 
This is what happened when we met.  She came right to me and lifted her arms up so I could pick her up.  Her foster mother says she loves to be held and cuddled (she does). 
That's the other big news... she's in a professional foster family!  It's to help her learn to live outside of an orphanage... in a family home before she comes home with us.  The hope is that this will make the transition easier for her.  Before you worry... let me set your minds at ease.  She's in a professional foster family.  They've been trained to work with children who have been institutionalized and to NOT promote bonding to themselves.  They know that she's being adopted and are glad.  I got to meet them mother, father, and sister. (not the son, though)  They're truly amazing people.  You can tell from her appearance and attitude  (smiles, laughs, and hugs) that she's well cared for. 
I got to spend a few hours with her foster mother, and although we had to use a translator to communicate, we learned quite a lot about each other.  The main thing that I learned is that she truly cares about the children that she fosters.  She had lots of things to tell me about our girl before I even had time to ask her all of the questions I wanted to ask.  In the end... I forgot to ask a lot of them.  But it didn't matter.  Most of my questions were answered by just spending time with Crista and playing with her. 
I learned that she's smart.  Her file indicates significant mental delays, but if you show Crista something ONCE... she's got it.  She may have to practice it a little, but she will remember how to do it. 
She's still very tiny as you can see from the photo above.  Although she's grown (weight and height) since leaving her first orphanage, she's still a tiny little bird... wearing 18month and 24 month clothing sizes.  Her little foot is only a size 7... 3 sizes smaller than Jasper's even though she's over 2 years older than him!   
My tiny 5 year old!

Mad because we wouldn't let her leave the terrace.  She's pouting.

Little miss "I can do it!" trying to blow up the beach ball on her own after watching me start to blow it up.  She finally gave up and gave it to me to finish.

Playing with my phone.  She didn't like taking pictures, but she loved pushing buttons and exploring!
Another thing I found out... her nicknames are Crissy and Crista.  She seems to like Crista better, so that's what I called her during our time together.  Jason and I will announce her full name once her adoption is final, but she will be keeping her first name.  I know that some people feel very strongly about changing a child's name when they're adopted, but we feel that her name is her own and she should keep it.  Since she doesn't have a middle name, we'll choose one for her. In the future if she decides to change her first name, we'll support that. 
I know that all of this sounds "hunky dory", but that's just because I'm excited and happy.  For all her beautiful qualities, Crista does have significant physical and mental delays.  In my inexpert assessment (I'm not a therapist, but I've had two children with physical, mental, and speech delays) she's functioning at a 16-18 month old level both physically and emotionally.  Although she's very smart... emotionally she's still very much a baby.  This could be caused by a number of things, but the biggest one is her environment from birth though five years old.  She's still being treated for anemia caused by malnutrition.  Malnutrition and neglect can stunt a child's mental, physical, and emotional growth. 
She also has some "institutional behaviors"... at least one that her foster mother told me about.  There may be more.  I know that some caregivers make light of or hide these things because they're afraid the adoptive parent will change his/her mind about the child if they find out about behaviors like self-harming, rocking, banging, etc.  But I'm prepared for these things as much as anyone can be.  I'm studying books on the subject, have made friends with other parents whose children have similar backgrounds/issues, and have already begun working with our developmental pediatrician to form a plan of care for her. 
Right now we're preparing our home for her by finishing the other bedroom, gathering clothes and  all the lovely little things that girls need, and working with our boys to be ready to have a new person in our home and family.  We're also still fundraising to finish raising the funds we'll need to finalize our adoption and bring her home. 
I was recently criticized on another blog for this.  The people there seem to think it's idiotic to start an adoption unless you already have every cent you need to pay for fees and travel. 
Well... maybe so.  Maybe fundraising as we go isn't the most perfect plan.  But it's what we're doing.  The alternative would be letting her sit in an orphanage until we were funded... where she wouldn't have a chance to live in a family home and she would have to wait through another year without a family, love, care.... all the things that we want to give her.
So maybe we're not doing it the way that some people think we should, but we ARE doing it.  We're putting ourselves in God's hands and reaching out to a little girl who desperately needs a home and family. 
The day she walks into our home will be one of the proudest days of my life.  It will be right up there with the births of my sons.   I can't wait for that day.   I pray that it will be soon. 
I miss her so much.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Meet our daughter.

I'm so happy I could cry... and I did!  I met Christiana this morning on the banks of the Danube river. 
I will write more later, but I wanted to share these with you....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I made it!

I'm here in the Hotel Budapest in lovely Sofia, Bulgaria. 

There were some bumps and scares on the flights, but it was worth it.

Tomorrow I travel to meet the orphanage director and set up visits and sign forms.  I'll actually get to meet the director and C on Monday!  I'm so excited. 

Prayers and good wishes are welcome. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Christiana's Chance - fun crafty fundraiser

I've been making and selling cute wrist-strap key fobs to help raise funds for our adoption of Christiana. 


They cost $5 each.  The shipping cost is $2 for the first key fob (also known as a key-chain or key-ring) and then .50 for each additional one.  This cost covers the actual cost of shipping plus the shipping materials I use to package the key fobs for shipping. 

Please visit my Facebook shop to see other designs.    I have MANY different designs and am happy to customize them if you like.  I can do different combinations of color with printed or solid colored ribbon (school colors for example!). 

I will also be adding more fun gift items soon like hand warmers, small plushie toys and games, and Christmas ornaments.

Everything earned from our fundraiser will go to our adoption fund. 

If you would like to have one of our items, please email me at

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is it!

This is it, folks.   We got our written referral on Thursday and our travel dates on Saturday. 

Are you ready... I travel on October 26th.  Yes, you read that right... I travel on FRIDAY... this friday.

We're not yet funded for this trip and I need to arrange and pay for plane tickets tomorrow, somehow!  Pray for us, folks.  We really need it right now. 

On the plus side... all of our other issues are working out well.  We were told that my husband's plant would be closed next week (we would lose a week's pay) due to an issue of some sort.  That plus the week that he would have had to take off for me to travel would have really hurt us financially.  But since our travel dates overlap the plant closure... we won't have to worry since we planned ahead to cover the missed paycheck during travel week! 

To me, that says that God is looking out for us and intends for me to be able to travel on Friday! 

So... if you can, please help us by donating to our Chipin account.  We still need to raise quite a bit in order to be fully funded for this trip. 
If you can't donate, please consider sharing our story with others.

Monday, October 15, 2012

This may be the week!

We could receive our official written referral for Christiana's adoption this week.  I really hope to hear something on Wednesday.  That's when they normally have their meetings. 
Once we have our written referral, it's just a matter of days until we're issued our travel dates. 

I'm so nervous!  I'm so excited!  Pray for me, please.  I'm about to step into one of the greatest adventures of my life so far. 

Here's hoping I will have good news to post here soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Facebook auction!

Please check out our FaceBook auction!!/media/set/?set=a.383282448411594.88958.304175849655588&type=3
There are some lovely items that have been donated by Etsy sellers that would make wonderful Christmas gifts! 

It's easy to bid in the auction.  You just "like" the main page, and then visit the photo album called the Countdown to Christiana Auction.  All of the photos are of auction items.  To bid, you just leave the amount of your bid in a comment.  It's very easy.  

Once the auction ends on October 26th, you make a donation in the amount of your bid (plus shipping) to our family fund.

We have hand crafted pottery, key fobs, a Waldorf doll from Croatia, wind chimes, honey, crocheted owls, and much more!  Please come and take a look.  This will be our last fundraiser before receiving our travel dates and we are still $2000 short of being funded for this trip!

Please give us a hand and help bring our daughter home!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who's with me?

Friends, if you do nothing else for me.. please read this article.
 If, at the end, you still don't understand why I'm so passionate about helping children like Katie and Christiana... you never will.

 "If not me, then who?" That is my motto... the words I now live by. It's the thought that makes me stand up straight and forge ahead with all the fundraising, begging, criticism, and stress from this adoption process.

So many times in the past I've seen horrible things and thought "Someone should change that!" or "Someone should DO something".

I've finally realized that passing the buck not only doesn't help... it makes things worse. By turning away, I was helping things get worse, not better. There are too many of us saying "Someone should do something" while we stand by and let these horrible things happen again and again. If each of us did SOMETHING... things like this would stop.

Susanna Musser did it. She and Toni stood up and made a difference. Two people (and the thousands who prayed along with them) made a difference for over TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY children!

Just imagine what would happen if two hundred and fifty of YOU stood up like Susanna and Toni and said "If not me, then who?"... and then did something to help.
I've gotten in line to help. Won't you join me?

If you think there is nothing you can do to help or that the little that you can do won't make a difference, you're wrong. Very, very wrong.

Please contact me and let me tell you exactly how you can help. Even if you don't have a single penny to share or very little extra time in your day... you CAN still help one of these children find their forever family and you can also make sure their family is able to bring them safely home.
I promise... you CAN help. You just have to be willing to stand up and say "If not me, then who?" and step forward.

 Who's with me? 


Hidden Treasures Auction

Please be sure to visit the Hidden Treasures Auction.  It runs from October 1-7 and benefits our adoption fund!

There are so many amazing items to choose from... from books to hats to quilts to jewelry.  Truly beautiful things and more are being added!  So far only half of the items have been listed and donations are still coming in!
I'm so grateful... and so humbled by the kindness of my friends and of those sweet ladies (and gentlemen) who have worked so hard to bring our children home.

God bless you all.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

We have a referral!

Well... we have our verbal referral for Chrisiana!  Once the minister signs our referral it will be official and we will have a written referral and recieve our travel dates!  Those are the dates that we will be asked to visit her country and spend time with her. 

In about a month (give or take) I could be in Bulgaria meeting my daughter!  How amazing is that? 

Thanks to our Facebook auctions and the help of Ten For Orphans and Anonymous Angels, we're now only $4600 away from being fully funded for our first trip! 

Starting Monday, October 1, Hidden Treasures Auction will be holding an auction to benefit our adoption.  It will run from October 1-7.  Please check it out.  There are lots of great items that would make wonderful Christmas gifts!  All of the proceeds will go directly to our adoption fund. 

Right now, we have two fundraisers running thanks to the generosity of some wonderful women.  The first is an Ava Anderson fundraiser that ends in just a few days...

"Just a few more days to place an order for Ava Anderson Non Toxic products with the proceeds going towards Carissa's adoption! Please consider ordering something. I LOVE all the products and love that they are safe for my family!"

The second is a Scentsy party being given to benefit our adoption.  It runs through October 10th.  Just click on the party for the Matthews Family Fundraiser to shop.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pray hard

Pray hard folks.  We've been told that our dossier should be reviewed within the next 24 hours or so. 
That means... IF we're approved (they could ask for more information or more documents) we should have a "verbal referral". 
Once we have our verbal referral, it's just a matter of a couple of weeks before we're given a "written referral" (the minister's signature on our paperwork) and issued travel dates! 

That means that within a month, if we're lucky... we could be meeting our daughter for the first time. 

Pray hard, friends.  We're at the point of travel and we're still very under-funded. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Years Ago

Years ago I would tell my mom about my friend Ashley and her journey to adopt a little Serbian girl named Olive.  Olive the tiny... Olive the beautiful. 

My mom would ask about her... wondering how she was doing.  She would ask how she was adjusting to life in a family... with people who love her. 

Later I would tell my mom about Faith.  I would talk to her about Faith's journey to adopt Robyn and then her decision to adopt Etta. I would tell her about all of the other mothers I was meeting online.... about the lives of these children without families. 

During this time my Mom would ask "Why do these people spend money they don't have to adopt from over there when there are children here at home that could be adopted for so much less?  If they want another child, why not get one here?".  Like many of you, she didn't understand why they spent so much money and travelled so far.  She didn't understand why they did things "the hard way".

My mom would hear countless stories about Susanna and her mission to save little Katie... and how close she came to losing her before she ever came home.  Katie-bird was so fragile when Susanna travelled to her country to bring her home that she had to spend time in the hospital... and then have a nurse travel with them on their journey home so that Katie could survive the trip home to a larger hospital.  It was frightening... and inspiring.  Mom loved to hear Katie's story and to know that she was healing.  That she was cherished and loved. 

In hearing Katie's story and following it, my Mom finally learned those people did things "the hard way".  She no longer criticised or thought "they're crazy/stupid/idiotic" for adopting sick children who lived half way across the world... children who weren't healthy and would need a lifetime of care.  She understood. 

The day I told her that Jason and I were committing to adopt Christiana and told her all of the issues that we knew of and some that we only suspect... I expected to hear "adopt one at home", "you already have one disabled child, you don't need another", "how will you pay for it", "you can't handle it".  I expected her to disapprove.  I expected her to have the same attitude that others around me had - that it's fine and noble for people to adopt sick/disabled children, but it's not something "we" (family and friends) want to have in our own homes. 

I underestimated my mother.  Not only was she not critical of our decision, she and RaRa (grandma Rita) became our biggest supporters.  She shared our story at church and with everyone she knew.  She and Daddy put Christiana's photograph in their living room for everyone to see.  They told everyone about their newest grandchild-to-be, the little girl across the sea.  Even her hospice nurse knows all about Christiana and our adoption journey.  Her name is Crystal and she may be beginning the same journey soon. 

My mother passed away on Wednesday evening and I don't know how to live without her. 

Since my oldest son James was born (and Mom retired), we've spent almost every day of our lives together.  And when we couldn't see each other due to illness or life interrupting... we spoke on the phone.  She has been my best friend for the last 7 years.  She's been the person I turned to first after my husband who is the other half of my heart and soul.  She's been my cheerleader, my rock, my inspiration. She taught me how to raise my children and that it's OK to be less than perfect.  She taught me how to love unconditionally... to give without expecting anything in return because the greatest reward isn't in the receiving, it's in the giving.  It's in seeing a face light up with joy. 

I walk though life thinking things like "Mom would love those earrings" and "I should tell Mom about that".  But I can't.  I can't buy her pretty things anymore or share the latest news.  I have a loving husband, and loving Rita, and 3 beautiful. loving sons.  But I feel alone in a crowd.  No one will ever understand me (and misunderstand me) the way my Mom did. 

I've learned one thing from my Mom's death.  I've learned the last lesson she had to teach me - that no matter how old you are, your mother is the center of your heart.  I've learned how very much my children must love and need me.

I've learned how vital a mother is to a child. 

Soon... we will have travel dates.  We will have permission to meet our daughter across the sea.  Knowing how much she must need me, even if she doesn't know it, yet breaks my heart. 

Please... please help us get to her.  Help me give my daughter what my Mom gave me.  Love.  Unconditional and eternal love.  Help me hold her and teach her a mother's love for her child. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest post from Rita (RaRa)

Ann, Lisa's mom came into my life 20 years ago because my only child, my son met the love of his life. She is my friend, the only woman I would wish to be his mother and he calls her mom.
God, please help me retype this as I am in tears and need to do this for her. You see throughout the years we have prayed many times together, laughed, cried and shared our innermost selves. My children were blessed with finding a relationship with God through finding this LIFE purpose of helping children. We talked about what a blessing that God is so much a part of their lives now and that as parents that is a gift that we wanted for our children. We KNOW they have God in their lives. 
We are grateful to all who helped them on this journey to find God. Everyday that she suffers I pray with her as we always did out loud and to our God, she can not participate aloud as in the past but I believe that she is praying with me as always. Will she get better, no... never.  I ask that all of you pray for her and for us.
 Ann has been so excited about Christiana (Carissa) and supportive of her adoption.  We wanted her safe in our arms. She and I could not wait to be her Granny and RaRa. We even laughed because we carry the same middle name (Ann) and wanted the kids to name her Carissa ANN.  Then God intervened again and we found out her true name is Christiana  Oh how we praised God and laughed.
See, God gave her to us and made sure our name will go on. I promise my dear Ann I will make sure that she knows that she HAS two grandmothers. Granny in heaven watching over us and RaRa carrying on her others grandmother's legacy. Although, you will not physically be here, when I hold Christiana I will be holding her with you.
Is this the right time to say this?   I believe so because I know my friend and fellow Grandmother, Ann. 
We need your help to make our baby girl get home, financially we are NOwhere close to where we need to be. So for Ann and I, Christiana's grandmothers, please make sure our baby is safe with us and her family by make a donation to get her here.
 Ann, I love you and wish you God speed. Pray for us as we face this time. God bless, your friend and fellow grandmother, RaRa

Sorry for the lapse

It seems I've failed in promising to blog more.  Things have been so hectic in our lives during the past few weeks. 

Our good news is, we've been chosen as sponsored families for Ten For Orphans for the month of September and also for the Hidden Treasures auction for October.  I'm praying that these fundraisers will help our efforts. We really need the help at this point.  We're sadly underfunded.  Anyone who would like to help with the Hidden Treasures auction, please read this post to find out how!!

Another bit of good news is that our dossier is in country!  A wonderful mom named Aimee took it with her on her own adoption trip and hand delivered it to our lawyer.  Christiana's country had a national holiday in July/August, so the ministry is just getting back to work.  Hopefully they'll get to our dossier soon and give us a travel date in October.  Although we don't have the funds right now... we're really hoping for a travel date soon.  We hope God will keep speeding us along in our adoption the way that he has since the beginning and provide good travel dates and the funds to buy our tickets and pay our fees.

Did any of you see that another orphan from Christiana's orphanage has found a home?  "Tommy" has been chosen by Katie's family!  I am so happy for them.  I can only imagine how he will grow and thrive in such a loving and wonderful family.  If you haven't checked out their blog, or don't know who Katie is... you should take a look. 

The Musser family has been such an inspiration for me and Susanna has been such a kind, and wonderful friend. 

Now for the sad news.  Many of you know that my mother has been with hospice for the last 9 months.  After healing from NPH (hydrocephalus), she was diagnosed with cancer again.  After 7 years, her breast cancer had returned.  Unfortunately, it had returned in her spine, chest, brain, and other areas.  Due to her age, health, and the placement of the cancer... treatment wasn't an option.  For 9 months she enjoyed good spirits and a wonderful life. 

But a month ago, she began a sudden decline.  She is now very near the end of her journey.  It has been so hard to watch her deny her condition and make plans for the future.  It has been harder to see the cancer in her brain cause dementia, pain and anger.  My mother is one of the sweetest, kindest ladies on earth and seeing her suffer is heartbreaking. 

It has been even harder for my father.  He's 89 years old and has been married to my mother for 65 years.  His greatest fear has always been losing my mother. 

So please pray for our family.  For my mother, father, and sisters.  They all need it so much. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And now for something completely different...

Couch fishing, the sport of parents everywhere. 

For the uninitiated, couch fishing is the fine art of retrieving lost items from their hiding places under furniture.  Some of the techniques include free-fishing, rod-fishing, and netting. 

Free-fishing involves crouching down and reaching into the darkness under chairs and behind curtains.  It's very hands-on and not for the faint of heart if you have toddlers in the house.

Rod-fishing is the art of sweeping under or behind furniture with a long pole... such as a broom handle in the hope that said items can be swept into view.

The most harrowing technique is called netting.  Netting involves moving heavy furniture and sweeping everything (including crumbs and dust bunnies) out into the open where the catch can be cleaned and returned to their proper places. 

Netting is the preferred method in our house.  It's practiced at least twice a day.   Tonight's catch consisted of:
5 shoes
1 hat (dad's golf hat)
2 sippy cups lost during breakfast
8 toy cars
3 Thomas trains
1 train track
1 child's golf club (It was released back into the darkness under the couch in the interest of peace in     the house.  Deacon loves to chase everyone with the club)
1 dish towel
1 lost TV remote
1 cookie
and numerous crumbs, dust bunnies, and bits of sand

Not found was Mom's sanity. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mother Teresa

I've been reading about Mother Teresa lately.  She's someone I really admire.  Did you know that she started life in a wealthy eastern European country?  That's just a few hundred miles from Bulgaria... where my darling is.

There are so many things that I like about her.  The fact that she cared for orphans is just one of them.  I also love that she focused her care and attention on those that the world often overlooks... the poor and the dying.

What surprises me is the criticism she received.... particularly about the hospices that she founded.  Critics say that she was too focused on comforting the dying instead of trying to heal them.  They say that if she really wanted to help them she should have founded hospitals instead. 

The thing is... hospitals are for the living.  They don't want the poorest of the poor.  They want people who have a chance of surviving... and paying for their treatment.  That's not a criticism of hospitals.  It's just how they work.  Mother Teresa's focus was on those who were turned away from the hospitals... those who were left on the streets of India to suffer and die alone.  She offered them shelter and comfort.  It didn't matter if they were Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other faith.  There was a place for them, those who had no place in society. 

She said she was called to help the poorest of the poor.  And she did that. 

The funny thing about her critics is this... none of them founded the hospitals that they said SHE should build.  None of them offered healing or comfort to the dying like she did.  They fed no one.  They held no hands.  Her critics were journalists who did nothing to help the world in any real way.  They wrote books and articles.  They shouted their opinions to the media.  But that's all they did. 

What she did was more that speak and write.  She went out and held people.  She fed and clothed them.  She found homes for orphans and gave mothers a place to give birth in safety.  She and her sisters held the hands of the dying and helped them find peace and comfort before they passed away.  She made a real difference in the lives that she touched. 

She set an example for us all.  The sad thing is... most of us who admire her don't understand the example she set, or WHY she did the things she did.  Most of us seem to have missed the message entirely.

You see, she understood that the smallest things mean the most.  She knew that she couldn't just sit back and expect others to do the little things that need doing in order to make the world a better place for us all.  She followed the example and philosophy of Saint Therese of Lisieux, a 19th century Carmelite nun who pioneered the "Little Way".  The Little Way was focused on doing small things, with great love, for God. 

Our society today is almost completely focused on the "big picture".  There is little interest in the small things.  "The ends justify the means" should really be the motto for our governments and businesses here in the west.  Small things and great love seem to be forgotten entirely. 

I haven't finished reading about her, yet.  But already I understand why many people consider her a modern saint.  I wish more people could understand who she was and what she really did.  The world needs more true heroes... more people who understand that the small things done with great love are the things that really matter in life. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Yesterday started out hard.   Deacon woke up at 4am full of energy.  I couldn't convince him to go back to bed, so we ended up sleeping on the couch until the others woke. 

Then at around 10-ish I got the most wonderful news.  I found out that not only had we been assigned a USCIS agent, but that agent had just approved our I800a form this morning. (an I800a is a request to adopt a child from a Hague convention country that must be filed and approved in order to proceed with an international adoption)  Our process only a fraction of the time I was expecting it to take. 

I was ecstatic.  I was over the moon happy.  I posted on Facebook and emailed my husband.  Then the boys and I went to get lunch and Chik Fil-Al.  It was a good day. 

It was a great day until I saw this...
"Sad news, friends -- Margaret has passed away :( She's been posted on the "In Loving Memory" page"

This sweet little girl was Margaret.  She never had a home, a mother, or love.  She never had someone to hold her when she was scared and kiss her booboos.  She died alone, in an orphanage. 

It's sad that this little girl died.  Would she still have died if she had been adopted?  Maybe.  But she wouldn't have been alone.  She would have known family.  She would have known love.  She would have known the comfort of a mother's arms and a father's strength. 

People keep asking... "Why do you do this?" and "Wow.  You must want a little girl really bad.".  We "do this" because precious little girls (and boys) shouldn't have to die alone and unloved. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Don't be scared.

I've heard so many people comment that we're "brave" or "special" for adopting a special needs child.  Particularly one who may have FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). 
We're not.  We're ordinary people. 
I'll admit that we do have a bit of experience with disability and behavioral issues.  We have a 4 year old son who has autism. 
He's the handsome little man on the left.  His name is Deacon. 

Having a child with a disability/challenge doesn't make anyone special.  Choosing to adopt one doesn't make you special, either.  All it means is you've chosen not to let fear rule your choices.  You've chosen to love a child and accept them into your life. 

Take a look at these children and tell me what pops into your mind when you see them.  Sad, hurt, sick, scary, and unattractive.  These are words that have been used to describe these and other pictures of disabled, orphan children.

Some people look at these sweet, wonderful children and all they see is the outside.  All they see are the negative things in the photos.  They see an unhappy child, a child with scars and bad teeth.  They see a skinny, starving child who needs lots of medical care and a child with a large head.  They see the surface.  They see the superficial negatives.

Now I'll tell you what I see... what many of us who are adopting (or have adopted) these children see in these photos.  I see soft hands and chubby cheeks.  I see potential.  I see a skinny, starving child who has survived thanks to her strength and will to live.  I see a scared little girl who would be smilin if she had a hug and a bit of encouragement.  And finally... I see a bright happy smile glowing in a small face.  Despite her issues... she's smiling and her beautiful little soul shines through. 

Those are the things I see. 

Now I want you to look at a pair of pictures.  One is a visa photo taken of a sick, starving child just before she was brought home.  Some of you may recognize her.
Skinny, puffy eyes, sad, hopeless... these are the things that some people see.  They don't see the love hiding inside.  They don't see the beautiful, shining soul within.  
Now take a look at the next photo.   It was taken of her after being home for about a year for approximately 8 months.  She's had the love of a family and good medical care to help her heal.
Do you see the difference?   Many of you will say "wow... I can't believe it's the same child.  She's totally different!". 

Me?   Not so much. 
You see... I know that the child you see in the second photo was there all along... just waiting to come out.  Just waiting for a mama, dada, brothers, and sisters to help her show her light to the world.   I also know that the children in the other photos will bloom and shine, too.   They're just waiting for their families to help them do that. 

The next time I (or one of your other friends) posts a picture of an orphan for you to see.   Take a moment to look... REALLY look at that child.   Look past the tears, the scars... Look past the fear. 

Take a look and see a child who is waiting to bloom.  Waiting to shine.   Waiting to love and be loved.   Then ask yourself.  Are they waiting for me?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's Auction Time!

It's auction time!  We're having an auction on our Three Little Birds Facebook page!  Come and check out all of the great items we have.  The auction will run for two weeks and there are new items being added daily! 
Just visit the page and click on Photos to see everything at once.  Or go through them one by one on the timeline.

Here are a couple of the items we have listed right now...