Sunday, March 6, 2011

One Step Closer

I never thought I would be so happy to get something in the mail from the FBI.. You guessed it we got our finger prints on Saturday. As some of you know Blake and I were out of town last week on a cruise and we had a blast. I will post some pictures soon! When we got home we realized we were locked out of our house. We had a key to the dead bolt lock but not the door lock. Bummer! So off to check the mail and there they were.. I think the mailbox had a golden glow when I opened it and saw them or maybe it was the glare off of the yellow manilla envelopes.. but either way and am sure I heard angles singing!!!
It was so funny later because someone told me the week before that they will come when you least expect it.. Well there we were locked out of the house but no worries I was holding on to my FBI fingerprints like a kid with a new toy. What a great surprise to come home to.
So now we get the final draft of the home study completed so it can be reviewed and finalized and then off to the Ukraine it goes... We are one step closer in our journey to our babies..

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We had our first conference call with our case worker for the Ukraine yesterday.. Can you say OVERWHELMED?  I am not sure we will ever be finished with everything. But my sweet and loving husband reminded me that you can't eat an elephant in one day.. it takes several small meals.. I think he was trying to tell me to take it one step at a time.. So for now we will be working on our 177 page workbook and our 6 online classes that we have to take before our homestudy is completed.
I was looking in our workbook and one of the exercises in there is to draw a picture of your child. Really?? Where do we start. I saw this exercise yesterday and I have thought about it all day and still don't know what to draw. I think of my children all throughout the day wondering what they will be like. Will they be loud like me, quiet like Blake or a nice mix in between. But other than hair and eye color I have not thought of anything else. It will be an enteresting exercise forsure. Perhaps I will take a picture when we are done so you can see what we did..

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away!

It is a nasty Sunday here today. Still no news on our fingerprints and the conference call we were suppose to have on Friday was canceled because we did not get the correct paperwork in time. I am hoping we get the paperwork soon so that we can get the call re-scheduled. Everyone has always told us waiting will be the hardest part of the adoption. Turns out they were right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Happenings

We've been spending the last couple of weeks trying to gather all the information we need to get started on our home study.  We were told that this would be a 3-4 month process.  However, we decided to go with New Beginnings out of Tupelo because they had a much faster time line.  We met with our social worker on Monday night, gathered as much information for her as possible this week, and then met with her again for about 5 hours on Saturday.  The next time we meet with her will be to go over the completed home study and should be within a few weeks.  That's a 3 month process reduced to a 3 week process.  WOW!  We're pumped!
We were also able to get our DPS background checks requested and returned in just one day.  It's great to have connections.  Right now, I think the hold up is going to be getting our FBI fingerprint criminal record checks back.  That can take up to 12 weeks, but hopefully it won't take that long.  Anyone have any connections with the FBI?


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sorry For The Delay

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since we talked, and it's been BUSY!  We had the Burdine Christmas, the Collins Christmas, our niece Kailey came and stayed with us for a few days, we dook down all the Christmas decorations (which is a multi-day process), and went to Jacksonville to watch State play Michigan in the Gator Bowl (we won 52-14, and had a great time).  Things have finally started to slow down and return to normal so I wanted to catch you up on a few things.  We heard right before Christmas that our adoption application was approved and had a program orientation call right before we left for Jacksonville.  We got our contracts signed and sent off and the only thing we were really waiting on was the outcome of the adoption bill in Parliament.  They had pushed it back to the January 11 agenda.  If we paid any money and then they passed the bill, we would lose whatever we had paid.  So we were debating on whether or not to go ahead and send the money knowing that we may lose it but believing that God had the situation under control or to just wait and find out the outcome of the bill.  We had decided that we were going to go ahead and step out in faith and send the money when we got word that they had postponed the bill indefinitely.  We thought it was GREAT news!
But the down side to finally getting the answer we were looking for was that we now needed the money to send to the agency to get the process rolling.  Again, I shouldn't have worried - God is in control.  We needed to come up with a little over $4000.  After being told that we wouldn't get an end of the year bonus, I got one.  Then I got a call from a guy who needed a survey that I'll be able to do on the side.  I'm also trying to sell a few of my guns.  If you add up all of that, it's about $4200 worth of unexpected income.  God is good.
To get our home study, we'll still need to come up with another $2000, but I'm looking forward to seeing how God will provide for us.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We are both off work for a few days, we're getting ready to go back to Ackerman tomorrow for the Burdine Christmas, I've got Christmas carols on for background music, all 3 of our Christmas trees are lit up, and there's a fire in the fireplace.  A little while ago, we cut off the TV and just sat and enjoyed it for a minute.  It was only for a couple of minutes, but it was hands down the best few minutes of the season so far.
And as much as I enjoyed it, I felt there was something missing... the rest of our family.  It's strange that I don't know them.  I don't know anything about them.  We've never met.  Yet they are a part of this family and I cannot wait to share moments like that with them.
I also got an email today saying that one of our Operation Christmas Child boxes went to Honduras, and the other went to Tanzania.  I was hoping they would go to the Ukraine, but I guess there are needy children all over the world who need those boxes as bad, or worse, than the kid we're trying to bring home.  I just pray that he or she is being cared for and loved.  I pray that they are warm, well fed, and loved.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Adoption

We had our Christmas party for Leslie's mom's family at her house in Ackerman today.  All I could think of was that hopefully by this time next year we'll have our kid home with us to celebrate Christmas with our family.
One thing we did yesterday was take some gifts to a family we "adopted" for Christmas.  My mom works at the Pinelake Care Center and found us a family that needed some help.  My brother, Brent, his wife, Karen, my parents, and Leslie and I all pitched in to buy presents for the parents and kids.  They had a 4 year old girl named abby and a 10 month old boy named Issac.  they lived in a trailer in Pisgah and were in pretty tough shape.  They were being evicted, both parents were out of a job, they couldn't afford to put gas in the car to get back to the care center to get some food for their family.  Fortunately, my dad was able to give them a little money, and I was glad that we could help out.  It was apparent that they wouldn't be getting anything if we didn't provide it for them.
As always, our kid was on my mind.  I couldn't help but think of him or her as I was holding Issac and hope that someone was taking care of them the way we were able to take care of Abby and Issac.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

We found out 2 interesting pieces of news today.  Number one was that my dad works with a guy who has been on several mission trips to the Ukraine and knows several families throughout the country who offer housing to missionary groups or Americans who are coming to adopt.  This is a HUGE cost savings for us because we will be in country for upwards of 2 months.  At +/-$100 per night for a hotel room, this could mean a savings of up to $6000!  Not to mention that we would be able to stay with a contact who speaks English and who has supported others in the same spot we're in and can help us out with some dos and don'ts of Ukrainian culture.
Number 2 was that there was a fight in the Ukrainian Parliament today.  A real fists flying, furniture throwing, bloodied noses, and black eyes fight!  Apparently the party in power (the President's party) is investigating the previous administration to see if they mis-spent government funds.  The party being investigated held a demonstration inside the Parliament chambers to protest the investigation and when the other party came to break up the protest fisticuffs ensued.
What's worse is that it looks like this is the 2nd fight in Parliament this year.  The first one broke out in April over a bill that would allow the Russian Navy to keep a fleet of its ships docked at a Ukrainian port where it's already been docked for the better part of 300 years.  This one had people throwing eggs at the guy trying to read the bill.  The poor guy had 2 or 3 people holding umbrellas up in front of him to keep him from getting pelted.  The bill did pass because the Ukraine gets a 30% discount on the gas it buys from Russia in exchange for the use of the port.
There was also a fight in November of 2008 as they were voting to oust their speaker, an ally of the President.
With all of this fighting, I'm less and less concerned about them passing the adoption bill this year.  It looks like they've got bigger things to deal with for now.  It's just scary to me that these are the people standing in the way of us going to get our kid.
On a completely different note, we took our niece Katherine to the park tonight to see all the Christmas lights.  We had so much fun.  I hate that we couldn't have already had our kid there to enjoy it as well.  Maybe we'll all be together to enjoy the Christmas season by this time next year.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adoption Bill Update

We got an email yesterday letting us know that the adoption bill in the Ukraine Parliament was removed from the 12/16 agenda and moved to sometime some point between 12/21 and 12/24.  I'm so ready for this thing to go away.  The undertainty of all of it is killing me.  I have faith that God is going to work it out because He has led us to this point.  I'm just ready for faith to become reality.


Monday, December 13, 2010

12-12-10 - The Lengthy Beginning

So how do you start a story like this?  It's not one I ever imagined writing.  Growing up, the fairy tale you hear goes something like this...

You grow up, find that special someone, get married, have kids, grow old, and live happily ever after.

Well for us it hasn't happened quite like that. 

Leslie and I were married June 21, 2008.  I'd say around April of 2009 we started trying to have kids and when we hadn't had any success by January of 2010 we began seeing doctors to try to help.  As of September, the doctors had done everything they could and we still didn't have any kids.  We were forced with a decision: spend thousands of dollars on in vetro fertilization or consider adoption.
The decision was not a strictly financial one, but the fact that we could blow all that money on IVF when it only had about a 40% success rate did factor into the decision.  But to be honest, we never even seriously considered IVF because God just kept opening doors that led us to adoption and just gave us an overwhelming sense of peace that adoption was the route He had picked out for us.  So after a few weeks of prayer and thinking and talking it over, the choice was made... WE ARE ADOPTING!!!  That's where the easy choices ended.  Now we had to figure out if we were going to adopt domestically or internationally, what adoption agency we were going to use, how would we pay for it, what race would we adopt, would we consider special needs, what about sibling groups.  It was all very overwhelming.
Ever since we began considering adoption, God really put international adoption on my heart.  I don't think Leslie cared if we did domestic, international, or if we just stole a baby from a stroller at the mall.  She just wanted a baby, and it didn't matter how.  But in my mind, children born in America are already going to have a leg up on people born into similar circumstances in poorer countries.  Here, the government is going to make sure that you are cared for, fed, clothed, and educated.  Also, the simple fact that you are in America means that if you are willing to work hard and dedicate yourself to a purpose, then you can pull yourself out of whatever circumstances you're in, and I knew that wasn't always the case everywhere.  I couldn't shake the image of our kid being cold and hungry because we were unwilling to search the world over for him or her.  I heard people say that the children here need help too, and that's true.  But that doesn't mean that children all over the world need the help any less.  And it certainly didn't mean that the kids here were any more special than those from other parts of the planet.
So in my head the decision was made - we were going to adopt internationally!  In my head, there were 2 major obstacles to overcome, #1 - the money, and #2 - convincing Leslie.
With all the additional travel and fees, international adoption cost 2-3 times what domestic adoption cost.  If you know me very well, you know that money is a big deal to me.  Not that I'm greedy, but that I have to know how much we've got, where it's going, and if we're about to make a big purchase, I've got to know where the money is going to come from.  This presented somewhat of a problem for me because as strongly as I felt that we were supposed to adopt internationally, I knew we couldn't afford what it was going to cost us to bring our kid home.
Then, one day in church, I could hear God saying not to worry about the money, but to simply take a leap of faith and follow Him without knowing how it was all going to work out or where the money would come from.  He said to simply follow Him and leave room for faith.  It was really a lesson that if we never put ourselves into a position where ONLY God can orchestrate a solution then we'll never truly get to see God work miracles.
So obstacle #1 was out of the way.  Now on to obstacle #2 - Leslie.  We had been told that international adoption could be a little hair raising because of all the red tape of having to deal with 2  different governments and the language barrier and that we should always expect delays because the laws change so fast.  All of that added up to a lot of uncertainty that I was sure Leslie was not going to go for.  So how was I going to convince her of way God had already convinced me of?
As it turns out, I should've just had a little more faith that God could handle it.  When we were leaving church the day that God convinced me not to worry about where the money would come from, I said something to Leslie about how I was really being led to international adoption and what I felt like God had said to me during the sermon.  She said she heard the same message, and she was all aboard for international adoption.
With both of us hearing the same message about faith and money in the same service you would have thought that the message would've been from Hebrews 11 and the Hall of Fame of faith or about tithing or something like that.  Nope!  It was about the life of Samson and how he wasted all the opportunities God gave him.  Nothing about faith.  Nothing about money.  Whoever said we'd understand God's plan or His timing?
So another decision was made!  We're adopting internationally.  So we're getting closer to finding our child.  We've narrowed down our choices from every country on the face of the planet to every country on the face of the planet except for the United States.  Hmmm.  We still got some work to do here.
So how do you go about choosing what country to adopt from? What about choosing an agency?  Actually, those 2 go hand in hand as each agency only works with certain countries.  the only way I know of for sure was to pray.  God had led us this far, surely He would reveal the rest of the path, right?  Well, almost immediately, Leslie was drawn to the Ukraine, but she couldn't really explain why.  It wasn't a country she knew much about, and nothing had happened that drew her attention there.  It was just on her mind a lot.  I, on the other hand, was drawing a blank.  I wasn't led anywhere in particular, and I kept waiting for confirmation for what God's plan was.  After a few weeks, I was still just as clueless as day 1, but Leslie was more convinced than ever that our kid was waiting on us in the Ukraine.  So without ever getting that solid confirmation I wanted, I stepped out in faith believing that God was leading Leslie straight to our kid.
It didn't take long to get that confirmation.  We were sitting around a tailgate at a State game talking to some of our family about what we were thinking and that we were getting ready to adopt from the Ukraine.  My Aunt Johnnie was there and she told us that she had a friend, Becky, that lived in the Ukraine and that we should look her up on Facebook.  So Leslie found Becky and emailed her through Facebook.  Any guesses as to what Becky was doing in the Ukraine?  She works at an orphanage!  BAM!!!  I'd say that was confirmation, wouldn't you?
No sooner than we finally figured out where we were going to adopt from, we got an email from the adoption agency we decided to use (All God's Children International) about a bill currently in front of the Ukraine Parliament.  If it passed, it would not allow any adoptions with any country that did not have a bi-lateral agreement with the Ukraine, which included the U.S.
For the bill to become a law, it would have to pass 2 readings in the Parliament and then be signed by the President.  It had already passed one reading and was waiting to be put on the agenda for the second reading.
Well, we were just told 2 days ago that it was scheduled to be on the agenda for December 16.  However, it looks like that is going to be a busy agenda and this is a low priority bill.  So hopefully it won't even be read again.  Also, we're told that because there's no provision for special needs adoption in the bill, even if it does come up for the second reading, it may get voted down.  Also, to the best of my understanding, the bill has been changed slightly since the first reading.  The work "bi-lateral" was removed, so that it now reads that adoptions would not be allowed with any country that does not an agreement with the Ukraine.  Basically, this would open the door for multi-lateral agreements.  Which means that even though the U.S. does not have a direct agreement with the Ukraine, we do have an agreement with another country that does have an agreement with the Ukraine and can still adopt.  Still if it's all the same, I'd just assume it not pass.  Status Quo is OK with me.  I don't like all of this unknown.
However, whatever happens we still feel like God is calling us to find our kid in the Ukraine. We just have to have the faith to know that He is leading us to him or her.  If He can provide the finances for us, then He can orchestrate the circumstances whereby we are able to bring them home.
On a completely different note, it's very cold here tonight - in the 20's with gusty winds.  I pray, wherever our kid is, that they are warm, well-fed, and comfortable as they sleep.  I don't even know them yet and I love our kid so much.  It's truly unexplainable.