We're Okay

Power is back on, and I finally have internet again. We are okay, but many homes, families, and communities around us are not. Please keep them in your prayers. Thank you so much for the emails to check on us... it was a scary day and evening.
Here is a picture of our church, which is just a few miles from us. Due to the damage, we'll be having our Sunday service in the parking lot. So much lost and so much to rebuild.


Update on Caroline

I know many of you have been waiting on an adoption update. I've held off posting anything because there wasn't any real news. But now I'm so emotional, frustrated, and desperate that I'm pleading for you to join me in praying for resolution, favor, and expedience.

As most of you know, we began the process to adopt Caroline in October. Because we could reuse our dossier from last year when we adopted Grace, we thought the process would move much more quickly. Unfortunately, our home study update got slowed down due to the backlong of clearances at our state DHR. (Like 3 months slowed down) Then, we were finally DTC "Dossier to China" on February 4th. If things had gone as normal, we would have been logged in by February 11th or soon thereafter. And we would have our LOA (Letter of Approval...letter seeking confirmation that we're adopting her) by March or April. Travel would follow in May or early June.

Now, it's nearly May. And we're two approvals behind. No log-in date or LOA. I've seen families who were DTC a month after us already receive LOA. Our social worker and Chinese liaison have been going to bat for us, but they have been unsuccessful in finding out what the holdup is or what can be done. My agency is flabbergasted. And so are we. We don't know if our paperwork is lost, was misfiled, is stuck with a worker who doesn't care, or what. I've been doing okay until the last few days. I am now at the point where I feel panicky and helpless. In fact, yesterday, I felt like I was having a panic attack because my heart was racing, my chest felt tight, and I felt sick to my stomach.

Caroline has known since October that she is being adopted. (This is actually very abnormal for a child to find out so early.) I wonder how many times she has wondered where we are and why we haven't shown up yet to bring her home. I wonder how many nights she has laid awake being nervous about the changes ahead.

Even the kids are getting anxious...

This morning, Carter asked me, "When are we going to China to get our big sister, Mommy?" He had actually even gotten out a suitcase a few days ago to begin packing.

And last night, the kids' Aunt JuJu was on the way over to babysit. When I asked if they knew who was coming to see them, Grace exclaimed, "Caroline LiYun!!!"

Will you please pray for us and for our agency to receive some answers soon? A few other families are in a similar boat with an abnormally long wait, but their paperwork was finally located. Pray that whoever finds our paperwork will have mercy on us and expedite our approvals. There's a chance our other approvals could be expedited, so travel could still take place in late June (but that's pushing it) or July. But it could seriously be August or September. I never would have believed it might take an entire year!!

Please pray for Caroline that she has peace as she waits. Pray that it won't be too late for Caroline to have treatments once she gets home. (Her SN is time-sensitive as it relates to her bones fusing as her body matures.)

And pray for this momma to have peace, comfort, and patience. I can tell myself that God's timing is perfect. But when you're on this side of it, and delays cause numerous problems, it's hard to remain calm.

As we approach Easter, we're praying for a miracle. We know that Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, continually interceding on our behalf. (Interceding on behalf of all who believe in Him.) And we long to see a resolution that's as shocking as our wait so we can give God all the glory.

I'll keep you posted as we await feedback from more inquiries to the CCA*. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the care package we sent to Caroline a few weeks ago. In our letter, we explained why we haven't been able to travel to her yet. We hope she is enjoying the goodies and already feeling special and loved.
Shirts from Old Navy (I had to totally guess on size)
A craft to do with her foster sibling

We also included hard candies, gel pens, a candle and lotion for the foster mother, a photo album with new photos, pictures drawn by Carter and Grace, and more. We also included a sweet letter, pics, and a few tokens from my cousin's 11-year-old daughter, Mary Katherine, who is so eager to meet her new family member!


Sew Happy

How precious are these clothes?? I wanted to share my friend Carrie's adorable designs with you. She loves to sew for people, and particularly for her 2-year-old daughter. When some of you have asked about Grace's outfits, many of them were made by Carrie.

So if you're needing some new spring/summer clothes for your kiddos, or if you want to order something to give as a gift, check out Carrie's site: Sew Happy. From the beautiful fabrics to monogramming to extra special touches (I adore the ruffle on the girl's bubble!), she does an amazing job with any project.

She has also started selling her patterns on Esty...click here to see them. You order whichever pattern(s) you want, and she sends it to you as a pdf. This is especially great because you can print out a new one when your current pattern becomes torn or too wrinkled.

Definitely check out her blog for more pictures....



I'm still finishing my letter to Grace...I get all emotional every time I sit down to write more. In the meantime, here are a couple of pics I took of Grace the other night while she was watching her adoption video (for the 8th time!). She is truly one of the greatest joys of my life.

And then a funny story from Carter...

On the way to school this morning, we were talking about Jesus' life (we're reading several Easter books so he frequently asks questions), and we talked about how Jesus performed miracles. I had to explain what miracles are to Carter and Grace. A few minutes later, Carter said, "I just want to talk about what we're going to do at school today." Here's how the next few seconds of conversation went...

Me: "Okay, what are you going to do today?"
Carter: "Play?"
Me: "Yep...and what else?"
Carter: "Sing?"
Me: "Yes, and what else?"
Carter: "Eat lunch?"
Me: "Uh huh...and what else?"
Carter: "Miracles?"


One Year in Our Arms!

Today is one year since we met Grace and became her parents! We can barely believe it's been a year since that miraculous day. In honor of that day, I've reposted the link to her adoption video. The video and pictures captured so much more than I could put into words or recall.


Last night, Grace and I sat in bed and watched her "Forever Family Day" video together. We hadn't watched it in months. I wish I had videotaped her because she had a running commentary going the whole time.

"Baby Gace!"
"That you Mommy!"
"Daddy, Mommy, Gace!"
"Daddy being silly."
"Baby Gace crying."
"There Guhguh!!" (Chinese word for older brother)

She wanted to watch it repeatedly. Some moments, she was very serious and contemplative. Other times, she laughed and smiled. What warmed my heart was her repeated statement "Mommy, Daddy, Grace!" said at every picture of her with us on Gotcha Day. We probably watched the entire video eight or nine times. (Yes, we were up way past bedtime!)

I will have much more to post later today. I'm finishing a letter to Grace, and I'll post some more pictures. But we're off to celebrate, eat some authentic Chinese food, and enjoy the gift of our beautiful daughter.

Thank you to all of you who traveled this journey with us, left countless notes of encouragement, and prayed us through moments both of difficulty and of joy. It's been a year we'll forever cherish.


Eye Candy

This isn't a design blog or one that's domestic-related, and I won't pretend it is. But I just had to share these images with you. As I was perusing Anthropologie's site last night, I came across these beautiful culinary accessories and felt like they were just begging to come "spring-i-fy" my kitchen. I hope they make you happy just looking at them too. :)
If this apron had a back to it, I think I'd wear it as a dress. Love it.
And I don't think I've ever desired steak knives as much as I do right now.


11 in 11

So now that you know more about what (Un)adopted is and does, I'd love to share how you can get involved. While we'd love for you to join us for one of our mission trips (more opportunities to be posted on our site in the coming months) or to support our ministry or missionaries, there are many other ways you can support the cause.

Click here to read about eleven ways you can help orphans in 2011...

And I'd love to know if you plan on doing something...leave me a comment with your plans! :)


The Vision and the Hope

If you haven't read the last few posts, scroll down to learn about the plight of orphans and why (Un)adopted exists.

Recognizing the plight of orphans worldwide, the ministry of (Un)adopted began to establish long-term care for millions of orphans. We seek to do this by empowering the indigenous church and transforming communities through education, job and economic development, opportunity, adoption, and exposure to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our approach is holistic...we want to create sustainable and reproducible solutions and programs in communities as opposed to a band-aid approach where only immediate needs are met and the core problems remain untouched. Our hope is that solutions, support, and opportunities will exist for older orphans because communities have been transformed and aim to care for "the least of these."

Our initial countries of focus are the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, China, and Uganda. Our approach and goals will look different in each country because of various cultural differences, needs, resources, and mindsets. We are sending a missionary family to the Dominican Republic in June, and they will begin planting a church and school in Puerta Plata. The DR is one of the top four countries in the world for sex trafficking!! I'll be introducing you to the Little Family in a few days, but keep them in your prayers as they prepare for the mission field and continue to raise their financial support. We are excited to see what the Lord is going to do once the Littles are on the ground.

I could go on with all the intricate details of plans and goals, but here are a few examples of what (un)adopted will be doing:
- planning mission trips to teach life skills and job skills (girls in Ukraine will learn sewing so they can begin mastering a trade and making money...when they have no way to make money, prostitution becomes opportunity and survival in their minds)
- helping communities develop micro-economies
- taking the message of the Gospel to orphans to provide immediate and eternal hope
- connecting orphanages with schools and churches to ensure kids are being educated
- coordinating apprenticeships for orphans so they began acquiring job skills
- establishing transitional housing so orphans who age out have a temporary place to live while they find a job and learn how to live on their own

My job is pretty much a catch-all position given that I'm the only designated (Un)adopted employee. But I enjoy the variety of doing marketing, PR, event planning, mission trip coordination, ministry, and TRAVEL! I'll be going to the Dominican Republic for a few days in May, and then to Uganda in September. I can't wait to love on those kids and connect with people in the community so they can become advocates for the kids themselves.



What does it mean to be (un)adopted?

To be unadopted means that I am lonely, even in an orphanage filled with children. To be unadopted means I am left behind as I see dozens of families coming and leaving with their new sons and daughters. To be unadopted means I will eventually be out on my own with no opportunities, no family, no place to call home - a life without hope or a future.

If you read the statistics yesterday, you were probably as shocked as I was to learn that only 1/10 of 1% of orphans are adopted. That means 99.9% of orphans do not experience family. It also means that 99.9% of orphans "age out" of the orphanages and find themselves on the street unprepared to survive in the world. They're without money, family, basic tools for survival, or job skills.

In countries like Ukraine and Russia, orphans are forced to leave the orphanage gates and foster homes at 16. In China, the kids are out on their own at 14. Fourteen years of age....alone and vulnerable. That's a year and a half away for our Caroline LiYun, if we were not adopting her. Of the 99.9% who age out, 85% of the girls end up ensnared in human sex trafficking. And 75% of the boys find themselves caught up into a life of crime, drugs, or sex trafficking. Many of these kids commit suicide. Over 50% of the homeless in the U.S. were foster children at one time.

Ironically, I did not know about the plight of these older orphans when we decided to adopt Caroline. Even before we were matched with Grace, I had a heart for older girls and knew we wanted to adopt one down the road. We never thought it would be this year!

And I always had a strong desire to work in some capacity for orphan care and sex trafficking prevention. I can see now the incredible design of God's plan that He called us to adopt one of these older orphans and then led me into a job advocating for millions more.

Our adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services, recently began a new ministry called (Un)adopted. And this is where I found the job of my dreams. You see, unless there is a significant change in the way the Church and the world care for orphans, these children will continue to suffer unimaginable and cruel circumstances. The call to rescue distressed orphans cannot be answered through adoption alone. They need a realistic hope and future. We want to make that possible.

So what does (Un)adopted do? What exactly is my job? And how can you get involved? I'll let you know over the next couple of days. Didn't want to overwhelm you with too much info at once. :) Please check back.... and join me in praying for these millions of orphans.

"Religion that God our Father accepts are pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep onself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27


Ponder This

With the house move, adoption updates, and towel fundraiser, I haven't even elaborated yet on the part-time job that I've mentioned. I began in January, and it is my dream job in so many ways. There is so much to share that I thought I'd spend a few days posting about it. And my hope is that you will feel passionate about the cause as a result.

For today, just ponder these two statistics and let them sink in:

There are 147 million orphans in the world....

And only 1/10 of 1% of orphans are adopted.

That means that 99.9% of orphans will never experience family.


A Year Ago Today...

...we were kissing our sweet baby boy goodbye
and jumping on a plane to China....to meet our 16-month-old baby girl, Virginia Grace.


The Results Are In!

Drumroll please....

and the final tally for (Cover)ed towels ordered is......


Sweet friends, I am absolutely blown away by the success of the fundraiser, your support, your gifts, and your encouragement as we wait to travel to China to meet Caroline LiYun. At the beginning of the sale, my goal was 45, and I dreamed of selling 65 towels. To have sold 103 is totally unexpected and incredibly appreciated. Adding up the proceeds and some generous financial gifts, we have $2,020 for our adoption fund! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And I now announce the winner of the Free Towel Giveaway...
Danielle of "A Journey of Grace" blog!

I appreciate everyone's sweet comments and emails. I'll post an update about our progress this week. We're still hoping to travel to China in June.

And once again, a HUGE thank you to the ladies at (Cover)ed for offering to partner with me for a fundraiser.
Julie and Casey of (Cover)ed

You can order towels through their website at any time, and a portion of the funds will go to help other adoptive families or ministries.



Last night to enter for the Free Towel Giveaway!

Tonight is your last night to order custom hooded kids' towels to benefit our adoption fund, and it's also the deadline to enter the giveway! The winner will be selected at random after midnight tonight, and the prize will be a (cover)ed towel of choice. You can enter by posting a comment on any of the (Cover)ed-related posts.
Thanks for all your orders and support to bring Caroline home!!



I know not everyone will get this, but it was too funny not to share.

Last night, Carter was picking out a book to read before bedtime. He selected one and declared that the title was "Praise the Lord!!" I had never seen or heard of this book before, so he turned it around to show me the cover. This is what I saw...

What makes it even funnier is that our church would not be characterized as particularly charismatic. So it's not like he sees this all the time. I love that his interpretation of this ape's pose is that he's worshipping God! :)

Carter...thank you for pointing me to the Lord when I'm least expecting it!


Dream Big and Dress Up

Happy Friday! First of all, I want to thank all of you who have purchased towels, promoted our fundraiser, and prayed for our adoption. As you probably read in a previous post, my goal was to sell 40 towels, and my "dream" goal was 65. Well, God is teaching me to dream bigger! To date, we've sold 86 towels!!! This is an incredible blessing, and I have to thank the ladies at (Cover)ed again for their talent, generosity, and ministry.

Keep the orders coming (I'm aiming for 100 now)...the deadline is this Monday, April 4th. One thing to note...we can no longer have towels ready by Easter due to the large number of orders already received. They will be ready Tuesday, April 26th.

On a different note, if you've browsed some of the recent pictures of Grace, you know that the girl LOVES to dress up. She especially loves tutus. When she emerges from her closet, you never know what all she'll be adorned with. Here are a few recent pics. :)

With this outfit, she had some "design" help from 13-year-old helper, Marli. The swimsuit and hat are from Gymboree, the wings are from a Tinker Bell costume, and the heels are Target princess shoes. I have to say that this is her most sophisticated get-up to date. :)

Look at this chica popping her knee! LOL!
Behind her is Marli....they came out with several different costumes through out the evening.
You can't beat the price for this adorable tutu swimsuit...it's currently $8 at Target!!

Have a fabulous weekend!!