Adoption Update & Fundraiser

You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, we’ve come to realize that it takes a village to bring a child home through adoption.

You are a piece of our village.

Ethiopia Globe

As we are, hopefully, nearing the end of our projected wait time for our adoption, we have felt a need to be completely funded so we are ready to go when we get the call. As of today, we have been on the official waiting list for 21 months. Our current projected wait time is 26-29 months, so we need to get on the ball!

Adoption is expensive, friends, and we can’t do it alone. We expect to pay anywhere from $30,000-$40,000 before it is all said and done. God has been so gracious to us already by providing what we’ve needed at every paperwork checkpoint. The next portion of our adoption will involve country fees and travel expenses. As you can imagine, purchasing international plane tickets with little prior notice won’t be cheap.

So here we are, asking you, our precious village, to help us reach our goals. You are a piece of our fundraising puzzle.

An Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser for www.happybrownhouse.com
We’ve purchased a beautiful puzzle of an African girl and we are asking you to “adopt” a puzzle piece by donating $10. After receiving your donation, we will write your name on the back of the puzzle piece and add to the puzzle. As our adoption fund grows, so will the puzzle!  When the puzzle is completed, we will frame it in a special frame so we can share with our child how many people loved her and helped bring her home. It will be a treasured keepsake.

Each puzzle piece is $10. You may choose to purchase a single piece, or if you want to donate a larger amount, you may purchase as many pieces as you wish! When all the puzzle pieces are purchased, we will have raised $10,000! Yeow!

How to Donate

You may click the Donate button to give securely through Paypal. (Side note: It is driving me bonkers that the donate button is stretched and blurry looking. I’ve tried everything I know to fix it with no luck. Please still donate despite my ghetto button :) )





We truly cannot thank you enough for the support we’ve had since we first started this adoption journey in November 2010. Your encouragement and prayers have blessed us so much. We are truly thankful that you are a part of our village!

Help us spread the word! Share it, Tweet it, Pin it, Email it!

Blog Readers: Please don’t feel obligated to give if you don’t know us, or haven’t been a subscriber very long. A blog post was the easiest way I could write and share it with everyone in our life. If you feel led to give we would be elated, but I recognize some of you are just here for fun printables and preschool activities. We’ll be back to our regular fun tomorrow!

Failure to Thrive?

As I write this, I’m sitting at Panera immediately after Asher’s 9 Month well check. I’m trying to catch a few moments to myself and process after a few hard days emotionally. The latest wave to crash against me? Hearing the pediatrician mention the words “failure to thrive” in reference to Asher. I mean…have you seen this kid?

Is this the face of a child that is failing to thrive?

Asherbabyfood-HappyBrownHouse

Sure, he may be on the small end, but what those growth charts don’t tell you is that he’s been crawling and climbing for 3 months. He’s chasing an active big brother and would much rather play than snuggle up for an extended nursing session…unless it is nighttime and there’s nothing better to do. Those growth charts don’t tell you that he’s clapping, waving, and giving kisses. They don’t tell you that he’s been saying “Mama” and “Bubba” for 3 months. They don’t tell you that he’s recently picked up the words “Bye-Bye” and “Go-Go”. They aren’t able to tell you about the depths of his belly laughs and the shrieks of joy when he’s in the bathtub splashing.

Failure to thrive? Not the face I’m looking into.

Now, don’t misunderstand me…

I am concerned that he doesn’t have the rolls where he should. I am concerned that he’d rather play with his food than stick it in his mouth. I am concerned that he doesn’t have cheeks to pinch. I do recognize that his low weight could be an indicator to something medically wrong, but failure to thrive? Really?

I’m just not sure.

You see, I’ve seen the children that truly aren’t thriving. I’ve seen the empty eyes, the frailness, and the missed milestones. I’ve seen the orphan child that bangs her head against the crib rails or rocks back and forth to self-soothe when there isn’t someone to snuggle when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

Matter of fact,  I have a child that might be rocking in a crib halfway around the world this very second.

No. I just can’t accept the term “Failure to Thrive” in reference to Asher.

Low on growth charts? Yes.

Failure to thrive? No.

Not when there are 163 million orphans needing a forever family.

An Embassy Tale

And now, a fun story that will be written down in our adoption journal…

While we were in Washington, D.C for the 2:1 Conference, our Dossier paperwork was in the same city. I knew it was there and joked about wondering if they needed me to hand-deliver it somewhere to speed up the process. A day or two later, our GPS got us turned around due to an unexpected detour. We found ourselves driving on some random roads while the GPS recalculated very slowly. I was admiring the gorgeous houses and then I started noticing flags. Country flags. It dawned on me that we were driving through the embassies.

And because I’m sentimental, I typed in “Ethiopian Embassy” into the GPS.

Ethiopian Embassy

Not only did we drive past it, but I got out and took a few photos. Because really, when am I ever going to be standing in front of the Ethiopian Embassy knowing that my paperwork is sitting inside at that very moment? Never. Once in a lifetime thing.

So, yeah, I’m the weird lady that got out and took pictures of the Ethiopian Embassy and the flag.

Also, the Lord made the flag unfurl in the wind just for me.

Ethiopian Flag

Oh, sweet child of mine, we are coming. Momma and Daddy are coming just as fast as we can. We love you.

Dossier…Check!

I am beyond giddy to be able to announce that we are finally DTE status.

What is DTE?

Dossier to Ethiopia!

Our paperwork process has been a rather long one compared to some, but we are confident that God’s timing is perfect. We’ve had bumps in the road with our paperwork~sometimes it was our fault, other times we were at the mercy of the process and government entities.

This is a very big step for us. It means we are finally on the “waiting list”…even though we’ve already been waiting for a while in our minds. The dossier is a big stack of papers gathered from all over. It is basically our life on paper. Financial statements, birth certificates, medical letters, and pictures are just a few things that are included in a dossier. We turned it in a while ago, but it still had several stops in the United States before it got to travel over the ocean. We finally heard that it is on it’s final leg of the journey!

So, now…we wait.

Waiting is something that we’ve grown used to. Ok, I lied. Nobody gets used to it, but it is part of the process, so I wait. While I feel like our family is incomplete at this moment, I am comforted by the fact that God’s timing is perfect. He is in the details. And honestly, Asher is keeping me so busy these days that I am ok with waiting a little longer. Neither of us are ready for me to take two trips out of the country. So really, it is ok…talk to me in a few months and my tone might change.

How God Used Others to Provide for Us {Adoption Update}

{Warning: This post will be long…there’s SO much to tell! Regardless of the length, I hope you read it and praise the Lord with us!}

First of all, it’s still kinda foreign feeling to me that I have a 4 month old baby and we’re in the adoption process. His ways with us have really blown me away this past year. (Hmm…now that I think about it, this is the week exactly one year ago that I found out about being pregnant AFTER starting our adoption.) I know it’s weird to others, too, I see their raised eyebrows and questioning looks when Jonah tells them he has a sister in Ethiopia and I’m carrying Asher in the Moby wrap. However, we’re not living for the World and their view of “normal.” We’re following where God leads, no matter how strange it seems to others.

And He blesses. Oh, how He blesses when we follow in obedience to the call!

Over the past few months we’ve been on a rollercoaster–one minute we’re bouncing a colicky baby and then the next minute we’re doing adoption stuff. Oh, the story He is weaving!

Homestudy~ We had some hold-ups during our Homestudy process. First, it was my being so sick with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during the pregnancy that prevented us from having the Home Visit portion finished (it’s hard to clean when you can’t keep your head out of the toilet). Once I felt better, we had our Home Visit in June. The write-up took a little longer than we had hoped. Then, our adoption counselor advised us that we should wait to have the official write-up approved until Asher arrived. It was a long 2 months to wait, but it made sense…she would have to do an update after Asher arrived anyway. So, we waited. As soon as we went for Asher’s first pediatrician appointment, we had her finish things up. We still ended up waiting a while for the Homestudy to get approved by all the people in the chain. {If there is one thing we’ve learned so far, it is that paperwork takes longer when it is out of your hands….and I have control issues :))

Once our Homestudy was approved, we raced to the mailbox with our USCIS Paperwork (Homeland Security/Immigration). This is the application to be fingerprinted (a second time~we already did it once for our Homestudy). And then we waited for them to “invite” us to be fingerprinted.

This is where it gets pretty amazing….

~We applied for a grant through our local adoption office. There is an anonymous donor that helps local families. We had a fee of $3,500 due and received a grant for $2,000! We were so excited! This helped tremendously!

~Our adoption counselor was contacted by another family that had just completed raising their money. They had done some yard sales and had some leftover stuff that they wanted to pass on to another adopting family. They literally live less than a mile from our church, so our adoption counselor immediately thought of us. {Side note: Asher was a little over a month old at this point and I was NOT interested in entertaining the idea of a doing yard sale.} We weren’t really sure about the whole yard sale thing. Not because we don’t like them for fundraisers, but because…

  1. They are LOTS of work.
  2. We never have enough big stuff to pull of a yard sale of epic proportions.
  3. It was not “prime” yard sale time for our area
  4. I had a colicky baby to deal with and zero sleep

But, we thought we should atleast check it out. I mean, if God wants to drop things in our lap, why would we pass on it without looking? So we went to look…and there was SO much stuff! Big Stuff! Stuff we could make money with! A basement and a 2 car garage full of stuff!

So we did it. We had a yard sale in November…the weekend before Thanksgiving. I kid you not.

We worked our tails off. We held it indoors at our church so we wouldn’t have to worry about weather. I was at the church EVERY SINGLE DAY that week. I stuck Asher in the Moby wrap, said a prayer, and got busy. {Praise the Lord for friends willing to help! Lots of people helped us pull this off, but my friend Dee deserves a special shout-out. I would have cried a lot more had it not been for her and her mad yard sale skills. The woman priced everything when I couldn’t think straight enough to formulate a sentence. She came out almost everyday that week. Gosh, I love her!}

The yard sale was hoppin’ the first day and I couldn’t wait to count the money. We made over $1,000 on Friday!!! Saturday was $800!!! Then, some other people slipped us some checks at church. Needless to say, I cried through the entire church service in overwhelming adoration and thankfulness to the Father.

If you’re keeping track…

We needed $1,500 after the grant. We raised over $1,800 with the Yard sale. Current fee paid with leftover to start our savings for our next fee (they are never-ending!)

~We finally received our invitation to be fingerprinted. We were scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday….in Atlanta. That’s 2.5 hours from our house. Nothing like a daytrip to Atlanta for fingerprinting with 2 littles in tow. (Jonah stayed with my college roommate that lives in Atlanta while we did fingerprinting. Asher had to go with me since he’s nursing.) I’m not sure if everyone else canceled their appointments because it was Black Friday or if God knew I really needed it to be a breeze, but we didn’t have to wait at all. The place was a ghost town and we waltzed right through. It’s a good thing, too. Asher decided he was hungry and screamed the entire time I got fingerprinted.

~We still had some leftovers from the yard sale that we couldn’t seem to get rid of. We had the hardest time getting in touch with the local thrift stores and then some of them didn’t want some of the stuff. (Imagine that!) As we prayed about what to do with the 13 desks leftover (Yes, you read that right, 13 desks!) I remembered that I used to pass a used office furniture store on my way to work downtown when I was a teacher. I looked them up in the Yellow Pages and called them. Long story short, they came and BOUGHT 7 of the desks! More money for our adoption fund!

~Some of the most humbling parts of our story have been when we’ve received donations from our friends and family. Sacrificial gifts that bring us to tears. It’s happened a few times now, and I cannot tell you how humbling it is. To know that people love our child enough already that they’d help us in such a big way leaves me speechless. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” because it literally takes a village to bring a child home, too. I’m so glad that some of my friends are being the village and not just looking at us with blank stares when we talk about our adoption. Adopting can be lonely at times, but I’m so glad that some of our friends are trying to “get it” even when they might not fully “get it.” The trying…that’s what counts in my book.

And don’t even get me started on the yard sale donation from a complete stranger. That, my friends, is a complete God-thing. A mind-blowing, cold chills, speechless, God-thing. The way He uses others to provide for us is nothing short of amazing.

~So where are we currently?

  • We’re waiting on our USCIS approval. After we get this, we can send in our Dossier to Ethiopia. In the meantime, we’re working on our Dossier so it will be ready to go when we’re approved.
  • We’re still saving and raising funds through my Etsy Shop sales.
  • We’re planning a big fundraiser through Both Hands Foundation for the Spring. The timing of things just wasn’t conducive to fit in a Both Hands project before Winter.
  • We’re resting in peace with God’s plan that has been revealed to us. We’re not scurrying around like so many adopting families tend to do. We’re very sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading us to wait and let Him work. He is providing for His calling…and doesn’t need us to do things on our own.
  • We’re praying fervently for our little one. During the month of December we felt especially burdened for her, even Jonah in his own 4-year-old way. (I can’t wait to look back at her timeline in her file and see what was going on during the times we felt burdened to pray for her.)

Shew…thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end! I told you it was long and amazing! Thanks to my friend Becky for calling me out on Facebook and requesting an update :)

My Favorite Family Portrait…

One of the pictures I didn’t share yesterday when I talked about the “My” Sight Word Book Jonah and I made together was this…

Family Portrait

Did you catch it? Look closely…

Did you see those extra bodies on the right hand side?

You see, even though our family TECHNICALLY looks like this (atleast for the next few hours/days until I give birth)…

family

Jonah sees it much differently.

When he thinks of our family, he already includes little brother on the way and sister from afar.

And that, my friends, makes this momma’s cup runneth over.

Because he gets it….he really gets it.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 ~ Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another…

Treasures For You…

Since I’ve been posting about Jonah’s Pirate Birthday Party, it’s only natural that I share a few hidden treasures with you! Trust me, we’ll be back to the the last of the Pirate Party details soon…

Treasure #1:  I posted over at The MOB Society about the Hidden Treasure we’ve found over the past 10 months. I’d love it if you came over to visit and support me over there! And no, it has nothing to do with the pirates!
Mothers of Boys

Treasure #2:  I’ve got another blog post up at Totally Tots! This time I posted about “The Funny Font Book” and how to address some of those “funny letters” that confuse kids when they come across a different font than they are used to. Also, it includes a FREE download for readers!

totally tots

Treasure #3:  The other site I write for, Pennies & Blessings, is hosting a giveaway bash all week! There are some great prizes, including one from my shop on Saturday (8-13-11). Be sure to head over there each day to enter!

Pennies and Blessings