Sunday, December 31, 2017

A journey in 2017


THIS was the year...THE year that I KNEW we would bring home our baby girl. The year is over, and she is not with us yet...but GOD led us along the way.

Let me start at the beginning...

Our paperwork entered Colombia in January 2017. (YES, the MOUNTAINS of paperwork!) My strategy to bring this sweetie home was to BUST-IT. I mean, if I got a set of papers to complete, I attempted to complete it within 48 hours. With VERY few exceptions, ALL the papers, tests, studies, research, books, questions, applications, photos, and various what-nots were completed on our end in JUST. TWO. DAYS. 

SOOOOOO....2017 was a CRAZY year of me prioritizing adoption stuff and interrupting my regular routines. In hindsight, this didn't HAVE to happen, but I FELT like it would speed up our process. Through this year of waiting.....hurrying around.....and waiting more, God has give me SO. MUCH. GRACE (along with my kids and husband!)

Many days in 2017, I was annoyed, angry and impatient with my kids, husband, students and co-workers. Besides the regular stress of life, I put on myself this 2 day limit thing. Many days, I snapped or yelled because I was frustrated with an obstacle in our adoption's way.

If you saw me in 2017 in person, you PROBABLY heard about a hiccup, delay or snag in the process. Please forgive me if I was calloused. Our journey this year was heartbreaking at times.

Well, some people have reflected on the year TODAY or this weekend, but I've been reflecting SINCE SEPTEMBER 26. Yes, that was the day we got a call about our Colombian daughter (name to be shared when we can!).  In the early days of our match and in October, I reflected on our life as a family of four and dreamed of her joining us. I reflected on the possible medical and emotional obstacles we might have to overcome as she joins our family. I dreamed of the homecoming and enjoyed the task of travel details, packing lists, and planning for Christmas super early.

Our days crawled as additional details and paperwork stalled in the process. We waited, and waited and waited. Shoot, we are STILL waiting! The great news is that THROUGH the waiting God gave us glimpses of hope, joy and peace.

In November, I was DONE Christmas shopping for teachers, family and friends. I relaxed into Thanksgiving, knowing that we hoped to travel "soon." We stayed at home and had a small Thanksgiving with the boys. It was amazing. We slept in (until 8am! woop) and watched the parade, bought a turkey from our fav meat place, and made a couple sides. 

In December, I was SO ready that we said "NO" to nearly everything. Can we travel ____? No. Are we available to do ___? No.  Can we attend ____? No, we really don't know our schedule, and we hope to be out of the country.

Our adoption journey has been isolating and lonely at times, and so I tensed up at saying "No" to everything. It wasn't that I didn't want to plan things three weeks in advance, but I REALLY didn't know where in the world we would be located. God really blessed us, though.

Our December was OH. SO. PEACEFUL. Of course, you might have read how I cried when I wrapped all these excellent (and a few extra) gifts for the boys. BEING here for Christmas was great. The boys loved shopping for each other, wrapping gifts, making cookies for neighbors and, of course, UNWRAPPING presents on Christmas Day. I LEANED in to knowing that God HAS this. My two day hustle rule was thrown out the window, and I saw the adoption through my kids' eyes. It was beautiful. 

God constantly showed us that we were on the right path, that HE is leading as we discern His will in our lives and he BLESSED us...immensely. We leaned MORE on God, we grew closer as a family who is led by God, and we build others up in their waiting.  I love this part of the "Oceans" song by Hillsong.
     Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
     Let me walk upon the waters
     Wherever You would call me
     Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
     And my faith will be made stronger
    In the presence of my Savior

We are walking upon the waters and wandering with God by our side. We are waiting and patiently listening for whispers of His will in our life journey. Many times throughout 2017, I had a false idea of when the adoption would be "over." I really thought my worries, fretting and hiccups would be done when: our paperwork was reviewed and approved, when we received HER sweet name, or when we received our immigration approval. 

In reality, our journey is EVER ongoing! When she arrives, we have love and bonding, medical appointments, and--you know it--MORE paperwork. We have language obstacles, learning opportunities and medical issues to explore. Our adoption of our sweet Colombian girl has and will ALWAYS impact our life and journey as parents and I am SO. VERY. THANKFUL!

Oh goodness, thank you for reading, praying, journeying, caring, loving and listening to our family as we walk in God's will to adopt this babe. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wrapping and Weeping

I wrapped presents for over two hours today...and while wrapping, I wept. 

I cried for the unknown, for the possibility of not being able to see the JOY when the boys open the gifts they have been waiting for quite a while, and for the possibility of NOT having our daughter home for Christmas. I also cried for the great blessings God has poured on us, shared with us and given us even though we don't even deserve it! We are truly blessed!

God has been whispering messages of love and encouragement in our hardest struggle with our adoption yet. We KNOW who our girl is....but we can't see, talk or enjoy her love.... yet.  I heard in a few different ways this week....that GOD's WAY is the BEST way, even when we think otherwise.

Putting on the Star, A coveted role.



My 8 year old, E, wanted a special surprise this week. What he DIDN'T know is that I had an even BIGGER one planned. So when I told him "No." it took a lot of restraint for me to NOT share the secret, fun and BIGGER surprise.

These kids sure know how to teach a mama. Here is E ice skating for the first time! He fell SO many times, and just got back up and went again!


I heard God in my head...He said, SEE....I KNOW the best timing for your baby girl. No matter how hard you try to organize, overnight files, plan ahead and push the timing for her arrival.....I'VE GOT SOMETHING BIGGER AND BETTER.

I also had a hard week with immigration and a piece of our file was missing. I really pride myself on double, triple and quadruple checking, but something had to have happened to our missing document. Either way, I cried again.  I really cried because I have been reminded SO many times that this is GOD'S TIMING....and yet I try to do it within my ability. I keep turning to HIM and he keeps forgiving me for thinking I can actually control it.

See the PORTION of our adoption paperwork....KINDA organized at the moment!



Lots of time to reflect and indulge in just the sweet sweet time I have as a mom of only boys....until sweet baby girl comes home. This part of the journey is NOT easy, but I am joyful that our daughter will be with us soon.

Next steps, awaiting immigration approval....then TRAVEL!~

Please keep us in your prayers. For ALL. THE.THINGS!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In the waiting....

Hello happy followers! A brief update and then some fun for this Lent season!

  • Our paperwork is being translated in Colombia! Woot! 
  • We await ONE final piece, our immigration approval to add to the translated stack before we await the committee to review our Dossier. THIS IS GREAT NEWS! 
This also means, we wait.....and wait.....and wait. We wait for God's timing in many, many aspects of this adoption process. While praying this week, I was reminded that God calls us to serve in the waiting. We shouldn't JUST be waiting....because the waiting is apart of this process.

photo from @myhearthiswords
Isiah 30:18 says...Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! (NIV).

I've decided to take the challenge of 40 bags in 40 days! An amazing decluttering idea during Lent season. It just so happens that while Jesus waited to return to the Father, we wait for our daughter. I KNOW my sweet husband will be really thrilled to hear that I am taking on a declutter challenge. Personally, I LOVE me some amazing, stacked, colorful and organized clutter! However, its pretty hard to function as a family with tons of piles (its important stuff though!) and things our family doesn't use. SO....I am starting a declutter challenge.  I would love to have you join in!

PLUS, if you clear out some sections in your home and sell on a swap or at a local event, you can DONATE towards our adoption expenses online here!

I hope to post a weekly update on the number of bags and the $$ we have made towards adoption through selling our nice items on a local swap site on THIS blog. Plus, I will share photos on Facebook of the bags and the whole family helping out!  I would love to have you join in too!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We are APPROVED!!!!!!!!!!!



We are APPROVED! Our home study was just approved by our agency, All God's Children and our local certified provider, Lutheran Children and Family Services. We certainly have been TALKING about this for a while, but wasn't sure if it would happen in 2016! I've been busting it to try to get this approval (and sending TONS of follow up emails and phone calls!)

What does this mean you might ask???

This means that we can.....

  • Send our notarized home study and additional dossier documents for Missouri to APOSTILLE (read about that process here!) In short, it is the NOTARY's BOSS, certifying/checking on the legitimacy of the notary. (Just apart of the process :) 
  • After the apostille, we can send off our Dossier to All God's Children for translation! (They send it to Colombia experts!) We have been WORKING working working on the Home Study AND Dossier at the same time. Translation takes a bit.....4-6 weeks, I believe.
  • With an approved home study, we can also apply for our Immigration. This takes an average of 2 months.
  • After translation is complete, immigration is approved/signed and all these are sent to our agency--we are OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL in the eyes of the Colombian Government! I'm anxiously awaiting THAT part too! (Don't worry, you will hear about it!)
  • AND, all at the same time, an official home study approval ALSO means we can apply for grants, loans and fundraising opportunities through adoption non-profits.
How can you help!? PRAY for favor and speed in the paperwork, for our female child for health and protection. For endurance, as this is ONE small step in an international adoption! We have a LOT more to go! For our hearts to wait. God has a plan, but we are SO excited. To be patient in HIS time. For provisions, planning and coordinating in this process.
You can also DONATE to our online GoFundMe page. We have big goals and have been saving, but you can help us out too! AND, support us on our next ONLINE opportunity (more details around Jan 1, 2017!) LOVE on us! Babysit for free, send us notes of encouragement, or take us out to coffee. This adoption is like another full time job, we need rest and filling up too!

We pray you had a blessed Christmas and for a safe and Happy New Year!
~Stephanie 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Winner Winner......



Thanks for all the love and support! We drew TWO awesome prizes (need to see the Facebook live event!? Check it out here!)



The winner drawn for the Netflix for a year is Holly B. from St. Louis City (ticket #067)!  Congrats Holly and family!


OR


The GRAND prize drawn was a sweet gal who bought just ONE ticket!!! She found me at church and said, I've got enough for one...here ya go! 

Congrats Jess and Brett D. (ticket #275) in St. Louis! 


We really, really, really thank you all for supporting us, praying for us and asking about our adoption. We are JUST beginning, but know that GOD has a big plan for our family and an orphan girl in Colombia. 



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Raffle Drawing & Adoption UPDATE

Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Community!

Thanks for supporting our adoption raffle. We will draw LIVE around 7pm central on Facebook. Make sure to friend Steph or Jerret to see it (we will post the recording too!).  Winners will also be posted on our blog here!

We have JUST a handful to tickets left, and we are SO thankful for your support! We hope the winners can have their prize in time for Christmas!

QUICK Adoption update: Our home study is in draft form and being edited! Yahoo! We are so excited. Our Dossier (the official paperwork for Colombia) is in many pieces, but is coming together well. After the home-study is approved, we get some immigration pieces done and then the Dossier will be sent for translation and to a committee for approval. The translation and approval is estimated at a 2-3 month waiting period.

Our timeline and expectations are always changing. We know God has BIG plans for our family, this little girl and this process. Some days it feels like we are almost there, other days we hear of the Colombian government updating their procedures that could lengthen our process. We know that God provides and are continuing to pray for the little girl who will come to her forever home with us!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue along this amazing journey!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shrimp Boil Fundraiser RECAP

Just an update, we had a BLAST at the Shrimp Boil fundraiser. We are SO thankful for ALL who came to eat, chat and support us in our adoption.
We appreciate you!
We made $970 at the event! What a blessing!
We are another step closer to our fundraising goal!

I was so busy, I forgot to take (a lot) of photos...Here are a couple I managed to grab!

It's NOT too late to support our adoption! Check out our GoFundMe page!

We had some photos and details about our adoption! Thanks to ASHLEY for
setting it up and making it look cute :) 
A LOT of details went into this event, and we had to keep humor on our side!
We had a blast pulling it all together with my dad, Lummy. 
IN ACTION! These two (and Billy!) cooked their hearts out!

Double Trouble IN and OUT of the kitchen!

A sweet lady helped us keep the customers happy! 

SIBLING love :) We worked together and didn't fight. Haha. LOVE YOU bro!