Yardsales, Court Updates, and More!

(written by him)
7/28 was our big fundraising yard sale for Sweet Girl. Before I get into how that went, its been a while since we had a blog entry so let me fill you in on all thats been happening… its been an odd feeling since returning from our first trip and meeting Sweet Girl.
Now there is a person attached to the name and an understanding of her personality and some fond memories. I find most of my time contemplating what the return visit will be like. Will she remember us? Will we pick up right where we left off with big hugs and flying leaps or step back to square one with caution and timidness? Sweet Girl’s orphanage appears to receive missionary visitors on occasion, so I’m sure she’s used to new faces coming into play with her and her groupa, but she probably never has experienced the same faces returning, let alone returning just for her. I continually wonder if she realizes we are her parents, that she ultimately will be leaving with us to start her new and loving life, or if all the excitement is centered around having new attention from outsiders. But either way, I’m comforted by the thought of seeing her smiling face again, no matter the reason.Last time, once we got back from eastern europe, it took some time to readjust to our normal schedule and become reintegrated with the life we left on hold. The twins were thrilled to see us! Both their grandmother and school informed us they had become increasingly more curious and wondering where we were as the week went on and our few Skype interactions brought out the biggest smiles in them.

We had returned just in time for July 4th holidays. Our family has made a tradition of spending this holiday unplugged and relaxing in the NC mountains with close friends and family, so we barely got home and settled before packing up the entire family to head for an extended weekend away. Because we had just returned from a weeks vacation traveling to meet Sweet Girl, we weren’t able to afford any additional time off from our respective jobs for our annual trip. Thankfully my job occasionally offers me the flexibility of working remotely where I was able to remain in the mountains with the girls, while she unfortunately had to put on some extra miles and return to town for work on Thurs and Fri. The girls enjoyed the thin mountain air and getting to experience the lake. We couldn’t help but imagine Sweet Girl joining us for our very next July 4th celebration… what would be her reaction getting to experience mountains for the first time?

After returning from the holiday weekend, we finally got settled back into our normal routine and an eerie silence. Since we had worked overtime leading up to our first trip, we had completed our court dossier in addition to our registration dossier and were able to travel with it and hand it over to our facilitator before returning home. With so much excitement and activity, its odd to be sitting still, not having to gather some document, signature or stamp. Since leaving country, we had been waiting on some documents our facilitator had requested to come back from the capital before she would be able to complete our court dossier and register us for a court date. With summer vacation, this took almost a month.  Just as things appeared to quiet down, we got word that our faciliator had received the waiting documents and spoken to the courts in Sweet Girl’s town… we would be allowed to formally submit our court dossier on Aug 8th! I’m not sure the reason for the delay, I believe it is a customary time for officials to take vacation around this time of year, so that might have had something to do with it. But at any rate, we had a date to look forward to that was less than 2 weeks away. To keep us occupied during that time, they mentioned some additional, non-standard documents that the courts in her region would require… we needed to collect 3 more. After collecting dozens and dozens, it seemed hardly a challenge. But we took several weeks and sort of ignored the not so fun part of adopting (paperwork and fundraising). We took our time and collected those and they went off to the facilitator and to be apostilled on Friday.

For some time since before our first trip, we had been collecting items from friends with the intention of holding a yard sale fundraiser. This would be our second large fundraiser after our online giveaway contest. We had several items around the home to sell and figured we could collect enough other items from friends and family to hold a yardsale. As our garage started to fill up with donations and the reality of traveling and expenses started to set in, it was time to pick a date. We hardly felt ready or prepared, but decided that picking a date would motivate us. Being that July was filling up fast having just returned from trip 1 and July 4th holday and August was starting to hold promise of our 2nd trip, we picked the last weekend in July, our 6 year anniversary weekend, giving us about 2 weeks notice to put together the yard sale. So we bought an ad in the local paper and locked us in. There was no turning back now!

Right up to the day before the yardsale, we were both unsure of how it was going to turn out. We had collected some items, but items didn’t really start to roll until there was less than a week left. It seemed every night the week of the event I was driving my truck to a new location to pick up donated items, a definite blessing, but frenzied all at the last moment. Then trying to source a substantial number of folding tables, clothing racks, and hangers to display items on was another challenge. Thanks to the Johnson’s and the Voigt’s for helping us out. We couldn’t have done it without them. And thanks to her mom for letting us have the yardsale in her front yard. It was an excellent location! All in all we raised about $1600!! Our goal was $800 so this doubled our expectations! It was a definite blessing, but reminded us that fundraising is tough and not for the meek! We took the camera, but never got a picture we were so busy!

We now have two last fundraisers:
1. A Christmas in July Auction – Yes, it’s August now, but this started in July! This is a joint effort of several families adopting from Sweet Girl’s country. You can see the items up for bid here: http://www.facebook.com/ChristmasInJulyAuction

To bid, just comment on the picture with your bid and at the end we will announce the winners and tell you where to pay. Then the person who donated the item will ship it to you! It’s loads of fun – like ebay for a good cause! The auction ends 8/12.

2. One of my friends from school has graciously set us up an account at indiegogo.com. We are understandably a little fundraised out, but we are excited to use this as our last push. There is a really awesome video of our first visit over there which is worth a look! You can see it here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Sweet-Girl . There are some great incentive’s for donations too!

AND, most importantly, pray for Vita this week (Wednesday or Thursday) – she is presenting our case to the judge and he will do a preliminary review of the documents and hopefully assign us a court date. I have talked to the only two other families who I know have adopted from this region and they both got about 2 weeks notice for court. This means that we could possibly travel as soon as 8/26!



+7 days

It’s been 7 days since we left your country. 10 days since we kissed your cheeks and said goodbye.It feels like it’s been a year, or more.
It feels like it was a dream, or maybe more appropriately, a nightmare. Where we got a wonderful week with you just to be ripped apart against our will.
It feels like we’ll never get back to you.

Our next trip will be for court. We’ll only get to see you 3-4 days for this trip too. We feel blessed that you live in the capital of your region so when we go for court we’ll get more time with you. We don’t know when court will be. We are hoping for August, but we’ve heard that lots of judges in other regions are taking August off.

I haven’t blogged all week because it’s painful. It’s hard to take myself back to you in my mind but know that it’ll be so much longer until we can come see you again.

I started selling little necklaces to help us raise the last little bit of money to bring you home.

Well, it doesn’t feel like a little bit, but compared to the whole total, it’s less. We started off thinking bringing you home would cost about $35,000. Wow, lots of money right? Well, when we got into it, we thought the total would be more like $45,000. But, now since we’re trying to bring you home in the summer, it’s going to be $55,000. Blah. Mama and Papa have wiped out all the easily accessible cash they had. And so many friends and your family have been trying to help too. We’ve come up with about $40k. We still need to find out where we can get $15k more. That’s only 600 necklaces 🙂

Since 600 necklaces is unreasonable, we’re also going to have 2 yard sales. One at grandma’s house and one at our friend Lesli’s house I think. I think we will try to do them on 7/21 and 7/28. We have had a few people give us some great stuff to sell, but we need lots more! Mama and Papa need to go through all their closets too and get more stuff! I’ve thought about going to the goodwill donation trailers at night and taking the donations people leave on the steps, but someone told me that was illegal. I don’t know where else to get donations of things to sell. It’s frustrating asking people for help when I feel like I am guilting them into helping.Maybe the yard sales will help us raise about $1000. Down to 560 necklaces, but I have a few more ideas of things we can try and sell. It’s hard to put myself out there for you when no one but your mama and papa love you this much. I’m so afraid I’m bothering everyone and they will love you less because your Mama and Papa harassed them for fundraisers. 

In other news..

On Tuesday night, Mama and Papa and Happy and Cranky are going to the mountains to see Annie for the 4th of July. The V’s are coming and so are the J’s. We hope to spend lots of time at the lake and eating good food! And it doesn’t hurt that all we have to bring is food and everything else is free.

See how much fun it looks! (Pics from last year)

Okay, well Cranky doesn’t look like she’s having fun here, but when we weren’t trying to get her into the water she loved it!

If you come home in September, then we will try to take a day trip to the mountains so you can see the house and the lake too. We have decided though that until at least Christmas we won’t have you spend the night anywhere but in your own house. We want you to feel secure and comfortable before we ask you to sleep in another bed.

Missing you sweet girl….

Why help?

You can also read this post to find out more about why we are raising money!

We heard from our agency last night that they think we will be travelling on June 17th. That’s 11 days. 11 days to organize PTO from work, request a visa to enter her country, book plane tickets, organize transportation, fill out hours of paperwork, pack, prepare gifts for the orphanage workers and Sweet Girl. Not to mention, prepare our house to leave for a week, catch up on laundry, prepare to leave Cranky and Happy and spend time with them so we can continue to be engaged and present parents before we rock their world by bringing home a sibling. Rather than do all those things, I’m worrying about where the money will come from.
So, you’ve been seeing my millions of updates on our giveaway, you’ve been clicking through to read about it and you’ve read some of the rest of the blog. Of the 1000 of you that have clicked, we have about a 2% entry rate. We’ve raised $725. That figure is pretty awesome, but if you add up everything we’re putting out for some of the larger prizes, we are barely over our break even point. $15 over actually. And then when you consider that we’re shipping prizes, we’re kinda in the red. Someone asked me today why their $5 mattered.  No, 1 donation of $5 won’t make much of a difference, but if the 1000 of you that have read about our giveaway would have donated $5 we’d have had $5000 to help us bring Sweet Girl home.
There is a story that has dozens and dozens of variations floating around out there called The Starfish Story. I think it’s premise applies here.

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.


As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.


He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”


The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”


The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”


To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”


Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”


The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.


I can’t save them all, but I’m trying to save one. One sweet little girl who without us will grow up in an orphanage. She will never be adopted in her country because of her special needs. She will be cast into the street and forgotten. She will become a statistic.
We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes. -David Platt
I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale


Is this you today? Did you feel like your $5 wouldn’t matter? Will you help us? All I am asking for is $5. But, I won’t complain if you can give more than that 🙂

Very belated status update!

So here’s where we are and why I haven’t been blogging. We’ve decided not to really tell our co-workers or extended friend group (that’d be Facebook) that we are adopting. Why? Well, because there are so many things that can go wrong, that we were scared of having to untell. And that’s why I haven’t been working on fundraising, etc either. But, soon enough that will change! We are planning a big raffle/giveaway on the blog and we’re planning a big yardsale (collecting donations and accepting volunteers!) in the next few months.

We will probably wait until we get a travel date and maybe until after our first trip to come out on facebook and start these things though. For so long it has just been his and my’s dream and she’s been this secret we’ve been keeping, but, I realized that this blog is just as much for sweet girl as it is for us. I want to be able to remember the process so I can put it into a book for her and tell her story.

So, since we were last here, we completed our homestudy. That was stressful and took longer than I expected, but it’s done. Our social worker is really nice, but it’s hard for me to remember that this is just a business to her and she’s not emotionally invested in sweet girl. We also compiled our registration dossier. Overall, I’m estimating that our registration dossier cost us about $2500 including the homestudy, medical exams, form filing fees, document copies, apostilles and shipping charges. Our agency says everything was great on that and as of Wednesday this week its on its way to EE (eastern europe – we aren’t really supposed to use sweet girl’s real name or country on our blog to protect the children). We also aren’t supposed to share pictures, but I’ve decided that if I’m not sharing her name or her country then I should be able to show the sweet girl we’re working towards! We sent electronic copies of all of the documents to Vita (who will be our in country facilitator) so she can start the translations. Hopefully by the time the documents get there, she will be done translating and can register us in our region. Once we are registered, they will give us a travel date of when we get to go meet Sweet Girl. We are hoping and praying that this will be in late June.

Also, we’re working on our court dossier. This is another set of documents that we will have to submit to the judge. We are almost done with that, but we are missing three things. First, our doctor’s medical license (which we have to submit a copy of) expires in June and since we don’t submit our court dossier until July, then it won’t be valid so we have to wait until he renews and get another copy of the license. Second, we filed our I-600a which is with the USCIS (Immigration). They review our application and our homestudy and then we have to go get fingerprinted with them and then they issue a ruling of whether we are allowed to adopt. We don’t think there will be any problems with this, but the process takes a couple of months. We are also waiting for the FBI to process fingerprints we took at our local Sheriff’s office and send us a letter stating that we have no criminal record. This takes several weeks as well.

Anyway, without further ado, let me introduce you to the piece of my heart I didn’t know was missing, Sweet Girl:

These were given to us by a new imaginary internet friend. I think they are the most recent ones that exist. Here’s another one: