I know by looking through our blog you haven't had a chance to read much about our actual journey or about our son, and it seems most of the focus has been on fundraising. I thought I would take a minute and shed some light on that...
One reason is that the country we are adopting from has very strict rules about what we can share about our son. While other families adopting from other countries have permission to share more photos and their children's names, we must wait a little longer to do so. I admit I have been a little nervous to share even the general details we are allowed to, for fear I would somehow say too much and break a rule or jeopardize everything we've worked so hard to accomplish. But happily the time to share is coming soon !!!
A second reason (for me, personally) has been that I feel hesitate to talk about the future when there are so many unknowns and adoptions can be disrupted at any point along the journey for numerous reasons. I have been afraid to say too much for fear of "jinxing" the entire process. As we get closer now to receiving our official referral, and to traveling, I am feeling it's time to share some of my personal feelings about our process as well as let you know where we are and what we still need prayers and support for.
So, while rather lengthy, I hope this post will help you understand our journey a little more and allows you a slight introduction to our precious, sweet boy whom we can't wait to bring home!
An Adoptive Mother's Reflections, as we get closer!
The hardest part of our adoption for me personally has been knowing I have a precious son who is in another country, thousands of miles away, currently with no language, with no way to communicate his needs, who is without his forever family. My husband and I long to be with him every minute of everyday and even though we've never met him, we miss him every minute of everyday. We go through each day with that void... as we spend time playing with our dogs, every trip to the grocery store or post office, every time we are out in the garden (which we are told he loves!), we envision him along side of us ~ playing, exploring, laughing, growing, thriving... and just being LOVED.
While I believe he is being well-cared for, he has gone the first 5 years of his life dealing with countless emotional traumas and losses, and coping with physical and developmental struggles pretty much alone. That can be tough on any child, let alone one who is Deaf and Autistic and cannot be told what is going on or be easily comforted or included. When I think of how difficult it must be for him to make sense out of his world, with limited skills, my heart absolutely breaks for him. I cannot wait to help him start making sense of all there is to enjoy and discover around him and just help him feel loved!
The Latin American country he lives in restricts adoptive families from sharing identifying photos, his name and other identifying information publicly in order to protect their children. This has been tough for me because we want everyone to meet our son and fall in love with him as much as we have! This will be our first adoption, and our first child together. We are so excited/thrilled/nervous just as all "expectant" parents find themselves. And naturally we want to share him with the entire world ASAP!
...and quite honestly I sometimes resent a little bit not being able to share his photos. I feel that if you could see his sweet face and put a name to his story, you may be more inclined to pray for our journey, share our story, or help however you can. I wish I could share more of him with you, I really, really do.
That being said, there are a few things I believe I CAN share with you... I can tell you he is a real boy full of energy, curiosity and innocence. I can tell you he has a favorite toy- a drum that lights up when he hits it. Like many kiddos he likes ice cream, playing in the sandbox and bubble baths. And he has mastered the art of tearing shiny pages out of magazines. :)
I can also tell you that our son is a miracle! A miracle and a fighter. He was born weighing just 2.2 pounds, then spent months in the hospital, and has had several surgeries in his short life (including major hip repair and receiving a cochlear implant). Prior to surgery he could not crawl or walk or explore his world much at all- and to see videos of him doing summersaults now at age 5 brings tears to my eyes every time.
What a tough kid! In this past year his ability to chew and swallow food has greatly improved as well, and he no longer has a limited diet of oatmeal and yogurt. :) Seeing how much he has developed in the past year brings us so much joy, and so much hope for what his potential will be once he has the 1:1 attention and undivided care he so much deserves.
When I think of what an emotional adjustment he will have this fall, my heart breaks all over again for him. While we have had over an entire year to prepare for him, he will in many ways have NO preparation, NO way for his loving caregivers to tell him all the ways his world is about to turn upside down, or that it will be for his own good eventually. While we know it will be for the better in the long run, he will most likely not being thinking that when he is torn away from all that is familiar and safe to him. I completely hate that dual role we will play in the process and that he may very well see us as the enemy. We know it will take time to regain his trust and bond. We ask daily for our Father in Heaven to prepare his heart for this huge change and upheaval.
Please, if you feel so inclined, include our son and his transition in your prayers, he so desperately needs them.
The next hardest part of this process has been all the hoops we've had to jump through, all the meetings and appointments, all the notarized documents, all the questions, reference letters, background checks, grant applications, all the stress and migraine-inducing paperwork. Simply thinking of it I can feel a headache coming on so I will just leave it at that. :/
The "last but certainly not least" hardest part of this adoption has been financial. (Insert deep, heavy sigh here). To be honest one of the reasons we had originally pursued adoption through the foster care system was the cost. We were hoping to make a difference and build a family, but also being realistic within our budget. But then while we were waiting for our state to start placing children in our home, we discovered our son! And it was one of those moments where you just KNOW. You know before you even see his eyes for the first time that this is THE ONE, THE CHILD... the one soul who you were meant to be responsible for and nurture and love with every ounce of your being. We were so excited and elated!
But... then we soon realized it would be an international adoption and the cost was a HUGE shock. Not only was he in another country, but it was one that required 5 weeks of travel involved when the time came to go get him. (This has since increased to 8 weeks!) This would be asking a lot as well. We clearly did not have the originally estimated $29,000 hidden in our sock drawer, nor did we have a long lost relative with money to burn. ;)
So first... we had to be sure we were willing to accept him with the list of challenges he had. We had sought out a child who was Deaf so that was not a deterrent for us. However, but he had a list of other developmental and cognitive delays, physical issues, and had been diagnosed as "moderately retarded." Regardless of all this, choosing him was the easiest part! We felt strongly we had each been led to him and prepared by God to provide this child with what he needed. We knew he was already our son. But then we had to realistically look at the cost. This would be a large expense and one we could not possibly pay on our own. Were we being naïve (or selfish?) to think this was doable? Was it even fair to others for us to commit to our son, knowing it really truly would take a village to bring him home? This decision was much tougher.
Before we committed to our son and this process, we did a lot of research for resources (adoption tax credits, adoption loans, grants, employer benefits, local resources, adoption blogs and fundraiser ideas, etc.). It was only after the extensive research, fasting & praying, and some encouraging developments that we felt confident (and incredibly blessed) to move forward and commit to our son. When we started out we had a plan A and plan B and plan C... I believe we are on plan E or F... (or perhaps L or M) now?
Trying to secure the funds ourselves, then having to try to raise the necessary funds, and then finally having to simply pray and depend on others to help us bring home our precious son has been TOUGH. When it's all said and done this process will have cost at least $40,000. I'm not ashamed to say that is more than either of us even makes in a year. It's quite daunting.
Although the financial side of it has been incredibly difficult, it has also been incredibly humbling and reminded us who is *definitely* at work behind the scenes. The fact that we have met every challenge and been able to somehow pay all the fees up until this point, and that we are now this close to meeting him and creating a family for him is nothing short of a miracle.
There is a well-known notion within the adoption world that anything that possibly CAN go wrong during your adoption surely WILL! I'm not just talking about the annoying, time-consuming red tape and paperwork mishaps that can drive you crazy. I'm referring to all the unplanned E$PEN$E$ you can think of, because you can pretty much be sure they WILL happen during your "paper pregnancy." We've been blessed with emergency dental work, car collisions, $1000 legal citation, basement flooding, heating system failure, a chimney fire, job loss/temporary layoffs, a death in the family, serious family illness, unexpected travel, $200 per paycheck increase in insurance premiums, mechanical failure with both cars, untimely replacement of cell phones and laptop, mishaps like locking keys in the car and our dog eating a hole in every pair of pants I own, lawn mower/riding mower both breaking down, mishaps with direct deposits, mishaps with school financial aid, replacing tires on both vehicles... these are just the ones that come to mind. Some were routine expenses that came along at the worst time; some were just annoying; some really set us back. Add to that all the adoption-related expenses such as $2500 for the required psychological evaluation (we were originally told $1000), the annual increases of legal/administrative fees, and the rejection of the first 5-6 grants we applied for... you can see how stressful the financial aspect can be.
If you are thinking of adopting I will also add at this point to be prepared financially for the amount you will find yourself donating to others you meet along the way. This is not a figure you will see on most "adoption budget" excel sheets, but it should be. You just can't help it- no matter how strapped you are and no matter how far from your own goals you may be, your heart will be touched by those on the same journey who are in an even tighter spot. Another unofficial truth within the adoption community is none of us can afford our own adoptions, but we all pitch in and miraculously help finance each other's. It just sort of seems to happen that way. But honestly these families all need help, and they are in the least ideal position to be supporting each other.
(Shameless plug: If you would like to discover a new way to make a HUGE difference, just ask me or check out Reece's Rainbow for starters! [See link at end of this post] If our story doesn't resonate with you, I guarantee you there is a family on RR that will pull at your heartstrings. If you share the belief that you will be blessed as you give, you will find countless opportunities to give and to be blessed in return).
So in spite of so many generous people, and lots of personal sacrifices, fundraisers, overtime, selling personal items, prayers, loans, maxed out credit cards, and grant applications... here we are, just a couple months away from going to FINALLY meet our son and BRING HIM HOME and we are still over $18,000 short of being fully funded.
The bright side is that we are closer to the finish line than I ever imagined we'd be 6-12 months ago. This is a miracle! So many people have made this happen. The majority of fees paid have been through donations and fundraisers. We will be forever grateful for each and every person who has somehow contributed to our adoption journey. There simply are no words to express what you have each been part of; you have truly and profoundly changed our son's life and given us the joy of parenthood we could not achieve ourselves. This realization and the countless acts if love shown on this boy's behalf have left me speechless pretty much on a daily basis.
Because of YOU we are now looking at a couple of short months and only $18,000 before we are a family. Because of you we now have children's books and toys and jammies and sippy cups that lay waiting to be used and enjoyed and appreciated. This alone is a dream come true.
I am honestly out of ideas of what to sell, what giveaways to offer, how best to appeal to your ability to help in the way you personally can. But the bottom line is we still need donations. And while this amount is completely overwhelming to me, I know it is not impossible. And I know there is someone reading this blog who can make it happen. I don't know if that is one amazing person, or 200 amazing persons joining forces and pennies together... Maybe it's you, maybe it's your coworker or neighbor or blog follower or kid's soccer coach or the lady who sits behind you in church... I really have no idea who. But can you please help by sharing our blog and our story? Can you please help us by praying it reaches the people who have already been prepared to help us bring our son home?
I know without a doubt we will be fully funded but I'm out of ideas to entice people. All of my friends and family have given time and time again throughout a year of fundraisers and pledging. If you are even the least bit touched by our story and can share it with those you know, please do so. You never know who may be in a position to help us. And whether you donate, share, or advocate, please continue to pray for us and our son. Thank you!
Our current needs:
Due any day now: $10,668
By August: approx. $8- $10,000
Thanks for sharing and for your continued prayers and support!
Below are two options for tax-deductible donations, or you can contact me for directions to mail a check to avoid PayPal fees or having to use the internet.
Reece's Rainbow - The Greene Family