Pages

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Perfection, daddies, and meeting our sassy girl

My favorite memory from adopting our sassy girl - as written a few months after it happened, but being shared now - almost 2 years later. Enjoy. :-)


When you start the adoption process, you spend a lot of time thinking about the moment you're going to meet your child. It all boils down to that moment. Maybe it's picture perfect for some people - I guess it has to be, since there seems to be plenty of videos circulating the internet, but I'll venture a guess that it's not that way for most people.  Anyway, I digress. So here's our story.

I was nervous, in a time zone 8 hours different from home, jetlagged, and I didn't sleep much at all the night before. Our day started at 6am when our facilitator picked us up for the drive. If my memory is correct, the drive from our apartment to our daughter's region was about 2 hours. And guess what? I get carsick! I honestly didn't even think it would be an issue because I rarely get carsick at home - the roads are straight and smooth and I sit in the front seat. However, in the back seat of a car on bumpy roads is a recipe for me feeling like I'm going to puke all day. So, here I am exhausted, nervous, and nauseous. First stop - the regional social worker's office, where we met the woman whose approval we had to have for our adoption, who then rode with us for the hour drive to the orphanage.

At the orphanage we were ushered into a room and we were surrounded by staff, the social worker, and our facilitators. Then they brought in this little girl - she was ALL OVER THE PLACE. She was in constant motion. No attention, no focus, impossible to reign in. It was as if they had let her out of a cage and she felt she had to move constantly to expend the pent up energy. Forget eye contact or connection or "here are your parents" or picture perfect moments. She was tiny and wild and completely locked in her own world. And while we were trying to take this all in, the staff was bombarding us with information about her and none of it was good. The list of medical concerns was long and scary. Our facilitators told us we didn't have to make a decision today, to take our time. Our translator asked us if we could really help her - not in a rude way, but I think in honest curiosity, because her needs were a lot. A lot. I was nervous & I'll admit that for a little bit I was scared. It was a Thursday and they had told us to visit each day & let us know on Monday. I thought that was a prudent plan. But my husband, he saw it differently. He thought waiting until Monday to file the commitment paperwork was crazy. He was ready before our visit even ended. It was a done deal.

You see, for about an hour, everyone left us alone and the nannies bundled up V and sent us outside because they said she likes it outside. When we got outside she calmed. Now don't get me wrong, she was still wild, but she was different. We were able to coax out some interaction and brief moments of eye contact. We were able to connect, even if very briefly. We were able to see that she CAN interact, she CAN connect. I remember that first moment of eye contact and it blew me away. Yet I was still scared - I still wondered if waiting to commit was a good choice. But not my husband - he was brave. He was bold. He was her daddy.

I don't want it to sound like I was on the fence. I was all in; but on that day, the fear and exhaustion took over. The reality of her needs was overwhelming. I learned something about my husband that day - there is no limit to what he will do for his family. He will march fearlessly forward despite the crazy odds. He told the facilitator to file the paperwork before the car had left the orphanage. He told me that she couldn't be more perfect if she ran up to him, jumped in his arms, and said "Daddy!" You guys, they told us they thought she couldn't hear well, couldn't see well, maybe had a heart condition, had seizures, was completely nonverbal, was cognitively an infant and wasn't learning, couldn't chew, couldn't feed herself or perform any self care, wasn't potty trained, had constant tics, and the list seemingly went on forever. She was bald, tiny, hyper, and hard to connect with.

My husband's description of her: She's perfect.

I have never loved that man more than I did that day.


As I sit here and write this I realize, that's how our Heavenly Father is to us. I could write a book about the things that are wrong with me, yet God says: you're perfect. You could probably make a long list of the things that are wrong with you - God says: you're perfect. I pray that you can see that, and I pray that I can see that, because sometimes I can't.

I also pray for the orphans left behind. I pray that there may be a day where they all have an earthly father who thinks they are perfect, but also that until that day, that they will all come to know their Heavenly Father, who loves them and sees perfection.

In case you are curious, many of the things about V were true. However, since coming home, she has defied all of our expectations. We have learned that there was a bright, spunky little girl locked inside with no way to communicate, and we love watching her blossom. She still has lots of challenges, but all of us, including her siblings agree - she's perfect. 




Friday, August 4, 2017

The Summer Slump - ask me if I care

Ahhh... summer is ending.

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

On one hand, I will miss my kiddos when they go back to school.

On the other hand... WILL THEY EVER GO BACK SO I CAN FINALLY GET THIS HOUSE CLEAN AND SIT DOWN FOR 30 SECONDS!?!?!?!

I have 2 kids with disabilities. They have nice, thick IEPs (because of course we want them to have lots of goals so they make lots of progress, right?) The staff has probably spent too much of their own summer preparing for my complicated children. During the school year I will spend entirely too much of my time working with the school on these things. In short - a whole team of us dedicates a whole lot of time and energy into making sure these kids are learning, are happy, and are integrated into the school as best we know how. I'm eternally grateful for this opportunity.

Sometimes in this laser focus, we get one thing wrong. And it's THE ONE THING that is most important. I have kids with disabilities, not disabilities with kids. They are kids first. Really, they are just kids. Who happen to have some differences and support needs.

They are still just kids.

So, the other day I ran into one of the girls' paraprofessional from school (AMAZING woman, for the record - answer to my prayer!), and she asked how my sassy one was doing. Has she learned any more signs over the summer? (Because language is at the root of all of our goals. You know, those goals that was my obsession ALL. YEAR. LONG.)

As I answered, I became a little panicked. NO. SHE HASN'T! OH MY GOODNESS, SHE HASN'T GAINED MORE THAN A COUPLE OF WORDS. I HAVE WASTED AN ENTIRE SUMMER!

I felt defeated. I suddenly began to look back on the goals that I had set for both of the girls for the summer - we weren't very far on any of them. I AM OBVIOUSLY THE WORST MOM IN HISTORY!

Then I took a deep breath, focused, and remembered this one fact. My daughters are kids first.

Do I spend all summer working on carefully scripted goals for my neurotypical kids? NO.

Is everyone else and their "normal" kids working on goals all summer? NO

What are their non-disabled peers doing all summer? Swimming, playing outside, vegging out in front of the TV, visiting grandparents, going on vacation.

What did my children (who happen to have disabilities somewhere down on the list of their personal attributes) spend their summer doing? Swimming, playing outside, vegging out in front of the TV, visiting grandparents, going on vacation.

NAILED IT. We rocked this summer!

Was it a waste? No. What did we learn? That family is more important than school. (This is super important for Ms. Sassy, who is still learning what family means) That we can go on vacation, change our routine, and then come back and resume routine and nobody will die. (Those of you with routine-driven kids will get it. lol) How language is used in a family, how to count out silverware for the family, how to help with household tasks, how to sing every song from Moana. The girls learned what it feels like to bury their legs in the sand, how to walk up and down the pool ladder, how to ask Daddy to throw them in the air one. more. time. They created memories with their brothers, they met new friends. Ms. Sassy started coming up to me & her daddy and just sit on our laps. She learned to just be, and to snuggle, and to seek out our love. No words needed.

These things are important.

These things are the stuff life is made of.

This is such a natural concept with our kids who don't have disabilities - why is it so hard to let go of the goals for my kids with disabilities?

This summer I let go. I let my kids with disabilities just be kids. I forgot about the disability completely. I laid my goals down.

This school year I will walk in and the professionals will ask how it went. They will be ready for the new list of words the girls have learned and the new list of skills they have gained so the awesome progress can be integrated into the school day. This year I will resist the urge to stress out about minimal progress over the summer. I will ignore the pit in my stomach as I brace myself for the judgement of professionals as I say we had no measurable progress. This year I will be proud of our lack of progress. (Side note: I'm not calling anyone out here, the professionals probably don't worry about it half as much as I do - but this judgement is often perceived by us parents)

This summer I did something bold and brazen - I gave my kids permission to JUST BE KIDS.

I didn't measure or quantify anything. I hung out with my kids. I can't measure their progress this summer. Yes, they made progress. They learned skills. EVERY child learns skills just by being part of family life - chores, vacations, conversations. They are learning all day, every day. That is just what kids do. We don't make lists for our "typical" kids, so we don't have to constantly make lists for our kids with disabilities. ("typical put in quotes because I'm not even sure what "typical" is)

So today, friends, let's band together and do this one radical thing: Let's let our kids with disabilities actually, truly be kids first. Let's let ourselves just be parents first. At least for a little while.

And that is exactly why I don't care about the summer slump.

To the staff at the school: sorry/not sorry.

To my kids: This summer rocked! Let's do it again next year.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Strong Mom

In this whole "parenting a child with a disability" world, I am a strong mom.

I am the mom who boldly declares that my child is "fearfully and wonderfully made", even after cleaning poop off the walls for the 5th time that week. I'm the mom that gives staring strangers a smile or eye roll and moves on without them phasing me. I'm the mom that professionals forget to sugar coat things with. I'm the mom that doesn't need much support, I'm fine.

So yesterday I was out with my Bug, who by all accounts is mostly an average 18 month old - except she's in a 7 year old's body and has some other fun complications.

So, we're in the big, fancy city 4 1/2 hours from our piece of paradise 15 miles from nowhere. She's tired, out of her comfort zone, just finished a doctor visit (which she hates), and I'm currently dragging her through as many errands as possible. Gotta get everything done while we're in the city! She's not happy with this plan. And she's not very verbal, so we're not sitting down for tea and telling me she's unhappy - she's screeching randomly and refusing to walk, except for occasionally taking off to go stare awkwardly at old men, who are largely missing the fact that they are supposed to smile and blow kisses like Papa does. ;-)

After an hour or so of this, I'm exhausted and my back hurts. I'm also emotionally exhausted. Sometimes I forget the emotional load of this life. I'd been working to get into this appointment for almost a year, I had a huge list of questions, and I wasn't sure if I would even be taken seriously. And then I was taken seriously and scheduled for follow up, and then I found myself wishing that there was no reason for follow up. Because, you know, follow up is because of medical concerns. And nobody actually WANTS medical concerns.

 And then there's the whole emotional exhaustion of trying desperately to figure out what she wants. She's screeching, I know she's not happy, I can see she wants or needs something - but she can't tell me what. So I'm trying to coax words out and prevent a total meltdown, but I know the words won't come while she's frustrated. Some days raising a non-verbal child is just exhausting. It is.

We get to Target; and after a fun meltdown she's in the basket and we're looking at clothes for her in relative calm. A woman comes up to me and stops me. She looked me in the eyes and tells me "I just want to tell you that you're doing a good job. You are doing a good job."

I was mostly speechless, but she told me she saw I was having a hard time, she's a fellow special needs mom, and she understands. And then she handed me a Starbucks gift card and told me she wanted me to take a break. And she left.

And that's the story of how I cried like a baby in the little girl's clothing section of Target. Because, you know, sometimes I'm not the strong mom. Sometimes I'm the exhausted, frazzled, mom who is completely overwhelmed by this hard life I've been given. I'm so thankful that the strong mom took time to lift me up.

That 5 minute exchange and gift card was one of the most powerful things to happen to me in a long time.

Go lift someone up today. Life is hard, and we're in this together.

For the record, when we were leaving town I gave Bug her favorite drink so she'd be happy for awhile, ran through the Starbucks drive through, cranked up my favorite radio station, and drank the best darn Starbucks I've ever had. And I found rest, even in the middle of the long drive home.

Thank you strong mom for lifting me up yesterday. You are a world changer.




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

One year free.

Wow. Today marks one year since V left the gates of the orphanage forever. On one hand, it's hard to believe it's been one year. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that she's only been in our home for a year - she is so firmly interwoven into the fabric of our lives, we can't believe we ever lived without her.

This has been hands down one of the hardest years of my life. It has also been one of the most beautiful. If you're thinking - "She can't complain about it being hard, she CHOSE this life", you can just stop that train of thought right there. You're right. I chose this. It doesn't make it less hard. I'm not a saint, I don't have endless energy, and I don't have all of the answers. I'm just an ordinary, flawed mom who dared say yes to God, no matter what it cost. That doesn't make me any less exhausted, but it does make me enjoy the beauty along the way.

One year ago today I left the orphanage with a scared toddler-like little girl. We didn't really know what we were getting into. We thought she might have some hearing loss and some vision loss, and we knew there was a chance that cognitively she may never advance past this toddler-ish stage, but we boldly claimed hat we could change her life, and we brought her home on faith. Along the way we learned that she's deaf, and since they didn't sign she had no access to language communication while in the orphanage; and that she's legally blind without her glasses, so she also wasn't seeing a whole lot either. There were a few more surprises, but those are enough to complicate her life significantly!

Today I put a beautiful, vibrant little girl on the school bus. She ate breakfast independently, helped dress herself, went potty (she's potty trained now! Woot!), insisted that I send her chocolate milk instead of plain milk, and climbed into the bus. One year home the little girl that orphanage staff said wasn't learning is using ASL, is potty trained, feeds herself, helps set the table and clean up her toys, and a million other little things that are amazing. In the last year we have had what seems like a million doctor appointments - many of them 300 miles away. We have had orphanage behaviors, meltdowns, tantrums, surgeries, lost tons of sleep, and a million other stressful things. We have exhausted ourselves continuously - emotionally, financially, and physically. It has been HARD. But for every hard moment, we have seen a miracle - financial miracles, miracles in her life, beautiful transformation in the hearts of others around us. We took in a child who was very difficult - everyone who met her prior to adoption pretty much thought we were crazy. And she has melded into our family seamlessly, and BLOSSOMED.

At the end of this tough year I will say this: We knew what we were signing up for. We knew this would be hard. We knew we would see big changes in her, but we've been blown away by this little girl and all that she has accomplished. We've been blown away the people who have risen up to help us, and by our family's unconditional acceptance of the craziness we chose to bring into their lives. We learned that spiritual warfare is real. (I used to think it was some hokey crap all of the "crazy church people" believed in, but now I know I probably just wasn't doing anything bold enough for Satan to be too terribly worried about me. Now I know what it's like when he tries a full-court press, and that's how I know this girl is destined for greatness - Satan's desire to keep her locked away!) We've also been blown away by how hard it is to exhaust yourself over and over, how many miles we've driven in search of answers, how incredibly complicated it is to educate a deaf and visually impaired child, how many people told us it will be impossible to educate her in our rural area, how many rabbit trails we've had to chase to find answers, and how expensive it is to chase these leads and drive across the state a million times.

At the end of this year, my reflection is this:

Freedom has never been free. I am happy to have paid the cost for her freedom.

Redemption has never been easy. I am happy to have carried the weight of the struggle for her redemption. Christ died for our redemption - I have done nothing for her in comparison to what Christ has done for me.

She is worth it. She is worthy. Loved. Cherished. Every child on this planet deserves to be cherished, no matter what the cost is.

To those who donated or helped with fundraisers to help us bring her home; helped with meals, clothes, or the million other things it takes to make a family work; have invested in our lives in the last year; and have loved and prayed for us - thank you. You made this happen. We couldn't have done this alone. Every single part matters. You are part of a redemption story that is just beginning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Worn.

It has been a long time since I've blogged. Our sweet princess V has been home just about 6 months now, and things are going incredibly well. She is blossoming, we all adore her, and life is good. I'll update more on her later.

Despite how incredibly well everything has gone, this has been one of the most exhausting times in our life. There are many factors, but it boils down to the fact that even incredibly amazing change is still stressful.

About the 5 month mark I became exhausted. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I made several trips with V within a short time period, and had to leave the other kids at home. Another big part was the sheer weight of all of the medical and educational decisions that we've made in the last 6 months. I was done. I needed rest. I was worn.

On the way home from the most recent trip, the song Worn came on. I thought - "Oh man, I need this song! I'm so worn!" I love this song. I've felt so worn many times, and it has always ministered to me.

I turned it up and sang along. "I'm tired, I'm worn... I know that you can give me rest...."

And then the chorus came on.

"Let me see redemption win,
let me know the struggle ends,
that you can mend a heart that's frail and worn.
I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life"

And that's when I saw it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked back into the back seat, and saw her  sitting there with a drink and bag of M&Ms, like a normal little girl. A child who couldn't feed herself 6 months ago sitting in the back seat of the car feeding herself the snack that she picked out by herself at the store.

I saw living, breathing proof that redemption wins. A heart learning to mend. Her smile is a testament to the song rising from a once broken life.



If you're in the trenches right now, if life has you bogged down, if there seems to be no end in sight, let me tell you this: redemption wins. Love wins. God wins.

I often think about how perfectly V fits into our family and how impossible it would've been for us to have found her. Only God could've led us to a specific little girl in an orphanage in a little village in a country we knew very little about. Only God could've chosen a child who fits so wonderfully into our family. Only God can bring the level of healing and learning that we've seen in V in the last 6 months. Only God could redeem her life in an institution and make it new, and He did. She may not have everything in the world, but she is free, she is loved deeply, and she has a bright future.

We serve a God of redemption.

In a world filled with darkness, redemption still wins.

If you every doubt it, remember V. She shows us what redemption looks like every day.

Thank you God for redeeming us all.



Saturday, November 21, 2015

How far we've come

Last night, I was sitting on the couch, and my precious L, my princess, walked across the room to where I was sitting and crawled up into my lap. It led me to start reflecting on just how far we've come in the last 5 years. While we have made a purposeful decision to seek out a child with special needs for this adoption, our initial plunge into special needs parenting was quite accidental. We have all come a long way since then.

Our princess L is 5 1/2 now. Initially there were no signs that she might have special needs - no risk factors, no alarming tests, just the realization at about 6 months old that she wasn't developing properly. Up until that point in my life, I was very focused on worldly success and achievements - on DOING. I thought you made your impact on this world by what you did.

Princess L didn't do much for a long time. She was over a year old when she sat up for the first time, close to 3 when she began walking. It was a long road. She wasn't very responsive to us for a very long time - she didn't care when we left her in the church nursery, she didn't reach for us when we went to pick her up - she was in her own world. She has gradually come into our world, but it has been a long process. Sometime in the last year, she has started seeking out affection. We waited so long for it, her affection is the greatest treasure in the world. So last night, as I sat there with her, soaking it up, I reflected on how far we've come. She has made so many incredible strides, but it's not really her that I was thinking about - it's me. This little 5 year old princess has turned my view of life on it's head. Last night, doing something completely ordinary to the average person, I had a profound thought: I used to think that the way to impact the world around you is by DOING, but the reality is, it's about who you ARE.

Think on that for a minute.

You don't change the world by DOING, you change it by BEING.

Sure, we need to DO good, but the doing comes from who we ARE, not the other way around. We can free ourselves from the American way of constantly needing to GO and DO and DO SOME MORE if we can really grasp this thought. We can rest in the fact that we are enough - without the perfect house, car, manicure, career... we are still enough. We can just BE, and let the love flow out from there. Our DOING needs to be a reflection of our BEING. It really lifts a weight off my shoulders to know that it's okay that I'll never be able to do it all, and I can still impact the world around me. God has a plan for each of us. Sometimes it may not seem as big as you want it to be, but remember, it's not always about how much you DO. Sometimes it's about who you ARE in your every day life.

The value of a life isn't measured by IQ or ability. It isn't measured by achievements or worldly standards. God has a purpose for every life.

I am so thankful to have such a precious princess that radiates love and goodness, and is such an incredible teacher. She doesn't even need words.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ways to support our adoption (LOTS of them are FREE)

Ways to support our adoption:

FREE ways to help:

  • Give us your stinky old shoes! - We are collecting shoes to be reused in developing nations through an entrepreneurship program. Our goal is 10,000 pairs, so it is a God-sized goal and we need your help! This program has BIG potential to pay it forward: our adoption grant receives 40 cents per pound for the shoes, an entrepreneur is set up to sell them and earn a living wage, and low cost shoes are available to people in need. 
    • Even better: talk to your work or church and set up a box! If you'll watch it and let us know when it's full, we'll come collect them! We have a HUGE goal to meet, and we need your network too!
    • Help us check the current drop offs and bring us shoes when they overflow. Since we do not live in town, this is an especially big help!
    • Current drop offs are: Lumbermart and Stage in Guymon, the Methodist Student Center and Church of Christ Student Center in Goodwell, Mills in Hooker, and the Post Office in Adams. Shoes can be any size or style, and need to be in fair condition. And if you really want to be on our good list, tie the laces of the pairs together or bag them with all of your pairs together (plastic grocery bags are awesome - it doesn't take long to pair the few shoes in a bag) 


  • Make a craft or donate an item for our upcoming online auction. Do you have an unopened gift from last Christmas, or an unused gift certificate sitting around? Pass it on to us and we'll add it to our auction! If you donate something from your business, we'll make sure to plug your business in the auction. We are open to just about anything - great used clothes, handmade items, items from your business (Avon, DoTerra, Mary Kay, etc), books, gift cards, home decor - whatever you have that will sell! But please hurry - we hope to start the auction right after Thanksgiving! .

  • Share our posts! Share, share, share! We cannot successfully raise the funds to bring Antoinette home without reaching outside our immediate circle of friends! Share our GoFundMeReece's Rainbow, and Facebook pages. Share our story with friends at church or work and direct them to one of our pages. Tell them how to help, or at least how to pray for us! You never know who will be able to help, or who will be touched by the plight of orphans. A HUGE part of our mission is to touch others so that they might be led to step up for orphans here and abroad, whether by giving, adopting, fostering, or supporting adoptive families in other ways. 

  • PRAY: This is seriously the most important! We NEED prayer! This journey is crazy, exhausting, joyful, and costs WAY more money than we have. We NEED God to do mighty things in our lives in order to make this adoption happen. And that is just the very beginning of this journey! When we get her home, we will be navigating attachment and bonding, medical issues, institutional behaviors, educational challenges, emotional challenges, etc. That is just for Antoinette! The rest of the family will be adjusting too! We will be in over our heads for a long time, and we need prayer. I am so excited to see how God will work in our lives during this time.

  • Provide post-adoption support. Here is the secret that you don't know unless you are an adoptive parent (particularly of an older &/or traumatized child): Adoptive parenting is HARD. It will take you to the ends of yourself. It really is just hard. And it doesn't get better anytime soon. The behaviors and responses that have been ingrained for years don't just go away. The trauma that the child has endured is carved into their heart and requires lots of intervention to heal. (The science behind the way trauma changes the brain will blow your mind!) Any family who adopts or fosters a traumatized child desperately needs support. And not for a month or two! For YEARS! Ways to provide support: (These apply to almost ALL adoptive and foster parents!)
    • Bring a meal post-adoption (the first few months will be chaotic!), or while we are traveling and have caregivers in our place.
    • Help with childcare for our kids currently in the home both during our travel and after the adoption. Even taking them to a movie for the afternoon so they have a break from the chaos that a new sibling inevitably brings!
    • Tutor one of the oldest 3 in a subject in school.
    • Love on the kids, especially the ones currently in our home. They will be experiencing chaos and upheaval. Give them some extra attention.
    • Do NOT love on Antoinette unless we give you permission. Don't get me wrong: I am DYING for this little girl to be LOVED ON by ALL of the people who are supporting this adoption. I want her to see and feel that love! But for bonding purposes, her cuddling, hugs, and care needs to be handled by immediate family only. Right now she has no idea what a mommy, daddy, brothers, and sister are. Once that is firmly in her head, THEN, please LOVE ON THAT GIRL! We will let you know when it is safe for her emotionally to be loved on by people outside of immediate family!
    • Run an errand for us.
    • Come over for an afternoon, a couple of hours, a day, (whatever works for you) and be a "mother's helper." For the first few months, Antoinette will need to be by my side at all times, which means it will be more difficult to do laundry, cook, clean, teach the big boys, etc. Come over and lend a hand - even if it's just playing with the little ones so I can get something done! (As a bonus, this option allows you to hang out with the CUTEST kids ever!) Warning: DO NOT choose this option if you will judge me by how dirty my house is! Hahahaha
    • Have little girl clothes and toys? If they will work for Antoinette, send them over! When the adoption is completed, we will have exhausted our savings and be facing a mountain of medical bills at the exact time that we add a new child who will need diapers, a wardrobe, toys, etc. (Most of this we can't prepare in advance because we don't know what size she is!) Maybe your kiddo's old stuff can ease our burden! 
    • An adoption shower would be a CRAZY blessing! EVERY family that adopts should have an adoption shower thrown for them! Older kids are even more expensive than babies and deserve to be celebrated too! (I'm not saying this to ask for stuff, I'm listing it because I want to see other adoptive parents get one!!)
    • Once she is well-bonded, babysit Antoinette for us. Dealing with difficult behaviors 24/7 is hard. Respite is amazing. And needed.
    • Ask what we need. And mean it. And do it. In our case, we hate asking for help, so we'll probably tell you that we don't need anything. We will appreciate the gesture though! And then you can refer to the list above and just do something (because we probably really will need it!)
    • If you are going to be in her life consistently (family, friends, Sunday School teacher, teacher in school) research the impacts of trauma on a child's brain so you can understand what we are up against! Dr. Karen Purvis is doing incredible work healing children from trauma, and we will be following her techniques. Look into TBRI! (Or ask us! We'll tell you about it!)
    • Don't forget that respite, love, and help is needed for a long time - this is not like having a baby, where you heal and get back to normal after 6 weeks. It will take YEARS to heal Antoinette's heart. We will be in the trenches for YEARS. Don't forget about us in a few weeks. Join the team. Help us change her life.

Ways to financially help:
  • Give a little bit! SERIOUSLY, $5 or $10 HELPS! 
  • Want to make a bigger impact but feel like you can't? Give $5 a couple of times over the course of the adoption. Or issue a challenge to your Facebook friends: you'll give $5 if someone else will match you. Or hey, be crazy... you'll paint your face, shave your head, grow your beard (or something equally crazy) if they will collectively donate a certain amount of money.
  • If you are blessed and able to give more, consider making it a matching grant. Many people LOVE to give to matching grants because their money is doubled. Son not only will you be helping by giving, but you'll be doubling your impact! Any amount can be a matching grant, but amounts over $100 are best.
The scoop on financial giving:
  • Reece's Rainbow is an organization that helps families raise money for special needs international adoption. 
    • They are a 501c3 non-profit, so any money sent via them is tax-deductible to you.
    • They do NOT keep a percentage of the donation.
    • PayPal DOES take 3% of all donations done online, so consider sending a check (write our name in the memo or include a note). However, if the convenience of paying online is an incentive, by all means, pay online! (Personally, it would be a hassle for me to dig out the checkbook and mail a check. So I understand!)
    • They ONLY disperse the money to us for adoption related expenses, and will not disperse anything until we receive travel dates.
    • The travel agent that we will be working with can bill them directly for our airfare, so it is our goal to get enough in this account to cover our airfare.
    • Donate or share the page at: www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsoroden 
  • GoFundMe is a well known giving platform. We created it because a lot of people are comfortable with ig.
    • GoFundMe keeps 5% of the donations and PayPal keeps 3%. So that's a chunk. But if you're more comfortable with GoFundMe, go for it!
    • We have access to the money from GoFundMe almost immediately, so it can be used for expenses prior to travel.
    • You can donate or share the page at: https://www.gofundme.com/nw7czvxc 
  • Money given directly to us is placed in a separate bank account that we only use for adoption expenses. If you give me a check and it's not made out to me, I'll send it to Reece's Rainbow to go into our grant account so that it is tax-deductible for you. 
  • We only have one more fee to pay prior to travel, and that will be taken care of from our personal savings this week.
  • We have paid (or having in savings ready to pay) almost 1/2 of the adoption ourselves (which is a testament to God moving mountains!) We are fundraising to finish it up: the bulk of the adoption expenses will be incurred when we travel for the 1st trip.
  • Money is due as we go. If we have not raised enough money for both trips, we can fundraise between trips, but we REALLY don't want to have to do this! We'll have a lot to focus on and prepare without fundraising!
The 2 burning questions (I think) most people want/need to know: 

Why did we wait so late in the process to fundraise heavily? Quite frankly, we have hit every roadblock or delay possible. This adoption has taken twice as long as it should and there were a couple of times in the process we weren't sure if we could complete it. So we chose to wait to fundraise until it was a sure thing. We wanted to be very careful to honor the financial contributions of our supporters. Fortunately, God has done great things in enabling us to pay for almost half of the adoption from personal funds, so we haven't needed to fundraise until the end.

What happens if we can't raise the funds? We will NOT wait to travel. We will take out a loan. But this is a VERY BAD financial option for us. When Antoinette comes home, we will immediately incur thousands of dollars in medical bills. AND, each of those bills will come with the expense of driving almost 300 miles each way to the multiple specialist visits. Don't get me wrong, we are 100% okay with these medical expenses - we signed up for this when we committed to the adoption. But if we come home with a substantial adoption loan and add thousands of dollars in medical bills to that, the outcome will be devastating. We know that bringing home a child who will need life-long care is not a good financial decision, but her life is worth the sacrifice. We will provide for her. But we need help getting her home, so we are more capable of making these sacrifices for her and getting her the best medical care possible.