What an amazing week! Our t-shirt fundraiser did so well, even better than we hoped. We sold 102 shirts and raised almost $1400 in shirt sales and donations. If you bought a shirt or shared our campaign on Facebook, know that you made our week! We were so encouraged every day as more people supported us in this way. Our family and friends are just the best.
(BTW, if you wanted a shirt and didn't get one in time, we are planning to open the campaign again in the fall, maybe with a long sleeve version. Visit the campaign site and click "I would buy this" to be notified the next time it's available.)
The verse that inspired the shirt (Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." NIV) is one we have been carrying close to our hearts as we wrestle with all the hard issues around adoption. Welcoming this new person into our family, even though it will be amazing, will only be possible because of her pain, and her first family’s pain. Celebrating and anticipating something that comes about because of someone else's pain is a hard thing to hold in your heart.
We want so desperately to honor her whole story, even the hard parts, because we know it's often the hard parts that make a story beautiful. Praise God that He is working all these things together, to get her, for good.
Last night I packed up all of our home study history packet we have been gathering for three weeks. I made copies, carefully organized it the way they asked, wrote a big fat check and sealed it. The envelope seemed plain to me, so I added a little washi tape. I tucked it in my purse and got so excited I took a picture.
This is our first big step. It's the first big chunk of money, it's coming from our savings, and it's non-refundable. Once our adoption agency receives this packet, complete with notarized proof of all our entire life, we start the home study process of approving us as a prospective adoptive family.
Seriously, that packet is so precious to me.
I ran by the post office to walk it in, waited in line, and the nice postal worker asked me if I needed a signature for it. I thought about the 30,000 times we signed everything in there and laughed a little. "No, thanks." Then I watched him toss it on a pile with everyone else's mail and move on to the next customer. Our whole life, most of our money, sealed with washi, in a pile of mail.
Adoption is hard.
They tell you to expect an international adoption to cost between $20,000-$40,000. (Yikes!) Research about adoption shows that most families who consider adopting find the costs too intimidating and stop pursuing it. So why does it cost so much? Who get's all that money?
Great question! And one of the first ones we asked as we considered adoption. It's a different from agency to agency and country to country. Most agencies have some info about this on their website. One thing we loved about our agency was their transparency about the breakdown of costs and their willingness to answer my (endless) questions about the schedule. I love a good schedule.
For the program we will be a part of, the breakdown looks about like this:
-One third of the money goes to the agency for their services (homestudy, reports, facilitating a match, etc)
-One third goes towards "international fees" that include the orphanage donation that China requires, translation fees, etc
-One third goes towards travel, essentially, plus all the things we will do while in China for two weeks like medical exams, travel paperwork for our new child, etc. Oh, and food, I guess.
As it turns out, there's a lot of people and a lot of organizations involved in making a child of one country a member of a family in another country.
Even with all that complexity, there are basically four steps to the process for us:
1. Complete home study
2. Gather and submit dossier (paperwork for China)
3. Accept a referral (being matched with a specific child.
4. Travel to China!!
There is a waiting period before each step, and a set of fees associated with each step too. The hardest one is the first one. Because we don't have our home study complete, we can't apply for any grants to help us with the upfront costs. That means we are relying on our savings (which is limited) and money we can raise from fundraisers such as our Pure Charity campaign. (By the way, our very first donation was anonymous. If that was you, thank you so much!!! I did a happy dance when I saw that on Monday. Also, if you can bear to reveal yourself, I have a little gift for you.)
We have a plan to get it done. The plan includes extra hours at work, less spending, Cackleberry Studios, fundraisers (t-shirts, anyone? yard sales? coming soon!!), and applying for lots and lots of grants. Please pray for us as we work the plan, and if you want to get involved, our Pure Charity account is a great place to give. You can find out more about it by visiting the Fundraising part of our website.
It's expensive. It's more money than we can imagine. A child, our child, is worth it.
We've been planning this announcement for several weeks. We've been building the blog, shooting the video, and trying to decide how to talk about this precious, delicate thing that has been growing in our hearts.
I've been really nervous about it.
I don't really do a lot on social media. I love to look at Instagram, and I keep up with Facebook just so I don't miss something major, but I'm not good at participating in the online community part. There's something about it that makes me uncomfortable. I am just certain I'm going to do something that makes me seem weird, I guess.
So putting this personal, sensitive topic out into the social media jungle is pretty difficult for me. I feel like I'm about to jump out of an airplane. Most of me is screaming "DON'T DO IT! WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK??"
I don't know what you think about all that we have shared so far about our adoption, but that is the whole point of sharing. We want to share this part of our lives in this way so you can know what we think. Adoption is a challenging subject. International adoption even more so. Google a few blogs or websites that address the topic and you will be surprised at what you learn.
All the more reason for us to clearly communicate with our community about how and why we are adopting.
Also, to be honest, we need help to do this.
Since our oldest was born six years ago, we have seen over and over the value of living in a community that helps you raise your children. We are blessed with close family that pour into our kids, providing a safe amazing place for our little ones while we work. We have church family and work family that make friends with our kids, listen to us when we need to talk, and give us much needed advice. We can't do without them.
And we need help to pay for it.
Adoption is really expensive. We expect it will cost about $40,000 to bring our child home to our family. And while we are already doing lots of things to save and earn more money, we can't come up with all of that money on our own. We have already been blessed by a few friends and family who knew we were adopting. We are so thankful for people who are willing to join with us in this way. We hope that our community will see our new child as someone worth investing in, because we do.
So that's why we aren't doing this quietly like I would naturally prefer. We need to be loud about this because the needs are big: the needs of orphans and the needs of families who are caring for them.
Thank you for reading, learning, and caring about our adoption. If you have questions or would like more info, ask! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram (@emilytfleenor @joshfleenor). We'd love to hear from you.
Josh and Emily
We hope that by sharing our steps, challenges, and milestones of our adoption, you will see yourself as part of the community we hope to build around our child as she grows up.