Saturday, January 6, 2018

Our Story

I've been asked to write a bit of our story for a Facebook page/blog.  So, here's the quick and dirty version of finding and adopting Sara.  And an update on how she's doing now since it's been way too long since I've done one of those.  

In 2008, I moved to Mexico to work with kids with special needs.  9 months later, I was suddenly back in Illinois with no idea where my life was headed.  I had a job I loved and some amazing friends.  My life was good but I was looking for more.  I wanted to be a mom.  I started looking into adoption.  Specifically, I was looking into local options for adopting a child with Down syndrome.  As a special education teacher, I always loved my students with Down syndrome and was just drawn to them.  I felt like I was chasing my own tail and quickly became discouraged.  I didn't think that a birth family would ever choose a single mom.  At some point during that time, a friend showed me the Reece's Rainbow website but I dismissed the idea of international adoption without looking into it at all.  

In December 2011, I was spending Christmas break in New York with my family.  My mom called me into the kitchen to watch a news story.  This news story changed my life.  


I returned to Illinois in January and started researching Reece's Rainbow.  I wrote a very vague blog post on January 1st hinting at the future.  I read about the process and the funding options.  I read about single adoption and Down syndrome.  I read profiles of kids and thought about the best options for me.  I sent a Facebook message to all of my favorite single and adoptive moms and closest friends asking them if I was completely crazy.  They told me that I wasn't so I started moving forward.  

I decided that the best fit for me would be a girl, at least 3, with Down syndrome but minimal medical problems in a Latin American country since I speak Spanish.  I thought I had found her but was told that the girl I was interested in had a family coming.  The contact at Reece's Rainbow sent me a picture and a short description of a little girl that hadn't even been posted yet.  


I saw that picture and jumped in with both feet and didn't look back.  My profile went live on Reece's Rainbow in February and I spent the next year working, fund raising, paper chasing, and preparing.  It was a whirlwind.  Half the time I thought this was the best thing I could be doing with my life.  The other half of the time I was in a complete panic.

I flew to Colombia on January 12, 2013 and met Sara on January 14th.  


She was tiny and timid and perfect.  (And she bit me.  A lot.)  She was almost 4 1/2 and in a size 2T.  She knew about 5 words in Spanish but was able to use a lot of gestures and noises to make her needs and wants understood.  She refused to repeat words and seemed to have no interest in speaking any more than she did.


She had a rash on her face and a perpetually green, snotty nose.  The bags under her eyes were huge.  Her hair was thin and wispy and an odd red color.  She was scared of everything.  The dog in the hotel and the fountain at the mall were especially disturbing.  She cowered easily and was scared of anyone who made sudden movements.  


She was goofy and stubborn and fun.  She learned sign language incredibly quickly and started growing immediately.  She grew out of her 2T clothes in the 7 1/2 weeks we were in Colombia.  She was independent, potty trained, and able to dress and feed herself.  She didn't need a mommy but she let me hang around anyway.  


We arrived in the United States on March 7, 2013.  She became America's newest citizen and we really started our lives together.  


In our five years together, she has gone from a tiny, timid toddler to a confident, spunky, hilarious big girl.  She has traveled to more than half of the states, Mexico, and Canada.  She loves to fly and is a great road tripper.  


She loves school and is getting Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech therapy and educational services.  She talks.  All the time.  Constantly.  She repeats everything.  She has a great sense of humor and she loves adventure and new experiences.  


She is adored by her grandparents and all of my friends.  We go to a church that loves and accepts her.  


She takes dance classes with other girls her age.  She plays all kinds of sports with other kids with special needs.  


She's been a flower girl three times. 


We've survived two cataract surgeries and a tonsil removal.  


 She loves her mommy more than anything and I cannot imagine life without her!  


I'd say, she's doing pretty well.  



Keep On Keeping On



Well, Reece's Rainbow's Christmas Campaign has come and gone.  I was able to raise almost $1,700 for AJ with the help of some amazing friends and supporters.  I am so excited for this little boy's future.  I am choosing to believe that there is an amazing family out there for him and that he won't grow up in an orphanage.  He'll be home getting therapies and love and nutrition.  I have to believe that to keep on keeping on for these kids and families.

So, my next goal is to get AJ's grant to $2,500.  When he gets there, he will be put on a "sizable grant" list through Reece's Rainbow.  Hopefully that will mean more visibility for him and a family sooner, rather than later.  There is a thermometer on the right of the blog to keep you all updated on the progress to the goal.

To that end, the following fund raisers will be ongoing.

*Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  50% of each purchase from now until January 1st will go to AJ's grant.

*Plexus.  All of my commission earned from September through December will go to AJ's grant.  Feel free to ask questions!

*Homemade Lip Balm, Sugar Scrub, and Bath Salts.  50% of each purchase goes to AJ's grant.  Custom scents and flavors available.


Past Fund Raisers:
*LuLaRoe Pop-Up.  Online.  November 6-10.  Any sales made this week benefit AJ.  And LLR matches the donation of the consultants!  We raised $271!

*C&E Baby Blankets.  $10 of each blanket purchased will go to AJ's grant.  Just mention AJ when you place your order.

*Ornament Sale.  Make a donation to AJ's account of $35 or more and get a Christmas ornament with his picture on it.  November 1 - December 31.

*Teacher Tired Shirts and Hoodies. Through November 24th.

*Dress Down Day at Batavia High School - December 8th

If you are vendor of any kind and would like to host a fund raiser for AJ's grant, please let me know!  I'll always take and appreciate help.  

AJ is not even a year old!!  Imagine---he could celebrate his second birthday with is family.  He could have therapies and early intervention years before Sara did.  And LOVE!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Change of Plans - Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign for AJ


Lianne has a family coming for her from Italy!!!   Yay for Forever Families.

So, I'm changing horses midstream.  Meet AJ! 

AJ is not even a year old!!  Imagine---he could celebrate his second birthday with is family.  He could have therapies and early intervention years before Sara did.  And LOVE!

The $294 raised so far for Lianne will go to AJ's grant.  The goal is still $1,000 total.  Let's get him some fund and a family!!

Current Fund Raisers:
*Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  50% of each purchase from now until January 1st will go toAJ's grant.

*Plexus.  All of my commission earned from September through December will go to AJ's grant.  Feel free to ask questions!

*C&E Baby Blankets.  $10 of each blanket purchased will go to AJ's grant.  Just mention AJ when you place your order.

*Homemade Lip Balm, Sugar Scrub, Bath Salts, and Bath Melts.  50% of each purchase goes to AJ's grant.  Custom scents and flavors available.

*Ornament Sale.  Make a donation to AJ's account of $35 or more and get a Christmas ornament with his picture on it.  November 1 - December 31.

*Teacher Tired Shirts and Hoodies. Through November 24th.


Upcoming Fund Raisers:

*Dress Down Day at Batavia High School - December 8th

*Genesee Country Christian School's Christmas Bazaar - December 2nd - 4120 Long Point Rd, Geneseo, NY - 10AM-3PM


Past Fund Raisers:
*LuLaRoe Pop-Up.  Online.  November 6-10.  Any sales made this week benefit AJ.  And LLR matches the donation of the consultants!  We raised $271!

If you are looking to purchase any gifts this Christmas season, I encourage you to join the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign Virtual Vendor/Craft Fair.  You will find all of your usual sellers (Tupperware, Avon, LuLaRoe, etc) while also finding crafters with one of a kind gifts and many who will take special orders just for you!  Let's help more kids find families instead of supporting corporations and big box stores!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign for Lianne



Once again, I said I wasn't going to do Reece's Rainbow's Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign.  I have work and grad school and Sara and too much to do.  But last year worked out so well, I just couldn't help myself!!  (Andre is now home!)

So, meet Lianne.  There isn't much information given about her.  She's 3 and in Latin America.  She's clearly beautiful but her picture breaks my heart.  She needs love and comfort.  She needs a family!

Check back often for fund raisers as we get into November and December.  The goal is $1,000 and I'll need lots of help and support to get there there!

Just a note---Only donations made during November and December will count toward the $1,000 goal.

Current Fund Raisers:
*Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  50% of each purchase from now until January 1st will go to Lianne's grant.

*Plexus.  All of my commission earned from September through December will go to Lianne's grant.  I'll be writing a post about Plexus and the benefits off it soon.  In the mean time, feel free to ask questions!

*C&E Baby Blankets.  $10 of each blanket purchased will go to Lianne's grant.  Just mention Lianne when you place your order.

*Homemade Lip Balm, Sugar Scrub, Bath Salts, and Bath Melts.  50% of each purchase goes to Lianne's grant.  Custom scents and flavors available.

*Ornament Sale.  Make a donation to Lianne's account of $35 or more and get a Christmas ornament with her picture on it.  November 1 - December 31.

*Teacher Tired Shirts and Hoodies. Through November 24th.


Upcoming Fund Raisers:

*Dress Down Day at Batavia High School - December 8th

*Genesee Country Christian School's Christmas Bazaar - December 2nd - 4120 Long Point Rd, Geneseo, NY - 10AM-3PM


Past Fund Raisers:
*LuLaRoe Pop-Up.  Online.  November 6-10.  Any sales made this week benefit Lianne.  And LLR matches the donation of the consultants!

If you are looking to purchase any gifts this Christmas season, I encourage you to join the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign Virtual Vendor/Craft Fair.  You will find all of your usual sellers (Tupperware, Avon, LuLaRoe, etc) while also finding crafters with one of a kind gifts and many who will take special orders just for you!  Let's help more kids find families instead of supporting corporations and big box stores!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Time

I was talking to my mom tonight about my plans to raise $1,000 for Lianne’s adoption grant.

She asked if I really had time for all of this.

The truth is—-I don’t. My house is a mess. My grad school work gets done the day it’s due. There is laundry piled everywhere. I’m tired.

But then I think about Santiago being home and already growing with his family. And Josie. And Adriana. And other kids that I’ve posted or fund raised for or helped their families. And I can’t stop.

Kids need families.

I’m beginning to think another kid isn’t in the cards for me so I have to help any way I can.

No. I don’t have time to knit or create fund raisers or write blog posts or make sugar scrub.

But these kids don’t have the luxury of time either. They need homes  and they need them now.

So in between work and Sara’s activities and grad school, I’ll find the time to do what I can. I’ll share fund raisers and scour Pinterest for new ideas. I’ll knit while I read for school. I’ll do whatever I can.

My house will just have to stay messy for a while longer.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

C & E Baby Blankets

Meet my dear friend Anna.  We met at an amazing and then very difficult time in our lives.  Clearly we were just babies back then!  


We've been through thick and thin.  We've traveled together, laughed together and cried together.  And now, we are mommies together.  


We have a lot in common but one of the major things is our love of helping others and our hearts for kids who are struggling and kids who need families.  Because Anna wants to show her beautiful two girls that she is a strong, kind, giving, generous woman, she started a new business called C & E Baby Blankets.  She believes firmly in leading by example and showing her babies how to give back and help others.  I can't think of a more worthy cause!  


Anna makes beautiful, soft, flannel baby blankets and burp cloths.  She can do custom orders or she has a stock of items ready to sell and ship.  She has traditional boy and girl fabrics as well as gender-neutral and specialty fabrics.  Check out her online store!  If you don't see something you like, just ask!  She'll gladly work with you to get you what you want.  


For the month of September, Anna has set a goal to sell 100 blankets to raise $1,000 for the VanHalle Family Adoption.  (Can you imagine starting a new business and giving away all of your profits the first month?)  She is well on her way to that goal but needs some more sales.  



In order to help that happen, a donor has agreed to match the money made from sales this week up to $100.  That means, when you purchase a blanket or burp cloths for $25, the VanHalle Adoption Account will get $20!!!  You get a great baby shower or Christmas gift and a child gets that much closer to his forever family.  What's not to love?


If you don't need a baby blanket or burp cloths right now, that's ok too!!  Anna has set up a way you can purchase a blanket to be donated to a local organization serving single, pregnant, homeless moms.  You get to help two great causes at once!!  And your monetary donation is doubled this week.  Sounds like you have nothing to lose!  


If you have questions, please ask.  I can easily hook you up with Anna.  Please check out her business page.  Help a momma get her business up and running while helping a great family bring home their child.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Egg My Yard

A team from North Darien Bible Church will be traveling this summer to serve with Foundation for His Ministry in Baja, California, Mexico.  As part of our fund raising efforts, we are Egging Yards for Easter.

easter-egg33.jpg
EGG MY YARD!

Support the North Darien Bible Church Mission Trip to Mexico.

Order your candy-filled eggs to be delivered to your yard for Easter morning fun!

Contact Natalie Keller at ntkeller08@gmail.com to order.

15 eggs for $10
25 Eggs for $15
50 Eggs for $30
100 Eggs for $50

You can check out more about our Missions Trip at www.facebook.com/BajaSummerTrip