Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I've been looking for ways to help adopting families since I completed my own adoption.  I love knitting and will keep doing so but it doesn't make a ton of money in the spring and summer.  So, I've decided to sell Avon online.  I have no interest in selling in person or going door-to-door.  I just want to organize online parties for adopting families.

My first family is Laurence's family.  The commission from any purchases made from my site during the month of April will go to his family.  You don't need a special code or anything.  Just make a purchase!

Laurence's family currently has a matching grant through a local church.  That means, my commission donation will be doubled!!  40 to 80% of the price of your purchase will end up going to help this family!!  And, you still get a great product.

Summer is coming.  We all need to stock up on sunblock and bug spray!

Please pass this link on to your friends and family.  Who doesn't want to help someone while buying things they already need?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet Laurence's Family

From time to time, you have seen me advocate for another family.  This time it's different.  This time, it's a family that I know and love dearly.  This time, it's one of my first Chicago friends that is adopting.

I wish I could post tons of pictures and tell you tons of stories about this friend.  Unfortunately, she has had some stolen identity issues in the past and doesn't really have an internet presence because of that.  So, I will tell you that she is a dear friend who has an amazing heart for orphans.  She's the one that really stirred my heart in that direction.  We traveled on a my first mission's trip to Mexico together.  We have taught at two different schools together.  We have served locally together.  Now, I get the pleasure of seeing her teach my students about service.

Her heart has always been for kids in need.  She has completed all the steps to become a licensed foster parent.  She has had several children in her home through the Safe Families program.  She routinely opens up her home to children who need a place to stay---all while working and raising her son.  She's now ready to open up her home to her new son permanently.

*She has started a blog for her adoption journey.  Please head over there and check it out.

*She has a page on Reece's Rainbow.  If you feel led, you can make a tax deductible donation there.

*I am hosting a yard sale for her in early May.  If you are local and have donations, please let me know and we can arrange drop off/pick up.

*I also have an ongoing fundraiser for her (and a few other families I know and love) on my knitting page.  50% of any item ordered goes to her Reece's Rainbow account.

*Check back here, her blog, and my adoption facebook page for upcoming fund raisers and updates.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sometimes, You Need More Than Love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love, love
Love is all you need.  

Fun song and a sentiment that has caught on in the adoption world.  If you just have enough love, everything will be ok.  You fell in love with a picture and God calls us to take care of the orphans so you have to adopt this child immediately.

I see all the time that people say:  "I have enough money to raise a(nother) child.  I just don't have any money at all to contribute to my adoption."  "I can't get a loan and I don't have a credit card."  "I have no other way to get the money.  No one that will support me and no one I can borrow from."  "I don't have the time or energy to fund raise."   I have seen people literally "fund-raise" (usually beg) the entire $30,000 for their adoption.  I've seen it more than once.  It happens.

Now, before you lump me in with people that are against fund raising at all.  That isn't true.  I wrote a whole post about my fund raising philosophy.  I fund raised for my own adoption.  BUT, I also contributed about a third of the cost myself and only fund raised a third of the cost.  (The other third came from grants.)  

I'm not saying you have to have ten thousand in the bank to adopt.  I'm not saying you have to pay for the entire adoption yourself.  I am saying, that if your budget is so incredibly tight that you don't have ANY extra money from week to week, you probably don't have the money to raise an adopted child---especially one with special needs.  (And pretty much any child over the age of 2 that has been living in an orphanage is going to have some sort of special need--whether physical or emotional.)

Kids with special needs are expensive.  My daughter is very healthy.  She has Down syndrome but she does not have any of the physical ailments that go along with it (except for cataracts).  Even as a healthy child, I have spent hundreds if not over a thousand on her health care in the year she's been home (and I have pretty good insurance).  She has been to the cardiologist, the Down syndrome clinic, the dentist, the eye doctor numerous times, the hearing specialist, the eye surgeon, the pediatrician.  She has had x-rays, blood work, a karyotype, physicals, eye exams, hearing tests.  I have bought glasses for her.  I'm not listing those things to complain.  I am so grateful she's healthy.  I'm just trying to give you an idea of how quickly appointments and copays pile up.  (I also intentionally choose a child that did not have a heart defect and that seemed healthy.  I knew that as a single mother, I would be unable to take time off of work for open heart surgery and wasn't sure I'd be able to handle it emotionally either.)  

Most kids that are adopted internationally (with special needs) are not so healthy--especially if they have come from a neglectful orphanage or an institution.  Chances are good they have never had their teeth brushed.  They haven't had good nutrition.  They may be dehydrated.  Parasites are incredibly common.  The list goes on and on.  

Before you adopt that adorable child that so "needs to be rescued", you need to make sure that you have a plan in place to pay for that rescue and the redemption that follows.  You may see the adoption as the rescue but the years that follow are the redemption.  You will have to make up for years of neglect and lack of medical care.  Chances are very good that they will need to have dental work (and most dental insurances don't cover much).  It's almost a guarantee that they will need to see some sort of specialist at least for check ups if not regularly.  They may need therapies--physical and/or emotional.  All of these things cost money.  It's just the way our country works.  Medical care is expensive. And internationally adopted kids--especially those with special needs---need a lot of it!

So, if you don't have ANY money to contribute to your adoption, where in the world are you going to get the money for copays, surgeries, equipment and medicines? 

**I know that I probably have offended people at this point.  I'm not targeting any one family or situation.  I've just seen too many families come home and not have the money for the basic care that their children need.  It's the kids that suffer in this case and that just isn't right.  I thought the point of adoption ("rescue") was to give them what they couldn't get in their birth country?  

**There may not really be a correlation between people who "fund raise" for their entire adoption and those that don't have the money for basic care when their kids get home.  I haven't done a scientific study but it seems that way to me.  How frustrating for those that donated to your adoption to find out that you don't have enough money to care for your kids?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Letters to My Daughter - My Heart for You


Tonight, as I sat in your bed rocking you to sleep, I started praying for you.  This isn't something I do often enough but I poured out my heart in that quiet, dark, precious moment.  I prayed that you will be an over-comer.  That you will over come the first four years of your life.  That you will over come your rough start in school. Most of all, I prayed that you will over come your mommy's imperfections.  I mess up far more often than I'd like but I know that you are thriving in spite of my mistakes.

I am in awe of you and who you are.  When you fall asleep in my lap or when I check on you at night, I am in amazed that you are sleeping in my house.  That I have been entrusted with your little life.  I can't help but smile when I see your adorable little face in my rear view mirror.  Most of the time, it seems crazy to me that I have this little person in the back seat of my car and that I am responsible for that little person.  And, when you call my name or kiss my cheek, I often tear up because this amazing little person actually loves me and calls me mom.  Some days, I am overwhelmed by the responsibility.  Other days, I am in awe of the privilege that I have been given.

We've been together for a year now and I've seen so many changes in you.  You are talking and communicating so much.  I honestly think I hear a new word from you almost every day.  You are so proud to try out new words, signs, and sounds.  We both get frustrated when I don't understand you but you've come so far.

You have matured so much.  You are calmer and you can take a minute to listen before totally losing it.  Sometimes there are still some less-than-stellar moments but we are working through those together.  You want to do the right thing and you want to be good.  We haven't used the stroller in months.  You even managed to walk through the mall without too much trouble.

You love life.  There are still so many aspects of every day life that are new to you.  You've really enjoyed the snow this winter (until you get wet).  You love going new places and seeing new things.  You've gotten a little less sure about new people but you warm up quickly.

You are learning that you can't have everything.  While this might seem silly to include, it's such a huge thing.  You don't expect me to buy you something when we go to the store.  You can look at something and then put it back.  You don't expect anything from anyone, really.  So, when you get a special treat, you are so very grateful.

You are so determined and a great problem solver.  You want to do things for yourself and you want to help everyone you meet.  Sometimes you're problem solving skills border on manipulation but I know that your determination and creativity will take you so far.

Sara---I am so proud of the little girl that you are becoming.  Sometimes, it breaks my heart to see you growing up so quickly.  You are not the little toddler that I met a year ago.  You are a fiercely independent 5-year-old who doesn't always need her mom.  But, when you're tired, and you ask to be my baby, I will gladly rock you in my lap.  I promise you that I will hold you as long as you let me.  You can be my baby as long as you need because I will always be your mom.

Te Amo Mija,
Your Mom

February 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day - Last Year

Last year, on Valentine's Day, I was in Colombia. (Cause I was pretty much there forever.)  My friend Jason and his daughter Claudia left that afternoon.  They had pretty much been my life-line and my sanity.  They were my escape from the hotel and the hotel food.  They were my connection to home.  And they left me.  (I can't blame them but....)

Susan and her girls were at the hotel at the time but I knew they were just passing through.  They were a lot of fun but I knew that they, too, would be leaving as soon as they possibly could.

Since it was Valentine's Day, Susan and I went to the grocery store and found the closest thing to American candy we could find for the girls and threw a tiny, little party in her room.

Pretty much the cutest Valentine's dates ever!

In the middle of our little party, the hotel owner knocked on the door and told me that I had a phone call.  I knew that it was too late at night for "The Call" (the one saying the adoption decree is ready) so I was interested to see who it was.  (A secret admirer, perhaps?)  I picked up the phone and realized it was my amazing in-country rep.  The hotel owner had called her because she was worried that I was depressed and thought she might need to come cheer me up.
Our amazing in-country rep

Apparently, in their minds, Valentine's Day is a HUGE American holiday and I must have been so sad about missing it.  I had to try really hard not to laugh into the phone.  I was in a funk but it had nothing to do with Valentine's Day and everything to do with my friends leaving.  It took me quite a while to assure her that I was fine and not missing anything at home.

I'm not sure I've ever even celebrated Valentine's Day.  The one year that I was dating someone in February, he was at college in Ohio and I was student teaching in Costa Rica.  I've gone out with groups of girls to "celebrate" but that's about it.  It is certainly not a big holiday to me and I was kind of relieved to be so far away from it for once.

It goes to show, though, how kind and caring Colombians are.  Even if they are a bit misinformed.

This year, I'm spending Valentine's Day with the Love of My Life.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Family Photo Shoot

My family does photos every five years.  It involves quite a bit of whining but we know that every 5 years we are getting them done.  I will admit to being a part of the whining but most of it comes from the male members of the family.  

It's fun to look at the photos because we've added someone to every picture.  We started in 1995.  The boys were so little then.  In 2000, we added my brother Rob.  In 2005, my sister-in-law Amy joined the group.  In 2010, my niece Grace made her first family photo appearance.
Our 2010 picture.  

Since 2010, we have added my niece Kinsley and Sara.  I wanted to do pictures again since they will all be so big in 2015 and there will be at least one more addition to the picture by then.  There were a couple of hold-outs of the male persuasion in the family and I hold no power to convince at least one of them.  So, we decided to do just the women this time around.  (Everyone will be in the 2015 picture.)


Mother and daughters

All the women

Cousins - Take 1

Cousins - Take 2

Cousins - Take 3

Nana and her granddaughters

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013 - What A Year it Was!!

I'm obviously a little late with my 2013 post.  I've been a "little" busy and I was trying to decide if I would do a 2013 post or a first year together post.  Since I'm now late for both and they pretty much coincide, here it is:


  • I honestly can't tell you what happened between January 1st and 12th.  I know I worked for a week or so but the rest is a blur.  There was some strategic packing and that's about all I know.

January 12  to March 7

  • January 12 - I got on a plane and left my old life behind.  My mom met up with me on the second leg of my trip.  It's a good thing she did or I may not have gotten on the plane.  
  • Janury 14 - I finally met my little girl.
  • January 20 - I got to meet Claudia for the first time.  Her parents and I had walked through the process together.  It was so nice to finally meet her and to have them at the hotel with us.  
  • January 22 - I agreed to move forward with the legal process and become this little girl's mother.  
  • Colombia is kind of a blur.  We spent a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring and as much time as possible hanging out with other families.
  • Daily walks quickly became a part of our routine.  
  • Jason and I got really brave and took our girls to the Children's Museum.  I was so impressed with how well they handled our girls.  
  • We visited the orphanage briefly and I got to meet Sara's BFF.  
  • We had several adventures with Jason and Claudia---including getting caught in the afternoon rains in their matching strollers.  
  • We ate out a lot.  
  • We got to meet Gracie and her family.  
  • We spent a lot of time hanging out at the park.  
  • Sara got her US visa on March 6.  She spent the waiting time chasing pigeons.  
  • Leaving meant saying goodbye to some great people, including our facilitator.
  • Sara did very well on the flights and became a US citizen when we landed in Atlanta.  
  • We finally arrived home March 7.  We were tired but happy and so excited to see so many friends and family at the airport.


  • My mom came to Chicago when we arrived home so she got to spend some time reuniting with Sara.  
  • Sara had a photo shoot done by my friend Katie of 5 Boys + 1 Girl = 6.  She did such a great job with Sara and I will always treasure these photos taken during her first days home.  
  • We made our first trip to NY to see my family.  I'd say the admiration is pretty mutual.  
  • Sara had her first eye doctor appointment in March.  She was not impressed with the dilation process.  Not even McDonalds french fries could console her.  
  • We celebrated our first Easter together in March.  A sweet friend invited us over for dinner.  I tried to get Sara to eat one green bean.  The gagging and crying was impressive.  


  • I had to go back to work in April.  Sara started school and the babysitter on the same day.  She handled it much better than I did.  
  • Sara got her glasses in April.  They weren't quite the hit we hoped they'd be.  
  • Tia Janelle came into town for a wedding.  Sara loved meeting her and loved the wedding.  
  • Sara made her first trip to the zoo.  She loved it.  


  • We did our first 5k together.  I walked.  Sara rode.  It doesn't seem quite fair that her time was a second shorter than mine.  
  • May brought our first Mother's Day together and Sara's dedication.  She acted exactly the way I thought she would.  Exactly. 


  • June brought the end of the school year for both of us and a summer of adventures and traveling.  
  • We spent a week in NY to see my brother graduate  from high school and visit with friends and family.  
  • Sara is a huge fan of water and spent as much of her summer as possible in a swim suit.  This includes the weekend we spent in Michigan with my friend Becky and her family.  

  • I'm not usually an over-patriotic person but the 4th of July meant just a little bit more this year with my new citizen.  
  • Sara was in her first wedding on July 5th.  She was incredibly crabby moments before the ceremony but turned on the charm and did a great job.  She danced the night away with anyone and everyone.  
  • July brought on an epic road trip.  4 weeks.  8 states.  Thousands of miles and countless hours.  Our first stop was in OH.   I got to meet a great family that I had gotten to know online during our adoption processes.  It was so nice to spend some time with another mother who just gets what my life looks like now.  
  • We went camping in Maine for a week. Camping for us means lots of people in an RV!  Sara got to meet my dad's entire family and got to spend some quality time with my family.  
  • We ended up with an "extra" week in NY so we went to visit Circle C Ranch.  It was fun to go back and see just how much hasn't change in the last 20 years.  
  • The extra week also meant a little extra cousin time.  


  • We spent a week in Mexico and California with Anna visiting with old friends and reminiscing about our time living there.  We even got to spend a couple of days with Tia Janelle.
  • Sara turned 5 in August.  We spent the day at the San Diego Zoo with Tia Janelle, Tia Anna, and Jonathon.  She got ice cream with a candle after dinner.  She was a little overwhelmed by all the attention.  
  • We had a small birthday party at the house with some friends.  She has since mastered the ability to blow out candles but all she could do at her birthday was blow her bangs up.  
  • My little munchkin started Kindergarten a week after her 5th birthday.  


  • We went to Fair Oaks farm to use a groupon before it expired.  She loves all things animals.  It was our first big day trip with just the two of us.  
  • Sara got invited to her first birthday party.  She was NOT a fan of laser tag.  She made it about 37 seconds.  
  • We celebrated 6 Months Home on the 7th.  
  • Sara had her first dentist appointment in September.  She did so well and her teeth look great. 
  • Sara was involved in a preschool sports program at the park district in the fall.  She loved the soccer unit.  The rest of the sports weren't quite as fun in her mind.  
  • A brand new Gigi's Playhouse opened in Oak Forest in September.  We are so lucky to have such a great resource so close to home!  


  • Sara was a flower girl in my friend Megan's wedding in Florida in October.  We flew down for the weekend.  She got to experience the beach for the first time and we spent most of our weekend in the hotel pool.  It was interesting to travel with pretty much just the two of us.  Sara did so well at the wedding.  It's amazing how grown up and well-behaved she can be when you put a pretty dress on her.  
  • We made a trip to Indy to visit with my dear friend Anna and to dress shop for her upcoming wedding.  Sara LOVES dress shopping.  Mom's not quite as big a fan.  
  • October brought a lot of drama with school and eventually a new placement.  (And a pretty cute school picture!)  
  • We went to a local pumpkin patch with a group from church.  Sara loved every single moment of it.  She had a hard time transitioning between activities.  She just wasn't convinced that any thing else could be more fun than what she was currently doing.  She was an absolute mess at the end of the day.  There is still straw in my car.  I'm still trying to figure out why no one else had children that were quite as dirty as mine.  
  • We really didn't celebrate Halloween.  I just didn't think Sara was ready.  She did get to wear a princess dress to school, though.  I spent the next several weeks trying to explain to her that she couldn't wear one every day. 


  • We spent Thanksgiving in NY with my family.  This always means lots of time with Nana, Grandpa and the Uncles and visits with the cousins.
  •  We also got to play with the VanHalles while we were in NY.  It's so fun to watch Claudia grow and change.  Maybe some day these two girls won't be afraid of each other.  


  • December brought our first Christmas season together.  I was VERY excited and we started celebrating pretty early.  Sara loved everything Christmas.  She especially loved pictures and figures of Santa.  She's not so sure about the actual guy.  
  • Sara got invited to attend a Princess Ball and my dad just happened to be in town that weekend for work.  (He's never been here for work before!)  Sara loved it.  Dad claims not to but I know he did.  After all, he was the grandfather of the belle of the ball.  

  • December brought the first real snow.  Sara loves it as long as it doesn't touch her skin.  I actually thought at one point that she had broken her arm while we were shoveling.  It took me a while to figure out that some of the snow had fallen into her sleeve and that was the source of the screaming and wailing.  
  • We spent our Christmas break with my family in NY.  Sara just loves being around all of my family and they certainly love her.  
  • 2013 ended in Maine.  We knew my grandmother wasn't doing well so my dad, brother, Sara, and I went up to Maine to visit and to spend New Years with my dad's family.  New Year's Eve was uneventful to say the least.  (I think we were asleep before 10.)  I'm so glad that we got up there, though, and got to see Ma one last time.