Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Homestudy APPROVED!!!

I have been told that the homestudy is the hardest step.  After a few minor bumps in the road, I am happy to say that our homestudy has been accepted and now we are just waiting for our notarized copies.  As soon as we get those, we will be sending our I800A forms to U.S. immigrations.  They are ready to go.  I have to say, that this is a relief.  It consists of a lot of gathering of information and running around getting things signed, notarized, and then lots of interviews.  Luckily we had an amazing homestudy agency up in Grand Rapids that has many years of experience and she was very quick in getting stuff written. 

It's very humbling to read about our lives in 15 pages.

Yesterday I met a women in our area that loves orphans about as much as I do.  I met her online in my early search to find an Ergo carrier since I know we will need one when we go pick little Z up.  The most awesome part is that she lives down the street from us!  She has two young children that are absolutely adorable :-).  She has been giving me some really cool fundraising ideas.  Aside from selling the scarves, dish clothes, and afghans... we really are at a loss.  It's really really hard asking for money.  We shipped most of these things down to my friend in Ohio to sell at her shop.  They will sell much better there I'm sure.  I know that God will provide for this adoption... but when the money starts to become due all at once it's rather nerve wracking.  This week we have $6500 due to our placing agency, along with $720 for immigrations (plus $85 time 2 for the fingerprinting).  Last week we had $1850 due to the homestudy agency.  (deep breath)... This is God's plan.  We can do this. 

We are VERY close to having a date for Z's benefits concert/dinner which will consist of an amazing Christian band and a spaghetti dinner at our church.  We are pretty sure it will be in April, but we are waiting on the final OK, which should come tomorrow.  The evening should be very fun and a great way for us to share a little about the "boy that we love."   

Our neighbor has been busy helping us make these really cool soap and hand sanitizer project that we are selling for $5 a piece.  Of course, Z's face will be fully revealed if you purchase one of them!  We are hoping that people who buy these will be reminded to pray for our little guy and our process to adopt him.  We have either hand sanitizers or soaps available.  We'd LOVE to have so much interest where we would need to make LOTS and LOTS more of these.

There are three different saying that you can order.  We had to block out his face and name because this is a public blog.  When you buy one, I promise the hats won't be included! (although I think he looks rather handsome in them!)  Again, these are $5 (plus shipping if you are not local).
If anyone else has any cool fundraising ideas, let us know.  Thanks so much for your prayers! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A little update on Z!

Last week was a fairly eventful week.  Wednesday we had our last home study visit and everything went great!  The social worker said that the first draft will be done on Monday.  So, tomorrow if all goes well, I will be emailed a copy of what she has written about our family.  Dave and I will go over it together and make sure everything is accurate and nothing is missing.  Then we will send the draft over to our placing agency and they will do the final review and let us know what needs to be added.  Finally, when they send us the draft back, we will send it to the home study worker and she will finalize it and send us 5 or 6 notarized copies.

As soon as that is done, we will be submitting our I800A form which will include copies of our birth certificates, home study, and the application.  If all goes well, this should be submitted to immigrations within the next couple weeks.  Then we wait until we are approved to proceed.  We have most things gathered for our dossier after we get the I800A approval. 

In the meantime, we prepare and learn all we can about raising a child with visual impairment and possible hearing impairment.  We have contacted and met with KRESA here in our town and they have some excellent resources available.  In the spring the kids are going to volunteer at a sports camp for VI children.  This will give them an idea what little Z will be able to do someday!  I have a feeling they will be amazed :-).  We are also connecting with people who have experience with parenting children just like Z.  We want to be as equipped as possible so that we know what to expect.

Last week we were able to get an update from our foundation when they visited his orphanage a couple weeks ago.  Along with the update came 2 amazing videos of our little man and several adorable pictures.  Our little guy needs us!  We love him so much and are so excited that God chose us to be his family.  Some of the update was hard to read because he is a child that is severely behind and clearly needs his family.  Knowing that he has several months until we visit and even more months until we can take him home is very hard emotionally.

From the update, there are some things we have learned about him.  Many things we already knew, but some of these things were new to us.  For one, and probably the most important one is that Z has bonded with one of his caregivers.  This is very good because it means that he is capable of forming an attachment with someone else.  This person even said in the report that he knows when she is in the room even though he cannot see her.  She doesn't know how he knows, but he does.  In the video he is playing a game with her and we can hear him laughing!  This is awesome because until this update, we were unsure if he was loved at all.  Now we know this woman loves him very much and actually has formed a bond with him.

Z is 7 years old and according to his measurments that were taken on his birthday in January, he weighs approximately 23lbs and is 36inches tall.  He is unbelievably small.  This is not uncommon for children in these orphanages to be this small.  I am sure onces he is home he will be able to gain weight and grow.  Z is rarely sick and overall he has no other physical issues besides his vision and hearing.  His organs show no abnormality!  Praise the Lord!  He is supposed to be getting a hearing test soon, which will require him to be put under general anesthesia.

Z loves a swing that is in his orphanage.  It seems to calm him down when he is distressed.  We plan to look into getting a swing in our home to help him with the transition.  We have seen a really neat swing at IKEA that may be just the thing for him!  If anyone has a used one they want to sell us, let us know!

We are so very thankful for this update and the new pictures.  He is a very handsome boy who according to the psychologist... this adoption is his BIG CHANCE!  If he is placed in a smaller enviroment they believe he has a chance to succeed!  We know this and are excited to follow God's calling to adopt him.  We know this will probably be the most difficult thing we have ever done, but probably the biggest blessing too!

Thanks you all for your continued support and prayers to bring our little guy home.  We are in the beginning stages of planning a benefit dinner/concert for Z.  We have found an amazing local Christian band that is willing to put on a concert for everyone.  Right now the hope is for it to be on a Friday night in April or May... right before our first trip.  The night will include a spaghetti dinner, concert and possibly a silent auction.  If anyone wants to help, please let us know.  It should be a fun night and one that we can tell Z about when he is older.  It will be awesome.  We have heard this band play several times and they are AMAZING!!!  More details to come... I promise!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Everyone reading this blog has felt LOVE.  I am quite certain.  Hannah started her mission to spread God's love to the children in this world... because Hannah knows as well as we all know... that some children, no matter how beautiful they are... have not felt LOVE.  This is reality.   

There are orphans out there sitting, rocking in their beds... alone waiting for a mommy or daddy or somebody to love them.  Many don't even know that they are waiting for that.  Many sit for hours in their beds, then the hours turn into days, and the days turn into years and so on. 

Imagine sitting waiting to see a doctor who is running late.  Think of how frustrating that can be.  Now imagine that wait turning into hours and days and years.  I honestly can't imagine because I have never experienced anything like that and I'm willing to bet none of you have not either.

I'm not saying this is all orphans by any means, but the sad reality is that there are MANY orphans out there that experience this... this is their lives day in and day out.  If you don't believe me, look it up for yourself.  It won't take long in searching google for orphanages in Eastern Europe and you will see for yourself.  If you need help finding information, just ask. 

I'm so very sad to say that our little Z most likely has never FELT unconditional love.  I'm almost more certain that most of his day is spent in his bed... in his dark little world.  How do I know this?  How can I say this about the boy that I love so deeply?  I have read between the lines of his biography and have learned enough to know.  Our little Z is very behind developmentally.  Nobody has had the time to teach him very much.... for 7 long lonely years.  It's just the reality of ophanage living sometimes... the resources just aren't there sometimes.  This does not scare me because I've seen what LOVE can do for a child.  Knowing this is what makes me stay up long hours filling out paperwork or running to the post office after work even though I'm exhausted.  There is an urgency in my step these days.  The process to adopt is hard.  VERY hard.  And I have only just begun.  I long for the day that Z can feel LOVED forever!

Today, Z got his bear from Hannah.  This bear was sent with LOVE and I pray that when he recieved it he FELT love... even if only for a second.  I am so thankful that the foundation was able to visit him, even though I was told he was uneasy during part of the visit.  Oh how I hope that the bear brought him comfort... even if only for a second. 

Dear Lord, please surround little Z with your love and protect him while he waits...



Monday, February 4, 2013


The second payment for the home study is due next week,  then shortly after that will come the I800A fees.  Then after that is approved, the dossier fees will be due.  Have not looked that far ahead so I don't know how much that fee is.  All together this adoption will cost $25,000.  I'm taking it one step at a time.  I have no doubt in my mind that God will provide for us every step of the process.  We need help though! 

A couple weeks ago I started making fancy scarves and have sold 4 of them so far!!!  Yay!  Here are the pictures of those scarves.  If anyone wants to buy one to help with this adoption we are asking for a $20 donation.  Thanks to my friend Patti for helping me make these and sell them.  Also I have to say that Stella (the 8 year old) is an amazing salesperson :-)!

  There are many others available or we can quickly make a color of your choice as long as we can find the yarn!

The next items that I have have been donated by my dear friend MJ.  She graciously donated all these things in an effort to bring Z home!  100% of the proceeds on these will go towards the adoption.  Not sure what to price them, so for these we are asking for simply a donation.  Basically, you can use the chip in button on the side, email me or send me a FB message to let me what you want and how much you are willing to donate.  I will ship within the US, but please keep that in mind when donating.  It shouldn't cost that much to ship.  Knitted items do not weigh very much.  If you are local feel free to donate and I will do my best to meet up with you. 

Here are the following items that are available.  Thanks once again to MJ for helping out!
Toddler slippers.  Guessing a size 3 or 4.
Knitted dish cloths- Many colors available!!
Winter scarves... Perfect for the weather these days!
Model not included... LOL!
Lastly, the next things that were donated were from my mom!  She is so excited to bring her little grandchild home.  She made 2 baby afghans and one adult afghan.  I'm not sure how much these are worth.  Does anyone have any idea?  I know a whole bunch of time went into them.  I'm not sure if we should do an auction on these or if anyone has any ideas.  I'm just putting the picture of them and if we have interest we will go from there.
This is laying on a queen size bed for size reference!

Two white baby afghans- so cute!
Thats what I have so far.  You can email me at hanstella9@yahoo.com, respond to this blog, or to my facebook if you are interested in helping to donate funds to bring this little guy home. 
I will update as things sell. 
Also we will be starting a collection of pop cans for all you locals around here who want to give that way.  Just let us know and we can arrange pickup.  My kids love feeding the machine at Meijer so this will be a fun way to get them involved in our fundraising efforts. 
Thanks for reading. 
We did send in our first round of FBI fingerprints today.  Please pray for an extremely fast process time.  This usually takes 5 to 8 weeks.  It would be really awesome if the time was much shorter than this.