Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Our Simply Love adoption fundraiser is back! This time, we are marketing zip-up hoodies, pullover hoodies, and crewneck sweatshirts. 

Because, well, you know… 'tis the season.

I can't wait to get a sweatshirt myself because I have warn my Simply Love t-shirts down to threads; and besides that, it's getting cold outside. They will have the same graphic on the front and back. 

The only difference is the size of the "Simply Love" wording in the front. That will be smaller and on one side of the chest as the photo shows. (This was a necessary graphic change to allow for the zipper on the zip-up hoodie.) You can choose between white and black for the color of the wording.

The crewneck sweatshirts are super soft at a 75/25 blend. There are 9 colors to choose from and the sizes come in S-3XL. 

The cost is $35 incl. shipping.  

Click here to see specs, colors and sizes of the crewneck sweatshirt

The zip-up and pullover hoodies are a 60/40, 90/10, and 85/15 depending on the color you choose. There are lots of colors to choose from and the sizes are XS-2XL. These are luxurious hoodies! 

The cost for these are $40 incl. shipping.

The prices are for shipping within the U.S. only. 
For 2XL & 3XL add $2

These hoodies and sweatshirts are high-end, and made with combed, ring spun cotton. Since I am a sweatshirt and blue-jeans kind of girl, I am ultra picky when it comes to comfort. And I did not spare any of the quality just to make a couple of dollars more.  It's more important to me that you be happy with your order.  In fact, it is my plan that you will love your shirt so much that you will come back and order more for your family and friends. 

Christmas is around the corner and these sweatshirts will make an excellent gift, as well as helping our family give two boys a loving home.

Sammy sporting his Man-Up tee and playing catch with Sergii and Danil in Odessa, Ukraine this summer. 

There is nothing sexier than a man wearing a shirt that says to Man Up and love orphans!

To place an order, just click on the Paypal button on the side bar to the right. After your purchase, it will give you an option to write a note to the seller. There you can tell me what type, size, and color. You can also Facebook message me, email me, or comment on this post.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Roller Coasters in Adoptionland

As many of you know, we've had something up our sleeves for a couple of months now. I have been reluctant to post about it because of the failed adoptions we have experienced. We know there is no 'sure thing' in Adoptionland until the child you have adopted has walked through the threshold of your home, and you hold in your hand the adoption decree. On this day six years ago, Josi Grace became our daughter, passing adoption court in Guatemala. She was our daughter in our hearts for a year; but on paper, she was our daughter for five weeks, (35 days,) before Jesus called her home. Josi never made it home to us. Our home was what we had in mind… but it isn't about what we have in mind.

James 5:13-15 says, "Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

It is so easy to forget that God is in control and his plans can be vastly different than our own. It is so easy to have faith when things are going the way we want them to go. Faith is so much harder when our plans don't coincide with God's, which is most often the case. For me personally, having faith comes with great fear, knowing that God can so easily give AND take away. And it feels like he can be so heartless when he takes. We forget that he cries with us and for us when we are crying and hurting. I understand that it's part of the bigger picture that I cannot see or understand… but still for me it is scary as heck to have faith.

Since Sergii's adoption is on hold for an indefinite period of time, Sammy and I had originally decided to head back to Ukraine to find another available child to adopt while our paperwork was still current. We were approved to adopt two children, so we thought we could bring home another boy in the meantime, (from a safe region in Ukraine,) while we wait for Sergii to become available. While we were looking for available boys in Ukraine, we became aware of a domestic adoption opportunity. There was a 12yo boy, (whom we'll call "David,") available for adoption, originally adopted from Poland, whose placement wasn't working out. This sweet young man needed a new family. After much prayer and learning about the situation, his needs, and if we would be a good fit, we decided to apply to adopt him. We felt, and still feel, strongly about David and feel that the Lord led us to him and continues to direct our path as we move forward to adopt him. We were approved, and are hoping to pick him up sometime within the next couple of weeks. Praying that we will have him home by Thanksgiving.

Just a couple of days ago, we received an email from Sergii's adoption agency with news that adoptions in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions are starting to move. We were given some docs to fill out, notarize, apostille, and then Fed Ex back to them so that they can get them out to our facilitator in Ukraine ASAP. We are not sure what this means for us, but we are requesting an SDA appointment. Because our documents expire in January, if we were to travel to Ukraine to get Sergii's referral, it would have to be before December 5th. With the way things have gone in Ukraine, I am pretty positive the likelihood of this is slim to none. But then there's this thing called, "God's timing." It is what we pray for, but never seems to be the right time for us. With that said, it's a perfect time for "God's timing." Between picking up our newest son, David; Thanksgiving; having family and friends fly in from as far as Canada for the holidays; and Christmas… Well, it couldn't be a more perfect time for Sammy and I to fly to Ukraine to get Sergii's referral.

I wonder if I ever mentioned that we would do anything for Sergii.

When we began the adoption process for David, we were told that we could be bringing him home within two weeks after our homestudy was finished. Since we had a current homestudy, we imagined we would be picking him up around mid-October. As things often go in "Adoptionland," there was hurdle after hurdle, setback after setback, and here it is November 2nd and we still don't have our boy. Turns out, the state of California is a stickler when it comes to interstate adoptions, especially adoptions via disruption. As it is, we are hoping to have him home by Thanksgiving.

So… if we get an SDA appointment and need to travel to Ukraine for Sergii's referral before December 5th, our hope is to bring David with us. If we cannot, then we will have a family member in our home to look after David, in addition to our other kiddos, for the 5-day trip to Ukraine.

This brings me to the end of my post regarding this crazy, never-ending-ride in "Adoptionland." It may be crazy, mentally exhausting, and emotionally draining, but there has to be a reason why we keep doing this. The reason is not that we love the feeling of being beat up and stretched beyond recognition. It's not because we are constantly questioned and even frowned on for having a large family. It is knowing that we are doing what we have been called to do. 

Galations 1:10 "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." 

Adoption isn't for everyone--yet caring for the orphan and the widow, however, isn't a calling--it is a command. I can only pray that someone might see the good, God's good, through all the muck and mud of our sin and make a decision to help the orphan and the widow. Whether it be by adopting, hosting, sponsoring, advocating, donating, etc. 

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~Mother Teresa

Now that things are moving again, and we have added an additional child, we need to fundraise and quick! If anyone has any fundraising ideas, please message me via Facebook. In the meantime, we will be starting our fundraiser back up at Bringing Sergii Home. Also, our "Simply Love" t-shirt and hoodie fundraiser will be starting back up, as well as our 100-grid. Stay tuned.

As always, thank you for your prayers and following the journey to our boys.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Adoption Update, News, and Prayer Request

When we decided to move forward with Sergii's adoption, there was no war going on. There were small protests on the streets of Kiev, much like the small protests here in the U.S. As we moved at lightning speed to get our homestudy and dossier done, the unrest grew.  About two weeks before our appointment was scheduled in Ukraine to officially accept his referral, his region, Lugansk, was shut down for adoptions because of the fighting and danger of anyone traveling there. Shortly after that, hundreds of children, Sergii included, were moved from Lugansk to a safer region more west. The children remain there in the safe region and are to remain until the fighting has stopped.

Adoptions remain closed in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions. We are not the only ones who were in the process of adopting a child/ren from these regions. I imagine there are will over a hundred children who have families adopting them, but cannot finish. There are at least 30 children and their families that I know of.

Under Ukraine adoption law, adoption can only happen at the place of the registered location of the child. Since Sergii is from Lugansk, his paperwork is there. We must accept his referral in Lugansk, and attend adoption court in Lugansk. This is not possible. We don't even know if his paperwork still exists.

Best case scenario is that the war ends quickly and that his paperwork can be located, and that the court house and orphanage is still standing.  As it is right now, there is no food, electricity, medicine, open stores, banks, etc. The government buildings have been bombed and the orphanages/boarding schools have been overtaken by the rebels and used for barracks.

I am in contact with others in country who have met with the State Department of Adoptions, and the Deputy Minister of Family and Children. And as of yet, other than relocating these refugee orphans and getting them out of the war zone, there has been no effort in getting their paperwork out of the region. No effort in salvaging any of the in-process Lugansk adoptions. Understandable, as there is a war going on there. The sad thing is that there is no desire or effort by the governing authorities to help these children become documented again. Not just so that they can be adopted, but so that can be given diplomas, accepted into trade school or college, even given a job. Without paperwork they are 'nobody.' A lot of these children are of graduating age and need documents so that they can attempt to get a life on their own.

Bringing Sergii home most likely will not happen for a long time. It could take months... even years. Of course we are hoping that it doesn't. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? And that is definitely the case here.  Paperwork can be remade as they have copies of some, if not all, of the paperwork in Kiev. The issue is the region being almost completely demolished, and that is where the adoption is supposed to take place. Seems easy enough to just have court somewhere else. Problem solved!  Nope problem is Ukraine is a 'by-the-book' type of country. Anything outside of protocol to them is like a foreign language. Like speaking 'alien.' It's like chopping the head off of an ant, or taking a fish out of water and watching it flail.  At this point, and I fear for a very long time, Ukraine's avoidance of the issue will be easier than dealing with it. Also, my in-country friend told me that these gov't departments have the attitude that there are plenty of other adoptions going on (meaning that they are not going to attempt to clear these Lugansk and Donetsk kids for adoption any time soon.)

Dealing with this has been completely and utterly heartbreaking and beyond stressful. I don't know how much of this Sergii knows. But I do know that he trusts us. He knows we will never ever give up. I have drilled that into his sweet and precious heart again and again. He knows we will do whatever it takes to get him here.

Our adoption paperwork that sits in Kiev expires in January. We will most likely have to redo our paperwork to adopt Sergii, when the time comes. The paperwork is grueling to say the least. It is stressful, and not to mention expensive. Fingerprints have to be redone, child abuse clearances, criminal records, doctor visits, blood work, etc. All of that adds up.

Our social worker happened to approve us for two children. We love our social worker and he obviously has a sense of knowing things we don't. He's a Christian man and I know he clearly was led to do this--because we did not ask to be approved for two.

Do you know where I'm going with this?

In June, Sammy and I spent over a week in Ukraine, and most of those days were visiting orphans in the same camp that Sergii was in. We spent a lot of hours with these children. Precious children! They broke our hearts. We fell in love with so many. We entertained the idea of even more children, but we were there for Sergii. There were so many other pre-teens and teens that chose to hang out with us. These beautiful over-sized babies need and want momma's and daddy's just as much as the wee little ones do. They would literally sit in your lap if they could. Many of them waited near the gates for us to come just to be with us. I thought about my kids at home and how they are so comfortable and safe, and don't even realize it. They are that way because of the love and boundaries they receive from their 'constant.' These children lack that 'constant' in their lives. The only constant they know is uncertainty. They don't have that unconditional love and approval. They don't have boundaries set before them lovingly. They don't have hugs and kisses and affirmation when they fall or fail at something.  Ahhh but I digress.

This is very hard for me to acknowledge and accept, but we have to face the possibility that we may never be able to bring Sergii home, though we will never stop trying. Because we were approved for two children, Sammy and I have decided to head back to Ukraine, to a safe region, and bring home a child before our paperwork expires. And when adoptions open back up for the Lugansk kids, we will be the first ones in Ukraine to bring our son, Sergii, home. And then we will have two beautiful Ukrainian children to call ours.

It is hard for us, after seeing so many children who need families, to not take in one more. Our paperwork to adopt is finished and is sitting in Kiev right now. I don't want to pass up this opportunity and let all that work go to waste when there are children who need homes.

So we are asking you to join us in prayer for direction regarding a few available children right now.