Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Golden Ticket

The record largest lottery drawing happened last night, everyone hoping they were the one with the "golden" ticket. 

I'm not against the lottery in theory, but I wish I heard more stories of people putting their winnings to good use, rather than squandering all the money on mansions, expensive cars, and who knows what else that puts their bank accounts back at ZERO.  I don't know if there's a winner, and I don't know how they'll spend their money.  What I do know is that I didn't buy a ticket.

What I've said I'd do with the money I won in the lottery has evolved over time.  When I bought my first lottery ticket at 18, I wanted the mansion, a personal chef, and to hire my hair stylist to fix my hair every day. (I have very thick hair, so I have a love/hate relationship with my blow dryer.)

I know what I would do with the money IF I won now.  As in, very specifically, I know where I would begin to sow in such a way that the money would continue to benefit many people, long after the initial money was spent.  And I do still dream of having my hair done every day.

But there were other places I needed to sow that money.  Take a look at any of the adoptive families on Reece's Rainbow and you'll see people who fundraise again and again, raising the ransom for their children who wait.  You'll see the Spitz family, whose story I just cannot do justice to in a quick blurb.  Please go read their beautiful story.  You'll meet the Rhodes family, a godly family so dear to us, especially since our stories have been woven together over these past several months.  You'll read about the Jenks family, who have been paper-chasing for so long, and are getting so close to their two children.  You'll find the Morton family, another local (to me) family finding themselves unexpectedly in the middle of an adoption of two boys, both 15 years old and near aging out of eligibility to be adopted.

Okay, I realize that it's just $5 for a ticket full of a potential $600 million.  But that's $5 that I know will benefit one of these families, versus $5 that was probably just eaten up in taxes off the top of someone's winnings.  Don't think that $1 or $5 is a big deal?  Yesterday morning, the lottery was at $540 million and by the time the numbers were announced, that number had jumped up another $100 million. 

If you'd like to put your $5 somewhere you can guarantee it's going to be well spent, follow any of those links above.  You'll even find some giveaways, where your odds will be a LOT better than 175 million to 1.  (Check back next week for a BIG giveaway here, to raise money for our foreign agency fees for Cullen!)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two Times the Love Giveaway

These last two weeks of resting from fundraising have been very refreshing, and have given me a chance to focus on the needs of other adoptive families and the Playing Them Home event coming up in just a couple of weeks!

Now that we are sending commitment paperwork to our son's country, we'll have additional fees due upfront.  Which means that, even though we have a tax-deductible grant growing on Reece's Rainbow, we still need cash in hand now. {{{bangs head against table}}}

I'm working on a BIG giveaway, with LOTS AND LOTS of prizes!  There are 9 prizes right now, and I am so looking forward to sharing them with everyone!  (I've really been praying about a LARGE final prize, so my indecision means we're looking at early next week for the giveaway to start.)

Oh, and for those of you who are contributing to the tax-deductible grant, THANK YOU!!!  You won't be left out of a giveaway, either... I'll have one just for you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There's This Boy...

Several weeks after committing to our daughter, Scott started looking through photolistings again.  Every few days, he'd email me a profile of an older boy, and every time I had to tell him he was looking in the wrong country.  He just couldn't stop thinking that we were bringing home a boy, too.

My friend, Mandy, her husband, Marty, and their two kids had come to our home for dinner one evening, and I mentioned that Scott was looking for our son.  The next night, I had a message from Mandy.  It read, "Here's his profile :) No pressure... bring Cullen home, please, please, please ;)".

I clicked on the link, and I saw such a familiar face staring back from the screen, so much like the face of our daughter waiting in EE.  And I knew.  I ran down to our family room with the netbook to show Scott the profile, and then I left him alone.

All along, I've given the responsibility of softening Scott's heart to our child(ren) up to God, because I don't want this to be a Chandres thing.  This is all about us following God's command, not Scott following his nagging wife's whines and pleas.

It has taken a lot of prayer, a lot of talking about whether we feel equipped to take on two more children, a lot of realizing that we're in for a BIG adjustment period.  But when we look at his photo, we see our son.  And that is enough to make us move forward.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't scary, stepping further into the unknown.  When you choose to adopt one child, everyone thinks you're doing something great; when you announce that you're adopting two, there is less happiness, and more worry in the responses.  And that's okay.  We're not adopting to earn praises, we're adopting in response to God's command for our family.

We are very, VERY excited that we are now adopting two children; in a sense, it's like finding out at the ultrasound that you're actually expecting twins!  Of course, the kids are thrilled, but they'd be okay with us bringing home every child in EE so, as long as they're not upset, we'll take that as a good sign.

We can't wait to announce who we're adding to our family, and we'll be on the New Commitments page on Reece's Rainbow, hopefully within the next few days!  In the meantime, this does add more agency fees, about $3500, and the foreign agency wants those ASAP.  So, while I still feel weary from fundraising around $8,000 (and paying over $11,000) in two months, it is onward we go...

(And this is for my dad.)

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, 
with the cross of Jesus going on before. 
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; 
forward into battle see his banners go! 
At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee; 
on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! 
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise; 
brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; 
brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. 
We are not divided, all one body we, 
one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, 
but the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail; 
we have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail. 
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng, 
blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. 
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King, 
this through countless ages men and angels sing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Morning Update 3.26.12

Recap from last week:

We paid our homestudy fees, and now we're waiting to talk to the social worker to get our first of three visits done ASAP!

All of our Reece's Rainbow "Family Sponsorship Program" (FSP) paperwork ready to send in, just as soon as we get that first appointment scheduled.  This means tax-deductible donations!

The check for my passport cleared the bank, so I'm hoping this means my little book is coming in the mail soon!

We've paid $11,084 since January, and you can see where all of that money has gone, and where the money on the ticker is going next.  $837 is due soon, and we're almost there!

We're hanging on to a BIG announcement, so as soon as I can, I'll post the news!  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Real Hunger Games

I have to be honest, I haven't read the books, I have no desire to see the movie.   As a mom, something about watching children kill each other just doesn't appeal to me.  But this morning, I heard that "The Hunger Games" is expected to bring in $130,000,000, just this weekend.

People are paying $10 a ticket, plus the price of popcorn and a drink, to watch children fight to their deaths.  And yet, when people blog about REAL children who are fighting for their LIVES, others turn a blind eye, refuse to acknowledge the truth.

They refuse to see the children who weigh 10 lbs. at 9 years old, or even 14 lbs. at 14 years old.  Children who have been so poorly treated for so many years that their hopes of ever developing mentally beyond a young child are small. 

That there are 5 year olds who are swallowed up by 18 month clothes.

People think their $10 gifts don't matter, that it's not enough.  They apologize for giving such a "small" gift.  But if every person heading to the theater this weekend would drop another $10 in just one adoption fund, over 5,000 children could leave the life of the orphanage behind, come home to their forever families.

FIVE. THOUSAND.  Please, go choose a child.  Just $10.  And if you'd like to help the children in the most need, there's another blog raising money for the orphans in Pleven, Bulgaria, where 240 children are suffering just like those pictured above.  A doctor in Bulgaria has agreed to treat the children at no charge, but there are still supplies needed.  Please visit to learn more.  And you can see how gifts add up, as the fund has already raised $29,000.  But it's not enough.  There are already 30 children hospitalized, some needing multiple surgeries.  That's less than $1,000 per child, people.

So, when you head out to watch a movie about children fighting to their deaths, remember that there are REAL children fighting for their LIVES. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Q&A #1

The number one question we're asked is "Why aren't you adopting domestically, when there are so many kids who need homes here?"

It is a very fair question, and I'll give you our honest answer, one that we spent a lot of time working through ourselves.  First, let me say that we didn't discuss our initial desires to adopt with many people, and the people we did discuss it with have gone through or are going through adoptions of their own, or people we could trust to help us work through our thoughts without trying to force theirs on us.  Even our families knew nothing about it (and I am very proud of my children for not saying anything, as they have been part of the discussion almost since Day 1).

We first looked at domestic waiting child adoption, and after speaking with several agencies, they did not feel our family would be ideal for the majority of the waiting children they were working to place.  Most of the waiting children are in therapeutic foster care, and some cannot be around other children or animals, for the safety of the children and animals.  This was the case for every specific child or sibling group we inquired about.

We then began looking into adoption through foster care, and attended orientation.  Scott and I were excited about the possibility of adding to our family this way, but it was bothering Elijah that the placements would most likely not be permanent, or would take a long time to make permanent.  We also discussed the challenges of homeschooling our biological kids and sending off to public school our foster kids. Simply trying to adopt a child that becomes available for adoption through the foster care system is very difficult, as 85% of foster children who become available for adoption are adopted by their foster parents.

We were asked why we didn't look into domestic special needs adoption, and I'm actually happy to say that there's a waiting list for the sweet babies with Down Syndrome whose mothers choose to give them life.  International adoption may seem expensive, once you factor in three agencies' fees and travel expenses, but domestic adoption can be just as, or more, expensive. 

So we found ourselves looking into international adoption, and here we are!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The First Gift

I am such a fan of Etsy, for several reasons.  First, I'm helping an individual when I purchase their items; second, handmade gifts are so much better than anything you can find on a store shelf; third, there are a lot of wonderful people there!

Charlie, a stay-at-home homeschooling mom (like me!), is doing something amazing in the Etsy world!  She and several friends of hers are making adorable bunnies, and allowing their buyers to choose a waiting child or adoptive family on Reece's Rainbow to receive 100% of the profit from the purchase!

I have been looking for the perfect first gift for our sweet girl, and this adorable button-eyed bunny is it!  Please check out Charlie's shop, To Catch Rainbows, to get your bunny!  They're selling fast, so scoop one up while you can!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patty's Winners!

What better way to end a fun day of shamrocks and pots of gold than by giving away two gift cards!  We had a $100 Visa gift card and $50 Target gift card to give to two lucky people, and just chose the winners!

The winner of the $100 Visa gift card is..... #127

And the winner of the $50 Target gift card is..... #407

Congratulations to you both, and I'll be in touch!

A Birthday Present from the Birthday Girl!

Jessica is a very close friend of mine, a woman I am so thankful to have in my life.  We are going through this adventure of life together, and I am blessed.

Like every parent, she worries that when her kids beg for a new toy for the millionth time or don't want to donate old toys, they aren't "getting" what's really important.  She wants her children to grow up to be compassionate, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Her daughter, R, just turned five, and Jessica requested $5 from each guest, in lieu of gifts.  Jessica and R agreed that she could keep half of the money and choose a charity to receive the other half.  When we went to their house for lunch this past week, R gave half of her birthday money to me, to go toward our adoption expenses. 

Hey, Jess, I think she "gets" it.  You are a fantastic mother and a dear friend.  Thank you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Little Healthy Competition!

I met with a couple of ladies earlier this week, one of them another local adoptive family, and we agreed that some healthy competition is in order! 

Team Sam (the Morton Family) and Team Tory (the Pickett Family) are going head-to-head on Sunday, April 15 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton, VA!

We'll have three main events and several fun events, so the whole family can enjoy an afternoon of fun competition!

Registered Events:

  • Soccer Tournament (11+ players for each team) $25 Registration -- includes t-shirt for the team of your choice
  • 5K Run $25 Registration -- includes t-shirt for the team of your choice
  • 1-mile Fun Run (children only) $5 Registration or $15 Registration with t-shirt for the team of your choice
Fun Events: (donations of any amount accepted)
  • Corn-hole toss 
  • 3-Legged Race
  • Sack Race
  • Wheelbarrow Race
  • Crab Race
Prizes will be awarded for events, and registration forms are available at to be mailed in or emailed in.  Registration by March 31 will guarantee t-shirts for the event day.  Late registrations may have a delay in t-shirts being ready.

If you don't live close by, but you'd like to sponsor a soccer player or runner, please let me know!  We're still working on the details, but as soon as we get it figured out, I'll update it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Melted Like Wax

Once again, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to give you all the glory!

One week ago, I wrote that we had decided to use another homestudy agency, a change that would save us $1000 and be less restrictive as we move through this adoption process.  There were actually two agencies, both with similar fees, and we were unable to decide which to move forward with.  It was a very difficult decision to try to make.

Yesterday, I wrote the blog post $937, asking for prayer as we faced a small mountain getting in the way of us moving forward with our homestudy.

I left a message with the Assistant Director of the homestudy agency we were leaning toward last week, but due to their office moving and training classes, she was not available at all last week, and very little this week.  I received a message from her yesterday afternoon, and I emailed her back this morning with several questions.  

Two hours after sending that email, Scott called me to tell me our mountain had "melt[ed] like wax before the Lord" (Psalm 97:5) in the form of a bonus he didn't know was coming.  And it's coming tomorrow!  We can't ignore God's timing in this, waiting until we spoke with just the person we needed to before having the money to move forward.

I've spoken again with the homestudy agency and with the placing agency, and we are THRILLED that we were shown the correct path to take, after much prayer over this decision.

To everyone who has covered us in prayer, thank you!  To everyone who contributed toward this fundraising goal, thank you!  We have enough to pay our homestudy fees, post-placement fees, criminal/background checks, and my passport fees!  PRAISE GOD, FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


That is what stands in the way of us starting on our homestudy.  Of us being able to move forward with setting up a tax-deductible grant.  Of us being able to file our USCIS paperwork.

We've paid over TEN TIMES that much since the end of January.  We raised more than this in just the past two weeks to pay our first foreign fees.  And this small amount, this small mountain is all that stands in our way of moving forward.

Will you please just pray with us that "the mountains [will] melt like wax before the Lord" (Psalm 97:5)? 

Our current giveaway is running through this Saturday, and we have two prizes up for grabs!  The first is a $100 Visa Gift Card and the second is a $50 Target Gift Card.  There are only 236 entries into the giveaway, so here's how to get yours!

$5=5 entries
$10=20 entries
$20=50 entries
Every $5 over $20= an extra 15 entries
Sharing my blog on your facebook or blog=1 entry/day

Monday, March 12, 2012


"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world---our faith." ~1 John 5:4 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An Older Child?

When Scott and I mention adoption, most everyone assumes we're bringing home a baby.  Fair enough, we actually did think we'd be adopting a baby, adopting domestically, and adopting a child without "special needs".  But we're learning quickly that God's plans do not always match ours.

We had been focusing on finding children that fell within our specific parameters for age and disability.  We had to stop and pray, asking God to show us our child, even if they didn't fit neatly into our plans.

When we found our nine year old daughter, we realized that God had burdened our hearts to make a home for an older child.  And that put is in a category few families find themselves in.  These sweet children have waited for years and years, and now find themselves unadoptable.  Why?  Because no one wants them.  Even advocates for orphans find themselves not pushing as hard for the older waiting children, because they know that, odds are, no one is going to step forward to bring them home.

I hate to compare these sweet children to animals, but think about the dogs and cats waiting in shelters for a family to come for them before it's too late.  Which animals are chosen first?  The puppies, the kittens.  They're cute, fluffy, and your kids are begging you for that bundle of sweetness.  

When we rescued our cats from the shelter, Ayden was BEGGING me for this tiny orange fluffball, and like all the cats there, he needed a home.  But there was this "adolescent" cat there that I just couldn't stop loving on.  He was already 6 months old, almost full-grown, and he had been passed over, because all these little kittens were there.  The woman running the shelter told me he was most likely unadoptable, because he wasn't 8 weeks old.  People don't rescue older cats, even cats just a few months older.  Of course, we brought both cats home.  (Hardy and Ollie are both laying in the open dining room windows, enjoying the sunshine today.)

When you rescue an older animal, you know what you're getting into.  The shelter knows their personality, their likes and dislikes.  It's just a matter of bringing them into your home and giving them a little extra time to adjust.  It's the same way with the older children.

These children have spent more of their lives without a family, but it doesn't mean they should spend the rest of their lives without a family.  

There are many more older children waiting, so please ask yourself if an older child belongs to your family.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Good News Times Two

First of all...


It took 71 days from pre-approval to closing, but it is FINISHED!

Second, take a peek at the ticker!  Yesterday, it said we needed $3,370 for our homestudy fees.  Today, I spoke with another homestudy agency, and our initial fees to go through their agency would be $1,500.  (We'll still have an additional $870 on top of the initial amount, but it will be due later.)  Our fundraising goal just got a LOT smaller and, even factoring in the additional amount, we'll save $1000!!!

We're in the middle of our Saint Patty's Day Giveaway, and there will be TWO WINNERS, so don't forget to give and share for your entries!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Waiting on God's Timing

I was hoping to write a post last Friday (actually I've been waiting to write that particular post since the end of January) but, for whatever reason, things are just not moving as I planned.

I was going to write about how excited we are to have our names on the Deed of Trust, after a 22-month start-to-finish process of selling our last home, moving into our new home, and finally closing on our new home.  But that is not the point of today's post.

The Cliff's Notes version of the story is that we put our home on the market in May 2010, had a contract in August 2010, missed the closing date for September, October, and November, and closed on the sale of our home at the VERY end of December 2010.  From September to December, we were having to constantly extend our rate lock-in, because our buyers' loan took so long to go through.

By the time our buyers did get approval, our lock-in had expired, and we were not able to get in touch with the lender to extend the lock-in in time.  So we moved into our home, with a seller-financed mortgage, We were on hold for a year, in order to show payments to the same lender for twelve months.

We began the purchase process again in December 2011, and got our pre-approval back on December 27, 2011, exactly one year from the day we moved in.  30 days until closing turned into 60 days, and "definitely by Friday" turned into "should be Monday".  The emotional roller coaster we rode from August to December 2010, and now from December 2011 to March 2012 has been difficult.  I've been frustrated, I've cried, I've wanted to give up.

And that's what I had to do.  I had to give up relying on myself (or the bank) when I should be relying on God.  If I'm being honest (and I am), one of my biggest flaws is depending on MY plan, and having a hard time accepting GOD'S plan when I think mine sounds better.

How does this relate to our adoption?  I can look at timelines all I want to, try and figure out when we'll be traveling, and when we'll be bringing our daughter home, but none of that carries any weight.  The timing will be in God's hand, as it always is, and I am learning to accept that through our struggles with buying our home.

Monday, March 5, 2012

God's Provision... Again!

Today is a day I've been waiting ten days to blog about!  Only ten days, because that's when we found out that, instead of paying our foreign agency fees in two installments, we'd be paying our foreign agency fees in three installments.

We had begun fundraising for our homestudy fees when I got the call that there was a mistake with the original fee agreement with our foreign agency, and we'd need to wire 1,190 euros ASAP, because the money was due with our referral acceptance in country.

So, our homestudy fees took the back burner, and we turned our focus to coming up with $1,826, to cover the foreign agency fees and two wiring fees (one for us to wire the money to our placing agency and one for our placing agency to wire the money to our foreign agency).  And today, the wire has been made!  At the time we sent the wired funds, we had, to the dollar, exactly what we needed!  Isn't God awesome!  He provided exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it!

We are 1,826 steps closer to our daughter, and 1/3 of the way funded!!!

We are praying that we will soon get updated information on her development and, just as I hoped for an updated ultrasound picture during my pregnancies, I am hoping for a new picture of her!  I cannot wait to see how much more beautiful she has grown since the time her photo was taken!

I can't end this post without thanking a few people specifically for making this payment possible.  To D&J, thank you for your very generous gift for our Chick-fil-A giveaway; to S&M, B&M, and M&D thank you for giving so unselfishly your kids' clothes and toys for us to sell, and to T, I cannot thank you enough for the time you spent helping me to get everything organized and priced, and for advocating so much for our family.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saint Patty's Day Giveaway!

If you've read any of my blog posts, you know that I've said time and time again that I am terrible at asking people for things, especially money.  So when I got a call on Monday from someone offering the prize for our next giveaway, I was THRILLED, especially since I didn't have a plan for our next fundraiser!

Up for grabs are two prizes perfect for drawing TWO WINNERS on the day when we're all thinking shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow!  (Although not snakes, since apparently Saint Patrick banished them all from Ireland.)

Prize #1 - A $100 Visa Gift Card
Prize #2 - A $50 Target Gift Card

Here's how to enter:

$5 = 5 entries
$10 = 20 entries
$20 = 50 entries

Earn 1 entry per day by sharing on facebook or your blog, just post here when you do, and I'll add your entries!

So pray for us, share our fundraiser, and donate if you can!  We're still adding to that thermometer on the right, to reach that goal of $5,182 so we can get our homestudy started!

(This giveaway is not tax-deductible.)