About Us

We are Stuart and Jessie - a couple imperfectly pursuing God's will for our family, which so far has included having and loving 3 children, getting debt free, and now pursuing an international adoption.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our Bittersweet Ending...

I've started and stopped this blog post many times.  Finding the right words to share this part of our journey is hard.

Russia Bound
My husband and I started our adoption journey almost 3 years ago.  We initially started pursuing an adoption from Russia and started the process with an agency here in San Diego.  We applied in September of 2011, were accepted, and did our home study.  Four months later, in January of 2012, I got a strong sense that Russia was not "it"; that we needed to reevaluate our country of choice.  We did, and in March we switched from Russia to Uganda.  Our home study agency was able to complete our home study for us, but did not work in Uganda, and thus we had to find a separate agency to find us a referral.

Ethical Dilemma
I did a good deal of research and found a placing agency that a) worked in Uganda, and b) had a good reputation.  We made the switch, finished all necessary paperwork requirements, and got on the waiting list in November 2012.  While we waited, I started doing more research on Uganda, ethics and orphan care.  At the same time, I started hearing of some questionable issues that involved our agency, and I began to look into leaving the agency and going independent.  Several ladies reached out and gave me options, and we decided to pursue an independent adoption with a children's home in Uganda.  We learned that the director of this children's home had a heart for resettlement and we would be her last international adoption case since these took away from her work on resettling the children.  Her heart for these kids was amazing.  Since she always made attempts to resettle children before turning to adoption, we felt comfortable going this route, and left the agency.

Our Referral!
After going independent, we had to work to get more paperwork turned in.  This was pure craziness, but we managed, and eventually were given the referral of a sweet, shy little two year old girl.  Her file told a sad story of abandonment, neglect, extreme malnutrition, and finally hope as she was found and placed in the children's home.  This children's home brought her back to health and loved her like she mattered.  Though she had a living father, and although he was offered supplies and a small business, he had no desire to keep or raise her.  Searches for the mother found nothing, and they presumed her to be dead, since she was sick when she abandoned her daughter.  With no other relatives willing to claim her, we accepted the referral and moved forward with the adoption process.  We spoke with our lawyer about hiring a Private Investigator to confirm the mom's passing (this would help a lot in court).  Though this was not necessary, anything we could do to confirm the orphan status of this little girl would help in our case, and would satisfy my strong desire to do things as ethically as possible.  She said our paperwork could still be submitted in court, and she would include the PI report when it was completed.

The Results
 The PI went to work on our case and surprised us completely when he found that the mother was alive.  They had the wrong name for her since she was not Muslim, as they had originally believed, and that's why they could not find her on previous attempts.  Despite finding her, though, she had no interest in the child.  There are more details to this story, which I won't go into here, but suffice it to say I don't believe she would be a healthy option for her daughter.  Though we were ready to continue on in the process, I asked more questions about the situation and found out there was a grandmother that had expressed interest in raising her granddaughter.  The PI did not include this information in his report, and the lawyer insisted the grandmother was unwell and unable to care for her.  We wanted to be sure this was all accurate information, so we hired a second PI, as well as reached out to the director of the children' home.  The director was able to meet with the grandmother and determine that she was, in fact, a good option for this sweet little girl.

So Now...
That email was painful to read.  So much work, so much money, so much time spent on the end goal of adoption, and it wasn't going to work out.  But in all honesty, it has also been amazing.  You see, all that time we spent, all that money, and all that work...it wasn't in vain.  We found her a home...even if it didn't get to be our own.  And it's also confirmed what I've learned about the most-used Bible verse regarding orphans:  James 1:27 says "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world."  This verse is regularly used to encourage adoption.  But I am convinced (especially now) that caring for orphans doesn't always look like adoption.  Sometimes it's about using our resources to preserve families that already exist. I'm thankful to get to walk this road, too.  


But wait!

I don't want to end this blog post with the sense that adoption isn't necessary.  I 100% believe in the need and beauty of adoption.  I just think it's important to be aware that not all children labeled "orphans" are truly without families, and in those cases, we ought to fight for them as well.  It is also necessary for those of us adopting to do our part to ensure there isn't already family available for the child we are pursuing.  And when you've already fallen in love with that face, it's a hard step to take.


What Now?

Stuart and I are not sure what the future holds as far as adoption goes.  We have recently found out we are expecting a little one in November, which takes any chance of adoption off the table for the immediate future, and we will also do what we can to continue to support the precious girl that was brought into our life through this adoption process.  We have already reached out to several people and organizations to figure out a way to support her education and health, and to sponsor her grandmother, if needed.  We have also offered to pay her resettlement fees (which purchases supplies and a small business for the grandmother). 


In all honesty, realizing this is it - that our pursuit of this little girl is over - has been devastating.  I've spent months staring at her pictures, watching a little video of her, collecting clothes and envisioning her in my home.  I've imagined her on family trips with us and crawling into my bed early in the morning.  I've tried to picture her laugh, and what little quirks she might have.  Is she a picky eater, does she like dogs, will she get my sense of humor?  Will she be a daddy's girl, and what will her biggest dreams be?  I've researched hair products and lotions, and looked up Ugandan recipes to share with her.  I've dreamed of being her mommy and giving her the best life possible.  It's so hard to let that go, to stop thinking of her in our home, as part of our family.  


And in those hard times, there is one image that comes to mind.  I see myself looking up at this tapestry that God is creating, and only seeing thousands of knots and a confusing mess, and asking Him, why must life be so complicated??  But He's not stressed like I am.  He's on the other side, looking at the colors and patterns, and whispering to me...."Just wait, Jessie.  It's beautiful."  I trust that must be true.

Thank You
It's hard to figure out exactly how to close out this blog.  How to end this journey we've been on for nearly 3 years.  And I feel like to most appropriate thing to do would be to share our thanks.  To thank those who have been supporting us through prayer and encouragement, through yard sale and silent auction donations, through financial gifts.  To those who have asked how we've been doing and shown an interest in our life, in hers.  Her journey is far from over and Stuart and I are committed to ensuring she thrives, that she has hope beyond the poverty and illness that define her country.  And you all have had a hand in changing her life.  So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.  


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Guess What??

July 2011.  That is when we first began the process of adopting.  To write a single blog post on all that we have learned about this process would be impossible.  I could probably sum it up in a few words:  messy, long, expensive, stressful.  Oh and this:  worth it.

Before I write too much, I feel I need to apologize to the many people who have supported us in one way or another.  The beginning of this process was exciting, and my updates were more consistent.  I have no problem with people asking about our progress, but so much of the process is paperwork and waiting that it gets difficult to write blog posts and make them sound new and exciting.  And our process was only further extended by our education of the ethical issues that bombard international adoption...so much so, that in October of 2013 we left our agency and went independent.  There is a lot of back story to why we chose this route, which I won't go into here and now.  Feel free to ask, though!  =)

But despite the crickets hanging out on this blog, things were happening.  Paperwork was done, emails were sent, prayers were prayed.  All of which brings us to now, February 2014.  Two years and 7 months later, and we can finally tell you this:

We're expecting a GIRL!


There have definitely been a lot of "unexpected's" in this process.  We'd thought we'd be matched with a boy.  We weren't.  We thought the child would be older.  She isn't.  But are we excited?  Heck yes!  I'm sure most of you know that we are obligated to keep details private for her safety. This is the case in nearly any adoption, domestic or international.  But just know this:  her back story is hard, and her face is adorable.  =)






Friday, June 21, 2013

Full Circle

We get asked quite frequently how our adoption process is going.  I don't mind being asked at all; we've been fairly public about our decision to adopt, and we've also received a heck of a lot of support, both verbally and financially, that we feel a sense of obligation to keep inquiring minds in the loop.

However, since our name went on the list back in November, we haven't had much to report.  Well, until last week, kind of.  We spoke with our caseworker and Stuart asked some pointed questions about information I had read, about wait times, about our adoption in general.  And yes, the question even came up about switching countries...again.  Needless to say, we hung up the phone dismayed.  We're in an odd situation where we don't qualify for many countries because we're not 30, or because we have 3 children already, or because we don't have a Hague-approved home study.  The last is the easiest to fix but requires a bit of money and more time.

To say I felt confused is an understatement.  I like knowing what to expect, I enjoy planning, and I definitely like feeling prepared, and I can't do any of that right now.  Stuart and I have been doing a lot of praying and talking about what direction to take, but going in circles.  So two nights ago I laid in my bed and demanded to hear from God (yes, I do that occasionally), and I formulated a blog post in my head.  I fully intended on getting on my computer yesterday morning and writing this lousy update, because it was about as good of an update as I could pull off.  And for the most part, it's still a lousy update.

Except it's not.  Read on....

I pulled out my computer yesterday morning and did what I always do - checked my email first.  One of the emails was a notification from Paypal.  I quickly asked myself "what was I selling on ebay??" and "ugh, I don't want to have to pack it up."  I hate selling things on ebay for the sole reason that I have to pack it up and address it.  That's such a hassle for me.  I wish I could just drop the dang thing in the mail box, am I right?  Anyhow, the email from Paypal included a name I was very familiar with, because two years ago almost to the day I found her blog and we started a friendship.  Please read about it here.  Things still weren't clicking in my head, so I opened it up and read this note:

"Jessie! While we were waiting to adopt from Russia, some dear friends of ours who didn't have much money wrote us a check for $2000. They told us a story of how another couple had given them $2000 when they were adopting years earlier. The couple told them, "Don't ever pay us back. This is a gift, not a loan. But someday when you have $2000 again, please pass it forward to someone else who can use it." Our adoption has fallen apart and our decision is to proceed locally with foster care. So the money left in our adoption account, which includes the $2000, isn't all needed to move forward with our new plans. [My husband] and I have been wanting to bless you and Stuart somehow, and now we know how! I stumbled upon your blog again this morning and saw that your remaining balance to have the $27,000 is $2,280. So there you go, my friend. Fundraising complete. Now go focus on your precious family and we will be with you in prayer that God is working diligently on your hearts as well as that of your future child to ensure a lifelong bond between all of you.  : ) Love to you guys!"

I joked that this was quite a return on my measly investment into their adoption two years ago.  But what gets me is how it came full circle.  After they spent a week praying and waiting on God, God prompted me to reach out to them.  And after Stuart and I spent a week praying and demanding God speak to us (hey, it's the truth), God was gracious, very gracious to us by prompting them to reach out to us.

What a humbling position to be in.


 jessie



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Scentsy Fundraiser Update!

Right before Christmas, my friend of twenty-four years (is that even possible?) and Scentsy consultant, Angie, hosted a Scentsy fundraiser for our adoption.  She was in town last week and handed me the check:  $220!!!!

Just had to share that bit of good news with you.  =)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tick-tock...

Here is our new number.  




It seems like a decent number, by itself.  26.  But in reality, it means a potentially long wait.  When we switched to Uganda, we researched agencies before picking one because our main criteria was doing things ethically.  But doing things ethically can also mean more waiting.  So now's the time where we sit back and pray for our future child and try not to get too anxious.  =)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Big financial news!

Adoptions cost money.  Lots of money.  I know plenty of people are of the opinion that if you can't pay for your adoption yourself, you shouldn't adopt.  We don't agree with that thought, but at the same time we have avoided putting our hand out and just asking for money.  Because we have the time and resources, we have done things like yard sales, fundraising dinners and silent auctions, bracelets, etc.  We have saved lots of our own money and prayed and worked for business growth.  Nevertheless, many friends and family have hugely blessed us with donations "just because."  We have received checks in the mail from friends and total strangers and from family members for Christmas.  My friend's daughter even saved her change ($10.72 worth of change) to help with our airfare!  We have been abundantly blessed and have always, always had enough money in our adoption fund to write the checks necessary.  So for those gifts and support (via yard sale donations and supporting our other fundraisers) we are hugely grateful!  Which gets me to the big financial news.

I received a phone call this morning from Lifesong for Orphans.  They are a fantastic organization that assists adopting families with fundraising support, by providing a tax-deductible account, matching grants, fundraising ideas and support, etc.  We applied for a "fundraising support packet" which provides the tax-exemption for anyone who contributes to our adoption.  We applied a couple months ago and have finally been approved!  But this is only the first of our big financial news.

Secondly, my husband received two new routes for his business.  This is not only an answer to 3 years of prayers; two routes at the same time is a complete MIRACLE!  I have not heard of this happening before (a contractor getting two routes at the same time), but it did, and it happened to my husband!  Though this is a huge help in the big scheme of things, it came with financial requirements of its own and won't mean anything to us personally for awhile yet.  But adding children to your home also adds financial obligations, so by the time we're home with our child(ren) it should give us a little boost.

And the third bit of news.

[deep breath]

[okay, another deeeeeep breath]

We've just been given $10,000.

I'm not even sure I understand the magnitude of that gift, other than I can't even believe it.  Nobody just gives away $10,000.  Except in my dreams.  Okay, and once in a story Dave Ramsey shared about a family working their way out of debt.  They ran into a couple from their church and got to talking about life and Dave Ramsey and paying off the rest of their debt (about $10k).  The couple from church asked them what they were going to do when they got out of debt and the husband and wife said they promised their kids a trampoline, but ultimately wanted to adopt. That couple sent a trampoline to their house, then called and asked to stop by and talk to them about something.  Afraid it was a multi-level marketing scheme, they tried to put it off.  Finally they agreed to meet, and that couple stopped by and handed them a $10,000 check to get them out of debt and allow them to adopt.

So excuse me, it doesn't just happen in my dreams.  It happens in crazy-absurd-must-use-as-an-illustration Dave Ramsey stories.  And apparently now to us.

$10,000.  $10k.  Breeeeeathe.

That puts us a measly $2,500 away from our tentative target goal* which is such a feasible number for Stuart and I!  I can't thank you all enough for your encouragement, prayers and generosity!

*If we get matched with two children, our goal will go up by several thousand dollars, but we'll cross that bridge if/when it comes. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

29

We've dropped down to 29th place!  Just thought I'd let you know.

To explain more about the waiting list, this is the order in which families within our agency have completed all necessary steps to become approved for a child.  This is NOT necessarily the order in which the adoptions will happen, as those are dependent on various factors, mostly having to do with age/gender specifications.


Stuart and I have been "provisionally approved" for up to 2 children of either gender, between the ages of 8 months and 5 years, with some special needs.  If ten of the families ahead of us on the waiting list have requested children under the age of two, in a sense that would mean we're 19th on the waiting list for any child(ren) over the age of two.  That's the simple explanation, but know there is more to it than that.

I'll keep updating as changes occur.  =)  Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement!