As always, thanks to The Lemon Tree House for the great "months waiting" cards!
Things Learned and Accomplished This Month: WE ARE HOME STUDY APPROVED!!!
Zach and I made plans to meet our social worker a couple hours away from where we live (which was also a couple hours away from where she lives) to pick up our completed home study paper work. She emailed it to me a few days prior to read over and make sure there weren't any errors or anything. I was THRILLED when I read these two sections of her report:
I mean we knew we'd be approved, but seeing it so officially in writing felt SO GOOD! We made plans to meet her on Sunday, Sept 11th. We took the kids to Mrs. Charlotte's after church for naps and headed out. She hit some traffic and was later than we were so we had a yummy snack while we waited (side note but this Dairy Queen was like THE oldest Dairy Queen everrrr haha).
I debated between the new Oreo coffee thing they have an a Blizzard. Blizzard totally disappointed!
SO thankful for our awesome social worker and all of her help and guidance through this stage of the process! Now that we are approved she kinda is "out of the picture" with us until it comes time to submit paperwork to whatever agency we end up working with!
Whoooo Hoooo! Our Home Study Paperwork!
It's valid for 1 year so here's hoping we don't have to update it and have a baby in our home before Sept 12th 2017 ;)
On our way back we'd be too late to attend church with the kids and Zach's family but early enough where we had time to grab dinner on a mini-date. There is a restaurant in Tifton Z loves and I was finally able to try it out!
Our "We're Home Study Approved!" Pic :)
It's so crazy how much of a rollercoaster this journey really is! We started off in a mad dash to get home study approved but now we're in break mode. We decided to put everything on hold once home study approved as we aren't ready to have a new baby at home quite yet :) The soonest we'd prefer to have Tab enter our family is June of next year. We talked to Casey, from Christian Adoption Consultants, and she agreed that we should put our contract with them on hold until early next year.
During this break time we still have a LOT to do though! A big part is organizing finances but also researching agencies, looking into other options/routes available, getting our house ready etc. Again I'm taking a slow and steady approach to all of these things. I refuse to let this process overwhelm me. I have a lot going on with three kids already and I want to just trust God's plan and timing in our adoption and not let it cause me unnecessary stress!
This is also a time to do some research and learning. I'm thankful for a couple of Facebook groups I'm in involving adoption as it's been great to hear from other parents and their experiences!
My first mission while on break was to put together an official adoption page for the blog. It turned out great and it's where I will be posting links to ALL of our adoption related posts and also where you can find ways to help etc! You can find it HERE (and there is now a spot with it on my navigation bar at the top of the blog as well).
Financial: The second thing on my list for our break time was to tackle the financial end of things. Adoption is expensive. We know we will need roughly $40,000. Um. We didn't plan on this decision so we don't have some awesome savings account set up or anything for it haha.
I started researching options for funds. Fundraising ideas. Grants. Loans.
I saw SEVERAL great fundraising ideas! I think this puzzle idea is really neat (basically you "sell" pieces of the puzzle as a donation for the adoption fund and as people buy a piece they get their name on it and you put it up in the baby's nursery).
But I decided I felt the MOST comfortable with t-shirts. I buy a LOT of fundraising shirts myself and I love supporting the causes but also having the shirt to wear to further show my support. I know so many people who are praying for us and who want to be part of this journey with us. Shirts will be a great way to reach so many and allow for many people to be personally involved in the process!
I looked at a few different sites that do shirt sales and asked around to other adoptive parents who have done shirt campaigns. I decided to use Bonfire for our campaign. They ship the shirts for me directly to people who purchase them but they do require an upload of your own design. I was proud of myself for not overly stressing it.
I knew right away that I wanted to keep the design simple and have it be something that can apply to many different people in different ways. I saw a TON of super cute adoption themed ones but I know my favorite fundraising shirts are the ones that are less specific. I have some awesome ones with just Bible verses on them which are great because they remind me of the cause they represent but also can apply to all kinds of difference aspects in my personal life. I wear those shorts more than the campaign specific ones because I like them better ;)
I am VERY thankful to the SEVERAL graphic designers who reached out and offered to help me put my ideas into action. I ended up working with Abby DeReimer (her site is under construction but you can see it here!) I went to high school with her husband and it was SO SWEET of her to work on this for me!!!
The shirt campaign will be up and running soon but I thought I'd give yall a sneak peak at the design:
"Step Out in Faith" has been my personal motto for our adoption so I knew right away I wanted to use it for the shirts. We ALL have areas in our lives where we can truly step out in faith and follow the Lord's calling for us. Zach and I both agreed it was the perfect phrase for the shirts and he helped in making sure the design wasn't overly feminine ;) We also went with blue font to represent our baby boy!!!
My game plan is to do a shirt campaign soon to start raising funds. I looked into adoption grants and talked to Zach about I just don't feel comfortable going that route. I really appreciate that people want to help us and want to donate money/buy shirts but I don't feel okay with applying for a grant that would take money away from another family who may financially need it more than we do. I feel great with doing a shirt campaign and I feel okay with sharing my PayPal info if people do want to make a direct donation, but that's the max I feel comfortable with in fundraising efforts. We fell called and lead to adopt this baby. We can figure out how to afford it, ya know? I don't expect others to take on that financial burden for us! Worse case we will take out loans and pay them off. It's not ideal in our "spending smart plan" but we firmly believe this is the path God wants us to take and have full trust that He will continue to lead us in how to financially afford it.
I do still need to look into loan options (I know some do lower interest for adoptions) and I need to contact grants we may be eligible for with financial institutions we already work with (I know one credit union we're members of does $500 and our insurance does $3500!).
Robyn also had a great idea to have people contribute items for a garage sale! I LOVE that idea. Not only would it be great for us to clean out some stuff but our house is also in a great location for a garage sale. I know Zach's family hosts garage sales pretty often so I'm sure they would be happy to contribute items. We did a garage sale to raise money for a local fundraiser in the past and had a ton of success. Most of all though I love that this option would really involve the KIDS too. I think it's important for them to be involved!
My plan right now is shirt campaign then garage sale in the Spring (hopefully next time our neighborhood does a community wide one!) and possibly may do another round of the shirt campaign depending on timing of everything and where we are with funds. I did a mini shirt campaign just so I could order them for our family and they turned out AWESOME. Super pumped about sharing them with you all soon!
Encouragement: I keep reminding myself that if we stay faithful, Satan WILL flee. This month was more of Satan attacks. But this time with our health. I had some ear issues (still having them) and Zach had a pretty major medical scare (still waiting to hear final results on all of that so I will update soon). With Zach's health stuff it was (potentially still is) serious enough that it could put a total halt on our ability to adopt. If we have major changes in our health we'd have to update our home study and depending on what is going on it could make us ineligible. Not only are the health concerns scary but it's so confusing to me as to why God would lead us to adopt if we end up unable to do so. It's like Satan would be winning right? Zach reminded me that Satan doesn't WIN if we aren't able to adopt or if our life course changes due to whatever is going on with him...Satan ONLY wins if we lose our FAITH in times of struggle. So no matter what we gotta keep our eyes fixed on the Lord!
I had a TON of helpful verses and reminders this month:
When Zach first had everything start to happen I had to run to Hobby Lobby and spent over an hour walking the aisles because I was talking on the phone to his mom and then to him about everything and I couldn't check out while on the phone (and while so upset). But I did keep seeing these awesome signs around while I was walking. I can def see us wanting to put some in the nursery!
As I mentioned, we STILL don't know the end results of the health concerns (my ear OR Zach's stuff either) but I'm hoping we will have more clear answers and positive news to report in the coming weeks :) We are staying faithful and trusting in HIS plan in ALL areas of life! Satan will not win and he WILL flee from here!
Goals for the Coming Month: T-shirt campaign! My big goal is to get that rolling this month! Also to continue to prep things in our house for the shifts that will be happening. Zach has begun work on a storage area off the playroom since I will be losing my craft/party/picture storage when Britt takes over our guest bedroom. So that's step 1 of this big transition process! Hopefully we can wrap that up this month and begin preparing Britt's new room upstairs! Hoping to move her over Christmas break and get started on the nursery :)
How You Can Help/Prayer Requests: As always, please pray for the health and safety of Tab's birth mama. She's out there and is either about to become pregnant or already possibly in the early days of expecting. Pray for her personal choices and her overall health!
Hopefully shirts will be up and running and everyone can help by purchasing one and wearing it ;) Whoop whoop!