Monday, January 11, 2016

Saddleback Church Orphan Care Resources

I love how Saddleback Church has such a huge heart for orphan care and they encourage all their members to participate in some way. Just wanted to share some of their resources here...

I watched this video when we were first feeling the call to adopt in December of 2011. I'm watching it again today because it has so many good points. I wish every Christian family could watch it - and ACT. We are not all called to adopt or foster but we are all called to care for orphans in some way.

Everyone Needs a Family...


God's Heart for the Orphan (Parts 1-4)...

Evaluating Agencies (Parts 1-3)...


Orphan Care Initiative (website)


Open your heart to God’s heart for the orphan

Recognize your responsibility to find permanent families

Prevent children from being orphaned

Help orphans in ways that move them out of orphanhood

Affirm loving, legal and lasting families by preservation, reunification, or adoption

Never forget the local church is key

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Adoption Fundraisers...

We have been overwhelmed, totally blown away, by our friends who have offered to host fundraisers for our adoption and by those that have supported our adoption so far.

When we adopted Asher, we were able to do it independently and save us a little money, but last year the U.S. passed a law that required all American citizens pursuing an international adoption to now go through an agency to adopt. So we currently have an agency, but every time we have to send money I cringe because I feel like I could be doing the work and saving us money on fees.  :-/

Adoption is so very expensive and we truly appreciate the support of friends and even of those that don't know us! Here is a list of upcoming/past fundraisers for our adoption...

Date TBA - Zumba Fundraiser w/Lara Myers at Fit for Her

November-December 2015 - Just Love Coffee Roaster Fundraiser

October 2015 - T-shirt fundraiser (raised $761!)

September 2015 - T-shirt fundraiser (raised $527!)

July 27-30 - Lularoe Clothing Fundraiser (raised $1,000!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - Giant Subs & Deli fundraiser (raised $470!)

May 2015 - T-shirt fundraiser (raised $647!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meeting "Mercy"

I just returned from an amazing trip to Uganda! I traveled with five friends and our primary focus was working with a babies home in Jinja, UG and Sole Hope. We also threw in a few fun things including a yoga class at the Source Cafe, N'Dere Dance Troupe, shopping at the market, and a safari. I will be posting about our trip on a new blog here as I have time ;-)

One of the highlights of our trip was when I got to meet the little girl we are in the process of adopting. I wish I could have spent more time with her but we were pretty busy doing things at the babies home. Plus, I didn't think it would be very healthy for us to get too attached to each other this early in the process. Here's a few pics from our first meeting...

I don't believe she knows we are trying to adopt her and it's better to keep it that way until we hear of a court date. We have to start the entire adoption process over which means a new home study and dossier so I'm guessing it will take about 9-12 months or so.

Funny that we never initially considered adoption for our family, then God led us to Asher & we can't imagine our life now without him. He's absolutely amazing and we are so thankful to be part of his family. And after we adopted Asher, we thought we were done for sure, but then we learned of "Mercy". We weren't crazy about going through the process again because it is so very hard but we really feel like God wants us to do it. So we are stepping out in faith. One of the biggest lessons I've learned in this life is that God's plan is always better than our own. So we are saying "yes" and we'll just see where God takes us on this next journey. As always, your prayers are appreciated!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Happy Mother's Day Tale

So it looks like the adoption chapter of our lives is not over.

For about 4-5 months now I've been having the longing to adopt again but I thought we were done so I didn't really think any more about it. Then the girls started up with their begging to adopt again. Then about 1 1/2 months ago, we learned of a girl (we'll call her "Mercy") that is in a babies home in Uganda. She has been there about three years now and sadly they haven't been able to find anyone locally to care for her. So we were asked if we'd consider adopting her.

I said yes right away in my heart but we prayed about it & talked things through for over a month. Steve gave his okay one day last week so we are starting the process to adopt her! I'm super excited & I get to meet her when I go to Uganda this summer - wasn't expecting that when I first started planning this trip! So that's our news. We are going into it open-minded & just have big faith that God's will will be done. Your prayers are so appreciated - especially for little Mercy. Please pray that God would prepare her heart to live with her forever family, for God's protection over her, for good health, and for her to bond well with her forever family. Asher has fit so well into our family & we attribute that all to prayer so if you think of us, please pray. We have a crazy road ahead of us but we know it's hard going into it & are prepared for whatever comes our way. Thanks & God bless! ;-)  ‪

#‎incomplete‬ ‪#‎thisishowweroll‬ ‪#‎adoptionrocks‬ ‪#‎everyonedeservesalovingfamily‬ ‪#‎gottalearnhowtodoblackgirlshair‬

Blog Update: We are Mercy's forever family! You can follow her journey here. <3 Thank you, Jesus, for writing the best stories!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gotcha Asher!

Today is Asher's "Gotcha Day"! We can't believe one year ago today is when we met him for the first time. I can remember pulling into the babies home in Uganda and all the children were playing outside. We opened our van doors and they jumped inside and gave us hugs and were so welcoming. Then we saw little Asher standing off in the distance a little ways. The girls saw him first and immediately went to meet him. I didn't want to scare him so I waited a little while then I couldn't stand it anymore. I went to him, bent down on his level and our eyes met. He looked so sad but his eyes just spoke to me like he needed love and wanted to be held. I picked him up and he just melted into my arms. It wasn't long after that that he started telling the other kids, "My mama way!" ("my mama"). It was very clear that I belonged to him and he was not going to share me with anyone else, lol! He instantly bonded with the girls and Steve, too, and loved being held and getting the extra attention.

When I first chose the name "Asher", I looked it up and it means "happy" & "joyful" - but that boy was anything but happy & joyful when we first met him. He was so sad looking and malnourished. He had only been at the home a short time and had already gained a little weight but there were so many children to take care of and nothing substitutes for one-on-one-attention. I'm so thankful to the home's director and our friend, Sharon Nyanjura, for the care he received while there. I can remember chatting with Sharon before she matched us with Asher. She was asking if we would like to be matched with a boy or girl. I told her either but we preferred a boy - then I added nervously, "but a girl would be just fine with us, too!" She said, "Oh, I believe God has a boy in store for you." A boy?! Are you sure? I'm used to girls & don't know what to do with a boy! Somehow God knew what He was doing & Asher was the perfect fit for our family.

That boy used to also throw the biggest crying fits and had quite the temper- but not anymore. I think most would agree that he is very happy & joyful. We've loved seeing the change in him over the past year and so look forward to what God has in store for his life. I've said it many times before, but he is such a blessing to our family - much more to us than we could ever be for him. We love that guy so much & are so thankful to God for taking us down the adoption path. And we thank all of you who have supported us along the way. Adoption is a BeAuTiFuL thing!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Adoption Finalization Day!

Thursday, December 19, 2013 was Asher's Adoption Finalization Day - what a long awaited event for all of our family! I reflect back exactly two years ago when I felt God was calling us to adopt and here we are full circle with a little guy joining our family. Our crazy journey was full of ups and downs but it's finally come to a close of this chapter in our lives. Asher has done amazingly well and our love for him continues to grow more and more every day - as if that's even possible.

Because I'm a sucker for comparison pics...

 And here's a few more pics while at court finalizing Asher's adoption...

Isn't he handsome?! Steve taught him to say, "I'm fly!" ;-)

Steve took the stand first - when asked, he almost forgot our anniversary date, lol!

Asher wanted to take the stand with me but once he realized he could hear his own voice in the microphone, he didn't want to stop talking! Soooo...Steve had to come get him off the stand as he was enjoying himself a little too much ;-)

Our family of five with our judge

Our family with Steve's parents & my niece and nephew

Our family with Steve's sister and her husband and children

The ride home...

The celebration afterwards at our house...

What a blessed day - thank you, God, for taking us down a path we would have never chosen for ourselves. Your plan is always better than our own - Jeremiah 29:11-13.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our Adoption Journey in Pictures

We made this video for Asher before we met him. (Excuse the cheesiness)...

And here's our story. Once upon a time...

Steve & I began volunteering for Project Hope Worldwide - thus beginning our passion for Uganda and caring for orphans. PHW is an Owasso-based non-profit organization that was birthed from 3 people at our church. PHW now has an orphanage, school, medical clinic, and church in Lira, UG. They are also expanding to other countries and have sponsorship programs in both Uganda and Juarez, Mexico.

Uganda is in Africa

Located on the equator

My first trip to UG - a life-changing experience!
Dec. 2010

2 1/2 million orphans in UG. My heart was broken and I knew we had to do something more.

Steve's first trip to UG
July 2011

I felt "the call" to adopt. I NEVER would have imagined our family would adopt. It was a great thing that other people did but it just wasn't part of "our" plan. But then in December 2011, I truly felt like it was what God wanted us to do. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'd dream about it at night. I'd turn on the radio and there was a song about orphans playing. I tuned in to listen to a podcast and it was about adopting. And I kept hearing a soft, still voice within my spirit that it was our time. I have to admit, I fought it at first. Adoption is scary and messy and there's so many unknowns. But it turned out to be a huge faith building event in our lives and we're so thankful God took us down that journey.
Dec. 2011

After much prayer and research, we said "Yes!" This is the night we told the girls ;-)
March 13, 2012

My 2nd trip to UG - again, my heart ached for these orphaned children. Everyone deserves to be in a forever family.
June 2012
After visiting Arise and Shine (AASU) babies home in Jinja, UG, I saw their great need for funds to provide for the home so I committed to selling bags and beads that were made in Uganda. I now sell them on facebook, out of our home, and at Vintique Charm in Owasso, OK and send 100% of the profits to AASU.

We knew we wanted to travel to UG to adopt as a family. This was a happy day when the girls received their passports.
July 17, 2012

Received our first referral, a 2 year old boy named Reagan
Sept. 5, 2012

Lost our referral to an uncle that came out of nowhere and said he would take care of Reagan
Oct. 4, 2012

Received a new referral for 2 year old Muhamad Twinomugisha
Nov. 4, 2012

We said "YES!!!"
Nov. 9, 2012

SOOOO much paperwork to fill out, copy, & notarize
Nov. 9, 2012

Our girls are part of a ministry called Project 1:27 - Hope 4 Uganda. They make crafts and sell them at craft shows & all of their money goes towards supporting orphans in UG. They won a chili competition in Oct. 2012 and sent most of their funds to AASU to purchase 9 cribs for the home. This pic was sent to them the day the cribs arrived. Ironic, as one of them belonged to their future little brother ;-)
Nov. 19, 2012

Time for immunizations for international travel!
Jan. 16, 2013

They were very brave ;-)

Created for Care Conference
Bedford, GA
(I HIGHLY recommend this conference for any ladies considering adopting. We learned so much helpful info & it was great connecting with other adoptive moms. This is a pic of me with 4 other ladies that adopted from the same babies home in UG. We are from 4 different states so it was so great to be together at the same time!)
Feb. 16, 2013

Adoption t-shirts - One of our fundraisers
Feb. 2013

Other fundraisers included:
Give1Save1: Africa
Zumba Benefit at Fit For Her
Coins in bottles challenge
Breakfast fundraiser at Baja Jacks
On-line facebook garage sale
Adopt Together

Time to start purchasing necessary items for the trip - lots of diapers, bug repellent, snacks, and donations for the babies home
Feb. 21, 2013

So many choices for black skin and hair products! I had a lot of educating to do! 

And we're off - with 9 suitcases & 8 carry-on bags. We're not the best at traveling lightly ;-)
Feb. 27, 2013

Asher's Gotcha Day! Such a surreal experience. He was so tiny & looked so sad. We don't remember him smiling the entire time we were with him, yet he didn't want us to put him down. He even started calling me "Mama Way" which means "My Mommy" within a short period of time after meeting him. The next day we went back to see him & the director thought it was best that he stay with us because he missed us and didn't want anyone at the home to hold him or care for him. So he stayed with us from that day on - and we did see lots of smiles on that 2nd day & he hasn't stopped since - ironic, since his name means "happy".
March 7, 2013

Alirikos Guest House (a.k.a. Herb & Ellen's) - Our home away from home. Such a great place for adoptive families to stay  - it was a huge blessing!
Kampala, UG

Asher and his buddy, Elijah, comparing bellies ;-)

This is one of our favorite drivers, Deo. Asher even has an African doll he calls Deo today ;-)

Entebbe Zoo
March 12, 2013

Court Date
March 14, 2013

Written Ruling
April 15, 2013

This is Asher's bio mother and uncle. His father committed suicide and his mother was unemployed and poor and could not take care of Asher - nor did any other family members want him. When I first saw her, I broke down because I felt so bad taking Asher away from her. She just smiled real big and held my hand and said, "Please don't cry! This is what I want and it make my heart so happy that he will be with your family." We held hands often and she told me many times, "I love you, my sister!"

On the far right is our wonderful attorney, Rebecca. Also pictured is Asher's bio mother and sister. 

N'Dere Dance Troupe
Dinner and African dancing - an amazing evening!
March 20, 2013

Nile River - with another one of our favorite drivers, Francis
Jinja, UG
March 31, 2013

Arise and Shine Babies Home
Jinja, UG
We brought hundreds of filled eggs from home & the girls hid them on the grounds. The kids had so much fun finding the eggs & eating the sweets!
March 31, 2013

Asher's first time to hunt for eggs at Easter

Asher with his friends Jonah and Bruce. Jonah was just adopted last month. So glad he has a forever family!

The girls and I are pictured here with the director of AASU. She has become our friend and we love her so much. She is an amazing young woman that has done so much good for her country.  She not only runs the babies home, but she has also started a school and has created several income generating projects to help educate and employ men and women in her village. She is a true saint.

LOL - notice Asher standing in front of me wondering why I wasn't holding him ;-) 

I was curious how Asher would do visiting the babies home after being with us for several weeks but he did great. He stayed right by our side at first but ventured out some eventually, making sure we were still there often. When it was time to go, he hopped in our van and waved goodbye to everyone. Sure wish I knew what was going on in his little mind at that time!

Safari at Murchison Falls - an amazing experience!
April 5, 2013

No seat belts or car seats, kids! Hang on!

Boat ride on the Nile

Hike to the top of the falls

Other outings...

Watoto Church
Kampala, UG

We loved the craft markets!

Our highlight for the week: Buy one get one free ice cream on Tuesdays! ;-)

Our first boda boda ride!

A bit scary, but fun ;-)

We took lots of walks while waiting

Another one of our favorite drivers, Brian

Received Asher's passport!
April 19, 2013

Received Asher's Visa...
April 23, 2013

That's the last step! Time to go HOME as a family of FIVE!

April 24, 2013

Our new and improved family
Pics by my sis, Anna Lee

Adoption is hard, messy, and scary. There are so many unknowns and it's not for the faint hearted. But it's so totally worth it - you're giving a child a forever family, which all children deserve. And remember, if God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it.

What a difference a year makes...

So many people have told us how "lucky" Asher is to have our family, but we feel just the opposite is true. He's rocked our world (in a good way!) and we are so blessed to have him join us. He amazes us everyday with how much he's growing, talking, and developing relationships. He bonded so well with our family and we attribute that solely to everyone that prayed for us before we even met him. He's all boy. He's a toddler. He's a mess. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Can't imagine life without him! Thank you, Jesus, and all glory to Your name.