Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Reece's Rainbow Family Sponsorship Page is up!

We are so excited to announce today that our Family Sponsorship Page (or FSP for short) has officially been launched!  This is a wonderful development for "Abraham" and for our family, partly because now friends, family, and random people around the country can give tax-deductible donations toward his adoption expenses.  What a blessing and a help that will be!  But even more than that, it's a great step toward getting word out about our adoption and recruiting prayer warriors!  We want as many people as possible to know about "Abraham" and our adoption so as to maximize the prayer power.  We have an epic journey ahead of us, but what a comfort to know that we have people praying for us and that we have Jesus walking beside us.
Can't wait to see his face around this place!
 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shade of the Almighty says to the Lord: "My refuge, my stronghold, my God in Whom I trust!" ~ Psalms 91:1-2

Friday, July 19, 2013

Starting to Fundraise

Both Sean and I have had some opportunities pop up to help us earn money for "Abraham's" adoption.  Sean has been doing a little pre-calculus tutoring online and by phone with one of the students he helped before we moved here.

And I will be signing a contract on Tuesday to rent a small space in a local shop, Daff-a-Deals in Columbia, to sell my crocheted and knitted items.  This weekend we need to go find a used floor rack to display my items.  I am planning on making scarves, ponchos, dish towels, washcloths, and coasters to start with.  I start in August, and so far, I only have one fluffy white knitted scarf ready to go, which will look pretty lonely on a rack all by itself.  So I will be in full production mode for the next couple of weeks as I work to build up my stock!

But we're both really excited about this extra opportunity to help build up our adoption fund by using our talents.  We have such a long way to go!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A little bit of Eastern European (edible) culture

In the spirit of learning more about "Abraham's" homeland, we prepared two traditional dishes this weekend--tarator and stuffed peppers.  And having tasted these, we are very eager to try more recipes from our sweet boy's country in the near future!  Recently I found a way of making yogurt in the slow cooker, and it makes the perfect base for tarator!  We were really excited to discover this salad-alternative and plan to experiment with our own American twists in the future.  If anyone is interested, this is the yogurt recipe, and it turns out to be just a tiny bit thicker than kefir and considerably thinner than store-bought yogurt.

Unrelated to Eastern European cooking, but related to experimenting in the kitchen, Sean is bound and determined to make his own, fully-edible mobius strip bacon!  Someone created a 3D-printable bacon mobius strip sculpture which gave Sean the idea.  It's a pretty cool sculpture, but it would be much better if it was actually made out of bacon, don't you think?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Backstory

The adoption bug bit us in earnest nearly four years ago, right after the birth of our third child, Paul.  It involved some amazingly vivid dreams and a very strong pull on our heart that really caught our attention.  We bought a copy of Dr. Ray Guarendi's book, Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It, and were convinced that some day we would be blessed with a child through adoption.  At the time, we thought it would be domestic adoption from the foster care system.  We just had our third baby, and we felt that it wasn't the right time to actively pursue adoption.  But we decided to revisit the topic of adoption regularly to continually discern if/when we should take active steps to expand our family that way.

On Christmas Day 2011, we received the wonderful news that we were expecting our fourth child, Felix Emmanuel!  About a week later, Sean was unexpectedly laid off from his job.  Most people would view this as phenomenally bad timing.  But we were thankful for the way things worked out.  If Sean lost his job before we conceived our fourth baby blessing, we probably would have used Natural Family Planning to avoid pregnancy during unemployment, and our sweet baby boy would never have existed!  Another great example of how God's timing is always best!  When Felix was born, Sean still had not received a job offer, despite his impressive resume and many on-site job interviews all over the country and countless telephone interviews.  But that gave us all time to rest and adjust to life as a family of six.  Throughout those eleven months of unemployment, during which we opted out of the governmental assistance programs (aside from unemployment insurance), God provided for our family.  We never went without anything that we needed.  We never even missed a mortgage payment or utility bill!  And we certainly didn't have much money set aside in savings before Sean's job loss.

Then, near the end of the year, God revealed the next part of His plan for us!  We would be relocating just 3-4 hours down the road, from Georgia to South Carolina (a lot better than Iowa, Wisconsin, or Connecticut, which were just some of the other areas that looked like probable future Bailey home states earlier in the year).  And Sean would begin a fantastic new job that suited him a whole lot better than his previous one.  Right before our move, our three year old, Paul, was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and received urgent surgery to correct the problem.  A few days later, with the help of family and friends, we loaded up our U-haul and left for our new home.

Everything went smoothly with the move.  We settled in, and Paul's surgery site healed without complications.  But after almost a year of unemployment and moving expenses, we had incurred about $8,000 of credit card debt.  Sean's new job gave him a sign-on bonus, which we immediately used along with the remainder of our savings to help pay some of that off.  But we still had around $5,000 of credit card debt hanging around.  Imagine our shock when, a few months later, we received a $10,000 medical bill for Paul's surgery!  When Sean was laid off, we decided to continue paying for our own private health insurance instead of signing up with Medicaid.  Not because we were "too proud" to ask for governmental assistance, but because we felt strongly that this was the right thing to do.  And, as it turns out, that private insurance did not cover any of the urgently needed surgery.

At the beginning of 2013, at the least expected time, adoption returned to the forefront of our hearts and minds.  We discovered the beautiful ministry of Little Flower Projects.  And while we fell in love with their work and the precious children they serve, the idea of our family choosing adoption didn't break into our consciousness until we saw a documentary about "The Boy They Call Fish."  The suffering and great need of special needs orphans around the world hit us hard.  Over the next couple of months of prayer and discussion, Sean and I both felt that God was calling us to adopt a child with special needs.  Eventually we couldn't deny the call any longer, and we accepted.  "God, this sounds crazy to our human understanding.  Not only do we NOT have the several tens of thousands of dollars needed for an international adoption or the fuzziest idea of how to finance this, we're $15,000 in the hole because of our medical and credit card debt!  But if this is where You are leading us, we will follow You!  We trust in You!"

And the very next day, we received news that our $10,000 medical debt had been written off by the hospital as charity.  On that same day, Sean received a bonus at work too, which is unheard of in his company when employees have only been on the job for a couple of months.  Talk about a confirmation!  We still had the credit card debt to pay off, and that was taken care of when our tax refund arrived, twice as large as what we were expecting.  We had enough to pay off the credit card and set aside our preliminary adoption fund.  I knew intellectually that God can move mountains and that something as insignificant as money would never get between Him and His plans.  But actually living this huge faith-building lesson was an amazing gift in itself.  You simply can't go wrong by saying yes to God!  He is never outdone in generosity.

Let me add here that during this time we also looked into domestic adoption through the foster care system again, as well as possibly just fostering without adopting at all.  But unfortunately the state of South Carolina has a 5-child policy for fostering and/or adopting children in the foster care system.  And with four children already in our family and knowing that we would remain open to life and God's planning of our family, we discerned that we would revisit foster parenting if the rules limiting family size change, we move to a less restrictive state, or some of our children leave the nest.  We hope that foster parenting will be in God's future plans for our family.

We inquired about three different children before finding our little boy "Abraham" on Reece's Rainbow.  Each of those first three children had other families beat us to official commitment, some within a matter of minutes.  On the other side of adoption, I didn't understand how one can really leave adoption decisions in God's hands to the extent we can with biological pregnancies.  Now I laugh about that thought/feeling because I know He is just as much at work building and guiding families through adoption as He is with pregnancy.  I am in awe that God has chosen US to be this little sweetie's family, and we can't wait for the glorious day when we can bring him home!

.....And that is the story of how we came to choose adoption!