Monthly Archives: April 2011

My Brown-Eyed Boy

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We have new pictures!

Check out that Grin!
My friend who is in Kirk’s country, picking up her newly adopted little ones, saw Kirk today when she was on the orphanage playground with her son!! She was able to talk with him and show him our picture. She said he was precious, and shy, and all smiles. Apparently, Kirk and her son Parker are buds… Kirk was hugging him and kissed him on the cheek. It is likely the two of them have been together since they were babies – and though they don’t even know it yet, they will get to live 5 minutes from each other. God is kind. I can’t even express how excited I am to have new pictures, taken as recently as 12 hours ago! My Mama-heart is very happy!
Our only brown-eyed Child (so far)


Hangin’ on the Playground


Hugging His Bud

A Little Q & A

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We’ve received a lot of questions as we’ve started this journey, so I thought today I’d take a minute to answer a few…

1. How did you ‘find’ Kirk?
Some very dear friends of ours, who live about 5 minutes from our house, are also adopting from Kirk’s country- from the same orphanage, in fact. Through them, we learned about Reeces Rainbow, where we first saw Kirk’s picture, and felt the Lord tugging at our hearts for him. We didn’t realize at first that Kirk was in the same region and orphanage as our friends’ children, but we are now very stoked about it, knowing that Kirk and the Carlin kids will share a language, a history, and a culture.
2. Do you have a travel date yet?
No. We have thought since we started this that we would be ready to travel in August. In my heart, I’m really thinking sooner than that. A few things have to happen first, before we can get our travel date, and we’ll keep everyone informed.
3. Does Kirk speak English?
No. He speaks Russian.
4. Are you going to learn Russian?
Of course, he is going to learn English, but yes, we are working to learn Russian. We picked up a very handy tool: Russian Phrases for Children. It includes an audio CD and two pocket phrase books (one for each parent). This system was put together by an American Dad who has adopted Russian-speaking children, so the phrases are specific for adoptive parents…. things like “I am your Mama….” “This is our home…” “Are you thirsty?…” “It’s almost time for bed…” “Do you need help?” “Show me where it hurts…” I am also looking into getting Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur from our library, if it’s available. We feel learning to communicate with him in Russian in those first initial days and weeks will help him feel secure with us.
5. How old is Kirk?
He is 5 years old.
6. Is that his real name? / Will you re-name him?
No, Kirk is not his birth name. We do know his birth name, but cannot share it publicly. We will keep his birth name as part of his name, but we haven’t yet decided what we will call him.
7. How are you paying for the adoption?
Fundraising. We are working on local fundraisers, as well as at least one more on-line fundraiser, which I’m really excited about and will blog about soon. Although we’re opening ourselves up for criticism by ‘asking’ for donations from others, it’s our prayer that God will burden certain individuals to give what He calls them to give. Ultimately, it is HE who provides, and we’re confident in that.
One thing we haven’t been asked is why? That’s a question deserving a whole separate post.
Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask here in the comments or send me an email.
Blessings!
Shannon

Glitches, Gifts, and Mysteries Solved

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Sorry, this is a long one, but quite a story!

What a roller coaster ride it’s been the past 24 hours.
We are asked on almost a daily basis how things are progressing with the adoption. It’s so encouraging to know we are not alone in this journey. There have been ups and downs to the process… I’ve said before it’s a ‘hurry up and wait’ cycle. We’ve had some hurdles along the way, but no major glitches… until yesterday…
There were two things we had been waiting for, and I had been watching the mailbox daily. One, was my State Police Clearance from the crime records office in Austin, TX. We received Jeff’s last week, but not mine, and we had been fingerprinted on the same day.
The other thing we were waiting on- our passports. Of course, we’re not traveling anytime soon, but we need our passport numbers to fill out at least a dozen documents to be notarized and included in our dossier.
Yesterday, when the mail came and still there was nothing, I had a feeling I needed to address each issue by calling and talking to someone, instead of waiting for another mail day to come and go.
The kind woman at the crime records office took just a moment looking at my account and said she didn’t know what happened, but there had been a ‘glitch.’ I didn’t know what that meant, but she apologized and said they would mail my clearance to me the following day.
That was easy. Whew! {Did I mention I really don’t like talking on the phone?}
Now to find out what was going on with our passports. I had received an email stating that they would be mailed to us via overnight shipping ‘on or around’ the 22nd. Since yesterday was the 26th, I sensed something was wrong.
Over an hour later, after some tracking online, and two phone calls to the Passport Service Center, I was loading up the kids into the car to head to the post office. Our passports had been delivered…. somewhere, last Wednesday, but not to our house. We were headed to the post office in hopes that they had either been left there, or sent back there after wrong delivery.
Upon arriving at the post office, I prayed aloud for our situation, gave the girls the usual talk (stay right by Mommy; don’t touch anything, etc…) climbed over the console to get out the passenger side door (remember our driver-side door has been broken for almost 2 years) and decided not to use the stroller for Carson, and just carry him on my hip instead.
At the door, a nice young man held open the door for us, and smiled. I thought, I know him from somewhere, but then the thought was lost as I guided the girls past the post office boxes and into the mailroom without too much twirling and dancing around, as they are want to do.
Within a moment, it was our turn at the counter, and I explained the situation to the mail clerk. She whisked off to the back with our tracking number, in search of our lost passports. I waited. It seemed like such a long wait. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hold my breath the whole time, or I would have fainted.
The girls tried to be still. They started fidgeting, twirling, hanging on the counter. Maggie spelled out words she saw on signs everywhere and asked me what different signs said. They oo’ed and ah’ed over pictures of postage stamps.
I became aware of the long line of people quietly waiting behind us. We waited and I prayed. And I held my breath some more. I adjusted Carson on my arm, who was also starting to fidget, and realized that my arm was damp. I regretted carting him off in just a onesie, as now his soiled diaper was leaking, ever-so-slightly on to my arm. Are you kidding me? I hoped no one noticed.
I also hoped no one noticed that I had failed to brush my girls’ hair after they got up from their naps. Furthermore, I hoped they didn’t notice that I left the house in a T-shirt and shorts that didn’t match. I decided to pretend that the line of people behind me wasn’t there. We continued to wait.
Finally, the clerk emerged from the backempty-handed. The package had been delivered and that was that. Albeit, delivered to the wrong house, but there was nothing they could do. She took my cell number and promised to talk to the mail carrier who delivers express mail. Maybe she would remember where she left the packages.
I arrived home feeling defeated, and wanting to cry. I made the kids a snack, and as they sat down to eat, there was a knock on the door.
I opened the door to find the same familiar-looking guy who held the door for us at the post office. He handed me a sealed, un-addressed mailer and said, “I’m supposed to give this to you.” My head was lost in a cloud of confusion, and I could hardly muster a “thank you” before he was walking away.
I closed the door and opened the mailer.
Inside was…. not our passports…. but around $100 in cash.
What a crazy afternoon. I was definitely confused, but the unexpected visit left a smile on my face, where moments earlier I was holding back tears…
This morning, the express mail delivery woman was on my doorstep, and cheerfully ready to help. She remembered exactly where the passports were delivered… to my neighbor two-doors down… and by early afternoon, I had our passports in hand! Praise the Lord!
Me, thrilled to pieces after getting our passports.
Oh, and I finally realized who the familiar-looking mystery visitor was – a friend of ours from our former church. He was in our home group and has visited in our home, for goodness sakes – I felt like such a dork for not recognizing him immediately! Their sweet family has always been such a blessing to us, and yesterday was no exception. I guess he watched us at the mail counter and had pity on us – haha! It’s more likely that the Lord just laid it on his heart to bless us, especially since I have been praying for the Lord to lay on individual hearts to give towards our adoption when it’s the right time.
Maybe if our passports hadn’t been mis-delivered, causing me to visit the post office at that very hour – maybe our friend wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bless us. I don’t know. But I do know what I always say – God is sovereign. And He has control over all things, great and small.
Sometimes it’s the little trials in life that test whether we really believe what we say.

This Easter

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It’s late Saturday night as I write this. The night before my favorite day of the year – Easter. I could cry, I’m so happy that it’s Easter. It never loses it’s excitement for me. I am filled up to overflowing with praise and gratitude.

Last night, we attended a traditional Seder meal at church, and learned so much about the traditional passover meal of the Israelites. What rich history. And I will post about that later.
I always anticipate Easter morning. What an unspeakably, immeasurable gift the Father has bestowed on us. I wake up every Easter morning and want to shout He is Risen! I cannot keep silent. With every fiber of my being, I feel the chorus,
Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?
Over and over, like a trumpet underground,
Did the earth seem to pound, He is Risen!?
Over and over, in a never ending round
He is risen – Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Every Easter I wish that for just one day I had the voice of Sandi Patti to belt out that tune so that the gratitude and joy in my heart would have an adequate outlet. I feel like the magnificent miracle and gift of what Easter means will just make me burst from the inside out.
Thank you , Father. Thank you, Jesus!
Every Easter it’s the same. But this Easter is different. This Easter is the last one that Kirk will spend without a family. It’s the last Easter that he will wake up with probably no knowledge of the God who created him, or the Savior who bought him with a price. This Easter will be the very last one that he will wake up without hope. Because next Easter, that will all have changed.
Praise God. Hallelujah.
What an incredible gift the Father has bestowed on us.

Lessons from the Coffee Shop Potty

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Something happened tonight, after church, on our 7 1/2 minute drive back to our house (yes, we pretty much live close to everything important – church, the mall, Doc’s office, Target, several Mexican restaurants, the grocery store, 3 coffee shops, and even our small airport – all in a 10-mile radius.) We dragged the kids away from friends, Maggie telling me she didn’t get to play with anyone as I buckled her into her booster seat. I reminded that she did, in fact get to play with a ton of friends.

When all 3 kiddos were secured, and Jeff climbed over the console from the passenger side into the driver seat (our driver-side door has been broken for almost 2 years) and I was buckling my own seat belt, my sweet husband asked me what any exhausted man would ask his exhausted wife on a Wednesday night after church – do you want to stop for some coffee on the way home?
He knows it’s music to my ears. A special rendezvous through the java drive through…
As we were pulling into the parking lot of the coffee shop, Maggie announced from the back seat that she had to ‘tee tee’. (That’s the lingo around our house.) I sighed and asked if she could wait until we got home. “Well, I have to tee tee really bad,” came the small voice from behind my seat.
Very well, then.
Jeff parked the car and we quickly devised a plan. I would take her inside while he and the other two tackled the drive-thru and they would pull around and pick us up.
Once in the freezing cold establishment (why is it always freezing? It’s not a Baskin-Robins for crying out loud) the strong aroma of freshly ground coffee beans hit me as I turned the corner with Maggie to take her to the restroom. Upon setting her on the ‘potty’ I waited.
Nothing happened for a few seconds. And then she said, “Um, I think I was just joking.”
I refrained from saying, “girl, I know you di’in.”
A conversation ensued in which I asked Maggie several questions and finally she admitted that she lied to me in the car. She was visibly upset. I told her she would have to pay the consequences for lying (spank from Daddy) and talked to her about what the Bible says about lying.
Once outside, we were holding hands, standing on the sidewalk, waiting for Jeff to drive around and pick us up. I told her she would have to tell Daddy that she lied- that we always want her to tell us when she has lied to us. I talked to her about trust, and how when she lies to us, it breaks our trust.
Minutes later, after I buckled her back into her seat and we were on the road again, she said, “Daddy, I’m sorry. I lied to Mommy.” I explained what happened, and Jeff again explained to her that she would have a consequence to pay, and that lying is sin.
It sounded so black and white when he said it. Lying is a sin. I was struck by how we as adults often rationalize the lies that we sometimes tell…
Lilly piped up from the back seat, “Daddy, does Maggie have a sinful heart?”
Jeff: “Well, we all have sinful hearts.”
Maggie: “Why do we all have sinful hearts?”
Me: “That’s a good question, Maggie… it’s because of what happened with Adam & Eve in the garden… do you remember what God told them?”
Maggie: “Do not eat that fruit.”
Jeff: “That’s right…”
By the time we were pulling into the driveway, we were talking with them once again about sin, and how the Bible says sin was birthed into the world through Adam and Eve,… and the need for our Savior Jesus… and how Jesus came and died to cover our sin…. and that’s why we celebrate Easter!
With all the bunnies and eggs and chocolates we’ve been surrounded by this season, I’ve had ample opportunity to tell the girls, “Easter isn’t about a bunny, it’s about when Jesus died for us and rose from the grave…”
But sometimes, it takes a “little white lie” in the coffee shop parking lot to really bring it home.

How Much is This Gonna Cost?

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Many people have asked us how much it’s going to cost to bring Kirk home. And do we just need that amount before we travel so we can just hand it all over to the agency in exchange for our son?

There are so many costs involved in an international adoption, and we’re depending on the LORD to provide, but He often does so through generous & faithful friends (and strangers we’ve never met.) We want folks to have a more clear picture of the breakdown of adoption-costs, so they know their donations are being put to good use. So here’s what it looks like:
Estimated Cost to Bring Kirk Home:
$1100 – Homestudy (this figure is often much higher)
$364 – Passport Renewal & Expedited Service (We need them quickly b/c we must provide our passport #s on many of our documents we’re preparing.)
$1000 – Immigration Application & Fingerprinting
$7500 – Flights
$10,000 – Facilitator Fees
$600 Kirk’s Passport
$550 Visa & Medical for Kirk
$3000 – Lodging in Kirk’s Country for 4-5 Weeks
$800 – Food & Other Supplies in Kirk’s Country for 4-5 Weeks
$2500 – Transportation in country 4-5 weeks
$1500 Orphanage Donation / Dossier Prep costs
Again, these are estimated costs, based on families who have gone before us through Reece’s Rainbow, adopting from Kirk’s Country. We may be able to cut costs in some places, or some things may be more expensive (like flight fare when it’s time for us to travel!!). But this is our goal.
And no, we don’t just collect our adoption costs and hop on the plane… each of these costs has to be paid along the way, as tasks are completed. For example, we paid $1100 last week for our homestudy… two weeks ago, we paid the passport fees… and this week we’ll be paying the $1000 immigration application costs!!
So please pray with us that the Lord will provide. And watch with us as the RED on that thermometer grows!
Have a Blessed Sunday Afternoon!
Shannon

Winners

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Good morning!

Thank you all for spreading the word, and contributing to our Kick-Off for Kirk Giveaway. Because of God’s provision and your generosity, we are well on our way to bringing Kirk home.
Here are the winners:
Set of 6 Handmade Dishrags
Winner: Krystal McCullough





Handmade Soap & Lotion Bar
Winner: Katie Arceneaux King




Thermal Tote by Thirty-One Gifts
Winner: Amanda Rhodes




Beautiful Mod Wreath
Winner: Lydia Miller



Congrats, gals! Email me so I can send your prizes!!
Thanks again, everyone… and have a great day!

TONIGHT!

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Today is the last chance for anyone wanting to get their name in the hat for our drawing!! See that ChipIn over there, on the right-hand side of the blog? Our goal for our Kick-Off for Kirk – our very first fundraiser – is $5,000. We’re still far from that goal, but look how much we’ve raised already? God is so good!

If any of you would like to help, we would really appreciate you spreading the word before this Kick-Off ends at midnight tonight! If you want to share it on Facebook or post about it on your blog link back to our blog and make sure your friends know to get their name in before midnight! Thank you so, so much!
Wanna see the prizes we have left? I thought so…
Set of 6 Hand-made Cotton Dish Rags
My ‘honorary’ niece Haley made some of these for me, and it took me weeks to actually put them to use because they are so pretty. The winner won’t actually get MY used dishrags, but will get to choose from a few sets like the one pictured here.

Handmade Soap & Lotion Bar


These were made by Yours Truly. The soap is hot-process with pure ingredients, including coconut oil and olive oil. The lotion bar is great for rough spots like heels and elbows. Jeffrey and I each have one stashed in our beside tables. Our family motto is Hazletons love to share… but maybe it doesn’t apply to lotion bars.
Thermal Tote by Thirty-One Gifts

We love our thermal tote, and the ‘Cheeky Elephant’ print is perfect for my crew. But the winner will choose their own print and personalization.

Beautiful Mod Wreath


My friend Meagan is a super-crafter and her home is filled with beautiful things made with her own hands… She made this wreath and I really wanted to keep it for myself, but it will go to one blessed winner of our drawing in the Kick-Off for Kirk Fundraiser!

How to Win:
– If you haven’t already, make a donation using our ChipIn
– For another entry, share on your blog or FB, link back here to our blog, and then leave me a comment letting me know so I can put you down for an additional entry
Drawing Ends:
Midnight tonight. Then we will draw one name for each prize. Think we won’t be up after midnight? Oh yes, we will. Remember the Great Paperwork Sea? Yeah.
Winners Will Be Announced:
Here, tomorrow (Thursday) morning!!
Good luck… tell your friends…
Spasiba, Ya’ll!
Shannon

Life Preserver and the BIG Giveaway!

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Somebody throw me a rope!

I am drowning in the sea of paperwork… I have been trying to keep up with all that needs to be done… many of our documents have to be notarized,… all of the documents for the dossier have be exactly perfect, with no mistakes, no white out (does anyone still use that stuff?), no abbreviations, and signed with a certain color ink pen!
There are at least a dozen different folks we’re working with from notaries, to our family doctor and his staff… from HR representatives at Jeff’s employer… to officials who do finger-printing… and more – and I have to explain to each and every one of them how documents have to be done exactly ‘just so’. It’s nerve wracking.
By mid-morning today, in the midst of the Great Paperwork Sea, I found myself getting stressed and beginning to whine and complain.
Then I read this, that a lovely lady of the Lord posted:
“I am EXCEEDINGLY joyful in all our tribulation” 2 Cor 7:4. Most of us are complaining in tribulation. We hardly face tribulation in this country but it would be good to get in practice for when it may not be so easy. Let’s seek to be joyful even when we face small hardships. Not only joyful, but EXCEEDINGLY joyful! What a difference this would make in our attitude and also the example we give to our children. ~ Nancy Campbell {Above Rubies}


And I remembered Who is in charge. And I remembered what my Word for the Year is…

Joy.

I can hardly say that paper-chasing is a hardship, great or small. No, at worst it is a duty. It is digging in and doing whatever it takes for the privilege of being Kirk’s Mama & Daddy. It is just a temporary task. Might it be that I just need to muster up some gumption with a grin on?
I get the privilege of swimming the Paperwork Channel and the privilege of bringing home our son from a country I’ve been so very close to the border of, but never actually visited.
And we get to pay for all this paper chase (and it costs quite a bit) because God is our Great Provider and He has chosen some of you to get to take part in this amazing work.
So, it is with a joyful and grateful heart that I say thank you to the Father, and thank you to all of you who are praying and giving in so many ways.
And as part of our thanks, we’re giving away four great prizes tomorrow night! Go here to read about our Kick-Off for Kirk Giveaway and see the prizes.
Anyone who has made a donation (through our Chip-In) has their name in the drawing, and the winners will be announced Thursday morning.
So get the word out.
Thank you all…
Shannon




Truckin’ Along

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Home study…. check! Thank you all for praying… the home study isn’t actually complete… we’re still finishing up our online adoption training, having health forms filled out and notarized, and tying up a few more loose ends. But our {three-hour} home visit was completed yesterday, and it went well.


I have to share with you the funniest thing that happened during the home study… I wasn’t really nervous – but I felt like our family was under the microscope, and I never like being the center of attention, so I was a little anxious about that. Well, within the first 5 minutes of the social worker walking through our door, Maggie – our ever extraverted child – asked her if she’d like to see the “dangerous” part of the house….
Really? You’re gonna ask the home study social worker if she wants to see the dangerous part of our house? Alright then…
So she took her to the small access door in the hallway, which leads to the area between the walls, providing access to plumbing. “This is the dangerous part,” she said, and went on to explain…. “See, if Carson ever got in here it would be bad because there’s like a hundred roaches!
Yep. She said that.
All I could do was laugh {and thankfully, so did our social worker}. It was only fitting that the visit should start out that way; it really does fit our family. Always something… never a dull moment….

Now I’ve got to dive back into the sea of paperwork…. and keep truckin’ along… but I’ll be back soon!
Thanks for stopping by!
Shannon