The most common statement I've gotten in the last 18 hours is, "I'd love to adopt one day!" If you are interested in international special needs adoption of a waiting child, Reece's Rainbow (reecesrainbow.org) is a fantastic resource. It's where I found sweet girl and they are the driving force being allowing us to offer you a tax deductible way to contribute to us financially. For a refresher on the costs, see the tab above "Budget vs. Actual Cost"s. We just found out our plane tickets are likely to be closer to $1500 than the $1200 I budgeted so add another $2400 or so to that.
The next most common question is, "How can I help?" Honestly, the thing we need the most in this is for you to spread our story and our journey far and wide. Email your co-workers, share the blog on facebook, etc. The thing we need 2nd most is money. It's a sad reality and one we don't want to talk about much. We weren't planning on adding to our family so soon after the girls were born but we're on the path of following God now. In the last 24 months we've gone through a high risk and very expensive pregnancy, a high risk and very expensive birth, a 3 and 5 week stay in the NICU (that costed my insurance more than my house and us personally enough to buy a cheap new car) and to add the icing to the cake, I changed jobs. Yes, this was my choice, but I took a small pay cut to take a job that would require 5-15 fewer hours a week so I could spend that time with my young family. When we made all those financial decisions it was not looking forward that the very next year (or month as the case turned out) we would need to find $50,000 in cash to ransom a Sweet Girl from an orphanage. And $50k in cash, pronto. We are using every available resource to make this process go as fast as possible so she doesn't spend one single NEEDLESS hour without a family. That costs a little more. Could I have sent some things standard fex-ex and not overnight? Sure, it would have added 2 weeks to our journey just so far though. 14 days of going to sleep without a mommy and daddy, 14 days of not knowing what true love feels like, 14 days of being one of many, 14 days of subpar health care, 14 days without a family.
Have I ever talked about what life is like for an orphan in Eastern Europe? At age 4 with special needs, Sweet Girl is very very very unlikely to ever be adopted by someone in her country. Without the advocacy of Reece's Rainbow and other sites like it, no one would have even known she existed. She would have turned 18, and been cast out into the street with no support system, no housing, and a small piddly sum of money that would last her less than a few weeks. For Sweet Girl, being female there is a 50% chance she would turn to prostitution. A 40% chance she would be forced to other crime to survive. A more than 50% liklihood she would be homeless and a 10% chance she would commit suicide within one year. Is adoption always the answer at fixing the system? Never. Even if everyone I know adopted one of these children, it wouldn't fix the system. The change needs to happen at the family level. Prevent teen pregnancy, educate the youth, and support mothers who want to keep their children with special needs. The change hasn't come fast enough for Sweet Girl though so we are opening our family to her. It will be a huge adjustment for her. I'm ripping her away from her home, her culture, her language, her food, her friends and the only caretakers she's ever known. But "caretakers" aren't enough for a child - she needs access to better medical care and a family. This wasn't a decision we took lightly. If I thought there was a way that she could have a family in her own country, that would have been better for her. The sad reality is that she won't ever have a family in her own country. So with that, we're bring her here.
But really, I'm not doing this for her, I'm doing this for me. She doesn't know I exist, but I'm the one that can't live without her now.
Anyway, back to how to help. There is another tab at the top of the page called "Ways to Help". As new opportunities come along I will add them. I have tons of ideas, but not enough time in my day to run every fundraiser possible so I've focused on the biggest bang for our time things. The big things coming up are the Giveaway next week (Prizes include iPad, Kindle Fire, a dozen gift cards, pay it forward chances, homeade goods!) and if you are local to us, we're having a yard sale in July that we are accepting donations for (we've got a truck! we'll come get them! even if you are embarassed to be giving it away, someone might want it!). Also running constantly are our resale of gently used baby clothes gear (sorry, mostly twin girls since that's what I've got) and soon our Sweet Girl Shop. Something very easy also is donating us your Hilton Honors points. It takes less than 5 minutes and we can use them while in eastern europe or redeem them for airline miles.
You got through the words, here are some pictures to reward you :) These are the many faces of Audrey in cell phone pics. I'll work on some of just Harper tomorrow, but that child moves so fast it's hard to catch her. Praying the day comes quickly for me to share photos of Sweet Girl's many faces too :)
|5 days old|
|She is so excited to be a little sister and very excited for her pigtails!|