Monday, November 30, 2015

Puzzle Fundraiser Update

Tomorrow will mark one month since we began our puzzle piece fundraiser, and I want to say THANK YOU so much to everyone who has made this such a success!
To date, we have received sponsorships for 98 pieces, so we're almost 10% of the way to having the puzzle completed!

This puzzle has also raised $1,169 so far for our adoption costs!  I cannot tell you guys what a huge help this is, as we have over $2,000 in fees coming due within the next week or two, and then another $4,000-$5,000 before the end of the year.  Every single donation adds up quickly and each $5 puzzle piece is getting us one step closer to bringing our child home!

Here is what the front of the puzzle looks like currently:

My goal right now is to at least complete the big dragon.  I understand that we might not be able to complete the entire puzzle, so I figured it would be nicer to have the names spread out across the back rather than in just one corner, so every piece that gets sponsored for now is going to the dragon (unless it's a border piece sponsorship).

I'm not going to lie, I get a little teary-eyed every time I look at the back of the puzzle...  it is such a special thing to see the names of everyone who has played a part in helping us get our child home all together.  I look forward to the day when I can sit down with our child and explain who each person is and how we know each other.  I hope our child feels so loved and wanted seeing how many people cared about them before seeing their face or knowing their name.

Here is how the back of the puzzle looks today:

So once again, thank you to everyone who has contributed, and please know that your donations, big or small, have all made a BIG combined impact!

If you haven't yet sponsored any pieces but would like to, please see instructions on how to do so HERE.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!  I had no trouble coming up with plenty of things that we were thankful for this year!

One other thing that struck me this past weekend is how normally I would be so focused on finding deals online and out scrambling to get items checked off our Christmas lists, fighting the temptation not to buy things for ourselves just because they are on sale.  While it is a little bit of a bummer not to be buying gifts for friends and family, I am not missing the holiday shopping at all.  And I certainly don't feel like James or I are missing out one single bit.  We are so spoiled with having more possessions than we need, and the only thing our lives are missing is our child!  It's so easy to not go out and spend, spend, spend knowing that every dollar saved is one step closer to getting us to China!  Instead, it was so nice to have the weekend 100% focused on spending time with family, appreciating all of the blessings that are already in our lives.

Hopefully next year we'll be doing a combination of shopping for Christmas gifts for our child, while also teaching our child the true meaning of Holidays- spending time with family, appreciating all that we have, and finding ways to bless others out of the abundance in our lives.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Paperwork Progress (or lack thereof), Thirty-One Fundraiser, and Thoughts on Spending

I've been waiting to publish a new blog post until we had some good news regarding the progress of our "paper chase,"  but things are moving a little slowly in that department.
We turned in our homestudy paperwork to our social worker 2 1/2 weeks ago, hoping that we would have a draft of the report within a couple of days.  We are still yet to see that draft, but I've been told it would be here this weekend, so I'm doing my best to remain patient.
I know in my heart that things will all happen according to God's perfect plan for this adoption, and that I shouldn't get myself so worked up about timelines, but its hard not to when you know that with each day that passes, your child is without a family and a home.  I need to trust that God will care for our child until we are able to, and let go of my anxiety.
Today we will take the last few documents we have to be notarized and certified, and will likely try to get some photos printed as well, as we have to send in sets of photos with out dossier, some of just the two of us, and some with us along with other people.

So that's where we stand.  Once our Home Study draft comes back to us, we'll begin a mad dash towards working on our goal of getting all of our dossier paperwork to China (DTC) by the end of the year.  At this point it's looking like we have a 50/50 shot of making that goal, but that doesn't mean that I'll give up on it.  

That means we still have to:
-get our 11 docs we have certified authenticated, which means sending them all to D.C. to pass through the US Embassy and the Chinese Consulate 
-once those docs are authenticated they  can be sent to our agency to go in our Dossier
-review our Home Study draft for accuracy when we get it back
-let our Home Study (HS) agency know it's good to go
- HS agency will print documents, have them notarized
-we will have home study certified and authenticated
-they will send to our placing agency (CCAI) 
-we will also send a copy in with our I-800A application to immigration
-we will receive our fingerprinting appointment and go to be fingerprinted
-receive our I-800A approval notice, get that notarized/certified/authenticated
-overnight that to CCAI as it will be the final piece in our dossier
-Once they have all of the 13 documents and supporting docs that make up our dossier, CCAI will review them, translate them, and ship them to China

Pretty hefty goal to have all of that happen in just 5-6 weeks, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to give up just yet....  we will do our best, and if it doesn't all come together by 12/31, then we'll know it just wasn't meant to be.

Puzzle Update:
Our puzzle piece fundraiser is off to a great start!  It's hard to know how much to advertise the event vs. just letting things happen as they will.  I have noticed that with each post I do on Facebook it seems to spur one or two additional sponsorship each time, so I'm trying to just limit myself to one post every 2-3 days.  I hope people are enjoying seeing the puzzle progress along. Here's an image of where the puzzle stood as of a couple of days ago.  We still have over 900 pieces to go, but we've made some great progress so far!

Thirty-One Fundraiser

One huge blessing that has come our way recently is that a friend of ours who is a sales consultant for Thirty-One reached out to us and offered to do a party for us, in which she would donate all of her earnings to our adoption fund.  I was nervous to do this at the same time as our puzzle piece fundraiser for fear that people would think we asking too much.  In the end, I decided I should never turn down an offer of support, and that if we were going to do a sale, the best time to do it would be now so that people could get some of their Holiday Shopping taken care of, all while supporting a great cause.  I am so glad we said yes!  This event is turning out to be a great help to us, and will also allow us to get quite a few travel bags that we can use for our trip to China for FREE! :)  It was also nice to have a little get together in our home, and spend some time with some friends I just don't see nearly enough of.
Our sale is winding down, and orders need to be placed by midnight tomorrow night (11/22), but if you'd like to take a peak, here is the link:

Here is the customer special for this month, along with some great bundling ideas making use of the special:

Thoughts On Spending:
In the meantime, while we wait for the Home Study draft,I'm keeping myself busy with Christmas cards (almost all of them have been mailed out... woo hoo!), thank you cards, and will begin working on grant applications this weekend so that once our home study application is done we can pop those in the mail!  
We will have about $7,500 in fees to pay before our Dossier can be sent to China, and then another big chunk (around $4,000) before we can receive our referral for a child, so we're doing everything we can to save whatever money we can, and I will be applying for a lot of grants.
The good news is, we now have enough points saved up on one of our credit cards to pay for at least half of our hotel stays in China, and James found a great deal online where if we put our next two big fees on this other new card, we should be able to get at least one of our plane tickets paid for in points.  Every little bit is going to help in the end!
One thing I thought about last night is that even though I'm able to save hundreds of dollars each month, I don't really feel like we're missing out on anything.  Sure, it would be nice to be able to eat out more often, but I keep asking myself what else I would be spending that money on if I wasn't saving for this adoption.  I realized how many things I can convince myself that I "need" just because I have the ability to purchase them (new clothes, items for the home, special treats, electronics, etc).  Right now I'm not feeling for need of anything (ok, the dream of a hot tub is still here, but that's just never going to go away)-  I'm aware that we have WAY more than we will ever need, and it's actually quite freeing to just commit to not buying anything other than food and essentials.  Once I stopped looking at the sale ads every week, and told myself NO, I realized that it's really not that hard to just start appreciating the things we do have instead of constantly searching for more, more, more.
One sort of funny thing that happened recently is that while we were in Costco I noticed they had some REALLY nice winter boots for around $40.  Now the boots that I have are working fine, but they soles are getting a little worn, so I have to wear these special gripper things on them so that I don't slip and fall on the ice.  They are still super warm, and are in good shape, but I've been wearing them for about 5 or 6 winters now so I know I've gotten my money's worth.  The first time I saw the Costco boots I stood firm and just said "no, Kristen, you don't need those, you can wear yours another year or two and just be thankful you have warm boots at all".  The second time I saw them, it was more like "weeeell, it's only $40, and it could save you a $100 co-pay if you slip and fall on the ice again and need to go to the ER, and what if your boots give out on you (not likely) and then you have to buy some last minute and spend more than $40... NO YOU DON'T NEED THEM... KEEP WALKING".  Then the third time I saw them, there was only one pair left in my size and of course I just lost all self-control.  I figured I would buy them, set them aside for emergencies only, and if I could make it through the winter without wearing them, I'd just return them and get my money back. (you see how my mind works?  tricky, huh?).  Well, low and behold... the boots didn't fit right, they weren't comfortable, and they just weren't going to work for me!  I was so RELIEVED!   No more temptation!  James and I laughed so hard on the way home about how much time I had spend deliberating over one stupid purchase, and it would have been solved the very first day if I would have just tried them on.
Lesson learned?  Yes, my boots are totally fine (better than whatever my child has, I'm sure) and I will wear them this winter and be GLAD for them.  And I will no longer allow myself to go through the middle aisles at Costco...  It's necessity aisles only from here on out!

It is going to be hard for me to skip out on all of the Christmas shopping this year, just because I truly enjoy giving gifts, and I do enjoy searching for bargains and joining in on the Holiday Shopping. I also know that giving our family the gift of a grandson, nephew/niece, cousin, etc means more to anyone than whatever electric blanket, pot or pan, or sheet set could ever mean though, so that will get me through.  We are excited to do some small homemade gifts for our closest relatives and will enjoy the extra time together we will get to spend preparing those items.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Puzzle Piece Fundraiser

Would You Like to be a “Piece” of our Adoption Story?

To help cover the costs of our Adoption Journey, we are doing a Puzzle Fundraiser

Here’s how it works:
1.      We have purchased a 1,000 piece brightly colored jigsaw puzzle with a colorful Chinese New Year’s theme picture (see picture below)
2.     We are offering friends and family the chance to “sponsor” puzzle pieces by providing a donation in the amount of your choosing         ($1.00 minimum)
Suggested Donations:
      -Border Piece: $25
-Inner Piece $5

*Pieces can also be sponsored in groups, with one piece for each family member*

3.     To purchase one or more puzzle pieces, you can:
a.     Mail a check or money order- (please contact me directly for mailing address)
b.     Use the “Send Money to Friends and Family” option in PayPal
·  Our account is linked to:
·  Please choose the “add a note” option at payout to indicate which names should be written on the puzzle piece(s).
c.       Pay by debit/credit card online at: 

d.  EXCITING NEW OPTION!  Tax-Deductible donations can be made to our LifeSong for Orphans page at :  (please note, a small processing fee is charged so if you are not interested in the tax deduction options A-C are better choices)

*** Please note that options A. and B. are preferred, as they do not incur processing fees***

4.     Once we have received funds for your sponsorship we will write your name(s) on the back of the puzzle piece(s).
5.     Follow along on the progress of our Puzzle Completion on Facebook or on our blog
6.     When the fundraiser is finished, we will put the puzzle together and hang it in a double-sided glass frame in our child’s bedroom so that he or she can always look and be reminded of who had a “piece” of bringing them home!

Here is the puzzle we will be completing

All funds raised will go towards the cost of our Home Study fee, our second Agency fee, and if possible, 3rd agency fee as well as travel costs.

THANK YOU for your consideration to give.  Even if you are unable to donate monetarily at this time, your prayers mean just as much to us!