Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

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Blessed Again


The dinner and auction are over and were a huge success! After weeks of not enough sleep we went into it just praying God would make it what He wanted it to be…to bring the people, weather and atmosphere He wanted. And it was beautiful. It rained all morning and part of the afternoon, which concerned us a bit, but God provided a 40 foot donated tent to completely cover all the auction items and a completely covered (gorgeous!) lodge for the dinner. We assumed we’d just have to find the silver lining in a rainy event, but at 5pm as the band began to play we watched the clouds part and wonderful sunshine come through and enjoyed dry weather for the rest of the evening! We had a great turnout, an amazing band, delicious food, totally awesome friends and family to work with and the auction worked! We had tried so hard to be organized so the check out at the end of the auction would go smoothly and quickly and, even with a few hiccups, we got all the prep work done in the scheduled 30 minutes and had everyone checked out in another 30. It was truly amazing!

The support we received from our friends and family was so encouraging and, through them, God provided another HUGE chunk of the resources we’ll need to bring Grace home. Between the proceeds from tonight, the matching grant and donations that have been sent in from around the country we are now at about $18,000! We were told to expect a cost of between $20-24,000 which 4 months ago sounded like an impossible bill, but today is so close to being met. And while we praise God for continuing to provide for us financially, I’m more in awe of how He’s taking care of us on a day-to-day basis through this. It’s been a very stressful time, but just when we think it’s getting to be too much we’ll have a friend call and offer to watch the kids while we do some task or someone else will call just to say they are praying and ask how we’re doing. Others have offered pretty much every resource you can imagine, just when we needed it to take the next step in this process…and all of this is done for a little girl they’ve never met but are praying fervently for. It’s humbling to be in the middle of this whole thing and truly amazing to see how God is working around us and growing our faith. And we continue to pray that He is letting Grace feel his presence as strongly as we can.

By coincidence it was also my birthday. This is by far the biggest party I’ve ever had and one of the best birthdays I can remember. Philip and the kids surprised me on Saturday with an ice cream cake (I’ve always wanted one of those…yum!) and singing and I kept catching myself trying to imagine what it will be like to celebrate next year with Grace here too. I’m really looking forward to it.

P.S. We just got confirmation from FedEx that our dossier was received in Ukraine!

Just Keep Going

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Tomorrow is our biggest fund raiser and we’re almost ready. Philip and I went through each item last night making sure each bid sheet, item and display was in order. We have 76 items worth over $4,700…wow! We’re keeping it all in our bedroom to keep kids out of it and I keep walking in thinking…hmmm, that painting would look great in my living room and that necklace would look great with my outfit…and the kids would love to use those tickets for the Playstation…and I sure could put that scrapbooking stuff to good use…and I really want to use the photography sessions and vacation package. As much as we’d like to keep all the items, we’re hoping there will be others who want them too so none of them have to come back home with us!

We’ve been watching our dossier on the FedEx site as it makes it’s way around the world. It made a stop in Memphis before heading over to Paris and now it’s back ‘in transit.’ We’ll have to wait and see where it touches down next. Please be keeping our papework in your prayers. We received a new set of checklists for dossiers (after ours was already in the mail) that’s huge and we’re trying to wade through it to see if there’s anything in it that will cause problems for us. Apparently several families have had problems recently with certain documents and these changes are a response to that, which is great except that having to redo papers at this point just got a lot harder and could take long enough that some of our other papers would then be older than 5 months, meaning they would then need to be redone too. Philip is doing a good job staying calm about it and I have to keep praying to stay calm.We really appreciate all your prayers for us and Grace as we keep moving forward.

All Falling Together

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The dossier is on its’ way and should be in our facilitator’s hands by next Tuesday!!! It was exciting and scary to put that in the mail. We’ve worked so hard to get all those papers together that I didn’t want to trust some random employee to take good care of it, but I knew I had to. So now we’re watching the FedEx site each morning to see where it is in its journey. So far it’s still just ‘in transit’ but I’m hoping as it continues we can watch it move across the world.

The dinner and auction are coming together well. We have over 50 items for the auction and I want at least half of them. Some of our friends are especially artistically talented and I’m loving the things they’ve made for us. It’s been a ton of work and pretty stressful at times, but then I’ll get a few phone calls or emails and I can see again how God is putting it all together. As I took a few minutes to just sit down while the kids are napping I was wondering why I hadn’t heard back from the Parks and Rec director about a question I had for our reservation and how I was going to manage to do all the work on the day of the auction…and then the phone rings and it’s the director with all my answers. A few minutes later I get another call from a friend who wanted to help with anything we needed that day. I know God is in control and I know he’s going to do whatever he wants with this event, but when we get those little glimpses into how he’s working it’s so encouraging!

Please keep praying for God’s timing in this whole process, for protection for our paperwork as it travels, for good weather for the dinner/auction on Sunday and for Grace’s health and protection while she’s waiting for us. Thank you!

Medical Counseling


We had an appointment with a spina bifida specialist in Iowa City this morning to talk about what we can expect to face with Grace’s care and what we should tackle first. She was wonderful to talk us through the condition in a more technical way than is easy to find online and to give us ideas of how to start care for Grace when she comes home. Since we could only show her a picture and give her the limited info we have, we obviously didn’t get specifics, but she could tell us that because of her head shape and age that Grace probably has hydrocephaly and a shunt. Basically this means that her spinal fluid is not able to regulate itself like it does in the rest of us and this can cause problems by putting pressure on parts of the brain. One very common outcome of this is that SB kids typically have some form of learning problem, frequently in processing details and working with abstract ideas. However, in her experience they are typically very smart kids who do really well in reading and memory work. She also mentioned that one of the first things we should do when Grace comes home is to get her kidneys checked out because SB sometimes results in urine being pushed back up into the kidneys and this can cause damage. She went over quite a few conditions that could be present because Grace probably hasn’t received treatment for different aspects of the disability…it’s good to know they are a possibility and yet it’s scary to hear all the ‘maybes.’ I found myself several times during the appointment just trying to remember to breath and trust that God will get us through whatever we’re facing.

Although she is a medical doctor, she also has experience with adoption as well and talked us through a few issues we need to keep researching. Like we’ve heard from so many, she told us the relational issues are likely to be harder to face than the medical ones. I had it in my head that I should probably be expecting ‘Big Grace’ to be emotionally/developmentally more on scale with ‘little Grace’ than Josiah, even though she’ll be closer to his age. Dr. McBrien said we should probably lower that expectation to more like 12/18 months old because of how long she’s been in an institution. She also encouraged us to continue looking for pre-adoption counseling so we could be more prepared for the ‘artificial twinning’ of Josiah and Big Grace. They will be very close in age, but will be drastically different in a lot of ways which could cause stress. While all of this was a bit overwhelming to have to absorb so quickly, it is incredibly helpful to be able to think through it now and adjust our expectations and find the resources we know we’ll need soon. Thankfully, we are in an area that offers a lot of excellent medical and educational resources and the social worker that met with us today informed us of some financial help that will offset some of the treatments/home modifications/health costs that we are facing.

On another note, our newspaper interview ran this week and it was wonderfully written. They also did a great job of helping us publicize the dinner/auction. Just a reminder to all you locals that if you’re planning to come we’re requesting an RSVP by July 1st so we can plan accordingly for food. You can email me at or call at 319-447-7938. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and we have some wonderful items that have been donated to the auction. It makes me want to bid on some, but that might be a little counter productive! :)


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We have another major praise today…we were granted a $3000 matching grant through LifeSong. Our friends who are collecting donations for us have mentioned that several checks have been coming in in the past couple weeks and all of those, and any others that come in from now on, will be applied to this grant so we can collect all of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how this works, we have been ‘given’ $3000, but those funds will only be released to us when we have raised money of our own as well. So if we raise only $2000, then we receive only $2000 of the grant. If we raise $3000 then we can collect all $3000 of the grant.

If any of you are interested in helping us meet our goal you can email us for our friends’ address…I’m sure they’d appreciate it if we didn’t post their address on a blog to be viewed by everyone! And a big thank you to those of you who have already helped us and have been praying for this grant.



The garage sale is over and it was amazing! A couple days ago I honestly couldn’t have told you how this was all going to work, but it went so well and was such a blessing. We moved 2 HUGE business-sized trailers worth of stuff out of the church Friday night…in the biggest storm I’ve seen in a long time. We were seriously not sure whether we would get to finish because it looked like we might be in for a tornado. And then at 6am we moved it all back out of those trailers and into a water-soaked park. It might not sound like ideal conditions, but we’ve had rain for the past 2 weeks and are schedule for more all next week. In fact, Saturday has been the only totally dry day during that whole time. It was sunny, with a slight breeze and absolutely beautiful. continue reading…



Image By: Crystl

Wow, for people who usually live a pretty quiet life these last few days have been very odd! Last night the local newspaper editor came by the house to do an interview with us (Grace crawled up in his lap and insisted he read her a book). They’ve agreed to run a story and help with advertising our fund raisers. Then Philip and I got up early to head over to the Christian radio station here to do another interview. I was kind of nervous, but it went really well and was much easier than I anticipated. We have ads in the local paper, have posted on multiple places online and will have signs up all over town…hopefully we’ll have a good turnout! For you locals, here’s the info again:

HUGE garage sale at Davis Park in Mt. Vernon this Saturday (the 19th) from 7:30-3:30. We’ll have food, clothes, electronics, crafts, toys, games, furniture, musical instruments, kitchen and housewares, etc. What originally started out as something that would fit in a friends’ driveway has overgrown the pavilion at the park! There is a chance of rain that day so PLEASE be praying for good weather! continue reading…

Plodding Along

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Not much has happened this week, and yet we’ve stayed amazingly busy! I had to call someone from the Department of Homeland Defense to tell them we’d done our prints early or they would have waited to process them until our original date. We have no way of knowing how long it will take them to process them, but hopefully it will be quicker than the original date. There were 17 other families in the system ahead of us so it may take a few weeks. continue reading…


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Image By: hisks

I only have a minute, but we have a few prayer requests…

• Our application to Life Song has been received and is in the review process. We are hoping for a rather large matching grant through them and were told it could take 6-8 weeks to hear anything back. We’ve also submitted several other applications with other organizations and are hoping something else might be granted.

• Our appointments with the USCIS office were granted, but for almost 4 weeks out…and on different days. Since we have to drive to DesMoines we’re hoping to get them together. We’re also hoping we can talk someone into letting us in sooner (we’ve heard this sometimes happens). continue reading…

Image By: Peter Baxter

This is just an update on the Lia Sophia Party…it’s ending this week! All online sales will end this Friday (so if you’ve been meaning to order you need to click on the button to the right soon!) so Tracy can submit them and get the jewelry sent out to everyone who ordered. We want to thank everyone who participated and we’ll look forward to seeing you all glammed up in new necklaces and earrings!

As far as the adoption progress we are making good headway. I’m hoping the final copy of the home study will be in the mail today and when that’s in hand I’m almost ready to send out our petition to the US government. continue reading…