Tuesday, May 29, 2012

T-shirts are in and going fast!!

Do you ever have those days where you just KNOW you have something you should be doing but can't for the life of you figure out what it is?  Maybe this is God's way of telling me to sit down and blog.

Three day weekends always throw me off.  Obviously I love them because it's one more day with my family and makes for a short work week.  On the other hand, it makes me wish every weekend were as such.  The reality is, if every weekend consisted of three days then we would all wish for four day weekends.

This weekend began with some much needed family time and concluded with an impromptu pool party with our small group and some other friends and neighbors.  It was perfect!  Because the fact that I didn't plan it meant that I didn't have the pressure of entertaining and it really allowed me to fully enjoy it.  Jack loves to be in the pool and is a crazy man in the water.  I wonder if James will have ever had any experience similar to being in a pool (or lake or river)?  Doubtful I'm sure.  I hope he's not afraid of the water cause we are a pool loving family!!

These types of thoughts run through my head so much...what if this or has he done that or has anyone taken him ___(fill in the blank).  I know the reality is he's lucky if he gets snuggled once a day.  I think sometimes I over snuggle Jack to make up for the year or so of snuggles James will miss (is it possible to over-snuggle?).  Anyway, as you already know if you read my blog, my boys are my world whether they are currently present with me or not. 

On another note, our t-shirts are in and selling like hot cakes!!  Get them while you can!  We have sizes YS-YL and Adult S-XXL in both Grey and Green.  They are $15 (plus shipping) and can be purchased by shooting me an email at amandamorgantoo@gmail.com.  All proceeds go toward our adoption fund.  Thanks for supporting us!!!

*This design has been created for/by us and should not be used without the express written consent of either Justin or Amanda Morgan.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

But adoption costs so much money...Raising Financial Support

Yes, it does cost a lot.  But, given what Americans spend on life, it's a drop in the bucket and will change your life and the life of a child forever (way more than that new, posh minivan you've been eyeing)!!

That being said, I have a couple of friends who are in the beginning stages of adoption right now and realized how much work we have done in researching, submitting application, and finding ways of financial support.  Some of these may not be applicable to everyone who reads this blog and this cannot possibly be an exhaustive list but I do hope it helps at least get someone started in helping offset the financial burden when adopting.

One I will say as a preface, every single grant or loan I have ever seen on adoption requires that have a completed and approved home study before you can even apply.  So if you're looking for home study financial support, it's time to pinch pennies, cut off your cable, get a second job, sell something you love, or ask for every birthday and Christmas and whatever else gift be money toward your home study.  You may have to do all this stuff anyway as part of raising this 15-40k it will cost you so may as well start now!!

Ok, now to the good stuff...

Grants and Loans

- A Child Waits (low interest loan)
- Abba Fund (Interest Free) Loan
- Gift of Adoption Grant
- Help Us Adopt Grant
- Hand In Hand Grant
- Katelyns Fund Grant
- Orphan Impact Grant (I think they have suspended applications at the moment but state they plan to reopen this summer so keep checking)
- Oxford Adoption Loan (no and low interest loan)
- Show Hope Grant

I listed Lifesong as a separate entity because while they do have grants and loans, they also provide what they call "fundraising support."  This has been the best thing for us because we don't qualify for many of the grants and loans above.  What they do is provide an account for you to be able to receive tax deductible donations which they then pay to your agency as you need funds (or reimburse you when you make adoption related purchases i.e. plane tickets, file immigration paperwork, etc.).  This also allowed us to work with local business who wanted to support us but needed a non-profit to work through...see support raising ideas below.  I am sure there are many other ways to establish a 503(b) account (some churches have their own adoption funds) but for us we go straight through Lifesong and they are VERY easy to work with.

Support Raising Ideas

- Have a Cashola - Some people don't know this as this term but that's what we call it in these parts :)  Basically, a restaurant does community support raising assistance by offering a percentage of their sales for a given evening to your organization.  We have a great relationship with a local pizza place called Shorebreak (www.shorebreakvb.com) and they are willing to let us advertise for our event.  It gets people in their door and helps us too!  Check with local restaurants in your area to see if they'd be willing to work with you on this.  As far as the donation goes, most of them will have to give it to a 503(b) (tax deductible) account which is where, for us, our Lifesong account was very helpful.
-  Other restaurants that I KNOW do different fundraising community support:
- Sell Coffee - Just Love Coffee will let you set up an account through them and sell coffee as a fundraiser.  It's easy to just add a link to your blog or have flyers or whatever!


- Sell T-shirts - A good friend of mine is an art teacher at a local high school.  She had her students design a t-shirt and then we provided a gift certificate to the store of the winner's choice.  We then made a few adjustments to the design to make it our own and had t-shirts made.  If nothing else we had a fun time looking at the wide variety of designs we got back.  Some local screen printers may cut you a deal for the printing if they know you are fundraising for your adoption.  We used Blue Cotton because they were so easy to work with and no one could beat their prices!

- Host a Silent Auction - I must admit when this one was first suggested to me I was immediately overwhelmed and didn't want to have anything to do with it.  However, there are many people out there that may not come to any event you have but they will go online and shop.  You don't have to do one in person, there are many great websites that will host a silent auction for you some even for free (check out 32 Auctions)



Let me wrap up here on a personal note.
My recommendation...apply for EVERYTHING.  Yes, it is a lot of paperwork to fill out but honestly, most of it is the same and the majority is stuff you already had to have for your agency or your home study so while it may be a bit time consuming it will be well worth it!  The other thing is, some people (us) just make too much money on paper to be eligible for these grants.  But we applied anyway.  And we are re-applying for some of them.  And yet to be honest, we have not had a problem thus far.  God has provided every step of the way and we know He will continue to do so!

Feel free to ask if you have any questions!!  I can only answer based on our own experience and those that I know personally but I'll do my best!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

taking care of the children

The last few days have been trying to say the least.  Both an emotional and physical toll have been taken on our family.  On Tuesday, May 1st, exactly one year from the day Jack came home from the hospital (and, subsequently two years from our wedding day), Jack has his one year check up at the pediatrician.  He always passes with flying colors and this was the first time he was actually on the growth charts!  Sadly, with one year appointments typically come vaccines.  This time he was due for his second Hepatitis B, Varicella (Chicken pox), and MMR (Meales Mumps Rubella).  In prior iterations of shot visits, we tend to have a fussy boy later in the day which we follow up with some acetaminophen and a nap and he's as good as new.  This time, the doctor said we could encounter a fever about five days later.  When we got home I was flying high because we had no fussy baby and he was great...for about 3 days, at which time he began not sleeping through the night and being overall fussy.  Then, Friday night, he went to bed just fine, and awoke at 11:30pm with a slight fever and was inconsolable.  My poor baby!!  On Saturday morning he woke up and was just so pathetic!  His fever was 101.8 and he was so lethargic.  Of course, if you google MMR vaccine and fever, (I would not recommend this for any parents) you find many people who believe there is a link between this and autism.  And then I got scared.  I thought, I know we made the most informed decision about immunizations and children with the research that is currently available but what if...  Seriously, what if...?

That morning, after he went back to sleep and Justin was trying to get any rest possible, I couldn't sleep.  I decided it was time to get some work done so I went to Lowe's to get some dirt and get the garden planted.  On my way home from the hardware store I started to break down and pleading with God for my son.  I was so overwhelmed and then it was just like this instant peace.  God gently reminded me that "He had it."  He's got it.  He's got it all.  I realized that, even though I don't understand it, and I don't know how it could possibly be true, God loves my Jack even more than I do.  WHAT?  NO!  Wait, YES!  God my father and savior loves my son more than I ever could in ways I don't even understand.  I can't even fathom that.  But what I do know is that it's true.  And if that's the case (which I believe it is), then there's nothing more to do than trust Him.

Did I overreact a bit?  Of course.  I'm a mother of a one year old boy.  It's gonna happen.  But the lesson I learned was one that applies regardless of what the situation is.

This morning at church there were pictures throughout the church of children in the Virginia foster system who are in need of families.  Justin stayed home with Jack today but I went to church to help check kids in to our children's programs.  This mother and her son stepped up to my counter and as I was checking the boy in (about eight years old) he said, "what are those pictures for?"  I said, those are kids that need homes and families.  He said, "Mom, we need to take care of them!"  Then he looked at me and said, "we can take the one with the braces."  I almost broke down and cried right then and there.  The truth that spews from the mouth of babes...and yet he's right.  We need to take care of them!!

Oh baby James, we're coming for you...as soon as we can!  

Friday, May 4, 2012

i have so many excuses but...

As I lay awake last night after Jack awoke and didn't want to go back to sleep, it hit me that it had been so long since I had blogged.  So first off, I apologize.  Don't think that it's not because I haven't been thinking adoption and focusing on my family...it consumes me!  Work has been crazy and fundraising has taken precedence on the adoption front.  Given that, I have had to turn turn to logical brain into the main focus and that is not typically where I write from.

Ok, enough excuses.  Let me see if I can update where we are and keep this to a reasonable length!!

Let me start with work, both mine and Justin's.  As far as my work is concerned, I've been working on a special project and have enjoyed every minute of it.  However, it has caused me to be out of town one to two nights a week every week for about a month.  I know this is trying on the family but we also know this is just a phase and will not be a forever thing.  As far as Justin, I'm so proud of him!  There have only been two English long-term substitute jobs this semester in the city of Virginia Beach and he's gotten both of them! That has been amazing with regards to us being able to put away money for the adoption.

And then there's Jack...oh, our little boy Jack.  Our ONE YEAR OLD, Jack!  I can't even believe it.  Last Saturday my baby turned 1!  We had a great party - sock monkey themed - and many of our close friends were there.  Jack ended up liking the bell peppers better than any cake or sweet we gave him (I'm not complaining) so there wasn't much cake smashing going on.  But it was fun and we greatly enjoyed our time with loved ones.

So finally, the thing we get asked about more than anything...how's our adoption going?  Well, if the question is that we're progressing, then sure!  It's great!  We have done everything we can possibly do on our end of things other than wrapping up a few pieces of online training that has to be finished before we send our dossier.  But our dossier can't be sent until we get a referral and that is what seems like it's going nowhere.  I think it's the fact that our phone call could realistically come at any time.  But the reality is, it will most likely be about twelve months from when we got our I-600A approved...which was early April.  So on the one hand, we only have 11 months to go...and on the other hand, we still have 11 months to go :(  I know God's timing is perfect and the reality is this works out quite well with the school system calendar so I'm not upset about it.  It's just that I want my baby home!!  Throughout the day during Jack's birthday I kept wondering if we would know James before his first birthday.  Would we get to celebrate with him or at least get to know what his beautiful face looks like before then?  The only thing I can do at this point is pray for those who care for our James and pray they make him feel so special on that day.

Since I'm talking adoption, I need to say this.  We are so overwhelmed and blessed by the generous gifts from our friends and family in our adoption fund.  We are so excited about our tshirts and the possibility of further funds from that effort.  We know that God is faithful and will take care of every last detail including this one!  We are so thankful at what has been provided thus far and what we know is still to come!

And I promise not to wait this long next time...