Friday, February 27, 2015

Adoption Fundraiser T-Shirt

Introducing our custom-made t-shirt, designed to help raise money for our adoption!

This is a super-soft t-shirt and can be ordered in adult and youth sizes! The cost is $20 per shirt, regardless of the size. If you don't live in our area and would like your shirts shipped, please add $4 to the cost of your total order. We are taking orders and payment now and will place one big order in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted on when they will be arriving.

To order, click on the "Donate" button on the right side of this blog homepage. If you are on a smart phone, you'll have to scroll down and click on "View web version" in order to see the donate button. This will link you to our Paypal account. As you make your payment, please indicate in the note how many shirts you are ordering and in what sizes. You are also welcome to mail us a check with your sizes included. Please message me for our mailing address, if you'd rather pay this way.

This may be our only fundraiser. It's an easy one to organize, and who doesn't love a cool t-shirt?! A one-year long adoption process is stressful. We are trying to condense that entire process within a matter of a few months, so you can imagine how much time we (DON'T) have for fundraising! We would love to honor sweet little Ru with a party on the town square, like we did for Emily, but that just. ain't. happnin. ;) Sooooooo... if you'd like to support our adoption, please do it now by ordering some shirts for yourself and all your favorite people!

Love y'all and all your support! Can't wait to see these t-shirts all around town (and beyond)!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baby Safe-House

(Written Feb. 17th)

We received a tidbit of new information today, regarding baby Yaru's abandonment. It turns out there is a baby safe-house (similar to a "drop box") right outside of her orphanage. She was left here, on Feb. 5, 2015 with her date of birth and a note saying that something was wrong with her liver. Here is a picture of that safe-house.

China is working to process her paperwork quickly so she can be ready for a family to step forward. We have no guarantee that her file will be reserved for our family but we have many advocates trying to make this happen. We also have no guarantee of the time frame in which her paperwork / file will be ready. Her file must be complete before an adoption can take place. It could be weeks or months. Please pray that her paperwork gets expedited very quickly and that her file becomes available for us. In the meantime, we are racing through all the steps that need to be done on our end in order to be eligible for her file (when and if it comes available). We are doing everything we can to make this adoption happen and to make it happen QUICKLY. Every day is crucial, and each day could be the difference of life or death.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Your Remarkable Response

We are completely overwhelmed by the response we have received since sharing our news yesterday. The FB messages, emails, phone calls, text messages. The encouragement. The offers to help and specific requests to tell you immediately where to give! Y'all. Few words could express our deep gratitude.

It is hard for us to accept financial help. We feel like this is a decision we made and should find the way to make it happen. However, I've also come to terms with the fact that this attitude is very prideful. This is God's journey, not ours. Yes, God has called us to pursue this sweet baby. But He is not only calling us. He calls our community to be a part of this miracle as well! And if your God-given gift is finances, why should we hinder you from using that gift? We have the faith and courage to GO (all glory to God who has given us these spiritual gifts) but others are blessed financially and are just as instrumental in saving the life of this little soul.

We are currently trying to discern how to finance this adoption. If Yaru is going to live, our adoption must happen within a matter of weeks, or a few months at the most. While we are trying to find wisdom in approaching the financial aspect, we are racing through the process and completely engulfed in the requirements. We have little time to ponder about finances, although we realize how very important this will be. You may see us doing one or two small fundraisers but we haven't the time to coordinate anything like Emily's adoption event at Terra Bella. Our efforts to fundraise will not be at the forefront of this adoption. We do not feel that debt is wise or obedient but given the circumstances this go 'round, it may be necessary in order to save her life. We are open to this being a viable option because of the critical circumstances.

That being said, we are grateful if you decide to donate towards our adoption expenses. We will keep our PayPal link ("Donate" button) on my blog home page. We do have many fees that will be due soon, since this is happening so quickly. Our second chunk ($2500) will be due next week. I will update the thermometer on the home page, as I did for our first adoption. This will reflect all funds earmarked for the adoption, including our contributions as well as all donations. We have already paid $1200 for our home study fee as well as some other miscellaneous expenses that came due this week. These costs are already reflected on the thermometer.

Also, I mentioned in my last post that Yaru needs a certain type of formula to help sustain her until a transplant. There was an incredible response from people who wanted to specifically donate formula and medicine. We have prayed about the best way to handle this. Rather than having you go through the trouble of shipping to China, we will accept donations of formula at our home. We will ship them in "shifts" according to when she begins running low. We will use general donations to help pay for the shipping costs involved. She will need this formula when she (God-willing) comes home as well so I don't believe we can have too much for her. In the event that Yaru doesn't make it, we commit to shipping all donated formula to another baby in China with biliary atresia. If you would like to donate formula, please message me through text or FB and I will give you our address. The type of formula she needs is Enfamil's Pregestimil. If you would like to donate money for the formula (and let us purchase it) or earmark a donation directly for needed vitamins, please put that in the note of your donation (through PayPal or otherwise). We will purchase the vitamins and formula as the notes present. If there's no note, we will assume the donation is for our adoption process fees, travel expenses, etc.

We are also aware that many of you have the gift of prayer. We know you will fight for Yaru through your petitions to God. Please know that we covet your prayers as much as any spiritual gift. We saw the outpour of so many gifts through our first adoption and we are excited to see how God moves through each of us again over the coming months. We are the body of Christ, each operating a different limb or organ for His unfolding will. Praise for this blessed village, this community of believers who are so eager to be a part of Yaru's story. We promise to be humble and accept whatever help for Yaru that you feel God may be calling you to.

Blessings to each of you!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Here I Am! Send me.

(This post was written on Feb. 14, 2015. It could not be posted real-time because we are only now sharing this publicly.)

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (2Samuel7:18)

On February 5th, a 2-month old baby girl was abandoned in Inner Mongolia, northern China (the same province where Emily is from). She was taken in to a local Social Welfare Institute (orphanage), where she currently lives. It was immediately clear to the staff that she was very sick. Many events would transpire within a matter of days from her abandonment. We had no idea how her story would become intimately intertwined with ours.

Important to mention before I continue with the events, is an instrumental lady in the story. Her name is Hannah and she is an American who works in Inner Mongolia, China, caring for orphans in various institutions. I met her when we were in the process to adopt Emily and she was actually the one who helped me find out where Emily was! Previous to that, we only had information that she’d been moved from her original orphanage and sent somewhere else. Hannah was the angel that tracked her down to Harmony House, allowing us to be in direct contact with Emily throughout the process. Fast forward to Feb. 12, 2015.

It’s Thursday evening. I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed, looking at all the Chinese orphans being advocated for, as I often do. I run across a post from Hannah who is advocating for this sick baby girl. The post read something like this, “URGENT: 2-month old baby girl abandoned with a life-threatening condition. She has biliary atresia and is in liver failure. She will die soon without a liver transplant.” This post wasn’t any different from the many I see every day. I ache for these children and pray for them daily. Except this one actually was different. Very different. It wasn’t that the post was more alarming than others. It was personal. I didn’t know why it was so personal but would soon find out. I showed Seamus the post immediately and asked him to pray. I went to bed disturbed. Not by her condition, rather by what God was doing in my heart. Who will fight for her? Who will race to save her? Are you calling US? If not us, then who? God quickly revealed that it IS us. He revealed it to us so clearly, so quickly. It took less than a day in prayer to know that God was speaking wisdom into our hearts about how to respond.

Seamus and I had no intention of reentering the adoption process at this point. We knew we’d return to China one day. We hadn’t come to a definitive decision that we would ever adopt again and assumed our next trip to China would be one of mission and showing Emily her homeland. Within 24 hours, we went from a comfortable life of praying for orphans to answering God’s call to GO and fight for this fragile little life.

We WILL fight for this little one. We will pursue adoption of this tiny girl named Yaru. There are no guarantees. We aren’t guaranteed her file at this point. We aren’t guaranteed that she’ll live to see tomorrow, much less gotcha day. We will be on the fast track version of the adoption process. We’ve already begun our home study. Our hope is to travel in a few short months. That may be the quickest we can get there. If she makes it home, we will fight for an immediate liver transplant. We are willing. HE is able. God gives us all the strength we need for this battle. And if God has called us to be her family from a distance only, for her remaining days on earth, our answer is still, “YES!” She will be fiercely prayed for every day until the end. We will ask God to grant her salvation. The world should know that she has a family who loves her, regardless of her condition. Her prognosis is not good but we also know that God works miracles and we are expecting just that. We will rest in whatever path God chooses but we will pray boldly, daily for this miracle that we so desire for Yaru.

We have learned quite a bit about this child and her circumstances over the past few days. We have been told that they may move her from the social welfare institute to a foster orphanage similar to Emily’s Harmony House. It’s called Little Flower and is located in Beijing. It appears that most of the work they do here is infant hospice. We believe she would receive extra love and care at Little Flower. We know that her condition is very serious. We know that she needs a liver transplant. She is going to a doctor after Chinese New Year (week long holiday) and we will find out if she’s a candidate for a surgery called Kaisa. We think her condition may be too advanced to receive the surgery. If she does receive the surgery however, it’s possible it could help her to stay alive until she is able to receive a transplant in the states. If she is a candidate for Kaisa, Little Flower will have to fund it. That’s the work of these foster orphanages. They receive private donations and use the funds to pay for life-saving surgeries. We will be rallying the troops to donate, in the event we hear that she can receive the surgery. We will keep you updated as soon as we know more. We have also learned that her body needs a very specific formula and vitamin drops that she is not currently receiving. We are working on getting these to her ASAP. There will be opportunity to donate these items to her orphanage, if you are interested in helping. The formula alone could help prolong her life.

We are embarking on an amazing journey. We do not know what the future holds but we are sure that God is at the forefront. We also know that He is outside of time and has already ordained the future for Yaru, and for us. Amidst all the unknowns, we fear not. We take great comfort in knowing this call is completely from the One whose plan is perfect. I’ll end with a note Seamus wrote to a friend through text. “We are stepping out in bold faith and are prepared to be used as our Lord sees fit and according to His will and perfect plan. He is all powerful and sovereign, you know! We have witnessed miracles. My wish is that you lift up little Yaru to The Lord, that He will cover her in His grace and mercy, bring healing, love and care through the people in China who are near her. We don’t know the outcome of our efforts or her ability to survive, but we serve a mighty God and stand ready to be united with her and support and love her anyway we can.”
"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Forever Haunted

"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." (Proverbs 24:12)

The faces. The cries. The conditions. The stories. The pictures. They all haunt me. It's true that once you've seen, you never forget. We've been changed. Forever. We "saw" almost one year ago. We had no idea how truly changed we'd be after that trip to China. Of course, we went for Emily but she wasn't the only soul who would enter our hearts and stay there for the rest of our lives. We will never ever forget what we experienced in those orphanages.

I remember the faces of so many children. Precious, image-bearing children who have experienced tragedy on a level that I will never understand. Some faces were sad. Others were stoic. Some cried. Many never cried because they learned that no one would respond anyway. Faces with Down Syndrome. Faces with deformities. Some without. Each of them just as precious as the next. The face of that precious 2 year old boy that turned toward me in his crib when I touched him. This particular one, the one I asked to hold but wasn't allowed to, the face that the nanny said didn't have a life behind it. "We don't hold him. He has no brain and is dying anyway." (insert deepest breath ever taken) Pictures of children who sleep in metal cribs, many without a mattress or blanket. Many whose ankles are tied to the cribs so they won't escape. Beautiful faces, left to face this cruel world alone with no one to fight for them, love them, protect them.

Seeing all this... It's almost too much to bear. We could forget. It would be the easy thing to do. The hurt and sorrow over this broken world could be relieved if we let ourselves forget. We don't have to see the conditions of these orphanages as we sit in our safe, comfortable living room. We are insulated. And we can stay here and try to forget. But we can't forget. And we will go back. Much of our hearts are still there and always will be.

My memories are vivid. And it hurts. Some days it's torture. I often wonder how agonizing it must be for Jesus to see what I've seen. He, who loves these children infinitely more than I ever could. And the joy He experiences when just one of these sweet souls are scooped up, told they are loved, introduced to Him, adopted into a forever family. To remember can be torture. But to experience the redemption that only Christ offers through the ministry of adoption brings unexplainable JOY!

This "haunting" is actually a privilege. It's a privilege because for years, Seamus and I have prayed that God would break our hearts for what breaks His and that's exactly what he's done. What an amazing, beautiful, humbling privilege it is to share perspective with Christ himself. Excuse the lacking analogy but there's an old song that says, "you bleed just to know you're alive." I want to be alive. Alive in Christ. Full joy and life comes from sharing the heart of God. Walking through an orphanage in China is like bleeding. It's painful. It hurts. But our experience, haunting as it may be, has helped make our joy complete. We are alive! There is no greater joy on earth than to have Christ revealed... Revealed to us, through us, in us, through THEM. He is present in the darkest corners of this world. He is present in those orphanages and in the images that are tattooed on our hearts and minds.

Jesus, please don't ever let these haunting images leave my head or heart. Don't ever let me forget them. Don't ever let me stop fighting for them. I am your hands, your feet. Let my life be one of sacrifice for your glory, for the good of these helpless orphans who are your prized creation.

The brokenness of what we've seen often feels like more than I can handle. My hope though. My hope is so much bigger.

"They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:30-31)

Please come soon, sweet Jesus.