Thursday, December 27, 2012

God Has A Plan For Us...

and I can't wait to see what His plan is!  We have been searching and searching for a place to stay while we are in Colombia that is in a good area and is affordable to us.  We have been quoted anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000!  That's a lot of money.  Many friends and even strangers are looking on our behalf, and we just wanted to say thank you for that!  The less we have to pay while we are there, the less we have to pay back when we are home and the more we can concentrate on our children instead of finances. 

Wherever God has us, I pray that He uses our time in Colombia in a way that is honoring to Him.  Maybe in some way He will use us to show someone in Colombia who He is.  Maybe He will use someone to draw us closer.  Maybe both.

Whatever His plans are, I can't wait to experience them!

In Christ,

Karen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Um... did you recently order 10 bars of soap?

Hi - if you ordered 10 bars of soap within the last couple of days could you email me again? I have lots of soap still and would be happy to get that to you, but I must have accidentally deleted your email!  I looked at it once when we were in Michigan and think your name is Joann???  I hope you get this :)  kevkarb@yahoo.com

To everyone else reading this, please disregard my absentmindedness for the next, oh, 10 years or so...

Thanks!

Karen

Update just after I posted this:  I found her!  

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  May God bless you and your family during this winter season!

This has been a Christmas like no other for my own family.  In the rush to prepare for the all the snow that we keep hearing is coming we went outside and chopped and stacked wood today!  Never would have guessed I would have been doing that on Christmas Day, but I have to admit that the exercise and fresh air felt really good :)

We visited family/friends in Michigan over the weekend and had a wonderful time.  It was our plan to get back by about 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve to eat pizza and have a quiet evening, but the time with our friends/family was well worth the late night drive back home.  We pulled in our drive-way at about 11:45 pm!  No gifts had been wrapped and no tree had been lit (or even chopped down!) because of all the running around we have been doing getting prepared for Colombia. 

After the children were tucked in their beds with visions of sugar plums Kevin and I brought out three small fake trees we had in our attic.  I decorated them with lights and tinsel and made a funky star for the top of the tree that resembled more of a shiny turtle than a beautiful, guiding light for the wise men! Still, at 2:00 in the morning, just before we headed to bed, I took a second glance at all of our work and thought it quite a beautiful site.  The three trees standing together reminded me of our Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

Kevin, the kids and I had our drawing just a little bit ago for the free soap give-away.  I'm sorry that all of you who commented, emailed or helped spread the word about our blog couldn't win, but we did get to have 5 winners and I'm pretty excited about having that many.  If your name is below please email me at kevkarb@yahoo.com and let me know your address!  I also emailed or messaged you if your name was drawn.

Ami B.(you commented below about posting on Homeschool Share) your name was drawn first so you get 7 free bars of soap!

Alix - thank you for commenting below!  Your name was drawn second, which means we will be sending you 5 free bars of our all-natural goat milk soap!

Bonita T.  - thank you for emailing!  Your name was drawn third.  I'll be sending you 4 bars of our soap because the third child we are adopting is 4 years old!

Jennifer S. - thanks for sharing on facebook!  Your name was drawn 4th!  The fourth child we are adopting soon is 3 years old so you will get 3 bars of our all-natural goat milk soap!

Tina H. - your name was drawn 5th so you will get one free bar of our soap!  Congratulations!

I would also like to say a special thank you to those who have bought soap or made a donation to help us bring our children home! Our chip-in button fundraising goal to raise the five kids one-way airfare from Bogota to Fort Lauderdale has been met!  Thank you so much for blessing our family.  Words alone are not enough to express our gratefulness at your generosity.

And... when we arrived home late last night on Christmas Eve a big box awaited us on our front porch.  Someone whom we have never met in person and who is in the middle of an adoption from Colombia herself said they would be happy to send us some clothing for our Colombian children.  I thought she was so kind and, honestly, expected some nice, used clothing to be shipped.  (Which we would have been completely happy with!)   But when I opened the box and saw very nice, new clothes for the children I was overwhelmed.  Thank you.  I pray that God blesses you and your family this season and with your adoption!  Maybe we will see one another in Colombia in the new year.

Merry Christmas,

Karen and family








Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Sale On Our Goat Milk Soap! Help Us Reach Our Chipin Goal!

We would really like to reach our chip-in goal (only about $360.00 to go!) for the children's airfare by December 26th.  I started thinking the other day that it might just be too hard to decide on which type of soap to order, so how about a sampler pack? 

The kids and I are in the process of putting together only 16 sampler packs that will contain 12 individual sample size bars of soap!  Each sample bar weighs anywhere from 1 to 2 oz.  They are about the size of the hand soaps you get in a hotel, but ours are home-made, all-natural and go to a really great cause!  We are still working out the best way to ship the sampler pack to give you the lowest shipping price, but we do know that we would like to offer the sampler pack for $20.00.  ($20.00 plus shipping for 12 sample size bars).

Here are the types included in every sampler pack:

Colombian Coffee
Frankincense
Grapefruit
Lavender
Lemongrass
Oat N' Honey
Orange-Cinnamon
Patchouli-Lime
Peppermint
Peppermint Patty
Spruce
Sweet Orange

Individually, each whole bar is offered at $6.00 each.  Or, you can order 5 whole bars for $25.00. We do have a couple of other types of bars for sale here (along with the types listed above), but didn't have enough made of each one to add it to the sampler pack. 

If you would like to order, just email me at kevkarb@yahoo.com.

And don't forget to enter the free give-away for some of our goat milk soap if you haven't already!  The details are just a couple of posts below on Thursday, December 6th!  The drawing will be held and results posted on Christmas Day!

Thank you!

Karen and family




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Busy Busy Burgess Family!

Phew.  I know that we will be super busy after we bring home our 5 children, but I can honestly say this has been the busiest time in my life, ever.  From sunup to waaayyy past sundown Kevin and I are working on getting things done.  I am busy teaching/helping the kids with their school work, decluttering/organizing, making soap, cooking/cleaning, researching this and that for the adoption and so on.  It doesn't look like too much on "paper", but it sure does keep me busy!  Kevin is actively working on his business and on providing the best service for his clients, making a triple bunk bed, chopping wood, researching adoption related things with me (like apartments and airfare), and reading to the children when he can.  He is not in one spot for long!

We have a big white board in our kitchen, and this morning I decided I had better put a to-do list on it because my brain was starting to get a little frazzled.  I made the list for only the things I need to accomplish before the end of the week, but it sure is long!  It does feel good to get all that out of my head though. 

One of the things on my list is for our family to get a Christmas tree!  We have tossed around not having a tree this year but decided it was a bad idea not to because the children we have in our home now are really looking forward to it.  It would feel too much like we weren't doing it just because we are adopting, and we don't want to give our kids that impression.

As a family, God and Jesus are a part of our lives every day, but I read somewhere online once about how a family stopped giving gifts to one another during the Christmas season.  They were blessed so much already.  Instead, they gathered up multiple gift-giving catalogs from various not-for-profit groups.  Each member of their family would pick a gift out that would be sent to someone who was truly in need.   It may have been Bibles, chickens, goats, blankets, or numerous other items.  I think what they did was wrap up the picture of their gift and put it under the tree.  Christmas morning they opened the "gifts" as a family.  I think this is beautiful and am looking forward to implementing a form of it within our own family.

Speaking of gifts, we have been given a couple of great ones since I last posted!  We were able to get to Chicago in good time this last Thursday to get our Visas from the Colombian Consulate!  I was expecting to have to leave while they processed our paperwork, but they said to just stay in the waiting room.  We were in and out of there within an hour!

Then, yesterday I received a phone call from the FBI (that sounds so official!).  Some of the adoption paperwork we have had to complete needs to be updated every 6 months.  Our background checks were due up this month.  Admittedly, I got a little nervous about getting the results back by the time we traveled because it can take 5 to 6 weeks and sometimes even longer.   Officially, the FBI doesn't expedite paperwork but unofficially they will do what they can to help you.  We were told to send our prints through track-able mail and when we got the tracking number to call them.  I called the day they received it.  A very considerate guy tracked our package through his computer and said he would work on getting it processed faster for us.  A week later, yesterday, we received the call that our background checks were done and our paperwork was being sent on to be apostatized!  That was a very, very nice gift to receive!

The kids and I have been busy working with our goat milk soap.  We have been figuring out the details to a new fundraising sale and hope to get the word out about it soon!  Don't forget to enter our goat milk soap giveaway!  The details are just two posts below!

May God bless you and your family this holiday season.

Karen

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm really looking forward to the drawing on Christmas Day!    Thank you to all of you who have emailed, left a comment, became a follower, or reposted our blog!  Keep it up!  Please let your friends know about the drawing!

We do have a lot of soap left to sell (there are many bars curing!), so if you would like to help support us by purchasing a few just send me an email (kevkarb@yahoo.com).  The bars make great unique Christmas gifts for friends, family and coworkers.  And if you know someone who has dry skin or even eczema, they should give this soap a try.  We have had many people tell us how much it has improved their skin, plus each bar is really soft and silky on your skin.  No need for shaving cream either!  And the best part, I think, is that all the proceeds go to help give five children a home and family.

A couple of nights ago we spent hours researching online and talking on the phone to figure out the best way to purchase our plane tickets.  We ended up getting them through Spirit Airlines, and we are flying out from Fort Lauderdale.  We still need to get to Ft. Lauderdale from Indy and back home again from Ft. Lauderdale after we have our children, but for the price we knew we could figure something out.

We have not flown with Spirit before, so I can't comment about their service, but if you do decide to look into them (for those who are also adopting from Colombia), watch their extra fees.  Their prices are low, but then you need to add in any luggage you are bringing, seat changes...  Still, we were able to get all 6 of us from Ft. Lauderdale to Bogota, and all 11 of from Bogota to Ft Lauderdale for $4,500 plus luggage (probably end up being around $5,000).  We were quoted around $10,000 round trip for all of us from Indy to Bogota from multiple travel agencies and from watching airfares like Skywatch and Cheapoair. 

We figure for that $5,000 we haven't spent yet we will get one-way tickets to Ft. Lauderdale and then rent a van and drive all 11 of us home from Ft. Lauderdale.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But we like a little craziness :)

Pretty soon I'm going to start a private blog for our travel to Colombia.  We don't want the world to know exactly when we will be gone, so if you would like to follow along with us please email me at kevkarb@yahoo.com, and let me know how you know me or what your link is to adoption so I can approve you.  After we are home, I'll add all the posts from the private blog to this one, like I did when we brought our daughter home from China.  I am still keeping this blog open because of the soap sales.  I'm hoping to find someone willing to ship any soap orders we get while we are in Colombia.

We are getting our passport-size pics for our Visas today and tomorrow we get to apply for the Visas themselves!  Everything is starting to look a lot more "official", and on occasion when I think to closely about what we are doing little butterflies start fluttering around in my stomach!

The picture to the right is of the paper-chains we put up for our official "Countdown to Colombia"!  Each day one of us gets to rip off one of the links.  It has been great watching it grow shorter!

Thank you so much for all the support and prayers we have been receiving!  May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Karen






Thursday, December 6, 2012

WE ARE GIVING AWAY 20 BARS OF ALL-NATURAL GOAT MILK SOAP!!!!

It's time to celebrate!  By the time we bring our children home from Colombia, it will have been over 2 years since we began the whole process, and now that we have our travel approval, it's time to CELEBRATE!  We are GIVING AWAY 20 BARS  of our all-natural goat milk soap, with the winning names being drawn and posted on Christmas Day!

AND because I personally like it when there are multiple prizes being given away, we are going to break down those 20 bars of soap into 5 separate giveaways!  That means we will draw 5 names (because we are adopting 5 children).  The first name drawn will win 7 bars (the age of David, our oldest in Colombia).  The second name drawn will win 5 bars (the age of Jaime, our second oldest in Colombia).  The third name drawn will win 4 bars (the age of our daughter, Briyic, in Colombia).  The fourth name drawn will win 3 bars (the age of Diego, our second youngest in Colombia).  And the fifth name drawn will win 1 bar of our all natural goat milk soap!  (Brayan is our youngest in Colombia, and he is one year old!).   

If you would like to learn more about our all natural goat milk soap, please click here or on our fundraising page listed above.  THERE IS NO PURCHASE/DONATION required in order to have your name entered into the drawing!  However, you can have your name entered multiple times.  Here is how:

For 1 entry, you can either email me (kevkarb@yahoo.com) and put "soap drawing" in the subject line, become a new follower (at the time of this writing there are 54), or leave a comment.  If adoption has been a part of your life in any way, we would really enjoy hearing about how God has been a part of that!

For 1 entry, share our giveaway on your facebook page with a link back to our blog.

And for 1 more entry, share our giveaway with a link on your own blog! 

Be sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, and let me know what you have done to get your name entered! 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

WE HAVE TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!!!!

I only have a second to post this, but wanted everyone to know that we have travel approval!  We will become a family of 11 in 2013!  Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us and supporting us!
I'll post again really soon!

A picture we sent to our children - we will see you soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5 More Heights Added To Our Wall!


We have a wall in our kitchen where we measure the height of everyone in our family.  Carissa, our 14 year old, has passed up my 5 foot 5 inches by inches and is now at a standstill.  Our 13 year old son is gaining quickly on me.  We are ALMOST nose-to-nose.  I believe our 11 year old daughter will end up being about the same height as I am, and as for Lyric (our 5 year old), we are very happy that her head now reaches above the kitchen counter! But more importantly, today we were able to add to the wall the heights of our children in Colombia! 

When I told Lyric that Briyic, her 4 year old sister, was going to be taller than she is she got a bit upset.  But then I said, "She may be taller, but you will always be older!" and she got a huge grin on her face.  Then I told her that Diego, who is 3, would be about her height, and she made a face and said, "But he's a boy!".  I couldn't help but crack up with laughter!

We also received some other news that we have been waiting for about the Visa photos of the children.  Apparently, when we received the last update ICBF decided to wait to hear our response so they put everything on hold.  Maybe they thought we were going to say no to the children based on what was in the report?  No way!  Anyway, that is one reason why we are still waiting for the photos. All is good now though because they are starting the process back up again to get the photos and, hopefully, we will soon have them.  The sooner we get them, the sooner we get the children's Visa's, the sooner we get our entrega date (the date we meet our children), the sooner we can get our airplane tickets, the sooner we get to our children!

On a final note, I would like to thank everyone who made a purchase today and yesterday with our "Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) Fundraising Sale".  I had a lot of fun putting it together!  Right now, we are selling the soap as a fundraiser for our own adoption expenses, but it is my intention and hope that after we are done fundraising we will be able to turn it into a business - a business that will help educate and raise awareness of orphans and adoption, as well as one that will help others who are adopting with their fundraising efforts. 

This is the new message that will be placed on the wrapping of each bar of soap:

Learn to do good; seek justice,
reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan,
plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

In closing, I would like to thank our Father for His goodness.  We are blessed beyond measure.

Karen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday (and Tuesday!) Fundraising Sale Special!

We decided to get in on all the fun of Cyber Monday (and Tuesday!) and put together our own special deal!  For today and Tuesday only, place your order for our already discounted special of 5 bars for $25.00 and get your CHOICE of either a  FREE bar of soap (you pick!) OR a fun, home-made CRACKED-CORN BEDWARMER made by our two oldest girls! We will offer this special only until midnight (November 27th) so don't delay, and be sure to order today!  All proceeds go towards our adoption of a sibling group of 5 children.  Their names are David, Jamie, Briyic, Diego and Brayan.

To view our fundraiser and our available bars of soap please click here and email your order to Karen at kevkarb@yahoo.com.  Thanks for looking!










Monday, November 19, 2012

Missing Our Children, When We Haven't Even Met Them

Sigh.  It has been pretty hard switching gears from "expecting to travel to meet our children soon" to "we won't be traveling until AT LEAST mid-January".

The strike is almost over in Colombia, but in some areas I have heard that it is still going strong.  One of these areas is where our children are: Bogota.  I have read that the strike has pushed everything back at least 4 weeks.  At this point, I will be really surprised if we even get to travel mid-January.  The judges aren't back to work.  When they do go back, they are behind at least 4 weeks.  There is a break from mid-December to about mid-January so adoptions are not processed during that time.  So...  will we even travel in January?  I have no idea :(

In the meantime...

We know for sure now that our little Colombians are in three different foster homes.  Juan David is in one, Briyic in another, and the youngest three boys are together in yet another foster home.  Not only will they have to adjust to being with us as a new family, but they will need to adjust to being with one another as well.  I pray that ICBF is doing everything they can to prepare them for being together again and for us being their new family.

It wasn't good news that we received from ICBF about our daughter, Briyic.  Because of the sensitive nature of it, I would rather not share the details here.  She is getting, as well as Juan David, some counseling sessions.  I suppose that may be good for them, but I can't help but think that if we only had them here with us...

I am anxious to hold each one in my arms.  I want to cook for them and bathe them.  I want to make them giggle and laugh.  I'm excited to teach them, and to show them the love of Christ.

One of the things that was holding up our travel, despite the strike, was the Visa photos of our children in Colombia.  Our agency's contact there has been trying for over a month to get their Visa photos.  We still don't know if she has them.  Hopefully tomorrow we will find out more.  It seems so wrong that a strike, a vacation in the, well, I don't know who all gets the vacation but it stops adoptions from being processed, and a few Visa pictures, are the only things that are stopping us from wrapping our arms around our children.  I know, it's only a couple more months, but it seems like sooo much longer than that.

One benefit of not traveling right away is that we have a bit more time to get our house in order before it becomes totally disorganized again while we adjust to being a family of 11!  We were able to clean out the house a little and have a yard sale.  I really didn't expect to do too well having a sale in mid-November, but the weather was great, and we were blessed to put a couple hundred dollars towards the adoption expenses!  Way better then I ever thought we would do.

Disappointingly, we were turned down for another grant we had applied for.  This one was a matching-grant, and I was pretty sure we would qualify for it, but were told instead that there were a lot of applicants and not enough funds... 

The good news is that our all-natural goat milk soap fundraiser is going well!  Not only do we get to raise money for the adoption expenses, but we get to provide those who order with an excellent product!  We have had many people tell us how wonderful our soap is and how good it is on their skin.  Even individuals with eczema say how great it is!  If you would like to order just click on our fundraising page listed above to see what we have available and email me with your order - simple!  Oh, and they are great to give as a Christmas gift to friends, family, as a secret-Santa, co-workers, or even for yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Karen

Friday, November 2, 2012

In God We Trust

The adoption process is often described as a roller coaster.  It is one crazy ride filled with highs and lows, twists and turns, emotional ups and downs.  As a Christian, I know that God's timing is best but that doesn't mean it's always easy.  Today we had to make the decision not to travel to our children until after the new year.  So many outside obstacles/events added up to this.

One obstacle was the passport-sized photos needed to go with the Visa application for our children.  Our agency requested them over a month ago, and they have yet to receive them.  I find this conflicting to me emotionally because if we did have them we would likely be traveling to Colombia now and be taking care of our children.  On the other hand, we would be in Colombia in the midst of a judicial strike that has been going on for about 3 weeks now.  We keep hearing that negotiations have been made and the strike is ending... and then it doesn't.

The strike is a big part of our decision not to travel even if the children's visas were processed. We have heard that only about 10% of judges are still working in Colombia.  That means 90% aren't.  Families who traveled already to receive their children are in limbo there.  They have no idea when they can come home.  Adoption is expensive to begin with, but add on the extra weeks in Colombia and it's even more so.  Families are also divided by it.  Many husbands/wives have had to travel back home to work while their wives/husbands and child/ren stay in Colombia.  Even when the strike ends, there will be a backlog of cases.  Adoption cases aren't usually the priority.

Then there is the break that occurs for some governmental workers in Colombia at the end of December/beginning of January.  If your adoption isn't completed by the end of the year, then you get to add at least 3 weeks to your stay in Colombia.  That's a long time for us, especially since Kevin works for himself.  His income will already be greatly effected for the period of time we will need to be there without adding extra weeks.

The worse part of knowing we can't travel is the children.  By this time, they know who we are.  They know we are their new parents.  They won't know why we aren't there for them yet or why it is taking so long for us to get there.  They aren't even living in the same place.  The best I can figure out from the paperwork is that they are in 4 different foster homes.

I comfort myself with the peace that God is in control.  His timing is perfect and not mine.  I pray that He uses our trials for His glory and that others may come to know Him through us.

Please continue to pray for our children in Colombia.  We were told today to expect a letter soon from ICBF concerning our four year old daughter, Briyic.  ICBF doesn't usually send letters out of the blue that have good news in them.  The last time we received one it was about one of our sons, and it had sad/bad news in it.

In God I trust,

Karen


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Waiting Child

This is a poem written by Debbie Bodie (copyright 1997). 

I just wanted to share it with all of you. 


I saw you meet your child today
You kissed your baby joyfully
And as you walked away with her
I played pretend you'd chosen me.

I'm happy for the baby, yet
Inside I'm aching miserably
I want to plead as you go by,
"Does no-one want a child of three?"

I saw you meet your child today
In love with her before you met
And as I watched you take her out
I knew it wasn't my turn yet.

I recognize you from last year!
I knew I'd seen your face before!
But you came for a second babe.
Does no-one want a child of four?

I saw you meet your child today
But this time there was something new
A nurse came in and took MY hand
And then she gave my hand to you.

Can this be true? I'm almost six!
And there are infants here, you see?
But then you kissed me and I knew
The child you picked this time was me.

I cannot even begin to imagine being in a child's place and watching as other children are brought into their mother's arms.  Maybe God is placing adoption on your heart?  It doesn't matter the child's age - it matters that there is a child in this world who needs a family to call his own.  A mommy to hug and wipe away tears.  A daddy to wrestle with on the living room floor.  It matters.

Here is a great place to look at which countries you could qualify to adopt from: Rainbow Kids

Go ahead. 

Take a look and see!

In His name,
Karen

Saturday, October 20, 2012

You know you are getting closer to traveling when...

you have to send in the money for the children's visas!

A new rule with Colombia (and possibly soon to be with China as well) is that the adoptive parents need to send in the money for the children's visas before they travel.  That works great with me - it just means less money we have to be concerned with while we are in-country!

I have been getting nervous about meeting the children for the first time.  I have been getting a little "nerve-wracked" because of the amount of things we still want to get done around the house, and the things we have to get done.  I have been feelingl horrible that we don't know Spanish so we can comfort our new children with words.  I have been feeling guilty that friends are going to need to be coming to our house and caring for our animals while we are gone - and the burden that will be on them.  I know that I'm not depending on God as much as I should be. 

In the midst of all these feelings, we received a letter in the mail yesterday.  The letter was typed, and it was anonymous.  It had a bit of money inside it with instructions on what to do with it.  The money was for Kevin and I to have a date with one another before we travel to meet our children and become a family of 11 instead of 6.  I cried.  I promise that we will happily and wholeheartedly follow the instructions exactly.

Thank you so much to the one(s) who thought of us and took action on those thoughts.  You have blessed me so much.  I know it wasn't your intention, but you have also reminded me to think of others and to take action on those thoughts.  As a Christian, I believe it is often the Holy Spirit working in me and prompting me to do something.  Too often, I have let those thoughts fleetingly pass by.  How many more people could have been blessed through me if I had only taken action?  Your action will be a very good reminder for me.

Below are the only other pictures we have of the children until we meet them in person.  Enjoy!


Brayan

*****************************************************************************

Juan Diego

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Briyic

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Jaime

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Juan David




Thursday, October 4, 2012

INTRODUCING...

Brayan












***********************************************************************************


Juan Diego



***********************************************************************************
Briyic 




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Jaime




***********************************************************************************

Juan David


***********************************************************************************

Kevin and I are so happy to be able to share their photos with you.  We are thanking and praising God that we will soon be holding them in our arms.  The children are a little older now than what they are in the pictures.  We have one more photo of each of them taken a little more recently - Brayan looks so much older in it!  I'll try to get them uploaded in the near future.

Thank you to all who have been praying for them - now you have a picture to go with your prayers! 

In Christ,

Karen 

COMING SOON...

PICTURES OF OUR COLOMBIAN CHILDREN!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I800 PROVISIONAL APPROVAL TIMES FIVE!

Yeah!  Up until two days ago I wasn't really all that excited yet about traveling to Colombia.  I was excited about the children, just wasn't too interested in traveling yet.  But then for some reason on the way home from the dentist for our son, Tyler, it just hit me.  I started getting really, really excited about going.  I had this big goofy grin on my face for most of our way home.  Tyler must have thought there was something wrong with me!

Yesterday I received a wonderful call from our Officer with USCIS.  She was just letting me know that she had our documents and would be reviewing them that day.  So far my experience with the individuals at USCIS has been very positive.  They have always been extremely friendly and helpful - and most important, PATIENT with me!

Trying to be patient myself, I waited until about 4:30 today to call and check on the paperwork.  Another REALLY NICE officer answered the phone and checked on our paperwork.  She said our officer had everything approved yesterday.  And, she was very excited for us to be bringing the children into our home.  She asked their ages and was very happy that we are able to bring them into our family.

Then, about an hour after I made my call to USCIS my phone rang.  Any time we get a call from USCIS the only number that shows up on my cell is a three digit one: 816.  Why do I even allow the thought to cross my mind that the only reason they are calling is because there was some kind-of a mix-up and they would need more information???  I really don't like that type of a thought process from myself :(

It was our officer calling to give us GOOD news!  She wanted to let me know that we had been approved.  She said she finished reviewing the I800 paperwork yesterday, but then there is a lot of paperwork that she has to fill out on her end.  Unfortunately, she wasn't able to get it completed by 4:00 when the mail was picked up so it won't go out until Monday.  But we should have it in the mail next week.  Thank you! Thank you!  Thank you!

Praising God for his goodness,

Karen

P.S. I updated the page for what we still need for the children.  We were able to narrow down a lot of the items thanks to many generous people.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paperwork is in the building :)

I spoke with our USCIS officer this morning - she said our paperwork was in the building!  That is great news.  She said everything should be on her desk within a couple of days, and she laughed a little when she said that it would take her almost the whole day to read through all the paperwork because there are five of them!  Even better, she will let us know when she gets it or when she is done with it.  I told her I would be happy with either.

Keeping you posted,


Karen

Friday, September 21, 2012

Our I800 papework was received at USCIS

Arriving home today I was excited to see a letter from USCIS in the mail.  Then I saw another letter.  And another... and another and another!  I can't believe I didn't get it right away that since we had filled out 5 applications (one for each child) we would be getting back five notices of action in the mail - I'm going to go ahead and blame that one on my head cold :)

We have been really busy since my last post.  Kevin and Tyler (our son) had the opportunity to help move some friends of ours all the way to Utah (we are in Indiana).  They went there and back again in only 6 days!  Kevin was the official driver of a Dodge truck with a trailer pulled behind it which was filled with chickens and other poultry, a few dogs, cats and other things. 

It was an awesome trip for the two of them.  They made some great memories and had some really good bonding moments.  I'm sure one of their favorites for years to come will be when they had a radiator hose blow out in Wyoming about an hour from our friend's new home.  It was late.  It was dark.  They didn't know anyone.  Thousands of stars were out.  I can't even begin to imagine it.  I'm really happy they could have this trip together!

While the guys were traversing across the country, the girls and I hit a few yard sales, moved around a bunch of bedroom furniture, and painted a bedroom.  Instead of musical chairs, we played musical rooms :)
Our oldest two girls will get to be roommates again.  The youngest two girls will share a room.  Tyler will finally not only get to share his room with one brother, but with two!  And then the two youngest boys will share a room. 

Through two seperate ministries, we have been blessed with a lot of needed items for the children - including clothing, two toddler beds (one is a really cool Cars one), and a crib!  I definitly need to get my list updated since I can cross off so many items.  Off the top of my head, our most needed items for the children now are bedding (two boy's twin beds, one toddler girl's bed, one toddler boy's bed, and one boy's crib), underwear and socks.  As soon as I can, I'll update our list of needed items.

This weekend we are busy having another fundraiser.  We are selling our goat milk soap at our town's annual festival.  We didn't do too well today (3 bars), but hope to do a lot better tomorrow.  There was a lot of rain this evening, and we found out that it was also the local homecoming night at the high school.

Well, time for me to get off this computer.  Each of us has been hit with head colds the past week.  Really glad it hasn't been anything worse than what it has been, but I do look a little funny with one of my eyes all swollen, puffy, red, and teary eyed from all the sinus pressure behind it.  These words are starting to get a bit blurry to me!

Night everyone!

Karen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paperwork is on the move!

Hopefully the children will see this picture that we sent.  It says, "See you soon."

Kevin and I have spent hours getting all the paperwork done the past few days.  We have filled out about 100 pages!  Then we scanned them all in and made copies of everything.  Our plan was to get all the paperwork to Nichole at Children's Hope (our adoption agency) on Thursday because we thought that she would get our paperwork in the mail from Colombia on Friday.  But she got it this morning!  That was fast!

Since she is going to be out of the office tomorrow, we are still going to get it to her on Thursday morning, but then she will overnight it to USCIS.  That is great news!  USCIS is the next major factor in this whole paperwork process.  While we have been approved to adopt a sibling group of 5, we haven't said what sibling group of 5.  So now USCIS gets to learn the children's names, ages, where they are, etc and approve us to adopt them. (One part that has me a little nervous is wondering if we filled all the paperwork out correctly.  There was A LOT of it, and we were up until 2:30 in the morning working on it...)

Now we sit back and wait.  Well, not wait exactly.  There is a ton of stuff to be done around here - namely getting their bunk beds built (we are doing one regular bunk bed and one triple), rooms painted, furniture arranged.... Then there is the nesting syndrome where all of a sudden everything that you have been meaning to get done around the house all of a sudden HAS to get done before you get your children - because you want to spend all your time concentrating on loving them and not working around the house :)  Somehow, you want everything perfect for when you bring them home.

Karen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yardsaling

I think that should be a new word in the dictionary.  After all, I know many people that do it.  The definition could be: the act of going to multiple yard sales/garage sales with the intention of finding great sales/deals on items at deeply discounted prices. 

Yesterday, my two youngest daughters (for now!), Laurel and Lyric, got to go out to a few sales with the intention of getting a lot of needed clothing for our new children.  We did really, really well!  At each sale we went to that had items we could use for the children, I asked if they could take a little less if I bought a lot of clothing.  They all said yes.  We were down to $7.00 when we stopped at another sale that had clothing for boys galore.  I told them what we were doing and they asked if we had pictures - of course!  They asked what sizes we needed and commenced adding things to a pile for us - including a few pairs of shoes.  I told them I only had $7.00 left and if they wanted to take some items out of the pile because they wanted more for it that it wasn't a problem AT ALL.  The guy just grinned and continued to put the items in bags.  He said, "just take care of those little ones".  We will!

Today, I am making a great big, gigantic to-do list of everything that I can think of that we want to have done before we travel.  It keeps getting longer and longer and longer... I'm actually looking forward to getting things done :)  In the midst of getting the to-do list done, we will still be homeschooling.  I could use some prayers for that one.  I can get distracted easily by all the other things we need to do and let the teaching go to the wayside, which isn't so great for the kids. 

I'm also putting together a calendar in excel that I'm going to print off.  It takes us up through November so that we can kind-of schedule out what needs to get done and when.  Um... all the weeks left fit on one page - granted, there isn't a ton of space to write on each day, but still, it does all fit on one page!  That was pretty eye-opening to me.

I'm off to get more done!

Karen

Friday, September 7, 2012

Yes! We have the official referral!!!

We are very happy to announce that we have received the official referral for the children and we are accepting it on Monday!  I wish I could show pictures!  They are an adorable group of children - 4 boys and 1 girl.  The two oldest are boys and the two youngest are boys.  The girl is right in the middle :)  I think she will be happy having Lyric as a sister! 

I'm not even sure if I can post their names here.  So for now, I'll use some initials.

The oldest boy I will call JayD. He is almost seven!  I am hoping that we can make it to Colombia in time for his birthday in November.  The paperwork says he likes to draw and play soccer.

The next I'll call Jay.  He is about 5 1/2 years old.  It says that he also likes to draw.

The next is our new daughter - Bee.  She just turned 4.  She looks very sweet.  The paperwork says she doesn't like the dark.  In the photo we have, her hair is up.  I can't wait to see it down.

Our next son we will call JayD2 because the initials are the same.  He is almost 3!  I think that we will miss his special birthday because it is next month.

And finally the youngest I'll call "Little One".  He will be a couple months shy of 2 when we travel.  He has very cute cheeks!

Now that we have the official referral for them, travel is right around the corner!  We are going to do our best to travel in November.  We have to get a few more pieces of paper sent between our country and Colombia before we can go.  If that doesn't get done as quickly as we would like it to, we won't be able to travel until January.  I think we are in for a whirlwind! 

Now that it's official and we are bringing our children home, I feel comfortable letting you know what some of our needs are for the children.  Many of you have asked what we could use.  I'll put a list together and put it somewhere on the blog.  Maybe I'll make a page b/c I like those now that I know how to do it.

Thank you for all the prayers that have been said on behalf of our family, our new children, and this adoption.  Thank you for rejoicing with our family for the referral of these children.  I am thanking God that we will soon be able to hold them in our arms.  That we will be able to love them.  To cuddle with them.  To read and laugh with them.  To provide for them.  Thank you, God.  Thank you for blessing our family.

Karen and family


Thursday, August 30, 2012

All our paperwork is officially in Colombia!

Thursday, August 16th - a big day for our family  - all of our paperwork was sent to Colombia on that day!  It seems like such a simple sentence to write, but there is sooo much more to it than that.  Every step of the way we did what we had to do for the paperwork and to get to our children as fast as we could possibly do it.  It's sad, really, that the process of bringing a child home and into your family through adoption is sometimes like jumping through a lot of hoops just to get the approval of the crowd (government and all the little laws/agencies that come with it). I know, the laws are there to protect everyone.  Sometimes... it just seems... well... too much when there are little ones waiting who NEED someone to hold them and comfort them...

I think I might have been a little antsy today when I emailed our agency.  I asked if they could ask ICBF in Colombia if they had any idea of when we would be getting the official referral of the children.  I didn't realize it has only been 2 weeks since we sent out all the paperwork.  That's not very long for it to get all the way to Colombia and on the right person's desk...  Once we get the official referral and accept it we would be traveling in about 10 weeks.  Right now, that places us at the beginning of November for travel if we are able to get/accept the referral next week. 

In the meantime... we are working as a family on cleaning up our home/yard/garage.  I seem to be in a constant state of decluttering...  I often remind my husband that I never, ever was a clean person, but that I have a desire to be clean and orderly, and I will continue to work on it!  Maybe by the time I'm 50 I'll finally get it down :) Nevertheless, I see another garage sale in our near future...  Oh, I also tell him that I really do think that having more children in the home will make me more organized - well, it could happen!

Oh!  We also had the pleasure of celebrating my husband's 40th birthday this past week (Happy Birthday, Honey!),  and on the 31st (Friday) we will be celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary!!!  That's a lot of years together, but I'm glad of every one of them and thanking God for them too!

Karen

Saturday, August 11, 2012

So close to having everything sent in!

Thursday we were able to get the results of all of our tests!  Unfortunately, our doctor was out and not back in until this coming Tuesday :(  I was quite a bit disappointed and tried to see if anyone else at the office would sign the paperwork and they said "No.  I'm sorry.  It has to be your primary doctor."  So I left the office in a bit of a huff with slightly glistening eyes, but after venting a bit to my husband I soon calmed down - and I thank him for it!

I am trying to stay busy this weekend, but I find my eyes wandering to the children's pictures more and more often.  We have them taped to the wall in our kitchen so I pass by them often, but it is usually at night that my heart and thoughts are drawn the most to them. 

One of my biggest prayers is that the children are able to attach easily to our family - to be able to trust us and to love us.  I can't even begin to imagine what they will be thinking or feeling, what fears they may have when we come to get them.  Not only will they be around a bunch of people who don't easily speak their language, but we will be whisking them away with us to a "new" temporary place (apartment/hotel) for them to live with us.  They won't even have the opportunity to gradually get to know us.  They will also need to learn how to live and interact with one another again because the five of them are not living in the same home together.  I think that is very sad after everything they have been through so far.

Praying for five little ones,

Karen




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Got our approval from USCIS for the kids!

We finally got it -  our approval from USCIS to adopt the five children!  Tomorrow we just need to try and get our test results back from the doctors and then get our doctor to sign our medical update.  I need to look into whether or not we need to get that apostilled.  If we do, we will have to do that on Friday.  Once the paperwork is all put together we can get it sent off to Colombia and we can get the official referral for the children :) 

This past week ICBF was asking our agency when we would get them the rest of the paperwork.  The short answer: as fast as we possibly can!

:)
Karen

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oh my - what a day!

Our day started out normal enough with Kevin and I getting up bright and early to get our TB tests done for the medical update.  Then, Lyric and I headed on over to a neighbor's for a play-date.  We were having a great time chatting and playing when my phone rang. I almost didn't answer it. The number that came up was 816, from an unknown caller. It was our officer from USCIS!

I think my heart skipped a beat when she told me they were getting ready to close our file and NOT approve us for the kids.  We had sent in the wrong paperwork that they had requested as evidence.  She said she had tried calling yesterday to let us know but she didn't reach anyone and was trying one more time.  Then she said if I could get the right paperwork to them asap (we could email it), they could approve us.

The paperwork they are talking about is considered "evidence".  In this case USCIS had requested proof that our home study agency was Hague approved.  I had called our home study agency when we got the letter requesting the evidence in the mail, and they very quickly sent me information to send to USCIS.  I sent it and thought everything was good.

Then, a few days ago I got a call from our social worker.  She said they were not Hague approved and that I needed to talk to our adoption agency to see if they had sent a letter to USCIS stating that they (CHI) were a Hague approved agency, that they had reviewed the updated home study and that they approved it.  We had done this before, but didn't realize we needed to do it again.  So I called USCIS and left a message for our officer that our social worker had called and told us we may not have sent the right evidence in.  I said to please let us know if they needed anything different, and we would get it to them as soon as we could.

I think it was because of this phone message that our officer made the effort to contact us.  She said that usually their policy is to NOT approve a file if the right evidence is not sent in.  But she knew that we were trying to get them what they needed so she had called one more time.

I said I would go home immediately and try to contact Nichole (who we work with at Children's Hope) so we could get them the right evidence.  Driving home, I was alternating between thanking God that I had answered the phone (I ALMOST left it in the car) and praying that I would be able to get in contact with Nichole and get the right information to USCIS.

At home, I quickly called Nichole and waited anxiously while the phone rang and rang and rang - and then she answered!  I was so very happy to talk to her and not a machine!  I told her what was going on and she said she would take care of it IMMEDIATELY and that she would copy me on the email to USCIS when she sent it!  Phew. 

After I got off the phone, I tried calling our officer at USCIS again - but I had to leave a message.  I let her know that I had gotten in contact with our agency and that she would be sending over what they needed asap.

I then drove back to my neighbor's house where I had left Lyric playing with her friend.  I tried not to think too hard about what was going on, but it was really hard not to!  Around 11:00 we headed back home to fix lunch before Carissa, Tyler and Kevin headed to the state fair to show the kid's rabbits.

After I got them out the door I tried calling USCIS again to see if our officer had received the email from our agency (Nichole had copied me on it.  She got it sent out really fast!).  The phone rang and rang and rang.  When voice mail picked up I just hung up.  I didn't want to be a pest to our officer so I decided to call at 3:00.

And after all that... I took a nap.  I needed it!  I figured it was the fastest way to pass the time :)  I woke up just after 3:00 and placed my call again.  I had decided that I would just talk to whoever answered the phone to see if I could get any answers.  I told them that we had sent in some important paperwork earlier and that I needed to make sure it was the right information our officer needed but her phone just went to voicemail.

And then the officer said, "Mrs Burgess?  This is Officer ....)"  It was our officer!  She said she had to work the call center and when she does that her number goes right to voicemail.  She said she did get exactly what she needed and as soon as she was done with the call center she could send us an email letting us know their decision - which was an approval!  I rather giddily thanked her and hung up the phone.  I would have hugged her had we been in person.

An hour or so passed when I got another call with the mysterious 816 unknown caller id.  Why do I automatically think that something is wrong when when we get a phone call from USCIS?  It was our officer again.  She was calling just to let us know that we were approved.  She had sent an email to our adoption agency and to our address.  We would be receiving the paperwork in the mail within a few days.  Again, I could have hugged her!

Kevin and I ended our day with a date to a carnival fundraiser at a church.  We watched fireworks, ate a bit of ice cream, and had a really nice time together talking about our day and dreaming about the future.

As for the medicals, we were able to get all of our tests done this last week.  Now we just have to wait for the results, which we should get all of them back this coming week accept for one test.  I'll have to look up the information to see which one it was, but it's not supposed to come in for another 2 1/2 weeks!  We are going to contact our regular doctor's office on Monday to see how much it would cost to get it done there and how long it would take to get the results back.  If it isn't too much, we will do it there. 

As always, thank you so much for praying for our family and for our children in Colombia.  Can't wait to show you pictures!  The children are adorable!

Karen


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We made it 14 years without a cast!



Our oldest daughter is 14 (made it 14 years without a cast on any of our kids!), but this smiley faced girl is our 10 year old.  She got to go skating for the first time with a friend of hers on Sunday and towards the end had one big fall.  We thought her wrist just had a bad sprain with some swelling - there wasn't any bruising and she could wiggle her fingers without a lot of pain. We were wrong.   
We ended up taking her to the doctor.  He said he was 95% sure she had a fracture and sent her to get x-rays.  She had two fractures - one in her ulna and one in her radius.  One of the fractures goes up into her growth plate so they had to put the cast up over her elbow to help it heal even better.  
On top of all this, my sweet girl has poison ivy - on her face!  That's the other reason we took her to the doctor.  You can't see it in the picture because the swelling is already starting to go down, but the redness and swelling from the poison ivy was so bad that she could hardly see out of one of her eyes.  Even half of her nose was swollen.  We are so thankful that the swelling is almost completely gone now!

As you can see in the picture, Laurel isn't a pink or purple kind-of girl - she's a green one!  When she was younger we always called her froggy - she had and still has one big frog hop!  Because her favorite color is green, she picked the green tape for her cast.  Then she found out they have glow-in-the dark tape - boy, was she excited!  She has to keep this cast on for three weeks, then she gets a shorter cast on that is below her elbow.  That one is going to be the glow-in-the dark color, and she is already planning a camp out :)

Laurel is a funny girl - she can make you laugh and laugh.  While she was getting the cast on she asked the doctor what the part of her arm was called that she hurt.  He said it was called her forearm.  And she said, "But I don't have four arms!"  He laughed and explained to her the difference in spelling.  Too funny.

On an adoption note:  we are still waiting for our I800a approval from USCIS.  I put in a call today to see if they needed anything else but had to leave a message.  We also need to get our medicals updated, which we are working on tomorrow.  I thought we could just get our regular doctor to fill out a medical form but as it turns out we need all new testing done for TB/HIV/VD and HEPB/C.  We go to one clinic to get the testing done for the TB.  We go to a completely different clinic for the other tests...

To all those who are in the process of adopting - if your insurance doesn't cover you for HIV, VD and HEP B/C testing try seeing if you have a local clinic that tests for sexually transmitted diseases - it's A LOT cheaper (ours is like $15.00 total!) than getting it done at your local doctor's office, and it can be a little eye opening watching the videos they like to play at the clinic (at least our local clinic here in Indy plays them) :0

Karen


Friday, July 27, 2012

?


I put the question mark in the title, because I couldn't decide what to call this post.  See, I just got done reading a little bit on another blog and was a overwhelmed with emotions.  I think, that in this land of America, most of us are so comfortable and we have such cushy lives, that it is really, really easy to forget about our Father and not to lean on Him for all of our daily needs.  I believe that's one of the reasons why so many missionaries go to other countries - because there people realize they need Jesus.  We don't (I am being facetious here).  We just need our weekly paychecks to pay for our mortgages, cars, pools, parties...

And while we are living our cushy lives, it is so easy to forget about, to not care about, to not even think about or pray for those who are really suffering.  And they are suffering.  The post I read was about a little girl in another country with Down Syndrome.  She is eleven years old.  She weighs 10 pounds.  It's obvious she was left alone.  Hardly fed.  Not hugged.  Not loved.  Not given nourishment for her body and her mind and her spirit.

But one family is bringing her home.  In one day, yes one day, over $23,000 was raised to help this little girl.  A plea went out to help the family and prayers were answered.  This one little girl is getting help.  But what about the others?  The ones that are left behind?

How much am I and my family really doing in the name of Christ?  Is it enough?  Can we do more?

How much are you doing in the name of Christ?

Are you doing anything?
 
Please, take a moment and follow the link below.  It is my prayer that at least one who reads this has their heart not just touched, but will take action on behalf of orphans as well. 

Please take a look and pray for this precious girl

Karen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two new additions to our "family"!

Can you guess what our new additions are?

They were once called kids. 
They have hair. 
Two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth.
 
Did you take a guess?

Here are two more clues:
They each have a tail.
They each have 4 legs.

One more hint.
They go "maa maaaaa"

Did ya' get it?


We have goats!  I know.  I never ever would have imagined that we would have goats (let alone chickens, turkeys, guineas, rabbits...) 

Their names are Velvet and DD (short for Dip n Dots!).  DD is Velvet's mom, and we are currently getting fresh milk from Velvet twice a day.  Her milk is WONDERFUL!  And that is coming from a once-upon-a-time non-milk drinker.  The only thing I used milk for growing up was for my cereal and the occasional dunk from a chocolate chip cookie (and even then I forced myself to drink the rest of the glass of milk).  The milk is just ever-so-slightly sweet and it does not smell "goaty" at all.  Did I mention that is is wonderful?

Before we got Velvet and DD we had to put up the fence.  That just happened to coincide with the 100 degree to 106 degree weather that we were having here in Indiana.  It was HOT!  We drank lots of water and had lots of water pouring out of us.  Our foreheads would drip (a fast drip) with sweat.  But it was fun, and we got it done!

Since then we have been getting used to milking twice a day.  I think I must be a little protective or possessive because so far I haven't let anyone else do the milking! 

In addition to drinking the fresh milk, we have also made "farmer's cheese", pudding, ice-cream (without an ice cream maker) and yogurt!  They are all surprisingly simple to make.   I am very excited about all the other things we are going to try making from the goat's milk - including our own soap!  We ordered the soap supplies, and they should get here tomorrow - which means that within a number of days I could have a batch of fresh, all-natural goat's milk soap bars curing!

In between milking, the children have all stayed busy with 4H.  This year projects included photography, health, electric and woodworking.  For livestock, they entered rabbits, chickens and ducks.  It was a busy, fun week for us, but I am really glad that it's over!  Now we can get into a routine again.  We should have that down just about the time we travel to get the new children :)

Speaking of new children... we are slowly creeping along.  The other day Kevin and I got our letters in the mail telling us that we could get fingerprinted the first week in August (this is all a part of getting our paperwork updated to approve us for the five children and to extend our I800a at the same time).  Thankfully, the Indy office doesn't turn you away if you go in before your appointment date, and we were able to get our fingerprints done a few days ago!  It felt sooo good to have that done.

Now we are waiting.  (I think there should be a new word made to describe the consistent waiting for paperwork to be completed during the adoption process - maybe call it adoptaiting???) Within a week or two we should hear back from USCIS on our approval.   We will then get that sent to our agency who will get it to Colombia.  And then we will be "adoptaiting" again for the official referral of the children.  Just thinking about it makes be a bit nervous and excited at the same time!  After the official referral of the children and our acceptance we would be traveling in 8 to 10 weeks.  (And I think I'm busy now!)

Thank you for all the prayers for the children and our family.  We continue to pray for their health and for an easy transition for them into our family (as well as for our children to transition well to having more siblings).  We pray also that all the children are able to attach well and grow to love us.  I can't wait to hold them in my arms.

May God bless you,

Karen




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One crazy, long, rickety roller coaster ride of a month!

Well, I know at least one thing for certain  - I'm not a dedicated blogger! 

It's really hard for me to believe that it has been so long since we made the announcement about bringing 5 more into our family.  A lot has happened during that time, and considering that the adoption journey in general is a roller coaster ride, you could say that for the past month we have been on one crazy, long, rickety ride - filled with many of the emotions that a person can experience during all the twists and turns and really steep hills, where you can't see the rest of the track and you feel like your falling into the unknown and then when you finally see the end your stomach can start to settle back into place and you are so very happy to get off the coaster (at least, that's the way it is for me when I ride one!)

I know, I'm being vague and I'm sorry that I can't be more straight forward, but the important thing is that our home study update approving us for the children is, as we speak, being fed-ex'd to USCIS so we can now get the approval from our government for 5 children instead of 4.  I'm not positive how long this will take so I'll have to hop on over to China Adopt Talk, a website with a forum that tracks the paperwork process of adopting from China (among other things adoption related) and let you know what I find out.  Our last update took about 3 weeks, but a friend said they just did theirs and it took just over a week (but they are not adopting from a Hague country, so I'm thinking it will take longer for us).

After we get the approval from our government, we will then be waiting for the official referral for the children from Colombia.  There has been a really big slowdown in Colombia recently due to an investigation into the files of children who can be referred for adoption.  We aren't sure if that will effect us or not.  We are getting kind-of used to this adoption taking way longer than we expected so I figure if we plan on it taking months to get the referral than we may just be pleasantly surprised :)

Tomorrow is a day that will be filled with applying for grants.  There are a couple that are due at the end of this month, and I didn't feel we should apply for them until our update was complete - so I'm going to be pretty busy!

Thank you to all who have been praying for us and the children this past month.  We really, really appreciate it and know that God has heard you.

In His name,

Karen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Annual Homeschool Used Book and Curriculum Sale Tomorrow!

I know I am really, really late in getting this out, but I still need to do it!  I'll post more later about what is going on with the sibling group of 5, but for now I want to tell about the book sale that is, gulp, tomorrow!

Every year we organize a homeschool used book and curriculum sale at Plainfield Christian Church in, you guessed it, Plainfield! (Indiana).  The sale is from 10 to 2 (Thursday, May 24th), and this year it is going to be bigger and better than ever!  We received so many requests for tables to sell books at that I had to ask PCC (Plainfield Christian Church) if we could get more tables set up - and they said yes!  There will be over 55 tables set up tomorrow - all filled with great buys on books, curriculum, games, puzzles... a homeschool mom's (and sometimes dad's) dream!

So... I'm so sorry this is late in getting to you, but I really hope that someone out there will benefit by it!

Karen

Whoops!  Forgot to mention an important part!  Our family will be selling the food at the fundraising food booth (there is always one food booth at the book sale that is used for fundraising of some type).  If you can make it - come hungry!  All proceeds go to our adoption expenses, which help give some children a home and family! And some parents (us) some more children!  And our children - more siblings :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sweet Lemonade, Cocoa Brownies, Chex Lemon Buddies - YUMMY!

Our family is working hard on all the preparations for tomorrow - Lemon-Aid for Orphans: An Adoption Fundraiser.  We have almost all the baking done - the last batch of Chewy Cocoa Brownies are in the oven!  We finished up (making it!  not eating it - grin) the Chex Lemon Buddies and Crunchy Sweet Snack Mix earlier this morning. 

After we get the baking done, we are going to finish the signs we started yesterday.  We plan to put a lot out to drive traffic to our stand.

I have to admit, I'm really excited about tomorrow - and a little nervous!  There is going to be another lemonade stand in the morning at the same Kroger we will be at.  And then later on towards the evening, there will be another one.  Seems like it will be difficult for someone who comes into Kroger to shop to make a decision about which stand they would like to support.  My prayer is that in the end all of us feel blessed by the day!  We are even planning on bringing a little extra money so we can purchase some lemonade from the two other stands :) 

In His name,

Karen

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Join us for our Lemon-Aid Day Adoption Fundraiser!

Please join us this Saturday for a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and help us raise money for all those adoption expenses!  We will be at the Kroger store in Plainfield on Saturday the 19th from 12 to 6, serving up ice-cold lemonade.  The weatherman tells us it is going to be a perfect day for it, with no chance of rain and the temperature at 86 degrees!  (At that temperature, we just may be sipping lemonade right beside you!)

Uno. Dos. Tres. Cuatro... Cinco???

One. Two. Three. Four... Five???  Yes!  We are happy to announce that our family has asked to be officially matched with a sibling group of 5!  We are beyond excited and anxious for each step of the paperwork process to occur just as fast as it can.

While we thought our dossier was sitting quietly in Cali, waiting for a sibling group of 4 to obtain their adoption decrees, it was instead traveling to other parts of Colombia.  From Cali it went on to Medillan and then back to Bogota, where it was originally sent.  It was then that we were asked if we would consider a sibling group of 5.  Of course we would!

We would have updated the blog sooner, but decided to wait until we received approval from our home study agency to bring 5 into our family instead of 4.  Happily, we were approved towards the end of last week, and on Friday the 11th our agency sent a letter to Colombia asking for us to be officially referred the sibling group.

There are a few things we are working/waiting on right now.  The first is a reply from Colombia (ICBF) concerning our request.  Honestly, anything could happen, and they could say no.  In that case, we would just be waiting longer until we were referred another sibling group.  But, we don't think that is going to happen since they were the ones to ask us first if we would consider adopting the children.  We are praying that it is our Father's will for us to call these children our own.

Second, is our home study update.  We hope to have that done this week and sent on to USCIS to get their approval for our family to adopt a sibling group of 5.  Once that is sent, I believe, it takes about 3 weeks to get it back.  It is also possible that Colombia will not officially match us with the children until we have that approval, so we are working as fast as we can to get that done.

About the children...   I really wish I could show you pictures, but I can't just yet...  I promise I will post them just as soon as I can!  I can tell you that they look like a great group of children (we think they are really cute!), and we are all anxious to snuggle and play with them :)  One of the most fun parts about them is their ages - they are 6 1/2 on down to about 15 months!  Another part that will definitely shift around our family dynamics is that the boys will now out number the girls!  The two oldest and the two youngest are boys!  (Oh, boy!) And the girl is "smack dab" in the middle :)  So Kevin and I would have a grand total of 9 children - ages 14 on down to 17 months -  4 daughters and 5 sons!  It's going to be fun!

As many of our friends and family know, but what many of our readers might not know, is that we are a Christian family who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  And as Christians, one of our responsibilities is to care for orphans; to look after orphans in their distress.  This can take many forms and adoption is one them, similar to the way that we were adopted in Christ when we accepted Him as our Savior.   

One of my favorite songs that says it better than I ever could is called "Though I Was Born an Orphan" by Eric Schumacher and David L. Ward. If you would like to hear it sung, click here, otherwise I will leave you with the words:

Though I was born an orphan,
Abandoned and alone,
Enslaved and bound in darkness,
Without a hope or home,
The God of grace and mercy
From his eternal throne
Ordained to be my Father
And claim me as His own.

That I might be adopted
The Father sent his Son
To live in full obedience
And die for what I’ve done.
Now through his resurrection,
Through faith, with him I’m one.
A member of his household,
I am an heir, a son.

To soothe my fear and worry
The Spirit from on high
Was sent to be a witness
That “Father!” I might cry.
O How I love this Father!
I’m never left alone.
He’s come to dwell within me
Until he calls me home.

Since I have this adoption,
I cannot close my home
To widows and to orphans,
Abandoned and alone.
Lord, fill me with compassion
To love the fatherless,
That I might show the nations
How great my Father is!





Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wanted to share: Giveaway with Beautiful Feet Books

For my homeschooling friends: we have used Beautiful Feet Books study guides in the past and have really enjoyed them!  If you haven't taken a look at what they offer yet, hop on over and check it out :)

Here is a link to their website: Beautiful Feet Books and here is a link to the giveaway on their blog:
Beautiful Feet Books Blog Giveaway

Karen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

While we wait...

It's been a busy month since my last post - and I'm so thankful that it was because it helped keep my mind off thinking about when we just might get our referral!  I've done really well the past few weeks and didn't contact Nichole from Children's Hope one time to ask if she could see if there was any movement on the children's adoption decrees... until today :)  When I realized a month had gone by I sent her an email to see if it was appropriate to ask if there was any movement.  Hopefully, she will think it is and will ask their contact in Colombia to check for us.

So what has been keeping us busy in the meantime?  Teaching the children, an amazing week in Alabama, and working on our garden.  The kids have been doing great with their school work.  For the most part, I have the three oldest now working on their own - without my having to sit right next to them and instructing them.  Strange, I find myself having some free time during the day.  Well, free time from teaching the older ones anyway.  I'm still taking care of Lyric and doing things with her.  That keeps me plenty busy since she is now 4 years old but really, really likes to stay busy!

As far as Alabama goes, I don't think I realized just how much I needed (and the family needed) a vacation!  We really hadn't had one since we brought Lyric home in December 2010.  To be honest, I was starting to get a bit stir crazy and was not being nearly as patient with the children as a mother should be - and that's being nice to me! 

Playing in the sand and collecting shells
While in Alabama, we were able to relax in hot tubs, swim in pools, dig in the white sand and fly kites in the wind, chase the waves, ooh and ahh at an impressive naval aviation museum, explore the remains of Fort Morgan, spend time with the children's grandparents, and watch dolphins catch a ride on waves from our dolphin cruise.  It was amazing, and I am so thankful for the time we had there.

Since we have been back the children have been busy not only doing their school work, but preparing the garden as well.  Last week they helped me turn the soil over in three raised beds in which we now have lettuce, spinach, onions and garlic planted.  Not to be outdone - Kevin tilled the whole garden not once tonight but almost two times (once each way)!  He would have kept going but it was getting way too dark.  He did this with a very, very touchy and old rototiller, and I am so proud to have him as my husband!

Enjoy the pictures!
 
Sweet little feet


Celebrated Carissa's 14th birthday!  Laurel and I were on the beach at 6:30 am writing this in the sand!


Laurel kept sneaking up on this seagull - one gentle foot shuffle at a time.  She got pretty close!
Searching for seashells - that's about as far in as they would go in the chilly water.

I took this while exploring Fort Morgan.  The room was completely dark and we had to use our camera's flash to find our way around.  I love the look on Carissa's face as I surprised her in the dark.
This is my favorite dolphin picture.  It looks like the front dolphin is going to jump right out at you.