Friday, November 21, 2014

Here We GROW Again!

Details.  Everyone wants details about our decision to adopt again.  The problem is I cannot fully recollect how we arrived where we are today!  :)

I remember the beginnings of the surreal conversations initiated by Jon about adopting again.  So odd.  Those talks were completely unexpected.  Neither of us could have fathomed going down this path again, yet amazingly, we both just knew.

Still weary from the last fundraising/paperwork/red tape/emotionally-up-and-down process, there was definitely shock on our part.  But from the beginning of our prayers and thoughts about starting again, there was no doubt this was God's plan.

I vaguely recall computer research and phone calls, determining if we can even qualify this time.  (That is an ongoing prayer request, because we are asking for an exception to the income requirement.)

What I do remember is the moment Jon showed me the faces of two precious sisters in Taiwan.  Two sisters whose faces still bring tears to my eyes and tug at our hearts.  Ultimately, we were not approved to adopt them due to the number of children we already have.  So the roller coaster ride of emotions that are inevitable in adoption started immediately.  Despite our brokenness and disappointment in the decision regarding the sisters, we have to trust God has a plan for those girls, and someone is going to respond to His call and bring them home.  *Someone with less than 3 children at home.  You can read more at the bottom of this post.

That hits the main points of the past months.  After continued prayer and discussion, we are moving to adopt again through China's special needs program for a daughter or daughters somewhere in the age range of 6 to 9.  As we did with each previous adoption, we explored all the options available, including the foster care system and other countries.  Only God knows the exact reasoning, but He has placed a burden on our hearts for children in orphanages. 

This whole thing is crazy . . . yet it isn't.  The daunting task of paperwork and fundraising make me want to puke.  Seriously.  It's scary in a hundred different ways, but we're okay with that.  Here we grow again!!


*The orphanage assigned to find their family prefers adoptive families with no more than 3 children at home.  They claim they will allow exceptions in the case of older children or sibling adoptions, and these girls are both at almost 8 and 9 years old.  A few large families before us had been turned down, but we did not let that waiver our commitment.  There was a great flurry of effort on our part to adopt these girls.  It took a while, but we found an agency who worked with us to implore the Taiwanese orphanage to allow our family an exception. At the point where at least three families before us were turned down, we kept fighting.  Long story short, the orphanage said "no".  This from the orphanage who has these girls in two separate foster homes, one with 8 total people living in the home and the other with 7.  This from the orphanage who sent these girls for a 2-week visit to America through a hosting program to advocate for their adoption, and placed them with a family larger than our own.  The host family has at least three children/grandchildren who are almost the same ages as three of ours, and the girls THRIVED!!  Please pray for these sweethearts.  If you would like information on the beautiful Taiwanese sisters who need their forever family, PLEASE contact me!! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Humble Opinion on Fundraising for Adoption

You have to be rich to adopt.
 
During our first adoption process, that is the firm opinion I formed.  Down in the trenches, working to raise thousands of dollars, I would look at families who had adopted more than once and I just could not figure it out.  They had to be rich.
 
Fast-forward to the present, where we have added a second and third child to our family through adoption.  I now realize the error of my early thoughts.  Yes, adoption is expensive whether you pursue the domestic or international route.  No, you do not have to be rich.  Our family is living proof that finances are just an excuse.
 
Our Bible has commanded us to care for orphans.  For those who are eligible to adopt, the financial requirement can be astounding.  I assume that most families do not have that amount of money sitting around.  While I am a HUGE proponent of saving for the things you need/want, adoption is different.  When you make the decision to follow God's call to adopt, there is no time to waste. 
 
Millions of children sit and wait. 
 
Do we let them sit on, growing older and therefore considered less "adoptable" while we try to save for the process?  No!  We jump to action, humbling ourselves to admit we need help, and allowing others in our lives and communities to participate in the calling to care for the fatherless.  After all, not everyone can qualify to adopt with all the requirements for age/medical history/marital life/etc.  If you are ineligible to adopt, should you sit idly by and ignore the orphan crisis?  No!  You find opportunities to help families with the ridiculous costs for the most un-ridiculous of events - giving a child the family they deserve!
 
Some go so far to say that if you were pregnant, you wouldn't be going around asking for money to help with your impending delivery expenses.  No you wouldn't, but having a baby (with or without insurance), and adopting without any support are two entirely different things.  If you are about to give birth and go to a hospital, they won't demand all the money BEFORE you can have the baby.  As you check into the ER, the receptionist will not say, "Either pay up front or hold that baby in!"  LOL!  Once the baby is born, there is no problem taking the baby home, even if you have not cleared your account.  And payments can be arranged! 
 
In adoption, you have to pay the fees as you go.  If you do not have the funds, you either wait until you do (causing additional fees down the road if some of your documents go beyond time restrictions), or if you have been matched, risk losing your child!  Can you imagine giving birth in the hospital and preparing to leave with your bundle of joy, only to find that if you cannot pay your hospital bill in its entirety they will take the child from you until someone else comes along to pay the expenses!?!!
 
As an adoptive family, where are you left if you do not have thousands sitting in the bank? 
  1) Grant applications.  The one drawback to those is the uncertainty.  Many families apply, and funds are limited. 
  2) Jobs.  As we brainstormed possibilities to finance our recent adoptions, we contemplated putting our children in public school and finding a full-time job for me.  Besides denying a calling in my life (homeschooling), it was a pretty fruitless idea.  Even with my Bachelor's Degree, the likelihood of finding a position, paying gas and childcare expenses, and being able to earn what we needed for the adoption was slim.  I was, however, able to take on three part-time jobs devoted entirely to adoption expenses.
  3) Sell stuff.  When you are desperately trying to bring a new little life home, you find so much of what used to be important is no longer desired. 
  4) Loans.  There are interest-free and low-interest loans available for adoption. 
  5) Adoption Tax Credit.  I used to believe families should take the tax credit into consideration when raising funds, basically subtracting it from their total estimated expenses.  As the tax credit is now administered, however, that is a risky gamble for families to take.  It's based upon your tax liability.  In our case, our income for the year is so low that the taxes we owe are very minimal.  We will not be able to receive the full amount of the adoption tax credit.  Thankfully it can reduce your tax liability over a period of 6 years, so our hope is that it will be enough to pay back our two adoption loans.
  6) Fundraise.  Find services or products you can offer/make.  Utilize fundraisers at local businesses and restaurants.  This is an opportunity to engage others, giving them a chance to do something, too!  God is right there with you, calling others to help in specific ways.  Ask for the help you need.  Relinquish the "control" you try to have over the situation.  It's hard, it can be embarrassing, and boy is it humbling.  It shouts to the world that you, by yourself, are unable to accomplish this task the Lord has given you.  It takes any glory and puts it in its proper place - at the feet of our God who deserves it all. 
 
Two points of advice I have when fundraising.  First, don't rely on human beings.  You definitely set yourself up for disappointment if you rely on certain people to be supportive of your efforts.  Even if you have been supportive to their cause in the past, it does not mean they will be there for you.  Again, this is God's plan, not yours, and He will provide through those who are part of it.  Second, stop worrying.  If you are feeling like everyone cringes at the thought of another fundraiser from you and your family, take heart and realize others have more compassion than you may give them credit.  Friends and family know that no one expects them to participate in every single fundraiser.  Trust me, you learn to trust God more than ever through this refining process.  And truly if someone is annoyed by your fundraising efforts, I suggest it's likely God is working something in their lives.  Just let them un-follow your facebook newsfeed, and pray for them. :) 
 
For what it's worth, that's my opinion!
 
 
* I realize the majority of friends and families are comfortable and supportive of efforts in the adoption process.  I started this entry as my sister-in-law came across yet another discouraging blog refuting fundraising.  There are an abundance of blogs with negative opinions regarding fundraising for adoption, so I wanted to put another source of encouragement out there for families in the adoption process who have to fundraise.  There is compassion for you in this journey.  At the end of the day, each family has different life circumstances over which to pray and decide what the right path is for them.  Ignore the critics as best you can, and trust in Gods plan!

Monday, October 13, 2014

It Is Finished!

Puzzle Front
   Finally it is finished!  Our beautiful puzzle showing the names and organizations that answered the call to help the orphan . . . or in this case, orphans.  It is such a beautiful and precious reminder of the family, friends, strangers, and community who united for Oliver and Kalli, and the whole Hudson Herd.  :)  Orphans no more, these two little ones are blessing our family immeasurably.  It has not been perfect or easy - nor did we expect it to be - but God is sustaining us and we are thankful for where we are today.  I will never cease to be amazed at how He stretches and grows us to accomplish what we could never do alone.  I never imagined being a parent of five children, now I cannot imagine a second of life without those five faces.

   Obviously, being a wife, momma of five, and homeschool teacher of four is keeping me b-u-s-y.  My blogging has dwindled to absolutely nothing.  While I realize it is not the most important activity in my life, I do want to write from time-to-time as an encouragement to other Christians/wives/mothers, to those considering adoption, to adoptive families, and as a witness for Christ.

   I wanted a post that gave a summation of our adoption costs, and how God miraculously brought the financial requirement together.  Get your calculator if you want your eyes to bulge!  Unfortunately, the process is ridiculously expensive whether international or domestic, but THESE LITTLE LIVES ARE WORTH IT!  And when you see how He can bring all the pieces together to bring one of His children home, it's so obvious - "Yep, God did THAT!"



Puzzle Back
PERSONAL:
Savings, Loans, and Extra Part-time Jobs - $11,855

GRANTS:
$18,300

FUNDRAISING & DONATIONS:
Puzzle - $3525 (705 Pieces!!)
Tshirts - $915
Origami Owl Fundraiser Party - $150
Yard Sale - $1500
McDonalds - $421
Tumbleweed - $46
Envelope Fundraiser - $4782
Individual Donations - $3188
7,000 Mile Surprise - $1000
Reece's Rainbow Donations - $340
Christmas Shopping Fundraiser - $590
Photo Fundraiser - $410
Pecan Fundraiser - $100
Sucker Sales - $57
Whitney's Amazing Adoption Auction - $1900

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Honeymoon at Home

There's no place like home.

Poignant words.  It is beyond good to be back home after 18 days away.  Saturday morning in China began twenty-six hours in airports or on airplanes, going through Customs at least twice, Immigration at least twice, and picking up our checked luggage and re-checking it twice.  Exhausting, but by the grace of God, manageable.  Our longest flight was 12.5 hours, and we could not have hoped it would go as well as it did!  Kalli played with her seatbelt for at least an hour, and then proceeded to slowly and methodically rip every page out of a magazine for another hour!  Oliver sat or slept in his seat the majority of the time, which is a miracle with his energy, and did not have a single temper tantrum on the planes.  Thank you God!

We arrived at midnight and stayed awake until 2 a.m. Sunday!  Who gave my children Miracle Grow while we were gone?!  Everyone was full of excitement and curiosity as introductions of new siblings were made and a quick home tour was conducted.  Oliver hugged everyone!  He excitedly searched out his brother "Feddy", whom he had asked for every single time we were able to Skype from China.  Since, he has forgotten his interest in his brother and been stuck-like-glue to Myley! 
Note to Adoptive Families:  Oliver loved seeing his photos up in our house as if he had always been there.  Do this!

Kalli was shy and reserved at first, but has quickly found the delight in having so many playmates who want to give her their full attention.  Freddy received the great honor of being the first in our family to receive a kiss from her.  An unprompted one, I might add.  Jon received his first Kalli kisses yesterday, Grace did today, and Momma still waits . . .

But that's okay.  Most everything aside from sleep is going smoothly.  Granted we are in the space known as the "honeymoon phase" in the adoption world.  Enamored and in awe of their new brothers and sisters, no one is squabbling.  Yet.  I'm an optimist at heart, but not na├»ve enough to think this peaceful co-existence will last forever, lol!  I do believe it gives them a good start at bonding.  They are super cuteness together!  Jon snapped this photo today of our little stair steps - 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9.  We love that they are bundled up in unique packages with distinctly different personalities!  God has given them all gifts and traits that we love and treasure, and it's such a blessing to see how He cultivates them as they grow.

When we arrived home, we were pleasantly surprised to find our pantry stocked with goods, overflowing onto our countertops!!  Our church family and Sunday School class, Couples for Christ, not only arranged meals to be brought to our house for the next two weeks, but also contributed to the pantry packing.  Our family and friends were part of that HUGE blessing, too!  No worries about going to the grocery or what to fix to eat.  Seriously, I don't think I could make it through the grocery store right now.  Thank you dear, kind, and thoughtful family and friends for knowing how much we would need this expression of God's love through YOU!!  Alright, I'm crying . . . better move on.  

Sleep struggles abound, and it seems to be getting worse.  Two to four hours of sleep in 24 hour periods = not good.  The times when I start to nod off, but am awakened every 15 to 20 minutes, seem like torture.  When you are in the middle of exhaustion piling up for days and are tempted with sleep, then denied it repeatedly, the feeling is wretched.  I am pretty sure they use that as a torture tactic on prisoners of war.  It's gotten to the point where I just cry out of total exhaustion, and I feel like I'm going to start puking at some point and not be able to stop.  Seems so wimpy and weak to admit when I see it typed, but being in the middle of these moments and actually experiencing them, well, the feelings are what they are.  I know many people go through similar ordeals when a new baby is born, or even working night shifts, and just dealing with insomnia.  I have been wearing the same shirt for two days, cannot remember if I brushed my teeth yesterday, and quite frankly, I could care less.  I just want sleep!! 

From infancy to 18 years, I lived in the same house and had the same bedroom.  Every now and then, I wake up thinking I am in my childhood room.  As my mind clears through the fog of confusion, realizing which direction is which and where I am, it is so disorienting.  I wonder if that is how little Kalli is feeling.  After the first night home, she wakes up often during the night, wimpering or wailing in her half-asleep, half-awake state.  I wonder what her little mind thinks of all these changes.  I wonder how her little heart deals with all the fear and uncertainty.  All we can do is pray God will give her a sense of security, and inner peace that her world is finally as it should be. 

Oliver actually seems unphased, sleeping soundly through the night and naps.  He is indiscriminately friendly, meaning he has never met a stranger!  It's something we actually have to be cautious about, because it is harder to closely bond with someone who can be happy with anyone.  We noticed with our guides in China, and when people stop by here at home, he almost always wants to leave with them.  We are working diligently to teach him that he stays with Mommy and Daddy now, because we are a family.  I hope it's not too much to ask for continued prayers for our newly formed family.

That's the recap.  Actually, I was only able to write this because of the sleep deprivation, so at least I got something accomplished during this "honeymoon"!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Past Two Days


Calling the last two days emotionally charged would be like saying baby pandas are kinda cute - it would be an understatement.  :)

Wednesday, we set out to tour Kalli's orphanage and view her finding spot. (Oliver's original orphanage doesn't currently allow families to visit.) Upon entering, we were allowed to review her complete record, which contained more details than we had previously been given. Our guide read it to us since it was written in Chinese. Hearing her story read aloud brought stinging tears to my eyes. I desperately swallowed the growing lump in my throat to try and maintain composure.

The morning continued in its draining fashion as Kalli saw one of her primary caretakers.  Up to this point, anyone who reached out to hold her was quickly rejected.  But this special person in her life scooped her out of my arms before I could blink.  When it was time to go, I reached for my baby with hope, but confusion and misunderstanding had already set in.  Her crying ensued, much like a little lambs, intermingled with wrenching screams, heart-breaking at the least to hear the deep pain she felt.  The nanny seemed to want to take her back to offer comfort, but Jon and I made eye contact and a silent agreement that that would not be best.  We turned to leave, sort of officially closing this chapter of her life.

While it's difficult to console someone in a language they do not speak, she calmed down in about 30 minutes.

Later in the day, we visited the exact spot where she was found. At first, all I could manage was to briefly glance around, averting my eyes and heart from speculating about the unknown details. It pains me immensely to know my children will have questions . . . with no answers. I am so sorry, sweethearts. All we can focus on is what we do know - you were found! God did not allow this world's sin and failures to push you out, or allow you to be forgotten or disregarded. He brought you from the ashes, He called upon His children to come for you, and somehow, managed to move our stubborn hearts to action.

Blugh.  No actual words to articulate the day, just ugly noises derived from raw emotion.

Enter Thursday.  Our appointment at the U.S. Consulate.  We were told no photos or video, advised to be serious and get the business done.  We suppose the energy and rigidness of that type of environment was too much for Oliver, because he melted down instantaneously and continually.  The entire 1.5 or 2 hours we were there with no snacks or drinks.  Normally, you aren't there that long, but for a fun twist, the computers went down at the precise instant we were taking the final step!

Parental instinct, no, common sense, led us to forego any sightseeing after the trying morning, so we went back to our hotel.  That evening, we experienced our first 40 minute tantrum.  Whew!

I am reminded often through this journey that emotional turmoil, sleep deprivation, and physical exhaustion all deeply contribute to a worn spirit.  Not an easy road, but we are not complaining.  I have mentioned the book Orphanology before, and probably this particular thought from its pages:
"Did Jesus walk an easy path on this earth?  
Look at what He endured to adopt us into the family of God."

Even if every day were like the past two, we would take it.  DEFINITELY could not do it without the strength and comfort of our heavenly Father, and the earthly support from our astoundingly awesome family, church family, friends, and even a few strangers along the way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Update

Wow!! God is so good! We have both our new family members! While there is lots of documentation to finish and 10 more days here, it is such a gift to now have Oliver and Kalli in our arms.

Kalli had a very difficult time at first. She cried and screamed for about 30 mins, and has been silent since. Literally no sounds have come out. She is obviously in shock. But she does give us eye contact and touches our hands. She studies our faces intently, but with a bit of a glaze over her eyes. Oliver got the first slight grin out of her last night! He is an AWESOME big brother. He was even hand feeding her last night! Sometimes he speaks to her in Mandarin, which seems to be comforting to her. (I don't know how to make a heart symbol with this tablet, but lots would be inserted here!)

Oliver keeps saying "I so happy!" And "lets go to your home in America." He is doing so well! He is sweet, intelligent, strong-willed and strong in strength. He has, as most 4 yr olds would, already started testing his boundaries with us, but we feel like it actually helps us bond!! He has gone to timeout a few times for hitting, where we sit with him and assure him we love him and don't want him to get in trbl. After 4 mins, we get up, he calms down and rubs his little eyes, says he is sorry, and we give big hugs and kisses. He is very quickly discovering Mommy and Daddy can be trusted to do what we say we will, and that we love him even when he is naughty! He is a beautiful ball of energy, light, and laughter!!!

Kalli is described by her orphanage caretakers as strong-willed and shy.  She seems so gentle.  She follows me around everywhere in the room when she is not in the carrier!! She is a delicate and chunky little sweetheart with dimples in each cheek. We cannot wait to see her smile light up the room, but expect that will take many days.

We also met our niece Sarah, who makes me tear up at the thought of her.  She is an endearing, perfect little girl. Touch is her primary form of communication, so you feel so connected with her very quickly. It is almost as if she lives in her own little world (as she is deaf and has low vision), but as soon as you scoop her up, she pulls you into that world. One of her caregivers says it's like your world slows down - thats perfect! Like it's just you and her. Jon and I kept saying how perfect my sis-in-law and brother and nephews are for her. They truly are her family, and their loving ways are just like hers! God put this beautiful picture together, that is 7000 miles apart!

Please forgive us if you have emailed or messaged and haven't gotten a response.  We have had an incredibly tight schedule, finally getting over jetlag, and internet access and our tablet seem to be unreliable. Emails that we delete reappear days later, and emails appear that weren't previously there. :)

Our precious trio at home are doing well. The girls were very upset the morning we left, but Myley now assures us "shes fine!" Thank you for your prayers and support. We feel them, and have felt God's constant presence and comfort. Sorry this is so long! I likely won't be able to update again except with pictures, so I laid it all out here at 4 am while I could!


About Me

My Photo

Two grateful children of God who are head-over-heels for one another, best friends and partners in this crazy world!  Parents striving to disciple our five incredible children who arrived in our arms in different ways, but fill our hearts with an uncompromising love.  Full of imperfections, but trying our best every day . . . well, almost every day (that goes back to the imperfections).  THANKFUL, THANKFUL, THANKFUL to know the love of our Savior and our precious family.