Posts tagged #adoption

Two Years (!!!) and an Announcement

One of my favorite family photos. Who knew all you had to do to get a smile from your kid was tickle him?

One of my favorite family photos. Who knew all you had to do to get a smile from your kid was tickle him?

We've been a family of three for two whole years. Can you believe it? In a way, it feels like it's flown by and in other ways, we've felt each day fully. We've slipped into a sweet rhythm of family. We get up, go about our daily schedules, come home, do homework, eat dinner, and go to bed, only to start all over again the next day.

This past year has seen huge leaps in attachment. We've had more hugs, more glances for reassurance, and more moments when things felt natural and not rehearsed. Along with this growth comes challenges. We have push back to our authority, which is to be expected. We all are doing our best to keep loving and encouraging each other. (Some days that feels more natural than others!)

Future big brother! (He's wearing the birthday crown as it was his birthday when we told him.)

Future big brother! (He's wearing the birthday crown as it was his birthday when we told him.)

One big, exciting thing that's happening in our family is that we are adopting from South Africa again. We don't know anything about our future kid (known around our house as M4 [Malcolm #4]) or where they are in South Africa. We are open to either gender, but have asked the age range to be 4-8. We are excited and hopeful that the process will go smoothly and quickly. For those of you wondering, you have to re-do everything, even though you've done it all before. The biggest advantage is that you know where you're headed and what to expect (the unexpected). We are almost done with the dossier (here's what that looked like for us last time around), then we will officially begin our waiting. 

Thank you to everyone who is loving on our family and sending love and encouragement as we are taking this next big step. We love our family and are excited to see who else God has to join this crazy bunch.

Posted on February 20, 2018 and filed under family anniversary, dossier, adoption.

One Year!

This was actually taken a week before our family anniversary. It was at The Paramount when we went to see the play The Little Mermaid.

This was actually taken a week before our family anniversary. It was at The Paramount when we went to see the play The Little Mermaid.

On January 21, we celebrated one year of being a family of three. We call it our family anniversary. We spent the weekend at a hotel for a staycation. We saw Moana, swam in the pool/soaked in the hot tub, and enjoyed spending time together. We are so thankful for one whole year with our little man. It's been a joy and a privilege to be his mom. We are looking forward to what this coming year will bring. 

Posted on February 27, 2017 and filed under family anniversary, staycation.

Our Adoption Packing List

Calling all parents and people with opinions (that means everyone):

I've started packing T's bag, but need help. His clothes and shoes are covered, but I need help deciding what is necessary/helpful in the "keep this child entertained in a hotel room for 6 to 7 weeks" department. Below is a picture and list of things I'm considering. Am I missing anything? Is there something you feel is unnecessary? Did you have a favorite toy on vacations when you were a kid that we should consider? Please comment below. I want to make sure we've got all of our bases covered for maximum entertainment, but not maximum weight (we do have to ship this to South Africa)!

Our adoption packing list for the South Africa stay. We're looking to keep this kid entertained!

Our adoption packing list for the South Africa stay. We're looking to keep this kid entertained!

1. Over the door toy organizer (kinda like this one)
2. Educational books and puzzle
3. Animal puzzles
4. Fidget toy (found here)
5. Magformers (found here)
6. Pool float toy (we don't know if he can swim, so this seems helpful)
7. Toiletries and First Aid items: first aid kit, thermometer, lotion, body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste)
8. Coloring books and crayon holder
9. A couple of Lego creator sets
10. Water bottle
11. Osmo set (super awesome, educational games for the iPad)
12. A Lacing Lion (found here)
13. A few books (I'm thinking about adding a few more as I don't want to read these four books for 6-7 weeks).
14. Travel Games (Memory and Trouble)
15. Headphones
16. Lots of stickers (they're light!) and a blank bound book for creation and a fun memento of our time in South Africa
17. Bag of Matchbox Cars and safari animals

Posted on October 15, 2015 and filed under adoption, getting ready, South Africa.

Adoption PSA

(Note: This post is meant to be humorous and informative. If you're guilty of saying any of these, please be assured that I don't remember you specifically asking these questions and I'm not thinking of any one person while writing these.)

In our 21 months of being in the adoption process, many things have been said to me about our choice and calling to adopt. Most have been encouraging. Below are a few things that have been asked/said more than once:

1. "You're adopting? That's so great! I/My friend adopted a dog last year"
Don't get me wrong, I love dogs (a lot). I think they're super and they need to be loved. But please, please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don't compare anyone's adopting a animal to a child. It will not win you any points with your friend toiling through the adoption process. And it'll make them feel sad. Just don't.

2. "You're adopting? Can't you have children of your own?"
Ugh. First of all, this is none of your business. Second, if this were the case and reason for adopting, is this really something you want to bring up? It could be really painful for someone to talk about. Get excited for your friend. It doesn't matter why they're adopting, they need your support.

3. "What medical problems does your kid have?"
This is not your business. Do not ask this question. Just no.

4. "Is your kid going to be black?"
Does it matter to you what color my kid is going to be? They could be purple and I will still love them. I hope my friends feel the same way. All of your friends who are adopting or who have adopted feel this way.

5. "You're adopting? My friends adopted a few years ago and the kid had so many problems...(insert adoption terror story here)."
I've heard this response the most. The adoption process and adoption itself is hard for so many reasons. Hearing horror stories does not help anything. If I'm honest, I've already thought through horrible scenarios we could face. Trust me, your friend walking through adoption or the adoption process does not need horror stories. They need to hear encouragement.

All in all, if you are considering adopting, you are going to face many stupid comments. (You have been warned!) If you're not adopting, aim to be the friend saying encouraging things.

I posted the video below way back when, but this guy does a great job making you laugh while learning things. Thank you for listening to the ramblings of a crazy lady. Please go back to whatever it was you were doing before reading this post and have a great day.

Posted on September 11, 2015 and filed under adoption, paper pregnancy.

One year later

One year ago, I clipped the envelope holding our adoption application onto our mailbox. I remember waiting with eager anticipation to watch the mail man grab it and walk away. Thus began our adoption process. It was a quiet beginning and has had ups and downs since. One whole year...

It is a bittersweet anniversary. When we started this process last December, we thought we would be in South Africa by now, meeting our kids, and being parents. We've since learned that was a misunderstanding on our part, but it doesn't diminish the hope we felt in this being a quick process.

It is a sweet moment, too, because more than anything I'm learning the Lord's timing is best in this process. In the year we've been walking this path, we've prayed over seven children and felt they were not our kids. I cannot wait for the day when the Lord answers our prayers to show us who are kids are supposed to be. God's timing is perfect, so the fact that we are not in South Africa right now means that this moment, being lived right here in Aurora, Illinois, is best.

For those of you still praying with us and encouraging us as we wait on the Lord, thank you. Your kind words, prayers, and listening ears are invaluable. You mean more to us than you know and your part in our adoption story is essential.

Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under adoption, season of waiting, South Africa.

African Safari

This weekend was a whirlwind trip up to Rochester, MN to visit my side of the family. My paternal grandmother (Grandma Cookie) just moved into assisted living and her home (which she had lived in for 60+ years) had been sold. I've spent many good times in that home and I really wanted to see it one last time before it was handed over to the buyer. The home needs a lot of work, so it is going to be flipped and will never look the same. 

Grandma Cookie's kitchen wall - it has looked this way as long as I can remember.

Grandma Cookie's kitchen wall - it has looked this way as long as I can remember.

Living in a home for that long and never throwing anything away makes for a busy weekend. There was a garage sale and the home was quickly being cleared out to make way for the new owners. One great find - BAGS of beanie babies. While many people were giving their beanies away, throwing them away, or selling them, my grandma saved them all. So when my uncle asked me if I wanted any, I jumped at the chance. We now have a full African safari of animals.

We grabbed any animals that are found in Africa, or more specifically in South Africa. When we were picking out animals, Brian grabbed the mongoose, of which we weren't sure there were any in South Africa, because he hates snakes. I just looked and there is a mongoose native specifically in South Africa. (Brian will be happy to hear there are creatures eating the numerous [venemous] snakes that live in South Africa.) I'm excited for our kids to play with this set. I'm already thinking through other things that could make the safari more fun, but I think we're off to a good start.

Posted on October 14, 2014 and filed under adoption, season of waiting, preparing for kids.

So close...

Documents: Notarized!

Documents: Notarized!

We are really close to finishing our dossier. In a moment of genius, I had us scheduled to head to the bank to get 10 documents notarized on Friday evening, right after everyone and their mother gets off work. Going off a tip from another couple who just finished their dossier, I brought doubles of everything. We ended up needing four of them! Our notary was very interested our adoption and telling us how she hadn't gotten a raise this year. Both of these interests resulted in three mistakes. Despite the notary's best effort, we were victorious!

Saturday morning found me wearing out the carpet between my computer and our printer/scanner. We have to have four copies of our dossier, along with the original, so lots of copies were made! On Saturday night, after enjoying a Billy Corgan concert at Ravinia, we headed back to our hotel and assembled the four copies and put the original documents in order. Once that was done, we breathed a huge sigh of relief! We are getting close to being done!

27 documents here, adding a few more after this weekend!

27 documents here, adding a few more after this weekend!

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under dossier, adoption, South Africa.

World Quilt

When we met with our social worker for our final home study interview, she warned of the time that lay ahead that would just be waiting. As our dossier paperwork is coming to an end, the waiting is drawing closer and closer. I've never done well with just waiting, so she suggested having a project to do to keep me busy during this season. 

I really wanted to make a quilt that was modern and something we would have for years to come. After scouring Pinterest for a couple of hours, I found a pixelated world map quilt I wanted to make. I contacted the designer and asked to purchase the pattern. Unfortunately, she does not sell the pattern. So I began scouring again. I found nothing I liked. Thankfully, a wonderful woman at our church, who has agreed to teach me how to quilt, found a great pattern. I liked it a lot because it is easily personalized. (I'll be adding photos of my progress as I go along.)

Today I am starting my first quilt. I am excited to have something tangible to do during this season of waiting. I am excited that when this season is done, I will have something to wrap my kids in and keep them warm. I am excited to pray for them and for us as I work on this quilt, for when God knits our family together through adoption. Can you tell I'm excited?

Posted on August 13, 2014 and filed under adoption, dossier, season of waiting, South Africa.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

I don't know if you've ever driven through a long tunnel, but I remember as a kid always feeling a little uneasy. It was typically as we were driving through a mountain that we encountered these tunnels. I would imagine the entire mountain caving in on us as we were driving through its belly. From the moment we entered the tunnel to the moment we left, I slackened my seatbelt so I could lean towards the middle of the car to have a clear view of what was ahead. The uneasiness would always lighten when I saw the pinhole of light coming from the end of the tunnel. That's how I feel now.

I've been walking through a bit of darkness and a little bit of feeling hopeless amidst the sea of paperwork that needs to be done. One of my (MANY) failings is that I don't finish a lot of things I start, and I was very fearful I wouldn't have the drive to finish all of this paperwork. But God being so gracious has helped me to press on. He gave me hope it could be done when I struggled to believe and a husband who encouraged me to press on.

No--the dossier is not done, but after being in the dark for some weeks, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. My soul feels lighter knowing this hurdle is almost done. In a small way, I have begun to cherish this season of our adoption because I know what comes next—waiting. 

Posted on August 9, 2014 and filed under adoption, dossier, paper pregnancy, South Africa.

A Dossier Update

I keep thinking I'm going to do better at updating this blog, but then there's nothing to write. I don't want to bore you with the mundane, but that's where we find ourselves most often. We've been plugging away at our dossier paperwork. I had hoped to get everything done by the end of July, but that's just one more thing I can chalk up being out of my control.

Tomorrow afternoon we are going in to do fingerprinting for our visa request for our child(ren). I am hoping we will get a competent government employee who is able to get everything right the first time. It might be too much to ask!

Other than that, Brian has been busy with work, I've been busy with paperwork, I need to clean my desk and I'm losing the battle to weeds in my yard. I honestly cannot believe that it is almost August! Where does time go?? Ok...rambling aside, I appreciate all of you asking how the adoption process is going and look forward to having a better report once our dossier is getting close to being done.

Posted on July 27, 2014 .

Learning to Trust the Lord

Our home study visit (the last one) got postponed a week. Our social worker's son has the stomach flu. While this is a perfectly reasonable reason, it really frustrated me. I wasn't frustrated with our social worker or her son, but after thinking through it, I was frustrated because I was not in control. We have been planning on this visit for six weeks. I had been cleaning our house furiously all day long. It was a rough combo.

As someone who is prideful, I think I know the best plan for my life. I want to know what is coming up next, when, and what to anticipate. This adoption process has made me face my sinfulness over and over again. Never before has the theme "Trust the Lord" become so prevalent in my life. Never before has that mantra pushed me far beyond my borders of comfort. It is often a war zone in my mind when I start worrying about the things I cannot control.

"How long is this process going to take?! Probably forever..." Trust the Lord.

"Are we going to adopt one or two? What are their stories?" Trust the Lord.

"Where are my kids right now? Are they being cared for and loved? Do they have enough to eat?" Trust the Lord.

"What is life going to be like when they come home? I've never been a mom and now I'm jumping in and mothering kids who have had difficult lives. Am I going to be any good?" Trust the Lord.

I'm sure we all can relate to this, even if you are not adopting. What is it in your life that you hold close to your chest? What is it that you say you trust the Lord about, but when He tries to change anything, you are faced with the reality that you want your own way? It is hard giving things completely to the Lord, but when I finally do, it is something I never regret.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

Prayer Requests

  • We were given a list of things to do between now and next week's visit. Pray we will complete everything as quickly as possible. 
  • Pray that, through this process, we would learn to trust the Lord and not lean on our own understanding.
Posted on March 12, 2014 and filed under adoption, home study, South Africa.

Quiet Book - First Page

So much is out of my control in this process. I don't know the ages or genders of our children. I don't know if we will adopt one or two (we are hoping for two). I don't know if we will be moving to another house before we go to South Africa. The biggest unknown: how long this process will take. As there is so much I don't know and so little I can do to prepare (at this point) for the changes ahead, I've decided to do what I can—craft!

Today I started crafting a quiet book. This past Wednesday I spent some time on Pinterest pinning all of my favorite sheets for the book (seen here). I'm planning on making some basic sheets (shapes, colors, letter recognition, counting), but I'll also be making some adoption specific pages.

The first page I made was a shapes page. It was good to get back into the swing of using the sewing machine. All that is left to add to this page are attach the snaps on the pieces and add the grommets so I can bind the book.

I'm excited to be able to work on something my child(ren) will benefit from.


Posted on February 15, 2014 .

Home Study Interviews

Tomorrow morning, Brian and I will be heading to Palos Heights. It is the first of four interviews needed to complete the dossier (explained here). This first interview will be conducted with both of us. The next two will be individual. To wrap it all up, we will have our final interview, March 12th, at our house.

We are nervous about these interviews because we don't know what all to expect. We know there will be a lot of questions, we just don't know which ones. 

Prayer Request

  • That would have calm hearts in the midst of these interviews and we could think clearly as we answer the many questions.
  • That the Lord would begin leading the social workers to the right kid(s) for us. They will be the ones pulling files and suggesting kid(s) to us. We trust the Lord will lay the kid(s) for us on their heart.
Posted on February 3, 2014 .

Reading in the New Year

I know that once we carry our child(ren) out of the orphanage, our time will no longer be our own, so I want to spend this year reading as much as I can. Here is my super ambitious reading list for 2014. I don't anticipate finishing all of it, but here's hoping!

(READ indicates books I've finished.)


Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child (Cogen) 
Shepherding a Child's Heart (Tripp)
The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family (Purvis)
Everyday Talk: Talking about God with Your Children (Younts)
Give Them Grace (Fitzpatrick)
Glimpses of Grace (Furman)
Come Rain or Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children (Garlinghouse) READ
Adoption Is a Family Affair! (Johnston) READ


The Hobbit (Tolkien)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban (Rowling)
The Divergent Trilogy (Roth) READ
Pilgrim's Progress (Bunyan)


Feminine Appeal (Mahaney)
The Christian in Complete Armour v. 2 (Gurnall)
The Heart of Christ (Goodwin)
Treasuring God in Our Traditions (Piper)
Pierced for Our Transgressions (Jeffery, Ovey, Sach)
The Praying Life (Miller)

Ridiculously Hilarious Category

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Kaling) READ



Posted on January 22, 2014 and filed under adoption, South Africa, reading.

Paper Pregnancy

Home study paperwork.jpg

On Sunday night, we finished out paperwork for the home study. It was quite the labor of love. It included things that needed notarization, lots of checking boxes, many signatures and dates, and the longest paper I have written since I left college (10 pages to be exact). I even had to get a physical for this thing—drug test and TB shot included. I am really starting to understand the term 'paper pregnancy'*. 

We had a brief scare today because when we entered our tracking number for the envelope, and it didn't show up. We thought it may have been lost. We prayed and waited. Then, as if the USPS website came back to life in an instant, our package showed that it would be delivered either today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday). Yay!

Next up: We will schedule three interview sessions - two at the Bethany offices and one in our home. These interviews, along with the paperwork we sent in, will be the basis for our dossier. 

Prayer Requests:

  • That we would be able to schedule these interviews soon and they would go smoothly.
  • For my job - My hours were cut from two days down to one. This is to be expected as Office Max Naperville is closing, but still unfortunate. I'm praying the Lord will provide another job, equally as awesome as this one.


*Paper pregnancy is the term used to refer to the paperwork in the adoption process that leads to the child(ren) adopted, much like a physical pregnancy.

Posted on January 14, 2014 and filed under paper pregnancy, adoption, South Africa.

Sick Sunday

Well, this week was great for me, right up until Wednesday (Christmas) evening when I started feeling sick. Brian woke up Tuesday morning feeling ill, and promptly passed it all to me. He has since started feeling better, but I am feeling worse (if that is possible). Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who is taking care of me and able to think straight, when I cannot.

This past week, along with fighting germs, we worked on our special needs checklist. This is a form where you go through a long list of illnesses, deformities, and special needs and say "yes", "no", or "willing to discuss" to each. This was the form we knew was coming, but it didn't make it any easier to fill out. The thing that made it so hard was knowing that if we had a biological child, we would welcome the child with any of these diseases or deformities. So we trekked through the form, with the help of WebMD and Mayo Clinic, and checked off all of the things we would be willing to accept.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray that, as we pray over this list, the Lord would make it clear we've checked "yes" or "no" on all of the special needs we should have.
  • Please pray that we both would continue to recover quickly from the plague that has settled itself over our home.
Posted on December 29, 2013 .

Lazy Saturday

This is the first Saturday in a long while that we haven't had anything to do. We decided to start the day off by going to the gym—our kids aren't going to chase themselves, and I certainly don't feel up to the task right now. 

For the rest of the day? We're going to be setting aside a large chunk of the afternoon to work on the crazy pile of home study paperwork and this evening I'll be making pasta. That's right. I'm making pasta. 

My mom used to make pasta for her amazing chicken noodle soup. I have wanted to try making my own for a while, but was really intimidated. I found an easy recipe and decided to take the plunge. I'm trying the bolognese sauce recipe, also found on that page. I'll let you know how it goes. Happy lazy Saturday, to you all!

Posted on December 21, 2013 .

Adoption 101

Last night we had our first class through our agency, Bethany Christian Services. It was a good time of review, as most of what was discussed, we already had considered and talked about between the two of us. I especially appreciated seeing and hearing from other couples that are now walking down the same path we are. 

While we were there, we received a monstrous envelope filled with paperwork we will need to fill out (basically writing a novel) and legal documents we will need to hunt down in order to begin the home study process. 

We are excited to start this next step in our journey. This is a big one as it will result in our dossier (informative essay/documents sent to South Africa) being completed. It is my understanding that once we've finished this step, we will be eligible to be placed with a child!

Prayer Requests

  • That we would be able to set aside large chunks of our time to complete this paperwork and send it in.
  • That the Lord would protect us as we are seeking to do something we know He has called us to.
  • As we were driving home last night, our car died and had to be towed to a shop. Please pray that repairs would be quick and cheap, and that we would not be discouraged by disruptions in day-to-day life during this exceptionally stressful and hectic time.
Posted on December 17, 2013 .

Details, Details, Details

We've been asked a lot of questions lately, and there's a lot of overlap in curiosity. Here are the basics of what we have so far, and how you can be praying for us specifically:


We are open to a sibling group up to age eight, with medical and/or physical special needs.


We are really hoping, and would love your prayers to this end, to bring these kids home by the end of 2014, which may mean Christmas in Africa! 


We are really interested in adopting from South Africa. Brian is able to work remotely, which would be helpful in the 5-7 week stay to pick up the kiddos. We love the idea that we would have the opportunity to experience the culture our children would be coming from, maybe even pick up some of the language.


We want to adopt first because we feel strongly called to it. Adoption is not for everyone, but we believe it is for us. We were listening to the book Adopted for Life, by Dr. Russell Moore, and both felt strongly this was how God wanted to grow our family.


  • Pray that we would have favor from the governments and this process would go quickly, allowing our kids to be home by the end of 2014.
  • Please pray for us as we begin the steps of this process. Monday, December 16, is our first class (Adoption 101).
Posted on December 14, 2013 .

Hey There!

We have so many family members and friends who have a lot of questions about our adoption and the timeline, that we thought we would keep everyone up to date with this blog. We're excited to share our journey—the good, the bad, and the frustration (I'm sure it will happen). It is our hope that, through this process, we might even be an encouragement to some who are considering adoption for their family.

We know this is going to be a long process, followed by some good and difficult years as we adjust to being a family with internationally adopted children. We covet your prayers—for us as we are working through the sea of paperwork, and for our child(ren), wherever they may be.

Please feel free to subscribe to the blog by email so you will see updates when we post them. Thank you for the outpouring of love that we have already experienced. We are so thrilled to bring children into this community that we are blessed to be a part of!

Posted on December 7, 2013 .