New Picture!

We were so excited to get some new pictures this week! We are so in love with our sweet girl and we think she is simply gorgeous - not that we are biased or anything! :)


We are officially waiting for our Travel Approval (TA) and hope it comes soon! In the mean time, we are very busily getting ready. Packing feels like a monumental task - we are going to two different areas and the temperature difference is about 20 degrees which is proving challenging when trying to pack light. We are rounding up the many things that we will need to take with us - also a bit overwhelming. We will have Emmarie with us for almost the whole trip (except the first couple of days) and so we will be entertaining our sweet (and we are sure, busy) toddler in a hotel for two weeks. :)

Here's to a new year and a new daughter and a trip to China! So thankful and blessed!


And Her Name Shall Be...

...Emmi...well, her short name anyway. :) We were debating on spelling and decided on Emmi vs. Emi. We love it! Hope she likes it!

We are hoping our Article 5 will be picked up tomorrow - waiting for that confirmation e-mail. Then we will be waiting for TA (Travel Approval)! Getting closer!

We got a sweet update this week - no pictures but several details. She has grown quite a bit which is great and is saying some words. She is reportedly a great eater "including that of spicy, sour, or sweet." She likes to be comforted with hugs, enjoys playing outside, and loves any kind of toy. Seeing all of those things written about our daughter make us fall a little more in love and make us all the more eager to get to meet her and know her! It also makes me realize again how much her life is about to change - praying for her so much.

C informed me this morning that he is quite upset that Emmarie isn't home yet - "it's taking forever and I just want her to be here!" Warms my heart. 

That's about it. We are in holiday mode around here and have very eager boys!



It's starting to sink in that we are likely heading for China in about 6 weeks! I'm excited and nervous and very overwhelmed. Our family has been sick for a week which hasn't helped. I feel like my to-do list is a mile long and our schedule is busy.

I'm not really sure if I have the right size of clothes or the right toys and activities (especially for a 24 hour trip home). I've held off purchasing very much for her. And now I'm realizing, it's time. I need to buy the diapers and the medicines and the travel items. I need to be actively preparing - washing her clothes, painting, cleaning, and freezing meals for when we are home (jet lag, new sister/daughter in a new home, new country, new everything, and boys who haven't seen their parents in 2 weeks is NOT going to be easy).

The truth is...I'm tired. This cough/cold has wiped me out and just the general busy-ness of homeschooling, holidays, and working.

I'm nervous. I know the adjustment may be challenging. I know that leaving the boys for two weeks is going to be super hard. I know that the days of being a family of five are ending - both a joyful and sad thing. We are headed back into diapers, sleepless nights (likely). and toddler things. We are welcoming a girl - we kinda know the boy thing but the girl thing is definitely new. :)

Amidst all of that, I am SO happy, excited, and eager to meet our precious daughter. We have no doubt that God chose her to be in our family. We really do love her already. We cannot wait to meet her and introduce her to her already-adoring-brothers and to our family and friends.

Reality is here and it feels like this has been awhile coming and very quick all at the same time.

Praying for the transition and for the remainder of the process.
Embracing these days as a family of five.
Celebrating the holidays.
Anticipating the needs of our daughter and family.
Looking forward to becoming a family of six.


I-800 Approval

Today, I called to check on our immigration approval. This was my second call - the first was on Monday when our very nice officer told me that it wasn't ready and to check back probably at the end of the week or first of next week. I was disappointed but resigned. :) Today when I called, I found out that we were actually approved on Tuesday! HOORAY!

The official letter arrived in the mail today. Unfortunately, it had an error that I immediately spotted. So, we called and e-mailed and our officer will fix it. Hopefully it won't delay us to much.

We are thankful for the continued movement forward - January travel is still looking very possible and we are praying for that!



I don't think I can fully express how much my heart was touched by the words shared by our two oldest on Thanksgiving. P was the second person to share what he was thankful for and he said, "I am thankful Emmarie is my sister." A few rounds later, C passionately talked about China and how thankful he was for Emmarie and that he can't wait to get her home.

My heart was so glad to hear the genuine concern and care (completely unprompted) for their new sister. They are so excited for her to be home and God definitely used them to lay adoption on our hearts again. C also shared that he wished he could, "Go in the blink of an eye and bring her home." Our boys have been troopers. They have faithfully prayed, dreamed big dreams, and eagerly waited to meet Emmarie. I can't wait to see all four of our kiddos together. Thank you God for showing us your way, growing our hearts, and providing for our family. Blessed.



Wow. That pretty much sums up how we are feeling right now. I was working on Thanksgiving baking this afternoon and paused to check my e-mail to find an e-mail from a grant organization. The subject line read, "Congratulations to the F Family from JSC Foundation." I opened the e-mail and was immediately overwhelmed. You see, they graciously awarded our family a very generous  grant for Emmarie's adoption! It was more than we had even dared to hope for and we certainly did not know if we would be selected for a grant at all!

We are just rejoicing! Grant applications are hard and intense and time consuming - filled with financial information, essays, personal questions, and in this case, an interview with our pastor, too (thank you, Michael!). Sometimes you wonder if it's worth it - especially when you know there have to be so many people applying! Well, we can definitely testify that it was worth it. We are so thankful to the JSC Foundation for their generosity and for their allowing us to share our heart and family with them. The organization was beyond kind in all of our communication with them.

Our hearts are overflowing with thankfulness. We feel so blessed and so humbled! We simply cannot believe that we are down to about $3,000 to have her adoption fully funded. AMAZING.



Funding Update

We wanted to give a thanksgiving update! We have been SO blessed through our garage sales, Pampered Chef, gifts from people, coffee sales, bracelets, and Purdue Concessions and are so thankful to have been able pay cash for all of our expenses to date - over $11,000! We also already have about $6,000 towards the remaining adoption fees and flights! WOW! So thankful! So that leaves about $8,000-10,000 to go! It's looking like travel will be in January sometime!

If you are interested in helping us, there are a few ways:

1) Village to Village - http://www.villagetovillageintl.com/the-falk-family-family-42.php - a tax deductible way to contribute.

2) Pampered Chef - http://pamperedchef.biz/alaina - I'm having a party through the rest of this month (closing November 30) if you need any Christmas gifts - just enter my name as host or click on this link http://pamperedchef.biz/alaina?page=host-search-results&showId=3914611! Things can be shipped to you or to me (if you live local)! I'm also happy to do catalog and cooking shows! My mom is also having a show on December 4 if any of you are local and would like to attend a show!

3) Thirty-One Gifts - November 27-December 8, we have a friend who is graciously doing a fundraiser for us! (Please wait until the 27th to put your order in but you can shop now!) All orders will arrive before Christmas - and again you can ship to me if you live local or ship to your address is you don't! https://www.mythirtyone.com/shop/catalog.aspx?eventId=E2476830&from=DIRECTLINK

We are so grateful. We knew what God was calling us to but really, really did not know how the financial end would work. We are so thankful for the extra income God has provided and for the love and support of family and friends through gifts, prayers, babysitting, working concessions and so much more. We are blown away! THANK YOU!

Seriously can't wait to get this sweet girl home! Love her so much already and look at this picture ALL the time! :)


Getting Ready

Yesterday, I spent some time working on Emmarie's room. I sorted through the baby toys we have and kept only the ones that I thought she might still enjoy - shape sorter, blocks, musical instruments etc., - the rest I passed on to my sister. We hung her light fixture and put down the rug. I sorted through her adorable clothes and made her bed. I still need to paint and move some furniture and get rid of some furniture but I made some progress!

It's so hard to imagine that we will have another little face around our table and in our lives. I'm so anxious to meet her - I've dreamed twice about the moment we meet and they were beautiful dreams. I know the reality is that it could be really hard as she meets strangers for the first time. While we don't know what exactly her needs will be, we are ready - we love her and we know she is ours! God made that crystal clear to us!

In these final weeks as a family of five, I treasure the moments while anticipating the future. I have a feeling that bringing Emmarie home might mellow some eager brothers - is that wishful thinking? Perhaps. :)

Some Prayer Requests for Us:
1) We have so much to do before the trip - especially around the house and prepping freezer meals. Pray for the time and energy!

2) We are still working towards having the full amount for the adoption. Pray that God will continue to provide. We have been SO BLESSED!

3) Leaving the boys for 2 weeks is going to be HARD. As we anticipate that, please pray that we will have peace. We are working towards giving the boys as much stability as possible during those two weeks. 

4) Pray for Emmarie - for health and safety and that God would be preparing all of us for each other. Meeting us and becoming a part of our family will change everything she knows. Pray for a smooth transition.



After a rough first part of the week and some really frustrating and discouraging things (not adoption related), I was settled in to have a great big pity party. Oh wait, the electric blanket and comfy spot on the couch as well as candy wrappers next to me are evidence enough that I had already started. :) I was enjoying the boys - Titus is sick with a fresh cold and we were all cuddling and watching a documentary - but I was feeling a little blue.

I checked my e-mail right around 6 and gasped. The letters we have been waiting for L-O-A were in the subject line of an e-mail from our adoption coordinator. HOORAY! We received our LOA - the document that officially approves us to adopt Emmarie! This is also the document that was taking an average of 90 some odd days for people on our timeline (with Pre-Approval AFTER Log-in).

Day 73 - our agency received it! This means (hopefully) 8-10 weeks until travel! We have several steps (and some more funding) before we get there but this was a big one and we are incredibly thankful! We appreciate continued prayers that the remaining paperwork will go smoothly and efficiently. We are rejoicing tonight! Shrieks and tears - from me, not Andrew - pretty sure he would want me to clarify that. :)



I feel like I should update but there really isn't anything to say. We are still waiting. Another week is almost over and we don't know anything new. I'm actually feeling pretty peaceful about it this week and I'm thankful for that - sometimes the peace and patience are hard to come by in this process. :)

We are planning to send Emmarie another care package in November and perhaps that will come with some more pictures and an update. In the mean time, we pray for her all the time, pray for the process, and keep working towards the financial end of things. We have a great support network of waiting parents on facebook and that is a blessing. Maybe next week will be the week for our LOA! After that, it will still be 8-12 weeks before we travel.

The boys are excited to have her home and so are we - it feels very disjointed to have a member of our family so very far away! We love her and that love just keeps growing through this process. 


Quick Update

Today marks day 42 of our wait for our Letter of Approval (LOA). Thankfully, the last two weeks have gone quickly. I'm really not sure when we will receive it - I'm praying that it will be soon but the averages seem long lately (70-90) days. It will feel like a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things but for now, it drags. We pray for Emmarie regularly - for her health and safety and protection. Our hearts long to have her here.

In the mean time, I'm slowly starting to gather the things we will need for a toddler girl. I'm having a little bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around the girl-thing but it's fun! I'm also working on packing lists and completely forgot how challenging it is to pack for an international adoption. :) My goal is to gradually add things from the list to my shopping trips in preparation for the great packing of 2013.

We also had to re-do the boys' bathroom. It's been on the to-do list for awhile and must be completed before Emmarie comes home. We are do-it-yourself-ers which is good, I guess. Anyway, it's in progress and I can't wait until it's finished.

We have seen God's provision in some amazing ways...things like discovering that our HSA will cover the major dental work Andrew has to have done. We didn't know exactly how much was in the account (his employer contributes and we hadn't checked for awhile) and are rejoicing that it should cover the whole bill and then some. What a blessing.

We continue to trust Him on the timing and on the finances for this journey. One day at a time, one step at a time, on job at a time. He has been incredibly faithful during this faith-building, humbling time in our lives. Please know how thankful we are to each of you who have given us your prayers, time, donation, and finances - we are truly grateful.



Tomorrow (October 4) marks SIX years since we first officially grew our family - we stood before a judge in Kazakhstan and testified that we wanted Calvin and Patrick to be our sons. And thus our forever family began. In November 2008, we again stood before a judge and testified that we wanted to Titus to be our son. In January (hopefully!), it will be a different procedure but we will, Lord willing, be adding Emmarie to our forever family.

How thankful I am that God chose me to be their mama. No, not their first mama - she gave them life - but the mama who gets to see them grow and change and learn to live life. I am blessed - blessed beyond measure. I think about Emmarie every day and I love hearing the boys pray for her and talk about her. This journey is SO worth it. I love adoption.



After being SO uptight (okay, I was uptight) about not hearing the same news that pretty much everyone with our timeline was hearing and after feeling very discouraged since China will be on holiday this week...we got an e-mail. We were out of translation (OOT) on Friday. Thank you, Lord. Next step - Letter of Approval (LOA) - still a ways out but hopefully sooner than we expect!

Emmarie - we love you! This wait is bringing out the mama bear in me. :)


The Reality of the Journey

Today is a hard day. We have been working incredibly hard to raise money for this adoption - through Pampered Chef, garage sales, and working concessions. We are trying desperately to get grant applications filled out and barely have the time. We are burning the candle at every end because we know we need to work hard. Our desire is to be able to complete this adoption debt-free and we have a ways to go (around 13-15K). I think I have just reached the breaking point - I'm tired, so very tired. Fundraising and earning extra money has been even more challenging than I imagined. We are seeing God provide in various ways and we are so thankful but if I'm being honest, I want to be done. Just done. Fully funded, waiting to travel, done.

I feel like we are being left behind. While other families on our same timeline found out their paperwork move forward this past week (or prior to that), we have heard nothing. We have asked but no news so far. It's beyond discouraging. Knowing our daughter is waiting is excruciating. Seeing her pictures is a thrill and is also painfully hard - we can't get to her fast enough.

The tears are close today. I need prayers. We are expecting a child, we are growing our family - it's a big change and a very emotional journey.


She's Smiling!!!

What a joy to wake up to an e-mail with pictures of our daughter - not one or two but TEN! When we sent the care package, we were told that we would receive a picture but I didn't expect it yet and I didn't expect 10. I did pray that she would be smiling in one - she was smiling and laughing in her video but not in any of the pictures we have. My prayer was answered and we not only have one picture of her smiling but several! Now it only they will let her hair grow! :)

Here are a few of my favorites. :)

I love that she is in motion in several photos! That will be fun for the plane ride home! :)

Her caregiver is pointing to our picture and telling her that we are her mama and baba.

She is getting a closer look.

How could this not be my very favorite one - pure joy! Love her!


Care Package 1

What fun to send some things to our sweet girl! Hoping in some way she will know we are coming! Time seems to be dragging - we are on Day 21 of our long (usually) wait. I'm resisting the urge to e-mail and find out if our documents are moving - I can only resist so long. :) 

So many years ago, when God laid adoption so clearly on my heart, I had no idea what He had in store. I feel incredibly blessed. My view of the world has grown, my heart has expanded, and my faith has been strengthened as I understand so much better God's adoption of me. Expecting #4 through adoption is something that I honestly did not anticipate...in high school...or ever...but how thankful I am.

Knowing that I cannot be there taking care of our daughter is hard - she is growing and changing without us - but knowing that God has called us every step of the way, gives me peace. Soon Emmarie - we are coming soon!


A Few Answers

We wanted to take a moment to answer a few questions that we have gotten:

1) How do you pronounce her name?

It's pronounced just like Emmary similar to Emmory. It's one word - not Emma Marie.

2) What is her special need?

While we are choosing to keep her file details private, we can share that she has some birthmarks. She also had an initial diagnosis that was listed in her file but then  proved to not be true. Beyond that, we will have everything checked out when she comes home but she looks great and is developing very well.

3) When will you travel? 

We don't know. We are early in our wait for some of the documents. We hope to travel in January. You can pray that everything will move through the various stages quickly and efficiently. We would like to be there as soon as possible (like yesterday!) but these things take time.

4) Are the boys excited?

Yes! They are thrilled. They all shared in their classes about her and have been talking about her a lot. While I know it will be an adjustment - especially for the youngest - I think she will be completely adored and protected! :)

5) Are you doing a nursery?

Yes! She will have her own room, so it will definitely be girly and ready to welcome her.



We've been keeping a secret...a really big secret... It's been soooo hard. In reality, we wanted to shout from the rooftops and giddily share with everyone. We have restrained ourselves and instead have found ourselves adoringly gazing at some photos and watching a video...a lot...and wishing to share with the world that....

We have a daughter!!!!!!!

There are no words for our elation! We are delighted and thrilled and excited and blessed. We cannot wait to get our sweet baby girl home. I knew the instant we saw her video - a little after midnight on August 24 -  that we couldn't say no but we did not give our YES until Sunday night, August 26. We are amazed that she will be ours. We sent our LOI (letter of intent) on August 27 - the same day we were LID in China. Then we had to wait for Pre-Approval. It was an excruciating wait and longer than we expected. And then it came! And then we could spill our secret! 


Emmarie Doris

We think she is pretty perfect and absolutely gorgeous! We caught a glimpse of her beautiful smile and heard her laugh on the video we were sent - incredibly precious. Our sweet girl is 19 months. We hope to travel and bring her home right before her 2nd birthday in February. 

We are naming her Emmarie which is a combination of a name we love (Emma, Emily) and my mom and my middle name (Marie), Doris after my amazing Grandma who passed away this year (she was so loving and supportive of our family and loved our kids SO much), and her Chinese name (which we will share later) since it is the name she has gone by for over a year and is a part of her story and heritage. We wanted to honor a couple of strong and beautiful women in our family and I love the names. We will call her Emmarie, Emma, and Emi.  

And now...we wait...this will be hard...knowing she is there but unable to be there...this is the part I have dreaded... Praying for a smooth and quick remainder of the process!!!! 



I love being able to update with good news! We were logged-in (LID) yesterday - we got the e-mail early this morning. It's another step on our checklist and we are so happy. Stay tuned for the next step - it's one of the most exciting!

In other news, we are excited about working concessions at Purdue for fundraising and incredibly thankful for those who have volunteered to help us!!! What a blessing - it means so much to us that you are willing to give up a portion of your Saturday to help bring our daughter home.

We still have our Coffee fundraiser going as well as Pampered Chef (new products and catalogs starting September 1!). We have also been thankful for Village to Village - it's an easy way to give and a really great organization! 

Hopefully we will have more good news soon!



Our Dossier headed to China yesterday while Calvin was having surgery. A very exciting day! We let Calvin announce the good news (when we had it confirmed today) with this picture:

He isn't feeling the best but he is a trooper - he was excited to announce our news! 
The next step is LID and then we wait for a referral for our daughter/sister. WE are ALL excited!


Documents - Check!

Our mail came early today and with it all of our documents from the consulate! Everything was approved! So thankful. We are adding the rest of the documents and overnighting it today to our agency! It's always such a relief when your paperwork is approved and moves to the next step.

Praising the Lord!


I Think We are Ready for Some Pink :)

They definitely get creativity points today! In case you can't tell, it's a race car. It started as an airplane with a "front, middle, and back cockpit" and then transformed. Love it! They are such boys!


Here's Hoping!

We are hoping and praying that everything will pass the consulate! Our courier picks all of the documents up tomorrow and will overnight them to us! We will add the rest of the documents and then we overnight them to our agency. We should have our Dossier to China (DTC) soon! I absolutely can't wait to have this step completed. Once we are logged in (LID), we will be eligible for a referral - so excited to see the little one that will be joining our family!

On another note - we have been blessed with a chance to earn money towards our adoption this fall! Here are the details that I just posted on FB (please don't judge - we are definitely IU grads and fans but can't pass up this opportunity! :)): 

We have a cool opportunity to earn some $ towards our adoption by working at the home Purdue football games at a concession stand! You must be 16 or older. We need 4-6 people/Saturday. We can provide rides up and back on every Saturday except the 1st (we are out of town and so neither of us will be able to be there but we still need to provide people!). 

The dates are 9/1, 9/15, 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 11/3, 11/24. If you can help for a Saturday (you are welcome to spread the word, sign-up a friend etc. :)), please let me know the date(s) as soon as possible! There is no limit to the number of Saturdays you can volunteer for. :) We are committed to filling these dates and working hard to bring home our sweet girl! It will be lots of fun and we are super thankful for the opportunity!

We are also in need of some childcare so we can both go on some days. 



Well...after a bit of frustration with a paperwork error (not on our part), we are happy that our documents are currently at the consulate minus one which will arrive tomorrow to our courier and be to the consulate on Thursday. Our hope and prayer is that everything will be approved and we will have them back early next week and off to our agency for the final stop before China. We cannot wait to have this portion of our adoption completed!

We are also incredibly thankful that we have the funds for this next step - it seemed a daunting amount and we praise the Lord. We are so thankful - we were blessed with gifts, grateful for extra work, and happy with the garage sale and bracelet fundraisers! We have seen God work in some mighty ways! This walk in faith is good for us but oh so hard. My need-to-know-need-to-plan personality is struggling but working on peaceful trust. $9,940 down about $17,000 to go!



We returned from a great week away to some amazing news - our 1-797 approval was on it's way! It arrived today. What's the significance? This was the final document we needed to be able to send our dossier to China! The official approval arrived in the mail today!

So all of our documents are headed to the consulate in Chicago this week for authentication and then off to our agency and then next stop...CHINA! Cannot wait to be DTC! It has felt like it would never get here. :) My goal was end of July and we won't quite make that but we are earlier than I was anticipating with the USCIS slow down I kept hearing about.

Happy day, happy weekend! We are getting there slowly but surely!



We are so excited about these bracelets! I was given one by a student this year ("Hope." with turquoise band) and I love it! It's an Indiana company that makes them and they raise money to help provide clean water in Africa as well as offering fundraisers. These bracelets are great worn individually but they also look awesome with more than one worn together.

Here are some details about the bracelets:
- They are waterproof.
- They are made of clay.
- They are adjustable in size (just grab the bead and pull).
- They make awesome gifts!
- They support our adoption!

We are suggesting a donation of $5 per bracelet plus $2 for shipping 1-3 bracelets or $3 for shipping 4-6 bracelets. If you live local - no shipping - we can arrange to get them to you!

Here's how to order:
1) Go to http://www.villagetovillageintl.com/the-falk-family-family-42.php and make your donation or you can give it to us in person or mail it - whatever is easiest for you!
2) E-mail me at alaina.falk @ gmail . com (without all the spaces, of course) and let me know:
- how many (We will not see when you donate so you MUST do this.)
- what words (You can see all 10 below.)
- what color of bands you prefer (We will do our best on colors but can't guarantee we will have your first choice so please give us a few options to work with. You can see all of the colors below and all of the colors are available for each word in limited quantities.Not pictured: I think there are also some black bands.)
- Your shipping address.
3) We will confirm your order via e-mail before shipping.
4) Thank you! We hope you love them as much as we do! I think each word has so many different personal meanings!


purple, turquoise, lime green, black, brown, pink, royal blue

lime green, turquoise, royal blue, brown

pink, purple, turquoise, brown, yellow, red, royal blue, orange, black



red, yellow, pink, brown, royal blue, black





A Big Update

Wow, I am so not good at this blogging thing lately! I'll give a quick re-cap:

- I-800a mailed June 8.
- Fingerprint appointment (797) received June 30 for July 20.
- Walked in with no trouble to be fingerprinted on July 10.
- WAITING...approval has been taking longer so I'm guessing 40-55 days but hoping for quicker.

- Birth certificate finally arrived on July 11 after waiting over a month. Grr...

- Applied for Village to Village International and were accepted.
- Profile went live on July 9 or 10.
- This is a way to give a tax deductible gift through a great organization. Their goal is to find 1,000 individuals to donate $10/month to use as grants. We not only receive money through direct gifts from our family, friends, or others who donate to us but also from the organization. We are so thankful to be able to fundraise this way!
- Check out our page: http://www.villagetovillageintl.com/the-falk-family-family-42.php for more information or to donate.

- Had our second garage sale this past Saturday.
- We did it only one day, we did not seek extra donations (but had a couple of people graciously give us some garage sale donations), we did not have a community sale just us, and we didn't do a very good job advertising.
- We made $385 which we were very happy with especially considering all of the above!

- We are very excited to be selling Mudlove bracelets!
- They just arrived today.
- We have 10 words which I will post in a separate post.
- They will be a suggested donation of $5/bracelet plus shipping.
- They are AWESOME! Love them.
- I will do another post with how to order!

- It's been a tough few weeks for us as we have worked through what we feel our family is equipped to embrace as far as special needs.
- We reviewed a file for quite awhile and couldn't get the information that we felt (and our International Adoption Specialist felt) was important in making a wise decision. So, with sadness, we released the file. We believe she will find the perfect family but it wasn't us. Painfully hard.

- We have been incredibly blessed with the gifts we have received towards #4.
- Knowing that God has prompted people to join us in bringing home our precious daughter has been so amazing.
- THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

- Finally...
- Calvin is having a rather major surgery on August 17. It is another palatal surgery to repair the functional issue.
- 7-10 days syringe and cup feeding (no straw, no utensils) and 4-6 weeks total recovery.
- We will be in the PICU for at least one night post-surgery.
- No matter how many times, he has surgery, I will NEVER get used to it. It's hard every.single.time - including "minor" surgeries like tubes.
- This is the first of 2 or 3 surgeries he will have in the next year or so.
- We appreciate prayers as we anticipate and go through surgery and recovery.

Wow. Alot going on... Hard to believe the summer is almost over. I desperately wanted to have the letters DTC posted this month (Dossier To China) but with the Immigration approval slow down, it doesn't seem likely. Trusting that it will be the right time! Hopefully we will be DTC in August!



Today, I have spent time actually working on our dossier. This meant trips to get birth and marriage certificates (only to find the birth one wasn't the right one - nice), a visit to a very nice notary who works in Andrew's office, dropping off papers to be certified at the Secretary of State, going to the UPS store for copies and a fax, and getting a passport photo at CVS (UPS store was "out of film" - huh?). All of that and follow up on our homestudy review which confused me (not hard) and a figuring of what our next fee will be. I'm TIRED. It was a good day though - we still have some documents to gather - mainly waiting on birth certificates to come in the mail and employment letters.

Our next fee is $5,150 - due probably around the end of July (hopefully!) beginning of August. We definitely have some work to do. Thankfully, we do have a portion of it. We also received two unexpected gifts in the mail this week - God has used those to remind me that He has called us. Such a blessing.

We will be able to apply from some grants soon and we are praying that we will be approved for at least one or two.



As I've mentioned, this adoption has been a super big step of faith - particularly on the financial side. So, I planned something I said I would never do again...a garage sale. We gathered donations with lots of help from some very dear friends and with some fear and trepidation launched our sale this week. I felt like it would be worth it and would be successful if we made $1,500 but I also knew that might be a lofty goal given my previous non-success ($12). Day 1 ended and to our complete surprise, we made $1,000. Day 2 & 3 followed and our total at the end was around $2,220. We are simply in awe and praising God. We couldn't have done it without help and we are so thankful for the love poured out on our family.

While it might be crazy, I decided that I will have a garage sale at our house later in June (just 1 or 2 days). We sent A LOT to Goodwill but kept a lot of the nicer things and summery kids clothes. Since most of the work is done, I think it will be pretty "easy." It will be much lower key but we are happy to take non-clothes items if you are looking to get rid of things (we are not planning to add any clothing items to this sale).

Thanks so much for the prayers, encouragement, and help! Our next large amount is due around the end of July.

I'm getting so excited to see the little face that will be joining our family! Oh and we haven't really mentioned this but in the end, we decided to specify a girl. So, we are thinking pink around here. There is still a chance we might find a little boy on the waiting child list that would be the perfect fit for our family but we are 80%+ sure that we will be welcoming our first DAUGHTER! We are all thrilled.



Today has been a great day! After a really tough week, I was struggling to think straight much less organize and run the fundraising sale. Thanks to some super amazing friends, we got the sale kicked off today! We had an awesome (IMO) first day - we sold things I never expected to sell. What a blessing!

To top it all off, we have a copy of our written homestudy in our hands for review which means our agency is also getting it for review! Hooray! One step closer. I think the review will take about 2 weeks and then we will hopefully be able to send in our 1-800a application. Very exciting and the timing couldn't have been more perfect - I think we have the funds for this next step as of today! Thank you, Lord.

I'm hoping to sleep well tonight. I think I managed less than 3 hours last night - too much on my mind. :) Come out and see us at the sale - we still have a TON of stuff and we love visiting with our friends! And thank you for the prayers and support - we can definitely feel them. We also really appreciate the love and support through the loss of my grandfather - it has been the hardest part of this month.



Sale Update

Pressing on and getting ready for our big sale - praying God provides in a big way! We have some BIG fees coming up and we are trusting Him for them!

Here are a few things:

1) We are STILL accepting donations! We are happy to pick them up!
2) We are desperately in need of some people to help the days of the sale: May 24-26. The time for the sale is 7:30-2 each day and it's being held in Avon. Let me know if you can volunteer!
3) You can shop the sale! We will be setting up all week - if you want to shop early, we might be able to arrange a Wednesday evening pre-sale shopping time for friends. Let me know!
4) We have TONS of baby and kids' clothes in all sizes and both genders (many name brands!), baby items (including a sling and boppy!), housewares, a few home school items, books, toys, home decor, kitchen stuff, antiques...lots of things! Something for everyone!
5) Spread the word! We would love for you to spread the word to your friends and family about the sale via fb, e-mail etc. (if you need the location, message me and I will send it to you!)

Thanks everyone! We are working hard to have an organized and successful sale to BRING HOME #4!!!!


It's Been a Really Hard Week

I'm struggling with saying goodbye to my wonderful Grandpa. Really, all else pales in comparison at the moment as I take some time to grieve one of the greatest men I have ever met. So proud to be his granddaughter. So happy he knew we were adopting again.


Homestudy - Check!

Today we finished our portion of the home study. Now we just wait for it to be written and approved and then we file our I-800A form to be fingerprinted (yes, again!) and approved for international adoption by the government. I'm feeling a huge sense of relief to have this portion of paperwork (which is more than our Dossier) completed as well as our 9 courses (12 credits) of Hague education done. The final step was the home visit today which went great. We love our home study agency (we used them as our only agency for all of the boys) - they make an intrusive and sometimes overwhelming process as nice and friendly and un-intrusive as possible.  I'm now thoroughly enjoying the very clean house and giving myself a little bit of a break this afternoon. :)

We've started on our Dossier and I hope to have that wrapped up fairly quickly. My goal is to have our Dossier to China by the end of July and then we wait to be matched if we have not already found #4 on a waiting child list. Exciting!

Yes, relieved today. So, so glad to be moving forward!

We have our coffee shop up and running - $5 from every bag goes towards our adoption! Pampered Chef is available and most all of my income from that is going towards our adoption (you can place an order and have it shipped directly to you - no host/hostess name needed!). We are also still collecting items for our giant garage sale that will be held at the end of this month - we are happy to come pick things up!

Am I really going to be a mama to FOUR kids?! Hard to believe.


The Trust Thing

Today, I feel the weight of this journey. We are at the beginning and we have many months to go. Today, I am worried. Worried about affording this, worried about whether I can handle the medical condition, just worried and stressed about pretty much all of it. It's not healthy, right, or good and so I'm working on that trust thing. I desperately want to see the whole plan and be on the other side of this journey and yet the journey is part of the story. And it's definitely faith building.

We have been incredibly blessed to receive a few gifts towards our adoption and we are truly thankful. While we are working very hard, we know that we will not be able to make all the money just through work so we are so grateful for God's blessing through others. It's a beautiful part of the journey. So, thank you to those of who have blessed us that way!

Other than that, I don't have much to report. We postponed our final home study until next week due to a very challenging beginning of this week. Pampered Chef is going pretty well and we are thankful for the little bit extra that will generate for the adoption fund. We are starting to prepare for our big sale! I think the kids will sell cookies and Popsicles and water. They will think it's fun!

I'm perhaps most excited about the names we have discussed but those will remain secret for now. :)


Calling All Donations!

We are having a GREAT BIG GARAGE SALE fundraiser on Memorial Day weekend! We have a couple of major fees coming up and we are hoping that the proceeds will significantly help with the $6,300 we will need in the next couple of months. Big gulp - that's a big number!

We would LOVE to come pick up your clothes, furniture, toys, baby items, books and more - small or large - any donation of items will help! I'm serious! All you have to do is put the stuff in a bag and we will pick it up - easy for you, big blessing for us!

It's a great excuse to do some Spring Cleaning, a great way to get rid of the stuff and an easy way to help us bring home #4!

Please spread the word! We would really like to have a big sale and it's going to take donations to make that happen! You can e-mail, call, leave a comment, or fb me (or Andrew) for pick up!


The Stepping Out in Faith

We are approaching this adoption completely differently than our previous three. It feels different. We have no doubt that this is what God wants for our family - what He has called us to. Honestly, we don't know where all of the finances will come from - we simply don't have $25,000 sitting in a bank account. That is the very scary, step-out in faith part for me and for our family - especially since I am a total planner by nature and like to know how everything is going to work before starting down a path... :)

I am working more hours at work (thanks to my very gracious boss and co-workers), selling Pampered Chef (pamperedchef.biz/alaina), and hoping to do some baking (sadly, I can't ship in the months of April - September due to the heat but locals feel free to ask!). We have signed up with Just Love Coffee (http://justlovecoffee.com/roomforanother) - they really have awesome coffee and are a great company - we get a portion of the proceeds purchased from our link. We are planning a big fundraising yard sale Memorial Day weekend (donations welcome - we will be happy to pick up your items!) and considering other events like a dinner and silent auction or a service project etc. We plan to also apply for grants. We are excited at the prospect of having people partner with us to make one less orphan in the world (and we are keeping a list of contributors to share with our new child) but it's also really, really hard for us to fund raise...humbling.

We are thankful to have had some savings and a tax refund to get us started and we are stepping out in faith and trusting for the rest. If you feel led to help bring our son or daughter home, we have a couple of different ways you can donate (besides the actual fundraisers). Our church very graciously offered to do a designated fund for our family for the adoption expenses - this is a tax-deductible way to give and it is also a way to remain anonymous if you prefer. We have also put a chip-in link on the side if you prefer to go that route. We have included a link with the break down of adoption expenses in the tabs above.

We appreciate your prayers so much! It's been nearly 4 years since we added a new family member and we are, of course, a little nervous in addition to the excitement.

God has called us - we were not looking to grow our family. We are answering His call and watching Him work! Blessings abound as our faith is deepened.


From Titus

Titus was excited to write but then giggled and said he "wasn't sure about this." Titus is our cuddly, loveable, and sometimes stubborn 3 year-old with eyelashes that won't quit. He is the youngest...for now. He has been the most unsure about having another child but totally jumped on board this year and can't wait to have another playmate. He kept it short which is totally his style.

Dear brother or sister,

I love you. I want to hold you. I want to hold you again. I want to play with you with toys.



From Patrick

Patrick is our middle son. He will be 7 this summer and also came home to us from Kazakhstan. He is a handsome, sweet, and responsible son. He is quieter about his desires but has been really wanting another brother or sister for awhile. He is a really great reader and I can't wait to hear him read stories with his new sibling! This is his first letter and he gave me permission to share it with you.

To my new brother or sister,

I have a dog names Pippi and I know how to ride my two wheeler. I like to go to the park and I like to go camping. Also I like to read and have fun and go to the Children's Museum. I have a little brother named Titus and he's really funny. I love Daddy and Mommy. I want to go to Legoland someday.

I want to meet you.



From Calvin

I wanted to give the boys a chance to write some of their thoughts to their new sibling. This is Calvin's first letter to his new brother or sister. Calvin turns 7 this coming Saturday. He is the oldest of our clan. He has been home from Kazakhstan since October 2006. He has a big heart and lots of love. I love this oldest son of ours so much - he has been the loudest and longest proponent of adding to our family! He gave me permission to share this.

To my new brother or sister:

I am having fun at home. I really want to meet you. I want you to know that I will teach you soccer. Patrick and Titus are my brothers - they are boys. We always make tents in our house. If you never saw a tv, you might like tv. Sometimes some of our aunts and uncles give us fake mustaches and sometimes we wear them. Titus is always silly to me.

I love you. I can't wait to see you. I want to see your face. I want you to learn about God. Please can you love me a lot?



The Name

I wanted to briefly mention the name of the blog. I chose it because it is the continual message I (and we) have heard from God. When I have had doubts and fears and questions, the answer that always comes has been, "You have room for another." And I know it's true. We DO have room in our home and our lives and most of all in our hearts for another. I'm thankful for that message and the picture it paints (and I'm thankful that the url was available! :)).


Paper Chase

I can definitely tell that I have three kids this time around... :) The paperwork feels more overwhelming than I remember. Finding time to chase around for doctor's appointments, background checks, and fingerprinting is challenging! Perhaps I've just blocked all of that out or perhaps it really is more challenging with having three in tow or finding someone for them to stay with (thanks, Angie!).

I know it's all just part of the process and the labor - I'm just more tired and probably more busy this time around. First adoption in my 30s...gotta love it! :)

This week I had that "empty arms" feeling for the first time this time around. My heart ached knowing that our child is most likely born and waiting. So, I'm feeling my heart expanding and exploding with love for another...one I have not yet met, one who is known by God, one who is chosen for our family. And that, my friends, is an amazing feeling.


Part 2

So, the main question we have gotten is where we are adopting from. We've held off answering as we were submitting our application and prayerfully considering where we believe our child is but I think we are ready to reveal where we think our sweet child is waiting.

The first question was domestic or international - for a variety of reasons, we felt called to international again. It's just that - a call. There is true need everywhere. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. You must go where God leads.

I mentioned in the previous post that we have had several doors close - several international and one domestic. We have kept most all of these situations private but one in particular was especially difficult. And with each door closing, we searched deeper, considered what our call is, and really talked.

We narrowed our search to three beautiful places. They all had pros and cons and honestly, I thought we had made a decision and then we made a different one. :) Sometimes that's how it works. My husband leaned on the door jam while I was brushing my teeth the other day and told me where he thought we should go and I was in, our kids were in, our families were excited.

I'm still fighting the fear and I still have moments of what-in-the-world-are-we-doing but I'm excited that we have applied to the CHINA SPECIAL NEEDS program. We would love to have a daughter but we are open to another son as well. We are currently working on gathering the necessary documents and proof of everything (China is particular) but we are just thrilled. We are waiting to get the official acceptance into the program but anticipate that in the next week or so.

China has been near to our hearts for many years and we love that it borders Kazakhstan. We will travel for a couple of weeks for the adoption and we anticipate that it will take 12-18 months (though I secretly hope for less). We have specified a child from 0-3 1/2 and have provided a list of medical conditions that we feel our family can lovingly provide care for.

Still pinching myself. Still can't believe we are doing this. Still struggling with some fear. But most of all, I'm just SO EXCITED!


The Background on #4

* This is a vulnerable post for me. I've choked up writing it. I've debated whether to post it.
I'm a bit of an emotional wreck this week. I will write about where we are applying to and why in another post. This is about all I can handle today. :) *

I keep pinching myself...we are really doing this. It's been awhile coming - you probably suspected from previous posts. However, it still surprises me. We planned to start last summer and for a variety of reasons (the main one being that God was calling me to come home and work less), we knew it wasn't the right time. So, we've been praying and seeking and asking and learning and researching and unable to shake the call that God wanted us to do this again. He made it clear that we had room for another. He also shut five doors in the last several months but has continued to keep us open - we have not been discouraged or upset, we have just known that He had something else. It felt like a testing and it definitely kept the needs of orphans ever before us.

In truth, I've been content. I love, love, love my boys and didn't feel a need to have more children except for the nagging knowledge that there are millions without parents. Honestly though, we were diaper free, we were moving on, it was time to give back in other ways -we were happy with our family of five. Little by little, this conviction and still small voice began to grow - maybe my "ideals" and "plan" weren't what God had in mind. I've argued with Him and it went something like this, "We have our hands full," "How in the world can we afford it - we've only taken pay cuts the last couple of years," "We are so happy with our three," "You've already blessed us and now we are ready to raise these kids and retire." And God's answer has been pretty consistent, "I want you to do this. You have room for another. I will provide." Still I argued, still I questioned, still I didn't see when it would be a "good time." I think FEAR has been a big part of my questioning - fear that we don't have the funds, fear that adding another will totally overwhelm me, fear of the unknown... It can be paralyzing. I've fought it this week even as we've been filling out paperwork. I've called my mom, my sisters, my friends - asking them to pray for me.

It's come down to this - I WANT this. I'm THRILLED. I have that excited, nervous, butterfly feeling in my stomach. I cannot wait to see who God has for our family. I cannot wait to welcome #4. I cannot wait to see his/her face and tell him/her that I'm so proud to be their mom and they are safe and loved and wanted.

I KNOW it will be hard. I KNOW it is stepping out in faith. I KNOW there will be times of fear and unknown. I also KNOW that God has called us to this. Our children have advocated for this and God has used them to challenge us. They have graciously and sacrificially offered all of their savings (about $12 :)) to help bring their sister or brother home - that's a love and commitment that I CANNOT wait to share with their sibling. They will be awesome big brothers.

So, we embark on this journey. Today we mail our application and we have our first homestudy meeting. It's been a whirlwind and a long-time coming all at the same time. We are trusting God. We are thankful He has provided the first amounts of funding we need - the application fee, homestudy fee, and a little more through our savings and tax refund. We are trusting him for the remaining $20,000 or so that we will need by the time this is said and done. We are planning some fundraisers and praying, praying, praying that God will provide. We look forward to telling #4 all about the people who helped bring him/her home - a testimony and a part of the story.

We are excited to see God's plan for our family. We are out of our comfort zone. We are on our knees. We are blessed already.

To Our New Little Bug

Waiting here for you.
Wanting to know you.
Praying you are safe.

Planning your arrival.
Loving you already.
Learning how to trust.

Journeying to you.
We are coming!
We cannot wait!