Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Genghis Grill/Raffle Recap!!!

Sigh. I am exhausted! The good kind of exhausted though, like after a big holiday! Tonight was such a HUGE success, and we truly can't thank everyone enough for their support. As we pulled the winning Raffle tickets I wished so much that we could have let everyone win something! I wish there was a way to sufficiently thank everyone for all they have given and sacrificed and done for our family in support of this adoption. It is completely humbling.

We won't know the total raised from the Genghis Grill Fundraiser until tomorrow, but I will update you as soon as I know! The manager and quite of few of the wait staff mentioned to us that it was the best fundraiser turnout they have ever had! WOW!!! Whole schools do fundraisers there and we were able to get more support from just our circle of loved ones! Thank you guys!!!

Our particular waitress was so wonderful and even told us with teary eyes that adoption has a special place in her heart so she was excited to see this fundraiser and wished us the best. We had a great time seeing everyone and of course I always love chatting and laughing with so many people! I really hope if you came out that you enjoyed your meal and the company! Here are some pictures from this evening!!!

Bradley is clearly enjoying filling his bowl! ;)

Josh's parents (middle) with family friends and relatives!

Our little family had a great time!!!

My parents! :)

Daddy and Sissy LOVE this place!

Me with two of my favorite ladies on the planet!

My sister with a friend filling their bowls!
All in all it was a great evening with a tremendous turnout! We also drew the winners of our Raffle this evening, and will list them here! Congratulations to ALL the winners, I truly wish I could have let everyone win something to show our appreciation! I hope you all enjoy your baskets and think of how much you have blessed our family when you use them!

Altogether we sold a total of 436 tickets!!! Bringing the Raffle sales to $2,180!!! WOW!!!!!! I have been slowly adding to our thermometer as people have been paying for their tickets and I get a chance to make it to the bank, so stay tuned because it will continue to climb as a result of this Raffle over the next week or so!

My sister was so kind as to let us draw a SECOND winner for the Cabin getaway, so we got to have two winners for that (though only one could win the basket!) Congratulations to...

David and Ivonne (Date Night winners!)
Juice Jeffery (Honey-Do winner!)
Scott and Lisa Warren (Birthday Basket winners!)
Nicole Zins (Spa Day winner!)
Brian Adams (Fitness Basket winner!)
Tamara Linhart (Cake Pops winner!)
Dustin Rayhorn (Kitchen Basket winner!)
Derek and Brenda (Cabin Getaway and basket winners!)
Crystal Dean (Second Cabin Getaway winner!)
Rhonda Bagley (Photo Shoot winner!)
Rachel Frizzell (Garden Basket winner!)
Sharee Sheets (Zoo Basket winner!)
Ashley Tucker (Puppy Basket winner!)

We know you'll enjoy your prizes and are so thankful you participated!

Derek and Brenda with their Cabin Basket!!!

I will let you know the total of our Genghis Grill fundraiser as soon as I know! Please know how much your support and encouragement means to our entire family. We are so blessed by you guys and can't wait to see where God takes us! When we finally do bring our little one home, know that each of you played a role in their homecoming!

With Love,

The Harrisons

Update: We found out from the Genghis Grill that our Fundraiser brought in a total of 150 people who spent $1691!!! We get 20% of that, so I will be depositing a check of $338 into our Adoption Fund! Yay! :)

Dear Little One

Dear Little One,

It is almost one o'clock in the morning. I have been in bed for hours and just can't sleep. Tomorrow (today!) we have a big fundraiser for your adoption. I don't think that's why I can't sleep. I have been laying awake, thinking, wondering, worrying, praying. I can't turn my brain off. I can't stop thinking about who you are, who you will become, what you will look like, how you will change our lives, how you will change our family, how you will change everything. For hours I have been praying for you, for us, telling God my worries and expressing my thankfulness for all He has done so far. I tried to turn my brain off and go to sleep, but I couldn't! I wondered why all of the sudden I was wide awake, completely wired, unable to think of anything but you. And then I realized why...I was finally expecting you.

I have been pregnant four times. I remember, vividly, the nights I laid awake in my bed after finding out I was expecting each of my babies. I remember how I would listen to Josh fall asleep next to me and wonder to myself, "How is he sleeping right now???" I would toss and turn and think of nothing else but the baby that would soon be changing our lives forever. I would lie there praying and worrying and hoping and dreaming and smiling and crying. I would think about the cost of diapers and wonder if my baby would have dimples. I would worry about losing this precious little one I so suddenly couldn't live without. I would smile at the thought of holding them close to me and smelling their sweet little baby head. I would think about how much time I could take off work and try to break down the cost of formula and diapers in my head over the course of one year. I would go through a list of baby names and internally cross every one of them off because your dad is so stinking picky when it comes to baby names. I would think about everything, everything, and then some.

Well we have been preparing for you, little one, for awhile now. We have spent months trying to prove to our adoption agency that we would be good parents for you. We have filled out piles of paperwork, given countless interviews, taken weeks of classes, and waited, waited, waited. And then...

Today, our caseworker said, "You're good to go!" We have finished our classes, finished our paperwork, proven to them that we would in fact love you more than anyone else on earth could love anyone else on earth. To us, do you know what that means? It means we are expecting you! We are finally, truly, really, expecting you!!! We are waiting for a phone call that could come days, weeks, months from now, telling us, "Your little one is here! Come and get your little one!" And that is so very exciting.

So my brain is just processing that information. It is just now, tonight, realizing that you are coming. That you are out there, that you are growing, that you will be coming home soon. We don't know when, but we know you are. Tonight is the fifth time that I have felt what I'm feeling. Unable to sleep because my brain is going a mile a minute, unable to stop smiling because my heart knows you exist. Tonight is the first night of the rest of my life that I will worry about you, lose sleep over you, and toss and turn wondering if you're okay. I have often wondered if women that have been pregnant multiple times ever get to a point where they just shrug at the news and carry on as usual. I am sure now that is not the case. You are the fifth time God has blessed me with such exciting news. And it feels just as exciting as it did the very first time I found out a baby would be coming into our lives! We are so excited about you, little one. I am losing sleep over you, and it is wonderful.

I cannot predict what will happen with you. I do not know if you will be okay. I do not know if everything will turn out fine. I have had four other nights like this one, where I am so excited and at the same time, so terrified about the fact that I was expecting. It hasn't always turned out okay. Your mommy's heart has been broken so many times, my love. It has opened my eyes to the fact that things don't always go the way we want them to. But it has not diminished my excitement over you or the love I have for you already. Each of my heartaches has in some way prepared me for you. I don't think I will know the extent of that until you are here, or maybe not even until you are all grown up! But God has allowed your mommy hurts that are so big, so very big, because He really, really wanted to give you to me. He knew what it would take to bring us together, and He allowed it because for some reason, He knows I would be the best mommy for you! And I cannot wait to be your mommy. Your mommy.

I think about the very first time I will get to hold you close to me and know you are mine. I think about how I have been waiting for that day for so long, that it will be so incredibly sweet. My heart aches to meet you, to hold you, to sing to you, to whisper in your ear that you are loved. You are so very loved, little one. And I am so happy to be expecting you.



Friday, February 24, 2012

The Adoption Conversation Conundrum

I came across this blog via my friend Ashley who urged me to check it out. I love it! But one particular post caught my attention and I thought it would be great to share here.

This adoptive mommy talks about the fact that it seems many adoptive parents are a bit "touchy" when it comes to questions about how they grew their family. I have to say I agree, because, one, I have heard a lot of adoptive parents complain about rude questions, comments, and inquiries, and two, I myself have had difficulty phrasing my questions to adoptive families as to not offend anyone but still seek information due to my own personal interest in adoption. I have yet to meet an adoptive family that hasn't been 100% kind, understanding, and generous with their information, but at the same time I think my own readers and friends and family might feel that they too are "walking on eggshells" when seeking information about our adoption.

I think this blogging mama says it perfectly. She does not mind the questions, and for the record, I encourage them! But it is really important to remember your audience. Are there little ears listening? What will they think about your questions? Are you phrasing them in a way that comes across as genuinely interested or rudely curious?

I think the best rule of thumb for these questions is, not in front of my kids. Of course they will know they were adopted, it won't be a secret, we will be proud of that and they will never be in the dark about any of it. But as this mom states in her blog, "It’s important to bear in mind that adoption stories are often complex, so what may seem like a benign questions could be digging in to serious and traumatic territory very quickly." Even though adoptive families are often very open about their stories and welcome questions, they don't always welcome them from strangers while wrestling their three kids in the ladies' restroom at Chick-Fil-A.

Josh and I are very open about our history. Our friends and family are aware that we had some serious trials in our marriage and we were very open about dealing with them and now ministering to other couples because of them. I have never told a well-meaning person who is asking about how we got through it, who our counselors were, or what resources I could offer them to "mind their own business." I see their heart and usually understand that either they or a close friend or family member is dealing with infidelity or a broken marriage and is desperately seeking helpful information on how Josh and I healed our relationship. I love, LOVE to tell the story of God's restoration and give hope to wives or couples that feel their situation is hopeless, just as I did at one time. But, there is a time and a place for conversations like that, and it is never in front of my children. Josh and I want to be the ones in control of how much information they get and how they get it. We do not plan on keeping it all a secret from our children. If you know us, you know we have a pretty wide "honesty is the best policy" rule when it comes to talking with our kids about anything. But we know them better than anyone, and we know what they can handle at what point in their lives. I certainly don't want even well-meaing people blurting out insensitive remarks in front of them and my having to go back and do damage control. The thing is, I have never once had anyone ask me a sensitive question about my marriage in front of my little ones, yet sensitive questions about adoption, infertility, and race in front of children seem to be fair game for a lot of people.

My point is this: most (if not all) adoptive families welcome and even encourage questions (especially us!)! But make sure you are asking them in the right situation. I really think it is a great idea to preface your questions with why you are asking, because it shows the family that you aren't just a busy body, but have a genuine interest in their family. Something like, "My good friends Josh and Karen are in the process of adopting a little one, may I ask what agency you used?" Or perhaps, "Your family is just beautiful. We ourselves are considering adoption, do you have any advice?" Or maybe just a simple, "Your daughter is adorable!" is enough to strike up a conversation!

We are always open to questions. This blog proves we are an open book, and is a great way to contact me with any questions you may have about our adoption, before and after the baby comes! But once our little one arrives, we might be a bit more careful about how and when we answer certain questions about his adoption. We never want our child to feel uncomfortable or left out somehow, and there are certain parts of his story that will be his and only his to share if and when he decides to do that. We will not be posting all the details of his background here or even discussing them with friends and family, because however much or little he wants the world to know about where he came from will be for him to decide when he's old enough.

I think it is awesome how one family adopting can lead to another family adopting and so on! I think the openness of adoptive families is a huge part of that adoption domino effect that seems to happen everywhere I look! It takes one family to step up and take the leap, which plants a seed in another family's hearts, and gives yet another family the courage to finally go for it. I think it is so important for adoptive families to be open with how God led them down that road and how He provided during the process, because adoption is a ministry. One of God's most favorite ministries, if I can go so far as to say that! He wants us to talk about how He has worked in our lives! It is just important to remember your audience (little ears!), be mindful of how you phrase your questions, and do it in an appropriate manner, just as you would any other sensitive situation.

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to ask a question about adoption but didn't know how to phrase it? Have you ever been on the other side of that and gotten a comment or question that seemed rude or intrusive to you? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure my readers would too!

Thank you for learning along with us and following our story!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adoption Classes #5 and #6 and Updates

Well it has been a very busy few weeks, as it always is really, so I am just finding the time to get this post written! We have had two more classes on some really important topics so I just wanted to share a little bit about those with you in case you are interested.

Class #5 was on "Covenant and Commitment". This is in reference to the covenant we make with the birthmother of our child, as well as the commitments we are making to an open adoption. We discussed the differences between a "contract" and a "covenant" and how we would not be entering into a legally binding contract with this woman, but we would be making a covenant with her. Not something that could be legally enforced, but something in my opinion is a heck of a lot more serious.

When we are matched with a birth family, we decide together what level of involvement we are all comfortable with. How much contact will we have, how often will we send pics or videos, how often will there be visits with our child's birth mother and/or birth family? A covenant provides a general schedule for the birthmother to know when she can expect to hear about the baby's progress and when she can expect to see the baby again. It lets everyone know up front what the boundaries and expectations are. When all of this is agreed upon, we all sign a Covenant with each other. It isn't legally binding, as I said before, and can technically be revoked by either party if they choose, but it is something we are promising to one another, a commitment to the child, a covenant before God that we will not enter into lightly. Much like a marriage, we are committing to a relationship with this person for the rest of our lives, and setting our child up for the kind of relationship he or she will have with their birth family. We commit to a certain number of visits per year as well as the kind of contact we will have. Will there be frequent emails? Pictures? Texts? Phone calls? How often? Who is welcome at the visits? How far in advance do we need to plan them? What will they look like? How long will they last? These are just some of the things discussed in the covenant agreement.

I am very aware that the thought of having an open relationship with our child's birth mother and family seems really strange to some people. It is not something I ever would have pictured myself being open to, and Josh was even more leery of it going into this process. But we have learned a lot and have seen what that kind of healthy relationship actually looks like, and we understand that having at least some kind of relationship is what is best for the child mostly, but also everyone involved. We do not expect everyone to be at the same level of "okayness" with this as we are because we've had more time, more information, and more exposure to the idea of open adoption than most people. We know it will probably take everyone awhile to "catch up" to where we're at, and it might even take actually seeing what our family's relationship with our birth family looks like for our friends and family to "get it". That's okay! We are okay with being the pioneers here in our group of friends and family. We are hopeful that seeing what we've gone through and what God does with it all will possibly soften some other hearts out there towards adoption of some kind!

We talked in our class about what the role of a birth parent looks like in a healthy open adoption. It is similar to that of an aunt or uncle or cousin, their role is to love the child without assuming any of the parental responsibilities. They are the child's link to his or her genetic heritage. We talked about how many birth parents cannot be good parents at this time in their life, but they can be champion birth parents if given the opportunity.

We are thankful that our agency is always there and ready to help us if situations ever arise that we aren't completely sure how to handle. This will be very new to us and we are glad to have such great, experienced supporters that can help us figure out and nurture a great and healthy relationship with our child's birth family.

We discussed the possibility of the birth parents being unavailable, and how sometimes, despite our intentions and willingness and desire to have an open relationship with our child's birth mother and/or family, they just aren't able or willing to do that at this point. To be completely honest, when I entered into this process, that sounded like the "ideal" scenario to me. Cutting ties with the birth family and pursuing a closed adoptionseemed like the best idea and possibly the "easiest" for all involved. But I know Josh and I have come a looong way because the thought of that now makes me very sad. I truly want our little one to have a connection to his or her roots, to have some kind of relationship with his or her birth family, to know and understand the reasons behind their adoption, to know in their hearts that they were always loved and wanted, to be able to ask questions of their birth family that I can't answer. We are praying very hard for our child's birth mother and are hopeful we'll be able to have an open relationship with her.

Class #6 was called "Transracial and Special Needs Adoptions". We spent the first part of class discussing the effects of drugs, alcohol, and mental illness on children. Working at a children's hospital, none of it was really news to me, though I think Josh learned a lot. We talked about the possibility of adopting children who were exposed to a lot or a little drugs or alcohol in the womb. We discussed what special needs those babies might have either immediately or down the road or both. We again talked about our "Child Desired Form" and are all being asked to redo them after our classes to make sure we haven't had a change of heart towards certain scenarios.

Our instructor talked about how this is a really personal decision, and that we should really be in prayer about what we're open to. She said, "This isn't the time to be politically correct. You guys have to make a decision for your family and go into it with eyes wide open, knowing what your particularr family unit can handle and nourish and thrive in." She talked about how she knows it is extremely hard to fill that form out because you feel like a terrible person if you don't check every single box, and then if you don't check a box, you wonder why you don't check it and if that's really the right decision and what if I don't check it and my baby that's supposed to be "my" baby never comes home to me because I didn't check the box??? It is not an easy paper to fill out.

She told us how once we've filled out the paperwork, it doesn't mean it is set in stone. We can call up our case worker at any time and tell her we've changed our mind about a certain situation and would like her to change our form. God might open or close our hearts to certain things, and we are just trusting that He will get us comfortable with whatever He has in store!

We spent a lot of time discussing the topic of transracial adoption, and had some special guest speakers who adopted children of a different race than their own. It was a really interesting discussion and we feel like we both learned a lot about what that really looks like in day to day life, the issues that arise, the views people (strangers as well as friends and family) may have, and the things that are extremely important to consider if we are open to adopting a little one who isn't the same race as us. Just as an FYI, Josh and I are totally open to this, so we are doing our best to prepare our kids and family and selves for the possibilty of becoming a multi-racial family! We are aware that it completely changes the look and dynamic of our family, and we are praying that God will prepare us for all of that if He decides to bless us in that way.

This class was definitely a little scary. We are being asked to take a really good, hard look at the type of situation we are open to considering. Some of the scenarios are downright frightening, some of them are just different, completely different than what we've ever dealt with, and that is a bit scary too! We simply have to trust that God knows what child is perfectly made for our family, and know that He will bring us to each other and work everything out and equip us to handle whatever that brings.

One of the speakers talked about how the very things she was completely closed to and terrified of were the exact scenarios each of her adopted children had when they brought them home. God challenged her in ways she never wanted or planned on, but she wouldn't change a thing. There are definitely a lot of scenarios that terrify me, and ones I'd just rather not have to deal with, but I am really trying to trust that God will equip me to handle whatever He asks me to handle. He's done it before, and I'm sure He'll do it again.

When I was growing up I always heard people say, "Ohhh I hope I have twins someday! I've always wanted twins!" Not me! I never wanted twins and couldn't understand why people would. Hadn't they ever cared for a screaming infant? They want to double that? No thanks. I wanted to have my babies one at a time like God intended. ;) Lo and behold, my very first pregnancy, TWINS!!! And you know what? I was right. They were incredibly difficult just as I thought they would be, and during my pregnancy and those first few months with my infants every time someone told me how lucky I was to have "killed two birds with one stone" I wanted to stick a fork in their eye. But. But, oh my gosh the blessings. Worth every single ache and pain of a full term twin pregnancy, worth sleeping a total of three hours a week for six months, worth the craziness and the chaos and the giant double stroller only The Hulk could handle. Thank GOD He didn't listen to my whining! I absolutely adore, absolutely adore, having my twins. I am the luckiest mama alive and I am so glad God challenged me in that way!

I am confident God knows what we need, what we can handle, and who will be a perfect fit in our little family. We are open to what He's planning for us, as scary as that is, because over time we have learned that to say "No, absolutely not, God, not me!" is to basically dare Him to do it. ;) And things are a lot harder when you're completely unwilling to bend to His will.

So that sums up the last two classes, though we learn and cover far more than I have time or energy to put here. We only have ONE MORE CLASS left!!! Yippee!!! I can't believe how fast everything is going! I am still anxiously awaiting the arrival of our Match Letter in the mail. The company I created it with is refusing to send me the PDF of if, for copyright reasons apparently, so I have to wait to get it in the mail before I can make copies of it and send it to our agency. Boo! ;)

We have one last meeting with our caseworker on the 7th to go over our new "Child Desired Form" and hopefully, hopefully (please God!) hand in our Match Letter copies and fee. Our Raffle/Genghis Grill Fundraiser is less than a week away! We have sold over 230 tickets for the Raffle and are spreading the word like crazy to get people to come on out to the Genghis Grill at Arrowhead for lunch or dinner on Wednesday! Remember, you must have the flyer with you for us to receive the 20% of your ticket, so print one off here and don't forget to bring it! Every dollar counts, and if you will notice, our thermometer is slowly but surely creeeeping upwards with each ticket sold!

We have some AMAZING baskets to raffle off, and there is still time to get your tickets! Click HERE for the list of prizes you can enter to win. Entries are just $5 a piece! Contact me to get yours! Special thanks to my mother-in-law, Robin, for helping me put all those baskets together and even donated two herself!! Also to my mom and dad, my sister, Ashley, and Heather N. who donated baskets for the Raffle! And THANK YOU to everyone who donated items for it as well! So many people stepped up to give us gift cards, money, handmade items, their business services, and their time to make these baskets extra awesome! Every single basket has entries in it, and that is all thanks to you guys and your generosity!!! I'm so excited to see who will win!

Thanks again for keeping up to date with our journey. We are getting SO CLOSE you guys, I am so proud of how far we have come and of all our friends and family who have walked this road with us and helped us so much. We could do none of this without your love and support. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Thank you for sticking with us!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Genghis Grill Fundraiser

As you know we are announcing our Raffle winners on Wednesday, February 29th at the Genghis Grill at Arrowhead! We have worked together with them to host an additional fundraiser, where we will receive 20% of the bill from anyone who shows a flyer to their waiter that day! You can come in at ANY time from open to close and not only get a delicious meal, but also help us raise some money for the adoption!

You must present a flyer for us to receive the 20%, so print it out and pass it along!

Remember, we will be selling Raffle Tickets all the way through Wednesday, so if you'd like to be entered to win one of these GREAT PRIZES, click HERE and contact me!!! We will be drawing the winners on Wednesday at 7 p.m.!!!

You can print the flyer by clicking HERE, or by clicking the link to the right.

Thank you so much for sharing this with as many people as possible!!! Let's get a GREAT turnout that day!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I wanted to give everyone an update on the process and kind of explain where we're at and where we're going. This whole process is such a mix of emotions all the time. I feel that it is flying by and crawling by all at the same time! Much like a pregnancy. :)

Josh and I had our last homestudy appointment last week. We went over our Temperment Analysis Tests and what they mean and how our personalities "mesh" with one another. I think it was definitely my least favorite of our meetings! It was like someone holding up a mirror and pointing out all my flaws. Uncomfortable for sure. I think it was definitely good for us both, but not the most fun I've ever had! Basically we discovered that Josh and I could not be more different on paper, but it is obvious to us that God really orchestrated our match and we very much compliment each other's personalities. We balance each other out, and while sometimes our differences create conflict, what makes us different from one another is also why we love and are attracted to each other!

Our case worker told us to get to work on our Match Letter, and that I did! I worked for hours on it all week, and finished it on Friday! I am really happy with it, and am excited to post it here on the blog once it is approved by the agency and we get it printed out. Right now, we are waiting for a few things. Our agency meets together once a month to officially "approve" couples for the Match Book. They discuss our case and either recommend us for adoption or recommend us for more time and counseling before approving us. Our caseworker doesn't see any issues arising in getting approved to go into the Match Book, but you never know. They will be meeting sometime in the next couple of weeks, and once we are officially approved, we get to enter the Match Book!

We have to turn in 60 (yes you read that right, 60!) copies of our Match Letter to the agency for them to put in all of their books throughout the state. We will pay our next fee, which is $1500, and then...we wait for the call. We wait for a call that says either a mother has picked us and would like to meet with us to discuss an adoption plan, or a call that says a baby has already been born and we've been chosen. It can happen at any time after going into the Match Book. They tell couples to expect to wait a year, but it could also happen in a matter of days or weeks!

We are very much having to totally give this over to God. One of the issues we talked about in our last meeting was my desire to be in control, and how hard it is for me to let go of that. Josh said that he thinks this process has been really good for me, as there are so many things out of my control. I do what I can when I can, but there are some things I just have to let happen. I did the absolute best I could on our Match Letter! But I have no control over how long it will take the agency to approve us or how fast we can get put in the Match Book. I just have to sit back and wait. And that's okay! Only God knows when our baby will be born and ready to come into our lives! He or she might be a long ways off! I have to trust God's timing and just enjoy life while we wait.

We still have two more adoption classes to finish, and since the next one falls on Valentine's Day, that is still three weeks off. We also have quite a ways to go in our fundraising efforts. As I have said before, the remainder of our fees are due upon placement of the baby. We are just praying that God will continue to provide what we need, when we need it! He has been completely faithful in this process and we trust Him with all of it.

We're right in the middle of our Raffle and tickets are selling really well! We have some WONDERFUL prizes and I am so excited to see who wins them! If you haven't bought your tickets yet, now is the time! We will be announcing the winners on Wednesday, February 29th at the Ghenghis Grill at Arrowhead. We are waiting for the restaurant to send us the flier so we can post it and send it out to everyone, because whoever shows up with a flier that day will earn us 20% of their total bill, which is awesome!

Okay, prayer requests! Please, as always, be in prayer for our birth mom. Pray God will grant her wisdom and peace right now. Please pray for our little one, that God will protect them and bring them home safely. Pray for me and Josh to have patience while we wait for things we have no control over, and to just enjoy our lives and not worry about things. Pray that this process will continue to go really smoothly, and we won't experience any major hiccups down the road. Pray that we will be able to raise the funds neccesary to bring our little one home!

Thank you again for all your support and love! We are very much enjoying this journey and hope that you can see God working through it! Stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Harrison Adoption Raffle!!!

I am so excited to kick off this Raffle! The Raffle prizes that have been donated for this event are awesome! I wish we were eligible to win because I want ALL of them!!! Donations are still coming in so check back for updates! I have had people donate services, handmade items, baked goods, gift certificates, and some have just donated money to help make each prize extra special! Thank you so much if you have given something, we are so thankful and know this Raffle will be a huge success!

Harrison Adoption Raffle

 Entries are $5 a piece. Contact us through the blog, email, facebook, phone, text, or in person and let us know how many entries you want! Upon purchase tell us which prize or prizes you would like to enter to win. Example: "I would like four tickets. Please enter two tickets in the Date Night Basket and two in the Honey Do Basket." We will put your info on each ticket and enter them into the prize baskets. Payment can be made through the paypal button on the blog, in person, or through the mail. The winning tickets will be drawn on Wednesday, February 29th at Genghis Grill at Arrowhead. Winners not present will be notified by phone. Good luck!!!

1. "Date Night" Basket! - Includes $50 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory, $25 Harkins gift card, and $10 Cold Stone Creamery gift card along with a candle, two beautiful wine glasses and a bottle of sparkling cider (I want this one!).


2. "Honey-Do" Basket! - Includes $50 gift card to Home Depot and one hour of professional handyman services by Larry along with some great tools (No wait, I want this one!).

3. "Birthday in a Basket" - Includes gift certificate for 3 dozen delicious cupcakes from a Alchemy Cupcakes (flavors and decorations to be decided between winner and baker!), a professional face painting session for your event, a $25 gift card to Hobby Lobby, and some fun party favors (Ohhh how I wish I had this for the next birthday party!).


4. "Spa Day Basket" - Includes $50 gift card to Massage Envy, $25 Nail Salon gift card, bubble bath, lotion, and candles and a BEAUTIFUL handmade purse (I might sneak my name in this one. Definitely.).

5. "Fitness" Basket - Includes one personal training session including body assessment with a nationally certified HMR personal trainer, a $25 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods, and some fun workout gear (Josh thinks this is the best prize!).


6. "Cake Pop" Basket - Includes 2 dozen of the most DELICIOUS cake pops ever! Plus all the ingredients and instructions to make your own! (I have tasted this lady's cake pops. To. Die. For.)

7. "In the Kitchen" Basket - Beautiful handmade cutting board, chopping knife, recipes, oven mitts, colander, handmade apron, and $25 gift card to Fry's (My dad made the cutting board and my mom made the apron so this basket has lots of love!)


8. "Cabin Getaway" Basket - Includes 3 days at a beautiful cabin in Mund's Park (pictured below), all the makings for S'mores, a cozy blanket to snuggle up in by the fire, coffee mugs and hot chocolate (Speaking from will NOT be disappointed
by this weekend away!)

9. "Family Photo" package
  This package (including frame!) is an on-location one hour session with Naomi Fugit Photography (valued at $175!) which includes a minimum of 50-70 edited high resolution images on a CD with full printing rights. (She is UBER talented and will give you beautiful keepsakes to last a lifetime!) See her gallery at or find her on facebook.

10. "Spring Garden" Basket - Includes everything to make your garden grow! Various gardening tools and supplies, flower pots, seeds, and $25 gift card to Lowe's (Guaranteed to be the cutest basket in the lot!)

11.  "Day at the Zoo" Basket - This day of fun at the zoo includes $50 gift card to the Phoenix Zoo plus animal themed snacks and activities!!! (My kids would LOVE this!!!)

12. "Man's Best Friend" Basket - Perfect for the pet lover! $20 gift card to Petsmart, adorable doggy bowl, toys, and treats for your furry friend!!!


If you would like to help sponsor one of the packages or baskets above, or create your own gift basket to donate, please let me know! There are definitely still needs and we can use all the help we can get!

We are so excited about this fundraiser! Thank you to all who have donated and to everyone planning on entering! Please be praying we have another successful event and get one big step closer to our little one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Fundraiser Announcement!!!

Alright folks, I am SO EXCITED about our February Fundraiser!!! It will actually be a "two fundraisers in one" deal, and there will be lots more details to follow, but I wanted to start getting the word out now. We've been talking about it for awhile, but it is finally time to do our Raffle! We will be hosting our Raffle online so you can buy tickets straight from our Paypal button on our blog. Here's how it will work: you can buy as MANY tickets as you want and enter them into as many PRIZES as you want!!! You can disperse your tickets over a number of prizes you have your eye on, or put all your tickets in one basket for a better chance at winning the prize you REALLY want!

We will be announcing the winners at our Raffle Night on Wednesday, February 29th at Genghis Grill at Arrowhead (a DELICIOUS build-your-own stir fry restaurant)! More details will follow on that, but basically we have worked together with one of our favorite restaurants to host a fundraiser benefitting our adoption!!! They will be giving us 20% of all profits that day (from anyone who brings in our flier)!!! We are so excited about this, and thought it would be the perfect time to announce our Raffle winners! My kids will be pulling the winning tickets that evening at the restaurant, and if you are there you can claim your prize, if not we will contact you later and get it to you!

So here's what we need...Raffle Prizes!!! We have a few prizes donated so far, but if you have something you would like to donate to our Raffle to make it a huge success, we would appreciate it so much! Ideas for great donations include gift cards, themed gift baskets, a donation of your trade or business (example: photography session or massage), handmade items, or baked goods! The sky is the limit, but we would be so excited to get some great prizes donated to make this Raffle a success. If you have something you would like to donate, contact me right away! We would like to post the list of prizes by next week so we can start selling our tickets!

Tickets will be $5 a piece, and everyone who comes to Genghis Grill on the 29th will get a free random entry into the Raffle!!! You can purchase your tickets by email, text, or in person. We will put your name on your tickets and enter them into the prize or prizes of your choice! We will be posting the Genghis Grill flier very soon, and ask that you print it, pass it out, email it to all your contacts, and share it on your facebook page!

We are getting VERY close to our little one! The remainder of our adoption fees will be due when the baby is placed with us, and that can be at any time after we are entered into the Match Book in March. We have been blessed greatly with the funds we've raised so far, but still have a long way to go! Thank you so much for helping us make this fundraiser a huge success!

If you have an item or service you would like to donate to our Raffle, please contact me immediately! We will be listing the prizes on the blog next week and tickets will be for sale then!

Stay tuned for more details, and mark your calendars to have a delicious stir-fry lunch or dinner on Wednesday, February 29th and help us bring Baby Harrison home!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Adoption Class #4 - The Birth Parent Experience

Wow, this was such an eye-opening class! I had been looking forward to it since I saw the title of the class on our schedule, and was not disappointed. It gave us such a real look into the experience of birth parents, their reasons for making the choice they do, how they cope with it, what their relationships with adoptive families look like, and so much more.

The class was started with a discussion about how we viewed birth parents. What did we picture when talking about a birth mother? What were our greatest "fears" of birth parents, or more specifically, the relationship we would have with them? Our instructor answered a lot of questions and addressed many of the fears some of the couples have. She talked about what a "typical" birth mother looks like as far as her background, etc. But also stressed that birth mothers come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all ages. She talked about what they go through when they come to the agency, and I will share that here with you guys since I've had lots of questions on the subject!

Our agency has pregnancy counselors that help in the decision making process, and offer it free of charge to pregnant women. They counsel women about their options (remember, however, that this is a Christian agency, so they do not provide or encourage abortions, though some of the women who end up making an adoption or parenting plan originally contacted the agency for an abortion), and help them get assistance and resources if they do decide to parent. If parenting is desired, the agency helps them find work, child care, helps them apply for government assistance and insurance, and offers counseling and parenting classes.

If, after decision making counseling and time, the mother decides to make an adoption plan, she works together with her pregnancy counselor to find an adoptive family for her child. She is shown a book ("The Match Book") that has the profiles of many different couples hoping to adopt. When couples are certified to adopt, they are asked to put together a "Match Letter" to show potential birth mothers. It is basically a four page "scrapbook" detailing the couple's family, their faith, their personalities and interests, etc. If you are incredibly nosy like I am, you can actually view the current Match Letters here. ;) Josh and I are working on ours now and are hoping to enter the book sometime in March!

The birth mother is asked to pick her "top two" couples based on what she sees in the book (although most of the birth parents that we heard from said they had a hard time choosing two couples, because one usually stuck out to them far above the rest, as if God was pointing them to her!). The agency then calls the adoptive family or families that she would like to meet, and a meeting is scheduled. During the match meeting, the birth mother and potential adoptive couple talk and get to know each other a bit more. We discussed how incredibly nerve racking that meeting is for adoptive couples, but the truth is it feels that way for both parties! The birth mother that spoke in our class talked about how she was so nervous, she made the adoptive couple wait for a really long time in the waiting room before she was ready to begin!

If, after the match meeting, the birth mother feels confident that this is the couple she wants to adopt her baby, she lets her pregnancy counselor know. She is asked to take some time to really be sure before the adoptive couple is informed of her choice. Sometimes the mother decides to meet with another couple, sometimes she requests another meeting with the same couple, sometimes she "just knows" after that first meeting. Match meetings go both ways. It is also important for the adoptive couple to feel comfortable with the match as well, and they have every right to say, "This just doesn't feel right" after meeting with a birth mother. We were told it doesn't happen very often, but it is good to know we will have the opportunity to pray about it and decide together if we are a good fit for each other! These meetings typically take place around the mother's seventh month of pregnancy, so if a match is made, there isn't much of a wait for that baby!

The relationship between the birth mother (or parents) and the adoptive family is really unique to the individuals. Some of the birth mothers we heard from had little contact with the adoptive families prior to the birth of the baby, some of them allowed the adoptive families to attend doctor's appointments and met frequently with them, building strong relationships. Every situation is different. The birth mother that spoke in our class, along with the mother that adopted her son, became very close prior to the baby's birth. It was really interesting to see how the adoptive couple essentially "adopted" the young birth mother and was a huge source of love and support for her. The birth mother talked about how very much that meant to her during a time when she had virtually no support from friends or family. The adoptive mother talked about how they had one adoption fall through before when the mother decided to parent, so when they were matched with this girl, they approached it with the attitude of "We are here to love her and support her no matter what she decides to do, if she decides to make an adoption plan, we will be thrilled to parent that baby, but if she decides to parent, we did everything we could for her and showed her God's love and support during a very difficult time in her life." Josh and I talked afterward and made a decision that that's exactly how we will look at it. We might be the only people in her life that love the Lord and can love on her and support her. Though it would be another devastating loss if the adoption plans fell through for us, we would be so happy that she made the decision to parent and we did all we could to show her God's love during her pregnancy.

Adoption plans are not always made in this kind of scenario. There are also "cold calls", when the birth mother has not had contact with an adoption agency prior to the birth of a baby, but goes into labor and decides at the hospital she wants to place the baby. This, and other similar scenarios, results in very abrupt phone calls to adoptive parents basically saying, "We have a baby here, would you like it?" Can you imagine!? Getting a phone call out of the blue at work one day and suddenly having a new son or daughter?!? Josh and I decided that would be crazy cool, and the Target trip that would ensue that evening would be epic. Epic.

We watched a video in class that interviewed a lot of birth parents, mostly mothers, but fathers too. My heart broke for them and I was absolutely floored at the courage they showed. These were normal, regular people. Nice people, people I would be friends with, that found themselves in a heart-wrenching situation. They talked about finding out they were pregnant, what they went through, how they decided to make an adoption plan, and their experience choosing parents for their child. The part that got to me the most, and made the tears flow down my face uncontrollably (I was really wishing I wasn't in the front row where everyone could see me!), was when they talked about the final hand-off of their child, and how it felt to leave the hospital without their baby. My heart absolutely broke for them, because I know that pain. I felt it as one mother talked about being wheeled out of the hospital without her baby. I had flashbacks to that very moment when I was being wheeled out of the hospital after having Lily, and how absolutely hollow I felt. Literally hollow. As they described those moments, saying goodbye to their baby and having to leave them there, I cried and cried because I know how that feels. It is so very difficult, nearly impossible, but these mothers loved their babies so much that they endured this pain I would never wish on my worst enemy to offer their children a better chance at life.

I don't know what your opinion of birth mothers has been, but let me tell you something. The choice to surrender a baby for adoption is never easy. I know what it feels like to hand your baby over and leave without them. I watched the same emotions come out as these birth mothers talked about the bittersweet hospital experience, how it feels to finally see your beautiful baby, but know you won't be bringing them home. As I watched them tell their stories, I remembered my own pain in handing Lily back to the nurse, in leaving empty-handed, in being joyful over her presence and simultaneously crushed over knowing it wouldn't last. I watched their tears flow and I wanted to jump through the screen and give them a great big hug and wipe their tears away! And just then, I felt God whispering to me, "This is why."

I may never fully understand why we lost Lily, why we had the experience we did, but I know there is a real possibility that God wanted to give me a special heart for the birth mother's sacrifice, that He wanted me to have an empathy for their hearts that not everyone does. I think this because I do. I do have an empathy and an appreciation for what it is they are choosing to do, because I know how impossibly hard it must be. Not because I can imagine how hard or try and picture how hard, but because I felt how incredibly difficult it was, and to know that these women choose that kind of pain for themselves out of love for their child, because they wanted to give them life, because they wanted to give them a better life, that is unbelievably strong. It is super human. Any normal person would not have the strength to make that kind of decision, that kind of selfless sacrifice that brings them incredible pain and turmoil. When was the last time you made a decision that brought you absolute agony, for the sake of someone else? That is what these birth mothers do. They put their child ahead of their own desires and make a very, very hard choice. I don't just admire that, I am completely blown away by it. I hope you are too.

We talked about how birth mothers and adoptive families make a hospital plan together, how she decides who she wants present and how she wants things to go. She makes the call, and we will be along for the ride, there to support her in whatever way we can. We discussed again how we need to be prepared for the birth mother's change of heart, and remember that there is always a possibility, even in the strongest decisions, that mom will decide to parent her baby. As I have said before, birth mom cannot sign official relinquishment papers until 72 hours after birth, so that baby has to go home to someone, and it is almost always with the adoptive parents. We were told to "hold that baby loosely" for those few days in wait for the birth mother to sign those final papers. We are praying that God will grant us peace and patience during that time, and that He will help us deal with whatever situation might present itself.

Another thing I really appreciate about our adoption agency is how they continue the process of caring for the birth moms long after the adoption. They offer grief counseling and are there for them even after the adoption is final. Placing a baby for adoption is a huge loss to a mother, no matter how confident she is in her decision or how "right" it is for her. She is still grieving, and I am so thankful our agency makes sure to take care of them and continue their counseling after the baby's birth.

We also talked a lot about making plans for how our relationship will look like with the birth family after the adoption. Again, every situation is so unique, so we really can't venture to guess what ours will look like, but we know we are open to openness. We have seen the value in a child knowing where they came from. The birth mother who spoke in our class had the unique perspective of being adopted herself, and told us that when she made an adoption plan for her child, she wanted "to do it right this time." She had a closed adoption and did not meet her birth mother until she was 18. She talked about the issues that caused for her, and how she wanted her child to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she loved him, and the decision to place him for adoption was one made out of love, not rejection.

I have struggled since we started this road to adoption with the kind of adoption Josh and I should pursue. I have such a heart for orphans who have no one else, who may have special needs or are in dire situations. I have grown to love international adoption, and have seen amazing things happen through that! But God clearly led Josh and me down this road of domestic infant adoption. We really feel that way for a variety of reasons. I struggled for some time with "Are we on the right path? There are so many orphans! Is essentially "taking" an infant from his birth mother really the kind of adoption we want?"

I am sharing these thoughts with you because I realized that maybe I'm not the only one who has wondered why we went down this path. It was not because of the finances or the fact that we really wanted an infant, though those are certainly factors in our decision. There was a time when Josh and I really wavered and very seriously considered changing our entire plan and adopting a special needs child from Russia who had no one else to love him! But God closed that door and continued to nudge us this way, down this path with this agency. After this week I think I really am starting to understand why. Josh and I will not just love our child, we will love his mother. We will appreciate her sacrifice more than anyone else can. We hope God will allow us to have a relationship with her that will be a positive one in her life! We hope our child grows up knowing how utterly loved they are, by everyone who ever called him their child. Not every couple is willing to have an open adoption with their child's birth family. We are. Not everyone can fully appreciate the sacrifice these mothers make for the sake of their little one. We do. Maybe that's why He led us this way.

I am fully confident that God has already picked out the little one and his family that we will adopt and love forever! We don't know all that will happen on the way there, but it is comforting to know that it is already decided. He knows, and He will get us there! I might not always come across as this patient, but I will say it now for when I need to read it later!

I hope this entry gave you a new perspective on birth families and their experience in the adoption process. If you ever have any questions, I would be happy to answer them! We know that "open adoption" is a foreign and scary concept to many people, it was to us too at first! We would be happy to answer any questions or worries you might have and hope you feel comfortable asking!

Once again, please be in prayer for our baby and his or her mother. Please pray that God will grant her strength and wisdom to make hard decisions, and that He will give her peace when she makes the right one. Thank you for following our story and for learning right along with us!