A little over a year ago we started this journey to be the family for 3 young children. I was sitting in the attic office of one of my customers and he was asking questions and asked me about the costs and my income. He informed me that there was no way we could do what we were talking about doing unless somebody paid for the whole thing or we saved for five years or incurred tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
We are now at full budget!
Over the last year we purchased a vehicle that would seat a family of eight and with no debt. We saved enough money to cover 2 months lost income. With Melissa's brother's help, we finished off our basement. Then we carpeted it, and bought beds to sleep our entire family. These indirect preparatory costs exceeded $20,000 but we have NO debt. We bought our vehicle used and at a significant discount, we used our Home Depot 10% school coupon books. We worked hard on finishing our basement and even became carpenters with online help from Google, Youtube and Yahoo. (and I learned never to try and fix your own garage door.) We just kept moving forward and the money was there to keep going.
Concurrently, we were beginning to pay for direct expenses like USCIS approval and a Homestudy. We came across the website of Cathy Harris, an adoption consultant in Florida, at this time. Cathy is a single mother of about 10 kids most of them adopted from Ukraine. Cathy is not an agency but she shows you how to adopt independently from Ukraine and usually about $20,000 less than what it would costs to adopt 3 children with an agency! The constant skeptic, I googled Cathy's name and got only positive things, I then added the word fraud; nothing bad! I compared Cathy's client list of over 1,000 to the number of IR-3 visas issued in Ukraine and found Cathy was responsible for over 20% of all Ukrainian adoptions in recent years! Instead of $50,000 our costs would only be about $32,000.
During the early stages God provided the opportunity for us to attend a conference with Dr Gregory Keck the world's leading attachment and bonding expert. There were 300 social workers, tons of resources, and Dr Keck. We were the only Prospective Adoptive Parents in attendance so we had everybody mentoring us!
We continued saving and moving forward and God started providing funds through small gifts. We broke into our change jar, Melissa hand-painted cards, we had a lawn sale and gifts kept coming in. One morning we decided to take the girls to Shoney's for breakfast. We were sitting next to an older couple and the man commented on the girls' behavior. Hannah and Annette then told him all about our plans and how they were going to have 3 more brothers or sisters. They asked me to go and get him one of our prayer cards. This 80+ year old man got in his car and then drove through the parking lot and found us. He had to unhook from his oxygen and walked up to our car door and handed me a $100 bill.
People from all over this country have provided support. We have gotten gifts from people we don't know and may not ever meet. We have had dozens of my customers share gifts. We have had church friends share gifts. We have had old friends share gifts. We saved our own money like crazy! My business grew about 15% this year!
God has provided more than just funds; he has provided friends. We have made friends with Sasha and Vera and their family of 5 Ukrainian children. We have been able to attend the local Ukrainian church and last week even got to share with that church our hope. God has supernaturally placed several people in our lives over the last year.
Let me share the last 30 hours. We attend a large church of about 9,000 members. Many of those people are doing very worthy things so it meant so much to us when our pastor asked us to come forward and asked questions about our trip, prayed over us, and then asked our congregation to pray for us over this journey. We got to go out for lunch with our Sunday School class and one of the guys offered to build us the right size kitchen table we have been looking for unsuccessfully! I got on the computer last night and found we had gotten a $250 online donation putting us at just $1,250.00 from full budget. In the evening we went to dinner with our good friends Marie and Dayaker. This morning I had a FBC member who overheard me talking to my chiropractor follow me out to the parking lot and give us a check for $200. We were just $1,050 from full budget. I stopped to pick up some pharmaceuticals for our trip from another FBC member and the bill should have been about $150 instead he rang it up at $0.00. I got home and there was a check for $500 from an old friend in the mail. We were just $552 from full budget. I updated our website and had a phone call come in from my window cleaning supply house about an order I had placed but not finished. I told Nancy I had just been so busy and told her what we were doing. I shared our website with her and told her I would try to get everything ordered before I left but wasn't sure I would get it done. Not 10 minutes later Nancy called me back and notified me she was sending a check for the remainder. (Just a quick aside Nancy owns Harry Falk Window Cleaning; Harry Falk is the same name -not related-as Melissa's grandfather!) Tonight we got two more gifts which helps add some buffer. We also got to spend an incredible evening of fellowship with our friends Sasha and Vera.
God has humbled me this year!
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
-vision of the prophet Isaiah.