Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ugliest Camel Ever!!!

I am downloading some of the video from our trip and this is a video we took at the Kharkov zoo. This camel was a monster!

I know you are not supposed to feed animals but in Ukraine you are encouraged and expected to feed the animals otherwise they might not eat at all!

Fish story

A few weeks ago we went for our first time to our church's annual kid's fishing rodeo. We didn't think the kids would last the three hours from the first cast to the weigh in but at 9:00, nobody wanted to go home! For ten dollars total, we all ate, had a fantastic family outing and each of the kids took home an adult sized fishing pole for free!

The boys especially had fun and have been asking to go again. We took them this evening (Steve's idea) and had fun again. Would you like to see some of our pictures?

Vitali was pretty interested in the worms. Especially when it looked like they might be planning an escape!
Annette also enjoyed them. She has kind of sneaky grin here because she is getting ready to show Misha the worm that is in her hands.

Yes, he still freaks out about worms, apparently.Steve made him hold one. Misha always throws a fit before trying new things or even old things that he doesn't like but is proud of his accomplishments afterwards. See his dirty hand?
Steve, Vitali, and Misha peeking over, and through, the railing on the dock.
We did a lot of waiting....Watching our bobbers.... And replacing nibbled worms (Steve's department) .....I heard someone say once that fishing is called "fishing" for a reason. If it were easy, it would be called "catching".

We didn't catch anything.
Ivy and Annette started entertaining themselves by playing "house" with the little plastic lures in Daddy's tackle box.

Since our efforts were fruitless, we went over to Calhoun's, an on-the-water restaurant where people feed the fish below with starchy goodness left-overs from their plates. The carp that feed there are always lurking and are huge. This is one of those places where fishing can almost be called "catching".

After impressing the kids by reeling in a big carp, Steve helped Max pull one in too. Hannah also got to pull one in and they really enjoyed the challenge. Max posed proudly with his Dad so I could take a picture of his fish.
The kiddos are all tucked into bed and sleeping soundly and that is where I am heading too!

Thanks for sharing our fishing adventures with us!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Answering Questions on Fundraising for Adoption

We get a fair amount of email asking about fundraising for adoption. I often start to answer these and then got lost in day-to-day life and don't finish. I am going to try and answer more questions on a regular basis. I am also going to try and lose that 20 pounds I gained during the adoption. We will see how both of those work out!

I hope that those of you in the process of adopting get something from this.

Tips on Fundraising for adoption

#1 For us the process of adoption was a "spiritual" journey. I am not talking about the esoteric things you see on TV but of a knowledge so deep about what we needed to do. Our pastor has a saying "If you know your why, you can live with almost any how." We knew our "why" in such a concrete way that we were not going to let anything stand in the way; especially a lack of funds.

#2 When raising funds for adoption the "why" is very important. If the "why" is you this makes things very tough. Very few people want to help out white, middle income, American adults achieve a dream of adopting a child. However, if that "why" is a lonely, lost child in a vile orphanage in Eastern Europe that faces a near certain untimely and unseemly demise, many people will be moved to action. For us our "why" was about changing three young children's entire earthly and potentially their eternal destinies.

#3 People are not DONORS! We talked about what our objectives in pursuing adoption were with anybody who would listen. We did this not in a way that expected them to open their wallet but in a way that we hoped they might see the need of 150,000,000 lost children and be moved to do something to help at least one. For us that did not necessarily mean partnering with us but more of making them aware of how deep and wide this problem is. There were many people who partnered with us financially and others who did not and that was fine. There are many good and worthy causes that are deserving of support and it is essential to realize this.

#4 Car washes, lawn sales, card sales, etc are not necessarily the best means for raising large amounts of funds but they show people that you are serious about funding your adoption. The goal for us in these type of fundraisers was to share the "why." There is a saying "God helps those who help themselves," this is theologically inaccurate but people do tend to help people who help themselves.

#5 We were totally sold on the idea. We cut every bit of fat from our budget. I shopped our insurance, we started using a gas rebate card and paid it off every month but saved the rebate, etc, etc. We had already saved a fair amount of our own money for this endeavor. We changed our lifestyle and cut out most of the recreational activities like going out to eat, movies, etc. (not all, but most.) These things helped prove to those around us that we were serious about what we were doing.

#6 We used a regular website for fundraising and not a blog to share our main objectives and had a fundraising thermometer on the site. One of the most important fundraising tools was this prayer card. We had 1,000 printed up and gave them out freely. This card was very, very important to the successful funding of our sons' adoption.

#7 The greatest percentage of our fundraising monies were direct monetary contributions. We were given small to very large gifts from several individuals. When you are looking at a direct budget of ~$40,000 plus the cost of accommodating three more children and up to two months of lost income; the costs were staggering.

In the end, we had saved out of our own pockets enough to cover all the lost income, make the necessary improvements to our home, purchase a larger vehicle and pay for a significant amount of the adoption costs. Different family members, my customers, church members, friends and even strangers gave generously. Since we have been home others have given even more that has been used to help pay for medical expenses, etc.

As you can see the success in fundraising for our sons' adoption came from individuals who chose to invest in us as parents for three young children. I cannot stress this enough; fundraising for adoption is not a technique! Techniques are cheap and manipulative. Absolute genuineness is required for a successful fundraising effort. For us, the words of Martin Luther summed up our hearts desire best, "God help me, here I stand, I can do no other." There were no outs, we were "all in" and fully committed.

I hope some of these ideas might help.

Best Regards,


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Misha Telling His Story of Fighting the Ukrainian Boogeyman!

By special request here is Misha telling his story about his fight with multiple Ukrainian Boogeymen.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Op-Ed by Steven Curtis Chapman

Here is an op-ed Steven Curtis Chapman wrote on adoption for CNN.

Here is the location of the original story

FRANKLIN, Tennessee (CNN) -- According to UNICEF, there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both parents.

In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.

Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.

Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.

Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.

My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.

My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.

In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope.

We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan.

In our travels to Latin America, Africa and Asia, we have visited many different orphanages. If you look past the surroundings and into the eyes of the children, they all have the same look. They seem to convey, "I don't think this is what I was made for. Where do I belong?"

These children are crying out for the hope of a family, for the hope of community, for the hope of a permanent love. Our mission, and the mission of our adoption charity, Shaohannah's Hope, is to show hope to these children and to mobilize people, families and communities to be living examples of God's love for them.

We started Shaohannah's Hope in order to connect willing families with waiting children, but the reality is that there are many orphans who cannot be adopted. Even though we may not be able to bring them into our homes, we still have the opportunity to show them the hope we have.

If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan

Monday, August 04, 2008

A great Summer in the Water!

Our children have benefited from several of our friends and from our close proximity to the lake in that they have had loads of opportunities to swim! Shallow backyard pools to pools with deep ends and even those with diving boards, it doesn't matter to the kids! Water is water and there are a million ways to enjoy it!

We spent yesterday afternoon with some friends in the pool and I was reflecting back on where we started and how much has changed in six months since the boys have joined our family. from Misha and Vitali being terrified of bathtubs to Misha being unable to handle the stimulous of his first time in a swimming pool:
To this:
Our Friend Danny even gave Max and Misha a few little swimming lessons! Max managed to float a bit. Misha wasn't so hot at it but did really well diving and swimming with his face underwater.

Vitali had to take a nap for a while but when he woke up, he was ready to go!
Max has loved the water right from the start. He'll spend all day playing in the backyard in a foot of water! All boy!

Our first load of school books arrived today. The school year here starts next week. Hard to believe it, isn't it?!