Friday, July 3, 2015

Another Reason Why...and Flash Auction

These pictures are from the video my husband watched that made him first ask if we could bring the siblings home. They show the tenderness and love between Esther and our new daughter. We can not wait to bring her and her brother home!




We need your help!

With $2500 to raise in the next 3 weeks, we have a lot of work to do.

For starters, we are having a flash auction for these three items:




There are also some items in the same album, leftover from our previous auction that you can make an offer on. 



Thursday, July 2, 2015

1000 for Two Puzzle Update!


Here is the progress of our 1000 for Two puzzle! We are so close to finishing our first of the five mini pictures in our 1000 piece puzzle. 14 pieces to go!

Our goal was to find 1000 people willing to give just $20 ($10 per sibling) to change the lives of two children forever!

For every $20 donation, we will write your name on the back of one puzzle piece as a keepsake for our children to see all those who came together to help bring them home. 


Donations can go to paypal (our address is: amsutton@va.metrocast.net -please choose friends/family option so fees won't be taken out) or to PureCharity if you want the tax deduction: https://www.purecharity.com/suttonfamilyadoption

This is what the finished puzzle will look like:


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Name Game Progress

We met our matching money!! 

Thank you all for sharing, giving and praying <3

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Name Game Update!

Rules are: 
* No pre-guessing the names until all the letter spaces on the board have been filled in
* The names are scrambled (letters within each individual word) for an added challenge
* $20 donation per letter choice
* These are the names we have picked out for the kids *if* they are ok with changing them... won't know till trip 1



Donations to choose a letter can go to Paypal (amsutton@va.metrocast.net) or PureCharity,

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We are continuing to work on our next two goals.., 

1, The first one is detailed in this post.
2. We are still looking for books to add to our auction. More information is found on this post,

**I will have an update, with picture progress, on our 1000 for Two puzzle fundraiser tomorrow :)


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Current need

Sharing our upcoming need as we get close to finishing our home study....

Home study $1700
USCIS $890

$2590 needed by mid-July

(Currently we only have $40 available.) 

Donations need to go to our Paypal as we won't be able to access what is in our PureCharity fund for these. 

If you want to help, our pp address is: amsutton@va.metrocast.net (please choose friends/family option so fees won't be taken out.)

We are working on some new ideas to fundraise, looking through everything to see what else can be sold and continuing to prepare for our book auction. The auction will not take place until after these fees are due though. We can't start applying for grants until after the above two fees are paid either. 
 
Prayers for Gods provision are appreciated! 

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Baby Gideon is doing well, as am I, as we both try to rest as much as possible and start to get a new routine in place. It's hard for me to sit and rest when there are so many things calling my name to do! We are so grateful for our newest blessing and all his siblings are excited he is finally here for them to hold :) Esther just wants to kiss his cheek every time she is near him! He will be one well-loved little boy <3  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Newest Littlest Man

Took a little break from adoption stuff to welcome this handsome little man into the world yesterday! 

<3 Meet Gideon Michael <3



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Adoption Update

We are continuing to make a little progress each day on completing our home study and dossier.

Esther's first post placement report is completed and on it's way to be apostilled and then sent over to EE to be submitted to meet that requirement. Four of our dossier documents are also in the process of being apostilled. Our FBI clearances for the dossier came back and is currently with Caring Hands being apostilled as well. Our hope is to have everything, with the exception of the USCIS clearance, completed once the HS is complete so that can all be sent over to EE to start translation.


For our home study...our references are currently filling out those forms. I dropped our children's medical documents off to our pediatrician to complete this past week. All that is left is the book reports on the Connected Child and the parent medicals. My apt is Monday in order to get that completed before baby arrives. I know that last week, our HS SW sent off all the forms for our clearances. Everything with the home study should be wrapping up by mid-July, sooner than expected. Unfortunately, since our last home study, our agency became Hague qualified and their fees went up so we are working on gathering the funds needed sooner to cover that increase. 


Dossier Checklist!
* Contract with Bulgarian agency: completed, notarized, being apostilled
* Power of Attorney-Completed, notarized, being apostilled
* Copy of passports-Done
* Marriage certificate-Done* FBI Clearance-Received approval, being apostilled

* Medical Clearances-mine is scheduled for 6/22
* Family Pictures-waiting for Gideon to be born to get family pictures done
* MOJ application

* Home Study (HS SW has to do)
* Home Study license (HS SW)
* Hague Certificate (HS SW)
* Post Placement Obligation Letter (HS SW)
* Verification of no revocation of parental rights (HS SW)



* Copy of 1800a approval-This can't be done till the very end and will complete our dossier

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We have sent out over 80 Mustard Seed letters to churches. Praying they will reach those with willing hearts to help!

We are continuing to write to authors/illustrators and asking friends and family 
for book donations towards our children's book auction planned for August. 
Those are slowly trickling in and we are excited for that to begin. 
You can see a sneak peek at some of the books we have already 
received in the album on this page: Book Auction

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Here is an update on the progress of our Name Game. 
There are still many letters to choose before the children's new names can be revealed. 

We are 15 $20 donations away from meeting our matching money by the end of the month. Will you consider helping us get a little closer? The goal is for our PureCharity fund to read $1057!

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We appreciate your prayers each step of the way. 
Our prayer is that lack of funding will not delay any step in the adoption.

Being so close to our newest blessing arriving, 
my energy level is quite low and that makes it hard to work on fundraising. 
We are brainstorming ideas and preparing to get going again after his arrival, though. 

We know God will provide, as always, we just don't know how yet! 
I am also gathering grant info and preparing to work on that in 
July as our home study completion gets closer. 

We are praying for a miracle because now that we are working with a new placing agency, 
the fee schedule has changed and we have $10k due by the end of August, 
which is when our dossier should be completed and ready to be submitted. 

This is such a faith challenging and building process not knowing how each fee will be covered. 
It is definitely hard to fundraise so soon after our last adoption, and our third time in three years!

With love,
Sutton Family

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

6th Birthday!!

We recently celebrated Esther's 6th birthday, her first one home!

She knew exactly what to do with the cake (probably helped a little that we have celebrated 5 birthdays since she's come home) and even blew the candle out before we had finished singing! She sang Happy Birthday in English on her own and was quick to ask for seconds of the cake :)


One of her favorite things to do is brush hair so we made sure she got a doll that looked more like her (than all the blonde, blue eyed dolls we have here for her sisters) and had hair she could brush. 

Add in some dress up clothes, hair stuff, coloring books, chalk and bubbles and she had a great birthday! 

Her 'cheese' smile :)


Excited about blowing and popping bubbles! 



Friday, June 12, 2015

Name Game Update



We have our first three letters!

That also means just 15 more $20 donations will meet our matching fund goal and 36 total $20 donations completes our first '1000 for Two' mini puzzle!

Rules are: 
* $20 donation per letter choice
* The names are scrambled (letters within each individual word) for an added challenge 
* These are the names we have picked out for the kids *if* they are ok with changing them...won't know till trip 1
* If you already know the names, don't tell


* No pre-guessing the names until all the letter spaces on the board have been filled in 

Donations can be made to our tax-deductible PureCharity fund (link also on the right-hand column). 

Thank you!

Adoption Update and Scrambled Name Game!

Yesterday was our home study visit! So relieved that is done. There are only a few things left for us to complete on our end and then we wait for her to write it up. That might be as early as mid-July if all the clearances come back as quick as they have been. Today I am scheduling my medical exam and will have them complete the dossier and HS forms at the same time to save a trip. The kids medical letters are ready to drop off at their pediatrician to complete. The last big thing are the book reports on The Connected Child. There is so much information in the book that I've had a hard time condensing it. We got the discouraging news that our HS fees have increased beyond what our estimate was so we have some work to do to get those covered quickly.

We are $330 away from meeting our matching money! Goal is for our fund to read $1,057 in order to reach that. Only 17 people donating $20 each would get us there. With the matching funds, we are only 41 puzzle pieces away from completing the first picture in our 1000 for 2 Project which was our goal for June! I hope to get the list of names of those who have donated to that, updated this weekend. I will post an updated puzzle progress picture as soon as our match is met.

We raised almost $1k with our first auction which is wonderful but we still have a long ways to go.

Please do not forget that we are looking for used books in very good condition to add to our Children's Auction.  Our goal is 500 books before we get it started!

I am working on learning a new skill right now to hopefully used for a new fundraiser we are planning. We are trying to get creative and welcome ideas.

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We came up with a fun way to help us reach the last of our matching funds. Scrambled Name Game! We will reveal the names we have chosen for the children (IF they are ok with changing them, we won't know that until trip 1) once all the letters are filled in on the board.


Rules are: 
* No pre-guessing the names until all the letter spaces on the board have been filled in 
* The names are scrambled (letters within each individual word) for an added challenge 
* $20 donation per letter choice
* These are the names we have picked out for the kids *if* they are ok with changing them...won't know till trip 1
* If you already know the names, don't tell

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Tax deductible donations can go here: https://www.purecharity.com/suttonfamilyadoption (these funds go to cover our agency fee)

Non tax-deductible donations can go here (friends/family option) via Paypal: amsutton @ va.metrcocast.net (these help with immediate fees...the extra $1k for the homestudy as well as the $890 needed for USCIS)
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We have begun mailing out our Mustard Seed letters to local churches. These letters share our story, share our need and share ways others can get involved to help, either through prayer, donating books, sponsoring puzzle pieces or simple tax-deductible donations. Please pray these letters will reach those with open and willing hearts to support us on our journey to bring the children home.

Doing this for the third time in three years is not easy. We didn't expect easy but it's an added challenge in many ways and a spiritual battle at times.  I am honestly praying for a miracle...that the body of Christ will step up and help the orphan, the least of these and choose to make a difference in their lives. We have said 'Yes' and are working hard to do what we can but we know we can't do it alone.

As always, we covet your prayers in the days and months ahead 
and we are so grateful for the support we have received already!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The story of how we got where we are....and introducing:

This will be long...

Back in July, when I was on our first trip to meet Esther, we had the opportunity to also meet the rest of the children in their group home. It's not a big group, ages were between 5 and 12 (Esther was the youngest) with a total of 8 children, only 2 girls, including Esther. They greeted us from the balcony as we waited for Esther to be brought out. The children were all more than happy to answer any questions we could come up with. What impressed me was how well behaved the kids were. They were all typical and active children but seemed happy, got along well and they understood why we were there. They were curious and had no problems asking questions of their own. They were quick to tell us who had a family coming (only one boy did  besides Esther), who were siblings (there were a set of twins and the older girl had a younger brother in the group), etc.

Every day we had just one long morning visit with Esther. Each day the rest of the kids in the home would stop by the picnic table area we were having our visits at, while on their way to and from whatever they were doing. One day they came back with books and another day it appeared they had been swimming somewhere. We were able to see how they interacted with Esther, with us and with our translator and get a glimpse at their personalities. They enjoyed looking at pictures on our phones and playing with the toys we brought, though Esther got a little protective and didn't want to share the toys.We learned that the only other girl in the home was Esther's roommate and she was very much a little mother to her. It was obvious she cared for her and Esther interacted with her lovingly. They had hand clapping games they played together and then they taught us.

Near the end of our week of visits we were given the opportunity to tour the group home, see where Esther slept, etc. All the kids there helped give the tour. We recorded parts of that and at the end all the kids were gathered around us, The older girl had picked up Esther and her brother was standing next to me just watching baby Ruth with a smile on his face.

All the children made an impression on me but it was the eyes of the brother/sister sibling group that really got to me. I don't know if it was the sadness in them, the intensity, the unspoken wishes it seemed they were trying to share with us or what.

We drove back to the capitol that last day after a short visit and had to go through the process of declining Little G's referral as we knew in our hearts we were not the right family for him. We flew home that next day in a mix of happiness and sadness.... We had intended to bring home two children but that wasn't going to happen and that realization and sadness lasted a long time, though peace did come and we continue to pray for a family for him. We were happy the visits with Esther went so well and we were looking forward to bringing her home.

Going into this adoption, we had said that this was it. We couldn't handle going through the whole process again. I had come to terms with that and was focusing on preparing to bring our daughter home and moving on with life.

In between the meet and pickup trip, we had the opportunity to Skype with Esther and that was helpful to get to know her and her us as well as help the time pass until it was time to bring her home. One day in October I was showing my husband one of the recorded Skype sessions where Esther's roommate had joined her and helped her with the hand motions to the songs we were singing, helped her sit up in the chair and form the sign we were teaching her for 'I Love You.' I thought it was sweet of her to treat her so kindly and she reminded me so much of our oldest daughter.

Out of nowhere my husband said "Can we adopt her too?" Took me totally by surprise that I had him repeat it. Never crossed my mind to consider us bringing them home. We were DONE, remember? I explained she had a brother and he said that is fine, we can get them both. We talked it over with our kids,....they were on board. We could see them so easily in our family. Previously we were adamant against adopting older children so I was shocked and really didn't believe he was serious. He said he was and so we moved forward to find out if it was too late to add them to Esther's adoption. It wasn't too late but it appeared they were not yet registered for adoption.

So with the distant thought and hope that maybe once Esther was home, they would be listed and we could go back for them, we focused on getting Esther home. From all appearances the other kids in the group home were all healthy and the likelihood that they weren't even available was a real possibility because healthy children are usually referred to families in the traditional program. Still, the hope was there and we kept them in prayer.

On the pickup trip in Jan, we did not see any of the other kids. They might have been in school, I don't know. I finally had an opportunity to meet the director and he seemed to be a nice guy. I had voiced a request with our translator to ask the director whether the siblings were available for adoption and if they were registered. He willingly answered our questions and our translator set up for someone to come out that day to get info, take pictures and record a short video of the siblings in order to get them registered, if they weren't already. I left that day hopeful but knew that other countries tended to request healthy older children so the chances were slim they wouldn't be chosen quickly. In the end, our prayer was simply that they would have a family.

Three months went by and out of the blue in March a friend shared the profile of a sibling group that was newly listed with a US agency. I had to do a double take because I did not expect it to be them. It was and I immediately contacted the agency for info on the kids. Four different US agencies worked with the same NGO that had the siblings files but for one reason or another (us being pregnant or huge upfront fees we didn't have the funds for), we were not able to work with any of them. That meant we had to wait for two months until the next file switch in order to get a chance to commit to them. I didn't think we had a chance...

In that two month period, we watched and rejoiced as two separate families, first one the first month and then another the second month stepped forward for them. Like I said earlier, our prayer was that they would get a family, even if that wasn't meant to be ours. It was a strange mix of feelings to go through when we learned that both families withdrew their commitments for different reasons, neither had to do with the kids themselves. It was also a huge confirmation to us and answer to our prayers that if they were meant to be our children, that they would still be available when that two month period was over and their files would become available again.

So in a huge step of faith, when the second family contacted us to let us know they were releasing the kids and hoped we would be able to get them, we completed the commitment documents to try to make that happen. Those were completed on May 22nd and submitted that following Monday in hopes that the files wouldn't be relisted on the waiting child list and redistributed to other agencies.

We received our approval today!! 

Praise the Lord! 

I can hardly believe we have two more children waiting for us in Eastern Europe and I can not wait to tell them that Esther will be their sister forever :)

I am going to share a couple pictures that were taken last August, a month after we had to leave Esther after trip 1. Esther is wearing a hairbow I left with her.

 

  S is 9 and E is 11. 

This is a recent picture of them <3

Soon they will know what it means to be a part of a loving family....


 

....just like Esther and Ben now know!

We would be so grateful for your prayers and support through the journey ahead. 
We currently have a $1k matching grant we need to meet by the end of June. 

Our PureCharity fund needs to read $1,057 to meet that goal. 





Exciting News and Matching Money!!

Our commitment to adopt the siblings has been approved!! 

That means that their files are being held for us while we complete our home study and the rest of the paperwork. We have 6 months to get that all done and submitted and once that is accepted we will receive travel dates to go see them. It also means our first set of fees are now due. 

A sweet, generous family has blessed us with $1000 to help get us closer to covering our next set of fees but we need to match it by the end of June. Our PureCharity account needs to read $1,057 to meet the match.

We need just 50 people willing to give only $20 each and we will have reached that goal! A $20 donation also gets your name on a puzzle piece for our 1000 for 2 Project. Once this money is matched we will do an updated puzzle picture so you can see our progress. 

Would you consider being one of the 50 people to make a difference? Just go HERE to help!

Thank you!! <3


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

3 days left!



Only three days left in our auction and hopefully we will be able to share some exciting news soon!


Also, newly added and being made by our children to help bring their siblings home are Miniature Marshmallow Guns! 


They will arrive, scrubbed clean of the writing normally found on pvc, unassembled but with directions on how to put it together (very easy!) and you can decorate it however you wish. Printed duck tape wrapped around is a popular way to customize them! 

These would be great for summer gathering crafts/wars for all ages or as party favors! 

$5 each or 4/$16, plus shipping

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Auction starts tomorrow!!



Our first auction for this adoption starts May 27th and ends June 6th at 11:59 EST!


Proceeds from this auction will help cover our commitment fees which are due very soon.
The auction will take place on Facebook but if you do not have an account, I can post your bids for you. Just leave a comment on this post with the item(s) you are interested in, your bid amount and email and it will not be published. 

(https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1616837828585709.1073741847.1469778053291688&type=3)

Please take a look and share the link-there are more than just books available!


Payment for auction items will go to our tax-deductible fund here:
https://www.purecharity.com/suttonfamilyadoption/




Saturday, May 23, 2015

Exciting news!

Yesterday we sent our commitment paperwork in for the sibling group we are hoping to adopt!!

I can't share who yet but the Lord opened door after door when it seemed impossible and we can't wait to get them home.

We also mailed out our home study packet (application plus all the supporting documents needed) and our placing agency application to get the process started. All that is left to complete our home study is the visit, our references to send their forms back, our medicals and clearances...well and our SW writing it up.  We are hopeful and praying for a smooth, speedy process and that they will be home next Spring.

What that means is that we have a lot of fundraising to do in a short amount of time and it's exhausting to think about! Don't forget we have a baby due in less than 6 weeks as well :) Another crazy busy year ahead of us!

Current fundraisers planned this summer...

1. Our online auction starts this Wednesday and ends June 6th. (https://www.facebook.com/blessingsandbooks)

2. We are working on some handmade items that hopefully will do well. These will be ongoing until interest or supplies run out or we become fully funded. I'll share more once we are ready to launch it!

3. We have an all children's book auction planned for August. Dates will be announced as we get closer. We are still looking for donations of children's books in very good to new condition.

4. 1000 for Two Puzzle...for a $20 donation ($10 per sibling) your name will be written on the back of a puzzle piece and once all the pieces are taken, it will be glued together and hung on the wall for our children to see how so many came together to bring them home! Current goal is to complete the smaller picture within the puzzle of Ben and Esther.

We would be so grateful for your participation, shares and help in making these successful to get closer to our goal!

These children have waited a long time to have a family to call their own and we hope they won't have to wait any longer than necessary.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Auction #1 May 27th-June 6th!

Time to get moving on fundraising :)

We have an auction we are getting ready to start on May 27th. Items are already being added so go take a peek, share the link with friends/family and don't forget to like the page so you won't miss out when it begins!

Auction location is here:  https://www.facebook.com/blessingsandbooks

We have more than just books this time!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Adoption #3 progress and 4 months home!

We are starting to make some progress on our new adoption!
*Our apostilled marriage license came yesterday.
* Our HS visit is scheduled for June 11th, coinciding with Esther's first PPR.
*We ordered the copies of our dmv records for our HS.
*I've started refilling out all the HS paperwork and placing agency application and I have our references lined up. Seems like there is so much more to do with paperwork this time around but we will chip away at it piece by piece.
*Our SW looked through our previous education and of the 22 credits required, said we only still have to take three classes, (5) credits worth, through Adoption Learning Partners and to write a book report on the Connected Child. We just completed 1 of the three classes today and I hope we can get to the last two this weekend.
*I'm also just about ready to do a quick online auction, aiming to start it the last week of May through the first week of June. I'll share details of that as soon as it gets a little closer and I have it all ready. Time to start chipping away at the beginning fees coming up. We are still waiting on our tax refund to cover our home study fees but if that doesn't arrive in time, we'll have to use the funds raised from the auction instead. 
*We are getting a good response from authors for new signed books for our August children's book auction and I will be contacting local churches soon to see if they would be willing to collect used books for us to use. If anyone reading has any used children's books in very good condition, we'd love to take them off your hands!
*Our puzzle fundraiser has started and are aiming to complete one of the smaller pictures (of Ben and Esther in traditional clothing) by the end of June to reach our first goal. $20 to sponsor one piece! 168 pieces total, one down so 167 to go! 

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Esther has been home for 4 months now!



We have had NO accidents in the past month BUT she still has not once told us on her own that she has to go potty. So either she's gotten used to the routine of us having her go at typical times (first wake up, before/after nap, before bed) or we are just lucky.
smile emoticon I can ask her if she has to go pee, and she will copy my words and go sit on the potty and usually goes but she can't answer the question or tell me on her own. I tell her 'good job' and she copies me and claps and that's all it takes. I can take her shopping and to apts, and we usually put a pull-up on, but she's always dry. Same with naptime.
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We have an MRI set up for early June so hopefully that will clear up some questions. 

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Esther likes to play with dolls and attempts to dress them herself but usually asks for help. She loves watching the nursery rhyme playlists on youtube. Head, shoulders, knees and toes is her favorite.
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Still making good progress with eating-yesterday was raw broccoli and carrots! Some things do take encouragement to get her to finish, and we are figuring out what she loves (carby foods like cookies, cake and crackers) and hates (popcycles and anything HOT!).
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She has mastered climbing over the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs, even if it takes a few attempts. She also learned how to climb over the back of the bench to eat, but now seems to think that's the only way to get on and off even if the whole bench is empty so she can slide over, haha.
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Esther's adjustment continues to go smoothly. She doesn't seem to be in any hurry to pick up English or communicate fluently so we can understand her. I'm not sure if it's our lack of pushing her or just her personality in general. She has only been with us 4 months so there is plenty of time to learn. She's happy and easy going, and handles the chaos and takes teasing well. She is understanding more of what we tell her, so that is good. She's a quiet observer of what is going on around her. I wonder what she is thinking sometimes, and other times it's very obvious by the look on her face!