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 Just leave a comment on this post with the item(s) you are interested in, your bid amount and email and it will not be published. 


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:

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! 

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.
We have an MRI set up for early June so hopefully that will clear up some questions. 

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.
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!).
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.
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!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Puzzle Picture Chosen

The puzzle we are using for our 1000 For Two idea is in the process of being made!

We specifically chose pictures that reminded us of Bulgaria...the fields of sunflowers...fields of roses used to produce the popular rose oil found everywhere there....the flag with a lion crest on it...the traditional costumes (modeled by Ben and Esther, but purposely blurred so the focus is on the outfits)...and finally the country map chosen because it shows the areas our children are from. 

These pictures have been added to the previous post detailing what 1000 For Two is all about. 

We will be posting update pictures of it being put together as completion progress is made!

We would love to have you join is in being a piece of the puzzle helping to bring two children into a family <3

Friday, April 24, 2015

1000 for Two

We had an idea that will give our new children (as well as the two already home) something to have as a memory from their homeland. It will also represent all the people who came together to pray for and help bring them home, and to show visual progress as we get closer to our goal.

It also provides a way for all their siblings here at home to participate as they will be the ones putting the puzzle together and writing down the names.

For every $20 donation, we will write your name (or anonymous if you prefer) on the back of a puzzle piece to claim it (and we will be keeping a list on this page as well). 

Once the puzzle is complete, we should be pretty close to fully funded for our adoption!

In a way this reminds me of the feeding of the 5000...starting with little, just 5 loaves and 2 fish from a little boy (or $20 in this case) adds up to much and will make a huge difference! It shows how many can come together for a bigger goal...we can all be a piece of the puzzle to give these children a forever family!

Will you be one of the 1000 to stand alongside us and receive nothing in return but our gratitude and the knowledge that the Lord is using you to bring two children in need out of an orphanage and into a loving home?

Will you partner with us to pray? 

To donate go here: 1000 For Two


Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

I will bring your children from the east 

and gather you from the west.
Isaiah 43:5 ESV

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Children's Book Auction!

Something we did during Esther's adoption was to host an all-book auction to help raise the funds needed to bring her home. It was a lot of work, and I wasn't sure I wanted to see another book again but it helped us reach our goal. We are planning on doing another one for this adoption, only difference is this time we are focusing on primarily children's books but it will be towards the end of the summer so there will be lots of time to collect books for it.


You are invited to participate in an upcoming book drive to help bring the siblings home!

We need your help...

~ We need you to look through your bookshelves (and ask your friends and family to do the same) to find books you no longer read to send to us! Maybe ask at your church or keep an eye out for great books at library book sales.

~ We are looking for books for children of all ages and interests from baby to toddler and beginning readers to elementary level and high school. Self-help books about children  (adoption, special needs, etc) geared to help the parent help their children would be fine also.

~ Educational, funny, crafty, history, adoption related, animals, books that belong to a series, old and new, fiction and nonfiction, chapter books, cookbooks, comic books, piano books, unused puzzle or coloring books, Bible study books for kids, home school books, classics and favorites, gift gifts, board books, hardcover & softcover, holiday books....!

~ Homeschool Curriculum will be included as well so if you have any in great condition, send it our way!

~ We are hopefully going to have new books signed by the authors!

~ Even audiobooks would be great!

~ Our goal is 1000 books!

Only requests:

1. Books need to be in great to new condition
2. Books need to be family friendly (my children will be helping to sort through them)
3. All books need to arrive at our house by August 10th, 2015.

What to do....

~ After you gather all the books you want to donate to our book drive, please pack them safely into a sturdy box for shipping. 

~ Media mail is cheapest (you can send a 20lb box of books across the country for under $20...that's a lot of books!)

~ Please send us an email at: amsutton @ va.metrocast.net (remove the space before and after @) for our address to ship them to and to let us know a box is on it's way! Or just leave a comment on this post with your email (I won't post it publicly) and we will contact you back.

What happens next...

~ We will sort and organize all the books, take pictures and post them in preparation for our upcoming Bountiful Blessings & Books auction that will take place online at the end of the summer. 

~ When it is ready to begin, we will share all the details and you can go shopping via auction for some great books for gifts for every child on your list in preparation for the upcoming birthdays and holidays!

ALL proceeds will go to help bring the siblings home! 

Pure Charity

We have set up an account on Pure Charity in order to accept donations that are tax-deductible for the giver. We are working on raising the initial fees due to our agency as detailed below:

$3,750 Commitment Fee
$5,750 Dossier Fee
$500 Additional child (sibling) fee
$10,000 Goal by the end of August

One great feature of fundraising through Pure Charity is that they have a Rewards program that allows you to download a browser plugin and do your normal online shopping at participating stores. A percentage of your purchase will be deposited into your giving fund which can then be donated to our adoption if you choose.

More details found by clicking on these words below:

One Last Time...

We knew once Esther came home that we weren't quite done yet, we just didn't know the when. The Lord has made it clear that there is still someone (or two someones) missing from our family. At this point, we do not know who they are yet and we do not know how long the process will take.

Sometimes when God asks you to do something it doesn't make logical sense to our minds...newly home with an adopted child, expecting a new baby very soon, starting from scratch with the funds again, having our hands full, yet...willing hearts and room for more. The exhausting work of fundraising is still fresh in my mind, as is the emotional ups and downs you go through during the preparation and waiting. BUT...as Christians, when God leads, we follow, no matter the cost and until the door closes, we are doing just that.

I believe God uses our willingness to step out in faith to accomplish what he wants in our lives. As a friend shared, "Your test will become your testimony" and this will continue to grow our faith, to refine us, to learn to rely on him, even when it may not be easy and is beyond what we could handle alone. From the beginning of our personal adoption journey back in 2011, we had in our heads what we wanted...age, type of child, etc. God always gives us the desires of our heart if it is His will. We wanted to adopt no older than 3, so with God's sense of humor, He gave us a 6 yo at the developmental level and size of a 2-3yo!

We have sure learned a lot during the past 3 years of two adoption processes and over 2yrs home with one, 3 months with the other. God has used it to shape us and grow us in ways we didn't know we needed it. This experience has opened our eyes to see that we are capable of much more than we thought possible. The scary isn't so scary anymore, the unknowns are now known and we are so much better prepared for this journey now than we were three years ago. Being in the adoption community, you learn more of the broad spectrum of realities that families experience. I'm thankful for those willing to be open and honest so others can be better prepared and go in with their eyes open. The romance of adoption (that you see in the movies) and that most families envision when you start is gone. We know the hard and trauma that is involved and aren't willing to run from that in order to stay in our comfort zone.

The blessings we would miss out on had we said "No, Lord, that's not what 'I' want to do with my life...I would have to give up too much (of my time, heart, life, finances, experiences, etc) and it's not worth the risk"...truth is the risk IS worth it. I know many won't agree with that. They will say we have already done enough but the more we realize that our mission is to serve God in whatever way he calls us, the more we realize our job isn't done yet. It's not a one-time deal, it's a lifelong commitment of serving.

The blessings our bio children would have missed out on...opportunities to serve and accept and love unconditionally. Their excitement and desire to do this again just melts my heart.

Over Christmas, we had a white elephant gift exchange. It was a fun time and I actually ended up winning a figure of a white elephant! I held onto that and the more I looked at it, it touched me...On one side are two baby elephants, then there are two more on the other side and inside the mama elephant is one baby elephant. What came to mind when I saw it was Ben and Esther were the first two, Little G is the one inside the mama's heart and the two we haven't yet met are the last two by the mama's side.

So with that said, we are stepping out in faith to begin preparing for whatever comes next. I'm working on an auction for May and preparing for another huge book auction towards the end of the summer. Brainstorming for other unique ideas we haven't tried yet...

Prayers are very much appreciated!

Pray that the Lord will make it very clear who our children are. Pray that they are safe and have their needs met as they wait for us. Pray that God will open the hearts of those He wants to bless by being a part of our journey, both through encouragement, prayer and generosity. Pray that God will provide the funds required for each step as it is needed. Pray that the Lord will pave the way through all the roadblocks ahead of us and that the process will go smoothly.

God is writing our family story and we can't wait to see what the next chapter holds!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2 & 3 Months Home

Time is going quickly! I missed my chance to do the 2 month update so we will just move right to the 3 month one :)

Esther is doing very well! She has really surprised me. Some of the highlights are:

We have made major improvements in her eating....she is now able to eat most anything, and has preferences of what she does and doesn't like. Her chewing still looks awkward as I think she tries to swallow or mush with her tongue first but she is getting it and popcorn is one of her favorites. One day she ate four handfuls of Fritos-that takes some chewing! She will ask for more food if she's still hungry or pout if someone has something she wants. She still doesn't drink liquids much but has started asking for water on her own and once even got it herself when she brought me a cup and I asked her if she wanted a drink. It no longer takes her forever to swallow it down. She is still very sensitive to extreme temperatures in foods or drinks. 

We are working on potty training and even though she hasn't yet been able to tell me when she has to go, she is able to hold it until the next time I have her try. She didn't respond to any kind of bribing motivation (stickers or candy) but praising her when she is dry or when she has gone works very well. I haven't changed a dirty diaper of hers in over 2 weeks! 

She's a bouncy girl (loves the trampoline), loves to move and copy what her siblings are doing. She will copy words, hand motions or the games they are doing. I was sitting with my hands folded on top of my growing belly while Esther sat beside me. I look over and she's copying exactly what I was doing. She's quick to smile and has a great sense of humor, responding well to tickles and teasing. 

I take her every where I go so we have had lots of opportunities to train and see how she handles grocery shopping, dr apts (hers or others), dentist and eye apts, etc. She does great-no fear like Ben had, unless she's getting a shot.

She is on the growth chart at 5% and is slowly growing. She's only up .8lbs since we had her weighed the first week home but she is also a lot more active now. 

Esther loves to brush hair (her doll's or anyone in the house who has hair may find themselves guinea pig, but she is quite gentle!), and is learning how to play with toys. 

Her hair is very thick and is slowly growing longer so it doesn't stick straight up in a pony as much as it did a few months ago. I'm looking forward to twin  pigtails and mini braids this summer. She is very accepting of hugs and cuddles and will seek it out on her own. 

Little things we have been working on are having her dress herself, sitting like a lady with her skirt down, cleaning up her dirty dishes or trash, leaning over her plate and wiping off her face when dirty between bites, not playing with trash, following basic directions, climbing over the gate (that blocks baby Ruth from climbing up the stairs), learning colors, counting and the words to simple songs, getting up into the trampoline on her own, climbing up the ladder and going down the slide on her own, responding with 'hi' when someone says hi to her (she will sign 'I love you' if someone says it to her), getting into/out of the van and buckling the top part of her seatbelt without help...

Speech is coming along. She will say anything you tell her to but her pronunciation isn't always clear. She is NEVER quiet and she chatters a lot but we have no clue what she is saying most of the time. She can name everyone in the family. She will repeat instructions I have given her or one of the other kids to her doll (like 'no rock'-she rocks when she's pouting so I usually ask her to stop, no touch, etc) and she has a good ear for the tunes of songs even if she doesn't know the actual words to it. Her sisters hear her humming familiar songs very early in the morning when she wakes up. She won't get out of bed but she hums and wakes them up, which they aren't quite enjoying, especially those who aren't early risers! I haven't yet heard her ask any questions or try to tell me something directly. She's great at following my instructions if I keep it simple so I know her vocabulary is growing. I have great hope that it won't be long before she is able to communicate with us in English as she learns the words to do so. She has tried getting away with pointing at what she wants and even though I can usually guess, I have her copy the request with words 'can I have a drink please?' etc. 

We are working on getting an MRI scheduled next month to check her back, her ears cleaned out and hearing rechecked in June and a blood draw to recheck thyroid level again. The dentist didn't go well on round two either, so we are working on warming her up to that. Two of her front teeth have come in since she has come home, unfortunately behind her baby teeth, which are no where close to being ready to come out now that nothing is behind them to push them up. Those will likely have to be pulled out. She does well with me brushing her teeth for her but she hasn't figured out how to spit yet. 

Esther is a sweetheart, full of personality and we are blessed to have her as our daughter! Can't wait to see her progress over the next three months :)

Meanwhile, we are trying to finish up school and prepare for the arrival of our baby boy this summer! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Today is international Romani Day

Ben and Esther are both Roma.

Today is a day designated to celebrate their culture, bring awareness to the discrimination the Roma people have faced and to break the stereotypes. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

One month home

Last Sunday was actually the one month home mark. It's been 6 1/2 weeks since pickup and that time has gone very quickly. 

Esther is understanding more of what we say everyday but she does not talk a lot so it's hard to tell what English words she has pickup up yet. She can count to 10 in English!

I tried the dress she wore in her visa picture on trip 1 on her again this week (so glad we got it back!) and she has grown!

I picked up these two traditional outfits for our Bulgarians to have and wear on special occasions. They were both quite happy with them. Esther started doing a river dance type dance when I first put it on her :) 

We have been working a lot on trying new foods and textures and teaching our little lady how to chew with her teeth vs just moving all the food to the roof of her mouth to sit until it dissolves. I stopped pureeing her soups and she's tolerating chunks much better now. Making progress! She has tried pbj (thinnest layer of each), canned fruits and veggies (since they tend to be softer), pizza, cheeseburger, bean burritos, and much more.  She really doesn't seem to be picky as far as tastes as she will eat spicy or bland without much reaction. She surprised us the other day by eating two cups of regular popcorn! That requires some chewing! Somehow she's getting it down and rarely gags. Esther still isn't big on liquids, but she has a couple times asked for some on her own and taken some sips. She will easily drink broth in soups, etc with a spoon so I do that as much as needed to keep her hydrated so I have no concerns there. She loves pudding and applesauce, but isn't too big on yogurt and ice cream because they are so cold. She does not have near the same appetite Ben had when he came home (and he still has!).

Sleeping is going well. She wakes up happily humming which wakes up her sisters. 

We are working on teaching her to stay out of the trash can as she is a magnet to any kind of wrapper that crinkles. 

        Watching Ben do his school :)

Happy girl once she learned how to put her feet down at the end of the slide so she wouldn't land so hard. No fears of the swing, and she loves to bounce in the trampoline. Enjoying a warm day in January. 

She has another dentist apt next week (with a Bulgarian translator this time to see if that helps calm her), hearing test the week after and blood work somewhere in there. Hopefully the weather will warm up again. Neither one of our Bulgarian babies like this cold and we are all going a little stir crazy stuck in the house so much!