Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's All About Team Effort

Hello to you on this absolutely GORGEOUS last day of January!!! I'm loving the sun we're getting today!! I went out and cut back my roses, YAY! I'm a hibernator normally during the winter, so this warm day was fun for me to see the SUN!!! And, not be wearing three to four layers!

Well, to keep you updated on how our work is coming on our orphan rescue project (aka: older child adoption;) we've created this blog. Now, let me tell you: this was scary for me! Our adoption agency's director told me to create a blog to help keep friends, family and fellow countrymen up to date on what is the latest haps and prayer needs. My response: tears. Really, I just started crying. I'd heard the word but had no idea what a blog was! But, in a few days, when I thought I was ready, I asked a friend (oops, those nervous tears showed up again!) if one of her teens could help me. They were more than happy to and kept telling me over the next month as I was dragging my nervous little fingers... how very easy it was and I'd be fine. I tried to get my feet wet by reading about 8 other families' adoption blogs. I'm so thankful to have found them and followed along in prayer as they proceeded with their plans. Well, as you can tell, my blog is up and ready to begin to be read!!! Please stop in frequently and keep in touch.

We have raised a little over $3,000 so far. Laurel, our director, tells me that's great for the first month! I'm going to be figuring that out a little more precisely this weekend. But, I am really excited because we've come up with some great ideas just brainstorming with friends!! As I've said, there is no way we could do this on our own and we really are hoping you'll join our orphan rescue team!! Do you have any creative ideas for raising funds?? A fellow homeschooling family held a bake-sale for us last weekend and made $170 for the girls' adoption fund!!! Are you or your teens involved in a group that would be interested in doing some sort of fundraiser for us?? There are so many types and we can send you flyers or pics, whatever you need to help promote your project. Are you involved in a youth group, service club, couples group, etc. that would pull together and do a dinner, or car-wash, or bake-sale or silent (or not so silent) auction, or pass out flyers for a fundraiser "day" at any of the many food places that participate in those very generously?? Our adoption agency is a non-profit 501c3 agency. Many high schools require service hours for graduation, could you or someone you know "adopt" the girls for your/their hours??

Sunday School with "Mrs. Ocean"

We truly cannot proceed in this adoption without a team effort. If you've ever felt the tug to help orphans, but were not sure how or were not going to adopt yourselves, we'd love for you to jump on our bandwagon and give us a hand in this concert!!! The more the merrier!!! All the more beautiful music we can make together. There are so many types of instruments in a band and everyone has a distinct part. If your part is prayer, please pray. If your part is driving our boys to a class weekly while we're in Ukraine, THANK YOU! If your part is collecting recyclables for the girls over the next 6 months, you go!! If your part is helping my hubby re-roof our den so that it can become a much needed bedroom, come on over! If your part is hosting a lasagna dinner in your home for 5 couples, enjoy!! (to do this easily: buy a Costco lasagna, salad and bread, charge each couple $20 and you've just made $100 for the girls, WHEE!!!! And had a date night, too!!) What about getting your Sunday School class together to hold a huge garage sale, or bake sale or both?? Do you e-bay? Can you designate an occasional item for our "charity"? Can you send this blog address on to your contacts? Now, that's an easy one! Will your church allow a pocket change collection for the adoption?? (Tape their pics on a large water bottle and set it out each time the church is open.) One girlfriend hands me her pocket change every time we run into each other!! How awesome is that? Do you have a hobby that could make a little extra money to bring home some girls in need of a family?? Not everyone is a piano player. Just find your instrument and play and we will sing your praises as we proceed because the Lord asked you to help in this way or that, and you did.
We already, so early in this process, feel the love for these orphans from so many of you as you stop and ask "How it's going?" Thank you for your care! We love you and so appreciate your hearts, Penny

P.S. Will you please invite your friends on over to our blog?? If everyone helps a little, through prayer, giving and passing the word, the girls will be home in no time. (Just don't ask me how I feel about that comment when I'm 9 months "along"...) Also, if you know of companies looking for tax-deductible donations, we'd love to be considered;)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Orphans Need Homes

Hello, hello! Well, my blog experience is all of four days old and I realize I've been trying to play catch up and pack 6 months worth of God's working in our lives into a few entries in order to bring you up to date with us. So, from now on I'll try to be a bit more succinct, though I cannot guarantee anything. I come from wordy Scottish stock.

One thing I did forget to mention is that we are using pseudonyms for the girls in order to protect their privacy.

During our hosting experience, I heard someone on the radio say, "It's not that we want more children, it's that these children need parents," speaking of orphans. Doesn't that just hit the nail on the head?!? Last week, I suppose because it's National Right to Life month and there was a lot of adoption talk on Christian talk radio, I had a girlfriend tell me what I had already heard on another radio broadcast, "If one family in every Bible believing church in America would adopt an orphan, it would clear out all of the orphanages in __________." Oops, I can't remember the rest of that quote, but I'm sure you get the idea. Right?

Well, we were pretty sure we'd done our part. After all, we've adopted four. Sounds, pious, huh? We're really not, it just looked so in print. Without Jesus, none of this family would be a unit! He put us together piece by piece and holds us together day by day. When we began adopting many moons ago, it was because we wanted to have children in our lives to raise for Christ. When we stopped adopting 3 years ago, it was because we live in a relatively small home, weren't sure where we'd put any more kiddos and my hubby was going to attempt to build us a home within the boundaries of L.A. County, doesn't get any worse, we'd been told. (Now, we're sure that was an accurate prediction!) So, we just decided it was time to halt our family growth for the sake of sanity. Years ago, we were in the process of adopting Drew and Daniel as we were paying 2 mortgages for 2 years on 2 - 50 year old homes and taking turns living in one while renovating the other to live in, and then the big move and living in our "new" home while renovating our first home to become a rental. The whole endeavor took almost 2 years. We absolutely did not want to try building a home, homeschooling, and adopting all at once, this time around. I'm sure it's been done, albeit by families of sturdier stock than us, though!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Borrowing a Sister

About mid-way through our hosting we were blessed to be able to "borrow" Aliana's older sister for a week. We had begun to have an inkling of feeling that the Lord would be asking us to step in and seek to rescue these orphans from the sad future that Ukraine would offer them as they aged out of the orphanage stage of life at 16 years old. By this time, we had found out that Aliana was one of FOUR sisters, all under eight years old! The whole idea of becoming a family of TEN was earth-shattering to us when we thought we were done at a comfortable SIX! However, we did feel this could very well be an area of our life that we were supposed to follow along in faith and see just what the Lord had in store for us. So, we decided that the wise thing to do would be to spend some time looking into the heart of Aliana's oldest sister while she was here in America. After all, whatever caused them to become orphaned would be most prevalent in her little life as the oldest child, which in most dysfunctional families means: the little "mom." Christiana's host family lived about 6 or 7 hours north of us but so graciously agreed to rearrange their schedules and meet us halfway, not just once, but two weekends in a row!

Well, what a week it was! Christiana was a strong-willed blessing to us! She did help get her little sis in order (and vise versa) when we were having an issue and the language barrier was hindering our reasoning abilities. Normally, the one not involved in the present issue-at-hand would step in and reason it out for us in their native tongue. And, on we'd go! We found them to be very desiring of love and, for the most part, our approval. What fun it was having THREE little girls to play dress-up; watch princess movies together; splash each other in the pools around town; encourage one another to be brave at the dentist! The week, in general, opened up our eyes to rescuing older children by way of adoption. It had been over 10 years since we had last considered adopting an older child and had pretty much closed our minds to it for reasons not to be published here. During those years, we had used child sponsorship through World Vision to help older, poverty-stricken children around the world.

"But, what about the fact that there are FOUR of them?" you ask. Well, that is precisely why we began thinking in terms of a rescue adoption, at all. We were told that large sibling groups do not get adopted very often in the Ukraine and so many of the girls, after getting too old for the orphanage, enter into prostitution in order to just survive. It is so easy to go through our comfortable American lives without really considering the plight of the orphan on the other side of the earth. Sort of like scrooge says before his conversion, "Are there no poorhouses; ie:orphanages?" But, borrow an orphan for a while and no longer can a blind eye be turned upon their plight. Their eyes hold you in your memories of them. We just could not allow this large sibling group to suffer a life of being "unwanted." We don't have much, we'd say, but we have more than they have and we can share. Just ask our 5 year old, sharing is a big thing in her little life. She'll share the meal in front of her if someone else looks like they might need a bite to eat. And, with 3 teenage brothers sitting across the table, there is always someone looking like they need another bite to eat!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Orphan Hosting, What's That?

One Friday in late April, no different than any other day, I, unsuspectingly, opened an e-mail forward from a friend. Those can be really dangerous and life-changing! So, watch out! It had to do with orphan hosting. I had no idea what that meant. So, on I read... Parts of it are here for you, if you are interested: Our Ukraine partner has an appt. at the passport office next week and will only be able to process documents for kids that we have host families for at that point. We have 13 host families so far but we need 20 more! I would hate for these 20 kids to be left behind while their friends or siblings travel to the US for the summer.
Please pass this info along soon, as we only have a very short while to find these host families or these kids will not be able to come. Thank you so much. As always, call us anytime with questions. We will be working all weekend to find families so you can call day or evening for more info. Please take time to look at these kids photos and pray for them individually.
Laurel Boylan, Director
God's Waiting Children, Inc.
1865 Herndon Ave., #K125
Clovis, CA 93611
(559) 316-4823 local
(866) 468-3089 toll free

Well, like any good Christian woman, I thought, "Someone should do this!" Pointed my mouse and promptly sent it off to everyone in my address book!

By early Monday morning, I had been on the phone with Laurel several times trying to figure out the best way to get the hosting fee (which pays for the orphans' travel expenses) to her fast so that they would have what they needed to proceed. We'd decided it would be alot of fun for our only Princess to have another Princess to play with for the summer! So, there was one sweet little girl face left, close to Charissa in age and she looked so much like my childhood photos it was rather odd. "She's ours!!" we said. And, three months later, she was, for six weeks!!
We had a great summer. It was a lot of work since our Summer Sister, Aliana, wanted to be first in our hearts and at the same time our own Princess had been bumped over to share her throne and was not so very pleased about it! But, overall, it was great fun: swimming, camping, surfing, zoo trips, corn dogs and ice cream were top on her list!

Part of the idea of orphan hosting is to allow the orphans to see and experience life in a healthy family. It takes them out of institution life for the summer. And, with our particular agency, it is to be a Christian family. Another big part of that is advocating for older, waiting children. It is our prayer that more families will consider adopting a waiting child throughout the world. This hosting program is an opportunity to educate American families about life in the orphanages and introduce them to some wonderful children. It is GWC's hope that this experience will open many families' hearts and minds to adoption in the future. Host families play a large role in building public awareness of the needs of children living in Ukraine orphanages. Often people have a preconceived idea of what “older” children who live in orphanages are like. This experience typically changes that notion. God's Waiting Children's experience has been that the children far surpass the host families’ expectations! Part of hosting a child or children is getting them involved in a church family and/or other community activities. One thing that was helpful with God's Waiting Children was that we had T-shirts made with their 800 number on them so at the fair, zoo or wherever, a person could remain anonymous to you if they chose to, but call to ask questions about adoption from a foreign country. On the other hand, it also brought attention to our little group and so many people just came right up and asked what God's Waiting Children was all about!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let me introduce myself

Well, let me introduce ourselves. This pic is a year old but I love it! So, I'm starting out with it! My hubby, Mark, and I have been married longer than I lived single now, counting from birth, that is! He works in the commercial/healthcare construction industry. Mark is almost as old as my Dad was when I was born, so, why not be thinking about adding a few more, huh? And, the bonus is we won't be starting at newborn! I'm home full time with the children and we do school here in our home and at various other locales around our valley. Starting from the left in the front row is our eldest son, Drew. Drew was born 3 months preemie due to an attempted illegal abortion in Russia, and then was followed up with NO medical care. He is our miracle baby Number 1! Doctors never expected him to walk or talk when they were first evaluating him as a toddler. He does and quite well, thank you! But, most favorite of all, he swims and rides a quadrunner! Next is Daniel, who is adopted through L.A. County foster care. His bio-mom did meth intraveneously, subliminally trying to abort. He was born addicted, but his brain today moves faster than a speeding bullet! Faster than the rest of us at home, also, sad to say. Miracle baby Number 2! She used so frequently that shortly after he was born she nearly died from the side effects of her use. Daniel, like most 14 year old boys, thinks team sports, dirtbiking, wakeboarding and skateboarding are what life is about. We're working on expanding those thoughts and this year he's learning to play a clarinet. Most of the time, we have beautiful beginner notes during practice time! My shortest son in this pic is now my tallest, about to pass me up (& I'm 5'10"!) and he just turned 13! What happened and when?!? He is Daniel's bio-sib and when his mother found out she was pregnant again, we were going thru court to adopt Daniel, and she was on prescription med's for the heart and liver damage she'd done to herself during Daniel's pregnancy. She was through the first trimester when she started seeking medical attention and 4 doctors independantly told her to abort, giving her all of the horrible scenarios that could happen to him due to the fact that the med's she was taking were normally given to very late-in-life men with heart problems, not expecting to get pregnant while on those med's.

According to them, he would be born missing limbs, with severe skin issues, possibly blind, and various other abnormalities were predicted. Rather than abort, and since she'd tried four Dr's, she just stopped everything! Stopped coming to Daniel's visits since she didn't want the county to know another one was on the way, stopped seeking medical care, stopped her prescription med's and stopped her illegal drugs, all cold turkey! While planning to give him to us at birth, the birth went so easily that she decided that raising him would be just as easy. That lasted for 23 months until he weaned himself, and then she called for the first of many "rescues" since she could not stay sober for herself alone, although she'd been sober for 2 1/2 years. "It's so hard being a single mom," she'd say and then ask me to drive 2 hours one way with 2 preschoolers to come get her toddler so that she could have a "break." Thirteen months later, he was ours!! He is a beautiful boy and has been his entire life, inside and out. No skin peeling away, no limbs departing unexpectedly. I've heard it said that this is why we say doctor's are "practicing." They are human after all, not omniscient. Christian is the healthiest (and soon to be biggest as we're sure he'll pass Dad, too!) member of our family! God miraculously protected him from major damage that had been predicted by FOUR professionals. Miracle baby Number 3! Today, he enjoys all the same stuff that his older brothers do and also, beating those same "little" brothers in all wrestling matches. Soccer is one of his passions and this past season, he played almost his entire season on a broken foot! We found out it was broken because we were at the podiatrist for something else and he decided he wanted to see an x-ray. When it came back in a few minutes, the Dr. just looked at us and said, "Did you know your foot is broken?" Christian and Mom just burst out laughing! We knew exactly when it had happened, 7 WEEKS earlier at church youth group just playing around! He'd come home and said he thought he'd really messed up his foot or something this time and {confession time} Mom said, "Suck it up, you'll be fine in a day or 2." He wasn't fine but the pain was not stopping his soccer season! No way, no how!! He even asked the doctor if he could go ahead and finish the season since it was so close to being over. The doctor didn't find as much humor in the situation as we did and the answer was, "Absolutely not!" There's always next year! And, in Daddy's arms is the Princess, Charissa. After many missed tries to adopt a daughter, Charissa moved in and went straight to adoption. Her bio name meant "peace" and we joked that that was between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. We called her Serendipity until it came time to officially name her as it fit her better than her given name. Mom lost 17 pounds in a few weeks just trying to keep up with her. Friends at church joked about Charissa being the latest diet program as it was working so well for me! Testimony time: The Thanksgiving before, we miscarried the only child we had ever conceived. Before knowing what would happen to us in the very near future, the LORD laid this verse on my heart repeatedly: Give glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace on whom His favor rests. This was in the early fall (nowhere near Christmas) and I just kept hearing that "version" of that verse in my heart, not even checking to see where it was from. Well, when we found out we were miscarrying, we had such peace from the LORD, definitely the peace that passeth all understanding! We had lost MANY fost-to-adopt daughter's over the years in very strange circumstances to bio family member's that had we seen them in a park, we would have picked up our children and found another park to play in. However, this baby was having a TOTALLY different experience! This little one was moving from my womb into the most loving arms in the UNIVERSE! Was there any better place? No. I asked Mark if we could name the baby Glory as I felt the LORD had given us, here on earth, so much peace in this loss and that we were giving our baby to God. He agreed. Fast forward 6 months. Our adoption worker calls us with a newborn and before we get to the hospital, the mother changes her mind, however noone tells us this for hours and we're sitting out in front of a hospital in a dangerous L.A. neighborhood, clueless! We basically adopt toddlers so this newborn thing was making us nervous wrecks, anyhow. So, we go home. Within a couple days, our worker phones again and says, "We found her and she's both!" (We'd asked for an Asian or Hispanic girl.) Well, you'll never believe this, but our Princess is named Peace and she shares a birthday with our Glory, had Glory been born on the due date! So, our wonderful Father in Heaven who enjoys these fun details He paints into our life stories, gives us spiritual peace to get us through a tremendous loss and a few months later gives us a physical gift in the form of a daughter named "Peace" born a couple years ahead of Glory on Glory's predicted birthdate! So, while the due date of a miscarried blessing can be quite painful as it rolls around, we were (and still do each year) celebrating the Peace He'd given us!! Give Glory to God in the Highest and on earth Peace on whom His favor rests.
Father, we do feel favored by you and thank you for your provision on so many levels in our lives day by day. As we seek to offer a home to orphans as we feel you leading, please guide our every move, thought, plan. In Jesus' name, Amen

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