"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pre-approval for Yana!

Sorry for the delays, but we have just gotten pre-approval and are finally able to share information about Yana!
The reason for the delay is a bit complex. Yana was on the shared list, meaning that any adoption agency we wanted to go with could acquire her file for us.  However, we want to adopt Payton and Yana, specifically, and at the same time. The adoption agency that we went through was the only agency that had access to Payton's files. Thus, we had to first get pre-approval from that specific agency for Payton, then get approval from the social worker doing our home study to adopt two children, then we had to begin the process again with Yana (submit a Letter of Intent, pay fees, etc.)! We have finished those steps and now have pre-approval for Yana! So, without further ado, I am so happy to share photos of our beautiful daughter!

(Taken approx. September 2012)
Isn't she lovely! When I first saw Yana's photo and bio on Reece's Rainbow, I felt like I knew her. Bill felt the same way. There was such a clear leading on our hearts that this was our daughter!
In reading the Reece's Rainbow summary (http://reecesrainbow.org/47081/yana), we were both very hopeful about Yana's prognosis. When we finally got a copy of her medical file, the report matched the RR bio and included some additional details- such as the fact that her speech was not well developed at the time of assessment, which was done in May of 2012. Since over two years have passed since that evaluation, we were confident that Yana would be progressing and likely even walking and talking now!
On a whim, I decided to "Google" her and incredibly came across the this post from September of 2012: http://martinsinchina1.blogspot.com/2012/09/waiting-child-yana.html. The woman who wrote the post was highlighting Yana as a Waiting Child and gave some more information about her health. She stated that Yana has a form of cerebral palsy called quadriplegia with an athetoid component (highly spastic). The woman's post also states that Yana has decreased head and trunk control. This was very devastating and disappointing news, since we were so hoping to hear that Yana is thriving and able to move about!
I reached out to the woman who wrote the blog post and she graciously provided even more updated information. Tragically, Yana's orphanage has very few resources. There are not as many staff as some other facilities. In addition, Yana is not likely receiving therapy. Since she does not have a foster family (like Payton), she is also not receiving any specialized care for her needs or development. In fact, during this woman's visits in 2013 and June of 2014, Yana has been in a stroller with a hole for a bedpan both times (see photo below)! It makes me so sad that they don't even have a decent wheelchair for her. The woman who wrote the post said that the children at this orphanage mingle and play together in the hallway (unusual for a Chinese orphanage), and that someone has brought Yana out with the other children both times that the woman had been there.
(Taken June 2013)
The one ray of light in this whole thing is that Yana's orphanage, along with many others in China, participates in Hugging Grannies. My prayer is that one of the three hugging grannies has been giving Yana some love and attention each day, even though the ratio is about 10:1 of children to grannies. I have seen pictures of these grannies taking the kids outside, so I hope that brings some joy to our sweet girl.
Obviously, this is one of the worst scenarios that we could imagine. Bill and I cried as we heard this news, but still felt God's leading in her adoption. Though her needs are great, we believe that she will thrive with love, therapy and quality medical care. When we bring her home, I plan to baby wear her for a good deal of time to help her bond with me, and learn to trust us to provide for her physical and emotional needs.
Here are baby pictures of our sweet girl:
 Yi An Yu 2   Yi An Yu 3

We desperately need help with the remaining funds to bring our kids home. Please consider giving- even a small amount. We have already raised almost $2,000 of our $32,000 goal between Reece's Rainbow (http://reecesrainbow.org/85271/sponsorrobinson-6funds and our Youcaring page. If we can get 3,000 people to give $10, we will be there! 

We've also been putting together an idea for a Give-away, so we could use donations of a time-share or something else large to give... Again, anything helps! Thank you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Reece's Rainbow

We are now live on the Reece's Rainbow website! To give a tax-deductible donation, please follow this link:

 photo belowpic-2.png

As of this weekend, we are locked-in with our daughter! We cannot share details publicly until we have pre-approval from China for the adoption, which will come in about two weeks. I can't wait to share her sweet face with everyone!

Also, we will be doing a Give-Away from January 14th, 2015, through Valentines Day to help fund for the adoption! More details to come, but we are hoping to get 3,000 people to donate $10 through the Reece's Rainbow link. Please be praying for these efforts and feel free to start giving now! 

Trusting in His provision:
Genesis 22:14, "So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."

Funding the Adoptions

Adopting internationally costs a lot of money. In fact, China adoptions often cost the most financially, for a number of reasons.
One reason that China adoptions have so many fees is that China is part of the Hague Convention. As a part of this convention, there are stricter standards in place for which children are eligible to be adopted, as well as for the family that desires to adopt. The additional regulations mean that the cost associated with adopting a single child from China is roughly $30,000.
Since we are adopting a boy and a girl at the same time, we will not have to pay many of the fees twice. This should reduce our cost from $60,000 to about $40,000. In addition, both children that we are adopting are in the Special Focus program because of their significant health needs, which reduces some fees. Here is a breakdown of our total adoption costs:
1800 + 350 = $2150 Homestudy Fees
$250= Adoption Agency Application Fee
$7100= Adoption Agency Other Fees
$125 = CCCWA Service fees (child one)
$790= CCCWA fee (child one)
$855= Additional fees by CCCWA (second child)
$1200 = Special focus fee (second child)
$442.19= Passport fees- expedited
$60= Birth cert and marriage license fees
$890 + $720 (second child) =  $1610 USCIS Filing
~$1200= Dossier Prep (includes second child)
$200= Additional child Doc sealing
$6000 + $6400 = $12,400 (China Gov/Orphanage Fees)
~$1500 x 4 = $6000 (China Flight)
~$5000= In-China travel and Accommodations
~$800= In-China food
We have already paid roughly 17% of these fees:
$2150 (Home Study Fees) + $2600 (First agency fee) + $250 (CCCWA fees for two kids) + $1200 (Special Focus fee for second child) + $442.19 (passport applications) + $60 (marriage cert/birth cert requests)= $6827.19
Though $40,000 is a lot of money, Bill and I trust that God will provide the funds. That is why we are hoping to raise 80% of the money through various methods. We will be utilizing direct giving (http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-us-adopt-a-teenage-boy-and-a-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/278760), fundraising efforts (we'll be having a Give-Away soon!), and Reece’s Rainbow (http://reecesrainbow.org/85271/sponsorrobinson-6). Through these avenues, we have already raised almost $2,000. What a blessing!
We also recently were introduced to Touchstone Essential vitamins, so we are hoping to supplement our fundraising efforts by re-selling these products. To be honest, I had not heard of Touchstone Essentials until about two months ago, when a friend of mine suggested them for detoxing and pain relief. Since that time, I have been so impressed by these organic supplements. There are currently nine different products from this company and I have been using them all daily for the past mont. Not only do they use only organic ingredients, but they do not use strange methods to make their vitamins that other companies use (for example, the source of D3 in most vitamins is irradiated sheep's wool- ewe! (haha)). In any case, I love how my skin is looking younger and clearer, and how their “boost” supplement is giving me energy and burning calories. They also have awesome probiotics (Supergreens +D), which are helping with my wheat-sensitives. To more about Touchstone Essentials, you can visit my page at:
I make a 5% commission on these supplements (15% if I have 10 new customers in one month) and every penny will go towards our adoption to bring these two kiddos home. Also, any purchase of products from me in the month of December qualifies me to earn an additional 15% in all future months!  If you are local, I can also buy wholesale and sell to you retail, so my portion goes up to 20%. 
Here's our son, again! We can't get enough of his sweet face!
Thanks for reading and sharing! I will be sure to keep the blog updated to let everyone know how our fundraising efforts are going.

Orphan Hosting

One of the amazing things that Payton’s adoption agency does is orphan hosting. To do this, they arrange for a group of the older kids to stay with different families in the U.S. for about a month each summer.
This past summer, Payton participated in the hosting program and spent five weeks with a family in the midwest. The agency was so sweet that they actually put me in contact with the family that he stayed with. I got to hear first-hand about our son! In talking with his host mom, I was able to find out more about him and have an idea of what to expect as far as his language skills, emotional development and physical abilities.
The host mom had so many wonderful things to say about Payton. She said that he is so determined; he does not let his cerebral palsy hinder him from anything. For example, she said one night that they were eating out on the porch. There is a step or two to get down, and Payton wanted to carry a large pitcher out. The host mom was concerned that he would not be able to do it, and almost reached to stop him, but decided to let him try to see if he could do it on his own. Instead of letting his physical limitations stop him, he walked to that step, put the pitcher down carefully, held on tight and stepped right down. Then he picked the pitcher up and kept going. What a champ!
I was also told a story that made me chuckle. The host mom said that, for the first few days of Payton’s visit, her husband would stand outside the door of the shower- just to make sure that Payton did not need anything or lose his balance. After a few times, the host dad realized that Payton was fine on his own, so he decided that he wasn’t needed. Well, after some time, the parents heard their oldest daughter shrieking and the other kids cracking up. Payton had come out of the shower and was running around the upstairs stark-naked!
An additional thing that we learned about Payton is that he is so bright. When he first arrived to stay with the host family, they relied heavily on some sort of translator (an app or Google translator, for example), since Payton did not know English. By the end of five weeks, though, they found that they could almost entirely communicate with him through English words or “signing” what they were trying to say.
The family was so wonderful- they also had professional photos taken of our sweet boy. Here are a couple (in addition to the ones on his Reece’s Rainbow page):
Payton_3 Payton_4
We can’t wait to bring home our son. To find out more about Payton, please visit: http://reecesrainbow.org/66175/payton-2001


Some thoughts from my husband, Bill:
For most of my life, the churches that I attended, followed or even investigated preached the same false gospel. Now, it wasn’t a bold-faced lie, but a half-truth that they were spouting. You see, Jesus was presented in most of these churches only as a savior who rescued us from our sins. This was wrapped in the American dream; meaning that Jesus was going to give me the American dream as long as I say a prayer, go to church, tithe, and maybe proclaim the gospel when its comfortable and won’t make anyone feel the impeding judgment of Christ.
While seminary helped a bit to rewire my mind, it wasn’t until spending a significant amount of time alone with the Word of God that I came to see clearly my false faith and the false church that produced it. I can assuredly tell you that when you realize that you are a child of God and realize what that means (something very different from the picture painted from most pulpits), it is eye opening. You know the idea that, when a guy gets saved, he gets a pair of khakis, a blue polo and strict instructions not to cuss. I almost forgot, always pretend to care about everyone; essentially, be as fake as possible for Jesus because he needs good PR.
What churches failed to mention is that God, by choosing you, and by you responding, has inducted you into an army called “the Church.” Now, today’s church doesn’t look like an army, but it is supposed to- don’t believe me, read the Bible. So, as God worked on my heart, He slowly began giving me His heart- a heart for the lost, both spiritual and physically, especially abused and neglected children.
So, over a period of years, God worked on me through His Word, the Church and videos such as this and others that I will be posting later. Bottom-line, before God changed my heart I was indifferent to the suffering of what I would frequently refer to as “randoms.” God knows no randoms. He knows each person intimately, since He created them. So, please watch this video and if God speaks to you, listen (even if that’s for the first time, respond and accept Jesus, He is your King).
None of these kids should have to spend one more day in hell on earth, while God still has His saints here. As Jackie Pullinger says in the video, “We are all called to give up our life for the gospel.”
Not Peace, but a Sword
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

The Decision to Adopt

Growing up in a house with six younger siblings forces you to learn a lot of responsibility. At just 12-years-old, I was rocking a colicky baby back to sleep, wiping runny noses and jumping into a convertible-shaped toddler bed with my brother to comfort him after the house rumbled at 6:30am (this is the same younger brother that I would trick into falling to sleep by pretending that my eyelids were just a bit too heavy to keep open.) So, I learned some handy “mom-tricks” before even hitting puberty. Needless to say, I felt that being a mom was in my blood and I yearned for the day that I would be a mother to my own kids.

Fast-forward to Halloween 13 years later, when I meet the-one-I’d-been-waiting-for, Bill. When I walked into that Saddleback Church singles Bible study for the first time, and saw him across the room dressed in his military blues, I couldn’t be sure if I was dreaming or if he was a cardboard cut-out. (Backstory: there had been a similar cardboard cut-out of my cousin in his military attire made for my grandfather’s 80th birthday party, since I think he was off at military training somewhere, so it was not totally cuckoo to think that the Bill that I was seeing was a cardboard cut-out.) When he came over and introduced himself as the leader of the study, my heart jumped. He shared his testimony that night, and I got a peek at the character and passion that this man had, in spite of hardships. I was smitten. We were married seven months later on May 20, 2006.

The first thing we learned when we got married is that marriage is not easy! Making the decision to start a family was one of the first obstacles that we would encounter. I had always dreamed of getting pregnant on the honeymoon, but he wanted to be well-established in his career before even trying! Following the “Love and Respect” Bible Study that we did with our new newlyweds small group at Saddleback, I realized that I needed to wait and respect his leadership (which is, of course, still a battle, since I have my own sinful nature that wants to always take charge- somewhat like Eve did with Adam in the Garden!). In any case, he convinced me to wait to start our family, so we held off having kids until four years later, when Bill Jr. (aka William) entered the world!

After William came an almost immediate surprise…I was pregnant again! I could tell that the pregnancy was different because I was nauseated all the time and my boss told me that she could tell from my breakouts that I was having a girl (apparently bad skin in pregnancy is a clear sign of extra estrogen- my boss has been 6-for-6 in her baby predictions- so I trusted her!). Emma Grace joined our family just one year and three weeks after William had entered the world.

Having kids back-to-back was a challenge for those first few years. It was like twins but one was always just a little bit behind the other developmentally. We would get through a stage and then start it over again. In fact, we only recently got both kids out of diapers! I wanted to have more children, but having pseudo-twins was especially challenging, so my tubes were tied to prevent more surprises (my mom was frequently labeled Fertile Myrtle so there was a strong possibility that I could be just as fruitful- based on some good genes). I had no sorrow about the procedure- I knew that there are millions of orphans and foster kids who are looking for forever families, and that Bill and I could provide that someday. So, I began to seriously look into adoption, checking out sites like http://www.adoptuskids.org/, http://reecesrainbow.org/ and http://www.holtinternational.org/waitingchild/photolisting/. In the process, I would occasionally bring up kids or stories from these sites to Bill, but his heart was not yet open to the idea.

In the past year, though, God started working on Bill’s heart with respect to the adoption idea. He began reading sites like http://ellerslie.com/bravehearted-thots and http://ellerslie.com/. Then, one day, he sent me a link to the following video, and said that he knew that God wanted us to adopt some day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWHJ6-YhSYQ.

Fast-forward to November 9th, 2014, when I come across a blog post called “The Short List.” This powerful post mentioned a sweet boy named Whitaker (you can read it here: http://crunchylutheranmommy.com/2014/11/08/the-short-list/). The boy caught my attention because he looks so much like our son, William, but the post was devastating! It explained that, if not adopted soon, Whitaker would be transferred to a mental institution. The Crunchy Lutheran Mommy wrote that “Between neglect, abuse and starvation, well over 90% of these precious ones die within a year of transfer.” I had never heard of such a thing! I shared the story with Bill and his heart immediately began to soften. He asked me, “Does this little guy have a picture?” I ran for my laptop and opened up to the post- never thinking that we would actually consider adopting Whitaker.

Bill began to seriously think through the possibility of adopting and, that evening, we looked into it more. In fact, we watched a documentary on the mental institutions in Bulgaria to get an idea of what Whitaker could experience if he was transferred (Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ah_W9tS-8c and Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFEb2m5_MXQ). Both parts made me sick to my stomach, but I had to turn off the second one because I could not bear to watch any more suffering. Bill just bawled through both episodes and knew that we had to do something.

The next day, I contacted Reece’s Rainbow to ask about Whitaker and find out how we start the process. I immediately learned that the blog post had been so successful that a family had stepped up to adopt Whitaker that weekend! What bitter-sweet news! We had finally both come to the place where adoption could be a possibility, but the boy that our hearts were set on was gone. My heart sank as I thought that adopting was back off the table.

Incredibly, just a bit later, Bill asked to look at other kids listed on the Reece’s Rainbow site. He and I went through each page and prayed about the different faces we saw. We knew with two small children already, and a new business underway, that it would be exceedingly difficult to bring in a child that had a severe disability. So, we discussed back and forth each of the kids, seeing which ones are hearts were drawn towards. We finally landed on two from China- Payton and a four-year-old girl (we can’t release her name until receiving full approval for two kids). Both children have cerebral palsy and both were abandoned at the gates of their hospital or orphanage. Heart-wrenching!

We completed the paperwork in record time and, just three days after seeing the post on Whitaker, we were adopting two children! What a whirl-wind! Our file was locked for Payton on November 23rd and we expect pre-approval for our daughter in two weeks (her file is in locked status now, though). I'll share more information about her once that is through, but here is another photo of our sweet boy:

I have friends who have adopted, so I have a glimpse into the journey that we are beginning. I know that it will not be a fairytale. I realize that we will encounter suffering, hardship, and frustration, but we will also experience love, joy, and support like we have never before. Even still, I can’t wait to be a forever family to these sweet kiddos!

John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Also, we are now set-up with the Family Sponsorship Program through Reece’s Rainbow (for tax-deductible donations). You can donate here: http://reecesrainbow.org/85271/sponsorrobinson-6. Thank you!