Monday, April 30, 2012

{Lifeline China}: Let's Bring Them Home! All 3,000 of them...

I am not sure how to type this post without being emotional.I am not sure how to type this post without sharing all the information that I'm aware of.

Here is the bottom line: There is a need in China for these children to find forever families. This does not diminish the need anywhere else. But, from what I understand there are almost 3,000 children that will now be working toward proper availability for adoption. These children were in all kinds of levels of current care.

The partnership that has been granted to Lifeline is unprecedented.

This is a a miracle in adoption world.

Please help advocate and spread the word. If you know anyone who is considering adoption, please pass on this information to them.

Read the formal release below.
Contact Information: {local in Charleston}
{our caseworker in Alabama}

Friends of Lifeline,

Our Executive Director, International Director, China Program Social Workers, and two teams of distinguished Doctors and Therapists from the UAB International Clinic have just returned from China with wonderful news! Lifeline Children's Services has been granted contracts with 8 orphan homes located in Chongqing, MaoMing, SuiXi and Zhuhai. These orphan homes represent over 3000 beautiful children, all of whom we should have access to over the coming year.

Lifeline's partnership with the CCCWA is unprecedented, and we will make every effort to advocate for each of these amazing children. Lifeline, in conjunction with the social welfare institutes, are working on the first group of files, which should be ready for perusal by late June or early July. Children available for adoption extend from minor development delays to much more severe special needs.

Lifeline is preparing to return to our China homes again in July. We will direct camps, provide for additional training, and personally review the next group of children. As with all our partnering homes, we will have current pictures and videos of each child. Please assist us in advocating for these precious children as we believe each child has been created by God with purpose and deserves the opportunity of a loving, Christian home!

Please share this news with anyone you know who is considering a child from China!

I-800A: {Immigration} On Our Way

On April 20th, I had word from DSS that our homestudy was approved. However, seven days later, I still didn't have a copy of the certificate verifying that. One certificate should come to me, and our paperwork should have been mailed to USCIS. I think it's in Texas. But, without the certificate, my placing agency {Lifline} can't send my paperwork to meet up with the other paperwork. Did I lose you already? Paperwork from DSS & paperwork from Lifeline in Alabama need to meet up at USCIS and there is an order to who gets the paperwork there first....

Today, our homestudy agency, CAS, sent me a copy of the certificate from DSS that I can send to Lifeline saying they can send the I-800A to USCIS. So, now my case worker with Lifeline can overnight the paperwork that she has with our $890 check, etc.

Again, I know this is a lot of back/forth that most of you don't need to care about. But, I know several friends who are just starting the adoption process are reading this; and I'm trying to help them also become familiar with the language. And, I also appreciate all of my friends and family getting the lingo down with us as well!

So, right now, the average immigration approval is 60-90 days. We heard in February, they are cranking out at 65 days. Our friends just had 32 days! So, um, yes, my impatient self is hoping for 30-60. But, I just know that the last 2 months of what seemed agonizingly slow to me had a purpose. It is super hard to know that you have no control over your paperwork. When you are pregnant, at least you know where your baby is. Right now, we are paper pregnant. So, it feels like every document is part of our child. I know it sounds bizarre. But, we don't even know what she looks like yet. We just know she's out there.

Okay, less emotion. Back to details.I believe that in the middle of this approval, we will get information that says we are to go to an official government office and do our biometric hand scans. I have heard that they give you a date, that will be a few weeks in the future; but most families just drop what they are doing and go the next day. It speeds everything up. {So, that's what we will probably do.}

We also sent $890 to immigration as well. {Thank you to all of you who were a part of helping with that!}

After our paperwork is back from immigration, it has to go to a few more offical offices for stamps and signatures and authentication. That takes about 2-3 weeks. Then, it's all packaged up and ready to go to Ch**a in our packet called the dossier (doss-e-ay). It's not a person. It's a packet of paper.

I have some other fun things that happened over the weekend, too. We are going to have a super fancy pair of shoes for sale very soon {um, retail on these bad boys is $900 when they are new. they have been worn, so think ebay prices. i'm consulting my louboutin connoisseur on pricing. as soon as she gets back to me, i'll have them ready to go.} But, the back story on the sweet heart that gave these to me had me in shock all day on Saturday.

Please also pray for our friends in Africa, who are adopting their son. They have to go to court a few times over there and will be home at the end of May.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

{One Long Update}

Just a quick rambling up date {one long update post}

I wish I was blogging more through this journey for all of you; but I'm completely aware of the fact that when I start typing, I just start to spit up all kinds of emotions. Here are some things I'd like to remember during this week. But, first...

Our Fundraiser Give-a-Way is still running to May 12, honestly hoping for lots of $10 and $25 donations for this and excited to give-a-way an American Girl Doll, Arbonne Goodies and a Jesus Storybook Bible DVD/Curriculum!  Thanks for helping us spread the word on that!

{Let's start with Journey Together and Lifeline- April 17th Event.}

85 People showed up. 85 people who want to adopt or foster or care for families or care for unadopted. 
Stephen & Laura's vision for this group is being realized each month! We are so excited to be connecting and mobilizing The Church {as a whole} and in pockets of church groups as we seek to proclaim the name of Jesus while we do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, and defend the fatherless!

Hearing again the vision of Lifeline Children Services makes me  melt and engaged to mobilize.
But, knowing they are opening an office here in our area because God told them too and then told them to wait for an open door...and that door opened...and they said "yes" ...and they are here... unreal!

Travis and I are tackling the connect cards & trying to follow up with each of the families that came. FYI, if you are a family that reaches out to us and we ever drop the ball on getting something to you...Holla at us.
{I meant it. We are volunteers. And adopting parents. So, let us know if we miss you, please!}

Also, website coming very very soon!

{News from Lifeline...}

So, a few weeks ago, we found out that our agency was granted favor in Ch**a with the government. They were given 3 new orphanages to take care of. Just yesterday, they announced that number is growing. So, I'm gonna tell you right now, it's sort of making me crazy to wonder if they might be meeting our daughter. 
I talk to Miss Logan weekly about our process. And she is one of the people in Ch**a right now! I really want her to text me every hour and take video and tell me if our daughter is there by any chance.

I'm also going to tell you that if you have ever considered adoption, and maybe of an older child because you had kids when you were young and yours are in college or because you've always thought about adoption or because God just flat out calls you to it. There is going to be a huge push for these kiddos who are about to age out of the system over there. It's 14 years old, when you "age out" in 

That's when they "age out". Check out Angie's blog for details on this story! And Miss Kim can also be a wealth of knowledge, she has four little girls from Ch**a that she adopted as older children!

{Friends Talking about Adoption:}

An extra bonus to this journey is getting to share and talk about adoption with families. I love getting to chat with friends and strangers about their perspective on adoption. I love how my friends are embracing becoming a part of being a voice for the voiceless!

So, one of my best friends shared her experience of meeting a little girl who was celebrating her "Gotcha Day/Adoption Day/Family Day" in Barnes and Noble the other day while she was working. The little girl was from Ch**a, too. And Stacie got to talk to her and share in her special day. Then she wrote an amazing post on her blog about it.

Also, Miss Bonnie, wrote a beautifully honest post for us, too. I know Bonnie more through Facebook than I do in real life; but we share a lot of mutual friends and I've known her in-laws for years. {and hey, some of my real life best friends have become best friends through FB/twitter daily banter!} I love that her post starts with "I don't get adoption...." 

{P.S. Stacie sells Ah-May-Zing Sugar Scrub and Bonnie sells tons of incredible baby and decor items,too}

{Putting the Fun in Fundraising}
I haven't posted about this yet; but it seems every adopting family posts at some point about why they fund raise. Well, some lovely ladies have said ti so well, that I would end up plagiarizing them if I re-wrote a post. Jenni and Tobe are adopting through Lifeline, so our fees are almost identical. Check out their post here. Also, Tanya Hyatt reposted this article that I find very helpful from Meg Miller from My Crazy Adoption.

We were told by a few leaders in adoption world: "God will fund what he favors". We felt a twinge of that prosperity gospel? Are we working an angle? God knows I'm a naturally born sales person, and I try to rein my gushing woo-ing to a respectable level. {I said, I try!} But, is that about us? Funding us because we are so great?! Um, no, way! He calls us to care for his children. He is in the business of rescuing lives from separation from the Father. 

So, when these guys speak, that mountain of $28-30 K, God moves that mountain really fast and everyone who has walked this journey knows it. They are not blowing smoke. They are not manipulating God, they know it happens. They've seen that mountain moved over and over for families. And once you see the mountain move only by the hand of God for his children, you tell people. Even if it makes you sound a bit whacky....They know it's God. They know it's nothing they could do on their own.

{Updates on ALL our S-T-U-F-F}
My crazy bird's nests are selling like hot cakes! {Thank you!} I've got wonderful friends modeling them all over Charleston. I've got the facebook page set up now for orders.

{By the way, a Nest Rest is coming after Mother's Day.}

Our 147 Uganda Beads are also going like crazy. I do also have some really cute re-usable totes on their now, too. I just rain out of beads because a super wonderful lady bought everything I had left last night! You can see pictures of them on my FB page, too.

The Give-a-way. I'm sort of trying to let this be our last big push for awhile. It's been really crazy. I've asked friends to share and post about it and a few things that I'm realizing. The back and forth in my brain during fundraising and social media promotions is pretty exhausting. Every time I start to feel like maybe I'm being obnoxious {and to some, I'm sure we are...that's okay...} the craziest story will unfold. So, we will keep telling our story and ask you to be a part of it.

Here are some fun observations lately: 

1. $10 donations make me as giddy.

{Yes, I love the big $100 and $500 ones, too!} I especially love the notes right now, "So and so told me about this and we wanted to support you". I've been on the end of sending $10 to random adopting families for a few years now. And I always thought, Oh, well, I wish I could do more but I just want to be a part of bringing this child home...  I don't know if that's how y'all feel; but I hope you know: You are a part of this! Jesus said what you have done for the least of these children, you have done for me!

2. We are stunned by the seeming randomness of who God is speaking to and encouraging to support us.

I pull myself off the floor continually by getting to hear the whispers of God prompting a family to support us. The other night, I got a notification on my phone and called Travis to ask him if he knew the person. Yup, an old child hood friend!

{Update on Totals:}

I have written out in faith 6 checks: totaling around $3500 for our next few fees, etc. 

I wrote the checks. Put them in an envelope with the pile of papers to mail to Lifeline next. And then checked the bank account. Oops, not quite there yet. But, it's coming since I wrote them!
In the last few days, I did a big deposit from checks coming in from the last few weeks between birds nest, 147 stuff, coffee sales, and the give-a-way through paypal, etc. I have added $1475 to our account. Thank you, Jesus! 

So, I think we've raised $13,700 to date.

{Our next big fee :7000 and last agency fee approx 2000}:

I believe we are now fully able to work on the Orphanage fee, that will be about $7000. This covers the orphanage caring for my child and the children who will not be adopted. Less than 1% of the 147 Million Orphans will be adopted....So, truly, raising that fee might be the most emotional aspect of this.... Not that I don't appreciate paying the amazing team at Lifeline for doing what they do.

{Up Next:}

Travis and I going to Together for Adoption Boot Camp. We are going to walk in with huge eyes and open hearts to learn more about our adoption as children of God and why it's so important to be sure our foundation is always solid! And we just love all things Together for Adoption! So, we are also saving up for the Together for Adoption National Conference in ATL on September 14-15. Here is the schedule

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Give-a-Way Adoption Fundraiser: Arbonne, American Girl Doll & Jesus Story Book Bible DVD/Curriculum

What We are Giving Away:
              An American Girl Doll!* {$105 for doll or accessories}
              Jesus Storybook Bible & DVD Curriculum {on Amazon for $80}|
              Sandra Connell's Arbonne $150 Gift Certificate
Goal:Raise $2500 for the last part of our dossier submission fee and orphanage fees

When: Enter April 12th through May12th if we raise $2500
 {Drawing announced Sunday night: May 13th if we reach our goal. If not, we'll keep  going til we hit $2500. If we hit it before, we'll keep going til May 12. We'll be tracking updates w/ the Top Thermometer on the right}

How to Enter:          
Enter by leaving us comment on this post or our facebook page and tell  us what you hope to win! Donate: Help us reach our goal! For every amount you donate or help recruit donations for, you will be given more opportunities to win!

Donate and Comment!
Every comment and donation will automatically be given an opportunity to win. 

Every $10 donation will be given an extra opportunity to win
Every $25 donation {or increments of} will be given 3 opportunities to win
You can earn more opportunities to win by being a Social Media Partner, check out details below 
You may donate and collect as many comments as you would like
Use our paypal donation option to the right or our donate page for details. Snail Mail must be received by May 7.

All of our Social Media Opps are Over:::

Social Media Partnerships...more opportunities to win! 
If you want lots of opportunities to win the give-a-way, check out our extra social media options! 

Social Media Recruiters Partnership
Recruiters earn 10 Extra Opportunities for every personal $100 you can verify that you raise toward our fund.
*Track this on your  own & message/email me by May 10th a complete details on how and from whom you raised the $100 
(Minimum donation: $0)

Blog Partners:
Earn 10 Extra Opportunities

*Blog, Tweet and/or Facebook: Blog about this contest. Then share the link on facebook and/or twitter at least 1 time during the contest.
*Please write your own post, link back to our blog & donation page if possible
*Leave me a comment w/ your blog link

Social Media Tweet &/or Facebook Ongoing:

Tweet and Post on Facebook for the next 4 weeks {8 post min}
Earn 10 Extra Opportunities

*Commit to tweet and or post on your facebook account 8 times during the next 4 weeks
*Posts must be spread out to be atleast 1 time per week during the 4 weeks of the contest or whenever you join us. Or prorated if you join us later, 2 per week for 3 weeks, etc.
*Comment to let me know the last week that you did this

Social Media Both: Blog & Social Media
*Combine both options above Blog and Social Media Ongoing Tweet/Facebook
*Earn 25 extra opportunities instead of 20

** Please note the Retweet/Share's of Jessica's tweets/posts are appreciated; but will not be counted as your full posts. At least 50% of your posts must be yours. 

 ** If you'd like to put my button on your blog as a sponsor for a month, let me know and we'll come up w/ a fair amount of comment opprotunities based on your monthly audience, etc.

All the boring stuff!
* Disclaimer and Lots of Stuff to Make Sure I Cover:
This is NOT a R-A-F-F-L-E. This is a give-a-way. We will give-a-way some prizes when we raise our funds! If you wonder why I'm being a bit vague on how we are choosing & how you can exactly win, please feel free to email me at jess dot mariecarpenter at gmail dot com. I really want to be sure my language does not resemble a R-A-F-F-L-E.
We will draw the winners in order and give them priority of picking their prizes from donations and blog comments.

American Girl Doll is not affiliated with this contest. They have not made a donation. Travis and I are purchasing this with our funds that we are setting aside for fundraising and are giving away this doll(s). All comments are considered in our give-a-way. We are not selling anything. We reserve the right to refund donations if we do not make enough to cover the cost of the doll. We reserve the right to add rules or regulations if necessary to this process. We reserve the right to refuse donations or partnerships from anyone that we do not shares our values for this contest.  Your choice of doll will include the doll & book &shipping (only w/in the US per AG website). Again, snail mail is accepted; but must be received by May 7th to count.

** We have been giving a second copy of Jesus Storybook Bible
***The amazing Sandra Connell is donating $150 from Arbonne to us!

We will spend May 12 verifying all of our tickets/collections.
Please contact me at jess dot mariecarpenter  at for all inquiries about this contest.