Adoption Update: One Year Later

Our Anna Rakeb has been home with us now for a little over a year.  In some ways, it feels like she’s always been here.

Many people considering the adoption process wonder if they could love a child that was not born to them.  I wondered the same thing — everyone does!  But I am here to tell you that, yes, most definitely, you will learn to love this child just like any other child that comes into your family!

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Some people shy away from adoption because they think that their biological children might have a hard time with it.  Maybe they will feel slighted, or loved a little less, they imagine.

I can’t speak for every family, but even though our four boys went into this adoption with a little fear and trepidation, now that we are one year in, we can say that it has been a blessing for each one of us!

When the boys talk about their futures, most of them now include the snippet… “and I’m going to adopt…” which just makes me smile at the ripple effects 🙂

So, if God is opening your eyes to the needs of the fatherless in this country or around the world, say YES with a heart of faith, knowing that it will be a wonderful experience for each one in your family to love another with the love that God has given you.

Recently I asked the boys a few questions about their experiences with having a little sister join the family through adoption.  Thought you might enjoy a little sneak peek into their minds.

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Mom:  Did you know what adoption was before we adopted?

Boys: No

Getting a kid

Yes – taking kids into your family that the parents gave them up or died

Yes – God adopting us into His family

 

Mom:  Did you have any fears?

Excited that she was from a different country

That she would be ugly

No

That she would be all pink

 

Mom:  What did you think it would be like to have a sister?

All pink & stuff

Pink princesses and barbies; if I can prevent that, then she would be more normal – like you, mom

 

Mom:  How has Anna changed our family?

Everybody crowds around her

Made it a little more cute and happy

We had to buy more girly stuff

She steals all our stuff

 

Mom:  Do you love her?

Yes (while sitting on the rocking chair with her)

Yes!  Of course

Yup!

 

Mom:  How has adoption changed you, your view of people of different races or cultures?

Makes me appreciate other cultures more

 

Mom:  Do you want to adopt someday?

Possibly

If I have all of one (gender), then I’ll adopt the other

 

Mom:  What does adoption teach you about God?

That we were chosen into God’s family

That God loves everyone

That God adopts us into his family

 

Mom:  What do you remember about God’s provision for the money to adopt Anna?

We had a $2000 fee and people gave us money.

Glad

That He loves us

People are watching after us and helping

one year in

Christmas Past & Christmas Present

Last year our 15-month-old spent Christmas in an Ethiopian orphanage.  She didn’t even know we were pursuing her adoption.

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But a few months later, we travelled to Addis Ababa and adopted her as our daughter!  What a whirlwind trip!

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This year we will enjoy Christmas through the eyes of our newly adopted 2-year-old!  What fun 🙂

Then & Now: Adoption Photos

Anna Rakeb has been home with us for nearly 7 months.

We are amazed everyday by how much we love her and how well she fits into our family, even with 4 older brothers!

Last year at this time, she was in her orphanage and looked like this.

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Isn’t she the sweetest??

This fall, she looks like this:

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then & now: adoption photos @4onemore.com

We’re so thankful that God put Anna in our family.  She is a treasure.

{You can check out our adoption story here.}

 

 

Our Adoption {Just Show Up} Story

Our adoption story really begins and ends with grace.

Through undeserved grace, God stepped into our lives when we were hopeless and needed forgiveness and made a way for us to be adopted into His family as sons and daughters.

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As our family began to grow, God burdened our hearts for the needs of the fatherless. That is His heart, and He made it our heart as well.

Soon the question changed from “Why adopt?” To “Why not adopt?

So we started on the journey to find a little girl that needed a family. Before she was even born, we were seeking her.

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The grace cycle was continuing.

We love because He first loved us.

We know what love is, what grace is, because of Christ.

Adoption is totally undeserved and unexpected on the part of the orphan. Our little girl couldn’t fathom how drastically her life was about to change that day we met her in an Ethiopian orphanage.

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But starting the adoption journey wasn’t the end of the grace cycle.

God had burdened our hearts to adopt. That much was true. But we had no way of paying the huge financial costs on our own. This is where God’s grace shows up in amazement and splendor.

 

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He could have plopped down $35,000 in our laps when we stepped out in obedience to His calling on our family to adopt.

But instead He mobilized hundreds of friends and family to Just Show Up.

To Just Show Up and share generously with us in many totally unexpected ways.

To Just Show Up and be God’s hands and feet in our lives during the adoption.

Every time an adoption fee had to be paid, God miraculously paid it in full. Right on time.

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Money came in from people generously saving their spare change, slipping us $20 bills, contributing to a huge yard sale, and many more ways. And through grant organizations whose donors we have never met, but who have significantly touched our lives.

And I pray that those friends and family who were such an integral piece of the puzzle in bringing Anna Rakeb home from Ethiopia received great joy in knowing they were making a difference.

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By choosing to Just Show Up, they were a part in the story God was and is writing in the life of a former orphan. Now our cherished daughter. And one day, we pray, a daughter of the King.

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{Linking up our Adoption Just Show Up story at MundaneFaithfulness.com}

{Just Link Up}

Adoption Update: Home 3 months

It has been harder than we could have imagined.

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It has cost much.

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It has been an emotional roller coaster.

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It has stretched us.

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It has opened our eyes to the least of these.

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It has increased our faith.

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It has shown us how big our God is.

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And it has been so very worth it all.

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{Our special thanks to Keri McLaughlin Photography for these precious photos!}

What a Difference a Family Makes!

Anna Rakeb has been home for two months!

She is growing, gaining weight, trying new foods, learning new words, and being loved and adored by her four brothers and mom and dad.

God has rescued her from so much already and we can’t wait to see the story He will continue to write for her life.

Thanks to all who have had a part in bringing Anna home to us, her forever family.  Adoption is spiritual warfare and it is not easy, but each prayer, encouragement, and financial gift made a difference in our daughter’s life.

before & after FAMILY

Making Room 4 One More through the Sparrow Fund

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I have enjoyed crafting and making handmade gifts ever since I was a little girl.

So when God burdened our hearts for adoption, this love of creating and our family’s passion to Make Room 4 One More kind of collided, and my etsy shop, 4onemore, was born.

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Every purchase from my shop during the first several years helped to bring our daughter home to her forever family. Now I want to use my shop to bless other adoptive families and charities that are Making Room 4 One More!

This is my third year supporting the adoption ministry of The Sparrow Fund.  I have committed to donate 10% of my sales this May to help adoptive families through this charity.

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Mary and Kelly Raudenbush founded The Sparrow Fund in 2011 after the adoption of their youngest child from China.  Since then, The Sparrow Fund has given well over 50 grants to adoptive families.

There are dozens of other online businesses that are part of Building the Nest 2015!  Check them out here.

You still have a few days left to shop and help make this 10% something crazy big for orphans and their forever families!

8 Adoption Fundraiser Ideas

Our Anna Rakeb has been home from Ethiopia for just over 2 weeks now.  Lots of firsts, new experiences, and bonding going on at our house.  And I forgot how many messes toddlers can make in ten seconds flat!

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Now that we’re at the end of the adoption journey, we can look back and see how God provided the finances.  Every. Single. Time.

If God has called your family to adopt, then don’t let the finances scare you.  Once we stepped out in faith, God totally blew us away with His provision.

My hope is that this list will help other families in the adoption journey.  Here is what worked for us in order from least to greatest.

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1.  Giveaways on Social Media & Online Auctions

A friend of my sister volunteered her artistic abilities for a giveaway to benefit our adoption.  She offered a custom pencil portrait for the winner.  We had a raffle on social media.  Each contribution of $5 put your name in the giveaway once.  $10 would enter you twice.

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Do you have a friend who could team up with you for a giveaway?  Maybe they own an etsy shop and could donate an item or two.  Maybe they would like to contribute a wonderful gift basket to your raffle.  Many people would like to help, perhaps they just need to be asked.

2.  Online business owners donate commission {Jamberry Nails}

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A friend hosted an online Jamberry party and graciously donated her commission toward our adoption expenses.  This is a great advertisement for your friends’ business as well as helping your family.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

3.  Sippy Cups of Change

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{See those tags?  Yes, we did initially start out to adopt from Russia.  God providentially moved us away from that option before Russia closed itself off from international adoptions.}

Our sippy cups of change provided an easy way for interested friends & family to help.  They took a sippy cup I had purchased at the dollar store and filled it up with their spare change for weeks or months.  A ladies Bible study at a neighboring church even took a dozen to fill up for us.  Our boys contributed extra change to ours.  It’s a tangible way people can help.

4.  Become an Amazon affiliate

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Who doesn’t shop online these days?  Again, this fundraiser will be as successful as your ability to remind your family & friends to use it!  When you sign up to be the amazon associates program, you will earn referral fees every time someone shops from your link.  We have designated our adoption account with the program, and the money just gets dropped right in.  It’s easy to set up.   However, as with the others, it is something you need to continually remind people about on their social media.  People would like to help — it doesn’t cost them a dime more to shop through your link — but you need to make it accessible and remind them regularly, especially during peak shopping seasons.

5.  Yard Sale

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Our yard sale weekend was amazing — it brought in $2550!  That was much more than we had hoped for.  We held it at our church on Memorial Day weekend (Friday – Saturday).  It might have even done better had the weather cooperated.  We had to move it inside because of cold blowing rain!  But even with that, it was quite a success.  We asked our church family and through Facebook for donations of items to sell.  People were generous, even donating high ticket items, like a ride-on lawnmower, bunk beds, guitars, and such.  Friends helped us sort the items into sections, like you would have at a thrift store — housewares, girl clothing, shoes, toys, etc.  We sold clothing by the bag ($5/plastic grocery bag) or 50 cents a piece.  This helped to clear some of it out quickly.

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People donated baked goods.  We made lemonade to sell, but would have done better with hot chocolate or coffee!  Who could have predicted such a cold Memorial Day weekend?  Still, it was a success and definitely worth the effort.

6.  Puzzle

Between our first and second trips to Ethiopia, we decided to try a puzzle fundraiser.  We have seen friends do amazingly well with it.  However, I think the timing of ours (at the very end of the journey) was what made it so successful.

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We purchased a 252 piece puzzle featuring a picture of our sweet girl.  For every $10 donated through our tax deductible Pure Charity site, we wrote the contributor’s name on the back of a puzzle piece.

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We plan on framing the completed puzzle using a double sided glass frame so we will be able to see all the names on the back of the puzzle as a remembrance of those who had a part in her adoption.

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7.  Grants

Yes, it takes time to do the research, but will be worth it in the end.  Most grant applications will all require the same information — financial (tax returns), some of your story and what led you to adoption, and references.  It’s a good idea to have all of that paperwork handy, and then you can apply for half a dozen grants at a time, in assembly-line-fashion.  Nothing beats getting that acceptance letter in the mail and realizing God has this adoption covered!

Overall, we received about $12,000 in grants for this adoption!!

8. Etsy shop {use your hobbies and gifts}

What can you do to raise extra funds right now?  Even if you have a full-time job, is there something else you could do on the side?  Perhaps you could offer in-home childcare.  Do you play an instrument?  You could give lessons.  Maybe you could declutter and sell some of your things on ebay.

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For me, I have always loved to craft.  I also love thrifting.  So, it just made sense to open an etsy shop, where I could sell my up cycled, painted, and sewn handmade goodies.  It gives me a good excuse to regularly go thrifting.  My boys are even in on the hunt now, as they know what I’m looking for.

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God has really blessed my shop.  I never could have imagined the benefits that would come.  First, financially, this shop has covered many adoption expenses along the way.

Additionally, I have been able to network with other like-minded individuals and ministries because of my online presence.  I have been able to donate to missions trips, orphanages, and other adoptive families because of the income from my shop.  

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My shop is called 4onemore, and I hope to keep it open long after our adoption is through, so that we can bless other families who are also Making Room 4 One More. 

Other ideas to look into:

{Just Love Coffee, fundraising letters, breakfast fundraiser, online auctions, selling T-shirts, finding extra money in your budget, Both Hands Foundation}

Check out my Adoption Pinterest board for more inspiration!

The bottom line is this:  don’t let the financial aspects of adoption deter you if God has called you to this journey!  He can provide, and He will.  Many times, He’s just waiting for us to step out in faith and be ready to watch Him move.

Ethiopia Adoption: Introducing our Anna Rakeb

Many, many thanks to our friends and family who have supported us in this journey through encouragement, prayers, financial gifts, and many other ways.

Many of you have been following the progress of our puzzle fundraiser on Facebook this week.  We have been humbled by the amazing response and it is with thankful hearts that we announce that this final trip is fully funded!  God is good, and He has used many of you to bless our family.  Thank you.

And if we have learned anything from this adoption, it is that God fully provides for what He calls you to.  He does “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think!”

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This weekend hubby and our oldest son embark on one final trip to Ethiopia to bring our Anna home!  I can’t think of a more fitting weekend than Easter for this adoption to become reality.  New life and hope all wrapped up in a long-anticipated gotcha day!

Anna Rakeb’s story is one of rescue and God’s grace and mercy.  When she was found, the police named her Rakeb, which is Amharic for Rahab.  If you know the biblical story of Rahab, her faith in Jehovah God was demonstrated by hiding Israelite spies before her home city of Jericho was destroyed. Her faith was seen, and God hid her as the walls of the city came down.  What’s more, is that Rahab was grafted into the line of Christ and finds her place in the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11.  We love this name!

Anna comes from the Hebrew word for “grace”.  We pray that our Anna would come to personally know God’s grace and mercy in her life as she gets older.

We are so happy to finally be bringing her home!

Until I can post gotcha day and airport pictures, enjoy this video from our original trip in February when we first met her.