Monthly Archives: October 2010

Focus on (a few) Fundraising Families

These few featured families are all families whose buttons for fundraising are featured on our site. Please read about them and consider supporting their efforts as they pursue God’s call for their families.

The Arpin-Riccis

The Arpin-Riccis

Greetings from the inner city neighborhood of Winnipeg’s West End! My wife Kim and I have been living and serving here as inner city Christian workers with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) for nearly 10 years. While there are many challenges, such as poverty and crime, it is also a wonderfully diverse community of people from all over the world. With many Ethiopian neighbours, it was especially exciting for us to begin the adoption process from Ethiopia in late 2007. Since then, the process has been long and challenging, as many complications (common to adoption in Canada) have slowed the process down. However, we are hopeful as we await a referral which should be coming in the near future. We still face that challenge of raise the funds, but God has provided so much already, with around $10,000 remaining in our goal. People can give through our website Adopt-A-Pixel.

The Rippees

The Rippee Family

We are Randy & Rita Rippee, parents of 4 children, 2 grown biological children and 2 adopted daughters from China. We feel the hand of God moving us to adopt another child from China and are asking for you to come along side us in the journey.

Remembrance of His Faithfulness

Originally posted on their blog on August 25, 2010…

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On Monday, we sent back all our notarized contracts and paper work to our agency along with our first of many BIG checks! When I went to the credit union to get our check, I was filled with a bittersweet emotion as the gal behind the counter asked how much to have the check made out for. With my heart in my throat, I said, “seven thousand three hundred and ninety dollars.” I kept having to remind myself–scratch that–KEEP having to remind myself, that this is exactly what this money is saved up for! So many stories are attached with every dollar of that $7,390! Each dollar represents a generous person, a creative fundraising event, a random blessing, a hard-earned dollar, and, truthfully, it flat out represents God’s faithfulness! So like in 1 Samuel 7:12, where God’s people stacked stones as a remembrance of His faithfulness to them, we are looking back over the past couple months as stacking stones in our lives!

So, what now you ask?! Well, it’s time to get our hands dirty and bust bootie in the savings department for the next BIG check and expenses in between! We have a choice to look at it two ways:

  1. A daunting task full of anxiety OR
  2. A chance for God to once again prove Himself to be faithful and unfold more amazing stories attached to each dollar raised and saved!

I chose choice number 2! (That is, until, I have my random freak out moments while laying in bed wide awake at night imagining all the worst case scenarios, while my hubby lays right next to me peacefully sleeping AND snoring the night away… just being honest!). I truly think REMEMBERING God’s faithfulness is key! He funds His callings. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that He has led the way so far and told us to trust Him, and so we continue!

This evening, we got a call from our agency letting us know they received all our notarized paperwork, and it’s complete and looks great! That means we didn’t mess up our first “test” of signing and initialing a stack of papers a mile high! Yippee! Our adoption planner is on the way including everything we’ll need to gather for our dossier (fancy french word for adoption papers) and our required education courses.

While we are working on collecting everything for our dossier, we will also be doing our home study simultaneously. In order to begin our home study, we will need $625 to get that ball rolling. Our savings is currently at $577, so we’re getting there!

We will be on a paper chase for both the HS and dossier collecting things like birth certificates, marriage license, passports, medical forms, criminal checks, employment verification, letters of recommendation, financial statements, power of attorney, and the list goes on and on! My prayer is that I can be like Jude and just enjoy digging in to the overwhelming mess of paperwork/dirt and have fun!

This whole process of the HS and dossier typically takes families 3-4 months to complete. During that timeframe, some significant fees that we’ll encounter are:

Adoptive Parent Education (online courses): $170
US CIS Fee $670
US CIS Fingerprinting Fee $80 per adult

Finally, once everything is complete and ready to be sent over to Ethiopia is when our next BIG check is due. With the completed dossier, we owe (big breath) $4,500 International Service Fee.

Well, there you have it! We’re doing our best to lay pride aside and be as open and honest about this whole process as possible, including all the financial mumbo jumbo that goes with it. More then anything, our prayer is that God would receive the glory because we know that financial hurdles like these can only be accomplished by someone far bigger than us! We also pray this is read with hearts that know that in us sharing all these dollar amounts, there is absolutely NO obligation to give what so ever! We are truly humbled and gracious and amazed at the generosity that’s been shown to us so far and we know that it’s been God using others to write His story in our lives! So, thank you for being used by God!

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Since this post was originally written, 2 months ago, the Helms family has raised nearly $6,700 including money from yard sales, t-shirt sales, Just Love Coffee sales, $2000 in donations from adoptive families they have never even met, donations from friends and their 2nd grade Sunday School teacher, among other things! With the last gift of $845.26 from the Sunday School teacher on October 20th, they were able to send their completed dossier to their agency on October 21st. Now, they anxiously wait to hear what number they are on the waiting list for a little boy from Ethiopia.

Our obedience does not make God bigger or better than He already is. His essence is unchanged by our obedience or lack of it. Anything God commands of us is so that our joy may become full–the joy of seeing His glory revealed to us and in us! Two major reasons for obedience are that we may become targets of blessing and that He may have the pleasure of bestowing it. Either way, obedience benefits us!

From Hilary’s Bible study, Beth Moore’s A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place, p. 79

Hilary said, “We would never be experiencing these blessings in our life right now if we hadn’t been obedient to the burden of adoption that He placed on our hearts! It just goes to show once again that He is most glorified in us when we are most glorified in Him!”

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Hilary Helms

Hilary is a down to earth, stay-at-home mom to the most precious, tender hearted 3-year-old boy, Jude. She has been happily married for 5 years. Her husband is a high school AP world history teacher and soccer coach, along with being one heck of a daddy! They desperately are seeking to be obedient to the burden God has placed on their hearts for orphans and are in the early stages of an adoption from Ethiopia. This is a HUGE step of faith in so many ways, financially being one of the biggest! YET, God has already provided in amazing ways! They trust that He is writing this story in their lives, and they know He funds His callings. They don’t know exactly how each page of the story is going to unfold, but they lay it at His feet and trust. Read more about their family and check out their fundraising efforts, also featured on the fundraising families’ page on this site, here.

All This Time, We Were Waiting for Each Other; All This Time, I was Waiting for You

It’s a boy.
He is five months old.
And his given name {from the orphanage} is Asiimwe Joseph.

My dear sweet baby boy,

As you’re sleeping, across the ocean, do you know how much you’re loved right now?
Can you feel it from that far away?
I so badly hope with all my heart that last night someone whispered in your little ear and told you that you had a family.
That you can feel the difference in your heart too.
Your daddy and I are no longer two but three. And, we, my son, are a family.

Do you understand how many people are dying to meet you? It’s so crazy to me the emails and letters and calls pouring in today. Family and friends and even perfect strangers sharing in our celebration day. Crying with us. The happiness. The oh-my-goodness-when-do-you-get-to-go-get-him?

My Yoke Is Easy?

Before He furnishes the abundant supply, we must first be made conscious of our emptiness, before he gives strength, we must be made to feel our weakness. Slow, painfully slow, are we to learn this lesson; and slower still to own our nothingness and take the place of helplessness before the Mighty One.

I love the above quote by A.W. Pink. That really is where I have been lately.

We have been wonderfully blessed with the addition of our new daughter into our family. She is a beautiful, kind, gentle, affectionate girl who is aware of others’ feelings and is sensitive to them. She is generous, funny, adaptable, and helpful and has a strong desire to fit in and do well in her new life situation.

So, it doesn’t really make sense to me that this should be difficult.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to add to our family through the miracle of adoption. I know that this stirring is something placed there by the Lord. Although I am smitten by the sweet babies waiting for a mommy’s arms to hold them and often long for those arms to be mine, it is the older waiting child who has really grabbed my heart; the ones that watch babies and younger children go home to forever families, knowing that they have little chance of that happening for them.

Before bringing Kayden home, I did lots of reading and research. I followed other families’ journeys as they brought their teens home. In my heart and mind, I was prepared!

And, truthfully, I am surprised by how hard it is.

It’s hard because even with all my preparation, our reality does not really meet my expectations.

After meeting our daughter a year before bringing her home and receiving information about her from others who had met her, I had created an image of who I thought she was. Now that we have brought her home, I realize that although my expectations were not unrealistic, they did not do a good job of describing who our daughter is.

I expected that like other children I had read about, she might have difficulty giving and receiving affection. I had imagined us cautiously showing her affection, starting with a small kiss on the head at bedtime and then marveling several months down the road when she had progressed to a place where we could give her a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek and tell her how much we love her.

Instead, our daughter is very affectionate, sometimes indiscriminately so. She will hug most people she meets in a social setting, even if they are not people we know well. She seeks out physical affection throughout the day and often will compete with the younger children for mine or with me for Paul’s. She wants tight embraces with full mouth kisses several times throughout the day. If Paul or I should sit on the sofa, we are like a magnet. For me, who tends to be less physically affectionate, this has been hard. With three small children who require a lot of physical affection, Kayden’s neediness in this area, and my own deep rooted character traits, I find myself struggling to meet the demands. I am unsure of where the balance lies and if and where there is a line that should be drawn. I do not want our daughter to ever feel any rejection from us, but I also want this to be an area in her life where she recognizes what is appropriate and what is not. I am finding out that this is a lot more difficult when your child is 13 rather than 4.

I knew the language barrier would be hard. I knew that Kayden would not learn as quickly as Levi did. I also knew that it would not be as easy to communicate through body language as it was with a smaller child. I expected that this would be quite frustrating to Kayden.

What I didn’t expect is how frustrating this would be to me. I didn’t realize how much time it would require to stop and explain conversations to her in ways that she could understand. I didn’t anticipate feeling so impatient when a concept that I think should be understood after a certain amount of time is not. I didn’t think it would be necessary for me to remind myself so many times throughout the day to be patient, to be kind, and to take the time to teach the idea or words again. I didn’t realize how helpless I would feel, seeing certain behaviors that I would like to work on, knowing that we do not yet possess the language to do that in any kind of helpful or constructive way.

I knew that there would be learned orphanage behavior that we would not want introduced to our younger children. I imagined myself facing each one with the intense compassion that I felt toward my daughter in all of my imaginings of her. I pictured myself dealing with each one constructively with a strong desire to help her work her way out of learned behaviors that were in no way her fault for having developed.

What I didn’t expect was to find myself feeling angry when those negative behaviors directly impact our younger children. I didn’t anticipate myself taking up such a strong defense on behalf of the children that I have already had opportunity to attach and bond so strongly to. I didn’t think that I would have to remind myself not to allow these feelings to show on the outside, that each child was mine, equally loved and committed to, and that my responses always need to reflect that. I never imagined myself having to be reminded to view my daughter with the compassion that I so strongly felt.

I knew that adding to our family and especially through an out of birth order adoption would change the dynamics in our home; after all, we had already done this once. When we brought Levi home, I loved watching our little girls adapt to this new situation. I loved watching them welcome Levi as their brother. I loved seeing the different character traits this brought out in each of them as they built their relationship with him.

I didn’t expect that this new experience would be so unlike our first. Bringing Kayden home has now changed these newly formed relationships between the three younger children. This is hard to see. There is a new level of sibling rivalry that has been brought about as the little ones compete for Kayden’s attention. With Kayden having a need to fit in and to be accepted, being the newest addition, these dynamics provide a perfect opportunity to bring out more negative character traits as she plays into this situation. As a mother with a strong sense of protectiveness for her little ones, it again brings about situations where I have to remind myself to not respond instinctively but to be fair to each child, recognizing that there is a history of learned behaviors that contribute to the ones that I now must deal with.

I expected that Kayden would have institutional delays and that she would probably act much different than her “real” age. I thought it would be endearing; and, it was…for a while.

I wasn’t prepared for how that would look on an emotional level or in social settings. Even though cognitively I know that she is delayed, and that this is expected, I find myself often expecting more, thinking she should respond in situations as a 13-year-old would or at least close to that. I didn’t anticipate that the behaviors that we would be dealing with would be very much like the ones we are dealing with in the smaller children and just how frustrated this would make me “feel.”

I do not share any of this to bring discouragement to anyone in the process or who might be considering the adoption of an older child. I also hope that I do not reflect a complaining attitude or any regrets. I do not have any. Our daughter is an incredible blessing to our family who, in spite of all of the challenges, adds joy to our lives.

Parenting is hard work. Parenting a child who has faced rejection and hurts that most of us are unable to comprehend is even harder. Each of these children is in need of a love that is often beyond what we are able to give. They need a level of commitment that is unbreakable and parents who are willing to work through the unique challenges that their adoptions will bring.

I have received an incredible amount of help on this journey through Karen Purvis’ book The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family and especially through the accompanying Bible study. In the introduction to this study, we are reminded that it is our strongest human desire to belong and that our goal as parents should not only be to bring about right behavioral responses but to have our children involved in connected relationships. The goal of achieving desired behavior in our children and particularly in Kayden would not be so difficult. She really does have a strong desire to please us. A goal of achieving desired behavior while developing in her a strong sense of connectedness and belonging is a much more lofty goal. It is one that requires a much more concentrated effort.

As her parents, we must be willing and able to do that hard work. A lot of the time, I feel incredibly inadequate.

I was given a beautiful reminder the other day when a visiting pastor to our church spoke on Matthew 11:28-30. He first recounted to us how Jesus as a carpenter would have had the distinct job of fashioning farming implements, including yokes. He told us how each yoke would be fashioned to be a perfect fit for the oxen that it was designed for. If used properly, this yoke would then make the work easier and the oxen would more effectively accomplish the task that was required of it. If the oxen chose to fight against the yoke, regardless of it’s perfect design, it would cause chafing and discomfort.

What a beautiful picture of the perfect design of our own life experiences. If we will allow them to work in the way that they are intended, rather than struggling against them, the Lord can work more effectively in and through us to accomplish His purposes for our lives.

I needed this reminder last week as I struggled with guilt and condemnation at my own shortcomings. I needed to be reminded that the Lord is not surprised at any of the ugliness that remains deeply rooted in my own character; rather, He has fashioned this current situation to help bring forth the fruit or godly character that he desires to see there in its stead. How I pray that I will learn to fully cooperate with Him, allowing Him to change me into the wife, mother, and friend that He wants me to be.

Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you. –Corrie Ten Boom

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Lori King

Lori and her husband, Paul live in Northern MN where they are raising 6 of

Expectation vs. Expectancy

There we were, going through another miscarriage. I began wondering if it was wrong for me to continue to pray to God for a baby. Afterall, if parenthood wasn’t in God’s plan for us, we didn’t want to be outside of His divine will for our lives.

But, what would I do with the gaping hole in my heart aching to be filled by a baby!?!? My empty arms and aching heart were sobbing ~ at moments even SCREAMING ~ for God to talk to me!

Didn’t HE put this strong desire to be a mommy in my heart!?? WHY wasn’t He answering my heart’s cry?!? Was I being disobedient for continuing to seek Him for a child, if His answer was consistently “NO”?

Jeff believed we should stay on our knees and seek the Lord. I began to wonder if it was even worth asking for, if God had no intention of bringing us children.

I wondered if I was being selfish in my continued prayers for what God didn’t seem to want to bless me/us with. God assured me one night, through Jeff, that YES! He wanted me/us to continue to seek Him and pray for the desires of our hearts! He wanted us to continue to pray for our children and wait for Him!

Psalms 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

After reading an article one night, Jeff paraphrased for me the difference between expectancy and expectation. He doesn’t recall now where he read it, darn it! I wish I could credit who helped answer such a mystery for me! Allow me to share with you how learning such a difference freed me to keep praying amidst our unanswered prayers!

God wants us to lay the desires of our heart at His feet. He wants us to pursue these desires with confidence in Him. Not confidence in our ability to reach these dreams, but confidence in His ability and willingness to answer our prayers! He yearns to bless us abundantly! His plan for us is GOOD! ALWAYS!

Matthew 21: 22: “And what you ask for in prayer,

Letter to an Adoptee

I had the special privilege of working as an Adoption Social Worker for many years. I typically wrote a letter similar to this to each child after they went home with their adoptive parents. My purpose in doing so was two fold: (1) to share my experience of the time I spent with their birth parents and how they came to chose adoption and to let them know how much they were loved and (2) to share Jesus with them. I gave a copy to the adoptive parents to share one day in the future if they chose to, and I placed a copy in their adoptive file to be found should they ever seek information in the future.

Rya & Roman

The end of this letter is a little more personal because this is our own adoption story.

Dear Rya and Roman,

I knew your birth mom K for 5 years prior to your birth. She was a single mom raising a daughter and had previously placed another child for adoption. She was 24 years old with a high school GED and a job in a hospital cafeteria. She was 5’6 tall with long beautiful brown hair and brown eyes. You both have her cute nose! She was very pretty. Her personality was strong, determined, hard working, funny, and self-assured. I love her laugh! I know less about your birth father T, but you are both tall like him and Rya looks a lot like he does!

She had dreams of a husband still unfulfilled. She wanted what most women want, a good husband who could provide financially, a home and a family. When she was pregnant with the two of you, she really wanted to be able to parent you! The reality of raising 3 children alone hit her, and it broke her heart, but she decided that placing you for adoption would be the best gift she could give you. Because she had already gone through placing your older sister H, she was aware of just how hard it was going to be. There is a grief in placing a child for adoption that is like a death. It is always there and doesn’t go away. On top of that, society doesn’t help because they don’t always honor birth moms in the way that they should for making such a difficult and unselfish decision. I consider them heroes who will chose to carry the pain of loss for what they believe is the greater good. I’m not sure I have that quality. I am too selfish.

She loved you so much! Let me try to explain what that kind of love looks like. She loved you so deeply that she was able to look beyond herself and think about what would be the best for you in your life. All the while she could feel you moving inside of her and she was beginning to know each of you. She could tell which one of you were moving and who was in what position. She used to tell me all the time that “the little girl is going to be the strong one.” It turns out she was right! She also allowed me to be a big part of her pregnancy, because she wanted you both to recognize my voice when you were born. She wanted you to be raised in a Christian, 2-parent home with siblings and lots of love.

She chose an open adoption so that she would be able to know you and you her. You have 3 siblings whom you get to stay in contact with because of our open adoption. We chose open adoption as a family because, as Christians, we felt the gift she was giving us was amazing but realized that we have a lifetime of gifts to give to her in return. Your dad called it a ministry opportunity. We can be Jesus to her. We can be a witness through how we raise you, how we treat her and honor her as your birth mom. We believe that the example of our Christian marriage can be a witness to her. We can help lessen her grief by allowing her to share in your life. She and your birth father T are a part of our lives now forever because they are a part of you and we celebrate that!

It’s neat to know them because sometimes I will call you by one of their names when you make a facial expression like them or you act like one of them. It’s what can sometimes be missing for an adoptive child, the connection of knowing whom you look like and where you came from. You can act like K and often look like her but I see a lot of H in you as well. Roman looks a lot like H!

I want to share with you some of what the Bible says.

Isaiah 44:2 says: “I am your Creator, you were in my care even before you were born.” God made you, you are not an accident.

Psalm 139:13-16 says:

The Nest That’s Never Empty

While we were at the beach, Anthony and I took Hailee and Harper out of the water for a little break before they totally turned into raisins. We were lying in the shade giving them a snack. Haven was with us too. Anthony looked at the three kids and casually said, “So, these are the three who will more than likely stay with us forever.” I nodded yes. Perhaps they will be with us until God takes us home.

The “empty nest” question is one that tends to come up frequently. People ask us how we feel about knowing that we may never be empty nesters. I know that it is something that every family considering adopting a child who may be unable to live alone as an adult needs to think about before committing to bring them home.

For us, it is not something we think about or talk about very often these days. The topic obviously came up when we were considering bringing Haven home. We knew there would be a strong possibility that Haven would never be able to live alone, and we needed to seriously consider how we felt about that. And so we did.

These days things are different for us. The empty nest thing is not something we ever really think about. I don’t know, maybe it’s because our lives are so busy and crazy that we never have much time to sit and ponder what our future may or may not look like. Or, perhaps, it’s because God has given us such peace that an empty home is something we may possibly never have.

How do we truly feel about the possibility of never being alone without kids in the house? Well, we’re so perfectly fine with it. We believe that God calls us all differently. I will never become a lawyer or an orthodontist (heck, I really should though with the amount of money they charge to put a piece of wire in someone’s mouth!), and I would absolutely make the worst accountant ever because even my son’s fifth grade math confuses the dickens out of me. I don’t even know if God will ever call me back to working full time outside of my home. Our calling is different than others. He calls us all individually–and when He does He equips us with everything we need to accomplish the mission and gives us absolute peace on the journey. This is our mission. And, with this mission comes a future where Anthony and I may never be alone. For us, it is just part of the journey to be faithful to fulfill what God has told us to do.

Raising the children God has asked us to bring home is a calling for us. It is what the Father has told us to do in this life. We know our future is in His hands. He has taken away any desire that was once there to be empty nesters. We just don’t think about it anymore. We know that Hailee, Harper, and Haven may live with us forever, and that’s perfectly okay with us. When we’re enjoying our golden years in the RV across America, we’ll have three extra passengers, and that will make the journey even more fun.

Besides, we really believe in living each day the Lord has blessed us with to the fullest–whether we have seven kids at home or three. Will it always be easy? Heavens, no. There will probably be many times when Anthony and I will long for moments alone together. But I know my God–I know that when those times come, He will always provide a way to bless us with the desire of our hearts. He’s just so good like that.

We feel so blessed, not by earthly possessions and material wealth we have accumulated but because the Almighty Father has chosen us to be the parents of these three precious children who will more than likely need us to be with them (or near them) forever. What a joy it is going to be to share the rest of our lives with them. The thing that brings me the greatest joy in all of this is knowing that they are here with us, not in some orphanage all alone. That’s what really matters.

Who knows what our daughters’ futures are going to look like? Not us. We have no idea how their lives are going to unfold. And so, we continue to take one day at a time and allow the Lord to have His will and His way in their lives and ours.

May our nest always be full to overflowing. I’ll take it any day!

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Adeye Salem

Adeye is a mom to seven children, three biological sons and four