Category Archives: Building the Nest

Searching for the You We Adore {get it here exclusively}

Our love searched the whole world for the you we adore.

It’s how it starts, a book we all want to read. A book with a message we all want to give our kids, a message that makes us take a deep breath.

You are valuable.
You are worth searching the whole world up and down for.
And, I am so glad I did.

Bestselling children’s illustrator Richard Cowdrey brings the words and underlying messages to life with playful color and adventure on every page. And, Valerie Westfall’s words empower parents to say I love you in a creative way to their child adopted domestically or brought home from every corner of the world.

Moms and dads have been reading it aloud to their babes before bed and have given the book as gifts to their children as they leave for college. It’s been given as a shower gift and purchased for university libraries for graduate students to better understand what a child needs and how important connection is.

It’s kind of wonderful. And, we’re thrilled that because of a generous donor’s belief in the work we do for children and families, we now have all remaining stock of this book to offer to you. 

To order your copy, click HERE. There is a form to complete and information about how to pay the $20 for it to be shipped to you. We also have a coordinating activity book available for an additional $5 featuring more creative ways to engage with the book and with each other.


What others have said, in case you need a little more convincing:

“…a deceptively simple book that delivers a profound message of love and family.”
-Andrea Poe, The Washington Times

“…The enchanting story and wondrous illustrations draw on a child’s fascination with imaginary play—a powerful tool in developing their self-image.”
-Louise Bachtold, Phd., Professor Emeritus Human Development, University of California

“This is a book we know at first glance belongs in school and classroom libraries everywhere, as well as in the homes of adoptive families.”

“There are as many stories of adoptive families as there are children who joined their families through adoption. And while one book can certainly never encapsulate the myriad experiences that exist, Valerie Westfall’s Searching for the You We Adore comes as close as any book can. Lovingly and expertly illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey, this book takes young readers on a journey—at the core of which is love.”
-Samantha Hines, Editor, My Three Sons – Best of Adoption Blogs

“Adoption is different for every family it touches, but the love and longing for a child is the same. This book puts that love in the spotlight as the message…and your child as the main character.”
-Amy McCollum, adoptive parent

“Beautifully written and illustrated, it will bring tears to your eyes. My children will never outgrow this book!”
-Leslie Wozniak, adoptive parent

Searching for the You We Adore is a book that will be treasured, taken to heart, and become part of the tapestry of who you are, for it touches deep within the heart of a child, and also the adult.”
-Jody Capeheart, Educator and School Administrator


BE KIND. Help us keep helping.

Maybe you’ve heard. Working in China right now is a little tricky. New countrywide policies for foreign nonprofits working there are leading a lot of nonprofits to pack their bags and head elsewhere. We’ve thought about that. And, frankly, it would make our lives a bit easier. But, we are not convinced that’s what we should be doing. In fact, we’re pretty convinced that we’re being called to press on in spite of it all.

This fall, we’re heading over there once again, going to three different cities, visiting caregivers and children they care for, and doing all we can to build new relationships and secure existing ones so we can keep on helping not just this year but for many years to come.

Will you stand with us to that end? We’ve got a bunch of different ways you can do that.


  • SIMPLY GIVE. Click on DONATE and give. We need that so we can buy supplies and gifts to give to our Chinese friends.


  • KINDLY ORDER SOMETHING. We have several fundraisers we’re running with–BE KIND shirts (accepting orders until September 10th!), Searching for the You We Adore books (exclusively from us!), and handmade wrap bracelets from friends in Beijing (75 sold already and more ordered and arriving September 6th!).

  • SHOP FROM OUR PARTNERS. We’ve got a number of shops and businesses partnering with us in significant ways, donating a fixed amount per order or a percentage of sales. Shop purposefully and they’ll give to support our orphan care initiatives! Check them out HERE, and let us know if you have someone who might want to join the effort.

What in the world is a football block pool?

We love clever new ways to raise funds needed to keep on serving adoptive families. The Sparrow Fund Big Game Football Pool is one of those new ways. But, as we have been promoting it, we’ve realized something kinda important–a lot of you don’t know what the heck this is.


Here’s the key to this whole deal: You don’t have to have experience with this sort of thing and understand it works to be a part of this. All you have to have is a desire to help us reach the goal of scoring $2,000 for our grant fund to support adoptive families AND maybe a little bit of playfulness. That’s enough.

But, in case you want a little more before you jump in, here’s a Cliff Notes version of how it works. We have created a chart that has 10 squares across the x axis and 10 squares across the y axis. One axis is one for the Patriots [insert cheers and boos here] and one for the Falcons [insert cheers and boos here]. Each of the 100 squares on the chart are available for a $20 donation to The Sparrow Fund until tomorrow night at midnight. Every person who donates to this will get to add their name inside the squares of their choice on the blank 100-square chart.

Before the big game, we will randomly assign each column and each row a single digit from 0-9. Each square will have a single digit for the Patriots and a single digit for the Falcons that will correspond to the last number in the score for both teams. So, a game score of 20 to 35 would correspond to a block labeled 0 and 5. A game score of 40 to 55 would also correspond to the block labeled 0 and 5.

At the end of the first quarter, halftime, third quarter, and end of game, whoever holds the square with the digits matching the last digits of the score at that time wins. If the score is 17-10 at the half with the home team winning, the person with the squares of 7 and 0 would win that portion of the game.

Make sense? Great. Jump on in and play along. We need you.

Still a bit unclear? That’s okay. Jump on in, fill out this form, we’ll coach you along. We need you too, and promise it will still be fun.

Here’s the game plan one more time:

  • Head over HERE now and fill out this simple form with your name, email, and how many cell blocks you want to claim.
  • Make your donation online right here at for $20 per cell.
  • We’ll let you know what the next play is after that, but we promise it’s easy peezy.

A little sneak peek because sometimes visual images are all that are needed.

OH HAPPY DAY {holiday edition}


picmonkey-collage-3-2Our most perfect design ever.

Inspired by the Chinese boys hosted in the Philadelphia area who sang this song over and over everyday after hearing it on their first Sunday in America.

They sang the words. Now, we’re wearing them.
Remembering the boys and all the boys and girls they represent as we do.

 All proceeds from sales of this shirt will go towards funding our orphan care initiatives.
our orphanage trips. supplies and gifts. new programs.


Shirts come in adult and youth sizes. The adult shirts are our favorite shirt ever— a super, super soft tri-blend. The youth sizes are a cotton/poly blend that is really comfy for even the most sensitive kiddos. We are currently offering soft holly berry red, evergreen, snowflake blue, and silver bells grey. Youth sizes are currently offered in holly berry red, evergreen, and silver bells grey.

How to get some for yourself:

  • Complete the short form HERE with your name, mailing address, how many shirts you want in what sizes/colors, and all that good stuff.
  • Pay for them ($20 per shirt plus shipping) via sending money to through your PayPal account (FYI – it’s the account for The Sparrow Fund, not a personal account…promise) or by donating via clicking the donate button on this website.
  • Share, tweet, and text using hashtag #ohhappyday to help us spread the word about these super cute first day of school or birthday or adoption day or casual Friday shirts (this one is optional, of course, but most appreciated).

Beyond Folded Hands {a guided prayer kit to take orphans to the throne of God}

I’m not an artist. I’m better with words. At least, that’s what I’ve always believed, that’s what I’ve always told myself. I feel at home with a pen in my hand. It’s familiar and comfortable. I know what to do with it, and I am confident that the ink on the page will eventually produce something I can be content with. But, a paintbrush, not all that different in size and shape from my pen, feels utterly foreign and somehow makes me feel like a child again. That’s how this project started.

There’s no technically correct art. No syntax, grammar, logic, spelling. No thesis statement or 5 paragraphs. Art is free expression, spontaneous and authentic expression. Perhaps that freedom is what unnerves me. I prefer rules and order. But when I embrace that freedom, I am able to see things that all my rules and definition block out. I am able to pay attention to things that are often silenced.

Last spring, I started talking to Erin Leigh. I asked her to help me. I asked her to help me discover how I could use artistic expression that I knew made me weak to engage with God in new ways. I wanted to learn how to pray beyond folded hands and closed eyes. It was risky and scary, but I loved it. It was good, and I wanted to share it and bring others with me.


Months later, Creative Conversations With the Creator is the result. It’s a kit that comes with an 8-page guidebook and everything you need to complete the various activities in the guide, including a quality watercolor palette and brush, pens, practice sheets, watercolor paper, a photograph focal point, and beautiful artwork by Erin Leigh created exclusively for this kit. Using the pieces included, you are invited to learn new ways to engage with God and put them into practice through projects that build on each other to bring the fatherless to the Father. Included is even an opportunity to return a piece to us to be handed as a gift to a child in China who waits.

Valued at approximately $50, we are making it available for those who make a suggested donation of at least $45 to The Sparrow Fund. If you are local and would like to pick up your kit, the suggested donation is $35. Donations beyond the cost of producing the kits will be used to fund orphan care initiatives in China. Get your kit now while supplies last HERE. We are so excited to link arms with you as we go deeper together.



Kelly founded The Sparrow Fund along with her husband Mark in 2011. She works alongside Mark in his full-time purposeful work in China and works part time as a therapist at the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA, Kelly has a particular interest in (a) encouraging parents who are struggling to attach with their children, (b) helping parents walk with their children in understanding their own stories, (c) helping couples continue to pursue each other and grow together while they parent their children as a team, and (d) training and supporting orphanage staff in China to build relationships with children and each other. Kelly and Mark have been married since 1998 and have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their journey on Kelly’s blog.

It’s nest building time again!

There’s a whole lot that The Sparrow Fund does nowadays to serve foster and adoptive families. We started in 2011 simply giving grants to families for the specific purpose of preadoption support, counsel, and medical reviews. But, we’ve grown a lot since then, responding to needs and walking in faith. Now, The Sparrow Fund not only gives grants but also provides training events and an annual marriage retreat and leads teams to serve at an orphanage in China.

But, those things cannot happen without funding; we’ve gotta build the nest. As you can imagine, building the nest isn’t an independent task; it takes a lot of people to build that nest so that we can help others as they build theirs through this thing called adoption.

All the businesses linked up below have joined us by making a really big commitment to donate 10% of their total sales during the month of May to The Sparrow Fund so that we can continue to serve adoptive families in a significant way.

Visit their sites, shop with purpose, and make that 10% something crazy.

Jewelry Design

Art and Design


Clothing & Accessories


Special Gifts & Services

Sponsors for Building the Nest

To get the nest started…

Sparrow Sponsor

Norman L. Graham, Inc.

Norman L. Graham, Inc. is a premier builder of custom homes and additions in South Central Pennsylvania. From design to construction, every Norman L. Graham project is built with care and careful attention to detail. What better partner to build the nest than a company who is all about nest building.

Pearl Sponsor

Mervin Zimmerman Heating, Plumbing, & Air Conditioning

Merle Zimmerman Inc. has been serving customers as a family-owned business since 1968. The retail store and showroom near Lititz, PA, The Bath Barn, is a place to come to get questions answered, receive personal service, and be inspired by modern bathroom designs to make your dream nest a reality.

Rice Law Firm

Neal Rice became an attorney because he loves to help people. Being an attorney gives him the chance to do that every day. He counts it a privilege to walk alongside his clients as they journey through life including as they grow their family via adoption and care for their nest going forward.

Other Sponsors

Hey, it’s not too late to join the effort here and support adoption, the work of The Sparrow Fund, and allow us to tell the world that you do. Simply contact Wanda at The Sparrow Fund to learn about how you can be added to this post and future posts as part of Build the Nest 2015.

Do you have 3 friends?

We’ve been busy behind the scenes around here. The team has been scurrying around gathering builders to join us to Build the Nest.

It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year–and basically TSF’s only organized fundraiser. It’s when we invite businesses to commit 10% of their total sales during the month of May to support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund or to sponsor the nest building through a one-time gift. Our original goal was to have 60 partners in place by the start this Friday. But, with only days away, we’re got about 30 right now. We’ve scratched our heads, paced our living rooms, and brainstormed about ways we can reach more small business owners, Etsy shop owners, authors, babysitters, high school landscapers who have a heart for adoption and supporting adoptive families. And, we’ve figured out the silver bullet.

The best way to reach them is through you.

YouSee, your heart is in this. We know that. You read the blog posts and let the words on the screen seep into your heart and transform you. You recognize the need to support adoptive families as they grow their families and bring in children who have experienced loss. You recognize the gap that The Sparrow Fund fills in giving grants to adoptive families to get preadoption counsel and medical guidance as they seek to adopt. You recognize the value of the work we do as we lead teams to an orphanage across the world to serve children and those who care for them who need relationship and healing too.

And so, the best people to spread the word and recruit more builders is simply YOU.

Here’s what we’re asking today as Friday quickly approaches—Forward this post, share this opportunity with 3 friends—three, that’s not too much (though if you want to send it to a few more, we’re totally cool with that).

Here are the need-to-know deets—

The Sparrow Fund is committed to serving foster and adoptive families through both grants and ongoing training and support. The Sparrow Fund also leads teams to serve at an orphanage in China. This May, they are raising money so they can continue the work and spread the word about what they do. Build the Nest accomplishes both. Through giving 10% of your total May sales or sponsorship by way of a one-time gift, they will be able to continue their programs for the rest of 2015. And, as The Sparrow Fund works to promote those partnering with them and the partners share as well, everyone helps each other out, getting the word out about adoption, the work of The Sparrow Fund, and all the partners who are willing to say they support both.

Interested in being a part of it? Email Wanda directly at, or skip that step and go right to the Google form at this link:

Get building with us. We need you.