Monday, May 13, 2013

Adoption Raffle Fundraiser!

Okay folks! Viktors is going to be here for his summer hosting in just 46 days! Since we are adopting him, we are pursuing his adoption BEFORE he gets here to minimize his time back in Latvia once he returns in August - and let's face it - adoptions cost MONEY. Lawyers fees, home-studies, fingerprinting, immigration papers, background checks, translations, dossier documents, travel costs and much more needs to be paid. 

With the help of some GENEROUS friends who have donated some FABULOUS prizes, we are having an adoption raffle! There will be FOUR awesome prizes available in this raffle. 

We are selling raffle tickets to be entered to win one of these great prizes! You can purchase your very own raffle ticket for just $10, but I think you're going to want more than just 1 of these babies!  

1 for $10
3 for $25
7 for $50
15 for $100

To purchase raffle tickets, please donate via the Donate PayPal button at the top right of our blog (or here if you're on mobile: PAYPAL). Winners will be chosen June 16, 2013 at 8 PM CST. Our kiddos will draw tickets from a big bucket! The winner from our random drawing will have FIRST CHOICE from the fabulous prizes listed below. The second name drawn will have second choice. The third name drawn will choose third... and I think you see the trend here.

Prize #1: A One Week Stay at Graceland Laguna Beach - a beautiful beach house in Panama City Beach, Florida! 
Value: $1,500!!!! 

It's a BIG BIG HOUSE with lots and lots of room! (Are you singing the Audio Adrenaline song now?) GRACELAND~ beautiful beach house with 5 Bedrooms, 3 Full Baths, 2 Half Baths ~ just a half block from a quiet beach! This beach house sleeps 16 people! Check out their Facebook - Graceland Laguna Beach - to see more pictures! There is a large living area on the first floor, a large living area on the second floor so your group can spread out! Large yard and lots of space for parking! Great screened porch! Pet friendly. 3 queen bedrooms, 1 full bedroom, 1 bedroom with 4 twin beds, bunked. 2 queen sleeper sofas and lots more room. Pack and Play and high chair for your baby. All on a quiet residential street. Lots of fun amenities close by in Panama City Beach! Shopping nearby at Pier Park or head to Destin for outlet shopping! Marine Park and Water Parks close by. Lots of restaurants and shopping.  Beach is 1/2 block away! Paradise!!!! View their listing at:  

The details: Winner will contact the beach house owners to arrange their vacation dates. Dates available After Labor Day until End of April, excluding major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) and must be Saturday to Saturday, or fall within those days. Winner will pay the cleaning fee of $200 at the time of their stay. Prize must be used within 1 year of winning. This prize was generously donated by the amazing Mel and Cassandra Senter! 

Prize #2: A 16 GB iPad Mini!  
Value: $329!!! 

The details: This is the 16 GB Wifi model. It connects to the internet over Wi-Fi networks. This item is NEW and will ship directly from Apple!

Prize #3: Painting by Brian Crenshaw! 
Red Door #6
Value: $450!!! 

Details: I actually won this painting from my friend Wendy's Adoption Raffle! This painting was painted by the Student Ministry Director at Fellowship Memphis. About a year ago, Brian and his wife Erin were preparing to bring home their daughter from Ethiopia. Brian painted many, many beautiful pieces to raise money for their own adoption. You can read more of their story here: Crenshaw Family Blog! Brian donated this painting for Wendy's raffle and I won it and they are THRILLED that it's being used in another raffle to bring home another kiddo! If you want to see some more of his work, check out his website: Studio Crenshaw.  Red Door #6 measures 34'' x 44'' and is painted on cedar planks with cedar trim as the frame! This thing is so cool and HUGE! 

Prize #4: Folk Art Painting 
by Contemporary Christian Artist and 
4 time Dove Award Winner, Clay Crosse!
John 10:14 Painting
Value: $75!!! 

Details: Contemporary Christian Artist and four time Dove Award winner Clay Crosse has been using his creative artist juices to create some one of a kind, awesome folk-art pieces. He generously donated this piece to our adoption raffle! This scripture piece is a 11x14 canvas and painted with acrylic paints. Clay and Renee have 4 children; two are adopted from China. Clay and his wife, Renee, have a wonderful ministry called Holy Homes. 

Thank you so much for your support as we bring Viktors home! I can't believe he's going to be here in just 46 days! 
Viktors, when he arrived in North Carolina for Christmas hosting.

Viktors, when after only 3 weeks of being in a loving home for Christmas hosting.

We are so excited to bring Viktors home FOREVER! I can't wait to see what God does in his life with the support and security of a forever family. Now go grab your raffle tickets and help us get this boy home!!!! 

PLEASE SHARE this raffle with your friends and family! Share it on facebook and twitter for your friends and family to join in! We're praying BIG for this fundraiser and that God will move this mountain of adoption expenses to Viktors can come home forever!

~Michael & Paula

With God all things are possible! 
~Matthew 19:26

Funding An Adoption

You might know I blog over at Give1Save1 Asia. I just wrote a post over there about Funding an Adoption and I think it was really helpful to people who are considering adoption, but aren't sure how they're going to afford it. Also, I know a lot of people who are currently in the adoption process, but are frustrated at their fundraising efforts right now.

I thought it might be helpful to post it over here on my blog, too. So if you're paper-chasing or considering starting: I hope this post is helpful for you.

Let's face it: adoptions cost money! Lawyers, home-studies, background checks, social workers, dossiers, fingerprinting, immigration papers (and a lot more): it all comes with a price that needs to be paid. But on the other side of those fees is your child; the mountain you are standing in front of looks impossible and you need that thing to crumble! Ask any adoptive family how they could afford that $30,000 adoption and they'll tell you that God shows up big on adoptions. A phrase that we adopted (pun intended) around here is: "God funds what He favors and we know He favors adoption!" And He really does! After all, it was His plan for us to be adopted into His family - what a beautiful reflection of our salvation. Praise Him.

I will never say that 'everybody should adopt', but I do think more people should. It's a beautiful thing and a great way to grow your family! Many people have a heart for adoption and say they wish they could adopt - I hear it all the time. They are scared that they can't afford adoption and put adoption in that "one day we'll do that" file. But many people never move past that 'one day' and move it into the now. Finances are one of the reasons that people think they can't adopt.

I wanted to share some ways to afford adoption. As you pursue adoption or consider an adoption, I hope you find this post helpful!

Trim the Fat!

How can you make that paycheck S - T - R- E- T - C - H just a little more? What are some things that you can cut back on at home?

  • Goodbye 700 channels! We cut the cable a little over 3 years ago. We still have TiVo to record our shows and we have Netflix to do instant streaming. Honestly, we haven't missed it much. We can find most of what we want online or on Netflix and we really don't need to spend much time watching TV anyway. This saves us $70 a month. 
  • Eat at home more! Grab a newspaper, cut some coupons, and plan a week's worth of meals based on what is on sale in the grocery store this week. You'll save a ton of money by eating at home. Eating out is expensive - limit eating out to once per week and make that one affordable - use a coupon, drink water in restaurants, and even choose a place that has a Kids Eat Free night. We usually eat out on Tuesdays. There are several local restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays and our family of 5 can eat for around $15! 
  • It's spring right now and it's gorgeous outside. We have the air turned off and the windows open to let in light and a cool breeze. Save running that air in the summer when it's too hot to open the windows. 
  • Think of other ways you can cut back on your monthly expenses. Cut your internet speed back just a tad, shop around for your house and car insurance and make sure you're getting the best rates. Maybe you don't need the latest and greatest gadgets as soon as they hit the shelves. The sacrifices are worth it! 

Put the FUN in Fundraising! 

This one can be a lot of WORK, but a lot of FUN too. God could just drop $30K from the sky if He wanted to, but He doesn't usually operate that way. God has a plan to bring your child home. You just have to find it and obey. Pray for creative ideas, ask for His guidance and jump in and do it! I'm going to give SOME fundraising ideas. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. I am going to share some things that I have done and some friends of ours have done that worked well. Get creative and have FUN fundraising to bring your kiddo(s) home! 

  • YARD SALE! What a great way to make room for your new child! Clean out those closets, playroom toy boxes, and the garage. Ask your friends and family for donations and put some signs in the yard. My friend Wendy had a sale about 3 years ago that topped $12,000. Just this past weekend, she did it again! Her family paired with two other couples and they went BIG! They asked a church on a main road if they could hold their sale on their lawn for four days. They secured storage units with 1 month rent free and asked everybody they know for donations of their junk! They ended up filling up FIVE large storage units, a carport, a garage, and an extra bedroom full of donated stuff. Over the four days, they made a whopping $16,000!!!! They'll split that among the 3 families, but that is a substantial amount of money! 
  • T-Shirts - I have to admit that about 90% of my t-shirts are adoption fundraiser shirts. Contact a printing company to create a custom design for your adoption - take pre-orders for shirts from your friends and family. Typically, you can get shirts for about $5 - $6 each when you buy 25+ and you sell them for around $20 each. It's also a great way to spread the word about your adoption! Actually, I have a t-shirt fundraiser going on right now! Go check outSummer's Coming and You're Going to Want a Really Cool T-Shirt! to see how I set mine up and feel free to grab a shirt or two while you're there! You can also sell shirts that are already designed and made specifically for fundraisers.  147 Million OrphansChrome Buffalo,Adoption BugWild Olive Tees, and Ordinary Hero all offer t-shirts that you can sell as adoption fundraisers. I'm sure there are many more, but these are a few of the bigger and more well-known ones. 
  • Adoption Benefit Dinner (or Breakfast) - Pancake Breakfast or Spaghetti Supper - or whatever you want to serve. Get a location, arrange your food - you might cook it, you might have it catered, maybe you have some awesome friends and family who want to cook for it. Sell tickets and people can come EAT and help you bring your kiddo home. I've seen some that even had silent auctions and cake-walks. The possibilities are endless and it's so much fun to celebrate with family and friends the anticipating arrival of your child. It's a date-night with a purpose - getting your kiddo home! 
  • Online Auction - These have become really popular on Facebook! Create a page on Facebook for your auction and post photos of your items. I'm sure you are friends with a crafty mama who makes things and would be glad to donate an item or two. Maybe your sister is a consultant for Pampered Chef or Thirty-One bags and they'd donate something. Maybe you paint - get creative and gather donations for your auction. Start bids low and people can comment on the items they want to bid on. I've seen some items get into a bidding war and go much higher than the item was actually even worth. In the caption on the photo, make sure to include who donated it and a link to their website. I've seen these auctions bring anywhere from $500 to $5,000 in a matter of days. The key here is to get some GREAT items! 
  •  Sell Coffee - I know I run on coffee - especially when I'm in the throws of an adoption. This staying up late to do paperwork wears this mama out! There are a couple companies that will let you sell their coffee as an adoption fundraiser. The two that I know of are Just Love Coffeeand Coffee for Hope. I think you can usually make about $5 a bag on this coffee.
  • What can YOU do? - Tutor kids in the afternoons, teach an art class or private music lessons, babysit for a friend, mow lawns (husbands - listen up!), do some fix-it-up jobs for people: think painting, landscaping, cleaning, etc. Make yourself useful to others and take the money you earn and put it aside for your adoption. 
  • Puzzle Fundraiser - get a 500 piece puzzle and sell the pieces. I've seen pieces sold for $5 and for $10 and both seem to go over well. We did one of these to finish paying for our son's hosting fees for this summer. We had the puzzle made with a picture of him and sold the pieces for $5. Our puzzle was only 252 pieces, so we made $1,260 in 10 days to finish up his hosting fees. 
  • Cookbooks - gather recipes from friends and family and create a cookbook and sell them for your adoption. My sweet friend Elissa recently did this one and sold 100 cookbooks pretty quickly. The cookbooks cost them about $6 each and they sold them for $20 - that's a pretty great profit. And she even included their adoption story in the book. I love it! I've cooked several things from it and prayed specifically for her Ethiopia child while I was cooking. 
  • Host a Raffle - I actually just launched one of these this week. We asked a friends for donations to raffle off. We actually had a 1 week vacation at a 5 bedroom beach house donated by our awesome friends! We also have an iPad, and 2 pieces of custom artwork. We're selling tickets and set a date for our drawing. I posted it on our blog and on Facebook and we're praying this is our biggest fundraiser! Go check out our Adoption Raffle Fundraiser over on our blog and feel free to buy some tickets while you're there! 

Apply for Grants!

There are a TON of grants available out there to help adoptive families. Your agency might have a grant for waiting  or special needs children. There are really too many to list, but your agency might have a list for you or you can do some searching online. Some of the popular grants are Brittany's HopeShow HopeA Child WaitsOne LessLifesong for Orphans, and JSC Foundation. I recently learned about Both Hands and I think this one is really cool. They serve both the widow and the orphan and I love the idea of doing a work day at a widow's house to raise money for your adoption! 

It's hard work to raise money for an adoption, but it's so incredible to watch friends, family, and complete strangers rally around you to support you on your adoption journey. It's really amazing to watch God show up big time and provide time and time again. When we were bringing Zoe home, my hubby got an unexpected bonus that was EXACTLY how much we needed to pay for her immigration papers. I remember laughing and saying I knew exactly what God wanted us to do with that! Maybe you've tried something and it didn't go as well as you'd hoped or perhaps you applied for a grant and were denied: don't lose hope! He's got this. He sees you and He sees your child and He has a plan. Keep it covered in prayer and get to work! 

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20

~ Paula

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dance Your Heart Out, Sweet Seoul Sister!

Zoe had her first dance recital this past Saturday. She started dancing in the fall at the local dance studio. Her class is all 3-4 year old girls and Zoe is the youngest in the class. She loves dance class and does so well, but the few times we've got to watch, it's made her nervous and she didn't dance. 

We had been talking about the upcoming recital and last week was busy with a lot of rehearsals, so we hoped that we had prepared her enough for it. 

We were in the 2:00 recital (her naptime) and their first dance was the 3rd one, so we basically got there and had to immediately line up. 

Her first dance was tap to the Mickey Mouse's Birthday Party song. She started out okay, but about 1/2 way through she froze and didn't dance for the rest of it. 

"Shine your shoes, slick your hair, come along with me! 

It's Mickey Mouse's Birthday Party, that's the place to be."

and it's about right here that she froze. 

and she just stood there for the rest of the song.
I was in my seat praying she would dance and not burst into tears.

She was clearly over it. D.O.N.E.

I wasn't sure she was going to walk off the stage... but she did.
She broke into tears the second she stepped off the stage! 

We had about 4 numbers to get her changed into her ballet outfit and pull her together for her next dance. As frustrated as I was, I kept my cool and promised her Yogurt Mountain if she danced. (This mama is NOT past bribing!) I told her I wanted to see her dance with her friends and I knew she could do it! We re-applied her make-up, pulled her hair into a bun and ran off to get in line. I was praying the whole way down those stairs.

She went out on stage and I was unsure of how this was going to go...

and she DANCED! 

And she did a GREAT JOB! 

She was such a beautiful ballerina... 

and knew all the steps!

It's been so sweet to see this group of girls grow, and
learn together this  year.

they all did such a fantastic job. 

And looked lovely on their big day. 

I loved their little costumes. I love how Zoe kept really good form!
Her feet are in a beautiful first position. 

They danced to The Flower Song from Alice in Wonderland.

They were beautiful little flowers. 

They look so tiny on that big stage. 

It's really amazing how well they did! 

My mommy heart was filled with joy to see my little girl on
that stage and dancing so well! 

I was so proud of these girls, but especially my girl! She
really is a remarkable little lady! 

And they came out at the end for the Grande Finale! 

Let them praise his name with dancing! ~Psalm 149:3 

~ Paula

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer's Coming and You're Going to Want a REALLY COOL T-Shirt!

There are a few things we know about Viktors: he is a cool kid (and likes cool looking clothing), and God is doing big things in the life of this boy! You might remember that we chose Matthew 19:26 for his life verse (If you missed it, go check out Viktors' Life Verse Blog Post). 

We knew we wanted to do a t-shirt for Viktors' adoption and I called on Rachel at Proclaim Promo and her team put together some AWESOME shirts for us that included his life verse and boy did they deliver the goods!

We have 2 designs available and we have them available in adults and kids sizes. 


This is a charcoal Tultex unisex-tee. It's a super-soft wring-spun tee. They run true to size - they do shrink slightly in the wash, so if you want a roomier shirt, you might want to order up a size. They come in sizes XS-XXXL.

Design A for adults Printed on a charcoal Tultex unisex t-shirt.

Design B for adults Printed on a charcoal Tultex unisex t-shirt.


This is a dark heather grey Gildan tee. It's a pre-shrunk, 50/50 cotton/polyester blend tee. They run true to size and are available in kids' sizes XS-L. 

Design A for kids Printed on a dark heather grey Gildan tee.

Design B for kids Printed on a dark heather grey Gildan tee.
To order: 
Pay through PayPal at the top righthand corner of our blog.
In the notes, tell us which design you want and what size.

Locals, we will deliver your shirts to you.
If you are not local and need shipping, please add $2 per shirt with a maximum of $6 for your order if you order multiple shirts. Even if you order 20 shirts, we'll ship them all for $6.

We are taking pre-orders on shirts now and will place our first shirt order MAY 26th! Shirts will be to you shortly after that. 

Thanks for embarking on this journey with us! We know that with God all things are possible and He's doing so much in Viktors' life to bring him home to us forever! Thanks for stepping into this with us. We're thankful for your support!

~ Michael & Paula

Friday, April 12, 2013

Let's Go Fly a Kite

The kiddos got new kites for Easter, so we headed out to Shelby Farms to fly them! So much fun and such sweet, simple family time!

I love these people and I'm so thankful I get to live this life with them! Can't wait to fly kites with Viktors when he comes this summer! I wonder if he's ever flown a kite....

~ Paula