Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hurray for Good News! Sooooo, What Does This Mean and What's Next?

Friends and Family rejoiced with us yesterday at our long awaited news from Macedonia....Our Dossier was approved and therefore, we are approved to adopt from the Country of Macedonia! We have been officially placed on the registry of waiting families. What does this mean? 

1.) We are the FIRST ever family to submit for an international adoption from the Country of Macedonia - after almost 2 years to date (The first day we heard about "Xavier" was Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:29am), patience, money, and tears!

2.) We are the FIRST ever family to pursue an adoption of a SPECIAL NEEDS child from the Country of Macedonia. 

3.) Macedonia has accepted and approved all of our documents and have verified that we are suitable applicants to adopt from Macedonia. THIS IS HUGE since this international program is 100% new - so both Macedonia and our USA Agency are working from the ground up to create this program. Literally writing policies and procedure as we go. 

4.) We have made it past a BUNCH of hurdles to get this far....One last step to go - (and the timing is uncertain). We are now waiting for our referral - or our MATCH - which could - theoretically - come ANY TIME. Under Hague Adoption law we have to tread lightly since we cannot know for certain ahead of time who we will be matched with....however, God used a photo of a particular precious little boy to lead us on this journey. It is our continual hope and prayer that all will work out for us to be matched with "our" boy - however, we know God has lead us this far and will continue to work out the details. It is our intention to accept the referral we receive, although our home study was tailored to match (as best we were able) to "Xavier's needs" to give us the best chance to be matched with him. Now, we continue to WAIT, HOPE, and BELIEVE. 

5.) Along with our approval letter came the expiration for our Dossier Documents which is our submission date.....which was all the way back in April. Soooooooo, we have to begin collecting documents to update and recreate the is a HUGE prayer that we will be matched and have travel dates before our current Dossier expires as apostilling and translating all the documents will cost another several thousand (and we certainly never budgeted for that!) 

6.) Our First and Immediate Step Moving Forward:
      A.) Resubmit our updated Home Study to USCIS (immigration) to keep our paperwork updated and current. If we do it before February, its a FREE update. (Thereby saving us $800). The HS is updated, now to fill out the I800a supplement form and send it in as soon as we get our notarized copy. 
     B.) We will have the updated HS translated and sent to Macedonia once we receive the Immigration Update/Approval. This updated HS includes a broader age range (since when the HS was initially written, "Xavier" was less than a year). Hopefully we are able to get this done with haste! Prayers this process moves quickly would be appreciated. 
     C.) If we do not have our referral/travel dates by February, we will have to go ahead have our documents apostilled in Albany and have our Dossier translated again (which would be about a $3K expense). We are praying we get our referral before this will be necessary......however, at this stage of the game, we'll do whatever it takes! The doors keep opening and we'll continue to pursue with love and passion trusting that God will provide! 

7.) Once the referral (our match) finally comes - I imagine there will be some screaming and tears and pounding hearts! You'll probably hear us! (hehehe) - But, if you can't hear the JOY and EXCITEMENT, I'll be sure to post our news for all the world to hear!!!!!! 

We're getting closer....this was a HUGE step. This shows us that Macedonia is serious and interested in this program with the USA. This could be opening the door for many other children with special needs to be adopted. It is our prayer that all this waiting will one day be an avenue to bless many others! 

While we won't have our son with us this Christmas.....we did receive wonderful news and our hearts are greatly encouraged.

Many blessings to you all. Your prayers and encouragement are coveted as this becomes a reality for us! 

~Joe and Hannah

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Blessing in Waiting

Waiting is an emotional journey....a journey wrought with so many thoughts, feelings,  & emotions;







Sometimes I find myself saying to God....."You called us to adopt! You called us to adopt a child with special needs.....YOU called us to adopt "Xavier" - so WHY all the waiting? What's your plan? We know (deep down) that You have a plan....a purpose....a reason....but this "un-kown" is so challenging for my heart! Do you mind if we speed it up a bit?"

I feel anxious anticipating update....anything. Will Macedonia approve us and send our referral? Will they decline our application? Will they request more documents? What about our home hasn't even been sent into immigration for the update - and therefore, we don't have the new finger prints. Will we get the call before all our paper work is updated and in order? Will he have to wait because of another red tape, paper work delay? 

I feel frustrated because there is NOTHING I can do about it. Nothing I can do to speed things along....its completely, 100% out of our hands. 

I feel discouraged because we have been pursing adoption since May 2012, and Xavier specifically since December 2013 - 2 years! 2 years is such a long time for a little boy to go without the love of a  family. 

I feel guilt for being  jealous of birth announcements or gotcha adoption celebrations. I have already been immensely blessed with 3 wonderful children and I have friends who struggle with infertility. . . am I wrong to want more? To feel like my heart is still missing a piece? To feel like our family is not yet complete? 

I feel guilty for my excitement and anticipation of Christmas....I so look forward to the many wonderful holiday traditions....the cheerfulness, the decorations, the parties...the time with family and friends. A time of giving and sharing. But what will "Xavier" have? Or WHO? Will he feel the warmth of loving arms? Will he feel the love of a gentle kiss? How can I feel so much excitement when he may have nothing to anticipate at all?

I feel apprehension when I think of all the "what ifs" - What if Macedonia denies our application? What if we get a different referral? What if the adoption fails and we have been gifted so much through gifts and can we repay many thousands of dollars? Apprehensive because I am afraid that others might see our journey and chose not to adopt.... (although we are attempting to pilot a new program and this adoption is not necessarily a representation of other international adoptions).

I feel disappointed because I truly believed Xavier would be home by now....that the anxiety of the trip would be behind us and we'd be home together as a family. 


But, its not all the time we've waited, we've been blessed with more donations....another grant.....egg, the financial burden does not seem as great. This is certainly a silver lining.... (Tax Deductible Adoption Donation Link )

But perhaps the greatest blessing in waiting is hearing my sweet children talk about their baby brother "Xavier" - their precious, loving, generous hearts seem almost as consumed with Xavier as my own. He is never forgotten in a prayer....he is always present in our conversations of the future....Zac saves little "treasures" for Xavier and has a collection of ity-bity choking hazards waiting in his crib...along with stuffed animals....and blankies......and even a few paper airplanes! Essie will say "go put this in Xavier's crib" - they've already unconditionally welcomed him into their hearts! 

On the way home from karate tonight, Zac says "Maybe they'll call us to get our baby on Christmas day!" - His precious, selfless heart thinks of an orphan before his own happiness and joys that accompany the festivities of Christmas (which we take very seriously at our house!) Last week when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said shoes and a maze book....even though he'd really like a transformer, he knows those are expensive and wants us to save our money to get "Xavier". I have never known a child so young (only 6 years old) to have such a giving and sacrificial spirit. 

The loving, caring, generous, selfless hearts I see in my children is such a blessing and encouragement to my soul. Its not easy raising children, but seeing these special qualities in my children makes me feel so proud and honored to be their Mommy....I can't help but think we must be doing something right. 

So, in the mean time. We are plugging away at life. Taking advantage of our opportunity to educate the kids at home, devoting ourselves to the youth ministry at our church, continuing with karate classes, piano lessons, therapy, appointments, parties, goes on. We aren't wishing our time away....we are thankful for the many blessings we have. But while we live.....we wait. 

Waiting for the moment we hear the news: "Come and get him!"  

Thanks for hanging in there with us.....we know the journey has been long....thanks for your continued encouragement!!! We need it now more than ever! We won't give up on Xavier.....we will pursue him as our son until we bring him home or the doors close.

Friday, August 14, 2015


  Keep waiting baby....we haven't given up on you!

*Sigh* - time is passing away. Each day hoping for news. On July 28th we received word from Macedonia that they had not yet reviewed our Dossier and would review it within 2 weeks. Its been 17 days....its possible that those 30 business days for a decision begins on the day they review our, theoretically it may be 6 more weeks before we hear news. 

In the mean time....we are in the process of updating our home study and then we have to resubmit our updated study to immigration....if we do not have a referral by the time our HS expires on September 11, we will need to have these documents translated into Macedonian again....which if you remember was very costly....about $100/page. 

So, we are trying to keep our hearts and minds at peace. We are doing all we can. We are letting our faith guide us even though we have been feeling discouraged and disappointed. We are not angry with God or even questioning His will but we are praying that He intervenes and continues to open doors or clearly close them if that is His plan. We are dedicated and determined to pursuing Baby Xavier until the doors the mean time, we will keep waiting. . . 

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement along the way. This has been quite a journey and we appreciate the support from family and friends. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Be Still My Heart

I've been avoiding a "No News" update because its not at all what I want to share.....unfortunately, its all I have to share. 

We still have had NO word from the country since their initial response to having received our Dossier on April 8th....nearly 3 and a 1/2 months ago. We were expecting news in 30 business we expected news in May and hoped to travel in June. Its now July heart is anxious (YES, I know God has a plan and that everything will work out the way its meant to be). My HEAD knows the answers....regardless, my HEART is heavy.

Our International Agency has been wonderful. Our worker checks in with us to reassure us. She has made several attempts to contact the ministry and sent us a message on Thursday saying she is trying to set up a phone call with the ministry. We are thankful that she is advocating so diligently on our behalf. Since this is the country's first international adoption under the Hague laws, we are guessing that they just want to be very careful that everything is done legally and appropriately. It is a new program and we are the pilot, we KNEW there would be road blocks and lots of waiting. (Again, a bit easier said than done). 

We have several friends who are traveling as I type to meet/adopt their children. We are so happy for them. We feel as if we can truly relate to how excited they must feel! Being happy for them heightens our own anticipation for news on our own adoption. 

Its hard going to sleep each night and going about our daily business knowing our sweet boy is across the ocean waiting for his family. He has waited long enough. 

We are starting up home school this upcoming Monday to get the kids going on their work to allow time for traveling etc. We imagined we would be away most of the summer and not much of the school year but it looks as though our decision to home educate this Fall was very wise. 

As I go about my life and my day.....I keep baby in my heart and mind. How can I not?! When I feel an overwhelming flood of emotions as I daily anticipate news...and the day comes and goes with none, I tell my heart to "Be Still" - there's nothing I can do now except wait and pray. 

We know that all of this uncertainty and waiting is well worth the end result....but please, would you consider sending us some extra thoughts and prayers for peace and patience?!

I have had to start unpacking items from my carefully packed bags...each time I take an item out of the suitcase my heart hurts a little bit. . . these items were careful planned, prepared, and packed. . . God, please help my heart be patient and bring us news soon!!!!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5/5/5/ Grant Opportunity!!!

We've been blessed to be selected to be a part of Reese's Rainbow's 5/5/5 Adoption Grant program from June 6 - July 5th! Its the perfect distraction to keep our minds busy while we wait for news on our referral and travel dates!
Each month, 5 adopting families are selected. On the 5th of the month (So July 5th for us), all the donations will be divided evenly among the 5 families!
We are thankful for this opportunity! Its especially encouraging to have a goal to work towards as we wait for news. The 5/5/5 goal for this month is $3,487 - you'd be surprised how quickly we could reach that goal if everyone gave just $5! 
Also, IF you are able and feel led, consider signing up to donate $5 each month to 5 new families....that's a $1 for each family a month - all of whom are adopting children with special needs. It may not seem like a lot....but I assure you, that it is and we know that God will bless your kindness!

Thursday, April 30, 2015


 Ok.....*deep breaths Hannah*

I have given birth to 3 children. It was a crazy, wild, and exciting time. I LOVE to plan and organize - I'm the kind of girl that had my hospital bag packed 3 months early and the nursery prepped for weeks ahead of time..... different. There's still a baby on the way.....but this type of anticipation is totally new to me.

We're on the 6 week countdown (We could travel anytime after June 11th - AND TRUST ME, if we haven't left by then - you'll wish we had - if ya know what I mean!)

Right now I'm in the panicked "HURRAY AND WAIT" phase....

Macedonia has our Translated Dossier....The Ministry confirmed they had our documents on April 8th - so, theoretically, we could hear news ANYTIME from the country.


After we've received approval, we'll be placed in the registry of approved families and THEN that's when they'll make their referral (match us with the waiting child).

There's no set time for when they make this referral - but it could be very shortly after our approval. Along with this referral comes our travel approval! THAT'S when we'll get the tickets. Adoption Airfare is on standby for our call and is ready and excited to help us book our flight!

Oh, back to this concept of a the "hospital bag" - PHEW! This is ONE HECK of a bag! Its a bag for 6 people for 10-12 weeks! Mommy, Daddy, an 8 year old, 6 year old, 5 year old and New Little Tot!

WAITING everyday for an update. Refreshing my e-mail like a crazy lady. Checking my phone for calls or texts....

Baby "Xavier" - you are on my heart and mind. I cannot wait to see you soon! We'll be there soon! I am greatly anticipating that precious day  - the day that YOU will be born into our hearts....our lives....our family. Soon sweet boy! Very soon!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter!

“… so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:5

Easter by far is my favorite holiday and in my opinion the most important one. Though do not get Hannah started as she disagrees and chooses Christmas – for without Jesus’ birth there would be no Resurrection Sunday!  Sounds like the argument about which one comes first, the chicken or the egg.   I joked around early today when an acquaintance put a meme up about not liking Marshmallow Peeps that the correct order of importance is the following: Jesus, Cadbury Eggs, and then Marshmallow Peeps.  Anything else would just be a tragedy!

In all seriousness, I love Easter as it highlights the ultimate sacrifice that our Heavenly Father gave in order to bring us to redemption and shows the power of Christ Jesus to conquer death.  I mean, I literally get chills when I think about the depiction shown in Mel Gibson’s Passion when Jesus victoriously sets on the head of the serpent with his heel.  Some have faulted the movie for spending too much time on the crucifixion; however, the end is so dramatic that it highlights the victory over death and the power of our Risen Savior.  Besides, that is also how the Gospel of Mark ends. 

The question though is why?  Why would our Heavenly Father go to such lengths to free us from the shackles of sin?  Why did He give the ultimate sacrifice in which eternity turned its back on eternity for us who in our own minds desire nothing to do with God?   I believe the answer is in one simple word.


Our Heavenly Father desired to redeem us in order to bring us into His family.  So that we can be heirs along with Christ Jesus and to know His presence forever.  He was so moved by our state and to bring us out of the murky swamp so that we can be embraced in His arms.  We were made to have a healthy relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Through His death and His resurrection, He does exactly that.

During this process of adoption, this theme has begun to resonate with me more.  We have always had a desire to give a boy or a girl a forever home.  We desire to wrap them up in our arms and to hold them.  We desire to sing to them until they fall asleep in the security of our home.  We desire to pick them up when they get hurt and tend to their scrapes and bruises.  The purpose is not for ourselves, but it is for them.   Every child should have a family to call their own.  Why?  Because they were made for it.  Just like we were made for a relationship with Jesus.

That is the reason that we desire to adopt.  We desire to show the same love and affection that Jesus has so graciously showed us.  And though it may seem like a huge mountain with many hurdles, it is worth it.  I mean Jesus went to so much more and such greater hurdles to redeem us.  I think we can handle a little paperwork, traveling halfway around the world, and forgoing a new car. 

Have a great Resurrection Sunday! And remember that Jesus gave His life so that you could be a part of the family of God!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Story of the Star Fish

163,000,000 orphans worldwide. A staggering number. How will our single adoption impact this crisis?! Its JUST ONE out of sooooo many!!!!!

I'd like to share a very special story with you. One that holds a special place in my heart. 

Its the story of the Star Fish. 

This is a beautiful illustration of adoption! One rescued orphan may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things....but I can promise you one will make a difference to that one!

"While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

THIS is our calling. Our Passion. ~ "I am only one. BUT STILL, I AM ONE. I cannot do everything. BUT STILL, I CAN DO SOMETHING. And because I cannot do everything, I will not hesitate to do what I CAN DO!" Hellen Keller ~ 

Monday, March 9, 2015

AUCTION! 3/12 through 3/16!

Our Auction Page is up! 

I'm adding pictures of auction items to our album! Please "like" the page and help spread the word! 

You won't want to miss this! 

We are hoping and praying for a successful event! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Want to Help?! Check Out Our Current Fundraisers!

Check out our current Fundraisers! (Follow the Hyper-Links!) 

Donate A Tax Deductible Gift Here!  


Mary Kay Fundraiser!

T-Shirt Fundraiser! 

DVD Sale!

Children's Book Sale!  

Gift Basket Sale! 

Origami Owl Jewelry!  

Sugar Cookies! $10 suggested donation/dozen
(I can do many different shapes/colors)
e-mail: to place an order!

*Please consider shipping charges if you do not live locally.

Amish White Bread - Suggested donation of $6 loaf / or 2 for $10. Seriously, this bread is the best!

e-mail: to place an order!

*Please consider shipping charges if you do not live locally.
Gluten Free Mixes! $7/bag (Or $15 for all 3!)*
There's 3 left!
1 - Pizza Crust Mix
1 - Bread Mix
1 - Sugar Cookie Mix

*Please consider shipping charges if you do not live locally.

e-mail: to claim them!

Are you a busy parent? Are you like me and often forget to pack your child's lunch until that morning?! Or even for yourself at work?!

Well, what about ordering 5 bagged lunches! Use them all up for the week or save them for those busy mornings!
This is a good sized lunch for most ages. You could add in some fresh fruit or veggies too.  

Would you be interested in a week of packed lunches for a $25 donation? Send me an e-mail!

The lunches would include:
*Juice Pouch or Water bottle (Your choice)
*Fruit Cup (or) Apple Sauce
*A fruit Strip (or) Fruit Rope
*A salty snack
*A sweet snack
*A snack bar
*A type of nut (almond, cashew, peanut, etc) - make me aware of ay allergies!
*2 napkins and a plastic spoon

Would anyone be interested in Care Packages for your college student for finals?! I can load a package full of goodies and ship it out to them! If you're interested, shoot me an e-mail!!  
Click here to see our Facebook Page: 
Follow Our Facebook Page for Regular Fundraiser Updates! 

***Can't give financially? We would also be happy to take donations of things we could auction off or sell in online garage sales and raffles. (i.e. nice clothing, unused items, gift cards, toys, movies, gift sets etc)***

Our Sponsorship Consultant Page

 ~ Helping Hands ~

 We have been generously sponsored by these private consultants! 

If you are in need of any products through these companies, please consider supporting these donors! (Just Follow the hyper-links!)

If you have any items or gift cards from your small business that you would like to donate for us to use in our fundraising efforts (or would like to host a party for us as a fundraiser), I'll be happy to share your consultant info on the blog and share it with others as a THANK-YOU for supporting us. 
I hope this will bring you some support in return!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Filling out grants is like filling out forms to buy a house! But we are thrilled that we have completed and submitted FOUR grant applications! We are praying for favor and that perhaps our story will touch the hearts of the committees. Please pray with us that we would be strongly considered for financial gifts from these generous agencies. 

We continue to work on additional grants and continue to pray and trust that God will provide! We are so thankful, humbled, and blessed by the gifts and support we have received. Thank-you for all the prayers and donations. We are so very thankful! 

 "I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything. But still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do what I can do." - Helen Keller 

We are in pursuit of making a difference - even if just to ONE! Thank-you for sharing the journey with us and for helping us change a life!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pay it Forward

     Yesterday, a friend bumped our Adoption Family Sponsorship Page (FSP) to help us meet our matching grant and when I wrote and expressed my gratitude, she responded, "My friend did something nice for me at Christmas & I told her, when I could, I would pay it forward. It just so happens that my husband got a really nice bonus from work, so I am able to pay it forward & I chose you."

     The concept of "Pay It Forward" is that when you have been blessed by someone, you return the favor and bless someone else when you are able! We have been generously blessed throughout this adoption process and we are so thankful!!!! We still need to raise $21,000. Yes, its a lot of money....and yes, we need it quickly (Only 16 weeks until we hope to travel!) But, with our combined efforts, our fundraisers, and our promise to pay-it-forward and return the favor when this is all said and done, we believe it can happen!

    If you chose to "pay it forward" to us, you are investing in an opportunity to not only help our family in particular, but to rescue a special needs child from an orphanage. And not just our "Xavier" - this is an opportunity to create a program to help all the children in Macedonia with special needs to be adopted into a loving family! 

    Please consider "paying it forward" - even if just in a small way. Your gift will be blessed, we will be grateful, orphans will be rescued, and we promise to return the favor and pay it forward when we are able. 

 Click here to view our Our Adoption Sponsorship Page 
*All gifts donated through this link are tax deductible*

"Remember, there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. 
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end". – Scott Adams

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Greatest of These is LOVE!

Wanting More Children

A friend shared a blog post (see link below) this morning on her Facebook and its message resonated with me in a profound way. People are often confused and bewildered by us. "More?!" They ask astonished. Its hard to explain just how much we long for another child.

I don't speak of it much, but I often grieve the loss of my uterus. I had to have an emergency hysterectomy when I was just 23 years old due to severe prolapse. In fact, my prolapse was responsible for my boy's premature births. After Benji was born (at just 26 weeks), there was no hope for my "baby maker." It would never carry a baby safely again. On Benji's due date - November 27, 2010. I had the heart wrenching procedure. I knew even then that I was not "done" having babies.

For those that know me well, know that "children are my lot in life." I was a bit confused as to why God had allowed me to lose our ability to have more children when we had such a desire to have a large family. Of course, we had always considered adoption.....BUT, would we have pursued our "Xavier" IF we could have more of our own?! Would we have the opportunity to help open a country up for international adoptions? Would we be seeking out an individual with special needs to come into our family?

We have come to believe that my hysterectomy (as heart breaking as it is for me) is a sign that we are meant to adopt. Our heart's desire to add to our family....I believe God placed that love and desire in our hearts. He has CALLED us to add to our family. And because of a rare, unfortunate medical complication, we have been asked to carry a baby in our hearts instead of my womb.

Check out the blog article here:
"Wanting More Children When Your Hands Are Full"

Author's Quote: "She still gets that ache when a friend announces her pregnancy. She still pauses in the baby section to gaze at the little nightgowns. She glances at the family portrait hanging on the wall and imagines another face in it"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

T-Shirt Fundraiser!

*NEW FUNDRAISER* - Check it out everyone!!!!! I am so psyched about this! A dear friend who is a graphic designer created this shirt for us! We are so appreciative. Its just perfect. Please check it out! Share. And consider purchasing! Its a super cool color and design and its meaning is so awesome! Our goal is to sell 45 shirts! Available in both Adult and Child sizes!
Be a part of this story with us! This shirt not only communicates ministering in general, it also supports the *NEW* International Adoption Program we are piloting! Along with our amazing agency, we are helping to create a new program in Macedonia which will open the door for special needs children to be adopted into the USA! This is an incredible opportunity. Please come alongside us and support us and this opportunity! To not only open the doors for our "Xavier" but for many other children in the future!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

$500 Matching Grant Opportunity!

We've met our goal for this matching grant! THANK-YOU so much!!!!!!!

Why Are We Adopting?

     We have always talked about the option of adoption, even before we were married. We see it as a ministry and feel as through God has called believers to care for orphans. People tell us we are crazy. But we feel very strongly that this is a calling and that we are following God's plan for our family. "If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do." - 2 Cor 5:13. In addition to having a heart for adoption, we also feel called to add to our family. We dreamed of having a large family and were very saddened when we realized Hannah would no longer be able to have children. (Hannah had to have an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 23). We love kids and feel as though our family is not yet complete. Adoption is the perfect option for us! We have the space, the time, the desire, and most importantly, the love to give. We have open hearts and arms and look forward to adding an addition to our family.

      We have a passion to help those who are in need, and what could be a greater need than to love those who are alone? Those who have no family to love and care for them? Adoption has always been a consideration for us. We wanted to make a difference in the biggest way possible and we felt a distinct call to make a difference by adopting.

      Beginning in May 2012, Hannah and I started this adoption journey. However, our story is more than just one of adoption. We wanted to pursue a very special kind of adoption. We have developed a tender-heart towards those with special needs due to our own experiences with our son Benji’s extreme prematurity (born at just 26 weeks) and Down Syndrome. We witnessed first hand, the daily struggles Benji endured and then watched as he thrived because of the love and support of his family. A family who loves him unconditionally. We want to bring that same unconditional love to another child with special needs, specifically Down Syndrome. We feel as though we are well equipped to care for another special child who may have some of the same struggles as our son.

      During our time of waiting for a special match, an agency contacted us about a possible opportunity in Macedonia. However, there was a road block as Macedonia does not have an established program for international adoption – period. What could we do? Did this mean that the doors were closed? To make a long story short, the doors have been opened! We are now the pilot family for a new adoption program for special needs children from Macedonia. We are hoping to be the first family in the United States to adopt a child from Macedonia through the Hague adoption system. The program is not yet open to other families, but we are hopeful that we can help create a successful program that would assist in finding families for hundreds of precious children with special needs. In the past 13 months, we have connected with an outstanding agency to start a new adoption program (essentially opening a country for international adoptions), converted our home study from domestic to international, and compiled our dossier. It is currently being translated into Macedonian.  Its been a long year as we've waited anxiously for things to come together. Thus far, the doors have opened and we are pursing this opportunity with excitement and A LOT of FAITH!

      Sometimes people ask us, "Why? Don't you already have your hands full? Do you really think you can handle it?" Our answer? "You think our hands are full? You should see our hearts!" We believe we can not only "handle" it, but that we would thrive! We feel as though adding a child with special needs would be like adding the missing puzzle piece.

      We will admit that before Benji was born, we probably never would have considered adopting a child with special needs. But our world changed the moment we received the amnio results. Down Syndrome has changed our life...and for the better. We have chosen to embrace our new path and would like to invite another little blessing to share in our special-needs journey. We adore our children more than anything and Benji certainly is no exception. We love him unconditionally and sincerely hope to add another special blessing into our lives!

      For us, our calling is to raise our children to LOVE God and others and help those who cannot help themselves. To us, that means a child with special needs. We have been called specifically to adopt. God has given us the capacity to love another child and until he/she comes home, there will be a void in our hearts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Where is Macedonia Anyway?

We've had a lot of people ask us questions about Macedonia so I thought I'd write a quick blog sharing a bit about the country. We have certainly enjoyed our research. Macedonia seems like a gem! It has rich beauty and history and we are greatly looking forward to our visit.

Macedonia is often also referred to as FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Apparently Greeks use the term FYROM as there is a region within Greece that is also called Macedonia. Who knew?! So that is why people open refer to the Macedonia we are talking about as "The Republic of Macedonia"

The capital of Macedonia is, Skopje - this is where we will fly into. 

Macedonia became independent in 1991 - Even though it has extensive history, it is considered a "young state."

Macedonia is surrounded by Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece.

                                                                    Macedonia Map

An advantage for us is that Macedonia is one of the most affordable countries to visit in Europe! A quote from one blogger who visited said; "The cheapest hotels start at around $7; nicer hostels were around $10" - SWEET! Definitely the right price for a 12 week family vacation, aye?! (One Macedonian Denar = 0.0184571 US Dollar)

                                                            Macedonian Flag

                                                            Macedonian Alphabet

Check out these links for more info! 

History of Macedonia

Macedonian Facts

Macedonia: This Magnificent Country Will Surprise You

Macedonian Language

Oh, and did you know that both Mother Theresa and Alexander the Great were from Macedonia!

Translation Underway

This aspect is proving to take a bit longer than we had expected. Apparently, there are not many Certified Macedonian Translators in the USA ;) Our entire Dossier (all 94 of our adoption documents) need to be completed by a certified translator and accompanied by a certification of translation. We were quoted.....drum roll please.......14 cents/word! Ok.....well clearly that will add up quickly! But there's no turning back! Trusting God to provide. We had budgeted $2,500 for translation and it looks like it may be closer to $4K. Thankfully, our initial tax workup looks like we may get a refund which we can put towards the translation fees. Who knew?! If you're looking for a career field, maybe consider translation!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


We are thrilled to have our *dossier complete! We sent it to our international agency the week of Christmas and they are submitting it for translation in Macedonian! Once the entire dossier is translated, our agency will send it to the Ministry of Macedonia where our "request to adopt" will be considered. If we meet their criteria, we will be officially approved to adopt and then matched with a specific child. We are hoping to me matched with "Xavier" (and its very likely we will be. However, we are still obligated to follow proper adoption procedure per the Hague Adoption laws).

We are anxious to have our dossier submitted to the country for review. Once we are approved/matched, we will re-submit an application to immigration (*USCIS) requesting permission to bring that specific child back into the USA. When we have this 2nd USCIS approval, we will then be given travel dates. We are sincerely hoping that the timing works out for us to travel in June seeing as how Macedonia requires a 10-12week adaptation period and Joe is free from his on-site teaching responsibilities. (He will have to continue his work as an online-instructor, but thankfully, he can do that anywhere in the world so long as he has internet connection!) We know its gonna be tight, but we're hoping to fit the adaptation period into the June-August summer recess. (Please feel free to make the timing a matter of prayer as well!)

Now that our dossier is complete and submitted, its time to crack down on the fundraisers. We have been gifted $571.88 on our Reese's Rainbow Fundraising page! Its such an encouragement to see the number increasing! PLUS, any gifts donated through this link are tax deductible! Click Here to gift a tax-deductible amount to Joe and Hannah's adoption! There is also a pay-pal link on the top, right-hand side of the blog. This is out private account which releases the funds to us to use an expenses arise. RR does not release funds until we have travel approval - that's the only draw back. We will of course need every cent to use towards travel, but we still have some hefty bills due prior to travel. So either way you chose to give, would be an immense blessing! 

We are not expecting (or even asking) to just be given the money. We don't mind working...and working raise what we need. Joe works 2 jobs and Hannah babysits like a crazy lady. As a stay at home mom, Hannah does what she can to raise extra funds. She is responsible for brainstorming, planning, preparing, and organizing most of the fundraisers. Please help show your support by sharing and even getting involved if you are able. In the next 22 weeks (from now until we hope to travel), Hannah has determined to host a different fundraiser each week. Please stay tuned for them! We promise that we will do our best to return the favor in the future. Please help us get what we need to make this dream a reality. The dream of rescuing an orphaned child and making him ours! We can't do this on our own, and maybe....just maybe....God is planning to use YOU as part of His plan to provide for what we need. God said "adopt" and we have trusted and obeyed. We know He will provide. If you feel moved to share our story, donate items for the auctions/sales, volunteer for the fundraising events, or even give financially, please do. God will bless your gift!

Thank-you friends!!!!

Check out a current Orgami Owl Fundraiser hosted by a friend! Just in time for V-day!
Origami Owl Butler Adoption

Follow us on FB!
Butler Adoption FB page

(*A dossier is a collection of papers giving detailed information about a particular person or subject. In the case of an adoption, a dossier contains a completed home study, back ground checks, letters from physicians, bank statements etc)

(*USCIS - United States Citizen and Immigration Services)