Some of you may have noticed (okay, probably not) that this blog hasn't been updated this year. I know, we're just over two months in, and I've gone longer without updating before. But this time, I had a reason. I wanted the first blog post of the new year to be special. (I didn't say it wasn't a silly reason!) And nothing I've thought of posting to date has had that "special for a new year" quality that I was looking for. I could have posted about what we've been doing in school, or the surgeries on my leg - minor, but irritating enough to vent about. I could have told you all about Rachael's second alpaca show, or grumbled to no end about the logistics of Girl Scout cookies for a troop of thirty. I could have posted most anything, really, but I'm glad I waited for today.
March 4th has the distinction of being the only date on the calendar that is also a sentence. March fourth..."march forth!" It's not only a sentence, but a command.
One of my favorite Bible verses is more or less a command: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27 NIV)
I love it because it's very direct. "This is what God loves. Do this."
I also love that I have three - three! - friends who have chosen to take giant leaps of faith in order to obey one part of this command: to look after orphans. All three are committed to bringing children home from other countries - a daunting task, and one that they all acknowledge can only be accomplished by the hand of God. All three have decided to "march forth."
First came Mandy. I blogged about her last summer, not long after reading about her family's journey to bring home two darling little boys. After chatting with her online for some time, I finally got to meet her in person in January. Mandy absolutely blows me away with her unwavering faith. All at once, she is an inspiration, an aspiration, and an affirmation to me (try saying that five times fast!) I wish that I could handle every situation with the same grace that she manages. I am so looking forward to her bringing the boys HOME, and watching them thrive in her care.
Next came Chandres. Her family decided to adopt, fell in love with a beautiful girl, and committed to her adoption in what seemed like absolutely no time. That didn't surprise me at all, since Chandres is THE most efficient person I know! If there's a job that needs to be done and done well, she is the one to ask. (Maybe I shouldn't broadcast that, lest even more people figure it out...) Like Mandy, she has faith that can move mountains, and I so love watching them move on her new daughter's behalf. I can't wait to meet the newest member of her family.
And then there's Traci, who I frequently accuse of being crazy, but only because I've found a kindred spirit in her, and I know how crazy I am! Traci who has four kids already and hadn't really considered adopting, although she didn't think I was crazy when I told her that I'd love to. Traci who was sure her husband wouldn't go for it if she did want to. And then...Traci who read a post from a mom who was in country to meet the child she was adopting, and saw her own son in that orphanage. In no time at all, God was at work on her husband's heart - and now they hope to bring home not just one, but two teenage boys.
International doption requires so much. So much faith, to make that big announcement, knowing that not everyone will be fully supportive. To embrace the unknown and bring it into your life forever. To fly over oceans, again and again, leaving your other children behind, to rescue the one(s) that are clearly meant to be ransomed by your family. So much time (and frustration) devoted to paperwork. So much waiting. So much heartache, because you want those children home now.
And so much money.
First the home study. Fingerprinting. Ordering official documents. Passports. Postage. Agency fees. Foreign fees. Mandatory "donations" to this and that organization. Airfare. Food and housing while in country. Money, money, money. Given the total of the fees, it's no wonder that so many people are terrified to consider adopting.
My friends - and probably very few people that adopt - don't have $20,000 plus stashed away in a savings account to pay all of the fees that come with the territory. They would rather not go into debt to come up with the money. The alternative? Fundraising.
They don't like it. Who really does like to ask people for money? I sure don't. It is exceptionally humbling...especially when the total needed seems like such an exorbitant amount.
I've seen some amazing fundraisers from Mandy and Chandres already. Traci is just getting started, so I'm sure some great fundraisers will be happening soon for her as well. These ladies have worked at promoting fundraisers, finding sponsors and obtaining wonderful prizes for those that participate. Fundraising is so much more than asking for money; it's educating people about why the money is needed, it's following rules to make sure that everything is "legal," it's hours of meticulous record-keeping.
It's for such a wonderful cause.
Will you consider donating to these families, knowing that it will make a difference in the life of a child? Mandy will (hopefully) be traveling very soon to bring her boys home, and still needs almost $2000. Chandres needs $2300 as soon as possible to pay home study fees...and more for other expenses. Traci needs $1200 in donations and organization fees in order to commit to her second son, and needs to pay that now. None of them know where the money will come from. All of them are trusting that God will provide it. If God is nudging you to help them, please do. Answer the call to "look after orphans." March forth.
Mandy: Finding Our Little One
Chandres: Upcycled Purpose
Traci: A Small, Still Voice
You can donate to either Mandy or Chandres from their blogs. For information on helping Traci now, please contact me: kcardwell at gmail dot com. Can't contribute monetarily? Please consider sharing these ladies' blogs! Blog about them, share them on Facebook - get the word out there. Share their stories. You never know who you know that might feel called to help. <3
* I should mention that all three of these ladies have wonderful, supportive husbands. But because I don't know them as well, but know and love these adoptive-moms-to-be, the focus here is naturally on them.
** Happy to be sharing this post with the other bloggers at Spiritual Sundays, as well as on the JCWBS page on Facebook. Want updates when this blog is updated? Please "like" that page for updates whenever this blog is updated...which will be more frequently, now that I've found a post worthy of the first of the year.