Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First Look At Baby Jansen!

There are few things more precious than that first glimpse of your baby! And while it may not look like much to you, I am absolutely, positively, 100% in love with that little profile! It may not tell me much...still don't know if we are expecting a son or daughter, still haven't seen the heart beat or felt any movement...but I have now connected with that little life - even if only through a photograph - and that has made this adoption all the more real! :)
This picture was taken on December 12th, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the due date has been moved up to June 11th at that time. So...according to my trusty Baby Center website, this means that the birth mother is in the 15th week of pregnancy and our baby is about the size of an apple. I love reading the baby center updates on our little one...makes me feel even more connected to our precious one! There's lots of information about what stage of development our little on is in...and I'm loving every bit of information I can get! :)
We are now waiting to find out when our home study will be scheduled - hopefully just after the first of the year (or as close as possible). As soon as that is done, I can start going with Janice (the birth mom) on her ultrasound appointments so I can see our precious little one in action! Please be praying that takes place soon - because I'm pretty sure the next visit will be the one where we could find out if we'll have another son or a daughter...that is if the baby cooperates! ;)
So many people have cast their votes on what the gender is of this baby...with the lions share going toward girl! I've had a few votes cast for a little boy...but they are definitely in the minority! So...I got to thinking (scary, I know!)...why not make a game-type fundraiser of it? Those who know me best know how much I love games! :) This game will be a sort of baby-pool. You will cast your vote for boy or girl at a cost of $2 per guess (yes, there are only two choices, but you can cast multiple votes). All money collected from this game will go toward our adoption fund! When the gender is detected, I will draw a name from the winning batch (if they tell us it's a girl, I'll draw from those who guessed girl & if it's a boy, I'll draw from those who guessed boy) and a prize will be awarded to the winner. Here's how it works:
  • Go to PayPal and transfer $2 to my account (karaj927@hotmail.com) for every chance (i.e. $20 for 10 chances) & make a guess for each chance (put your guesses in the memo section when you transfer the money). For example, if you transfer $20, then you could cast 5 votes for a boy & 5 votes for a girl, or all of them in one or the other, or any combination of 10 votes that you like.
  • ALTERNATE ENTRY: If you see me or David on a regular basis, you can give us the money for your chances (cash or check) and let us know what your votes are. :)
  • You need to cast your votes at the time of payment - either by telling us directly, in an email, or as a note on PayPal. Written form is best - so, if you are handing them to us in person, please put your name, phone #, & guesses on a piece of paper and give us that with your payment. :)
  • When the baby's gender is determined via ultrasound (or, in the event the baby won't cooperate at an ultrasound, at birth), then we will draw a name from the winning batch and award a prize at that time! :)
  • ALL money collected from this game will go to our adoption fund...so not only are you having fun playing the game with a chance to win a prize, but you also help us raise the money we need to make this adoption financially possible!

We are also considering adding a birth date pool, since the due date is ever moving...but we'll wait and see how the gender pool goes first. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this with me. And if you have other ideas for fundraisers, please share them with me! We need to raise an average of $4,000+ per month to make sure we have all we need financially for this adoption!

Please share this with all your friends and family! The more we get the word out, the closer we get to our goal of bringing our baby home!

Thank you!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

First Big Step!


Today, we met with Kirk (the adoption agency director) for the first time since our journey began a couple months ago. We were excited to bring him a payment that was very close to what we hoped to make as a first payment. That, my friends, is ALL GOD! - especially when you consider that just a few weeks ago, we didn't even have a tenth of that! God has brought His people together in such a way to bring this baby home that it has totally blessed my socks off! :)

While we met with Kirk, we got further details on the birth mom and her pregnancy. All is going very well...the due date is ever moving, but some of my MOPS friends shared with me this morning that it's not at all uncommon for that to happen. ;). The latest due date is June 11th, which puts the birth mom at about 14 weeks along. This means that the first trimester is behind her - and for someone who has experienced miscarriage, this is a very reassuring tidbit of information! A FUN tidbit of info is that our baby is about the size of a lemon, according to babycenter.com. :)

With our first big payment & the remainder of our paperwork in (we were waiting on medical reports from our doctor after having physicals & tests done), we can now get our home study scheduled and done so that I can start going on doctor visits with the birth mom. :). I didn't realize it before, but apparently that needs to be done first before I can go...so we are looking at trying to get the home study done as close to the first of the year as possible.

There has been one ultrasound recently...and Kirk promised to get the pictures for us as soon as possible. So, not too much longer until We get our first look at our precious little one! I can't wait! So many of you have asked if we are going to find out if the baby is a boy or girl...and we are! For us, it's just one more connection we will have to our child. When you are in the process of adopting a baby, there's very little connection you have to that baby before he/she is born. You can't feel the flutters, movements, and other precious connections that most moms have when their child is growing in their womb. So, I take whatever connection I can get! :)

It was a real boost to our excitement level to have this meeting today...especially for David! I've been the primary one to talk with Kirk up to this point, so David got most of the info second hand. My precious hubby was grinning ear to ear with the excitement of a school boy clearly on his face as we drove away after our meeting. ;).

One of the neat things about this meeting was seeing the excitement on Kirk's face as he talked with us! It really helped to see that excitement as he said, "We've got to make this happen!". It was obvious that we are all part of a team in bringing this baby home!

Thanks to each and every one of you who are keeping up with us on here and praying for us! Your prayers are making this adoption possible! And I don't know about you, but I just love seeing how God is working everything out according to his plan! :)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feeding the Multitude



I'm a bit late in getting this posted...but life has been a little crazy lately...imagine that! ;) First of all, I'd like to say a HUGE Thank You to David's brother Chuck for taking the pictures and video in this blog...David and I were a bit busy dishing out dinner, so without Chuck serving as "event photographer" we would have no documentation of this event! :) So...huge thanks to Uncle Chuck! :)


On Monday, December 5th, we had our first BIG fundraising event...a spaghetti dinner and silent auction. Chef Sebastian Mazzotta, a local personal chef, donated his time to prepare an amazing spaghetti dinner for us - complete with an amazing salad, spaghetti with choice of meat or marinara sauce, and garlic bread! Connie Marner baked and donated a delicious cake for dessert! If you live in Southwest Florida and have need for catering or a cake for an event, I would highly recommend these two! We had soooo many compliments on the food!



Christopher really earned his dinner that night! He helped the Chef by bringing things to him and helped set up by setting the tables, including salt and pepper on each table. He got to eat spaghetti with Grandma Jansen and Uncle Chuck and play with his friends during the dinner.

In addition to a super yummy dinner and dessert, we had many friends and friends of friends donate items from their businesses for our silent auction! So many great items to choose from - if it hadn't been an auction to support our adoption, I would have wanted to bid on them all!

HUGE THANKS goes out to the following for donating items to our Silent Auction (in no particular order):

  • Bradd Konert, Jr. of Gamma Tech - Complete Computer Protection Package with Setup
  • Square Head Playground - Gift Certificates for Birthday Party and Passes for Full-Day Play
  • Jodi Carroll - Lia Sophia Ring & Earring Set
  • Christine Wheeler, Photographer - Original Framed Photography Print
  • Sandee Kozlow, Artist - Original Painting
  • Goodyear of Naples - Gift Certificates for One Year of Oil Changes
  • Always Fun Fishing Charter - 1/2 Day Fishing Trip/Sightseeing Charter
  • Bradd Konert, Sr. of American Tax Service of Naples - 2011 Income Tax Return Preparation
  • Bug Stop Exterminators, Inc. - Initial Residential Pest Control Service
  • Kim Buckly, Zumba Instructor - Zumba Gift of Fitness Package
  • Michelle Jack - Pink and Blue Burp Cloths & Matching Pacifier Holders
  • Karen Strang, Hair Stylist - Beauty Bundle
  • Michele Rearden - Avon/Tiny Tillia Mother & Baby Bundle
  • Driftwood Garden Center & Florist - Gift Card
  • Bria Bare - Four Voice Lessons
  • Jami Collinsworth - Music Memories DVD slideshow/video
I just can't help but share with you a cute video of the end of the evening! Christopher was such a huge helper all through the dinner....all the way through clean-up! He even recruited a few helpers in his mission! The cute factor is just so over the top! I cannot wait to see what a great big brother he is going to be!


As we were getting ready for the dinner and several people were calling and texting me, asking if it was too late to come to the dinner, I started praying that there would be enough food to feed everyone! We had figured in a few extra meals for last-minute attendees...but I was starting to worry it might not be enough. But, just like when He fed the multitude with one little boy's lunch, God made sure we not only had enough for everyone there...but we also had leftovers - LOTS of leftovers! We estimate about 100+ people were in attendance at our fundraiser...which is about what we planned for. But the leftover spaghetti probably would have fed another hundred...so we decided to pay it forward and took the leftovers to St. Matthew's House so they could feed those less fortunate. They were very appreciative!

I'd like to thank EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of you who took time to come out and support us that evening, as well as those of you who couldn't come but supported us in other ways! Because of your support and generosity, we will be able to make about a $4,000 payment to the agency this week. :) David figured if we raise a little over $4,000 each month, we will have what we need to bring Christopher's sibling home! Yes, that's a huge order...a God-sized order, to be exact...but as we've seen lately, nothing is too big for God! :) I'm looking forward to seeing all He has planned to bring our baby home this summer!

We do have a few thoughts about future fundraisers...some of which are in the works! We will be having a yard sale in January...so if you have things you'd like to get rid of, we'll be taking donations for the yard sale after the holidays! :) We had some dear friends, Ken & Libby Sessions, offer to do a smoked BBQ dinner fundraiser for us...just thinking about that makes my mouth water! As soon as we work out the details with them, I'll let you know when that will take place so you can put it on your calendar! We are also working on trying to organize a pancake breakfast and golf tournament. So...if you have any connections, let us know! :)

Of course, our Avon fundraiser is still in full-swing. All proceeds from online orders and a large chunk from other orders will go toward our adoption until we have raised all we need to complete this adoption! If you are interested in helping with this, I can print or email you fundraising flyers so you to collect orders for us. Just let me know! :)

In addition, my friend Deanna Coulter has offered to do a Thirty-One thermal tote fundraiser for us in January and my friend Kaycee Mays (who by the way was the one God used to bring us to the agency we used to adopt Christopher and now his sibling) has offered to do a Premier Jewelry fundraiser!

And last, but certainly not least, my friend Jami Collinsworth, who creates personalized video slideshow DVDs from your pictures/video and choice of music, says the $50 fee for anyone who orders a DVD as result of a referral from us will go toward our adoption! So, check out Jami's Musical Memories on Facebook and let her know we sent you...especially if you decide to order a DVD! :) Your Musical Memory DVD will help us bring our baby home!

I'm just amazed and overwhelmed at how many people are coming together to make this adoption happen! God is so good! This could not happen without Him! So, most of all...I want to thank God for His faithfulness and for bringing His people together to accomplish the work He has for us in this adoption! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Walking On Water

For those of us who grew up in church, we are very familiar with the Bible story of Peter's water walking journey. For the benefit of those who don't know it so well, here's the Kara Notes (similar to Cliff Notes, but my name's not Cliff...so I'm calling them Kara Notes! )...

It was right after Jesus fed the multitude with one little boy's lunch. Jesus sent the disciples in the boat ahead of Him to the other side while He sent the crowds away and went up on the mountain to pray alone. Way out in the water, the disciples spot Jesus walking on water and think they're seeing a ghost! Jesus immediately speaks to their fear and says, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter, apparently the bold one in the bunch, says if it's really Jesus, that Jesus should command Peter to come to Him. Jesus takes him up on it and simply says, "Come!" So, Peter hoists his legs over the side of the boat and starts walking on water, his eyes focused totally on Jesus. But then something happens...perhaps the waves splash up on his feet and legs or the wind whips his hair in his face, but all of a sudden, Peter realizes the very real danger of being that far out in the water without a boat. He takes his eyes off Jesus and immediately begins to sink. He cries out, "Lord, save me!" and Jesus reaches out His hand to him saying, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Then they get back in the boat and the storm is over. (If you want to read the actual account of this story and not just my humble paraphrase - check out Matthew 14:22-33)

At this point, if you are still with me, you may be wondering why in the world I felt the need to share that story on my blog. Well, the answer to that is pretty simple...because today during my Quiet Time alone with God, He showed me just how much Peter and I are alike! I can't tell you how many times I've heard that story and thought, how in the world did Peter have enough faith to get out of the boat and not make it all the way to Jesus? Oh, how many times I've judged Peter for his lack of faith! I very piously sit back and think, if it had been ME looking Jesus in the face, I NEVER would have taken my eyes off Him! You know what they say about the word NEVER? Yep...you should NEVER say NEVER...because it will ALWAYS come back to haunt you! ;)

I can tell you, as I sat down on the couch this morning with my cup of coffee, my Bible, and my prayer journal to meet with God, Peter was the farthest person from my mind, let alone his water walking journey! It wasn't even part of my Bible reading...so as I started writing in my prayer journal and suddenly realized just how much I was like Peter, I knew it came straight from God...and boy, was I humbled by it! Even as I was writing in my prayer journal, I came to the realization that I needed to share it with you. While I only intended to retell what I learned in my prayer journaling this morning, right now, I have a very strong conviction that I just need to let you read it for yourself. So, I'm going to do something I don't often do, and share with you word-for-word what I wrote in my prayer journal today. If it somehow helps you, then even better. All I ask is that you not judge me unkindly for stepping out in faith and sharing from my heart. As I said, when I wrote this journal, it was intended as a private conversation between God and me alone...but, as He sometimes does on rare occasions, I feel He wants me to share it with you, as well. :) So, here goes...

Heavenly Father,
In the midst of the craziness of my life, I feel that time is both moving too fast and too slow at the same time. Too fast, in that so many things seem to be happening all at once. Too slow, in that I want this adoption to be completed yesterday! And yet, there still appears to be no way for this adoption to happen. I need some assurance, Lord. I don't want to doubt - I want to believe You will make this happen. I want to have unwavering faith. When I look around at all You have already done, I feel like such a fool for doubting You. And yet, when I look at how far we have to go, I get so afraid. (Side Note: As you will see, this is the point where God pointed out to me that I was like Peter!) I guess I'm like Peter on the water. When my eyes are focused on You alone, I feel like nothing is impossible. But when I look around at the waves (in this case, adoption costs), then my fear grabs hold and I start to sink. And once again, I must cry out, "Help me, Lord!" - just like Peter!
I used to wonder how Peter could have enough faith in You to get out of the boat in the first place, and yet lose that faith half-way across the ocean, and become afraid of the waves. Didn't he see the waves before he got out of the boat? Of course he did - but that wasn't his focus then. His focus was on You! But when he took his eyes off You and looked around, the danger of the waves became his focus and he began to fear. When he began to fear, he began to sink. While he was sinking, he returned his focus to You and called out for help. You reached out and drew him close to You.
I see that in this situation (our adoption). When my focus is on You, and only You, then I believe with my whole heart that this adoption is going to happen. But all it takes is for someone to ask how far along we are in the process - perhaps like the waves splashing up on Peter's legs and feet - and then I realize how far we have to go and that becomes my focus. When I focus on how little we have raised compared to how much is due, then my faith begins to fade and my heart begins to sink! I become overwhelmed with the thought that it won't happen and once again, I call out, "Help me, Lord!" - and EVERY. TIME. You come through! Thank you, Lord! Amen

Notice that at no point in my journaling did God tell me HOW He would provide...but He showed me instead what I needed to see more than any amount of money in our adoption fund...His faithfulness to always be there, to always provide what we need when we need it! I've had a couple of people remind me lately that even if this adoption does not happen, that God's will would still be done. And they are right - no matter what answer God gives, it is always according to His will. I realize that these individuals are mostly concerned for how we will handle it God chooses to answer differently than we hoped. And, I can share with you (and them) that if His answer is no, then we will indeed mourn the loss...but we will also accept His will and trust that He has something better for us! By the same token, can I also share something very cool with you? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I have come to a point when I was so overwhelmed with the thought this adoption wouldn't happen and was ready to give up...at that very moment, God shows up in some way to renew my faith....just like He reached out His hand to Peter as he was sinking from doubt! So, I have to believe that He has a plan. I don't know what that plan is or from where the help will come...except that it will come from the Lord! This morning, a verse popped in my head even before I began my Quiet Time...it was from a Psalm I learned in RefresHer (our Ladies' Bible Study class at church) some time ago. And so, I will close this blog post with it...

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber;

Indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you -
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;

The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm -
He will watch over your life.;

The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

God Is At Work!


Lately, I've felt quite like the beggar. I feel like all I've done is beg people to buy a T-shirt, attend our Spaghetti Dinner, or purchase from one of our many Avon fundraisers - all so we can bring our son's sibling home. If you know me at all, you know how uncomfortable this is for me! I hate asking people for money. I hate asking for help of any kind! I'd much rather be self-sufficient. But, God has reminded me over and over that He did NOT put me on this earth to be self-sufficient! If I were able to be self-sufficient, I would not need to depend on Him - and I would become my own god...and what a poor, ineffective god that would be!

Last night, I went to church pretty much like every other week...and yet, God had greater plans for that meeting! He totally met me face to face in that worship service...it was like coming home! I'm humbled to admit that my church attendance lately had become just that...attendance. I'd check the box off my mental "to-do" list - yep, attended church this week - filled my chair, sang the appropriate songs, read along in my Bible, and listened patiently to whatever the pastor had to say before moving along to my Bible & Life Group to meet with friends, where we would read and discuss God's word. This all sounds great...after all, isn't that what a "good Christian" does?

Problem is, I knew it was supposed to be different. I knew there was supposed to be more. How did I know? Because I'd felt it! Growing up, there was nothing I loved more than being at church! My maternal grandfather was the pastor of my childhood home church and his love of God was contagious! If the doors were open, my grandfather was there...and I wanted to be by his side! At the conclusion of each service, I looked forward to walking out to the foyer with him and shaking the hands of the congregation by his side. Not only did I love God and His church...but I also loved His people! This was the highlight of my week!

Not only did I love being at church, but I also just enjoyed simply being with God, no matter where I was! He was always with me and I knew I could talk to Him any time of any day...He was always my closest confidant! I remember many times at night having long conversations with Him after I'd gone to bed. I don't know that I realized then what I had...but I sure knew when it wasn't there anymore! Somewhere along the lines, I "grew up" and lost my child-like faith.

But, last night, my faith was renewed! It was totally unexpected...and I couldn't have done anything to prepare for our orchestrate it! It started as we sang praise songs at the beginning of the service and the phrase "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE" kept jumping out at me from the screen (our church puts the words to the songs on screens at the front of the church). Everyone else in the building seemed to think that the words just flowed with the rest of the song, but to me, they stuck out light bright lights on a billboard! Immediately, I began to think about our adoption and how impossible it seemed that we would be able to make it happen. Then I realized that WE are not the ones who will make it happen...God will! What is impossible in our own strength is totally possible with God! My heart soared as I, for the first time in a long time, fully worshiped God! I reached for David's hand and gave it a squeeze...he squeezed mine back. Without sharing a single word I knew we were one in our shared worship of the only One that can make the impossible possible!

During the invitation part of the service, where the congregation is invited to share with a pastor a decision that God has laid on their heart and/or pray at the alter, David leans over and asks me to go to the alter to pray. David had no idea how much this simple request meant to me! For several weeks, I wanted to do just that at the invitation, but I felt God holding me back. I felt like He was telling me that I needed to wait on David to lead in that area. So, I submissively prayed quietly at my seat each week, praying also that when the time was right, God would lead David to take the initiative. When David leaned over and suggested we pray at the alter last night, I knew in that moment that my prayer had been answered! As David prayed for our family and this adoption at the alter, though I could not hear every word he said over the music playing, I had a calm assurance that God did and that He would answer our prayer and give us this desire of our heart!

I cannot explain this faith to you...it's something you have to experience for yourself. But, I can tell you that Hebrews 11:1 defines it this way: "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see" (NLT). If that doesn't describe our adoption journey, I don't know what does! :) If I look only at what I can see with my own eyes, I see a bank account lacking in the ability to pay the adoption costs, I see numerous fundraisers that have failed to provide as much as we had hoped, and I start to lose hope. But, if I set my focus on God and His promises, and have faith that He will bring to completion the work He has started in us and our family, then I have to believe that He will provide a way where there seems to be no way. And when He does, He will receive ALL of the glory for it! For He alone can make this adoption happen! :)

So, as I conclude this blog post, I will not ask you for any money. If God lays it on your heart to give, then I pray you will follow His leading alone. But, what I do ask you for is your continued prayers. Some of you have shared with me that you wished you could give to us financially, but all you can offer us is your prayers. We need those most of all! God already knows how this will work out and He has a perfect plan. We trust Him to work out all the details. He knows who needs to give and who simply needs to pray. So, if you heart is to help us, and so many of you have already expressed that desire, then I simply ask you to pray and ask God how He would have you help. Maybe He wants to use you to pass the word along so that He can use someone we haven't met yet to meet the need. Maybe He wants to use you to sell tickets or promote our fundraisers. Maybe He wants you to give a specific amount. Or maybe, He simply wants you to pray for His will to be done. Whatever HE is calling you to do, that's what we want you to do! Nothing more, nothing less. God's resources are unlimited...and He loves to use His people to do His work...so whatever part in that He has called you to do, that is the most important thing you can do for us! :) Thank you for being a part of this journey with us! You are very important to us...and even more important to God!

If my blog post today seems a little odd to you, or you have no idea what I'm talking about...then I would love to answer any questions you have. If you don't have a personal relationship with God, then my prayer for you is that you will give your life to Him and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Without Him, we would have no hope! It would be my greatest honor if this journey leads to an opportunity to share that hope with you! :)

So in closing, if I may, I'd like to borrow a line from Tiny Tim in Charles' Dickens' A Christmas Carol (with a slight modification) and say, "God bless you, everyone!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Shopping? Oh Yes, I Did! :)

I got my first taste of the Black Friday Fever several years ago when, as a preteen or teenager, I went to Wal-Mart at midnight with the adventurous ladies in my family. The frenzy, the deals, the fun! I was hooked! It quickly became something I looked forward to every year...and this year was no different! :)

My shopping buddies have varied over the years...sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, and occasionally, as I was this year...solo! With my assignment from Santa and armed with the most organized plan I've every had, I headed out my door at about 9:30pm. Now, for those of you who know me, you may be a bit surprised that I enjoy Black Friday shopping as much as I do because it puts me smack dab in the middle of two things I usually avoid - (1) large crowds and (2) shopping alone at night! But there's just something about Black Friday that draws me out.

Obviously, this year we are very tight on funds as we seek to adopt our son's biological sibling, so we must make every penny spent count! While Christmas is certainly not about the gifts, it is still a very magical time for children and part of the fun is opening gifts. David and I agreed that we would NOT buy each other any gifts, because we are hoping to bring the ultimate gift home in June when Christopher's sibling is born! At the same time, I don't want Christopher to feel that this adoption is taking anything away from him. While the amount of gifts will be less, and certainly less expensive, than in years past, we feel it is important that he still have gifts under the tree!

So...I planned my attack with more organization and planning than I ever have before! As usual, I looked through all of the sales circulars in the paper yesterday morning and set aside the ones for stores I planned to visit. Usually, this is about where my organization ends...maybe with a few items marked or circled to guide me in my shopping...but not this year! I went back through my stack and sorted them by opening time. Then I went through each one and made a list by store of the items I was considering for purchase, as well as price or discount (depending on how it was listed). I loaded this list on my phone for easy accessibility while shopping and weeded out a couple of items. All this was done before we headed out for our Thanksgiving dinner with David's mom and brother!

After a great Thanksgiving dinner with Mom J and Chuck and some visit time, we headed back home, put away leftovers, and I finalized my plan before heading out. My plan was to head to Toys R Us first, since they opened at 9pm, I thought maybe the line would be pretty much gone by the time I got there. I thought wrong! In the picture above, you can see the line was in full force! In fact, it was wrapped around the parking lot. I took the picture & debated about getting in line or not. I decided to go for it...I'm not really sure why. It's not like there was anything in Toys R Us that I was chomping at the bit for...just a couple things I wanted to check out...only one of which I actually purchased - a $2 stocking stuffer! But...while standing in said line, the lady behind me told me about a Black Friday app. Having nothing better to do while waiting in line, I decided to download it (a free app) and began checking out the deals listed. It was this app that directed me to my big purchase at Toys R Us...an organizational thing for the vast amount of Legos that grace the playroom (most of them from David's childhood).

Shopping in Toys R Us was by far the worst experience of the night! For someone who is a bit claustrophobic (hence the reason I avoid crowds of people for the most part), this was daunting at best. I was barely in the door when I found the Lego thing and was trying to maneuver around to get it in my cart when the not-so-nice employee told me I needed to clear the aisle. What a great way to start! But...I got it and made my way around the store to check out the other items on the list (figured I was in, might as well check them out)...decided against two and bought the stocking stuffer. Then came the maze to the check out! I had to weave my way back to the other side of the store and then made my way to the check-out. The same employee who had barked at me coming in the door was there to inform me again that I was not playing this game appropriately (thought somewhat nicer this time)! I was already feeling dazed and confused...thankfully, my friend Loretta was there to direct me (she was next to get in line)! Apparently, I needed to find the lady with the balloon and weave my way through shelves to get to the point where this employee could direct me to the check-out. Problem was...I saw no lady with a balloon. Silly me, I thought she'd be holding a helium balloon that would be easy to see. I actually found the end of the line on my own, and as I was weaving my way through, I spotted the employee with the balloon held down by her side. Oh my! I finally made it out of the store 2 hours after I first got in line...most of that time spent in line either trying to get in the store or get out! ;)

After tucking my purchases in my car, I saw my friends Ryan & Amy, who were smart enough to go to Wal-mart first and come back! I handed off my cart to them and chatted for a few minutes, then made my way to Wal-mart. A few things on my list...one being the LeapFrog Tag because we have a USA map that has gone unused because I didn't realize when I bought it for our schoolwork this year that it didn't come with the Tag! Finally made my way to the toy aisle and the ONLY one they have is PINK!!! I could just hear Christopher on Christmas morning, "PINK?!? That's a GIRL color!!!" I hesitated a bit, frantically searched the aisles to see if maybe, just maybe, a green one had been put down somewhere (it hadn't)...then made the executive decision to get it anyway. I figured I had time to exchange it for a green one before Christmas, so why not. Picked up a couple of other little things and made my way to the check-out. While waiting in line, I marveled again (as I had at Toys R Us) at just how many people brought their kids Black Friday shopping...and not just babies, but school-age kids, too! Wouldn't that defeat the purpose? Oh well...who am I to judge? I finally reached the little kindly gentleman who directed me to my assigned register. I'm standing behind this guy who tells me all about his $198 32" HDTV in his buggy. You'd think he was trying to sell me on it! While I'm sure it's a great deal, a $200 TV (no matter how great it is) just is not in the budget this year! He stops his sales pitch long enough to tell me someone else got out of a line if I wanted to take advantage of it...I did!

Next stop, Kohl's! This was my Angry Birds stop. Christopher is absolutely crazy about angry birds...obsessed might be a better word! ;) I scored some pj's, a t-shirt, & a card game for Christopher...all angry birds! Time to head for yet another line. This line started at the back of the store...never a good sign! While waiting in line, I got to see my friends Linda & Tonya. About 10 minutes into waiting, I come to a sign that says, "From this point, you have a 15 minute wait to the register" - wait...am I shopping or at a theme park! ;) Can I just say that the signs along that line (yes, there was one that said 10 minutes, too) were no more accurate than the theme park lines? Actually, maybe the theme park line estimates are more accurate! I was in line for no less than 30-45 minutes! While in line, I overheard the woman a few customers ahead of me give a play-by-play of her husband's misadventures at Best Buy Black Friday shopping! Poor guy!

As I shopped Bealls and Target, I ran out of steam. I found nothing at Bealls that I felt fit into the budget...so, I walked over to Target. Found a couple of things I was looking for and checked out. For the first time that evening, I walked right up to the register, with only one customer in front of me! Gotta love it! As I walked out of Target, I realized I'd left my keys in the buggy at Bealls! Panic coursed through me and visions of waking up both my husband and son to come get me ran through my head as I bee-lined it back to Bealls. Thankfully, I found my keys at the customer service counter in the back - someone had graciously turned them in! Thank You, God!

At this point, I'm ready for you to put a fork in me...I'm done! As I'm driving home, though, a wild thought goes through my head and I decide to check out the OTHER Wal-mart to see if they might have the green Tag I was looking for. Sure enough, they've got two of them. I only need one. I'm good! So, I make my way up to the front where FIVE employees are standing in front of the customer service area, doing nothing but chatting with each other. I ask one of them about exchanging the pink one for the green one and I'm informed that the customer service department is closed. WHAT?!? The store is open, right? This IS a 24 hour store, right? Shouldn't customer service be open when the store is (particularly when there are people to work it?)? Apparently not! I was informed that it was all about the sales and no exchanges or returns would be done until 7am. I glanced down at my watch, almost 4am. Nope, not gonna wait 3 stinkin' hours for customer service to open! So, I do what any sleep-deprived Black Friday crazy shopper would do...I bought the green one, too!

I headed home, got a few hours of sleep before the precious seven-year-old who was blissfully unaware of my all-night shopping adventure decided I needed to get up so he could watch TV in my room (the only working TV in the house). So...I sent him to ask David to start a pot of coffee for me (a caffeine drip would have been better!) and I got up! :)

Twelve hours after leaving the last store, I was back at that same customer service desk returning the pink Tag. I was not amused at the suggestion of painting it green instead of refunding my money. Poor guy!

As crazy as it was, as much as I feel like I've been run over by a truck...still, I'm sure I'll be at it again next year! Hopefully, buying for two little blessings! :)

Hope everyone had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING, a save Black Friday adventure (if you went on one), and may I be among the first to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Praying For A Miracle

I just got off the phone with Kirk, the Executive Director of the adoption agency. He was following up with us on the progress of the adoption. Part of that included Kirk wanting to know when he could expect to see the $15,500 part of the adoption that is due now, or some portion of it. My heart fell as I had to tell him that we only have $350 raised so far.

The very scary reality we are facing right now is that if we don't come up with a significant amount of money very soon, we may lose the option of adopting Christopher's sibling, and that totally breaks my heart...especially when I consider what that could do to Christopher!

So, here's what we need to make this adoption a reality. We need $5,000 in the next few weeks, just to cover the expenses that the agency has already paid out for the birth mom. If we can come up with that, they will set up a monthly payment plan for us to pay off the remainder of the adoption costs. The agency wants to make this a reality as much as we do, and because of that, they are bending backwards to work with us as much as they can.

PLEASE be praying!!! I know God can make this happen...and I'm hopeful that he will make it happen! We just need a God-sized miracle for it to happen! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spaghetti Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraising Event!

Several weeks ago, a local personal Chef, Sebastian Mazzotta offered to cook a spaghetti dinner for us as a fundraiser. Our biggest challenge was finding a location to host the event...but now, we have all the details and ready to announce that our spaghetti dinner will be held Monday, December 5th at Our Savior Lutheran Church. The church is just off Airport-Pulling Road, behind Sam's Club. The cost of the dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for kids (ages 10 and under). The dinner will include spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce (your choice), garlic bread, salad, dessert, and drink! Dinner will be served 5-7pm and take-out will be available. If you wish to buy tickets to the dinner, please see me or David. We are selling tickets prior to the dinner so that Chef Sebastian knows exactly how much food to prepare! :)

In addition to the spaghetti dinner, we will also host a silent auction. We are in the process now of collecting items/gift certificates for the auction. If you have your own business, we would greatly appreciate it if you would consider donating something from your business for the silent auction. It can be a single item, a gift basket, or a gift certificate - whatever you are able to do. If you have business cards, I would be happy to display them next to your donated item so that those who attends the dinner will have an opportunity to take your business card. If you know of others who have their own businesses, please pass the word along to them. Anyone interested in donating can email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com for more information. :)

If you are local and would like to help sell tickets, email me for more information! We need all the help we can get to pass the word around! :)

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

You have most likely heard the old saying..."How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" That is what it's like raising money for our adoption! I've never been one to ask for help...and it is even harder for me to ask for financial help. So, raising the funds we need to complete our adoption has really been a huge step out of my comfort zone! But, the cause is so important, and our funds are so limited, that I just don't see any other way!

This past weekend, we were part of two events to help us raise funds. On Saturday, we had a holiday open house event already scheduled with some other friends who also have direct marketing businesses, but it turned into a fundraising event - at least for a couple of us. Obviously, my Avon sales are going toward the fundraiser...but also, my friend Tonya Haskins donated her Pampered Chef earnings from the event toward our adoption! She made this decision on her own and I couldn't feel more blessed! I just found out today that her donation brings us $52.54 closer to our goal! :)

On Sunday, the owners of SquareHead Playground gave us the run of their facility to have an Avon inventory sale/fundraiser. They said if any of their customers came to play, the customer could just donate whatever they would have normally spent for admission toward our adoption fund! It wasn't a very busy day...but I am thankful for Jennifer Hansen, Jim & Betsy Evans, Mom Jansen (David's mom), and a couple others who came by to support us! As we were packing up for the day, a man drove up in a van with three little girls. He said they used to go to Dinosaur Playground and wanted to know if they could come in to play. I told him that they could come in and mentioned the donation to our adoption fund. He only had plastic on him, no cash, and there was only about half an hour left in our time before other people would be coming in to set up for a birthday party, so I let them come on in to play anyway. As he left, he said he was going to the bank to get some cash and he'd be right back. I didn't really expect him to return...but just as we were making a final run-through before leaving, he pulled up in his van and handed me $40! He wished us luck on the adoption and said he hoped that would help! :) So...with his donation and the other purchases, we raised almost $100.

To date, we have just a little over $300 in our adoption fund. Even though that is a significant amount of money, when I look at the amount that's due in just a few weeks ($15,500)...not to mention the full cost of this adoption (approximately $32,000), it makes what we've raised look like peanuts. And then I start to face the realities of what will happen if we can't raise the money...and I get scared. It's in that moment, that God shows up to remind me that He is still near...that He still cares...and that He still has a plan!!! :) Last night, I was in a frenzy of putting in Avon orders and answering phone calls/emails when my cell phone started ringing. I looked at the screen and saw that it was coming from a 334 area code (an Alabama area code - which is where I grew up)...I didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway. Boy, am I glad I did!!! It was a dear friend, Debra Thornton, whom I'd gone to church with in Montgomery. We had lost contact after I moved here 12 years ago, but had gotten reconnected through Facebook. She also has an adopted son and had been praying for us in this adoption. She said she felt like she just needed to call me and tell me that this adoption was going to happen! There is not another thing she could have said that I would have needed to hear more at that moment! It was almost like God Himself placed that call because it spoke right to the fears I was experiencing! There is no way Debra could have known that's what I was feeling...I've tried so hard to put up the brave front and portray only the positive. I don't like to focus too long on the negatives...mainly because it just feeds the fears already brewing within me!

When you suffer from infertility, it's a pain like no other. A pain that no one can fully understand until they have walked that journey. You want so desperately to do the one thing that every other woman on the planet seems to be able to do except you...conceive a child. You watch the news and see reports of women selling their babies for drugs, abusing children, or leaving them to fend for themselves...and you wonder, why them? Why do they get to conceive these blessings that they obviously don't recognize as blessings and I can't? Worse yet, you hear the staggering statistics related to abortion, and you wonder why God chose to allow them to conceive a child they would kill and leave you barren, when you would love and cherish that child forever. Or even in happy moments...a friend who has also struggled with infertility finally conceives and gives birth to a child or you hear on the news that the Duggars are expecting their umpteenth child...both of those are great news and you are genuinely happy for them and wouldn't take the joy away from them for anything...and yet, you still feel the emptiness of an underutilized womb. It hurts, it's sometimes embarrassing, and you feel inadequate as a woman.

For those of us who have chosen adoption to build our family, it comes with it's own highs and lows. You must be ready for the roller coaster ride! On the one hand, you are thrilled with the idea of bringing a new life into your home...regardless of whether that child is coming as an infant or older, domestic or international, foster or private. You have hopes and dreams of what it will be like when your child is first placed in your arms...or for those adopting older children, when they first enter your home. For those of us adopting infants, you get a thrill out of walking through the baby section of the store and dreaming about the day your baby will come! But, reality has a nasty way of rearing its ugly head in the midst of your dreams. It first shows itself in the mounds of paperwork that must be completed before anything else can be done. It also makes an appearance in the form of the agency & other fees related to the adoption. And of course, it loves to show up in the home study process, when your very ability to become a parent (or a parent again) rests in the opinion of another human being! And let's not forget, for those of us who are adopting an infant through domestic adoption...the very big reality that a birth mother can change her mind and all our hopes, dreams (and money!) seem to quickly swirl down the drain. Thankfully, the worry that the birth mother will change her mind is the least of our worries...but I don't want to neglect those who face that very scary reality! Eight years ago, I was one of those...and to be honest, it does still nag at the back of my mind every now and then. But, we have the added blessing of knowing the birth mother of our children and knowing that when she placed Christopher for adoption, she never once wavered in her decision. It wasn't for a lack of loving him...quite the contrary! She loved him so much that she wanted the best for him...and she knew the only way she could do that for him was to allow him to be adopted!

Boy...I have really gone off on a tangent here. :) But, I'm just sharing a bit of my heart. I hope you don't mind. Maybe, it helps you see things from my point of view a little bit. Maybe it will help you understand better the feelings of a friend facing infertility or going through adoption. Maybe you are that friend facing infertility and/or adoption and this post has put words to the feelings you couldn't quite express. If any of those are true, then this opening of my heart was worth it! With that in mind, this post would not be complete without a "Shout Out" to my friends in my "Holding On To Hope" group at church (you know who you are)! This is a group of precious women who are also on the infertility journey or have lost a child to miscarriage or death. These precious women have given wind to my wings and helped me in more ways than I could ever put into words. They have become such close friends that they are more like family to me...and the support they have shown for this adoption has been overwhelming! I am blessed to be a part of this precious group! Thank you, ladies for everything! :)

So...back to my original question...how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And though the amount we've raised so far seems so small when compared to what we need, I know that my God is bigger. He fed a multitude with one little boy's lunch...2 fish, 5 loaves of bread. I don't know about you....but to me, that's not a lot of food & my brain has a hard time comprehending just how that played out. But, that's where faith comes in. Faith is believing in what we cannot see. We have faith that we will wake up tomorrow...we can't see it yet, but we believe that it will happen. And I have faith that God will provide what we need, when we need it to make this adoption happen! :) And, that's all I need to know...God is good! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blessings


One of my favorite songs is Blessings by Laura Story. The refrain of this song says:

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

This is certainly true about adoption. It wasn't the way I thought I'd build my family, it certainly isn't the "easy" way, but the blessings are worth it all! It's funny, just a few weeks ago, Christopher and I were talking about God's answers to our prayers. He couldn't understand why God wouldn't just give him whatever he asked for. I told him that sometimes God does answer
our prayers the way we want, but sometimes He has something better in mind. I told him how I had prayed for a baby to grow in my tummy, but God had something even better in mind and gave me Christopher! I told him that if God had answered my prayer for a baby to grow in my tummy, I would have missed out on the blessing of having him as my son! This satisfied him, and the conversation seemed to be behind us...but, now that we are in the process of adopting Christopher's sibling, the conversation keeps coming to my mind.

When I look at the amount of money that is needed to complete this adoption, I'm just overwhelmed with exactly how much money that is! The money wasn't even a consideration when we made the decision to proceed with this adoption, but now that the excitement of hearing the news has worn off a bit and we are faced with the reality of just what we've gotten ourselves into, it's sometimes a little scary! A dear friend asked me the question I hadn't yet allowed myself to ask..."What happens if you don't come up with the money?" The sad reality is that Christopher's sibling will be raised by another family.

That thought alone is enough to break my heart (and cause fear and worry). To know that Christopher has prayed for a sibling, that a biological sibling is available for us to adopt, and that money is the ONLY thing keeping us from making that happen...I don't even want to think about that possibility! Thankfully, that's where FAITH comes in! I have faith in a HUGE God...a God who loves David & me, Who loves Christopher, and Who loves this little unborn baby. This God, my Heavenly Father, brought this opportunity to us...and I have FAITH that He will use His people to perform a miracle and bring this little baby home! :)

God is already showing up in ways that give me hope! So many people have asked how they can help...not to mention friends, family, and even people I haven't met yet are already doing what they can to help! I'm just overwhelmed with thankfulness for each and every one of these precious blessings! :) I'm just amazed at how God is already using His people to bring this precious little baby into our family!

If you are wondering how you can help financially...here are some things we are working on:
  • AVON fundraiser - you can click on the link to the left or go to my website (www.youravon.com/kjansen) and click on Online Events to get to the fundraiser. When you click "Shop My Online Event" the proceeds from any purchase you make online will be applied to our adoption!
  • Purchase a CHOOSE LIFE T-shirt for $10 each ($12 for 2XL and 3XL). The shirts & design can be seen in an earlier post. If you are interested in purchasing one or more of these shirts, or would like more information, email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com. Sales for the T-shirts end November 30th.
  • Donate to the Jansen Adoption Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank! We just opened this account today! You can go to any Wells Fargo branch and let them know that you wish to make a deposit into our Adoption Fund. You will need to give them our name & that the account was opened in Naples, Florida. The account is nicknamed "Jansen Adoption Fund" - and any Wells Fargo employee should be able to identify that account. :)
  • Holiday Mingle & Jingle - If you are in Naples, Florida area, this is a fun event you may enjoy! And, all the proceeds from AVON and The Pampered Chef at this event will benefit our adoption. Details below:
  • On Sunday, November 13th, I will be doing a HUGE Avon inventory sale at SquareHead Playground (1895 Seward Avenue, Unit #1) from 10am-2pm. This is a great opportunity to get some BIG discounts on items I have in stock and help us with our adoption, as well! If you are not familiar with SquareHead, it is an indoor play area with a bounce house and other items for imaginative play! The kids can play while you shop! :)
  • Spaghetti Dinner - A local personal chef (a friend of a friend) has offered to cook a spaghetti dinner for us as a fundraiser! Thanks to a dear friend, we have a location - Our Savior Lutheran Church (behind Sam's Club) and I'm just waiting on a confirmation of which date works for the chef...so, more details to come! :)
  • Yard Sale - We will have a yard sale in January...and we are willing to take donations if you have things of value around your house that you would like to donate. We don't have room to store anything, but as we get past the holidays and get a date set, we'll post it on here. Just wanted to mention this so you could be thinking about it. :)
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for us is to PRAY!!! If you are able to help us with our adoption fund, great! But, we also recognize there are many of you out there who are struggling financially - so, please don't feel pressure to give, unless you feel God is leading you to do so! :) Pray specifically for God to provide in His way so that He gets all the glory! If you want to do something more to help, you can let your friends, family, and co-workers know about our adoption fund and share this blog with them. If they feel led, then they can help in whatever way they like! :)

Thank you!
Kara

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

T-SHIRTS....Get Your T-shirts Here! :)

That's right, folks!
The Jansen Adoption Fund T-shirts are now available for pre-order! :)

I am so very thankful to Gary Ragsdale of Cornerstone Graphics out of Gadsden, Alabama and my cousin Katie Edwards (who does the sales for his business) for putting these T-shirts together for us and giving us the opportunity to sell such quality shirts in order to raise the funds we need to complete the adoption of Christopher's sibling! :)

Here is a close-up of the design...
You can pre-order your shirts during the month of November! We will be closing pre-orders at the end of the month so we can get the shirts made in a timely manner. They should be available by mid-December...just in time for Christmas!!! :)

These shirts come in your choice of three colors - pink, blue, and black (as pictured above) and in both youth sizes (S, M, L) and adult sizes (S-3XL). Youth sizes S-L and adult sizes S-XL are available for $10 each, 2XL and 3XL are available for $12 each.

If you are interested in purchasing t-shirts to help us bring Christopher's sibling home, please email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com with the color(s) and size(s) of the shirt(s) you would like to order. I will let you know how to send in your payment via return email. We will need payment at the time you place the order so that we can pay for the T-shirts to be printed. :)

If you are interested in collecting additional orders for us, let me know and I will email you the order form. We appreciate anything you are able to do to help us! :)

Thank you! :)

P.S. If you are in need of any graphics design work done, I would highly recommend Cornerstone Graphics! They have really gone above and beyond in helping us with this project! If you are interested, I'll be happy to share some contact information with you...just let me know! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why is Adoption So Expensive?

I have gotten this question many times over the last week...everyone wants to know why it is so expensive (in our case, $30,000-35,000) to give a child a loving home...including me! :) But, I will do my best to explain it, as best I understand it anyway.

A chunk of it goes to pay for the home study. Different agencies charge different amounts for this process, and I guess that just boils down to how much they think their time is worth. In our case, the cost for the home study is $1,750. A home study first involves a background check of all adults living in the home to make sure that we aren't criminals or dangerous individuals. Then, a social worker will come to the home to make sure that the home is appropriate for a child to live there, and that there is space for that child. In the case of a first adoption, significant information about adoption in general is given to the adoptive couple to prepare them for parenting an adopted child.

I'm not sure about how other agencies break down their costs, but with the agency we used for Christopher's adoption, and now our new baby's adoption, the next step is the "Match Money" - which is basically the money that is due when the adoptive couple is matched with a birth mom. In this adoption, we were matched with our children's birth mom as soon as we agreed to adopt the baby! So...our "match money" - which is $15,500, is due as soon as possible - preferably next month (November). The agency is able to work with us a little bit and is letting us spread the money out over the next 6 weeks or so. This money is used primarily to pay for the birth mother's living and medical expenses. The way the law is set up, adoptive couples are permitted to pay a portion or all of the birth mother's living (rent, utilities, food, etc.) and medical expenses. While I do understand that this supports the birth mother while she is growing the baby, to some extent, this bothers me a bit because she would need to cover most of these expenses on her own if she weren't placing the child for adoption. But, I think the part that bothers me the most about this is that if the birth mother changes her mind at any point before she relinquishes her parental rights (including when the baby is born), the adoptive parents have no resources to recoup this money that they have paid out on the birth mother's behalf. Which means that it is possible for a pregnant lady to have all of her living expenses paid for during her pregnancy and still keep her baby. Not that we worry about that with this birth mother. She NEVER wavered in her decision to place Christopher for adoption (and he was the first child she had placed for adoption), so I don't expect it will be any different with this baby. :)

The next amount due will be when the baby is born, which is called the "At Placement" payment. This is whatever is left - right now, that estimated amount for us is $15,500 - could be more or less, depending on how much the agency ends up paying out for the birth mom's living & medical expenses and any unexpected expenses. This payment covers the agency's expenses, which includes an amount that helps to cover the agency's costs of working with birth moms that never make a match with an adoptive couple. This money also covers the costs involved in the adoption finalization costs, which includes the lawyer's & court fees.

So...that's adoption costs in a nutshell...at least as I understand them. Yes, it's a LOT of money...and some risk involved, especially when you are dealing with a domestic adoption - which is why many adoptive couples choose international adoption over domestic adoption, since the children who are available through international adoption already have the parental rights severed. However, I can speak from personal experience that once that little baby is placed in your arms for the first time (regardless of whether you adopt domestically or internationally), no amount of money matters! No matter what you've spent or what you had to do to raise the money, it's ALL worth it! :)

I will never forget the day that Christopher was first placed in my arms in the delivery room, or the bonding time David and I had with him in the hospital nursery. It was one of the best moments of my life...even better was the following day, when we brought him home from the hospital (on David's birthday) and knowing he was ours (even though there was still 3 months of post-placement visits to do before the adoption was finalized, to us it was a mere formality)! And every day for the last seven and a half years of being Christopher's Mommy has been an absolute blessing! I can only imagine what the next seven and a half years and beyond will hold...but one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that God brought these two children to us and we are blessed beyond measure because of it! :)

Due Date Update

OK...so maybe I should have double checked with the adoption agency BEFORE posting a due date! LOL! When I talked with Kirk yesterday, I was SURE he told me that the due date was April 16th...but, he also told me she was 7 weeks, 3 days along (I wrote down both of these facts on my notebook while talking to him). But, after some thought, I realized these two didn't match up...so, I emailed Kirk today (partly to let him know the home study money was on its way to him so we could start the process) and asked him to clarify when the birth mom is due. He said the due date is JUNE 18th!!! WHERE I got April 16th, I'll never know (though I'm pretty sure that's what he told me, because that's the main piece of information I was looking for)!

This is one of the hard parts of adoption...not REALLY knowing anything! If it had been me at that doctor's appointment, you can be sure shootin' I'd know my baby's due date (or as close as the doctor could estimate)! But, I'm a little bit in the dark for now. ;) I'm hoping the ultrasound in a couple of weeks will give us a firm due date! I'm also hoping I'll be allowed to come on some of the appointments, too! Then, maybe I'll have the info straight from the doctor's mouth! :)

I'm not gonna lie...the fact that she's only 7 weeks pregnant does make me a little nervous - especially since we have to lay out all this moola! Having lost a baby to miscarriage in the 8th week of pregnancy (though we didn't find out until our 12-week check-up) 4 1/2 years ago (our one and only pregnancy), this brings up some thoughts I wish I could avoid thinking! I believe with my whole heart that God brought the opportunity to adopt Christopher's biological sibling to us for a reason and I'm trusting Him to make sure EVERYTHING works out for us to bring Christopher's sibling home!

The plus side of the change in due date is that it gives us more time to raise the second half of the money needed for the adoption, since that doesn't need to be paid until the baby is born! So, for now, I'm going to try to focus on that positive...not to mention the HUGE positive that Christopher's birth mom chose US to adopt his sibling!!! :)

So...please continue to pray for and with us about this adoption! Here is how specifically you can pray:
  • Health of the baby (first and foremost!)
  • Health of the birth mother
  • Finances needed to complete the adoption
  • Salvation of the birth mother (right up there with health of the baby in priorities!)
  • Peace of mind for the birth mother
  • Peace of mind for us!
  • That NOTHING would happen to disrupt this adoption! :)
...OK, and for those of you who have told me you're praying for a girl (or thought it and just haven't yet expressed it), you can add that to the list, too!!! ;)

As we have updates, you can be sure that we'll share them on this blog and post links to the blog on Facebook! :) Thank you so much for your prayers!!! :)



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Have A Due Date!!! :)

Today was the birth mom's appointment with the doctor...and we got a confirmed due date! YAY!!!

At exactly 10am this morning, I stepped outside of Christopher's Classical Conversations classroom to pray for the birth mom and her appointment, since that was the appointment time. I asked God to be with her as she went to this appointment, for the health of the baby, and for Him to provide the finances we need! :)

I spent the next two hours clinging to my cell phone for dear life, hoping it would start buzzing any minute with the news I was waiting for - I'd put the phone on vibrate so that it wouldn't disturb the class. However, I'm sure if I'd rushed out of the room, that might have caused a stir! ;) But...that was not to be. In fact, it was after 1pm before I finally heard from Kirk (Exec. Director of the adoption agency). Pretty sure God is trying to teach me patience...but I think I keep failing that lesson! ;)

Anyway, we found out our baby is due April 16th!

The birth mom will go back in a couple of weeks to have an ultrasound. I asked Kirk if he thought it would be appropriate to ask the birth mom if I might be able to go for some of the ultrasound appointments and he said he thought the birth mom might like that! So...we'll wait until we hear from her on that...but I'm so excited about the possibility of seeing our baby on the ultrasound screen!!!

Please continue to pray for the health of this baby, for the health, well-being, and salvation of the birth mom, and for the financial needs of bringing this baby home! Kirk shared with us that the birth mom told him today that the only good thing in her life right now is knowing that we are adopting this baby and he/she will grow up with his/her big brother! :)

We have no worries with this birth mom...she never waivered in her decision to place Christopher up for adoption. She loved him very much...so much, in fact, that she wanted better for him than she could provide! For that, I'm thankful!!! And I have no doubt that the same is true for this baby!

God is SOOOO good! We can already see Him at work providing what we need financially to bring this baby home! My cousin, who works for a graphics designer, is working on getting specially made T-shirts for us to sell as a fund raiser! The shirt will have "CHOOSE" across the top, two baby feet in the middle, and the verse from Ephesians that talks about us being predestined to adoption through him along the bottom...and some of the letters in the verse will be made larger to spell out "LIFE" - so that far away, all you see is "CHOOSE LIFE" - but as you get closer, you see the verse! :) As soon as I get a picture of what it will look like, I'll post the picture on this blog! :)

Also, a dear friend of mine told me today that her friend, who is a personal chef, has offered to do a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for us! So...as soon as we have a location for the dinner, I'll share the details with you on that! :)

I'm so excited to see how God is moving to make this a reality for us! We are indeed blessed beyond measure!!! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

HUGE News!!!! :)

Yes, I know...for you faithful blog followers, it has been a LOOOOONNNNG time since I've posted a new blog. Life has a way of getting busy and I just haven't taken the time to blog lately. BUT, I have a feeling all that is about to change...because we've got some pretty BIG news to report...


Yep...you read that right! Christopher is going to be a BIG BROTHER!!! :) WOO HOO!!!

No...we are not pregnant (at least not in the traditional sense)...and for those of you a little more updated on our life than this blog, it's not because we are becoming foster parents, either. This happened completely out of the blue and we just know this all came straight from the hand of God! :) Here's how it happened...

Last week, we were in Atlanta for David to attend a conference for work. We checked our home messages online Wednesday evening and found out we had a message from the agency we went through to adopt Christopher. I was having problems playing the message on my iPad, so we tried calling, but the office was already closed. David finally got the messages to play on the laptop he brought from the office and we found out from that message that Christopher's birth mom is pregnant again! That's about all the information we had, but we knew that the Executive Director of the agency wasn't giving us that info just because! Still, we had to wait until Thursday to get the full details!

So...Thursday rolls around and I wait not-so-patiently for the Exec. Director (Kirk) to return my call. I all but attack him for the info when I finally received his call! He starts to tell me that Christopher's birth mom walked into his office a week before looking to put this baby up for adoption. She thinks she's about 2 months along, but they will know a more accurate due date after she goes for her first doctor's visit, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday (tomorrow), but has now been rescheduled to Wednesday (10/26/11). She said she would love to have us adopt the baby, and even had a dream that we DID adopt the baby. Kirk told her not to get too excited because he didn't know how we would feel about it, since it's been 7 1/2 years since we adopted Christopher. I could barely contain my own excitement and couldn't wait to tell him how much we wanted that baby! However, he wouldn't take my yes answer right away...he told me to talk it over with David. Little did he know, David and I had done nothing but talk about it since we'd listened to the message! I knew what the answer was...even though we didn't have a clue how we were going to afford it, we knew that there was no way we could turn away Christopher's biological half-sibling! Kirk later reported that when told Christopher's birth mom that we were very interested in adopting the baby, she was so happy that she was shaking! =)

So...here we are! We are excited, still a little in shock, uncertain how we're going to do this...but certain that just as God dropped this in our laps, He will provide a way! :)

What we need most from you is PRAYERS...and LOTS of them!!! Please pray that God will provide all we need financially to bring this baby home, pray for the health of the baby, pray for the health and salvation of the birth mother, and pray for our family as we wait for Christopher's sibling! :) If you feel God is guiding you to help us financially in any way, we would greatly appreciate it! In fact, I've set up an Avon adoption fundraiser on my website (www.youravon.com/kjansen). When you follow that link and get to my online store, click on "Online Events" - this will take you right to the event. Then, click "Shop My Online Event" to purchase products. Be sure that the code ADOPTION2 is in the Coupon Code box! When you do that, ALL of my earnings from this fundraiser will go toward our adoption fund! :) You can also email me at karaj927@hotmail.com to arrange a donation of any size, if you feel so led. Every little bit helps! =)

Christopher has been praying for a sibling for so long...and as much as we joined him in that prayer, we never imagined a biological sibling would ever be possible...but God knew! How Great is Our God!!!

As we know more info, I will post it on this blog...so check back often! =) God bless you!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Know What's Worser?

We got an early phone call this morning that David's mom was being taken to the hospital. She woke up feeling very dizzy and her blood pressure was through the roof. Last night, Christopher had talked us into letting him sleep in our bed, so he was awakened with the rest of us when the phone rang.


As David was getting ready to go to the hospital, Christopher looked at me with those big brown eyes and said,


"Can I tell you something?"


Not sure what he had on his mind, I said,


"Sure!"


He said, "You know what's even worser than being sick and going to the hospital?" His answer to this question was a single word that broke my heart...


"CANCER"


It breaks my heart that at the tender age of seven, he not only knows this word and what it means, but has lost two precious people in his life as a result of it. He followed up his single-word response with an understanding of what this word means far beyond his years. He said, "Cancer is something that takes over your body and then you die." While there are people who have lived long lives after this horrible diagnosis, for so many, his simple definition was true.


Last November, my cousin Karen lost her battle with colon cancer. Then just a little more than a week ago, my friend Kim lost her husband to brain cancer (see post below). Kim and Mike's son Cole is Christopher's friend (being only 8 months apart, they've practically known each other their whole lives). I think that hit Christopher harder than I realized.


When Karen lost her battle with cancer, Christopher could only think of one thing. "Does that mean Jonathan (Karen's youngest son) doesn't have a Mommy anymore?" When Mike lost his battle, Christopher didn't ask about Cole losing his Daddy...he just seemed to understand. Immediately after hearing the news, he began to pray. Later, I heard him ask friends at church to pray for his friend Cole because his Daddy died.


It just breaks my heart that my little boy and his friend have to know what cancer is...and how heartbreaking it can be. Please pray for a cure!



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today, A Little Boy Lost His Daddy

About 8 or so years ago, I joined the 2nd Grade team at Golden Terrace Elementary School as a long-term sub. I met a precious friend while teaching there...Kim. My friend Kim and her family are Jewish. I am a Christian. But, outside of that, we found we had so much in common that we became fast friends! Kim and I both struggled with infertility. It was while I was on maternity leave after Christopher was born that I found out my friend Kim was expecting! Eight months later, she gave birth to her pride and joy...a precious little boy named Cole!

Christopher and Cole are best buddies...just like their Mommies! :) While most of my time was spent with Kim & Cole, I did get to know her sweet hubby, Mike over the years and our families have been friends for many years. Several years ago, Mike, Kim, & Cole moved to the east coast of Florida. Mike was starting a new business with his brother. As often as our schedules would allow, Kim, Cole, Christopher and I would meet at Sawgrass Mills Mall for some Mommy/Son fun time. Occasionally, we would even let the hubbies join us on these trips. ;)

About a year and a half ago, Kim called me with the news that Mike had brain cancer. It's one of those moments that you never forget where you are when it happens. I was making Avon deliveries and had just pulled into a neighborhood. I had to pull over to the side of the road. Kim asked me to pray, and pray I did! I prayed for them. My Bible & Life Group at church prayed for them. Friends everywhere prayed for them.

I wish I could tell you that all those prayers were answered with a miracle. But, you probably already figured out from the title of this blog that wasn't the case. Mike fought a long, hard battle with this horrible disease. At 4:30pm on Thursday, April 7, 2011, Mike lost his hard-fought battle with brain cancer. He was surrounded by family and was not in any pain.

I cannot even begin to imagine what my precious friend Kim and her sweet son Cole are going through right now...but I'm praying for them and will be here for them if/when they need me. I do know that even though we don't understand it, God is still in control!

Tonight, we shared with Christopher that his friend Cole's dad died. After a few questions about how he died, Christopher said, "I need to pray!" He bowed his head in his hands and was there for several minutes. When he lifted his head, David told him that we needed to pray for Cole and his Mommy. Christopher said, "That's what I was doing!"

Please join us in praying for this precious family. We love them so much...and we know God loves them even more than we do! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Most Important Decision


It started like any other day. We had completed a morning of homeschooling and were out making Avon deliveries and running a couple of errands. As we usually do when riding around town in the car, Christopher and I were talking about a variety of topics...including his recent inability to play any games that involve guns due to him pointing his finger at me like a gun when I said something he didn't like the day before. We don't oppose guns in general (growing up in Alabama with a Dad & brother who love hunting, I don't think I could)...but we do promote the safe use of guns, including, but not limited to, not pointing them at people (including the finger variety, because I believe what is practiced in childhood often becomes the basis for what will be done in adulthood).


Christopher was asking some very good questions in general, and eventually our discussing came around to why pointing guns at people are bad...which we have talked about in basic terms before, but this time, Christopher's questions went deeper. This discussion led into what happens to people when they die. It was from this discussion that Christopher mentioned that he loved Jesus and he wanted to go to Heaven someday, and not the "other place that's dark and painful" (his words, not mine). I asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus in his heart and he said, "YES!" very emphatically! Since we were in the car, I suggested we wait until we got home and let Daddy be a part of this important time. Christopher agreed that would be a good idea and added that way I wouldn't have to close my eyes while driving! ;)


Our conversation moved to what it means to be a Christian and what happens when you accept Jesus as your Savior. We've had similar talks in the car before, but this one was different...more indepth. He really wanted to know all there was to know! I wish I could remember the whole conversation...why is it that there's never a video camera running when I need one?


When we got home later that evening, we prayed together as a family and Christopher asked Jesus to be his Savior. It was one of the proudest moments of my life! What a blessing it was to be there for every step of the process!


Later, I realized that I was Christopher's age when I prayed a very similar prayer! It was on Mother's Day that I walked down the aisle of my grandfather's church and made my public profession of faith. Things will come full-circle for me this weekend as Christopher makes that same public profession of his own faith!