Friday, October 14, 2016

Help Us Bring Kate Home!

Get excited friends! Today we're announcing a tangible way that you can be a part of bringing our daughter home! After a 4 year and 8 month adoption journey, we have finally created a fundraising page for our adoption. Check it out here!

Our adoption process has been very difficult, and we're so grateful that we haven't had to fundraise until now. We don't make a lot of money in the line of work that we do (they call it a non-profit for a reason! Haha!) - but so far our adoption fees have been paid through an adoption grant we were awarded from Help Us Adopt, and a gift from a very generous family member. Unfortunately, as our adoption journey has continued on much longer than we ever anticipated, costs have increased. 
Not only have we had to pay renewal fees (during our lengthy process), but we recently lost our home study agency (they are having financial issues) and we had to start over with a new agency for the remainder of our adoption. This cost us an additional $850 that was not in our budget. We also found out that our daughter's Certificate of Citizenship cost is set to increase soon from around $600 to more than $1,100.
We are hoping to travel to meet Kate sometime in the next 3-6 weeks, and we plan to stay in Thailand for at least a month (to allow our daughter some time to adjust while remaining in her home country). Our agency agrees that is the best thing for our daughter, and they believe it will give her the best chance for a healthy transition. Unfortunately, we might be traveling near or during the holidays, which could make travel more expensive. We may also have to book flights last minute - which increases the price as well. So we’ve decided to do a little fundraiser to help off-set some of our travel expenses (and to help us handle some of these unexpected increases).

We bought these very special leather bracelets on our last trip to Thailand. They were handmade by a Thai artisan and stamped with the words “Waiting for Kate” and “James 1:27”. If you’d like to buy one (or more than one) it would certainly be a blessing to us! We hope they’ll serve as a reminder to pray for our daughter (while we wait to get her, while we’re in Thailand together, and after we’re home and transitioning together too!) and as a reminder to pray for orphans around the world!

For those of you who simply want to give a donation, you can choose to donate through our page, or you can add a donation to your bracelet order. If you prefer to send a donation via mail, please make out the check to Rusty Jackson and write "adoption" in the memo line. You can mail your check to: PO Box 320044, Birmingham, AL 35212. [These donations are not tax deductible.]

Thank you in advance for helping us bring Kate home! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Thailand, we mourn with you.

We awoke this morning to heartbreaking news from Thailand. Today we are mourning with our Thai friends and family over the death of their beloved King.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej accomplished so many wonderful things for his country during his 70 year reign. He was the longest reigning monarch in history, and I have never seen any leader more loved or respected than he was. He helped make Thailand the great nation it is today - through healthcare improvements, educational and economic programs, and great developments in agriculture and water conservation... among many other accomplishments far too lengthy to list here. We have always admired his devotion to his country and his love for his people, and their love for him.

For many days and years to come, his people will grieve the loss of their devoted King and faithful Father. Though our daughter may not fully understand this loss, she too will join her people in a time of mourning. Our hearts are broken for our little girl and for her beautiful country. Please pray for Thailand during this difficult time.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Light in the Darkness

That last blog was tough to read, wasn't it? It was tough to write too. It's still hard to see all those difficult things in black and white... and harder still to know there are even more challenges we've faced over the past 6 weeks that I can't share publicly. I'm not being dramatic when I say that I have been in the pit of despair. I have cried almost every day (sometimes multiple times a day) for more than a month. It's been brutal friends... there is nothing else I can say about it but that. Brutal.

BUT GOD.... 
(aren't those two words powerful?) 

But God wouldn't let us stay in the dark for too long before the light broke through. It turns out, He hadn't completely abandoned us after all. (Big surprise.... right? ;)

Last Wednesday I spent the morning in my counselor's office... crying until I couldn't see and baring my soul to a kind, compassionate stranger who worked to comfort me in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. The last we heard from our adoption agency, our Article 16 had "apparently not been issued", although they'd told us earlier in the month that it had. We knew that most families wait 7-10 months for this approval, and we were once again facing that timeline (which would mean we would miss another Christmas with our daughter and her 4th birthday). But God...

I left our counselor's office and noticed a text from Rusty to call him as soon as I got out. My heart sank. When I heard the stress in his voice, it sank even lower. "Are you coming home?" he asked. "No, I was going to run some errands," I responded. "You need to come home," he urged. After the handful of "bad news" phone calls we've had in the past few weeks, I just knew something else had gone wrong. "What's happened now?" I sighed - exhausted by the possibilities. And then he said some of the most beautiful words I've ever heard...

"We got our Article 16 from Thailand! 
We're APPROVED!!!!!!! 
I'm holding it in my hands right now!"

I cannot even begin to describe the flood of emotions I felt in that moment. After crying all my sad tears in the counselor's office just moments earlier, I burst into fresh tears of joy right there in the parking lot. Once I composed myself, I rushed home to complete our next round of paperwork so our agency could Fed-Ex it to US Immigration that afternoon.

For those of you asking, "What is an Article 16? What on earth does this mean?" - allow me to explain. Our Article 16 is a HUGE approval from the Thai government. It is the paperwork that allows us to take custody of our daughter, and bring her home to the US. It's the next step that we've been waiting on before we could move forward in our process. And it usually takes 7-10 months (or longer) to receive.

But somehow - by the grace of God - ours was approved in 4 months and 2 weeks. (It turns out it was actually approved September 7th! Our agency was mistaken when they told us it hadn't been!) This is an incredible miracle!!!

So - what's next? We have already taken the next step to apply for our I800 (US Immigration Approval). This usually takes 2-3 weeks or longer. Then we have to submit our DS260 (to request that Kate's visa is printed while we're in Thailand). If everything goes according to schedule - we should be traveling to get our daughter sometime in the next 4 - 8 weeks!!!!

I still can't wrap my mind around that possibility. My heart and head are completely overwhelmed! We have gone from utter devastation to exhilarating joy in a matter of days. It's still hard for me to believe it's true.

And while I am SO joyful and grateful and excited... I'd be lying if I said that everything is okay now. I still don't know what that "August" word from God meant. I still have a lot of questions for God about our adoption, and what we've endured. Both Rusty and I still have a lot to work through from the past 6 weeks (and past 4 years and 7 months) of this difficult process. So I will continue to see my counselor, and we will continue to press in to get as healthy as possible before we travel (and after we're home). But friends - it feels so good to have HOPE again.

God has been revealing some things to me about His faithfulness (despite our recent circumstances) that I'll try to share here soon... but for now, will you please pray with us for the rest of our process? It would be a dream come true if we could manage to make it to the November 2nd Adoption Board Meeting (but that would mean we would have to fly to Thailand the last week of October - and it would mean our next 2 approvals would have to happen really quickly!) Please pray with us for these approvals to happen AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Pray for no more delays or errors or issues. Pray for us to be able to book travel quickly (and for our flights not to be too terribly expensive, since they will likely be booked close to our travel time). Pray for our hearts and minds as we do all the final preparation to bring Kate home. And please pray for our sweet baby girl. The day we meet her will be one of the happiest days of our lives.... but one of the hardest for her. Please pray for God to prepare her heart to join our family.