Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10 Days till Esty's 10th Birthday!!


In 10 days, Esty will celebrate her 10th birthday.

Or, what she knows as "celebrate."

Every single one of her birthdays she has been without a family.

EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

And now this year she turns "double digits."

Around here, we make a big deal about that. I wonder, will they do that for her?

My heart absolutely aches for my daughter half a world away.

As you may know, Esty has been waiting for a family for over 9 years. She was abandoned at 9 months of age...probably when she should have begun to crawl or walk and it was discovered that she could not.

Studies have proven that in the 9-11 month range, babies begin to develop their fears of being left. Separation anxiety. Have you dropped off a clingy, tear-filled 9 month old baby at the church nursery? It's a developmental stage. They are attached to you. They don't want you to vanish from their sight. They fear you leaving.

And that's what happened to our Esty. For real.

No one came back for her.

Alone.

Without anyone to tuck her in at night. To calm her fears, to celebrate her successes. To encourage her that she will be chosen for adoption...one day.
This is the first picture in her file. She is 5 years old. This means that no one prepared her file for adoption for years...they didn't think anyone would choose her with her specific needs. She waited in the orphanage for 4 years and 3 months before they deemed her worthy of being adopted.

{Oh. My heart.}

Well my friends, November 8th is going to be her FINAL birthday in an orphanage!!! It may be her double digit day, but it's going to be an exciting one...because we are going to get her OUT OF THERE!!!!

I want to share this video of our sweet girl here, and you don't have to watch all of it, but I want you to see how special she is. How focused, careful, intelligent and gentle she is. Notice how well she works with her hands. And if you do choose to finish the video, you will see her sweet smile over her success in creating her origami boat! (they turn the camera right side up at the :22 mark!)

video

Now, I have an idea.
(A momma who wants to bring her daughter home gets ideas in the middle of the night!) :)

There are TEN DAYS until Esty's TENTH birthday. 

As you can see, she cannot walk, but loves to work with her hands. We have asked the nannies and they have told us her favorite animal is a bunny rabbit.

I bought my girl a bunny puzzle. It looks like this:
I think she is going to LOVE working on putting it together after she comes home!

How cool would it be if people who HELPED HER COME HOME had their names on the backs of those 300 pieces that she will work with her sweet hands? Do you think this might be meaningful to her?

I do.

So here's my challenge: for the next TEN DAYS, I'd like to find people who will celebrate Esty's 10th birthday by donating $10 to help bring her home from that orphanage.

Each $10 gift will be celebrated by your name on the back of a piece of her bunny puzzle. If you choose to give more, you can just have your name on several pieces!

We are hoping to close the gap on our remaining $19,000 we need to go and get her! 
We are currently waiting on our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) that will begin our time clock of 3 months till we travel to bring her home! (We currently estimate going in February!)

If you choose to celebrate with us, you can use the donate button below or click here to give to our Adopt Together account. (Adopt Together donations will receive a tax deductible receipt.) Either place is wonderful!

Let's let Esty know how much we want her home and how much we want her to have a HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY!!!!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Adopt Shoppe Auction Time!!!

One of the 20 being auctioned off!

What's better than Christmas???

YOU being READY for it! :)

And I've got an AWESOME way...

The Adopt Shoppe's necklaces!!! 

There are TWENTY that are being auctioned off over on our "Shaw Family Adoption" page on Facebook. The auction runs through 9 pm EST this Saturday.

That means you've got to get bidding to WIN!

If you are not familiar with The Adopt Shoppe, let me strongly encourage you to follow them on Instagram and to like their page on Facebook

Owner Kate has a passion for orphans and adoption and is a busy mom of 4 herself! She has adopted some of her clan and understands the need for fundraising. She graciously holds fundraisers occasionally and we are SOOOOOO HONORED to have her do this for our family!

That said, The Adopt Shoppe does not keep stock of their necklaces. She makes them late at night (like a good Proverbs 31 woman! ;) ) and she will often sell her work (bracelets too!) on Instagram with flash sales. They are so fun to watch! (and very hard to win!)

I also wanted to show you the quality of her work as I have my own personal necklace that she made for me recently:


Sideview
 See how the glass domes? Isn't that sooooo cool? You can't really tell that from the pictures, so I wanted to show you JUST HOW COOL they really are!!!!


So I HOPE you can see that these are awesome gifts and a wonderful wonderful idea for your Christmas shopping!! Don't let this auction pass you by!!

Here's a few more of the ones that are in our sale:








And MANY MORE!!! Hop on over and take a peek!! You could be the most AMAZING SANTA this year!! ;) 

Click here to go directly to the auction.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Celebrating is What We Do!




October.

It's full of awesome reasons to celebrate!!

Not only are the leaves turning such gorgeous colors and the apple butter is scenting up the house so lovely...we have SO MANY REASONS TO CELEBRATE!!!



Our 17th anniversary!! (my how time is flying!!)



Zeb's 5th birthday!!



Toby's re-adoption! (and successful trip to get his name corrected on his social security card!)



Apple picking with family!



Puppy visiting!



Watching our girls act in the Little Mermaid!


Oliver's 8th birthday!! (you are SO right, that's not a picture of his birthday...because it's next week! BUT, we can celebrate that his passport is being applied for! Celebrate EVERYTHING!!)

Not to mention a special friend's birthday and a trip home to see our families!

Just wanted to share a few favorite pics of these recent days...

Hope you are busy celebrating the joys of autumn with your loved ones too!!


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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How God Broke Me for Special Needs Adoption


What does it take for God to take us from a place of selfishness comfort to move into a realm of discomfort and unknown where things are intimidating and downright scary?

Sometimes, it just takes a child.

Jovia Richards was that child for me.

Without her, we would not have Toby as our son. And Esty would not be on her way here.

Let me back up.

We had already brought Zeb home from Uganda, and we were attending a conference called More 4 Orphans at the Vineyard in Columbus, Ohio.

I was hoping to meet Wess Stafford of Compassion (I did!) as well as a few of my favorite online friends from Project Hopeful and also Salem Richards, who has adopted 3 special needs children from Uganda.

I also was looking forward to meeting Nicolle Bompart whose husband had just died a few months prior from a gunshot wound while serving orphans in Haiti. I just had to meet this amazing woman! I attended her breakout session for the purpose of meeting her. The subject of the breakout? Special needs adoption. She even said, "If you are here, it's because God is doing something in your heart to adopt a special needs child," and I thought, "well, not me, I'm just here to meet you..." 

Little did I realize that she was RIGHT!

After her session, I found my friend Salem and delighted in a hug. I quickly realized, she had come to the conference WITH her children. And here was her daughter Jovia...who was born without arms and without legs.

Smiling at me.

With dimples.
Before I could think, I heard myself ask if I could hold her.

"Of course!" was the reply.

My heart raced as I bent down to scoop her up. A million thoughts raced through my head. Emotions flooded my heart, emotions that are now untraceable.

But when I held her, felt her warmth and watched her take her teeth to play with my conference name tag, I felt something move.

It was as big as a planet moving off it's orbit. 

I came unglued.

All my previous thoughts of why I personally would never consider a special needs child simply crumbled. This warm, sweet, happy girl was changing me. On the spot.

All the "why nots" left.

I suddenly only saw her. Jovia. A priceless treasure. A person.

And really, that's what needs to happen. 

We need to see the PERSON,

not the CONDITION,

not the SPECIAL NEED,

not the DIFFERENCE. 

We come to realize these children are really like any other child.

Any other orphan.

Or maybe, just maybe, they are even more special...because they have been rejected time and time again...for reasons far beyond their control.

Jesus loves the unlovable. "The least of these," He calls them.

Precious children!!!

What I've come to find out is that they are only perceived as the "least of these." In actuality, they are TRUE TREASURES that bring deep joy to families who say YES to them.

And they change you too. In such good ways.

So often people say things to me like, "Oh I could never do that!" when they hear we are adopting yet another child and this one being in a wheelchair. 

I answer, "Oh I cannot either! But Jesus will use me to love and minister to this child in ways I cannot yet anticipate!"

This is what Jovia gave me.

A new willingness.

An interest in special kids.

A desire to parent those whom before I thought were for "other people."

I began looking for who it might be that God would have me love.

And then I "stumbled" onto the blog post where I read about "Bo" who became our Toby.

And the rest? Well, I'd like to say it's all history...

...but it's still in process!

But it IS history: His-story.

God's story of working in and through me to love and parent needy children.

What a wild adventure of walking with Him in places I never thought I wanted to go! But as I follow Him there, I find such great joy that I only want to press deeper in and find more of Jesus!

Want in?? I sure can understand why!!! 

Now sit here a little longer and delight in the awesome video The Archibald Project made on my friend Salem and her precious family! Who knows how Jovia might minister to your heart through this! 



The Richards Family Adoption Story from The Archibald Project on Vimeo.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adoption is a Calling


It was in the middle of the movie...when I first heard His voice.

"Will you go?" I heard in my heart.

As the movie continued, I was no longer watching the story from the outside, but I was seeing myself in that situation and all I could hear, see or think were the words,

"WILL YOU GO?????????"

I looked around me, were others hearing these words too?

My heart began to race. I felt adrenaline shoot through my body.

"Would I go?" Over and over the question repeated itself.

I was trying to watch a movie with my friends...but God was up to something far greater.

"Will you go? Will you go? Will you go?" the Holy Spirit repeated.

Finally I got up and ran out of the auditorium. I had to get out. To run.

As my feet hit the pavement, the words came over and over again, "Will you go? Will you go?"

I ran back to my dorm room and went into the dark laundry room where washers were churning out stains.

"Will you go? Will you go? Will you go?" the washers even rhythmically repeated the very same words.

I closed the door and fell against it with my back. A deep breath to try and calm myself didn't really work. I knew SOMETHING BIG was happening.

I prayed, "Lord, I don't really understand what you mean by "will I go," but I WILL go. Just show me."

These were my words over 23 years ago.

Fast forward to September 2013. I have lived a lot of life since then. The call to GO has been interpreted in my life as to GO to the nations and be a missionary.

And I have been so so so blessed to have that experience. Many times over, in multiple nations, cultures and environments.

But then, God stopped our overseas work. How did He do it? 

We lost our son Oskar.

{sigh. sweet boy. i'll never stop missing you.}

We never saw it as a stopping point, but our great Creator God who has mighty plans for us all, used it as such.

For years now, I have struggled with trying SO HARD, SO STINKING HARD, to get back overseas. To do mission work once again. To sink deep into a foreign culture, soaking in another new language, making friendships, living life alongside a people not my own.

I ache to do this. It's been set deep inside me.

Yet I remain here. My own culture, people who generally look like me. 

And we all speak English.

And shop at Walmart. (small town, don't judge.)

But, God has been up to something...something I had not expected!

(this is going to seem obvious to you perhaps, but I'm a bit slow...)

We have been adopting.

And as many, many people who have known our hearts to GO GO GO to the nations have said, "Look! God is bringing the nations to YOU!"

After about the fifth person said that, I started to HEAR it.

Hmmmm???? 

And then, a few weeks back, our pastor had us stand as he read these words from Romans 10:14-15:

"But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

And I gasped.

All this time. All this time I had understood my calling of "will you go" to mean that I had to be physically leave my home country and dwell in a foreign land...and do ministry.

But alas! God has so many creative ideas!! (Just look up in the sky at night and be amazed!!)

God's calling on my life that moment, was consistent with His word in Matthew 28:19-20:

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

O. My. Soul.

All this time I thought I had to be living in a place where I bought my food from hawkers sitting over their produce in markets where I must barter for the best deal.

I thought I had to live a life where I took taxis for transportation.

Where I spoke languages not my own.

Where I had to miss out on major extended family events because I was a world away.

But actually? Actually????

God has brought the nations here. 


Just look at them. Sitting on my couch. Playing with one another and some balloons. 

The nations.

Small children, who were orphans. Here. In my house. On my couch. In clothes that I bought. Eating food that I cook.

The nations.

"Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations...as an inheritance for you," says Psalm 2:8

Wow. I sang that song in Haiti...never clueing in to this future meaning.

And that moment in church back in September when I gasped over the reading of Romans 10?

I realized that ADOPTION is a fulfillment of my calling.

"Will you go?"

It has meant many things in my lifetime. (and I ever hope and pray to go overseas again once we raise all these precious children!)

But one of the most important ways WILL YOU GO has been lived out in my life...

...is to go and bring home the orphan.

Wow. Somehow, in the midst of all the fundraising and the paperwork, I'd missed the big picture.

So, how is adoption a CALLING?

So often people use the phrase, "I'm called to adopt."

But what does that mean????

It means the most personal type of ministry possible. EVER.

Instead of going and living overseas, you bring the overseas orphan back into your world. (Obviously this is international adoption I am speaking of. I fully support domestic adoption, but am writing about my own process here.)

Instead of going and opening yourself to new friendships, languages, cultures, foods and seeking out those whom God directs you to minister to...you are focused on ONE HEART. (maybe more!) 

You are not just meeting with a few people to train them in God's Word and hope to see them next week...no, you have brought them home.

Around your table, into your bathtub, into your routines.

You do their laundry, you wipe their bottoms. 

You kiss their boo boos, you wipe their noses, you clean up their vomit.

They crawl into bed with you when they are frightened, you correct their ugly behavior and point them to Jesus.

This is UPCLOSE and PERSONAL, baby.

This. Is. Ministry.

On the most invasive and personal level.

And it's life-long. With life-long, generational impact.

Your grandchildren will not look like you.

You don't just give up your home culture and holidays with your mom and dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. 

You get those.

But you bring a needy, hurting heart into an environment of safety.

You become a safe place for a very hurting child.

You become a healing home. You become a conduit for which Jesus does slow miracles of healing.

Your daily life becomes a slow cooker for God to do His most amazing work--not just in those former orphans lives either...He does them in YOU too.

Through these hurting children, a mighty light shines upon your own heart.

You see yourself in ways you would have never known. You see things IN yourself you never have seen.

And there is ugliness there. Selfishness. Desire for comfort, for easy. For calm. 

And Jesus touches you. Brings His Spirit and softens. He changes you.

The job of the adoptive parent is to HOST.

You are hosting the long, deep healing of Jesus in the lives of the children you have grafted into your family.

It is slow.

You do not need to fix. He fixes.

You do not need to even understand the depth of their ache. Their hurt. Their trauma.

You need to give them safety, unconditional acceptance, routine...and Jesus.

You keep giving them Jesus.

And often, you need to back up from the moment at hand and SEE.

You need to remember what greater thing is being done in your midst. 

God Himself has chosen your family, your home, your life to become His canvas for His marvelous healing work in His precious children.

Hurting children. Adoption never happens without hurt.

You don't lose your birth family without ache. Without scars.

You don't endure abandonment without repercussions.

You don't survive abuse without impact.

And God has called YOU to bring them into your most intimate space and allow everything of theirs to hang out.

And it ain't pretty.

It ain't easy.

But it is rewarding.

"But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Romans 10 says.

How can they respond to Jesus when they are sitting in orphanages or on the streets fighting for their very lives?

How can their deeper spiritual needs be met when they are cold? When they are hungry? When they are unprotected from predators? 

When they have no one to hold them? No one to tell them, "You are so special," or "you are mine?"

Adoption is the MOST personal type of ministry. 

And there is no furlough.

There is no "going home."

This is permanent.

Your life, your family, your future is now bound up with these children. 

Children who will grow up differently...because you were called to this.

Children who will test you in ways you never dreamed possible.

Children who have deep needs that you never knew existed.

Children who will bring you greater joy than you have ever dreamed.

Children who are 100% YOURS. And you are 100% theirs.

Adoption is indeed a CALLING.

And for me, it is the ultimate fulfillment of the Spirit asking me "Will you go?" back 23 years ago. 

~~~~~~~~
Several weeks ago, some nasty articles came out where children's stories were told about being passed around from adoptive home to adoptive home. These reports deeply grieved me. I prayed long and hard about how to respond. 

What came to the surface for me, was the incredible need for SUPPORT for the families who have said YES to the fatherless. 

As well as on the front end, helping people wade through the question of "is adoption right for me?"

I truly believe that adoption is amazing. It is truly incredible. 

I love adoption.

But it is NOT right for everyone. Clearly.

If you are not willing to have your life turned upside down by someone who has intense needs, then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are not willing to rely completely upon Jesus for your every need, (because you will NOT be able to handle it--I promise!!), then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are hoping to create a "colorful" family because more and more people are doing this, then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are willing to let God do a mighty work within you, your family and a child you adopt, then adoption may be RIGHT for you.

If you are willing to become a healing home for a hurting child, then adoption may be right for you.

If you are willing to turn over all your plans to God, then adoption may be right for you.

I pray this helps.


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Books for Baby---TAKE TWO!!



So...when we were fundraising last year to bring Toby home...we couldn't resist having an Usborne book sale be part of it!


Fast forward nearly one year and here we are: our hearts are smitten with yet another special needs orphan waiting for a family in China.

And we have another fabulous opportunity to fundraise by an online party with Usborne!

Just to say...my kids got their books for Christmas last year. 
 
That was a full 9 months ago.

And they are STILL reading them. Daily.

Seriously!!

(I know because I'm picking up messes CON.STANT.LY. and it's books. And it's THOSE BOOKS!) Full disclosure: it's also plenty of dirty socks, empty cups and bowls, dress up clothes, toy cars, etc too! ;)

I think their favorites are the non-fiction variety. I'm definitely ordering more for the boys' birthdays this month! (shhhhh!) And probably for Christmas too!

If you would like to get some amazing books for your loves, we are hosting this party through the END of NOVEMBER 2013. 100% of the commission will be donated to help us bring Esty home!!

What's cool is that you can order now, and it will ship now! No waiting until the party closes! :)

You can start shopping by clicking this link...or using the "SHOP" tab at the top and seeing the other ways we are currently fundraising to bring our sweet girl home!

THANK YOU!!!!

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