Scary finances

Folks, adoption is expensive. Not just expensive, but we could buy a really nice car for what we are spending on this adoption. Every country, including the US, has different fees and they all add up to tens of thousands of dollars. That being said, we are hardcore fundraising starting NOW. We racked up over $4,000 in scarf sales through my Etsy shop last year (visit the shop here) and will be attempting to raise more funds through the store this upcoming fall. We will be brainstorming more fundraising opportunities, such as designing T shirts to sell, BBQ/pancake/spaghetti dinners, adoption yard sales, etc and we are also going on a relatively tight budget in case we don’t reach our fundraising goal by the time we fly to Ethiopia. We know the enormous cost of an adoption and while we believe God can move mountains and 100% fund this adoption through other means, we are willing to sacrifice a good amount of our savings to bring this child home. The one good thing about being on a waiting list for years for a referral for our particular country is that we have all that time to raise funds.

We have also been approved for a matching grant through The Summit’s Orphan Care Ministry. If we raise at least $2,000 through online/check donations via Lifesong, our church will match it. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DO THIS. Lifesong is an organization that exists to help adoptive families fund their adoption through grants and interest-free loans. Here is how to give to our matching grant fund:

 PLEASE NOTE THE SUPER EASY “DONATE NOW” BUTTON VIA PAYPAL AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG

GIVE BY CHECK: 

Please make check payable to Lifesong for Orphans

**In the memo please note your gift preference with our family number #4591 and Shrader family.**

(if you don’t put the memo, we may not get your donation)

Please mail checks to:

Lifesong for Orphans

PO Box 40

Gridley, IL 61744

GIVE ONLINE:

Go to: www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate

Click: Give to an adoptive family

Complete online form and fill in #4591 in Acct # and Shrader family in Family Name fields

**Please note that PayPal will charge an administrative fee (2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee. Individual donations $250 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $250 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.**

Our fundraising goal date will be September 8, 2014.  However, our account remains open and donations will be accepted until our child is home or adoption is complete – whichever is later.

In an effort to be transparent through the adoption process and honest with people donating to our fund, we have included a breakdown of what we have already paid and what we owe. We have currently raised all of the money for the expenses so far from the Etsy shop and donations. Here is the breakdown:

All fees below are paid and taken care of:

Homestudy: $1500

USCIS Immigration/Fingerprints: $900

Agency application fee: $250

Agency fee upon application acceptance: $2,667

Miscellaneous fees (mailings, notarizations, homestudy fees, dossier fees): estimation around $300

TOTAL we’ve raised so far: $5, 617…which is AMAZING

All fees below are yet to come:

Agency fee at completion of home study: $2,667

Agency fee at completion of dossier: $2,667

Homestudy update fee (after birth of new baby): $800 plus costs of background checks and fingerprints

Dossier fee: $625

USCIS application fee after referral: unsure

FedEx account to send the dossier to Ethiopia:  $345

Crossings training: $200

Referral fee (1 child): $12,000 ($8,000 each additional child)

Foster care fee: $750

Airfare for two trips to Ethiopia and back (at least 4 adult round trip-maybe 1 child, 1 child one-way): $9500

Hotel accommodations (2 1 week stays): $700

Parent visas: $80

Transportation in Ethiopia: $500

Adopted child’s US Visa: $230

Food (per person): $200

TOTAL: $31, 264

I’m going to be honest here. Looking at that number almost gives me a heart attack. Adoption is definitely a God thing. The waiting is difficult, the cost is enormous and the paperwork is a bear. Being obedient to the Word means caring for the orphan. This does not mean every believer should adopt or foster. Caring for the orphan could mean helping fund an adoption, supporting adoptive families in your church/community, joining the Big Brother/Big Sister organization, being a guardian ad litum, etc. We are very blessed to have a church community that emphasizes orphan care with our Orphan Care Ministry, because we realize a lot of people go through this process alone. If you are reading this and realize you are not in a position to adopt, please consider helping to fund our adoption and/or pray for our process. It takes a village to raise a child and you can be a part of ours.

 

In Him,

The Shraders

Advertisements

One year later

Today marks one year since we said goodbye to our firstborn, Cora. One year. I can’t believe time has moved that quickly. The months after we lost her last summer, we were frozen in sorrow. I thought the pain may never subside but we eventually moved through those first few months and into a new normal. All of your prayers and God’s grace are solely responsible. Yes, the saying is true: “time heals all wounds” but only partially. We are not healed from our pain, but we realize it’s only a temporary affliction. I still cry when I think about her, especially when I’m hold her baby sister Lydia. I could be holding Cora. Cora would be turning one year old this summer and we could be having a party to celebrate her first year of life, not remembering her death.

Life can be cruel. But, God is good. He brought us closer to each other and closer to Him throughout our experience with Cora. God blessed us just a few months later with a positive pregnancy test, a completely normal pregnancy and text book delivery. It’s crazy to think that Cora had such an extremely rare condition, with all of her organs growing on the outside of her little, fragile body and within months I can have a completely healthy baby girl. I cannot reason God’s ways and I’m not sure why He had us experience Cora, but I’m thankful He did.

Since Lydia was born two weeks ago, I’ve been overly emotional about my feelings for Cora (probably due to my hormones). Just walking into Lydia’s room (originally Cora’s) and reading her a book makes me yearn to be reading it to Cora. I also think they look alike; Lydia has her nose (the Shrader nose) and her dark hair. Last year, we were worried we didn’t bond with Cora because we knew her outcome was grim and time was so short. The feeling about calling bereavement services to come pick up her body that day and the way we still feel today lets me know our bond is strong. My heart shattered into a million different pieces after that call to take her body away. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done in our lives to say goodbye to her, knowing we would never see her again in this world.

Cora changed us. She was a reminder from God that this life is temporary. Our wants and needs are not important, because they can be taken from us in an instant. I hope to remind myself of this when Lydia ventures out into the world when she’s grown. We hope and pray she chooses to follow God in her life, but God gave her to us temporarily also. If He calls her home or out into the world to spread the Good News, then we must let her go.

Cora also changed the world. I still get messages from people who came across this blog  to tell me how much reading it affected them. I’ve had a few people tell me a family member just got the same diagnosis for their baby and they want advice from me as to how to approach them with love and grace. Reading these messages from people who are affected by Cora helps me grieve in a healthy way. I know that through this blog and through us all telling people about her life, her legacy lives on.

We hope to help those who are experiencing grief. We want to share our lives and our hope in Christ, because only He can satisfy. We’ve been so blessed by everyone praying for us, caring for us, and demonstrating Christ so we can show the world how we are meant to love one another. So if you have questions, ask. If you find yourself seeking the Father because we lost a daughter, then it makes it worthwhile. We fix our eyes of the prize and run the race He’s set before us. We are abounding the love and peace of God, knowing that at the end of our lives, we’ll meet our ultimate Father and our first daughter. And with God’s grace, we’ll meet those people who Cora helped along their path. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you 1 Peter 5:10.

 

cora1

Cora Kimberly Shrader

7/2/14

1 lb 2 oz

11.75 inches

 

In Him,

Josh, Rebecca, Cora and Lydia Shrader

The Dreaded Dossier

I knew a dossier was an official document related to international processes before we began the adoption process. I did not know if we would be required to complete one for our adoption, nor did I know how much stress this one word could place on a person. I heard about all the paperwork involved in completing an adoption, but I thought it would be integrated with our home study (which, thanks to our case worker and agency, was a complete breeze). Turns out, every international adoption requires a dossier. The purpose of this post is to answer  questions about our place in the process, and hopefully clue in any potential adoptive parents.

The domestic adoption process is significantly different from the international process. There is a similar home study (pretty much every detail of your childhood and marriage/relationship/child rearing skills), but you may have to write it yourself, depending on the adoption agency. From our limited experience, this seems to be a fairly different process for domestic than international. For a domestic adoption, you collect pictures of your family, your house, likes/dislikes and put them into a book for the birth mother to look through when choosing families. In our home study, we had forms to complete but our case worker met with us three times to help fill out our biographies and write about our relationship and home environment. That written study is then submitted for approval. Once approved, there was no biography picture book for us to fill out, just the dreaded paperwork. Contrarily, completed homestudies for domestic cases can then move to agencies to be potentially paired with a child.

After reading of some requirements from countries other than Ethiopia, I realize we may actually have less paperwork. We have lots of documents that have to be originals, some we have already collected for our home study that we have to obtain and complete again. Almost all of these forms have to be notarized and most have to be original “certified” copies. Looking at the list, I have a mini panic attack, but we soldier through and have been steadily working through the list, checking off forms one by one. I want to take my time, ensuring we do it correctly the first time, as it can delay the whole process. Then the tricky part comes in; all forms have to be no more than 6 months old at the time of submission. Some of the forms leftover from the home study have exceeded that time frame by now. Which means we have to obtain them a second time. It is an all-together frustrating and stressful time of the adoption. However, this is the bulk of the pre -child paperwork for our adoption. There will be paperwork in the future, but not this much and not at one time.

I’m trying to step back, breathe, be as organized as possible. Take it slow instead of rushing to get it all turned in, like my Type A personality would usually approach tasks. Adoption is a challenging process for everyone, period. It’s a lot of politics, paperwork, and emotions all wrapped into a helping a child. Since we don’t have a referral for a child yet, so we don’t have a specific person to focus our motivation on. We constantly need to remind ourselves that this is worth it. All the stress and red tape is worth a child’s life.

In our particular situation, the fact that I could go into labor any minute adds to the already stressful circumstances. Getting the nursery ready, having showers and working full-time distracts us from completing a good amount of the paperwork. Finding time is difficult. Most of the documents we’re waiting on are ones  we have to send off or complete during our work hours. This is awkward to manage while I save up time-off for maternity leave. Our goal is to get everything in by the end of July, within our 6 month window for most of our paperwork, the homestudy particularly. If you’re reading this and you were considering adopting, it’s important to read and consider the necessary steps before you make a huge commitment like this. If I hadn’t had friends that just went through the process and a church family with answers, I would be incredibly lost.  I felt it could be helpful to others to compile a list of all of the paperwork we have to complete for the dossier:

Note: This is for our agencies, foreign and domestic, and Ethiopia, not a comprehensive universal all situation/countries list.

1. Letter of intent: This is a letter, written, signed and notarized to the Ethiopian authorities stating why we are adopting, why Ethiopia and what kind of life we can provide for a child here in America.

2. Original, certified birth certificates: Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that I was adopted by my stepdad and have had to track where they keep my birth certificate.

3. Original, certified marriage license

4. “Good Conduct” letters from the Local Police Department: This is a signed and notarized local background check from your hometown. (This is after doing a national background check, with fingerprints…twice, and a state background check.)

5. Original medical report: This is also notarized by a doctor during a physical exam. The agency sent us a pretty general form to get them to fill out.

6. Two original copies of our home study, which also have to be notarized.

7. USCIS approval (I-171H): This is our immigration approval. We had to fill out paperwork and get fingerprinted for the second time, to be approved to bring a child into this country.

8. Letter of employment verification stating hours, compensation and years work signed and notarized for both parents.

9. A letter from our bank stating we are in good standing with them, signed and notarized.

10. A financial statement form signed and notarized: This is a standard form the agency sent us to find out our debt-income ratio.

11. Letters from each health insurance agency stating we have a policy.

12. Letters from our life insurance agency stating we have policies on all members of the family.

13. Three letters of reference: We already turned in three letters of reference for our home study, but these should be new. They should be from friends and family favoring our position to adopt, also notarized.

14. Obligation of adoption-reporting commitment: This is a standarized form the agency included for us to sign and get notarized.

15. Three original Power of Attorney forms, signed and notarized.

16. Color copies of passports

17. Passport photos of both parents

18. Tax returns from past 2 years. 2012 and 2013 for us

These are all the paper forms we have to include and send to our agency through Fed Ex, who then sends it to the Ethiopian agency’s US headquarters (West Sands), who then sends it to Ethiopia. If we have even a small, minuscule mistake they will send it back to us and our referral will be delayed that much longer. Once the dossier is approved, we are then in the looooooooooonnnnggg waiting period for a referral. Waiting for a referral for a child can be anywhere from one to two years, provided Ethiopia does not close to international adoption (see Russia, Congo, Guatemala).  I’ll refer to this time as the “raise as much money as humanly possible for our waiting child and try not to freak out” period. Essentially, we may be driving everyone crazy with our fundraising ideas (more on the cost of our adoption and how we’re financially planning to conquer costs in a later blog post).

If the process so far sounds overwhelming and stressful, you understand our pain. If it doesn’t sound overwhelming, dive right in and show us how it’s done. Top that with a new baby (any day now) and two full-time working parents and our stress level is through the roof. But, this is such a small amount of our lifetime joy with this child. This paperwork will bring a child with no family to love and care for them, into a loving and caring home. This process will hopefully show this child, as well as others around us, what lengths God went to for His children and the beauty of the Gospel. I am stressed, yes, but I am also excited and nervous to enter this new phase. I feel like once we begin the waiting process, we are officially adoptive parents. That referral means a new member of our family and that is worth every bit of stress.

In Him,

The Shraders

dossier

Joy comes in the morning

Exactly one year ago today, I walked into my ultrasound room and picked up a probe with the intention of seeing my firstborn on the screen to check up on the heartbeat. What I found would change my life. Immediately my heart sank and I started having a mini panic attack. I stayed in the room for a minute trying to compose myself after finding what I knew was one of my nightmares. My baby, this teeny tiny human, had something called a cystic hygroma. Not only that, but the spine was deformed, the heart was in the abdomen and at least 50% of her organs were outside of her body. Even at 10 weeks, I knew the prognosis wouldn’t be favorable for life.

Here I am, one year later, having lost this teeny tiny precious human last July and pregnant with another teeny tiny human. The only difference is, this baby is healthy. Completely. There’s not even a single soft marker or placenta previa or anything concerning (yet). Seriously, Praise the Lord! I went from a pregnancy where most of the baby’s organs were growing outside of her body, inevitably leading to her very early death to a pregnancy that looks 100% normal. It’s a lot to take in for sure. It took me a long time after we found out that I was pregnant to let myself truly feel joy, plan for the baby and just breathe. One thing is certain: GOD. IS. GOOD.

It’s barely been 6 months since we lost Cora. I’m due June 27th with the second baby. Cora was born July 2nd. I could very easily have my second child on Cora’s “birthday”. I still don’t know how I feel about this. Honestly, I still don’t know how I feel about anything. I don’t know how I feel about Cora’s death or this new pregnancy. I have so many emotions. I’m thankful, happy, sad, devastated, anxious, you name it. I have days where I feel completely at peace with everything; days where I feel God is in total control so I can handle anything.

Then there are days like today. Days that punch me in the gut. Days that remind me, “Oh yeah, I had a baby before this one that went straight to Jesus’ arms”. Days when my heart breaks all over again. Days when all the anxiety and fear I felt for her future come rushing back to me. When I walk into my ultrasound room today, I will be reminded this is the same room where I found her body was deformed last February and the same room I found her heart stopped last July. It’s one of the most difficult  experiences I have had to face. Every day I scan reminds me of Cora; my job is in a high-risk OB clinic and I can’t get away from pregnancy. Patients remind me of Cora every time they ask about children or if I come across a baby with a similar prognosis as Cora. I will always be devastated over Cora. That will never go away. But God is good. And I’m also overjoyed. Overjoyed that we get a second chance on earth with the joy of children; her brothers and sisters who will know who she was and how her story changed lives.

It’s been said children are one of the greatest blessings from God to their parents. Jesus loves the little children. For sure, He’s loving on Cora right now and that gives me comfort. Yes I would rather have Cora in my arms now than in Heaven, but that is only from my own selfishness. Why would anyone rather be on earth when they can be in His presence in Heaven? Earth is temporary; this life, this pain is only temporary. God placed people and events in our lives to give us comfort in hard times. He meets you in your pain and comforts. He. Conquers. Everything.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

That being said, I have been innocently asked countless times if I have children, or if they notice I’m pregnant, if this is my first. So far I have not told a single patient about Cora. At first, I felt a lot of guilt about not mentioning her. However, I work in a very sensitive environment to bring up stillbirthed babies; it’s not always appropriate or necessary. I have assessed the people who have asked, and I feel they are not ready to hear my truth as well as the fact that I’m just not ready to tell it. Sometimes I feel I am doing Cora a disservice, but we were so public about the pregnancy that I need this time to be private. I’m not sure that we’ve fully processed everything. Thousands of people read Cora’s story due to this blog and I am grateful that so many people still read about her on a daily basis. I am just not ready to tell someone her story face to face, especially if that someone is pregnant. It’s a very scary thing to be pregnant and I’d rather not give them something else to worry about. I will get around to talking about Cora when I feel it’s time. I’m just not there yet and I’m not sure when that time will be.

I will cherish the time we did have with her while I was pregnant. That was the only time I would get with her while here on earth, but I will see baby girl healthy and whole when I get to Heaven. And that….that is worth all the pain here on earth without her.

Psalm 119:76
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. 

In Him,

The Shraders

Surprise!!

79Shrader (2)

We are very excited to announce our bundle of joy coming June 27th, 2014!!! No, this is not the adopted baby from Ethiopia…I am pregnant!

God has given us so many blessings, more than we deserve and we are just ecstatic to share this news with you all. We are continuing the adoption process, as adoption is not a back-up plan or a second choice. It is a first choice and both children will be equally loved and prayed for. We are so early in the process and it will take at least 18 months from now to receive a referral. We have to wait until our baby is 6 months old before we travel and that is the only preference our agency stated when we told them our news. We will most likely be bringing a baby/toddler to Africa with us to meet our Ethiopian babe.

We have also decided NOT to find out gender. It’s what we wanted to do with Cora, but with all of her complications we didn’t feel it was necessary. I have been somewhat anxious about this pregnancy, probably to no one’s surprise after Cora, but God has given me a peace about pregnancy in general. We left this pregnancy up to God’s timing and we are just overjoyed. We waited a little longer to tell family and friends and now the world and I am about to burst with the news! I am about 14 weeks, so I am still a little anxious about scanning myself at work. So far, everything looks fantastic, but we still have our anatomy scan at 17-18 weeks. We would appreciate any prayers for a healthy child and prayers to ease anxiety. I’ve never had a healthy pregnancy, so I feel like everything is new. We did not get to announce our pregnancy with Cora, since I found her complications at 10 weeks. It was more of “We’re pregnant, but…”. God is not good now that we have a healthy pregnancy…God has and always will be good regardless of our circumstances. Thank you for sharing in our sorrow and please join us in our rejoicing!

In Him,

The Shraders

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We are adopting from….

adoption

 

That’s right, folks. We decided on Ethiopia about a month ago and thought of a cute and fun way to announce it via a photo shoot with the lovely Sara Davis of Sara Davis Photography. Here is the link to her wonderful blog: http://saraedavisphoto.com/life/rebecca-and-josh-adoption-announcement/. I have known Sara for a while, even before she started her photography business, when she took some pictures for my best friend’s wedding years ago. She is a wonderful person and very generous (she gave us this photo shoot!). She originally wanted to take maternity pictures when I was pregnant with Cora, but the timing never worked out. She offered to take pictures just for us, and I thought…why not use this opportunity to tell everyone about our adoption?

 

We are currently in the VERY early stages of our adoption to Ethiopia. I’ve had a lot of questions, but the main one is “now what? what’s next?”. Now, we continue to fill out massive stacks of paperwork, write checks to our agency and wait. We are currently almost finished with our home study (we have our last meeting scheduled in one week). Once that is finished, we have to sign some agency agreements and get started on our dossier. “Dossier: when used in the context of adoption, this term refers to a set of appropriately authenticated and translated legal documents which are used in international adoption cases to process the adoption of a child in its own country by the adoptive parents, or for the adoptive parents to obtain the legal custody or guardianship of the child in the foreign court, so the child can be brought by the adoptive parents to the United States for adoption.” This is the massive paperwork I was referring to and this will allow us to adopt in Ethiopia once it is accepted. After the dossier, we wait for at least a year before we get a referral. Once we have the referral, they check the child’s family background to make sure the child is the definition of “orphan” by poverty or by death (meaning they have no relative willing to take them in). We then travel to Ethiopia for a week to meet the child and go to court. We then have to leave the child in Ethiopia, fly back to America while they process the visas and fly back for a week to pick them up and bring them home.

 

We have to be somewhat specific in our dossier for age, gender and medical needs of the child we are adopting. Right now, we are not preparing for a specific gender and we would like a child under 5 years of age. We also have to decide if we would like to adopt a child who has been tested HIV+ or not and are undecided. As Sara said in the blog and from the information I gave her, Ethiopia has one of the highest orphan populations than any country in the world. The children have mostly been orphaned due to parental death from AIDS. Here are some extra facts about Ethiopia:

 

  • The Federal Republic of Ethiopia is the second most populous country of the African continent.
  • The economy in Ethiopia heavily depends on agriculture, which in turn relies on precipitation. The country is marked by a negative trade balance: the volume of imports is roughly three times that of exports. Coffee beans remain the most important Ethiopian export commodity.
  • Ethiopia is one of the poorest nations in the world. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is roughly 1/135 that of the United States.
  •  On average, Ethiopians have a life expectancy of only 54 years. Nearly two-thirds of Ethiopia’s population remain illiterate.
  • Almost half the country’s population is undernourished and 39 per cent face a life on less than 1.25 US dollars a day.
  • Ethiopia has only 3 medical doctors per 100,000 citizens, one of the worst figures in Africa. Only one in three Ethiopians have regular access to potable water and the sanitation coverage is very limited.
  • Demographically speaking, Ethiopia is a very young country: around 45 per cent of its population are less than 14 years old.
  •  The country’s infant mortality rate is at a staggering 109 per 1,000 live births – one of the highest in the entire world. Only 6 in 10 births are attended by skilled medical staff. An estimated 830,000 children in Ethiopia have lost one or both of their parents due to AIDS.

 

The reason I give all these facts is to show what drove us to adopt internationally. We had a VERY hard time deciding between domestic (adopting kids currently in foster care) and international adoption. The deal breaker for us is that a lot of children, who are adoptable through the foster care system are not usually healthy, or under 5 years of age. We know we were not ready to parent a teenager, much less one who may have behavioral, developmental, medical or all three issues. I think in the future, we will consider adopting through the foster care system a little more seriously. For now, we both work full time and will continue doing so after adopting. We know we don’t have the resources for fostering or adopting through the system. It’s not that the child would not be right for US, but WE would not be the right parents for the child. We decided not to adopt a baby domestically, because there is a long waiting list and we decided it would not be fair for us to take a spot on the list, since we are able to conceive on our own. Josh also helped me decide international adoption by saying that kids in America, while it is a very tough life, will live to see their 5th birthday. Internationally, that is often not the case. American orphanages, as in receiving state funds,do not exist like there are around the world.  Once we decided international, this decision became easier.

 

We eliminated all the countries that had more than a 2 week travel time, as we both work and I needed to save weeks up to spend time with the child when we got back. This eliminated a bunch of countries. Other countries eliminated us. China (Josh’s heart was set on it) required $80,000 in net worth, among other requirements, that we did not meet. Haiti (both our hearts were set on it) required we be married 10 years and one of us had to be at least 35 years old. Countries make their own adoption requirements and some are very lenient, but others are stringent. Here is the website that lays out the country requirements for adoption. Travel, time and country specific requirements did most of the narrowing down and that left Ethiopia. I’ve had a heart for Africa after reading Kisses from Katie and after friends adopted through Uganda. I was ecstatic to find out we could adopt from Ethiopia. I’ve heard what a heart-wrenching situation the country is in at the moment. Ethiopia is not a Hague country. *The Hague Convention is an international agreement to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child. The Hague Adoption Convention applies to adoptions between the United States and the other countries that have joined it*. This means that they can shut down adoptions in the country at any point in time because of suspicions of corruption. All it takes is one family or one incident to cause all other adoptions to be put on hold. This is currently happening in the Congo. That is a very scary prospect. Adoptions can then be dragged on for years and years when this happens.We have to trust in God that if this does happen, He is working in it for His good.

 

We see a long road ahead of us for the adoption. The minimum time it will take to get a referral (not go to the country) will be 18 months. That is a long period of time to wait with no word. We are ready, though. We have prepared hearts for the long, possibly tragic road ahead of us.  We are not adopting to replace Cora or because it is a trend. We are adopting because we were adopted into God’s family and He commanded that we take care of orphans. We are following His call and are preparing our hearts. We love talking about our adoption, or adoptions in general! We have several friends and church families who have adopted. Please contact us with any questions you may have, especially if you are considering adoption. We are very blessed that our church has a mentoring program to match us with other families who have gone through the exact process or agency we are with. We know how important that wisdom can be. We are excited…nervous…apprehensive…ecstatic…joyful, you name it! We cannot wait to bring this child or these children home!

 

In Him,

 

The Shraders

 

PS. Here are a few pictures that were not included in Sara’s blog that I love:

53Shrader[1]   29Shrader[1]

28Shrader[1]15Shrader[1]

64Shrader[1]05Shrader[1]

74Shrader[1]

It’s my birthday, buy a scarf…support an adoption!

Yes, this is me shamelessly endorsing our Etsy shop. I’m turning 30 today and even though everyone says it’s the “new 20”, I’d like to move on to new and more exciting. 29 was a rough and exciting year for me personally and it included the decision to adopt! We have met with our social worker for our 1st home study meeting of three meetings. We are also waiting for acceptance into our agency and the country we’re adopting from (TBA soon) and wait. And wait. And wait some more. We have learned that process of acceptance and waiting will cost us around $5,000 + so just within the next couple of months so….we need your help. Please buy scarves. Lots of them…for gifts and for yourself, for Christmas, ski trips, photo shoots, anything. Until we get a Lifesong account and the little DONATE NOW button on our blog, that’s the way we have to raise money. Don’t worry about scarves getting sold out, we have some already ready in inventory and I will relist items as they sell. And, guess what? There are now CUSTOM ORDERS available! There will be a custom order listing for the Cora Chain and Ashley Chunky Infinity scarves, you can buy it and pick a color listed, or send me a message BEFORE you buy the listing to request a color not shown and I can let you know if I can find it. Also, if any of you have purchased a scarf, I would love some feedback. It makes my shop look more “legit” and I like to hear back from customers! So far, I have sold 61 scarves! I am so amazed and excited by this. I never imagined I would sell more than 5 scarves when I first started the store. We have raised a great amount of money for our adoption so far, but unfortunately it is still a drop in the bucket for our $30,000 + adoption. We will continue to be creative, instead of just asking for donations (although that will occur too). Thank you to all who have purchased!!

Buy a scarf, help bring home a child.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RememberMyChains

                                chain wheat green mustard

In Him,

Rebecca Shrader

Happy birthday to my best friend

Today she would be 58, but she is celebrating this birthday in Heaven. I’m writing this post now so no more memories of her slip my mind. It’s tragic to lose memories of your mom. I know it’s hard for my brother and sister to remember her, they were so young. It has been 8 years this November when she passed away and 14 years since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  I was 16 when she was first diagnosed, my brother was 10 and my sister was 6 years old. My brother and sister barely knew my mom healthy. My sister tells me often that she doesn’t remember much, except what Josh and I tell her. If you knew my mom before she was sick and then knew her after her brain surgery, radiation and chemo, you would know her personality was a lot different. Before she was diagnosed, she was reserved, introverted (before it was trendy) and “uptight” and after she was more impulsive and loose. My brother and sister probably have more memories of post-chemo and radiation Kim. My mom was our best friend. She had a special and unique relationship with each of her children and she sacrificed her own friendships to cultivate friendships with us.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we did…

20131010-082410.jpg

She was shy, easily embarrassed and reserved growing up. She always told me she loved school and was very good at it, but had to work hard for her achievements. She wasn’t valedictorian, but graduated toward the top of her class. She loved school so much that in the 60s when there were a lot of bomb drills, the school would give the children a chance to leave school after drills and she never did. She NEVER did, people. My aunt always told me how much she looked up to my mom growing up (I think there was a 9 year age difference-like my sister and I). They remained close as long as I can remember, and we had a girl’s lunch with my aunt and grandma every Friday and a girl’s trip to the beach every year. As far as boys go, I think she was pretty shy in high school and didn’t date that much.  I remember her saying that the boys she would never consider dating were the ones that chased her relentlessly. One of my favorite stories I remember her telling me was this exact scenario. She was in college at ECU at the time and a guy friend decided he wanted to be more than friends and then decided to tell the whole world without my mom’s permission. My grandma lives right around the corner from the stadium and she was walking to Dowdy when people would stop her to tell her how sweet her boyfriend was. She didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and was thoroughly confused. When she got to the stadium, everything became clear. He had either rented a plane banner or was flying it himself (can’t remember that detail) but he had spelled out…”Kimberly Simpson, will you go out with me?” for all of the stadium, and Greenville, to see. She was mortified, especially because it was coming from a guy she would ONLY consider as a friend. Embarrassing, right? I told you it was a good one.

She loved her family. We stayed very close with my extended family and almost all of her siblings stayed in the same town where they grew up. I saw my aunts and uncles pretty often. My aunt Sandra was her best friend. They shared a room when they were younger and my aunt looked up to her. My aunt says she once saved her life when she was 3, saving her from drowning after falling through a ring float. She was definitely the mother to her siblings. A huge chunk of our lives were spent tailgating at my grandparent’s house for ECU games. Mom was a huge ECU fan and a pretty loyal Duke fan. She worked at Duke Hospital in the 80s for her first job as a physical therapist and loved it. She often said that there were more UNC than Duke fans at work…figures. One of her favorite places in Durham was Duke Gardens. She told me she would walk through the Gardens on her lunch break and she even got married there to my dad. Josh proposed to me in the Gardens because he knew how special it was. It’s pretty fun to think that I was her exact age when she moved here, also working for Duke. When she had her appointments at Duke, we would often stop by Mad Hatter for lunch (excellent desserts), and it’s a local Durham restaurant I make sure to take guests when they come visit. I wish she was around now so I could give her a tour of Durham’s local restaurants; I bet she would be impressed at how it’s grown into such a foodie town.

20131010-082346.jpg

My grandma, mom (yellow dress) and her 3 siblings.

My mom was a HUGE fan of babies. She was a PT in the NICU (Neonatal ICU) right before she had to quit. She would tell us so many stories of the babies she treated. She passed away before she found out I was going to ultrasound school to be an OB sonographer. We would have many similar stories of work. Her dying wish was not to travel the world or go see a UNC/Duke game or live just a few years longer…it was to be a grandmother (no pressure to 22 year old me at the time!). That’s why I am incredibly comforted that Jesus and my mom were the first faces Cora saw in Heaven. My mom is, no doubt, an excellent grandmother to her right now. I think she would be ecstatic that Josh and I are adopting. She was always her children’s biggest supporter.

My mom always had a love for music. She played the flute for about 15 years and was quite good. We also have our great grandmother’s piano and I have many memories of us playing songs from The Sound of Music and Chopsticks. She always wanted Katie to take piano lessons, but our old piano needed serious tuning.  When we were younger, we would dance and sing to her old records on the record player I inherited. Her first record was The Sound of Music (I think) and she also loved The Beatles, The Carpenters and Simon and Garfunkle. She was a huge fan of musicals such as The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She had most of the soundtracks as well. She would sing songs to me when she was putting me to bed as a child like “All my Lovin”, “Uptown Girls”, “So Happy Together” and these songs ALWAYS remind me of her. After radiation, her personality changed a bit and she became impulsive and more loose. She became a fan of Linkin Park and Nirvana, but then she moved back to more appropriate “mom” music like the soundtrack from “O, Brother Where Art Thou?” and Switchfoot and the world was right again.

She loved reading all the classics and her favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird. She read a lot of horror stories and told me when she lived alone in Durham, she would stay up all hours reading The Shining, Cujo and In Cold Blood.  She loved movies of all genres. We spent a lot of time in movie theaters, her and I. We went to the movies at least once a week. I can’t even tell you her favorite movie because she loved so many of them. I do remember when she took my brother to see Lord of The Rings against his will and he fell asleep in the theater. As far as TV shows go, she had an obsession with crime shows, like CSI: SVU. My sister now shares that obsession. I remember watching the first episode of FRIENDS with her and even though I didn’t get all the jokes, we were hooked. Her favorite colors were green and purple. Most of her wardrobe consisted of tunics and leggings or stirrups and the “Y” necklace FRIENDS popularized. Since Katie was born, she kept her hair short, but it always tried to wave and frustrate her. She loved Italian food and before Olive Garden came to town, we spent many outings in Ragazzi’s. She drank coffee everyday, multiple cups a day. She liked it with a little cream and sugar. She loved hot tea even more. She would have enjoyed Tipsy Teapot had it existed. I have a feeling that would be one of her favorite spots in Greenville. She enjoyed our trips to the beach, but loved the mountains more. She loved cooler weather and I’m pretty sure shared my obsession with watching leaves change. One of her favorite places is my grandparent’s house in Sparta, NC.

When she was 14, she walked up to the front of Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville with her best friend, Beth, joined the church and was baptized. She then became active in the youth group. She would be so proud of her children’s involvement in church. She gave us all our first Bibles and even when she was sick, made sure we went to a church service without her. She prayed and begged my granddad to go to church growing up and it wasn’t until she got sick that he finally made it. She never saw him come to Christ in her lifetime, but she made the most important step by sharing her faith and asking him to go all those years.

She LOVED Christmas and always looked forward to festivities. She created a few Christmas traditions that I will continue on in my family, such as letting us open one Christmas Eve gift, going to a movie on Christmas Day and watching White Christmas.  Our house was fully decorated in Nutcrackers and we always had two trees (fake and real one). She loved Christmas music and would make us turn it on as we put up the tree lights. After Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family, we would go look at Christmas lights and then we would come home and my brother and sister would sleep in my room. Christmas day she would make cinnamon buns with orange icing. Christmas will never be as warm and cozy as those memories until I have my own children to share them with.

Even though she was the breadwinner and worked full time, she always had time for her kids. She went to every single one of Josh’s baseball games and took us to every dance practice. She and I had Friday night dates until she was too sick to go. We would go out to eat, possibly go see a movie and come home to eat Milano cookies and watch TGIF. When I got a little older, we watched shows together. Eventually, when Josh and Katie were older they did the same. I think Josh, Katie and I all considered her a best friend. We all have our separate memories of her. My aunt says we had a weirdly close relationship because I never held anything back from her and we hung out a lot for a mother and daughter. I have a card she wrote when I moved into the dorm at ECU. She was extremely happy that I would be so close. I think she and I would have been homesick had I left Greenville. While all of my friends went off to college, I knew I would go to ECU no matter what. I couldn’t be that far away from my mom when I knew I had limited time with her. When she got sick, I immediately thought of life without her and I remember thinking I could never do it. I couldn’t imagine a world without her in it.

20131010-082400.jpg

Unfortunately for my husband, he never knew my mom healthy. He met her a year before she passed. At this time in her life, she wasn’t working and had lost energy due to the radiation treatments. My sister-in-law, Michelle, never knew her at all. I know mom would be ecstatic for Josh to know what an awesome wife he scored. My sister’s future husband will have never known her either, so they will rely on whatever we tell them about her. During the entire 6 years that she was sick, she never complained. Not once, ever. Not through the chemical trial chemotherapy or the harsh radiation. Not even when she was in a hospital bed, stuck in our living room for the last few weeks of her life. She smiled a lot. She thanked us for helping her. She picked out her own casket and planned her own funeral. That is the blessing and the curse of someone dying of cancer; they are totally aware and “prepared” for the end. Regardless, it’s not easier than losing someone unexpectedly. People say “time heals all wounds” and certainly time helps, sometimes. All it takes is for someone to ask about Mother’s Day plans, hearing a song she liked, seeing a picture for the open wound her death left to reopen. It’s been 8 years and it has not gotten easier; people who have lost any loved one knows this. It’s different losing a baby, because, sadly I have no memories to help me get through the grief of losing Cora. Even though I was only 22 when she died, I have many memories of my mom. I don’t know that I’ll say that 10 years from now.

The last time I spoke to my mom, the day before she died, she was in a hospital bed in our living room and completely out of it. I started crying and telling her I’d see her again in Heaven and to be brave. Right before this, she was looking past me and reached for something. Some people have said it could have been visions of angels or even her best friend, Beth, who died in college. When I started talking, she grabbed my face and told me she loved me. She had been sleeping and completely out of it before and after this moment. I am so grateful God gave her this one lucid moment in time so that she could tell me that. It was pretty surreal.

Not to brag, but my siblings and I turned out to be pretty good kids. We never got into trouble, nor did any of the things typical kids do. Instead of hanging out with friends, we chose her. I think this was because my mom had the perfect balance of mom and friend. I know it’s easy for me to look back with rose-colored glasses, but this is how I’ve always seen her. She was an excellent mom, one of the very best. It always made me angry, and still does, when people complain about their moms, especially when they are petty complaints. You only have your parents for a short time on earth…think about life without them and appreciate all they do for you. She didn’t get to watch Josh or Katie walk across the stage at graduation or see me get married and she won’t be there when any of us have kids. In Haiti, I lost a cross necklace that mom had given me years ago. Losing it really upset me. I put a lot of value on the “stuff” she gave me because on this earth, that’s all the tangible mom I have left. Thank God for the memories. I will not let them be taken away, lost or stolen. I am desperate to leave this world and move on to the next when I think of her and Cora, because I just want to be with them. I would do anything to have her back with me until we both head up to Heaven, but she is in a place where sickness doesn’t exist and I have my own purpose here. There is no cancer in Heaven, only joy. I cannot wait to join her and Cora and make forever memories. What a glorious day that will be.

Happy birthday mom…see you soon.

20131010-082326.jpg

Sincerely,

Rebecca

‘Tis the season for scarves…and adoption.

Guys….It’s Fall. Today. It’s arrived. One of the best seasons of the year. Yes, as a kid I was in love with summer for the sole reason there was no school. Now…Fall. This time of year makes me giddy and want to twirl around in the leaves. Exhibit A:

20130921-181238.jpg

For those of you who know me know I love this time of year: pumpkins, football, my birthday, dark fall colors, scarves, boots, pumpkin spice lattes, scarves…I now have an Etsy shop full of them! This crochet thing all started back when I was on leave after giving birth to Cora. My coworker came over to bring me a blanket she started for me so I would have something to keep me entertained. She taught me how to crochet earlier in the year and I made a really sad scarf. The blanket was a chevron pattern (like the one Grandma made you for Christmas) but in much more updated colors. I am pretty proud of it, even though it took weeks to make and is basically a lap blanket for skinny hipsters (how Josh describes it).

20130921-182013.jpg

Time has passed since Cora left us and after a very convicting sermon from JD Greear one Sunday, Josh and I discussed our future family. We have always wanted to adopt, but we thought it would be a decision we’d make in the future. God spoke to us through this sermon and asked, “Why are you waiting?” We knew God has always had adoption in our future, but we were waiting to have our own children before we started the process. We started asking ourselves, why not start the process now? We may never have biological children and there are 147 million (estimated) orphans worldwide. God commanded all His followers to care for orphans and we knew the form of orphan care for our family is adoption.

So, after much research, talks, emails and phone calls, it’s official: We are starting the adoption process!

You heard it right, adoption, and international adoption at that. We are not disclosing a lot of details at the moment about the where and who. We have chosen international adoption through an agency and are contemplating a specific country yet to be named (there will be another blog once we officially decide). Why adoption? I am so glad you asked…

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. -Romans 8:14-16

We are adopted by God into His kingdom, into His family with Jesus. We inherit the Kingdom WITH Jesus. Once we make the decision to follow Christ, we are promised to follow Him all the way up into Heaven. Heaven is OURS. What a wonderful family we will have! The best earthly example of God’s love for us is adoption. Adoption is a heartbreaking process. There are years of waiting, years of tears, years of hardship ahead. Adoption is not all rainbows and unicorns, it’s incredibly hard to become a parent to a child who isn’t your blood. But God does this over and over. God adopted all of us and it was our decision to choose His family. He gets an eternity of heartbreak, but He also gets the elation when one of His children joins His family.

Adoption is something that we have both always wanted to do as adults, but never thought it was actually possible for real (read, middle class) people until we joined The Summit. I love my church and one of my favorite things about Summit (besides being enthralled with Jesus) is their emphasis on orphan care. I am so blessed to be a part of a real adoption community. I know several people who have adopted. I used to say to myself “Oh that’s nice for them, but I could never afford it nor am I a stay at home mom; maybe someday I will when I’m rich”. Then I went to an orphan care meeting. I met people who adopted while in seminary school and those who adopted AND worked. Orphan care is a command from God….one of the most important ones. If God commands something, HE will make it work and has for several families.

Is it scary? Definitely. Expensive? You bet. The country we are contemplating costs $30,000+ for the process. Are we risking everything to do it? Absolutely. I have to have absolute trust in God throughout this process; because He has commanded us to care for the orphan, He will provide the means necessary. I cannot tell you how incredibly teary, excited, scared and elated I feel when I think there is a little boy or girl that may or may not already exist out there in the world for Josh and I. My heart starts beating faster just thinking of them. This child will have a traumatic past and may have a lot of obstacles for us to overcome, but we will do it as a forever family.

What does this have to do with crocheted scarves you ask?  We come back to the Etsy shop; it’s called Remember my Chains after Colossians 4:18. I have been friends with and closely followed many who have adopted. They all have so many creative ways to raise money: bake sales, car washes, yard sales, selling pieces to puzzles, etc. I asked myself…what skill do I have besides scanning pregnant ladies? Oh, crochet!!…sort of. After some research with friends on Facebook, I found a pattern and started making scarves. Then two of my wonderful coworkers, Ashley and Nicole, decided they wanted to help as well as a wonderful lady, Marsha,  in Michigan. I opened the shop just a couple of weeks ago and sold 15 scarves in one day! The grand total as of today is 26 scarves and over $500 in sales! 100% of the profits from the shop go to our adoption fund. Our first real step to adoption is the home study, which costs about $1,400. As of now, with all the checks, donations through this blog and scarf sales we have $1,500 in our adoption account!! Only $30,000+ more to go…

And so begins our adoption blog. Follow our process throughout the joy and heartbreak here. Also, go buy a scarf, it’s fall today!!!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/RememberMyChains

orange blue  greenwhite wheat

In Him,

The Shraders

Let yourself be inspired today

Today, one month ago I gave birth to a stillborn infant named Cora. There are several words that come to mind when I think of Cora: miraculous, bittersweet, tragic but most of all inspirational. In honor of her, instead of publishing the blog post I was already working on about how we are dealing, I decided to share some really incredible stories I’ve collected. Please watch these videos…all of them. Yes, you will cry your eyes out, but the people in the videos will teach you the most important lessons you will learn in this life: how to celebrate every day, how to overcome the odds or how to deal when you can’t overcome them, appreciation of every little thing and perspective. In honor of Cora today, let yourself slow down, watch the videos, cry, and let yourself be inspired by these stories….

Meet Zach Sobiech, he had cancer; Osteosarcoma to be exact, and he was only 18. He passed away in May of this year but he truly, truly knew how to appreciate life and the people in his life. He wrote a song, “Clouds”, that got 7 million views and attention from some celebrities. You can tell in the video how much people love him, what a light he is to the world in his short life and how he changed many.

“My closure is being able to get my feelings into these songs so they can have something to remember me by or lean on when I’m gone,” Zach explains. “I want to be remembered as a kid who went down fighting, and didn’t really lose.”

This is Julie Manning, mother of two little boys who is diagnosed with a chronic heart problem that could result in a cardiac arrest at any moment. She is on the transplant wait list for a new heart. To this day, she struggles with the fact that she could die doing anything: running around with her boys, laying on the couch, in her sleep. This is her story of the faith and peace God granted her in this life.

“There are hundreds of times a day I’m reminded that my life is not my own and that any moment Jesus could take me”

This is Elliot and his parent’s story, one that intimately touches my heart. I watched this video in ultrasound school and bawled my eyes out. Now I have gained his parent’s perspective. This video is a story of a little baby with Trisomy 18, which is a fatal fetal syndrome almost 100% of the time before the age of 1. This little boy lived 99 days and everyday his parents chose to focus on his life and not his diagnosis. They celebrated and documented each day. I always kept this family in my heart, especially when Josh and I learned of Cora’s diagnosis.

Finally, this is our Cora’s story. She is no longer around to tell it, so I must. She never took a breath, her heart never beat outside of my womb, but she touched thousands. What helps me cope is the fact that people won’t forget her. It won’t just be Josh and I grieving her loss, she touched too many people. This blog has over 38,000 views from all over the world. That is seriously incredible and I promise it has NOTHING to do with my writing, as incoherent as it is. It has everything to do with our Creator and His creation. I received so many pictures of people praying for her and even those were just a small portion of the prayers she received internationally. Josh created a video celebrating Cora in a prior blog that visibly shows all the people Cora changed. I am different. God taught me to slow down, be content in every stage of life and enjoy the small moments. At some point, you stop complaining that “Life isn’t fair” and just live. It makes the wait for eternity so much more pleasant and maybe, just maybe you’ll change someone’s life along the way. I would give anything to hold Cora again, but I know that is not how God intended her life. God knew exactly what He was doing when He created her life. He meant so many greater things for her than this world can provide.