WE’RE ADOPTING FROM UGANDA

Our Little Uganda Adoption Story.

Well, the cat’s out of the bag guys, WE’RE ADOPTING FROM UGANDA and we couldn’t be more overjoyed! I’m sure this didn’t come as a surprise to our friends since whenever the topic of “family” came up, I have ALWAYS talked about adoption. Did you know there are over 147 MILLION ORPHANS, but we have the privilege to make that number ONE LESS! I can’t even find the words to type to explain how heavy our hearts are for the orphan. I can’t read a book about adoption without crying reading the first page. Justin and I have both had a heart for adoption before we ever met each other. It was just over 5 years ago that Justin and I ended up sitting next to each other in the back row of government class at our tiny little college, San Diego Christian College. Funny thing, one of the first conversations we had was about adoption. I saw a picture of the sweetest little girl as the background on his computer while taking notes and asked if he took that picture, because naturally my photographer mind was swooning over the glowy light. Justin had told me that he actually took the photo with his iPhone (way to go Apple) and it was a picture of his niece, London. He went on to show me pictures of London’s sister, Geneva. I was dying. They were so cute I couldn’t even handle it. I asked if they were twins, and with a big smile, Justin said “No, actually London’s adopted.” I think my heart exploded seeing the joy in Justin’s face sharing about her adoption story. Just months prior to meeting Justin, God really started to break my heart for the orphan in way I didn’t know my heart could hurt. He also started to lay Africa on my heart. I had no idea why that specific place, but my heart ached for the people there and more so the fatherless in Africa. I didn’t understand why God was speaking all this to me because at the time I wasn’t even close to getting married. Little did I know that months later, I’d meet Justin and start to learn about his heart for adoption and Africa. The first time Justin and I hung out outside of school, we sat at Starbucks and talked for hours till they closed. So once we got kicked out we sat in his car (we couldn’t hang out in the dorms because you weren’t allowed to have someone of the opposite sex in your room) and talked for another two hours. I learned about the family he grew up in, his friends, and what made his heart beat. He told me about how he spent three and a half months living in Kenya with his aunt an uncle who are missionaries (specifically in Kurungu…AKA “the bush”…14 hours from Nairobi). If there’s one thing Justin ever talks about that he did prior to meeting me, it’s the time he spent in Africa. What really blows my mind is the way God was preparing my heart to love the things Justin loves. I get the chills thinking about it.

Fast forward to this summer. We went camping at Palomar Mountain for Justin’s 30th birthday, you can read his little birthday post {HERE}. Okay well let’s jump back for just a sec. When we were dating/engaged, we talked about how long we’d want to wait to start a family. Initially we had said three years. Well 6 months into marriage, I couldn’t believe how fast that went and the idea of 3 years freaked me out. Not that I wasn’t excited about being a mom or having kids but because I want to learn more about the beautiful mystery of marriage and experience one of the greatest gifts that God has given us before starting a new adventure. So we hit our one year anniversary and our “3 year plan” turned into a five year plan, which quickly turned into a seven year plan. I just loved my time with Justin and I know that with kids, that changes. Back to Justin’s birthday weekend. If you would have asked me about kids a month prior to that, I would have said “Another two or three years.” HAHA (we’re celebrating our 4 year wedding anniversary next week!). Then God started to do something big in my heart. Justin and I always knew we’d adopt, we talked about it a lot. About two weeks before Justin’s birthday getaway, God started to put a desire in my heart to start a family. But really it wasn’t even the concept of being a mom or starting a family, but more so giving a family to an orphan and loving on the least of these. I wasn’t sure if this was one of those “baby fever” moments that people said I would get one day. So I prayed about it for two weeks before even bringing anything up to Justin and God kept confirming my desires. So on Justin’s birthday getaway, I shared my heart with him. He was kind of caught off guard since a month before that we were still saying “two or three years”. He asked when we’d want to start trying to get pregnant. That’s when I brought up the idea of adopting first. Now he was really thrown off. He kept saying “Well don’t you normally have “your own kids” first and then adopt?”. I said “That’s my point! Why does it have to be that way?” And also, adopted kids would be “our own” just as much as biological children would. It seems that society has made it the norm to have bio kids and then adopt. But WHY? I think if God has really laid something on your heart, why not follow that? We talked about it that weekend and decided to give it a few months and just pray about it since we obviously weren’t on the same page. I prayed that if God wanted us to have biological children, that he would change my heart to be in line with what Justin wanted and His will. But if he wanted us to adopt that he would change Justin’s heart towards adoption. I didn’t want to be that wife who forced her husband into anything, so we didn’t talk it about it too much the next few months and really only spent time in prayer over the topic. Long story short, Justin came to me one day and said he really wanted to pursue adoption and couldn’t image a better way for us to start our family. So that’s where we are now :)

I would always joke with Justin the last few years and say “when we have only adopted children…” except I was kind of not joking. He would just laugh and say “No no, you will birth a child at some point.” I have NEVER gotten that itch to get pregnant like most women do. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t. Like I have ZERO ZILCH NADA desire to be pregnant. The more we pray about adoption, the more we would love to just adopt. Seriously. Not because I’m selfish and don’t want to push a baby out or carry a child for nine months, but because God put a desire on our hearts and called us to something that is different than biological children at least for right now. I’m not saying that we won’t ever have biological children. I don’t know what God has planned for us. But there is no part of us that feels that we need to have our own flesh and blood children to complete our family. People always tell us “but they’d be so cute”. The blonde hair and blue eyes really doesn’t matter to us. What matters most is that our kids grow up to know and love Jesus. And you don’t have to have biological children to do that.  Every time I read a book or watch a video on adoption, orphans, etc I can’t even fathom the idea of having a biological child when I know we could give a child a home, a family, and a mom and dad that tells them they love them everyday that might not ever have that. And that’s because I can’t fathom the idea of doing something outside of God’s will for us.

I think the most beautiful thing for us about adopting is that we have learned far more about the heart of The Father and his adopting us than we’ve ever understood before. Like in mind blowing ways. Yes we’ve always understood that God loves us. But when I think about the lengths we have to go to adopt a child, it is NOTHING in comparison to what Christ did to adopt us as sons and daughters, and that his giving up his son TO DIE FOR US. That is INFINITELY MORE than the emotions and time we’ll give and the $30,000 it costs to bring a baby home. Don’t even get me started about the $30,000 (I’ll talk about that later) but in comparison to a son’s death, it’s nothing. BUT, the doctrine of adoption is the heart of the gospel and it’s so cool that we can emulate that in the tiniest of ways for God’s children. Matthew 25:40 says “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’”

Because a lot of people are asking, NO we are not picking up our child in March, let alone meeting them. Our missions trip to Uganda in March is completely unrelated to our adoption process. While we were praying about submitting our adoption application, I had been praying that God would bring us an opportunity to go serve on a missions trip together. Anywhere. Doing anything. And that week we heard about The Archibald Project’s Media Mission to UGANDA, you can read my post about our upcoming trip {HERE}. Call it a coincidence, but I call it God’s perfect timing. I’m so excited we get to visit the country where our child will be coming from, learn about their culture, their food, the heritage, and identify with and love on the people there. Maybe I’ll even learn how to do black hair ;) haha, just kidding. But seriously, I’m gonna have to learn so anyone willing to give free lessons in exchange for a yummy home cooked meal and lots of kisses from Milo, let me know. lol.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we’ve been getting:

Do you know who your child is?
No we don’t. We won’t find out who our child will be until we receive a referral.

When will you find out who your child is?
Once our dossier is sent to Uganda (hopefully sometime April/May) we will then get on the wait list to be matched with a child. Our social worker is saying it will be about 12-18 months till we receive a referral from the time our dossier is sent. But most likely closer to 12 months according to all the recent families that have received a referral.

Is it a boy or girl?
We don’t know. And we’re not choosing. You don’t get to choose when we’re pregnant, so why choose when you’re adopting? If we did choose, Justin and I wouldn’t agree anyways ;) I would pick a girl, he’d pick a boy. My best friend Brittani is convinced it’ll be a boy and always refers to our child as “he”. Justin definitely takes her side. All I’m saying that if we have a boy, he’s gonna learn to cook.

How old is your child?
We don’t know. They could be a baby, they could be in their birth mom’s belly right now, or they could be running around with other toddlers. We’ll accept a referral for a child 4 years or younger. Call us crazy for being willing to jump into that and skip the newborn thing, I call it an adventure. We will actually be willing to accept a referral for TWO children (siblings), which secretly I’m hoping we get siblings. You probably think we’re really crazy now.

Why Africa?
God put Africa on my heart over five years ago and Justin has spent a lot of time there. There really is no perfect answer to this, but when God breaks your heart for something and calls you, you answer. And Africa is what he has spoken to us over and over. Everyone asks why we’re not adopting domestically because there are plenty of children in the states that need families. The simple answer is if everyone adopted from the U.S. then who would adopt the orphans in all the other countries? There is a need all over the world and we are willing to go to the ends of the earth to give a child a family.

What are the adoption costs and why are they so expensive?
Most international adoption costs are about $30,000+. This includes home study fees, our adoption agency fees, Uganda fees, paperwork fees, visas, translating fees, travel fees, medical evaluation fees, the list goes on. Based on the country and agency we selected, their fees, etc, we are looking at the cost being $30,000 minimum, but very likely more than that because we have to take two trips to Uganda before we can bring our munchkin home because of court dates, etc.

How can you afford that?
The short answer is we can’t. We don’t have $30,000 to pull out of our pocket and send over. But we know God has called us to adopting so we are faithfully answering. When you are obedient, he blesses that. He tells us that all through the Bible. We have cut on spending in so many areas, and we also plan to do some fundraising. I was really unsure about fundraising to bring a child home especially since I was always taught, if you want something you work hard for it and not to ask for help, but so many people keep reminding me that this is a way for people to stand with us and support us and be a part of the adoption process and story. Not everyone is called to adoption. But EVERYONE is called to care for the orphan (see James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 82:3, Matthew 25:40, Psalm 82:3-4 just to name a few). So even if you aren’t called to adopt a child, you are caring for the orphan when you support another family who is adopting. And that is so beautiful. Just as we are not all called to be missionaries, we are all called to pray and support them. God has already been so faithful in the way he has provided for us and ultimately bringing our little munchkin home. We’ll be blogging some stories soon on His goodness!

Are you going to fund raise?
YES. We have already paid a pretty penny for some of the initial adoption costs, but still have a long ways to go. We owe about $5,000 in the next month for program fees, and then about another $6,000 by April, so that’s $11,000 in the next 3 months. I’m not going to lie, there are days that looking at the number freaks me out, but God’s perfect love casts out all our fears! Our adoption costs are very front loaded, meaning we owe a lot of money towards the beginning, then another really large portion when we receive our referral. God keeps reminding that he will provide for His work and he will see this through. Many people have asked how they can help…keep reading below to find out about the ways we’re fundraising and you can also visit our Etsy shop {HERE} where we are selling adoption related items that will go towards our adoption costs. We’d love if you join with us in helping us bring home our little munchkin.

If there are so many orphans out there, then why does the process take so long?
I ask the same question! It’s heartbreaking actually. The sad thing is that there has been a lot of corruption and child trafficking in adoption, people will steal children from their families and sell them to make money. Yeah, it’s disgusting. Because of corruption, now agencies have to do long investigations to make sure the child is actually an orphan before making them eligible for adoption. Also, countries work at their own pace, so even if the U.S. side has everything taken care of, you could wait months just for the courts in Africa to re-open after the rainy season, or just get to your paperwork that sits in a stack on their desk. Yeah…there needs to be some kind of reform because all this means a child is spending that much more time on the streets or in institutional care, and not receiving the love and attention they need to thrive.

Where are you at in the process?
We sent in a pre-application, a formal application in November, and now we are in the home study process (tons of paperwork) which should be all written up by the end of next month. Our 4 home study meetings are done (praise!) and we’re just getting together a few more items to send in like new birth certificates and such.

How can we pray for you?
Above all, we ask that you pray for our little munchkin, whoever or wherever they may be. And that our story would bring nothing but glory to God! We’ll keep you updated with prayer requests! Thank you to all our friends and family who have already been praying for the munchkin and our process. Your love means the world to us.

Can we call him/her “Baby Cheney”?
Absolutely NOT. haha. Justin’s nickname when he worked in Northern California was “Baby Cheney” since he worked for the same department as his older brother. So when people found out they were related, the name stuck. So you will never hear us refer to our child as such. It’s just weird since that’s what everyone called Justin ;)

…ADOPTION FUNDRAISING…

Our good friend, Chris Wright, from Handlettering Co designed this custom Africa design specifically for our adoption. He is one of the most talented hand lettering artists I’ve ever come across. Check out his website {HERE} and you’re going to want to buy everything in his shop. All of his work is incredible! We are so excited to have so many awesome items for sale with his rad work on it! We’ve got prints, screen printed wood signs, wood burned signs, reclaimed wood signs, and shirts.

All items are available for purchase in our Etsy shop in the adoption section {HERE}.

FYI – We are doing a 2 week pre order on t-shirts (through Feb 10th) so we know how many we need to get printed. So make sure you purchase one before Feb 10th y’all. They’re going to be awesome! I can’t wait to wear mine everywhere and share about the beauty of adoption!

And we would LOVE if you shared this post and our adoption shop with your friends and family because ADOPTION ROCKS!

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I think I’m more excited to see this guy become a dad than I am to be a mom. My heart melts when he tells me things like “This is going to be a great fort building couch” as we’re cozied up with the pup. Oh yeah and the word “mom” is still weird to me. I got used to “wife” pretty quickly but “mom” takes it to a whole new level ;) How long did it take you to get used to that word? It just doesn’t seem real.

TO ALL YOU ADOPTIVE MOMS, let me know who you are. We LOVE meeting other families who have adopted, who are in the adoption process, or who are considering adoption. We want to meet you! Don’t be a stranger! Leave us a comment below and where you’re from and a little of your story! Maybe we can plan a little get together :)

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We want to say a big THANK YOU to Sergey from Utmost Creative for filming this video for us! You can check out his work {HERE}.

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