Wednesday, April 30, 2014

april in review (a giant photo dump)

Our April in review by pictures:
 
 
We spent some time here, but for a good cause.  Background checks are a standard part of the adoption process.
 


 
 
We held a giant garage sale to help raise funds for our adoption.
 



 
The world's largest tarp:



Near the end of day two of the garage sale, this was all that was left:
 

 
 
With the garage sale under our belts and warmer weather finally here, we finally got in the mood to tackle some home projects.
 
Tilling up our soon-to-be giant garden:
 
 
Spray painting lots of stuff:
 
 
...including my fingers:

 
These shelves might be my favorite thing ever.   CJ worked not one, but two overtime shifts for us to be able to afford the materials and then he spent a lot of work planning out and installing this shelving system.  And I love it.  I also love that we were able to unpack so many boxes that have sat in our guest bedroom since August.  It feels so much more like home now.  Did I mention how much I love them and what an amazing job CJ did?  Also, can you find the photobomber in this picture?

 
I went to a wedding with co-workers.  I have been blessed to work with some really amazing people, whom I like both in and out of the office.
 
 
I completed my first quilt with the proceeds to benefit our adoption efforts.  If you're interested in a quilt, read up on the details here.  (Also, notice my other photobomber, Ellie.)
 
 
 
So, what's next up for May?
 
First, I'm hosting a Pampered Chef party with a portion of the proceeds to benefit our adoption efforts.  If you're in the market for some great Pampered Chef products, now would be a great time to stock up!  The party will be open until this coming Monday, May 5th.  Head on over to Pampered Chef's website, click the link in the top left, and then enter my name as the host.  We'd be appreciative of any orders!  And, after this...we're taking a break from fundraising for a bit!
 
 
As many of you know, we've talked about opening a Chasing Paper Airplanes Etsy shop for months now.  And we've put it on hold again.  Instead, I have signed up to participate in the Danville Handmade Market, the first show to be held on May 10th.  The entry fees were minimal and so we figured that if I sell just one item per day, while I may give up a decent chunk of my time, I will at least break even money-wise.  So if you're not doing anything on May 10th (or June 14th, July 12th, or August 9th), make a trip to Danville to see me and to shop at the town's farmer's market while you're there!
 
 
 
So I've been building up my bib and burp cloth stash in preparation for the market:
 


 
Business cards are all ready to go too!
 
 
Needless to say, April was a whirlwind.  May looks to be equally as busy, but thankfully not with a garage sale!
 
Here are some specific prayer requests we have:
  • For success with our Pampered Chef fundraiser
  • For the Danville Handmade Market on May 10th - that it is a profitable day and that I meet the right people
  • For a fully-funded adoption

 


Monday, April 21, 2014

financial update

Finances...  It's probably one of the biggest reasons why people don't adopt.  As most of you have probably figured out by now, we don't have the money to adopt.  We're just doing what we feel God has called us to do, taking a major leap of faith that He will provide the money to accomplish what seems to be impossible.

There are still so many unknowns where finances are concerned, but I believe we are 25% funded.  I figured this was a good time in which to discuss a few things finance-related.

First, because we have asked for financial support -- and will continue to do so (Pampered Chef, anyone?) -- I wanted you to know that we have a significant financial buy-in with this adoption process.  I really don't like asking for financial support of any kind.  I'm not sure if anyone really does.  But because we've asked, I need to be transparent with you.  Know that we are not relying on fundraising as our only means of funding the adoption.  We have personally contributed a bulk of the funds raised, but we don't have all the money we need -- or else we wouldn't have asked in the first place.

Second, this process is largely about education and I'd like you to know where the money goes.  There are three main ways funds are spent, the first two being the most expensive: agency fees, travel expenses, and "at-home" expenses.

Agency fees are set per our contract, so no surprises there.  Those fees are broken down as follows:
  • Application fee (paid)
  • Home study fee, due at the beginning of home study process (paid)
  • Program fee 1, due at completion of home study (paid, even though we're not close to that point yet)
  • Program fee 2, due at referral acceptance (roughly 1/3 paid; upcoming fundraising efforts will go to this fee)
  • Post-placement fee, due at referral acceptance

The travel expenses are up in the air.  I'm really skimming over the process here, but at the point we receive travel approval, we probably won't have much notice to get accommodations at the best price possible.  We will have to buy plane tickets to fly to China, hotel accommodations in a variety of locations in country, most likely fly to our child's province, most likely fly - with our child at this point - to the province where the U.S. Embassy is located, and then all three of us will fly home -- all on short notice.  And then there is most likely going to be an orphanage donation to be made at that time as well.

Then there are the "at-home" expenses, for lack of better term.  I will need at least 2 weeks off of work for travel, plus time afterwards to get us all acclimated to life again.  I'm anticipating 2 months off of work.  While I can take FMLA and use up all of my accrued time at work, it's not going to cover 2 months off.  Insurance doesn't cover any of these expenses and unlike many mothers who have babies in the hospital, I can't claim short-term disability either when I'm off of work.

I hope this is helpful.  Please know I will try to be as open as I can throughout this entire process, so don't hesitate to ask me any questions you may have.  And again, thank you for all of your support thus far.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pampered Chef fundraiser

My friend, Christie, has graciously offered to host a Pampered Chef fundraiser with a portion of the proceeds to benefit our adoption efforts.

(I know, I know.  I jumped right from one fundraiser to the next.  Clearly I can't read a calendar.  I hope this is the last time I hit you all up for help so close together.)

Here's a snapshot of some of the goodies for sale.  I've only found like a gazillion items my kitchen desperately needs, but I should probably hold back, since this is supposed to be a fundraiser for us and all...



Anyway, the party/fundraiser is a brunch scheduled for May 3rd at my house.  If you'd like to attend, please shoot me an email (mollykwhitehead @ gmail.com) for more details.  And if you'd like to place an order, we'd be ever so grateful.   You can find all sorts of high quality, great products over on the Pampered Chef website.  Just make sure to select me as your host.  The sale will close on May 5th, so don't wait too long and miss out!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

garage sale results!

I've peppered your facebook feeds with garage sale photos and updates for weeks now, so this is the big reveal! 

God provided, through your donations, $1,508!*

My goal was $500, which was what we needed to make our next payment (when that's due is still to be determined).  We made that amount in our first two hours of business.  The remaining $1,000 takes a chunk out of the next payment that's due after this upcoming one.

(Confused yet about what I mean by all these payments?  I plan to write another post soon that breaks down the funding and where we stand in terms of overall funds needed, so I hope that will clarify.)

Again, let me say thank you.  As I wrote in my last post, I was overwhelmed not only by the sheer amount of donations, but because I realized how much we are loved.  So for those of you who donated, provided us with bags, sent a monetary donation, hauled truckloads full of items to our house, visited our garage sale, and to my parents and our good friends, Ed and Jennifer, who helped out both days of the sale -- thank you again.

By the way, I might mention that we really didn't have much left.  We've made one trip to Goodwill to donate the smaller items.  There really weren't any large items left.  We mostly had clothes leftover; we will donate those to our church's clothing pantry, so know that your clothes will get into the hands of people who need them -- for free.  As for books, we're still debating what to do with those.

* I might have told some of you it was $1,600.  Turns out my brain was a little fried when I did my calculations and I was off by a hundred bucks.  But still, not bad!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

on being grateful & overwhelmed.

This weekend's adoption-funding garage sale has been overwhelming.


It's been overwhelming in the ways you'd expect.  There's all the stuff.  It slowly filled up our future daughter's room.  Then the stuff crept into our living room.  And then it took over two spaces in our garage.  And then more stuff appeared, crammed into a trailer that's now parked in our driveway.  Our junk and everyone else's junk is all over my house and it just overwhelms me to even look at it.


But it's also really, really overwhelming in the good sense.


TWENTY-FOUR individuals or families have donated their junk to our garage sale.  That doesn't include us.  Several of you made the long haul out to our house to drop off your donations.  I've lost track of how many trips my parents or my parents' vehicles made to our house recently to drop off donations.  And there are a few people who donated who I don't even know.  Thank you.


There were a few of you who made the long trip out to our house to drop off just a few items and were apologetic that you didn't have more.  But here's the deal.  (Say it slowly; it'll have more emphasis.)  You made the trip out to our house to drop off a few items.  It probably would have been easier for you to drive to your nearest Goodwill, but you didn't.


If you were one of the ones who did that, you reminded me of the story in Mark 12 about the widow's offering:  "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on.'"


Here's the parallel I'm trying to make (that hopefully makes sense to everyone else).  It's not that anyone who has donated is "rich" or "poor" or hasn't had the right intentions, because you all have.  It's the fact that a few of you gave me what you had, even though it wasn't much, to help us bring our child home.  Thank you.


And then there have been a few people who weren't able to donate any items, but instead sent us a check.  I've been equally as floored by those responses.  Thank you.


I told CJ that even if we didn't make any money this weekend at our garage sale, that it was all worth it.  To be honest, that might not be the full truth -- we kind of need to make some money.  But the thing is, I have learned multiple, huge lessons these past few weeks that I might not have, if it were not for the garage sale.


I've learned to ask for help, even though it can be uncomfortable at times.


I've learned not to underestimate people.  I'm that glass-half-empty sort of person and honestly, I didn't expect this level of outpouring of support.


I've learned that it really does take a village.  This might be the only thing I agree with Hillary on.  If we were to have the garage sale with just our stuff -- and there was a lot of it -- we wouldn't make that much money.  I've tried having my own garage sales and they're generally a waste of my time.  But add in twenty four families' things and that has the potential to make a nice dent in that next adoption payment.


I've learned that God will provide, whether that's in the form of a check or a quilt order or just STUFF.  Just when I thought I was going to have to postpone the garage sale for lack of donations, you all came through in a MAJOR WAY for us.


I've learned that we are loved and that our (unknown) child is loved.  This junk = love.


So whether you've donated your excess items or your time or your money to bring this garage sale to fruition and to bring our child home, we are overwhelmed with gratefulness.


Thank you for showing us God's love.