Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Giveaway!

Our September Giveaway is by Jen C's Steeped Tea
 Did you know...

~loose leaf tea has been around for centuries, but has just recently gained popularity in the US media for its health benefits as well as it's pure deliciousness (thank you, Oprah!)?

~Steeped Tea is a company that sells premium loose leaf tea at a very affordable price in 80+ different flavors?

~5 out of 6 North Americans drink tea, making Steeped Tea the perfect gift for friends and family?

~all Steeped Teas can be cold-steeped or hot-steeped, making tea the perfect year-round beverage?

~Steeped Tea has only been in the US since May 2013 and has only been in the Southwest Missouri area since July 2014 (which means this is the PERFECT time to join our TEAm)?

~Steeped Tea has AWESOME customer specials and host rewards that change each month?

From Jen:
One of the main reasons I became a Steeped Tea consultant was that I wanted to have a business that I could use to bless others.  One awesome way I can do that is through the Steeped Tea fundraising program.  I am so hopeful that I will be able to use this business to "pay it forward" for the financial blessings we received through our adoption process and bless families in the adoption process by running fundraisers for them. 

If you are interested in conducting a fundraiser for your own adoption or for friends or family members in the adoption process, please contact me at jen.c.tea@gmail.com for more information.

The winner of this giveaway will receive one bag of Steeped Tea and a package of 10 steeping sacks

To enter this giveaway you must share the Facebook post and like Jen C's Steeped Tea Facebook page.  Once you have done both of those things comment on the Facebook status that you “liked and shared” and you will be entered to win!  Winner will be announced on Thursday, September 18 at 9pm. 

Dark Chocoloate Chai Chiller

Friday, September 12, 2014

When God Brings You "Risks"

When I thought about how our adoption phone call would go, the phrases “We need to talk,” “You have options” and “This baby has risks,” never came to my mind. But, that was our reality, and that was just the beginning of how God used an unexpected, miracle phone call to defy our wildest dreams and bring us our beautiful baby girl.

As waiting adoptive parents, you often spend lots of times dreaming and creating possible scenarios of how “THAT” phone call is going to go. You picture a perfect sunny day, the quiet ring of your phone, and the world’s cheeriest adoption social worker on the other line. Naturally, “THAT” phone call also comes with news of the most healthy, most beautiful, and most perfect baby ever waiting for you.

Our phone call didn’t exactly go that way. Instead, when we were called, we were asked to come in immediately for a meeting with the social worker in order to discuss an available 4 week old baby that desperately needed a home. However, as the social worker mentioned in our call, the baby came with risks that would require us to really question what our options would need to be. To complicate things even further, she also informed us that we would need to meet and make our decision on the baby within a maximum of 24 hours… yikes!

We made it to the adoption agency in record time. I mean, it was so fast that even the agency had to ask us to take a walk to get a cup of coffee so that they could finish preparing the paperwork that they needed to present to us in regards to our baby girl and whatever risks she would be bringing.

Despite the utter chaos that came with our phone call, I look back at the day and remember nothing but the peace and joy that my husband had in our hearts. It was such a joy and peace now that I can look back and say with pure conviction that it was placed in our hearts from God.  From the time we hung up that phone, something within us both knew that the “risk” baby on the other line was not meant to be a risk to us. Instead, she was designed by God to be our child, our miracle, and our sweet four-week old baby girl. She was finally here, and she was waiting somewhere nearby for us to just pick her up and bring her home to our family.
Whenever I tell the story of that phone call to someone new, I often get looks of panic from people that are quickly followed with a parade of questions: How did we ever manage? How could my husband and I have been so calm? What about those risks? What was wrong with the baby? Why didn’t you wait for a baby “without” all those risks?

My response is always so simple, but it’s nothing but the truth. As the chosen parents to this miracle baby, what in the world could have possibly kept us away from her?!? There could never have been enough risks in the world to have kept us from bringing our daughter home to our family.  She was designed for us. God picked her for us, and he picked us for her. What risks could ever be possible when that’s in mind?

As adoptive or waiting parents, we all have our stories of how our children have been, or will be, brought into our lives. They are stories that I love and cherish because no matter what the circumstances are they are always a true picture of God’s unending love and faithfulness, no matter what “risks” may be involved in our journeys to bring our miracle babies home forever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Minute with Nikki - Post Placement Issues from the Social Worker's Perspective


We all have to do it.

Many of us don’t get enough of it.

But one thing that is certain for us adults is that we love it.

For most of us, sleep is the few hours of time we get to ourselves. Even if we share our bed with another, sleep is a time every one of us gets to be all alone.

As someone who got married later in life, and then quickly became a mom of a tween, I cherish this time. Working a number of jobs, I don’t get nearly enough sleep, but when I do head up to bed it is a magical thing. If someone told me that I could have more of one thing in my life, I would really have to take a good long while to decide if that would be money or sleep. It’s a solid 50/50 on that.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Really, think about it, you overly tired, baggy eyed momma, who just wishes you had enough energy for a workout, never the less going to bed by 11. You, momma who wonders if you can sleep in just 5 more minutes in the morning if you send your child to school tomorrow with a Lunchable, rather than filling her bento box with homemade hummus, organic carrots, freshly grilled naan bread, and a whole grain brownie (made with sprouted flour, of course). Just 5 more minutes. Think about it. It might be glorious.

But for as much as you cherish your precious sleep, your best time of day, your most relaxing, this could be the scariest time in a 24 hour period for your child. The time when everything is quiet and she has her thoughts…and the dark…and perhaps a pang of hunger…and silence…and fear. The night is the time when she is forced to be alone with her thoughts - when she is forced to really think about her past, her former life, perhaps her abandonment...the time she got lice in the orphanage and they had to shave her head...the time she got made fun of by teachers and students in school because she didn’t have a mommy and daddy, and then when she told them with great elation that she had a mommy and daddy in American they told her that her American mommy and daddy just wanted to adopt her to kill her and sell her organs on the black market (and wondering, just a tiny bit, if that wasn’t still truly going to happen). And, perhaps the scariest of all is the great unknown as to if and when she would be abandoned again, and start this whole thing anew.

And this little vignette is for the folks whose kids can think through all this stuff logically because they are old enough or have the cognitive abilities to do so. Bless those of you whose kids are too young or unable to even quantify what they are scared of. Those children are just terrified.

So of course she’s scared of going to sleep! With all that head trash, it’s easy to see how scary nighttime can be. Therefore, the question you should be asking yourself every night is “what can I do to help my child sleep a little better tonight than last night?” And if you just hold this question near to your heart and take it seriously, things will probably calm much more quickly.

So let that boy sleep with you. Don’t listen to your mom; he’s not going to be sleeping with you still when he’s 15. Or maybe you start to sleep with him in his bed. Let that girl sleep with the lights on. Go into the room the second that baby starts crying. Let him sleep with a monster truck toy in his bed if he says it will make him feel less scared. Let your teenager fall asleep while reading, even if you don’t let your other children do that. Perhaps suggest to your child that he falls asleep while listening to one of his favorite CD’s (again, even if your other kids are not allowed to do that). Or maybe bring your computer nearby her bedroom door to do some work while she is falling asleep, just to be comforted by the sounds of your breathing and you typing on the keyboard. Or get crazy and let him sleep on the living room couch if a thunderstorm is moving in if he wants to. Or just listen to what your child is asking for and see if you can answer that with a “yes.”

Think now, are these things that difficult for you to agree to or suggest? Are they really that big of a deal to do? Would they really take that much effort on your part? But think about what an incredible difference it can make for your child. In one move, you can both show your child how much you care for him AND make him more comfortable. That’s a win/win for attachment parenting!

It’s all so simple. But when your first reaction is to just tell her to close her eyes or to count sheep, and doing what I’m suggesting takes more thought and foresight, it might not seem so obvious. True, there are some children who, even the most dedicated of parents can wake up with 20 times per night or have them sleep right between them will still need more than this. And those children might really benefit from some professional intervention. But those kids are the exception. For the most part though, a solid dose of mom and dad and some flexibility might be just the ticket to getting some quality sleep.

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption. - See more at: http://joyinthejourneyadoption.blogspot.com/2014/08/after-placement-issues-eating.html#sthash.2aVLiQN9.dpuf

Friday, September 5, 2014

Resource Review: The Great Behavior Breakdown

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Confessions of a Waiting Mommy...

My name is Maggie. I’m a people-loving Texas girl who loves spending my days bargain shopping and planting flowers. My husband, Isaac, is a sports-loving Georgia boy who can play any musical instrument you put in front of him. We just celebrated our 5 year anniversary and can’t imagine life without each other. We are both on staff at a church we love dearly and couldn’t be more thankful for the season of life we’re in.

Last year, we began talking about expanding our family. We knew we were becoming ready to be parents someday soon, but when we thought about starting our family with a biological child, there was a disconnect. We were ready to be parents, but not ready to have a baby. That made absolutely no sense to us but we couldn't ignore it.

In April 2013, after much prayer and a trip to the beautiful and amazing country of Haiti, we decided to make adoption the basis of our family growth and begin the process of adopting a baby from the Caribbean! We could not have been more excited! ... and also terrified, very terrified. Let's be honest. 

A few months later in August 2013, we began working with some amazing people in St. Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to start the private adoption process. We filled out the application, completed our home study, and began compiling our documents. We were on our way to becoming a family of 3! It was just about this time that we learned about the Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) which was signed into effect to essentially ban private international adoptions as of July 14, 2014. We knew we would most likely not have our adoption completed by then so we decided to end the private adoption route. We were heartbroken and confused. 

Rewind 7 months...

In April, when we first decided to adopt from the Caribbean, we contacted Creative Adoptions, Inc., an agency that works in SVG, Dominica, and now St. Lucia. I asked if they could give me some information regarding adoption in SVG but I let them know we were going the private route and that we would not be working with them. They told us that they have a waiting list to be able to apply and asked if we wanted to be on it anyway. We said no. Bad move, Schades.

Fast forward 7 months...

In November, following the UAA discovery, we were sad and confused and had no clue what to do next. It was just about that time that Creative Adoptions, Inc. contacted us and said, "Congratulations! You're at the top of our waiting list and you are now able to apply for your adoption!" Say what!? Remember how I so confidently assured them that we did not want to be on their list because we had it all figured out and knew it was going to work perfectly according to our plan?! Well thank goodness for divine intervention! We happily accepted and began round 2 of adoption applications! 

After 5 months of compiling documents, waiting on paperwork, calling the government, waiting on paperwork, visiting the doctor, waiting on paperwork, getting background checks, oh and also waiting on more paperwork, we were finally placed on the official waiting list! We are currently number 11 and are hoping to be matched with a child (or children…I’m praying for twins, don’t tell my husband) within the next year.

Thanks for joining me on my journey to motherhood!

Friday, August 29, 2014

You Are Enough

Hi, Moms.

If you can, why don’t you warm up that cup of coffee for the umpteenth time today and sit down for a few because I have something super important to tell you.

Maybe grab a piece of chocolate from your stash, too. You know, the one you keep for those times when you are finally able to hide from your kids find a moment of solitude. If you don’t have a stash, assemble one immediately! Your kids will never notice that some of their Easter candy is missing. You can thank me later.

All set? 

Ok. It’s simple, really, but I believe we all need to hear it:

You are enough.

Now let that sink in.


I know you need to hear it. Because I know us.

I know how we consistently put the needs of another before our own, and we stretch ourselves way thin, and at the end of the day in our finally-quieted houses, all we can think about is how we could have and should have done more, done better.

I know how we question ourselves on the myriad of decisions that we make each and every day, both big and small.

I know that raising kids who come from hard places adds a whole new element of pressure and expectation that we put upon ourselves.

And I know the lies ringing in our ears.

Not enough.
Less than.

They are so easy to believe when you’re tired.  And the house needs cleaning, and the dogs need walking, and diapers need changing, and dinner needs making, and laundry needs folding.  When everything feels like it is spiraling out of control, and everyone around you needs something.


And I am beyond familiar with that inner voice.

You should have it together.
Your kids are out of control.
Your life is out of control.
You’re too controlling.
You coddle too much.
You expect too much.
A good mom wouldn’t feel stressed.
A good mom wouldn’t feed that to her kids.
Hurry up.
Slow down.

Motherhood is a battlefield, my friends. And of course it is because we are raising this next generation of world-changers.


And there is a very real enemy out there who wants nothing more than to thwart our work – or at the very least steal our joy and beat us down to guilt-ridden messes who believe that we are doing it all wrong.

And he really doesn’t even have to do much, does he? We do it to ourselves. We set our own [unrealistic] expectations. We see everyone’s highlights via social media and allow them to make us feel less-than. We read countless articles on parenting and health and nutrition and whatnot, and while they can be helpful and informative, it is easy to allow them to make us feel like we are doing everything wrong.

Moms, I wish I could give each of you out there a great big hug and a fresh cup of Starbucks.

I am certain that you are doing the best you can, and guess what?  It’s enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You are exactly what your kids need. God knew every detail about you and every detail about your child[ren], and He put you together because you are best for each other.

You are NOT perfect. But grace.

SO MUCH GRACE. Pouring down, washing us clean.  Oh, thank you, Jesus!  

Every little thing that you nitpick about yourself?  His blood covers it.

And when we choose to quiet all of the other voices speaking over us, this is what HE says:

I love you.
My grace is enough.
It’s covered.
I fill in the gaps for you.
I have equipped you.
My power is made perfect in your weakness.
I redeem all things.
You are clothed in strength and dignity.
You can laugh at the days to come.

Today I challenge you, Moms. Instead of criticizing yourself for all of the things that [you think] make you "not enough," trust God to fill in the gaps for you and celebrate the things that make you a great mom!

Take a look at your own "highlight reel" for once [peruse your own fb/insta/phone pics] to remind yourself of what you DO do.

Look at all the smiles, the snuggles, the training, the fun, the adventures, the chaos and messes that YOU LET HAPPEN [even though it stresses you out].


Your kids are loved. They're thriving.

You’re doing it.



 Elya and her husband, Rob, reside in Cleveland, Ohio with their two amazing daughters [home from Ethiopia since 2011] and their two crazy dogs. Elya is passionate about Jesus, adoption and foster care, and the water crisis.  She blogs when she can at http://emariestar.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“Special” + “Needs” = God’s Perfection

                  So often, parents with special needs children are often looked at with pity. After all, it’s hard not to feel sorry for someone that has that “special” child that has all those “needs” that other children don’t have. But, who is to say what is “special” and what is a “need.” After all, God doesn’t make mistakes, and he certainly didn’t make a mistake in my daughter when he gave her those “special needs”.
                  My daughter was born prematurely. Doctors have guesstimated that she was around 33-34 weeks gestation at birth. We may never know any answers because our child’s birthmother didn’t actually know she was pregnant until she was physically delivering our daughter. On top of all of this, our daughter also tested positive at birth for alcohol and three different illegal substances.
                  After many tests and doctors’ visits, our daughter has been diagnosed with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), and she quote-in-quote fits the medical definition of a “special-needs child.” Our baby girl will have her battles. She will have her struggles. She will have her “needs” that do make her “special.” However, even at such a young age, our daughter has overcome battle after battle to prove that she is perfect and strong just the way that she is.
                  Of course, if I could take away my daughter’s daily struggles, I would. I would in an absolute heartbeat. I don’t want life to be hard for her. I don’t want her to hurt or be faced with circumstances that are not fair to her. I want to be her mother, and I want to protect her from anything that may harm her. But, I am only human, and I have to remember that I don’t know what God has in store for my daughter and her journey through this life.
                   In times of doubt, I often find comfort in the verse from Jeremiah 1:5. It states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

                  They are such simple words, but they are such a pure truth that speaks straight to the worries of my heart. My daughter is not a result of God’s mistake. My daughter is not being punished for the choices of her birth mother. She is not to be pitied for being “special” or for having “needs” that other children don’t have. She has been designed in the image of God, and she is meant to have a purpose in God’s perfect role. I consider myself lucky to have the privilege to watch as she takes on the world… in her own “special” way.