Monday, August 27, 2012

Shout Out: Meet Chris & Jasmine!

"Our names are Chris and Jasmine Martin. We live in Hermitage, PA. and have been married for almost 3 years! We love the Lord with our whole hearts and trust in Him for our yesterday, today and tomorrow. We were eager to start a family immediately and tried for 2 years to conceive. God used this time to draw us closer to Him and to get to know each other as husband and wife first, then revealed to us that His plan wasn't for us to just start our own family but to extend our arms to orphans around the world to love and care for as our own. We're excited to be started on this adventure; our paperwork is now in Russia & we're waiting to be told which region in Russia our baby boy will be coming from! Our timeline to receive a referral for a boy 10months to 24months old can come as early as January 2013, but it can take longer. Hoping to have him home next summer! We chose Russia because we were drawn there, as other locations had longer waits and other difficulties, our hearts are in Russia with a little boy we don't know just yet, but God does and Malakai will be welcomed in our family, who ever he is, with open arms!
A Russian adoption costs between $49,000-$78,000 which is more than it was when we started this process in November 2011.  Currently we have raised $24,676 yay! PTL!
Your prayers and monetary support is much appreciated. We know God called us to step out in faith to bring this child home!
or on Facebook we have a public "community page" called Chris and Jasmine Adoption 
on the facebook page I post pictures of 
Summer Hats
Cowl-neck Scarves
Girls Headbands with flowers
& more, I hand-crochet them all.
 I take custom orders also to be made in any of your favorite colors. 
Just post what you're interested in and I'll give you your total cost and info to paypal or send us a check.

We also have a fundraiser of coffee through Just love coffee
Check out their Just Love Coffee site here, their blog here, and some of her awesome handmade items on their facebook page! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ode to Baby Snuggles

I love my snugly baby!

I love how he wakes up and lets me snuggle him. He will push back, look around, then lean into my arms over and over while he figures life out again post nap.

I love how he melts into my arms when I rock him to sleep.

I love the smell of his hair and skin when I'm rocking him to sleep after a bath- like coconuts!

I love the way his forehead and hair get so sweaty when he sleeps. Reminds me of Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite. Sorry babe, you don't get to shave your head.

I love the feel of his warm little body when I'm wearing him in the Ergo; how he rubs my shirt with his fingers when he's falling asleep in there and how he keeps his fists balled up.

I love that sometimes he wakes up at night just for an extra cuddle- he goes back to sleep within seconds of being picked up and held.

I love the way he leans in for hugs and kisses.

I love his giant grin when I kiss him when he's waking up or when we are playing. He loves kisses!

I love that he will take extra long naps if I snuggle him tightly in my bed and nap with him. I love his deep breaths and sighs when he sleeps!

I love my sweet Israel Biruk. I know this baby stage is so fleeting and one day I'll be dropping him off at school and he won't be so inclined to let me snuggle him anymore.

Soaking it in today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sarah Marie Photos- First Family Pictures!

A few years ago, when we started our adoption process, my friend Marie emailed me asking if she could take pictures for us when we finally brought our baby home. Marie is one of those super generous, caring people like that- and when we finally knew that our son Israel was coming home- I jumped on the opportunity for Marie to capture our new family. 
 Marie is a REALLY good photographer. In fact, she mainly does weddings now (she's even done weddings of my friends!) and I follow her blog in google reader so I can ooh and ahh over the ridiculously awesome wedding pictures she takes! Please check out her website or blog and if you know anyone who needs pictures taken and lives in Alabama check her out.

Thank you Marie for giving us such precious photos. I can't stop staring at them!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shout Out: Meet Jay & Ileah!

Meet Jay & Ileah! I think they win the award for cutest blog title- check out their blog here to see what I mean!

"Jay and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary in March of this year. We met three years ago through Jay's identical twin brother John! John is actually one of my (Ileah) best friends, and since he introduced us, we have been inseparable. I remember when we started dating that I basically gave Jay the news that I was going to adopt some day, if he saw himself in my future, thats where it was headed! I had done some missions to Haiti and had cared for orphans, and had seen many die of starvation and dehydration and it appalled me! God broke me in Haiti in a good way. He broke me of myself in a ALOT of ways. I made a promise to myself and to God during that trip that I would try and change things for orphans and have been trying ever since. Jay and I had initially thought we would try for a biological child first (in a couple of years) and adopt later down the road, but God spoke to me one day saying, Ileah I have set up everything up that you need to bring home a baby NOW. I will provide. It was powerful and amazing, and scary! So I prayed about it some more and talked to Jay about it...who i think thought i was crazy at first! But I just said, "God you have me on board, if you want this to happen, you have to take on Jay!" and He did! I left the topic alone, but God didn't and within a week, Jay came to me and said, I think we should do this. So we did our research and found All God's Children to be our agency. We just finished our homestudy and dossier and just got on the waitlist at number 116!

  We choose Ethiopia because 6 million orphans hit us like a ton of bricks. My heart breaks every time I look at the statistics. And I believe God is moving in that country to change these numbers. God has provided SO much up to this point, but we do need to start fundraising. Jay does not get maternity leave and I only get 2 weeks, so vacation time will be utilized for both trips and we may need to take time off work unpaid...which scares us both! But God is great and we are just following Him through this. We are holding a yard sale on Sept 29 and 30th in Hilliard, Ohio and we are currently utilizing Just Love Coffee as well. We LOVE the fact that we are incorporating coffee (something originally from Ethiopia, our sons birth country) into our fundraising efforts. Here is our storefront: https://  "

If you haven't tried "Just Love Coffee" before- you need to! It is yummy and addicting! Once you've tasted the good stuff its hard to go back to regular coffee! Check out their store to start the addiction. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shout Out: Meet the Goodier Family!

Meet the Goodier Family! I normally save "shout out" posts for Mondays, but the Goodier has a super cool Kindle Fire giveaway that ends this Sunday night!

"Hi, we are James and Rachel Goodier and we are adopting a toddler boy or girl from Honduras. You can catch up on our story at

We have two biological children, a five year old girl, Ella, and an almost three year old boy, Andrew. We were in the midst of trying to decide if we should have a third child when God really laid on both of our hearts the idea of adoption. We saw the great need and knew we wanted to respond. During the course of several months both James and I prayed about and felt led to pursue adoption.

We immediately fell in love with the country of Honduras, a beautiful land plagued by poverty and crime. We submitted our Dossier in the fall of 2011 and received our first waitlist number in the spring of 2012. We are currently number 38 on the waitlist and our praying for a referral in the near future.

Our adoption will cost approximately $40,000 and we currently have $10,000 left to raise. We desire to have all our funds in place so that when we get the referral call we are ready to go!

Our church community has been very supportive and are throwing a family Carnival to raise fund. Part of the carnival is a silent auction and a raffle.

Check out  for all the carnival information.

Purchase tickets to win a Kindle Fire at

Watch our Carnival promotion video and learn more about our family and our adoption from Honduras. http://www.waconiacarnival.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First trip to the Hospital

Ok, I've alluded to this hospital stay twice so I suppose it's only fair to journal what happened on our trip to NC last week.

On Wednesday night, when I put Israel to sleep I noticed he felt a little warm. He went to bed easily though. At 11 he woke up crying and I noticed he was burning up. This was the first time he has been sick since being home. I took off his blankets and pjs and gave him a bottle to hydrate him. Suddenly, he started having these mini seizures. I wasn't sure what was going on because they didn't last long. I woke Will up and I left them and headed to the store and got a thermometer, baby ibuprofen and some pedialyte.

When I got back to the hotel Will reported that Israel had continued to have seizures. His temperature was 100.2 and he threw up his bottle everywhere! We quickly headed to the ER (this was around midnight).

We got to the ER around 12:30 and his temp was 102. Israel seemed pretty normal, chatting and charming the staff. The drs didn't know what to do bc the seizures didn't seem normal and since they didn't witness them they couldn't treat him. Well, around 3 am he had a few more seizures and they were able to see them.

Israel had a cat scan, lumbar puncture, catheter inserted for urine samples, and blood tests. Everything came back clear but in the meantime words like tumor, meningitis and seizure disorder were thrown out. Will and I were so scared.

Around 6:30 am we were transferred to the WakeMed pediatric hospital. Will went back to our hotel to get some things for us while I rode in the ambulance with Israel.

Around 9 am a nurse practitioner came and examined Israel. She wanted to observe Israel for 24 hours to see if he had any more seizures. Will was back by this time.

Around 10:30, Israel's temperature spiked again and he had about 30 minutes of seizures. At this point they figured out that this was febrile seizures, which means that when he has a fever, his body reacts with seizures. Most kids grow out of it by 3-6 years old. The nurses had not given him medicine since we had arrived at the Ped hospital so they said they would be more careful and we would alternate ibuprofen and Tylenol around the clock to keep his temp down.

The rest of the day and night was pretty calm. The staff was great. We were exhausted and Israel was pretty pitiful. His right arm was bound with an IV board so he was unable to clap or really look at his hands- which was pretty traumatic for him :).

Will went back to class Friday (the reason we were in nc) and the staff was super helpful to give us a quick and early discharge. Israel and I had to go back to our hotel, pack up and check out by 1.

We were discharged with instructions to keep the medicine routine until we were home and confident he was fever free. Israel had a hard time keeping food, formula and medicine down on our journey home. Lots of throwing up!

What we learned from this:

We love our boy. When there was thoughts of illness in our child, we were heartbroken. We wished it could be us instead of him.

God was faithful to us and answered our prayers. I'm glad it's just febrile seizures and not a tumor and that his seizures don't cause brain damage! Also, if/when these episodes happen again, we don't have to go to the hospital every time. We do plan on making an appointment with a pediatric neurologist, but these seizures are supposedly very manageable with ibuprofen/tylenol.

Also, although the timing of going through this when we were out of town was terrible, it was a huge blessing that we were in Raleigh where the health care is excellent.

We're hoping we never have to relive this nightmare! We're glad to be home. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shout Out: Meet Allen & Lindsay!

Meet Allen & Lindsay! Allen and Lindsay are adopting a child from Ethiopia and you can read all about their story on their blog here
"My husband and I are also adopting from Ethiopia, through AGCI. We JUST got on the wait list last Friday, July 6th ( their current numbers are #113 for a boy, and #131 for a girl!!!). We began our adoption journey on March 7th, 2011. Through lots of prayers and God's leading, we knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was calling us to adoption. Our entire testimony of this adoption journey is on our blog in this post ( 

We have done a couple of different fund raisers (a t-shirt fund raiser, a gun raffle, hair bows & canvases, etc which have all been really successful), but our greatest success for a "fundraiser" now is through a website called Teachers Pay Teachers. I teach 3rd grade, and just since January 2012, God has allowed me to raise over $1,500 just by selling worksheets and other resources I already use in my classroom to sell without the stress of ordering shirts, buying material/ribbon and having left overs, etc. A direct link to my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store is "

Please check out Lindsay's teacher store and follow her blog to see how God works in their wait! :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ten Months Old!

Dear Israel,

Today you are ten months old! That pains me a bit to write because that means you are getting so close to your first birthday!

This month you had many new adventures. We spent a few days at your Nana & Papa's house in Opelika and you met one of your great-grandmothers. We spent a busy day in Birmingham taking family pictures and meeting your great-grandparents Gran and Bowie! We started physical therapy at a PT office and in our home. You absolutely hate it, and it involves lots of crying (you and me!) but we are already seeing progress. You charm everyone at the PT office and they quickly overlook your loud screams when you share your cute smile as we leave!

You are still eating pureed foods and formula; you love fruits except for bananas- you will still eat them but you make really silly faces when I feed you bananas! You are starting to be more interested in the spoon and bottle so hopefully soon you'll want to help feed yourself!

Your favorite toy is your singing puppy but you are generally content to just sit and talk to your hands. You listen to a Baby Einstein cd when you play in your room and you immediately light up when you hear it. You are clapping all the time and you will stick your feet in the air doing a split if you are on your back.

You have gotten a little bit better with sleeping. You are still swaddled and you need your paci to fall asleep. Sometimes you and I snuggle and nap together and you always wake up happy!

Son, you are SO LOUD. If you are happy, you are squealing and cooing! You will put your thumb in your mouth and talk really loud with it in there. You make this one sound that is like "ha-ha-haa" in a fake laugh type of way. You also started to give kisses or lean in for kisses. You will even give kisses to your favorite toy puppy! You are always blowing raspberries and you still mimic us when we fake cough! You are so silly and have a million facial expressions. You keep us laughing and we have to keep our video recorder handy because you are always being ridiculous!

Speaking of blowing raspberries, we are having our first discipline issue. Israel you KNOW it is not ok to spit your food at mama but you still do it! I will sat "no spitting food" and you just look at me so defiantly and then do it! Or you will look at me, and make a noise like you are spitting but not actually do it. Then if I say "No!" or "No spitting!" you will look away, smile, or cry. You are a mess. This is really the only thing that we are having to "discipline" right now - and sometimes the way you look at us so defiantly, or get offended when I say no, we have to look away because it makes us laugh. I know, bad parents.

This month we took a trip to NC for daddy to take some classes. You and I made our rounds visiting friends and you were quite the charmer! While we were there you gave us quite the scare and you had your first trip to the ER and the pediatric hospital. We are hoping to never have to relive those few days in the hospital but we are very thankful for the precious people at WakeMed that took care of you.

Because of our exhaustion from the trip I'm going to wrap this up. There's a million cute things that you do and we are so proud to be your parents.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Week in NC

Some of you may remember, we moved from Wake Forest, NC to Alabama last August as Will was finishing his M. Div (seminary degree) and took a position as college pastor. Well, this past January Will was accepted into a phd program and he will have seminars every January and August for the next two years.

This past week Israel and I joined Will in Wake Forest as he had class every day from Friday- Friday (with Sunday off!). Because we moved from here just a year ago, it was great to catch up with some friends that we miss!

Here's some of the things we (mainly Israel and I) did:

  • Stayed with my sister and her family on the way up - got to hang out with Israel's cousins!
  • Hotel mixup: got to our hotel for the week and had to change hotels. I had to make this decision on my own because Will was in class and couldn't be reached. It was a long story but it ended up working out much better!
  • Because of the hotel mixup, we had to bunk with our friends the Moores on Friday, and they were the most gracious hosts ever. Seriously, I don't think I've ever "made myself at home" quite like our stay at their house. Thanks Adam & Ashley!
  • A little shopping trip to H & M for some stylish baby clothes for little man.
  • Saturday night church, visiting with some friends and meeting their new babies, eating dinner after church with friends.
  • At church: introducing Israel to Isaiah, the sweet boy whose adoption journey opened our hearts to adoption!

  • Sunday morning hanging with Will - enjoying family time in the pool, lots of snuggles in the hotel room!
  • A great visit with my friend Courtney who left the next day to meet her daughter at Hannah's Hope on their first trip!
  • A visit to my old office- it was so fun catching up with my coworkers and to show off Israel. They had celebrated with us as we counted down our waitlist numbers and just missed our referral when we moved. 
  • An afternoon with Ashley watching Downton Abbey while my son took the longest nap ever. I even checked him for breathing because it was so long! Ashley let us do laundry at her house- as I said earlier, she's the best!
  • Frozen dinners in the hotel room- thankful for a microwave and fridge so we don't have to eat out every night!
  • Afternoon with my childhood best friend, Joanna.
  • Dinner with our friends, the Strains. 
  • A morning play date with Julie & Judah Forrest. Judah came home from Hannah's Hope last summer!

  • Lunch with my friend Sarah!
  • Lots of silly play time in the hotel.

  • Israel's first trip to the ER and the children's hospital- where we remained from Wednesday night to Friday morning.

  • Friday afternoon at the Strothmann's house.
  • Friday night- HEADED HOME! After a long and very eventful week, we were so ready to be back in AL. We stopped briefly in Charlotte to break up our trek home but we finally made it home on Saturday afternoon after many adventures in the car. Glad to be back.
I must compliment my son: he did AMAZING all week! From the 10 hour car rides, to sleeping in a pack and play for the first time, to sharing a room with us and sleeping (while we had the hotel light on, the olympics on in the background, and his noise machine going!). He is the best kid ever.

The only downfall of the week was our hospital visit, which I'll blog about soon. It's still a little raw and we're still dealing with some sickness! Please give us grace to lay low for a while. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shout Out: Meet the Kautzi Family!

Meet the Kautzi Family! Eric and Kelsey are adopting a baby (either gender) from Ethiopia!

"Eric and I have been married a little over 6 years and have one biological daughter named Lila who is 2.5.  We live in Overland Park, KS - a suburb of Kansas City.  I am a part-time teacher and my husband fixes Apple computers.  The long version of why we are adopting is here. The short story is my husband and I were both blessed with experiences growing up (mission trips, study abroad, hosting exchange students, etc) that opened our eyes to the world at large and also gave us a picture of the reality that many people around the world live in poverty.  Adoption was planted in my heart when I visited several orphanages in Guatemala while I studied abroad there.  When we were dating, we both said that adoption was something we were open to and wanted to be a part of our story, but we weren't sure in what capacity.  When we got married, we started sponsoring some children in Ethiopia through Food for the Hungry and in 2008, we were able to visit two of the children we sponsored.  We of course, fell in love with Ethiopia and its people.  We mark the trip home as the moment when those two paths - adoption and Ethiopia - began to converge into one.  We began to talk about adoption being a reality in our family.  We got pregnant with our daughter that next year which sort of put the adoption conversation on hold.   But when Lila was a little over a year old, some friends of ours experienced the tragic loss of their adopted daughter (whom they had parented from birth) back to her birth father after a 2.5 year court battle when the Kansas Supreme Court overturned two previous rulings in their favor.  Their convictions about adoption and their humility and faith captured our hearts and brought adoption back into our conversations.  We began to feel the Lord saying to start researching our options.  Ethiopia seemed like the obvious choice, but we wanted to investigate all of our options to be sure it was the best fit for us.  6 months later in June 2011, after much prayer and research and discussion, we felt a true sense of peace and direction and began the process to adopt from Ethiopia with Children's Hope International.  In early 2012 we finished our dossier and were put on the waiting list at number 99!  We are now at 91 (to the best of our knowledge - you know how it goes!).
We have several fundraisers going on right now.  One is the sale of T-shirts that were donated to us.  Unfortunately all of our Africa designs are almost completely sold out, but we have MANY of the other designs.  They are printed on American Apparel tees (which run $25+ if you buy from AA) and we are selling them for $15 each or 2 for $20.  Because the tees were donated to us pre-printed (a friend of ours used to own a t-shirt business and wanted to give his excess stock away to a good cause) 100% of the proceeds go toward our adoption.  Here is a link to our t-shirt page.

The other fundraiser is a puzzle fundraiser.  Donors can sponsor a puzzle piece for $10 each and we'll write their name on the back of the piece and eventually frame the completed puzzle in double-sided glass in our child's room so they can see who helped bring them home.  The puzzle is a print of a photo we took when we went to Ethiopia in 2008 so it has a special significance to us.  Here is a link to that page."

Please visit Eric and Kelsey's blog and consider buying one of their awesome shirts or participating in their puzzle fundraiser!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Three Months since Gotcha Day!

It has been three months since we picked up our sleeping babe from Hannah's Hope.

I don't know why three months seems like such a big deal. It's 1/3 of his little life. Our agency recommends 6 weeks - 3 months of cocooning....So I guess, after 3 months life should be "normal," right?! :)

I am a bit emotional as I think about how amazing, crazy, sleepless, and fruitful these past three months has been. It seems like Israel Biruk has always been a part of us. We love him so much. He is on my mind all the time and when he is sleeping, I miss him. Will and I feel so blessed to be his parents- he is such joy.

We have learned so much in the past three months: about parenting, strengthening our marriage, finding renewal when there is no "normal" or "me time."

I wouldn't trade this. I feel so thankful; even on the days that it seems like all I've done for the past 24 hours is console a child that won't sleep, or when we're doing physical therapy or my child is spitting his food all over me and I finally got a shower for the first time in days. This is the best job ever. Three months in and I'm so thankful that I have a lifetime ahead to know and love Israel Biruk.

***All pictures from Gotcha Day May 1, 2012 at Hannah's Hope***
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