Friday, December 16, 2011

A Few Wild Days

It's been a whirlwind since Andriy arrived. We spent the first full day all together. Chris and I stayed home from work and we let our daughter skip school (gasp) so we start to help him feel welcome. I knew he would sleep in Wednesday morning and I'm glad he didn't wake up to find only me here.

After breakfast he played outside with Chris and Danielle: riding bikes, skateboarding and on the scooter. They had the soccer ball out too. They had a blast. We had a nice little visit with Chris' parents. Then we went sneaker shopping. After 4 stores we realized they just don't make light up shoes in his size. He had his heart set on them. So we ended up back at the 1st store and he settled on a pair with neon yellow and silver reflective stripes. So at least he will still stand out at night.




The next day he went to work with me. Work for me consists of watching a very active 3 year old so we all went outside and played and played and played some more. Then we piled in my van and drove to my sisters (3 year old in tow) and played some more. Except for about an hour he literally played outside all day from dawn till dusk. Wow it must be nice to have that kind of energy. I ended up with a migraine apparently from having too much fun. But other than that it was a pretty great day.



Today we kept it a little more low key. Andriy and I visited an international market and picked a few items familiar to him including a super yummy chocolate bar which he happily shared with Mama. (BTW - He is calling us Mama and Papa) Then we drove downtown and found Papa so Andriy could see the big truck Papa drives. It's pretty obvious that he really loves his Papa already. Melt!


I'm looking forward to more wildness tomorrow.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're taking the hosting plunge!!!!!

Yep! That's right! After helping my sister with New Horizons For Children stuff for the last year we ended up becoming an emergency back-up host family.

Andriy will be coming this Tuesday night. All the orphans in this program are from Ukraine and Latvia. Andriy is Ukrainian. He just turned 14 and was scheduled to be hosted by another family. This family had hosted him last summer, but they had a medical emergency come up.

It all happened very fast. We heard about the situation on Sunday afternoon and by the time we went to bed that night we were committed to be his host family.

Here is Andriy.




Isn't he adorable?

We are pretty excited and a bit nervous too. Danielle is on Cloud 9 at the thought that she will finally have a "sibling" even though it's temporary. He may be expecting to be hosted by the same family again and he won't know until shortly before he gets here he is stuck with us. We hope he will accept that he will be with us and not them.

We are trusting in God's sovereign plan. There is a reason he is with us. We are not really sure why since we have no intention of doing an international adoption at this time. We just finished our foster parent classes and will be starting our home study on Monday. We are going forward with our plans to become foster parents in our county. We plan to foster infants and toddlers and were in the process of turning our extra room into a nursery. We were graciously offered a bed to borrow for the month. We only had a crib and dresser/changing table for the room. We also are borrowing a bike.

Here is what we know about Andriy so far. He loves chicken and is not a picky eater. Corn dogs are his new favorite food. He loves to ride a bike, play soccer and play video games. He gets along well with other kids. He was overwhelmed (as you can imagine) with all the choices in stores while he was hosted last summer. He doesn't speak much English (we don't speak any Russian). He is very small for his age. (The Momma Grizzly Bear in me already wonders if he gets picked on.) He really wants to be adopted.

Here are some prayer requests as we get ready for him to come.

That all the kids would have safe travel to the U.S.

That Andriy would accept us as his host family.

That he would feel comfortable and safe in our home.

That he would sleep well while here. He is not used to sleeping alone in a room.

That Andriy would be open and receptive to the Gospel. We are going to ask a Ukrainian pastor for help with this because of the language barrier.

That he would feel loved and a part of our family.

That we will be able to communicate with him well using a translation program and Russian dictionary.

That God would continue to provide what we need to care for him (we were totally not prepared for a guest).

That God would provide just the right family to adopt Andriy.

That he would have the best Christmas ever.

That's it for now. I'm sure once he gets here I will have so much more for you to pray about. We so appreciate all the encouragement and prayers so far.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shopping for a cause

If you are like me you are overwhelmed with all the gift giving/buying choices we have at Christmas. For the last few years my husband Chris and I have been trying to make sure some of our gift spending money go towards worthy causes that are dear to our hearts. The last few years we have made donations to World Vision on behalf of extended family members and I can tell you that every time that person has told us that they thought it was a great idea and they were glad we didn't spend the money on more stuff they didn't need. So we plan to do that again.

This year we also have several friends and acquaintances that are in the middle of the adoption process. Some of these families are having fundraisers that include really great items that would make great gifts. So we decided to take a look at those fundraisers and see if we can stretch our holiday gift dollars a little further by participating. We also purchased a Christmas tree from one family in our community that is adopting a little girl with special needs. We do not know the family, but know of them through friends.

So why am I bring this up? No - I don't want a pat on the back. I want to share as many of those fundraisers as I can with others so you have the opportunity to participate also as you shop. Some of the fundraisers are also raffles you can win. So I am going to start listing the ones I know of here. If you know of one that you don't see please shoot me an email with the info (web link) and I will add it.

Get ready. There are alot of links here.

#1
The McCoy Family - 25% of sales ending Monday (12/5) go towards their adoption of orphans in Ukraine. This was a home party I attended today, but Amanda is graciously extending it and giving the McCoy's her entire profit. Thirty-One sells beautiful bags, purses and accessories. Way to go Amanda. You may need to put "McCoy adoption" on the online order to make sure Amanda knows you are ordering from the McCoy's party.

Here is the link http://www.mythirtyone.com/AmandaWells/

The McCoy's also have a gift basket business and all the profits go towards their adoption. The baskets are beautiful and full of great stuff. There is a basket for just about everyone on your list. Check out their website here: http://www.doodlebuckets.com/

Here is the link to their blog if you want to follow their adoption: http://mammatomany-bringingthemhome.blogspot.com/

#2
Reece's Rainbow families - Christmas Shopping "Orphan No More" Style.
Check out the Reece's Rainbow blog for a list of families that are adopting. There are parties, raffles, coffee, bread dough, homemade items and even some Kindles and iPads listed here. WOW! Check out the list at http://reecesrainbow.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-shopping-orphan-no-more-style.html . Disclaimer: I do not personally know any of the Reece's Rainbow families but am including them because RR is near and dear to my heart and these families must be super cool since they are willing to adopt a child with special needs.

You can also get involved in Reece's Rainbows Angel Tree program here http://static.reecesrainbow.org/angeltreekids/

#3
The Dewberry Family - The Dewberrys are adopting again! Their first son, Kolya is a very talented artist and he loves to skateboard. He is designing really awesome graphics and Mom & Dad are helping him put them on custom skateboards. All the profits will go towards the adoption of his new brother Sergiy. Here is their website: http://www.fallenbutsaved.com/

Here is the Dewberry's adoption blog. http://andthisonematters.blogspot.com/ If you click on "How you can help" you will see their other fundraisers which include Survivor Bracelets and Note Cards made by Nicole and Kolya and a beautiful ladies Helzberg Diamond Pearl bracelet they are raffling off.

#4
The Lewis Family - They are adopting 2 boys from Africa. They are also selling Survivor Bracelets and Stationary made by their kids. Here is the link: http://fromgodstummy.blogspot.com/2011/10/big-push.html

#5 The Kochies Family - They are adopting a sweet boy named Ruslan. They have a few fundraisers going on. The first is coffee sales https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/hope4ruslan/ . Then they are selling these really great t-shirts that promote adoption http://www.adoptionbug.com/ruslanshope/ and they are also going to have a day at Monkey Joes in Cary, NC coming up. Here is the info link http://hope4ruslan.blogspot.com/2011/11/you-help-us-put-fun-in-fundraising.html

That's all I have for now. I really want to add more. If you are fundraising for your adoption or know of a family who is please send me the link to their blog or website that specifically has their fundraising info (what they are selling or raffling) and I will add it to the list. You can email me at onelilstarfish@gmail.com.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Family Showcase: The Dewberry Family

Today is the start of Family Showcase, where I plan to tell you about a family that is in the process of adoption and/or involved in orphan care.

You can call me biased if you want to. I don't care. I'm starting with my sister's family. They are Joe and Nicole Dewberry and their newly adopted son Kolya. Are they cute or what?

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Joe and Nicole found Kolya through New Horizons for Children. NHFC is an orphan hosting program for kids from Latvia and Ukraine. Kolya is 14 years old and from Ukraine. Nicole and Joe hosted Kolya last Christmas and adopted him in the Spring.

So first I want to tell you about New Horizons for Children. What an amazing program. Twice a year (Winter and Summer) NHFC matches orphans with host families here in the USA. The kids are between the ages of 6 and 16 and come to be hosted for 4-5 weeks. These kids are all carefully screened and interviewed and there is no obligation to adopt them. BTW - NHFC is not an adoption agency. This hosting program is a great way to minister to an orphan that may have never had a positive Christian family experience. It's like bringing the mission field home to you. Around 60% of the kids end up getting adopted.

Wouldn't you just love to give some of these cutie pies the best Christmas ever?

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Here are a few big reasons this hosting program is so important. 1) Some of these kids have never lived in a home with a happy, loving family. Just imagine the impact you could make in the life of a child. 2) As orphans age their chances of getting adopted decrease every year. Most people that want to adopt are interested in babies and toddlers. Perfectly healthy older kids hardly have a chance of getting adopted without hosting programs. 3) At age 16 orphans are forced to leave the orphanage. Often times they have only a backpack full of clothes and a few personal items. The statistics for these kids are just awful and you will find out their chances for even surviving if you visit the NHFC website. 4) There is a reason the NHFC runs it's program during the Winter and Summer. For about a month twice a year the orphanages close down for staff vacations and maintenance. The kids are bussed off to camps where there is little to no supervision. Just imagine what would happen if 100 kids were at a camp with 2 or 3 adults. Total chaos!!!!! Poor sanitation and living conditions, fights, rapes, beatings & robberies. It becomes survival of the fittest. When a child gets hosted they get to avoid going to camp and get to spend that month in a real home with a real family where they are safe and loved.

If you are at all interested in hosting a child or donating towards a scholarship for a child please visit the NHFC link. They are currently recruiting host families for the Winter program. If you know of someone that you think would be interested in hosting, please tell them about NHFC.

Now I want to tell you about the Dewberry's. Nicole and Joe have wanted to adopt for several years and have worked with at risk kids in their churches youth group. They have a heart for older kids and orphans. When they heard about NHFC they started praying and picked Kolya. It was a divine match. It has become obvious that Joe and Nicole were meant to be Kolya's parents and he was meant to be their son. They love this program so much that they have become regional coordinators for NHFC. They help with recruitment, host parent training and host family support while the kids are here. Nicole also recently went to Ukraine to help interview the kids for the Winter program. Joe and Nicole also have developed a heart for the Ukrainian people and desire to do more than just host and adopt kids. They have been praying and working towards starting a program for the older kids that have to leave their orphanages. They along with NHFC and some friends from our church want to give kids a chance to have a place to live so they can learn about Christ, go to school and learn job skills.

Well, God moved mightily while Nicole was in Ukraine last month. First, He allowed her to meet a special boy named Sergiy. Joe and Nicole are going to host him this Winter. Joe and Nicole are prayerfully considering adopting him. You can follow their new blog here.

Here is Sergiy.

Sergiy


The second wonderful thing that happened on that trip was that Nicole had a divine appointment with Pastor Viktor and his wife Tanya. This amazing couple has already been ministering to orphans including older kids that have "timed out" of the program and are on the street. This couple has a small church on about 2 acres of land and has dreams of building several buildings, improving existing buildings and becoming a place for these "timed out" kids to go. Le Ann Dakake who is the founder of NHFC was also there and it was decided then and there that this was an opportunity that God was obviously orchestrating. So a partnership between NHFC and The Way of God's Grace was formed. You can learn all about that partnership and their ministry on this blog.

Here is Le Ann Dekake (founder of NHFC) with Pastor Viktor, his wife Tanya, and 3 wonderful NHFC volunteers including my sis.

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I am constantly amazed at all God has done in the lives of Joe and Nicole in just one year. This time last year they were praying about hosting a child. One year later they have a wonderful son, are volunteering for a program they are passionate about, preparing to host 1 more boy, and now helping Pastor Viktor and Tanya with this critical ministry; giving them partners in the USA that can help fund their ministry and staff it with volunteers in the form of short term missions teams.

Our God is amazing!!!! He took a couple with no children who really wanted to be parents and had a heart for older orphans and has turned their lives upside down for His glory! Only God could do all that in 1 year. And I'm so excited that I literally have a front seat view to see all of this happen. I have a new nephew and I am so incredibly proud of Nicole and Joe for stepping out (several huge steps in fact) in faith.

Please join in praying for New Horizons for Children, The Way of God's Grace and the Dewberry Family. If you are led to financially give to either ministry or help the Dewberrys with finances to host Sergiy please visit the links above for donation into.

I am helping with several fundraisers for the Dewberrys including selling tickets to Belk's charity sale on November 5th ($5 each) and you can buy more than one, Packs of 8 notecards that Nicole has handstamped for $7 and Survival bracelets that Nicole and Kolya have made for $8 each. Please let me know if you are interested in any of those items.

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bracelets

For His Glory!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What’s with the name One Little Starfish?


The Starfish Story


adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."


On the Shore


There have been many variations of this story over the years but the meaning is still the same. One person can make a difference and even if you help just one person it’s worth the effort. That’s why I started this blog. We can all make a difference in the lives of an orphan. We can rescue or ransom them one at a time. No matter what our talents are, time we have to devote or dollars to give we can all do something. If you are a Christian it is your calling. James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained the world." This directive wasn’t just for a few Christians. It is for all of us and we can all do something about it. You may not be able to adopt, but you can pray, give, encourage, advocate, foster or in some way come along side a child in need of a forever family. The opportunities are literally endless. The task seems overwhelming. But we can make a difference in the lives of these children (little starfish) one at a time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Welcome to One Little Starfish

I started this blog because I am passionate about adoption and orphan care. All children are a gift from God and I want to do more to promote adoption, foster care, orphan hosting, adoption funding and helping kids that age out of the system.

On this blog I plan to share inspiring adoption stories, informative adoption articles, adoption conferences, opportunities to get involved in orphan care, adoption agency information, adoption of children with special needs and older children, ways to fund adoptions, families that are in need of prayer and financial support as they pursue adoption, information about orphan hosting programs and ministries that help children aging out of the foster care and orphanage systems.

I would love to have “guest bloggers” share their adoption stories with my readers. If you are interested in sharing your story or having me link to your blog in one of my posts please contact me at onelilstarfish@gmail.com. I also love to follow your adoption blogs. Please feel free to send me your link.

I am a Christian so anything I write will be from that perspective. I want that to be the tone for this blog and will be promoting and blogging about Christian organizations, agencies and ministries. If that bothers you this probably isn’t the blog for you. Just being up front about it – ok!  I already have a few ministries that are near and dear to my heart and will probably talk about them often. I will not promote every little organization or adoption situation that I am informed about without checking it out myself and then deciding if it is something I want to include. I reserve the right to do this because this is my blog. Nuff said about that.

So welcome to One Little Starfish. I hope you find it informative and inspiring.