Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dossier Update- 2

A lot has happened since our last dossier update... Last week we had two days off from work due to snow and were able to utilize the second one for a lot of dossier work.  We ended up taking 61 documents to our credit union which allows us access to a notary for free.  These were all of the documents that we personally needed to sign- copies of our passports, petitions for adoption, Interpol petitions, letters of obligation, power of attorney etc.  Our dossier requires multiple copies of most documents and we are preparing two complete dossiers (it's important to have a second official one on hand just in case anything should be needed again, here or when we are in country) so that equals a lot of paperwork!  The credit union was nice enough to let us use two of their notaries and within two hours we left with probably about half the paperwork needed for our dossier!! We now joke about how we need to keep the folder with all of our completed paperwork close by at all times because if there was ever a fire you can bet we aren't leaving the house without it!!  We have now completed everything we can and are just waiting for a few more things to come back from other people- our FBI background checks, medical reports, an employment letter from Eric's previous employer, and our approval from USCIS (approval from the US allowing us to adopt).  We are preparing to send everything we have so far to the state capital next week to get an apostille on each of these documents.  This will be another large expense ($15/document) so prayers for finances are greatly appreciated.  Today we received our appointment date to have our fingerprints taken by USCIS (the final step before they can approve us to adopt!) and it's a huge blessing that it falls on the last day of our Christmas break so we don't even need to take time off from work!!  

In addition to finances, please pray that the rest of the documents we are waiting on, specifically our FBI background checks, would come back soon.  The FBI documents will likely take the longest but we are hopeful it won't delay our submission.  Please also begin to pray that all of the documents in our dossier would be accepted by Ukraine the first time.  This does not often happen, but we are prayerful that it might for us to prevent any delays.

If anyone is looking for a year end giving opportunity, consider giving directly to our adoption agency.  A check with "Zander Family Adoption" attached can be mailed to MLJ Adoptions  617 E North St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.  Additionally, any donations received through our YouCaring page will all go towards our apostille expense right now.

We greatly appreciate all of your prayers and support.  Hopefully within the next few weeks we will be almost ready to submit our dossier to Ukraine!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dossier Update- 1

Here is the first of what will probably be multiple dossier updates:  We feel like we have actually made quite a bit of progress in the first couple weeks we've been working on our dossier!  We've already had several documents notarized and sent off for the apostille.  The first of our immigration paperwork was submitted for approval by the US today.  However, there's also been more than a couple moments of frustration, stress, and even brief "Why are we doing this?" thoughts.  Every time one of those thoughts hits us though, it seems like there's a few more things that instantly remind us we were most definitely called to be on this journey and somehow everything that seems impossible now, will indeed be possible in due time.

Right now we have some very specific things we would greatly appreciate prayers and good thoughts for:
--We are in need of notaries whose commission is good for an extended period of time, as required by Ukraine, to notarize many documents, a few of which need to be signed by someone other than us.
--We are needing both of our doctor's offices to work with us in getting medical forms notarized (this has been one of the most stressful things thus far).
--Also pray with us that much of our paperwork- including FBI background checks and immigration paperwork- would come back quickly.

We knew going into this process it would be long, difficult, and testing.  We are starting to see how true that is and know that it will continue to be those things, even through the finalization of the adoption.  We are also starting to see how faithful God is when we trust Him, and how rewarding it is to be on this journey and see how He continues to provide exactly what we need.  How comforting it is to know He already knows how everything will come together on the rest of this journey.  We know there will be many more stressful moments of frustration and even second thoughts, but can't wait to see how the seemingly impossible requirements we are trying to meet are turned possible, and how our journey will impact others.  Thank you for following along, for your prayers, and your support.  We hope to have another positive dossier update soon :)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dossier Preparation

During this last week our home study was approved and finalized by us and our adoption agency which means we are now ready to prepare the rest of our dossier- all of the paperwork that Ukraine needs before they will approve us to adopt.  We were initially very overwhelmed when we saw all of the paperwork we need to collect for our dossier.  Not only is there so much, but everything has to be notarized AND apostilled.  This will mean many little fees adding up quickly and, of course, more waiting time.  Several of these documents are things we already prepared for our home study a couple months ago, but Ukraine requires all documents to be dated within 6 months by the time they receive them, so we are needing to collect all of these documents again to ensure the date stamp will fall within that time frame by the time everything is collected, translated, and received on their end.  We will need to collect all of the documents, have them notarized, and then mail them to the state capital where they will be authenticated with an apostille and mailed back to us.  Our goal is to have everything sent for the apostille by the end of the year, but we know that will take a lot of quick work on our part.  Please be praying this week as we begin to gather as many of these documents as we can- that they will be easy to collect and the mail will be .quick- even though it's the holiday season!  And of course for continued finances, especially as many of these documents require fees that will quickly add up.  

We are excited to share that we have made over $200 from selling Stephanie's hand made gift items at the bazaar last weekend and via word of mouth.  Please continue helping us spread the word during the next month or let us know if you'd like to place an order!  We're also excited to share that we will be having another fundraiser night at the Heights Burgerville on Friday, December 2nd from 4-8pm.  We had a great time and a successful fundraiser there in August so they have generously offered to let us have one again.  We hope many of you will see us there!!  We are so grateful for all of your prayers and support throughout our adoption journey!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Home Study Draft Complete!

We received a copy of our home study draft early this week!  It is currently in the process of being edited and approved by us, our adoption agency, and our home study agency.  We are hoping to have it finalized within the next week.  Once it is finalized, our next steps will include gathering the rest of the paperwork and necessary documents for our dossier, which will then be translated and sent to Ukraine for them to review.

In the midst of all our waiting, we are continuing to work on fundraising ideas and have a great one for those looking for some unique, handmade Christmas gifts!  I am selling reusable produce bags, reusable Swiffer pads, and Christmas baking mixes in a bag.  They make great little gifts for neighbors, hostesses, teachers, and anyone else on your list!  Contact me for more info or to place an order!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Home Visits Complete

We had our second and final (pre-adoption) home visit with our social worker last weekend!  We finished up our individual and couple interviews and now just wait for the home study report to be written.  We will hopefully have a completed draft by the beginning of next month at the latest!  If everything from here on were to go as planned, we are probably seven months away from traveling to Ukraine.  We know delays are common with international adoption, so we are also trying to mentally prepare for all of the bumps in the road we may encounter.  Our best case scenario would be to receive our travel invitation for six weeks prior to the end of the school year.  This would allow us to use the maximum amount of adoption leave for everything in country AND have the whole summer for bonding time at home.  That is our hope and prayer, but we know we still have many hoops and hurdles to get through first.

We also have an amazing story to share: In our last post we shared how we were still quite a ways from having what we needed to make the next payment once our home study is complete.  About a week after posting that we received an unexpected check in the mail for the balance of what was left in our escrow account after moving.  The amount of the check gave us MORE than what we need for our next payment!  We never remember ever having that much in our escrow account (let alone thinking we would be getting a check for it) and we were completely shocked, but once again blessed to be reminded of God's faithfulness and our calling to this journey, even when it seems difficult.  We had read stories from other adoptive families about how an unexpected check would seem to just appear in the mailbox when they needed it most, but we always kind of dismissed it, thinking that would never happen to us because who would ever send us a check unexpectedly?  Well. apparently the mortgage company! We still have a long ways to go financially, but we know everything will fall into place in perfect time.  God seems to remind us of that at all the right moments.

If you have not had a chance to sign the petition at please do it now!!  The Department of State is working on pushing through some very concerning proposals regarding international adoption, some of which have the potential to even disrupt our adoption.  So please, please sign it!  If you are willing, please also write a simple note to your senators and representatives asking them to NOT support these proposals, due to the fact that they will make international adoption much more time consuming and expensive- two things that it already is!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Concerning News About Adoption

We received a letter from our adoption agency today with some concerning news regarding some changes the Department of State is proposing for international adoption, one applying specifically to Ukraine, and other non-Hague families (see point number one below).  We have attached the letter below in hopes that you will join us in going to and signing the petition, letting lawmakers know that these proposals are NOT in the best interest of adoptive children and families.  You can also email your senators and representatives asking them to NOT support these proposals.  They will only create more expensive hoops to jump through before bringing families together.  At this time we are unsure of when these proposals could potentially be passed.  Please join us in praying they will not be put into effect (for us and future adoptive families), signing the petition, and asking others to do so as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Home Study Update

Whew! So much has happened since our last blog post over a month ago!  A little catch up on our crazy lives: A new school year started for both of us the beginning of September and along with that we closed on the sale of our house in Vancouver, and the purchase of our house in Longview during the first week of school.  The following Saturday we moved into our new family-sized home!  We were very blessed to have an amazing moving crew in our family and friends which made the day so smooth.  We were then in crunch time to get everything either unpacked or somewhat organized because our social worker would be doing our first home visit two weeks after we moved.  But to make the time crunch a little more exciting, a couple days after moving, Stephanie left for a week to go to outdoor school, immediately followed by a workshop in California.  Eric was able to take care of all of the bigger things that needed to be moved around and organized, but there was still so much to do this last week prior to the home visit.  We were thankful to have some help with some unpacking this week, but we still ended up running around until just a few minutes before the scheduled visit!

Which brings us to today when we met our social worker in person for the first time and had our first home visit and safety inspection.  Amidst all of the busyness in the last month we were able to secure all but one piece of paperwork needed for our home study, including our immigration paperwork to obtain an orphan visa for our child, so now our interviews and home visits with our social worker are the last things we need before our home study draft can be written up and submitted for approval by our adoption agency.  Our visit today was very simple.  We had already made sure that everything that needed to be out of reach of small children either was up high or in a child-proofed cabinet, we had fire extinguishers on both floors, first aid supplies, and an empty bedroom which will become the "little one's."  The only thing we were missing were fire ladders for the bedrooms on the second floor which we can get before her next visit.  She seemed pretty impressed that we already had everything else in its place considering we had just moved!  We then sat down for a couples interview and individual interviews which included basic questions about why we want to adopt, things about our relationship, what our experiences with children have been, plans for after the child comes home, etc.  We will have our final home visit in two weeks and after that we should have a draft of our home study ready to submit for approval by early November at the latest. 

Of course with submitting more paperwork comes another payment due.  We were very blessed this summer with the couple fundraisers we did and the extra work opportunities we had.  However, we are still needing to raise about $3,400 for our next payment within the next month or so.  We are running out of fundraiser ideas so if anyone has any suggestions we would love to hear about them!  We are still selling coffee through our Just Love Coffee link, as well as collecting donations through our YouCaring page (see top right side bar for links to both).  We also still have some of our adoption t-shirts available.  Once our home study has been approved we will also be able to start applying for grants, a few of which we have already started the applications for so they are ready to go when the time comes.  We are prayerful that something might come from those to help us with future payments.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

UPDATED Fundraiser Results

We are feeling so blessed by how many people came out to Burgerville for our fundraiser last night!  It was so great to see the restaurant so busy during much of the time, and so fun to see and talk with so many people we know.  The restaurant did nearly $2000 in sales during our four hour time slot, which means along with the donation jar they had out last week, we raised almost exactly $300 towards our adoption!  Knowing that this particular location was not always very busy even on a Friday night, we thought it would be great (and a bit of a stretch) if we could make $100.  We were definitely excited to see the final numbers at the end of the evening!  Thank you so much to all who supported us in this fundraiser!

An update on our home study process- We are just about finished collecting all of the paperwork we need for our home study.  We have also been reading books and working our way through online  modules in order to meet our adoption education requirement.  These books, documentaries, and online modules have given us valuable (and overwhelming) information on so many different things that come with adopting a child internationally- expectations (delays and stress) while completing the adoption process, attachment issues, medical issues, behavioral issues, cultural and historical information about Ukraine, etc. Now we are essentially just waiting until we move in a couple of weeks to our new home so that our social worker can come do our home visits.  After that, our home study report will be written up and we will be ready to submit it to our adoption agency as the first portion of our dossier.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Burgerville Fundraiser

A local Burgerville is willing to partner with us to support our adoption!  Please join us at this location and let us serve you up some dinner and/or dessert next Friday.  Help us spread the word so we can get the restaurant packed during these hours!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer Updates

Wow! It has been a whirlwind summer for sure!  A few updates to share...

We have accepted an offer on our house and if everything goes as planned we will be moving in early September!

Also, God has once again provided just what we needed with some extra income opportunities this summer and we have moved forward with our home study!  Between selling our house and working on the home study, we can't even begin to count how many times we have signed or initialed pieces of paper this month!!

So what's next?  We still have several documents to gather and complete for our home study file.  We are hopeful that we will be settled in a new home well enough to complete our home visits with our social worker, and subsequently finish the home study, by the end of September.  From there we will continue preparing our dossier (all of the paperwork that goes to Ukraine) with our adoption agency.

To finish out the summer we have 3 fundraisers coming up!  We are still selling our adoption t-shirts for a few more days.  This has not been as successful as we had hoped for yet, but we are still hopeful more orders will come in these last few days.  Please let us know if you would like one!  We will also be collecting water bottles for recycling at a large event one weekend in August.  Lastly, our most recently scheduled fundraiser is a partnership with Burgerville on Friday, August 19th from 4:00-8:00 where they will donate 10% of all sales during that time to our adoption expenses.  So save the date and be sure to plan a dinner at the Heights Burgerville that evening (7401 E Mill Plain Blvd., the one near Andresen).  And if you dine-in, we will be your servers! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

T-shirts for a Cause!

Question: Who wears t-shirts?  Answer: Everyone!
We have an exciting new fundraiser starting now that everyone can enjoy!  We are selling these awesome t-shirts, designed by Fund the Nations specifically for us, that will support our adoption in a HUGE way!  Adult small-3XL sizes are available for $20 and a portion of that will come right back to us and our adoption fees.  We will collect orders and payment through August 3rd.  After that we will submit the entire order to Fund the Nations and within a week or so your shirts will arrive!  You get an awesome shirt and we get to build our family.  Pretty awesome right?!  Not only that, but after our little one comes home they will be able to see all these people wearing "their" shirt that helped to bring them home.  We would love for as many people as possible to join in on our journey, so let us know what size you would like us to order for you!  Comment on this post or e-mail us at Please feel free to share with others too and let them know how they can be a part of our journey by buying a shirt!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Let the Paperwork Begin

We have been working on an overwhelming amount of paperwork for the beginning part of our home study this week.  We've been told this is barely the beginning of so much more paperwork to come!  This week we also found out the entire cost of the home study is due upfront before we can move forward anymore. So for now we have to stop and wait until we have the funds to make the payment to our home study agency. During these first few months of our adoption journey we have been truly blessed financially through fundraisers and the generosity of some people.  Additionally we have been blessed with some extra income opportunities this summer.  Yet, the reality is we still have a long ways to go in funding this adoption.  The total cost of our adoption will likely be close to $30,000.  So far we have been trying to take it one payment at a time, but now our payments are getting bigger and closer together, and the financial stress becomes more real. 

Unfortunately the sad reality is that many families are so scared of the cost of adoption, that it prevents them from ever pursuing adoption, which in turn prevents children from having families.  Many people think they should be able to do it all on their own.  Some would even go as far as saying if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t do it.  To be honest there have been times when all of those thoughts have gone through our heads.  We don’t know exactly why God has called us to adopt (especially right now) but we know He has, and we believe it will truly end up making a difference not only in our lives and the life of the child that we are working for, but in many other lives as well.  The reality is we can’t fund this adoption on our own.  The more I read about other adoptive families’ journeys the more I realize that that’s okay.  In the end, we believe it’s going to allow us to see God work in ways we can’t even imagine right now.  It’s going to give others the opportunity to be part of adoption.  And it’s going to raise awareness about the great need of advocating for orphans and children everywhere.

We would love if you would consider making a financial donation on our YouCaring page: Growing in our Hearts.  No amount is too small when it comes to bringing our little one home and becoming their family.  We are so thankful that so many of you are part of this journey with us!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Update on Life and Adoption

Much has happened since our successful garage sale! To start with we have an exciting life update- we're moving!  For the last two years I (Stephanie) have been commuting over 80 miles to and from work, five days a week.  In May, Eric accepted a teaching position in the same school district.  This was a huge blessing in many ways but left us with the dilemma of deciding that we would either both need to commute that far every day or we could carpool, though our work hours would be slightly different.  Or another option was that we could move.  I have loved working in this smaller town and we've known for a while that we would like to eventually move farther north at some point anyway.  Over the last several weeks we contemplated the idea of selling our house and moving to be much closer to our work.  With the home study being the next piece of our adoption process we needed to either make the decision to move right now or not for a long time (moving shortly after bringing an adopted child home would just be even more transition we don't want to put him/her through). Recently we have felt strongly that moving now is what we were supposed to do.  Our house will go on the market next week, so now we wait and pray that all will go quickly and smoothly with one more unknown (but exciting!) process and outcome added to our lives.

Now for an adoption update!  This week we were able to make another payment to our adoption agency and apply with our home study agency!  Since our adoption agency is located in a different state, we needed to find an approved agency in our state to do the home study.  The home study process will likely take 3-4 months.  The first couple of months will be gathering background checks and other paperwork that is needed, along with some education courses.  One of the last steps will be having a social worker come to our home.  This is why we need our house to sell quickly and smoothly!  We are prayerful that we will be settled in a new home by the time we get to this step in the process so that nothing will be delayed. 

We are still short on funds to cover the entire cost of our home study.  Once our home study is finalized we will be able to start applying for adoption grants (we already have some applications stacking up), but we need the funds to get through the home study first.  We are working on trying to come up with some more fundraising ideas- if anyone has any they would like to pass on, we would greatly appreciate it! In the meantime we are always collecting donations through our YouCaring page: Growing in our Hearts, for those who may feel led to support our adoption financially.  Please also consider sharing the link with other friends, family, coworkers, etc.  And we continue to collect those cans and bottles and sell coffee here: The Zander Adoption as well.  We are incredibly grateful for all of the support we have received in the beginning of our adoption journey.  We know that God will continue to provide the funds we need, when we need them through so many different people and ways.

Please pray with us that our house would sell quickly, smoothly, and at asking price, that our home study process would go as quickly and smoothly as possible, and that funds would continue to be provided as we need them.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Garage Sale Update- WOW!

Wow.  The is about the only word that comes to mind after our garage sale this weekend.  It was simply amazing.  First of all, it never would have happened without the donations. Within the last two weeks we received more donations than we could comprehend.  We had over 20 different households donate things to our sale. So thank you so much to those who donated! We never would have imagined that so many people would contribute.  It also never would have happened without my parents who were willing to let us use their house, not only for the sale but also to store donations in their garage, living room, and back patio for the last two weeks.  As well as the many hours they put into helping sort, price, and organize things for the sale.  We are so blessed to have their support!  And yes their garage, living room, and back patio were filled almost to the brim with donations by Thursday night.  We were all pretty overwhelmed, both by the generosity of so many people, and how in the world we were going to get all of this stuff set up for a sale by morning!  Oh and there was still a 70% chance of rain...  And then what if no one came and not much sold? How would we ever get all of these things out of my parents house?!  Somehow though, it all worked out and early Friday morning as we were getting things set up it was even sunny!

We had more donations than would fit on our tables but we put out as much as we could and one person was given the job of refilling the tables as things sold (IF things sold... I still had this worry in the back of my head that maybe it would all be a big bust and we would need a semi truck to get everything to Goodwill!).  Just a few minutes before 9:00 the people started coming though.  And coming, and coming, and coming.  And buying, buying, buying!  And that's how it was all the way until early afternoon when we had our first small rain shower.  By that point several of the larger things had sold and we were able to fit most things either in the garage or under the tent canopies a couple people had let us borrow (another huge blessing!).  It didn't last too long though and pretty soon the crowd was back again all the way up until 4:00.  At that very moment the skies opened and ALL the rain came down.  We were in awe of how the day had played out and all of our prayers answered: the crowds came, so many things had sold, conversations about adoption were had, and the rain had held off until the very perfect moment.  Wow.

Saturday morning there was less to set up, but still so many things we were hoping to sell, and unsure of how many people would come to our sale the second day since so many had come the day before.  But again we were making sales before it was even 9:00.  The first crowd didn't last long though and pretty soon we had been there a while with no one coming to look at all.  Eventually though the crowds did come and this time it lasted for hours.  Pretty soon there was even extra room on the tables but we had nothing else to put out!  By the end of the day it was amazing to see how little we had left in comparison to when we started.  Yes, there will still be plenty donated elsewhere, but compared to what we were looking at Thursday night: Wow.

So now what so many have been wanting to know, the final total.  Let me preface by saying we had set a goal just between each other that we would like to reach with this garage sale, though I think we both knew it was a pretty lofty goal and wondered if it could really happen.  That goal was $1000.

Our final total from the garage sale this weekend: $1,502.55.  Wow.

We are overwhelmed and beyond blessed by God's work this weekend!  Thank you to all of those who supported this fundraiser!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Garage Sale Time!

Well it's officially June which means our garage sale is coming up very soon!!  We have been so blessed by the donations we have received for this event.  We have had nearly 15 different families donate to our sale and our garage seems to get fuller everyday!  

As the days of the sale near we would love it if you would keep the following things in your thoughts and prayers: good weather, a good turnout that leads to a successful sale, and opportunities to bring awareness to and conversation about the topic of adoption. 
Those of you who are in the Vancouver area, please help us spread the word about our sale and stop by yourself to find your own treasures!  This is going to be a HUGE sale!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars for June 10th and 11th! We will be having a big garage sale in Vancouver to help raise funds for our adoption!  We have already collected some clothes, books, toys, picture frames, kitchen items, and other household things.  We will also have some homemade craft items for sale as well.  Specific address of the location to come soon!

We are still seeking any and all donations in the next couple of weeks! If you or someone you know has anything you would like us to pick up, just let us know! Thank you so much to those who have already donated and those who are helping us spread the word.  We greatly appreciate it!  We are prayerful that this sale will help boost our fundraising to where we need to be in order to make our next payment to the adoption agency and begin our home study this summer!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cans for Ukraine

We have been so blessed by the response to our can and bottle drive and wanted to give you a quick update.  It has been incredibly humbling for both of us to see the response we have been getting from so many people, the majority of whom we have never even met.  Many times we have been left speechless by the selfless and generous acts of so many young students and their families who attend the school I work at.  Kids who want to do more than just collect bottles, but also want to donate their own coins or deposit the bottles themselves and donate the money- all to help a little boy or girl halfway around the world, come home.  We are often left speechless and in awe of their generosity and giving hearts.  They are the ones who continuously remind us to have the faith that this mountain can and will be conquered. They are the ones who inspire us to do whatever it takes to bring our little one home, even if it's one plastic bottle at a time.

We have been keeping track of our weekly (sometimes twice weekly) deposits and are excited to say that as of today we have returned more than 7,000 cans and bottles for the deposit! That's over $350 we have been able to put directly into our adoption fund!  We still have a ways to go before we can start our home study but we know it will happen, all in God's timing.  Please check out our other fundraising and donation opportunities in the upper right hand corner of our blog page and continue to share with others.  We are also still collecting any donations we can use at our garage sale in June!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Anyone Just Love Coffee?

We are still working towards our goal of being able to have the funds to start our home study by early summer so we have a new fundraising opportunity- specifically for those coffee lovers!  Just Love Coffee is an awesome company with a great selection of organic and fair trade certified coffees from all over the world.  Started by a family who had completed their own adoption journey and were wanting to help others with the financial burden it brings, they created a company that gives back to those fundraising for adoption.  For every bag of coffee sold, about 30% of the cost comes right back to us for funding our adoption.  They are great for your own everyday coffee or as gifts for other coffee lovers (there's even a blend specific for Mother's Day!).  You can shop directly from our profile here: The Zander Adoption.  At checkout it will show that you are supporting "The Zander Adoption."  There are also links to both our Just Love Coffee and YouCaring pages on the top right hand side of our blog.  Please check it out (and share with others!!) and consider supporting not only our adoption, but also this great company that gives so much to help adoptive families!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fundraising Update

We have been so blessed by the support we have received since announcing our plans to adopt.  We have received a huge response to our can/bottle drive from family and especially the amazing people and community I work with.  We will take as many as we can get for the next year so please let us know if you have some you would like us to collect!

We have also started to receive a few donations for our garage sale that will happen in early summer.  If you have anything you are planning to get rid of by June anyway, please let us know and we will collect it from you.

Lastly, we have set up a fundraising page on YouCaring.  If you feel led to donate financially to our adoption please feel free to do it here: Growing in our Hearts- Zander Adoption
Our goal is to be able to start the home study process as soon as Eric is finished with school in mid-May, so we have set our initial financial goal to meet that need.

We also greatly appreciate your support through prayer and positive thoughts.  Please pray for the whole process to go smoothly over the next year, for the financial aspect of adoption, and most importantly for patience as we know this adoption process will test us and our faith in many ways.  Thank you again for all you have done to support us as we begin this journey!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why We Are Choosing to Adopt

The number one question we have received in the last two weeks is “Why did you choose adoption?”  This is a question we don’t mind at all and are happy to share what led us towards choosing to start our family through adoption.  It’s a long story, as it’s been a few years in the making, but here it is…
At some point during our time in Korea the idea of adoption came up between us.  Honestly, I think it started out more as a joke because our first group of students was just so cute we thought it would be fun to bring a couple of them home with us!  But during that time the idea of adoption continued to quietly stir inside both of us until we started talking about it a bit more seriously.  We started thinking that maybe someday we really would like to adopt a child, most likely from Asia.  But it was still just a distant thought for the distant future.
After we left Korea we traveled to a few other Asian countries, one of which was Cambodia.  We both agree that this was probably the place where it hit home for certain in both of us- the timing might have still been unknown, but there was no doubt in our mind our hearts were being pulled in the direction of adoption for a reason. Cambodia was the deepest poverty we have yet to see.  Barefoot children scavenging a table at an outdoor restaurant, hoping to collect any food scraps or aluminum cans before the table was cleared.  Young, school-age girls spending the day from sunrise to sunset at the temples with their baskets of postcards and magnets trying to win the sympathetic heart of a tourist who would buy something for a dollar.  It was impossible to not feel their hunger and their pain pulling at your heart strings.  This was when the thought of just how many children, orphaned or abandoned due to poverty, there are in the world without anyone to love them and care for them. How many of them would benefit so greatly from a loving family to call their own?  Maybe we really were being called to have a family that involved adoption, and change the life of even just one child in the future.  We knew at that point that only time would tell when this might happen.
Fast forward about a year a half and we knew that we were getting closer to really wanting to start our family soon.  Eric would be finishing school soon and we would both have careers that we loved.  We still talked about adoption frequently, but also went back and forth trying to decide if we should adopt first or have biological children first.  We both constantly felt pulled towards adoption, and Eric’s mind was made up.  He knew that pursuing adoption first is what we were being called to do.  I, however, just wasn’t quite sure if it was really what we were supposed to do right now, or just what I thought maybe we wanted to do (I’m the one who likes to see the door WIDE open before I step through it!).  So I began praying that God would show me just once more that adoption was truly the path we were supposed to take at this time in our life, if it was meant to be.  It didn’t take long because very shortly after, the media started reporting on the Zika virus in Central America and how it could be passed on to unborn babies even when the mother didn’t travel to an affected area herself.  Eric would be spending six weeks in Guatemala this spring to finish his schooling.  And just like that God had thrown the door to adoption wide open for me to see.  So here we are.

“There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.”

Monday, March 14, 2016


Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks for people who consider international adoption is the cost.  When looking at the bottom line there is definitely a feeling of impossibility. Fortunately we know God has called to this journey for a reason and we know that He will provide in ways that may seem impossible in the moment. We are already so blessed by the supportive feedback we have received in the last week.
We have decided to set fundraising goals step by step throughout the process. We are setting our first fundraising goal at $5000.  This would be enough to take us through our first “big” payment to the adoption agency and allow us to begin the home study process which is vital to us being able to move forward with everything else.  Fortunately, since we are at the very beginning of this adoption process we are not under any time constraints to raise the money, yet.  However the reality is, the sooner we can raise the money, the sooner we can bring home our child who is, most likely, living in an impoverished orphanage right now.
To get us started on our fundraising trail we have a couple easy ways you can help!  We are collecting cans and bottles that are redeemable for the Oregon bottle deposit. Starting a collection of all those water bottles, pop cans, etc. either at home or work or both really add up!
Secondly, we will be having a garage sale sometime in early summer and are already collecting donations of anything that you may be planning to get rid of anyway as the spring cleaning season is nearly upon us.

We are willing to come take your bags of cans and bottles and/or any donations you want out of the way at any time!  We are so thankful for the incredible support we are already receiving.  If anyone has any experience with adoption fundraising ideas (or knows someone who does) we would love to hear any ideas.  Stay tuned for more fundraising opportunities as we move along our journey towards bringing our child home!

Sunday, March 13, 2016


We’re Adopting!!! 
We are so excited to announce that we are adopting from Ukraine!  Adoption is something that has been on our hearts for a few years now and for the last several months we have felt a very strong calling to start our family through adoption.  So we finally listened and took the initial leap by submitting an application to an adoption agency, who approved us to begin working towards bringing home our child from Ukraine.
We have received many questions about why Ukraine and how the process works.  We would love to share this journey with you and hope that you will follow our blog and our story along the way.  Our reasons for choosing adoption and Ukraine will come in a later post but here is what we know now about the journey ahead:
Adopting from Ukraine is a bit different than it is with other countries.  Normally you would be matched with a child in the country you are adopting from and then when it’s time, go to that country to pick them up and bring them home.  Ukraine currently has a blind referral system, meaning we will get an invitation to travel from Ukraine’s government once all of our paperwork has been approved.  Once we arrive we will have an appointment at an adoption office where they will show us profiles of a few children who should meet the preferences we requested.  We will then be able to choose a child from the profiles we’ve seen and go to the orphanage to meet them.  This is where adopting from Ukraine can become unpredictable in that there could be a chance the child we originally chose is no longer available for adoption (their profile was already seen and selected by another family), the children in the profiles may not meet the preferences we have requested leaving us unable to choose one, or the child could even choose not to be adopted by us as the court system in Ukraine does allow the child to say yes or no.

Children are placed on the international adoption registry when they are about 6 years old so the child we adopt will most likely be between the ages of 6-9.  Some younger children are placed on the adoption registry if they have a certain medical diagnosis, some of which we are open to so a child younger than 6 could be a possibility.  The entire process from beginning to end can take anywhere from 9-12 months or longer.  For us it will be largely dependent on how quickly we can raise the funds for each step along the way.  We know it won’t be an easy journey but it’s what we know God has called us to do in this season.  We couldn’t be more excited about expecting our first child who is, right now, growing in our hearts!