Friday, May 29, 2015

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The time has come to finally get back to this blog. I've been on maternity leave tending to this new babe, but back to work on Monday. Oh man. I had a little over 10 weeks off and I'm so grateful! I don't know how I could have gone back any sooner than this, and my body didn't even have to recover. Anyways that is a different rant for another post.  Today's post is something so special and cool that it needed to be shared a long time ago, unfortunately you all were counting on me to write it so you had to wait.

Let me start with a quick refresher; when Andy and I decided to start the adoption process we had a little money stored away, but nothing close to the amount that a typical domestic adoption runs in this country.  So, we started fundraising and one of the most successful (and fun) efforts we did was a map guessing game. For a donation of any amount you could choose where you thought baby Salonen was going to be born in the United States. 

My bff and her hubs decided to join in the fun.  They did what comes first in their life though and prayed about what to give and where to pick. I received a check in the mail with an index card with their guesses:
                           Loveland, Colorado - Arieanna

I called her and thanked her for her sweet donation and then jokingly let her in on a little secret.

Me: We aren't looking at any agencies in Colorado just so you know. Just a little insider tip if you want to change what city you think the baby will be coming from.
Arie: Well shoot! But I want to keep my guess, I really did pray about this and I just felt like God was leading me to pick Loveland. Plus, how cool would it be if you got a baby from LOVE-land.
Me: Alright, well the prize wasn't gonna be that great, but now you are going to lose because it's pretty impossible to get a baby from Colorado when we are applying to agencies in Florida & Texas. 

Fast forward a few months: in Loveland Colorado on March 10th, our sweet baby Abel is delivered into our arms. Man, how cool is that?

I love this story because it is such a powerful display of what it means to prayerfully give. To think about what you are giving to, who you are giving to, and how you are giving. My bff Arieanna does this well, and she shares what God lays on her heart. 

Because of her sweet faithfulness she wins the big bucks. Okay, no big bucks involved but what better way to say thank you & I love you then a fun photo shoot with my bff, her adorable baby, and my sweet kid born in Loveland?! Enjoy these totes adorable photos of that day courtesy of Captivated Photography!

Avery gave Abel Kisses the whole time and every time my heart melted. 

Look Ma I can fly!
 The big bellied Abel 
 The sweet Avery Jane
 Beautiful BFF & Plank Baby

                           BFF's and future hubsand and wife. #getemyoungaveryjane

Monday, March 30, 2015

Adventure Awaits

If you haven't heard, or seen let me excitedly share, we have a son! I wanted to get this post out because so many of you have given and prayed and journeyed along with us and I want you to know how incredibly fruitful those prayers were, and continue to be. So here it is...

Andy and I met Abel's birth mom through our neighbor. Seriously. It was a gloomy weekend back in November, and Andy was outside cleaning the gutters when our next door neighbor leaned over the fence and asked how our adoption stuff was going. She then proceeded to tell Andy that she knew someone who was considering placing her baby and wanted to know if she could let this woman know about us. Of course we said "yes!" but honestly didn't think much about it. It seemed like a long shot, but was still encouraging to hear that someone would think we would make good parents for this baby. Well, come Tuesday my neighbor is knocking down our door, she boldly (and almost a little insanely) tracked this woman down at her workplace, and told her she knew the perfect parents for her baby.  Our neighbor asked her if she would be okay with us calling her. So here stands my neighbor with a name and phone number in hand; "The ball is in your court," she says. 

Andy and I sat there for a little while.  We looked at that number, we prayed, we laughed with how uncomfortable this conversation was going to be, and then we picked up the phone, at this point with nothing to lose.

Fast forward a few months: We've become super acquainted with the neighborhood Panera as that is where we meet with birth mom every couple of weeks. We've traded family stories, heard hopes for the future, talked about what adoption means and looks like, laughed and cried a little too. It was clear that God arranged us meeting, and we knew instantly that we were supposed to be part of her life and this story. Whether that was to be her baby's parents, or simply support along the way.  God didn't actually reveal this to us right away. 

Our birth mom told us she wanted to wait until the end of January to decide whether or not she would place the baby with us.  So we prayed; we learned about patience and were continually reminded that we are not in control. Still, we were abundantly blessed with peace and joy through our time getting to know this incredible woman. Late in January, we met up with our birth mom and across the table at Panera, she looked down at her tummy and then directly into our eyes and said, "I've made my decision, when I have this baby I want to give him to you guys, and I want you to be his parents." 

March 10, 2015, 7:46 am: "Hey guys I'm 8 cm. dilated!  Get your butts up to the hospital, and let's have this baby."  That's how Abel's birth mom sounded the morning he was born.  It's tough to describe someone's spirit, attitude and demeanor in a blog post, but our birth mom is 100 percent authentic.  She's real.  God allowed for a true relationship to be built between the three of us over the period of a few months. 

Anyways, we jumped in the car and arrived in her hospital room in a flash. When she was ready to push, she allowed me to stay to see the birth of our  son. He arrived quickly, so quick in fact Andy was in line in the cafeteria.  He thought this whole delivery thing would take more than 10 minutes. We spent the next 36 hours bonding with him and his birth family in the hospital. We heard so much about how we might feel, or how she would feel, but I never expected to have my heart explode every time she held him and loved on him. The trials that surfaced during this journey of adoption weren't necessarily relevant in these moments as God responded by breathing beauty and redemption through the entire situation.  It was, and is incredible.

I've never felt God quite so present as when we said our goodbyes. Abel in her arms, my arms wrapped around Abel and her, and Andy's arms hugging us all; we wept. I cried for her and what she was losing for our gain, I cried for our son and hoped he would always love and respect her and her decision, and I cried for Jesus because what was done on the cross. For our sake God looked away, and Jesus gave all so that we could know Him. Oh how real and true that was in this embrace; and this is just the beginning... 

I'll be posting later this week about how we chose his name & share the sweet story of who won our Map game! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Thank You

Guest Writer: Andy

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, my parents asked me to write thank you notes to those who had given me something.  In early years, it was actually more of a chore.  “Get your thank you notes written before you go out and play,” my mom may have said.

Ryan (my brother) and I wrote thank you notes to friends, grandparents, our own parents, cousins, aunts and uncles for birthday gifts, Christmas money and toys, small things and big things.  We even wrote thank you’s to each other!  

My parents were (and still are) master thank you note and card writers.  In fact, many of you may have received some sort of small note from my dad, or mom.  The notes are thoughtful and personalized.  After reading the card, you know and understand how grateful they are for whatever you gave them, or did for them.

However, your parents and my parents weren't actually the first people to write a thank you note.  And no, it wasn't an exercise they developed to torture their kids.  The idea of a greeting card, although very different now, is over 700 years old.  In fact, the Chinese celebrated their New Year by exchanging various messages, and the early Egyptians utilized papyrus scrolls to communicate and acknowledge one another.  

Mimi and I aren't nearly as good at writing notes to people who have blessed us.  In reality, we forget, we lose track, or we fall behind.  We cheat, and use Facebook, or texting to thank people.  What I am saying is if you received a handwritten thank you note from us last year, you’re extra special.  

No, but on a serious note, 2015 begins with so many people to be thankful for.  In 2014, you read our story; the one about the desire to start a family, infertility, the gift and opportunity of adoption, fundraising and the step-by-step journey of bringing a child home. As this journey continues, we are overcome with thankfulness.

First, thank you for reading our story, for listening.  Second, thanks for responding; for asking questions, for praying, for giving money, for being present, for sharing the joy along with the struggles.  Although we are still in the midst of welcoming Baby Salonen into our home, we take a moment and use this blog (yep, we are cheating) to thank you.  Below are just a few of the hundred ways God continues to use those around us to make the hope of having a baby a reality.

Fellow Adoptive Families:  You know who you are.  Whether we find you at church, in adoption/parenting classes, far away, on Facebook, or through other friends, we are grateful for your wisdom, experiences, time and stories.  Thank you for your inspiration and faith in adoption, too.

Prayer Warriors: Those that not only pray daily for us and the baby, but that remind us they're praying, too.  Thanks for helping us remember we must rely on God 100 percent.  He’s in control.  He, more than anyone else knows when, how and who.

Money Makers:  If you go back and read Mimi’s blog post from a few months ago, you’ll see the breakdown of what adoption costs.  Nope, we aren't buying a baby.  But, we are paying for the process.

This part is humbling for me.  Not only am I not good at asking for help, but I continue to learn how to receive that help when it's given.  Furthermore, how does a blog post, a Facebook message, or yes, even a thank you note do justice for what people have sacrificed and given over the past year?  How do we thank…

  • The family members who decided not to exchange Christmas gifts this year, but instead give us all the money they would have spent on each other?
  • The family business that donated a significant amount of money on behalf of both the business and the family, too?
  • The friends we haven’t seen, or talked to since high school, but sent money?
  • The friends and family of friends and family (who we don’t even know!)?
  • Over a hundred people for participating in our map guessing game fundraiser?
  • The friends who planned and hosted a poker tournament and invited their own friends to help out? And the family and friends who participated?
  • Our parents who have already done so much, but wanted to substantially help?
  • The friends who sent out emails, Facebook messages and letters to their own families encouraging them to support us?
  • The widow of a close friend who not only wrote a personal check, but gave directly from our friend’s memorial fund?
  • The couple who hadn't quite found a church to settle down in yet, and gave us their tithing money?
  • Those who have their own adoption expenses?
  • The friends that both own local, small businesses, but still gave?
  • The friend who donated a percentage of her own earnings from items she was selling to us?

Can you believe all this?  We could go on for a few more pages with stories of family members and friends who gave and helped, but I think this sums it up.  It’s not about how much people gave, it’s about the willingness of their hearts to help and respond.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  

As a result of your efforts, we are beyond excited to say we have met (no, exceeded) our fundraising goal.  At this point, we have raised nearly $37,000!  Our goal was $35,000.  To look back seven months ago and think we would be so blessed by the giving of others is crazy.  God uses friends (old and new), family (close and distant), acquaintances, co workers and more to provide.  We give Him the glory for this.

The Pros: Mimi and I would be completely lost without Susan, our adoption consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants as well as the team at Nightlight Christian Adoptions (specifically, Samantha and Kim).  Thanks for your advice, prayer, encouragement, knowledge, professionalism, care and instant replies to our emails and phone calls.

The Acknowledgers, Listeners and Encouragers:  This isn't necessarily an easy, happy, exciting journey 100 percent of the time.  There’s disappointment, waiting, ups, downs (as with anything). Thank you for acknowledging that Mimi and I are going to be parents, for engaging us, asking questions and listening as if we had a due date.

At this point, it's not a matter of if we are going to be parents, it's when. That's exciting! Thank you for journeying with us in our excitement.

Well, if we have properly updated our “thank you” spreadsheet, you will eventually get a thank you in mail.  The words typed in this blog post and the words written in those thank you notes don’t quite express just how grateful we are for you.  

Oh, and this isn't just a super long thank you note, it's proof of God's provision, His care, His love and the way in which He uses people like you to bless others (in this case, it's us and Baby Salonen). 

Thank you for your ongoing love, friendship, prayer and support.

May God bless you in this New Year,
Andy & Mimi

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The In-Between

Hello friends and family!

Here is a post just to say we are still here, and we are still kicking away at this adoption thing, along with a lot of other things:

 A quick note on adoption: we are in the end stages of our home study and then will be applying to agencies (fingers crossed) sometime in December! We still have fundraising to do, but have raised a little over $10,000 so far!! How absolutely incredible!!  We are still trying to come up with creative ideas for this process. So far, our friends Aaron and Minette put on an amazing poker tournament for us, I am still taking orders for Colorado flags, and of course we are playing our map guessing game! We SO APPRECIATE our friends and family and how they continue to step up.  They have given oh so generously to our adoption!

That being said, I'm going to take a page out of  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young - I was given this devotional by a friend, I had heard of it, but had never read it before.  I am so glad that she placed it in my hands. This is actually the passage from October 27, but it stuck with me:

"As you become increasingly aware of My presence, you find it easier to discern the way you should go. This is one of the practical benefits of living close to Me. Instead of wondering about what is on the road ahead or worrying what you should do if… Or when…., you can concentrate on staying in communication with Me. When you actually arrive at a choice-point, I will show you which direction to go, many people are so preoccupied with future plans and decisions that they fail to see choices they  need to make today. Without any conscious awareness , they make their habitual responses. People who live this way find a dullness creeping into their lives.They  sleepwalk through their days, following well-worn paths of routine. I, the Creator of the universe, am the most creative being imaginable. I will not leave you circling in deeply rutted paths.Instead, I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know. Stay in communication with Me. Follow My guiding presence.
Psalm 32:8; Genesis 1:1"  - Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

With all of the excitement happening around us, I find myself being thankful for future blessings and sometimes forgetting the moment I'm standing in. This feeling has let a level of dullness and frustration with the current day creep right in. I needed this reminder we are led on fresh trails of adventure each and everyday when we stay in focus of God's purpose and promises. I hope it can be an encouragement to you, too! 

Now, can you believe it's November? Wowzers! I swear my friends just had babies last week not this spring and summer, Andy just started school, he couldn't possibly have already taken midterms, and I just started working at SF again a couple months ago so I shouldn't be coming up on a one year anniversary here!

Cheers to the last two months of one amazing year- here's to making it count! 

Andy and Mimi 

Here are a few of our favorite photos over the last month :) 

Murder Mystery Party at our house

Andy performs his first wedding ceremony and marries our neighbors!

Poker Fun with Minette & Aaron
Practice makes perfect? I think these babies are just forgetting to smile :)

My Lovely sister visiting 
A little Zombie fun...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pity-Patter of My Heart

Sometimes   All of the time, things don't go how I plan. I'm an optimist with a realists vision. Because of this, the past couple of weeks it's been easy to tell myself that the money for adoption is coming and will come and that people will respond in their own right and on their own time. Heck I'm always the last to actually follow through on something but the optimist in me was slightly crushed. It was hard waiting for things to happen. My imaginative hope was that this money would be raised in a matter of days and we could focus on things like planning a nursery, other adoption to do's, and general baby excitement was quickly put to rest.  In fact, in my worse moments I wanted to proclaim this;

Don't get me wrong-- there were completely brilliant moments. Friends and family have given generously, people that we don't know or haven't spoken with in years have also donated to our adoption fund. I've been beyond humbled by the unselfish amounts people have given and the incredibly sweet words they have shared with us.

But those first few days after we made our initial fundraising post were somewhat brutal and God used them to have me turn towards Him once more. The book My Upmost for His Highest laid out the sin that was happening in my heart quite well;

"If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives."

God reminded me that it will be His provision that gets us through this. Not my terrible planning. Not my ideas. Not my vision. It is His will, His plan, and His timing. Since I've been so gently reminded of this (no tantrum whatsoever or feelings of utter loss) an amazing thing has happened. More people have stepped up, God has moved people to do big, amazing things for us, and I have not just seen, but felt His provision. I'm no longer focused on the blurry path in front of me. 2 Corinthinas 9:8  is a reminder of the promise and good work that I feel right now:

"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
    never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."

So to end this post let me just put this out in the bloggesphere;  

for your response, your prayers, your time, your commitment, your hope, your resources, your encouragement, and your love. It truly means the world.  And I promise, no more pity parties, I hope. :) 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Adoption Fundraising: Dreams Come True

Do you remember that map we used from our adoption announcement?  Well, we've set it up in our den as a constant reminder that Baby Salonen is out there waiting for us. However, now we want to add something to it: YOU.  Many of you probably know Andy and I love to play games so we decided to come up with one for our adoption, too.

For a $20 donation you can pick your place on the map; where do you think Baby Salonen will be born?  The person(s) who choose(s) the birthplace (or closest to it) wins a prize (it probably won't be a new car, or anything, but...).  Our goal is to get 500 pins on the map, meaning we would raise $10,000 towards our total adoption fundraising goal of $35,000!  It's a big goal so we need your help! We would love if you participated with us!

You can donate through the PayPal button on our blog (see the right sidebar), or if you prefer to send a check directly to us you can always do that. You DO NOT have to sign up for a PayPal account to donate through them. You can enter as a guest and use your own personal credit/debit card if you like. 

However you choose to donate, please be sure to include what city(ies) and state(s) you think Baby Salonen will be born in.  On PayPal, use the "Special Instructions" space to provide your geographic information.  If you decide to send a check, please go ahead and email us with your geographic locations.

We will be keeping a digital Google map (check it out in the sidebar) and dropping a pin on each city guessed.  Hey, did we mention you can guess more than one location?

One big question on everyone's mind as we ask for your financial help in this process is, "Where the heck is this money going? Are you essentially buying a baby?" Well the answer is "No! Adoption costs cover a wide range of things and baby buying is not one of them."  Take a look below to gain a better idea of where the money we raise will go:

U.S. Newborn Adoption  - Average Cost

Homestudy fee$1,912
Agency application & program fee$14,161
Attorney fees$3,548
Document preparation & authentication$1,114
Birth family counseling$1,085
Birthmother expenses$3,076
Travel expenses$2,198
All other expenses$4,682

Learn more about adoption costs here!

Sending a check?  Please email us, and we will send you our address (if you don't already have it).

Sending geographic locations?  Please use the "Special Instructions" space on PayPal, or email us.

Thank you so much for helping us bring home our baby!

With faith, love and a little bit of your help,
Andy and Mimi 

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” 
– Proverbs 13:12

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Everything You Wanted to Know: The Adoption FAQ

Welcome Back!

We have had lots of support and prayer since making our adoption announcement so thank you!  There have also been a lot of questions about the process.  What better way to answer those questions than a handy dandy FAQ for you. Enjoy!  

Where are you adopting from, and how old will the child be?
Andy and I are doing a domestic infant adoption. About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Of non-stepparent adoptions, about 59 percent are from the child welfare (or foster) system, 26 percent are from other countries, and 15 percent (or roughly 19,000 cases) are voluntarily relinquished American babies.

So will your baby be born in Colorado?
We are open to adopting from anywhere in the United States, although each state has different adoption laws. There could be all sorts of situations we encounter, but we do know that unless our baby is born right here in Colorado, we will go to where they are born.  We will stay with our baby in that state until the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is cleared from both states and then come home!

How long will it be till you have a baby?
The average waiting period for this exciting journey is anywhere from nine months to one year, it could be shorter, or longer though.

Where are you at in the process?
We are currently in the process of completing our home study.  An agency licensed by the Colorado Department of Human Services conducts and facilitates this process to ensure we can be suitable parents and meet certain state and agency requirements.  This process should be complete in two to three months, and then we can begin being matched with our baby and birth parents. This is such a unique process for each baby and family that we really can't speak to how it will play out.  We don't know how our story will be written. We could be matched with a birth mom who has weeks to go, or we may not know we are parents until after our baby is born; we aren't closing any doors right now.

Do you want an open or closed adoption?
We are hoping for an open adoption.  However, that term can mean a lot of things so we really can't answer what that will look like for our family until we are matched.

How much does it cost to adopt?
The average cost for a domestic adoption is between $25,000- $35,000.  This was probably our biggest hesitation when thinking about adoption. However, when we stepped back and thought it through, it seemed ridiculous that God would lead us to this point and then not provide us with resources to go the distance. So we prayed, and we have peace that we will be able to raise the money we need!

Hopefully this was helpful and answered some of the questions out there.  Look for a followup post soon; we will give you some ideas on how you can continue supporting this adventure we are on.  

With love and gratitude,
Andy & Mimi