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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Leg Complete

Well, Elijah and I have made it as far as Detroit, MI where we have a 24 hour layover.  We are in a lovely LaQuinta and had a yummy supper at Bob Evans.  It may only be 5:30 in the afternoon but we are very tired and already getting in our pajamas; sleep will soon follow.

Tomorrow we take off from Detroit and fly straight into Beijing where we will be met by our first guide.  Saturday will be a tour of The Great Wall of China and celebrating Elijah's 10th Birthday!  Woo hoo!  Sunday will be a quick morning of sightseeing and then heading to Nanjing where we will prepare to meet our Gracie Girl!!!  It almost doesn't even seem real to us quite yet.  Maybe when we board our flight to Beijing?

In the meantime please continue to keep Elijah and I in prayer as we travel.  Prayers for safety, no mishaps, and continued health.  Please also pray for Eric, the boys, and his parents as they care for Jeremiah, Dima, and Sammy.  So far no tears from Sir Dima today and that is a blessing in and of itself.  And of course, please pray for Grace.  She knows that she will meet us on Monday and then be in our custody.  I cannot even begin to fathom the feelings and thoughts racing through her head.  What I DO know, however, is that somehow it will all work out and I think once she meets Elijah that will help ease any tension.  Three of her very best friends will also have the same Gotcha Day and be at the SWI office with us and their new families so that will also help ease her transition.

Well, my eyes are getting heavy and the shower is calling my name!  I will check in tomorrow as we wait to board our flight and maybe, just maybe from the plane.  Good night!

Monday, June 30, 2014


I am in the throws of last minute packing and such but I wanted to take a moment and share that we are fully funded!  Our family is beyond grateful to each and every person who has donated over the past year to help us get to Grace.  This adoption (in terms of fundraising) was much more grueling than Dima's adoption and I am so thankful that it is over.  Please continue to lift our family up as Elijah and I travel leaving Eric and the others behind.  Poor Dima is really starting to struggle with the thought of me not being home for two weeks.  Please also pray for Grace as she prepares to leave the only life she has ever known.  I know that while she is excited to become part of our family she will mourn the loss of her friends and all that is familiar which is only natural.

In the meantime...back to packing!!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

T-Minus Four Days?

Well, we are supposed to leave on Wednesday.  Our tickets and hotels in China are booked.  But we are still short $5061.  Suffice to say our being able to go somewhat hangs in the balance.

That being said I have relaunched our Bonfire Funds t-shirt fundraiser from March.  This time, however, we only have one week to sell 50 shirts.  Last time was raised over $600 and it was a huge success.  Even though I will be landing in China before this would end, we need to do this.

This is the t-shirt design:

To place your order (you will not be charged until AFTER we met our goal of 50 - if we do not meet our goal you will not be charged at all) please go HERE.

From what I hear these shirts are super soft, fit well, and people have received lots of compliments.  The message, of course, is the most important part, though.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Necklace Giveaway (#2)

I have a very beautiful handmade necklace to give away!  The next 10 people who make a $20 tax-deductible donation to our FSP with Reece's Rainbow will have their name in the mix to win this lovely necklace.

Once you make your donation please leave a comment on this post.  This giveaway has been posted on Facebook, too, so please do not forget to leave a comment here!  

A HUGE thank you to Stephanie Wetherington for providing this necklace to help us #GetGraceHome!!!

The Final Push

One week from today Elijah and I board a plane to Detroit, MI to begin the journey of a lifetime.  It is almost hard to believe that we are so close!  I have been packing, making lists for Eric and my in-laws, doing laundry, and raising the last bit of funds.  Our family was blessed with a $500 grant from an amazing group of moms who help families financially during the adoption process.  We had hoped that we would have been almost fully funded after that point.  Not so much.  Since we are traveling at the peak of the travel season things are much more expensive than what the agency had told us over a year ago.  Our agency is also short-staffed at the moment and they were delayed in getting our final costs to us.  Yesterday we received our final expense.  As of right now we are short $5550.50.  That is essentially our orphanage donation.  Everything else is covered!

Over the next few days I will be offering various items either outright or in a giveaway.  My Etsy shop, while still "open", will not have any new items until well after I return home with Grace.  All pie making a ceased since I need to take care of travel preparations.  The thermometer to the right has been updated to reflect how much we need and I will keep it up to date as the donations are made.

Our family is so very grateful to all who have supported us throughout this process.  Those that prayed with us before we committed to Grace, those who have contributed to our adoption financially, those who have blessed Grace with clothing, toys, furniture, etc..., and those who continue to pray for our family as well as Grace.  It may seem as though as we finish our adoption process that this chapter is closing.  No, this process has been more like a wordy prologue to an epic novel.  Chapter One begins on Monday, July 7th when we meet Grace for the first time.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Two Weeks From Today

Two weeks from today Elijah and I will board a plane to a country vastly different than our own.  Two weeks from today I leave my home here in Florida as the mother of four boys and will return home as the mother of four boys and one girl.  It almost seems like a distant dream or something that might happen in the future.  No.  No, this is really happening and I am beyond over the moon excited!

There is so much to do, of course, and the next two weeks will be spent making lists, running errands, cleaning, make more lists, and packing.  I wonder how Grace will pass the time.  Draw more pictures of us?  Draw more pictures of clocks?  Daydream about what life will be like?  The time will seem to so long to that dear girl as all she can do is wait.  And wait some more.  That is how her past eleven years have been spent - waiting.

You know, throughout this process I have mumbled, grumbled, and groaned about the waiting.  For our family it has only been one year.  When we receive Grace on July 7th, it will have been exactly one year since our first home study visit.  On July 7th of last year we were meeting with our social worker preparing to have our home study updated.  To me it seems like an eternity but for Grace the waiting has been much more difficult.  Longer.  Eleven years longer.  Week after week children have come and gone from her world and families have come through to take a peek into their new child's past.  Long hallways, odd sights and smells, crying, and lots of faces that will haunt hearts and minds for years to come.  Time after time Grace has wondered, "Why not me?  Why don't I have a family?"  I cannot even fathom the feelings she must have felt.  Hopeful?  Desperate?  Unloved?  Determined?  As I write this I shake my head...oh that precious, precious girl.

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.  James 5:11

With having a new family, however, comes about so many changes.  New language, new culture, new rules, new freedoms, new routine, new climate, new everything.  Sometimes I find myself holding my breath when I think back to when we first brought Dima home.  Adoption is wonderful and exciting but it is also difficult.  When Dima first came home I don't think I slept much for the first six months.  Boundaries were tested (literally!), words were spoken out of hurt and anger (by a very hurt and scared little boy), and horns locked.  Dima was and is so strong-willed!  He was determined to be the boss.  In fact, Dima will still declare, "Dima boss!" at least once a day.  What will Grace's transition look like?  Not only are we adopting an older child, but a girl.  And not just a girl, a girl with Cerebral Palsy.  New gender, new special need.  Will she be timid?  Will she be spunky?  Will she be happy?  Will she like us?  While Eric and I are confident that we can do this, we know that we will have a bit of work cut out for us:  doctors, therapies, school, changes in routine, etc...  But I know we can do this.  With God, we can do this.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

Over the next week and a half, however, we must complete our fundraising efforts.  It has been amazing to see how God is providing and we are so very grateful for the pie orders, jewelry orders, and donations.  As of today, July 18th, we are only $5,585 away from our goal!  It may seem like a large amount of money but I know that somehow it will all work out.  In the meantime I am going to fix my eyes on Jesus and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  1 Chronicles 16:11

Saturday, June 14, 2014

T-Minus19 Days!

Elijah and I leave in 19 days.  We meet and receive Grace on Monday, July 7th in Nanjing, China.  This past week has been a whirlwind of VBS, gifted camp, and summer school so I have not had a chance to sit down and share this news on our blog!  When the agency called they had at first suggested that we leave this coming week - YIKES!  It didn't work out with receiving our consulate appointment which was somewhat of a relief.  That was just SO soon.  After an entire afternoon of phone calls back and forth we settled on dates and we were able to procure our consulate appointment, July 15th.

This past week another family was in Grace's province adopting a little boy who resided in her orphanage.  They also got to visit with Grace!  We received pictures and an AMAZING video of their encounter which has just been such a blessing to my heart.  The video provided us with a realistic glimpse into Grace's life.  Her personality.  Her joy.  Her pride.  Her excitement at the prospect of being adopted.  Our family has watched this video over and over, just amazed at what a precious gift this beautiful girl will be to our family and friends.  She seems to have a contagious smile and finds joy in the simple things.  While she has made lemonade out of lemons with her life in the orphanage she has longed for a family of her own.  I have been told by families who have met her over the years that she has asked every family she has encountered to find a family for her.  Her dream of having a family and our dream of having a daughter is about to come to fruition.

I would like to share with you now the wonderful gift that the Riley family has given to us.  This video will be what gets us through the next 19 days.

trim.R2UAZT from Maria Reilly on Vimeo.

In this video Grace learns for the first time that her American name will be Grace.  We had been led to believe that she knew, but things happen.  I am so grateful that I get to see her face and her reaction when she learns of her new name.  The orphanage director was also able to tell Grace that she will meet us on July 7th, less than one month.  Her joy at all of her happy news is just beyond words.  She is loved.  She is our daughter.

While we are so very excited for our upcoming adventure we still have a bit of a mountain to climb in terms of our expenses.  We are still short $7436.  Our t-shirt fundraiser that Elijah had going failed and we raised $0.  It was a bummer to have raised $0, but it was more sad to see our son's disappointment that he had somehow "failed" (which he DID NOT fail - he tried and THAT is what matters!).  Most of my days, when I am not being a mom taxi, are spent baking homemade key lime pies.  This fundraiser IS going well and I am so grateful that I have so many pies to bake.  It has also turned into a random act of kindness venture.  Since people who are not local to here we live cannot order a pie for themselves, they have paid for a pie and have asked me to bless others with the pie.  It has been my absolute pleasure!  So to those of you who have ordered pies for others, please know that it has brought joy to all involved!

It is hard to believe that this adoption process is coming to an end.  It has been a long year of paper work, waiting, tears (both happy and sad), and sacrifice.  Our family is so grateful to those who have supported us is many ways and I pray that each of you knows just how grateful we are.  Adoption, like birth, truly is a miracle.  They are by no means the same, but the enormity of it all is just as joyful, emotional, and equal in blessing.  This adoption has yet again shown us the Father's heart and His love for people.  All people.

Hang on Gracie Girl!  Mama and Elijah are counting the minutes until we meet you!