FULLY FUNDED.

Coke Icee. Bowl of Microwaved Popcorn.

Also known as my BFF’s. They get me through all the feelings. Both have joined me for this blog post because I am 43 shades of overwhelmed. 

Friends, our adoption is FULLY funded. 

We lack nothing. Not one penny. I have dreamed about the day I could say that, tweet that, post it to our Facebook wall. I imagined all the flowery words and exclamation points. But y’all? I’ve got nothing. I am stunned speechless, truly lost for the words to articulate how we feel. 

There is nothing but time and a birthmother’s decision standing between us and our sweet baby. (I don’t at all mean to make light of the weight of those things, but besides them- all i’s have been dotted, all t’s have been crossed)

TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS in 57 DAYS.

I cannot tell you what it feels like to type that, say that. 

I also cannot begin to express what it feels like to KNOW that. Can you even comprehend? Truly an act of The Father. Herschel and I left a fundraiser Saturday night and drove nearly 3 1/2 hours in total silence. Our eyes felt like faucets and our hearts were nearly raw. It's a beautiful and powerful and insanely humbling thing to be smack dab in the center of a move of God. There was NO way through this, NO WAY TO this without Him. Our prayer remains: "To you be all the glory,  Lord"

And to know we have so many huddled in our corner, walking and laboring alongside us? MERCY. Outside of our salvation and our marriage, it’s quite possibly the most humbling gift The Lord has ever given us. Friends, your generosity and your sacrifice is not lost on us and we will never forget your friendship in this season. Without you- we could not experience parenthood. Those words make me weep.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For sharing our (bajillion) status updates, for buying t-shirts, for selling Porkburgers (no idea what they are, but oh my gosh- so good!), for hosting dinners and writing songs. Thank you for wearing our story (via necklace or keychain or tee) and for marking your spaces with our pictures and stickers. Thank you for running, lifting (NIKAO Crossfitters, you are NO joke), and emptying your piggy banks. And thank you for your prayers. Oh, friends, they have carried us.

We pray that the next time your soul is full of worry, the task feels impossible, and all hope seems lost- that you will find your back to our little corner of the web and be reminded that God is beautifully and forever faithful. 

So what now?

Herschel and I will stop blowing up your newsfeeds (though I pray that our story has offered respite from all the crazy). Our adoption activation agreement has been signed and our agency will officially register us as a “Waiting Family”. And wait we will. The timeline for placement is anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. 

Our website will remain up because it is home to our blog (and we hope to give updates along the way), but (as of midnight tonight), our donate button and envelopes will no longer be active. For those still wanting to buy stickers, you can purchase them through our site store until they are gone (I think there are only 40ish left). For those who have messaged or texted us with desire to contribute, we would ask that instead of contributing to us, you would visit our friends, Colin and Meghan (colinandmeghan.com), and consider giving to their adoption fund. They are patiently waiting on their little one and still have  $13,300 to go in their fundraising. It would be such an honor to bless them as the Pack’s blessed us

*** 

We covet your prayers in this season of continued unknowns and welcome your encouragement as we long for our baby. We anticipate hard days and know that there are more bends and turns ahead. BUT! We are more confident than ever that we do not walk alone and that our hope is secure in the giver of all good things. We lack NOTHING. 

YES AND AMEN. 

 

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflowsSurely your goodness and love will follow me
 all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Psalm 23

An Anthem

Herschel and I are good at things.. like puzzles, Parenthood marathons, and raising dogs who only  use the potty in the house one or two times a week. 

But our friends? They rule at stuff like prenatal medicine and winning nationally recognized court cases and running non-profits. 

We have TALENTED friends. 

The best part, though? We have TALENTED friends who care very little about recognition or fame but steward their gifts with grace, humility, and ease. Friends, like Josh Johnson, who is as gifted as he is good-hearted. 

Josh is so talented that he'll just about make you mad. HOW CAN ONE PERSON GET ALL THE GOODS?! I feel confident he is not as good at puzzles as us,  so we hold tight to that. 

Josh is a special, special friend to us and we have walked through so much together the last several years. We spent hours discerning our calling together, praying and believing that God would lead us. We celebrated together when He did. Josh sang me down the aisle of our wedding. This last year, we held on for dear life as he tragically lost his sister and we got the news of our infertility. We have had our fair share of "why's" and "how's". 

As early news of our adoption began to circulate to our closest people, we began to further articulate our calling and share the confirmation God had given us to go ahead. We were walking out of a season of darkness into an unfamiliar, but blindingly bright place- full of hope, full of total abandonment and trust. It was exciting to share that with our friends, like Josh, who had prayed us through the dark, weary, and ugly. 

Josh weathered the whole ride with us and was somehow able to weave together our heartache and hope - giving them melody and life. Allowing the Spirit to move, Josh sat down with our conversations and his journal and, as only he could do, penned the anthem to our story:

Light breaks, bringing hope as endless nights fade / We see the dawn of a new beginning / Hope blooms, in these broken hearts, you renew/ every lost long tattered dream/ Fleeting are the promises of man throughout the ages, but many are the promises of God in Jesus / Yes, we say Amen/ Lord we know that you are sovereign and we trust your gentle hand/ For God you are faithful on this journey you have planned/ We will abide in You. 

 

In his words, he "threw something together on guitar" (ok, whatever. let me tell you guys what it would be like if I "threw something" together on an instrument: painful), then grabbed his friend, took it to the studio.. and now it echoes all around our house as we claim the promise of God for our story, for yours.

Lord we know that you are sovereign and we trust your gentle hand.

We want you to sing along with us. You can buy the FULL song (that was just a snippet) for $4 right here on our site. I know, I know. FOUR DOLLARS. But we are trying to get to our baby, people! Two dollars of that goes directly to our adoption, two dollars goes directly to Josh and his upcoming mission to Australia (He is on staff at Crosspoint UMC in Florida and you can read all about their church/mission by visiting the link).  

Head on over to our site store and join our song, friends..

- Lee and Hersch

 

(ps: tune sound familiar? fun fact! it was the background to our announcement video!) 

UPDATES!

I swear yesterday was May 28th. 

Somehow I looked up and it was, in fact, NOT the end of May. WHAT IN ALL THE HEAVENS. 

Instead? It's the end of JUNE and the legitimate suspicions I have about some sort of strange summer time warp have hit a level 10. 

How can it even be?!

Well- Somehow, here we are. One of my favorite parts of this whole youth ministry gig is all the summer fun and travel. I love, LOVE seeing and serving new places with our students. But, MERCY. It plays mean tricks on my internal calendar!

I've been home a whopping 9 days this month and those days have been unpacking, laundry, and repacking (the stuff summer dreams are made of, right?!). 

Right now, H and I are driving through the Mojave Desert in California. About 6 months ago, some of our friends asked us to take a little summer trip with them- something we have talked about and tried to plan for years. They had a plethora of hotel points and graciously offered them to us if we could just fly to meet them. We saved and bought our flight in February.. just a few short weeks before our lives sort of exploded with confirmation of our fertility issues.

With all the unexpected costs of doctors visits, tests, and now adoption costs - our finances have been put on lockdown. We have saved, cut back, saved, and cut back again. And again. I'm kind of a freak show when it comes to budgeting and saving and I know we would have never been able to buy tickets or put money aside for a trip if we hadn't done it before the crap hit the fan.  I can't help but think the Lord knew how badly we would need to get away, to get a little respite with our friends. I'll be honest- just the anticipation of our trip has helped us get through the darkest and crappiest of days. 

This trip isn't the only exciting thing going on, though- and before we unplug the crazy for a few days, we wanted to give you an update on all of the things. It's been a WHOPPER of a week for Baby French!

First, an update on financial progress. YALL. Are you ready for this?! 

We have filled 77 envelopes, signed up over 30 racers for The 5k, done our dog and babysitting duties, driven miles and miles for Uber, and received countless general donations.

This all  adds up to a crazy $12,334 raised for Baby French.

 

THAT'S TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS IN THIRTY DAYS. 

Our minds are blown, our hearts are exploding, and our hands are lifted high to the Giver of all good things. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, friends.

This means that we only need about $9000 to meet our goal (We know of about $2000 more on its way, so we are really looking at more of a $7000 goal.)

WE ARE SO CLOSE!! 

 

But, wait.. That's not all! We got this little jewel in our inbox on Friday....

As my best friend, Amy, said (through squeals) "this is your positive pregnancy test!!". I may not ever have a blue line on a stick, but I think I might have felt the rush of excitement and panic and "HOLY CRAP!" many of you have described to me when you found out your little one was coming. For us, this means it's REALLY happening. 

So what now? As soon as we meet our financial goal, our profile will "go live". This means that our profile will be shown to birth families who are seeking adoptive parents, like us, for their child. The timeline of placement after "going live" can be anywhere from 1 week to 1 year. 

WHOA.

The thought that our baby is most likely already cooking in their birth mother's belly? It is sobering, sacred. 

Baby French, we are coming for you. We are praying for you, for your birth family.. praying that God would prepare us and shape us for the honor of being your parents.

Friends, we are praying for you too. We don't close our eyes for sleep each night without thanking God for your investment in our little family. It's been a bit surreal to learn how far some of you would go for us and the friendship of so many of you will stay with us forever. 

Thank you for sharing our story, our statuses, for joining us, for praying us through. We could not have come this far and we surely cannot go ahead without you. 

We pray you'll enjoy this holiday week and weekend with those you love and that through our story, you might experience peace and joy that comes from His faithfulness. He is so good. 

 

****

Now time to put our phones and computers away for a couple days and enjoy some rest with our people (and some aircon because: 108 DEGREES). 

 

Bear hugs and endless thank-you's from the wild, wild West,

L+H

 

 

A Note from Herschel

 

In all of our discussions about starting a family, or parenthood, or thinking of our future children’s names, one thing kept creeping into our conversation: our mutual desire to build our family through adoption.  Both of us had seen the glory of God through the power of adoption, and both of us had felt a nudge in our heart and spirit to pursue it for our families.  Now that we were together, and especially after we began to plan our life together as husband and wife, we began to dream about adoption together. 

 

We wanted our family to be a mix of natural and adoptive children.  That was our goal.  Given our age, we actually started trying to conceive practically immediately after we got married.  Month after month went by with no pregnancy.  We began talking to our doctor and eventually entered into some fertility testing. 

 

Then we got the news. 

 

“All in all, you guys have a less than 1% chance of producing children.”

 

What does one even say to that?  How do a husband and wife, whose greatest desire is to be a dad and mom, respond? Honestly, not well.  We were initially hit with such deep sadness.  Follow that up with real, burning anger. 

 

As a husband, those words crushed me.  I knew the desires of my own heart, and I also knew the deep longing in Lee’s heart to be a mom.  Her dream in life is to be a mom. Lee’s desire to be a mom was one of the traits about her I was most attracted to. To hear that (naturally) we couldn’t make that happen.. well, again, I was crushed.  It was really a deep feeling of powerlessness.  There was nothing I could do as her husband to ease her pain.  There was nothing I could do to ease my pain. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. As a man, who wants to fix things, to care for my wife- this was one of the worst feelings. 

 

We were hurt and deeply disappointed.  Our challenge? ENDURE. Endure, Endure, Endure. Just go through it.  I’m grateful for the comfort and care of Jesus that meets us in our “enduring”. I’m thankful that though we are crushed, we are not destroyed.

 

In our enduring, hope started to root itself in our hearts.  This plan that we had from the beginning, this plan to adopt, began to take hold.  Over and over in my heart, I kept feeling, “The time is now.”  Lee also began to hear those same words in her heart.  Isn’t God amazing like that?

 

So we began to pray and seek counsel of trusted friends and family. 

 

Long story short, here we are, saying Yes and Amen to God and his call on our life to adopt.  We are so excited about the adventure ahead of us.  We are so thankful for those of you who have helped us so far, and for those of you who will help us going forward.   We will never be able to repay everyone for the gifts, prayers, and support we have received or will receive. 

 

We would love to have you join us on this journey.  We would love for you to pray for the birth mother and father of our future child.  We would love for you pray for our future child.  And if you would like to support us financially, you can go to either of these places here on our website to do so:

www.herschelandlee.com/envelopes

 

www.herschelandlee.com/donate

Thanks for loving us, 

Herschel

 

 

 

 

 

prayer focus: for all the other families who have heard or will hear the soul-tearing words “you have less than a 1% percent of naturally conceiving” – for the journeys, their hearts, their future. 

Strangers to Friends

I have written and rewritten this post at least 37 times and nothing feels right. The truth is, no cute introduction can do justice to the fact that:

 

A STRANGER GAVE US $5,555 DOLLARS.

 

I know. Take a minute. Catch your breath. We’ll be sitting right here with our MINDS COMPLETELY BLOWN. 

 

Now that I hit you with the climax of the story (that’s always supposed to come at the beginning, right?!) let me back up. 

 

I have a friend named Heather. She is a darling, forever kind of friend. We haven’t talked regularly since we spent a summer together in Africa in 2006, but she’s that special kind that doesn’t need the constant connection. We shoot messages here and there and keep up with each others lives through instagram likes and Facebook comments. 

 

April 17- Heather posted a status with a link to a friend’s blog.  The link had the word ‘adoption’ in it, so it peaked my interest (Herschel and I had already committed to adoption, but we hadn’t told a soul other than our social worker at this point). The post was so different than I had expected and the reality of their story caught me by surprise. To be short, Heather’s friends, Elizabeth and Allan, were feeling God calling them AWAY from their adoption and they were writing about their plans to give the money they had raised to another couple who were entering the adoption process. (You can read their story here.) They had a couple in mind, but weren’t sure if they were committed to the process and would be trying to discern where to give the money if that couple fell through. 

 

A week goes by and I cannot get this story off of my mind. I finally talked to H about it and we were deeply challenged by their willingness to follow this call even though it wasn’t how they thought it would go. Could we do that? Would we do that? We made a decision to intentionally pray for the Pack’s, the family who would be receiving their money, and it reminded us to faithfully pray for other families like us who were navigating this adoption journey. I’ll admit we had a moment of “What if they gave the money to us?! That would pay for our initial fees!”.. but I promise you, it was fleeting. In fact, we never discussed it again. Not that anything is wrong with that thought, but we were truly caught up in the reality, difficulty, and humility of their story. 

 

April 25- After a week of weird nudges by the Holy Spirit, a conversation with Herschel, and some time to build my courage, I wrote a Facebook message to Heather sharing that we were prayerfully beginning the process of adoption. I told her that I had read her friend’s message and that I couldn’t get it off my mind. I mentioned that we would be fundraising and that if they had a “prospective adoptive families to give our money to” hat - we wanted to throw our name in it. I didn’t really know what to say other than that, but I know it was sufficiently awkward. Boldness isn’t my strong suit. 

 

April 25- Heather writes me back immediately.. firing back, per usual, with scripture and a note of encouragement for our journey. She knows my heart and she spoke to it so beautifully. She mentions that she is going to send my message to Elizabeth and Allan.

 

April 26- Heather writes me a quick message letting me know that she and Elizabeth had talked and that they were praying for us. Elizabeth had a few questions but mainly offered us incredible wisdom about the journey ahead of us. It has been so refreshing to know we are not in this alone. 

 

May 5- Heather sends me a message “Hey, if you get a call from Elizabeth let me know”. What? My curiosity is officially peaked. “I’m not SAYING A WORD” she says and just like that any attention I had left to give the presenter at the conference I was sitting in was GONE. Shortly after, I received this message from Elizabeth:

 

"Hey Lee, Heather gave me your name so that I could contact you! God’s timing is so perfect! I’m so thankful that you listened to the Holy Spirit leading you to ask about the money for your adoption. As soon as I read the message I was like 'Yes! we will totally give them the money!' Of course I had to talk to my husband, Allan first though. Your struggle with infertility is all too familiar with us and to be able to help ya’ll experience the joy of a child would be such a privilege! We had to pay back grants and several people wanted their money back so the funds are not as high as I would’ve liked but I know every bit helps. If you could send us the name and address of the adoption agency, we will send them a check! Also, if you are interested, I could send you some books on adoption and books about adoption for your child-to-be?.... I’m so excited for you and your husband to begin this journey! I know God will do great things along the way while you wait to bring your baby home!"

 

 

AND COMMENCE BAWLING. Like a small infant. I couldn’t believe it. The check arrived several weeks ago and is in our account and there is part of me that STILL DOESN’T believe it. 

 

While the actual number of their gift is incredible, for us- it is their faithfulness and kindness that have left us completely undone.  The Pack’s have no idea who we are. They were STRANGERS TO US. They didn’t do a background check. They didn’t ask us to write essay after essay. The did not push for us to prove ourselves. Instead, they let the very voice that led them into adoption call them to bless ours.

 

And just like that, we had $5,555 in our adoption account

before we had even gone public with our news.

 

***

 

 Truly, the two most difficult parts of this adoption are the public nature of our need (who likes to ask for help?) and the total and complete lack of control. The Lord busted through both of those fears with The Pack's gift.   

The “yes!” of this journey has not been hard.. but the “amen”? the actual minute-by-minute trusting in God to actually let it happen, pull all the numbers together, and bring my baby home? Man. It’s a fight. 

 

Whether it's the generosity of the Pack family, a friend who met us in prayer when we felt at our wits end with paperwork, or one of my BUMC youth who donated her report card money- our fears seem to vanish and our hearts remember the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:24:  “the one who calls us is faithful and he will do it!”.  

 

 

We are humbled and thankful for prayers and provision (both big and small)..  and for strangers who have become forever friends. All the glory to the One who has done, is doing, and will do. For us and for you. 

 

-Lee and Hersch

 

------

prayer focus for today: That we would be good stewards of all that is given to us and we would live with the same open-handedness as those who are walking this journey with us. 

Yes and Amen (..and all the details!)

I couldn't possibly articulate the excitement that is so deep in our bones today. We have been busting at the seams to share our news! 

I'll admit that in the middle of all the joy, I also feel a little bit exposed in sharing our story, especially this chapter of it. It feels insanely personal and raw for us, but we know that God is using this process to teach us transparency and humility. It feels beyond strange to think that we can't have a baby without your help- but I feel like God is helping me understand the value of community in a new, authentic, and tangible way. Honestly, community isn't really my thing. That may be a tad surprising considering I make a living (that I LOVE) helping people find their place in the great, big Body of Christ. I find great delight in helping others find their community, but the introvert in me would so much rather keep to my people, my places, and myself. But.. here we are, living out our weird and exciting reality and letting the whole wide world walk right up into our business! While admittedly somewhat awkward, we are so thankful that people like you care and want to join in our journey and we have no doubt that we will be better because of this beautiful season and your generous friendship. 

So.. The details. Here's the skinny. We are pursuing domestic adoption through a private (INCREDIBLE) agency out of Kansas City, MO. Once our money is raised, we will have anywhere from a 1 month to a  1 year wait for an infant placement. 

The process looks a little bit like this:

1) Pick an Agency

2) Contract with an Agency

3) Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork (Gathering documents, fingerprints, background checks, reference letters, Interest Essays, Financial Records, Tax Analysis.. the list goes on and on..)

4)Organize that Paperwork for HomeStudy

5) Homestudy Visits (2 visits from Social Worker/Agency)

6) Completion of Adoptive Family Profile (Text, Video)

7)Homestudy Report Written, Approved, and Sealed

**7b) Raise Remaining Finances

8)GO LIVE! (Our profile will be unlocked on the agency's website and made public to potential birthmothers)

 

We have completed steps 1-6 and are hovering around step 7 (!!!! WE ARE SO CLOSE, FRIENDS!!!!) Our home study visits are complete and now we wait for our social worker to write our report and send it to our agency for final approval. Our role in that is complete, so now we are focusing all of our energy on raising the remaining $22,000 we need to go live. (To be clear, we could "go live" as soon as our home study is approved, but we want to be ready when we are matched and don't want to miss an opportunity to accept a referral because we don't have our finances in order. Does that make sense?). 

 

We can't wait to share every little step of this journey with you, so please do bookmark our page and stop in for updates. Thank you in advance for your prayers and encouragement. Maybe it's  overzealous, but it's as if we can already feel them. We love you and we are beyond grateful for your willingness to join our "Yes and Amen!". 

Lee 

ps: don't forget to SHARE SHARE SHARE! 

 

Prayer Focus for today: Our potential birth family. Please pray that they might somehow feel the warmth and love you are sharing with us on this special day.