Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Year, A New Project

2013 has arrived and January marks a lot of anniversaries for our family.  It is hard to believe that it was 5 years ago this month that we started our process to adopt a child from Kyrgyzstan.    We felt like we are embarking on a great adventure and the journey certainly lived up to that. Although, the ending was not as we hoped, I know that we were sent on that path for many reasons and because of it, our eyes and hearts were opened wider that I could have ever imagined. 

It was 3 years ago this month that Drew was born and our dream of adopting came to fruition!  And now, three years later, I find myself forgetting that I didn't actually give birth to that little guy.  He is ours in EVERY sense of the word and we can't imagine our family without him.   He is hilarious, mischievous and loving and keeps all of us on our toes with his antics and his attempts to keep up with his big sister and brother.  I will forever marvel at the tremendous gift we were given by his birth parents and the courage that it took for them to follow through with their adoption plans.   





I certainly wish that the courage that Drew's birth parents exhibited could be mirrored by individuals and governments throughout our world.  There are so many children that need stable, loving homes to grow up in.  They need to live in environments were their potential can be fostered and their talents realized.  Perhaps some courageous things are on the verge of happening in Kyrgyzstan???  We are optimistic that may be the case and that more of the Kyrgyz 65 will make it home.

As many of you know, nine of the waiting orphans made it home last summer before the process came to a complete halt once more.  For a multitude of reasons, the numbers amongst the waiting has dwindled but there are still over 20 families fighting the hard fight to bring their kids home.  Many of which actually spent two weeks in Kyrgyzstan bonding (once again) with their children last spring, only to suffered additional heart break when they were not allowed to return to finalize the adoptions.

Three of those families are amongst those that were given grants by Altynai's Fund so as promised, as long as were are waiting children, the fund will stay active with Lifesong for Orphans.   That has allowed me to take a break while the Kyrgyz government was trying to decide how to proceed and yet, be able to raise additional money when and if it was needed to get the remaining kids home.   It looks like that time has come! 

The newest round of fund raising is going to be a little different though.  In the past, all of the money that was donated to Altynai's Fund went into a general pot of money that was distributed to the recipients based on their need.  This next round is going to be much more targeted and I am going to be partnering with one of the families to specifically raise money to bring their special child home.  Her mom has been working tirelessly to try to find additional ways to raise money for their adoption and approached me with her idea.  So stay tuned because it looks like a great raffle is starting to take shape!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Thank You!

Christmas is just days away and I wanted to share a very special thank you from one of the families that was helped by Altynai's Fund.  So for each of you that donated money to Altynai's Fund, shared an email or a Facebook post or said a prayer for Kyrgyz 65, THANK YOU!!!

Here is the message from the Littlejohn's:

Caleb (left) and Logan (right)


We want to share our heartfelt gratitude to all who invested a part of their lives into the families and children of the Kyrgyz65 whether it be through prayers, financial gifts or both.  Our family is now a family of four because you cared to share what God has given to you.
As of today, there are still only 9 children who have joined their forever families and this is going to be another tough holiday for those still in limbo so please don't forget to pray for them and encourage them.  They are in our thoughts and prayers every day and we cannot comprehend why our son was able to come home to us while all the other equally deserving children still have to wait.  Only God knows and some day we'll see the big picture.  It is our hope to see the remaining children join their families in 2013!
Our family wishes you and your family a blessed Christmas and a happy 2013.
Merry Christmas!!
Gratefully,
The Littlejohn's
(Eric, Melissa, Caleb (Kyrgyzstan) and Logan




Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!!!!

Suzanne

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God's Gift to Me

It  has been a little over a year since I launched Altynai's Fund and I am still in disbelief over the generosity that continues to be showered on the fund.  A year ago, it was with serious trepidation that I announced my plans to the waiting families and then put it out there for all to read.  My expectations were rather low.  I predicted that maybe 3 or 4 families that would be interested in applying and that if I was lucky, I would be able to raise a few thousand for each of them.  I had no idea how the fund would be received and I only had a few ideas on how I was going to actually raise that money.  As of today a grand total of $28,411 has been donated to Altynai's Legacy Adoption Fund and eleven families have been given assistance!

When I look back at the events of the last year, I have realized that without a doubt, I have been blessed more than anyone else.  I have never felt closer to God than while we were knee deep in our own adoption saga or when I was completely immersed in working on this fund.  I am so proud that I took the time and listened to what he was directing me to do.   The glory all goes to Him!  Thanks to his guidance I have been forever changed for the better.  Changed because of my precious Altynai, changed because of the fund that I started in her honor, changed because of the wonderful families that I have come to know and of course, changed because every day I get to be the mother to our youngest son, Drew.

So now what...

A year ago the Kyrygz government was still mulling over how they were going to handle adoptions and unfortunately that has remained an ongoing issue.  Thanks to God eight adoptions have been completed but many remain in limbo.  Amongst those waiting, there are still three families that are recipients of Altynai's Fund along the many other members of the waiting Kyrgyz 65.   Those poor families and children are still caught up in the uncertainty and ever changing mood of the Kyrgyz government.  They truly need our ongoing support and prayers.

As for the fund, I am not raising any more money at this time but will distribute the remaining donations once the pending adoptions resume and I do believe that they will.  I just refuse to believe that God will not provide these orphans with the loving families that they desperately need.   I promise to keep this blog updated as things progress and along with the waiting families, I will wait.  I will wait to see what they need as time plays out.   I have no doubt that God will direct me and I am all ears.  And if this journey with Altynai's Fund is drawing to an end, then I will count those blessings too.  What a gift I have been given!!!  I am certain that this experience is just a stepping stone on my own life's journey and that it has prepared me for where ever He leads me next.






Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And Then There Were Seven!

So much has happened in the last month with the Kyrgyz 65 and as true to form, there have been a ton of ups and downs.   But yesterday's news was fabulous!!!  Four more adoptions were finalized and those precious children left their orphanage forever.  There are four less orphans in the world today and that in and of itself is a huge victory. To see pictures of these precious children walking out of the orphanage for the last time with their new parents and knowing that their lives have been forever changed, brings me more joy than you can imagine!   CONGRATULATIONS to these families!!!

Yesterday's success brings the total adoptions to seven.  Five of those families were given grants through Altynai's Fund which brings me a great deal of satisfaction and hopefully it does the same for those of you who have donated or supported the fund over the last year.   Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  There are still three families that are recipients that have traveled to Kyrgyzstan and are waiting for court dates (more on them later) and two families, that lost their Kyrgyz referrals that are currently adopting from other countries.  That leaves one additional family in a pending status due issues that are affecting their Kyrgyz adoption and one family that, after losing their referral last winter, has decided not to pursue an another adoption at this time.

During the last month, while several families were making final preparations to bring their children home, others were dealt some horrendous blows.  After four months of waiting and for some families, several trips to Kyrgyzstan, the courts in some regions are still not processing adoptions.  The reasons have varied, including issues with corruption, confusion on the new laws and ultimately the government's decision to ascend to the Hague convention.  The final result is that adoptions in those locations are at a complete standstill and now that turmoil is threatening the outlying regions (which is 100% remininsent of what happened in 2008-2009).  And if that is not enough, last week the government placed another "temporary" moratorium on adoptions while they figure out these pressing issues.  The duration of the moratorium has not been definitively given but any moratorium at all, is not in the best interest of these children.  The moratorium that was placed in February 2009 was only supposed to last a year, and it remained for over 2 years before it was lifted, and now a year after that the system is at the verge of crashing again.  So once again, families are in limbo, and just like last time, many of them have traveled again and bonded with their children.  Only this time, the children are much older.  So many of the Kyrgyz 65 were infants when the first moratorium was placed but now they are old enough to understand that someone special came to love on them and said they would be back, and so far the courts seem to have no intention of letting that happen.

So where does that leave the children and the families?  In full-on advocacy mode.  This is why I am continually in awe of these families.  These families refuse to give up on these children!  They are their sons and daughters and they continue to go to great lengths to do what is best for them.  They are more committed than ever!  They promised these children they would be back and I don't think they will ever give up, especially now that they have held their children again.  These families know that they are the only chance that these children have of ever belonging to a family and they simply can not walk away from them.  If they don't fight for them, then who will???

Here is just one example of how amazing these families are.  The four families that had their adoptions completed yesterday were told last week that the government was threatening to annul any of the cases that had been adjudicated but not finalized.  And to top that off, they were told that their agency may be losing it's accreditation which then would leave them potentially stranded with no advocate in-country.   They were given a 50/50 chance that the judge would sign off on their adoptions and they did exactly what I knew they would; they flew the 7000+ miles to be there Monday morning.  Can you only imagine the stress that they were under last weekend?  The torture of knowing that you had waited four years (1536 days to be exact for one family) to bring your little one home, and now, with only a few days to go, it was crumbling at your feet.  Their strength and their faith is phenomenal!

As for those that are still waiting, they desperately need our prayers!  Prayers for the children, the families and the officials.  Pray that the officials make these adoptions a priority and put policy, fear and greed aside and simply put the children's best interest first.  These children deserve the right to have a family!  They deserve to be loved, protected and believed in.

If you are interested in reading more about the events of the last month, here are few interesting articles.  The first was an article written for Eurasia.net and shared by Joint Council this morning:  http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65695.  The second was written by an amazing Kyrgyz woman who lives here in the US and specializes in child development: http://www.facebook.com/notes/kyrgyz-child/the-scream-of-my-soul/189862044477137 .  Stay tuned and hopefully, my next post will be filled with homecoming stories.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Homecoming Worth Waiting For

Hello everyone!   This is the post that I have been dreaming about writing since I started Altynai's Fund.  The wait is now over and here is the first of hopefully many homecoming pictures.

It is with great pleasure that I get to share pictures of one of the first of the Kyrgyz 65 to be home.   Caleb Littlejohn now has a family!  He has a Mom and Dad, a brother and a loving environment to grow up in!  ( He's the handsome little guy with the red shirt and the boo-boo on his forehead.)  The Littlejohn's were one of the recipients of a grant from Altynai's Fund and so to all of you that have donated, supported and prayed for Altynai's Fund, thank you!!!!  This is what it was all about.  I hope that these pictures bring you as much joy as they bring me.   Melissa, thank you for allowing me to share the precious pictures of your boys.








Now for an update on Altynai's Fund and the Kyrgyz 65.  To date, $27,750 has been donated to Altynai's Fund and a little over $25,000 has been given out in grants.  Thus far, three of the waiting adoptions have been completed and if all goes well, there will be more homecomings in a little over a month.  Eleven grants have been used thus far and the process continues to move forward.

The financial challenge remains for the waiting parents, especially now that many of these families are going to be required to make FOUR to FIVE trips to Kyrgyzstan to complete the adoptions.  This is compared to the two to three trips that they had been told to expect.  Of course, the only constant in Kyrgyzstan is change so this is not surprising, however the financial burden is huge.  Now that these to be Moms and Dads, have traveled yet again, to bond with their children, the thought of not being able to complete the adoptions remains 100% unacceptable.

On Mother's Day, I gave out all the money that had been donated to Altyani's Fund and I truly thought that my work was done.  But that has not been the case.  Although I have taken a much needed break from fund raising, almost $2500 has been given in the last month!  Trust me, I never, ever expected that!  It has been inspiring but I am still at a loss as to how much I should be doing or how much more Altynai's Fund can accomplish.   I have had three additional families inquire about applying for grants.  At this time, I don't feel that Altynai's Fund can take on the responsibility of helping a new set of families.  My goal is to help the initial recipients as much a possible and then if God continues to push the fund forward then I will have faith that He will provide.


Maybe pictures of Caleb playing with his new brother will inspire others to give?  Maybe they will inspire someone out there to come up with a new idea that can raise additional funds for these special orphans? Regards, of what Altynai's Fund accomplishes from this point forward, it has far exceed my expectations so thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

And Then There Were Three...

Two weeks ago, the first adoption amongst the Kyrgyz 65 became official and within the last week, two more have followed suit!  That makes three makes three less orphans in the world!   And more importantly, three precious children that have been cherished and loved from afar for the last four years, that are now in the loving arms of their families FOREVER!

Sorry for the brief posts but the last month has been crazier than normal for me.  I am hoping to be able to come up for air soon and will post more then.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The First!!!

This will be brief because I have to run but I had to post this for all to read!  I can't tell you how incredibly happy I am to know that the first, of our waiting Kyrgyz 65, are on their way home.  Thank you to everyone who has supported Altynai's Fund.  More later, I promise....


Status Update
By Christian World Adoption
We have amazing news to share today! Our first child from the group of waiting families in Kyrgyzstan was picked up from the orphanage by his forever family today.
The court decision went into force yesterday and the family was able to pick up their child today after getting all the necessary paperwork completed.
It is a very exciting moment for us, and I’m sure for all the families as well, as all of us have been waiting for this moment for a very long time.
We hope that a lot more children will be coming home very soon!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another push???

Just when I think that I am almost done with what can be accomplished through Altynai's Fund, an interesting chain of events is making me question that assumption.  After giving out additional grant money on Mother's Day,  the remaining balance in Altynai's Fund is a low level.  I had always known the day would come when I would tap out the account and over the last several weeks, I have spent a lot of time deciding how to distribute the remaining money.   After some phenomenal advice from Lifesong for Orphans, and lots of prayerful guidance, my decisions were made.  Over the last month, I have also decided that my role in active fundraising was over but I didn't want to "close" Altynai's Fund's account because there are still several of the recipients/families that are in a holding pattern with their Kyrgyz adoptions.  I just wanted to keep my options opened until I knew how their journeys would play out.  There has been nothing predictable about Altynai's Fund or my role on this quest so I just didn't want to limit my options too early.

Now, I am questioning at least part my plan.  So within 24 hour of giving out the additional grant money, three pivotal things happened.   First, I received two very meaningful donations.  The first was from a very special lady that I came to know right after Altynai had her first surgery and my husband and I were in the midst of making some very difficult decisions.  At the time, Maria (a fellow adoptive mom and physician) and I were in Nicaragua on a medical mission trip with our church.  Unfortunately, due to some upheaval at church, we haven't seen each other in a long time.   While visiting a new church, on Mother's Day, I ran into Maria as we were leaving the sanctuary.  She immediately told me how she had seen the article in the paper about Altynai's Fund.  She was impressed that I had been able to turn a horrible experience into something good that she wanted to donate.  Of course, I have heard that from other people, but very few of them have actually followed through and made a donation.  Not Maria, she took out her check book and made a donation to Altynai's Fund right there at church.  Maria is in the midst of some challenges and she is hoping to turn her frustration into something wonderful too.  Once again, Altynai's Fund has touched someone in a way that I would have never predicted and in return the fund has grown yet again.

The second donation came in the way of an anonymous, hard earned, cash donation that I found in my mailbox yesterday afternoon.   A special person out there brought me to tears yesterday.  I can't even begin to tell you how much both of those donations hit home.  And even more so, because yesterday morning, I learned that one of the waiting families is facing a huge unexpected challenge.  A new need that I knew nothing about.

What an interesting chain of events....  Maybe, I am not done.  Maybe, Altynai's Fund has more to do.  All I know, is that I am going to need some help to keep this going.  Anyone out there with some new ideas??? Any one want to take the lead on a new project?  Any one want to partner with me???  I promise you the rewards are phenomenal and the needs are real.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Grants

I hope today's post finds my fellow mom's still reveling in yesterday's festivities.  My Mother's Day was filled with precious home made gifts, a beautiful bouquet of flowers and tons of LOVE from my little ones.

The highlight of my day, was that I was blessed to be able to give out some additional grants to several of the waiting families.   It was the perfect day to give a surprise gift to very deserving mom's.   They have been mothering from afar for such a long, long time and have been incredibly supportive of Altynai's Fund.  I was literally bursting with joy as those messages went out.  I am truly in awe of the generosity that I have seen and to know that Altynai's Legacy has impacted so many makes it all the more meaningful for me.  God lead me to start this fund and pushed me to keep it going and yesterday I was able to reap the benefits of that hard work.  Thank you to everyone who has donated or supported Altynai's Fund!!!

Now where to go from here.....  There is still more need remaining and I plan to keep Altynai's Fund going until the recipients have their little ones home.  How much  more will be given, will be our Lord's will.  I am utterly convinced that He is in control and that I am truly His hands and feet for this adventure.    I am open to any ideas or advice that any of you may send my way.  I am feeling rejuvenated after yesterday's events and so I will anxiously await to see how where things go from here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Soaking Up My Blessings

Today is a day filled with simple pleasures.  A long run, a swim at the pool with my husband and 2 year old followed by a great lunch at a new local restaurant.  Homework with the big kids on the patio and thanks to the rain soccer was canceled and we had an early dinner together as a family.  It was perfect!!!  

I am excited to announce that I will be giving out additional grant money within the week.  I feel so privileged to be able to do that!  The saying "it is better to give than receive" couldn't be more true.  And never in my wildest imagination did I think that I would have the opportunity to give out close to $25,000 and to help 11 of the waiting families.  And boy, that money is/was needed!  Here is just one example of the expenses involved with completing these adoptions.  The majority of the families are making three trips to complete their adoptions.  The cost of travel alone will easily reach  $7000 - $10,000 per adoption!  Trust me, there are no cheap tickets to Kyrgyzstan.  So on that note, donations are still being accepted, and the "Store" and "Krygyz Jewelry" pages still have items available if anyone is interested.  I know I haven't pushed things as much as I used to be to, but to be  honest, I have been a frustrated by the lack of support that I have gotten lately.  I truly feel like I have tapped out my donor pool and the possibility to expand the Fund's followers is limited, which limits me too.

It is funny how you imagine things will end and how so often, the opposite occurs.  I truly believed that once families were traveling and adoptions were moving forward that Altynai's Fund would thrive.  I thought that potential donors that were following along, waiting for some concrete news that would insure them that their money would truly go to help complete an adoption, would start giving.  I thought that the waiting families, past families and the adoption community as a whole would help promote the Fund and the end would bring a final round of giving.   I had even planned on doing some exciting raffles for some bigger ticket items and I imagined that I would have more support than ever.  Interestingly, that has not been the case.  As with all things dealing with Kyrgyzstan, nothing goes as you expect.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever predicted that over 15 of the waiting children would be domestically adopted or deemed "no longer available" leaving their waiting families devastated and the remaining families more nervous than ever.  I had always imagined being able to openly share the excitement of the bonding trips and reunions but that too, has not been the case.  The remaining waiting families anxiety may be at the highest level yet.  To be so close and yet, still in the midst of so much uncertainty.  Not to mention they are suffering from some serious PTSD that has developed over the last 4 years of waiting.  I am on edge with all of them, praying that all will go as planned and that all their advocacy and devotion will be rewarded with the most precious reward of all; the gift of a beautiful child to raise as their own.

Now please don't get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for every single dollar that has been given but of course, have always hoped for more.   Still to this day, I am in awe of the donations that have been given over the last 9 months especially since so many people gave long before I expected people would be willing.  I am filled with joy knowing that just the prospect of these special children coming home was enough for people from all over this country to show their support!  And although, none of us are privy to how any given journey will end, Altynai's Fund has accomplished something wonderful!  I am filled with pride knowing that Altynai's Legacy Adoption Fund has been so successful.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and took on a project that I believe in.  I have no idea how my journey with this will end but I have no doubt that this is just a stepping stone on my own personal journey.  God is good and I am sure that he has more challenges ahead for me!!!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Can you imagine???


Four years, give or a take a few months, has passed since those of us amongst the Kyrgyz 65 left our children for the first time.  I will never forget that day and how gut wrenchingly heart sick I was, as I laid our precious little Altynai to sleep in her orphanage crib.   I was beside myself and yet, I took solace in the fact that she had no idea who my husband and I were, why we were there or why we were leaving.  I promised to be back but I didn't have to explain.  She was blissfully ignorant in her infantile innocence.


The waiting families have been traveling and bonding with their children once again, but this time they are leaving children that are at least 4 years old, if not older. Children that, although still filled with innocence, understand that someone special came, showered them with love and attention for 10 days and then departed.  They say they will be coming back but can you imagine how that little boy or girl is feeling???  Can you imagine the fear and anxiety that their parents are experiencing???  To spend those precious days together, to start breaking down the walls and then be have to leave them once again.  I can only imagine???  I just pray these departures will be followed quickly by court dates and Gotcha trips!   The process is moving forward and there will be good news to be shared but in the interim, please keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers, especially the waiting children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Both Hands

Today's post is special because I have the chance to advocate for the Fenske's, one of the waiting families, and an amazing project that they are undertaking.  As you may remember, once the families were accepted by Altynai's Fund and Lifesong for Orphans, they were given their own individual accounts where they could raise targeted donations for their individual adoptions.  Although, I have continued to raise  money for the general fund, many of the grant recipients have been doing their own fundraising.  In fact, amoungst the eleven families that Altynai's Fund is helping, they have raised a total of $36,200, which is addition to the $24,000 that Altynai's Fund has raised.  Wow!!!  Isn't that amazing?  $60,000 has been raised in the last nine months, all of which is going to bring home some special orphans from Kyrgyzstan.

Of the waiting families, the Fenske's story is the one that humbles me the most.  What they have done and the challenges that they have faced over the last five years,  is amazing.  And what they are still trying to accomplish leaves me awestruck.  So it is with great honor that I have the opportunity to try to help them spread of the new's of their latest endeavor.  First, let me re-introduce them.
Kevin, Shannon, Hiwot, Bamlak, Marissa and Esan 

In 2007 the Fenske's adopted their first child, Esan, from Kyrgyzstan.  In the summer of 2008, they received their second referral from Kyrgyzstan and you know the rest of that story.  They have been waiting almost four years to bring Kamila home and now that adoptions are being processed in Kyrgyzstan, they are closer than ever to being re-united with her.  In August, Shannon wrote the following blog post to introduce us to Kamila, the little girl that they are waiting to adopt:  http://altynailegacyfund.blogspot.com/2011/08/kamilas-story.html.  (If the link isn't working, you can read the Fenskes' and Kamila's story on the Waiting Children page of this blog. )  Unfortunately,  they have a significant financial challenge ahead of them.

In the midst of their wait for Kamila they have adopted 3 other children; Marissa, Hiwot and Bamlak, all of which have significant medical needs.   Marissa is an ex-preemie with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and a severe seizure disorder and Hiwot and Bamlak both are HIV positive.  Kevin and Shannon had always planned on having a large family but the timing of these adoptions has not gone as expected.  Due to delays in not only Kamila's adoption but also,  Hiwot and Bam's, they are all "serendipitously" coming to completion within a few months of each other which leads them to their current financial challenge.  Hiwot and Bam's adoption were just finalized in March 2012 with a final cost of $51,000 and although they have been actively working to raise/save money for Kamila's adoption they are still facing a $16,000 deficit ( Fact:  The Fenske's have already spent $130K over the last 5 years to adopt their children.)  Who amongst us wouldn't be in the same predicament?  In spite of that obstacle, they refuse to give up on their second child.  The child that they have been waiting for almost 4 years to bring home.  It isn't their fault or Kamila's fault that the governments of both Ethiopia and Kyrgyzstan got their act together at the same time.

In order to raise additional money for Kamila's adoption, they are doing so by helping a friend who was recently widowed, and her two young sons, through a Both Hand's project.  Both Hands is an amazing organization, who is partnered with Lifesong for Orphans.  They help families fund their adoptions by asking the family to reach out and help a widow within their own communities.  They do this by having the adoptive family build a team of supporters that is willing to help the widow with some home improvement projects.  The adoptive family then solicits donations for the supplies through local businesses, contractors, ect... Then their team of supporters ask for pledges (no different than asking for pledges if you are doing a walk/run for charity) but 100% of those donations go through Both Hands and Lifesong for Orphans to help with the family's pending adoption costs.  As with any donation given through Lifesong, they are all tax deductible and 100% of the donations goes toward the adoption.  It allows a prospective adoptive family to do something tangible within their home town, and yet, in return, earn financial support for their adoption.  It is the perfect example of what God asks us to do - to help those less fortunate than us, specifically orphans and widows.
      *****  Be kind to widows, orphans, fatherless children and strangers.  Share whatever you have with them.  Deuteronomy 24: 17-21

Kamila

On May 19th, they will be helping their widowed friend and mother, Jennifer.  They have grand plans which include re-decorating a bathroom and her young boys' room.  They will also be doing some outdoor landscaping, planting a garden, power washing the house, plus doing some good old fashioned repair work which as you can imagine will help Jennifer tremendously.

Here is their link to their Both Hands page:  http://www.bothhandsfoundation.org/kevin-and-shannon-fenske.aspx .  It includes instructions on how to make donations to their project.  Please give this some prayerful consideration.  Raising additional funds is going to be a monumental task for the Fenske's and yet, they refuse to do anything other than move forward.  It is the only option they have.  Kamila deserves a family and the Fenske's can't imagine theirs' without her.  Thanks!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Most Beautiful Quote

Please just soak this quote in....

"We waited 3 years, 5 months, and 2 days.... just a few more hours until we can hold him again"

So few words but so many emotions!!!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Gift

Wow, I read this yesterday and just can't stop thinking about it.

"When a child ( orphan ) gives up hope, dreams are forever shattered. With lost dreams goes the potential and the ultimate impact that a child might have had. "  - By Dr.  Weiss Stafford.

I posted pictures in FB of the beaded jewelry and alligators yesterday and Julie Wright, one of our amazing missionaries in Kyrgyzstan shared it with Big Family.  Here is the reply from Sergey:


We soooo glad to see our work and see what people like that.  Our kids happy and want make more difrents.  But now they have very busy in this month at tha school and next month very important for them too.  I think what at summer they will have  many time to do more.  Thank you all who buy that necklaces and all stuffs. When you buy just one you need to know that  you hellp for kids in Kyrgyzstan. 

 I have always felt so privileged to be able to follow along with the Wright's journey and in the end, I am sure that the Kyrgyz jewelry fundraiser will be the one that I will remember the most.  I think back on what Sergey and Anya have done by "adopting" the 4 orphans that they had fallen in love.  They, just like all adoptive parents, including the Kyrgyz 65, realize the untapped potential of a parentless child and because of that are driven to make an impact. What a gift these children are given but no greater than the gift of love that comes from parenting such a child.

Our gift!  Our priceless little guy that came to us via adoption.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alligators for Sale

I am hoping to get the remaining Kyrgyz jewelry sold over the next few weeks and I wanted to remind everyone that there are a ton of the little beaded gators are still available.  Sadly, I am embarrassed to say that I realized this afternoon that I haven't taken advantage of the obvious market.  Shoot, I live in Florida and I am surrounded by Gator fans ( University of FL) and true alligator fans.  So, I just posted on FB about the little beaded gators and decided that I should do the same here.  Here are there pics.  The medium gators are now $4 and the little guys are $3.  Please let me know if you are interested (scbilyeu@gmail.com).



PS:  The second group of families is off to KG this week!  Wishing them all safe travels.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Task At Hand

Thank you to everyone who sent me words of support or hugs yesterday.  I needed them but now back to the task at hand- raising money for Altynai's fellow orphans!  Many of the waiting children have fourth birthdays that are just around the corner and I am hoping and praying that some of them will be spent with their new families.  The adoptions are moving forward which is so exciting!  It seems like the waiting families are going to be making three trips to Kyrgyzstan in order to complete the adoptions.  They had been hopeful that it could be done in two but as with all things in Kyrgyzstan, the only thing that is predictable is that they are not predictable.  Regardless, two trips or three, the children are coming home and I want and need to raise additional money to help with these reunions.  Please consider giving.  No dollar amount is too small!   Every donation helps and 100% of the money that is given goes to the waiting families.  Please check out the DONATE page and see all the details for mailing donations to Lifesong or donating directly via PayPal.

If you haven't had the chance to check out the Kyrgyz Jewelry that is for sale,  please do.  If nothing else just admire the craftsmanship of the children that made the pieces.  I posted Big Family's story two weeks ago (http://altynailegacyfund.blogspot.com/2012/03/children-helping-children.html) and I know they are  excited and anxious to see how their jewelry sales.  Lastly, don't forget that we are partnered with Marvielle's Jewelry and 147MillionOrphans.com.  Please click on the  KYRGYZ JEWELRY page and STORE page to learn how purchasing these items helps Altynai's Fund.

The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter but it will not be without some dark days ahead, not only during the last days of the wait but also once the children are home.  What an adjustment it is going to be. So as always, please keep the waiting children, their prospective parents, and this fund in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Altynai

April is a month of pivotal anniversaries for me; both happy and sad.  It was a year ago last April that President Otunbayeva, the past President of Kyrgyzstan, first announced that the moratorium on the adoptions was being lifted.  She paved the way so that the Kyrgyz government could proceed with re-writing their adoptions laws.  That was the huge leap that the waiting families had been hoping  for.  It was the first true glimmer of hope that the adoptions that had been pending for over three years could someday come to completion.

It was shortly after that announcement, on Easter Sunday, a year ago, that I decided that I wanted to do something to help provide financial assistance to those waiting families.  My idea of Altynai's Legacy Adoption Fund was born!  I was so excited and intimidated by the prospects of the plan that was forming in my head.   Little did I know how daunting, challenging and yet incredibly rewarding this journey would be for me.  I can't even put the experience into words other than to say that I was led to do this and God has blessed me and this fund, many times over during the last year.

That leads me to the today's anniversary.   Four years ago today on April 10, 2008, Altynai was born and abandoned in a baby hospital in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  Little did I know how that precious baby girl would forever change my life and the lives of so many around me.  I so wish that things could have been different for her.  I wish with all my heart that instead of writing a post about her and the fund that I named in her honor, that instead she would be blowing out four candles on her birthday cake today.  I absolutely breaks my heart to think about what could have been.  Unfortunately, my hopes and dreams for her and God's plan were very different.  Yet, I will be forever grateful that I was allowed to be part of Altynai's life's story and that she was part of mine.  I love you Addison Altynai!

Please if you have time, take a moment to listen to Meant to Be by Steven Curtis Chapman.  It is a perfect tribute not only to Altynai, the orphans of our world but also all of us.  God has a plan for us and we are all perfectly made!  ( Thank you Marie for sharing this with me - xoxoxo)


 (PS:  Don't let the Veggie Tales pics turn you away, the adoptive families make up for it.)


Monday, April 2, 2012

Grand Things


Grand things continue to happen for the waiting families and prayers are being answered which is why it is time to make a final fundraising push.  As things stand now, the families will be making two trips.  The first starts with a 10 day bonding period, hopefully followed by a court date and then the second trip is predicted to be about a month later.  That trip will occur once the adoption is finalized.  Those will be the Gotcha Trips that we have all been waiting for and if things continue to go as planned, then little ones could start coming home in May!  The cost of these adoptions has continued to increase especially since the time that the families will be in country has increased so the need is real.  I plan to raise money through the end of April and then distribute the remaining funds so that families can use the money for their second trips.

The Kyrgyz jewelry is the big fundraiser for this month and 15 items have sold in the last week and $280 has been raised!  I would love to see that number climb so please check out the Kyrgyz Jewelry page to see the beautiful beaded jewelry that was made by precious Kyrgyz children.  ( To read more about the kids, Big Family and the jewelry, please read my post from March 26th.)  If you have adopted from Kyrgyzstan in the past and follow this blog, please help me spread the news to the other past Kyrgyz families.  There are over 200 of you out there and I think these pieces will be quite sentimental for them.  Of course, donations of any amount will be accepted at any time, and please remember that no amount is too small.  It is the little ripples that ultimately make a wave!  Check out the DONATE page for information on how to donate to Altynai's Fund via Lifesong for Orphans.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

First Public Announcement

I am so excited tonight because I get to post today's announcement from Christian World Adoptions (CWA).  They are currently the only agency from the US that is accredited to process adoptions in Kyrgyzstan.  Anya, the Kyrgyz coordinator, posted the following on CWA's public blog and Facebook today so I can share it here too.  I have been in touch with several of the families that are currently in Kyrgyzstan and it is so heartwarming to know that they are bonding (again) with the children that they fell in love with 4 years ago!  Grand things are happening and prayers are being answered which is why it is time to make a final fundraising push.  As things stand now, the families will make two trips.  The first is a bonding trip and then the second will be to pick up their child once the adoption is finalized, which means that little ones could start coming home in May!  I plan to raise money through the end of April and then distribute the remaining funds so that families can use the money for their Gotcha trips.

The Kyrgyz jewelry is the big fundraiser for this month and 15 items have sold this week and $220 has been raised!  I would love to see that number climb so please check out the Kyrgyz Jewelry page to see the beautiful beaded jewelry that was made by precious Kyrgyz children.  ( To read more about the kids, Big Family and the jewelry, please read my post from March 26th.)

Here is the link http://www.cwa.org/blog/index.php/kyrgyzstan-families-are-traveling/ in case you want to learn more about CWA.  Now for the exciting text itself:


Anya

Kyrgyzstan Families are Traveling!

The Kyrgyzstan program reopened in January, and the first group of families is already in-country for their first trip!  These are some of the “pipeline cases,” or those who had started their adoption process before the country had halted international adoptions back in 2008.
Kyrygzstan program director Anya Rutherford reports that she arrived in Bishkek late last week with 7 CWA families after a 30-hour trip, arriving just before dawn.  Signs are that the trip is going very well at this point.  The families were very excited and eager to begin their adoption process, so much so that no one really slept the first night.  Anya began working on adoption documents with CWA’s in-country facilitator immediately.
After some official meetings, the families were able to meet and spend time with their prospective adoptive children.  The orphanages are currently allowing families to visit the children twice per day during the week, and once or twice on the weekends.  Anya will be learning much about the new adoption process during this trip and should have more details to share upon her return!
We are excited for these families and all of those who will be traveling in the upcoming months.  We look forward to the future of this program and those children who will finally be coming home to their families!




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

20,000 Hits

Wow, 20,000 hits!   I check out the website's stats every once in a while and I was shocked to see that yesterday it cleared the 20,000 mark.  I think that is so cool.  I guess people are reading so thank you!   The Krygyz Jewelry seems to be getting a fair amount of attention.  Fourteen items have sold so far so please take a peek and see if anything peaks your interest.  Thanks to those of you who have already contacted me and placed your order.  I am really hoping to finalize the fund raising over the next four to six weeks so that I can distribute the remaining funds to the families before their Gotcha Trips.  The light at the end of the tunnel is getting a lot brighter!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Children Helping Children!

For over a month I have been waiting for the right time to roll out Altynai's Fund's next, and maybe last, major fundraiser and I have decided that the timing is right!  My heart is bursting because great things are happening for many of the waiting families and if I am going to raise any more money to help with their adoptions, I need to do it now!  Prayers are finally being answered and the need for Altynai's Fund appears to be reaching it's final stretch so now is the time for a final push to make an impact for the waiting families and children.  A little over $23,000 has been raised to date and although, I highly doubt that my loft goal of $40,000 will be reached, I hope to raise a few thousand more.  Whether that is possible or not, I have no idea, but it is worth a try! 


Of all the fundraiser that I have done, this is the one that I have been the most excited about.  Around Christmas time, Ann Bates, who is one of the waiting moms and our dear missionary friend, John Wright, presented me with a wonderful opportunity to help some former orphans in Kyrgyzstan and at the same time, hopefully raise some additional money.  Below is the write up that Ann has provided about Anya and her husband, Sergey, both of which are amazing "adoptive parents" themselves.


Anya and Sergey were not always "Big Family". But they have been blessed abundantly by children. The two live and work in Kyrgyzstan spreading hope to so many people in need. Several years ago, while helping to support the children at a local orphanage, their lives would be touched and eventually their family would grow. One family in particular touched their lives. Mom and Dad were struggling with the harsh reality of life in Kyrgyzstan. And unable to care for the youngest of their children. They did what they needed to do. The youngest children went to live in the orphanage. Anya and Sergey, while loving all the children, were drawn to this family. Over time the children spent time with Anya and Sergey outside of the orphanage. There were many struggles as they attempted to help this family stay together. But reunification was never possible. In late 2010 the orphanage that the children were living in was slated to close. The possibility of the children being sent to another town was just not an option to Anya and Sergey. So the children came to live with them permanently. All of them! Their family of four doubled in size!
Starting last fall, Anya taught the children (all six of them) to make beaded jewelry and other creations. Just before Christmas Anya sent me photographs of the jewelry the children had made. Stunning! Beautiful! I told her I would try to help sell the jewelry here in the US and the money they earned would teach the kids about Macroeconomics. Then the idea to use the jewelry to give back to their country hit me and I proposed the idea to Suzanne. Once we had agreed, the jewelry was purchased in hopes that we could use the sales to help Altynai's Fund.   

When "Big Family" found out we were buying ALL the jewelry that they had made AND that all of the future sales would benefit their fellow orphans, they were so excited. The children had never had their own money before. They went shopping for things that they wanted and were so proud to know that they had earned money on their own. For Suzanne to buy the jewelry and then use the sales to help give other orphans from Kyrgyzstan a home is truly a blessing all the way around.  


Hopefully after reading the story about Big Family and their jewelry you will see why I am so excited about this project.  It is a perfect example of children helping children.  It is also a perfect example of people changing the world ( see my previous post ) by simply believing and caring for those less fortunate around them.  The lives of the four children that Anya and Sergey have adopted have been changed for the better!  


The Jewelry goes on sale today and is showcased on it's own page on this website under the Kyrgyz Jewelry page header.  I know that the pieces will not appeal to some of you but please take some time to at least admire their workmanship and consider purchasing a piece or making a donation to Altynai's Fund as a token of appreciation for their attempt to help their fellow orphans.  Anya and I are in communication and I have promised to let her and the kids know how much money is donated to Altyani's Fund via their jewelry sales.  For those of you that have adopted from Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia, please consider sharing the page with your fellow adoptive parents.  It think that the jewelry would make fabulous Gotcha Day gifts.
As always, thanks for the following along and please keep the children, families and this fund in your prayers.  I have high hopes that this Spring will be filled with happiness and stories of the reunions that we have been waiting for. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Change the World

The sermon question this week was whether you can change the world?  I truly believe that you can. The impact does not have to be huge but we all have the potential to make the world a better place.  If we open up our hearts and our minds to the endless opportunities that are out there then we can absolutely make a change.  Adoption is a perfect example.  By adopting a child, you have the ability to change that child's life course forever.  The child, however is not the only one that benefits.  The adoptive family is forever changed and hopefully their extended family and friends are changed too.  Adoption not only changes one child at a time (although that is amazing in and of itself) but it also changes a community.  It is a wonderful outward expression of love and we all know that the world needs more of that.  I spent yesterday afternoon going through the hundreds of Valentine's that were sent to Altynai's Fund for the Hearts for Hope card drive.   They were all priceless but I have to post one of my favorites because it is a perfect example of what I have been writing about.  Enjoy the Valentine from McKenna.

My friends within the adoption community are changing the world.  Unfortunately, not everyone perceives that as a noble change which is why I haven't posted any details about the waiting families in awhile.  The situation in Kyrgyzstan is as complex as ever.  I am grateful to announce that the process is still moving forward but the waiting families and children need your prayers.  The grants that Altynai's Fund has provided are being used by the recipients and I am filled with pride to know that we (all of you!) have made a tangible impact for them.  By donating and supporting Altynai's Fund, you have helped make a change.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!  If you haven't donated yet, but were planning on it, now is the time.  I hope to give out the remaining grant money in the near future and would love to offer as much as possible to these amazing families.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Final Tally for Hearts for Hope

The Hearts for Hope Fundraiser's final tallies are in and it was far more successful that I had initially thought.   400 Valentine's filled with love and hope were sent into Lifesong on Altynai's fund's behalf and $1200!!! Thank you so much to all of you that participated and gave generously to help bring some precious little ones home.  The fund's total donations stand at $22,300!!!  I find that absolutely amazing considering that I started the fund just 7 months ago.  Wow!

I am honored to share a picture of the Valentines and the amazing people at Lifesong for Orphans that have made Altynai's Fund possible.  Rich Metcalf, an adoptive father himself, is the man that listened to my request for assistance last summer and shocked me by telling me in the same phone call that Lifesong would be honored to help me with my dream.  He has assisted me with all of the decision making regarding the grant recipients and distribution of the funds.  He is a man of great faith and wisdom and I have been blessed to be able to work with him.  Jane Diggle is my direct link to the fund.  She keeps it all organized and provides me with the donation updates and most recently was the keeper of the Valentines.  I am pretty sure that was not listed in her job description but she graciously helped.  I truly can't thank Lifesong for Orphans enough for all that they have been willing to do to help me, help others.  Their mission is amazing and their impact is profound!

The Valentine's are on their way to my home now and then will be distributed to the waiting families on their upcoming travels.   Hopefully, there will be more pictures to share as they continue their journey to Kyrgyzstan.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Windows are opening

The desire to help a child, to love a child and to parent a child is incredible driving force.  Once again, the resiliency of the Kyrgyz 65 continues to amaze me.  As you know, January was filled with excitement and sadness.  Adoptions are finally moving forward and in fact, hopefully later this week, some of the first dossiers will be processed by the Kyrgyz government.  Once that happens, those first families will be traveling see their child and they will be that much closer to bringing them home.  Altynai's Fund has given out grants to twelve of the waiting families and four of those families suffered a huge loss last month when they learned that the child that they had been fighting for was no longer available for adoption.  As of today, those four families are moving forward with plans to adopt from either Kyrgyzstan or from another country.   A door was closed but windows are opening!  I love that a little one, somewhere on this earth, has a family that is now waiting for them.  Adoption is truly a "life changer" not only for the child but also for the family that is given the opportunity to love them like their own.  It is so exciting to know that these parents' journeys are not over yet.

I know that I have been quiet for a few weeks but please know that Altynai's Fund's journey isn't over either.  I still believe that there is more work to be done.  I find that I have to pace myself though.  I love Altynai's Fund, what it stands for and what it has accomplished.  I can only imagine the joy that I will feel when we start to see the families reunited with the precious orphans that we have all come to cherish.  That being said, fundraising stinks!  I don't know how people do this for a living.  It is incredibly frustrating and exciting all at the same time.  I feel like I am up against a ton of obstacles.  How do you keep people enthused when the cause that you are fighting for is so abstract.  People love to give to something tangible. For example, the Children's hospital that I work in, is continually fundraising and they have great success.  Who wouldn't want to give to the hospital that cares for your community, or maybe has cared for your child or a child that you know?   Or donating for a capital campaign such as a new church, school equipment, ect...  The donors immediately get to see the fruits of their donations.  I am trying to raise money for children that are far, far away, families that are located all over the US ( not here where I live), and top that off with a time line that remains undefined.  Those factors certainly explain why my task is so challenging.  I have also been very surprised by how little support I have received from the adoption community and past Kyrygz adoptive families.   I had hoped they would rally behind the Kyrgyz 65 but the needs within the community are so great that this little fund is merely a blimp on its radar.    I am sharing all of this because I am running out of ideas and my audience is seemingly dwindling.   I have always planned to keep this fund alive until the chidlren come home and I need some advice and inspiration to make that happen.   I have one more project that is in the works and then I am at a loss as to what to do next..... I guess I need a window to open.

Well, that is enough whining for today.  What is predictable and constant is the need for donations and I thought I would remind everyone about a few easy ways that you can help.  Marvielle's Jewelry ( www.marviellesjewelry.com and 147 Million Orphans ( www.147millionorphans.com/?AffId=56 ) have partnered with Altynai's Fund and they sale some wonderful products.  Their information is on the "Store" page on this blog or you can click on the links provided.  A portion of the proceeds go to Altynai's Fund and in return you get something tangible for yourself.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hmmmm

I touched bases with Lifesong today and so far it looks like Hearts for Hope raised about $300 ( final pending.)  Thank you so much for everyone that contributed and took the time to send in a Valentine and a donations.  I truly appreciate it!  Three hundred is wonderful but unfortunately, I have to admit that I am  disappointed.  I really thought that this fundraiser would make a much bigger impact, especially now that dossiers are being processed and adoptions are moving forward. I think I had unrealistic expectations. Maybe interest in Altynai's Fund will pick up once families start traveling???  Bottom line, I have one additional money raiser in the works and then I am completely out of ideas.  It looks like it is time to re-group and reassess the situation and then decide how to move forward.

I am starting a five day stretch at the hospital tomorrow and on Saturday the hospital launches our electronic medical records system.  Nothing like going cold turkey from paper charting/ordering to everything being electronic.   It is going to be painful until we all adjust and master the system.

 I will post more next week, unless something exciting happens between now and then.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's for a Brother

Valentine's Day is almost over but I wanted to share a precious picture now.  This is Alex and he has a little brother waiting for him in Kyrgyzstan.  His class made these precious Valentine's for Hearts for Hope.  In addition to making the Valentine's they also performed, "The Empyt Pot" which is a play about virtue and integrity.  They charged admission to the parents and raised $80 for Altynai's Fund.  I want to send a huge thank you to Alex, his teacher and classmates.  What you did was wonderful!


Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!

Vacations are always wonderful but there is nothing better, once the unpacking is completed, than being home again.  While Drew is napping, I am enjoying a nice quiet afternoon getting re-aquainted with my computer.  I have to admit, I loved not spending time with it last week and shockingly, I don't think that I missed much.  Today is the last day that I am going to be pushing Altynai's Hearts for Hope fundraiser so if you haven't taken the time to send a Valentine to Lifesong, please do.   I looked over the Valentine's that my daughter, Ansley's girl scout troop made, and they are precious.  I can't wait to receive the whole batch of them from Lifesong once they are done coming in.  I know that several groups of children are working on them today so as a reminder, there is no deadline for the Valentines.  So for the procrastinators out there, you have all the time in the world.

I was reading through some Facebook posts this morning and realized that today was a pivotal day for two of the families that were featured on this blog.  Four years ago today, one of our waiting families received their referral and the other family met their little boy for the first time.  For those of you that haven't adopted, those days are huge!  The day that you receive pictures of the child that you have been matched with is equivalent to that first ultrasound picture that you saw when you were pregnant.  It is the day that you realize you are truly going to be blessed with a child.  It is no longer a hypothetical hope but the day that you see tangible proof that a child is really waiting for you.  And just like a birth of a child, when you walk into that orphanage and get to hold your little one for the first time, your heart simply melts.  The moment that we met and held Altynai on that sunny July day has forever been etched into my memory.  Just like the first time, that I held my other three beautiful children.  Those moments are filled with such love and that they are perfectly suited for Valentine's Day.  And like all the other milestones, and anniversaries that have past, I hope and pray that this is the last Valentine's Day that Maksim and Ruslan will be without their forever families.

Now for a quick update, the waiting families are busy putting together their dossiers and as of today, the first set of translated dossiers will be making it's way to Kyrgyzstan!!!  That is another monumental step in the right direction.  Hopefully, they will be processed expeditiously and the families will be able to start traveling for their "bonding trips".   Oh, the joy that will bring!  So as always, please keep these little ones, their families and the officials in charge of their care in your prayers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Fund's Story in Print

I am excited to share the newspaper article about Altynai's Fund and the Hearts for Hope fundraiser that was published in the Jacksonville Florida Times Union newspaper on Saturday Feb 11th.  I am so grateful that they took our story and our hopes for Altynai's Fund so seriously.  Thank you Beth Cravey!.  Please read it if you have a few minutes:  http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-02-11/story/little-girls-death-wont-be-vain-other-adoptive-families

Valentine's Day is Two Days Away


Friday, February 10, 2012

Send A Little Love

Hello to everyone from snowy Colorado.  My family is on vacation to celebrate my Grandma's 100th Birthday!  What a milestone and what an amazing woman.  She is still ticking along on her multivitamin and calcium a day.  If only we could all be so blessed!  Happy Birthday Grandma Florence!

Just a quick reminder about Hearts for Hope!   There are still 5 days left to participate and we are hoping for hundreds of Valentine's to come in.   If you haven't already, would you please consider sending Altynai's Fund a little love letter.  Just send in a Valentine's of your choice with a $1 donation to Lifesong for Orphans.   The address and details are in the last post.

Sorry to be so brief but our internet access is currently limited and vacation is calling!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hearts for Hope

Hello everyone!

Today, Altynai's Fund is launching our Hearts for Hope Fundraiser!  It is a Valentine's Day card drive and it is as simple as can be and it will only cost you a $1.45 to participate.  All we are asking for is that people send a Valentine's Day card of their choice with a $1 donation to Lifesong for Orphans. (Of course, donations of any value will be accepted. )  From there the donations will be removed and then distributed to the waiting families to take to the orphanages in Kyrgyzstan on any of their upcoming trips.  What a wonderful way to share some love and help a great cause at the same time!!!  Please give this some consideration and tell others about it.   We already have churches, preschools, homeschool groups and Girl Scout troops helping and hope that there will be many more to follow.  Thanks up front to everyone who has already taken the lead on making this work. I can't wait to see the results.

I told several of our local newspapers about Altynai's Fund and the event and they have been gracious enough to help by publicizing it for us.  To read one of the stories, please click here:  http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/400721/beth-cravey/2012-01-20/valentines-fundraiser-under-way-us-families-trying-adopt

To mail your Hearts for Hope Valentine, please send it to:


Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Rich Metcalf/Altynai's Fund
202 N. Ford St., PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bracelet Raffle

Three more days left in January and three more days left to participate in a raffle to win a bracelet with five charms of your choice from Marvielle's Jewelry (www.marviellesjewelry.com).  I know that are a bunch of adoptive parents out there and maybe this is something that would tickle your fancy.  To be entered, just make a purchase with Marvielle's or donate to Altynai's Fund by the end of the month.   If you share this news with others on your blogs or FB then you also will get a second entry.  Please just send me an email or a comment to let me know what you are up to.


At church this morning, they sang one of my favorite songs, Blessings by Laura Story.  It is one that has especially touched me.  So to my Kyrgyz 65 family, I hope that this help.  Love you all!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Need a Happy Post

I think that we could all use a little pick me up so I thought I would share some pictures of how domestic adoption forever blessed our family.  Two years ago this week, my husband and I held Drew for the first time.  We were in awe of that precious baby boy on that day and every day since.  I just can't imagine our life without him!  My heart still aches for Altynai especially when I think about all that she was denied but I also know that if we had brought her home that Drew would have never joined our family.  God's plan at work. 

Lots of things to get busy on if Altynai's Fund is going to flourish during the final push to get the remaining children home.  First, don't forget that through the end of  January,  Marvielle's Jewerly is going above and to help Altynai's Fund.  So for the next 4 days, over every purchase over $15, then will give 100% of the difference.  For example, if you spend $40, then Altynai's Fund will get $25.  Sounds great to me.  I got my necklace in the mail this week and I absolutely love it.  So please share this offer with others in the adoption community.   They also sell athletic charms and they will give us 20% of those purchases.  Please see the Fundraising page for more details.  Marvielle's has also given the fund several bracelets with 5 charms a piece to raffle off.   Let's raffle one of them off now!  Anyone that either makes a purchase or a donation to Altynai's Fund will be in the running for the bracelet! If you share the link on FB that will give you an additional entry.  Just send me a message here on the blog and your name will go in the hat.  Thank you Marvielle's Jewelry!!!  Click here to shop for the adoption charms www.marviellesjewelry.com or athletic charms at www.etsy.com/shop/marviellesjewelry.

My necklace from Marvielle's Jewelry
 I am also so excited about another new organization that has offered to help Altynai's Fund.  147 Million Orphans is a non-profit that was established by two adoptive moms and they have a fabulous mission including helping families fund their adoptions.  They sale necklaces made in Uganda and some super cool t-shirts and bags.  30% of the purchases made through the link on this blog ONLY will be given to Altynai's Fund.  Here is the link that will allow the proceeds to come directly to Altynai's Fund www.147millionorphans.com/?AffId=56

Tomorrow, I will lay out the plans for Hearts for Hope!

The Loss of a Child

What a horrible title for a post.  Unfortunately, as a pediatric hospitalist and through my journey with Altynai, the loss of a child is something that I have far too much experience with.   Losing a child is never, ever an easy thing to wrap your head around. Tonight there are now thirteen Kyrygz families that are in despair because they have "lost" the child that they were so close to bringing home and that loss is a real one.  They have lost a loved one.  A child that they fell deeply in love with many years ago.  A child that they have fought dearly for.  A child that they had hopes and dreams for.   And to make matters worse, very few people they are close to will totally understand the gravity of this loss.  To be honest, I think that is only people that are within the adoption community, that can fully understand the gravity of the pain that these parents are facing.  I know that I learned that the hard way during the midst of our challenges with Altynai.  To outsiders, they think we are crazy and probably more than a little dramatic, but that is far from the truth.  It is because of the bond that forms between the prospective adoptive parents and the child they have been matched with that makes us so unique.  We have the ability to fall head over heals in love with a child that is not of our blood, and for that matter, often, not even of our own race or color.  We are drawn to adoption by a God that lead us there.  He opens our hearts and allows us to love these children like they are our own, even if we have spent little to no time with them, so when a referral is loss, it can be devastating. And the timing of this week's heart wrenching news could not have been more cruel and I am completely heartbroken for these families, including the, now five that were recipients of Altynai's Fund.  I just hope and pray that God has something wonderful in store for them and that these precious little ones are thriving in their new homes. 

In tribute to a mother's love....  Love you Lisa and Nargiza!