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:  (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


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: .  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 (

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 ( 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  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.