“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

James 1:27

Our cell phone number in Ukraine is: +38 097 828 9477. We are 8 hours ahead of Texas time. We can receive text but cannot send them. You can also reach us by email at joniredding@hotmail.com.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Home Study!!! Homeschooling???

We got our final Home Study on friday.  I mailed our application and documents to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) today so now we wait for them to approve us to bring an orphan into the US.  We also paid $890.  So, this week, our costs have been $2890 with the $2000 payment to our agency.  Thankfully, we received a generous donation from our family for $1500.  God is so good!  I’m not sure how long it will take to receive our approval from USCIS.  Some people have said a couple of weeks and then sometimes it has taken up to 2 months.  As soon as we get that back, we can mail in our complete dossier (all the information and documents that the country requires for adoption).   After we mail our dossier to Ukraine, it will be translated and then submitted to SDA (State Department of Adoption, I think).  Then SDA will hopefully invite us to travel to Ukraine for an appointment.   The time frame varies on everything I’ve read so we don’t know how long we are looking at, but we are still praying that we can go as close to April as possible because that’s when our girl becomes available for International Adoption.  I know that God’s timing is perfect so I am not going to worry about how long things are taking – I should say that  I am going to TRY not to worry!   I thought it was funny that in my Home Study it says “Joni is a homemaker thus she will be providing care for the children, in the home and will also home school the child/ren until such time as they may go to school.”  Funny, huh?   I am the last person on earth who is capable of home schooling!  Homeschooling to me is like Ninevah to Jonah.  God,  I will go anywhere and do anything You want but please don’t lead me there!  Yes, my degree is in education and I am a good classroom teacher.  I really enjoy it.  But homeschooling?  Making my own schedule?   I NEED deadlines!   God’s power is made great through my weaknesses though.  I can’t even believe that I’m even willing to consider this!   Of course I’m hoping that she will be with us all summer getting used to the language and culture and then be ready to start school at the beginning of the school year.  If she isn’t ready, then I will be homeschooling her for as long as it takes!  I know that God can teach me so much through unexpected circumstances.  So, bring it on!  I am excited to learn whatever He is teaching me!  He has amazed me already during this process!  Remember to check out my friend Dawn's website for Valentine's Day Cards - sooooo cute!  She is donating all of her proceeds to our adoption!  http://lindleycreative.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/valentines-day-cards-2011/
We are also planning our garage sale fundraiser for the 1st weekend in March so we would love to have anything you want to get rid of!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Valentine's Day Cards - Fundraiser

My sweet friend Dawn is generously donating all proceeds from her Valentine's Day Card sales to our adoption fund! Wow!!!  Not only is she awesome, her cards are too! Check them out at 

http://lindleycreative.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/valentines-day-cards-2011/. What a great way to get some really cute cards and help change an orphans life!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fundraiser Plans!

I am so thankful that I have so many friends who are willing  and anxious to help us raise money for our adoption!  We have several ideas for fundraisers and I’m really excited about them.  Not only do we raise money, we get to spend some time with friends while we are doing it!  My friend Nicole wants to organize a garage sale.  We are thinking about doing it at the beginning of March.  So, if you have anything you need to clear out of your house or garage, bring it over!  Nicole also wanted to make some items to sell – maybe get together and have a craft night.  Fun!  My friend Dawn made a very generous offer to donate all of the proceeds from her valentine's cards to our adoption fund!!!!  She is going to send me a link and I will post it.  I can’t wait for everyone to see these cute cards.  Dawn is so creative and her work is amazing!  They would be perfect for classmates or to send to family members.  Or, if you didn’t quite get around to Christmas cards, you can always send a valentine one!!!!  
I think we are also going to try to have an event.  We’ve thought about several different ideas but the one that is the most exciting to me is a Family Dance!  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  My kids love to dance and there’s never really a place for them to do it – a wedding every now and then.   We could mix in some fun activities and games too – maybe even a little dance competition on the Wii.  Jody would also like to find a way to have some karaoke.  I think I will have to say no to that.  If you’ve heard him sing, you know why!  There’s just a lot of planning to do to make this work.  Let me know if you have any connections to a good place to have it or a DJ.
Jody was able to go to Austin and get his long form birth certificate so now we should be able to get his passport.  We will get our Home Study back on Monday morning so I should be able to mail our application, documents, and $890 to USCIS.  I am also mailing our second payment to the adoption agency for $2000 and a letter with a little gift for our girl.  I am sending a package to her every couple of weeks.  I put some pictures of our family and a letter telling her about us and letting her know that we are praying for her. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Passports, Police Clearance, and Fantasy Football

I was so excited because I got an email last week that said my passport had been processed and was in the mail.  We should receive it on the 28th.  I was excited to see they were here when we got back from our trip.  Mine was here which was so fast -  only 2 weeks!  Unfortunately they need Jody to send in a “long form” birth certificate.  I’ve never even heard of that.  You have to mail an application to the place where he was born or you have to go to Austin to get one.  The lady at the Comal County Courthouse told Jody he should be prepared to wait because it takes forever.  Ugh.  Jody is not very good at waiting so it will be good practice for him.  I hope he will get a chance to go sometime this week.  We did receive our police clearance last week which was also fast.  We are waiting on our Home Study to be completed and then we can mail in our application and documents to USCIS.  We need their approval to send our dossier to Ukraine.  From what I have read, it usually takes 1 to 2 months to get the approval from USCIS. 

I mentioned last week that Jody was playing in the Super Bowl for his fantasy football league.  The winner got $500.  Well, the good news is that Jody won.  The part that surprised me is that we only got $235 out of that $500.  He had to pay his entry fees $100 to 2 different leagues and also you have to pay fees for different transactions like trades or whatever you do.  He didn’t mention to me that if he didn’t win, we would have owed $265!!!   What????  Ok, that’s all I’ll say about that because I get mad every time I start thinking about it.

This week I am planning to continue researching financing for the adoption.  I wonder what Dave Ramsey says about getting a loan for an adoption?  His philosophy is to save the money and then make a purchase when you can afford it.  We do that everywhere else, but for this we just can’t wait.  We could save it over the next couple of years but that is that much more time our daughter will spend in an orphanage – ALONE.  We don’t have any debt except for our house and the extra loan we had to get to finish the house.  But, we don’t have savings either.  We just know that God is telling us to do this, even if it means getting a loan for it.  So far, God has provided for all of the costs.  He has provided it just in time too.  We have had a few donations and then the monogramming money too.  The day we went to be fingerprinted and have our doctor appointment, we spent $90.  While we were on our way home from the Dr. we got an email saying that we had just received a donation of $100.  Wow, His timing is awesome!  We have several big expenses coming up in the next couple of weeks and I am just trusting that He is going to work it out. 

Christmas 2010 part 2

The 2nd part of our Christmas was fun too, except that we did too much driving.  Joe and Angie came to town on Tuesday for the Alamo Bowl so we got to spend a little bit of time with them.  It was fun, but too short!  It’s really hard to get together when we live in different places and our kids are involved in different activities.  My dad gave Jody and Mark 2 tickets each for the Reliant Bowl (I can’t remember if that is the name or not) in Houston on the Wednesday so we had to leave while Joe and Angie were still at our house.  We had to get on the road by 10 so that was a crazy morning because of course I hadn’t packed a thing or wrapped any of the gifts for my niece and nephews.  I was pretty impressed with how fast I got things done though.  The worst part was that I had to leave the house a disaster.  Also, we realized after we left that we forgot the DVD players!  I know that we used to travel all the time without them and I don’t know how our parents handled that.  I remember AnnMarie and I arguing the whole trip.  She would always cross the line and get on my side!  The trip to Houston was only 3 hours so it wasn’t too bad.  We had fun at the game even though Baylor lost.  I wish the tickets weren’t so expensive because the kids would have loved it.  They had fun at Amer’s house with Granny and Grandaddy though.  They played Just Dance on the Wii.  That is such a fun game.  Callie got it for Christmas and now we can’t wait to get it.   Jacob is going to buy it with a gift card I think.  Even Ryan played, which completely shocked me!  Ryan is so much fun.  I love this age (11)!  He’s funny , smart, sweet, obedient, responsible, and he still listens to what I say!  I know that will probably end soon and he will think that I know nothing, but for now I’m enjoying it!  The next day, my aunt, uncle, and cousins came to AnnMarie’s house for dinner which was really fun because we hadn’t seen them in forever.  We left on New Years Eve morning to go to Jody’s parents house.  We thought it was a 3 1/2 hour trip but it was actually 5.  Did I mention that we forgot the DVD players????  We played games for the first couple of hours and it was super fun.  The rest of the trip was just long.  We had fun at Mimi and Pawpaw’s house and the kids got a ton of presents.  Mallory spent the night with us and even the babies stayed up until midnight.  Pawpaw  bought some fireworks and the kids loved doing that!  We headed back the next morning.  We stopped in Waco to see the Biles.  They are one of my favorite families in the whole world!  It was really fun to tell Julie all about our adoption.  Although this has been a great Christmas break, it has been sad to think about our little girl that is in an orphanage in Ukraine.  She doesn’t even know that we want her to be part of our family.  When I tuck my kids into bed at night and pray with them, it breaks my heart to imagine our daughter going to bed all alone with nobody to love her.  I wish she were here right now!  I mentioned before that it is like being pregnant because I’m so excited and she is on my mind constantly, but it’s not quite the same because there is also such a sadness when I think about where she is right now.  We can’t wait for her to be here with us. 

Ok, much too long for one post so I will top there.  Here are some pictures from last week.



Ellie and Brooklyn had a tea party with their baby dolls.



The cousins before we left for Houston.



Ellie and Brooklyn



More presents!



Ellie and Callie



Joni and Jody at the Baylor game.



AnnMarie and Mark at the Baylor game.



More presents at Mimi and Pawpaw’s house!  Cole was really worried that the babies were going to get his toys.  He kept asking when they were going to sleep.  I really need to get him around younger kids more!



Ellie had a real baby to play with!  Actually, 2!  She had fun giving Mia her bottle and I loved giving Madison her bottle.  Madison fell asleep while she was eating so I got to hold her while she slept for a while which is one of my favorite things in the world!



Madison and Mia mostly liked wrapping paper, bows, and tags.



I just thought this was cute!



Mallory got a new MP3 player and Jacob had fun listening to it and watching videos on it.