Bringing Super Nova Home

We are SO excited to share the Jones family’s adoption story on our blog! God has given this family such a beautiful testimony through adoption.

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Hi, we are the Joneses.

Spencer & I met on March 12, 2010 and that day truly changed our lives. He was my dream fella, and I was the girl he had always searched for. It was a match made in heaven & really a fairy tale story. We were engaged within a few months, and married one year later on March 12, 2011. We have never “waited around” to do, well really, anything.  After a little while of being married, we decided the time was right & we wanted a baby. I knew I had some female problems and it would most likely take a while to conceive. After about a year with no baby, I went to my doctor and he started me on fertility medication. When several rounds of that were unsuccessful, he sent us to a reproductive specialist.  Long, boring story short– on June 7, 2013, one of the top fertility doctors in the country looked at my husband & me in the eye and said, “If you want to have a family, you need to look into adoption.”  We literally went home that day, and started our research. Over the weekend we looked at everything we could about adoption: International, domestic, different agencies, different countries– everything. Monday morning, I called Open Door and everyone there was SO helpful. I knew from that one phone call that we had found our agency!  Olga was so kind and helpful, she helped us narrow down a country that we were eligible for & really gave us a realistic expectation of how the adoption process would go.   She also sent me a link where I could view waiting children from that country and… I sat and cried. I had been googling countries and waiting children for weeks, and granted, I had seen a lot of cute kids, but THESE kids– BROKE.OUR.HEART.  I guess, that’s what it means for a country to “speak to you”. I’ve always heard that there would just be one country that would call to you, and you would “just know”. That’s exactly how it worked for us.  We decided to immediately begin our Bulgarian adoption!

On Wednesday we received our information packet, application, and fee schedule from Open Door! After the initial shock of the staggering price tag wore off, we decided we needed to take a step back and pray. We knew there was NO way we could come up with that on our own, but also knew that God was calling us to do this. We asked the Lord for clear direction- specifically that HE would give us the exact amount of money needed for every step of the way! (Because, as much as we would’ve liked to have it, we don’t NEED all $32,000 RIGHT NOW!) All we needed right then was the $250 for our application fee. Which, looking back was not a lot- but we had prayed and felt like when the timing was right, God would send us the money and we would know it was time to get this ball rolling!  Friday morning rolls around, (*PAYDAY*) and after paying all of our bills, Spencer called to let me know that we had an extra $100 in our account, and he didn’t know where it came from! I just chalked it up to “God was working” and went on about my day, not knowing where the other $150 would come from. Well, I got home from work a few minutes before Spencer that day, and when I went to the mailbox (expecting doctor bills) I was surprised to see a weird looking envelope from our insurance company. We had overpaid, throughout the course of the year, and they sent us a reimbursement check! (How often does THAT happen?!) I was even more surprised when I looked down at the amount. $152.87! In the total of about 7 hours, the Lord had given us the EXACT amount of money needed for our application fee!! He even sent a couple of extra dollars for postage!! How good is HE?!?

From there, the miracles kept pouring in- jewelry fundraisers, special love offerings at church, one little girl selling bracelets she made, t-shirt fundraisers, bake sales, our youth group even sold snow cones at the Lowndes games! People were being the hands and feet of Christ & the outpouring of love we received was incredible. By October’s end we had our completed our home-study and were busy putting together our dossier!  The mountains of paperwork, the fingerprints, and doctor’s visits were so tedious and draining- at times we did grow weary of the “process”.  But, just knowing there was a child on the other side of the world waiting for us to come, provided encouragement to press on.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2013, I opened my email to find an email from Olga. She sent me the photo of a beautiful young girl and said she thought we might be interested in receiving more information about her.  I mentioned it to Spencer, and we both thought she was adorable.  BUT, she was older than we had originally wanted & some of her needs we weren’t quite sure about. I messaged Olga back and told her that little girl “429” didn’t quite meet the parameters that we had specified, but thanked her for thinking of us. Olga replied by saying that she knew the girl was older than we had requested, but she decided to send us her file anyway. (Here I will add that I thank the Lord for the people He let us work with during this process!!) Olga encouraged us to really, REALLY pray about pursuing little girl “429” and making her a part of our family. Spencer & I couldn’t shake that sweet little face from our minds and after a couple of days, we both KNEW that THIS little girl needed to be ours!

So, off went an e-mail to our fabulous consultant and in return, we received our girl’s complete medical file along with more information about her. We also knew that we needed to work quickly, because there were more people who would want her if we didn’t.

In a whirlwind few weeks, we had completed and notarized the necessary application paperwork and sent pictures to Bulgaria of us and our home. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more, for what seemed like an eternity we waited. In reality it wasn’t quite that long and in the meantime, we were able to take her file to a pediatrician in town that has dealt with other internationally adopted children. We got a good prognosis based on what he could tell by her report and then we waited some more.   If you’ve never experienced anything like this, you probably won’t understand the agony that comes with knowing that one person, a government official on the other side of the world (who doesn’t know a thing about you besides the few pages of information they have before them) is making a decision that will impact your life F O R E V E R.  The wait is exhausting. It’s draining. And nerve wrecking. Even though we had a peace that it was in the Lord’s hands, it still really does a toll on your emotions.

We went out of town for Christmas thinking that we wouldn’t hear any news from Bulgaria until after the New Year, and tried to put it out of our minds as much as we could. Finally, on December 26, 2013, we opened up the e-mail that we had waited to see for so many weeks!! It began with “I have wonderful news for your family!” and that was that! Our application for our little girl had been accepted and she was officially “put on hold” for us to adopt!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

We did our best to hurry & get our completed dossier shipped to Bulgaria and waited for travel dates!! In March, our church hosted a huge benefit concert as a final fundraiser for our adoption costs! It was such a wonderful night and the Lord sent in $24,828.00 for our little girl! At this point our adoption was PAID IN FULL!! Never could we have dreamed how the Lord would provide for us & the little girl he called us to adopt. He is just so faithful!

In May we received our travel dates to go meet our princess. We could not WAIT to get our hands on that sweet little face!!! We hurriedly got everything together, suitcases packed, flights & hotels booked, and off we went!

On May 19th, Spencer & I woke up in the tiny town of Dobrich, Bulgaria. We headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast at 8:30am. We could barely eat for our nerves. Spencer downed a cup of black coffee & I had some sort of mango juice, and some fruit. I can still remember sitting at our table, me facing the billboard clock on the sports complex building next door. 9:03, it said. And it was time to go. Our translator, called for the cab & Spencer and I went up to the room to grab the yellow “Billa” bag full of gifts we had brought for our daughter. A sock monkey, a purple blanket, chalk, coloring book & pencils, bubbles, and a photo book with photos of our family and home.  We met our translator upstairs at the road, just as the tiny grey car pulled up that would (not so) safely take us to our destination. The ride was no more than 5 minutes, but it seemed like eternity. The car bounced and jarred and screeched to a halt more than once on our short trip, all the while techno music blaring in the background.  We arrived at the orphanage a few minutes after 9, and slowly walked up the few porch steps that led into the compound. We donned our blue booties (they made you wear them inside) and were greeted by a lady, the social worker, who then led us straight down a window lined hallway, and up the stairs to the second floor. She opened the first door on the right and it was eerily quiet. Not exactly the sound you would expect from this wing where so many children were housed. She led us through another door where we sat in a tiny room with a plush red couch, a small round table, and two side chairs. There was a toy box and a large window over the couch near the ceiling. Spencer and I were seated on the couch and our attendant, to my right in one of the chairs. She explained to us that they were going to get Nova, and we would be able to play with her in the room for several minutes until she was comfortable with us, then we could take her outside to play on the “playground”.  We were to spend time with her until lunch, and then we must leave while she took a nap. We would return that afternoon at 3 pm and stay until time for dinner. The social worker left, and we waited.

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Not many minutes later, we heard the door to the children’s area open. In a split second, Nova rounded the corner and was in our arms. So nervous and unsure, she sat and let us inspect her. Spencer & I were a puddle of tears. We sat and held our daughter for the first time! Never had I felt such joy as the moment her tiny little hands wrapped around my neck and she looked up into my eyes. This was my daughter, and I was her Mommy. Even though she had no idea of how that moment changed her life (and ours), it was indeed, forever changed. She went back and forth several times between Mommy, Daddy & our translator (she knew her from previous visits!) and then we decided to venture outside! Spencer carried her down the stairs and out the door- she was so nervous and scared, she clung to him with all that she had.  She quickly loosened up, then we really got a glimpse into her larger than life personality! She absolutely soaked up every bit of affection we were so excited to give her. She was thrilled to be the center of our attention and affection. It was truly one of the best days of our lives & I venture to say, hers too. After our play time, we came back upstairs and they asked if we would like to feed Nova lunch- of course! We were able to sit with her while she ate and then it was time to leave. When we came back after her nap, they told her we were back & she was so excited- she bolted out the door and into our arms so fast! Nova changed our life that day, and we are so thankful this little girl gets to be ours.

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The rest of the week was more of the same, blissful moments with our daughter that passed too quickly, and on Thursday afternoon it was time for us to leave. It was heart wrenching. By Tuesday, she cried when she woke up & we were weren’t there yet– I could only imagine every day her waking up expecting us to be there- only to find out we weren’t.  Leaving Nova behind was the hardest thing I’d ever done.  We both cried until we were physically sick. The only comfort we had was knowing that God would keep her in His care until we could return to bring her home.

We came home & made ourselves busy. We decorated her room & got the house ready for our Princess’s arrival. At the end of October we passed court & on Thanksgiving Day we left to go get our girl! On December 5, we made the same trek, in a taxi not unlike the one from our first trip to Dobrich. We rode down the same gloomy road, we climbed the same steps, we donned the same blue booties, we climbed the stairs to the second floor visitation room and waited for our daughter to come around that corner like she had 7 months before. Hoping she would remember who we were and that her love for us had grown in those months of separation. Later, we found out that Nova slept with her blanket and photo book every single night. She would flip through the book and then fall asleep with her hand on the photos of us. The long wait was finally over and we were really here. I could hardly believe it. We sat on that same red couch, and waited- we could hear voices in the other room, I heard her name, then “mama & daddy” and then the sweetest little cry of joy you’ve ever heard. She took off to our little room & jumped onto her daddy. She wrapped her arms tight as if she couldn’t believe that we were really back! But we were. We were back for her. We changed her clothes, shoes, and hair bows because those sweet children don’t own a thing. We dressed our daughter in her own clothes, and took her down those stairs for the last time. We walked out the doors, and she walked into a world of freedom and family and love beyond belief. She can never be called orphan again- she is forever ours.

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We have been home now for 5 months and Nova has grown like you wouldn’t believe. She is thriving, because that’s what children do in families- because that’s where they were meant to be. She’s gained over 10 lbs. and an inch in height. She went from only pronouncing “Mama, Daddy, Da and Nay” to saying the whole alphabet, counting to 10 in English, recognizing letters, and from barely able to scribble to being able to write her name (with only a little help). She knows so many words & amazes us every single day with how much she is growing and learning. We have been so blessed in our adoption journey and we’re so thankful that God sent us to Open Door, I can’t imagine going through this process without them. And I definitely can’t imagine our life without our Little Super Nova.  It’s amazing to me what God can do with two willing people. People who are ordinary and plain, but willing to follow where HE leads. Even when it seems the task is too big, too hard, the road too long– HE is faithful!

U.S. Foster System | Sincerely, Sarah.

sincerely sarah

Think back to when you graduated high school. The world was your oyster, and your future stretched out before you like a canvas. Maybe you went to college, maybe you decided to take over the family business, or perhaps you took a year and traveled the world. Whatever you decided, you probably had two key people behind you, cheering you on and offering you advice, support, and most importantly, unconditional love. In 2012, 23,439 children aged out of the US foster system and met the world unarmed, unprepared, and alone.

These children have all the same dreams and hopes you had, but without the presence of a family, the odds of them ever achieving these goals are startlingly low. Instead, they are twice as likely as Iraqi war veterans to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and by the time they reach the age of twenty-five, 81% of male foster care alumni will be arrested. Twenty-two percent of these children will find themselves homeless for more than a day, and only 54% of them will receive their high school diploma.

Although the foster care system seeks to protect children from danger, abuse, and poverty, the sheer stress a child endures in moving from home to home is incredibly overwhelming. The average time a child spends in foster care is approximately two years, and in that period of time, it is likely they will spend time in up to ten different homes. It is close to impossible for a child to be secure in who they are when they are constantly being transferred to a new environment where the rules and expectations are different each time. It is so easy to look at someone who didn’t graduate high school and may be homeless or unemployed and judge them, but without the support and love of your family, where would you be?

 We don’t like these statistics. We want to do something. We want to be the voice for children who have dreams, but no one to stand behind them and help them succeed. So how does an adoption agency, and more importantly, how do you get involved in these children’s’ lives? First, pray for these children. They are right in your own backyard, and they need advocates. Second, stay tuned with Open Door. We have a passion for these children, and for the ones who do not have the hope of reunification with their families, we want to help place these children in loving, Christian homes.

Children are our future, so let’s do our part to give them a good one.

http://www.wednesdayschildga.com/Default.aspx

 http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/opinion/soronen-foster-children/

 http://www.stirjournal.com/2014/05/12/u-s-foster-care-a-flawed-solution-that-leads-to-more-long-term-problems/