February 12, 2013

Filled to be Emptied Again

"Filled to be emptied again"...I have adopted this quote as my mantra of motherhood, and being a wife and well I guess just life in general. Several times throughout my average week I hear words from friends, family and sometimes random strangers like, "Wow you have your hands full!", "Are they all yours?", "Don't you think you should slow down a bit?", "Don't spread yourself too thin.", "You are like supermom!", "You want more kids?!", "How do you have time for yourself?" and I could go on and on. I can only imagine what is truly going through these peoples minds...pretty sure a lot of the time they think I am crazy. :) (And sometimes that statement proves to be true.)

No matter the comments, good or bad, I know I was called to be a mother. Not just any mother, but a mom to many. When becoming a mom priorities shift. Your everday life is no longer about #1, but about your children. Motherhood has grown me so much in how to be selfless instead of self seeking. Being that our little family of 3 expanded to a family of 5 in a matter of 4 short months, I had to quickly readjust my views on the day to day expectations of being a mom. How could I care for 3 children as well as I cared for one? There is only one me and my engery levels and patience are not always what they should be. I was terrified before Kade came about how our family was going to adjust. Let me just say, it has been a beautiful transition. Quickly after he was born I was completely drained by the end of the day, sometimes by lunch. Day after day this really wore on me until one afternoon God put the lyrics of a sweet, sweet song into my mind.....

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow
Perspective. That is all I needed to know that what I was called to and what I was doing was pleasing to Him. This song brought me such joy in knowing that through me being emptied I was doing something right. I was giving everything I could to love these kids and my husband and sow the seeds God entrusted to me. Each day when I am feeling drained I look to Him and he fills me again and again. I know my days are meaningful because I am living out His plan for my life and I hope I am emptied every. single. day. until I am resting in His merciful arms.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -
Psalm 73:26

January 29, 2013

Debriefing from Created for Care

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to join 450 other adoptive mamas at a yearly retreat called Created for Care. The retreat was held at Lake Lanier Lodge just outside of Atlanta and my, oh my, it was beautiful. The whole resort was just amazing. I told Trey that we're going to take a trip there on our next anniversary.
I drove down to the retreat with two of my close friends, Chelsie and Lacie. We met our roommate, Tonya there. Tonya runs the Give1Save1 Asia page and we've been facebook friends for quite some time. It was super cool meeting women who I only knew through the Internet and now we're real life friends. :) Technology still surprises me.

Any who, the weekend was filled with breakout sessions, worship, fellowship, lectures, learning and lots of food. I got to choose 3 sessions based on my preference. The first one I went to was all about having a big family. The two women who led the session had 15 children between the two of them. They talked about organization with a big family, how to make each child feel special and one mom shared her experiences with homeschooling a large family. I really enjoyed hearing their stories and their hearts for their kids. I don't know that we will ever have that many children, but at times I can imagine us having 5 or more children.

The other sessions I went to were The Connected Mom and Foster Care in the US. The Connected Mom was very refreshing! It gave me a new perspective on my relationship with my heavenly father. It reminded me that he established that connection for me and no matter what I do or don't do it will never weaken or strengthen that connection. It is always there. It relieved a lot of pressure and guilt about having a specific quiet time everyday. Because to be honest with 3 little people it is hard to do it everyday. Instead I was encouraged to just enjoy my time with Him throughout my day, in prayer and constant conversation with Him. The Foster Care class was good too. It really encouraged me to love not only on the children, but also on the social workers. They have such a hard workload and even though we may not always feel they are doing whats best for specific children, we need to show them grace and support. I was also so impressed at the way others in the group had gotten their churches involved in foster care. Where the church was a support for the foster care system by offering to host informational foster classes for their congregation, praying for the children and workers and also by providing necessary supplies to children who were coming into the system with nothing. It gave me a lot to think about and I can only hope to see SC move toward those goals as well.

My absolute favorite thing of the weekend was Date with God. I really don't know how to explain it other than that God met me there in that room. The Date with God room was composed of several different stations where you could do different actions. They had a blessing station where you could receive a prayer blessing, a prayer request wall, a Bible reading station, a tent with blankets and pillows to rest and listen to Him speak to you, and several others. The station I connected most with was the world map station. They had maps on the wall and a large map on the floor. The idea was to come and pray over your country and your childs country. I sat on the floor right in front of Congo. As I began praying for Cora's country I got very emotional. I prayed for our agency, our lawyer, the country officials, hope for the country, the children of Congo and their futures. After several minutes of praying I began praying specifically for Cora. I don't know how to explain it, but it's as if the whole room melted away and I was holding my baby girl. I was holding and loving Cora as the Lord was holding and loving me. I still can't talk about this without crying. It was the most beautiful, intimate experience I've ever had in his presence. My God knew I needed that connection with Him and my little girl. I had been feeling so disconnected from Cora since our adoption was put on hold and this time together gave me a new hope and urgency to pray her home.

The weekend was beyond everything I had expected. There is just something amazing about being together with 450 other moms who share your heart for the orphan. I am already counting down until next year!

January 09, 2013

Don't Let Money Stop You

When talking about adoption one of the biggest hurdles families face before they dive in is money.

Where is the money going to come from? Not a lot of people have 10-40thousand dollars sitting in their bank account and I want you to know thats ok!! You do not have to be rich to adopt. You just need a desire to bring a child into your home and the rest will follow.

How much does adoption cost? It really depends on the type of adoption you choose. Our domestic newborn adoption for Kade cost us $13,455. An adoption from Congo is going to average us about $28,000. The adoption of our foster son is going to cost absolutely nothing because if you did not already know, adoption through foster care is FREE!! See, there are a variety of budgets in the adoption world so you have the choice to decide which route is best for your family financially.

For us we did a lot of fundraisers. We sold items on craigslist, hosted several garage sales, pancake breakfasts, dog washes and raffles. Get creative with it and have fun. The more creative you are the more people will want to get involved and help out! We also used our income tax returns, our savings and sold one of our vehichles. Another big contributor for us was through applying for adoption grants. We applied to 12 grant organizations and were awarded 4 different grants totalling $13,500! That was completely worth spending 30 minutes on a grant application.

No matter the cost of the adoption it is doable! There are many that have gone before you who would love to offer assistance and guidance. Don't hesitate to ask if you want to talk more!!

Here are two current examples of families getting creative. Check them out and give a dollor or two to encourage them in their wait!

1. My friend Lindsy is also adopting from Congo. She has a crazy cool story and an even cooler fundraiser to go along with it. Check it out HERE. Beware: it's a bit hairy!

2. Angie is a mama of three boys and is bringing home 2 more boys from China! Check out their weekly fundraiser HERE. Also check out their super creative video!

Get creative and get your adoption wheels rolling!! Too many kiddos are waiting in limbo while you are worried about money. Just have faith and jump in! I promise they are worth it!!

January 04, 2013



 If you asked me what came to mind when I heard this word a year ago, I would say words like this....hope, love, misfortune, tragedy, adoption, family, orphan no more, excitement, anticipation, redemption.

If you ask me what comes to mind today, my answers are much different. My words are more harsh, more raw. My words are...greed, corruption, loss, grief, anxiety, anger, impatience, harvesting, unstable, hopeless.

It is amazing what a difference a year can make in someones view points. There has been one thing after another happen with Congo and our case since we started. We sensed things were starting to spiral downward this past fall. We received our referral in May and were making progress at a snails pace. We were still hopeful that things would speed up and we'd be traveling this Spring. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Since being in the program we have absolutely fallen in love with this country and all the hardships it has endured. I have spent hours upon hours researching Congo and talking with other adoptive families who have gone before me and who follow behind me.  The one theme that riddles this country up and down is CORRUPTION. In the poorest nation in the world these people have to fight to survive. They see an opportunity to profit and they grab it, even if it's to the disadvantage of children and their families.

I truly believe our agency is doing everything in their power to ensure an ethical adoption, but in this country it is hard to do. I can not share many details at this point, but as of late November our adoption was put on hold...not by our choice.  There were some questionable events surrounding some other children at Cora's orphanage and it has caused a  large investigation into each childs file.  We do not know how long this will take, but we do know there is a large possibility Cora's file is swept up in the unfortunate greed of her caretakers. We are still hoping to bring this beautiful girl into our family, but at the moment our hope is dim.

With all the events surrounding our case and a number of other issues with Congo there have been several families leave our agencies Congo program. I am hopeful for these families and their new journeys God is leading them on, but I am disheartened by the events also and feeling a pull to do the same. For now we will wait a while longer and pray for clarity. Most of all, I pray for Cora. I pray that she be exactly where God intends her to be, whether that be with our family or in her home country.

It is with a heavy heart I write this post. Please pray for this country that is so dear to our hearts. Pray for restoration and hope for the true orphans of DRC.

Adoption FInalization

It's official!! Kade is a Phillips!!

On December 14th were celebrating at the court house downtown Charleston.  Judge Cate deemed our family an appropriate fit for Kade and granted our adoption be finalized. We are over the moon excited!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed and supported us through Kades adoption. You will be seeing lots more of this little man in the future!

January 03, 2013

Kades Birth Story (Part 2)

Trey and I both spent the evening enjoying time with Kade and V. We were able to have him "room in" with us and not go to the nursery unless we asked for him to.  We got to all experience his first bath together and really spend time bonding over this new little life.

At about 9pm Trey went home to be with Kipton and the dogs for the night. I stayed in the room with V and Kade. The night was long but we made the best of it. I slept on the oh so comfy hospital couch and we put Kades bassinet in between the couch and V's bed. We took turns caring for him throughout the night.
Trey came back to the hospital the next morning and brought us breakfast. V had to have a procedure done that morning so she was out of the room for a few hours. Trey and I relished those first moments alone with our new son. It was nice to be able to just relax and be the three of us for a while. When V got back she took the afternoon to rest. Her family came later that day and had about a half hour alone with Kade.

After her family gave him lots of love the social worker arrived for V to sign the relinquishment papers. We took Kade down to the nursery to allow V and the social worker privacy.  I know in a lot of adoptions the adoptive parents have anxiety about the birth mom changing her mind, but I can honestly say I did not doubt V's decision.  I knew with everything in her she wanted to be able to parent her baby boy, but she also knew that was not the best option for herself or her baby.  We were only in the nursery for about 20minutes before the social worker came down to get us. She was all smiles and said "Congratulations Mom and Dad. You have a son!" Tears of joy just streamed down my face and Trey and I hugged for the longest time. It was the happiest most surreal moment.

Going back in V's room with Kade was difficult.  We knew emotions were high and we wanted to be sensitive in her time of loss. We went in and hugged but promised we weren't going to do the emotional thing then and we would wait for the big goodbye tomorrow at discharge. We spent the rest of the evening watching movies and chatting.  That night Trey and I decided to both go home to get one final nights rest.

The next morning we got to the hospital bright and early to pick up Kade from the nursery. We spent some time alone together in the nursery before we made our way down to V's hospital room. That morning was full of goodbyes and lots of emotions. We gave V a charm bracelet with Kade's name on it, his birth stone and a hand stamped charm that said "always in my heart".  We promised her to love and take care of her son and Trey let her know that this was only the beginning of our relationship.

After V was discharged we had a few hours before our lawyer came to meet us for our discharge. When she arrived we had some papers to sign and were given instructions on the next steps. Once we were given the all clear to leave the hospital there was no looking back. We buckled Kade into his car seat, Trey pulled the van around and we were off to introduce Kade to his new brothers.

The overall hospital experience could not have gone more smoothly than it did. The Lord definitely had his hand in this final part of our adoption. I can not wait to share with you as this boy grows. He is a handsome little guy.

December 05, 2012

Kades Birth Story (Part 1)

It was a Friday afternoon just 3 days before V's due date.  Kipton and I had just gotten home after a morning play date with friends from our MOPS group. I heard my phone ringing as I was busy changing his diaper before laying him down for a nap. I'll call whoever it is right back, I thought.  After Kipton was snug in his bed, I checked my phone to see a missed call from V. I immediately got excited but brushed it off thinking this wouldn't be THE call.

I dialed her number back and she answered so calmly. I asked if she had called and she said "Yeah, my water just broke." (AHHH!!!) My response was...are you serious?! I was so excited.  After my nerves calmed down I told her we'd meet her at the hospital soon.  Next, I called Trey to tell him to rush home from work and then called my mom to come sit with Kipton while he napped then take him to her house.

I was rushing around the house making sure we had everything in our hospital bag, making sure all of Kiptons things were together for my mom and taking care of the dogs before we left. Once Trey and my mom got to the house we were on our way! The drive to the hospital was busy.  We were both  calling and texting everyone we knew letting them know that the time had come. When we were almost to the hospital we just looked at each other and realized that our baby was coming. This was it!

At the hospital, we parked the car in the garage and entered the elevator to the hospital.  I remember being so excited I told the people on the elevator we were there to have a baby. They looked at us a little funny and then I realized they were looking for a pregnant belly. Trey explained we were adopting and they didn't look so puzzled anymore. They both congratulated us and wished us luck and with that we were off to the labor and delivery floor.

When we got to the room V was there with a friend.  She was getting her IV and they were doing the final paperwork for check in. She looked great. We could tell she was uncomfortable but she was handling it so well. We talked about how she was feeling and how she absolutely hated needles. We all began taking bets as to when the little man would enter the world. (We were all way off!) Not long after we'd been there I got a text from a dear friend of mine, Adrienne. She was on the same floor of the hospital visiting friends who had a baby the day before.  I stepped out the room and met her by the nursery.  It was good to have a friend there to hug me and pray over me.  All the anxiety and nervousness melted away.  I was ready to experience the next few life changing days and be the support that V would need.

Back in the room V's friend was leaving and V was requesting her epidural. The epidural was probably the hardest part for her.  They poked her several times before they got it placed in the right spot.  It was very painful for her....and for my hands. ;) At 4 o'clock she was still only 3cm dilated. Shortly after 4 her mom and her sister arrived. To say the room was tense would be an understatement.  We did our best to be friendly and make the mood calm and relaxing for V. At 5pm the nurse came in the room to check on us and V said she was having a lot of pressure. The nurse checked her and suddenly told her not to move.  She called in the doctor and other labor and delivery team and within seconds the room was being transformed for V to start pushing.  V literally laughed Kade out.  Within 2 pushes our little man was out in the world.  Born at 5:22 pm on October 12th.  I had the privilege of being able to cut his umbilical cord before they put him on V's chest.

He was perfect. Clear lungs, loud curling cry, head full of jet black hair and the juiciest little lips you ever did see. After V held him and the nurse wiped him down, I was able to do skin to skin with him. We were so blessed to have an amazing nursing staff who treated us like his parents from the first second he was born.  I'm thankful to them for giving us that experience and for V to be so gracious to allow us to be present during his birth. I will always cherish those moments.

Our hospital stay... TO BE CONTINUED...