Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our Home Study

We're done with our home study!! Eeeee! 

We're just a *tiny* bit excited.

A lot of people have asked me what exactly a home study is for and what all we have to do for it, so here's the lowdown on the Neely home study.

Home Study- A series of interviews and supporting documentation put together in a report by a licensed social worker for the purpose of adoption. 

Things we needed......

Our autobiographies, pictures of our family, pictures of our home, birth certificates, marriage license, copy of driver’s license, copy of health insurance card, latest tax return, copies of pay check stubs, fingerprinting and  criminal history clearances, child abuse clearances, medical exams, employment verification letter, financial statement of net worth, international adoption financial worksheet,  guardian forms.....I could go on and list all the other many forms and papers we had to read and sign, but I'm sure you aren't really THAT interested. :) 

Paperwork date at the kitchen table

Completion of the required education.....

International Adoption Clinic seminar (8 hrs. of videos), Inter-country adoption journey Hague-Compliant training from the National Council for Adoption (10 hrs. of videos and readings), required reading- The Connected Child, pre-adoption education from the Department of State on Ethiopia, discussion questions, trans-racial exercise....I think that was all. It's all kind of blurring together...For our trans-racial exercise we were working on getting prepared to be a trans-racial (involving two or more races) family. For one part we had to go to a place where we would be put in the position of being a minority. It was good to experience being in that situation....we're typically surrounded by people who look like us, and that won't be the case for our adopted little one. We've been challenged to not automatically flock towards people who are the same as us but to try to make our surroundings more diverse. I like the way it was put in one of our International Adoption Clinic videos-

Try to surround your child with diversity. At the same time, help them to realize that physical characteristics are only one small aspect of what contributes to "matching" as a family group. Send the message that the power of a family surmounts differences of race or skin color, and show them that as a family you do not categorize other families or groups by race.
And this quote by Russell Moore in Adopted for Life-

Emphasize the good providence of God in putting your family together. "God chose to bring this child into our family through adoption. He chose to bring this child into the family through birth. Isn't it great how God brings families together? We are so happy he knew that you were to be our child!"
In our Adoption Clinic Seminar, the NCFA videos, and The Connected Child we learned a lot about development and the effects of early institutionalization.

  • The basic needs of a baby or toddler often go unmet: to be fed when hungry, to be changed when wet, to be warmed when cold, to be comforted when experiencing pain/fear/distress, to feel safe, to be held/rocked. Even if there are good caregivers in the orphanage, there usually aren't enough to be able to meet the needs of all the kids they have to take care of. 
  • Neglect and trauma during the early periods of rapid growth in the first year of a baby's life often cause problems related to areas of the brain controlling sleep, appetite, and behavioral regulation. So a lot of the education was preparation for the possibility of dealing with those kinds of issues and knowing why those issues have a high chance of showing up in the future. 
  • They haven't gotten their needs met, they have missed trust, consistent nurturing, normal attachments, safety, predictability, and what a family even looks like. 
  • Establishing a connection and building trust with a child from a hard place like that takes time, repeated loving and nurturing actions (over and over and over), physical and emotional closeness, eye contact, safety and structure.

As time consuming as the education part of our home study was, it was SO worth it. We have learned a lot, and I'm thankful Lifeline requires it. We still have a lot to learn, and I'm sure most of it we're just going to have to experience to really get! The next step for us is getting approval from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to bring an orphan into the country, and then submitting our Dossier. Maybe there will be another post explaining what a dossier is in the future. :) 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our yard sale was a HUGE success!! Can I just say that God is an amazing provider?! We set the goal of $4,000 to be raised with both of our yard sales (the one in Memphis and the one in Huntsville), and as I was typing that I was thinking how unlikely it would be to raise that much with just those 2 sales. It was a stretch. But I knew that was how much we needed, and I knew that if God was involved it was possible. Well the grand total was $4,070. !!! God knows what we need and he is faithful to provide! Don't you just love how God leads us to things that we absolutely cannot do without him? We can't afford this on our own! But when God tells us to do something, we can't say "no, God... I really don't have the money for that..." God is so much bigger than money. He just wants obedience.We have to trust that he will provide each little step of the way. It's such a relief to know that the next step is covered. It's still a little nerve-wracking to think about how much more we're going to need, but I can't wait to see how he will provide and what he will teach us through it.

I'm so so thankful for everyone who donated (we had SO. MANY. amazing donations) and everyone who helped or contributed in some way! There were countless people involved in this, and we couldn't have done it without you!! We are all totally exhausted and don't particularly want to ever think about having another yard sale ever again, but it was definitely worth it. :)

Our little lemonade stand entrepreneur

Jan counting the money!

She was working hard!

We've been enjoying our summer and trying to get everything together to complete our home study.....doing LOTS of reading at this point, and we still have a lot more to get through. And still getting lots of shirt orders! More pictures here! And if you'd like to order one you can go here. So thankful to be on this journey!!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012


1. We have started our home study! Our social worker said she thinks we can be done with it by the middle of August. So exciting!! So we're busy gathering papers and documents and writing our life story and reading Karyn Purvis and just learning alot about international adoption!

2. When our home study is completed our next set of agency fees will be due, so with that plus all the expenses involved up to that point we are going to need about $4,000. So....we're having a yard sale! We're going to have one here in Huntsville and my awesome mom and sister are doing one for us in Memphis. Our goal is to try to raise the whole $4,000 with these 2 yard sales, so we need lots and lots of donations! If you have anything you would like to donate, let us know and we will get it from you. Great yard sale items could be things like tv's, microwaves, electronics, old couches or other pieces of furniture, clothes, old power tools, baby items, books, etc.....we'll take anything!

3. LOVE Africa shirts! Thank you again Kimberly for taking pictures for me. In the 5,000 degree weather. :)

I have adult sizes now! Thank you so much to those of you who have bought shirts. You guys are keeping me BUSY, but every single shirt order makes a difference, and we appreciate it so much! You can go here to order one if you haven't already.

And I still would love your pictures!! If you already have a shirt, go ahead and take some and send them to me! Or just snap one with your phone and tag me in it on Facebook. Here are a few of the precious faces I have so far- (Grown-ups I want your pics too!)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Well, it's official! We have been accepted into Lifeline Children's Services Ethiopia program! We have prayed and prayed for God to lead us to the place he wants us, and this is it!

We are beyond excited to be finally starting this journey. We're so thankful for God's leading, and we want so much for you to continue to PRAY that his will be done in this entire process. It's expensive and time consuming and invasive, but the little smile at the other end of this thing makes it ALL worth it! So please pray with us!

Here are a few Ethiopia facts for those of you who are interested-

Ethiopia is home to over 4.6 million orphaned children. This is one of the largest populations of orphans in the world and the highest population of orphans in Africa. Ethiopia borders Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya.

Ethiopia is the oldest independent nation in Africa, a land of stunning natural beauty covering an area twice the size of Texas. Over 80 languages are spoken, the national language being Amharic. Much of the year is warm and pleasant in Addis Ababa, the capital.

Ethiopia has a population of over 75 million people. Its main Religions are Muslim (45 to 50%), Ethiopian Orthodox (35 to 40%), Animist 12%, other 3%. Its main exports are coffee, quat, gold, leather products, live animals, and oilseeds. Per Capita GNP is US $1,000. Life expectancy is 49 years. There are 500 people for every doctor.

Also....I'm working on getting adult sizes in the Africa shirts! Keep those orders coming! Thank you so much to those of you who have already ordered shirts. We are so thankful for the support. And don't forget to send me your pictures!! Here are our girlies in theirs-

Thursday, May 17, 2012

LOVE Africa shirts

Welcome to our first little fundraising project! Aren't they cute?!

I'm really excited about them! You can buy one of these for your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews, etc. etc. :) (They're going to be $16 each.) And then I would love it if you could take a picture of your kid(s) wearing their Africa shirts and then email it to me (if you don't mind me posting them). I will post your pictures on my page on Facebook and fill it up with pictures of all your cute children supporting our adoption. It would be an awesome way to get your kids involved in showing love to one of these precious kids who needs a home!
*Update-adult sizes are available too! They are $20* 

So who's in?! 

Thanks Kimberly for taking the pictures for me!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

How We Got Here

God first planted this tiny little seed in our hearts through a statistic Will heard that said that if just 6% of Christians in the world adopted we could care for all the adoptable orphans in the world.  (More on that here)  Will mentioned it, and my first response was something along the lines of “Yeah adoption is great and all, but it can be so hard! There can be so many issues! And it’s SO expensive!”  That was probably somewhere around 3 years ago. The possibility of adoption being in our future stayed somewhere in the backs of both of our minds, and over time God started moving our hearts towards really wanting to adopt someday. God really started opening our eyes and urging us forward this past year or so. I started digging in and researching, searching the Scriptures and learning so much more about Jesus’ heart for “the least of these”, reading books and adoptive families’ blogs and watching their “gotcha day” videos, and my eyes were opened to this HUGE need. The more I learned, the more certain I was that God was leading us to this. I could no longer imagine NOT adopting.

We adopt because God adopted us. We were spiritual orphans, and he made us his sons and daughters (Eph 1:5, 1 John 3:1, John 14:18). We adopt because he tells us to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves (Prov. 31:8). Because religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). Because whatever we do for the least of these, we are doing for Jesus himself (Matt. 25:40, Mark 9:36). Because he commands us to seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Because we can’t say “we knew nothing about this.” God knows that we know, and he holds us responsible to act (Prov. 24:12).

I have a feeling this will be a crazy ride, but as long as we’re taking the next step on the journey that God has for us then I’m all in! It will be hard, there will be issues, and it will definitely be expensive! But I definitely believe that if God asks you to do something he will provide everything you need along the way. Money isn’t an obstacle for him. And who ever said that following Jesus was supposed to be easy and comfortable and issue-free?!

So that’s where we are. Right now we are asking,” God, WHERE??” He hasn’t answered yet. But his timing is perfect….I’m sure I will have to remind myself of that hundreds of times along the way. We’re pretty sure he’s leading us to Africa, but we need to choose a country. We would appreciate prayers! God knows the exact little person he wants to be part of our family, and we just pray that he would lead us there!

Please excuse miss grumpy....she had just woken up from her nap and thought it was an injustice to be expected to smile for a picture. :) But I love it anyway!

Monday, March 19, 2012

"The Gospel and Adoption"

I'm linking to a blog post by David Platt called "The Gospel and Adoption." It's one of my favorite posts I've come across as I've studied and researched adoption.

It's a good read! My favorite part- "It’s important to realize, then, that we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued. And in this way, the gospel uniquely portrays, compels, and ultimately sustains adoption."

Along the same lines......Third Day's music video of the song "Children of God." I love it! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First ever blog post!

Good first post material right there. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.