Adoption Update: To Answer Many of Your Questions

Our hearts are overwhelmed with joy as we have begun this exciting journey to bring our child home. “…To whomever much is given, of him much will be required…” –Luke 12:48 Adoption is something God has called us to do. We are an average family, humbled that God would chose us to raise this child. For many years, we knew we would one day grow our family through adoption but we didn’t know when. In the Fall of 2013, we felt the time was right. So, we began the international adoption process through Gladney Center for Adoption. Here is a tentative  timeline until the day travel to pick up our child – our precious gift from God.

  • Two weeks ago we mailed our immigration app (for us to be parents of an immigrant): 60 days +/- until approval
  • After immigration approval, we mail our big package of paperwork to China (called Dossier): up to 90 days to approve
  • Once we are approved by the Chinese government, we can share more info about our child. I guess it becomes a bit more official. And once approval comes, we’ll mail our child’s immigration app to USCIS: up to 90 days to approve
  • After immigration approval, we wait for travel approval from China. I’m told it’s about 6-8 weeks from immigration approval until we travel.

The biggest news, while we are waiting on our immigration approval is,

We Are Being “Matched” with a CHILD!! So, we should have very exciting news to share with you all SOON. (Side note: We do not know if it will be a boy or a girl).

To be completely transparent about the finances with you, international adoptions are expensive. Like most other adoptive parents, left to our own finances we would likely be prevented from adopting. However, we believe God has called us to adopt. Therefore, we have faith that God will provide and part of that provision is you. We firmly believe that God will bless those who support us on this journey – support through prayer and financial giving.

Statistics show 33% of Americans consider adoption; 79% of those are concerned about the costs, the biggest deterrent; less than 2% actually adopt. Initial adoption costs are not a reason to deny an orphan a home. Month to month we are able to provide for another child. The initial adoption costs is where we are giving you an opportunity to change a child’s life not only temporally, but forever.

Our monetary goal is to raise AT LEAST $40k over the next 8 months. Our adoption costs are about $34k (less $7500 we have already contributed). The other $13k+ of our goal will go to Journey of a Joyful Life (JOAJL) ministry to help care for special needs orphans in China. In addition, any funds we raise in excess of what we need will be donated back to (JOAJL) to assist giving children in their care a forever family.

Will and I have joyfully contributed $7500 from our savings so far and hope to be able to contribute more as Will’s business grows. Also, $2600 was raised at our recent fundraiser plus a few friends and strangers have donated about $1100. God is so good and faithful to provide! After these contributions, we have reached $11,200 of our goal and have $28,800 to go.

  • When we accept a referral of a child (within the next few weeks), $7850 is due.
  • When we complete our Dossier for China, $1750 is due for translation to Chinese and for preparation & authentication of U.S. docs – (submitting in about 6 weeks or so).
  • The next big fees are due in China and are about $7200. These fees include the orphanage fees, adoption processing expenses, U.S. visa & medical exam,  and U.S. immigration visa. Travel costs are estimated to be about $7500 for a 17 day trip with multiple flights from USA to child’s providence to Guangzhou to USAGuangzhou is where the adoption will be finalized – visa and passport issued. 
  • There are a few more adoption costs upon returning home for attorneys fees, translation of legal documents, etc. totaling about $1800.

If you would like to be a part of the journey, please visit orphancarenetwork.org/bowling-family. Any contribution you make is tax deductible through the The Orphan Care Network which is a 501(c)3. And rest assured, any donation, no matter how big or small, will be greatly appreciated. Please know we are blessed and humbled by your investment in God’s kingdom! Thank you in advance for your support and we celebrate that you will be blessed for your generosity!

Sincerely and Joyfully,

Will & Ashley

 

Melodie Chandler, Director (and momma) at JOAJL, is in China working with special needs children. A portion of your donation will go to assist children in her care. To find out more about what Melodie is doing, visit: www.journeyofajoyfullife.org

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Cheers to Awesome Friends!

In April we had a Silent Auction and Dinner Fundraiser. It ended up being a intimate gathering with close friends and family in our backyard. We cannot say thank you enough to those who showed up to support us and our newest addition!  We feel so loved and are extremely blessed to bring a new child home into this loving, supportive community. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalms 133:1 May you all be blessed for your generosity. 

Secondly, the local business’s around here surprised me by donating more than I could’ve imagined. It just goes to show, all you have to do it is ask. And, man, I was busy asking! We had about 27 items for this silent auction. There wasn’t even 27 people there. We actually had more than 27 items donated for the auction and plan on using the rest for a dinner and silent auction later this summer in The Woodlands area (where we both are from). If any one has items, getaways, or gift cards they would like to donate for the auction in (August?) you may comment below on the post and I will not approve it it be public (if you wish).

In this dinner and silent auction we raised $2600! God is so good and faithful to provide.

Stay tuned and we’ll update with more info on events to come…

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If you would like to be a part of this journey too, please visit:  orphancarenetwork.org/bowling-family

All contributions are tax deductible and are sent directly to our agency.

She Prays for Her Children

Today is Mother’s Day and many days I feel an overwhelming love for my son along with an overwhelming gratefulness to my mother. Yet, today especially, I have a gratitude to her for being a mother that exemplifies love and for making the choices her and my father did to rear me into the child of God I am today. I know the decisions she made weren’t always strait forward and I did not always make it easy on her. I have thankfulness to her for loving me unconditionally in a display of Gods unconditional love for His children. This kind mother’s love transcends any words I could write on a page. Because she loved me this way and because of God’s grace, I am able to love my child/ren the same.

I love you, mom! Always. And I am forever grateful for your love for me.

Today, I sat there, rocking my son to sleep, singing Jesus Loves Me, and softly stroking his face. I felt this overwhelming love for him. In fact, everyday I have an indescribable and irreplaceable love for him. I know in time, I will disappoint him. He will disappoint me. I pray he knows that in those moments of disappointment, when he screams ” I hate you,” it does not change my love for him.  I do not love him any less than in those moments when he hits his first home run or graduates from school and makes me the proudest mother ever. He probably won’t understand the depths of my love for him until he becomes a father himself one day.

Many times this small view of love is how we view our heavenly father. When we are doing the right thing like serving others and going to church, we believe He approves of us. Yet, when we are living sin such as unforgiveness, sexual impurity, and pride, we believe He is disappointed in us. The bible tells us differently in Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”   He loves us even in the midst of our sin. Just like we, as mothers, first loved our children. It wasn’t because of anything they did or did not do. The same happens with our Heavenly Father. Our actions will not earn His love. He gives love and grace freely. Our good works or lack there of will not determine how great the Father’s love is for us.

After I rocked my son to sleep today, I sat and listened to a phone conversation my sister had with my mother, wishing her a “Happy Mother’s Day.” One of my mother’s first questions was, “Did you go to church today?” as if somehow she feels responsible for our relationship with God. We all know that going to church does not get one into heaven nor do I think that’s what she was suggesting. I know the cry of her heart. She prays for every one of her children’s sanctification and for us to have a deep love for Christ. I don’t know this because I’ve heard her prayer or because she’s shared some secret with me. I know because I pray that same prayer for my children – living and unborn. But thank you Lord we, mothers, are not responsible for our children’s salvation. If we were, we would all be lost. Lost forever.

When we love the Lord with all of our hearts we want to know Him more. Thus, we desire to go to church and read our bible. We want to serve Him by serving the poor, widows, and orphans. Again, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-9 plus 10) Our salvation is dependent solely on God’s grace – not good works. His grace then produces good works in us. God is not waiting for a better version of us to arrive. His grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12:9) and me.

As parents, we are commanded to teach, train and live out the gospel with our children.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” -Deuteronomy 6:4-8

My mother taught us many things. She taught us to memorize scripture, which I still quote aloud when I am afraid – “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7); and when I have self doubt – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13); or when I worry –Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (Philippians 4:6) and the list goes on. She is one of the people in my life who taught me how to pray. She taught me compassion and empathy for others. My dad was a firefighter and when he went on calls, we prayed for the people who were in danger. To this day, when I hear sirens or see a wreck, I say a prayer for healing and protection over the people involved. She taught me how to teach. I did not know she taught me until I had a child of my own. Initially, I was fearful to be a mother. I thought I would be critical and harsh. As our boy baby grew, I realized I was more like my mother than I thought. I became patient, encouraging and a teacher. As mothers (and fathers) we are all called to be a teacher to our children. I don’t claim to always know what I am doing or to always have the patience that I should. That’s where God’s grace covers me. This mommy needs Jesus just as much as her son does. It’s okay to admit that to your little ones. We are all imperfect people in need of a Savior. And, of course, we are all a work in progress.

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If you are a mom, or hope to be one day, be encouraged. Pray for and with your children.

To my mother, thank you for teaching me the importance of prayer.

Thank you, Lord, for your love and grace in my life.