Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Get Worth Home | Reece's Rainbow

For the past few months, I have been pretty quiet on the fundraising front. I thought I was fully funded.

However, after checking and rechecking the numbers and talking with my family and wise friends, I have realized that I need more than I thought.

So it is back to the fundraising drawing board. Here's what we have so far.

The Puzzle Fundraiser is back! Lots of the world is still up for grabs, so claim your favorite spot while you can.

My son is definitely Worth the Wait, but boy is waiting hard! Snag a coffee mug or a cute shirt for the little one you waited for.


Have a heart. If you donate any amount to my Reece's Rainbow FSP, your name will go on a heart around Worth's map puzzle, and I will send you a traditional Martenitsa doll pair, which celebrates new life. (FSP needs to read $16,193 to be fully funded.)

I have lots of new and used baby clothes for sale on my Facebook. I have mailers ready to fill with these cute little outfits and send your way!

But you guys. I am stressing. I am worried. I am scared and nervous. But I am choosing to believe that money will not keep Worth from his family. Some way, some how, he's coming home. Soon.

So much love, Elizabeth

Son | Reece's Rainbow

It's been 149 days since I have written a post; the last thing I shared was the sheer joy of meeting my son.

I spent three wonderful days with Worth. And then I handed him to a nanny, who put him in a pack-and-play, and I turned and walked out of the orphanage door, tears streaming down my face.

For many of these past 149 days I struggled to find the words to express that feeling; that emptiness. Nothing seemed quite right. So this blog fell silent.

But then, on September 16, 2016, a judge on the other side of the world declared to be true what I already felt and knew.

I am Worth's mother. He is my son. Forever.

That was the best message I have ever gotten.

And just when I thought I couldn't possibly miss that little boy any more, the hole in my mama heart grew and my empty arms felt ever heavier. My son was waiting for me. With that longing though came a hope that, before, I was afraid to feel.

I'm coming, Worth! I am forever yours, just as you are forever mine.

Love, Worth's Mama

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day One

The anticipation was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Maybe it's the same when you're giving birth; I don't know.

My arms were suddenly hyper-aware of their emptiness. So many questions about the one who would fill them constantly ran through my head. I found sleep in little bursts.

And then it was time.

It had been raining all night, so the streets were almost flooded, but it was only drizzling when we left. We took a cab ride through the grey city streets, and all I could only think about seeing him for the first time. Would I recognize him? Would he cry? Would a nanny hover over us?

The cab pulled up to a nice little two story building. It was fenced in with a playground in the front. This was it. My son was here.

I focused my nervousness on avoiding puddles as we walked in the gate, then the front door. We were greeted by a friendly woman, who took us to the adjacent building. Again, puddles.

We walked into a room where I saw three or four children, older children. One girl rolled up to me in her wheelchair and pulled on my backpack strap. I smiled at her as I scanned the room.

The friendly lady reached down into a pack and play I had not noticed before. She pulled out a tiny little boy in a blue track suit. I saw his blonde hair and knew it was him. As she put him onto her hip, I smiled and reached for him, more out of instinct than conscious movement.

And he reached out his tiny arms for me.

I held him for the first time and stroked his hair. He was so small and so perfect and so mine. I felt him in my heart. My son.

We were whisked away into a play room where a nurse was eager for me to see his skills. He walks. He can climb out of the ball pit. He loves to clap his hands.

I oohed and aahed at each accomplishment, but really, he could have done none of that and still been just as much mine. Every time he was out of my arms, he tottered back to me. When someone else held him, he stretched out for me.

I think he knew I was his.

This morning was a joyful blur.

Here's what I learned:

He is a cuddle bug. Hands are his favorite; clapping his hands in front of his face, holding onto my hands - the best. He loves when I put my hands on the side of his face or stroke his cheeks. Running away and being scooped up. Kissing his picture in the photo album I brought. Blowing spit bubbles. Eating (I fed him three times!).

Toys are not his thing right now. (Note to self, stop buying toys.) I think this will improve with time, but right now, toys are used to hit himself or stick all the way in the mouth - sorry Friday the Sloth. The one exception were little plastic rings that you connect together. So fun to shaaaaaaake.

I noticed some breathing trouble. The nurse mentioned the rainy weather, but I am worried it is more than that. Definitely a priority when we get home.

Basically, he is perfect. All of my fears and doubts vanished as soon as he was in my arms. We have a lot of learning to do together. No question. But we will do it together.

Worth Allen Maximus

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nine Sleeps! | Reece's Rainbow

On Thursday, April 21, I was sitting at lunch with my coworkers as usual. I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone and halfheartedly listening to the various conversations.

I got a notification for a new email, so I slid it down out of habit.

As soon as I read the subject line, I gasped and dropped my phone.

Travel dates!

I had my written referral and it was go time. I was in complete shock!

Adoption is hard. You work really hard to do paperwork and appointments as quickly as possible, then you w-a-i-t and w-a-i-t and w-a-i-t and then BAM! You go meet your son.


Now is the whirlwind of preparations. Plane tickets. Hotel rooms. Packing lists. Toys, clothes. Sub plans.

And so, so much anticipation.

In just over a week, I get to introduce you to my boy. What pure joy.

With much love and excitement,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Verbal Referral! | Reece's Rainbow

They said yes.

This morning (April 11) I woke up to an email saying the committee has accepted my dossier and I have verbal referral to adopt Little Dub!

In the next two to three weeks, the Minister will sign and I will have travel dates.

I am over the moon.

He is going to be mine and I get to touch him in just a few weeks.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Molehill | Reece's Rainbow

"To Make a Mountain out of a Molehill"

When I was a kid (and even now sometimes), my parents would warn me: "don't make a mountain out of a molehill."

When I began Wren's adoption, I challenged you and me and God to move mountains, specifically financially.

And friends, that mountain is now a molehill.

This is a $1,722.05 molehill.

That's all that's left.

I am in disbelief.

I have watched a mountain shrink and I really have no words, except thank you.

We are almost there. My little guy is so worth it.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

It's Giveaway Time!

Little by little, we are chipping away at the final $3,000 needed to get my boy home. In fact, as I write this, the number is under $2,000!

So let's do a GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a brand new JBL Flip 2 portable wireless speaker!

This bad boy is perfect for portable dance parties, workout sessions, or picnics and can play from your phone using bluetooth.

Here's what to do:

1. Donate to my Reece's Rainbow FSP or GoFundMe.
2. Screenshot/forward me your receipt.
3. BOOM! You're entered!

Wanna enter for free?? Share on social media for free entries (up to five)!

Giveaway drawing will happen once I have 100 entries!

Let's do this!

Thank you in advance.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


A while back, I ran across a fascinating article about words in other languages that have no direct translation in English. As I scrolled though the words and meanings, I found "fernweh" and kind of fell in love with it.

Fernweh (German) - Feeling homesick for a place you have never been to.

My heart is full of fernweh.

I am homesick for Eastern Europe. I'm homesick for a town that holds an orphanage that holds a child, my child. I am homesick for little boy I know only though pictures.

And another week has come and gone and I feel no closer to my little boy.

The anticipation and frustration and longing is hard.

I hoped to update with travel dates and a count down and packing list. But here I wait; fernweh.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spread the Love: World Down Syndrome Day | Reece's Rainbow

Happy World Down Syndrome Day, my friends!

Down syndrome is what most people call Trisomy 21, which means that people with Down syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome.

Three of chromosome twenty one. 3-21.

So on March 21, we celebrate all people, young and old, rocking their something extra.

In the United States, we have many resources for kids and adults with Down syndrome. Early intervention programs, countless therapies, Special Olympics, job training programs, I could go on and on.

But in some parts of the world, children who are born with this special something extra don't have these same opportunities.

Most of the time in these countries, the mothers and families have so few options for their child that their best choice is to place them in an orphanage and pray they are adopted.

[I once thought of these parents rejecting their own children with anger, sadness. But now, I have come to realize it is the hardest decision they will ever make. Even if there is rejection and fear, there must be at least a bit of hope mixed in. Certainly some love.]

So because of this fear and the culture and the misunderstanding, thousands of children sit in orphanages around the world waiting for mama. All because they have a little something extra.

I want to introduce you to the sweetest little boy.

This is Joey*. Joey is six years old and lives in an orphanage in the same Wren and Dub's home country.

Joey has Down syndrome.

Joey is not less of a person.

Joey is not a statistic.

Joey is a precious little boy, a son waiting to be found.

Today, on World Down Syndrome Day, please see Joey. See him for the valuable, image-bearer that he is. He is capable of love, capable of great joy.

Could you be Joey's mama? Joey's papa? Joey's brother or sister or neighbor?

Joey is one of thousands of children who wait today.

What can you do for him?

If you have questions about Joey or other children waiting for their families, please let me know. I would love to chat with you.


*Joey's name has been changed for his protection.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Final Three Thousand | Reece's Rainbow

When I began this adoption journey a year ago, I was staring at a whopping $30,000 that I needed to come up with some how. I had faith that it would happen, but I had NO IDEA how.

Through the crazy path of changing countries, then losing Wren and finding Dub, the $30,000 total budget stayed fairly consistent.

But the amount I have needed to figure out has slowly, amazingly gone down.

The day I emailed my agency to ask about Wren, a generous donor gave $12,000 to help fund her adoption. When she died, I was given the option of putting that money toward the adoption of another child with Down syndrome - what a blessing.

When I saw the picture of my Dub for the first time, Reece's Rainbow was in the middle of their annual Angel Tree project - a wonderful fundraising drive for waiting children. My little guy's amazing warrior worked hard to raise $1,000 for his adoption - another huge blessing.

From surprise grad school refunds to an extra paycheck and salary increase, money has been provided in ways I never could have imagined a year ago - again, so many blessings.

I'm now down to about $3,000 to be fully funded.

This is so doable.

I am going to continue updating this post with every step towards that $3,000. I can't wait to see the blessings listed out here one by one. And if you look over to the right, there is a cute little thermometer that will go up, up, up as the money is raised!

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Love, Elizabeth

P.S. Over the last few weeks, I have had several people ask me about fundraising. Why am I still fundraising? If I gave for Wren's adoption, what happened to that money? Is it all a big scam?

I get your questions. I promise. No hard feelings.

Here's what I want you to know.

If you donated money or bought something I was selling, the money was spent on adoption. Even though this process has been long, the paperwork from Uganda and Wren's adoption have carried over. I did not have to redo things. I (miraculously) did not lose money when Wren died.

It's just that adoption is expensive.

At no point in this process have I been fully funded.

That's where this last $3,000 comes into play. $3,000 to fully funded. (And no more fundraisers.)

And if you think this is a scam, I'm sorry. I wish I didn't have to ask for money. But the truth is, I do. As much as I dislike it, I will do it for my son.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

GOAL: $3,000

March Madness Bracket Fundraiser: $128
Donations: $525.22
5/5/5 for Families Grant: $847.73
3rd Place in Weight Loss Challenge: $47.06
Speaker Giveaway: $120 and counting...

Total: $1,670.01
(as of April 29)


Sunday, March 6, 2016

That Which We Call a Rose | Reece's Rainbow

I love names. I always have.

When I was a kid, I would play Oregon Trail (90s kids, you know!) dreaming of my future family and, most pressingly, what I would name my kids.

And I needed at least twelve kids for all the super names I had.

Once, I even got my hands on my mom's baby name book. Jackpot.

Now that I am awaiting travel to meet my son, I know that naming a my own, real human is imminent. It's a pretty daunting task, if you ask me. Choosing the one thing that a person will have forever.

Some people don't spend hours thinking of the perfect name for their child, and that's great; you do you.

But I do.

Thinking of names. Researching names. Writing them out to see what it looks like in my handwriting. Calling them out, so I can feel how they roll off my tongue.

Again, I'm not claiming this is normal behavior. Just doing me.

So, after much trial and error, he has a name. And it is perfect, if you ask me.

Once I meet him, I will tell you all his name. I want him to be the first to hear it. (Nothing like a good cliffhanger, right?)

I will tell you it starts with W, and I have taken a liking to calling him Dub. Is that not the cutest??

My Dub. This face is how I feel about his name.

Do you have a favorite name? How did you choose what to call your little ones? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Over the weekend, a student at my school was involved in an accident. Wonderful paramedics were able to restart his heart, but it was later discovered that his brain was no longer alive. Today, his brave parents made the decision to take him off of life support.

This afternoon, our principal and counselor gathered the school staff to share the news. Teachers cried together and mourned a precious life cut short.

As the reality of the news set in, I began to cry uncontrollably.

I grieve with the parents whose arms are empty and hearts are broken. I grieve with the brothers and sisters; they must feel like a part of them is missing. I grieve with the friends and teachers who look at an empty chair and remember the tiny boy who should be there.

As I sat there sniffling, holding my breath to avoid drawing attention, I thought, "this must be what a trigger is."

In thinking about this little boy, I could only see my little girl. I closed my eyes to hide tears, and Wren's sweet smile danced in my memory.

All my heartbreak and sadness and emptiness came flooding back.

No parent should lose their child. Hearts are not made to be broken like that.

Trying to find the words to explain is futile. Words don't exist for that pain.

Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the family of a child who now dances with Jesus, with Wren.

Love deep and love hard. This world is full of broken hearts and broken people.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting | Reece's Rainbow

The title basically says it all.

I am waiting.

My dossier is in Eastern Europe. They are translating and getting it ready to be submitted.

Soon, it will be officially submitted and then approved by an adoption committee.

Once it is approved, I receive travel dates!  This feels so real. I am going to see my son!

I don't like the waiting. I'm not good at it, I have a million and one unnecessary questions, and I am fighting the urge to spend every dollar I have on cute little boy things.

I'm sure this will be one of those things that teaches you or helps you grow. I'm sure I'll see that looking back.

But right now I am praying to travel before the end of March, but realistically it may be April.

I am still working towards my fundraising goal of $1,000 by St. Patrick's Day.

This mama is waiting for her son. My son is waiting for his mama.


Look at baby Nels! Isn't he just the cutest?!
This is an old picture from Reece's Rainbow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Luckier Than a Four Leaf Clover! | Reece's Rainbow

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, you have a chance to get a fun, lucky t-shirt, and help bring my son home!

I have been immensely blessed financially during this adoption journey. I have received donations, grants, and surprise funds to cover almost all of the costs (about $25,000!).

But I need to raise just a few thousand more.

I have set a goal to raise $1,000 by St. Patrick's Day!

Can you help me get there?

Check out these fun shirts I designed. If you feel led, please buy and share! Two weeks only.

Let's do this!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Au revoir, dossier! | Reece's Rainbow

Isn't that just the fanciest title!

In case you aren't up with the adoption lingo, the dossier is a bunch of paperwork with all kinds of personal information about you and your plans for adoption. Background checks, financial information, medical clearances - everything you might want to know about a potential parent!

Well, as of Friday, February 12, the last bit of my dossier was out of my hands and on its way around the world, making a few stops first.

And I have some pretty fancy feelings to send with it.




A hint of sadness.

And now I wait to travel for the first trip. (The country where my little guy lives requires two trips. One to meet him and one to pick him up!)

Waiting is by far the hardest part of adoption.

I am praying to meet my guy before the end of March, although that is a lofty prayer.

One day soon I will get to hold him and tickle him and tell him how very loved he is.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Journey to You | Reece's Rainbow

I always knew I wanted to adopt.

I started seriously looking into that process a few years ago. That's how I stumbled upon Reece's Rainbow. I would stare for hours at face after face and wish so hard that every face soon would see her mama.

I hurt for those forgotten ones.

But special needs adoption wasn't for me.

I adored *those* families who could ransom broken and discarded children. I knew they were seeking after God's own heart.

But special needs adoption wasn't for me.

I witnessed beautiful stories of children finding mamas and papas and brothers and sisters. They changed almost instantly.

That's what happens when you have hope.

But, still, special needs adoption wasn't for me.

Even as I cried tears of pain and joy with families I only knew through a screen, I didn't understand. I started looking into adoption planning for a little girl. A little girl with no special needs, and no older than two.

But then, special needs adoption smacked me in the face. I saw my child. I saw Wren and I was changed. She wasn't just some kid around the world. She was mine. I felt her deep in my soul.

She changed me.

One day, a few weeks before Wren passed away, I noticed on Reece's Rainbow a little boy I had never seen before. Something about him caught my eye. He lives in Wren's country. He has Down syndrome, just like Wren.

In some deep down way, I felt connected to him, too.

For a brief minute I though about adding him to my adoption. But Wren's needs were too intense and I only have two bedrooms and, even if it was possible, I couldn't delay things for Wren.

So I thought, sweet boy, if you are still waiting in a year or so, I'll come back for you. (But please don't let him still be waiting in a year!)

It was like I somehow caught a little glimpse of what the future held.

Things didn't work out the way I thought they would, but now, my sweet son, I'm coming for you.

Your sister paved the way. And now, my son, your mama is coming.

You have waited nine years. But still, you giggle. You learned to walk last year. I could tell how proud that makes you in the way your eyes shine.

You trust your nannies. You grab their hands and look up into their faces expectantly.

I can't wait until the day you grab my hand like that. I promise I will be there to hold you steady.

I started this journey hoping for a young, typical little girl. And now a nine year old boy with Down syndrome holds my heart.

It's funny these stories God writes.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beauty From Ashes | Reece's Rainbow

When Wren went to Jesus, my heart shattered. It felt like it could never hold love, because the love would just run out of all the brokenness.

But at the same time, I knew in my bones this was not the end.

My Wren died because someone saw an imperfect child, unworthy of love or care. As much as it hurts to type those words, they were her truth. And not only Wren's truth.

Thousands and thousands of children all over the world live with this as their truth. Unworthy. Unlovable. Unteachable. Unwanted.

This is their truth every day, every moment. As they just exist. Breathing, but not living.

But, my friends, this truth is not God's truth.

And it is not my truth.

Thousands of perfect, worthy children wait for a mama to speak their truth into existence. Their truth of love and joy and worth and value.

Wren taught me this. And now, because of Wren, I get to share these truths with a precious soul - Wren's big brother. Not by blood, but by love, a tiny girl and a precious boy become sister and brother. Sister in heaven, brother waiting around the world.

Oh, I cannot wait to introduce you to him.

Turns out my shattered heart can hold love after all. It holds a fierce and bold love for my daughter and my son.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Eight Weeks

Wren died eight weeks ago.

I have had eight weeks to process her death and try to make some sense of it. Eight weeks to think of the loneliness. Eight weeks to miss my daughter.

I am angry. I am sad. I grieve and I mourn and I am comforted by the vision of her dancing and laughing with Jesus.

Eight weeks ago, she was made whole and my heart shattered.

In the midst of my pain, light shines through. I have learned more about hope and love than ever before.

My sweet friend and mentor, Lauren, recently walked the halls of the orphanage where Wren lived and died. She was there to rescue her daughter who was barely living - nine pounds at seven years old.

In the midst of gaining a precious daughter, Lauren took the time to search out my daughter and honor her short, beautiful life.

Each time I try to put my gratitude and feelings into words, they fail me.

So here are hers.

Wren's life mattered.