I see that the last post we had on this blog was from last year, Aug. 2017. And that was quite a LONG time ago. You know, the funny thing about having a lot going on in your life is that you never have time to write about it. You have a lot to say, but no time to actually say it. Thus, several months…

Yes, that’s my horrible attempt at an excuse. But here, let me catch you up a bit.

It’s really satisfying and humbling to say that “We have our new son, Gabe, with us!” Our adoption process is complete!! We made two trips at the end of last year to meet him. The first was a week before Thanksgiving. And yes, we had MUCH to be thankful for. We took the whole family to Korea to meet him and stayed for about twelve days. It was quite chilly, but we did manage to walk around on the streets of Seoul, go to a couple parks, ride the subway, etc. And yes, we took lots of photos, made some good memories, and played with Gabe at the agency where we stayed. Memorable times.

Visiting a really big palace in Seoul.

And again, just before Christmas, Kim and I returned (just the two of us this time) to pick up Gabe and bring him home. This trip only lasted five days. We had one day just to ourselves and we took an elevator ride up the world’s 5th largest building. It was fun just hanging out, me and Kim. We so rarely get to do that these days anymore.

Atop Lotte World Tower, the fifth largest building in the world!

The three of us arrived back home Dec. 23rd, just in time for Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas present we received this year!

We are in a new season now. Sure, the adoption PROCESS has finally and officially come to an end. But our life as an adoption family has only just begun. Gabe is doing really well overall. He has bonded and attached to me and Kim pretty much immediately. He is sweet, funny, smiley, and communicates with us really well. He has gone through a grieving process though and the trauma of losing loved ones in his life has left some deep emotional scars in his heart. He is SUPER clingy to me and Kim. If we walk away, or put him down, or give attention to our other kids he cries out. He wants to be with us ALL. THE. TIME. This wouldn’t be a problem if it were just him. But with three small children in the house, it makes it very difficult. We are sensitive to his unique needs, but where is the line here? We are trying to figure where the boundaries are.

It’s been an amazing ride. We thank God for the incredible-miraculous-jaw-dropping way that He provided for us these last couple years. I keep track of our expenses each month. So I can look back and see how all our (many) expenses were covered each month during this period. Did we have $40+ thousand dollars laying around when we started this? Absolutely NOT! But this is exactly how much money has come through when we needed it. Praising God! A true testimony of His faithfulness and blessing.

We look forward to the year to come. Many transitions are in store….

Trying to get everybody to pose for a family photo….. is NOT easy.

So, now we are in what they call the “real wait” or the “long wait”, but I have to admit, so far it is going much faster than anticipated, and we are pleasantly surprised. Then again, let me also say that it took about two years to get a chunk of our funds raised and our home study completed (which often takes others 3 months), so moving “quickly” is like a breath of fresh air. We also realize the situation can change or slow down quickly, so we hold the timeline quite loosely.

They said the referral would be 2-3 months. It was 3 weeks. They said the biggest wait would be 8-12 months. It was 3 weeks! So, we’re on the next step!!

In case people are curious, here’s our current step by step:

  • Referral (est. 2-3 mths. Actual: 3wks)
  • Acceptance (June 15)
  • EP Submit (est 8-12 mths. Actual: 3wks)
  • EP approval (Current phase. Estimated wait time ~2 mths)
  • Travel! Court Hearing (wait: 2-4mths)
  • Approval 1
  • Travel! Approval 2 (wait: 1-2mths)
  • Custody

All that said, they told us to expect travel in 6-8mths or less!!


So, what are we doing in the mean time?

Here are the biggies:


We just sent little Gabe his first care package. We are now part of an awesome FB group of ppl going through the same adoption process, so we had someone hand deliver it last week. We got some super sweet photos of the little guy opening it on Monday.

It was really neat to involve the kids in the process. We went to Target and told the kids they could each pick out a toy for “Gabe Jireh” as they call him. Although they wanted to throw every toy in the store in our cart for him, Eli eventually selected a small soccer ball and Ana picked out a small Daniel Tiger family. We were told it’s good to send clothes, so I converted all his weights and measurements and we picked out a few articles of clothes. From what I can tell our sweet 15mth old should fit right between 18 and 24mth clothes (big boy 🙂 ) That afternoon the kids loved playing with the toys before mailing them to their little bro. (In fact, they loved the toys so much we decided to let Ana and Eli keep two Daniel tiger family members and send the three others to Gabe. That way we all have a small piece of the family). In addition, we were told that Gabe liked trains. So, Eli and Ana both gave him one train from their big train set.

We also included a photo album with pictures of us, our home, and daily activities. I had my Korean friend help translate so the foster mom can read it with him. We also added in a letter and few American chocolates as a gift for the foster mom.

All that said, it was super sweet to get a picture of him playing with our gift yesterday. Plus, Eli and Ana were able to connect with the photos too! Eli kept saying, “I gave him that soccer ball.” And Ana would say, “and he has Daniel Tiger. We have Margaret and Tigey.”  I have to be honest, I might have teared up just a bit to see his little fingers on our photo. That was likely the first time he has ever seen our picture.

I appreciate them staging such a sweet photo for us, and like our caseworker said, it makes things seem more real to see him playing with tangible items we had in our own hands just a couple weeks ago.


My friend had me over for a Korean cooking lesson! We made kimchi fried rice and seaweed soup.  Anyone who knows me knows language and culture lessons + cooking = amazing day. YUM! 🙂

I’ll likely write a longer post on this later, but I have recently made a great Korean friend. She just moved to the States with her husband, who is getting his PhD at UW. She was looking for someone to exchange language and culture with and so was I. So far it has worked out great, and I’m slowly learning my alphabet and key phrases. I’m loving getting back into language learning (I’m sort of geek.) They have some VERY different sounds. But I’m chugging along and am hoping it will help me talk with our little boy and maybe alleviate a little stress. Plus, I’m super grateful for a new friend!


We’ve continued our paper trail and have almost finished up on the US side. We are mostly waiting for approval on the Korean side now. In addition, I renewed my passport and we just received Eli and Ana’s passports in the mail yesterday! Woohoo!! (It was funny “renewing” Eli’s passport, as he was only 2mths old in his last picture. He is a pretty well traveled kiddo). Can’t wait to bring him back to Asia, even if just for a trip. Hopefully it will work out to bring them both with us. More in that later too.


That’s the update for now. Pleases keep this waiting game in your prayers. We are grateful things seem to be moving faster, but it also seems harder now knowing who he is. Also, keep the country of South Korea in your prayers, as you may have noticed some heightened tension in the news. We have been reassured that things seem stable for the moment, and are praying they stay that way.  You can pray for us as we prepare our hearts, lives, and finances and wait for our next call.

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Basically, since our last blog post we finished a big work project, completed an intensive course, started to get settled into our home, joined a church, Josh switched jobs, switched placing agencies, finished our home-study, and got a referral. OH AND THIS JUST IN… ACCEPTED A REFERRAL!!

Last week we got the phone call we’ve been waiting years for. “We have a match for you!” Our caseworker continued to fill us in on a sweet little boy and offered to send us his full write up and photos. She asked that we send his info off to a medical adoption clinic for review, pray about it, and give an answer in the next two weeks.

It’s an odd feeling having someone just email you a photo of your potential son. On the one hand there’s excitement and joy. But on the other, there’s also a sense of sadness and pain for the birth parents. There’s hesitancy and frustration in the wait but elation in what may come. A roller coaster for sure… but in all I’d say there is great assurance and peace. The more we talk about this little guy as a family, the more we can’t wait to have this him join us!

For those who are curious, he is a super cute Korean BOY. He has big dark eyes, a sweet little nose, and round cheeks. He just turned one in May. He appears to be extremely healthy which is a great blessing from the Lord.

We received a photo June 1 with all of the info. We just got an updated picture and measurements on Monday when we verbally accepted. They’ll keep sending us photos and measurements every month until we are able to travel. At this time we are not sharing his photos publicly online… but feel free to ask us in person and we’ll be happy to share!

Yesterday we took a huge load of paperwork to a notary and today we sent in our official acceptance!!

So, what comes next? THE REAL WAIT.

We’ve been waiting all this time for this wait. haha. We have submitted the bulk of our next steps paperwork and will wait for approval and clearance on both the US and SKorea side. This will likely take 10-16 months. Then we’ll take two trips to SKorea and on the second, God-willing, will be able to bring him home. I know the wait is long, and it’s something we’ve had to wrestle through, but we believe it’s worth it. In the meantime we plan to send packages, apply for grants, and learn some Korean.

I received a book the other day, called The Bridge that Love Built. Its words have been reassuring to me, reminding me that even if we can’t see him, experience his first steps, hold him, hear his laughter and his cries, God can. Even before we knew who he was, God has been with Him and us every step of the way, aligning our paths, and continuing to do so. It helps me rest knowing that he is in the Lord’s care even right now while we wait.



In other news, we had to take a trip to Milwaukee on Tues to report to immigration for our I-600A. We made a trip of it by visiting cousins and going to the Milwaukee Zoo. As you can see- lots of fun and totally wiped out the kids.


Looks like it’s been a bit since we’ve posted (although our facebook page is usually up to date and we sent an e-newsletter). See below for a more through rundown.

In case people are following our crazy timeline:

Mother’s Day (May) 2015: Started adoption process. Emailed friends, researched, interviewed, chose an agency.

Feb 2016: Applied to Lifelink & their SKorea program. (Josh suddenly got an amazing job!)

Feb-Aug: Saved and Fundraised like mad. God provided.

July: Lifelink Madison closed down (our home-study agency). Switched to LSS for home-study

Oct-Jan: Trudging away at our home-study. Moved. Delays. Waiting. Got ready to send in everything.

Jan 2017: Lifelink Intl (our placing agency) closed. Switched to Dillon Intl.

Feb-April: Revised paperwork. (A few more delays) Josh gets another awesome job.

April 5: HOMESTUDY APPROVED. Sent to SKorea



*Next up:  Wait on Emigration Permissions (10-16 mths)

A lil update for you:

Puzzle Progress Report: 91%!

I know this is long overdue… but wanted to do a puzzle progress report. I’m sure people have been waiting to see what it looks like, and so here you go…

All in all, we got our puzzle to 86% right before the art auction.  That’s huge.
We also decided that we wanted to honor all the artists that gave towards the auction, so we’ve added 20 pieces with each of their names.

So, that puts us at 455 pieces of our 500 piece puzzle.  That would be 91% 🙂


We are planning to finish up this puzzle over Thanksgiving weekend, as a way to remind us and our family how thankful we are for the community God has placed us in and for his great hand of provision in this season.  So, stay tuned for the finished puzzle and a more thorough explanation.


*We have had a few unexpected expenses come up (like an extra $2000 for having to change our home study and $1800 for our psychological exam required by SKorea)- not huge, but even finishing off this puzzle would be a great help.


Home Study Update:

We have been working hard to get all of our paperwork and physicals finished.  We have also had two out of three of our interviews, so we are just about there!  I’ll be honest, I was hoping the home study process would be a little bit more warm and fuzzy, but it’s been a lot of questions.  Our last two interviews were filled with our caseworker probing us and asking about any “curiosities” that may come up.

Questions like: Have you ever had anxiety?  Do you still struggle with anxiety?  How does this affect you? Have you ever gone to a counselor? Do you two ever disagree about discipline? Tell me about that. How do you feel about…(insert every awkward and intrusive question you can think of here).  Tell me about that. Haha.

(Note: I used to live somewhere where no one spoke my language, in a totally different culture. We went through a lot of culture shock, near burnout, and a time of illness. Plus, when we came back stateside our world was turned upside down (i.e. reverse culture shock and debrie like: how do I drive a car? how do i greet people? how do i make an appointment again? jobs?) Truly our time overseas was amazing and all, but there were definitely things to process through.)

All that said, I had to keep reminding myself that the agency, caseworker, etc. really do want us to adopt.  They just have to check for details to make sure that these sweet children who have already been through so much don’t wind up in a bad situation. There were totally no red flags. Our caseworker was very reassuring and encouraging- so that was helpful.  In fact, we spent a good amount of time after the interview talking about the best places to find Korean food in Madison. Yum!!

So, now our caseworker is writing up our home study. We’ll have one more meeting with her to wrap things up, a psychological exam, and then we should be able to submit everything to the agency in South Korea.

Then we wait. In the ideal world, we would have a referral in 2-3 months and pick up our child by Christmas of next year. (but it could be as late as the middle of 2018- as everything is always flexible with adoption).

Kim and I just got back from another adoption training. The first one was with LifeLink in Chicago (our placing agency). This one was with our home study agency, Lutheran Social Services, in La Crosse.

So what’s it like to attend adoption training? I should start by saying it’s just really cool to be in a room with a bunch of other people who are like you. We all come into the room as strangers. But we all have something very special in common. And therefore we all have something to talk about, and can bond quickly. People come to adoption for different reasons. Some aren’t able to have biological children. Some like the idea of a bi-racial, multi-cultural families. But we all have one thing in common- we all have a place in our hearts and home to love a child who has a need. That’s special. And so fun to see other people who are willing to do that.

We had two days of lecture and discussion. We talked a lot about the “lingo” of adoption. It matters how you talk about it. For instance, it’s not helpful to talk about your “own” children or your “real” children. They are your own real children whether adopted or not.

We also talked about how our family becomes “conspicuous” after you adopt. Particularly in our case as we adopt internationally, the makeup of our family is changed forever. We begin to stand out. I couldn’t help but think of our time in Indonesia when we talked about becoming a conspicuous family. We stood out big time over there. We got used to it eventually. And I suppose we’re still used to it now. To this day I still feel that I don’t quite fit in with American culture. Even though I was born and raised here, there’s something about spending time overseas that changes how you look at things, and how you look. After we adopt from South Korea we will really stand out again. But I’m okay with that. I’m proud to stick out for a good thing.

Something that really hit home was the reminder that adoption is a life-long process, not an event. All too often we think of adoption as merely an event- something that we work towards, get a child, and then we’re done. BAM, we adopted! But really adoption only BEGINS when you bring the child home. That’s when it starts. And it continues for the rest of your life, the rest of their life, and into generations to come. The makeup of your family changes, for generations. That’s a sobering thought. They don’t stay little babies forever. Adopted children grow up to become adults. They make friends. Go to school. Graduate. Get married. Jobs. Etc. Adoption is the process of loving your child, through all the ups and downs, through all the transitions, no matter what happens. Am I prepared to do that? Am I prepared to be this child’s father through all these this, and not just when they’re a baby? This is a serious question to consider. I believe I am. But this training was a good reminder that they don’t stay little forever. And a reminder that we’re starting a process and not working towards an event.

So what’s next for us? We have three interviews with our adoption worker in the next couple months. Laura, our worker, wants to finish the home study portion by the end of this year. We have two interviews in our (new) home (Yay!), and one in her office in Madison. Then we expect to get a referral within a couple month after that- so maybe February or so. The referral will be exciting because we’ll have a picture on our child along with some basic information. We’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. To finally put a photo to a name. Much more to come. Exciting exciting times.

I feel like this month has been an absolute whirlwind, but want to write an update.

First…God’s Provision.

Wow. All I can say is Wow.  We have been so blown away by the Lord’s provision in this adoption.  Can I just say that we took a step of faith Feb. 1 and sent in our adoption application.  To be completely honest, we didn’t have the funds to adopt (like really really didn’t have the funds), but felt like God told us to trust Him to provide, so we did.


The next week Josh got offered an amazing job that he wasn’t even looking for, basically tripling our salary overnight.  In addition, that same month I got offered a part-time contract job as a designer for a really awesome company. Score. Did I mention we got to keep our business on the side (which has been doing awesome as of late- and we still get to work together)


We knew we wanted to involve others in this, and so we stepped out again with fundraisers.  Can you believe that people have given over $12,000 in FOUR MONTHS towards this adoption?!

And here’s a little recap…

Still going: Puzzle! (currently at 91%!!… that’s ~$9,000)

8/13/16: Online Art Auction (raised $1500!)

6/20/16 -Paparazzi Jewelry Fundraiser (raised $93)

5/3/16 – Portraits in the Park Fundraiser (raised $720)

So, in just six months, we’ve been able to save and raise 36,000!! That was exactly our goal for Sept.  the largest chunk of the adoption process.  We are confident that we can save or apply for grants for the rest of the funds.


In the midst of all this, we’ve been wanting to move.  For the last few years, and even when we lived overseas we just had a sense that we were supposed to be closer to Madison, in the Sun Prairie Area.  We long to be part of a community that is multi-cultural and even are interested in working with some groups and fellowships that reach out to people in the area.  It also happens to be where Josh’s work and our fellowship is.  I can go into all the reasons, but the point is… we have had a burden to move for some time.  But, we were waiting. We wanted to be careful with money and timing.

At our last meeting with our agent, she made it clear that we needed to either move in the next two months or wait about two years.  So, what do we do? We move!

Well, we start looking at houses, in our price range thinking we’d get a tiny house now and maybe move again later.  So, long story short- God gave us a house we wanted in the area we needed for the price we could afford (coming in at about $39k less than their original asking price).  Crazy, but it happened.  Just as an fyi, this will be our 9th move in 9 years… so not moving again for a while sounds great to us!  And so that means we are ready to move on with our HOME study!!


Next up… Homestudy!

So, as much as it’s been incredible to watch God provide, we are super excited to be finishing up our this fundraising phase and start our home study phase…

We recently sent in a LOAD of paperwork to get things rolling. We should have a couple more interviews and a training in Oct (pray that we can find a babysitter).

We hope to have our home study completed by early December.

After that we’ll just wait for a referral.

We are told this can be anywhere from 2-6 months, and then another year or so before we can pick up our child.

We’re also hoping to apply for some grants at the end of the year, which will help with travels.

There’s the update.

Hi Friends! We are super excited about this online adoption art auction! It’s our last major fundraiser, and we are hoping it will get us to our goal of having enough to accept a referral from S.Korea by September. We have over 20 amazing artists and makers that have taken their time and skill to […]

We got this email from our adoption agency yesterday:

We received an email from Eastern notifying us that we can work with your family. Lifelink will be your placing agency and LSS your home study and post placement agency. Please proceed with your home study. I will be sending LSS an agency agreement to sign. Did you have any interest in any of our waiting children? The youngest one is very cute and healthy. I know that you have been working very hard on raising the fees for this program. Where are you with this?

I will be your Lifelink contact.

Looking forward to working with you.


Praising God for this most welcome feedback. We have been in limbo for the past month and a half awaiting a response from Eastern, the partner agency in South Korea, about whether we can move forward with them or not. The change is due to the branch closing down in Madison and the need to find somebody else to do our home study. And this change needed to be approved by the agency overseas. So this message has confirmed that they will work with us and we can move forward with our home study. Just one more step closer.

But this message unexpectedly stirred another emotion within me. The sentence “Did you have any interest in any of our waiting children?” caught me by surprise. I read this line and it caused tears to well up behind my eyes. Do we have any interest in your waiting children? How could you even ask such a question. Yes! Yes! Of course! Oh God please! Do I have an interest in your waiting children?? If they are waiting, then I do!

My heart breaks that there are waiting children. Children without a mommy. Children without  daddy. Children in need of a family. Something about that line sent a dagger right through my heart. It brought home the reality of what we’re trying to do. Adoption is not about a process anymore. It’s not about newsletters, paperwork, or money. It’s about waiting children. And there are some out there, right now, that need a loving home. My heart breaks to hear this. To know it.

“Do you have an interest in any of our waiting children?”

With tears in my eyes. Yes. . .

Hi friends!

We thought it was about time for another puzzle progress report! We are about six weeks in, and although things seem to be slowing down a little bit, we are still amazed at the generosity and encouragement we’ve received from so so many people.  I can’t believe how many of you have given towards Jireh’s puzzle so far.  Thank you!

We are now at 71% of the puzzle!! (That’s 356 pieces sold!)  WOW!

Puzzle Progress:  Note to self- next time I design a puzzle, I think we’ll use more color. This is quite blue, and Josh and I both admit it is a beast to put together. Haha.  That’s okay though, we’re having fun with it.  Something I’m enjoying with this puzzle is putting together all the words that describe our little guy.  (Like I said, we’ll include a better shot when we’re all done, but you get the picture).

Here are the words so far:

“Cherished”     “Loved”     “Prayed for”      “embraced”     “friend”      “treasured”     “together”    “wanted”     “desired”    “special” “entrusted”     “adopted”     “sister”     “America”     “Korea”     “son”     “sought”     “heir”     “cared for”      “provided”      “family”

From our last post:

“The Lord Provides.”     “seen”     “chosen”     “In our hearts”    “worth the wait”    “grafted in”     “prayed for”     “brother”     “forever”

“From our hearts to our home, many helped our family grow. Each piece special in its own way, bringing the final piece here to stay.”

There’s also a dotted line from S. Korea to America.  Can hardly wait to bring our little peanut home, and let him know the truth of these words.  Thanks for all your love and support!


Know anyone who would like to help us with the last 29%?? Share or find out more here: Puzzle Fundraiser Post

Sneak Peak: August 6-13 Online Art Auction