July 6

I’ve been told the adoption process isn’t easy.  We’re just starting to dive in, and I’m already finding this true.  The last couple weeks have been a little bit wild, as we found out that our adoption agency’s branch in Madison is closing down. Although we should still be able to adopt through their Illinois headquarters, this news still has stirred up much grief, confusion, and waiting on our part (and on others as well).  Our agency has been great at keeping in touch and trying to set us up with the proper resources, but we are still waiting.  Right now we’re basically waiting on approval from South Korea, waiting on word from our agency, and waiting to get set up with a new case worker for our home-study.  On the good side, we do have a peace about things. However, I have to admit that some days my patience is better than others.  Please continue to keep these things in your prayers. I know it’s worth it, but know it will be quite the journey. Thanks!



Below I’ve included a few other brief updates, just from what we’ve posted on our FB group.  (More so for record or if you want more info)

June 20:

Hi friends,

We just received note that our adoption agency’s branch here in Madison is closing down. Although this should NOT effect the grand scheme of things, it still makes us sad. (Our main agency is in Chicago, so we will still be going through the same South Korea program, but we’ll be working w/ Illinois rather than Wisconsin)

What this does mean is that the main person that we have been working with (and absolutely LOVE) will most likely not be finishing up our home study and such. We are working with her to figure out next steps- whether we could move forward faster and have her finish our paperwork or have another agent complete it.

All that said, please pray for our social worker along with all those affected by this decision. She has helped many many families over the years. Please ask that God would help this transition go smoothly, and help us to know what the next steps are. We would love to still be able to work with her to finish our home study, but are leaving that in God’s hands.


June 22:

I don’t usually share my sketchbook with people, but today I was reminded that even when we feel like there’s so much uncertainty and at times it may seem like the waves are crashing down- it’s reassuring to know that the Sun will continue to shine. He is greater than even the greatest waves. That brings true peace in the midst of chaos. (Mk 4:34-41)

Coming back to this adoption journey…No, the waves aren’t crashing down, but I’ve gotta say that even with the uncertainties, there’s a peace that God is in control.


June 30:

Talked with our agency today. Still waiting to hear back from South Korea on a few things. You can pray for patience, approvals, and a smooth transition to a new caseworker. Thanks!

I should add that she offered to send us a picture of a waiting boy (he’s about to turn 1 in July!) Josh and I decided to wait until everything is a for sure go with all the agency transitions & funds first…


July 1 (LifeLink’s FB page): 

Lifelink International Adoption will continue to operate and provide services throughout Illinois, but effective July 1st our Iowa and Wisconsin offices will be closing. Lifelink International Adoption’s current Iowa and Wisconsin clients have been provided with the appropriate resources for moving forward. We will not be accepting new clients from these states.

This decision was difficult for Lifelink International Adoption and its parent corporation Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS), but became necessary based on the current international-adoption landscape.


(We also have received thoughtful emails/correspondance from LifeLink and our agent, but because of privacy, I’ll not post those)

Hi all,

If you are following along with us in this puzzle fundraiser, I’m excited to announce that we have reached the halfway point!! Yay! Last night when I went to bed we were literally one piece away, and this morning I woke up to six more. Thank you.

So, here we are at 51%

The picture doesn’t really do it justice- I’ll be sure to have Josh take the finished one with his nice camera rather than my silly little phone, but you can get the gist. Just want to point out what is visible so far. When we created this puzzle, we thought it would be neat to have many special words in the background, sort of to capture this journey, but also to let our child know they are loved and embraced.  Here are the words that we have put together so far:

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

Lastly, the bottom phrase says, “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.”  Yes, perhaps it’s a little bit corny, but it’s true! 🙂

Thanks for being a part of this with us, and stay tuned!


What’s this about? Find out more here: Puzzle Fundraiser Post

Hi friends,

Just a week and a half in, and we’ve been so encouraged by the gifts, sweet notes, and outpouring of love from this puzzle fundraiser. Honestly, this has been a blessing to our souls. Since returning back from overseas, at times we have struggled with feeling lonely/disconnected, but ever since starting this, it has been so so good to be reminded that we have really incredible friends and family all over the world. It’s been great to hear from and be back in touch with so many people. And how cool is it that every one of these pieces represents one of those people? Pretty amazing really.

So, onto our first progress report:

We are now at a little over 27% of the puzzle (139 pieces sold!) Woohoo!

Here’s a snapshot of where we’re at:

Just as a note, we promise we weren’t trying to be cheesy, but thought it was kinda fun that the first pieces of the puzzle that we were able to put together were the words, “The Lord Provides.”

Stay tuned for the next update & feel free to share with anyone that may be interested.



What’s this about? Find out more here: Puzzle Fundraiser Post

So, since starting the adoption process, we’ve gotten this question a lot, “Why does it cost so much?!”

And, well, I wanted to address this question. A lot of people don’t like talking money. And it is a bit humbling, but we see real value in being transparent.

According to AbbaFund, “33% of Americans consider adoption. 79% of those are concerned about the costs, the biggest deterrent. Less than 2% adopt.”

Josh and I really feel that money should never ever be a reason not to adopt.  In fact, it really should never be a reason not to move forward in faith for anything. In the Bible, God never uses lack of money as a means to stop something from happening. He also never uses debt to solve a problem.  However, when He wants something to happen, He provides. He sometimes provides in crazy ways, and He often provides through His people.  As some of you have walked with us through the years, you know by now that we love involving and giving others an opportunity to serve Him with us (whether that be through prayers, gifts, etc).  We see it as Partnership. This is no different. Adoption is a means to care for orphans. James plainly says, “Care for orphans and widows.”  Thus, all of us are called to care for orphans, somehow, some way.  Perhaps this is the closest many of you will get. And here’s a real life, personal chance. So, at the very least, pray.  (Actually, that’s really important!) There’s a little child waiting for a loving home. You can’t put a price on that.  But there are some logistics.


So, getting to that…

I broke everything down.

Feel free to skim if you want, but I’m writing it all down, just to have, and maybe for those super detailed people out there.  Plus, I’m guessing there could be those of you that are interested in adopting yourselves.


The Cost Breakdown

Something that was helpful to me was thinking about the average cost of having a baby biologically. This can be $14,000-30,000 or more, depending.  It just tends to get covered in large part by insurance.  With adoption, there’s no insurance, parents, or gov’t to cover medical costs, food, clothing, etc. (This tends to be true in many cases, whether int’l or domestic, except for foster to adopt). No one ever asks how much it costs to birth your baby, but everyone gets tangled up about adoption costs. Just food for thought. Having a child can be expensive, no matter what route you go.

Okay, so here’s the fun part.  This is specific to our adoption from South Korea.  Other adoptions may vary, but ours seems about average.  Everything broken down, including what it’s for:

Adoption Fees Breakdown (Total: $43,865):

Home Study, $3000

This varies state by state, but everyone must do a home study. International home studies cost more because they have to comply with regulations from both the US and the other country (in our case South Korea).

Generally, this is the process that qualifies us for adoption*. It is the service of getting all the paperwork and pieces together. It includes processing background checks, various paperwork, and interviews. In the end our agency compiles an extensive written report qualifying us for adoption.


USCIS-1600A + FingerPrints, $890 (paid to FBI)

Immigration requires that all prospective adoptive parents send in fingerprints for an FBI background check. This is to make sure that we can provide a “proper home environment”.  More info


Program Fee, $7000 (paid to agency)

This cost is for our agency, Lifelink. It helps to cover their cost as a direct program agency.  It helps with overhead, direct communication with the foreign placing source, assisting with documentation, parent training, foreign mailings, etc.


Lifelink does all the leg work between us and the agency in South Korea. We are sooo grateful for them, and we know that they are just barely covering their costs.  We had a “free” training in Chicago, put on by them fairly recently, and our agent is available 24/7 for us. They’re amazing, and we are so appreciative for all they do.


Foreign Fee, $22,500 (paid to foreign agency)

$19,500 goes to Eastern (the South Korean Agency) to cover medical care, foster care, legal process, etc. Actually this doesn’t come near covering the cost of their services.


Put plainly, this fee helps care for our child. It covers his medical, foster care (including food, diapers, etc.), all legal services, and towards helping the agency in South Korea care for the orphans that come in. This fee is much easier to swallow because I know that it’s helping cover expenses for my child for about a year while I wait.  (more on the wait in another post)

DCF (WI) $75, Foreign Adoption Bond (WI) $1000 (paid to Wisconsin)

This is required by the State of Wisconsin for State Licensing. Because guardianship will be given over to us in another country, this is basically a payment to ensure that we have guardianship in Wisconsin. More info


Post Placement (Korea Court) $2000 (paid to Korean gov’t)

South Korea requires reports from our agency for a few months after the child has been placed.  This is just follow-up to ensure that the child is well-taken care of and all is well. This covers the interviews, write-ups, paperwork, and submission to the Korean court.


Other Costs:

Medical (family physicals and exams): $1000

2 trips to S. Korea, food, lodging: ~$7400


Okay, that’s about it for now.  Yes, it does seem expensive, but not impossibleWe are planning on saving half and raising half, and we’ve been able to break down these costs into manageable goals and fundraisers, and we are actually excited about involving others in the process and watching the Lord provide.


Our goal is to have enough saved and raised by SEPTEMBER to move forward with our adoption, that means saving and raising $36, 465 in six months (four more to go!)  



What’s goin on:

Check out our Current Fundraiser:

Puzzle! (Goal: $10,000)


Sneak Peak:

June: Small Markets Month

July: Online Art Auction

Current Goal: Save $18,000 by Sept.  Raise $18,000 by Sept.



*Disclaimer: This is my take on the costs as they currently are. These aren’t official and they may change over time.

*definition of homestudy: https://binti.com/home-study/what-is-a-home-study/

*We do also plan to apply for some grants, but we can’t do this until after our homestudy and initial $36,000 is in.

Here it is… This week we are excited to launch our puzzle fundraiser to help raise funds for our adoption from South Korea!

In case you haven’t heard, we are in the process of adopting from South Korea! We could really use your prayers and support as we start this new journey.  Here’s one way you can be involved.

Adoption can be expensive (~$42,000) and it’s humbling to ask people for help. But over the years we’ve seen what a blessing it is to do things in community, in partnership with others. So, if you’ve been a piece of our puzzle,  thank you! Now we’re asking that you be a part of our child’s puzzle as well.

We are so excited about this fundraiser, because we are creating a picture together. Me and you!  We’ve designed a 500 piece puzzle with the hope that it will not only help raise a significant portion of our funds, but will also be a keepsake that our child can look back on throughout his life and see all the people that played a role in his story.

Here’s how it works:

We have designed a really sweet looking 500 piece puzzle.

You can “purchase” a piece of the puzzle by donating $20. You can choose to buy one or many. There is no limit!

To purchase, simply visit: www.purecharity.com/bringingjirehhome  and click “Donate to this Fundraiser”

After we get your donation we will write your name on the back of your puzzle piece(s).

When every piece is sold, we will put the puzzle together in double-sided glass and hang it in our child’s room. This way he can always look back and see who had a “piece” in bringing him home.

Questions? Just ask! Ready, set… Get your piece!


We‘ll regularly be updating our blog, jcjunkie.com/adoption, with pics & progress!

Here’s the puzzle… just waiting to be put together, with your lovely name on it. 🙂

We also made these fun cards for mailing! (Can you tell I love being a designer?)





A year ago on Mother’s Day, Josh and I decided to move forward with adoption. We had always talked about it, but both agreed this was the time.  One year in and it’s been quite the journey, and we’ve barely started.

We started by emailing everyone we knew who had ever adopted.  We picked their brains, asked where to start, what to do, and how their journey went.  We checked out books, read blogs, and gleaned as much information as we could.

Then we started visiting agencies and looking into countries.  We visited three in the Madison area, and immediately connected with Claire at LifeLink. We loved her heart for the children and her passion for bringing families together.  It was obvious from the start that this was an agency we could really love and work with, but we still weren’t sure about the country.

After much prayer and research, we narrowed it down between Kyrgyzstan and South Korea. We’ve always wanted to adopt from Asia, we just weren’t sure where. Which culture could we best embrace? Which one would fit best with our family?  How old were the children? Health restrictions? Time and money considerations? Orphanages vs. foster care? Programs, agencies, etc. all were considered. We watched documentaries (and loved them!). We interviewed multiple families that had adopted from both places and from different agencies.

Although we had started taking steps toward a Kyrg adoption, things weren’t lining up. Soon, it became obvious to both of us that South Korea and LifeLink were the route we should take.  They have an amazing program that has been in place for many years.  Children are fostered right from the start, and children tend to be younger at time of placement. They are ethically sound, Christian-based, and everyone we have met involved with the agency obviously has a heart for loving and helping families to grow through adoption.

After nailing that down, we spent a few weeks getting our hefty adoption application together and officially sent it in Feb. 1.  Now when people ask where we are at on our journey, we say, “Well, we’ve chosen our country and agency, and now we are in the ‘raise a whole bunch of money so we can move forward phase’.”
We have most of our paperwork finished, and just have a bit more training and a couple of home study interviews.  After this, we expect to get our referral rather quickly.

In fact, the other day we were at a training with Lifelink in Chicago, and they asked us if we wanted to see pictures of the three little Korean boys that are waiting to be adopted. I just started crying and we decided we just can’t do that until we are ready to move forward.  I know it will happen soon enough, but some days it can’t come fast enough.

I often think of little Jireh and what he is doing.  He’s most likely already born, probably about six months younger than Ana (who is currently 15 months).  I think about him and wonder if he’s crawling, what he’s eating, how he’s playing, and if he’s being loved on.  It’s comforting to know that he’s most likely in a foster home and there are people around him to care about him, but it still breaks my heart to know that he is just waiting.

One year in and I know that the journey has only begun.  I wonder what life will look like for us and for him in a year from now?  What will next Mother’s Day look like? Will we have a photograph? Will we be close to picking him up?  Will he already be in our arms?  For now we can only pray, wait, and hope.  At least I know that he has a Father up above who sees him and cares for him, even if we can’t right now.

So, we had not just one, but TWO days of taking pictures at the park (due to popular demand), and I have to say that we really enjoyed this fundraiser. Not only did we raise above our goal, but it was nice to have so much encouragement and support. So many people shared our event that we didn’t even know half the people that showed up (which was awesome, btw!)

We were able to hear several stories of others who have adopted. Oh, and did I mention that the skies opened up and provided a beautiful day? Thank you God for perfect weather and provision. And thank you to all those who came out and supported us the last couple weeks.


And here’s the grand total from our Portraits in the Park Fundraiser:

Goal: $500

Amount Raised: $720!


I hope you enjoy your photos as much as we enjoyed shooting them!




Want to see more photos from the event?  Here are a few more, with permission.

Check out: Portraits in the Park, Event Page

(and btw, those pretty daffodils up top are also from Pauquette Park)

One of the strongest statements that you can make against a culture of abortion, or a culture of death, or a culture that uses birth control and says “these kids are just in the way” is to go out of your way to add children to your life.

Powerful words from John Piper about adoption. I couldn’t agree more.

Listen to the whole message here: Adoption the Heart of the Gospel

Kim and I attended our first official adoption training in Chicago this weekend. My aunt was gracious enough to let us stay the weekend with her, and my mom came down to help with the kids, so it was really quite convenient. Thanks for all the help!

So what is adoption training anyway? Well, I wasn’t quite sure either, but we are required to have 8 hours of in-person training and 10 hours of online training. So this counted towards our in-person hours. Why all the training? We’re already parents right? Well, I guess there are things specific to adoption that we need to be aware of. Something I didn’t realize but adopted kids are by definition ‘at risk’ because they don’t have parents right away. They don’t have a ‘normal’ childhood. And this can lead to mild to severe developmental problems. Kids need love. Kids need attention. And children in orphanages, or passed between care givers don’t get that. So there are things to be aware of.

We spent the morning hearing from a child psychologist. He talked about the basic needs of children, how to tell when they’re at their limit, and what to do to help them cope. Kids don’t have the same learned coping mechanisms that adults have learned, so they often express their frustrations in erratic often explosive ways. It’s important for a parent to help your child learn appropriate ways to express themselves. And sometimes just giving them a squeeze (or proprioception) can do the trick. I appreciated hearing from him. He gave us several things to think about.

The afternoon was especially helpful as they brought in a family who adopted from South Koren through our same agency. Talk about relevant! It was so sweet to see their two adopted Korean boys sitting right there in front of me. It almost made cry to see the reality of it. It’s not just paperwork or theory or a picture in a book. There they were! Adoption works, and now they have two loving parents. The father kept imploring us “Adoption is worth every second! It’s a long process and there will be difficulties. But it is so worth it. It’s worth every second!” I think we needed to hear those words, to see those kids there in the room with us, and see that this actually works. Families do come together this way. Hearts are blended. Children are loved. What a beautiful picture. And to think that God does this for us just blows me away.

We stayed the weekend with Aunt Peg in Chicago. Mom C. was able to road-trip with us as well! Not only was it nice to spend time at our agency’s headquarters and training, but it was added bonus to have some quality time with family.

They gave us a few goodies! We got a free calendar (filled with sweet pictures of babies from our agency) and an Adoption Parenting toolkit book.

Guess what? We have our first adoption fundraiser coming up in a couple weeks!  I had fun making these postcards the other day, and thought I’d mostly just post these to get the information out.  We will be doing a brief photo shoot at a nearby park to start raising funds for our Homestudy.

If you happen to live in Wisconsin, we’d love to see you there. Pauquette is a lovely park, and it’s a great time of year to get some shots for Mother’s Day, as a couple, a single, friends, or whatever. Josh will be taking the photos and I’ll be assisting.

For those who don’t know, Josh and I both have a bit of a background in Photography (He has a minor and has taken pictures all over the world, and I spent much time working at a studio/ was an art major). We’ve recently done a decent amount of photography with our web and design business as well.  So, we thought this would be a fun opportunity to use our skills, give back to those around, and save a little towards our first phase.

Hope to see you there!

Feel free to share our post or event on FB




Other News:

Our S. Korea Adoption:

  • >Phase 1: Home Study
  • Phase 2: Referral
  • Phase 3: Wait
  • Phase 4: Meet Up
  • Phase 5: Pick Up

Prayer Point: You can just thank God that we feel excited about having a plan of action and moving forward. We can’t wait to involve others in this opportunity and watch how things unfold. Thanks so much for the outpouring of encouragement, love, and prayers!  You can be praying for our upcoming training next weekend in the Chicago area.


Sneak Peak: Here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come.

  • April 15: We are attending an all day adoption training in Elmhurst, IL (our agency‘s headquarters).  Looking forward to meeting the head of the Korean program, learning more about international adoption, and about what lies ahead.
  • May: Super Awesome Puzzle Fundraiser

We also plan on writing a post soon answering specific questions concerning funds and giving.  We’ve had a lot of people ask, “Why so expensive?” and “How can we give? (and yes, any giving can be tax-deductible)”