Sunday, January 6, 2013

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from Josh and Jen!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from Josh and Jen!

And now for the update that I have put off writing for over two months…

It breaks my heart to say our adoption journey for Kolja, Vitja, and Kristo is (for the most part) over. The Supreme Court failed to consider our petition, and the International Adoptions Committee in Estonia met for a second time with the new Head of the Committee and yet again, only approved an adoption for one child, not three.

Two things are still left hanging in the air:

Our Estonian lawyer refuses to settle for what is happening here. We are exhausted in this fight, but she was willing to file a petition for us (for free) at the European Court of Human Rights. These are only filed in extreme circumstances, and are mainly for emotional value, if won, which they rarely are. However, we may not hear anything for a few years. This is the highest court in Europe, I believe.

The main evening paper in Tallinn, Estonia asked to write a huge article on us. We are the first Americans to have challenged a decision like this, and been denied, They wanted to know our thoughts about the process. We figured we had nothing to lose, and our article was published in November over there. A link to the article can be found, here, but it’s not translated. Some of the comments can explain the view most people have of Americans.

I firmly believe that God can use anything for His bigger plan. I hope all of this was in some way a path that brought Him glory.

Right now, it doesn’t appear that He is planning to turn things the way we thought He would. So what’s next?

It may seem like we’ve spent a fortune on a venture that has led us nowhere, and I want to clear that misconception. We still have about $30K saved up. Most of the money was not going to be needed until the adoption became final, which is good. Our main problem, is what does God intend for us to use it on?

We’ve got many ideas brewing in our heads: Do we become missionaries? Do we use it to help Life is Hope finish their orphanage in Haiti? Do we start another international adoption? Do I use it to stay home for a year after we’ve adopted?

We’ll figure it out. We spent a few months, just merely sitting still and trying to ask God what He wants next. When suddenly something fell into our laps...

We’ve been given the opportunity to provide a home (and hopefully a permanent one) for a sibling group of FOUR from West Virginia. There are two younger and two preteen siblings, but we believe God has given us the tools and support we need to make this a permanent placement. We’ve met the children several times, and really connect with them. In fact, we got to ring in the New Year celebrating with them and our new friends, their current foster parents and families. A part of me is so worried to let my heart go again, because I know too many adoption horror stories, and I was in one. But we can’t let our devastation keep us from moving forward. 

We’ve had such an emotionally exciting year. Although very little has happened in the way we desired for ourselves, we did both get to travel to a new country together. Josh ran his first marathon in honor of our nephew, Rowan, and I got to have another life-changing experience in Haiti visiting people who are near and dear to my heart.

Thank you to everyone who has held my hand, wrote letters, cried, and prayed with us through this process. We hope you will still continue to be there for us, as we will surely need you if we become an instant family of six! Thank you for sacrificing your money to help us when we saw no way of monetarily reaching our goal. I assure you it will go to a worthy cause, and will also help us afford mental and physical therapy for our future children as they heal and cope. 

Nothing will ever replace the pain of this loss, nor will we forget it, but we know we are getting closer to being where God intends for us to be.

Thank you for believing in us as we pursued such a bold goal. Through you, I know what it means to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’s love. (Ephesians 3:19). Stay tuned for what’s next, and remember that “God is not about fruitfulness, He is about faithfulness.” 

photo credits: Caitlin Prusha Moore Photography

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back from Haiti

I had another incredible trip to Haiti through Praying Pelican Missions. Praying Pelican is a wonderful organization to work with. They organize domestic and international mission trips to several countries. Anyone can join a trip with a group or sign up individually. Check it out our trip journal with pictures.
Here are some of my highlights from last week. Thank you for all of your prayers. We were overflowed with the Spirit in way that is difficult to describe in words. The challenge will be to try and continue to search for and feel that presence at home. Please pray that Josh and I clearly see how God is calling our family to be a part of this beautiful country.

1. Revisiting Life is Hope orphanage:
With the support families in the US have given, Life is Hope is able to have 2 sites (known as "A" and "B") until the new orphanage is finally built on the new property they were able to purchase outside of Port-au-Prince. Our group was a team of people from Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. We stayed at the orphanage (B), which meant we were able to spend as much time with the children as we wanted. It really helped us to form deeper relationships with them and their cooks.

We drove out to Life is Hope A (the original site), to spend time with the children there. They all sat together and greeted us with song each day. It was beautiful. I was overwhelmed to see the difference that the support we've all given has visibly improved their lives. Better clothing, fewer sores, better food. Last year the children were not eating everyday. This year they are eating heaping plates of rice and beans. God is good! They look so much healthier and happier.

2. Building the wall of the new orphanage site outside Port-au-Prince:
For several days, our team worked alongside Haitian workers out in the green countryside of the "Vision" (or now "Reality") property for Life is Hope orphanage. They will have a building for boys, girls, medical care, church, and school. There will also be a guest house for future volunteer groups. We got to help make the caps for the giant wall/fort protecting this future community. We had to work without the resources we have at home, and learned a lot from our Haitian brothers. They were so kind and patient with us as we tried to understand their methods for mixing and pouring concrete.
Out here it is clean, peaceful, and beautiful. I can only describe it as Eden. I can't wait to see the children of Life is Hope playing soccer beside the grazing cows.

3. Tree Ministry:
A group took coconut and mango trees to families in the surrounding area of the new orphanage site. We met the families, prayed over them, planted trees, and invited them to come to the new church which is currently held under a tarp inside the new orphanage wall. We were well received by the rural families, but not so well inside a nearby village. Although it was uncomfortable, God did an amazing thing and about half the town followed us back to our worksite! We didn't know what to do once they got there, but Pastor Jean told them about the church, they joined us in prayer and worship. We played soccer and games together.

4. Sugarcane Plantation: 
With flooding of the tropical storm/hurricane Sandy (don't worry, we were all fine...just lots of rain), we weren't able to hang out at the beach, but Praying Pelican organized a trip to a Sugarcane Plantation museum instead. Our translator had to translate everything from the curator. He did a fantastic job and we all learned a lot about Haiti's history. The teacher in me loved this experience.

5. Rooftop Worship and Feet washing:
Each night we had beautiful worship under the stars, mountains, and swaying palm trees. When it rained, we went inside the orphanage. One night we gave all the children fresh fruit and invited them to do worship with us in Creole and English. We danced and sang, and I swear the roof shook! On the last night, we invited all the cooks at Life is Hope B to come up where we prayed over them and washed their feet, as Jesus did for his disciples. They have a very, very tiring job to feed and care for over 70 children, let alone cook for the American groups they have coming in week after week! Lots of tears, laughs, hugs, and smiles were shared.

There is still a lot to be done. There is another Life is Hope group going back to Haiti in December and you can join! There will hopefully be another trip during spring break in March. Check out the website here to donate or learn more about upcoming trips.

More donations are needed for: food, the new orphanage construction, and school. I believe Life is Hope needs several thousand dollars to pay for a teacher to come to Life is Hope and teach the children. Right now, none of them are able to afford school and they desperately want to learn. You can make a donation of any amount and specify where you would like it to go.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life is Hope

Hello dear friends!

We don’t have much to update you on with the adoption. We were told back in spring not to expect to know anything until fall. We’ve been lucky to hear more news than we expected.

Our appeal went on review at the Supreme Court in Estonia on October 3rd, but we haven’t heard any response. We have been given an opportunity to go back to discuss reconsideration with the Committee in Estonia, but our agency isn’t sure that is a good step for us at this time. Josh and I feel a little differently, so we will just need to keep praying and when God is telling us it’s time to go there, I have no doubt He will make it more apparent. I’ve become a lot better at being patient in this process, though it is never easy.

In the meantime, Josh and I are keeping ourselves busy. Josh is running his first marathon this weekend to support his nephew, Rowan, who has been fighting Leukemia since March. Updates on his health can be found here. Hope for Rowan

I decided not to pass another opportunity to go back to Haiti on my second mission trip. I struggled for a while with deciding if the expense was a good choice, but God has not lessened the pull that Haiti has on my heart. Josh and I have been supporting Life is Hope orphanage since my last trip there in July 2011. I came home and prayed that He would make it possible my family and I to go back…

Since then, an amazing thing has happened. God stirred the hearts in some courageous people in our church. Jude and Linda Hoffman decided to take it upon themselves to provide food for the 170+ children at this orphanage forever! They have been rallying supporters for over a year (that’s $4000 a month, folks)! Trips will continually be formed out of our church. In fact, I’ve missed two opportunities while waiting on the adoption.

Check out our elder, Jude's powerful testimony to the cause here:

Trip Preparations:
Although I am sad about leaving my students for the week (I have a fantastic class this year), I know they will do just fine without me. God provides us the way, and we can either say "yes" or make excuses. This trip is by far the cheapest, due to the time of the year.
Josh won $600 from a weight loss contest at his work, so we were able to put that money towards my trip. YAY Josh, for being awesome!

Because of supporters like you, a new, safer orphanage will be built outside of the main city, Port-au-Prince. The new orphanage will have farmland and irrigation systems. I am blessed to be able to go back and finish building the wall that will surround their new home. Can you say goosebumps? I cannot wait to see the improvements our support has made on the quality of life the children have that I’ve only been able to witness by picture.

You can help change lives at Life is Hope Orphange:
I am not fundraising for my travel to Haiti. Fundraising for myself is exhausting :). However, I am collecting children’s medicine, and money for completing our task of finishing the wall that will surround the future orphanage. I will be traveling with a team Ohio and Maryland. Together we’ve raised nearly $5000 towards our $7000 goal for materials. A lot can happen in a week! If you feel led to be a part of the Life is Hope story, you can make a tax-deductible donation towards the wall, which will make them one step closer to having a new home on the "Vision Property." Please pay through this secure link. Donate to Life is Hope 
Mark your donation with a note- “Life is Hope October trip wall materials” and it will be designated appropriately. Thank you for all of your support.

In less than a week, I will finally be seeing many familiar faces open those gates as the children run and jump into our arms. There is nothing like it. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Travel not likely at this time

One step forward and two steps back seems to be the theme of international adoption. Knowing this is common for all who pursue this route helps keep me sane. I've learned to be skeptical when I think I've heard good news. Our possible trip may not happen right now, because our agency doesn't feel a meeting with the Committee will be productive at this time. Our lawyer who we were asked to hire thinks otherwise. Now what? I don't want to do something rash, but Josh and I don't want to jeopardize the progress our lawyer has made this summer. Our agency thinks it is more a matter of adopting children with US families than it is a personal one.

If I could ask for specific prayer it would be this: that a meeting would be formed very soon between our agency and the Head of the Ministry in Estonia. That she would travel here because that would allow us easier travel to go and meet with her. That they will start working together as a team, just as things were with the former Head of the Ministry, who we met with in January.

On another note, we've been reading a great book called, Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, by Patty Cogen. I can't believe the way it's opened my eyes and changed my mind set towards post adoption. For example: it gives ideas on the "three-photo story journey" to teaching identity, why holidays and "Gotcha" day can be especially confusing and difficult for an adopted child, etc. It hasn't scared me out of adoption, but it's opened my eyes to the realities of attachment...that we may work for years just to build small things like the eye-contact/connection a birth mother and child form in a matter of days or months. That we will have to do all the activities and games mentioned in the book x 3. We will have to be sooo intentional about the time we spend with each child doing these bonding activities. It's no wonder they recommend staying at home with your child for a year, which is something we plan to do...some how. This book has been a great resource to help prepare us for what we can do starting Day One of adoption. It has made me feel that although it will be exhausting and difficult, it is still something we really want, and more importantly that we will be able to do it (with the support we working on having in place). I'm glad I have been reading this book. I'm not even finished with it yet, and I'm sure I will be reading it over and over. Thank you for the recommendation, Janie! :)

I think the ideas in this book are great for any parent to read. It has great reviews on how it's helped many families. You don't have to be adopting internationally. If you are looking for a way to support a friend or family member, I would suggest reading this book along with them. I can't put enough value on the idea of having a friend who understands this side of adoption.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Early Fall Updates

I want to litter this blog post with crazy-exciting news about our adoption. But we will all just have to settle for a little hope, at least for the time being. It’s been a while, so I'll recap:

May- I was learning to cope with disappointment, and the realization that I wouldn’t spend my summer being a Mommy to three incredible little boys...perhaps not ever. Josh and I were also coming to realize that we wouldn’t hear any news until fall as to whether or not our adoption case could be settled.

June- I gained a new peace about everything, knowing that God will fight for us (see June blog post). I learned I don’t have to feel good about what is happening to have peace about being where God wants Josh and I to be.

Summer: Got to spend a lot of time near home working on Mind, Body, and Soul. Yep-hit all three this summer. Thank you, to all the amazing women who poured into me these last few months when I was on empty. Words will never describe the love I’ve felt from God through you all. I also spent a lot of time helping out friends and the community, but managed to get some deep cleaning and organization in there, too, and I've read almost 10 books! I took a week-long teaching seminar, and made some new goals for a fresh, new school year. I am very excited to greet my new second graders this week. Was this my usual, adventurous summer? No, and I truly missed it, but I know this is where God wanted me to be instead, and I can say I am (for once) ready to go back to school.

In July, we got a hopeful email from our lawyer in Estonia! Josh and I were both pleasantly surprised as the ruling of our current appeal to the Supreme Court in Estonia probably won’t be determined until September or October.

The International Adoptions Committee was considering the idea of having us back to discuss reconsideration for our adoption case!! However, once we scrambled to see if plans could be made in summer (when I was off from school), we learned everyone there went on vacation for the entire month of July. Last week, we were finally given the option to schedule a time to come back for a meeting/hearing. This is one of our answered prayers, though the timing is not convenient, as I am about to welcome a new class of students in two days. Leaving them right now would be difficult, but Josh and I can’t pass up an opportunity to fight for our boys. Before we spend money on travel plans, we are waiting on hearing more about what a meeting will entail. This way we hope to negotiate time to present our case and post-adoption support plan before the Committee.

This is still a high-risk situation. We very well could go back and be denied a second time by the Committee and new Head of the Ministry who took over in March. Our agency thinks if we wait things out until the end of the year, things will change for us and a few other families, who are also having similar trouble with adopting children in Estonia. Josh and I aren't really sure how certain this possibility is. 

We need continued prayer for wisdom, but we are feeling sure we will be traveling back there, and hopefully soon if I can work it out with school. We’ll keep you all updated. And now for some other great news: We just recently checked into our Lifesong/Both Hands fundraising account, and we now have over $10,000 combined w/ Lifesong’s matching grant to be used on finalizing adoption! Wow! Can you believe how remarkable that is? This brings us so much closer to our (unfortunately increasing) fundraising goal. With extra travel involved, we are still in need of funding, though we know at this point a loan will be necessary. We will be setting something up with the bank soon. The closer we can get towards our $50.000 goal before this point, the better. This is proof that your friends and family are donating through the Both Hands website, folks! Thanks for sharing our story and Miss Helen’s. There is no deadline, so if you could continue to share the link with those you know, I am certain God will continue to work in their hearts as he already has for so many, which has in turn, encouraged us to keep persevering. We’ve got many thank-yous to hand out!

Click here for info on how to share the video to help support our adoption. 

 With Love,

Josh and Jen

Monday, June 25, 2012

Both Hands Project Recap

Our project is complete, and what a great day it was! We couldn't have asked for better weather- A sunny day, and cooler temperatures after the entire week prior had been unbearably hot. We had 19 volunteers and several families help with food. 

Together we were able to: 

  • declutter and clean several rooms 
  • paint Ms. H's bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen 
  • reorganize and clean her laundry room 
  • install 2 bedroom doors 
  • repair plumbing 
  • remove all the weeds, unwanted bushes and trees around her house 
  • power wash her siding and windows 
  • many other small improvements
Thank you everyone who came to hang out with us and transform Miss H's home in Jefferson County, WV. We are amazed at the hard work and enthusiasm everyone had well into the evening. Not only that, but several people want to come out and continue helping her. We sincerely appreciate Both Hands and Lifesong for Orphans for providing this creative opportunity to fundraise for our adoption fund and help another person in the process. 

If you feel led to share this video with others, we would greatly appreciate it. Spreading the word has been one of the best modes of fundraising, and we couldn't have come over halfway to our goal of $45,000 without your help! You all are incredible.  
Click here for tax deductible donations (100% goes to the adoption fund until everything is final).

or mail a check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
preference: Prusha #2614
Write in Memo:  Preference: Prusha Adoption #2614

Josh and Jen

Friday, June 22, 2012

Both Hands Project: One for the Widow, One for the Orphan

It's finally here! Our Both Hands service day is tomorrow! 9-3pm. We are thanking God and all the wonderful people at "Both Hands" and "Lifesong for Orphans" for making this event and fundraising opportunity possible. Both Hands is a non-profit organization, whose theory behind the project is:  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

We've met with Miss Helen, a woman in our community, who lost her husband several years ago and currently suffers from MS. She is currently confined to her bed. Josh and I have been blessed to get to know her through this project, and can't even begin to list all of instances where we've witness God's handiwork and planning in this project. We've received donations from Home Depot, Habitat for Humanity Restore in Winchester, Benjamin Moore Paint, Sherwin Williams, Food Lion, Martins, and Apple Valley Waste: Over $400 worth of materials and services for helping Miss Helen at her home! Thank you to all the awesome people donating food for our volunteer lunch tomorrow, and letting us borrow your tools. You all are incredible. We couldn't have pulled it together without you.  

To support this project and make a tax-deductible donation to our adoption, please see our fundraising page to learn more.