So close and not so far.

If you are looking for our fundraising website, please click HERE. If you’d like to know how our fundraiser works, please click here. Thanks for following our adoption and supporting us in the way you feel most comfortable.  

Lev and I have been gallivanting around Raleigh procuring those last stray documents for our dossier. Today was a Social Security Card and extra birth certificates for Lev.  I could say it’s been fun, but taking your 2.5 year old on a tour of government buildings in Raleigh is about as awesome as it sounds. The poor kid has done his best, I have to give him that. He was a champ in the VItal records office. In the Social Security office, they don’t allow phones, which I didn’t know. So Lev and I were playing a puzzle game while waiting for our number and the next thing I know, a security guard was giving me the evil eye and telling me that phones were not allowed. Poor Lev didn’t deal with that well. And then he sneezed all over the clerk. I felt bad for him, but I kept reminding him that only good things come of our social security office tribulation.  Just one or two more trips downtown and we’ll be ready!  We’re so excited and SO ready for this dossier to be off!

We’re really thankful for all the people who’ve sponsored puzzle pieces. We’re working on putting it together and there will be a photo of it soon. 150 pieces are sponsored- 15% of our puzzle! We’ve raised a little over $1,000 so far, and that covers our translation fee for the dossier- hooray! Our dossier fee is $5500 and we’re on our way to that.

And speaking of fundraisers, our second gift we gave away was an Easter Basket for 1 awesome kid. We pulled a name on Sunday and……..

Chrisha Dilley receives an ester basket for her sweet little girl! I put it together last night and photographed it today so everyone can see how cute it is. Bubbles, flower headbands, easter bunny sidewalk chalk and some fun treats all in the cutest little basket. I can’t wait to deliver it to them.

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I’m really excited about our next giveaway, which is a Personalized Stamped Pendant Necklace with Earrings  from my friend Kristen Bell. She did an amazing job The necklace is a personalized stamped pendant set on a delicate 18″ sterling silver chain with oval shaped sterling silver earrings attached to a pearl drop.  The necklace pendants can be personalized with 1-2 letters or numbers per pendant (up to 6 pendants) in a block font and an Ampersand (&) is  also available. Kristen will also customize the necklace with your own initial(s), wedding date, meaningful word, or perhaps your children’s initials, birth dates, sports team number, age, anything!

Just as a reminder, for each and every $5 donation to our adoption at our fundraising website (click here to go to the page!), your name will go into our nifty adoption jar, and on Sunday, we’ll pull out a name and after Kristen personalizes the necklace for you, we’ll send it off to you! You can share our blog or fundraising website (click here!) on Facebook (tag me @cstarchenko) and we’ll put your name in a second time!  Don’t miss out on these awesome pieces.

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Thanks so much for being a part of our adventure.


In which we give our first gift.

I’m a little behind. Daylight savings and toddlers don’t mix, and so my plan to have Lev draw the name didn’t work out becuase the poor kid had to go to bed early. He was wiped out from a full day of church and playing outside in the nice weather and NO NAP. He loved that part.

So I had Alex pull the winning name. He was hesitant to do this. He was unsure if he was doing it right. Then he got his hand stuck in the jar. Finally, after we freed his hand, we had a name!

Our first gift. 129 puzzle pieces sponsored. 129 pieces of paper in the jar, plus 10 extra because people were kind and shared our fundraiser on facebook and twitter.  We’re so happy to be able to give away these movie tickets, and so happy that so many people have been a part of our adventure! Are you ready? Here’s the drawing and the lucky movie goers!








Yes. That should say The James Family. So much for my typing skills… But hooray for the James’s! They get an evening at the movies and some fun snack on us!

Don’t be sad if you didn’t get this gift! Your name is going to stay in the jar for next weeks gift, which is an Easter basket for a fun kid in your life!  You can sponsor a puzzle piece here. And you can share the fundraiser on Facebook (be my friend!), Twitter (follow me), Instagram (see my life!)or pin my updates from Pinterest (my boards).

Thanks to everyone who’s sponsored a piece, shared our fundraiser or just cheered us on. We’re thankful for your support in any way it comes.



On Needs and Wants, and Letting Myself Go.

If you are looking for information on our fundraiser, you can donate here.  If you’d like to know how our fundraiser works, click here. We’re giving away our first gift tomorrow, so make sure you’ve sponsored your puzzle piece! Lev is personally very excited about the fundraiser, as evidenced by his enthusiastic face and fashion forward apparel choice. 882895_10151294758867117_1625825542_o

About 6 months ago, I commissioned these awesome pendants from an artist on Etsy, and I wear them whenever I feel the need to. And Lev and I look at them and talk about what they mean. The pendant of the map of NC is a reminder of where Lev was born, in Fayetteville. Lev know’s this is his pendant, becuase he tells me “LevLev” when he points at it. And he knows the other is for his new brother or sister. We’ve made it known we prefer a boy, but a girl is not out of the question. So for the moment we refer to him as Paul, which is what we plan to name him. We’ll have to pick out another name if Paul ends up being a Paulette. Either way, Lev knows the pendant is “Paul’s” and knows that Paul will be his brother. He’s catching onto the excitement! So is Alex. He tells everyone now, which is unusual for him because he is so private.


Most of the time, they hang on one of the cabinet doors. I wear them every so often, like on Orphan Sunday or Sanctity of Life Sunday. But more often than not, I like to look at them when I find myself caught up in the particulars of adoption like I did this morning (sitting head in hands at the kitchen table reminding myself that it’s ALL OK), and think about the larger things we’re called to as a family- to love Jesus, and spread his name. To adopt orphans, to love and provide for our family and always point each other to Jesus. The smaller, more particular parts are absorbed into the larger  more fun parts. We have to have the small particulars in order to have to have a larger, happier whole. In someways, the pendants are visual grounding, a clue to what the long run will look like and a testimony to how much the Lord has changed us since he called us to adoption.

I think one of the hardest parts of adoption and parenting is how much of adoption and parenting is not about me. Yes, I want kids, and adoption is how God intended us to have them, but that’s pretty much where I end in the equation. I can get very caught up in the all the what if’s of adoption. For example: 1. What if our fundraiser is a total flop? (it’s not.)  2. What if we get a girl? (hooray! cute shoes!) 3. What if we get a referral for two kids? (almost zero chance of this happening, but if it does, we’ll faithfully consider it!) 4. What if this new little person needs speech therapy  How do I find a speech therapist? (seriously, where does this come from? LOTS of people have speech therapy  Why is this a problem this morning?) I’ve learned to recognize that all my preferences are just those: preferences. The Lord is going to give us exactly the child we need. And we’ll be the family that our little guy needs. When faced with any sort of need, what we want often goes on the back burner, and the Lord is teaching me to put my wants and preferences on the back burner joyfully and look to the things He’s giving us.

Things that cause Adoptive Parents undue concern and a Puzzle update!

If you are looking for information about our fundraiser, click HERE. We’re giving away our first gift on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

I’m back! Today I thought I would write down some more of my thoughts on our dossier.  I’m more than ready to be done with this thing! I would just mail it in, except it has to be perfect, and by perfect we’re talking all our T’s crossed and i’s dotted kind of perfect.

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For example, this stamp, right here on our apostilled marriage certificate caused me no end of anxiety. See how it’s slightly overlapped on the actual certificate itself? I thought I was going to have to have it redone which takes weeks and more money. I ended up having a video skype with our agency about it and a couple of other things and it turned out it was ok. But really, the dossier is a big fat deal deal (in quadruplicate- although right now I’m only assembling two of them. I already did a 3rd, and the 4th, I’m not messing with much because it’s just for us.)

Yesterday I sat at the table, and stared at our dossier and realized that this was our whole life in paperwork. All summed up into a giant stamped, notarized and sealed stack of paper. If I had a less positive outlook on my life I’d be tempted to be slightly discouraged. We actually sound a little boring: IT Consultant Dad, Stay at Home mom. There’s not a lot of room to show all the fun stuff about us. But that’s who we are on the most basic level, and that’s ok. And we get to give a child a chance to have favorites, to have a future, and to be loved. I already love that kid, and this dossier proves it. In the future, when he tells me I don’t really love him, I’ll pull that 4th dossier out and tell him about how it took 4 months to get Alex’s police clearance, or about how I almost tossed my cookies when I saw the apostille stamp on our marriage certificate and the fear that that one stamp could delay him coming to us. Doing enormous amounts of paperwork is evidence of a love I have for a child whose face I haven’t seen yet.

So…. what’s a Dossier? Here’s your adoption nitty gritty for the day:

The dossier is a pile of documents that tells a foreign government all about you. It contains your homestudy, letters of reference, pictures of your house and your family, your medical histories, criminal records or letters that say you don’t have one, and birth and marriage certificates and this paper from the INS that gives us approval to adopt an orphan.  Our dossier is about 1 inch think. That’s better than the stuff we sent to the INS for our initial approval. That was 2 inches thick, and almost didn’t fit into the envelope. But I digress. The Dossier is the last step in the giant long process of getting paperwork to Poland. Once your dossier is off, you can sit back and wait to see that little face show up (and apply for adoption grants. But that’s a different story)

Anyways, our agency will take our inch thick stack of paper and send it to Poland, where it will be translated into Polish, and forwarded onto the government office where they pore over your life and then pore over all the kids available for adoption and suggest one for you.  It seems sort of wrong somehow that an intensely emotional event like that can be summed up in 1-2 sentences.

Puzzle update:

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We got this in the mail today. We’re floored. Between donations from last night and this today, a total of 89  94 (alex just called.) puzzle pieces are sponsored! We’re so thankful for everyone’s prayers and support! I get to put names on 50 puzzle pieces today! Hooray!

Update on our adoption fundraiser!

Puzzle update!  26  30  89   94  109 puzzle pieces have been sponsored we’re starting to put the puzzle together! A huge thanks to all who have participated and spread the word! We feel really blessed!


Also, it looks like our dossier will be in by the middle of April or a littler sooner. I’m personally aiming for April 11th which would be cool because that’s our 10 year anniversary and almost every year on our anniversary we’ve done something huge: Buy a house, match with Lev’s birthmom, and this year, send our dossier to Poland. We don’t actually plan these things. They just happen that way. And it’s it’s the best way to celebrate and anniversary in my opinion.

Our fundraiser will run from March 1st, to April 6th, or however long we can run it! Simply sponsor a piece of our 1000 puzzle by donating here. For every $5 donation, we’ll write your name on the back of a piece and put your name in our nifty adoption jar to be part of our giveaway. If you don’t get a gift one week, your name will stay in the jar for the next gift. You can get extra entries by sharing our fundraiser on Facebook (be my friend!), Twitter (follow me), Instagram (see my life!)or pin my updates from Pinterest (my boards). When our puzzle is done, well glue it together and hang it on the wall in our child’s room as a reminder of all the people who helped bring him home. So if you sponsor three pieces ($15) your name goes in the jar 3 times. If you promote our blog on facebook and pinterest, then your name goes in the jar another 2 times for a total of 5 times!

In the mean time, we’ve added to our giveaways! Here’s what we’ll be giving away as part of our Fundraiser:

On Saturday March 9th, we’ll be drawing a name our of our adoption jar to give away a night at the movies! 2 Regal movie tickets and snacks on us! You can read more about this giveaway here.


On Saturday March 16th we’re giving away and Easter basket to some one! You’ll get a basket filled with fun goodies for a child you love! Pictures are forthcoming!

On Saturday March 23rd, we’re giving away an original piece of Jewelry made especially for our fundraiser by our Friend Kristen, who is a talented jewelry maker! Pictures will be up soon!

On Saturday March 30th, we’re giving 4 people polish pottery coffee mugs filled to the brim with yummy polish goodies.


On Saturday April 6th my photography studio is giving away a Halcyon Session.  A Halcyon Session gives a family or couple the opportunity to have their life and love captured just as it is. I created these sessions out of my growing conviction that there is so much beauty and grace in the ordinary and that truth more than anything is what we need to hang onto.  You can see an example of a Halcyon Session here, but here’s a few Halcyon images I love as well.


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THanks for coming along with us for this journey. We’re really thankful for all of you, and for the ways in which you support our family!