Next stop China

Next stop China
Next Stop China!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

So Close It's Unreal

Lots to update on!
I was looking at our last post and I had put that I was planning on applying for our Chinese Visas. Well, that didn't happen until yesterday.  We had to wait for the girls' passports to come back and apply all together.  The girls' passports have been back a few weeks, but I just got around to fixing it all yesterday.  Let me tell you, the paperwork for adoption is overwhelming.  Just the Visa application alone was 5 pages, answers had to be typed in capital letters, to the girls' Visa applications I had to attach a copy of their passport, birth certificates, a copy of Aaron's and my passport and their actual passport.  Not to mention $180 per person to have these processed.  That was a depressing turn of events to have to pay out another $965 yesterday in Fed Ex and Visa Fees!  However, God has been so good to us and has taken care of so much of the expenses.  At some point, I will delineate the money we have received!  Right now things are tight because most agencies that award grants want to send it to a 3rd party, like your agency, or home study agency.  So we will be reimbursed at some point from our agency.

All of our paperwork we have been filing lately must be coming back earlier than expected because now our agency thinks we will likely travel the end of December, first of January instead of the middle of January.  The sooner the better if you ask me.

However, I was thinking last night that if we were to leave, say  12/30, I have 28 days to prepare.  Minus about 8-10 12 hr shifts I have signed up to work, the time is getting short.
Our agency is predicting the week of 12/14 we will find out when we travel.  So that is very, very soon!  Can't wait to meet Maleah!

Our LifeSong for Orphans $4000 matching grant only had about $1500 in it, and they will match up to $4000.  Well, we received another grant I applied for this summer.  The agency asked who I would like the money sent to (other than directly to us of course) and I mentioned that we still had a matching grant available and was there any way that they could send that $1500 to LifeSong and turn it into $3000.  They said they were happy to!  So sometime this week, we will have $3000 in our matching grant.  Still $1000 to go to meet the full match, but I am content with what we have, and I can't complain at all.

So this month will probably be a flurry of activity.  A little overwhelming.  Pray for us and for our trip!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We Are Getting Closer!

A few days ago we got word that our dossier was translated and approved in China!  Which means that we "officially" have our referral of our little girl.  So we were very excited.  I was speaking to our case worker and she said that the last couple that left for China had gotten their LOSC (the name of our approval paperwork) 2.5 months before they traveled, so we are still looking at travelling hopefully January.  It is still a little surreal at this point.

 Monday, we went to the post office and applied for passports for the girls.  Our passports are still good for a few more years, but since the girls are under 16, their passports expire in 5 years instead of 10. Aaron had to go into work late, since both parents' signatures are required to apply for a child under 16's passport.

Today I will be filling out paperwork to apply for VISAs to China.  It is all coming together!  I am also making a photo album to send to our new daughter with our pictures labeled in Chinese and English so that she will at least get to know our faces before we see her in person.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

1st Matching Grant Met!!!

We are so happy to say that our first matching grant from the Hand in Hand organization has been met!   We are so thankful for all of the donations we have received.  This grant will give us  $5000 towards our adoption.  I don't have all of the misc. fees that crop up.  For example, this was really depressing, it cost $911 to have all of our paperwork authenticated.  ahhh!  Since we had to send it to 3 different Consulates, that was 3 different fed ex fees, really 6 different, since I had to fed ex there and back to us.  Then add to that 3 different courier fees and the consulate fees, and then they add fees for each page they authenticate it really gets ridiculous.
Last week, our paperwork finally headed to China!  We are so excited that it passed inspection for 2 of our agency workers, so hopefully things will go smoothly being translated in China.  I did have to go ahead and pay our $6950 agency fee for the adoption to move forward. We had not wanted to borrow money for this adoption, but sometimes this doesn't seem to be avoidable... However, now I have tweaked my goal, that by the time we get our daughter home, I am praying that we will be debt free again except for our house.
Most grants that we receive will be paid directly to our agency, not directly to us.  So since we have paid many of the agency fees already, anything over what we owe the agency, will be refunded to us by our agency.   So it may be a while before we get paid back. But that is ok, I am just so thankful that the Lord is providing.
We still have the Lifesong matching grant that we will be working on now!   You can click on the donate button on the right if you want to donate through them.  This is a $4000 matching grant!
Thank you for all of your prayers.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Very Exciting Things are Happening!!!

So recently we have been awarded two separate matching grants.  What is a matching grant you ask?

     Matching Grants are a quick way to double your donations.  For every dollar raised up to a certain      amount, the grant agency will match the money.  $1=$2, $100=$200, etc. You get the idea.

Now onto the exciting news.  We have been approved for a total of $6,500.
The grant agency Hand in Hand has approved us for a grant of $2,500!  The second agency is Lifesong for Orphans in partnership with Chosen and Dearly Loved, which has approved us for a grant of $4,000!  Now comes the part you have been waiting for.  We are not allowed to donate to ourselves.  So we are at the mercy of gracious givers.  This is a great opportunity to raise $13,000.  We are desperately hoping you can be a part of this donation.  Any amount you give up to the total grant amount will be doubled.

In order to be approved for the grants a lot of time has gone into even more paperwork on top of the already large stack of paperwork for the adoption itself.  Once you apply to the various agency (and we have hit several of them) you are then reviewed by a board, committee, or just a kind hearted person who is giving away money to what they feel is a good cause.  The dollar amounts vary from agency to agency.  $500-$15,000.  And believe me any amount is golden in our eyes.  So now that great amounts of time, both ours and the agency folks, has been invested into these applications it would be a shame to waste them.  So I am asking that you prayerfully consider giving to our matching grants.

If you look to the right you will see a donation button for Lifesong which will lead you to PayPal.  Again any amount will be wonderful.  The Lifesong grant has a due date of October 28th.  After that date the money will only be a donation to our adoption and will not be matched by Lifesong. So it is important to not let this opportunity pass.  Lifesong donations are tax deductible as a 501(c)3 organization.

The Hand in Hand donations have to be postmarked by September 10th.

Please send all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption postmarked by September 10, 2015 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself) Below is how the envelope should read.

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Aaron and Karen Pirkle
18318 Mimosa Court

Gardner, KS 66030

I know this is confusing, it was confusing for me to make this post.  If you have any questions please call or email or just grab one of us in passing.  Again THANK YOU! And please continue to keep our growing family in your prayers.  This is an unbelievable stressful journey made easier by your concern and prayer.  Thanks for every thing. 

Aaron Pirkle

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ready for Authentication

My mom, the boys, and I have driven all over Alabama this week.  Sunday, the boys and I drove the girls to camp Maywood.
Monday, Mom, the boys and I drove to the Morgan County Courthouse to have all of our Morgan county paperwork county certified.  Then off to Athens b/c I had one paper that was signed by a notary from Limestone Co.
Tuesday we drove up to Madison Co. courthouse because one of our notaries had signed the paper in Morgan Co. but had their notary in Madison Co.   If I had known that, I would have gone to Madison on Monday also.
On the way home, we stopped by a used homeschool curriculum store in Madison and got the Seth's curriculum for the year.
I finally had all of our Alabama paperwork county certified except for our home study, whose notary happens to be in Shelby Co.  Rather than drag this out 2 weeks with mailing here and there, I decided to bite the bullet and just go do it in person.
So, Wednesday, Mom, the boys and I drove to Shelby Co. to have our homestudy notary county certified, then off to Montgomery to have all of our Alabama documents State Certified. That whole ordeal Wednesday took about 7.5 hrs.  It  has been a long 4 days of driving all over.
I also mailed off our TN and IN papers to get state certified and have those back already.  All of our dossier papers are now ready to be sent to various Chinese consulate offices to be authenticated.  Which means, our 10 pages from Alabama will be going to Houston, my Birth Certificate from Indiana will have to go to Chicago, and Aaron's birth certificate and our marriage license from TN will go to DC.  Crazy.
I was excited to send them off, then found out the Houston courier I was going to use is taking a vacation next week, so they won't be taking papers to the consulate until 8/12. Oh well, I am glad to have those papers finished with county and state certifications.  Now I just to have make copies of everything, fill out some papers pay some money, of course, and send them off.
We haven't gotten any money yet from grants.  So far, all we have heard is that they have received all of our paperwork.  I have applied to 8 different grant agencies. I plan to apply for more, but getting our dossier paperwork done was more important.
Our travel date to China should be sometime between November and February.  I am so ready to go!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Applying for Grants

So far I have filled out tons of paperwork for 8 grants.  There are still a few more that I am working on. It will probably still be about a month at least before we hear from any of them. Most have a 6-12 week decision period, I know one I applied for won't even make a decision until the middle of November.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Back on Father's Day, Aaron got the opportunity to go to a wildfire in Florida. So we raced home and got him packed real quick. Unfortunately, for the time period he was to be gone (16 days) I had already signed up to work 5 days, both weekends that he would be gone.  The first weekend, my two oldest were going on a retreat and wouldn't be there to help my mom.   So, I arranged with Aaron's parents for them to keep the 3 youngest that first weekend. So I drove all the kids 2.5 hrs away up to TN, dropped the 3 youngest off, then drove the older 2 to their retreat which was kind of on the way home, then drove me and mom back home. I worked the next 2 days, had Sunday off, worked Monday, then I drove back up to TN on Tuesday and met Aaron's parents halfway to pick up the kids. I was supposed to work Sunday, not Monday, so I had arranged for one of the youth interns to pick up mom and the older two for church Sunday driving them everywhere they needed to go. Thankfully, someone at worked switched a day with me.

 The next Friday, again, I met Aaron's parents halfway and dropped off the 4 youngest kids.  Madelyn came home with me because she was leaving for a mission trip to Houston the next day.
I was supposed to work the Saturday she was leaving, so I had arranged for me to drop her off at 5:30 am at someone's house and they would take her to the church at 7:30pm to leave that night. I ended up getting cancelled that day. I did work last Sunday.  Went Monday all the way again to TN to pick up the the boys and left 2 kids there.  They were brought home Thursday.

It was an extremely stressful and busy time.Very hard trying to juggle everyone and get everyone to the correct place when I am the only one here and the only one driving.
Thankfully Aaron got home safely!

Another perfect timing...I had applied for USCIS before Aaron went out of town. Well, USCIS sends you a letter and tells you what time to come for your fingerprints.  They had scheduled us for the morning after Aaron returned from Florida. So we did get our USCIS fingerprints taken again.  I believe this is the 4 time since 2007 we have had to go do that there. I don't know why we have to repeat them every time, but we do. And when you are adopting and dealing with governments, you don't question why, you just do it.

We also have almost all of our dossier compiled. Everything that needs to be notarized is done.
The next step is to send my Indiana Birth certificate up to the IN Sec. of State to be State certified. I need to get Aaron's TN birth cert. and our marriage license certified in TN.  Then all of our documents from Alabama that have a notary on them, I have to take to the courthouse in Decatur, have them county certified, which means that they attach a letter saying that the notary is indeed a notary, then I have to mail all of this to Montgomery to have the county certification state certified, where they attach a letter saying that the county certification is real.

When our USCIS comes back, we will attach it with all of our other documents and send it to the Chinese consulate in Houston where they will authenticate the documents.   You cannot send paperwork directly to the consulate, it has to be delivered by a courier.  So, that means we get to pay a courier a lot of money, I will guess it will probably cost $300-$400 to have all of our paperwork authenticated including the courier fees and consulate fees.

We are getting excited though.  The closer we get, the more real it gets.  I am still hoping to have her home by February.  We'll see!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Home Study in Our Hands!!!!

We have our home study.  I am so happy.  Our social worker had sent us some papers to sign, an addendum, to our home study, that is what delayed it a few weeks.  She sent them a week and a half ago Thur.  Which is 11 days ago.  We were supposed to sign them and then mail them back to her, then she was going to get the home study notarized and then mail it to us.
Well, the Monday after she sent them, we still did not have them and she only sent them from Birmingham.  So, long story short, I realized that waiting for papers, mailing papers and her waiting for them, then waiting for her to notarized, then waiting for the home study to actually get to me might take another few weeks.  So, I bit the bullet and drove the hour to Birmingham 6 days ago, last Tuesday and met her in a parking lot, where I got the 4 copies of our home study.
I mailed our paperwork to USCIS last Wednesday morning!
USCIS normally takes 6-10 weeks for approval. So my goal is to have all of our dossier paperwork gathered and ready for when the USCSI is approved.
We applied for 2 adoption grants and an adoption loan last week.  Now that we have the home study in hand, we can do that.  Unfortunately, it takes about 4-10 weeks for these grant/loan agencies to let you know if you are getting a grant or loan.  So, I am praying that  by the time our USCIS is back and we owe another $10,000+ we will have more money.
So far for our adoption we have paid:
$1506 to Agape for the Home Study
$97 Home Study Fingerprints
$890 USCIS
$179 for mandatory education
$164 for birth/marriage certificates, criminal background checks
Totalling:  $2836

From our donations and fundraisers, we have around $1900 left.
Unfortunately, we owe our agency $3750, so I had to go get a line of credit from our bank.  It was really, really depressing, since we have spent the last 2 years paying off $39,000.

I guess I am disappointed.  I was hoping to do this adoption debt free. Perhaps we will get more donations and enough grants by the end to pay off any loans we might have to get.

Hard to put how I feel into words.

This child is worth all of this. Every bit of money we spend to help her get home.  I am not saying this to remind myself, because I know her worth. I am saying this to remind any one reading this that wonders why we would embark on this journey.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Still Waiting for Home Study & Fundraising numbers update

This is taking forever, I mistakenly thought that we would have our home study back at the beginning of May, or at least by the 2nd week, so we could go ahead and apply for grants and loans if we have to.  Finally heard from our agency Tuesday and there was a little bit of the home study that needed tweaking in order to comply with China. So after speaking with our adoption agency and our home study agency, I am hopeful that we will get a copy in our hands next week.
Also, our home study didn't cost as much as I expected, so I adjusted our fundraising thermometers and I was able to add another $200 that was given to us at church the day after our pancake breakfast, from people who were unable to attend the breakfast.  We are thankful!
Our van is leaking transmission fluid.  Ugh, need to get that fixed asap also. Work camp next week, which means 3 - 4 trips to Decatur every day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pancake Breakfast $697 raised

Aaron and I want to thank everyone who helped us bright and early this morning with the pancake breakfast and everyone who came to eat and support us.  It was a great success!  We are closer to our goal of $3750 for our 1st agency fee due now.
Still waiting for the home study in the mail so we can start applying for grants and probably some no interest loans.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Still waiting for home study

Hopefully next week, we will have our home study in our hands. We have made some progress in that the final letter of recommendation is on it's way and the social worker has sent a copy to our adoption agency for review before they sign and notarize it.  So it should be soon!
We have major bills coming up..
Our $3750 agency fee is due now and as soon as we get the home study in our hands we will need to apply for USCIS which is around $1000.  So we have almost $5000 due now.  In 6-10 weeks when our USCIS comes back, we will our our agency over $6000.
Soooo, we really could use some support.  Speaking of that, we will be having a pancake breakfast this coming Saturday May 16th from 7-10am. Tickets are $6 each, so come out and support us!  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Orphan Summit and Waiting on Home Study

Last Thursday and Friday, Aaron, Natalie, Hannah, and I went to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Orphan Summit 2015.  This is our 3rd year in a row to go and it has been SOOOO wonderful. It is so uplifting to go and fellowship with 3000 other people who get it.  People who see the value in children that are not biologically related. Where if you drive a 12 passenger van, people don't look at you like you are crazy.  (One speaker joked, our first year, that it looked like  a church van convention in the parking lot. )  A place where you fit in. Where you don't feel like you have to defend yourself for adding a 6th child.  Oh it was great!  So informative, they have many speakers in the morning and at night, then throughout the day, there are breakout sessions where you go to classes about what you are interested in.
They had a Kid's Summit for the first time that went through age 10, so we signed Hannah up for that. She enjoyed herself.  Then we took Natalie with us.  A few of the classes were boring for her, but she enjoyed the speakers, mini concerts, etc of the morning and evening sessions.  I think it was good for the girls to see other believers who act like their parents.
Madelyn had an 8th grade retreat already scheduled so she went to that instead and had a great time. We missed her.  Since the Summit was in TN, we dropped the boys off at Aaron's parents.   This is the 1st time they have stayed there without their sisters.  Of course, they were thrilled about being big enough to stay without sisters and as soon as we pulled in the driveway, they were telling us "BYE" before we opened the doors to let them out.  Aaron's parents took them to the Chattanooga Aquarium, and they had a great time.
Our social worker should have everything we need for the home study today.  She already has it written, Aaron and I read it with her at our last meeting, looking for typos, mistakes etc. before the final draft.  There was one funny one, where she described Aaron as a wife and mother.  Glad we caught that.
I picked up our medical paperwork at the doctor's office yesterday. I can't say enough about Dr. Kennedy and her staff and how they have helped us get all 6 (me and the kids) paperwork together.  They have been very nice! It is a big undertaking and a pain in the behind.  I will say that!
We are having a pancake breakfast fundraiser May 16 at our church.  Can't wait for that!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Home Study is Wrapping Up!

Tonight is our last meeting with our social worker.  Aaron and I are meeting her in B'Ham.  We will go over the rough draft of our home study, make sure everything looks ok, and then she will go and finish the final draft.
It will probably be at  next week before we get everything to her.  We still have a few things we are waiting for, such as my lab results and medical form, Aaron's employee letter, ..
We have to finish the online adoption training, which we should finish today and then we have to wait for them to send us out completion certificates, which takes a couple of days.
I am getting my labs drawn tomorrow at my doctor's and they probably won't be back until early next week, so I will pick up our finished medical forms then.  Good thing is, we went ahead and got the medical forms done for China while we were there.
Yesterday, all 7 of us went to the doctor's office and had TB Skin Tests, so I will be taking all of the kids in the morning when I get my blood drawn to have the TB Skin Tests read.
I will be excited to have the home study done because...
#1  We can start applying for grants, which we are in desperate need of.  Our adoption is predicted to cost around $30,000 and we are up to around $3800 in donations.  THANKS!!!
#2  We can apply for USCIS.  This takes about 6 - 10 weeks to come back. This is basically the US Immigration giving us permission to bring a child into the US.  So, while this is being processed, I will work like crazy to get all of our dossier paperwork done.  It all has to be notarized, then has to be county certified, then state certified.  Once our USCIS comes back and our dossier is compiled, this will be sent to China to be translated.  Once this is sent to China, our agency says that families normally travel to pick up their child between 3-6 months from sending paperwork to China.
So we are getting closer!!!
If you are in our area, we are having a fundraiser at Beltline Church of Christ May 16th 7-10am.  Pancake breakfast... tickets are $6 person. Come out and support our adoption.

Friday, April 17, 2015

3/4 Home Study Done

Tuesday we had our 3rd home study meeting.  Our last one is April 28th.  We will be meeting in Birmingham, going over the rough draft of the home study, turning in the rest of our paperwork and then our social worker will make the polished draft and we will hopefully have it in hand the first week in May.
Let the fun begin once we get our home study in hand.  Once we have the completed home study, we will start applying for grants.  Will we get any?  I sure hope so.  We are still thinking of other fundraising ideas and will hopefully have another fund raiser soon.
In between now and our last social worker visit, we all need to get to the doctor to have our medical paperwork filled out for both the home study and our China dossier.
Our Tuesday home study included the interview with the kids.  Some funny answers from the kids...
     Social worker "tell me what your daddy is like"  Seth "he is scary in the hallways"   So I had to explain the new game Aaron has taught the boys of hiding behind corners and jumping out and scaring the person coming down the hall.
    Social worker "what is one thing you would change about your family?"
    "our van, I hate our van" Said by an anonymous teenager.  Who knew our van wasn't cool?
    "not getting in trouble"  said by Ethan
     Social worker "what are you going to do with your new sister?"
     Ethan "read with her"
Ordered our birth certificates and marriage certificates  this week $62.  For some reason, they have to be issued within the last few months. I had copies I had ordered a few years ago, of course they weren't current enough.
I am also going to work on our adoption education this next few weeks.  Including a trip to the International Adoption Clinic in August for their next seminar that we are required to attend.  another $150.  So things are adding up. Some times it gets a little overwhelming and my chest gets a little tight, but then I know that God sent us on this journey and He is walking with us.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Home Study Update, Fingerprints, & Answered Prayer

We have gotten a few things done this week.
Our 2nd of 4 home study visits got done this week.  Our social worker came to the house and we had spent all afternoon cleaning. I realize that it doesn't have to be spotless, which our house never is, but it is a good excuse to clean up a little.  So she got here around 6:30pm and stayed until around 8pm.  This was the interview with Aaron and I together.  There wasn't enough time to interview the kids, or do the house walkthrough (all that cleaning for nothing!)   She will be back in about 1 1/2 weeks to do visit number 3, the kids' interviews, and the house inspection.  After that, we will have one more visit, which we are planning on doing in B'ham where will we go over the rough draft of the home study and make sure everything looks good. Turn in the rest of our paperwork if we haven't done it, and then she will finish it and make any changes that need to be made and mail it to us!
Once our home study is done, we will apply to USCIS, who will give us permission to bring a child into the US.  Once our permission comes back (normally 6-10 weeks) then we will send our completed dossier(stack of paperwork) to China to be translated.   Once that is send off, our agency states that we should travel 3-6 months from that time..
So here is our predicted timeline...
1. get home study back by first week in May and immediately apply for USCIS
2. get USCIS approval back anywhere between the middle of June to the end of July.
3.  have dossier ready to send as soon as USCIS approval is received.
4.  get dossier authenticated with the state as soon as done
5. send off dossier to China  the first week of August
6.  wait for the go ahead to head to China to pick up our girl, sometime between Nov. and Feb.

Of course, nothing is certain with international adoption.  Just trying to get it in my mind how things will go down.
Aaron and I also got our fingerprints done.  Up until this adoption, we would have to go to a local jail to get them done, but now that has changed.  You apply online, through a specific website that the home study agency uses.  You pay online, print out your receipt, then you take that to one of the fingerprint sites in the state.  Unfortunately, there were none in our county, so we had about a 40 min. drive.  Mom watched the kids, so Aaron and I got a little "date" in.  Of course, we just went and got our fingerprints and headed straight home, but uninterrupted talking is wonderful.  And I like it much better than going to the jail.  This fingerprint site was in a non US postal service post office.
Answered prayers:
In addition to normal adoption expenses, there will be other things come up... such as needing another bed for another child. I have been thinking for a couple of months at least that we will need another bed for our new girl, unless we wanted to throw her in the same bed with Hannah who sleeps in a double. Which we really didn't want to do, but that was months in the future.  I have really wanted bunk beds, which will save us some space.  I think I have even prayed about it a few times, but I am not 100% sure.  Anyway, had a couple at church ask us the other night if we wanted some bunk beds they were getting rid of.  So, I am excited to get those and thankful that God saw our need and provided before I started begging Him for it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Yard Sale Fundraiser and Home Study Update

Whew! Last week was exhausting and I am still recovering.  I will go ahead and get to the most exciting news.  In our Pirkle/Starnes yard sale this weekend, we raised $3,700 to split between us for our adoptions!  I was hoping for $1000 each.  Aaron was his usual pessimistic self and guessed around $300-$500 each.  So we were both blown out of the water!  
My work schedule at the hospital is made for 4 weeks at a time, so back when I signed up for this current schedule, we were planning on having the yard sale on Saturday only. So I signed up for Mon, Tue, Wed. this week.   Then we decided to have the yard sale on Friday and Saturday.  Leaving me only Thursday off last week.  I have been canceled a lot lately, but of course, the week that I could have used some time off, I had to work each of my days.  Which means leaving the house at 6am and getting home after 8pm.  Exhausting.  So, that was Mon, Tue, Wed.   Then the kids and I went up to the church building Thur. and starting sorting through the huge amount of yard sale items donated by our friends and families.   We were at the church building sorting from 8:30 until 2pm with a small lunch break.  Came home, spent a few hours resting and back up to the church building at 5pm, where lots of our friends from church came to help us sort and get ready for the big sale.  We got home around 9pm Thursday night.
Friday, bright and early, Aaron met the other adoptive couple at the church building at 5am to start putting out tables.  There were so many things to sell.  We live about 25 min. from our church building, so that means leaving early.  I managed to get the kids ready for their Friday co-op and we got to the church building by 6am.  Poor Ethan was so tired and grumpy (from me waking him up at 5am, a mere 3 hours earlier than usual) that he cried when I let him wear the shirt he wanted to wear.
The weather had turned cold and windy so we about froze in 40 degree weather even when the sun came out.
We sold around $1700 worth  by 1pm Friday when we started putting the tables away. We probably had around 30 tables full of items, plus items on the ground and 6-8 racks full of clothes.  Took about an hour to move everything back into the storage barn and we headed home Friday night to rest. We got home around 5pm because we had to hang out in Decatur for the kids to get home from their Friday Co-op. We had wonderful friends who graciously offered to take the kids for us, so they wouldn't miss their classes.  Of course with 5 kids, we had to split them between friends. I could hardly stay up until 8pm.  
Got up again bright and early Saturday morning. Aaron again got to the church building by 5am, and I brought the kids again by 6am.  I was moving even slower Saturday and since I had worked M, T, W, sorted T, yard sale F, we had NO food in the house. I was really scrounging and I HATE to pay a restaurant when we are scrimping every dime.  But I broke down and got biscuits for the kids on the way. (took our own drinks though) :)
Around 1:45 pm, we started boxing up what was leftover. Even with selling $3700 worth of items, we still filled a large moving van that the local thrift store brought to take away our extras.   We are so blessed with a generous church family and our own families and friends that donated so many, many items.  THANK YOU!!
Again, so exhausted last night...bedtime around 8pm.  One kid didn't feel well last night.  Another one felt bad this morning, so I kept them all home from church services.  Since we are trying to work as many hours as we can, poor Aaron had signed up to burn today for overtime and had to go into work exhausted.  He didn't have to be there until noon, so he went on to church services and left early enough to get to work.
I managed to get to the grocery store today, so now we can eat again!
Now onto cleaning a house and doing laundry that has been neglected for a week.
Oh, and Aaron had his first home study meeting this week. It went well and our 2nd one will be this Thursday.  We are planning to get our finger prints done this week also.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home Study and Fundraising

We had to change our home study dates up a little bit, due to our social worker's schedule.  So, next week, Aaron is driving to B'ham to do his individual interview.  The week after, she will be coming to our house.  Then I will probably schedule my individual interview and finally, we will all meet together by the end of April. I really hope our home study is done by the first week in May.
Hoping to have our fingerprints done for the home study this Saturday.
Once the home study is finished we can apply for USCIS.  That approval normally takes 6-10 weeks to come back and once it is back, we can turn in our paperwork to China.  I am just praying that everything takes the minimum amt of time to process so that we can get our girl home sooner, rather than later.
I think we found one grant that you can apply for while you are working on your home study. The rest of the grants, you have to have a completed home study.  So I am hoping to have all the grant applications filled out and ready so as soon as we get our home study in hand we will send them out.
Please consider donating!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Home Study Dates

I am excited that we have heard from our social worker and we have set 2 dates to meet.  Per China requirements, we have to meet 4 times.  So, our first meeting Aaron and I will drive to Birmingham and meet with her.  That meeting is not this coming week, but the week after.  Then the week after that, she agreed to meet again, this time at our house and meet the whole family.
I wish that we could have used our previous social worker. Things would have been SO much faster and easier. But because of multiple factors, we are adopting from a Hague country this time, she works for both a non Hague agency and a Hague agency.  Since we have to use a Hague agency, to use our previous social worker, her Hague agency was going to charge us a ton of money to use her for our home study, even though we weren't using them for the adoption.
In other words, it would have cost us at least an extra $1000 to use our previous social worker.
Crazy!  Because all she would have had to do was update our stuff. Oh well, what can you do?
If you haven't done an adoption, I don't think you could even imagine the huge amounts of paperwork you have to do.  Of course, in the midst of us printing out all our forms, making copies, etc, our printer decides to stop working.
I was scheduled to work 4 days this week, which would have been 8 hours of overtime, since I work 12 hour shifts.  But of course, census was low on Monday, got cancelled.  I got to work all day Tuesday.  I left early Wed, when the census dropped, and then today I got cancelled too.
I'll just be thankful for what hours I get.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Great news!  We had sent in our paperwork a few weeks ago for a specific little girl in China. She is about 4 1/2 . Because of the Chinese New Year, things were a little delayed, I think, from normal, but we got the email tonight that we have been preapproved by China to adopt this specific little girl as long as we get our paperwork in, etc.  One step closer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Home Study in the Works

Finished filling out our home study application yesterday, scanned and emailed it to our agency today. Our total home study will cost approx $1700-$1800. I am not sure the exact amount because some of that will be paying for gas for the social worker to come to our house.  We need at least $900 to start the home study. That much is due before/at our first meeting.  We have raised around $450 between our online donations, coffee donations, and our loose change fundraiser.  So I have asked if we can at least start with our first meeting  asap so we can get to our little girl sooner.  I haven't heard back yet.
Along with the applications are a ton of other papers to fill out. So tonight, hopefully Aaron and I will finish our "life story" and tomorrow get our papers signed and notarized at the bank and be even closer to our home study paperwork being done.   The paperwork is overwhelming, but you just have to remember to do one paper at a time and eventually it will all get done.
I am praying that with our loose change fund raiser and our yard sale at the end of the month, we will have enough money to at least cover our home study.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Importance of Encouragement

"I want you to raise as many children in this world as you can"
A friend of mine from work donated money towards our adoption online.    The above is what she wrote in her comments.  I teared up as I read it because I think it is the first time that someone has specifically encouraged us to adopt as many kids as we could.
I would wager that for every one encouraging comment that we get about our adoption, we get at least 10 discouraging ones.  And by encouraging, I mean a real, heartfelt, we are behind you 100%, WITHOUT the added discouragement of  how crazy we are, how we won't be able to communicate with a child that speaks another language, it costs so much, how will you afford 6 kids, etc.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind talking about how much it costs.  And if you want to dig a little farther on that part, I don't think I could talk about the cost of adoption any better than this author
I had 2 friends Sunday night at church who really encouraged me too.  I told them about a discouraging conversation I had with someone.  They came right to my defense, told me to call them over next time and time and they would have the conversation for me.   Thank you friends for the encouragement.
Just be careful.  Adoption can be scary.  You are stepping into the unknown.  So many, many, many people tell me they have considered adoption.  Yet, they hardly ever go through with it.
If someone is on the fence about adoption and not 100% committed yet, I could see how all of these negative comments can push them over into the "aw forget it, it's too much work and risk" category. And there's a least one child who doesn't get a family.
Words affect lives people!!!!  Your discouragement can affect lives FOREVER!
Discouraging words can leave a child in an orphanage.
Please, please, please weigh your words carefully when you talk to someone about adoption.
Please only encourage!  Your encouraging words could be the push someone needs to bring a child into their home.  Your encouraging words could get a child out of an orphanage!
Please, feel free to ask me about our adoption.  Feel free to ask about the cost. I don't want to discourage anyone from talking to us.  I really really don't.  Talk all you want to us, we are committed, we won't flip to the other side of the fence.  But weigh your words carefully when you talk to others.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Not much to report...
Emailed with our home study agency today. She will be sending us the paperwork to start filling out and getting "clearance" done before our first visit.  Which most likely means going down to the jail and having our fingerprints done.  We are planning to schedule our first visit at the end of April.  At the latest.  Sooner, if we raise about $900.  That will pay the up front fee of the home study, then we will pay the other half or so once the home study is finished.  It will be hard to wait that long, since that will be 2 more months that our daughter will be in the orphanage.
We are praying that our fund raising goes well and we can start ASAP!
Right now we have 4 ways to help us raise money.
#1 direct donation email me at
#2 if you live nearby, donate items to our yard sale March 28
#3 go to our Just Love Coffee page and order some coffee
#4 if you live close, collect your loose change and Aaron and I and the kids will count and roll the money to use for our adoption.

Most of all, please pray for our daughter and our family!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

We're Adding to the Pirkles again. This time China.

I want to outline our adoption process, in hopes to encourage others to adopt also, to see the blessing in it!
Around 2 years ago, Aaron and I decided to adopt again from Ethiopia.  We went ahead and got our home study updated.  We went ahead and got USCIS approved.  We had just bought a house and got a great deal, we were on our way to getting our debt paid off from the last adoption.  (we were debt free except our other house when we started the boys' adoptions).  
We bought a large van, thinking we would pay it off quickly. This was before we went into major budget mode. Then  our house required some major mandatory repairs.  New hot water heater, repaired upstairs AC, and a hole in the ceiling where it leaked the day after we moved in, completely new AC downstairs, septic tank fixed, pipe leading to septic tank from house with tree roots in it replaced, new pipes  in basement because old ones were leaking.  Just a large large mess. And our debt seemed to skyrocket overnight. And my wise Aaron realized that we would not be able to afford new adoption payments in addition to all the house repairs, old adoption loans, etc, without me working fulltime or more.
We decided to get out of debt again before starting. Which means that our home study expired, our USCIS expired and we worked like crazy the last 1.5+ yrs.  (and still are)
Due to the extreme slow down and uncertainty of Ethiopian adoptions, while paying off the debt, we decided to start looking at other countries which we qualified for. Let me tell you, it was not an easy decision to leave Ethiopia. You tend to fall in love with  your children's birth country.
We have been following waiting children in China through our new adoption agency. A few little girls caught our eyes, but they weren't "officially" available yet.  The agency hadn't received the children's updated full file. 
Fast forward to last Wed. The agency worker posted that one of the little girl's file was ready. I emailed her and told her I wanted to look at it.  She said she had already sent it to another family, so it might be too late. I told her to send it to me anyway, and I could be praying she gets a family, whether or not it was us..  So she did.  What a doll baby this little girl is.
I was under the impression that we would have 3 weeks to decide, so let the praying start. Such a hard decision to select your child.  Or not to select another, which is even harder.  
Then came the even more stressful part, the agency worker let me know that they actually should have already sent her file back to China, but because of Chinese New Year, they had it a few extra days.  So, we only had about 36 hrs to make a decision.  
Long story short, and a lot of details left out, we decided to turn in a Letter Of Intent for this little 4 year old girl. We both have had peace since making the decision to go forward with this little girl. Thankfully, our home school coop was cancelled Friday due to weather, and I had all morning to fill out paperwork and meet the insane deadline.
Once we get "preapproval" from China, which should be the first week in March, I will post a picture of this sweet little girl.
We had the $250 agency application fee in the bank, but we are not planning on moving forward with our new home study until we get our debt paid off. That is a commitment we made so long ago that we want to honor.  We are praying that with grants and fundraising and Aaron and I working as many hours as our jobs will let us, we will go through this adoption without accumulating any debt.  The total adoption will most likely cost around $30,000.
Our agency estimates that once we get our home study done and dossier turned in, we should be able to travel to China within 6 months to pick her up.  We have 6 months to complete our home study and dossier.  So the longest this should take is 12 months!  Hopefully sooner than that, but that requires lots of fundraising and fast. I am going to post little goals as money is due, so watch our blog to see our progress and watch how God provides!

Debt Update

Quick debt payoff update since it has been so long, then I will post even more exciting news.
We are down to a mere $5100 in debt! (excluding our house)
That means that since August 2013 when we started our debt snowball and fierce budgeting, we have paid off $37,000!  Whew!
Just this last week, I sent in the last payment for our van. Aaron counted it up and I think he said we paid it off 26 payments early.  All we have left is to pay is the AC we bought last summer.
I am a budget nerd now.  We do 2 week budgets instead of monthly budgets since my paycheck varies so much depending on how much I work and I only know my schedule a month ahead of time.
Anyway, right now we are on track to get rid of the AC debt by the end of April.
Possibly sooner if Aaron gets some overtime AND if they stop cancelling me.  What is up with the census dropping in winter. I am glad that people aren't so sick, but I really need to work!