Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

Puzzle Update (And A Few Other Words)

If you’re just joining in, a big Hello! We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising, whoop, you can read more about that one here. Much love.

Y’all. We’ve officially crossed the $10,000 mark. Say what!? I know. In just five weeks 337 puzzle pieces have been sold and $10, 110 has been raised. That’s so crazy awesome. We are so thankful and so grateful. Like, seriously. People are so kind and so generous. Believe me when I say it does not go unappreciated. Without you people who are giving we could literally not do this thing. So until someone comes up with a different way to say “thank you”… THANK YOU is all we’ve got.

People have asked how I’m feeling about everything this go around and my answer is almost always the exact same… I feel so fine. I feel heavy about it all but I feel fine about it, too. I feel the exact opposite of how I felt for the solid two years we were in the adoption process last time. I feel confident in what we’re doing and totally at peace. I just know this is right. There is literally no question about it.

Last time I felt anxious and worried and this constant sense of urgency and stressed times 4 billion. This time I just feel heavy about the whole thing. I know the reality this time, and the reality is what weighs heavy on my mind and my heart.

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The reality is there is another Wyatt, a living breathing human being out there, who simply needs a family.There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need anyone to come save or rescue him, but rather to come meet him where he is (in all his grief and anger and confusion and hurt) and just love him. There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need to be adopted so everything will be “fixed”, but rather needs someone to be there in the hard and the ugly parts of their story- to honor the losses, to celebrate the gains, to just sit with them in it all and tell them they’ll always be there. There is another Wyatt who is worthy of redemption and growth and healing. There is another Wyatt who is worth it.

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The reality that there is another baby- a baby who has eyes and fingers and toes and a heart- who just needs a family (a FAMILY for crap’s sake) and we can’t go to him without an insane amount of money. The reality that every day that passes is just another day that a baby goes to bed without someone to call mom and dad. And that’s the reality that keeps me up at night.

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And so sometimes (or all of the time) when I get embarrassed that we’re asking for money and I get tired of talking about this puzzle…

When I get frustrated when there are multiple days in a row where not one dollar has been given…

When I get mad that there are kick starter campaigns that raise more money than we’re trying to in no time…

When I feel like I’m pulling teeth and begging people to give…

When I want to scream that “liking” something on Facebook does not get us one centimeter closer to this kid…

When I think maybe we should stop and give up because, money…

… there is another Wyatt and he is worth it.

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Will you join us? Will you help us set another precious kiddo in a family? We literally can’t do it without you. $30/puzzle piece (buy 1 or a million of them, yes?). Click here to give via Paypal or email me for our address or our agency’s address (tax deductible, YEAH BABY).

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Puzzle Update!

Hello, hi. If you’re just joining in, we’re in the process of adopting kiddo #2 from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising. And all the people said, Hooray. You can read more about that one here.

One hundred and fifty seven (157!) puzzle pieces are gone. Like, paid and accounted for and GONE. That’s a whopping total of $4,710… almost the total of our first agency fee payment. (Insert all the praise hands.) What in the actual world? People are so kind. People are so generous. People are so good. They really, really are. Dustin and I are so grateful for the people who are choosing to rally around us financially right now. We’re honored and humbled and just so stinking thankful. The notes and text messages and emails that have come along with each donation have left me in tears exactly every time. We’re so proud to have each of you in this village. We really are. 

Do I think we can sell the remaining 593 puzzle pieces? Funny you should ask. That puzzle remains in it’s original bag, unopened, with the receipt attached to it because no, I’m not totally sure we can. It’s just so many. That number is ginormous, ya know? But we’re still believing and praying and hoping because that’s the only thing that makes sense right now. 

If you want in, we’d love to have you. You can click here to donate, you can email me to get our address, or if you’d like a tax deductible way to give I can give you our agency’s address as well. $30 per puzzle piece, $120+ gets you an Africa Christmas ornament Wyatt helped make. The first round of those are packed up and ready to go! We’re having to make many more batches because y’all are so good to us. Really, it’s humbling.

wyattIMG_2182Thank you times a trillion. Let’s keep this thing going, shall we?


Several weeks ago, like long before we knew we were for real about to do this thing, I had some burning thoughts about adoption and fundraising. Dustin and I talk about it often- how grateful we are for the people who financially rallied on our behalf- because if it weren’t for them Wyatt wouldn’t be here. Like, he literally wouldn’t be here. He would be with another family who had the money and that would be that. We talk about how brave people were to open up their wallets and buy into a story that hadn’t even really started yet. We talk about how kind and generous and thoughtful people were with their money. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with it all, the fact that Wyatt is here and it’s only because so many people helped make that happen. And so I scribbled down some thoughts and shared them with our people, because I so honestly believe them to be true.

Hands down my favorite thing about life right now is getting to introduce Wyatt to the people who took a risk and literally bought into this story at some point over the last two years.

There are some seriously big opinions out there in regards to fundraising and adoption, but so many days I look at him and am just floored with gratitude. He wouldn’t be here if we had waited until we had a trillion dollars in the bank. He just wouldn’t. He’s here because people said, “Here’s our money. Go do the big thing.”

Last night as we hung with a college friend who has her name on the puzzle in Wyatt’s room, I was yet again reminded of how proud I am. Proud of who Wyatt is and so proud of who our people are.

My heart could explode thinking about having a whole new round of people rallying around a whole new kiddo all in the name of family. Like, for real, it could actually burst. I also can’t wait to introduce y’all to him or her. What a gloriously fun day that will be. 

Because The Puzzle Is Back

If you’re just joining in, Hi welcome. We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here.

I just need you guys to know that I have been sitting at my kitchen table now for one actual hour staring at my computer saying things out loud like: “I don’t want to write this. I don’t know what to say. I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE THIS.” I have grunted and exhaled and gone to the bathroom and poured myself another glass of wine and checked Facebook and my email. I have even said a string of “blah blah blahhhhhhs.” I have started writing and deleted paragraphs and then I have repeated that ten times. I am currently contemplating if I’m going to not write this at all and instead go watch Scandal, because I really just want someone in a white coat to look me in the eyes and say with conviction, “It’s handled.” Okay. Glad that’s out of the way. (Dustin says I need to delete this whole paragraph and just say: “This is really hard to write. Coming back to you guys and asking for your help again is just really hard.” But whatever, I like this paragraph. SO IT STAYS.)

Adoption is hands down the most awesome thing I have ever been a part of. It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever been a part of. Adoption is beautiful and broken and redemptive. Adoption is constantly honoring losses and celebrating gains. It’s full of tension- always holding a space for what should have been while also holding a space for what is. It’s the gospel in my living room and my kitchen and in my back yard. It’s grief and laughter and growth and trauma all wrapped in one. Adoption is the most unnatural and natural thing on planet earth, to parent a child that was never intended to be yours. It’s easily the biggest thing to ever happen to my heart.

And we’re here to do it again. It makes no sense and at the same time it makes every bit of sense. One day I will tell you the whole story and you will be like: “Shut up. OH MY GOSH YES.” You will. I swear to you. That will be such a fun day. I will most definitely cry.

A little over two years ago we came to you guys and said: “Hey. We feel like we’re supposed to do this really big thing. It’s crazy expensive and we can’t do the whole thing by ourselves, but with your help we can do a lot of it. Who wants in?” And a ton of you bought in. Like, you bought in with actual dollars and it was one of the coolest things we have ever been a part of. Hundreds of you rallied and stood beside us and we raised $11,000 in six weeks. All of your names are on a puzzle that is currently hanging in Wyatt’s room. It’s one of my most favorite possessions, I feel confident it’s one of the things I would grab if our house were ever on fire.

And so we’re doing it again. The puzzle. Except this time it’s going down a tad bit differently.

Let me give you a few numbers just in the name of transparency. To complete Wyatt’s adoption we spent a total of $35,000. We raised/were given $15,000 of that. Two years ago agency fees were roughly $16,000. Today they are $22,5000. Investigations, DNA testing, and lawyer fees have all increased dramatically. (And we stand for ethical adoptions so we are totally okay with this.) And then there are the home study update costs and USCIS fees and travel costs and in country expenses. It’s all just a lot. And coming off of one, we simply put just need your help.

So the puzzle, we have a 750 piece puzzle. Each piece is $30. If we are able to sell all 750 pieces we will have raised our exact agency fee payment of $22,500. We know this is insane and risky and a lot to ask of you guys. We get it. We really do. But I also just feel so at peace about it. Like it’s going to be okay. You guys made me believe in you two years ago and I can’t stop doing that now. People are good. They are so good. Wyatt is a walking testament to that.

So here’s the skinny:

1. We have a 750 piece puzzle. Do we even know that many people? I cannot talk about that right now.

2. We are selling the pieces for $30 a piece. You can buy one puzzle piece or 25 puzzle pieces. You can buy one for yourself or every member of your family. You can empty out a piggy bank or give your tithe or just write a check for a random amount, it doesn’t even have to be about puzzle pieces. You can do literally whatever.

3. There are 3 ways you can participate: You can click the PayPal link and enter in your dollar amount. (It will make you set up an account, sorry about that, but PayPal has the least amount of processing fees of all and we just really want to honor your dollar.) If you would rather send a check you can email me at courtney.koctar@gmail.com and I can give you our address. OR if you would like to send a check directly to our agency (that would be tax deductible) you can email me as well, and I will give you that address.

4. Once all the pieces have been purchased (IF they are all purchased?) we will put the puzzle together and write each of your names on the cardboard side of the puzzle. And then we’ll hang it up with the names facing out in this little one’s room and it will make me cry and be my other favorite possession.

As a bonus… we really wanted Wyatt to be a part of this in some way. So, if you buy 4 or more puzzle pieces ($120+) Wyatt will send you a homemade Africa Christmas ornament. (Christmas will be here in one hot second and we would love for you to have a tiny piece of this story hanging in your house over the holidays.) It was super fun to make these with him. I only lost my crap once when he bent the cookie cutter so bad that it looked more like a shoddy Florida than an Africa. And we only had one tantrum when he thought they were cookies and I had no earthly idea how to explain a Christmas ornament to a child who has never experienced Christmas before. Fun times! But for real, I could cry thinking about Wyatt having a part in bringing his sibling here.

We’d be honored and humbled and consider it such a privilege to have you be a part of this story. Let’s do this. Who’s in?

Mumford, Puzzles, Santa, and Tears

About a month ago, we finished our adoption puzzle fundraiser. In just 6 weeks we sold 550 puzzle pieces and raised $11,267.30. Words cannot express how thankful we are to the people who chose to get in on this story. We are so humbled and honored that you would support us in this way and walk beside us in this journey. Seriously.

We sat down a couple of weeks ago to put the puzzle together. Y’all, let me just tell you that we went to dark places putting this puzzle together. We had originally gotten a puzzle that had dalmations on it. Cute, right? No. All 550 pieces were a shade of red, white, and black. It was impossible. We tried for days and hours to put this stupid thing together. I cannot even tell you some of the things we said to this puzzle. I certainly can’t even tell you what we said when we realized we were missing.a.puzzle.piece… that I recently found in the front yard. Whyyy? So, after hours and hours and days and days, we called it quits, went to Walmart, bought a Santa puzzle and put it together in a couple of hours. Thank you Lord for 10 year old Santa puzzles, Amen. I painted the cardboard side of the puzzle white and wrote all of your names on puzzle pieces.

Can I just tell you that I was a hot mess writing your names all over this puzzle? It didn’t help that I was listening to Mumford and Sons. It most certainly didn’t help when  “I Will Wait” played multiple times. The glass of wine and the fact I was already tired didn’t help either. But there were moments where I was literally dropping tears onto this puzzle. Couldn’t even deal.

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Y’all. THIS PUZZLE IS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. There is so much love on this puzzle. Dustin and I both get choked up looking at it. I get chills thinking about it. Our hearts are so full thinking about what God + you guys did. It’s just crazy.

So, thank you. Thank you for joining in on this story of ours. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for caring about this journey we’re on. Thank you for loving us and our future child so well. We will forever be grateful.

ZERO.

The amount of puzzle pieces remaining:

Remember that time we blogged SIX STINKING WEEKS AGO about doing an adoption puzzle fundraiser? Remember that time we thought our names were going to be covering the puzzle because no one was going to buy any puzzle pieces? Remember that time we thought it would take months to complete?

Y’all. This is crazy.

As of this afternoon… WE ARE FINISHED WITH THE ADOPTION PUZZLE FUNDRAISER!!!

What!? I know. It’s insane. Total insanity.

We’ll do a real post later. We need to gather our thoughts on this whole crazy thing and put this puzzle together so you can see it.

But for now: you can stop giving us your money!!!! 🙂

The Final Countdown

Courtney and I are in the process of adopting a child from Uganda.  What?!?!  Yeah, I know.  Here’s a little bit more of our story if you’re just joining in on the fun.

First of all, to all of you who have already donated to our adoption fund through our Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser – thank you so much.  Words cannot express how grateful we are for your support.  If you have no idea what an Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser is, click here to learn more about this.

Secondly, we have completed our four home study visits with our adoption social worker.  Now she and her team are working on writing up our home study report that we will send off to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain approval for us to adopt internationally.  This home study report will also be sent to the Ugandan government once we get the OK from the US government.

We first posted about this fundraiser on July 2 with the goal of selling 550 puzzle pieces at $20 each to raise $11,000.  Based on stories that we heard from other families raising support for adoptions, we expected this fundraising effort to take several months.  The thought of that sounded terrible to me, since asking for money is awkward, and I don’t want this blog to be full of requests for donations.

In less than one month, families, friends, and strangers from all over the world have shown their support for us, and 513 puzzle pieces have been purchased!!!

For all of those that have purchased a puzzle piece (or 20), Courtney has already started writing your names on each piece.  The pile of pieces is pretty cool.

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It has only been about 5 weeks, and we are already 93.3% of the way to reaching our goal.  When we started this fundraiser, it only took one week for 130 puzzle pieces to be purchased, so I know it’s possible that this could happen just as quickly.  Then we will stop posting about puzzles and money, and start posting about funny stuff about life and our marriage…

Our anniversary is next Thursday (August 8), so prepare yourself as we recap the highs and lows of our 4th year of marriage.

If you are reading this, you are in one of two positions:

1) You have not yet donated to our adoption fund, and you really want to support us.  Here’s a link to our PayPal account, where you can purchase as many puzzle pieces you want for $20 each.  Then your name will be written on a puzzle that will hang in our child’s room.  It’s a great and simple way to share in our story.

2) You have already donated, but you want to share our story with all of your friends so that they can donate, too.  You can do that by clicking the Twitter and Facebook links at the bottom of this post.  It’s pretty neat getting emails from people saying, “Hey, I saw your blog on [so-and-so]’s Facebook page, and I wanted to help support you!”

Recap: only 37 puzzle pieces remain – we are so close!  Here’s how you can donate online via PayPal, or shoot me an email – koctar@gmail.com – and I can provide you with our address so you can mail a check.

All in all, you are all awesome!  We are so excited to share stories to our child about all of our friends and family that have donated to support this adoption.

Thank you!

Whooah, We’re Half Way There

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Everybody now: Whooah, we’re half way there. Livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand and we’ll make it- I swear. Livin’ on a prayer.

That was fun, right!?

So, my thoughts are all over the place these days. I’ve been thinking a lot about Treyvon and how, as a future mama of black children, his story affects our family in so many ways. I’ve been thinking a lot about how a year ago we were in Uganda on a trip that would literally change our lives forever. I’ve been thinking a lot about our sweet kiddo that’s out there somewhere. And I’ve been thinking about this puzzle.

Let’s just talk about the last two today. Okay?

I can’t think about this puzzle without getting choked up. Y’all are crazy. In two weeks we have sold OVER HALF OF THE PUZZLE PIECES. As of last night 381 of the 550 pieces are gone! What in the world?? I’ve cried more than one time standing in the middle of the street while opening checks that have come in the mail. Dustin and I have sent several high five text messages to each other. We’ve said more than a handful of times, “we know some good people.” Y’all are just crazy.

Thank you for loving us well right now. We have felt so much confirmation that this is really what we are supposed to be doing. Thanks for letting Jesus use you. We feel honored and humbled.

There are 169 puzzle pieces left. I started writing names on the pieces yesterday. I am so excited this puzzle will hang in our child’s room. I am so excited that each of your names are on it. I cannot wait to tell our child about childhood friends, college roommates and friends, neighbors, family, high school friends, dear family friends, and friends of sweet friends. I just love it so much. (If you want to be a part of this puzzle you can click here, and it will take you to the original blog post that will explain what we’re doing and has information on how to buy a puzzle piece.)

While I’m so excited about this puzzle and how much this is helping us bring our child home, I also have a heavy heart. I’ve been praying a lot for our sweet kiddo. I’ve been praying that if they are alive right now, that Jesus will protect them and keep them safe. I’ve been praying that they know they are loved. Loved by Jesus, us, and you all. I’ve been praying that someone is holding them tight, giving them kisses, loving on them when they cry, and making them laugh. I’ve been praying that if our kiddo isn’t born yet, that He would protect their sweet momma. That she would know she is loved by Jesus, us, and you all. I’ve been praying that she has people in her life who are loving her well. That He would surround her with people who will hug her, laugh, and cry with her. That she will choose life. Life for her sweet baby and life in Jesus Christ.

Ugh. These are hard prayers to pray. They make my heart hurt. My eyes get full of tears.

Will you join us? Will you pray for our kiddo and their momma?

That’s all I’ve got today. Puzzles and hard prayers. Y’all are the best.

For a direct link to our PayPal account where you can purchase lots of puzzle pieces for $20 a piece or make a donation to our adoption fund, click here.

CK

The First 100 Puzzle Pieces

For those of you just joining us, you are in for a real treat!  Here’s a quick recap:

1) Courtney and I have started the process to adopt a child from Uganda.

2) We have invited friends, family, and total strangers to join with us on this adventure through our Puzzle Piece Fundraiser.

3) Donations have been flying in from all over the country, and the first 100 puzzle pieces are gone!

As we progress through this adoption process, there are several checkpoints that we will come to, and the only way to keep moving is by writing a check ($$$), so we are truly grateful and humbled by the support that we have received from friends, family, and people we have never met.

When Courtney and I decided to start this process, we knew it would be costly.  Once we applied with our agency, we learned exactly how costly it would be.  At first, I thought, “We could save up the money ourselves,” because the idea of asking for money makes me anxious.  Then after meeting with a few families who had adopted children internationally and hearing stories of families who had been down this road before, I soon learned that fundraising would be in the cards for us.  We learned that people want to help.  People want to share in this joy.

So we blogged about it…and people responded.  People donated.  I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of receiving that first email from PayPal showing that we received our first donation.  One of my college friends purchased two puzzle pieces for $40.  This was getting real.  Then people started sharing our blog on Facebook and Twitter, and people sent messages saying, “Saw your blog post on ___________’s good luck and God Bless.”  How awesome is that!

I told Courtney that I would send an update once we sold 100 puzzle pieces, thinking that would be sometime in the future…

As of today, we have sold 136 puzzle pieces!!! Thank you so much to all of you who have helped us so far.  This is so exciting!

There are still 414 puzzle pieces remaining.  If you would like your name on a puzzle piece, here is a link to donate to our adoption fund on PayPal.  You can get one puzzle piece for $20, or you can donate to get as many as you want.  If you have any questions or would like to send us a check, you can email courtney.koctar@gmail.com, and we will send you our info.

Adoption Puzzle Update, Y’all.

$937.57

The amount that we have raised so far in the adoption puzzle fundraiser. Holy cow, y’all. So, as of last night we have our USCIS fee PAID FOR!! It looks like this now(!!!):

Application Fee: $250.00 (PAID)

Home Study: $1,775.00 (PAID)

USCIS Fee: $890.00 (PAID As of 7/4!!!)

Acceptance into Program: $3,500.00

Home Study Completion: $3,500.00

Dossier Completion: $3,500.00

Travel Approval: $3,250.00

For a total of: $16,665.

The first 46 puzzle pieces are gone. THANK YOU to the sweet friends, family, and COMPLETE STRANGERS (WHAT!!?) that have purchased some. We are humbled and excited to have you be a part of this story. You guys have shown us Jesus this week and we are grateful.

Do I think we can sell the 504 remaining puzzle pieces? Yes… And no. I don’t know. Every day since we bought this puzzle I’ve had moments of doubt. We have to sell 550 pieces!? No way is that going to happen. There is just no freaking way. When I was at Target trying to find a puzzle the options were 300, 550, or 1,000 piece puzzles. Literally my thought process was, I believe in Jesus more than 300 pieces and not enough for 1,000 pieces… so, I guess 550 it is. My faith is so weak sometimes. Isn’t Jesus bigger than a 550 piece puzzle? Isn’t he bigger than $11,000? YES and YES.

Lately the thought, “for such a time as this” has overcome me in my moments of doubt and anxiety. I truly believe Dustin and I have been prepared for such a time as this. Living faithfully is hard. Following the call Jesus has placed on your heart does not always make sense. It’s not always fun. It’s never been comfortable. People don’t always get it.

But, living faithfully prepares you. For such a time as this.

I’ve been reflecting this week on the past year and a half. I remember one month we didn’t know how we were going to pay our rent. The day before we were supposed to submit our rent payment, a check for our exact rent amount showed up in our mailbox. Or the months leading up to Africa when we didn’t have money for groceries and friends dropped Kroger gift cards off or my mom would load us up with left overs after they would have us over for dinner. Or the times friends would have us over for a meal and say that blessed sentence, “you don’t need to bring anything.” Or the time we had a huge payment due for Uganda and literally didn’t have it and the night before it was due the exact amount came in. Or the time we sat and waited for months for Dustin to get a job. Or all the times we’ve had to be humbled and ask for help.

We’ve been prepared for this. We’ve been prepared to wait. We’ve been prepared to wait FAITHFULLY. We’ve been prepared to ask for help. We’ve been prepared to sit humbly and watch in awe as Jesus shows up. We’ve been prepared to watch as our timing never wins. We’ve been prepared to wait for God’s timing. We’ve been prepared; for such a time as this.

There are still puzzle pieces available. $20 per piece. Buy 1 or 50. It’s whatever. 🙂 You can click here to purchase a puzzle piece(s) on PayPal or you can email me (courtney.koctar@gmail.com) for our address to send a check via mail.