We are excited to share that April 23rd, was adoption day for the Smith Family. Thad & Loryn, and Peggy & Jacob are so grateful for this new step in their journey as a family and everyone's love and support. We have raised $30,000 of their $40,000 goal to date and hope to complete fundraising for them the end of this month, there's still time to donate here!
You may remember our Valentine's Day surprise where Carrie and I went to Zack and Evelyn Long's with a BIG check for the remaining balance of their adoption of little miss Stella! Stella has been doing amazing as a part of their family, and the Long's finalized her adoption just a few weeks ago! Here's a photo of everyone there to see them officially become a family of 4.
BUT.....that's not the end of their story! Just a week or so after this finalization with Stella, they got a call out of the blue, asking if they would be willing to take Stella's 3 year old brother. After much thought and prayer, they decided to accept placement of Carson just a couple of days ago. This means that Stella and her little brother will get to grow up together as a part of the Long family.
As you know, the cost of an adoption is not easy to come up with especially when it's unexpected, so we are asking for you all to walk alongside this amazing family and give as they have given their hearts to these beautiful kids so willingly!
They need $5000 to pay for this adoption that will not only keep these siblings together but also change their lives forever. We are so honored to get to know this sweet forever family and are encouraged by all they are doing to help kids! Let's get this done, come join us! DONATE HERE!
If we are being completely honest, 2016 has been a bit of a rough year for Promise Love and a few of the families we are privilege to walk alongside in their adoption journey. There are so many happy endings we are privileged to be a part of and share with all of you, but there are losses that come with stepping out in faith to bring kids into forever families. Sometimes, decisions are made we don't understand, cases are dragged on longer than ever anticipated, and children are left waiting once again for their forever family. We just haven't shared much with you this year, simply because its been tough. Its hard to put into words the loss families feel when these things don't play out the way we were hoping. But the reality is it happens.
However, a new year is upon us and no matter what 2016 has thrown at us, we will not give up on the pursuit of helping families bring kids home! And as I pray over Promise Love and our direction for 2017, the verse that comes front and center is from Isaiah 40:31! It says, "But they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." For 2017 our plans are to be renewed by His strength. We will not grow weary or faint in doing what God has before us because our hope is in HIm!
So in order to usher in the New Year on wings of Hope, we want to bring you the amazing story of The Calzada family! This is a story of a family who in their waiting allowed God to renew their strength. They did not grow weary of following the path God set before them! This is one that's been in the works for a very long time, but the evidence of God's hand throughout this adoption journey has been so evident. We have felt beyond blessed to watch these boys come home forever!
Although fundraising may seem like our main focus, its actually not what we do the most of. Alot of time is spent connecting with families, helping families figure out which adoption path to take and advocating for kids. Early on, the Calzada's had felt God was calling them to foster care/adoption. While they were in the process of getting licensed, God was already preparing the right kids for their family. Promise Love became connected with a family who was a relative caregiver to 2 brothers, Angel, 9 years old and Alonso, 4 years old. This family was in a tough spot and knew they couldn't provide a forever home for them, but loved them dearly and desperately wanted to see these boys thrive in a forever family. As the picture of the boys came through, God put on our heart The Calzada family. Although they weren't completely licensed yet, the striking resemblance of these boys and their family was undeniable and we knew God was up to something. After praying and talking together, The Calzada's agreed, God was definitely up to something!
So they began the very long journey to bring these boys home! I can't even imagine the tireless effort that was put in as they maneuvered all the twists and turns of the state. But they never gave up on them and their love and acceptance of these boys is beyond measure. I have seen it first hand and truly they are one of the most inspiring families you will ever meet! On October 18th, 2016 that journey finally ended at the courthouse with the adoption finalization!! Angel, 12 years old now and Alonso, 7 years old are officially Calzada's, 2 years after their first visit!! And all the glory goes to God for this amazing story and journey. And how adorable is this family?!!
Today we are celebrating #GivingTuesday! Its a day that people around the country will give back during a time of year where our focus should be on giving to those we love and also those who are in need of help.
A few weeks ago we posted about The Pucovsky family! They are in need of that help today! We have ONLY $1890 to raise to complete the adoption of Zaniya, their 14 year old daughter. In just a few short weeks we have been able to raise $1610. If today, 38 people gave $50 we would accomplish our goal! Will you partner with us today? Donate Now!
There is no better day than today to give back to a family who has literally changed the course of a young girls life and given her a forever family after much heartbreak. And the joy they have brought to her is written all over her face!
We had the honor of spending time with them at their home, at events and now at their adoption finalization of Zaniya. Check out their story here if you missed it! I can honestly say, they are a rare kind of family. They are full of love for each other, for their heavenly Father and for kids in need. They have willingly and openly opened their home to this beautiful girl and they have BIG plans to help more in the future. We can't wait to see the rest of their journey!
But first, enjoy some pictures from their adoption finalization that happened last Tuesday. It was such a blessed and beautiful event to watch! They had so many friends and family their to support them and The Heart Gallery presented Zaniya with her framed photo, which will now be retired from the gallery.
Teens often get overlooked or age out of the foster care system, never having a family to call their own. We pray this may inspire other families to take the risk on adopting a teen. Everyone deserves a family to call their own!
11.24.15 Jen and Ryan had a full courtroom of friends and family to celebrate Grant's adoption day! Holly, Saul, David and I, and all of our kids were honored to be there with them. It's always just some of the best moments life has to offer. Grant's first birthday was a few days later so we also got to see him smash his first cake, he loved the frosting:-) Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and we have another adoption finalization to share with you and how you can get involved and continue helping make these moments possible!
The Boyers are an official family of 5!! Tuesday was miss Breeja's adoption day!! We were also able to write the final check that met their fundraising goal as well!! Thank you all who have supported them on this journey. Cricket and Josh, we were truly honored to be a part of it and are so excited for your sweet family!!
April 28th, 2015 is a very happy day for the Promise Love family!! Dan & Davina Devries finalized their 3 children's adoption today! Xander, Prudence, and Levi officially became a part of team Devries forever!!! Holly, Saul, David, Carrie (me:-) and all our kiddos got to witness it in court. Now these 3 siblings will get to grow up together in an amazing home. We could not be happier or more proud of them for making a difference in 3 tiny lives. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of it and supported them as well, we couldn't do it without you!
Today, November 9th 2014 is the first ever worldwide celebration of adoption! Thousands of people showed their support by putting a smiley face on their hand and #worldadoptionday! Here's some of our friends showing their support!
A friend shared this statistic today and it is literally mind blowing:
"If only 7% of the world's 2.7 billion Christians cared for one orphan there would be no more orphans"
Adoption is way more complicated than a smiley face and has an enormous range of emotions, trauma, and every single situation is totally unique. November being adoption month, and World Adoption Day gets the conversation about this serious crisis out in the forefront and helps people start becoming part of the solution.
Today is also the perfect day to show you the film of our daughter Maddie's adoption finalization hearing. It's personal, and emotional, but amazing, and something most people won't get to experience so it's worth watching. This is when the judge grants final motion of adoption and legally the child becomes part of your forever family. A HUGE thank you to Bryan and Tracey from Lucky Lemon Films for capturing this for us so she'll be able to watch this someday.
It was double adoption day week for the Promise Love Foundation! 9.24.14 was adoption day for Holly and Saul's daughter Gisselle! Holly and I founded this organization, so this one is extra special because Gisselle and our daughter Maddie are sisters! She's an adorable, spunky, 3 year old now, Holly and Saul have had her as a part of their family since she was only 3 months old as a foster child. Holly use to do my hair at her house, and I remember the first time I met that sweet little baby right when she was about 4 months old. Back then, I never would have guessed the journey both of our families has gone on that came together with these 2 girls. Gisselle was their first foster child, and at that point foster or adoption for my husband David and I was not even on the horizon. 3 years later we got to be there as the judge had everyone raise their right hands and promise to love and care for Gisselle as part of their forever family. There is nothing sweeter!
Tuesday 9.23.14 was adoption day for Lisa and Fred's 3 children!!! It's the end of one chapter and only the beginning to many more. I absolutely love photographing this amazing and emotional event. They had about 28 friends and family members there in the court room to celebrate with them. Lisa even had her parents on Skype so they could virtually be there. Some family members surprised them by coming in from out of town, teachers they had, and the foster family that the children lived with for 2 years was there for this occasion. Once the judge made the final ruling, she had each child come to the stand and gave them a build a bear. She explained that inside the box was an adoption certificate so each child could name their bear and officially adopt them. What an awesome gift and way to explain it to them. We are SO happy for team J!!!!
Very good friends of the Promise Love Foundation, Bruce and Heather Moore, allowed me to photograph the beginning of their official family (by legal standards:-). We've shared with you how process to adopt from the foster system works, and it literally gives me chills showing you how amazing the final outcome is. The court hearing itself is very short, only about 10 minutes long, but the impact of what this means can span generations. Everyone introduces themselves, parents, grandparents and friends. Then attorney verifies in front of the judge that Bruce and Heather are going to be the forever parents of Titus and Noelle, and that Gwen will be their forever sister. At the end, the bailiff gets out teddy bears for all the kids and you can take a picture with the judge. Sounds simple right?
There's so much more. We did some photos outside the courthouse and I absolutely love that they get in a circle and say "team Moore". That's what a family is right? A team!!!! Titus and Noelle are siblings that have gone through significant trauma in their very young lives and their parents' rights were terminated. They were placed into the match process for adoption, and let me tell you, they have won the lottery. I don't know if I can convey with words the different path their lives will take now. Heather and Bruce opened their home and rescued these children from the potential of bouncing from foster home to foster home, being separated, or even continuing the cycle of abuse, poverty, crime, and drugs that is rampant among kids that grow up in the foster system. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, it's the truth and more people need to know about it and be a part of the solution! So a happy beginning for Team Moore. To give you some personal insight I asked Heather some questions and she really shared what it feels like and how this all came to be………..
Heather sent me this picture, it was the very first time they had a visit with the kids. I put my favorite question last, it's the most important. I love their story and how it came to be……...
Tell us a little about your family and why you decided to adopt from the foster system?
Before we were married, Bruce and I talked about adoption. Whether or not we could have biological children, we wanted to adopt. For us, adoption is a beautiful picture of exactly what God has done for us. He engrafts us into His family through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Adoption is not a man-made concept; it is the very heart of God!
Six years ago, God blessed us with the most incredible little girl. She is smart, funny, generous, and loves God even at a young age. She began asking for a sibling (a sister to be exact) and praying for one. It was then God promoted us to start our adoption journey. We briefly looked at international adoption and ruled it out for several reasons. Next, we met with private adoption agencies. Each agency had stacks of family profiles waiting to be filled and for us it was cost-prohibitive. Prior to our adoption journey, we made some decisions that radically altered our finances. We started Christ Fellowship Tampa, a church in the heart of Seminole Heights, and we went without a salary for an entire year. Each subsequent year we have given significantly to ministry and missions. We were not in a position to afford private adoption.
It was then that we turned to the foster care system. Adoption from foster care is not for everyone. There are hoops to jump through. Families wanting to adopt an infant or even young child might wait a long time. And let’s face it; children are in foster care because something has gone horribly wrong.
However, these are children who with consistency, time and a whole lot of love can and will make a transition into a healthy home. I am so glad we adopted from foster care! Beyond a shadow of a doubt, these two children were meant to be ours.
You went from a family of 3 to a family of 5, what are the 3 happiest moments you have had as a new family and the 3 most challenging moments you've had?
Well, to be honest it is like hitting a brick wall. There is a physical aspect for sure. Three times the meals, three times the baths, and three times the laundry. But, there is also an emotional and mental aspect that can be more taxing than the physical side.
This is where our most challenging moments have occurred. The abuse and neglect have impacted the children in different ways. One child is insecure and afraid of anything new. This child needs constant reassurance and prodding to try things, even fun things. The other child is angry. We have been bitten, kicked, hit, screamed and growled at. Balancing the transition of the two new children into the home, along with reassuring our firstborn daughter along the way is more emotionally draining than I thought.
Thankfully, our Christ Fellowship family has been there for us. They hosted an adoption shower, organized a meal train and have prayed for us. They have been our cheerleaders on the exhausting days and our encouragers on the difficult days. They have celebrated with us on the wonderful day. They texted us, brought us Starbucks and babysat all three kids so we can have date nights. They have loved us well!
And there have been moments we will treasure forever. Knowing their background, even the smallest movement forward is a huge victory! In the short time we have had them, they have made such huge strides. Some of our happiest moments are when the kids say, “I love you” of their own volition. Seeing the plethora of curse words drop from their vocabulary and being replaced with Bible songs and verses.
And for me personally (Heather), our daughter came into our home calling every adult female “mom.” This was even noted in the child study we read at Disclosure Meeting. It was like she spent years looking for a mom. Now, she refers to me and me alone as Mom. She found me. She found her Mom!
What was going through your mind and how did you feel after the adoption finalization hearing was over?
Of all the questions, this one is the hardest to answer. It is hard to put into words the emotions of hearing the gavel hit the Judge’s desk and knowing that Noelle and Titus are forever ours. There were the natural emotions of joy, happiness and love that have invaded our hearts over the last three months. But, for us it is so much richer and deeper than that. What happened in that courtroom was first and foremost a spiritual thing. This whole process has taught and continues to teach us about God and His great love for us.
Some of my favorite verses are:
…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. Ephesians 1:5
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father. Romans 8:15
Our God, from your sacred home, you take care of orphans and protect widows.
You find families for those who are lonely. Psalm 68
What advice do you have for people who are deciding if adopting through the foster system is a journey they are looking to start?
First, don’t give up! We were presented with 6 different match options. We turned down 2 potential matches because of severe medical needs of the children. Neither Bruce nor I have a medical background or nursing degree. The match was just not right for us. However, for the remaining matches even though we were wiling to proceed the Match Committee chose anther family. Many times along the way, we could have given up. In fact, it was harder emotionally and mentally to continue to stay in the process. But, we preserved and now beyond a shadow of doubt we know why the previous matches never materialized. We were meant to the parents of Noelle and Titus.
Secondly, be flexible! The system has rules and procedures that at times can seem confusing or even contradictory. Ask your caseworker to explain or re-explain things if necessary. Endurance is key but so is communication.
Thirdly, be prepared! While I say that, there is no way to prepare fully. Each foster child’s background is different. And in turn, each child will respond differently to the neglect and/or abuse. So foster parents and adoptive parents are presented with a child who will not respond normally nor act in ways that are polite and mannerly. However, you can prepare yourself by reading The Connected Child. This book is widely considered to be the “bible “ for adoptive families. It has helped put so much into perspective for us. On days when our frustration level is sky high this book reminds us to extend grace and mercy to children who have never been taught nor loved properly.
What is your biggest hope and dream for these 2 new additions to your family?