Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy 3rd Gotcha Day Easton!

We had an amazing day celebrating Easton's 3rd Gotcha Day! It is hard to believe it was 3 years ago today that we walked out of the transition home with our son. I took Easton and Preston to the Lowry Park Zoo with my sister-in-law and niece. We had a wonderful day animal watching and playing in the kiddy zone. Easton and Preston both referred to the day as, "Easton's Birthday". I think this will be the last year that Easton is unaware of his true Gotcha Day meaning. I look forward to explaining his adoption and our love for Ethiopia in the future. For now, we celebrate being his parents and knowing that he is forever ours.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last Garage Sale EVER!!!!

 Ok, so I have facilitated 2 garage sales to raise funds for my mission trips to Africa. The first one was in 2010 and we collectively raised over $2,000! In 2012 we did it again and raised around $1,800. I promised that I would NEVER do another collective garage sale for a couple of reasons:
#1. It takes forever to organize, store, and display the merchandise.
#2. You spend an entire day in a hot Florida garage and driveway with garage salers. (People who offer you a dollar for a $10 priced item. I'm not a skilled negotiator, it makes me uncomfortable.)
#3. There is always left over crap that has to be taken away.
Basically, it's a TON of hard, time consuming work. Man, I sound negative...

Well, apparently, I have forgot exactly how much work it is because I am doing another garage sale on August 17th in Bradenton, FL. 100% of the proceeds will go toward our daughter's adoption! Honestly, she is worth it. She is worth all of the things I have complained about and we will HAPPILY have a garage sale to bring her home. We could raise $200 or $3,000- It all depends on the items that we sell and the generosity of friends and family who donate items. We will make a large sign that advertises our adoption mission and pray like crazy that buyers show up!
We humbly ask for your help. We need hundreds of sellable items by August 17th.

Here were the BIG hits at the last 2 Garage Sales:
Purses- anything in good condition, name brand is always a seller
Decent shoes- Womens, Mens and Kids all sold nicely
Baby Items- Swings, bassinets, cribs and linens, pack n' play, car seats, select baby outfits and shoes all sold!
TOYS- bikes, baby toys, action figures, games without missing pieces, trains, Disney anything, and learning games like Leapfrog (No stuffed animals please- they simply didn't sell)
Kitchen items- small appliances were the best!
Decorative items- Like new Holiday decor,  candle sets, picture frames, wall prints, and shelves
Furniture- These BIG ticket items were perfect!!! Couches, tables, desk, chairs, ottomans, patio furniture will all sell!!
DVD's- good working condition
Men items- belts, tools, ladders, car stuff, etc.
Women's items- jewelry, perfume, lotion, belts
Anything NEW or with a TAG on it is easy to sell!

A few request:
1. Sorry but we cannot handle garbage bags of clothes. If you have an old prom dress, bridesmaid dress, a suit or dress clothes, anything with a tag on it, or name-brand like new items are HUGE sellers! We would like to hang up all of the clothing items so please keep hangers on if possible.

2. Old electronics unfortunately do not sell. Large box TV's or outdated computers all ended up at Goodwill.

3. We are so appreciative for your generous donations!!!! You can drop items off at our house throughout the next few weeks. Simply email, text or facebook message me. I'll happily send you our address or meet up with you. 

Matthew 19:21
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

We are so thankful for all of the friends and family who have already come along side of us to help us bring our daughter home! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

3 years ago today!

Today we celebrate Easton's 3rd "Meetcha Day" Anniversary! I distinctly remember every aspect of that special day. Ryan arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the night before at 11:00pm. We woke up early on July 16th and headed to the American World Transition Home for Ryan to meet Easton. It was a beautiful day. I am thankful that LeeAnn was able to join us to capture these images.  We continue to be grateful for our precious son, Easton Aschenaki. Happy Meetcha Day Son!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Adoption through fundraising!

Photo credit: Shannon Kirsten shannonkirstenphoto.com
I have had a lot of people contact me with questions on fundraising for our adoption. We want to be a resource to other families who are considering adoption. To be honest, we are taking a huge leap of faith with this adoption. We are doing exactly what we feel that we have been called to do. Whenever the weight of raising $17,000 feels like too much to bare, I simply look at Easton and I am reminded that he was worth it. When I feel defeated, I think of the orphanages in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda that I have visited over the last 3 years. I am quickly reminded that children belong in families and that our fundraising efforts will be worth it. Our daughter will be worth it. She will be worth the judgement, the questions from those who do not understand, and the uncomfortableness of asking  people for money. We have supported other families who have made the decision to adopt time and time again. We simply know that this adoption is not about us but about God's calling in our lives. We are a family who are willing to love a child as our own. Nothing should stand in the way of that beautiful calling. With 153 million orphans in our world, why would we not act on our calling to adoption?
Photo credit: Shannon Kirsten shannonkirstenphoto.com
Psalm 68:5-6a "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families..."

This week I read a great post on the Give One, Save One blog that addressed adoption without debt. We are doing everything that the post suggested and we are excited to see how our adoption is funded through generous supporters, building our daughter's puzzle ($20 to sponsor a piece), my photography business and t-shirt sales. (Stay tuned for t-shirt sales, they are still in the making).

We outlined our calling and our beliefs about adoption in our adoption announcement post.  We want to be transparent about this process and are happy to share how our family is answering the calling to adoption. We have definitely accepted the fact that our adoption could take a LONG time because we are fundraising. With that, we are at peace knowing that she will come home exactly when she is suppose to. I'm not saying that part is easy. Adoption is hard. It is a journey that requires prayer, patience and relinquishment of control. We are learning all of these things on our journey to our daughter.

A little about Pure Charity:
Shannon Kirsten shannonkirstenphoto.com
Pure Charity allows donors to give a tax deductible gift and online payment. This is a resource that we could not have provided without Pure Charity's help. Another bonus of Pure Charity is that ALL of the donations go directly to our adoption agency. Meaning no monies go through our hands. Our adoption agency, International Family Services, has graciously agreed to help us manage the money coming in by paying for our adoption expenses. Our home study agency, Sunshine Adoption and Home Study Services simply sent me an invoice and our adoption agency was able to pay them. This does take a few emails and management but basically it is simple.

The next steps:
At this time we have been able to pay for our adoption home study ($1,400) and our IFS application fee ($400). We are now waiting and praying about the next 2 steps. We would like to pay for the IFS Coordination Fee, which is $4550. Next, the US Immigration Application with Biometrics for Ryan and I (fingerprints) will be $920.  We will accomplish this as soon as we have raised enough funds. It could be within a few days, weeks or months...

So there is this weeks update on our daughter's adoption and why we are fundraising. I hope to be able to share throughout this process to encourage other families.

If you would like to be apart of our adoption journey we would be grateful for your support:

Photo credit: Shannon Kirsten shannonkirstenphoto.com

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/
     We are excited to announce that we are adopting from Ethiopia again! We feel that we have once again been called to adopt a child. Our hearts are filled with joy as we begin this exciting journey to bring our daughter home. Although we have not met her, we are requesting a daughter ranging from a newborn to two-years old.  We know that our boys will be great big brothers for their new little sister. Easton and Preston continue to amaze and bless us daily.

      After much prayer, we have decided to use International Family Services (IFS) adoption agency. We are confident IFS has the highest ethical standards and will work diligently with the US Embassy and Ethiopian government to match us with our daughter. We cannot wait to be back in Ethiopia. We left a little bit of our hearts there in 2010 and Ethiopia is a part of our family. While in Ethiopia we both visited numerous orphanages, hugging and embracing children of every age. Ethiopia has an overwhelming need for parents and since returning home we have diligently prayed about this. We definitely have a meaningful connection with Ethiopia and look forward to embracing the people and culture again.

      International adoption is very unpredictable. As of now, we are in the paperwork stage, which takes about 6 months. We will complete our home study and hopefully be matched with our daughter in early 2014. That means that this time next year we could possibly be in Ethiopia! We ask that you pray for our family during this exciting time.

Our hearts have been broken for orphans. We have room in our hearts and our home to bring home another child. We cannot wait to be back in Ethiopia and meet our daughter for the first time. We know that she is our calling and we joyfully choose to bring her home. 
-Ryan and Ashlie Fulmer

We want to be transparent about the cost associated with our adoption. We are estimating that the total cost will be slightly more than $30,000. There is a $13,000 refundable tax credit that can be applied for after the adoption is complete. Our goal is to raise the remaining $17,000. Please know that we have researched our agency and know that each cost is justified. During our time in Ethiopia in 2010 we learned the high cost of adoption supplies, a functional transitional home, orphanage, nannies, doctors, teachers, lawyers, and social workers. The cost also includes a home study by a licensed social worker, USCIS Immigration approval, passports and travel expenses.  
We believe that God has asked us to bring home a child and therefore the resources will be provided. Often, we have struggled with asking others to help support our adoption. Here is our belief and what God has confirmed to us: We are willing to love, raise and provide for our adopted daughter. Initial finances are not a reason to deny an orphan a home.  Although we are incapable of solely providing the initial adoption costs, we know that God has provided enough resources among friends, family, and believers. Therefore, we humbly ask for financial support. We are excited to watch how God uses His people to provide for His calling. We are often reminded that some families can afford to adopt but are not called to do so. Our family has been called to adopt and have made the choice to fundraise the initial adoption expenses. 

Fundraising with Pure Charity

     Humbly, we ask that you to consider investing in our adoption journey. We will be using an online resource to collect donations. All donations will be directly forwarded to our adoption agency. We ask you to first pray about how you can financially support our adoption.  If you feel led to give, you can then make a tax-deductible donation online, through PureCharity.com. We ask you to help spread our fundraiser link to other friends and family through social media.
Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/

Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/

Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/

Puzzle Fundraiser
For every $20 donation we will write your family’s name on the back of a puzzle piece. This puzzle will be framed and put in our daughter’s room.
Our puzzle, “Waiting on the Bus” by Julia Cairns
 $1,000 Donation:
*Fifty puzzle pieces with your family’s name                        
*Two family photo sessions with Ashlie Fulmer Photography (Any location in Bradenton or Sarasota, may be redeemed anytime)                                                                                           
* 4 hour, full car detail by Ryan Fulmer (May be redeemed anytime in Bradenton or Srq)                                                                                            
*Our adoption T-shirts                                                                                   
*Anything else we can offer you to show our appreciation.  

 $500 Donation:

*Twenty five puzzle pieces with your family’s name                                                                                                  
*One family photo session with Ashlie Fulmer Photography (Any location in Bradenton or SRQ)  
*Our adoption T-shirts                                                                                  

 $100 Donation:

*Five puzzle pieces with your family’s name                                                           
*Two adoption T-shirts                                                                                   
 $60 Donation:

*Three puzzle pieces with your family’s name                                                        
*One adoption T-shirt                                                                                

A donation in any amount would be appreciated. 
Our fundraising website is:
 Please email for mailing address if you prefer to send a check. 

Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/

Photograph by: http://www.shannonkirsten.com/