We are Adopting

That’s right.  We are in the process of adopting a child.  The shock of that statement (for me) is finally wearing off a bit.  I decided that it was time to post my story here and tell the world (or my 8 followers who probably already know! Ha Ha!).  We have not been secretive about this whatsoever, but it is kind of a hard thing to bring up.  When I was pregnant I didn’t have to bring it up to people because my protruding belly gave it away (usually before I had taken a pregnancy test or the day of.  Seriously, people asked).   But this one is a little less obvious.  I usually just have to say, “So, we are adopting.” There isn’t a good lead-in for this one.  I wanted a place where people could come to learn more about our “why” and where I can answer many of the questions that people are wondering.  I also hope that one day when this is over, that our story can help others who are in our same shoes.   Here are the answers to our most common questions:

Why?/Where did this idea come from?

The idea was not my own.  I am not one of those people who have always wanted to adopt.  The only time I have really considered it, was the year that it took to get pregnant with our first child.  But once we started having children on our own, it was pushed out of my head.  The idea of adoption came up again in the last year from my kids and husband.  We would like to have another girl in our family and Quinton and I would say that the only way to guarantee a girl, would be to adopt.  My kids thought this was a great idea.  Then I reminded them how expensive that was and end of conversation.  However, my husband and I did actually try to get pregnant for about 9 months.  We both feel that although 4 kids is a lot that there was one more we were supposed to have in our family.  So, reluctantly, we stopped preventing.  When nothing happened, I didn’t panic and knew that if we were meant for another one, that it would happen.

One Sunday in May 2018, my husband and I were in the nursery at church, which is where kids ages 18 months-3 years play for two hours while the adults attend classes.  We were the teachers in that class on this particular day.  Someone had a stinky diaper and I was trying to figure out who it was.   I had to do the old “reach your finger in the diaper and pull it open to do a poop check” trick.  As I found the culprit, it hit me…. I am really ok to be done having babies!  As I had this thought and said it out loud to my husband, we both agreed and felt really good about it.  That was the first time that I felt at peace saying “we are done having kids.”  We carried on with our lives and felt that our family was complete.

About one month later (June 3, 2018), I was taking my two youngest kids for a Sunday morning walk.  This was becoming routine for Sunday mornings.  I would take a walk by myself or push the stroller and listen to a church talk.  As I was listening to a talk, the thought hit me out of no where- “you are supposed to adopt a little girl from China.”  What!??  That talk had nothing to do with adoption or starting a family, so where did that come from??  It was one of the most overpowering feelings I have ever had.  I instantly became emotional and started thinking of all the reasons this was a bad idea (money, time, money, 4 kids, money).  But I could not shake the feeling.  We finished our walk and went home.

I went straight for the shower and then I said a little prayer along these lines, “Heavenly Father, this is a crazy idea, but I feel like it was personal revelation from you.  I really think this is a bad idea, so if it really is from you, I need to know and KNOW for sure.”  I did receive my answer immediately. I knew without a doubt that this was personal revelation that had come from God and I was ready to move forward.

Later that day, I was borrowing my husband’s computer to research adoption.  I was interrupted during my search and left the screens open on his computer.  He then got on his computer and discovered what I had been reading.  “What have you been up to?” he asked.  I told him and he said, “cool, let’s do it!”

So to answer the question, “where did this idea come from?”  My answer is, “straight from Heaven.”

Where are you adopting?

After a great deal of research on the different countries (and creating a spreadsheet of course), and much praying, we decided to adopt from the Philippines.  Now, I know that was not my original thought that I had.  As I did my research, I learned that our family is not able to adopt from China due to financial requirements.  I made lists of all the countries that we qualify for and what their travel requirements are and spent a lot of time looking for agencies and pictures of children in waiting from different countries.  The first picture of a child that drew me in and I felt a connection with, was a child from the Philippines.  We do meet their requirements and they only require one week of travel when it is time to pick up the child.  I called an agency to talk about their program and she informed me that the Philippines is one of the few countries that does allow healthy, young children to be adopted internationally.  Most countries only adopt children with special needs (minor or major) to be adopted internationally.  She told me that each US agency is allowed 5 spots for families to join the Philippines program each year and their spots were already filled.  She referred me to another agency that she used to work for that did still have openings.

The short answer: we are adopting from the Philippines.

When will you be adopting?

Short answer: anytime between 1-4 years.

The Philippines “traditional” program that allows families to adopt “younger/healthy” children can take 3-4 years before a child is referred to our family.  However, as soon as our home study is approved, we will begin to get monthly emails from our agency with pictures and descriptions of children in the Philippines that do have a known medical condition (minor or major) and are ready to be adopted immediately.  If we see a child on that list who we want to learn more about we can ask for more information.  We can then pursue adopting one of those children right away.

What will the child be like?

The Philippines does not allow adoptive families to request gender.  They do consider preferences and they really look at a family to decide if a girl or boy seems like the better fit.  Our adoption agency said that most likely, when they see our family dynamics, that they will refer us to a girl.  We are planning on a girl.

The adopted child can be anywhere from 18 months- 5 years old.  The Philippines prefers to maintain the natural birth order of a family, so most likely she will be younger than Carter.  If it takes two years or more, then she could be up to 5 years old.

Some of the possible medical conditions are eczema, asthma, dental work, umbilical hernia, cleft lip, cleft palate, club foot, missing a digit or limb, visual abnormalities, hearing impairment, heart murmur, ADHD, and a variety of development delays.

We are trying to be wise about knowing what medical conditions we have the means to manage.  Huge medical bills every month would not be something we can handle and we will take this into consideration as we consider children.

The child will most likely come from an orphanage.  With that, comes a variety of emotional side-effects.  The child may not cry if she didn’t get a response when she cried as a baby.  She may find ways of self-soothing such as rocking back and forth.  She may hoard or even steal food and other objects.  She may have difficulty trusting or attaching to adults and other kids.

The truth is, that we have no idea what we will get.  This is very much like a pregnancy at this point.  There are many unknowns, but we believe that God will help us find the child that is meant to be in our family and that it will be for ALL of our good.

How will you afford to do this?

Short answer: no idea.

Adoption is expensive.  Everyone knows this true fact.  What most of us don’t consider, is that if there is a will, there is a way… especially if it is God’s will.  Since beginning this process we have learned about so many stories where things happened and the money was suddenly available.

We are only 4 months into this process since the idea was conceived, and already, doors have been opened and the money has been provided for us to get the process started.  God often works through other people to do his work, and we have seen that in this situation already.

Adopting from the Philippines is about $20,000, not including travel.  We are planning on about $30,000 and if it is less, we will be pleasantly surprised!  Luckily, the money is not due all at once.  It is spread out throughout the process.  It starts out as a couple hundred here, another hundred there.  We had one big fee of about $1,500 and a bill is currently on its way to our house for $5,100.  Another $4,000 will be due in a couple months.  For some reason $30,000 as a whole is less scary to me than $5,100 right now!

There are things out there available to help families adopt.  There are grants and even some interest free adoption loans.  We do have to have an approved home study to apply for these options, so I am not sure how those will look in our situation.

How do your kids feel about it?

My kids have been very excited about it from the beginning.  As I mentioned earlier, they all have wanted a little sister for a while.  When we first considered adoption, we asked all of our kids what they thought about it.  We tried to explain that the child will be older than a baby and will possibly have some sort of medical condition.  We have explained that most children are angry and scared when they are first adopted since we will be strangers.

We have included them in the decision on which country we will adopt from.  They were all very excited when we decided on the Philippines.  My son has a friend who has a Filipino mother and my kids adore her (and so do I).  We are all trying to learn a few words in Filipino.  I made Filipino spaghetti and lumpias (Filipino version of egg rolls) for dinner one night and we all learned how to say “let’s eat” in Filipino.  Now, when I tell my 3 year old to get the kids for dinner he says, “kain tayo!”

Sometimes my three year old will ask, “where is our little girl?”  So I explain that she is in the Philippines and we still need to find her.  He talks about buying her a cozy blanket and that he will snuggle with her.  All of our kids are excited about this new adventure and someone new to love.

We really are excited to begin this journey.  It is scary and I’m sure will be frustrating at times, but I have such a feeling of peace and that carries me on to the next step.  I know that our family is supposed to begin this process.  I have no idea what the outcome will be, but I trust that it will be okay no matter what happens.

I hope that we can all stay “nice and happy” during this process as we wait for our little girl.

How to do Hawaii on less than $5,000

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve been a bit MIA this summer.  It has been a wonderful, busy, crazy summer!  The highlight has been our trip to Hawaii!  When I say, “our” I mean, my husband and I.  That’s it.  Not the 4 kids!  It was so nice to get away just the two of us and spend some time alone in paradise.  It was so good, because we had to remember how to be just us again.

We were married for four years before we had our first child and we made a great time for those four years.  We were best friends and talked all the time.  We still make a great team now that we have kids, but sometimes it feels more like a relay team.  We are still best friends and we talk all the time, but our topic is usually around scheduling, to do lists, finances and other boring adult stuff.  We don’t always find time to have deep conversations with all the business and interruptions that go on around here.  So it was fabulous to get away and just be us again.

Our trip was so wonderful that I decided it might make a good post to share how we did Hawaii for 6 days and under $5,000, so that maybe you and your lover can get away and enjoy this kind of vacation as well!

Tickets, tickets and tickets:

Airlines:

The first step is buying all sorts of tickets.  I searched all of the different sites to buy airline tickets: Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, and I also looked into Costco travel packages.  If you don’t want to to plan the details and you don’t mind where you stay then this is a great option.  I wanted to have more control, so I chose to not use the Costco package.  We got our airline tickets for $1,558.  This was for three flights (SLC to Oahu, Oahu to Maui, Maui to SLC).  We bought our tickets about 6 weeks before our trip.  I’m sure that if you chose an off season or booked the flights more in advance that you could get a better deal.

Rental Car:

This is a must.  I was hesitant at first, thinking that I could get around using busses or Uber.  But don’t even try it!  It was so nice to get in the car and go where we wanted when we wanted.  I know that we would not have been able to do half of what we did if we were having to wait around for a ride.  Get a car for each island.  We chose the cheapest one possible.  We spent $432.9 for a car on Oahu and Maui combined.  I also learned not to buy the insurance, because you can add rental car insurance to your regular insurance for just a few dollars a day.

Airbnb:

We decided to go with an Airbnb over a hotel for a few reasons: 1. they often offer extra amenities like snorkel gear, boogie boards, beach chairs, beach towels, etc.;  2. they are usually cheaper because you don’t have the extra hotel fees or parking fee; 3. most hotels these days do not offer continental breakfast, so this way we could make our own breakfast and save some $$.  The Airbnb we stayed at on Oahu was AMAZING.  It was a private studio apartment just a walk away from a private beach.  The mornings on this beach will forever be one of my most favorite memories of Hawaii.  We spent $909.52 on the two Airbnb rooms for each island.

Sunrise on the beach at our Airbnb.
Excursions/Entertainment:

We tried to pay for our excursions before we left for our vacation.  We bought our tickets for the Polynesian Cultural Center, zipline, canoe/snorkel trip, and Dole plantation before we left.  We spent $716 on these tickets.

Food and Souvenirs:

Our initial budget was $5,000.  After we paid for these tickets and a few other “supplies” we were left with $1,387 to use for food, gas, and souvenirs.  We try to budget wisely and I had no idea if this would be enough, so we kept track of all our expenses to make sure we stayed within our budget.  We came home with $158.96 left over!  We spent a total of $1228.86 on food, gifts and souvenirs.  I did not feel like we sacrificed and were overly careful, so for us, $1300 was plenty to plan for these extras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Oahu (Polynesian Cultural Center)

Our flight into Oahu landed late Tuesday night.  We drove not quite an hour to our amazing Airbnb (email me if you want the recommendation on where to stay. This was THE best place).  Wednesday morning we took a walk on our private beach during sunrise then went shopping for breakfast and snack foods.  We took our time eating breakfast and getting ready for the day.

We first went to the LDS temple grounds because the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) does not open until 11 and we were ready before then.  The temple is located very close to the Cultural Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a walk around the Temple grounds and watching the short video in the visitors center which explains how the Polynesian Cultural Center and BYU Hawaii began, we headed over to the PCC.

There are a few stores that open before 11, so we did some shopping and had an early lunch.  We should have realized that our luau dinner was at 4:00, so we would have eaten a lighter lunch.

We chose not to do a guided tour of the PCC and I am good with that decision.  We might have been able to see more, but we stayed plenty busy and were able to see tons of great stuff.  We mostly hopped from village to village to watch the different shows.  There is an app for the PCC, which helped us know what shows were going on near us.  I think my only regret here, was not getting a pineapple smoothie… those looked pretty awesome.  So make sure you bring some cash (at least $10 for one of those) and get one even if you are not hungry!

 

We spent the entire day here.  There is plenty to do and they feed you diner.  This was a great way to start off our Hawaiian vacation.

Day 2: Oahu (Dole Plantation, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head)

Day 2 started with another sunrise walk along our beach.  This was our last day on Oahu, so we we packed up our stuff since we would not be returning to that airbnb.  We made a loop around the island to finish seeing the touristy stuff.  We started by going to Turtle Bay on the North side of the island.  There were no turtles to be found, but it was a fun beach to walk along and we saw hundreds of crabs.  We then made our way to the Dole Plantation, which opens at 10:00.  It was good to get there early before the lines were too long.  We had bought a ticket for the train ride.  There is also a maze and a few other things we could have done, but the train ride was plenty for us.  We did the train ride then sat down to enjoy an AMAZING Dole Whip.  That was plenty for us here.

We then made our way to Pearl Harbor.  The memorial was shut down due to structural damage, so we were not able to go out on that, which was a bummer.  Also,  when we got there (about noon) we were told that the tickets for the show and ferry (which are free) were out.  We found out that they have standby, so we were still able to do those things.  So don’t panic if they are out of tickets.

 

 

 

 

After Pearl Harbor we headed to Waikiki Beach for some lunch.  I must warn you… it is a busy, crowed place.  Parking was hard to find and it is not a place I would want to spend very much time at.  I am glad we went, but I’m glad we didn’t plan on spending much time there.  We went and had lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise and it was amazing!  I usually don’t get hamburgers, but I had to here and it did not disappoint!

 

 

 

 

After lunch we had to hurry to Diamond Head National Park to hike to the top of the mountain.  The last hike is at 4:00, so we barely made it, but I’m glad we did.  It was a good hard hike, but easy enough that anyone can do it.  We saw so many people who looked miserable in flip flops or even platforms!  Wear good shoes!

 

 

 

 

 

After getting hot and sweaty from all those dang stairs, we found a beach to cool off and swim in before we needed to head to the airport.  We always booked our flights at night, which was nice because we had all day to spend on that island and pack in as much as possible.

Day 3: Maui (zipline, bamboo forest, Paia, Big Beach)

Our first day in Maui started off with the Jungle Zipline, which is located near the beginning of the Road to Hana.  This was our first zipline experience and it was awesome.  It was so beautiful to go through the trees and feel like we were right in the middle of a jungle.

 

 

 

 

Our guide at the zipline told us to try out a hike to the Bamboo Forest.  It is located at mile marker 6.5 on the Road to Hana.  We did that right after our zipline experience was over.  This was my most favorite hike.  It is completely surrounded by the most amazing bamboo trees.  The hike is wet, slippery, muddy and worth every bit of it.  The trail leads to two beautiful waterfalls where many people were jumping off the waterfalls or swimming in the pool below.

A friend of mine recommended that we buy good hiking waterproof shoes.  I can’t tell you how many times we thanked her for that recommendation!  We loved our shoes and found them so helpful in several situations.  This is what we each bought and I highly recommend both.

After our amazing hike to the waterfalls we went to Paia for lunch.  We ate at the Paia Fish Market for lunch and I think this fish salad may have been my favorite meal of the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving Paia we stopped at Target to buy food for breakfast and lunch for the next few days.  We took a little time getting settled into our new Airbnb and coming up with a plan of how to spend the next few days in Maui.  We then went to Big Beach for sunset, which seemed like a local beach because it was very quite and low key.  We played in the ocean here and got knocked around by the waves!  I had the hardest time figuring out how to NOT get pushed ashore by the big waves.  I’m sure it was hilarious to watch this 30 something lady from Wyoming rolling onto shore… I was laughing pretty hard anyways!  We did eventually figure out that if you swim further out past where the wave breaks onto shore it was much easier to enjoy the ocean!

 

 

 

 

Day 4: Maui (Canoe and Snorkeling adventure, shopping, laundry, snow cone, and Haleakala National Park)

We booked a tour where we left from Wailea Beach on a Canoe (similar to Moana’s) and paddled out to a great spot to snorkel.  This was a great way for us to start since we were new to snorkeling.  It helped having a guide there who knew good places to snorkel.  We had such an amazing time swimming with turtles that came right up to us!  We also go to see and hold different sea urchins.  It was well worth the money for the first time, but after that trip we were able to snorkel and find turtles on our own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our amazing snorkel trip we tried to rent mopeds, which I still think would have been fun, but the logistics just didn’t work out for that trip.  So we decided to catch up on some laundry and hang out in the pool while we waited on the laundry to finish.  We then headed up to Haleakala around 4:00pm to grab some dinner and be there in plenty of time to watch the sunset.   If you go here for sunrise, you must first make a reservation, so we preferred going at sunset when it was more laid back.  It was beautiful and I don’t think you can go wrong.  The best advice that I can give for this expedition is to DRESS WARM!  I brought a jacket and my winter coat, gloves, long pants, socks, and a blanket.  I stayed pretty warm, but it was still chilly!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5: Maui (Church, see the island, snorkeling at different beaches)

We started Sunday by going to church.  We sang a hymn in Tongan, which was fun to try.  After church we rented some snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob’s and headed to a new part of the island to see the sights and snorkel along different beaches.

Our first stop was in Lahaina for lunch and to see the famous Banyon tree.  This tree is INCREDIBLE!  It is all one tree even though it looks like a group of 30 trees.  The roots grow from the branches down into the earth where it appears that a new trunk has grown.  I thought of all kinds of ways to relate this tree to different gospel topics for a future talk in church!

 

 

 

 

We had lunch at Captain Jacks in Lahaina and this enchilada was one of my most favorite meals!  It was a great atmosphere and a good food.  If you walk down that main street past Captain Jacks, you can find another place to buy a Dole Whip and don’t pass up that opportunity!

 

 

 

 

Lahaina was a cute little town and it would have been fun to spend more time there, but we had a lot on our list for that day.  Our first stop was Kaanapali Beach. This beach was slightly crowded, but we were able to snorkel with some cool fish. Unfortunately, this is when we broke our waterproof digital camera, so we didn’t get pictures underwater from here on our.  This was a great camera until we forgot to close the cap and water got in it.  If you are looking at options, I do recommend this one:

We then headed up the coast and stopped at Napili beach.  This one was smaller and still a bit crowded, but still a very nice beach.  It’s shaped like a C and has rocky edges that made for great snorkeling.  We had not found turtles and were about to leave, but just then, a huge turtle came right up to the shoreline.  It never came all the way out of the water, but it was about as close to shore as it could be without coming out.  We got our snorkel gear back on and hung out with that turtle for a long time and watched him eat plankton off the rocks.  Someone gave us a tip that there were more turtles around the bend, and sure enough! We found another 4 turtles.

Our final beach stop for the day was at Kapalua Bay.  This beach was nearly empty when we got there and we did have it to ourselves by the end.  I think that is what made it my favorite of the three.  It was beautiful and we swam with some awesome turtles again.  I seriously could watch them for hours!


 

 

 

Day 6: Maui (Road to Hana)

We saved the best for last.  You have to do the Road to Hana if you go to Maui.  It is a windy, narrow road through a jungle with lots of stops to see waterfalls, hikes, beaches and incredible scenery.  My friend gave me a document that served as our guide for knowing where and when to stop and what we were looking for.  There really aren’t signs or parking lots, so you just see a bunch of cars stopped along the road, but you don’t always know what they are looking at.  This guide had mile markers and what to expect at each mile markers.  There just isn’t time to see it all in one day, so that guide helped us know which stops we wanted to make and which ones were ok to skip.  We loved swimming in the waterfalls and seeing the black sand beaches.  I am so glad we made it to Hana.  It is a cute little town with the most incredible black sand beaches and the bluest water.

 

 

 

 

 

One important thing to remember about doing the Road to Hana is that you need to be back to Paia before it gets dark.  It would be a scary road to drive in the dark!  We make it to Ho’okipa Lookout in time for sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

There are showers at Ho’okipa beach that I wish we could have used, but they closed at 7:00pm and we just missed it.  But we found a place to change in Paia, grabbed one last snow cone and then headed to the airport to head home.

Our trip was over, but it was perfect.

I hope that this day by day guide might help you plan a trip to Hawaii.  I love the memories of this trip and am so grateful we could do it.  We came home with about $200 left over out of our $5,000 budget.  That included everything we spent for this trip.

An amazing vacation within our budget makes me nice and happy!