Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's GO time!!!

It’s Go Time!

Friends and family, I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to share that we are going to India… THIS TUESDAY!!!! 

We received word today that the girl’s passports are ready and we have been granted permission to travel immediately.  We are blessed to be working with an organization called Adoption Airfare which has secured us humanitarian rates and are booking are flights right now.  Julie is franticly working on setting up our appointments with the orphanage and the U.S. Embassy. We are so excited, we can barely think straight!

We still need a little help financially.

In all our planning, we never for a moment thought that we would be able to travel to pick up the girls as a family.  But recently, an anonymous donor has contributed specifically to cover the expense of one of our kids.  They were hoping we could get enough to cover the other.  Julie and I have saved and pinched every penny and we are almost there!  All we need to cover is airfare for one kid!  We are about $2,000 short to be able to travel as a family and experience this growth all together.  I can’t imagine how much this will affect Winter and Noah, both in connection with their new siblings, but also as they have a chance to see a much bigger world.

I recognize that we are asking above and beyond for help.  You guys have done so much to support us in this four year quest.  But my heart can’t help but hope that we could reach this last goal.  If you could help in anyway, I would be eternally grateful and I believe it will pay life long dividends as my kids are affected by this life changing opportunity.  If we have offended anyone by our asking, I beg that you would indulge a father who wants the best for his children and forgive me this offense.

Please be praying for us!  We will keep everyone informed as we move forward!  Be prepared to have your Facebook blown up next week with about a million pictures!  Next stop - India!  These two beauties will be in our arms in less than 10 days!!!!!!!

Monday, June 8, 2015



It’s a word I have heard thrown around lately.  There is some public debate as to whom that word may apply to.  My social media has been blown up with memes supporting or descrying individuals who may or may not be worthy of the moniker.  My television argues that courage may have more to do with lifestyle choices than with actions…until I switch the channel and hear the exact opposite.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen word a highjacked by so many to support their political and social positions.  I’m not sure I’m discerning enough to define that term within our culture.  No, I’m not sure what courage means to us.  But I know what it looks like.

For the past four years, I have followed the stories of parents pursuing adoption.  I have seen families start, not in the maternity ward, but in institutional buildings where the kids get to remember the first meeting with mom and dad.  All are inspiration stories and most end in children going from emotional destitution to health and growth in a loving family.  But before that…before the happy every after…comes fear.

I spent some time today thinking about getting my little girls.  We are soooooo close!  I’m hopeful that we will be traveling within the month.  The first time I get to see them face to face, I am going to be overwhelmed with emotions like love and joy.  But what will they feel?  Here are two strangers who have come to take them away from the only life they have known.  Strangers who don’t look the same, who don’t speak the same, who are about to thrust them into a world they can’t even conceive of.  I can’t imagine having an experience like that.  I would be beyond terrified.  I’ve never faced anything like that in my life.  But my girls will.  They will be afraid.  They will face upheaval.  But with a courage I could never muster, they will move beyond fear and into family.  

So thanks, girls, for being a great example amongst so many bad ones.  Thanks for inspiring me before we’ve even met.  As hard as this journey is going to be, I can’t wait to walk it with you.  Because, ultimately, your courage transforms more than just you.  It effects me too. After all, I get to go from being a stranger to being daddy.  And nothing will be better than that.

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's Official!

Four years.

That’s how long we have been at this process.  Four years.  We started with some paperwork that escalated into a mountain of documentation and a vetting process that should have resulted in top secret clearance.  Somehow, that transformed into a series of photographs showing the most precious little girls in the most broken of circumstances.  We said yes to those photos and spent the next two years begging for a yes in return.  So, what happens when it’s all said and done?  When courts finally make their rulings and documents of approval are sent to us from half a world away?  What do you do when you finally get that longed for “yes”?  How do you celebrate a milestone that has consumed your life for FOUR. LONG. YEARS?

Well, in my case, you get a raging infection and go immediately to intensive care.

That’s right, family and friends, we finally received our written orders that approved the adoption of Abigail and Autumn two weeks ago.  And in response, I wound up in the hospital the next day.  I was septic and spent a rather miserable weekend in the ICU while they pumped gallons of antibiotics into my veins.  This was no vacation.  This was dodging a bullet.  Definitely not the way I imagined welcoming the news that it was almost time to bring my girls home.  As you can imagine, I have been struggling to recover since my release from the hospital.  (Did I mention I got mono, too? I got mono, too.)   This is the first time I have felt well enough to attempt to compose a blog and fill everyone in.  The truth is, my little trip to Club Med put us a bit behind the eight ball.  Let me give you an update…

  1. We have verbal and written approval of our adoption!  This means that Abby and Autumn are legally ours!  
2. We are thinking that we will be traveling some time in mid June!  This is scary and awesome!
3. We still need to raise a bit more money both for our travel as well as the initial financial costs      of getting the girls home.  Travel has gone up since we first made a budget and it’s going to be a bit more than we thought (isn’t that always the case).

Here’s what we are asking from our family and friends…

  1. Pray for us!  We are excited to finally be in the home stretch, but it is stressful as well.  We want to be able to pick these girls up with confidence that God will provide for all our needs.
  2. Pray for the girls!  This is going to be a huge transition for Abby and Autumn.  I can’t imagine how scary this will be for them.  We know that they are coming into a family that will love and cherish them, but it will be a completely different experience for them.  We are asking God to give them courage and comfort as they experience all these rapid changes.
  3. Pray for Winter and Noah!  Over the last four years, no one has sacrificed like our kids.  They have had to give up our attention as we focused on these long processes.  They have dealt with disappointments as things didn’t turn out as we had hoped.  And there have been financial sacrifices.  No vacations.  Spending limits.  Second hand clothes.  If not for the generosity of family and friends (I’m looking at you, Suresh!) birthdays and Christmas would have been a tough go.  And from now on, everything gets divided four ways instead of two.   Pray that God would bless them through this last month of waiting.  Pray that they would bond with their sisters quickly and that they would find all they have been through totally worth it
  4. Finally, if you would like to donate to help us cover the last bit of our expenses, the link is here on our page.  We would be grateful for anything!

Hopefully, the next time I update, I can tell you that we are fully funded and that we have a travel date.  Then our story can really begin…

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Heading toward the finish line

Three and a half years.

When we started this journey to adopt, I couldn't imagine we would still be at it three and a half years later.  I thought I was impatient waiting nine months when Julie was pregnant with our older two!  That was a cakewalk (At least for me - she may have different opinions on the matter) compared with three and a half years.  But finally, after all the paper work, all the praying, and all the anxiety of pursuing two beautiful girls from the other side of the world…we can see the finish line!

We expect that sometime in the next month, we will receive court approval in India (fingers crossed and crossed again!!!) and around a month later, we will be traveling to bring Abigail and Autumn home!  To put this in more traditional terms, we are beyond expecting, we are getting ready to head to the hospital.  To say that we are excited is the understatement of the year! Well, the understatement of three and a half years to be precise.  Hopefully, before the first quarter of 2015 is over, we will be traveling to India for ten days and returning with the daughters that God had planned for us before we ever knew it.  How exciting…and stressful…and crazy…and every other emotion rolled into one!  The bottom line is - we can’t wait!

This imminent arrival means a couple of things for us.  The first is that once we pass court, we can publicly share photos of our girls.  So many people have helped us without ever being able to see what you were giving toward.  We can’t wait to introduce you a little better!  As soon as we are allowed, expect some great pics of our new princesses.  The second is that we need to fundraise a little more.  We hate to ask for more from our friends and family but we still have traveling needs.  It is expensive to travel to and from India as well as food, hotel, medical and government expenses.  We have saved and scrimped over the past year, but we have also incurred many expenses and fees due to the dragging out of this process.  Therefore we are still short of crossing the finish line.  So we are looking for some help.  Again.  

In the next couple of weeks, we will be doing two fundraisers.  One is the opportunity to buy a cool t-shirt that will help fund our trip.  The second is through a company that sells knives and kitchen utensils.  Sounds exciting, right?  Of course it is!  Regardless, your help gets you  something cool and helps us to do something life changing.  I’m hoping you will consider doing some shopping for a good cause.  

We will be posting info on Facebook and Twitter over the next few weeks.  My apologies if your feed gets blown up with requests.  If it gets on your nerves too much, feel free to block us till the spring.  We won’t be offended (I’ll simply cry myself to sleep every night on my huge pillow).  But if possible, please consider giving toward this final push.  We will also be posting a link to give directly to an adoption account if your would rather do that.  I cannot thank everyone enough for the generosity that we have already experienced and for the gifts that are sure to come. The finish line is looming…help us cross it!

With gratitude,

Aaron and Julie

Saturday, November 22, 2014

BIG NEWS! Finally moving forward!!

We have great news to share with all of you.  We received the ARC approval AND the NOC approval – BOTH IN ONE DAY!!! We are so incredibly excited! These two steps are very significant for a few reasons:

  1. The orphanage director will now tell Abby and Autumn that they have a family and are going to be adopted.
  2. Our “match” (or referral for those adoption lingo experts) with Abby and Autumn cannot be taken away at this point. It will not fall through. There are no objections at any level in either country's government.
  3. We are allowed to send Abby and Autumn a letter and scrapbook introducing ourselves to them! We are super duper excited about this part – it will be their first ever Christmas present!!

So, I am sure your next questions are “what's next?” and “when are they coming home?”. Here are the steps left in the process:

  1. Court – Next up is the court hearing where a judge will grant guardianship of the girls to us. This is where we become a family! They will officially be Fraleys. Our case will be filed in court sometime in the next two weeks. Then we will wait for the hearing to be scheduled. Sometimes only one hearing is necessary, but some judges have 2 or even 3 hearings before they rule on an adoption case. We are praying for one and done!
  2. Passports – After court, we will need to wait for the written court orders to be issued. These written orders will be used to file for Abby and Autumn's passports. Passports can be done in as quickly as 2 weeks, but sometimes can take months. You just never know. Every family's story is different.
  3. Travel – Once Abby and Autumn's passports are ready, we are free to go pick them up!!

We are really really close now! This means we need to kick our final stage of fundraising into high gear. Our agency estimates that we will need $10,000 to completely finish the adoption from this point. That includes all travel costs. We currently have about $6,000 raised/saved. So, expect to see lots of fundraisers from us in the near future and pray for lots of overtime to be offered :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Waiting on the world to change....

I wish we had some wonderful news to tell you, but really our adoption status is basically the same. We are still waiting for final state approval (ARC) and final federal approval (NOC) before our case can go to court. We know that our documents have been reviewed at least twice and both times the answer was to request more documents, including a fully updated home study with all the related documents and background checks updated as well, which cost us over $1,000 to complete. That hurdle has been overcome and we are praying that the third time is a charm. Any day now we could hear the news that we have been waiting on for over 7 months. 7 months!! Several families have received their ARC approval in the past few weeks followed by the NOC only days later and are now moving on to court. This is so exciting! We believe this means our turn is coming soon.

Speaking of other families, can I just take a minute to tell you all how thankful we are for the other adoptive families that we have met through this process?! It is a long and difficult road, but Aaron and I share it with some of the most amazing people. The logistical knowledge that a family two steps ahead of us can share is priceless and the emotional and spiritual support that comes from a team of moms and dads all praying together for their children, the adoption process, the orphanage directors, the state committees, finances and fundraising.... I honestly don't know how I would have made it this far without them. And the funny thing is – I have never met any of these people in person, but we are knit together so tightly in our little online community. Ooohhh but we will meet in person one day! Our daughters have no idea yet that there is a family pursuing them. They do not know that they will soon be adopted and leave the orphanage forever. They may even be broken hearted because they watch other children leaving and joining their forever families. One of those little girls shares a bedroom and a nanny with our Abby. She may leave the orphanage before Abby finds out she is being adopted. BUT, the cool thing is that us moms are connected and our girls are going to meet again. And this time, they can introduce each other to their families and their new brothers and sisters!! What a reunion that will be!! We have the privilege of knowing the families of at least 5 other kids who were with our Abby and Autumn in the same orphanage. What a comfort and support these kids will have in each other as they grow up here!

As the holidays approach, we find ourselves looking back to last year and remembering how you, our family and friends, rallied around us and provided the “ransom money” that was needed to secure Abby and Autumn's adoption. We just wanted to take another minute to say thank you again. We feel so loved and supported and grateful. We know that you sacrificed to get us where we are today and your generosity did not go unnoticed. Oh how we wish you could have seen a faster return on your investments (LOL). We could have never imagined then, especially with the time constraints and pressure that was being placed on us, that we would still be waiting for our family to be united this holiday season. It seems crazy! But we sure do wait in good company. You have all been so wonderful in asking about the girls, praying with us, encouraging us, and just sharing in this part of our lives. The words “thank you” don't seem like enough, but please know that they are said with very full hearts and great sincerity.

One last thing - We were recently blessed with some new pictures of our daughters. As you all know, we cannot share these photos online, but we would love to show you the next time we see you, so be sure to ask us!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Deja Vu.... All Over Again

        Our adoption journey started out like everyone else’s.  We got a Home Study.  This is where a social worker from your state collects lots of information on you and the family to make sure you are suitable to be adoptive parents.  You get finger printed, background checked, fire inspected, medically certified, and personally interviewed to make sure you are on the up and up.  Since we were new at the experience, it took us a while to pull everything together but, eventually, we passed with flying colors.  That was two and a half years ago (this is what our English teachers called foreshadowing).

Two weeks ago we received some good news/bad news from our adoption agency.  The good news was that India was looking at our file!  That means we are heading into the final phase of our adoption.  We couldn’t be happier about this information.  The bad news was that they had decided that our home study was too old.  We needed to redo the whole thing.

There are no words to express how frustrating this is.  But we know from experience that anything worth doing has its share of setbacks.  We have jumped back into the process of getting a home study with more experience and it has been moving along much faster this time around.  We will get the last of the needed papers late this week or early next.  Our biggest holdup is the price tag that came along with the updated study.  It is expensive and we don’t have the money.  We are asking for prayer that God would faithfully provide once again.  Hopefully, that will put us back on track come October.  Thanks so much for remembering us in your prayers!  We will update as soon as we know what’s gonna happen next.