and the journey finally began {a miracle}

It is 11:45 on Sunday night. I basically never stay up this late writing a post for the next day. All weekend I have been going back and forth about what to share (or more honestly, what not to share) today. You see, most people think if you have a blog you are pretty much an open book. I’d say that is true for some areas, but the reality is I share a bunch of crafts, some decorating and random tidbits of my days. There is a lot I don’t share. So that brings me to today’s post…it is going to be a long one. There is a lot I wasn’t going to share until a later date, but I have a story to tell. It isn’t really my story, but if you hear it…I want you to hear it from me.

Let me start by saying, I know people from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of personalities and all kinds of beliefs read this blog. We are all so different. This post will completely resonate with some of you and for others of you…this post might be baffling. Nonetheless, thanks for reading this blog…I have a story to share.

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On April 9th, I downloaded an application from the internet.

I found a quiet spot in FireCracker’s room with a cup of coffee began filling it out.
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Part of the application needed Chris to work on. You can tell this was several months ago, based on the open windows. It is way too hot here for that now. (108, 110, 111, 110, 108, 107, 108 – forecast for the next 7 days!)
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Later that night we ended up in the hospital. We stayed for the rest of April. I finished that application sitting next to her hospital bed with more coffee.
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Once we got home, I got back in project mode…and moved on to the next application….with more coffee. Honestly, I didn’t realize there was coffee in all these pictures until I started writing this post. I only drink one cup a day and half of it is milk, but I look like an addict in these pics! I will say this picture is such a reflection of me right now. There is paint on my hand from a project, my son’s Phonics book near me, a cup of coffee, tank top & ponytail.

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My dirty mailbox on the day those applications got mailed.
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Not so long after, I found myself driving 13 hours to Colorado. Chris turned my phone into a “hot spot” and I was able to start and complete 12 hours of online training. It was actually more like 18 hours because I failed one class 3 times. Don’t ask.
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More answers to more questions, while I enjoyed the Colorado air. Evidently, I traded my coffee mug in for a pink sippy cup.
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In 2005, we first began the process of looking into adoption. We began the process 2 other times after that, but each time something made us stop. We have always known our family would be built through adoption. It was always just a matter of time. 7 years ago we began an “adoption fund”. It was a little bit of money we would set aside for our adoption. However, every time we’d have something we could put in it…we’d feel God asking us to give it to someone else in support of their adoption. I am passionate about caring for the fatherless and being an advocate for children who do not have a voice. Though my personal longing has been for adoption, in recent years I’ve felt God place me in the role of advocating and supporting others in their adoption journeys. As much as I have loved supporting others, that longing to be on the journey myself remained.  After years of waiting, in April we felt the “go ahead” and we finally got to begin the journey to bring our little one home.

The initial paperwork wasn’t a big deal. What was a big deal was the $20,000+ we would need to come up with to make the adoption possible. That was a daunting number. Just a few short weeks after our journey began, some of our very dear friends The Ws began the same journey…with the same agency…from the same place. While we were both working on paperwork, I sensed God leading me to tell them He would fund part of their adoption through my blog. I called my friend and told her. At the time I guessed it would be around $1,000….afterall it isn’t like I have 50 sponsors paying tons each month, and we needed our adoption funded too.

A few weeks later, I found myself going from coffee shop to coffee shop writing the curriculum for the online version of SnapShops (which starts today!).

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As I prepared the course, I prayed that it would fund our adoption. Then, I read Eph. 3:20 about God doing more than we could imagine. I began to think “what would be the craziest thing I could ask God to do in this situation?” So, I began dreaming and asking Him to provide $40,000 by December ($20,000 for our adoption, $20,000 for the W’s adoption) through SnapShops online. I’ve never made $40,000 in a year…or even remotely close to that. I can’t explain it, but I clearly knew He was going to do it. I told my friend to be prepared because by December they’d have $20,000 towards their adoption. She, naturally, thought I was crazy and took it with a grain of salt.

I went on working on the class and doing what little we could at this stage in our adoption process…things like taking the older boys for passport pictures.

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On Saturday, July 23rd I sent my friend a text, “God is providing for your adoption on Monday.”

On Monday, July 25th, I woke up with nothing in our adoption fund and opened registration for the online course. Then I clicked over to my friend Angie’s blog. She is in China meeting her daughter. Last year I had the opportunity to be an advocate for her adoption (it is a fun post to read). What a gift it was to wake up that morning and see her daughter in her arms for the first time. My heart soared in happiness for Angie and hope that soon I’d be on that side of the story. I started my normal morning routine with the kids and started hearing my iPad “ding”. It started “ding”ing ALOT, which meant I was getting a bunch of emails. A quick check showed me they were coming from PayPal…you all were registering for the SnapShop course. I told a friend it was like in It’s A Wonderful Life where everytime a bell rings and angel gets its wings. Well, everytime the iPad dings…my child gets closer to home!

Throughout the day Monday, my oldest and I watched the numbers on PayPal grow. He knew the goal and when it reached $20,000 he was thrilled that we could “go get his sister and now start saving for the Ws”. It was a priceless moment to teach him that we would be obedient with what we felt God had led us to do and we would give to the Ws first knowing He would provide for our needs too. Big concept for a 7 year old…or any age for that matter. Monday morning I had about $180.00 in my PayPal account. On Wednesday night I closed registration with about $40,500 in my PayPal account! Amazing and miraculous – yes! Shocking and surprising – not with God. And the whole time I watched Him provide in a miraculous way, He let me watch Angie in China..and gave me a glimpse that it is finally time for Him to bring my child home and He would remove all the obstacles I thought were in the way of that.

As soon as I closed registration, I wiped pizza off my kid’s faces and took a pic to text to my friends.

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So to all of you that are logging into the course today…thank you! Thank you for helping me bring my child home. Thank you for being a part of this story. We still have a bit to go on our own adoption, but my dream is to see a portion of every online SnapShop go towards adoptions, orphan care, child advocacy. As I get to teach others how to capture the beauty in their day to day lives, I’m excited that their investment can help create beauty in the day to day lives of children. This is all so exciting!

So, my little family of 6 will be a family of 7 sometime next year. I am sure many of you have so many questions about our process and where we are at. I’ll share all that eventually. We have a good wait ahead of us. All I know now is 4 of my kids are under my roof and one is on the other side of the globe. After years of waiting…now we only have months of waiting.

Thanks for letting me share my story…really it is His story.

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  • Susannah - Wow! Thank you for sharing this. It is so amazing what God can do. A huge reminder to ask God for the big things! He can totally provide even when it seems impossible.

  • Susannah - I shared about this blog post and how it moved me in my blog. I’d love for you to read it and see how God is using you in my life!

    http://susannahkellogg.blogspot.com/2012/06/trust.html

  • Brandy Anderson - So beautiful and so special! I cried reading it. Congrats to you and your family!!! :) So Amazing.

  • Elizabeth Stewart - Could you please share your wisdom of fundrasing with me?? It has always been a dream of mine to adopt, the Lord has been pulling on the strings of my heart to pursue this dream. My husband and I have been discussing it with one another, we currently have two children, and would love to give another child a loving home! When you say God moves mountains, you remind me He really can do anything! The money seems like so much more than we could generate, but you’re right, God is greater! Could you please email me and give me some tips and advice. I would love to know what God used, to be able to fund your adoption and give another child a family.Crazy, by some divine intervention I came across your blog, and you are leaving in a few short days to meet your daughter! My email is emvrck89@gmail.com

  • Julie - I just found your blog today… I’ve been sitting here reading about your adoption journey because I’ve felt God’s calling in my own life. Thank you for being open and transparent. And thank you for allowing God to use to touch so many lives, including mine!

  • Bethany Manning - A friend telling me about your story (while the details she said were not perfect) are what God used to confirm for me adoption is the way He plans to bring our 3rd child AND that He will provide the money miraculously! Thank you for sharing, so others can adopt too! There is a little girl out there & God wants me to be her Mommy & I may never have known that without your story! God bless!

  • Bree March - I stumbled upon this blog and this post, but it meant so much to me. You see, my husband and I adopted two children from a disruption. My children are now 20 and 23 and left home last year to be grown ups ;-) My husband and I are 37 and 33, and are empty nesters. We have felt a tugging on our hearts to adopt again. There’s just one problem… it’s costs a lot of $$$. We know this firsthand! We just applied to a hosting program for older adoptable children in Columbia. Everything is falling into place for us, but again we keep thinking we can’t afford to adopt again. Finally I threw up my hands and said if God wants us to adopt these children He will bring the provision. I’m so encouraged by your story!

  • Beth - I just found your site through Pinterest. My family is in the beginning stages of the adoption process. I am also a photographer, so I’m really interested in how your family raised money for your adoption. I’ve always thought about using my photography to raise money for our adoption, but I already give all my proceeds from my photo sessions to an orphan ministry. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!

  • Jeanine Hardgrave - We have been praying the past year about adoption. We are in the process, as you were, of figuring out where ? County, international ? I dont know yet ! My children want to adopt from Africa….and my husband wants a child with a physical disability. I just want to open my home to a child who needs love !
    Well, currently we are facing some extreme financial trouble, and are relying completely on Him. Exactly where He wants us :) This blog post was what I needed to read to encourage me to keep relying on His provision and His plan for us. He knows, and with Him all things are possible. Thank you so much for being faithful to His leading and posting a story like this….so I could stumble upon it today :)

  • Adoption | Alpha and Omega » Kate Eschbach - […] I remember Ashley's post when Firecracker was in the hospital when she was filling out paperwork… […]

  • our 2012 family album {blurb photo books} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] parts as well…not just stuff from the blog. I also included ALL of your comments from the post when we announced we were adopting and the post where we held her for the first time. Those comments take up half of the book. I […]

  • Mary Powell - My daughter introduced me to your blog and I love it so much. I very much want to take one of your photography classes but am always confessing that I can’t afford it. Then I read your blog today. Hmmmm. A little reproving AND very encouraging. For various reasons although I desired to adopt a child myself it wasn’t something I was able to do. I applaud your efforts toward adoption. And I deeply admire your bold stand on the promises of our Heavenly Father! What a wonderful example. Thanks so much for sharing honestly. I love watching your family grow!
    And soon I will be signing up for one of your classes and how fun to know that I will be helping you or someone else with their adoption.
    Thank you!

  • Colby - Hello Ashley,

    I want to thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful family. What an inspiration it is to read. Ashley, my husband and I are thinking about adoption and I will be honest in saying that beginning the process by choosing the right agency is a little overwhelming. What agency did you use? Were you satisfied or do you have another recommendation? I SO greatly appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

    God Bless You,
    Colby

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