Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heart of the Monster

I mentioned earlier that we have decided to keep things simple and cheap this summer and not do any overnight travelling. This past month I have been intentionally trying to be more aware of the beauty right around me (which really isn't that hard considering where we live). I have spent a lot of time walking the dogs at a park only 5 minutes from my house, called Heart of the Monster. For those of you who don't live in the area, it is nothing creepy like the name may suggest. It is a national historical park that is the legendary birthplace of the Nez Perce Tribe. It is a very pleasant place to walk around just outside of town and it is a good spot for bird- watching and sometimes you can even spot an otter. If you are ever driving across the state on US-12, it is worth a stop to stretch your legs and maybe have a picnic. Below is a summary of what my June looked like:
On a different note, you may have noticed I have added a store on the top of my blog through I have hand- picked all sorts of products, such as adoption and parenting books, children's books and activities, and cooking and baking accessories. I hope you take a few minutes to browse; there's something for everybody. A percentage of every purchase will go toward our adoption expenses. Make sure to check back often as I will be routinely adding new products. Also, if you already have something in mind you want to buy from, you can do so by clicking on one of their ads on my blog and I will receive a percentage of that purchase as well. These are just a couple of easy ways to make the most of your online shopping. Thanks!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Long- Awaited Name Announcement

As we are waiting on the approval of our immigration paperwork, I figure it is as good a time as any to finally announce the name we have chosen for our son. {We need a more lighthearted post after the last one anyway.} I have been thinking about baby names most of my married life. I don't even want to think how many hours I've spent scouring baby name sites, which mostly ended up being a waste of time. Matt and I agree on many things, but surprisingly, baby names are not one of those things. It has taken us a very long time to decide on a name that we are both happy with. Another factor that probably did not help the process any was that the image or idea of who our child is going to be kept changing throughout the years: the original plan was to have a biological child, then we thought our first child would be a Russian toddler, and now our son is a Congolese baby.

We are happy to announce that our son's name will be Roland Everett.
(As a note: this will not be his legal name until he is re-adopted in Idaho, but we have decided to start using it).

Roland is a name that has long been used in literature for brave, warrior type characters. "The Song of Roland", the oldest surviving major work in French literature, is an epic poem  about a bold warrior named Roland, who died in 778.

"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" is a famous poem written by Robert Browning in 1855. (The word childe was a medieval term for a young knight.) Based on this poem, Stephen King wrote his "The Dark Tower" series of books, in which Roland is the last surviving gunslinger who bravely embarks on a quest to reach the Dark Tower, in the hope of saving the world from unraveling into chaos.

Roland is an old Germanic name that means "famous throughout the land". Everett is an old English name that means "brave as a wild boar'. In living up to his name, we hope that he will walk through his life bravely doing what is just and right. While he doesn't necessarily have to be famous, we hope he will be known for his good heart, portraying God's love to others around him. I know, we have high hopes for him. :)

Roland Everett will share a connection to both of our families. He will carry on the Taylor family name and will also share the same first two initials with my dad, uncle and grandpa. 

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
 to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


We found out today that we will definitely not be bringing our son home this summer. That is has been the stance of our agency lately, but I was holding out a little hope as long as I could. Now I keep replaying the past few weeks in my mind, trying to figure out if anything could have been done differently.

This all started when our agency gave us the choice of filing our I600 paperwork in the U.S. or the DRC. This was a surprise because all along we were discouraged from filing in Congo, but our agency received some vague information from the US Embassy. The Embassy has to do orphan  investigations in the city that the child is from and they planned to go to our child's home city in June. Our agency told us we may or may not have a better chance of being a part of the June investigation if we filed in the DRC. Doing this would have required one of us to make an extra trip to Congo for a few days. This was never much of an option because we did not get our yellow fever shots early enough (you have to get them 2 weeks before travel). So, all of this was brought up to us very last minute and they gave us very vague information. Based on this we decided to go ahead with the original plan and file our paperwork in the U.S. Now that the investigations are complete, we have received confirmation that our son's case was not included in them. It turns out that those families who did file their I600 in the DRC were included. Nobody really knows when the Embassy will return to that city to do more investigations, but the estimates are at least 6 months.

How could things have gone differently? Maybe if our home study agency was more efficient and did not take 7 whole months to complete our home study report, then we would have been farther along in the process by now and our I600 would have already been approved (although we may have been matched with a different child). If we had received our yellow fever shots earlier along in the process, then maybe we would have taken the extra trip to Congo. Our agency gave us absolutely no guidance about when to get our shots until it was too late. It's so aggravating to think that if just one or two things happened a few weeks quicker, we would probably be bringing our son home this summer. Some things cannot be controlled, but I do feel the Embassy and our agency let us down somewhat.  There is no reason why the Embassy could not give accurate information to our agency more than 2 weeks in advance about who will be included in the investigation. Also, our agency used different terminology every time we spoke to them about our child's chances of being investigated. They went from "we just don't know" to "he will not be included" after it was already too late for us to do anything. They also should have given us guidance on our required vaccinations earlier on in the process.

So, because of the decisions and actions of many people, our baby will probably spend another 6 months without a family and adequate medical care. There is nothing we can do about it except pray. I pray that we will really not have to wait 6 months for them to do another batch of investigations. I pray that our child will remain as healthy as possible until we are allowed to bring him home. I pray that corruption or civil unrest will not force the adoption program in Congo to close before our adoption is complete. The DRC is a unsettled place; a lot can happen in 6 months. So, we are just in wait and pray mode.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Afternoon

I have been productive this Sunday afternoon doing some yummy, healthy baking. I made up some Granola and Molasses Raisin Bran Muffins.

I also pulled a few weeds out of our very first vegetable garden. I know it looks a little rough, but we are trying to keep this a simple and low- cost project. We are attempting to grow: tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, jalapenos, chili peppers, and green and red bell peppers.  We'll see what we get.

My view while weeding the garden- not too shabby.

While I was slaving away over a hot oven and in a hot garden, this is what my dogs were doing all afternoon:


It doesn't seem quite fair.

I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hand in Hand Grant

We have been blessed by receiving a matching grant from Hand in Hand to help with the rest of our adoption expenses. Many of you have already received donation letters in the mail, but I also want to share the information to our friends who we do not have current addresses for and for others we may not know personally. You can donate to our adoption fund through Hand in Hand and the first $2,500 will be matched by them. All donations are tax- deductible and need to be received by July 15. Below are letters that contain the rest of the information. We truly appreciate all of your prayers and support. Any donation will be a great help in finally bringing our baby home.


Dear Family and Friends,
As many of you may have already heard, we are in the process of adopting a baby boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. We have always wanted children and we feel that it is God’s plan for us to build our family through adoption. We have been planning to adopt for several years and finally began the journey in April 2012. Our adoption has been approved in court in the DRC and we hope to bring our baby home in the next 2- 6 months. We are so excited to finally meet our son and to become his “forever family”.

This road to adoption is full of many joys and challenges, the greatest joy being the inclusion of a child into our family and the greatest challenge being finances.  The costs of adoption include the expense of a home study, adoption agencies, lawyers, travel expenses, etc., with the total cost ending up around $34,000.  With the help of our parents, we have already paid a portion of the expenses, but we are still in need of $12,000.

We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. a non-profit private operating foundation.  Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption.  All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to our awarded grant amount.   All donations are tax-deductible.

Please find enclosed a grant award letter that will explain more about the matching grant program from Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. You can find out more about Hand in Hand through their website at If you have further questions about the Hand in Hand matching grant program please feel free to email us at  You may also contact Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. with any questions you may have.  They can be reached at 913-248-5015 or by e-mail at

Please send all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by July 15, 2013 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Matthew and Cassandra Taylor
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardener, KS 66030

   Thank you for your prayerful consideration in helping a child find a “forever” family.

Walking Hand in Hand,
Matthew & Cassandra Taylor

Dear Matthew & Cassandra:

We have reviewed your application for a matching grant and are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded a dollar for dollar matching grant up to $5,000. The specific amount received will depend on the amount of funds donated by family and friends on your behalf. The grant amount includes both the funds raised and the funds matched by HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc. If you raise $2,500 from family and friends, HANDinHAND will match those funds for a total grant of $5,000.

All monies will be disbursed directly to your adoption agency, adoption lawyer or other adoption expenses after HANDinHAND has received an approved invoice from one of these sources. Monies already paid will not be reimbursed. Only outstanding balances will be paid by your awarded grant. Monies will be disbursed up to the amount of the final awarded grant. Funds received over the grant amount will go toward your adoption expenses not to exceed the outstanding adoption costs. Funds received over outstanding adoption expenses will help other children find "forever" families through the general fund of HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc.

All donated monies must be in our HANDinHAND office or postmarked by July 15, 2013 to be considered in the dollar for dollar match for your specific grant. Funds received after this time will go toward the general fund of HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc. to continue to help children find "forever" families.

In the case of a disrupted adoption, monies will be held for your use for up to 1 year from the disruption then after that time will be used to help other children and their families through Hand in Hand’s general fund.

We are so excited to be able in a small way to help a child find a "forever" family. Thank you for being obedient to God’s call in your life to help a child. We appreciate your heart and look forward to working with you in accomplishing this goal.


Trudy A. George
HANDinHAND Christian Adoption, Inc.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Keeping Perspective

Living in America, we are blessed with such an abundance of everything: food, health care, opportunities, safety, freedom. I do believe these are blessings, but they can also be a bit of a curse to us. We are completely surrounded by American luxuries, making us constantly compare our standard of living to other Americans. Who we should really be comparing our standard of living to is everybody else. Ever since we started this adoption, I have read A LOT about the living conditions of so many people living in developing countries. I read about it, I cry, I pray, and then the next day I'm jealous about something I don't have. Even when I KNOW I have so much, I still frequently fall into the American thinking of "keeping up with the Jones'". I have listed my honest thoughts that I frequently have, coming from a typical American perspective. Below each one I have written the thoughts I should be having, based on a global humanity perspective. For some reason these more "global" thoughts do not come naturally so I am making a more determined effort to be continually grateful for all God has given me in this life.

 American thought: Matt's job is so hard on him/ us. He should get paid more for all the work he does.
Global thought: Matt has a full- time job that he can feel good about. His employer pays his salary on a regular basis and he also receives vacation time, medical and life insurance, and a retirement account. We will never be rich according to American standards, but we really are quite wealthy. Even compared to many Americans, we aren't doing so bad. If you make $25,000 a year, you are among the top 10% of the world's wealthiest people.

American thought: I wish we had a newer car that was big enough to fit our baby and the two dogs at the same time.
Global thought: We own a car that has heat and air conditioning and it safely transports us to the places we need to go. Less than 10% of the world's population can afford to own their own car.

American thought: I wish I lived in a slightly bigger house with more modern amenities.
Global thought: We live in a comfortable house in a safe neighborhood. We have clean running temperature- controlled water, a reliable heat source, a kitchen full of appliances and a bed and couches so we can rest comfortably off of the floor. If you sleep in a house every night that keeps you safe from the elements, have clothes to wear and keep your food fresh in a refrigerator,  you are living better than 75% of the world.

American thought: I wish I could afford organic and other specialty food. I wish we could go out to eat more often.
Global thought: I have always been able to afford nutritious food to sustain ourselves.
 There are 925 million people who suffer from hunger on a daily basis.

American thought: I wish we could afford to travel more and do more expensive types of recreation besides walking in the woods.
Global thought: We have enough leisure time and health to even think about recreation. We live in a beautiful area that we can safely explore in day trips from our house. We have enough money to fill our car with gas and we don't have to worry about being attacked while driving around the countryside or taking a walk.

American thought: I wish we could afford to buy more expensive dog food. I wish our dogs had a big fenced- in yard to run and play in.
Global thought: We are wealthy enough to own pets just for the novelty of them. Our dogs do not live on the street, they are not abused, and they are not used for scientific testing. Our dogs are better fed and better cared for than many children in the world. They have never suffered from a lack of food or love.

American thought: I don't feel like waking up so early to go to church. I feel like doing something more fun than reading one of the several Bibles we have in our house. I wish I had a nice, new Bible in a different translation.
Global thought: As an American protestant, I have always had a multitude of choices of which church to attend. I have never received any negative comments about being a Christian. I have never felt hesitant about telling people I go to church (even when I was a teenager) as I have always felt it is a normal, acceptable thing to do in America. I have always had ample access to the Word of God and people to explain and discuss it with me. So many people live in fear every day because of religious persecution. Even worse, many people will never hear about Jesus because Christianity is not accepted in their country.

Even though this song is on the radio about a thousand times a day, I still love it. I probably need that many reminders anyway to maintain a grateful heart.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Having Fun While Life is on Hold

Over the spring we thought "for sure" we would be bringing our son home sometime next winter so we decided to try to sneak in a camping trip to Montana at the end of summer to break up the wait. We made reservations, Matt got his time off work and I was planning all sorts of fun things to do. Then the "we may be getting our baby this summer" whirlwind happened and we quickly cancelled our reservations and Matt promptly told his boss he wouldn't be using those days off because he may be going to Africa instead. Now we are back where we started, but since we are not putting much weight on time estimates anymore, we have decided to keep living our lives "on hold" just as we have been for years. Basically it just means we are not planning any trips or making any other real plans until we bring our son home because we just really don't know when that might be. It gets tiresome being in this mode, but I guess we learned we can't really make any plans more than a month out. For me, this is annoying because I do love trip planning (almost as much as going on the actual trips) and other types of "life planning" (plans to buy our next car and house and to start our 2nd adoption). But all that is on hold for now. Hopefully after our family is united we will be able to start making more plans (to travel, to possibly move, etc.) and feel like we are actually living our lives again.

In order to sneak in a little fun this summer, our plan is just to do day trips and explore nearby areas we haven't visited before. This past week we took the two- hour drive out to visit Elk Creek Falls near the tiny town of Elk River. The weather and the scenery was beautiful and well- worth the travel time. Sadly, though, we did not see any elk, or much other wildlife for that matter. But we did see what we went for- the waterfalls. There is not much better than taking a hike through a quiet, cedar- scented forest to some very lovely waterfall views. It is definitely on our to- do list to bring our kids back there someday.



Saturday, June 1, 2013


Speculations from our agency seem to shift with the wind. Our latest news from them is that we do not have much of a chance of bringing our son home this summer. They gave us an opportunity to make an extra trip to Congo to file some paperwork, without any guarantee that it would make any difference in our timeframe. We decided not to take the potentially worthless extra "quick trip" to Congo. Right now we really have no idea when we will travel to Congo to bring our son home. One thing I have learned from this adoption is that making mental timelines is a complete waste of time. Just about every month or two the process of adopting from Congo changes so who knows what things will be like a few months from now.

We went into full- on preparation mode when we thought we might travel this summer. We are continuing on with the preparations, just less frantically now. The next time we hear there is a chance of picking up our baby, we will not be caught unprepared.

We urged our family to start buying us things off of our baby registry (by the way, thank you so much for all the gifts- we truly appreciate them!). It's been fun receiving all these boxes from amazon and opening them up to see what presents we got that day. We attempted to set up some of the nursery furniture, but only accomplished the changing table. While we were putting the crib together, a piece of the wood cracked so we decided to send the whole thing back. We are now trying to pick out a crib substantial enough to at least withstand us assembling it.

Large boxes waiting in our kitchen to be dragged upstairs

The end of our empty nursery- YAY!

The boxes made it upstairs

Copper checking everything out

We also had a visit with our family doctor. He prescribed us anti- malaria pills and we were able to talk at length with him about travelling overseas and baby care. We also made a general game plan for when we bring our son home. For some reason our doctor could not give us our vaccinations so we had to make an appointment with the state's health department. We received shots for Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A and pills for Typhoid. The nurse didn't tell us which arm got which shot, but one of the vaccinations has left my arm very sore- so sore that it's hard to move it, I can't sleep on that side, I can't let anything bump into it, and sometimes the pain spreads to my neck and back. I guess that's the price I have to pay to travel to beautiful Congo (ha ha). The typhoid pills are very finicky little things. They have to be kept refrigerated and we take them once a day, every other day for a week. We have to take them one hour before eating and at least two hours after eating so I"m still trying to figure out when I'm going to fit these into my day (I'm a grazer).

I am grateful for the vaccinations, but it is also unsettling to think us Americans have to load our bodies up with shots and pills just to "survive" a two week trip to a place millions of people call home. Sometimes I catch myself thinking "Oh my goodness, I"m going to Congo. I'm going to be so uncomfortable!".  But the truth of the matter is we will be staying at a hotel with running hot water and air conditioning and we will be drinking clean bottled water and the best quality food available. If we have a medical problem, we will call up our private driver and we will be treated at the hospital. If we have safety issues, the embassy will look after us. Our stay there will be nothing like the lives of the people who live in Congo day in and day out in shacks or on the street, without access to clean water, food and medical care. For some reason it is unacceptable for white/ American travellers to run into problems overseas, but it is alright for the people living there to live and die in pitiful conditions. It seems as if there is a higher value placed on our lives than theirs. As I said before, I am grateful for our safety precautions as I do like to be comfortable, but the discrepancy between our standard of living while staying in Congo and the living conditions of millions of the Congolese will make me uncomfortable.  And that is the end of my human rights rant for now.