Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So What's With the Shoes?

At the end of my last post I mentioned needing about 6,500 more pairs of shoes.  I didn't elaborate since I had already written a short novel.  But if you're new to our journey, you might be wondering, Why on earth does she need that many shoes???  And that is a very valid question!  So let me explain.
I first heard about the Angel Bins Shoe Drive fundraiser a few years ago, when a couple I went to college with held one for their adoption.  I thought it was a great idea, and decided if we ever adopted internationally again, we should do it too.  Little did I know...  A company called Angel Bins, based in California, pays people for used shoes.  (It's unclear to me how exactly it works, since they are a for-profit company, but that's ok.)  Then they take those shoes and send them to developing nations where local people sell them to earn money for themselves.  It's a win-win for everyone.  The only catch is they require a minimum of 10,000 pounds.  And 10,000 pounds of shoes translates to roughly 10,000 pairs, as an average pair of shoes weighs a pound.  As you can imagine, 10,000 pairs is a LOT of shoes.  I must admit, I seriously underestimated the work it would take to collect that many shoes!  Once we have all the shoes collected, paired, and bagged, Angel Bins will send a tractor trailer to us.  We will load at least 400 black trash bags into the truck, and a driver will deliver it to California.  The current rate for shoes is $0.40/lb.  So we are looking at $4,000, if not more.  That's a very successful fundraiser for not that much work, really.  Yes, it's a long process, and it can be time consuming to rubber band or tie all those shoes together.  And we are totally depending on other people, many of them strangers, to give us their shoes.  But we have several great friends who are working hard to collect shoes for us too, and we are so thankful!  We could never make this goal on our own.  Our local paper even ran a story about us and our shoe drive.  We are getting the word out there any way we can, and the shoes are coming steadily.  But at the rate they are coming, it's going to take many more months to reach 10,000.  Which is why I NEED YOUR SHOES!!!!  All kinds of shoes are accepted - tennis shoes, dress shoes, heels, sandals, boots, cleats, kids's shoes, adult shoes.  The only things we can't accept are golf shoes and metal cleats.  We also can't use shoes that have holes or worn out soles.  Remember, these shoes are going to be someone's livelihood, so they need to be in good shape!  If you are local, or sort-of local, to Pittsburgh, please consider not only cleaning out your own closets, but asking all your friends and family to do the same.  If you'd like a flyer to post somewhere, I can email you one.  If you need us to pick up your collection, we'd be glad to.  Otherwise, you can bring them to us in Plum.  If you need to contact me, you can email me at merissayusko@hotmail.com.  And if you're not local enough to give us your shoes, you can always donate via the link on this blog. :)  We need dollars as much as we need shoes!  Thanks for helping us reach our goal and bring our precious girl home!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

This is My Story

I really like reading other people's stories about adoption - how it all worked out, how the kids are doing, their struggles, successes, and how God has been faithful through it all.  Maybe you'll like reading our story.  Maybe it will encourage you in your own adoption journey. I hope so!  Since I haven't blogged in a terribly long time, there's a lot of story to catch up on.  If you'll stick with me, you'll be up to date by the time you get to the end.  And I'll try and keep current from now on!

So if you don't already know, we are adopting again!!  Some time last year, Jason started asking me when we were going to adopt again.  I dragged my feet for a while.  I can't even give a reason why, but I did.  Late summer I was ready to get on board and we started searching our state listing.  After we adopted James, Jason said our next adoption was going to be from foster care.  So I looked frequently at adoptpakids.org.  In the meantime, I saw a post on Facebook advocating for little girl in China.  That obviously didn't work out, but she had some physical issues and was unable to walk.  We talked seriously about adopting a child with such a severe need, but since it wasn't going to be an option, the issue was dropped.  That was Labor Day weekend.  I kept looking at the foster care list, but for a number of reasons we decided that was not the right fit for us at this time.  Not long after that, our previous case worker from Christian Adoption Services, Jenica, posted on Facebook that she had the files of 7 kids on her desk, and did anyone want to see one?  It may have been 9, but it wasn't many.  I had been looking at that month's Special Home Finding List, which is the Philippine listing of kids with special needs, sibling groups, and older children.  There are well over 100 kids on this list.  Two little girls had caught my eye.  I asked for the first one, even though she was younger than what we really were looking for.  Her file was one of the few Jenica had.  I read it, and it was very similar to James'.  She was adorable, but very young, with a long list of needs.  So I asked if she had the file of the other girl, who was a bit older.  Wonder of wonders, she had that file too!  A little girl in a green dress with a big smile, named Apple.  Yes, Apple, like the fruit.  She is now 6 years old.  Apple has spina bifida.  She doesn't walk.  She has no control of her bladder or bowels, and likely never will.  But her file said she can crawl on hands and knees.  Still, for our very active family, this was a concern.  We talked about it, Jason didn't say NO WAY, and we asked  if there was any way to get a video of her to see exactly what kind of mobility she has.  I was told that we could ask the ICAB, but not to expect anything.  That was Thursday.  By the end of the weekend we were pretty sure she was to be ours, but Monday morning when I opened my email, there were not one, but two videos!  Jenica told me that NEVER happens.  It had to be God.  And she really can "move fast her body on hands and knees" like her file says.  She can also go up and down stairs, climb into her wheelchair and wheel herself around, and get from the wheelchair to a regular chair.  It seems that it's only from her knees down that she cannot use.  We committed to her and sent the preliminary paperwork.  The Philippines has changed its process since we adopted James.  It used to be that if you submitted a letter of intent for a child, that child's file was put on hold for you and no one else could pursue that child.  Now, however, every agency can submit a family for a particular child and the ICAB will decide which family can submit their dossier.  That process can take months, and at the end you might not be chosen and have to start over.  So we had the option of starting all the paper work so that it would be ready, or wait and see if we were chosen.  We got started, but in just one month we had the green light to pursue this adoption.  Again, only God.  That was November.  Fast forward.  Our wonderful social worker, Ernie, came in January for our home study visit.  We filled out paperwork, got our clearances, filled out more paperwork, and waited for the home study to be approved.  On March 7, it was, and I had it in my hands a few days later.  Last Friday our dossier was sent to the Philippines, and this past Wednesday I sent in our I800-A, which is for immigration.  So everything is moving right along in that aspect.  We are ahead of where we were at this time with James, so it's *possible* we could get her by the end of this year.  But that's only if everything goes absolutely perfectly.  God CAN, I'm quite sure!
What God can also do is bring us 10,000 pairs of shoes and all the money needed.  I can easily become overwhelmed when I think about the numbers, and how far we are from what we need.  But God is good, He is faithful, and He moves mountains to put orphans in families.  If you want to partner with us and the the Lord in giving this precious girl a family, you can!  You can give us all the shoes in your house that no one wears.  You can ask all your friends and family for their unwanted shoes too!  We still need about 6,500 pairs.  You can also give.  The shoes will get us a good sum of money, but we are no where near the end, and we have several fees that need to paid right now.  You can give to us directly, cash or check, or through our Pure Charity account if you want it to be tax-deductible.  Here is the link for that: https://www.purecharity.com/jason-and-merissa-yuskos-adoption.
Most of all, you can pray for us!  Adoption is hard, and this part of the process is only the beginning. Thanks for reading, thank you for praying, and thank you for giving!