Updates and Changes

I know I promised to do frequent updates, but it just ain't happenin'. Unless you've been through it, you wouldn't believe how a paper chase can consume your entire life.  I have made copies, scanned, emailed and requested paperwork of all kinds.  This is kind of what it looks like for me.

(my friend KB tells me I must include pictures as I go through this process)

I have a colored folder for different papers just so I can keep them all straight.  Right now, we are just trying to get through the home study, but then comes the dossier. More on the dossier and what it is at a later date.
But right now, here's where we are at...we have had our first home study visit as a couple.  Next week is my one on one visit with the social worker.  The week following is Steve's one on one visit and then the week before I leave for South Africa will be our final home study visit which is in our home with Jenna.

In case you are wondering (and I'm sure all 3 of you are), the home study report written by the social worker (after many interviews and documents gathered) that in essence says we are capable of parenting an adopted child.  The first visit was very low key and we just talked about how we got to this point and why we wanted to adopt.  What is funny is that right before we each started to tell our version of why and how, I made fun of Steve because I knew he'd get all choked up over it (he's getting soft in his old age!).  Well, guess who breaks down sobbing, and I do mean SOBBING, right in the middle of her story?  Yup.  There I sat in Panera bread sobbing away with a bunch of people eating bagels and wondering what in the world is wrong with me.  I don't know...talking about how God has taken care of us especially this year and last and how He brought me here never knowing this is where I'd end up...well, I can't talk about it without getting emotional.  One of the ministers at church says never to apologize for your tears because they are a testimony to what you care about most (paraphrase) and I love that.  Mostly because I cry all the time.

So, what's next?  Well, we both have doctor's forms that need to be filled out, background checks and fingerprinting.  My doctor forms won't be hard because last time I checked, I was healthy as could be.  But since I am overdue for a physical anyway, I have that set up in a couple weeks.  Steve's will be more challenging because he has to account for his insulin and his other medications he takes.  Then finally there are a couple more pieces of paperwork that have to be taken care of for the home study, but that's about it. 

I'm working on a FAQ post now.  That's is coming soon (relatively speaking).  Speaking of coming soon, you may have noticed a title change to the blog.  I've been wanting to re-do my blog for a long time now, but just never taken the time to do it.  My friend Katelyn and I have a mutual love for the Michael Buble song which obviously inspired my title.  Katelyn is a communications guru and so she helped me with the tag line (more like she wrote it with NO help from me).  I love it very much.  And keep watching...there are BIG changes coming soon to my blog.  And for those of you who read through Google Reader, take a minute to hop over and see what my blog looks like now.  That way you can be amazed and awed when the changes are made.  :)

OK, I'm off to love on my babies in the church nursery.  And just in case I haven't mentioned it lately, I LOVE my church.  If you are in the area and don't LOVE your church, allow me to show you why I love mine.  

Happy SUNDAY! 



There will be many-a-fundraiser coming soon for the Taylors, however, if you feel led to donate to help bring our little girl home, just click on the "DONATE" button there to your right...you can use your credit card and any donations will go straight to my Paypal account which is connected to our adoption fund here at a local bank.

If donating online is not for you, stay tuned for more exciting fundraising information!


Adoption Fundraiser for the Locals

Some of you may know my friend Rachel.  I might have mentioned her a time or three on this blog.  Well, I'm happy to be able to share some exciting news with you.  She and her family are adopting too!  I am thrilled to have my bestest buddy to share this journey with.  She is adopting a little girl, aged 3 - 4 years from Ethiopia.  Now, just how cool is that?  Our girls now are super good friends and now they will have little sisters who will be just as close!  Isn't our God good?

Here's the deal for you locals who haven't heard...there's a little fundraiser going on for the Millsaps.  And all you have to do is eat dinner.  But not just ANY dinner...CHICK-FIL-A dinner!  And who doesn't LOVE Chick Fil A?

Here are the deets...

When?  Monday, August 30th from 5:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.
What?  A percentage of your purchase will go to the Millsaps
How?  Once you have checked out, please be sure to hand your receipts to Rachel or her husband, David
(They will have to turn those in at the end of the evening)
Where?   Chick-Fil-A 1105 Shadow Green Drive Franklin, TN 37064 615-794-8180

I will be there celebrating with them and I hope to see you there too.

Come on out!  Spread the word to your neighbors! Heck, treat your neighbors to a yummy dinner! And then you can say you were part of bringing their little girl home.  How cool is that?


I think we killed a tree

Adoption Update

Now that we are approved to adopt from China, we have to begin working to complete the homestudy and the dossier (which is a jacked up version of the homestudy that goes to China eventually). 

Yesterday we received an email from our Family Coordinator at AWAA along with 7...yes, SEVEN...attachments.  The combined total pages of all these documents was 65 pages.  And they aren't just forms to fill out.  They are documents and guidelines and lists. All to be read, requested, signed or gathered.  Looking at it all, I thought I might hyperventilate.

Until today.

We just received an email from our Social Worker at AWAA.  This one included 11 attachments and 31 pages.  Some are similar or the same as the dossier paperwork, but I feel like I have murdered a tree.  And if I thought I might hyperventilate last night, now I REALLY think I might.

I know my fellow adoptive friends are laughing because they remember oh so well the overwhelming feeling of drowning in paperwork and wondering how in the world it will ever get done.

Anyway, I just wanted to keep you updated because several of you have asked that I update my blog often to let you know how things are going.  And because I'm a scrapbooker, I want to be sure and use this to keep a journal of what has happened.

So far...

August 5, 2010 - submitted application
August 13, 2010 - received acceptance into China program
August 13, 2010 - received contracts and AWAA documents to sign
August 17, 2010 - documents signed and overnighted back to AWAA
August 19, 2010 - assigned family coordinator "A".  Received dossier prep documents
August 20, 2010 - assigned social worker "S".  Received home study prep documents

And our next steps?  For the dossier it's to read all the papers and make a list of questions.  Next week we will speak with A who will answer all our questions and get us pointed in the right direction to get started.

For the homestudy, we'll review these documents, gather some of the information needed and wait for S to call and set up the first appointment.

I know some of you will have many questions about the process and I would love to answer them.  Just send them to me and I'll answer them here on the blog as best I can.

For now, I'm off to enjoy the weekend and maybe read a little.  :)



Thought you might enjoy seeing some of the first words from emails I received in response to my "We're adopting" email...they made me smile and I hope they make you smile too!  BTW, these are pretty much verbatim...





"How exciting!"


"Wow!  Congratulations!"

"Oh Sandra!"

"Oh wowowowow!!!!!"


"HOLY CRAP!!!!"  (this was my favorite)



"HOLY COW!!!!"


South Africa

I leave for South Africa in a little over a month.  And now that the realization has set in that I'm going on this trip with a bunch of people I don't know very well, I'm starting to get nervous.  I'm counting my PTO days and wondering how the heck I am going to make this all work out.

I'm still more than $1000 short of having the trip paid for and I'm starting to think maybe I should be asking folks for financial support even though a few months ago I felt sure God was telling me not to.  This is where I'm starting to feel Satan's attack.  He has stolen my excitement for the trip and replaced it with doubt and worry.  I'm about to send out my prayer support letters.  Regardless of whether you receive one or not, I covet your prayer support.  In fact, I really need it.

And if you feel LED to give financially, I won't argue!  OK, totally kidding.  But do pray for peace about that part of it.  I'll keep you posted!


A New Addition...

To our family.

Yes, you read right.

We are adopting.

From China.
I know what you are thinking. “Wow.” Guess what? ME TOO. I know the news that we are adopting may come as a surprise to many all of my readers.  It certainly has been the emotion of choice for those we have told in person.  Trust me, none of you are any more surprised to find me in this position as I am myself.

And as many adoptive parents find, the main question is “why”. The short answer to why is that we feel it is what God is leading us to do.

Most of you know I have always desired a larger family, but after the very quick and successful IVF to have Jenna, we were unable to produce a sibling. We went through several cycles and a lot of money. After that, we decided we were done trying. Until we found a friend whose husband had a very successful reversal surgery and she ended up getting pregnant. The cost of the surgeon they used was very reasonable, so we figured we might as well try. The surgery was painful for Steve and not successful in a myriad of ways.  I promised Steve when he went through that (God bless him) that I would be done if it wasn't successful. And since we weren’t, I kept my promise.


I broached the subject of adoption with Steve several years ago. I even contacted an agency and got some information. But he was definitely not interested and gently reminded me that I had made him a promise. Despite that, I felt like God wasn’t finished with us yet. I felt like I would have another child, but I didn’t know when or how. And when you think of it, there are MANY ways to be a parent.

And after so long, I started to think maybe I’d been wrong about that. I kept asking why God would put that desire in my heart but not fulfill it. After several years passed, I finally came to the place where I could ask God to just help me be content with the size my family was. And amazingly, He was doing that. I started to see all the good things about being a parent to an only child instead of dwelling on the less-than-desirable things. Last summer when Steve lost his job and the economy was so bad, I thought that must be the reason we never had a second child…because how could we afford another? Then last Spring, the Bible study group I’m part of, went through two series back to back that changed my life. The first was Crazy Love by Frances Chan. The next was the Radical series of sermons by David Platt.  Slowly, we begin to think about what we could do to help others when Steve was employed again, rather than what all we could do for ourselves (new computer, new car, bigger house etc.). At the same time, I watched as two couples in our church walked the journey of international adoption. Secretly I hoped that Steve was watching too, but I didn’t dare hope (oh, my faith was SO weak).

About a month ago, on our way home from church, Steve just brought it up in a conversation we were having. I was stunned. I’m a talker, so I don’t normally find myself speechless, but I’ll tell you that day, I WAS.  In fact, I was so stunned that I didn’t mention it again for a couple days because I was afraid I might have misunderstood or that he really hadn’t meant it the way I thought. As the days passed, we opened up with each other and talked about it more. Miraculously, we were on the same page in nearly every aspect. We prayed about it with Jenna and with each other and here we are.

I did once ask him why the change and his answer?  "I don't know".  I guess that's the way God works sometimes.  He changes you slowly so that you don't even know it's happening until you wake up and realize the way you used to be isn't the way you are anymore.

That is the simplified version. We don’t know how we are going to pay for the adoption. We do have some money in savings, but that isn’t going to be nearly enough to cover it all. There are what feels like hundreds of questions that are still to be answered. But we believe with all our hearts that God had opened this door and answered this prayer for us.

The facts for now is that we have been accepted into the China Waiting Children program through America World Adoption Agency. This is the agency that Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife went through to adopt their three girls. It is a wonderful Christian agency and offline, I’d be thrilled to tell you how and why we chose them. It was a God thing all the way (which is just as my friend Jamie told me it would be!) We are now getting ready to start the home study. The step after that will be the dossier. It’s a long process and I’ll explain in more detail in a later post. For now, pray for our new little daughter…wherever she is.

And keep visiting...watch as we bring our girl home!


Vacation...Day 7

Thursday was our last full day at Amelia Island, so we wanted to spend as much time on the beach as we could.  We got up, had breakfast and headed out.  It was a beautiful day.  You could go out very far from the shore and still be only up to your ankles in water.  We found a huge shell and a sand dollar!

Being that it was Shark Week on the Discovery channel, sharks were on my mind and so I had my eyes open for those and didn't venture too far out.  But I wanted to see how far out I could walk before the water got too high.  I was probably about 100 feet from Jenna walking out when I saw a fin go right through the water no more than 50 yards from where I was standing.  I'll admit...I kind of panicked!  I didn't scream, I just started heading back towards Jenna to herd her in to shore as fast as possible, all the while walking backwards and keeping my eyes on the water.  About the time I reached Jenna, I saw it again...this time it surfaced and I could see it was clearly a dolphin!  Actually, there were 2 of them swimming together.  I showed Jenna and she was ecstatic!  We watching them until they were far away and then saw them both jumping completely out of the water!  It was a great way to end our vacation!

We ended up bringing our cooler to the beach and eating lunch out there.  Finally we came in. We had dinner reservations at 7:00 so we decided to do a little more sighting on the resort.  We went to the Nature Center which was really neat.  They have a pond out back and there were turtles and you could feed them.  Katie especially liked them!
After the Nature Center, we wanted to see more of the resort that wasn't in walking distance and this is the way we did it!

We all took turns driving (well, except Jenna, she wasn't allowed!) and there were some beautiful places for sale and rent.  One of these days when I'm rich (ha!), I'm going to own a place on the beach!  I have officially decided I don't want to live there because living there doesn't make it as special as when you only get to go every once in a while.

After riding around for a couple hours, we headed back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner at The Verandah.  It was a great dinner and we had the most delicious dessert.  Some kind of grilled bananas in caramel in a tulip type cup. Oh my word it was a delight!

Back at the room, we started packing up to leave the next morning.  Check out on Friday was at 11:00 and we got out about 10:00 I guess.  We didn't stop 1/2 way coming back the way we did when we were going.  We got home about 7 or 8pm and got all unpacked and the house straightened up before we went to bed.  I had done the laundry before we left, so it was all clean...best thing EVER!!!

We lazed around on Saturday...did a few errands, ate out etc.,  Jenna registers for school on Wednesday and then 1/2 day on Thursday and full day on Friday.  I'm supposed to have this whole week off of work, but I might be going in a couple days just to save up on my PTO for my South Africa trip...

I'm glad to be home, but I sure am gonna miss this place!


Vacation...Day 6

Wednesday we decided to take a break from the water play and go to the Jacksonville Zoo.  By the time we all got up, got dressed and got TO the zoo, it was almost lunchtime.

It was a great zoo and we saw so many neat animals.  Jenna even got to feed a giraffe. 

And pet stingrays...

But it was H-O-T.  I mean, unbearably hot.  We hadn't really noticed the heat before because we were always in the pool or on the beach.  We didn't get lunch until about 2pm and by the time we had seen almost everything in the zoo it was about time for it to close and we were done.  We rode the train back over to the entrance and got the heck outta there.

Back at the resort, we hung out for a bit in the room while still cooling off and then spend a few hours in the pool late in the afternoon (since we'd had a super late lunch, we weren't hungry for dinner until later).  We then ate at the Beach Grille which was on the resort.  It was very good and within walking distance.  For dessert we had chocolate fondue!  OH YUM!  Jenna had never had anything like that before and she was duly impressed.  Granted, it was no Melting Pot, but it was good nonetheless.  We are going to have to take her to Melting Pot soon...just for dessert.

Just to prove I WAS on this vacation...here's one of me and Steve...


Vacation...Day 5

I always seemed to wake up at the same time every day...7:30 (and that was Eastern, time so really it was 6:30am), but I figure when you are used to getting up at 5:30am, then sleeping an hour or so later IS sleeping late!  When I'd wake up, I'd get up and sit on the balcony with my magazines and eat breakfast until everyone else got up.  With a view like this, it was one of my favorite parts of the vacation!

On Tuesday, there was more of the same...pool in the morning, lunch in the room and then beach in the afternoon.

Jenna was dying to have some crab legs and there just wasn't anywhere on the resort to get them, so the only place we could find that had them was Red Lobster.  So, that's where we went to dinner.  And on Tuesday night, the place was practically deserted.  But that was cool.  We stopped at Target after to pick up a few more things.

Back at the resort, we all went out crab hunting.  Jenna thought this was really fun...we ended up doing it every night we were there.

 Jenna and Steve watched a movie back in the room, but my sinuses has been acting up (thanks to several mouths/noses full of chlorinated and/or salt water) so I went to bed early.


Vacation...Day 4

On Monday, we decided to visit the pool right outside our window.  So we ate a quick breakfast in the room (much cheaper than room service) and headed out.  It was practically empty for quite a while.  I guess most everyone else headed to the beach first thing.  About 11:30, we went in, got dressed and headed out for some lunch.

We drove to Fernandina Beach and ate at the Subway.  Then we popped into Winn Dixie to buy some lunch food for the rest of the week.

When we got back, we decided to explore some of the shops on the resort.  Jenna went dressed in her bathing suit (for easy beach access when we returned!).

After we explored a little, we went to the beach and ended our day there.  It was great fun and because it was later in the afternoon, there was barely anyone on the beach.  All week the beach was not crowded at all.  We were very pleased.

In the evening, we drove to historic Fernandina (think historic Franklin) and enjoyed some seafood at a little place called the Marina.
This was a picture of the marina (the place, not the restaurant) that I took.  I am very happy with this picture.  I turned the flash off, but used the railing nearby as a tripod and I think it turned out wonderfully!

It was late again when we got back so we hung out at the room.  It was a very relaxing night.


Vacation...Day 3

On Sunday, we had an early dinner planned with our Jacksonville family planned for 3pm, so we wanted to eat a big enough breakfast to tide us over until then so we ordered room service again.  And oh heavens at the food!  I thought about taking a picture of it, but I didn't and now I wish I had.  There were yogurt and pancakes, bacon galore and bagels and cream cheese.  There was really enough food for a family of 5 or more.  And we sat on our balcony and ate breakfast.  It was heavenly.  This was our view from the balcony of our room.  Another view a little to the left and you can actually see the ocean.

We then got ready to go to the beach for the morning.  Jenna played in the waves, Katie played in the waves and Steve played in the sand.

 About noon, Steve headed in to get Katie washed and Jenna and I followed and got showered and cleaned up.  We met Tracey, Charles and Charley at Schooners in St. Augustine.  If you remember (and I'm sure you don't, because no one really cares as much as I do), they introduced me to Schooners last year when Jenna and I spent a week in St. Augustine. They refuse photos, so I hijacked one from their Facebook page.  They very well may unfriend me now, but it's worth it to show you this family I love so much!

After we finished with dinner, we wanted to hang out some more, so we drove to a nearby mall to walk around.  That didn't last long though because on Sundays, the malls close pretty early, so they kicked us out, but not before visiting the chocolate store!  We also stopped at WalMart to pick up a few things for the week like breakfast items and beach chairs.

It poured down rain while we were there and after we left, but when we got back to the resort, it was completely dry and this proved to be true anytime we encountered rain while away from the resort.  Because St. Augustine was an hour and 1/2 away, it was late when we returned and so we just hung out in the room until bed.


Vacation...Day 1 and 2

We just returned from vacation in Amelia Island, Florida.  I didn't post about that because this is a public blog and I didn't want the world to know my house was empty.  But I will share with you a little about our fun vacation before I forget.

My mother would be so disappointed that I wasn’t completely packed for vacation at least 2 weeks before we were set to leave. But I think I did pretty good. I had to work on Friday but had planned to leave after lunch. My thought was that if I could get on the road by 2pm, then I’d feel like we were doing good. Using MapQuest, I found a Hampton Inn in Macon, GA and made a reservation since we were planning to drive about ½ way on Friday afternoon. Steve was going to run the van in to the shop to get a small oil leak fixed before we left. The shop originally told him to be there at 7am so he was going to do that, then come back and pack the van and then pick me up from work and we’d head out. Thursday night, the shop called and said just to come in at 10. So Steve packed up the van before he left, drove all the way out there just to find that the wait was 3 hours to even start on it. NOT. GONNA. WORK. So, he and Jenna got some lunch and then came on to the office. I finished up my work lunch and then we got on the road.

I think we actually got on the road at 1pm Nashville time, so that wasn’t too bad. An hour before my goal and WAY better than an hour behind which is what I figured it would be. However, I had really busted my butt and put in some hours at work that week so I would feel good about leaving. If you can believe it, we hit very little traffic going through Atlanta and found the hotel easily. I gotta give Hampton props (actually, I think Hilton owns them). I have not yet stayed in a bad Hampton. I’m sure plenty of you have, but don’t tell me about it (unless you know I’m going to the same Hampton!). There was some kind of large group staying there with a bunch of teens who play tennis. The lobby was full of adults and kids but the front desk clerk was super friendly and made me laugh. The room was nice and clean and despite the large number of kids, tweens, teens and adults, we never heard any running or loud talking at all.

After checking in, we ate at Cheddars.  I was very excited since I'd never eaten there before.  But the service wasn't great and neither was the food.  We were kind of disappointed.

None of us slept that well, but I guess that’s to be expected when you are in a different bed than your own. I finally got up at 8am (which is 7am home time) because my back was killing me and I couldn’t get comfortable. I showered and by the time I was done Steve, Jenna and Katie were up. We enjoyed a yummy, free continental breakfast at the Hampton, checked out and got on the road. We did OK until the GPS took us down these backroads to get to our destination rather than the interstate. We made a quick backtrack and only lost about 20 minutes.

We arrived to the resort at about 3:15 Eastern time, but the room wasn't ready until after 5pm so we took time to fill up with gas and just look around the resort.  Once we got checked in, we did the obligatory walk to the beach where Jenna pretends she is not going to get wet in her clothes, but ends up getting soaked.

Once we got back to the room and her changed and us unpacked, we ordered room service (which was DELISH!) and then got in bed...


Book Review: Blind Hope

I'm a tiny bit behind on this book review because I had saved it to go with me on vacation, but it was worth the wait!

Blind Hope, written by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher, is wonderful book about Laurie and her journey through her broken dreams and the healing that came from rescuing a dog in need.

Without revealing too much of the plot, Laurie's life dreams are shattered when she comes to work for Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch where broken horses and broken children come to find healing.  Laurie ends up rescuing a dog in need but soon realizes that her dog, even though blind,  is rescuing HER.

"As Laurie and her dog, Mia, both learned to follow the lead of a master they couldn't see, Laurie discovered the transforming power of God's grace even for imperfect and selfish people - and she experienced a greater love than she had ever known."

This is the sweetest story and especially touching if you are an animal lover and this book is a TRUE STORY.  It is an easy read.  I started the book when we were leaving the beach and had it finished before we stopped for lunch.

As with all my book reviews, I have a copy to share.  If you are interested, just leave a comment below.  First one to comment gets the book.

If you want to purchase the book, please go here and order...