Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Grubb Family - Adoption from Poland

It's April! That crazy month where some of us are in the midst of a pollen windstorm and 80 degree weather (hand-raised) and others of you are dealing with SNOW still. (I'll take the pollen).  If you are one of my regular blog readers, I've taken my writing about parenting/motherhood/random stuff over to a Facebook page called Keep High Fiving. If you haven't seen it, I'd love for you to head on over and join our community!

I'm so excited to introduce you to my Rodan + Fields family this month- they are the first family I've supported who are adopting from Poland! I wanted to learn more about the process and hope you can learn something new too!

As always, every family I support receives 20% of my profit from my new and returning customers that month.  So, if you are the least bit interested in learning about what R+F has to offer (skin care for anti-aging, sun damage, breakouts, and sensitive skin)- then let's talk and I can share the options! Send me an email at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com.

Now, I'd like you to hear from Dan and Liz Grubb, a sweet couple I'm honored to support this month!

1. Share a little about your family and what led you to adoption, specifically Poland. 
We've heard the statistic that one in three families talk about adoption, but only 2% act. We knew early on in our relationship that we wanted to be part of the 2%. It has been and will continue to be a lifelong journey. We started out as foster parents, but wanted to be a forever family to a little one. 

As we began to research different countries and processes, the agency and country requirements for Poland stuck out to us. It matched where we were as a couple and as a family at the time. The more we learned about Poland, the more we were attached to its history. The history of Poland is littered with bondage and oppression and now it is experiencing new freedoms. We saw so many connections to the Gospel with previous bondage and oppression and new found freedoms in Christ, we want this to be a story that continues to point to God's glory. 

2. What is the process to adopt from Poland? How did you choose your agency? 
I believe it is relatively standard. We chose the agency based on reputation, relationship with country, relationship with birth families, care for children, faith background, and responsiveness to inquires. We started with agency paperwork and a home study, then completed the dossier, were matched with a little girl and accepted her referral, then we continued with paperwork and wait for court dates. The process can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years (estimated) and we are 15 month into the process. Once the court date is set, we then travel to Poland for the bonding period and court process. We will be in country for 6-7 weeks. The bonding period is set by the local judge, and is somewhere between 2-3 weeks, then there is a 21 day appeals process after the court date.  Once through that period, we will be able to apply for her visa and finish up anything we need to before bringing her home. 

3. What are you learning in this adoption process? 
That every child deserves a home, that it's easier than I thought, that it's also harder than I thought, that patience and perseverance come from the Lord along with peace and comfort.  I've learned just what an amazing husband, a supportive family, and fantastic friends I have, and that I love a child I've never met more than I could ever imagine. 

4. How will you continue to celebrate and emphasize your child's Polish heritage once they are in your family? 
Well, we're trying to learn Polish, to incorporate some language into the home. We'll probably highlight the cuisine we like on special occasions. We'll celebrate all things Polish on major holidays and our Gotcha Day. And we plan to talk about everything with her as she's ready to hear and questioning. 

5. What are some ways that people who are not going to adopt can still play a role in the life of an adoptive family? 
Prayer is so important and so comforting. Financially, give if you are able and willing. If not, help out with a fundraiser by serving or helping with the planning. Read about how adoptive parenting can be different and support adoptive parents in the beautiful moments and the hard moments. And show all the love you can to the child and the parents themselves! It's such a joyous thing, celebrating every little moment is so important!   

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Nabors Family - South African Adoption

Happy February! I'd love for you to meet the Nabor's family and read about their journey to adopt from South Africa. I've asked Ashley to share a little of their story with you.  If you are considering international adoption their story, as well as some of the previous posts, will introduce you to families adopting across the world.

1. Tell us a little about your family and what led you to adoption, specifically South Africa:
Nick and I have been married almost seven years. We welcomed our first child, Titus, into the world on December 9th of 2014. He is a sweet bundle of energy and we love him so! We live in Statesboro, Georgia and are employed by Cru, (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). We love working with college students at Georgia Southern and around the world.

I would say our adoption journey has been going on in our hearts for quite some time. We knew from the time we got married that we wanted to adopt some day and that God was calling our family specifically to adopt, we just never imagined we would already be this far in the process.

There are around two million children in South Africa currently, and only about 2,000 adopted each year. While spending a year living in South Africa, the Lord really impressed these children on our hearts. We felt a specific call to adopt internationally, and if possible, from South Africa.  We turned our formal application to our adoption agency at the end of February (2014), and toward the end of March, we got our official approval into our agency's South Africa program! (A fun side note, we found out that I was pregnant with Titus at the same time!)

2. What is the process to adopt from South Africa? How did you choose your agency? 
The process is rather lengthy, (around 2-5 years.) Essentially, the steps for us were an informal and then formal application, an in-depth home study process, training hours and in short, lots and lots of paperwork. The paperwork includes anything from background checks to immigration paperwork, grant applications, submitting documents to be authenticated by the state, etc... To get to the point where our dossier (international packet of paperwork) was officially shipped to South Africa took two whole years. We chose our agency primarily because of the strong partnership they have with South Africa and that they were Christian-based.

3. What are you learning in this adoption process? 
I would say patience, trust, and endurance. The process so far has been hard. There were days when I think we experienced every emotion. There are many discouraging and frustrating moments, and mostly the process is messy, but it is worth it. We have learned what the Lord teaches His children over and over...that He is a good Father, that He is in control and that we can always trust Him, (even when His plans are not what we had in mind.)

4. How will you continue to celebrate and emphasize your child's South African heritage once they are in your family?
It helps that we lived in our future daughter's birth country for a year because we have knowledge of her heritage and culture as well as a myriad of pictures of us in South Africa.  There are pictures from our time spent there displayed throughout our home as well as little things we either bought or were given from friends that we keep around. We hope this will provide opportunities to talk about her heritage as she gets older. We also plan to cook South African foods and have family traditions that revolve around her culture.

5. What are some ways that people who are not going to adopt can still play a role in the life of an adoptive family? 
I think financially supporting is a great way to help, but definitely not the only way. Providing financial help is an encouraging way to play a role because it lets the adoptive family know you are supporting this big change to their family. I would also say that if you know someone in the process, be sure to really engage with them and ask questions. I have enjoyed every conversation I have had with people who made a point to ask me about our process and timetable.

After a family's adoption goes through, you can look for ways to serve that family as they transition. Simply reaching out and asking what would be helpful to them would be a wonderful way to get involved. This might include dropping off dinner one night or offering to babysit other kids in their family so that they can have some one on one time with their newly adopted child. I'm sure the needs would differ from family to family as adoptions are all different.

This month, 20% of my Rodan + Fields profits will be donated to the Nabors family.  If you've got skin concerns- anti-aging, sun damage, eczema/rosacea/psoriasis, or acne and are looking for a new option in skin care...Let's talk- would love to help you invest in your skin while investing in an adoption this month! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Nunes Family- Costa Rica Adoption

Happy New Year! Each month, I'm sharing about adoption by highlighting a family in the process. If you are just joining us, scroll back through to meet other families doing international, domestic, and embryo adoption. 

As you read, remember that this is just ONE piece of the adoption triad. Adoptive families, adoptees, and birth families all need to have a voice in this journey. 

I had someone ask me a great question yesterday. If I were to tell my pre-adoptive self one thing. . . what would it be?   

Without hesitation, I know it would be to LISTEN more and to have talked less. 

So, if I can encourage you. . . 
Listen to all the voices involved in adoption. Listen without responding or debating. Put the "welcome home videos" and adoptive family pictures to the side, and instead reach out and learn from those families. Find avenues where you can listen to the voice of the adoptee.  Pray and reflect over what you learn. Be open to the reality and possible outcomes.  Ask hard questions and prepare for honest, raw answers. 

This month, I'm excited to introduce you to the Nunes Family! Ben and Kim are in the process of adopting from Costa Rica. I asked them to share a little bit about their story and journey of adoption.

1. Share a little about your family and what led you to adoption, specifically Costa Rica: 
We have three biological children, ages 15, 12, and 7. About six years ago, we felt a tug on our heart to do for one child which we wanted to do for so many other, adopt. But, we never felt called to a specific country. We served on several Central and South American country mission trips but never felt the connection to any of them that we did with Costa Rica. Kim and I fell in love with the land, the culture, and the people

2. What is the process to adopt from Costa Rica? How did you choose your agency? 
We chose Lifeline Children Services as our adoption agency because of their reputation and staff. We have felt nothing but loved and cared for by each person on their team. We completed our first of the process and are about to wrap up our home study by the end of the week. We hope to complete the rest of the process in six month and then we will wait for a referral.  Most of the available children for adoption in Costa Rica are above the age of seven or are sibling groups of three or more children. 

3. What are you learning in the process? 
Kim has learned that much of her childhood trauma, healing and strength from the Lord has been preparing her for this moment. She knows the struggles will be greatly different and yet somewhat the same. Kim has learned that God will always be bigger than she can imagine and his grace is endless. 

4. How will you continue to celebrate and emphasize your child's heritage once they are in your family? 
It just so happens that our sister-in-law was born and raised in Costa Rica! Although her and her family live in California, we are all very close and look forward to learning about her heritage from her and finding local places in our city to celebrate where they are from. 

5. What are some ways that people who are not going to adopt can still play a role in the life of an adoptive family? 
We would ask that those reading our story would please keep us in their prayers. Prayer for wisdom, patience and faith. We know this the Lord's plan for our family and are confident we'll get there. At times, the amount of money it will require is paralyzing, but we know our God can do it. While we are able to contribute our own money to the adoption, we would love to invite any of you that feel called to support us to do so through our donation site:

This month, I'll be donating 20% of the profit from my Rodan + Field business to the Nunes family adoption.  If you are interested in learning more, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christiansen Family - Snowflake Adoption

I'm excited to introduce you to Chris and Leslie Christiansen this month, as they are embarking on an adoption journey that is unfamiliar to most people. Snowflakes (or Embryo) Adoption has become available to families in recent years. I've asked Leslie Christiansen to share a little about the process and options for this type of adoption.  

1. Tell us a little about your family. 
My husband and I met in San Diego working in ministry at our church and were married one year later. We had both always wanted several children and wanted to adopt at least one as we both felt drawn to adoption. A few years after being married, we tried to begin having a family only to discover that biological children would most likely not be possible for us. We were told that we had a sixty percent chance we could still do IVF which led us to really begin praying about whether or not we should look into adoption or consider IVF. 

We had always wanted to adopt, but for me, not being able to have a baby was very difficult, especially as I work with children every day. We began looking into ways to adopt, including international, domestic and foster to adopt. One day, my parents were listening to a podcast and heard about Snowflake Adoption. They were the ones who encouraged us to look into this option. 

2. What is Snowflake Adoption? 
Snowflake Adoption is the adoption of embryos that have already been created for IVF, but a couple has chosen not to use them. Although there are a few different ways to adopt embryos, Snowflake Adoption is a part of the Nightlight Adoption Agency and it is very similar to open adoption.

3. What drew you to this option for growing your family?
When we heard about Snowflake adoption, we were immediately drawn to it as this would allow us to actually go through the pregnancy and birth of our children. We also felt we could relate with the biological parents as we had struggled with infertility and had considered IVF. During this process you are also able to adopt all of the family's remaining embryos which allows you to have multiple children without going through the adoption process multiple times.

4. How would someone begin the process of Snowflake Adoption? Does it require a homestudy as other adoptions do? What are the costs related to this type of adoption? 
The family goes through a homestudy and then is matched to the embryos of a family that has the number of embryos a family is wanting to adopt. As with many adoptions, there is a financial cost. We had already made the decision to move to the Midwest two years ago for a lower cost of living to be able to financially prepare for the adoption. 

With Snowflakes adoption, the cost typically is approximately $8,000 for the adoption and another $4,000-5,000 for each IVF procedure. The cost will vary based on how a family chooses to do their home study and transportation of embryos based on location. As we would like to have multiple children, we felt that at this time the lower financial burden would allow us to be able to adopt more children. 

5. With Snowflake Adoption, what does the interaction look like with the biological family? 
Typically, the biological and adoptive families do maintain some form of contact as in an open adoption. Our agency works to match families together that want to have the same amount of contact, which can range from a letter or email, to actually meeting in person.

6. For families that are not planning on adopting, but want to come around and support those in the adoption process, do you have any suggestions on how they can help? 
The amount of frozen embryos all over the world continues to grow as reproductive technologies have evolved. There are many reasons why a couple may choose not to use their remaining embryos- completing their family, medical difficulties, or possibly advanced age. When this happens they are given four options: keep them frozen indefinitely, donate to science, donate for adoption, or have them destroyed. Snowflake Adoption is a way for those who cannot have biological children or would like to add to their family, and it also allows these children to be born. 

If you are interested in learning more about Snowflakes Adoption through Nightlight, you can find more info here. Another way to support this adoption process is simply to tell others. Many people are not even aware of this option and it may be exactly what they are looking for in terms of expanding their family. 

For the month of December, 20% of any purchases from my new or returning Rodan + Fields customers will go toward the Christiansen family's Snowflakes Adoption. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gregoire Family- China Adoption

Happy November! This month, I'm honored to highlight a family who is in the processing of adopting a little boy from China's Special Needs program. Kirsten and Charles Gregoire are getting set to travel to meet their son and bring him home in hopefully a few short weeks.  I've asked Kirsten to share a little of their journey to adopt a child with special needs. 

1. Tell us a little about your family and what led your family to adopt. 

Charles and I have been married {almost!} 15 years. We have four beautiful children biologically, ages 12, 10, 7, and 5. Five years ago while I was still pregnant with our fourth child, my heart was really turned towards adoption. I knew The Lord had placed this desire in me, but also knew my husband might think me crazy - haha. We had talked adoption early on in our marriage, and it had always remained a possibility for "someday."  I told God that if this was in fact the journey he had for us, that he would need to work on my husband's heart - I wasn't gonna say a word! That very night Charles came home and said that I would never guess what he had been thinking about lately. Thus, our road to adoption began!  

2. Can you share a little about your process? What specifically made you choose the China Special Needs Program?

After much prayer and about a year later, we officially entered the Ethiopia program with All God's Children International. We had many ups and downs throughout the process.  Financially, we could not afford adoption, yet The Lord was so clear, and so we forged ahead. He provided exactly what we needed every time, and we couldn't help but to see His hand so clearly in every detail. 

Since we began our adoption process, Charles lost his job and found a new one, we updated our home study three times, and were fingerprinted more times than I cared to count. And referral. Last November 2014, I was at my end. I couldn't possibly imagine updating anything even one more time. I begged The Lord to move and give us direction. 

It was about a week later that an email came through from our agency for a waiting child in China. We had entertained the idea previously about switching to a different country, but were afraid of the additional costs we'd incur. As we prayed over this little boy's file though, we again sensed The Lord's hand guiding us. We decided to make the switch. We would go where the need was. The problem was, we didn't technically qualify for a Chinese adoption due to income. We prayed (hard!!) and were granted an exception. Ahhh!!! And just as before, the things I had worried about...the red tape, the finances....they all fell into place. The Lord provided just what we needed at the exact time we needed it. A year later, we are getting ready to (hopefully) travel by this Christmas. It has been a long journey, but we trust that God's timing is perfect. 

3. How have you prepared for bringing home a child with Celebral Palsy? Have resources been readily accessible? Has it been easy to work through insurance issues once he has joined your family? 

Truth be told, we didn't know much, if anything, about Cerebral Palsy when we first read that in his file. We had to google it! We took several days to really pray and ask The Lord to give us wisdom. 

During this time, a friend that I hadn't spoken to in awhile called me out of the blue. She had previously adopted twice and was curious how our adoption was going. As we talked, she shared that both of her children also had CP. I had no idea!  It really solidified that The Lord saw us right where we were and was moving us in this direction. 

In the meantime, we spoke with a couple US doctors ~ one from CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) and a neurologist who had visited the orphanage several times and was familiar with our boy. Both went over his file with us and explained his diagnosis. We were scared of the unknown, but with each conversation, grew more and more firm in our conviction that he was our son. 

Since then, we have received a grant through The Sparrow Fund so that we can receive services from CHOP when he first comes home. We feel blessed to do life within a community of like-minded families who have also adopted many special needs children into their families, including CP. There seems to be a wealth of support around us, which we treasure!!

4. What would advice would you give a family that is considering international adoption? And more specifically, a special needs child? 

Adoption is hard, whether it be international, domestic, or through foster care. It is definitely not as glamorous and easy as it can be portrayed. That being said, it has been the most fantastic journey of our lives, thus far. The things we have learned and have seen have grown us in ways we never would have imagined. 

I believe with all my heart that adoption should not be considered lightly, however, if The Lord has placed it on your heart, He will be faithful to walk with you through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It is a journey like no other. I think the same goes for a special needs child. Though we don't have first hand experience, I would imagine the same advice would apply.  I am sure, it will be hard, harder at times than we had ever thought. But I also believe, that it will be worth it...that the Lord's strength will be made perfect in our weakness.  

For the month of November, 20% of all of my R+F orders from new and returning customers will go toward the Gregoire family's adoption fund.  If you are interested in learning more, please comment below or email me at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com. 

To follow more of their story, check out their blog at

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Whatever the Cost - The Chubb Family Adoption Story

Social media does a tremendous job of celebrating families who have adopted.  The coming home photos, videos of the first moments together, and new family pictures can portray beautiful picture of redemption and love. But, they often only tell one part of the story. 

The international adoption process rarely goes according to plan. Timelines shift and change, finances are stretched, and countries change their policies and laws. It's not always pretty, but it's a reality. 

For families who are adopting from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this is all too familiar to them.  There are hundreds of children who have been legally adopted, yet have been stuck in an orphanage or foster home waiting to be allowed to leave the country and be united with their family. 

I've asked Jessica Chubb to share her family's story of the DRC adoption process. It's honest and raw and in the middle of a lot of unknowns.  They have been waiting for two years to bring their legally adopted son home.

Month after month, for the past two years, they have paid foster care fees for their son, advocated for his release, and prayed that one day he would be in their arms.  

Here is their story.  It's isn't wrapped up neatly in a bow, but it's a story of a family who won't stop fighting. 

1. What led your family to adopt? What specifically made you choose the DRC?

Since I was a teenager I felt a strong desire to adopt. My heart felt very broken by the idea that any child may grow up without a loving family. When my husband and I dated and eventually were engaged we discussed the idea and felt like it was something we would eventually do.

We began our family the traditional way (belly babies) and we were blessed with two girls within 4 years of being married. When our youngest daughter was a baby I had a dream that felt so real. In my dream, I was looking at an image that was like a sonogram. In the image, I saw a baby boy and I knew that baby was my son. In my dream, however, I did not get the sense that the belly he was growing in was my own. It seemed as though there was my son, growing in the womb of another woman. It felt so real and so intense.

Around the same time some friends of ours began the process of adopting two boys from Rwanda. I felt so intrigued by their story and followed them closely. My heart rejoiced when I saw their two children finally join their family. I began to read everything I could about adoption and follow many bloggers. My heart was so intensely broken by the stories many families would share of their children's lives before adoption.  One story in particular that haunted me was a mom saying they visited an orphanage where their child lived and she was devastated by the rows and rows of babies lying in cribs completely silent. I had two babies. I knew that babies were not supposed to do that all the time. That image would not leave me.  

I began to talk with my husband and ask if he would pray about beginning the adoption process. My husband jokingly told me, "I am not going to ask God if he wants us to adopt an orphan because he is going to say yes." It was at that point we began to pray and ask God what we should do. We felt at peace about adopting but we had no idea where to begin. We began to ask friends and family to pray for us to have clarity and direction from God. We emailed and called agencies and talked with a lot of families who had already gone through the adoption process.

We felt very drawn to Africa.  The mortality rate under the age of five was enough to break my heart. Some statistics say 1 out every 11 children under the age of five die in Sub-Saharan Africa every year. We initially began the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia in 2010. Just before we were completely ready to be matched with a child the Ethiopian government announced a shutdown that completely stalled international adoptions for that country. We remained in the Ethiopia program for two years before deciding to make the switch to DRC. We had been praying about whether or not to move to another program when you, Leslie, announced that you had just accepted a referral for a sweet little baby boy from DRC. I asked you a bunch of questions about your agency and the DRC. We prayed about it and finally decided to make the switch over to DRC in November of 2012. 

2. What has the process been like? How long have you been in process? 

We were paperwork ready in January of 2013. Shortly after we completed our dossier we received a phone call from our agency asking us if we would consider a little boy. We were told he was very young and possibly premature. He was sick, (most likely with malaria). We did not have a lot of information about him but immediately we felt as though we had to say yes. He was a child who needed a family, in our minds it did not matter if he was ill or not. He needed someone to fight for him and we were willing to be that family. We shared with some close family and friends and began to intercede for this little man. We begged God to heal him and make him well. February 13th we received a phone call that he was very ill and was expected to die. We were told that our agency would not allow us to go forward with adopting him any longer.

Our hearts were broken. I struggled to know how to go forward. We had believed God would heal him. We had hoped for a happy ending. We were asked at the same time to consider going forward with adopting another little child. His name was Eloinga and we struggled to know what to do. I did not want to give up on the first child, but we were not given a choice. We prayed for wisdom. We begged God to do a miracle and make him well anyway. Our hope was that we would be allowed to bring home two boys instead of one. We moved forward with the paperwork to begin the adoption of Eloinga.

The first photograph we saw of him, we fell in love. He was the sweetest baby boy dressed all in pink. We still prayed that God would do a miracle on behalf of the first child but we knew that if Eloinga needed a family we would be willing to give him one. In July 2013, we officially completed our adoption of Eloinga. He was now officially our son and we would name him Nehemiah.

We also found out, sadly, that the first child we had pursued died from his illness. I was broken hearted. I felt as though God gave me an image of that little boy. He was carried to the throne of God by the prayers of people who loved him. While I never was able to physically hold him, I know that God entrusted us with him because he needed people to intercede for him. He needed someone to love him. And even though it was not the way I wanted we provided him with what he needed for a short time.

Meanwhile, we moved ahead with all the paperwork for Nehemiah to come home. We were hopeful that he would be in our home by Christmas. August 2013 we sent out the last of our immigration paperwork and prepared to wait for our government to grant Nehemiah a visa to come home. One month later, in September 2013, I woke up to the news that the DRC government had just announced that they were stopping the exit of all adopted children from DRC. 

3. What is happening with DRC adoptions? Why are these children stuck? 

When the announcement was made in September of 2013 that they were going to cease to issue exit letters for adoptive children, I felt like I literally had the wind knocked out of me. We were so close to having Nehemiah home and now we were told they were not going to issue exit letters for at least another year.

That announcement was made almost 2 years ago.

And today, hundreds of children are still stuck. I have heard a lot of rumors that the DRC government did this because they were angry over some agencies who had broken their laws. I have also heard that they were afraid that adoptive families were being abusive to children once they are home. There have been a lot of rumors and many attempts by families to show DRC that these children are being well cared for and loved. In the end these children are still stuck.

In March of 2015, DRC officials said they would begin releasing the children. Five months later and hundreds are still stuck. We have been told there will be a resolution "soon,” over and over.  I am not sure when the children will ever be officially allowed to join their adoptive families.

In the meantime, several children have died from treatable illnesses.  Many families are struggling to make ends meet, as they are stuck paying foster care fees for their adoptive children for years longer than expected.  Children are growing up without families that have families waiting for them, and hundreds of families are walking out the heartbreak of spending another birthday, family vacation or Christmas without their child. 

4. What would advice would you give a family that is considering international adoption? 

I feel like we are the poster child for what could go wrong in adoption. So, I am not sure I should give anyone advice.

I have learned a lot, however, in our five years of being in process. The most important is that I know we could not have walked this road without our faith in Christ leading us. There were so many times I wanted to throw in the towel and be done. But I felt very strongly that God was leading us to this. There were times where just doing the next thing felt like an act of obedience. I would say if God is calling you to adoption that you should obey Him.

I don't know that we will ever have a happy ending to our story. We hope that one day, this child we have loved and watched grow up in photographs will be able to sleep in the bed we have made for him. But I just don't know if that will happen. I do think, however, that we have done what God called us to. And I believe that God is working out this situation for good. I truly believe adoption is a beautiful thing. I hope one day we get to see that full circle in our own lives. I think that hope is worth all the money, effort, time and heartbreak we have invested in the last 5 years.

Nehemiah is worth whatever it may cost us. He is worth fighting for. 

This month, I will be donating 20% of my Rodan + Fields profits to the Chubb family to help with foster care expenses.  If you'd like more information about what R+F can do for your skin, please contact me by commenting below with your email or email me at leslieharris77(at)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The James Family - Domestic Adoption

If you are considering domestic adoption, where to start can be a little overwhelming.  There is a plethora of information available and it's easy to get bogged down with information overload.

There has been a seismic shift in domestic adoptions over the past few decades.  Families having to wait years before being matched with a child are no longer the norm. What used to be a process in which very little information was disclosed between the biological and adoptive family is now often an open pipeline of communication through photos, phone calls, and time spent together.

In the U.S. more than 135,000 adoptions occur annually, with 13,000 to 14,000 being infants who are voluntarily relinquished domestically. About half of all infant domestic adoptions are done through an independent practioner, who facilitates birth parents' placing their children directly with potential adoptive parents. Another option is to go through an adoption consulting firm, which is a referral service, networking clients with licensed agencies and attorneys across the United States. Working directly with a licensed adoption agency is yet another option.

Domestic adoption fees can range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, with most adoptions averaging between $20,000 and $30,000 to complete.

The vast majority of adoption agencies and private practioners offer "open adoptions," in which identifying information about both adoptive and biological families is shared either directly or mediated through the agency.

Though numbers and stats are great, I think it's crucial for families considering adoption to hear from those in the process as well. Every family's experience is different, but I believe that connecting with other's stories and experiences can always provide fresh perspective and insight.

This month, I'm supporting the James family's domestic adoption with 20% of the profits from Rodan + Fields business. They are homestudy ready and currently fundraising in order to have their profile go active and be available for birthparents to consider.  I asked Kara-Kae James, founder of Thrive Moms and blogger over at The Mom Diggity, to share a little about their adoption process.

1. Tell us a little bit about your family:  We are a family of five with three girls ages 5, 3, and 2. Brook, my husband, works as the Creative Arts Pastor at a church in TX and I'm the co-founder and Executive Director of a ministry called Thrive Moms. We have always had a heart for orphans and for expanding our family through adoption. 

2. What led you to the path of domestic adoption?  We had originally planned to adopt internationally and God shifted our hearts and opened our eyes to the needs right here in our country. 

3. What advice would you give to families just starting the process?  Our advice would be to pray and wait for God's perfect timing. We waited 5 years before getting the "yes" from God and we know that He has already hand picked our child for us! Pray big prayers and be bold in the journey! 

4. How can people pray for you family during this journey?  People can pray that the remaining funds come in quickly and that our matching process goes smoothly! 

5. For those reading this that aren't called to adopt, but want to come alongside families who are adopting, what are some ways they can help?  We believe that everyone is called to do something, whether that would be to adopt or or help a family that is adopting. If you can't donate, you can pray and ask a family how you can help with fundraising! There's always some way to help! Encouraging an adoptive family is so incredible, because it's such a difficult and tiring journey. 

Interested in learning more about domestic adoption? Want to learn more about what Rodan + Fields products are the right fit for you? 

Shoot me an email at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com.  Let's talk! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Story Changers

Hey friends! 

At the beginning of each month, I'm going to introduce you to a very special family or organization. I want you to hear their story and their heart for vulnerable and orphaned children around the globe. 

My hope is that you either learn something new about adoption, connect personally with one of these families or organizations, or perhaps start your own journey to adopt! 

I've been supporting a different family/organization for the past ten months with my Rodan + Fields business and while I've shared a little bit of their stories on Facebook and Instagram each month, I really wanted to use this blog to provide a platform with which they could tell their story at a deeper level. As you well know, stories and experiences are TRULY what connect us. 

This month, I'm so excited to be highlighting, The Story Changers Congo, an organization with the mission to empower orphans and vulnerable children throughout Africa. I LOVE their three-prong approach of Restoring, Empowering, and Equipping; founded in the belief that transformation is a life-long process. Story Changers is committed to investing in the lives of vulnerable children into adulthood. I asked Andrea Stewart, one of the program directors, to provide some insight into the heart of The Story Changers. 

1. Why Congo? What are the needs? 

The needs in the DRC are so vast and so wide.  The wounds of decades of war run deep in the culture and people.  The needs range from food and money, to medical aid, education, and skill and trade training.  

2. How does The Story Changers meet those needs? 

The Story Changers Congo has partnered with an Orphanage to help triage and meet immediate needs of medical care, proper diet and nutrition, trauma relief and counseling to the children.  We also work closely with our in-country director to promote family reunification and offer skill training at local centers specializing in sewing, English, French, and Computer skills.  

Our goal is to help reach the vulnerable families that are at-risk of having to abandon their children for poverty reasons alone. We plan to launch a community center to offer nutritional food support, tutoring, and daily spiritual discipleship to vulnerable and at-risk children in the commune. Our mission is to empower and equip the next generation of Congolese citizens to help break the cycles of extreme poverty. 

3. Can you share a few stories of your experience while in the DRC with Story Changers? 

When my husband Chris went over to the orphanage for the first time, he was doing medical assessments on the children and came across a young boy named Poma. He was so weak and sick as well as having a huge infected abscess on his knee.  He could not even stand up to be weighed and was burning up with fever.  When asked how long Poma had been like this the director just cried and said with tears running down her face that it had been weeks and there was no money for him to be treated.  

Immediately, Chris said they needed to take him to the hospital. Another young boy in the orphanage, Moses, who was not much bigger than Poma, picked him up and began to walk all the way to the hospital. My husband and our in-country director followed and watched in awe at the Moses's love for his friend.  He refused to leave the hospital and stayed with him all day.  

Poma was released 3 days later and walked hand in hand with Moses back to the Orphanage.  Poma was treated for malaria, infected abscess, and typhoid.  He is doing well and all smiles these days.  His laugh is infectious and we get so excited to see the smiles on his face in every update photo.  We see such potential in these children. Moses is a natural leader and wants to be a doctor one day. We want to encourage him to pursue that dream. 

Another amazing thing is... After 2 months of balanced nutritious meals 3 times a day, the children have collectively gained 43lbs! We have trained the caretakers on the importance in balanced nutrition and also now provide daily plant-based nutrition and supplement of Moringa to every child. We are seeing their bodies flourish and have seen some amazing testimonies of growth and development.  

One little boy, Joshua, was brought to my attention with broken, dry, hair that was very patchy, eyes that were swollen and puffy, and feet that were suffering with such bad edema that he couldn't put shoes on.  We took him to the hospital and he was also treated for malaria, but we were told the main problem was severe malnutrition.  We started him on Moringa every day, along with the 3 meals a day and lots of fresh water, and he is doing AMAZING!!! His face is changed and he looks like a whole new boy. He is so happy and now his feet are down in size and he is even able to run and kick a soccer ball. We have been so blessed by our donors and sponsors who provide us with the nutrition these children need. 

4. How can people pray for The Story Changers Congo? 
  • We need support and prayer over the birth and launch of a community center in the next 3-6 months as well as continued support and prayer over the Orphanage in which we work.  
  • Prayer for the kids as they transition into our new facility that has been purchased so they no longer have to be mandated by a landlord.  Improvements can now be made and a well can be put in for a convenient safe water source. 
  • Prayer for God's hand of blessing and protection over everyone in-country who is a part of The Story Changers. 
  • All in all, pray that God would move in a mighty way to heal the emotional and physical wounds in the hearts and lives of the children we serve. 

5. How can people partner with The Story Changers Congo? 
  • There are many ways to get involved with The Story Changers Congo.  We are looking for individuals to sponsor the children we serve.  You can go to and click sponsor a child.  
  • We also are in need of general donations, there is a link on the website for that, as well. General Donations go toward the difference in the $35.00 a month that is paid by sponsors and the actual cost of all the things provided for the kids. It costs The Story Changers $56.00 a month for each child; to offer them water, beds, mosquito nets, 3 nutritious meals a day, daily moringa supplements, medical care, clothing, shoes, spiritual discipleship, and tutoring.  
  • You can also help by advocating and spreading the word. Like us on Face Book and share our mission with your family and friends.   

For the month of July, 20% of the profits from any of my new or returning Rodan + Fields customers will go to this amazing organization that is digging in for the long-term and caring for children in the DRC.  If you are interested in finding out more about R+F skin care products (for anti-aging, sun damage, acne or sensitive skin), please email me at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com. 

If you have further questions about how you can partner with The Story Changers Congo, please contact Andrea at  

Friday, June 19, 2015

So. . . Now What?

A few days ago, I wrote a facebook post that ended up going a little viral.  The fact that it was shared over and over had nothing to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with the content.

Foster Parents.

Apparently, people on Facebook think they are pretty darn great.  So much so, that they shared the story I wrote about over a hundred times.

So, now what?

What do we do with the good feelings that the story evoked? Where do we go with our desire to DO something about foster care?

I've got a few ideas.

Do you have any foster families in your community, church, or neighborhood? If so, you have an answer.

This week, go show them some love.  Instead of asking them what they need, just go DO something.

  • Bring them a meal or have dinner delivered to their house. 
  • Mow their yard. 
  • Show up with coffee and donuts. 
  • Wash their cars. 
  • Offer to come over and babysit (or bring your kids over to play and entertain their kids). 
  • Grab some books, stop by for the afternoon and read to their kids so they can get things done around the house. 

If you don't have any connections to a foster family, contact your church, school, or your local county or private foster care agency to get some names of foster families.  Then, proceed with an action from the list above.

It's simple and easy.

Here's a little secret. . . most of the foster families I know are not good at asking for help.  But, just because they don't ask, doesn't mean they don't need it. They are doing hard things, friends. Let's step up and provide some relief. Some really need physical help around the house.  Others could just use some community to love on them, listen to them, and pray with them.

That is YOU!!!!! 

Ready for something more? Want to start the foster care licensing process?  Do it! There will never be a "perfect time." If you have been thinking about it and everyone in the family is on the same page about feeling called to do foster care, THEN DO IT.

Take the class. Learn as much as you can.  See where it can take you.

You may end up becoming a Respite Provider, doing short term or emergency placement foster care.

You may become a full-time foster parent.

You may foster to adopt.

You may decide fostering is not the wisest fit for your family.

You won't know until you take the classes.  SO DO IT.

Hundreds more children were placed into the foster care system TODAY across the United States. Some will be spending the night at a shelter or at the Department of Human Services building because there are not enough available homes for them.

I'm not writing that to for dramatic effect.  I'm writing it to encourage you to MOVE.

I'm asking you, actually, BEGGING you, to either love on and encourage the families who are currently fostering so that they have the strength to continue or start the foster care process yourself.

There is a need.  YOU can meet it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

When You're Feeling Invisible.

"Mama! See me!"

"MAA MA! See meeeee!"


If I don't acknowledge my youngest son, this phrase is uttered (ahem....yelled) with increasing intensity about every five seconds.  It's not enough for me to simply to respond to him verbally, he needs me to look at him. To make eye contact. To show him that I am focused solely on him.

In the course of a day, this happens often, (hellooooo year two of life), and most of the time what he wants to show me is pretty normal. 

His hands are dirty.

He lined up his cars on the floor.

He has a boogie in his nose. Or on his finger. Or in his mouth.

Nothing earth-shattering. But to his little heart, these moments are of utmost importance.  My son, in all of his two and a half year oldness, just wants to be known. He wants to be heard.  He wants to be seen. 

How very true it is for his mama too.

It's so very easy to feel invisible these days, isn't it?  To feel like no one sees you.  No one really hears you.  It is absolutely possible to be surrounded by tons of people all day long, engage in conversation, and still walk away feeling like no one truly understood or saw the real YOU. 

The need to be seen is innate in all of us.  It takes just a quick glance at social media to see how many people are striving to be known.  From Facebook videos of people lip-syncing to songs while driving (is this really a thing now?) to instagramming our smoothies, kale chips, and perfectly created lattes.  "Going Viral" has become an aspiration for many.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be known.  It's actually a good thing, because it makes us seek community and relationships.   It is the how, why, and the where of this need that we have to examine.

There are a couple questions that I ask myself to determine whether what I'm feeling is a healthy response to feeling invisible.

~Do I want to be known for what I do, what I post, or what I create more than who I am? 
~Am I more focused about letting many people get to know me on a surface level or a few people come to know my honest and vulnerable heart?
~When I feel invisible, is it because I'm comparing myself to the stories of others around me? 

These questions can quickly get to the core of my frustration, loneliness, and discontent. It is WAY too easy for me to believe that no one sees me or knows me when I'm unloading dishwasher yet again, cleaning dried yogurt off the kitchen floor, or watching the Wiggles for the 490th time this week.  I can look at Instagram and be reminded that everyone else has these crazy, amazing lives that are filled with successful businesses, starbucks coffee dates with their BFFs, and beautiful clothes.  In an instant, I'm spiraling into the belief that I am invisible and missing out.

Anyone else with me?

Here's what I propose. (And I'm preaching this to myself.)

Let's quit allowing ourselves to believe that "being known" means being the one with the most friends/best photos/biggest business.

Let's choose to believe that intimate, authentic friendships ARE more fulfilling that having thousands of "followers" or "likes."

Let's embrace "staying in our lane," celebrate our current roles, and trust the story that God has given us to live out. 

If you are feeling invisible, can I share something with you? It's a truth that I hold onto above all else.

You are KNOWN without having to do, say, or be anything. 
You are KNOWN by the One who created you, loves you, and SEES you. 

That's a truth that I need to cling to every single day.

I bought this necklace a few months ago, because I needed the reminder.
In the mundane, the ordinary, and the tedious, God sees me. He knows my story and none of it surprises him.  He is there with me.

Praying, my friends, that you would be able to rest, first and foremost, in this truth. 

Can I propose something else?

When the days come where you are tempted to believe that you don't matter and that you are very much alone, make the choice to speak love into someone else's life. A card, phone call, text, or a little happy mail to let them know you see them and are thinking about them.  Let's remind each other that we are in this together. 

Let's visibly show we already know about each other.  You are loved. You are seen. You are known.