Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Difficult Update

Well, I don't really know where to start. I guess I'll go back to my last post, which was in June (oh my, time flies!!!). We have been very busy on our adoption path and have news we need to share.

The adoption auction we had at our church in June went very well. It was a complete "God thing"...we really felt His presence, peace, and blessings. We raised over $4,000 towards our adoption!

In July, we had our home study. We enjoyed the whole process and really liked our social worker. In talking with her, she shared that she was adopted, her husband was adopted, and then together they adopted a little girl. So cool! Everything went very smoothly. After waiting for all of our referral letters to come in, we received our notarized home study in early September. We held a softball tournament for a fundraiser, and were touched by how many people helped with it. We also worked on our passports, our state clearances and criminal background checks, our adoption education, financial statements, and completed our health evaluations and forms at that time. We both did our psychological evaluations required by our agency, which was a meeting with a psychologist and a 300plus question computerized test. We both passed (phew...heehee!), and received our notarized evaluations quite quickly. We sent in our USCIS application to the government, and received our appointment to get fingerprinted. The fingerprinting was fun, we went through what seemed like airport security, they went through everything! The fingerprinting was computerized, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to getting the ink like you see on tv. :) Again, everything went very smoothly. We are ready to send our dossier to Ghana, just need the funds to be able to do so. Our next step is to apply for grants and do more fundraising. This aspect has not been going smoothly, and I kept praying for God to give us time and energy to put into the grants and fundraising, but never found it. Now that we are so far into our adoption process, our agency coordinator told us she would get more information and updates on our little Noel. She also mentioned it may be what we need to get "re-energized" into getting the funds we need so we can get our dossier over to Ghana so we can bring our little boy home. We were so excited to hear how he is, how he had grown, how his health is, if he even knew about us, how many words can he say, is he potty trained, etc., etc., etc.!!! We were told their internet connection in Ghana was not good and they were trying to fix the problem. After three weeks, we had found out through a weekly mailing that the internet problem had been fixed, so Robert and I were anticipating hearing from our agency. Finally, on a Tuesday afternoon, my phone rang while I was in school. I noticed it was our agency, so I ran out for a quick second to hear the didn't sound as exciting as I had imagined...she had just said she heard from the orphanage and to call her. I quickly checked my email, thinking maybe our coordinator had forwarded documents. All it said was, "We need to talk, call me as soon as you can." I felt nauseas, I tried to keep telling myself everything is fine, I'm just "reading into it too much." As soon as my students were dismissed, I ran out to call Robert and told him about the voicemail and email, then I returned the phone call to our agency. That's when I got some hard news.

Our agency coordinator told me that Noel is not in the orphanage anymore. He's not there, and they are not getting answers of why. My heart broke. She told me she'd call the next day, and let me go. I called Robert, barely able to get out words. I think we were just silent for a while. It's been four weeks now, and we are still shaken. It was difficult telling the kids. We haven't told many people, I haven't wanted to speak about it and don't have answers. I remember after the phone call that day, crying out to God, telling Him I'm giving Him a white flag because I give up. Still today, I don't know what to do. Why would He put us on this path, then take it away? Why did it feel so clear that Noel was the one God had chosen for us, then have him ripped away? Why was everything going so smoothly, then all of a sudden this happens? What do we do now?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know...

As far as the adoption...I know God called us to adopt, and we are going to continue. There's a few options we can do now, we have all of our paperwork and everything needed to adopt a child. We can continue with our adoption through Ghana, and adopt a different child. We could go through another country to adopt. We could adopt here in the US. We just don't know and are praying for God's guidance, wisdom, and clear direction.

As far as Noel...we are praying that he is safe and in a loving environment, that he comes to know that there is a mighty, loving God that cares so much about him, that he grows up to be a man with godly characteristics, and that he has overflowing love and joy in his heart.

As far as why did this happen...God is God, He doesn't need to explain, His plans are always perfect and best for us. Maybe we will know one day and it will all make sense, maybe we won't. Even though it's been hard, we find rest knowing that He is our Shelter, our Stronghold, our Savior.

Over the last few weeks, I've asked myself how do people go through anything rough in their lives without Jesus. I've found myself asking this many times when I see things on tv like earthquakes or people living in the middle of war or people living is severe poverty or seeing people lose homes or loved ones in a fire or natural disaster or murders. Even here in my little part of the world, hearing people having financial troubles, foreclosures, losing loved ones, going through cancer, sicknesses, job losses, relationship do people do it without knowing Jesus? Where do they go? Who do they turn to? Who do they trust? How do they get help? How do they find peace and joy again?

Some verses from God's Word that have helped me:

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever your go." Joshua 1:9

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

I am so thankful to know God's peace and comfort. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know God loves me, my husband, and my kids. His timing and plans are perfect, even though I may not understand it.

Would you please pray for us and our adoption journey? Please pray we follow God's direction and that another child will be revealed, please continue to pray for Noel, and please pray for our finances and adoption funds.

I would love to pray for you also. If you don't know God's peace or if you have something on your heart that you would like prayer for, please contact me on here on this blog, or by emailing me at:

Thank you for your continued prayer and support!

"He replied, Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." Ephesians 6:18

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rob's Turn

I am sitting here thinking about the journey we are on to help a little child have the love he deserves and a place he can call home. I think of how much God has taught us to trust Him more and more through this process. I know myself when Bethanie and I discussed adoption I was very hesitant and kept asking her how we were going to afford to do this. I have trusted God more and more in this area and completely turned the finance part of it over to Him. We have been very blessed so far and with the auction just under a week away we have received some great items to be auctioned off. I know God is working in this area and we just need to be patient and He will work all the details out. I know we will need prayers and help from everyone, and I know He will provide. I am excited to bring this little boy home!

We would love to see a lot of people come and support us in this auction. Bring your kids, family, and friends. This is open to the public. Please pray for a good turnout with us and please continue to pray for our family and Noel as we go thru this journey.

Bethanie has updated below the items that will be up for auction. God has blessed us with quite a few great items. We are thankful to everyone for their support and prayers.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Please plan on coming to our auction on Saturday, June 18, at 10:00!! All are invited, and please bring family and friends. We'll be having a continental breakfast with plenty of coffee and juice too! It's being held in our church's auditorium, The Journey Baptist Church, 7 Amarosa Drive, in Rochester, NH. The church is located behind the Stonewall Kitchen. We would love to see you there!

We already have some really cool things donated so far:
2 admission passes to Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH
4 tickets to 19th Century Willowbrook Village in Newfield, ME
a big (I need to get the measurements) ocean watercolor painting
4 tickets to the Children's Museum of NH in Dover
2 adult and 2 children tickets for a train ride at Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad in Portland, ME
2 ski lift tickets at Pats Peak in Henniker, NH
4 tickets to a Portland Sea Dogs game in Portland, ME
Lia Sophia jewelry donated by Patricia McSharry from Rochester, NH
2 tickets to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, NH
4 VIP passes to York's Wild Animal Kingdom in York Beach, ME
2 tickets to Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, NH
Pampered Chef Hospitality Set donated by Tammy MacDonald
4 vouchers for Amtrak

and just in:
2 tickets to Soulfest 2011 donated by Amber Weststrate
Autographed J.D. Drew photo donated by Boston Red Sox
Coach wristlet bag donated by Leah Sprowl
6' Picnic table donated by Nutes Trading Post
16 hours of electrical work donated by Andy Becker
Cupcakes donated by Krista Willis
$25 gift certificate for Avon donated by Robin Healey
Custom airbrush work donated by Vic Healey
Tree removal or pruning donated by Dennis Chapman and Burke's Tree Service
Apple Pie donated by Donna Devoid
Something sweet donated by Wagner Family
Bathroom Cleaning donated by Linda Wentworth
25% off oil change donated by Rich Wentworth
2lb box of Goldenrod Salt water taffy
2 rounds of golf with cart from Ragged Mountain Resort
2 tickets to Ogunquit Playhouse
4 box seat tickets to NH Fisher Cats
2 tickets to Manchester Monarchs
2 passes to Childrens Museum and Theatre of Maine

Plus, Lino (from Lino's in Wakefield, NH) has offered to help us with the breakfast. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lino!

Pretty awesome, huh?! I'm so thankful to each person and business that has helped us in this way! Please come and bid on these awesome things and enjoy some breakfast and coffee! We still need more donations. If you or someone you know would be willing to donate for the auction, please let us know. My email is:, or items can be dropped off at our church (info above).

To be honest, we still need to raise $19,000 more for the whole adoption. We realize we need to take it step by step, and right now we are praying specifically for $1760 to help with some paperwork and the home study. Please pray for God's blessing and provision with this adoption. We are so ready to have this child in our family, the only thing holding us back is the funds to do so. We know it's all in God's timing, and if this is what He wants, He will provide.

We are sponsored through our church's adoption fund which accepts tax-deductible donations on our behalf if you feel you would like to help us monetarily. Words really can't express how much we would appreciate it. Here is our church's info:

The Journey is a non-profit organization (Tax ID #20-1066486) and donations received for this event tax-deductible. All funds received through sponsors will be used to underwrite the costs of this event and a contribution letter will be sent back to any sponsor within 30-45 days of receiving donation funds. All that is needed is a mailing address, a contact name, and for each check to have in the memo “Adoption Fund.” All checks can be sent to The Journey, attention Elizabeth Kesselring, at 124 Milton Road, Rochester, NH 03868.

I'll try to keep updating as more things come in for the auction and as we have more updates with the adoption process. Currently we are working on paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. (Trust me, there's a lot!)

Again, we really need people to come and bid on June 18!! If you can't make it but would like to bid on an item(s), let me know and I can be your absentee bidder!! My email is above.

Thanks for taking time to read this. We love you and are thankful for you in our lives.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Upcoming Events

Seacoast Christian School Bell Choir performance is this Sunday, May 22, from 6:00pm to about 7:30pm. The concert is being held at Kaleo Coffee in Dover, NH (in the Janetos Plaza in downtown Dover). Please invite every one you know to come! The concert is free, and any donations go to our adoption fund. We will also be selling out adoption t-shirts at the concert (my brother designed them...Thank you, Luke, we love them!), and our friend, Amber, is graciously doing a raffle for us. (Thank you, Amber, you're a wonderful friend!)

The bell choir plays many genres including hymns, classical, patriotic, show tunes, etc. Every age will enjoy their performance. We are so thankful to the high school kids (and their parents!) at Seacoast Christian School and to the music director, Mrs. Towne, for holding a concert for us this Sunday. They are coming not expecting anything out of it for themselves, but just to be a blessing. We appreciate their selfless generosity!

Also, our church is sponsoring an Adoption Auction on Saturday, June 18 at 10:00 am. We will be having a continental breakfast along with the auction. We would love for you to join us and bid on some items (a list of items is to come in the next couple weeks). Pastor Rob will be the auctioneer (woo-hoo!!! Thank you P. Rob!), and my cousin, Jaimi, will be singing a song that we love called "One Less" (Thank you, Jaimi! Can't wait!) The Journey Baptist Church is located at 7 Amarosa Drive (behind Stonewall Kitchen to the left) in Rochester, NH.

We still need more items to be donated so we may auction them off. If you would be willing to help, we would really appreciate it! Items can be given to us or brought/mailed to our church. All donations through the church are tax-deductible.

My cousin made a website for us (Thank you, Leah, it's awesome!), it's We can be contacted through the site. Our church's mailing address is: The Journey, Attn: Elizabeth Kesselring, 124 Milton Rd., Rochester, NH 03868. (Thank you, Elizabeth, for doing all the paperwork and record-keeping with wonderful precision and organization!)

As I'm reviewing this post before publishing it, I am reminded how blessed we are to have such incredible people in our lives. Thank you so much to everyone for your support, help, and love. We love you so much! May God bless each of you, as you have blessed us and the child He has for us. What a joy it will be to introduce His little one to all of you!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heavy heart

It's been a while since I've last written here. There's many reasons for my failure to update the blog, the biggest reason is because I've been discouraged (it's not easy for me to admit that). You see, I feel like since it's been over a year since we have decided to adopt, that God would just be "handing" us everything we need. Over the last few months, He is working on me to show me that I need to work for the things He will give me, and that means putting me out of my comfort zone. People that know me and that have known me for a while know that I don't like being uncomfortable, I'd much rather hide and go into a box. But if we are to obey God's commands, we certainly will not be comfortable. I really don't think Moses, or Abraham, or Noah was ever comfortable when they followed God's plan!

We've been taking baby steps I guess you could say. God has shown us a different direction. This whole time we thought he had wanted us to go to Ethiopia. Well, Ethiopia's government has been changing adoption regulations, and it could now take quit a few years if we were to proceed. I did some more research, and rather casually looked into a different agency. We were happy with everything from this place, including their information, their fees, and the great, sweet lady we talked to. They work a little differently than our last agency, and we were told that Ghana is open and we are eligible to adopt through the country. Robert and I prayed about this new possibility, and felt that we needed to keep this door open. The sweet lady from the agency asked if we'd like to see pictures of a few of the children available. We said sure, although we felt that God would choose the child and didn't want to become "attached" to a child that may not be ours. There was a few pictures, one of them was a little boy named Samuel. I can't remember exactly whether I called or emailed the agency to request more information about him, but the response was there is already a family trying for this child. Then she continued to say...but there is another child I just received, I'll email you pictures of him right now. Well............this child took my breathe away and knocked me over. It's the first time I "felt" the child. I immediately prayed about him and sent the email to Robert. We talked to the kids about him, trying to protect them by saying he is a possibility, we don't know what God has for us. But I can tell you now...this is the child we are still fervently praying for. His name is Noel. He is younger than what we had said we would take. It's funny to me that what we were thinking was right (Christian agency, Christian orphanage, school-aged child) is not what God has for us. But we trust Him and His perfect plan and know that what He has is so much better!!! My heart hurts to get this child.

That evening, I wrote an email to my pastor. This is what it said:
Hi P. Rob,
As you know, Robert and I feel we have been called to adopt.
I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to share some background info. During my pregnancy with the twins I spent most of it in the hospital because I was sick, had hypertension, and had low amniotic fluid. After having an emergency c-section, my body hemorrhaged and I needed a blood transfusion. The doctors were afraid I would go into cardiac arrest, and I was monitored constantly, and at one point after the delivery had a nurse by my side for 24 hours as ordered by my doctor. Thankfully, Robert and I had made the decision before all this to have the procedure so I could not have any more children. I was young, 22 yrs old, and the doctor told me they don't usually do the procedures on someone so young, but I remember telling him if we decide to have more children, we would adopt. Robert and I have always talked about it. In 2007, we started looking into adoption, and chose Guatemala as the country we felt God had for us. After beginning the process, we received news that Guatemala had closed its international adoption program. We both agreed it was a closed door and "walked away". But this overwhelming feeling hasn't left. My heart hurts. I believe God has been working on me, calling for us to obey for a long time now. Robert and I have been praying about this earnestly for over a year now, and we both firmly believe it is time to obey and follow His plan.
This is where it gets hard for both of us: we need to swallow our pride and ask for help. I'd rather hide in a box (or a turtle shell, haha!) than to put us "out there". It's uncomfortable.
I know there's a ton of needs out there, plus I know the church wants to build, and I'd love to see the Journey go on a missions trip :), but I also know we can't do this alone.
If you could bear with me, this is how I see it in my head... I feel like Robert and I are at a race, but the scary thing is we are the runners (yikes!!). We're in those starting block things with our butts up in the air, and God is the voice calling out..."on your marks, get set...." and we've been waiting for Him to say "GO!". I believe we now have His "go", and we've started this race. But then out of the starting blocks we look over to the stands and realize there's nobody there cheering us on. We stop and wonder why, then realize we haven't invited anyone to come cheer us on to support us. We do realize that not everyone we invite will want to come to those stands (that scares me). But we know we need to keep going, to run with all our might, keeping our eyes on the path God has for us. We need to obey.
Robert spoke to you a few weeks ago asking for help and support. He said you would like for us to come up with a fundraiser idea. We are very open to hearing what you and the church may have for ideas. We don't want to take away from other events going on right now (passed thru fire, night before the fourth, building fund, etc). We were wondering if maybe a yard sale and bake sale (on the same day) held at the church would be ok? We are also working on t-shirts and homemade candles to sell. Plus we've been in touch with Kaleo coffee and are trying to get bands and singers in there; and we are waiting to get mugs and coffee to sell from them.
Honestly, we are looking to raise about $22,000. We know it will take a miracle, especially in the short time we may have of 6-12 months. (We were told there are times when it moves quickly and could be even faster, under 6 months! Yikes!)
We had originally thought God was going to bring us to Ethiopia to get our child, but recently feel God is pointing us to Ghana, Africa. We have a child in mind that we are praying God has for our family.
Robert and I and our kids would so appreciate your prayers, encouragement, support, and help. Would you and The Journey Church come be in the stands of our race?
In His love and grace,
Bethanie Downs

So, over the course of the last few weeks and a few discussions, we decided to do an auction at our church on June 18. More news to come on that! We also have tshirts that just came in that we are selling for $20. More news (and hopefully a way to order them online) to come!

God is so good all the time. He is faithful, just, full of grace, love, care, and knows all of our needs and the desires of our hearts. I'm overwhelmed by His goodness!