I met Jennifer at a wedding earlier this year and was captivated by her heart for adoption. Hearing how she started her own small business journey with the specific purpose to fund her family’s dream of adopting a child in need was an inspiration and true example of ambition, purpose and commitment to turning dreams into reality. It brings a whole new meaning to the term “working mom.” I’m thrilled to play a tiny part in their adoption story by sharing with all of you. Please welcome Jennifer and give her some love, prayers and support as she continues to battle for one very, special little girl.
Our Dream and Hope of Adoption
Hi there! I’m Jennifer, a wife of 10+ years, a mom of two high-spirited boys ages 6 & 8, a preschool music teacher, and a soon (well in reality we still have a long journey ahead) to be mama to a little girl from Bulgaria! We have often talked of adoption, since I was a teen I can remember thinking that one day I’d adopt. My husband and I have a heart for the fatherless, compassion for those hurting, and while we’ve wanted to adopt for years, the cost of adoption had kept us from ever being able to start the adoption process. Did you know that the average adoption can cost upwards of $25,000? Yep, that about knocked the wind out of me too!
In 2012, everything changed after I went on a mission trip to Haiti and was able to visit two orphanages. No longer was the idea of an orphan simply those without parents. While that is horrible in and of itself, it’s about so much more. Orphans barely get their most basic needs met. Many have experienced more trauma and heartache in their few short years of life than most of us ever will in an entire lifetime. There aren’t enough caregivers for the amount of children in the orphanages. They don’t love on, hug and carry the kids like you and I would. The kids flew out of the orphanage with their hands up, hoping we’d simply hold them and play with them. The first child I held was a little over a year old, crying, and was sitting at a balcony overlooking the courtyard of the orphanage. As I picked her up her crying stopped, she put her sweet head on my shoulder, gripped my shirt with her little hands and simply remained like that the entire time I held her. God used that sweet little girl to show me that I had to trust Him to help us through the financial burden of adoption. These children need forever families. No, the adoption process isn’t easy, it’s incredibly expensive and overwhelming, the total time to complete the adoption will take years, but the children are waiting. Would you believe over 140 million orphans are in the world today?
I’ve always been somewhat crafty and so I began to brainstorm how to add a little supplemental income to the mix. Believe it or not it all started with coasters and a little dream stirring within after my first trip to Haiti. From there I started making various types of jewelry and custom wreaths, and now have given all my time to custom hand stamped jewelry and wreaths. I love anything that has a sentimental feeling and each piece I make for others truly brings me joy! 100% of the profit I make from selling these items goes straight into our adoption fund! We’ve also begun various forms of fundraising for the adoption. We’ve set up an account where people can make what I like to call a ‘love gift’ towards the adoption, I’ve also created an Etsy Shop to display and sell the items I make, and you can also find me through Facebook, Jen’s Gifts of Hope.
While it took us quite a while to research the various adoption agencies, and muddle through all of the different requirements and stipulations for each country, we have committed to working with All God’s Children International and will be adopting from Bulgaria. We officially began all the paperwork this past summer along with the first big chunk of money toward the adoption. I can’t tell you how special it was to mail in that first payment and officially get the ball rolling! We have seen God’s faithfulness and trust Him to continue to provide.
Do I get overwhelmed with the whole adoption process? YES! Do I have moments of fear that we’ll never raise all the money necessary to adopt? YES! But then I just remind myself that the need is great and if I can push through, keeping my focus on the end goal, possibly even being an advocate for adoption in the process… guess what? Slowly those fears begin to diminish. I’m pressing on for one little girl I don’t even know yet, fighting for this little girl who we’ll be able to give a forever family. I’m so grateful for those who are helping us along this adoption journey! Hope has been a recurring theme in our lives; hope is the courage to fight for something unseen, holding out with the expectation that piece by piece everything will fall into place. I can’t wait to see this beautiful picture unfold. I know there will be many more who will step in to help us, possibly those who read this today will want to help. There are many different ways to help, but the end result will be the same, knowing you helped there to be ONE LESS orphan in this world! And while that may not seem like making a big difference when there are over 140 million orpahns, trust me when I say it will be life changing, possibly even life saving for the little girl we’re adopting. Won’t you please consider joining us in this journey? We’d also love for you to stay in touch with us and where we are in the adoption process, you can do that by checking out our website, www.stimpsonadoption.blogspot.com
**A huge Thank You to Katy for allowing us to share our story with her faithful readers! It’s people like her that are helping us along with our journey! We are so blessed and will be forever grateful for people like her! Thank you Katy! Your willingness to help in this way means more than words could ever express! Know that you now hold a piece to the puzzle as it unfolds in this beautiful picture called adoption!
Keeping the Family Strong Through A Divorce
The statistics are stacked against marriages as the data shows that more than forty percent of marriages end up in divorce or separation. While that is a tragic data point, we must remember that life goes on.
This is even more true for the children that are a crucial part of the family and the eventual proceedings. The point of this simple guide is to look at how to stay positive and strong through a divorce and separation and how to make sure that the family can stay strong throughout the process.
It is undoubtedly a monumental feat, but it is quite possible and very necessary as it can help to maintain peace, prosperity, and general stability over the long-term. Let’s find out more about staying healthy, positive, and keeping it together for the long haul to ensure happiness and strength for everyone involved.
Staying Positive Amid a Divorce
The first point is that you must maintain a sense of peace and calm within yourself during these stressful and usually hectic divorce and separation times. Ideally, this event is not something you have had to deal with several times in your life, and it is a singular event.
But even then, if it is a singular event, it will be all the more impactful as you do not have much experience.
It is easier to stay strong throughout a divorce or separation, but it is much more difficult to do so due to the intricacies involved in the entire process. Remember that you are conducting the divorce proceedings for a number of reasons. The main reason is usually that neither people are happy with the partnership and choose to go in a different direction.
In that event, it is necessary to ensure that you dig deep down and comprehend that it is for the best overall. It may be hard to do so at first, but it is necessary. You must accept that it happened, and only then can you move forward into the future.
It is a normal aspect of the process for you to require some time to cope and come to terms with this significant change. But remember that you must stay vital for yourself and your children.
It is not only about you and your future but your children’s as well.
The Peace of the Children
It is easy to think about yourself during a divorce and forget about the collateral damage involved in the process. By collateral damage, I mean your kids.
Your children may spend countless hours screaming and misbehaving due to the issues that this brings in their lives. It is not just your life that is going through a sense of disruption but theirs as well.
Remember to have meetings with your children and to help them cope with the process. It is easy to lash out and be hard on your precious children for no reason, fight that urge, be a better parent.
Find peace by spending more time with your children for the sake of spending time with them. You want to make sure that you are healing the hurt feelings early on so that your family stays strong even with the adjustment.
The Strength of the Family
A strong, bonded, and hopeful family unit is still possible even during and after a separation. The process is not easy and will take work but will be quite worth it in the end.
Ensure that everyone in the process feels as if there is an anchor and that everything is not being ripped away from them. Show how life will be after the event and how it is possible to navigate through the turbulent period without too much angst.
Remember that there is a life after the event and think about the long-term during and after the process.
How to Organize Hand-Me-Down Clothes – Guest Blogger: Brittany Bullen
Brittany lives with her husband and three sons in Utah. She is a playwright, composer, actress, singer, thrift shop lover, Mormon and aspiring vegan. She is the founder of the International Bloggers Association, is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and the Cognitive Behavioral Society (’cause why not). Brittany has a B.A. in English-Writing from Denison University and has an imaginary Ph.d. in Googling stuff she wants to know. You can keep up with her at BrittanyBullen.com.
Going After The Job You Really Want
In the years that my children were in grade school, I enjoyed getting to know the support people in their buildings – the custodial staff, the secretaries, the para-professionals – and it never ceased to amaze me how the two latter groups consisted, in large part, of former lawyers, accountants, and business executives.
Similarly, many of the women stacking shelves at our local Gap store and manning the counter at the spin and barre studios were former accomplished professionals, too.
The pull of a low-stress job and a school-hours or flexible schedule must be strong, I used to assume.
But I was wrong.
True, working the same hours as your children is convenient, and having a job that you don’t ‘take home’ with you at night and over weekends, has its advantages. However, I learned through two decades of coaching and placing these women that it wasn’t the schedule or the workload that drew them to these positions. It was the safety.
Most of the aspiring women-returners I’ve met in the last 20+ years arrived at my office already defeated. When, after having a child, they were faced with the “all or nothing” choice to work 60 hours a week, or quit and stay home, they chose the latter, leaving behind careers that they loved and becoming part of the female brain drain that plagued (and still plagues) the U.S. Then, when they’re ready to opt back into the workplace, résumé gaps and related biases have made it difficult for these women to land.
By the time they come to me – a kindred spirit, having been one of them myself – they are discouraged and fully expect rejection as ‘punishment’ for taking years off to raise their children. Which, of course, is ludicrous, and I get right to work helping them erase that narrative from their heads.
But in the heads of the ones who don’t come to me, that narrative is on a continuous loop. Many of them are now helping our kids in the classroom and signing us in to spin class because they settled for ‘safer’ jobs.
A 2015 Women in the Workplace study conducted by LeanIn.Org and management consulting firm McKinsey found that 43% of leadership-track women derail themselves for child rearing at some point; 90% of them with the intention of returning. These women should be assuming leadership roles, growing companies’ bottom lines, and changing workplace culture, yet many are stuck. They don’t know how to properly prepare for their career re-launches and they get quickly discouraged by early rejections.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Women-returners are unquestionably employable. Employers my partners and I polled consider them the best hiring demographic. I’ve personally witnessed hundreds – probably over 1,000 – of them find fulfilling work in my small corner of the world (Connecticut).
Some things make it easier, of course, like keeping up with industry trends, staying current with certifications and licensure, and maintaining relationships with old clients and co-workers. But even women with significant skill deficiencies and long-lapsed credentials can return to work successfully if they have these five things:
1 – realistic expectations based on thorough research and honest self-assessment
2 – a compelling résumé that meaningfully accounts for her opt-out years
3 – a commitment to remediating skill gaps on the job or through inexpensive means like online classes or local continuing education courses
4 – aggressive (not a popular word among women, but spot-on here) networking to get in front of connectors and hiring managers
5 – flexibility and the willingness to consider unconventional offerings like temporary projects or low-paying internships as a way to get a foot in the door.
The economy is improving. The labor market is tight. The voluntary quit rate is at a 17-year high. Employers are competing to hire good people. And, these days, you don’t have to be perfect to be ‘good people’.
Your gapped résumé, your ‘not entirely perfect’ experience, your application that meets only 60% of the job criteria, are all plenty good enough now.
So, if you are wistful for more challenge (and money) than your current job can provide; if you want to get back on the corporate track, but are playing it safe working for minimum wage; listen up. Your time at home was valuable; its impact will be long-lasting, but you have an opportunity now to take advantage of favorable economic timing and get back to the work that you really want to do. Go for it.