Our crew

Our crew

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Home Study Time

We have officially scheduled our home study.  Danielle, the caseworker I was hoping for, will be at our house Wednesday, February 5th to do our health inspection and home study.  I'm so excited!

She said we first met with her at the end of October.  It was taken us 3 months to complete everything.  She said she doesn't know if there is such a thing, but she's pretty sure we set a Buckner record.  This makes me happy too.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A calling to adopt

I've known since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a mother.  I was probably the only 13 year old playing with baby dolls.  I loved playing with younger kids because I could pretend to be their mom, and they would listen to me!  I loved to babysit and spent as much time as I could with small children.  I knew I wanted a big family and I knew what my life long job would be.  When I met Andrew and we discussed children, we quickly got on the same page.  He originally said 4 kids and I was saying 6.  (My, how hearts change!) And we both talked of a love for and calling to adoption.

Many people feel a "calling" to a particular field.  Andrew has known he wanted to be a lawyer since he was young.  Many are called into teaching, medicine, engineering,etc.   It's never looked down on to have a passion for a career...unless it's mothering.  In our culture, being a mother is minimized.  Being a stay at home mom is even more absurd.  Being a mother to many is just down right ridiculous.  (Why would anyone want more than 2 kids?  Ok, MAYBE 3.  But that's going a bit far, don't you think?)  So now, as a stay at home mother to 5 kids and trying to become a mother to more, motherless children,*I* am the freak that people stare at and talk about.  (Not in my own circle of course, but in the public eye.)  I can only imagine what it's going to be like when I'm carting around a crew that doesn't look just like me.

I am delighted to be where I am right now.  I have 5 wonderful children.  I get to spend my days and nights with them.  I get to meet their needs, nurture them, love them, teach them to love the Lord.  Yes, it's a privilege!  I get to be the one they cry for when they scrape their knee.  Only my kisses will do to restore them.  They need me.  What they don't know though, is that I need them too.  Without them, I can't fulfill my calling.  Without them, I'm not a mom.

I don't have to adopt to be "fulfilled."  Many people don't understand why someone that can have biological kids would want to adopt.  Why would I want kids when I already have 5 that look just like me?  Why take on such a big responsibility of caring for more little people that are going to need, need , need.  It's such demanding work!  It's glorious work though!  I want to adopt because I can.  I can be their mother.  I can love them, provide for them, and most importantly,teach them to love the Lord.  I can be their REAL mom.  I can kiss their hurt finger.  I can sing "Jesus Loves Me" and 7 other songs that they request before bed.  I can feed them dinner, bake them cookies, take them to the park, and discipline them when it's needed.  I can provide stability for them and help them grow into mature adulthood as followers of Jesus Christ.  I can do all this by the grace of God and with His help.  The real question to me is, Why wouldn't I adopt?

Today's sermon was on adoption.  I'll be sharing it with you later this week.  My beloved Pastor/Father was talking about how we are all adopted through Christ, as God's children. Jesus himself was adopted by his earthly father, Joseph.  Joseph was His REAL dad.  Jesus,the King of Kings,was adopted!!

Jesus is the original adoption agency.  For it is through Him that we are brought into God's family.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
I John 3:1

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Here are some miscellaneous updates and musings.

We haven't gone back to have our TB tests read, but I'm assuming by the lack of anything on our arms that we are all good to go.  We will go this afternoon to get the paper work.  


I'm planning to go turn everything in on Friday and write our first check to Buckner.  We will schedule our home study that day!


I asked Danielle, our case worker, if we needed to have the kids' dressers in place before the home study and she said that we do.  Each child needs their own designated sleep space and storage space.  We can move these things around when the time comes, but they need to know that we're really ready.  We were expecting to have to buy these, but thanks to some very kind and generous friends, we will be picking up some used dressers this weekend.  What a blessing!


Our friends have been so kind and gracious to us.  It is such a blessing to be surrounded by a Christian community that loves us and supports us.


Gabe has decided he would like to adopt someone older than Jonah, but younger than him.  He doesn't want to lose his status as the oldest, but he thinks that someone closer to his age won't be "so obnoxious."  Little does he know :)  (There's only 18 months between Gabe and Jonah.)


Andrew and I were up many times last night with a sick child.  We were changing sheets, bathing the child, running more laundry, and then lying in bed listening for more flies to drop and waiting for the same pains in our own stomachs.  As I lay there praying that no one else would fall victim to this bug, I was also praying for our other children.  The ones we don't know yet.  It's still so hard to imagine their lives right now.  I pray that they know what love is.  That they are being well cared for right now.  I pray that the Lord is protecting them, body and soul, and preparing them for our family.  


We have found the perfect van for us and it's not that far  from us.  It is far from being a reality though.  MY VAN has 14 captains chairs!


We are working with a friend and designer on a t-shirt fundraiser.  I'm hoping we can share the details with you all soon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Official Dear Caseworker Letter

Thanks to a wonderful friend for helping with the layout of our "Dear Caseworker" letter.  Hopefully the caseworkers wont be turned off by our big family but rather intrigued.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Almost ready!

The last thing we have to do before scheduling the home study is go get our TB tests done.  Thanks to some very generous donors, we are going to do that this week.  Hopefully my children won't act like maniacs when we all go strolling in for a shot.  (Don't tell my kids it's actually a shot.  I told them they were going to get a bubble on their skin.)  I also may need to spend a little extra on prizes IF they don't act ridiculous.  Thankfully daddy will be going along for this.  He can finally see what all the fuss (and headache) is about!

Assuming we are all TB free....we can go turn in all the remaining paperwork later in the week,write a nice check to Buckner,and get scheduled for our home study!

There was one other couple in most of our classes and we're trying to get everything turned in before them.  Apparently whoever gets there first get's Danielle (the lady we've been working with) for their home study.  Buckner only lets each caseworker work on one home study at a time.  And since that can take as long as a month for them to get everything completed on their end, we don't want to miss out on Danielle.  Here's hoping we've been quick enough!  (Danielle also wants to work with us.  Apparently we are the first couple that she has worked with from the very beginning of the journey. She's only been with Buckner 6 months or so and she would like to see us all the way through.  We would like that too.)

We still have a few things to do around the house to get ready, but nothing too big.

1. Make a designated sleeping space for future children.

2. Build a loft bed for additional sleep space in the boys' room.

3. Buy dressers and car seats.  (I need to find out if we've got to have the dressers before the home study.)

4. Get a bigger vehicle.  (ok, so this one is kind of a big deal.)

We are trying to figure out the best way to go about selling our Expedition and purchasing a big van.  We would like to buy one from Enterprise ride-share (in CA).  They have pretty good prices and all the seats are captains chairs.  The tricky part is the juggling between one car and the next.  Please pray for wisdom in this and reasonable means to do so.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hurtful words

I feel like I should start this post with a "dear diary".  But it's more of a "dear friends" in a very dear way.

Someone said something.  Something that hurt.  It's been nagging me and stealing my joy.    I know I should let it go, and my dear husband has said as much.  This person has no standing to make negative comments about me or my family.  They don't even really know us.  They're more of an acquaintance really.  I've run it around in my head over and over and just can't get it out.

Here's what happened.  Someone posted a status on Facebook (knowing that I would see it), complaining about every time they gets on facebook they're bombarded with people "begging for money" and how they should just get a job and pay for their own family.  I ignored it but knew that I was likely included in that remark.  I wanted to respond, but I didn't.  I held my tongue.  Then later that day it popped back up in my news feed with more comments.  One of this person's comments, clarifying the post, was that "someone" on their friend list who has lots of kids is 'begging" for money to get more kids.  They said that while they would love to stay at home with their kids, they had a job and took care of their own kids instead of begging everyone else to do it.  Then demanded that others "get a job" and stop begging.

Again, I didn't respond.  I figured that responding would do no good.  Then this morning I read this verse.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. Proverbs 14:1-2

I do want to answer those accusations.  They've been nagging me in my own head.  So here, dear friends, is my rebuttal.

1.  I am begging.  But I am not a begar 

Here are the Webster definitions:
          : to ask people for money or food
: to ask (someone) in a very serious and emotional way for something needed or wanted very much
: to ask for (something needed or wanted very much) in a very serious and emotional way

: a person who lives by begging for money, food, etc. 

I am asking for money. It is serious to me, and I am very emotional  about it. But I am not a beggar. I am asking for help in something that WILL help me, but I'm not the only one that will benefit from this. I am asking for help for a real cause, not because I can't pay my bills. 

I'm not BOMBARDING anyone or getting in anyone's face pleading and asking for money or support. I'm sharing with my friends and family a way that they can help support our efforts to rescue orphans and give them a loving home. Christians are called to this. Not all Christians feel a call to actually adopt, but Christians are called to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27). All I'm asking for is support in following this calling. 

And let me set the record straight. We can afford this. If we need to come up with all the money to cover the financial costs, we can. We do that by selling things, working, having good old-fashioned fund raisers, etc. People raise money for all sorts of things. Medical expenses, summer camp, moving, mission trips  etc. The reason for posting a way to donate is so that those who WANT to give know how to do it.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
We have been immeasurably blessed by old friends, new friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers as they have donated to our cause, bought from our bake sale, and prayed for us.  The financial burden has been lifted by the love (and money) from each person that has given.  Each gift on that donation page brings me to tears.  It encourages me in this often difficult calling.

2.  I have a job.

I have a very important job, raising my children to the glory of God.  I am greatly blessed to stay home with them and nurture them constantly.  I am doing important work here!  And it never stops.  I know many moms that don't have that luxury.  Our economy and our culture have made it near impossible for a woman to stay home and do the dirty, difficult, joyful task of raising children.  But I am abundantly blessed to be one of the few.  Even if I did work outside the home, no job I could get would offset the cost of child care.  Anyone with more than 2 children can attest to that.  I see no reason to get a job and use every penny I make (and then some) to pay for someone else to raise my children.  Yes, we chose to have this many children and we're choosing to have more.  My husband also chose a career path that would allow for that.  Thanks be to God for providing the means to care for such a large family, for blessing us with these children (and more), for giving me the ability and pleasure of staying home to raise them, and for putting us in a family and community of people who encourage and help us along the way.

3. Our adoption isn't just about our family.

As members of the body of Christ, we are all adopted.  We became HIS.  Not just kind of His.  We really are HIS children.  There's no looking back.  When we were baptized into Christ, we became His children.  Really and truly!  We were taken out of a dark pit of sin and our own path of destruction.  We were "throw away kids" and He rescued us!  He took our burdens and gave us a bright future.  We get to spend all of eternity in Glory!

When we adopt children here on earth, it is a picture of what Christ has done for us.  We don't do it perfectly as He has done for us, but we seek to imitate the perfection that he created.  When we (the Shipps) adopt fatherless children and give them our name, they not only take on the name of Shipp, but they take on all that that encompasses.  Shipps are Christians.  Shipps go to church.  Shipps are hospitable.  Shipps are respectful to others. Shipps don't lie.  And the list goes on.  We don't do any of these perfectly or without error.  We slip up.  We are corrected and encouraged by the body of believers we are surrounded by.  When we adopt, those children will not only be a part of the Shipp family, they will be a part of God's family.  They will be part of our extended family of Shipps, Booths, Doepkes, Abramovits and so on.  They will be part of the family of believers at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church.  As I've said before, they won't just change our lives.  They will change the world.  Adoption changes everything.

That's why we ask for support.  That's why we are comfortable asking for support.  We are not adopting a puppy.  We are not asking for someone to pay for our vacation.  We aren't asking for a free place to live or for "hand outs."  We are asking our beloved family and friends to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

It's hard to ask for money.  It's hard to point a finger at the church (broadly) and say that we "should be" giving to orphans and widows.  That the church "should be" adopting and financially supporting adoption.  It's especially hard to stand up and say that when it looks like we are the ones benefiting from it.  But it's the Biblical truth.  Christians should be caring for the fatherless.  Praying for them.  Providing for their needs.  Opening their hearts and homes to them.  Not everyone can do all of those.  But we (the church) can do a whole lot more than we're doing now.

In the state of Texas right now, there are an estimated 13,481 orphans.  

There are 27,505 churches in Texas.  

Do you see a solution?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dear Caseworker

One of the assignments/documents we had to complete is a "Dear Caseworker letter".  This letter will be our first introduction to children's caseworkers.  The caseworkers will read this before they look at our home study.  We want to give them a good first impression of our family.  I hope this fits the bill.  I'd welcome your feedback before we turn this in!   (It will also include a family photo.)

Dear Caseworker,

Thank you for taking the time to consider our family.  We are the Shipp family; Andrew, Rachel, Gabe, Jonah, Liam, Maggie, and Anna Mae.  Yes.  It’s a lot of people already.  We have been married for 9 years and have talked about adopting even before we were married.   We always assumed it would be something we would consider when our children were older, but more recently we realized that we want one family.  If we are going to adopt, we want the children we adopt to feel like a part of our family.  Since our children are young it seems the best time to follow our calling to adopt now.

We moved to Nacogdoches 3 years ago and have never been happier.  We have family in town and near by and a very supportive church family as well.  We have many friends that have adopted through the foster care system and internationally.  These friends have been a great blessing to us already and we expect their experience and friendship to be even more valuable as we go through this process.

Andrew is 30 years old and is a graduate of Baylor Law School.  He is an attorney for the Attorney General Office’s child support division as well as general counsel for a private fertilizer manufacturer.  He works a standard 40 hour week and is home for dinner each night and all weekend long.  He enjoys building things with the kids, bike riding, reading, and family games.

Rachel is 31 years old and has a B.A. in photography.  She currently puts her degree to use taking many pictures of her children.  She has always wanted to be a mother to many and is now happy to be a stay at home mother and wife, managing the house and cooking and enjoying time with the children.  Rachel is the daughter of a local pastor and is very close to her family and actively involved in church and school activities.  She is also the coordinator for the local Mother’s of Pre-Schoolers group and enjoys regular play dates at the park with friends. 

Gabe is an active 8 year old.  He is in the 3rd grade at Regents Academy.  When he’s not at school he enjoys bike riding, reading, playing with legos, art, playing the piano, and climbing trees.  He takes his job as big brother very seriously.

Jonah, age 6, is a happy helper.  He is in the 1st grade at Regents Academy where he loves being with his friends.  He loves legos, building forts, playing games, and helping mom or dad with anything.  He also enjoys helping his little sisters.  He is very tender and affectionate to his siblings and parents.

Liam is a talkative 4 year old.   There is never a dull moment with Liam around.   He loves all things Avengers.  You never know what character he will be dressed as and what story he will be acting out.  He will start Kindergarten at Regents Academy in the fall of 2014.

Maggie is a sweet and girly 3 year old.  She keeps up with her big brothers, doing exactly what they do, but in high heels.  She loves to draw, play dress up, and pretend with Liam.  She carries a Hello Kitty purse with her wherever she goes.

Anna Mae is a mischievous 1 year old.  She likes to follow her older siblings around.  She’s a very social baby and is entertainment for the whole family. 

As a family we are actively involved in our church.  We enjoy social activities, going to sporting events, travelling to see family in Louisiana, big family gatherings, playing games, inviting friends over for dinner, and eating dinner together every night as a family.   There are empty spots at our dining room table that we would love to fill.

Though it sounds like a lot already, our hearts and our home have room for more.  We would love to welcome more children into our family.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Updated to-do list

Items in orange updated 1-9-14
Items in blue edited 1-15-14

Tonight we are attending our last class/meeting.  This one is called "Adoption Prep."    I'm not sure what to expect.  Please pray that it goes well,whatever the content.

I also thought I would update you on our to-do list.  The items I've marked through are complete.  We still have much to do.

Things to arrange:

1. Make a designated sleeping space for future children.
2. Schedule the fire inspection.
3. Lock up guns and ammo.
4. Lock up medicines.
5. Make and post rules and consequences.
6. Clean our room :)
7. Build a loft for the additional bed in the boys' room.

Things to buy/pay for

1. Get the dog updated on shots ($70)
2. Fire extinguisher ($100+)
3. Background checks for regular visitors   ($200+)
4. Dressers ($300)
5. Extra car seat ($150)
6. Fire inspection ($100)
7. Buckner fees ($1,000)
8. TB skin tests for all  ($250)
9. Get a bigger vehicle  (???)
10. Gas heater inspection ($90)
11. Gas water heater inspection and minor repair ($340)
12. Fingerprinting for background check ($88)

  1. Drivers License
  2. Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
  3. Divorce Decree (if applicable)
  4. Death certificate of spouse (if applicable)
  5. Birth certificates
  6. Diploma or GED (all of them)
  7. Current liability insurance (auto)
  8. paycheck stubs or tax return
  9. 10 year residency form
  10. background check release
  11. FBI fingerprint criminal history clearance
  12. DFPS history clearance
  13. DPS criminal history clearance
  14. TB skin test for all household members over age 1
  15. pet vaccinations
  16. house rules (including rewards and consequences)
  17. health inspection (done by Buckner)
  18. fire inspection 
  19. Floor plan
  20. pictures of home exterior and surrounding areas
  21. home child-care plan
  22. home schedule (summer and the school year)
  23. evacuation plan
  24. tax return
  25. verification of health insurance
  26. will   (you would think that with an attorney in the house we would already have this one taken care of.  But the one we have is 8 years old and only lists one child.  Time to update,dear!)
  27. proof of life insurance on husband and wife (50K minimum)

There's still much to do, but we ARE actually getting somewhere.  It's crazy to think that we could have more children before summer.  It may very well be longer than that, but it could happen.  It's hard to plan any summer trips or even weekends to visit family or friends when you don't know what's going to happen.  We trust that God's timing is perfect.