Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lyla’s Homecoming

One day, I will go back and try to put into words all of the emotions and events that happened between taking custody of our sweet Lyla and coming home, but I don't know when that will be. Those days in Korea were like something I could have never imagined, simply tough to put into words.
But what I do know is that when we stepped into our city after that long, weary trip, we were greeted with smiles, laughter, and tears from our amazing tribe. These people are truly our family. That have cheered us on from the very beginning and prayed for our Lyla with a faith that moved mountains.
These pictures are treasured in the same way as I treasure my pictures from Madilynn's labor and delivery. After a beautiful and weary battle, our daughter was finally in our arms.

*Pictures and video by our sweet friend, Bayleigh Lowe.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Adoption Fundraising - how we did it

Adoption costs quite alot, that is a well known fact and one of the main reasons people don't pursue adoption even after they feel called to. But something I have learned through this process is that these costs have a purpose. There are hardworking people that are caring for these children and working on piles of paperwork and helping you jump through so many hoops to be able to bring your child home. I can only speak from our process, but even though our adoption costs seem like alot of money, it provides jobs for those helping us along the way, a home for our baby girl and her foster family, and a way for our family to bring home our daughter.
With all of that said, the cost of this process was still one of Todd's biggest fears, but standing on this side of the journey he said "can you believe I was scared about how we would be able to raise the money?" I strongly believe that God places you in a spot where you are not enough, so that He can show that He is.
Through God's grace, our family and friends raised $45,000 in 8 months.  Praise Jesus!

Along with the pictures I will talk about that specific fundraiser, but first a few overall tips that I hope are helpful for those of you raising money to bring your precious child home:
-Y'all. There is no other way to explain how quickly our money came in other than GOD IS OUR PROVIDER. There is no way we can do this without Him but the awesome news is, adoption is HIS heart!! And He moves heaven and earth to put the lonely in families. He adopted us and that is why He puts this love and longing in each of our hearts. So seek His will above all else. He will always come through for His children. His ways are always good. And y'all, He created the heavens and the earth, so $40-50k (or whatever your need is) is nothing to Him. 😉
-If you don't have a tribe, get plugged in and find one! God created us for community for a reason. Because we are not supposed to walk this journey alone. He gifts us all differently and watching as God provides friends with amazing talents to help us bring our daughter home has been amazingly beautiful and humbling. He uses his children to help his children. ❤️
-Talking about talents, God blesses us each with gifts. He uses these gifts to accomplish his will. Whether you make delicious homemade bread/desserts, beautiful art, can watch children while their mama and daddy have a date night, and so so much more! Pray about what gift God has given you to use.
-Use social media to its fullest and tell your story!! People will feel more invested if they know exactly what you are doing! We told lots of details about our steps and how much money was due. We also kept everyone up to date about how much we had raised and how much we still needed to raise. Be transparent with your finances!!
- Be willing to "work for it!" We had countless people tell us that they were very happy to give because we weren't simply asking but were willing to do whatever possible to raise the funds we needed.
-We were matched before our homestudy was complete and then God simply poured the rest of our money in so we never had a chance to apply for grants, but there are wonderful grants available for adopting families.
-Keep a spreadsheet of where funds are coming from. I am so thankful we did this after someone gave us this advice.

Our tshirt campaign
We did our tshirt campaign through Fund The Nations and highly recommend them! These shirts are seriously SO soft!!!!! Everyone loves them! 
You get to design your shirt and then you pre order. They ship the shirts to you and you distribute. We charged $25 per shirt and an extra $5 if they needed to be shipped. This raised about $2000.

Calligraphy Fundraiser
Again, God gives you talents for a reason. I have always loved playing around with handwriting and calligraphy. My husband told me "Hey, people always like your handwriting. Why don't you makes some signs?" I honestly thought we may make a couple hundred dollars from it, but custom calligraphy pieces have brought in about $6800. I used social media to promote this and took custom orders. Again, think about something you enjoy doing on the side and see if you can use it to bring money in! People are totally willing to donate when they are getting something in return!!

Our yardsale
We really couldn't have done this without our tribe. They were such a huge help. We all posted all over FB and asked for donations. We had over 65 families donate and it filled 2 two car garages!! Be willing to go pick up donations! Be super grateful for everything!! Sort things into categories and sort as you add donations. We started collecting donations about 2 months ahead of time. We didn't price things, we all walked around in matching shirts and gave people prices as they asked. We didn't price anything very high. We made sure everyone knew this was an adoption fundraiser. We opened the sale on Friday night and Saturday until about 2pm. I stayed at the "cash register" the whole time and we always had a line to pay. Have a jar for donations. Have "grab bags" for clothes and tell people they can fill a bag for $5. Sort clothes by sizes. We lined up a thrift store to come pick everything up at 2pm that hadn't sold. This fundraiser raised about $6200.

Our silent auction/dinner
This fundraiser raised about $9300. We made this an event that you had to RSVP to and pay (to cover costs of food). We used a clubhouse that is a part of my parents' condos so it was free of charge. My husband catered it (he's pretty awesome) and did a Korean theme. We had 75 people. My tribe totally helped so very much with this too. We reached out to everyone we knew and asked for donations and giftcards and experiences. I am a travel agent so I got a trip to give away and we did a raffle with that. We announced the winner at the silent auction. Having an emcee really helped and took pressure off of us. Also setting items on tables and then "closing" the tables at different times really helps people to not scramble as well as gives you time to figure out winners and add totals. We also had an artist offer to "live paint" the event and then she auctioned her painting off. It was so fun!

Our puzzle fundraiser
My husband ordered this puzzle from a Korean artist on eBay who turns his artwork into puzzles. It is a 1000 piece puzzle. This fundraiser raised $10,000. Really use social media for this. You can do giveaways, like use the puzzle pieces as raffle tickets. We did this several times like "if you sponsor a puzzle piece it will put you in the running for a free custom calligraphy piece," etc.
We posted the following instructions with updates
This is how it works:
1. We had a 1000 piece puzzle, "Spring in Korea," purchased from a Korean artist.
2. We are “selling” each piece for $10. You can buy 1, 2, 3, or 10! There is no limit!
3. To purchase you can send money through my paypal link:, mail a check (send me an email at for address), or send it through the Square Cash App to $alexrileysmith
4. Once you purchase a piece, we will write your name on the back of one of the puzzle pieces!
5. Once every single piece has been “sold”, we will put the puzzle together and hang it in a double-sided glass frame for our babies’ room so that they can always look back and be reminded of who had a “piece” of bringing our child home.

Sweet & Savory Fundraiser
We have a sweet friend who owns a cooking classroom and offered to do a fundraiser night for us. So think about who you know and ask around if they would be willing to hold a fundraiser night for you! This raised about $570.

Fundraisers not pictured:
- my husband buys items at yard sales and thrift stores and resells on eBay. (Again, talents and gifts given by The Lord.) This raised about $3300
- We had strait donations of about $6900

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Korea Custody Trip - Travel Day and Day 1

Our custody trip is finally here!! For two years, we have waited and longed for this day. We are so excited to be back in Seoul to take custody. And we are so excited to show Mom and Madilynn around Lyla’s birthcountry.
We had a long travel day but with the excitement of “going to get baby Lyla” we all pushed through the long flight.

When we touched down in Korea, Madilynn said “okay! Let’s go get baby Lyla!” 😍
We then got our bags and took our transfer to our hotel. It was about 6:30pm when we arrived at our hotel so Mom took Madilynn to the pool while todd and I grabbed some dinner before we all crashed.

Then we woke up and got ready to spend our last full day without Lyla!
We headed to breakfast at a local coffee shop and then walked to a palace close to our hotel. We explored and showed Madilynn and Mom around.



After exploring the palace grounds, we headed back to our hotel and met up with a few other families who are alsonadopting through our adoption agency. We went to lunch at a restaurant around the corner from our hotel and caught up from our last trip to Korea. One of the families had stayed in Korea for 6 weeks and took custody last Monday so it was so great to be able to talk with them about how custody and the past week have gone for them.
We went back to the hotel after lunch and took way too long of a nap which resulted in us oversleeping for dinner plans we had made with friends. We felt awful and rushed around to get ready to meet them (45 minutes after our scheduled meeting time). Madilynn was grumpy all dinner from being woken up from her nap but she perked right up when we got ice cream after dinner. 😉
Then we returned to the hotel and went swimming to hopefully help Madilynn fall asleep quickly at bedtime.
Now we are about to go to sleep and wake up on Lyla’s gotcha day!!! ❤️
God is faithful! He is good!!