Friday, October 22, 2010

GREAT NEWS- we're moving forward

I found out today that our Application Part 2 has been approved and we can move forward with the Home Study!!!!   This is such huge news for us as we have been waiting patiently and found out we were pretty much approved with a few missing pieces from other people needed.    This is where I have to say how much I LOVE DILLON INTERNATIONAL!!!!  From the get-go they have just been a dream to work with and continue to be there when I need them every step of the way. Our program director has changed as our original one has accepted a supervisory position with a foster care organization but we were so happy to find out that the person taking her place was the program director we had met when we were in Tulsa a few weeks ago and loved that we would be working with her.    We also found out that our case worker would be the one other member of Dillon that we met that weekend, Rebecca, and we are also very excited about that as we loved her too and were really hoping for her! 

So now we get to cut a couple checks $3,500 and $1,500 which thankfully to saving, fund-raising and some generous friends helping out too, we do have and are so ready to start getting it where it needs to go!  We will need to send in about $10,800 total from now until we are placed on the wait-list and we are very close to achieving that, hoping this last t-shirt sales is a big hit!  

Speaking of t-shirts...don't forget to enter our contest (as many times as you would like) and let me know when you do.  You have until next Friday so tell all your friends and family too.  Also if you just want to contribute and get a t-shirt for yourself, friend or family member you can do so HERE

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Okay so this is the last time we are doing our t-shirts as we have in the past and want to have the last order be as successful as possible.  We are going to be making the shirts ourselves in the future and are hoping they will look great but want to make sure everyone that has wanted one of our current shirts, gets one before they're gone.  So, we are having a contest!!!!  Here's how it works, you can get your name entered in many ways and on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29th I will draw a name and announce it and you can choose the shirt and size you would like.  Just make sure you let me know when you do the following so I can keep track of your entries, so here is how you can enter and do so as often as you like!

1.  Post about our t-shirts or this contest on Facebook:  1 Entry each time you post

2.  Post about our t-shirts or this contest on your blog.  1 Entry

3.  Email 5 of your friends, family, co-workers, etc.  1 Entry for every 5 people

4.  Follow this blog and if you already do, just let me know.  1 Entry

The posts and emails can be whatever you want to say and as simple as:
Help support a family adopting from Ethiopia and buy a shirt at

Remember let me know as a message on here or by email each time you enter so I can get your name down.  Thanks for playing!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebrating Jenn's Life

On Saturday, October 16th, we lost a new friend and today we were able to celebrate her life with a beautiful service amongst her friends and family.  

“I may not be well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul.”
- Jennifer Cunningham Kimbrell

We met Jenn just under 2 months ago but had been hearing all about her for some time before.  When Jason and I moved to Oklahoma we were church hopping for a little while to see where our best fit would be.  We kind of accidentally walked into H2O Church one day thinking it was a coffee house (as the side door has a sign with coffee beans that read HeBrewz (which FYI it is a great location to get lunch Tues-Thurs and does serve coffee during church hours, but is not a "coffeehouse" per say 
We then one day decided to see what it was like and we enjoyed the worship band, the message, the relaxed feeling and especially were personally welcomed and made to feel extra important by a man named John Kimbrell.  From the get-go, John tried to get us involved in a life group and invited us to the one he was in.  At the time Jason was working in OKC (90 miles away) and we had very little time for each other and our family and passed on the invite but said we would come someday when Jason got a job closer to home.  We started going to the Life Group John was in and started coming to H2O Church services and felt right at home and knew we belonged!  It was soon after that we learned of Jenn and that John had proposed and they were engaged! Jenn was living in TX and although we had heard a lot about her we did not meet her until Labor Day weekend when we were able to celebrate with them at their wedding reception in Ada (they were married on August 7th).  We then got to know Jenn better as we were welcomes into the Kimbrell's beautiful  home for our Life Group meetings.  Jenn was a wonderful hostess, she made us fabulous meals and provided the most warm, comforting, and welcoming home for us.  Jen's was so full of life and her spirit was so uplifting to be around in the short time we got to know her but we are so blessed that we did!  

Saturday evening we went grocery shopping and our shopping trip was filled with Jenn in mind.  First to buy all the ingredients to make the same taco chili she made us  a few weeks back that was awesome and second to buy stuff to make her and her family dinner for Sunday evening.  As soon as we got home, we found out the news, Jen had passed away not more than an hour ago!  We were so lucky to have known her for the time we did but I have to say I was very saddened partly selfishly because I was really looking forward to getting to know her more!  I encourage you to read her blog and share it with all who you know.  Jenn was very inspiring and will be greatly missed!  Please keep the The Kimbrells and the Cunningham's in your prayers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

T-Shirts are Back and Ready to be Ordered...Who Wants One???

I have had many requests for our t-shirts since the last ordering link closed so to all who have asked about them...they are back!  We have been using Explosion Sportswear to have them made but this will be the last time we are able to use them.  They have been just awesome in allowing all the proceeds to go to our adoption but I know they are getting very busy and the 4th time around will be the last with them :)

 Women's Burn-out Tee (fitted and very soft!)

Men's/Uni-Sex Tee (50/50 blend, also very soft!)

 You can order shirts until NOV. 1st at 10 AM (MST) and this time they are a bit different.  We decided to narrow the shirts down to one women's burn-out shirt in chocolate brown and one uni-sex/men's shirt in white.  We also removed the back from the uni-sex/men's shirt and on the women's shirt just kept a picture of Africa with a heart over Ethiopia.  This way if you do not want "Expecting from Ethiopia" on your shirt, it won't be there, since not everyone is adopting from ET or adopting at all that are buying our shirts :)

SIZING:  The shirts are the same sizes as before.  The burnout shirt runs small so order 1 size up and the uni-sex shirt comes in XS-XXL so women can order these too (for example an XS in the unisex shirt fits like the M in the burnout shirt)

COST:  Women's Burn-out Tees are $25.00 & the Men's/Unisex Tees are $20.00.

Thank You So Much for you continued support!!!  We just found out that we did "a great job" on application part 2 (aka: our dossier prep/HS prep/paperchase) and other than 2 items our agency is waiting on from other people we will be good to move forward...Home Study here we come!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Garage Sale Pictures and End Result

So our Garage Sale Extravaganza was a success!  We went from Friday 7am-4pm and Saturday 8am-4pm at our church while Ada Autumn days celebrations were going on and not only provided a large and over-whelming garage sale, but also had a bake sale, Ethiopian coffee sale and a HUGE hit lunch for $5.00 including wonderfully 12+ hour smoked brisket sandwiches that went so quick I almost didn't get any for myself!  We were sleep deprived, food deprived and later realized slightly dehydrated but all in all I would say it was well worth it.  Not only did we have a good time, met a lot of people and were able to share our story with them, we also made $3,500 to go towards our adoption!!!!  Here is the event in pictures below, not in order but they have captions
A dear friend, Mike, smoking up some brisket for us to sell

Inside of He Brewz, our church's weekday lunch stop that on this day served up the coffee, baked goods and lunch!

Just found this fact fascinating and thought I'd share
Standing out in front of the garage sale, taking a break to enjoy the sun and watch the parade

Our 1st customers and how sweet were they!

my shoe of the only tables I got to fully organize...if only all the tables were as easy to see

The book table and this wasn't it even at it's fullest!

A view of some of the tables and clothes racks...thanks to my friend Natalie for providing these racks!

The crazy clothes tables...just too many items to organize especially when the majority of the clothes came to us on Thurs night, so it really was a needle ina  haystack type of shopping here
baked goods table...chocolate chip cookies, puppy chow, Texas sheet cake and pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting

The wonderful hard workers behind the counter...Mike, Tiffany, Zac and Greg!!! We love you guys!!!!!

Jalen watching the parade with Daddy, Nana, and Boompa

So we had a great time and plan to do another garage sale in the Spring, but this time we'll have it at our house and it will be much smaller!  We did get rid of almost everything we had there and were able to help a  couple that had nothing, make their apt a little more like home as well as were able to hear a lot of great stories of how we were helping someone else that really needed something but couldn't afford one normally.  At 3:30pm it was pretty much take whatever you want for whatever you want to give and this included nice TVs, furniture, lots of clothes and more!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Amazing People All Over the Place!

I am finding myself having to write a whole lot down lately.  I have "to-do" lists for everything in my life right now:  around the house, work/patient notes, adoption, fundraisers, and lately a whole lot of names to have on my "thank you" list!  In the past week we have had SO many people come forward with ways they want to help us here in OK and in AZ.  I wanted to write about some of the recent people who have been in our life and just made us smile really big...we are SO blessed to know these people!

A very sweet friend from church, started off calling us about items his family had to donate to our garage sale, this then tuned into him getting a huge trailer to help us haul all of the stuff from our house to the church Thurs night as well as to load up other items from the house of another sweet friend from church and bring back to the church so we can set-up before Fri morning.  Not that that wasn't enough he then took it upon himself to go around to various meat markets and stores in our town to ask if they would donate brisket to our fundraiser and was able to get a lot donated.  That is a lot of footwork that saved us a lot of time!  He will also be hanging out from midnight on Fri night to help with brisket for Saturday's events.  And again and again he has offered up his time and whatever he can do for us...mind you we just met him and his family last week!

Another friend from church who thought of the idea of smoking a brisket to sell, has been so excited and helpful with figuring out what all we need and offering to get items donated from friends he has in the area.  And let me say this again...he will be hanging outside from midnight and on to get all the brisket smoked (a 12-hr process).  We have known him ever since we started going as he is the main greeter when you walk in but we've only really got to know him over the past week or so.  To do this for us and at the end of a very crazy work week in which he is traveling to FL and will return Thursday, he then took off Fri and is designating his time on Fri and Sat to helping us!!! 

So moving onto the next amazing person, another new friend from church called me last night to say she had some stuff to donate to the garage sale but also wanted to let us know that her and her husband own a local BBQ place and said whatever they can do to help they would love to, future events with smoked turkey legs, or whatever they can help with they will! 

Now this next person entered into our lives about a month or so ago, another church friend who before meeting us, heard about our story and decided that her and her family wanted to help contribute to our adoption and their generosity didn't stop then.  She has offered to put on a bake sale during the garage sale and has offered up her and her families abilities to help us with whatever we need...even offered to have her babysitter stay longer so both her and her husband can be there to help...I mean seriously you would think all of these people have been in our lives forever!

Now some out of state may remember me posting about a friend I grew up with in IL who then moved to AZ and is a photographer there now, had offered to make September a month of photography for families at discount with all of the proceeds going towards our adoption as well as another long time friend who is also adopting from Ethiopia.  Today we received a check in the mail from Lindsey with a card thanking US for allowing her to be a part of our journey...ummmm Lindsey, THANK YOU!

Yesterday I received an email from a newer blogging friend who is also adopting from Ethiopia, letting me know that  she has decided to start buying their Ethiopia coffee from our website in support of us...again, yes they are also adopting.  You just gotta love the direct support received from other families in the same shoes!

Another good friend of ours from 5-6 years ago in AZ has offered to host a garage sale in AZ so all of our friends and family there can donate items and proceeds will go towards our adoption.  Again we really are lucky, blessed and thankful for everyone in our lives, it just makes this journey even more memorable and special and makes us want to work harder than ever to bring our baby home and continue working and fighting to help the orphans in this world be no more!

Well I think now that this is turning into a novel and it is nearing midnight, I should cut this one off...but don't worry there will be more to come.  I don't want to leave anyone out and want to give credit where credit is due so stay tuned.  Thank You so much to ALL of our friends and family and a BIG thank you to our church H2O and Pastors Gary and Zac for allowing this upcoming weekend to happen and for being so supportive of what we are doing! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend Extravaganza Approaching

Who: Jason & Joely O'Neal
What: A garage sale/lunch and coffee (and maybe baked goods)
When:  Fri, Oct 8th & Sat, Oct 9th
Where:  At our church H2O Church on the corner of Main St & Broadway in Ada, OK
Why:  To raise money for our adoption
How:  by the help of SO many friends (we definitely could not do this on our own)

EXTRAVAGANZA is the only way I can describe what is to come this weekend for our garage sale and I cannot wait!  This all began as a plan in the beginning of summer to have a little garage sale at our home around July to raise money.  After telling one of the pastors at our church he said if we were gonna do it, we should do it at the church and wait until Ada's fall festival so more people would be around.  So from that day months and months ago, this garage sale has now turned into many, MANY families from our work, church, and neighborhood donating items to sell to the point that our garage is packed and we haven't even gotten stuff from at least 5 other families that want to donate.  Not to mention we combed through our garage, attic and house today and compiled a lot of large containers of clothes, home decor, kids stuff, care seats and more.

On top of a garage sale, we had a friend at church offer to smoke beef brisket on a large smoker to sell as another fundraiser during the garage sale.  This requires him to stand outside and begin smoking it at midnight Friday night to be ready to sell by Sat early afternoon.  Some other people have offered to hang out and keep him company as well and we are going to bring them a heater and some snacks while they do such a huge favor for us!  Jason looked into it and because our church is also a coffee shop/lunch venue known as HeBrewz a few days a week we can sell food out of it without needing a license.  The chamber of commerce also said that if we were to serve food that would help them because they were in need of finding food vendors for the events so we will be selling lunch (brisket sandwich + chips + a drink for $5.00) and all the proceeds will go towards our adoption.  I was also approached tonight by a sweet friend at church about doing a bake sale too so that might also be going on!

...and then we of course want to promote Ethiopian coffee so I purchased a couple bags of coffee from our Just Love Coffee website and we will be selling cups of it as well.  I have started making signs for the garage sale and have business cards for the coffee, our website and thank yous to all who come by that day.
It has just been amazing to see so many people approach us to help in any way they can and we are so thankful for the wonderful friends we have made since living here in only 1 year!  We also are so thankful for our church as they have been so supportive of what we are doing and are just awesome in what they are constantly doing to help others out...Thank you H2O Church and to everyone who is helping us in some way or another and just letting us know you support us, we appreciate it SO much and are so thankful for each and every one of you!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

a HUGE step completed!!!!

 Oh I don’t even know where to begin with writing right now.   I feel like I haven’t updated in forever because this last week has been the longest week ever and now we have a HUGE weight lifted from our shoulders!  We drove to Tulsa today and have our International Adoption course with our agency and 2 other families (adopting from China and Korea).  This is a requirement for our adoption and needs to be completed before the home study can be completed and it was just awesome!  We learned so much and feel even more prepared now for what is to come once we become parents to an adopted child.  I want to mention a few things that I thought were so interesting but I first would like to say we have a VERY BIG step completed in our process….

…Application Part 2 is DONE, hand delivered, and waiting on the desk of our case worker to be reviewed!!!!  If you are adopting through Dillon, you know what a task this part is but if you aren’t you’re probably thinking, another application?   Because Dillon is our adoption/placing agency and home study agency application part 2 is basically a little part of an application and then much of what is required for the home study and dossier so it included our autobiographies, birth certificates, marriage license, passport copies, 5 reference letters, doctor’s physicals, infectious disease screenings, bank statements, IRS past 3 years tax forms, letters to Ethiopian government, financial worksheets, contracts, pictures of our home inside and out and our immediate family and more!    We will have more paper-chasing to do throughout the process of course but this gets us ahead of the game in many aspects.  So now the next step for us is to wait to hear back from Dillon if they need anything else from us and then we will be proceeding onto our home study...YAY!!!

Last time I was in Tulsa was about this time last year to take my board exams that I had studied at least 4 mths for and I can honestly say I have about the same feeling of accomplishment right now as I did then.  Most of you reading this are in the process or have gone through it so this may not be news to you but these were just a few of the interesting things we learned today.

 ~ It is strongly recommended to not have many new people introduced to the child when they are brought home and should be taken care of solely by the parents so the child doesn’t attach to someone other than his or her mom or dad.  This means diaper changes, bottle feedings, rocking to sleep, etc , needs to be done by the parents only, in the beginning so the child can have optimal bonding and attachment time.  Also it is important to remember that this child has already had people leave from their own life and to get attached to someone else who is visiting and will be leaving could be very hard on that child. 
~The child most likely did not get the hands on, direct contact attention that most babies do so being rocked, cuddled, fed a bottle, played with and comforted often might be new to the child.  It is important to start the relationship with this child doing these things even if they are what we might think is too old to be doing something.  It allows them the same bonding and attachment ability as any other child would get.
~Bringing up the child’s birth parents to the child so they know it is okay to bring up and don’t feel bad or scared to do so.  Some ideas they talked about were saying “I wonder if your birth mom was good at ___ and that’s where you got it from since your dad and I aren’t good at that at all”.  Also honoring their biological mom on mother’s day and saying a prayer for her or talking about her (or dad on father’s day).  Another family that was there said they had their son (adopted at 10 years old from China) draw pictures of what he thought his biological parents looked like.

Now...onto getting ready for this upcoming week....Jason's parents will be coming in on Thursday and our big garage sale at church will be occurring this Fri and Sat so tomorrow we will be making our signs, flyers, etc and going through all of our own stuff to get rid of.  Our garage is filled right now and we still have others bringing stuff to the church directly for it...I will post pictures of it all so stay should be a lot of fun!