Worth the Risk

In the last post, I answered some questions that we have been asked about adoption.  I couldn’t include all of those questions in the last post, so I figured I’d have another post answering a couple more questions.

How much money are you hoping to raise? Well, there is no way to know exactly how much this adoption will cost.  We are planning to go with our previous agency, but if another situation comes up, we may use a different agency, which could significantly change the cost of the agency/legal fees and the birth mother expenses.  We have a goal of about 25-30,000 for the money we are going to need.

Our own money, including taxes and savings, will account for a little more than a third of that amount.  We are hoping to raise another third with our upcoming fundraiser.  If our adoption is on the lower end of cost, that will pay for the vast majority of it.  If our adoption is more expensive, we are still hoping for some grants to come through–so far we have applied for a lot but haven’t received any.  We are only planning to do one big fundraiser, but if push comes to shove and we are unable to raise enough, we may do another one later on. Our fundraiser will go “live” sometime this week. It was supposed to be this past weekend but unfortunately, as Leah says, our car took a trip to auto heaven.

Second, we were asked back when we were raising money to adopt Canaan why we were “adopting a baby that we obviously didn’t have the money to care for?”  Needless to say that question caught us off guard.  I hope that none of you have asked this question, but if you have, consider how many people you know that have $30,000 in liquid funds available to pay for any given thing.  Even people with quite a bit of money are unable to spend that much all at once.  We have modest incomes, but we have more than enough to care for two children, we just need help getting through the raising money part of it.

Unfortunately adoption isn’t something you can typically make payments on.

This adoption road is a hard one, but we know it’s the road we are supposed to be on.  Adoption is forcing us to do something that we hate to do: ask for help.  It’s a beautiful thing to allow people to be a part of your story, but it’s also really hard to have to ask for help.

Lastly, Leah recently had an experience where they were talking about money and investments and bottom lines, and the conclusion was that when people you love and who are a part of your story are what you are investing in, when they’re your bottom line, then all the risk is worth it.  For us, that investment that we are asking you to be a part of is our beautiful children’s faces, their lives with us and our family.  We hope that you think the payoff is worth the risk, as much as we do.




Why Private Adoption?

Three years ago, when we started this adoption process the first time, we had no idea what to expect.  We were excited about the prospect of becoming parents and pouring out the love that we have had stored in our hearts for so long.  We had a big community come together to help us out, and we are incredibly grateful for that.

People have asked us a lot of questions about our adoption and about our upcoming adoption.  We certainly don’t mind answering questions, but I thought I’d try to answer a few things and maybe respond to some comments that we’ve heard as well.

  • Why is adoption so expensive?

This is one of those questions that we get an awful lot.  I can’t begin to discuss all of the nuances of the private adoption system in America, it would take far too long.  But I can describe the basics of what our adoption fees paid for.  When we adopted Canaan, our agency fees were $18,500 and our birth mom expenses were $5,500.

That agency fee primary covered three things: court fees, legal work, and social work.  In other words, the agency that we used, and most agencies, have a lawyer on staff or on contract who handles all of the the legal work.  If things are not done perfectly, even finalized adoptions can be left at serious legal risk.  Legal work makes up a substantial part of the cost of any adoption.  We could talk all day about whether this is a good or a bad thing, but if you’ve ever hired a lawyer for anything, you’ve probably wondered why they’re time is worth so much–that time is worth no less when they’re doing adoption stuff. On top of the legal work specifically are simply court fees and filing costs.

The other part of the agency fee is the social work.  The agency through which we adopted Canaan has several social workers on staff who work long hours to ensure that birth mothers are making it to appointments, that prospective adoptive parents are getting the right information, and paperwork.  These people need to be paid for their time and paid well.

Finally, there are birth mom expenses.  This is simply some money to make sure that the birth mother is taken care of during their pregnancy and in the few months after.  This would include things like rent, groceries, and counseling.

Ultimately, I know we could talk all day about the cost of adoption and how it should cost less.  I agree, it should cost less.  But, it doesn’t.  Despite having the resources to raise children comfortably, the cost makes it very difficult for people like us with modest incomes. So that’s why we are having fundraisers.

  • Why don’t you just go through foster care, it’s cheaper?

This is another question whose answer could take all day, but I will try to keep it simple.  First, the cost or lack thereof is not the deciding factor for why we should or shouldn’t adopt.  Every child who will be adopted has a different story, and those stories are not all equal.  When it comes to foster care, the children have often had difficult lives so far with caretakers who may have been neglectful or abusive.  Let me say without any doubt that those children need to be adopted.  More people need to be open and willing to give homes to older children and children that have difficult stories so far.  I do investigations for Child Protective Services, so I am involved in that process in my daily life, and Leah and I have every intention to do foster care one day.

Right now, however, we don’t think that is the story that we are supposed to do.  We feel like God has used private adoption in our story, and we feel like that is what he wants us to do now.  In private adoption, a birth mother chooses to place her child with another family.  The stories of those birth mothers are not all equal either, but typically adoption is an opportunity for a birth-mother to give their child something different (not necessarily better) than what she can provide.

Private adoption is the story that we have chosen and that we believe God wants for us.  We are open to other things, one of the foster care workers with whom I work has said she’d let me know whenever another county sends over a profile of a child that needs a family.

More than anything else, adoption is a beautiful thing, but it is incredibly complex and includes a lot of loss and heartache.  I hope to share some more about the complexities of adoption, some that we are discovering now with Canaan. But there is so much about even his story that we don’t share over the internet because simply put, it is not our story to tell. His health and progress and our journey, we will share…but not the parts of his story that are his.

We will be starting our first adoption fundraiser this week, so be on the lookout, please go ahead and consider what you will be willing to give to help us bring a daughter home and if nothing else, please be in prayer and/or sending good thoughts as we walk this journey again.

On the road again…

We are on the road towards adoption again!

Most of you who keep up with us and our journey are friends on Facebook so you are privy to a lot of our life and our sweet little man. I sincerely appreciate you reading our updates (though on here, they are few a far between) and for keeping up with us.

We have  pretty sweet little life!

As you know from our last posts we have started the adoption process again. We do not feel like we are complete and we are believing that it’s time..thank you for sharing in our excitement when the “almosts” happen and thank you for sharing our sadness when, for whatever reason, it’s a no. Adoption is a roller coaster. I for one, love roller coasters.

That being said, November is National Adoption Month. We figured that it was a great time to update ya’ll on whats going on and to start our first fundraiser!

Before we start that, I just want to remind you of our story with Canaan. When we got the call about C, we had a good first “chunk” of our adoption money from our savings and from people in our immediate community who had previously given towards our adoption. We then had 14 days to raise about $15,000. That was a very VERY scary time for us: stepping forward and saying yes to a baby and a situation but not knowing where the finances were going to come from equals scary. It was a miracle, a straight up-make you believe in humankind again-hallmark movie, type of miracle! To say that we were blown away doesn’t even being to cover it! You can read all about it here by looking through the older posts!

Then in June, we thought that we were going to have a similar type of situation financially with our next adoption but, the Birth mother chose another family. That situation put a fire under our belt to do everything we could to get ready!

So…we have been saving, we have been applying for grants (which for us has been an exhausting and disappointing ordeal so far) and we have been planning for different types of fundraisers! Between our personal savings and tax credits, our continued pursuit of grants, and fundraising, we are hoping to be bringing a baby home within the year! Adoption is expensive though, and we need help…

                         In the coming weeks, we are going to begin our first fundraiser to bring home our baby girl!                           We have not been chosen or anything yet, we just know that this is how our hearts are being led!

So, be on the look out…Pray for us, send us good thoughts, whatever!

Love and hugs!

oh and here’s a sweet little family pic :)


Not this time…

What a way to announce that we are hoping to begin the process of bringing home baby number two…

We just spoke with the agency. We were calling into to speak with the birthparents, they chose us and one other family to speak with and right as she answered us, they were calling to tell her that they didn’t think it was fair to us, to speak to us because they had already made up their mind to go with the other family.

We are feeling pretty sad and defeated but even in this we know that God has a plan. Maybe this was all about letting us know that we need to be prepared. We’ve been talking about how we would use this year to apply for grants, save money and in general get ready for baby number two but this situation has made it that much more clear that “getting ready” is exactly what we need to be doing and maybe sooner than we originally thought. Our plan will still be to use this next year to apply for grants and save (and continue to renovate our home to fit more little people) and then around this time next year “actively” start the process again. BUT, if another situation like this falls into our laps, the way this one has, we will be open to it.

But, we are sad. And it’s okay to be a little sad.

Love ya’ll. thanks so much for praying and joining in this roller coaster with us. Keep praying for these birthparents and this sweet baby girl and for her parents.

And in a crazy turn of events, we have some unexpected news..

Hello Friends,

This is to all of you who had some sort of part in helping us bring Canaan home. A few weeks ago, we we’re given a little bit of unexpected money and we decided to use it to refresh our homestudy, with the intention of saving money/applying for grants over the next year and actively starting the adoption process in the spring of next year.
Well, we just had our meeting with the social worker a couple of nights ago. And when it was over, we received a message about a possible situation with a baby girl who is due in late June. After praying about it, we just couldn’t shake the thought that the timing was just too crazy to ignore, so we have been in communication with the agency and they think that we could be a great match for the birth parents.
They are presenting to the parents here in the next couple of days. If we were to be chosen, we’d need something around $10,000 very quickly, for a portion of the agency fee and some travel and other costs. As you know, adoption is expensive and cost much more than that, but after the initial costs and travel, we’d be able to work out plans with the placing organization and have time to look for grants and fundraise for the rest of it over the next little while.
We feel like God made something impossible happen when we brought Canaan home, and we don’t really know how its going to happen this time, but we just wanted to ask all of you if you would pray for us. Pray that the birth parents would make the right decision, and if that decision is us that God would provide like he did last time, because if they choose us, things will have to move very, very quickly.

We really didn’t want to have to ask for help raising money again but some very sweet friends reminded us of how involved everyone got with Canaan and how there are those who want to walk this journey with us, continue to bless our family and believe in adoption in this way. That being said, we have set up a youcaring account as a safe way to raise money for our next adoption. http://www.youcaring.com/brandon-and-leah-milan-361298

Brandon, Leah and Canaan

Making our House a Home…

So… It’s been a few months since we’ve posted anything at all.  But we’ve had a few developments over the past few months.  Well nothing too interesting…

First and foremost, Canaan is doing great!

He is two now and ridiculously cute, active, and a little bit wild… only in the best way, of course.

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As I type this, Leah is sitting on the couch and Canaan is standing next to her on the couch patting his belly, saying, “PUSH!” until Leah pushes him down so that he falls on his back on the couch in a uproar of laughter.  This sort of thing is a daily occurrence in our home, and we love it.  Now he is spinning around in a circle until he gets dizzy and stumbles around saying “Woah, Woah, Woah!”


He’s a fun kid…

The second development is that we renovated our kitchen… Leah’s dad, Doug, and Brandon worked their tails off for a couple of weeks and turned our kitchen from this:

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We removed the bar, which was a little too high for us, and added under counter lightsDSC_3360

We replaced the base cabinets to the right of the stove, as well as added some new cabinets around the refrigerator.


The new cabinets were bought from Ikea.  If you’ve ever priced cabinets from Ikea, they are probably the lowest prices around… but if you don’t buy the doors from Ikea, you can save another 50-60 percent… so we built the doors for the new cabinets:


Then we put facades on the front of the old cabinet doors to make them match:


We got new counter butcher-block countertops and an apron front sink from Ikea:


We also set up a little coffee station:

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Anyway, we are pretty proud of this little bit of making our home into our own.  And, if you’ll look closely, you’ll see that Canaan is making it his own too:


That cabinet to the left of the fridge is where we keep the food, including Canaan’s snacks…

Give us some feedback!

Holy heartattack Batman, it’s been over a year!

Time flies when you’re having fun, and/or have a toddler.

Clearly, I’ve taken some time away from blogging. I desperately needed something to “give” and unfortunately, it was writing. Not to say that I consider myself a writer, because the only writing I really do is songwriting. I digress. Here we are friends, a year and 2 months later.

Canaan update; he is thriving! Little man is doing so well, it’s unbelievable! In fact, when people who don’t know our story hear about his start, they are amazed! His heart is doing well for the time being, we have to have another check up in the spring and for it he will need to be sedated, he’s just too wiggly. He is awesome though. I swear, I don’t know how I managed to get a kid who is exactly like I was as a child. He is absolutely fearless! Here’s a couple of pics.


I want to write a ’10 things about Canaan” post soon. Hopefully during this Christmas break, I will get to.

Momma update; as you might know, I am a teacher but I am also a musician, I decided after studying music in college, that one subject was just not enough ;). When we adopted Canaan, I decided to leave my position at a local elementary school and stay home with my dream baby. Well, six months into staying home 100% of the time, I realized that it is just not for me, every other day though, I wish it were. I’m just not a very domesticated person. SO, November of last year, I followed a life long dream and opened a business. I own and operate a music studio here in our little mountain town. I teach kindermusik classes and give private lessons in voice, guitar and piano. I am loving IT! It is stressful owning a business, especially when you’re an accidental business owner like me (more on that later), but I feel more fulfilled and excited with my work, than I ever have. It’s awesome to get to love what you do! Check it out, if you’d like… www.heartstringsmusicstudio.com. I also recently began a pretty big life change with my health. I’m hoping one day to tell that story, but so far, I’m not quite there. It’s such a sensitive subject and I”m not comfortable yet with the world (or just general public) knowing all the ins and outs. Some of my extended family don’t even know all of it…


Daddy update; After leaving full time ministry, when we had to leave our life in Canada, Brandon had a few years of “figuring out” to do. We really felt like we needed to step away from working at churches, maybe for a while, maybe forever. We also felt that it’s nice, sometimes, to get to serve and love your pastoral staff really well. Especially after being pastoral staff who weren’t loved well. If you want more of that story,  look here. 

All that to say, Brandon spent a year unemployed but working when and where he could, doing anything (which is BONKERS and not by choice!) and then finally got a position at a prison that is about 45 minutes away. After two years working there and really struggling with the work environment (clearly, IT WAS A PRISON FOR PETE’S SAKE?!), he got a position with our county’s Child protective services. This new career has been awesome and it’s a regular schedule that is only 5 minutes away. You don’t realize how nice an 8-5 is, if you’ve never had it. Let me tell you, it is SO nice! So far, it’s just an incredible fit for him, ya’ll know how we are all about adoption and seeing children in good, healthy situations. He has literally come back to life before my eyes. Ya’ll he is just the most amazing man. He is the best daddy I’ve ever seen, he is a sweet and tender husband, you should all be jealous! I mean just look at this picture and try your best not to swoon.


We also moved to “town”  and into a small but bigger home last year after living in a tiny house, less than 600 square feet. Now, live in a super cute house that we hopefully closing on in a couple of weeks. This story is also CRAZY….I need to tell it too, shew, too many stories to share! Life is good and crazy for us!

God is good, He gives and takes away. He desires good for those that love Him and most importantly, the biggest story of my life, He GIVES A CRAP, about me, who is the most wretched. There is Hope. Emmanuel, God with us.