• Immediate Needs

    updated 8.29.11

    We do what we do as missionaries supported by people like you.

    We also prefer to give away as much content as we can, and not cloud that issue with a lot of public requests. That said, we do have specific needs that are met by people who believe the work we do has value.

    If you'd like a short list of immediate financial needs, you can find it HERE.

    Thanks!

    Note: This will be updated regularly

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The Zoe Foundation goes to Hotlanta…

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Join us November 21/22 in Atlanta, Georgia for an adoption seminar, a vision/fundraising banquet and Sunday services at IHOP-ATL!

For more information, maps and to RSVP for the free banquet, go to www.thezoefoundation.com and hit the ATLANTA ZOE WEEKEND tab at the top!

See you there!

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When you play with fire, you’re gonna have fun.

We had a crazy weekend.  I actually welcomed Monday with open arms, thinking it would feel great to get back into the groove.

This evening we worked together as a family to clear some brush near the front of The Compound.  Let me just say….I love this property.  It’s not the prettiest yard in the world, but the combination of the stone walls at various points, the goofy concrete lions, the gate, the trees…. I love it.

The Compound sits on roughly an acre, which isn’t huge, but the house itself is on a bit of a knob, with all but one of the surrounding houses considerably lower than ours.  It means the view’s a little better than you might get in town, and you can look down over your neighbor’s privacy fence and remind them that your toilets are higher than their sinks.  Have a nice day.

After clearing brush, of course, we had a brush pile….so we did what anyone else would want to do – enjoyed a small fire with marshmellows and hot dogs.  I would probably never have done this at any other house, but this is The Compound.  It’s meant for danger.

I found an old concrete planter and we converted it into a portable burn pit.  I did a grocery run and by the time I nosed the Montero back through the gate, Kelsey had a good fire going.

2009-09-28_19.59.26Zion strummed his guitar, we all sang, and we all laughed when he freestyled a blues song that ended with his shouting into the night “Thank you, Tri State area!”.

I kept glancing down the driveway expecting for a fireman to walk up from the gate in full turnout gear, but they never came.  Apparently our neighbors are learning that the new folks are the sort that are going to have a fire once in a while…and not to worry when the little boys sit on the lions waiving bows and arrows.

A good time was had by all.   It also got me thinking about building a proper burn platform for bigger fires…

Hannah’s Dream Adoptions site goes live.

We now have a temporary site up until our more robust version arrives.  You can take a closer look at www.hannahsdream.com.

Also, if you’re in the Atlanta area, be ready for the Atlanta Zoe Foundation Weekend coming November 21/22.  Schedule to follow.

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Rounding Third, Heading Home

One year ago today, we began a high speed journey that would end (quickly) with our adopting twin girls. I’ve enjoyed summarizing the trip this week in four parts that you can find here.

Friday evening and most of Saturday are a blur for me. We didn’t leave the hotel much. The emotion and flurry of travel had caught up with us, and frankly, we were happy to just stare at these two gifts.

For a day and a half, we pondered names. We really wanted to tie the names into what God was saying to us, and it happened to be the weekend marking nine years of 24/7 prayer and worship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, where we are on staff. We eventually landed on Anna River and Mercy Rain. Anna River represented the calling of a movement of intercessors, while Mercy Rain was to express the good things God wanted to give His people. In these two names – indeed, in these two girls – we saw both our calling and our blessing.

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Once the girls were properly named, we grew a little restless. Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and drove east to Coast Community Church in Gulf Breeze. Coast pastor, Robert Pooley, had been a friend from the blog world although we’ve never so much as talked on the phone until the Thursday before when I called asking for recommendations on lawyers.

Robert & the Coast family opened their arms and hearts to us. Actually, the opened their wallets too, blessing us significantly for having taken up these twins on a moment’s notice. Robert is quick to point out that he got the girls’ names right when introducing us. I am quick to remind him that he had a 50/50 chance anyway. We will never forget the warm welcome we got there. We needed it.

After church they fed us (they are, after all, Southerners) and sent us on our way. We drove on to Tallahassee where we spent the night met with our lawyer on Monday morning.

Three words about our lawyer, Madonna Finney: Total rock star. She took A1 care of us from the very beginning, always talking very frankly and with a lot of concern. We have grown to be friends in the past year and we recommend her to anyone adopting in Florida.

The twins were doing great, although they were so small they attracted attention everywhere we went. People would notice newborn twins, then look at Kelsey looking fine in her jeans, and roll their eyes. We’d pretend we didn’t see it and laugh later.

After our meeting with Madonna, we drove south to Tampa and spent a few days with Steve and Janie Sjogren. Steve and Janie are long time friends from our Cincinnati days. I actually blame Steve for a majority of the crazy things I’ve ever done (Burning Man for example). We enjoyed their hospitality very much. Steve has always been a key prophetic voice in my life and to be near them in this window of time was the icing on the cake.

It might sound like it, but we weren’t on vacation. We were in holding. When ou adopt from outside of your state, there is something called the Interstate Compact that must be worked out so that both state’s needs for the adoption are satisfied. While we lounged around the Sjogren’s pool, Madonna and her team were shuffling papers back and forth. The twins couldn’t leave Florida until this was all done.

Meanwhile, the kids at home were getting restless. We decided that I would fly home to be with them while Kelsey stayed with the twins. She was pretty sure she could manage. And then they both pooped at the same time and we came to our senses. Instead, we asked a good friend, Jill Cataldo, to come down and be with Kelsey when I went home.

I drove to the Tampa airport with the car we’d rented in New Orleans and prepared to fly home. Waiting for my flight, I blogged

It’s weird leaving her here, but I’ve also missed the rest of the kids back in KC. Oh for the soon coming day when we’re all in one city, crammed under one roof, a glorious mess of elbows and toes. Kinda feels like all of life shifted in the last five days. I went from having a moderately large family to having the sort of family that spurs total strangers to ask if perhaps you’re Mormon. (I’m not, and to my knowledge, neither is Kelsey).

Beyond that, I am sort of pondering my own reaction with these twins. We hear about emergency situations from time to time, but this one was a no brainer – I had to go after them. Something has changed in me. I don’t know where this leads, but I know there are others to go after, and I intend to rally an army to rescue them. I’ve been hearing a lyric all day.

Oh the sound of salvation come
The sound of rescued ones
And all this for a king
Angels join to sing
‘All for Christ our King!’

I’m telling you. I can hear the sound. And it’s glorious. I’m done. It is not cool to cry in the airport.

Of course, I did cry. For the ones we’d rescued and the ones who still need rescued. I don’t know what Crowder was thinking when he wrote it, but for me, this song is an anthem for adoption.

Kelsey and Jill went further south to Sarasota to stay with the Grotticks – more friends from our DC days. It is remarkable how God brings people together at one point in life in order to further His kingdom at another point.

A few days later, Madonna called and announced that the girls were free to leave the state. Kelsey and Jill booked tickets for the next morning, when I met them at the airport with Grayson. I’ll show you what it’s like for a (then) 11 year old boy to wait for and welcome his new sisters.

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It’s still very difficult to believe this happened a year ago. Also hard to believe that eight weeks after getting these two little ones home, we discovered that we were pregnant with Piper.

This has all meant a multitude of changes for our family. The jump from 3 to 4 children when we adopted Zoe was not that big of a deal. Going from 4 to 7 in a year is a world rocker. Nothing works anymore…a normal house, a normal vehicle, a normal budget. It all goes out the window.

Fortunately, with God’s heart comes God’s economy, and with the help of His people, we make our way as missionaries – in prayer and in deed.

Thanks for journeying with us –

Randy & Kelsey

Legal Schmegal

I’ve been blogging the twins’ adoption story this week, celebrating their first birthday.  If you missed the earlier entries, they are here:

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the adoption process.  It’s not all racing through airports and across state lines.   Up until now, all of our arrangements have been based on verbal agreements and heart to heart talks.  While the State of Florida is gracious to adoptive parents, they prefer things to solidify a bit more before letting you go home with a baby born in their state.

Shortly after meeting the twins and their birth mom, we met a representative of the lawyer who agreed to take this on.  She’d driven the nearly 200 miles to take the consent of the birth mom – a legal document stating that she wanted to do this.

Knowing the situation was delicate, our lawyer suggested we bring in a second lawyer to represent the birth mom while options were discussed.  Preferring to pay the piper up front rather than run into problems later, we agreed.  They met in the lobby and marched back to the hospital room.  In ten minutes, they marched back into the lobby.

“The birth mom is tired right now.  She’s taken some medication and is going to sleep for a little while.  We’ll need to wait.”

There we sat.  Kelsey and I on one side of the lobby, thinking of baby names.  On the other sat both sides of this legal case, with one of them billing by the hour, getting paid pretty good money to drink bad coffee and sit in an uncomfortable chair.

Eventually our lawyer’s caseworker suggested we go grab a bite to eat and that they would call us.  We drove across the street to a restaurant and picked at our food, too excited to eat.  After not eating, we stopped at a book store to look at baby names.  We decided that naming twins was more than twice as hard as naming one baby.

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About thirty minutes later, we received a phone call from our legal team.  Consent had been signed.  We could come to the hospital and get the girls.

Elation turned to confusion when we realized that we had twins and no car seats. We raced to Target and bought matching car seats, a pack of diapers and a few bottles in record time, and then back to the hospital.

In an unusual display of trust, Kelsey went in to see the twins while I installed the car seats.   I’ll never forget standing in the Birthing Center parking lot, unpacking car seats, and staring at instructions while strangers walked by, judging me for being such a slacker.  I could almost hear them.

“What kind of dad waits until now to install the car seats?!?  Did he not know this was coming?”

Uh….no.  I didn’t.

Inside the hospital, Kelsey met briefly with the legal team.   I came in and we stopped by the mother’s room.  She was packed and ready to leave the hospital.  She seemed quiet but resolved that she’d made the right call.

We were ushered into a room off the nursery where the medical team could give the girls their final once over.  They were labeled ‘Baby A’ and ‘Baby B’.   The nurse asked what we wanted to name them.

Blank stares.  We had no idea.  It’s not like we had a list of names. We had a blank white board and no markers.  They chuckled nervously and said “Well, you can wait then.”

Gathering up all the supplies that they offered, we put the twins in their carriers and headed for the door like Pancho Villa made for the border. With the girls clicked into their car seat bases, we both rested our heads against the back of our seats and breathed a sigh of relief.  I took a second to fire off a message…

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We made two quick stops on the way back to the hotel.  Backyard Burgers provided an in-car feast.  Kelsey ran into a grocery store to pick up formula and a few other things.

At 6:30am on Thursday, we heard about twins.  At 4pm on Friday, we were headed back to the hotel, girls sleeping and parents feeling like the adventure was coming to an end.

If we only knew.

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Baby A and Baby B.  Don’t ask me which was which.

Next up – The final chapter. ‘You go home when the State of Florida says you can go home’, the girls meet their crazy uncles Robert and Steve, and the triumphal reentry to Kansas City.

24 hours into this…

Being the week of the twins’ first birthday, I’m telling the twins’ adoption story in series format. Follow these links to find parts one and two .

The twins’ birth mom had asked if we could meet with her as soon as possible, so the alarm went off early. It took a few minutes to orient ourselves. Where were we? Why were we here? Oh yea. That.

Rushing to get ready, our hearts were split tracking – thinking of the twin girls in the hospital as well as our four children at home who were processing all of this as much as we were, without the additional benefit of walking it out on the ground. It was an adrenalin factory, but at least we were able to keep busy traveling and planning. The kids were experiencing the same shot of adrenalin, minus the outlet.

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Grabbing coffee, we drove to the hospital. Having attended meetings in Pensacola back in the days of the Pensacola Revival, we had a rough idea of the layout of the city. It was funny to be back in town so many years later and see some of the same sites. We parked near the entrance marked ‘Birth’ and walked toward the doors.

Signs led us through the customary labyrinth of doors and hallways until we stood outside a hospital room knowing that on the other side of the door was a birth mom who was about to make the most important decision of two little girls’ lives.

We knocked gently and heard a voice say “Come in.” We found her sitting on the edge of the bed, a bit groggy. A small duffle bag sat on the edge of the bed. On the nightstand was a cell phone and a half empty hard pack of Marlboro Red.

“We’re the Bohlender’s…” I stammered. Always best to lead with the obvious I guess.

“Yes, hello.” She replied quietly. “Thanks for coming. Please sit down….”.

The next thirty minutes consisted of a quiet exchange between nervous parents and a woman who desperately wanted to feel like she had some sort of influence in a decision. In reality, she did – she could choose to place the girls with us or choose not too, but choosing not to meant the state of Florida would take them that afternoon. To the rational mind, this wasn’t a hard decision. To her troubled mind, though, it was very important that she think it through fully…and we wanted to make sure to allow her that dignity.

She asked only a few questions. What do you do for a living? How many children do you have? Where do you live? Then she got to the one that seemed the biggest for her. How do you feel about them being of mixed race?

As her sister had told us, she was half Japanese and half Thai. The birth mom told us that the father was “White Christian Redneck.” I’m not sure that’s technically a race, but it sure gave me a mental picture. Her sister had also told us that the birth mom had always felt like the odd one out – she was half sister, and her Thai side made her darker than her siblings.

We explained that our family had crossed that imaginary threshold two years earlier when we adopted Zoe. Not only did it not matter, we hadn’t thought to ask before we left to meet her. A visible wave of relief swept across her face. My heart jumped as I allowed myself to move from obedience (God said “go get them”) to a nervous hope.

After a few moments of awkward silence, she asked “Would you like to meet the girls?” We quickly said yes…and with that, she put on her slippers and we were headed down the hallway. She went to the nurses desk and announced “I’d like to see my girls. These are the people who will be adopting them.”

The nursery worker looked at us for a moment and quietly went behind a door, returning in a moment with two tiny girls in clear, acrylic bassinets. Kelsey and I couldn’t take our eyes off them as they rolled down the hall to a small room designed for one on one patient consultations with nurses or doctors.

We all crowded in – the birth mom, the two bassinets, Kelsey and I – and turned to face each other. Gently, the birth mom lifted each girl out of the bassinets and handed one to Kelsey and another to me. She introduced them by the names she’d given them but said “You’ll probably want to pick your own names, and that’s ok with me….”.

Ten minutes passed with us making small talk when she said “I’m tired. I think I’m going back to rest.” She kissed each of the girls and walked out of the room. Kelsey and I sat there – twenty seven hours into the adventure – holding two perfect little girls in our arms and hope in our hearts that they could be ours.

After a season of tears and laughter, there was a sharp knock at the door. “Come in…” I said.

A nurse we’d never seen before walked in. She looked at us and abruptly asked “Who are you?” I was suddenly aware that we appeared to be hiding in a side room with newborn twins. Neither Kelsey or I had so much as a hospital visitor pass, let alone the required wrist band.

“We’re the parents!” I said with false confidence.

“Who?” She asked Kelsey did not appear to have just given birth.

“We’re adopting the girls.” I explained. “We will be the parents. Soon.”

She smiled. “That’s great. But for right now, you should not have been left alone with these girls. I need to take them back to the nursery.”

We agreed and followed the little darlings back to the nursery where they were parked safely behind glass. We then walked back to their birth mom’s room, where we found her resting quietly.

We went out to the lobby to figure out the next step…there were lawyers to be called, friends to be notified, papers to file, and a lot of coffee to drink. Sitting down in the hard plastic chair, it dawned on my that we were about to be parents to six children. Grabbing my Blackberry, I pecked out this genius comment.

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For some reason, that thought struck us both as ridiculously funny. We sat in the hospital waiting room and laughed until we cried. Little did we know these twins would be marked by their almost supernatural ability to evoke laughter. There was a lot of laughter to come….but first we had to make sure the legal issues were taken care of.

More to come.

Into the Night

This is part two of a series of posts marking the one year anniversary of the rapid fire adoption story of our twins.  You can read part one here.

I didn’t waste any time on the drive to the airport that afternoon, but I don’t think I broke the speed limit either.  The year before, on the way to Family Court to finalize our first adoption (another baby girl, Zoe), I’d been pulled over for speeding.  The officer was not impressed with our destination and for a minute, I thought we’d be late for court.  I didn’t want to miss a plane today.

Standing in line to board, my phone rang.  It was our friend, Dwayne.  He’d heard through the grapevine that we were running off to adopt twin girls and called to confirm it.

“Yes, we’re trying to….” I told him.

“That’s great! What race are they?” He asked.

Dead silence on my end.  I had to admit that I had no idea.  They could have been just about any color of the rainbow. It had never occurred to us to ask…not that it would have mattered.

Before boarding, I reached for my Blackberry to fire off a message.

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Looking back on that tweet, I notice that I couldn’t even bring myself to say ‘our twin girls…’.  I think a natural defense mechanism was in place. Once I called them mine…it upped the ante considerably.  Still, we were doing what I’d heard.  Go get them.

We were too excited to sleep on the flight – even knowing that if all went well, we wouldn’t be sleeping through the night any time soon.   We had a brief layover in Dallas, where we worked the phones, talking with friends, the hospital, the birth mom’s brother in law and sister, and our lawyer, who assured us that there would be a stack of paperwork for us at the hotel when we arrived.  Shortly, we were aboard another flight for New Orleans.

The twins and their birth mom were not in New Orleans.  They were in Pensacola, Florida…but when you decided on the spur of the moment to fly out of Kansas City, Missouri, you often have to agree to go where ever the plane will take you.    New Orleans was as close as we could get that late in the afternoon.

Landing at 10pm, we rushed to our waiting rental car and pointed it east.  We took turns driving the 200 miles, too exhausted to be alert and too jazzed to sleep. No late night road trip would be complete without road food.  I twittered the details…

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One of us would drive while the other would exchange emails with the birth mom’s sister who lived on the east coast.  Slowly, a picture began to form.

  • The girls were in fact, of mixed race.  The birth mom was half Japanese, half Thai.  If I remember right, the sister was not sure of the father’s race.
  • The birth mom had a troubled life.  She’d given birth to a son the year before and also placed him up for adoption.  He was with a military family on the west coast.
  • We should expect that she might be a little erratic.  She was very smart but very, very troubled.

Those tidbits made up more than we knew when we left Kansas City, so with our new information, we dragged into a Pensacola, Florida hotel  about 3am.   As promised, we found a stack of paperwork two inches thick waiting for us at the front desk, and a desk clerk wondering who in the heck we really were.  Who checks into a hotel at 3am to a stack of paper that would choke a fax machine, looking as if they’d just completed some sort of bizarre triathlon consisting of legal maneuvering, two plane rides and a late night road race?

We found our room, flipped through the paperwork, set an alarm for four hours later and collapsed on the bed, just over twenty hours into this adventure.

At 8am, we would meet the birth mother of the twins and she would decide if she felt right about this.  The last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep was thinking that somewhere in this town, twin girls lay in a hospital nursery, and we had a shot at changing their life.

I prayed they would sleep as well as I was going to.

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