Saturday, September 3, 2011

Olive Tree Promise

I wanted to tell EVERYONE about a website that is designed to help families who are adopting.  Whether you are an adopting family or someone who is trying to support an adopting family, you need to know about this site.  It's called Olive Tree Promise (OTP), and you can click on it on the right side of my blog.

I'll explain, but let me define a few terms first.  (Hang with me.  I may get wordy!)

Vendor - the person selling an item
Buyer - the person buying an item
Family - the family fundraising for an adoption
Cost - the amount the vendor receives
Retail - the amount the buyer pays
Family Cut - the amount left over between the cost and the retail prices

Example (I'm making up these prices!)
1.  A Vendor lists a t-shirt for sale.  He sets the cost at $7.  Then he sets the retail price at $12.  The vendor has already included a little for shipping in the cost.  That way shipping is included for the buyer.  The difference is the Family Cut (12-7= $5).
2.  Next, a buyer comes to the website.  They see the t-shirt and put it in their cart.
3.  During checkout, they are asked to choose a family.  They can pick the family who told them they were on here, or they can pick someone at random.  (You can even browse the families by country and read their profiles.  Remember, we are Bulgaria!)  The buyer pays $12 for the t-shirt and receives it later in the mail.
4.  OTP processes the payment (usually sending out checks once a month).  They send $7 to the vendor and $5 to the family.
5.  The vendor receives his $7.  Out of this he pays for shipping and his cost for making/buying the product.  Then he ships the t-shirt directly to the buyer.
6.  The family receives a check for $5 and deposits it into their adoption fund.  

It doesn't get much easier than that!!

Now, here's the icing on the cake.  Listen up, you adoptive families!  If you have something you have created to sell as your own fundraiser, sell it here!  I designed and made bracelets to sell for our adoption.  Sales went fine for a while but have now slowed down a lot.  After I registered with OTP as a family, I registered again as a vendor.  Then I began adding new products.  I listed my bracelets as well as some large and small American flag magnets.  (We had a ton of these magnets donated to us.)  So, let's pretend for a moment that I am selling that t-shirt up above for $12.

Scenario 1)  Someone buys the t-shirt AND chooses our family.  I get $7 for being the vendor and $5 for being the family.  I get the whole $12 (minus shipping and my original investment in the t-shirt).

Scenario 2)  Someone buys the t-shirt I am selling but supports a different family.  Now, I get the $7 as the vendor, and the other family gets the $5.  I'm cool with that because I might not have sold the t-shirt at all on my own.  If your friends buy it while supporting you, at least I get a little something out of it for MY adoption.  And I get to help you too!

Scenario 3)  Someone buys a CD (that I am not selling), but they DO choose my family to support.  I still get the Family Cut for this product even though it's not mine!  So ordering ANY product while supporting us will help us raise funds for our adoption.

Right now there are only a few families and a few products.  But they have t-shirts, CDs, necklaces, burp cloths, and more.  You can even purchase a Donation like baby formula for Ethiopia or mosquito nets for Zambia.  Of course, you can ALWAYS just buy up my bracelets and magnets, though!  (Is it too early to push these a great Christmas gifts?  Well, they are!)

So, go to Olive Tree Promise if you want to support us, if you are fundraising for your own adoption, or if could list items for sell and give a portion of the proceeds to an adopting family.

By the way, I'm always open to other ideas of something I could make and sell on here.  I would love to continue selling things here for other families even after our adoption is completed.

(Whew!  I hope that made sense...)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Time's Up!!

Remember when I said we were rushing around trying to get our immigration clearance updated?  Well, I rushed as much as I could, but I couldn't control others and whether they felt our sense of urgency.  I also couldn't turn back the clock and start sooner.  We didn't make it.  On my last post, I mentioned making a couple of changes on our home study and the fact that those changes would cost us $360 to renew our application rather than the $0 for no changes.  Remember that?  Well, since we missed the deadline, we now have to re-file from scratch and pay the $890 for a first time filing.  Don't you just love bureaucracy?  Why must they make this difficult!

At first I wanted to throw my hands in the air:  We're having a hard enough time raising the money with out throwing away part of it.  Why do I keep messing everything up!?  Are You trying to tell us to quit?

Then I looked for someone to blame:  I know I was supposed to keep up with expiration dates...and I was!  It was far off to me.  Doesn't everyone know I've never done this before and could use a little guidance??

I worried about how much we might be set back:  We're out extra money...Will the MOJ throw us out of line and cost us our registration date which is now almost 9 months old?  Will they deem us unfit parents if we don't care enough to keep everything up-to-date?

Then I thought about why I had hesitated to make the changes in gender and age.  It was partly because I did NOT want to make the trip again into downtown Nashville to have the changes apostilled.  1) Find someone to keep the kids because they are not allowed in the building.  2) Find someone to go with me to help me watch for the right exit while I'm watching 4 or 5 lanes of same-direction traffic (not used to that).  3) Drive around endlessly looking for one of the few coveted parking places within a block of the place.  4) Go to the umpteenth floor where I can barely look out the window from across the waiting area because the height makes me dizzy.  5) Find my way out of there because you can't leave the way you came for all the one-way streets.

I know.  That entire paragraph is pretty lame.  I didn't mind it too much the first time around.  It was one of those "necessary evils" to be endured.  And at least I had 30-something papers to have apostilled.  I did NOT want to make the trip for just one or two papers and just for a couple of wording changes.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having to redo our USCIS application was certainly NOT optional like our change in parameters.  Now, we HAD to go back to Nashville.  May as well make those other changes and get those papers apostilled while we are there.  Perhaps this is God's way of making sure we make those changes.  Perhaps our daughters are not in the age range we originally set.  Perhaps he DOES want to us to adopt boys instead.  OR perhaps he just wants us to prove that we are willing.  I mean look at Abraham and his almost-sacrifice of Isaac.  God was looking at his willingness to obey, not that he went through with the original plan.  Can you imagine Abraham arguing and saying, "No, Lord, I have to do this thing.  You SAID...."  Perhaps we will make these changes and still end up adopting girls in the original age changes needed.  Now that I think about it, I can also see now that we are making the changes for free after all.  It's the reapplication we are paying for, not the changes.  I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

One bright spot...our registration with the MOJ is still valid because our USCIS papers were valid when we registered.  Now, I'm sure they wouldn't leave it that way indefinitely, but maybe this won't turn into a problem.  I have the new application and check in the mail.  Pray that it will go through quickly and smoothly.