Wednesday, April 11, 2018

she has a name

She already has a name.  And that name is important, because it was given to her by her birth momma.  The amazing woman who placed this baby for adoption after caring for her both in the womb and then for a period of time after she was born.  We are so thankful to her.  Though we may never meet, her birth mom is so very precious in my eyes and gave us such an amazing gift.

With the love that her birth mom likely invested in choosing a name, we wanted to honor that and include it in the name we will ultimately give her as our daughter. Her life began somewhere else, and we want to honor that as well.  Her Korean name is translated phonetically as Ru-a.

Even before we were pregnant with Grayson, Jon has a dream where he wrote a book and the forward was to his daughter.  So for 5 plus years we have been holding onto a girl's name for the potential daughter I truly believed would never come.

So we decided to name her...

Eliza Ruth Noto

And we will call her...


I love that the name we have been saving for our daughter is now able to be given.  Eliza means oath from God.  For those that deeply know our story over the past year and a half, know how insane and incredible it is to have arrived at this merciful place of waiting to meet our daughter.  We could not have seen this coming.  I would walk those roads a million more times to get to this place if needed.

Ruth was my mom's middle name.  So when the referral came through and we saw sweet baby Ru, my heart melted.  How amazing is it that in one name we can honor two significant women in her life who she may not meet/remember this side of heaven?  Sweet Ru you have been surrounded by strong women. From your birth momma, to your foster momma.  We have learned that Ru's foster mom has been taking care of babies in the foster system for many years.  She repeatedly loves these little ones knowing they are ultimately heading to their forever homes and are only in her care for a season. And the sleepless exhausting newborn season, at that.  One of the best parts of adopting a toddler is never having to have a newborn again.  

My prayer is that the fingerprints that these women have placed on her heart will be there forever.    I don't really believe that my mom is watching me from heaven, or that she knew about Ru before I did.  I am not sure how the veil between heaven and earth works, but I do hope and pray that the true, strong, good, and loving things that my mom invested in me can be passed down to sweet Ru in a way that only a mother and daughter can understand. 

Guys, I'm so freaking excited to turn in my "boy mom" card.  I LOVE my boys with every fiber in my being.  We fully expected this third child to be a boy.  I have saved all my boy clothes and had bought a couple new 18 month old boy things for our 3rd boy from Korea.  (Korea adopts out almost all boys to international families). I intended to hold that "boy mom" card my entire life.  But, after being matched with Ru and allowing myself to truly embrace the thought of a daughter, I think I can fully admit how much I wanted this and how incredibly generous God is.  

Seriously I could just cry saying "it's a girl" for the millionth time.  It's a girl.  

Annnnnnd cue the water works.

And as incredibly excited I am to have a daughter for myself, I am equally as excited to see Jon with a daughter.  I think it will jack him up in so many wonderful ways.  Also, Grayson's excitement for a sister is contagious, but not quite contagious enough for Asher to get on board.  Asher found some rogue blue confetti that the cousins were playing with and ran to me excited that it was a brother.  Sorry little buddy.  He will come around eventually.

So here we are.  In the waiting.  The average time until custody is 9-12 months.  We knew this when we signed on.  We knew how hard the wait would be.  Many people ask why it takes so long.  Politics.  We have submitted everything we possibly could as quickly as we possibly could, and now we wait for the Korean court to push our case through.

We would love if you would support us, pray with us, and love us in the waiting.

In my previous post I talked about our family's motto of sharing our abundance.  The deeper we get into this adoption process and just life in general, the more I want to cling to that standard.  I want to build the longest table and have the shortest fence.  Our friends and family have been so incredibly generous.  With our fun fair we were able to reimburse ourselves for our home study and get back up to baseline.  We cannot thank everyone enough for how freely they gave and how loved we felt.

In accepting Ru as the referral for ur family, we had to pay up front the majority of the fees to both Korea and Holt.  God has been so faithful to us in growing Jon's practice that we were able to write that check.  6 months ago I would not have imagined that to be possible.  

What lies ahead are our travel expenses and a handful more minor fees.  For a Korean adoption you have to travel to Korea, twice.  We hope that our remaining fundraisers can help us to raise money for these expenses when they arise and are hoping to raise approximately $5000 more dollars.

If you want to come alongside us in our adoption journey, here is what we need :)

1. Your crap.
Well really your decent things that I can sell at a garage sale, and maybe baked goods.  We are accepting any and all decent crap until May 17th.  If you can drop it off at my house in Des Plaines I would love you long time.  If you are an excellent baker I would also take you up on some baked goods.  Who doesn't want to buy lemonade, baked goods, and garage sale crap from these hooligans?

You know you want to.

2. Buy some t-shirts, share the page, and live the motto. 

We are going to run a bonfire campaign starting in the next couple of days. Here you can buy high quality t-shirts, sweat shirts, and kids shirts that support our adoption and will help us to be able to hop on a flight the second they tell us we can come get our sweet baby Ru.  We made the shirts simple and the link is meant to be shared.  If you have other friends and family who also hope to share their abundance, they are so very welcome to buy a shirt. I want to make it a movement, but I wasn't creative enough to come up with the longer table quote myself.  This abundance thing is all I got, but when lived out, I think it is all I ultimately want and what I want to deeeply instill in my children.

3.  Pray for us.  Please.  These are precious times before dethroning Asher, who is the best youngest child ever.  He's so squishy and cuddly and whiney.  I mean really he nails the "baby of the family" role. I want to be so very present with these boys and with Jon before our family is wonderfully interrupted by a baby girl.  

So there it is.  Her name, an update, and more requests. I'll leave you with this.  The sweetest fat bracelet you have ever seen.  I love Ru's chunk so very much and hope her wrist is still buried deep in the pudge when we meet in real life. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Noto Family $5 Rule

Friends, fundraising is humbling.  Super humbling.  Especially when you sit in a place of great fortune.  Without fundraising could we still be adopting?  Yes.  We could take out a HELOC on our house and use our savings and we could make it happen. Once it was clear that we were meant to pursue adoption, we were and are willing to make all the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. We know that day to day we can afford another child, and not many people have $40,000 plus dollars just lying around to toss into an adoption process.  When your path is crystal clear, you have to be willing to just jump in and not let a big number scare you away.  Eyes on the prize, baby. 

So here we sit in this humbling place of love and support.  We could  take on some debt to make it happen all on our own...but we are blessed with friends, community, and people in our lives who are willing to share our burden.  We have friends who have been willing to give of their own time and money to help lighten our load, and who support us in this crazy adventure we have been called upon. We are the lucky ones. 

Sometimes I want to take the more comfortable and less humbling walk of the HELOC.  To quietly and privately move through this stretching and hard process without sharing it.  Because of the lies I sometimes listen to, I worry that we will burn out our friends, or that people will think less of us for asking for help.  Our independent, can-do culture runs deep in my veins. 

But this isn't my first rodeo in asking for help.  When my mom was sick and the responsibility of caring for her financially and physically was given to my sisters and me, we ended up asking for help.  We created a go fund me page and asked for help to cover her impending funeral.  People showed up.  Family, friends, and strangers helped to lighten the load that was so, so heavy.  We were so incredibly blessed in that humbling experience. The rent was paid and we didn't have to fret about covering the costs of cremation and a funeral.  We could just be with my mom in those final weeks. 

The amount of pride I had to swallow to ask for that help was immense.  As is the amount we had swallowed in this current fundraising process.

Having sat on the receiving side of the crowdfunding now twice, I want to hug and love all those brave enough to ask for help.  And I want to help.  And I want to raise crazy generous kids who give without a second thought.  Grayson asked the other day if someone was cold, could he give them his coat to keep.  "Absolutely,"  I responded.  After a few quiet moments (which rarely happen with G) he asked what he would do when he got cold.  "Buddy, if you feel in your heart that you are supposed to give your coat to a cold friend or stranger, you do it.  And we will figure out the rest."  Keep that heart open, sweet boy. 

In a world where we are not encouraged to share our needs, and where we are supposed to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, I want to acknowledge that not everyone has boots.  Nor does everyone have friends and community like we do.

To whom much is given...

So we have a new rule that was instilled in our house a couple months ago.  Every crowdfunding request that has been shared on my Facebook feed, at work in a break room, or wherever, we will give at least $5.  If someone is brave enough to ask, we can give.  We cling so tightly to our money, and don't want to jump in the mess with others... especially strangers.  But, life is messy.  I am the queen of mess.  I don't need to vet your cause and make sure you are putting your money where you say. I don't need to analyze your past decisions that got you to this point.  You have a need, and we have excess.  Share your abundance.  The end.

The thing is that Facebook monitors the links you click on... so now it suggests crowdfunding sites I may be interested in.  Thanks Facebook. Time to slightly reign in my social media usage.

If I can afford take out, and soccer class for my 5 year old, and my large enough house, and a full fridge of groceries, and two working cars, and heat, and AC, and all the extra crap in my life...  I can afford to give people $5 whenever they need it. And if we all gave what we could when people needed it, I think the world would be better.  Truth is, not everyone has the luxury of the $5 rule.  I didn't grow up with it.  I was on the receiving end of scholarships for church camp, grants for my undergrad education, and many other blessings along the way.  When Jon lost his job we had friends come around us, and they gave us respite and relaxation in crazy generous ways.   In those months we were not sure the direction our lives and finances would take. We were provided for and we refuse to just sit in this new found comfort without being willing to do the same for others, even if it is not on as grandiose of a scale. While I do not always have the capacity to get in everyone's mess and be everyone's friend, we can give at least $5.

So that's the Noto family $5 rule. 

Thank you for your generosity to this point in dispelling the lies that I hear telling me to not share, or be private, and to take care of only our own.  I call BS.  Thank you for joining us.  We hope to continue to fundraise both on Adopt Together and with a massive garage sale in May.  We are getting close to being able to eliminate that HELOC and using only our savings to bring our child home.  We would LOVE to be able to adopt debt free. 

I'm thinking of doing a T-shirt fundraiser as well.  The shirts would say, "Share your abundance".  Would anyone be interested?

Also, I'm putting this is writing so that if it happens others can see God's crazy faithfulness.  Grayson and I are praying we are matched with twins.  Yep.  I said it.  Jon is agreeable, but thinks I'm a bit insane.  This is not abnormal in our relationship.  Ultimately we are open to being a family of 5 or 6.  We think we have the capacity for 4 children. Why not just be efficient about it and bring home two kiddos at the same time?! (This would raise our adoption cost by about $25,000. Minor details.) So twins are rarely adopted our of Korea.  RARELY.  So if it happens, to God be the glory.

If anyone has stuff I can sell at my garage sale, I would love it.  Let me know how I can get it.  If anyone wants to instill the $5 rule, then all the praise hands.  Be the change friends, be the change.

(Side note, please know that we vet all organizations that we give larger sums of money to ;), but ultimately this is just money... we are just here to make Earth more like Heaven... and if we can do that in $5 increments, we will.)

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Life has been full.  I did not fully realize how much work it was going to take to pull off that fundraiser...  but it was worth every minute.

Obviously the goal was to raise money.  And we did.  We made about 17% of our projected adoption cost.  Our friends and family are so, so generous.  We are so grateful.

What turned out to be as important and meaningful to us is how incredibly loved we felt.  There were people there we hadn't seen in a long time.  New friends and old.  Family and strangers.  It was another redemptive moment that I would never have imagined a year before.  With little people life gets busy and your social life starts to lack the luster it once had... but our party helped to remind and reinforce to us that we have so many people backing us.  We are the lucky ones.  Those with privilege and support and it is not lost on us how fortunate we are.

While G was waiting in line to have his face painted I squatted down next to him and told him to look around.  Look around G and see how many people love our family.  This kid spun his head around and gasped like a kid on Christmas morning.  And then my face leaked. 

To whom much is given, much is expected.  There is much expected of us. 

Thank you for joining us and giving so richly to our lives.  "Thank you" seems to not fully encompass the gratitude in my heart.

Also.  I took no pictures.  Nada.  Biggest party I've ever thrown and I took zero pictures.  PSA if you throw a big party delegate this responsibility to someone and snap at least one family picture.

So because I hate to post without pictures... Here's our joy boys. 

Our next fundraiser will be a garage sale in the end of May.  Save your decent crap for me please and thank you ;)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 and 1

I am not the first person to lose a mom, nor will I be the last.  Yet it still sucks.  It has been 5 years since my mom took her final breath. 

My sister said today that my mom has missed a sixth of her life.  The best sixth.  What crap.

I miss her so.  

Just like my sister wishes my mom could have witnessed these last 5 years of her life, I so wish she could have witnessed the last 5 years of my life.  

She has missed out on squishy Asher snuggles, hysterical Grayson jokes, my pursuit of my midwife calling, an unexpected job transition for Jon, two moves, and most recently an incredibly painful and hard year that unexpectedly led to our decision to adopt.

We are fortunate to have family and friends that have surrounded us in the last 5 years with love.  But big transitions have definitely led to some lonely nights where I wished more than anything I could call my mom.

Grayson was conceived intentionally when my life felt just fine and comfortable.  An ideal time for us to become parents, we thought.  But then when I was 6 months pregnant my mom had the initial heart attack that led to 8 of the most challenging, painful, and rich months of my life.  No one would chose that road, but I do believe that those roads are the ones we are meant to walk.  They are the roads that bring us to our knees, the roads that help us realize what really matters in life, the roads that help us truly connect with other humans both in those hard moments as well as when you later walk alongside someone on their hard road. Grayson was such a sweet gift in those hard months.  If I knew my mom would get sick and require what felt like all my heart and care, I would have never chose to get pregnant when we did.  But of course, looking back we wouldn't change a thing.

This last year has been more privately painful.  It has been one year since Jon started his transition out of ministry.  It was hard, painful, and lonely.  I have wanted to be able to call my mom more this year than any other since she has been gone. I was created as an unfiltered, truth telling, open book kind of gal.  It brings peace to my soul to be able to share my story and our lives to be able to connect with others.  Alone is not something that I do well, adding to the difficulty of this last year in which I often felt that way. 

5 years ago I was praying for my mom to walk through the veil between earth and heaven.  I wanted her pain to stop.  And my prayers were answered.  While there was so much grief, there was also so much relief and joy for my mom.  

Now, being 1 year out from last February, I am so grateful that there is once again joy.  In the last year I have wanted my pain to stop, but I also wanted to practice what I preach and sit in the shit.  I wanted to learn what I needed to learn.  To seek healing and wholeness, not just escape. I knew we needed to do the hard work of this year, and not just survive it. God's redemptive work in our lives is so very sweet.  I am so grateful that God could use the pain of a job loss, transitions in community and friends, a miscarriage, the stress of grad school, and just the nitty gritty of life to again bring us to our knees.  

It was in this sacred space that we found our next steps.  1 year ago I never would have thought we would be in this crazy, joyous, and exciting place with our adoption journey.  1 year ago, much like 5 years ago, I was spending a great deal of time crying in the sacred space of my shower.  I prefer to cry where I cannot differentiate between the water and my tears.  I am so grateful for seasons, and that there is always a hill on the other side of the valley.

The adoption process is quite the hill to climb, with so many bumps and challenges along the way, but we know the end result, and we are confident once again that this is our road to walk.  Our hill to climb.  We know there will be joy not just in the end, but also in the process.  We are so thankful for those willing to walk alongside us.

Next week we are hosting a big party and fundraiser that is breaking down my pride in all sorts of ways.  

Remember how I don't do alone well?  I know that this adoption process and journey is a road where I want people next to me, in front of me, and behind me.  My deepest self wants that.  My prideful self wants to just do this all on our own and act like it ain't no big thang.  I am scared to once again chose openness and vulnerability. My inner self is super confusing, welcome to crazy town. 

I love helping my friends.  I love celebrating with them.  I love standing behind them and supporting them in a multitude of ways.  Why wouldn't I think our friends would want to do the same for us?  

When I was open and vulnerable during our last challenging season, people showed up.  I am trusting that it will happen again.  We can do hard things.  I will continue to chose to do hard things.  And I will continue to do them in community. Because in the depths of my soul I think this is how we are supposed to live.  I think we have an abundance in our lives, and it is meant to be shared. 

I so wish my mom could be at my party.  I wish she could celebrate this season of redemption and our growing family.  But I am so very grateful for what she instilled deep in my soul.  That she encouraged this open book girl to live how she was created.  My mom loved birth and was pursuing becoming a doula.  How proud would she be that I finally owned my midwifery calling?  She always created space in our house for others.  Whether it was long term or short term, there was always room in our family for those who needed it.  I am sure this planted the adoption seed long before I knew it was our future. While my mom may not be here, her fingerprints are all over my life, and the ripples of her love are continuing to spread.

You are welcome to join us at our party.  Please do.  I can use all the hugs, and love, and support you are able to share.  Adoption, especially the finances, feel challenging.  But we are not alone. We have room in our house and our family for another babe... maybe you have room on your calendar for a party and can love us in the process.  

This is a picture of my mom and I at another celebration.  Gosh I miss her.

You are welcome.  In our lives and at our shin dig.  If you are free and can join us, please do :)

Feb 24 5p-7p
52 E Northwest Hwy, Des Plaines

Come celebrate our upcoming adoption with us while enjoying
-walking tacos
-amazing raffle prizes (drawn at 6:45)
-fun fair games
-beverages for adults and kids
-face painting and balloon animals

If you cannot come to our party but are still willing to support us financially, there are tickets for the larger raffle prizes available for purchase online here.

There are over 40 other raffle baskets available at the event.  How incredible is that?  Our friends, family, and community have been so incredibly generous.  Both 5 years ago, and now. 

If you are reading this, thank you.  Thank you for praying for us, for coming along side us.  For bearing witness to our hard roads and knowing we are capable.  Thank you for pulling us up and pushing us on towards good things.  Thank you for walking this journey we call life with us, even if it is only through prayers on a screen.  Please know that I am always here to connect through email if you too need someone to come alongside you, or if my hard roads are similar to yours.

Happy 5 year Heaveniversary, Mom.  All my love.

**Update:  My brother has written a tribute to my mom.  Being 5 years older than me, I enjoyed hearing his different perspective.  He gave this to my sisters and I, and he wanted to share it with anyone wanting to learn a little bit more about her.  Link below.

Noah's Story: Memories of my Stepmother, Nancy

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Raffle and Par-tay

Please come to our party.  That is all.

We cannot wait to celebrate with our friends and family.  This feels like our wedding.  We get to invite everyone we know and love to one location and celebrate some of the sweetest moments that life offers. 

Open invite.  If you know nice and fun people, they can come.

Link at top of page to purchase raffle tickets to the biggest and most amazing prizes if you are unable to attend.

We cannot wait to see you.

Feb 24 5p-7p
52 E Northwest Hwy, Des Plaines
Come celebrate our upcoming adoption with us while enjoying
-walking tacos
-amazing raffle prizes (drawn at 6:45)
-fun fair games
-beverages for adults and kids

-face painting and balloon animals

If you are able to join us, send Jaci a text or email.  We wouldn't want to be short on walking tacos or drinks. 

Also, there are too many raffle prizes to list them all for e-sales.  You seriously don't want to miss it.