First of all, I want to say how incredibly amazed I have been by the support that has been shown to us by both the adoptive community and by those who might not be adoptive families, but chose to support our fundraiser for Shepherd by entering our camera raffle. I can’t find the words to express how my heart was blessed to see such an outpouring of love and good wishes as we stepped out in faith. Neither Chris nor I were necessarily comfortable with fundraising for this adoption. But we both felt like that is what God wanted us to do. We were faced with the reality that there was a little boy, halfway around the world, waiting for us. However, we were also painfully aware that the money that was there for our three previous adoptions was no longer there. So we started off, knowing full well that God would show us what to do at the appropriate time. Scared, to be totally honest, panicked some days, but in our hearts, certain that He would provide. In the days that followed I was shown again and again that indeed, He wanted us to reach out for support. Ask for help? My cheeks flushed at the thought. As wonderful as I think it is to see other families do it, it was just way out of my comfort zone. But I witnessed one amazing family fundraise almost all the necessary funds, who started out with $5 in their pockets, and a whole lot of faith. I witnessed another awe-inspiring family accept the referral of a little one with an uncertain future, determined to bring her home without letting $ stand in the way of their commitment to be her parents. And I knew God wanted me to be as faithful and as brave. He wanted me to trust Him to rely on Him in a way that we had never had to before. He wanted my feet to follow my faith.
So off we went. I started gathering clothes and hanging and tagging them to sell. We began collecting items and organizing for a spring garage sale. We looked for ways other families had successfully raised funds and then the idea for the camera raffle was born. What was not to love? It was a bit scary committing to such a big ticket item, but we were excited at the prospect of watching to see what God might do. And boy, we had no idea what support we would get! Each passing day would bring more and more donations, from loved ones, friends and strangers alike, each one putting a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. And everyone seemed so happy to give and excited about the drawing. I was finding myself more and more anxiously anticipating the day we would be able to pick the person who would receive the prize. Who would it be? I couldn’t wait to find out.
Then I got some bad news. Really bad news. Raffles are illegal in Georgia. Surprisingly, this is the case in almost all states, unless you are a non-profit organization. And that we are not. I was so sad, Chris was shocked, I mean, I see raffles everywhere!! It didn’t even dawn on us to check into it, how could it NOT be a good thing? I started to cancel the whole thing, but hesitated at the last minute. Did we HAVE to? I felt heartbroken, it seemed that God was SO at work, what was going on?! So we stopped. We talked. We prayed. We sought the counsel of godly friends and family. It seemed we weren’t harming anyone… I had not solicited any donations, all the $ was going to go straight to Lifeline… couldn’t we just continue? We decided to take time out, to pray, and ultimately decided we needed to put an end to the raffle. So there you have it, the raffle is no more. We can’t, in good conscience, continue with it, no matter how much it saddens us. It came down to believing that God would provide for us, in HIS way. Look what He has done for us through The Little Pearl Foundation! It’s awesome!! He has blessed us in a wonderful way, almost all of our agency fees will be completely covered!!! But it still leaves us with the orphanage donation. And travel costs. But we have every confidence that just as God provided for us through The Little Pearl Foundation, He will continue to provide for us through miraculous ways to help us bring our baby home.
So this is what we’re going to do. We will be emailing everyone who has sent us donations. We will email you at the address from your PayPal account, and you should receive the email by the end of the weekend. We want to be sure everyone who donated will know what’s going on, as I am certain that quite a few of the donations were from some wonderful folks who maybe don’t frequent our blog 🙂 So, after the emails go out, refunds will be on the way, in whatever form you choose. No more tickets for the camera fundraiser will be sold. If anyone does want to donate, feel free, we would LOVE it :), but no more numbers will sent out. Any donations that are received after this point will be oh so welcomed, but will not be given a number for the camera giveaway 🙂
And we will still be drawing for the camera on February 14. So hang onto your numbers!! I know, when Chris told me he wanted to do this I thought he was nuts. I reasoned with him.. “We’re sending all the money back! We’ll be $700 in the hole!!” But after thinking about it, it really is a fantastic idea. Most importantly it makes my heart happy to know we’ll still be able to send that camera to one very blessed person, whomever God chooses 🙂 And it will be with happy hearts that we continue on this journey, a bit more learned about the laws surrounding raffles, and that much more blessed for the love and support shown to us by all of you.
With love and appreciation,
Chris and Stefanie