Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grant Money

Some very exciting news: On Monday of this week we received a letter in the mail from Show Hope. The letter informed us that we had been awarded an adoption grant in the amount of $4,000!! As you can imagine we are very excited and once again amazed at our Heavenly Father's provision. We still have more to go, but we are encouraged that to date we have raised over $20,000. He is faithfully directing our every step throughout this entire journey.

Our status for now is that our dossier has been received in Bulgaria and we are waiting to be registered with the Ministry of Justice sometime in January.

The holidays are keeping us busy for now. LOTS of family time, preparation, and fun. Occasionally we stop to ask the kids what they think "Little Brother" would make of all this noise, food and activity. It's sort of a family game. (i.e. "Do you think Little Brother will like fried turkey?") I think it helps with getting us all ready for his arrival by making us consider what he'll be going through.

After the New Year we plan to get out our Bulgarian language CD again. It's been fun practicing the phrases we've learned so far with our children. We try and speak Bulgarian in as many everyday situations as we can.

We'll also be praying for more creative fundraisers. We have a couple ideas that we need to look into more to see how practical they really are. But for now we are content to enjoy this season and reflect on its true meaning.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eventful Weekend

We got an email on Friday from our agency informing us that our dossier has been mailed off to Bulgaria. If we weren't waiting already, now we really are waiting. It first has to get translated and then the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria has to accept us and then we get registered. From what we have been told and have read, this process may take about 2 months. Once registered we wait for Bulgaria to send us a referral. As of now, we are being told that takes anywhere from 12-18 months.

In other news, the fundraising is going well. We spent the weekend at The Harvest Festival here in our town selling homemade baked goods and crafts. On Saturday, Aaron and a few members of the worship team played a few of his songs on the main stage.

We sold 10 loaves of bread, 12 or more dozen cookies, 2 huge loaves of pumpkin bread, 1 huge loaf of apple bread, and several dozen cupcakes all made with fresh ground whole wheat. We also sold a big batch of baklava made from a real live Greek. We also sold a handful of homemade greeting cards, a couple hand painted ornaments and a few of Aaron's CDs.

We had many other crafts donated for us to sell;however, people were more interested in the food. We tried selling homemade dress up capes and had the kids be advertisement. They walked around in their capes with a sign on their backs (thanks to their father) that read "Dress Up Capes for Sale $5 (kids not included)". Our advertisement was great, but still no capes were sold. Our 9 year old was a great salesperson. She smiled brightly, packaged cookies and then would figure the money. She was a huge help.

We had family and friends constantly hanging out with us at our booth and had tons of fun. It was such an encouragement to us. Throughout the weekend we had numerous opportunities to meet and talk with many local people who have adopted or who were adopted. These conversations were also an encouragement.

Thanks to all the friends and family who helped by donating items to sell, setting up and tearing down the booth, lending us a canopy, buying our stuff, hanging out with us and supporting us in so many ways. We appreciate you all. Because of God's provision and all your help we were able to raise $558. Thank you, Jesus!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

USCIS Approved!!!

We received our first USCIS(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) fingerprint appointment for Oct. 2 which unfortunately fell right in the midst of our vacation. We hesitantly rescheduled expecting this to set us back 3+ weeks. We were pleasantly surprised when our new appointment was set for Oct. 12. Only a 10 day difference.

Our appointment was set for 11 am. We arrived 30 minutes early. We went in to make sure we were in the right place (it didn't look very official) and they took us in immediately. We were finished 20 minutes later, 10 minutes before our appointment was scheduled. Cool! So we went on a lunch date!

We were expecting another 3 weeks before approval would come, but to our amazement we received our approval notice today!! Just 10 days after our appointment.

In Sept. we held a Pampered Chef catalog fund raiser. This time we received a $96 check for the adoption fund. A week later we received $100 cash from a friend. This past week we held a jewelry show combined with a gold purchaser. Between the two we received $132. Not to mention that one woman offered to host a show provided that the proceeds would go to our adoption fund! What an encouragement and blessing to have someone else promote our cause.

Today we just received news that Aaron would be performing at our local yearly harvest festival. This usually brings out the whole town so there is great potential for selling his CD. Also we will be manning a table of home made food and crafts. Some of which Jen will be making and other items friends and family have donated. Every bit we make will go directly to bringing our son home.

We have applied for the Show Hope grant and will receive notice in December as to whether or not we qualify.

All the rest of our dossier has been completed so it is just a matter of mailing our approval to our agency. They will handle getting all documents authenticated with apostilles (certification of the notary, this stuff is riveting, I know). Once our agency receives all these authenticated documents, they will forward them to Bulgaria for translation.

So for now we are done with paperwork and the waiting begins. We are continuing to raise the remainder of the funds necessary to bring our son home. For those of you interested we still have plenty of CDs available . . . and cookies make a delightful addition to any holiday gathering!!

Thank you all for your continued support. We deeply appreciate it!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pampered Chef Fundraiser and other news

The day after our last post, we found out that the other couple who requested the same boy as we did got their dossier to Bulgaria before us and they are in the process of adopting the little boy. We are told by our agency that Bulgaria is a first come first serve country. You get put in line according to the age and gender of child you are requesting. In our case we were requesting a "special needs" child and so we could get out of order. However, as we understand it, when 2 couples request the same "special needs" child, the couple who has their dossier in Bulgaria first is able to adopt the child. It was a bit hard, but we are thankful that this little guy now has a family and we wait to see which little boy God wants to bring into our family.

So for now we hurry up and wait. We are waiting on the USCIS to give us dates for biometrics fingerprinting and then their approval. Plus we are waiting on our FBI fingerprint clearance. It’s just a matter of weeks before they’re back and then the dossier can be complete. We have finished all other paperwork for it.

It has seemed so far in our journey that our adventure has carried us on a pendulum swing from chaos to quiet. It appears that we are now once again in another season of quiet. In the past we have found it easy to lose faith in these moments. Now we have learned to seize them and draw near to our heavenly Father knowing that He has something amazing right around the corner.

So in the meantime we busy ourselves with other important activities. Currently Aaron has the month off from leading worship at our church. We have been intentional about making sure we use this time to focus our energy on family and strengthening our relationships with those God has brought into our lives.

We have received the Phrases For Children CD with Bulgarian phrases on it and really enjoy it. We have learned a few words and phrases already. Our kids giggle when we talk about bringing little "brat" home(phonetic sp.). We do recommend it. It won't teach you the whole language, but just some helpful words and phrases to help communication with our adopted child. Plus it is fairly inexpensive. I believe it was around $20 with shipping.

We are still selling Aaron’s worship CD and Jen’s cookies and bread online. For anyone who would like to sample some of Aaron’s CD before purchasing we've added a link at the top of the blog.

We have had a Pampered Chef Fundraiser and did real well. Since then we have had a few people ask if we would do another Pampered Chef fundraiser because they had things to order and wanted us to benefit from their order. So, here we are again. This time we are doing a catalog show. This basically means you can order Pampered Chef items and do not have to take another night out of your hectic schedules to go to a demonstration. You can go straight to the website and order online or you can see Jen and look through a catalog here in Toccoa. We know it’s a little early to think about it, but Christmas is not too far away.

If you are interested in ordering Pampered Chef online go to Once at the website click on “Shop online” at the bottom left hand corner of the page. It will ask you if you’ve been invited to a show and what the hosts name is. Type in “Jennifer” in the first box and “Santor” in the second box. Then click on “Jennifer Santor” on the search result page. You’ll be brought to the catalog online page and can order. As long as you see “Jennifer Santor” in the top right hand corner of the page, your order will benefit our adoption. Order by September 30, that’s the close of the catalog show. Also, during this month of September, stoneware is 20% off.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


On Monday August 3rd, we received an email from An Open Door Adoption Agency. At the very beginning we had been considering adopting from Latvia and Open Door was an agency with a program in that country. However, God had other plans and directed us elsewhere for the time being.

The email stated that there were two special needs boys available for adoption from Eastern Europe. We noticed one of their birthdays was only a few months after our son's. So we took a closer look. The boy was from Bulgaria! We immediately responded asking for more information. Everything we've read on him so far has been exactly what we've been looking and praying for. We called Open Door to request him and found out we weren't the only ones. However, this is not a closed door yet and there are many things that come into play in the decision as to where he is placed.

So for now we are content to trust the Lord and leave everything in his hands. God knows who our son is and will be faithful to bring him to us. In the mean time we are pursuing this child which has meant switching agencies. If he is ours we are working to make sure everything is ready as soon as we hear. If not then we will at least be that much closer to being registered in Bulgaria.

As it turns out we were at the best point to switch agencies and were able to do so with minimal expense or trouble. In fact, without realizing it, our home study was completed on Aug. 14, the exact same day we submitted our official request for this boy. As of the 19th we were officially accepted by An Open Door Adoption Agency.

On the 22nd we received our home study in the mail and immediately applied for four grants. ( I guess we're kind of intense. ) On the 24th we mailed out our I-800A application and had most of our dossier papers notarized.

Lately it had seemed that funds had slowed, but in the middle of discovering this little boy we were overwhelmed with etsy orders ( ), From the Depths of the Earth CD orders, and unexpected donations. All of which totalled well over $1,000 during the week Aug. 12th - 19th. We have now raised 1/3 of the total needed. Thank you everyone! Thank you Father, you are always so faithful!!

During this time we also found out about 2 different children's books about boys adopted from Bulgaria. One we just got off ebay is called Just Waiting For My Family by Terry M. Mandeville and the other we are about to order is called The Mom with the Red Lipstick: An Adoption Memory of a Little Bulgarian Boy by Lydia Kordalewski.

We also have been wanting to order a Bulgarian language study, but couldn't decide which one. We just want to learn enough to help our boy adjust and all the language studies seemed like too much and too complicated. However, we came across a book and CD that is for parents adopting from Bulgaria. It's simple phrases like "We are going on a plane now. I'm your daddy forever. Are you hungry? I love you forever. Do you need to pee?" It's called Phrases For Children by Fred Des Chenes. Here's the link for that We haven't actually received it yet, but it has been shipped and we are looking forward to it.

Looks like we get to rest now and wait.

Psalm 27:14 "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Psalm 38:15 "I wait for You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God."

Friday, July 31, 2009

CT clearance came!

Just a quick update for everyone. We just found out this morning that Aaron's CT CPS clearance came through. So, now we have all we need for the homestudy and are waiting for approval. Hopefully, this won't take long. We're planning on trying to apply for a couple of grants which most seem to release funds in September. We should get our applications in on time if all goes well.

Next step will be immigration stuff and paperwork for the Bulgarian dossier.

Thank you all for prayers and support!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Amazing Day

We discovered that we had miscalculated how much we would need to pay for the finished homestudy. It was actually $1400 instead of the $1000 that we had previously written. No big deal. We'll just need to sell a few extra CDs. However they were not scheduled to arrive until August 17th/18th, which did not leave us a lot of time. So once again we commited to prayer.

Yesterday morning we received an email that the CDs would be arriving today!! We were so excited! 2 1/2 weeks early!! This would give us more time to raise the remaining funds. That night at our small group bible study, we mentioned that the CDs were on their way, but asked for prayer that God would provide the remaining amount needed. One member prayed that the money would come the very next day. Jen also had been praying for some time that the money would come before the CDs arrived. At 12:03 a.m. we received the full $1400!!! The CDs arrived this afternoon. God is alive, He is good, and apparently he still has a sense of humor!

Now we are praying and waiting for Aaron's CPS backround check from CT to be cleared.

The cost is $15. You can either click the Paypal button on the side of the page, or send us a check and we'll ship it out ASAP. Aaron and the team have been working hard since October to get this CD ready. We've been eager to have it knowing that it is our biggest fund raiser for our adoption. So, order now, not only will you get a worship CD, you'll help bring "Little Brother" home. All but some change will go directly to our adoption fund.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quick Update

We just found out yesterday that Jen's CPS clearance from MA just came through. However, we also found out that Aaron's from CT is still not done. We were not aware of this before. Our case worker thinks it should come this week. That is it for the home study. Finally!!

We need to pay $6,000 to complete the home study. So far God has already provided $5,000 through cookies and donations. Last week we received an anonymous $116.03 in our church mailbox. We also had another $100 total in smaller donations. It's amazing to see even the smallest amount given add up to so much!

We also got confirmation that Aaron's CD will arrive at our house and be available for sale on August 17th/18th. We are still taking orders and will ship them as soon as they arrive.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's been too long.

Ok, so the CD is officially completed and has been mailed off to be duplicated. No promises, but if everything goes smoothly they should be ready in 3-4 weeks. Getting to this point has consumed most of our time over the past month, so we've not been able to update our blog until now.

We are still waiting on Jennifer's Child Protective Services check to come back from Massachusetts. Also, we are now in the Bulgaria program with Bethany. While we are excited to see all that God has for us there, we are still waiting for the program to officially be ready. All of this can be somewhat frustrating as it has now been one year since we started and we still haven't finished our home study. At the same time we know that God has His perfect timing in all of this. Our struggle is learning to trust.

In the mean time, He is continuing to show Himself faithful. It always seems that when we are at our weakest, without faith and without hope, He sends a blessing to encourage us and remind us that He is still at work bringing our son home.

On June 5th, we had friends visit us with a check for $1000! Shortly after Father's Day we received several Etsy orders, which we hadn't had in months. Since then we've received donations from friends and family ranging from $50 -$200! We've also been able to pre-sell over 3o CDs. Many of these sales came with extra donations.

So for now, as we continue to wait we are working to be diligent in prayer. We are asking God that Jen's CPS would be resolved quickly, and that we would have patience and faith as He continues to provide. We are praying for our son, that God's hand would be on him, protect him and keep him safe and healthy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

From the Depths of the Earth

We are expecting Aaron’s CD within the month. This CD has 10 original worship songs on it written by Aaron. He plays guitar as well as sings and is accompanied by our church’s worship team. Please let us know if you are interested in purchasing this by sending a check to ensure that a copy gets to you as quickly as possible. We need to be ready to put the order in within the next 2 weeks. We are asking for $15 a CD and all but some change will go directly to our adoption. You can make a check out to Aaron Santor or click on the "Add To Cart" button here on our blog to pay with credit.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bulgaria? . . .

On Friday, May 17th we called Hope for the World to see if anything further could be done in Albania. The director told us that, due to the fact that there would be no telling how long everything would take to get up and running, we should not wait for them.

We decided beforehand that whatever his recommendation was, that it would be our final answer. We would not be angry with God nor would we question Him. He is in control and He knows what He is doing. So now we would move on and pick another country.

We looked through all of Bethany's options yet nothing touched our hearts like Albania. Besides we found we were ineligible for many countries. We were not in a huge hurry because we were still waiting for Jen's CPS check from Mass to return. So we were just left with asking God where to go from here.

On Monday, May 20th Jen got a call from our case worker. We told her Hope For the World would not be an option. Jen asked questions about all the other countries Bethany offered. She told Jen what we already figured and what deterred us from the other countries they offered. She then told Jen that they were just informed a few days prior that Bulgaria was opening up and we could think about it. As soon as she mentioned Bulgaria Jen felt peace. When Jen called me at work with the news of Bulgaria, I felt at peace as well.

We weren't sure how we'd be able to give our hearts to another country after falling in love with Albania. But we feel that our willingness to trust God and not question him has released a genuine work of grace in us. Our love for Albania has been supernaturally transferred to Bulgaria.

Part of the peace I felt initially with the news that Bethany was closing the Albania program was that at every point before this when we didn't know what to do we prayed and God answered powerfully. So we were trusting that He would be the same yesterday, today and forever. At the beginning, we didn't know what country or agency and He brought Bethany and then Albania to us. This time we didn't know which country, and He brought Bulgaria to us.

According to one article we read, Bulgaria is the poorest country in Europe. It was finally freed from Communism in 1990. It appears that it would only require 2 separate trips, maybe 7 days each.

So for now we wait to hear back from the case worker as to how we are to proceed with Bulgaria. We pray that there will be no restrictions due to our family size or our income.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Change in Country?

Last Friday the 8th, we received a call from our case worker at Bethany. She informed us that Bethany would be closing their Albania adoption program. We knew that Bethany was one of only two agencies in the U.S. authorized to offer adoption from Albania. Our case worker said we had the option to either switch countries or agencies with a completed homestudy.

We immediately called International Childrens Alliance (the other agency) only to find out that they were not taking applications at this time due to the fact that they are not Hague certified.

We found all this out literally minutes before Jen was to leave for the weekend on a ladies retreat with our church. So with no time to talk with each other or process anything she was off for two days and I was left with the kids.

When she returned Sunday afternoon, we had resolved not to question God or be angry. It's amazing the work that God has done in our hearts throughout this adventure that he has led us on. Jen has been all over the world with different missions organizations. I have not had the opportunity, but would love to travel as she has. However, we both were pretty content to live out our lives here and serve God in Toccoa, GA. So you can imagine how surprised we were to discover during these two days that God had been working on our hearts, connecting us with the country of Albania. I never in a million years thought I would feel any type of burden for a country. I could understand feeling this way if we had fallen in love with a child there, but a country?

Although our hearts were wrapped up in Albania, the country and not just our son, we would be willing to choose another country. But which one? We were at the beginning all over again. As far as we were concerned God had led us to Albania, so at this point one country was as good as another if it wasn't Albania.

We decided to check into one connection we had come across along the way, Hope For The World. We knew they ran at least 5 orphanages in Albania, so we would see if they had any other information. Although, we already knew there were no other options. You cannot adopt independently from Albania and the 2 agencies that were approved by Albanian government were now not an option. But we sent an email anyway asking for help.

I sent the email Saturday night and by Monday morning we had received an email from the director's daughter stating that her parents were off fundraising, but that she had contacted them and they would get back to us soon. Before Jen could contact me, the director had called my cell to ask questions and find out from us what was going on. He was very passionate about his kids in Albania and told us to give him a week and he would see what he could do or find out.

Well, it was a week yesterday, so I called him today. He confirmed that Bethany and ICA were closed doors to adopt from Albania. However, he said that Hope for the World was working on becoming an adoption agency for Albania in the U.S., but will still not be ready for some time.

We are considering waiting until Hope for the World is ready but have some questions for them about how things will work. Their answers will determine the next step for us, either choosing another country with Bethany or continuing to pursue Albania with a small delay.

We will keep you updated as soon as we know. In the meantime we are continuing to raise funds and God is continuing to show himself faithful. Over the past several weeks we have received over $700 randomly from friends, family and the mailman. Although we have not received many online orders through the Etsy shop, Jen has been baking nonstop for orders placed offline.

Jennifer's sister Jessica has begun an Etsy store of her own. Jessica is an amazing artist and has begun making her own greeting cards for different occasions. She has decided to sell these to help bring in money for the adoption. She will not be making any money for herself. Her site is

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Update on fundraisers, the boys and more...

Our story on the local radio station came off great! It was actually played nearly every hour throughout the day. I'm sure that we've yet to see what God has in store for us through this opportunity.

Orders continue to come in from our
Etsy store. Most Mondays, Jen is baking and shipping. We have had many orders from local friends which are not counted on the site. Our friends has sold quite a few raffle tickets for a Sweet Tunic to help raise funds for us. We will also get 20% of her sales and so far she has sold several items. Soon, Jen's sister Jessie will be opening an etsy shop selling handmade greeting cards and all proceeds will go to our adoption. Etsy is definitely working for us.

There is a local market here in town open on the second Saturday of every month. Starting in May we plan on selling some of our baked goods and homemade gifts made by Jen and other family members. We'll see what comes of this Sage Street Market for us this summer.

The Pampered Chef show closed last week and the product is already coming in. We had a $1447 show, which is completely amazing for around here. An average show that we've done here is about $200-$300. Thank You, Jesus! We get 15%, plus Jackie Turk, our Pampered Chef consultant donates 2.5% out of her own pocket after the show reaches $1,000. So, we now have $256 more towards our adoption fund.

Aaron is in the final stages of recording his CD. We can see the finish line. At this point all the work is out of our hands and so we're spending our time working out the details of copyright and duplicating for distribution.

We heard back from our case worker stating that the little boy on the waiting child list is actually matched up with another family. We then did some research on the other little boy, who looked like Tobin and in the process got in touch with 3 other families who have adopted, or are in the process, or have been to the orphanages over in Albania. We also have been somewhat introduced to an organization called Hope for the World based close by in
McDonough, GA. They actually run several orphanages over in Albania and help with sponsoring children there. Anyway, through some of our contacts and this organization we were able to find out that the little boy is not adoptable. We are happy to hear that he is healthy and has a single mom who plans on getting him back hopefully soon. One of our contacts showed us a picture of another boy who turned 3 while she was there in February. He is also dark headed with brown eyes like our oldest and youngest. She wasn't sure if he is adoptable or not, so she is having her contacts look into his status also. Who knows. I just think it is so neat how God has connected us with all these different people. It's just wonderful support. We figured that if none of these boys are adoptable then God had other reasons for us connecting with so many new people. We'll see what that is all about.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


We sent cookies out to 3 radio stations. One of which is WNEG 630 AM, our local station here in Stephens and Franklin County. I did not recognize an email last Tuesday that had in the subject box, "interview request". With all the hustle and bustle of getting word out and baking cookies, I totally forgot to ask Aaron about the email. After posting the last blog entry this past Saturday night we cleaned out our inbox. Aaron came across the mystery email and opened it, only to discover it was a request to interview us about the adoption from the news director at WNEG. So, this morning Aaron went in and they recorded an interview. Charlie Bauder, the news director, told us it will be on air tomorrow at 8 A.M. and 12 P.M. and possibly other times throughout the day. We are so excited how God is making our story known. We are so encouraged by all the support we are getting. God is good. He is our Provider.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recent Pictures of Our Amazing Children

Here are some recent pictures of our kids.

What A Week!!

Our last post talked about all that happened on Monday. My sister gave us the idea to mail some of our cookies to local radio stations as a means of getting the word out and generating some orders. So Monday morning we sent a sample of our cookies to three different stations and waited to see if anything would come of it.

Wednesday morning Mike Shelley, morning announcer at 90.9 WRAF announced our cookies as the official(for that day anyway) cookies of the morning show. He also wrote about it in his blog telling a little bit about us and posting a picture of the cookies, or what was left of them. WRAF is the flagship station for Toccoa Falls College and actually broadcasts into several states in the southeast as well as over the internet. Unrelated to this event, we received another cookie order that same day.

Thursday morning, Kevin and Taylor, morning show announcers for Atlanta's 104.7 WFSH, shared our adoption story on the air commenting on our cookies, Aaron's CD to come and our fundraisers. Amazingly, Taylor commented that she had actually worked for Bethany Christian Services at some point in the past. They said they would post a link to us on their site. Within hours, a listener and fellow etsy shop owner had contacted us to say that she would be posting a link on her blog and had just twittered her 100+ followers.

After hearing all this on the radio we went to check our email and sites. We had another etsy order from a family member who also made a $250.00 donation through this blog. Jen immediately got to baking. As she was driving the kids to an appointment, she got another order for 2 batches of cookies and 2 loaves of bread. She came home to bake those and upon checking the mail found a check from another family member for $500.00

Friday Jen finally got a break from baking and was able to spend some time catching up on other things that needed to be done. That afternoon she got a call from a family member saying that they would be sending a check for $100.00

This morning while I was out working on the CD, Jen was home baking again. This time she was filling an etsy order for a friend who lives here in Toccoa. When she got home, she found two letters in the mail each with a $50.00 check. Earlier this evening we received an email discussing the details of an order for 4 batches (96!) of cookies to be shipped in the coming weeks.

I heard a sermon recently where the speaker shared how too often we simply ask God to bless whatever it is we're doing when what we should be praying is "Lord what are you doing?, I want to join with you and be a part of it." Then the blessing flows in abundance.

The book that has had the greatest impact on our prayer life as a family has been George Mueller's biography. Our whole family has been faithFULLy praying for months asking our Father to provide the funds necessary to bring our son(a.k.a. Little Brother) home. At some point during the past week, one of our daughters exclaimed "I've been wanting to see a miracle with money like this!!" With every order and donation they yell out "Thank you Jesus!!" without any prompting from us. We are mindful to thank Him for every blessing and to continue to persevere in faith that He will provide exactly what we need when we need it.

Psalm 92:4 "For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands."

Monday, March 30, 2009

An Amazing Day!

Today has been amazing! God is really providing for our adoption. Today has been such a reminder that God is in control and He will provide. We just need to continue to trust Him.

In just about 2 hours time we were so hugely encouraged. Jen came home to check our email and facebook and all. She found 2 more cookie orders on Just minutes later she found a note on facebook from an old college friend of ours.

Our friend also has an etsy shop, selling homemade children's clothes, aprons, little boy's ties, blankets, etc. She put a link to her site and told us to check it out. Jen immediately had tears in her eyes as she read the page. Our friend is raffling off for $1.00 a little girls tunic she will make and all proceeds will go to our adoption. We didn't ask her for this and didn't know anything about it until she sent the link. What a blessing having someone else promote our cause for us. She also gives people an option to just donate to us. If this wasn't enough, their shop is also donating 20% of their earnings for April to our adoption. Wow!!! Please, check out their shop. Her items are beautiful and original.

A couple hours later we were notified by paypal that a family member had just donated $100. Thank you so much!! An hour later another family member wrote asking for our address in order to send something to our adoption fund. Again, wow. God is so good and so big and so in control.

We are so encouraged today and just wanted to share all this with everyone. God's word says to proclaim His mighty deeds and so here we are doing just that.
Psalm 145:3 "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom."

On a side note, we just added Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies to our etsy shop.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Two weeks ago we launched the Etsy shop ( selling Jen's baked goods and we immediately received two orders. Soon after we received an offline order from a friend. He asked for one batch of cookies, but to our surprise sent us a check for over three times as much. Within the next few days, we added whole wheat bread to the store and received an offline, loaf-a-week order from a friend who lives locally. We will soon be adding other items as well.

Also, there's a local market in our town during the summer months where we'll be able to sell some of our home made baked goods and crafts. Jen's sister is amazing with scrapbooking and has offered to make greeting cards to sell for the adoption. Jen herself will be sewing pajama bottoms, hero capes for boys and princess capes for girls.

We sent out email and snail-mail letters to many family and friends updating them on the adoption and fundraising efforts. We promptly received a check for $100.00 from an individual who has only met us once! In addition they took the time to compile grant and tax information regarding adoption.

Between the Etsy shop and mass emails, our outdated, overused computer was suddenly having serious problems. I have a laptop for work, but that too is becoming outdated and is only available to Jen in the evening when I get home. Buying a new computer was financially not an option. So we prayed and asked God to provide a computer. Why not? It just might work.

A week later, some close friends came into possession of a 1-1/2 year old computer and thought we might need a newer model for all the adoption work we are doing online. We never asked anyone for a computer, yet God heard us and answered!! Hallelujah!!!

One of the longer parts to the adoption process in Albania is waiting on a referral for a child. We've been in touch with one family in particular who have adopted from Albania and have been a tremendous help and encouragement. They actually brought home their daughter this past December. She has some medical problems, but they deal with them because they love her and know she is their daughter. In talking to them, we were encouraged to maybe look into a child with some needs other than "normal" institutional issues. So, we contacted our case worker to look into any boys from Albania with special needs that we might be able to deal with. At the same time we had seen pictures of some children in an orphanage in Albania from this past October. A couple had been over there at an orphanage and posted pictures of the kids on their blog. They did not know the status of any of the kids, whether they are adoptable or have any health problems. We scrolled through the pictures and were amazed at one picture of a little boy. He looks so much like our son, Tobin. We were blown away. We showed his picture to some family members and they completely agreed. Our son, Tobin, actually asked if the picture was him and when we said no, he said, "I want that boy to come to our house and live with me." So, when we contacted our case worker, we asked her to look into the possibility of this other little boy as well. Our case worker has contacted the Albanian program director about the possibility of both these boys. Now we are waiting to hear back. We don't know for sure whether either of these boys is our son, but we wouldn't put it past God for him to work in this way.

We don't know who our son is yet, but we love him so much already and cannot wait for him to come home and be a part of our family. Our kids pray for him everyday, especially Tobin. He also asks every day, "When is 'Little Brother' coming home?" We don't know how long the process is going to take, but we will not stop until our son is home.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pampered Chef Fundraiser

On April 7th, Jen will be hosting a Pampered Chef Fundraising Party in our home. We will be able to receive a percentage of the total sales towards our adoption fund. Anyone wishing to order can do so online. The cut off date is April 13th. The address is Click on Shop Online. It will ask you if you have already been invited to a show. In the first box type "Santor Adoption" and then click Search for Host. Santor Adoption Fund/Jennifer Santor will appear. Click on it to shop. Be sure to ask for direct shipping so your order will not end up here in Georgia.

Please let anyone you know about this option to order. Most people like Pampered Chef products and would order something from them, especially if they knew they were helping one child find a forever family.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We've been grinding our own wheat now for over two years. Jen loves baking with it, and we love enjoying the fruit of her labors. She is a phenomenal cook. Our house has become a virtual white flour free zone!

Back in May, Jen was talking with some close friends about the adoption and different fund raising ideas. One of them suggested that she needed a divinely inspired idea for fund raising and that they should commit to prayer.

A few weeks later, Jen had the idea to sell her homemade, whole wheat baked goods online. Since then, we have been working on finishing all the paperwork for the home study and just simply trying to live life. With the holidays behind us,paperwork done and money due, God saw fit for this to be the time.

So we've opened an Etsy store. We are currently only selling cookies, but will soon add french bread. If you type in the above address it will take you right to the store.

We will be keeping everyone updated on future fund raisers. On April 7th Jen will be hosting a Pampered Chef Fundraiser Show. We will make a percentage of the total sales. If anyone is interested in putting in an order feel free to contact us, even if you don't live in the area.

Also, over the past several weeks we have received two $50 checks towards the adoption. We feel that this is God's way of encouraging us that He IS going to provide. We are thanking Him through every step!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Currently . . .

We have finished the 8-hour online Hague certification!!! As far as we can tell we've finished our part for the home study. We're waiting to hear back from Bethany as to what's next. In order to have a completed home study we will need to pay Bethany's fees. After that we will begin working on the dossier to send to Albania. Half of the Albania country fees will be due at that time. We are completely trusting God to provide.

In the meantime, God has been placing people in our lives as well as re-acquainting us with friends from the past who all have connections with Albania. From a possible guide during our stay, to an old school friend's missionary parents in the country, to recent adoptive parents of a child from Albania. As much as He is letting us see right now, He is in control and has already gone before us.

"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you . . . ." ~Deuteronomy 20:4

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." ~Deuteronomy 31:8

The CD

Over the past nine years, I've been writing songs. I've never tried to make anything of them, I never really thought anything of them. It's just something I've always done. Some were written for my children. Some have been worship songs. Some are worship songs coinciding with my children's births.
Sometime ago Jen began asking me to make a recording. I would always respond to it with "Yeah, I'll get around to it." From time to time other people would ask if I ever thought about recording. Their encouragement usually included a reference to how much money I could make. Interesting. My response was always the same, "Yeah, I'll get around to it."
A few months before we felt God was calling us to adoption, we sang one of my songs at church during our worship service. Afterwards, our pastor's wife whom we love and have the utmost respect for, pulled us aside. "You really need to record these songs." As I attempted to give her my well rehearsed response, she abruptly interupted me, "No. I feel this is from the Lord. You really need to record these songs. I feel like it has something to do with your future."
Okay, so maybe God had something in store with all of this. I still didn't want to make a big deal out of it. What do I know about recording? How would I even begin to put something like that together? Besides the songs really aren't that great. So I figured I could make a real simple recording, just me and the guitar. After that we'll see what God does. As the weeks passed, the idea faded to the back of my mind waiting for me to get around to it.
Suddenly we find ourselves starting the process of adoption and wondering how we were going to fund it. Jen and I were at our kitchen counter discussing different options. Our conversation had run its course with no real solution or strategy found. I turned to walk away when it hit me. I turned around to see Jen's face, she was thinking the same thing. The CD!
God's timing always amazes me. I never would have put recording a CD as a central part of our adoption. I would have kept it separate. But that's the beauty of it. I'm 33 with a wife and family. I do not have the time for, nor am I interested in becoming some kind of huge star. The reason we're recording is to bring a child into our family. If I ever even try and make it about me everyone will know it. I'm totally free to make this recording without trying to build a career out of it.
I have been blessed to be able to lead worship with a phenomenal team. They have volunteered their valuable time and tremendous talent to assist me in this endeavor. One of the members is actually taking on the task of producing/recording the entire project. Our plan is to sell the CDs online so you'd be able to download it, and sell hard copies per order to save on packaging costs. I thought I was going to have to figure out how to get the CD online on my own, but just this past week someone approached me about helping me with this. We'll keep you updated as to when everything will be ready.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Currently . . .

We are finished all the paperwork for the home study and we are about halfway through the 8-hour Hague certification. Once we have received our Hague certificate all home study requirements should be complete. Then all we will need is to pay the home study fee and we can begin the dossier to send to Albania.

A Couple of Neat Events

First, as everyone knows, the auto industry has been hurting and with it so has my paycheck. We are trusting God completely and he has been absolutely faithful. After the first of the year we received notice from Bethany that due to economic circumstances we would have to resubmit our financial paperwork. We knew that it was likely that we would not meet NCIS standards. We commited this to the Lord in prayer. The case worker emailed us saying that it would not be necessary to resubmit the paperwork; they would just use the information that our accountant gave them last year. This was actually a projection for this year which was based on what I had made over the last few years, which does meet NCIS standards.

Second, we were told that Jen's passport would take three weeks. As you can see from the timeline in the previous post, it took only 10 days!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Timeline - 2008 - Present

September 2nd - Began recording CD

September 23rd - We had our first meeting with our case worker. Lots of paperwork to sign, and lots of paperwork to take home.

November 4th - Fingerprinted for the state of Georgia at Toccoa Police Dept.

November 22nd - Meet with case worker at Bethany in Atlanta for our individual interviews.

December 8th - Blood work tested at Health Dept.

January 5th - Physicals

January 6th - Jen mails application for passport.

January 8th - Septic Inspection.

January 10th - Case worker visits our home. Started the required 8 hour Hague certification.

January 16th - Animals updated on their shots. Jen's passport arrives in the mail.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yard Sales

Sept 20 & 27th - We held two yard sales to raise money for the adoption. We contacted as many people as we could (mostly in our church) to donate items for the sale. For weeks it was stacked and stored in our garage. So much so that I ended up having to park on the street.

We are so thankful for the friends and family that God has given us. Many donated stuff to sell. Several friends came by the day before and helped price and tag everything. Jen's parents helped load and unload an entire garage-full of stuff both Saturdays. Our wonderful friends, the Ord family, loaned us their trailer for both days, let us invade their front yard for the first sale, cooked us breakfast and lunch, and gave up their entire Saturday serving us. Other friends stopped by throughout the day just to keep us company and show their support.

The second Saturday we were able to use a local business' parking lot right on the main strip in town. The Salvation Army was conveniently located directly across the street. At the end of the day we donated the remaining unsold items to them.

The first Saturday, we made $555.55. No kidding. That's five 5's for our fifth child. Now I'm not one to make too much of this sort of thing, but every once in a while I've got enough sense to pay attention. I told Jen that there was something more to this, although I wasn't sure what. We prayed and asked God to show us if there was more to the numbers. I know that throughout scripture certain numbers have signifigance(i.e. 3=trinity,7= completion). I would have to research the number 5.

The next day I was sharing this with a good friend at church. It turned out that he had spent some amount of time researching this very thing. Giving numerous examples from scripture, he explained that the number 5 signifies God's grace and provision! Another confirmation that God would supply our every need along the way.

Between the two Saturday's we raised $898.75. At the same time, over the course of our journey we'd been receiving anonymous donations in our mailbox at church. So altogether, between yard sales and anonymous donations, we've received $1551.75. Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Application Fee

Originally, we were expecting to receive enough in our stimulus check to be able to cover the cost of the $550.00 application fee. However, Uncle Sam let us down. So at this point our only option was to pray. So we asked God on June 17th to provide the money.

We continued praying for a month. We never asked for it from others. When asked where we were at in the process, we responded that we were waiting on the $550.00 for the application fee.

We were heading up north for our yearly trip home to see our families. Jen was hoping that, by the time we left, the application fee would have been paid. She really wanted to be able to tell our families that we had "officially" started the process.

As the date of our departure drew near she asked how I intended to pay for the fee. I told her that it would pretty much have to fall from the sky. We were, after all, about to leave on a 2,000 mile road trip amidst record high gas prices. It wasn't like we had $550.00 just lying around. So we kept praying.

Sunday morning, July 13th, we found an envelope in our church mailbox with exactly $550.00 cash. This was the start of God's provision, and the moment we realized that He even cared about our silly little desires. Thank you, Jesus!! You are so faithful!!

May 30th, 2008

We attempted to fill out the online application. We accidentally sent it only partially finished. We would have to wait until Bethany received it, realized it was incomplete and sent it back for us to finish it.

Normally, Jen would have freaked out because she is highly task oriented. We had heard enough from other families that there would be plenty of delays along the way, but Jen was determined not to have any of them due to us. However, she had peace. She knew that everything, including the timing, was all in God's hands. Within the week we were able to have the application filled out and the process had begun.


We had our orientation meeting on May 21st 2008. Here we would have the opportunity to meet with the director of international adoption with Bethany, have any questions answered, and hear testimonies from other families who had worked with Bethany.

We were specifically searching for a country that would not require such a long stay. At this point, all we knew was that God apparently had directed us to Albania. That night we found out we would have a long referral period with Albania and a long stay once we were there. We figured they would try to redirect us to another country, something that would suit us better. As we talked with the director her response surprised us. She said that if Albania is where God directed you then go for it. The staff at Bethany are all about finding your child and believe that it is all in God's hands. Finances or time should not hold you back from adopting. Their experience seemed to reveal something of the mystery of God's sovereignty and how our stumbling onto Albania was not an accident. What an encouraging confirmation!

We made the decision beforehand that we, in no way, would incur any debt in this process. We knew that if God was calling us into this, then He would make total provision. So, if He was going to fund this adoption then He would cover all of it, including time off from work and travel expenses.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why Bethany and Why Albania?

Immediately, Jen began searching the internet, devouring everything she could about adoption. Of course, Googling adoption wil bring up 14 gazillion websites offering their services. Some were religious, some were not. Some were more expensive, some were less. Some went only to certain countries, some went only to certain other countries. We suddenly found ourselves having to identify not only what our values in this process were, but also finding an organization that best lined up with what we wanted.

Then there was the matter of choosing a country. Did God have a specific country that we were to be looking at. It made no difference to us, but again only certain agencies worked out of certain countries. Should we choose an agency and then pick the country, or vice versa? Every day I would come home from work and receive a briefing on all the information Jen had found online that day. At the same time we really wanted to get started but the first orientation meeting in our area was a month away.

At one point, Jen asked me if I was at all excited about any of this. I told her that truthfully, I was completely overwhelmed with this decision. I would be happy if I could just pick a child out of a catalog, or something. Every option made the decision more difficult. She asked what we should do, I responded,"Let's just pray that God would make it clear."

The next day, May 7, 2008 Jen was talking with a friend who asked if we had looked into Bethany Christian Services(Check it out When I got home we looked at their site and were amazed at the scope of their work. Suddenly, there was no other option. Why would we use another agency that only swapped our money for a kid and then was gone? As we looked further, we saw that they were offering a special orientation meeting that month, 2 weeks earlier and an hour closer.

As we searched the website, we saw that they provided adoptions from Albania, a country we hadn't seen with any other organizations. As it turns out Bethany is only one of two organizations that are allowed to operate in Albania. Doing a little more research we discovered that Albania is considered a third world country in Europe. It was then that we remembered Rachel's criteria for adopting (see previous post). Within 24 hours God had answered our prayer and led us straight to the agency and country.

Some other points in our decision for Albania

  1. 70% Muslim population

  2. During the Holocaust gave harbor to the Jews

  3. War torn until recent years

The Beginning

As a couple, we always had adoption on our hearts, just in the back of our minds as something neat to do. If nothing else, our lives would be given to provide a home and family to a child without one.
After having kids of our own, the thought fell to the wayside. After having four, we were ready to be done.
In the early spring of 2008, Jen began remembering this desire and started asking questions. My response was sure it would be a great thing to do, but with all we had on our plates already was God calling us to follow him in this way. I always knew that any needy child would be welcomed and loved in our home as one of our own, but was this really God's plan for us.
Jen asked the kids if they would be willing to adopt. They were all on board except one, our second daughter Rachel(6). Jen told the kids that Daddy wasn't sure if God wanted us to do this, so they needed to pray that I would hear from Him what we were to do.
As a family, we were reading about Roland and Heidi Baker's work in Mozambique. There they work with orphans that literally live and eat in the dumps. It was after reading one of their stories that Rachel agreed that we should adopt. However, her one criteria was that we had to adopt a child that had eaten out of the trash!
On April 27th, 2008 a woman at our church was giving an update as to where they were at with their adoption. As she spoke, it suddenly occured to me that if God had placed the desire and capacity in our hearts to love and welcome a child as our own, then He intended for that to be filled