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This crazy journey continues as our family becomes a licensed foster home for children in need. I’m here to update you and say a huge thank you!!!

About one month ago I asked for some help! We were told by the state fire marshall that we needed to do some huge renovations to our basement in order to become licensed. We needed to sheetrock 1,100 square feet of basement space (see here for that story) and that was going to be a cost that we did not expect. I offered up 5 discounted family sessions in order to pay for those materials and within HOURS, yes a few hours, the entire basement project was fully funded! I am beyond thankful for those of you who stepped up to book a session and told me the stories of how adoption or foster care changed your lives, or of someone you know. Honestly I was moved to tears to see those who wanted to help us out, and were also excited to do a family session with me this year!!

I am also extremely thankful for the crew of men that came out to our house two Saturdays ago to tackle this huge project. For an entire week my husband and I moved everything out of our basement and relocated everything to a safe place. Then from 8 am until 3 pm, 8 men (plus myself) worked continually to put up every sheet of drywall. It was all hung in one day and the following several evenings Tom and I spent it covered in mud and sheetrock dust finishing up. I can happily say that about 10 days after we began it’s done and ready! We are exhausted, and I’m still cleaning up sheetrock dust from my house, but it’s done!:)

Here are some boring photos of our process! (It was NOT a boring process but very eventful!)

 

When we had the materials delivered it got real that this was going to be a huge mess!  ;) Our garage no longer held our vehicles but piles of stuff and sheetrock!

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Before and after! Top photos are the staircases with styrofoam walls and below are the finished product!

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The left is the styrofoam material we covered- on the right is the new and improved wall! It’s not pretty but it’s safe and that’s all that mattered!;)

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In the meantime we have finished our required licensing classes, completed bedroom prep for children to have their own beds & bureaus, and we also had our final home study. Yesterday we spent 3 hours being interviewed by our licensing worker. We answered questions about our discipline policies, talk about parenting scenarios, emergency procedures, our families and childhoods, and much more.

One very entertaining portion of our final home study was when our licensing worker talked with our children. He simply asked them some questions about our home, family and the potential kids that will be coming to stay with us. Here are some of their comical and odd answers…

Licensing Worker- “What if your favorite part of your home?”    Jack (age 7) ‘The Hallway’    (What is that supposed to mean Jack!?) Haha!

Licensing Worker- “What is your least favorite part of being in your home?”    Bailee (age 9) ‘The Mud’    (She hates getting dirty but I’m pretty sure that’s not what he meant?);)

Licensing Worker- “Is there anything else I should know about your family?”   Mia (age 8) ‘Yes, we are very nice and don’t even bite. I mean we only bite our food and won’t bite the kids that come here. We’ll be nice to them!’   (At this point I was trying not to die laughing at the licensing worker’s face!)

Kids don’t have a filter, and certainly answer the most honest way they know how. It was comical and also very sweet to listen to them!

So, as far as an update goes— we are at a place of waiting. We have done everything we possibly can and need to in order to complete our licensing requirements. We were told last night that now we just wait. It could be a week or a month or longer that our home study is written up and processed by the department. So- we wait. We pray for the children coming into our home and we wait. I’m not good at waiting but I’m working on that while we wait.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us in this journey. For those who have asked for an update, and who have stood by us with sheetrock dust on their hands! We love you all and can’t wait to keep you all informed as we continue on!

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It has been a little over a month or so since we made this huge announcement! We have been blown away with the support from so many of you! We have received so much encouragement and interest in our adoption journey! I have received many phone calls, messages, texts, e-mails, etc.. asking questions about the process and how it all works, and to be very honest we are still learning and are discovering the ins-and-outs daily and along the way. Here is a quick update as to where we are now…

In the process of becoming a licensed foster family there are many things that you must do to prove yourself capable and also to show that you are a safe environment for these children. A few things that we have done are…

We went to the first informational meeting where we were able to ask questions, pick up an application and sign up for the licensing classes. After that we filled out our application packet- complete with references, background checks, emergency plans, financial records, and so much more. Here is what some of it looked like…

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Soon after we decided to go forward with the process we began talking about it with our kids. This last minute decision to eat out one night started our conversation with our kids about some children not having a family or a safe place to be a kid. Our girls started crying and immediately they wanted to know when we could “go get our kid!” I wish it was that easy but they have been just as excited as they were that first day!

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While waiting for things to get started and the paperwork to go through we announced our big decision to our immediate family members by giving them cards and this book… “In on it: What adoptive parents would like you to know about adoption” by Elizabeth O’Toole. It’s a great quick read and really spells out what we need for support from our friends and family around us! I highly recommend it! You can find it here…. In On It!

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We have also been reading a LOT! A few books I’ve read that I have found helpful are below but one not listed (and was my absolute favorite) because I forgot it on my nightstand was Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn. That one can also be found here and is SO worth the read for any woman who has adopted, is thinking about it or is already in the process!

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While waiting and praying we have joined up with a local adoption support group as well who have been extremely supportive and helpful when we have questions along the way. Most families have already been through the process, some still thinking about it and it’s been so nice to have others to talk to through it all.

We have also begun our licensing classes. We must each complete 18 hours of foster family “training” classes through the State of Maine and we are on week 2 of completing those. They are late nights, full of information and at times overwhelming but super important. Here was a photo from class #1!

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Starting this week we also begin the home study with our licensing worker. The in-depth interview, home inspection, and family history in take is a great system for finding out more about our family, what we will need to be prepared for and making sure our home is the safest place possible for any children who may stay here.

A few more important things that have had to happen are 1. being fingerprinted- done & passed 2. having our water tested- done & passed. 3. have the state fire marshal inspect the home- done & we have LOTS of work to do.

We bought a “new to us” home last year and it’s less than 10 years old. It has a poured concrete foundation in styrofoam forms (BuildBlock Insulating Concrete Forms) that allow for amazing insulation. (If you’re building a home I would highly recommend this process!) However we didn’t know that to be up to “fire code” you must have that entire surface covered with a 15 minute thermal barrier. Basically we need to put up drywall in our entire basement. It’s about 1,100 square feet of wall space that needs to be covered. This isn’t an empty space that will easily be worked in, but imagine all of your family’s belongings and storage space needing to be cleaned out and then worked on! Ugh! Photo below is what the walls look like up close…

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It’s a big job and it’s looking like a huge cost! A cost we were not expecting. We are slightly discouraged by the task but we are NOT giving up! Instead we are trying to come up with a creative way to raise the funds needed. Last month I hosted Black & White Mini Sessions as a fundraiser (thank you to ALL who came!) and that allowed us to pay for our fingerprinting, to purchase an extra bureau for the child’s bedroom, and cover the costs of the other fire marshal projects that are needed (new carbon monoxide detector, hand rails, and fire extinguisher).  The project “drywall the basement” is something we were not anticipating!

Here is where I invite you to help us out by offering a fantastic deal that you shouldn’t pass up!

A FULL family session with NicoleLee Photography is $400. That includes a 1.5 hour session, for up to 5 people, at a location of your choice, and the online gallery allowing you to download all of your family’s images. To help us with the project’s costs I have decided to offer ONLY 5 discounted spots for a FULL family session for only $300! That is a savings of $100!

If you want to grab one of these discounted sessions then this is what you need to do…

1- Contact me quickly, I’m only offering 5 of these spots! E-mail is best – nicole@nicoleleephotos.com

2- We will book your session for THIS Spring or Summer of 2017.

3- The full amount must be paid upfront. Normally I don’t collect payment until the date of the session but since we need the funds for the “drywall the basement” project the $300 must be paid at the time of booking.

4- Then we talk about exactly what you want from your session, who will be there, and where you want to go!

5- What are you waiting for!?! Lets plan your session today!!

 

Want to join in on the “drywall the basement” another way!?!? We are looking for some volunteers to help us out! We will be having some work days and if you are an experienced laborer that knows how to drywall contact me! We will happily use all the help we can get!

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Thank you for supporting us as we journey down this new and exciting road! We’ll try our best to keep you all updated!

Have any questions about becoming a foster family yourselves? Feel free to e-mail me! I’m not an expert and have a lot to learn myself but would be happy to point you in the right direction!

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Our family has some exciting news to share with you! We are in the process of starting the journey of adoption. We have hopes of adding to our family and are at the very beginning stages of this path.

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I’m sure a lot of you are surprised by this news and I wish we had the chance to sit down with each of our family members and friends to tell you personally but it’s almost impossible to keep this secret much longer. Since we have told our children and our closest family members we feel it’s time to share it with all of you.

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Tom (my husband) and I have talked about this for a long time, and a few months ago made the decision to begin the journey. This was not a quick, thoughtless decision, but instead one filled with questions and praying.

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We discussed the possibility of international adoption and many different countries. We talked about what age, gender, or needs the child will have to be a good fit for our family. And in the end have decided to become a licensed foster family for children in our own area.

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Our desire is to adopt and become a forever home for a child that needs us. We understand that it could be a long process with lots of trials but know that this is what God wants us to do.

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We have told our children and they cried happy tears of joy with the anticipation of sharing their home with someone else who needs one.

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I am so proud of these little people who want to open their hearts and love on someone who needs it.

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We have been blessed with so much that we cannot fathom keeping it to ourselves.

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Our hearts and home are ready, but we don’t expect it to be easy. The application process is long. The paperwork is thick. The classes and licensing procedure is thorough and it’s no easy task to become vulnerable to the public.

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We will keep you posted as much as possible as we start this huge undertaking, but ask that you also respect our privacy as we may need to refrain from disclosing information that is personal and/or confidential.

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We don’t want to do this alone- we will need our community and family’s support.

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So, why do we want you to know? We want you to join us in prayer!

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We do not expect this road to be easy or without pain and heartache. We want you to help us through this process by understanding that there may be times we reach out to you, ask for something or simply need to talk.

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 We have an amazing family, great friends, and support system in our community and want you to be a part of this with us!

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In honor of Valentine’s Day and being snowed in during this “Blizzard of 2017″ I have decided to have a fun contest!

**THIS CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED**

Who wants to win a $500 OFF Gift Certificate for the wedding package of your choice!?!? To enter it’s simple— 

1- Share this contest with your friends on Facebook so others who want to can also enter.Simply go back to NicoleLee Photography on Facebook and share the post. https://www.facebook.com/nicoleleephotos/

2- Second send me a quick e-mail asking to enter the contest! You must already by engaged and planning your wedding. Give me your names and wedding date. You can send it to nicole@nicoleleephotos.com OR use this form for easy e-mailing!

3- That’s IT! I will choose a random winner next week and one lucky couple will get $500 OFF any wedding package they choose!

 

 

To see all wedding packages offered please go here… http://www.nicoleleephotos.com/wedding-details/

Happy Valentine’s Day Week!

**Contest is for new clients only and cannot be used for a wedding date I already have booked. Any wedding booked requires a $500 booking deposit and contract signed by the couple before your date goes on my calendar. Contact me with ANY questions you may have! Nicole **

 

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This New Year’s Eve wedding was perfect, fun and intimate! Justin & Eliza started the chilly and snowy day together with a “first look” in the snow! I was happy to play in the snow with them and capture their excitement, nerves and cuddles!

After the fun in the snow they exchanged vows and rings in front of a very few friends and immediate family members. Cupcakes, coffee, and hot cider followed the ceremony. It was quiet, sweet and the perfect ceremony to start their marriage and the new year! Congrats Mr & Mrs Justin Bean! It was an honor to witness your special day, capture your memories and “first” moments as a married couple!

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