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Teaming Up with New Friends as the Adoption Experiences Grow

We’re blessed to have wonderful friends and family. Depending on when you meet and spend the most quality time with friends really defines where they fit into your life spectrum. There are high-school chums, college buddies, folks we met in Austin who remain dear to us today, and then those we’ve met in Nashville (including a dear group of neighbors and friends on the east side). Now that we creep toward parenthood, our network has opened further. Sarah blogged in August about one special couple – Leslie and Shawn – that entered our lives at this unique time with whom we share something so dear. Our adoption story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning another extraordinary family who recently entered our circle of love, coincidentally around the block from us and coincidentally with adoption as a central focus of their backgrounds.

Dawn and Michael Cornelius are the proud owners of 1907 Apparel on the east side (www.1907apparel.com) and amazing parents to three incredible children, a 3-year-old boy and two girls ages 6 and 8. 1907 is a social enterprise with a boutique that went into some new shops in our neighborhood in October 2012. Sarah had peeked her head inside the store once and came home raving. “We have to check it out” she said, noting that the origins of the store entailed adoption somehow. The first day we truly checked it out, we were not only blown away by the products and causes inside, but more so by meeting Dawn and Michael for the first time.

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After reading the sign on the wall – which explained Dawn’s adoption story and the genesis for the store – we had a foggy view into their world. So when we struck a conversation, we at least had something in common. Little did we know, we’d hit it off immediately and leave 30 minutes later with an invitation to be part of a 1907 adoption fundraising campaign.

Dawn and Michael are – hands down – two of the most authentic, fascinating, and inspirational people we’ve ever met. We’ll save their full stories for another day, but Dawn’s background in particular strikes a chord with us, having been adopted along with her twin brother by her grandmother in 1972 (unbeknownst to her grandmother at the time they were her biological grandchildren). 1907 Apparel is a philanthropic apparel store named after the year her grandmother was born.

1907’s mission is to make an impact on poverty, education, and sustainable agriculture by donating 7% of all profits to causes around the world. It’s a store littered with unique gifts – ranging from coffee to jewelry – with beneficiaries ranging from a local battered women’s shelter to international humanitarian non-profits. Or recently, a family from East Nashville who adopted a little girl from China like us.

In September, we volunteered for 1907’s involvement in 30 Abes (www.30abes.com), a food packing and hunger awareness event for the Maison Des Enfants De Dieu orphanage in Haiti. We had a blast volunteering at a 30 Abes pre-event August 30 at East-Centric Pavilion (I even got to dust off my old “stage hand” skills for the bands that came out to play). But nothing could have prepared us for the big event itself, September 28, at Municipal Auditorium. The goal was to pack 500,000 meals in one hour to not only provide food for those kids, but to also break the Guiness World Record. That early Saturday morning on September 28 saw 2,000 people show up to volunteer with orphanage director Pierre on hand to cheer us on. We were able to help sell 30 Abes t-shirts all morning (with each shirt buying 30 meals) and stand in awe as the pandemonium ensued and an auditorium full of love broke the world record! We had chills running up and down our spines, knowing that an orphanage full of tikes would be fed for a long time to come.

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Just about the time we first met Dawn and Michael, they were already brainstorming another campaign to raise money for families adopting. There just so happened to be two other couples in their lives in the process of adoption: a gal who worked at 1907 and her husband, plus the co-creator of 30 Abes and her husband. All three couples live within three miles and we’re all adopting from three different countries. We’re glad Dawn and Michael found this too special to be a coincidence, as we were humbled to be brought into such a neat group of folks. We’ve met for lunch once, traded numerous emails, and the campaign is well underway! The 1907 team has dreamed big for this effort and we’re so excited to see it unfold. We’ll update everyone later once it launches.

Outside of 30 Abes and the adoption campaign (called addONE), our friendship with Dawn and Michael (and their three adorable kids) has grown even deeper during a special Sunday time with another neighborhood couple that we call Common Gathering. This time together with the Cornelius and Schroader families has given us a beautiful sense of community and a chance to explore god, spirituality, our purpose, and all the questions that daunt us as we enter this next phase of life. We feel so blessed to have this weekly gathering to learn and grow with our new friends. And we can’t wait for the little lotus to make friends with the Cornelius kids to boot.

Seeing that our little lady already has a BFF up one street, combined with three awesome role models just a few streets south and our dear friends and neighbor’s kids surrounding us, we’re starting to get this “village” figured out… now nobody move out of the ‘hood!

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"I am a lotus flower – delicate, fragile, yet strong... floating, unfolding, and blossoming into the life where I belong.”