Commentary #118: “Mom Opens Store and Uses Proceeds to Pay for People’s Adoptions”

Brittany Berrie opened The Adopted Closet in Davenport, Iowa to help cover the cost of adoption for families. Image Credit: Amanda Williams

This is such a cool story that Good Morning America covered!

Mom opens store and uses proceeds to pay for people’s adoptions (November 11, 2021)


Brittany Berrie finalized the adoption of her 11-year-old daughter, Gracie Lou Susan Johnson, earlier this summer. It was finalized after several years thanks to the generosity of Berrie’s cousin, who insisted on paying for the remaining costs. The average cost of adoption in the Unites States, through a private agency, ranges between $60,000 and $70,000. Costs can vary wildly as well.

Trying to find a way to thank her cousin, Berrie decided to help pay for another family’s adoption. She knew first-hand how expensive the process was. While organizing a garage sale with her mom, she had the idea to use the proceeds to help fund another adoption. Once people knew where the proceeds were going, donations poured in and never stopped.

Overwhelmed with clothes and other items, Berrie knew that they needed a store.

She converted her family’s garage into The Adopted Closet. Family members, including Gracie, keep the store running three days a week.

The proceeds from the garage sale and the store, in a matter of months, have already helped fund one family’s adoption, of two boys, which was finalized on November 6, 2021.

Berrie’s efforts coincide with National Adoption Awareness Month, observed every November. The lawyer for the family whose adoption was just finalized stated that the high costs is very prohibitive for a lot of families, making Berrie’s commitment and efforts even more remarkable.

Berrie is committed to continuing The Adopted Closet, and hopes to expand into a storefront to keep the store open year-round.


I’m super impressed with Berrie and her family. Being foster parents and/or adopting children is a huge act of love. And there are so many in need right here in the U.S. I’ve listed several resources below!


Resources

Fact Sheets | Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI)

National Council for Adoption

National Foster Parent Association (NFPA)

AdoptUSKids

Average Adoption Costs in the United States | Family Equality

Comparing the Cost of Domestic, International and Foster Care Adoption | American Adoptions


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Busch Gardens Williamsburg for Lane’s “Boo-chlerette” Party! (Williamsburg, Virginia)

I had a blast at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this weekend for my little sister Lane’s “boo-chlerette” party! It was Britney Spears’ themed and we had so much fun!

Lane wanted to ride two specific rides: Finnegan’s Flyers and Verbolten. I passed on the Flyers, but Verbolten was fantastic!

The rest of the day, we hung out and enjoyed the decorations around the park.

In separate groups, we did the “Nevermore” haunted house in the old Curse of DarKastle ride in Germany. Holy moly that was scary!

We had a great day, and Lane really enjoyed herself. We got lots of compliments on our shirts. Yay, Etsy!

When we got back to Lane and Ashley’s house, I was able to play one round of “Dream Phone” with the girls before I left to go home.

It’s a lot like Clue, but without the murder. Thanks, Sterling, for bringing it!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #254: Reflections, On My Birthday

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

I love doing these Birthday Reflections posts every year!

This year so far has been about growth and change. I worked from home from March 2020-June 2021, only going into the office when absolutely necessary. We started our hybrid schedule on July 1st. I felt strangely anxious that whole week, but getting through those first full eight hours back in the office felt like a great accomplishment. Now, it’s three days in the office and two days at home. Good stuff.

I also started therapy again, for the first time in almost six years. I have a wonderful therapist through the BetterHelp app!

Phineas and Ferb are our grumpy old men, they turn 12 in November. We will celebrate three years of having them in our lives in December!

Al and I celebrated five years of marriage in November! We enjoyed some recipes from The Official Star Wars Cookbook during our anniversary weekend.

I finished the second draft of my first book, hoping to publish that one by the end of the year. I finished the first draft of book number two in May, after an immensely productive Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Major props to Ren and their Twitch streams for helping me surpass my goal. Hoping to work on book number three in the fall!

I adore the Harris Teeter grocery app, Lidl, and I’ve fallen in love with LEGO all over again. My podcasts are almost all true crime. I’ve been indulging myself in the world of Cold Case on HBO Max recently, and it’s been awesome.

I’m grateful for every single day. It’s not lost on me that today marks 33 years since I was a blood recipient for the first time. Today, I was able to volunteer at our 124th blood drive in 21 years, and I was able to give the gift of life again. By my dad’s count, I’ve currently given over seven gallons of blood since my first donation in 2005, right after I turned 17. I hope to continue giving as long as I am able to.

Here’s to 33!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #95: “Camp”

I fell in love with this book within the first few pages. I was enveloped into the world of Camp Outland, and I felt so sad when it ended and I had to say goodbye to Camp and the characters in it.

The way Rosen crafts his characters is amazing. They all have names, and personalities, and interests, but they could also be people that you know in your own life. That’s how real he makes them. I found myself coming up for air in my hammock on my porch a few weekends ago, not realizing I’d read 200 pages already.

The story of Del and his adventures at Camp are fun, silly, and amazing. The friends he’s met, and the one that he’s determined to fall in love with, are all unique and precious. I love the counselors, too, and their stories. To go along with Del on his quest is a wonderful journey with so many emotions wrapped up together. I laughed, I cried, and just adored this book.

I can’t wait to read it again. This will stay on my bookshelf forever. It’s marketed toward ages 14 and up, but I believe that everyone should read this book. There are so many real-life lessons that are wrapped up in this adorable love story, told at an amazing place that I think a lot of people wishes had existed many, many years ago in the real world.

Thanks to Mike Holtzclaw for another excellent recommendation.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #229: Fifth Wedding Anniversary

One of the many photos of our amazing wedding day! This was taken by Amanda MacDiarmid, owner/operator of Stellar Exposures, November 2015.

Happy Anniversary, Al! It’s been five years today since we said “I do.” Wow!

All year long, we’ve looked at each other and kind of marveled at this year being five years of marriage.

We still love our house. Two big things have happened in 2020 – We replaced our washing machine, begrudgingly at first. It was a great Maytag. The appliance guy was sadder than we were! But, we love our Speed Queen! We also replaced our roof in July. I am a less nervous wife now!

Phineas and Ferb have been wonderful additions to our lives for almost two years. A friend encouraged me to enter a local pet portrait studio giveaway during the summer. I figured, “Why not? I never win anything.” Well, we were one of the runners-up, so we scored a free portrait session and an art credit. We splurged on a wall print of the boys, and we got a photo album as well. It was our joint wedding anniversary and Christmas gift to each other – Well worth it!

Portrait Credit: Bonilla Pet Studio

I celebrated a year with Sentara in September! This year of 2020, as I told my mom recently when discussing Thanksgiving over the phone, has truly been “the year of extraordinary circumstances.” With the COVID-19 pandemic, our work lives were altered, and now we’re holding our breath as we enter into the holiday season and beyond. Above it all, I’m incredibly grateful that we both have remained healthy, kept our jobs, and learned to navigate this “new normal” together. And – We’ve stayed married, and still like each other!

The holidays will definitely be different – No large family gatherings – but I’m excited to make my first turkey for Thanksgiving! And there will be chocolate mousse, as always.

Cheers to many more years! I love you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #223: Ten Years

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

Today marks TEN YEARS since Al and I went on our first date.

I can’t believe it!

Here are my other dating anniversary posts:


Here are ten photos that are special to me.

November 2010: This was a candid shot taken at the Alpha Sigma Tau Anchor Banquet, just a couple months after we started dating. Photo Credit: Tina Bird Stewart.
Spring 2011: Al and my parents came to Longwood for the weekend when I received my Citizen Leader Award!
Halloween 2011: The love of Star Wars is strong with us.
Halloween 2013: We were on a mission from God.
July 2015: One of my all-time favorite engagement photos!
October 2015: With friends, we did an escape room, played laser tag, ate at Mama J’s and Bottoms Up pizza, and watched movies. This photo was taken in downtown Richmond.
November 2015: Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling stained glass piece.
November 2015: I love the black and white. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures
December 2019: Al’s company Christmas party!
August 2020: My birthday celebration!

Happy Anniversary, Al! I love you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #190: Fourth Wedding Anniversary

Amazing.

Happy Anniversary, Al! Four years have truly flown by.

We love our house. It was an expensive year in 2018 – We bit the bullet and replaced our entire HVAC system. But, we’re almost done paying it off. Yay!

We adopted Pablo, a greyhound, in September. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The poor baby had such severe separation anxiety that we couldn’t keep him or felt it was safe for him. Thankfully, he went to a good home.

In December 2018, we adopted Phineas and Ferb from Saver of Souls Rescue, and it’s been an amazing experience. As I write this, they are snuggled under the giant sherpa blanket by my feet.

The biggest life change was me changing jobs. I’ve been with Sentara since early September, and I’m so glad I took the plunge. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Riverside – I was there for nearly seven years. But, making the switch has done wonders for me in many ways.

It’s almost time for the holidays! We’re excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with Al’s family, and then Christmas will be a bigger affair with both sets of parents and more.

Cheers to many more years! I love you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #185: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday!

I’m so happy to have been able to celebrate with her. Today was our regularly scheduled blood drive, and she ran it like a champ. Everyone sang to her, and I bought a fun rainbow birthday cake! We had a good time. She was going to take a nap later.

Hoping to take her out to eat sometime tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #242: “September WIP Challenge ANNIVERSARY”

September WIP Challenge Anniversary

Image found through Didi Oviatt

Didi has a lot to celebrate every September!

As for me, I celebrate my dating anniversary with Al every year on September 4th.

Here’s the link to Didi’s September WIP Challenge:


Will wanted make their 10th dating anniversary special. Their first date that September Saturday, 10 years before, changed both their lives forever.

Bethany had diagnosed anxiety, but her anxiety preparing for their 10th dating anniversary was especially high. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She wanted to impress Will, knock him out of the park, in some way.

Separately, they had shopped for new outfits. But, they were going to a familiar place. Back to where it all began.

In the driveway that wound around the side of their beautiful house, Will polished his red sports car to perfection. It made Bethany get those butterflies again. She thought about how her brother-in-law’s former girlfriend had pointed out the car was Will’s, all those years ago.

Red was a theme for them, quite by accident. Will’s sports car was red. The top that Bethany wore on their first date was red. It was far too small now, but Bethany never wanted to part with it. She wanted so badly to wear it for the momentous occasion, but she certainly wasn’t 120 pounds anymore.

And red was part of their colors for their beautiful fall wedding. Their 10th dating anniversary in September would be followed by their fifth wedding anniversary in November. They were finally taking a proper week off from work. It was going to be their first significant getaway since their first wedding anniversary. Sad, but true.

Bethany steadied herself as she emerged from the shower, still in the hazy fog of wonderful memories. The red dress she’d found through her favorite consignment group on Facebook had been hidden away for months. She couldn’t wait to surprise Will.

She heard the sports car start up, knowing Will would be inside in just a few minutes.

The door slammed shut, causing the dogs to bark. Will was so good with them. They were quiet again in a minute or two. Bethany didn’t have to say a word.

As Bethany toweled off her hair, she heard Will climb the stairs. She caught her breath.

He let out his customary wolf whistle as he saw the dress hanging on her closet door.

“Wow, Bethany.”

She smiled, opening the bathroom door a crack. Steam, perfume, and deodorant wafted through the air.

“You smell amazing, sweetheart.”

“Thank you, baby.”

“Wanna give me a sneak peek?”

She smiled, unable to resist.

Fooling around was going to make them late for dinner, but neither of them really cared. Bethany loved how Will took his time with her, and enjoyed every inch of her.

When they finished, Bethany flicked her towel at him as he headed toward the shower. She put on the dress, and realized her anxiety was gone.

The sports car shone in the September sunshine as Will drove toward the beach. Bethany felt the butterflies give way to nostalgia and excitement. They were going back to the restaurant where it all began.

Dinner felt like old times, but it was full of reminiscing and making new memories. The food was just as good as it had been 10 years ago.

The symphony was warming up for their concert series as Bethany and Will strolled the boardwalk. The only difference was the musical act, and maybe 10 years of age.

Bethany and Will laughed as they stopped around the same place where Will had kissed her for the first time. Memories flooded both them.

This time, Bethany spoke up first.

“I have something to tell you.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m pregnant.”

Bethany smiled and her eyes filled with tears as she watched Will’s face.

“Really?”

“Yes, really. I took a test this morning. I didn’t think it was true, but it is.”

Will wanted to pick her up and spin her around, but he just kissed her.

The stars and fireworks Bethany had felt 10 years earlier, on that boardwalk on a September Saturday, were still there. And now, they were starting another chapter.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #180: Nine Years

True Love

Image Credit: TheloveBits

I love writing these “dating anniversary” posts every year!


Today, Al and I celebrate nine years together!

Here are nine photos that are special to me.

June 2014: One of six weddings we celebrated that year. This was taken at April and Steven’s wedding reception.

December 2014: Al’s first company Christmas party! I loved that dress so much!

Our first Tidewater Comic-Con!

November 2015: I will always share wedding photos.

November 2015: One of our many honeymoon photos.

December 2015: Cheesin’ with my new iPhone.

December 2015: Taken at lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

December 2018: The day we adopted Phineas and Ferb!

August 2019: My birthday party at Circuit Social!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂