Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Allow me to recap the last year of my life...

“Let your hope make you glad, be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.” - Romans 12:12

It has been 14 months since we were initially put on the waiting list.  One would think that after the last year of ups and down we have faced in our adoption, that I would be a knotted-up ball of stress and anxiety.  Without God, I probably would have been.  

The Lord has a way of always making everything okay.  Rhyme unintended, by the way.  Last year when we were put on the waiting list, we were informed that we would be waiting 12-15 months for a referral.  Next month will be 15 months, and we are only in the 60’s on the list.  By default, I would normally be very discouraged by now.  Fortunately - and by divine design, no doubt - the last year has been very eventful for me despite the lack of events regarding the adoption.  

I had a baby.

I became pregnant early last year a few months before we were added to the list.  This was amazing news to us!  We had been ready to be parents since 2012 when we started the adoption!  Because the adoption was already taking much longer than anticipated, we celebrated the new life that was growing inside me with our whole hearts.  But sadly, that sweet little babe was not meant to be.

We lost our first baby in April of 2013 at ten weeks.  Of course it was too early to know, but we had a feeling he was a boy.  And so we named him Matthew.  We had a star named after him and laid him to rest among the heavens.

The next few months were hard for me, but my sadness became interwoven with joy once again.  I discovered I was pregnant again in June.  It took a long time for me to overcome my grief from losing Matthew, and so I had a hard time being excited at first.  Not only was I still sorrowful, but I was also afraid of losing the new precious life in the same way I had lost the first one.  I didn’t want to let myself get too attached to this baby if I was only going to lose it too.  (the mind of one in grief doesn’t always think clearly, as I’m sure you understand).

Eventually with time and several doctor appointments that confirmed a healthy, growing baby, I was able to allow myself some joy.  A few months into my pregnancy, I took about two days to really reflect on my circumstances.  With my husband and my mom, I let out all of my held in feelings surrounding the loss of Matthew, and then I decided to let him go.  After those two days, I was a changed woman.  I became an excited, healthy, and happy pregnant mother!  I was finally able to bond with my little one.  Then in September, we found out he was a boy.  

The rest of my pregnancy was amazing.  I never had any major health issues or complications.  Aside from the fact that our baby was macrocosmic (large), everything went great.  Because of the size of our baby and a few other considerations, we had to deliver him via c-section.  Jesse Canaan Gerrald was born on January 30, 2014!  And life since then has been so awesome.

He is the most amazing thing.  I can’t even tell you… it’s just too overwhelming.  I know every mother reading this right now knows exactly what I’m failing to put into words.  He has brought so much light into my world it’s shooting out my fingers and toes and the ends of my hair!  Yeah, you know what I did there.

Aside from the initial sadness, my past year has been so happily eventful that I haven’t had time to worry or stress out about the adoption.  (Yes, we are still adopting even though we have had a biological child)

When we made the decision to adopt, it was not because of infertility or any pregnancy-related issues, as many probably assume.  The reason we chose to adopt is simple.  We have been adopted by God, and we are called to do the same.  I will write a whole blog post at a later time explaining our reason for adopting.

I will briefly give an update on the status of our adoption.  Everything was going great last summer.  We were moving down the list at hyper speed!  Our agency was giving out 11, 14, 18 referrals a month!  It was going so well that at one point, we thought we might end up with twins!  But things swiftly shifted.

Due to political controversy in Ethiopia, referrals came to a screeching halt in October 2013.  I will not go into the details of all of this, and frankly I don’t quite understand it all myself.  We didn’t know what was going on at the time.  Our agency kept us updated as much as they could, but even they didn’t quite know the reason for the hold up.  Month by month went by with no word on the reason for the standstill or when it would pick up again.  There were even rumors floating around that Ethiopia was planning on shutting down their international adoptions.  (emotional roller coaster for this -then pregnant- girl!)  Finally early this year we began to get some answers, which can only be summed up simply as “political controversy.”  As I said, I will not try to explain it to you.  But we received answer enough to put us at ease a bit and give us some hope.

You see, when it comes to adoption - particularly internationally - there is always the chance that something could suddenly come up and shut everything down.  It happens to so many families.  When you’re dealing with foreign governments, there is always risk involved.  We knew this going in, but we also knew that it was worth the risk.  If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it, as they say.  This is where Romans 12:12 comes in.  “Let your hope make you glad, be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.”  Never stop praying.

We didn’t stop praying.  We prayed alongside other families adopting from Ethiopia, and never lost hope.  And I am very glad to inform you that for the first time since October, our agency placed four children with their forever families in May!  It seems that the government has gotten over whatever was causing all of their drama, and things are now moving once again.  I can’t shout this loud enough:  PRAISE THE LORD!

Through all of the unknowns since October, I’ve managed to keep it all together.  Even if that meant putting the adoption out of my mind completely, that’s what I did.  I knew there was a reason the adoption had taken such a long time up to that point, there was a reason that God allowed me to become pregnant, and there was a reason for the political unrest in Ethiopia.  I still trust that everything is moving right along in God’s time.  In the meantime, I have a beautiful baby boy to enjoy.  

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait
And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thou Shalt Be Updated

Hello everyone!  Thou shalt be updated!

I will start with our recent fundraiser.  We had a garage sale a few weeks back.  It took me a week of working on it because so many wonderful people donated so much stuff.  It all took up an entire bedroom and most of my garage to store.  The sale went amazing!  We spent time praying for the success of our sale and were definitely blessed!  The amount left on our adoption home study bill that was due was $1600.  And guess how much our garage sale brought in?  Exactly $1600.  God moment?  I'd definitely say so!

Another fundraiser was hosted by the amazing Lauren Pinson.  She offered mini photography sessions with the proceeds going to our adoption fund.  I'd like to thank her and also Heather Peterson for participating!  Lauren took some pictures of us for advertisement, some of which are shown below!

The best news we have is that we are now officially on the waiting list!  As of the first of April, we are number 107 on the list!  We're expecting a long wait though, as only four referrals were made in March.  But the pains of the paperwork are behind us now, and all there is to do is... wait.

Not much else has happened, and I assume I will not have much to update you on in the next year or longer... so I will try to keep up with the blog with thoughts and random things that may not even have anything to do with adoption.  But I promise it will be interesting!

Have a great day!

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Long Awaited Update

I know it has been a very long time since I've updated you guys.  This is partly because very few major things have happened, and partly because I've been kind of depressed about the whole thing lately that I just didn't feel up to writing about the things that have happened.

When we initially applied for adoption, the entire process was estimated to be 5-9 months.  Well since then Ethiopia has shut down several orphanages that our agency partnered with, and therefore has lessened the number of children available in the program.  Ethiopia has also expanded the background checks on the children, also making things longer.  So at this point we are estimated to be a year and a half away from bringing home our baby.  Which, if that estimation is correct, means that the 5-9 months has turned into 2 years.  So I guess you can understand how that would make me depressed :)

I am trying not to be down about it.  I know that the timing is all up to God and that there must be a reason for the lengthened process.  But still, it's hard to refrain from being unmotivated about it all.  But I'm trying!

So here's what has happened:

We sent in our I-600A,  (This form is used by a U.S. citizen who plans to adopt a foreign-born child and enables USCIS to adjudicate the application that relates to the qualifications of the applicant(s) as prospective adoptive parent(s).)  went to our biometrics appointment at the Immigration Office in Dallas to be fingerprinted, and received our approval in the mail a few weeks ago.  Our dossier is completely compiled and ready to go.  We just have to pay the next payment before our agency can send our dossier packet to Ethiopia.  After that is sent, then begins the 12-15 month wait for a referral.  (to be matched with a child).

So there is a quick update just so everyone knows where we stand.  Our next fundraiser is another garage sale in March.  We have yet to pick a date, but we have a TON of stuff.  All the stuff is taking up our entire baby room right now haha.  So we're looking forward to that.  Continued prayers are appreciated!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Sweat

The home study interviews went great!  My Spanish professor's mother is our social worker, and she came by our house Sept. 10th and 11th.  The visit was much less invasive than I was expecting.  From what I'd read and been told, I knew not to worry or be nervous about it.  But I also expected to be emotionally violated lol.  We must have just had an easy social worker, because we didn't feel violated at all.  I'm so glad I didn't fret about it and super clean every inch of the house!  I just cleaned the house the way I would if we were to have company over... and it's going in the report that my housekeeping standards are excellent.  =D

I received the rough draft of the report so that we could look over it and change anything if we wanted.  It's great!  Now we're just waiting for the Stephen's Missouri background check clearance, and then we can submit our home study!  Should be within the month!

I will update with more details a little later when I've got more time.  I just wanted to give y'all a little update.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prayers to Ethiopia... from a Teenage Heart

I know. It has been months since my last update. I am sorry! Life has just been crazy! I will try to get you up to speed as best I can. Brace yourself... It might be quite long!

Several months ago, God threw a slight course change at us. It looked like He was leading us to move! (just houses, not towns) We had not planned on or even considered the possibility until the option was just sat in front of us. A friend of ours was moving out of state, and looking for someone to buy her house, which is located smack dab in the middle of town. At the time, we were living in the country about 15 minutes out of town.  We loved the country, but it was getting very inconvenient. We basically spent all our time in town, and were making 5 or more trips back and forth every day between the two of us. It was getting expensive and tiring! So when the option came up to move to town, we kind of jumped on it.

The house was perfect. It was located in a quiet neighborhood under lots of tree coverage. It sat right off the main road, but was in such a spot that it didn't get much traffic or noise. 3 bedroom, 2 bath: perfect for our growing family. Big fenced backyard: also perfect. Open floor plan: a MUST for me. Sun room, nice kitchen, 2 car garage... And the list goes on. But the best part is that it had been recently completely remodeled. Everything was brand new! I had said that if we ever moved to a new house, it would not be a fixer-upper. I just don't have the time or desire to deal with that! And alas, the price was amazing. So basically... We were sold. Of course we prayed about it a lot, and everything pointed to the new house.  But the real SIGN came up while talking to the seller.  Her daughter had been on a mission trip to Ethiopia in the last year, and had gained a great compassion for the people there.  Our friend said (referring to her daughter's bedroom), "I guarantee you, a whole lot of prayers for Africa have gone up from that room."  Once again... Sold.

We moved almost immediately! We've been there for about 3 months now, and have absolutely LOVED it. I can already see some of God's reasons behind moving us. It's amazing how God will lead your life when you let him drive.  Oh, and I like to think that while our friend's daughter was praying for Ethiopia, she was unknowingly praying for our future baby... who would someday live in her bedroom :)

SO! The point of all this! We had to put our adoption on hold for a little bit. Since we moved locations, our homestudy had to be pushed back. Now that we are settled in and life is somewhat back to normal, we've officially started the process again. We should have a date for our home visit within the next few weeks!

At first, I was really sad about postponing our adoption. I just want to get it done as fast as possible! But God's timing often doesn't mesh with ours. I soon realized there was a reason for our wait. I like to think that God didn't plan on having our child conceived just yet, and therefore slowed down our process in order to wait for him/her! We praise God for His meticulous planning and timing.

Just to throw in some more craziness that's been going on. A little before we heard about the house, I was informed that my bank's branch was being shut down. I was gonna lose my job in September. Well when we got the news we were moving we decided for me to go ahead and quit so that I could spend time packing and unpacking. So my last day was the exact day we signed on the house. I just keep being in awe of the big guy's timing!

Oh, and we got a puppy whose name is Maeby.

Well that gives you a small look into the goings on of the Gerralds! At least the big goings on. Please keep praying for us and our journey to our baby!!!

Love you all.

--- I'd like to shout out to my "cousins", Jason and Kate Clayton, who will soon be heading to Taiwan to bring home their baby boy.  I have enjoyed her store, The Adopt Shoppe, which they have used as a fundraiser to bring them to Mia and Maddox.  Although I will miss buying Kate's beautiful jewelry, I'm so happy that her store was such a success to help aid their journey to their children!  She will be closing her store on August 25, 2012, so make sure you go buy out the rest of her inventory before then!  {I already bought my last two pieces, as pictured below} Congrats and God speed to these wonderful friends!  --Keep up with the Clayton's here: Kate's Blog


P.S. There is a problem with my fundraising website... the link to which is on the side of my blog.  I will let you know when I get it fixed!

Friday, May 4, 2012

God always sends a blessing...

I promised on Facebook I would blog about my good news!

Thursday morning I got suddenly sick.  I was so sick that I decided I needed to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic... I was just SURE I had an infection.  ... (ok so far it doesn't sound like "good news" but I promise it is!) ...  So in order to get in to see the doctor I had to neglect my afternoon shift at the bank.  -which I'm sorry to my co-workers... I heard it was a very busy day!-  So.  The doctor visit.  Lo! and behold! no infection.  The doctor didn't know what was wrong with me and chalked it up to allergies.  mmhmm -__-    It sure felt like I was dying... I don't think allergies do that.  Well anyway, I digress...

I spent three hours at the doctor's office waiting, seeing the dr., getting blood tests done, waiting on results, seeing the dr. again, yada yada yada.  It was late by the time I was out of there... and I was very depressed because I felt like it was a complete waste of my day.  I went to the Dollar Tree to get some necessities before going home.  This is where the story starts getting good :)

I sat in my car getting ready to head home, but then something stopped me.  I'm not sure what inclined me to do what came next.  Let me preface this by saying that all of my communication with our adoption coordinator up to this point had been completely done by email.  (I know that's weird, but I'm just weird and really hate talking on the phone, so I usually avoid it at all costs... idk why) ANYWAY!  I was hit with the urge to call my coordinator.  So, I did... there in the Dollar Tree parking lot.  She was excited to hear from me and we just discussed where we were at in the process, what comes next, what we need to do, etc.  I mentioned in my previous post about what we need to do next... come up with $5000.  We spent some time discussing grant options, how we could not receive our dossier packet until the payment was made, and how we could not apply for a grant until the home study was approved. This payment has the potential to hold up our process for several months... which can be so long during an adoption!  I was feeling so grim over it all.

God always sends a blessing, even something so simple.  My coordinator paused during the conversation and said, "We always require the $5000 payment to be made before we will release the dossier packet.  But you know, we've been working together on this for months, and I know you and your husband are very passionate about adopting and have planned this for a long time.  I'm going to go ahead and send you the dossier packet.  I hope I don't get in trouble for this, but I just feel like there's a reason you're meant to have this packet today.  You'll still need to make the payment, but I won't make you wait until then to receive the documents you need."

By the end of the day on Thursday, all the sick symptoms I was having earlier were gone.  Every decision I made that day eventually brought me to that spot, at that exact time.  Getting sick, missing work, spending three hours at the doctor... it all brought me to a specific point where I never would have been had I been healthy that day.  I called at the right time, and caught my coordinator at just the right time.  This is the second time in my life that I've been thankful to God for "striking" me with an illness lol.  I owe this random happen-stance of events to God and His meticulous planning.  However mischievous it may be.  I like to think that God can be mischievous at times :)  Sometimes our senses of humor even merge.

It may seem like such a simple thing to make me so overly jubilant.  But through the adoption journey, the smallest blessing from God can be the largest source of joy.  They remind us that He is writing our story.  Suddenly our path doesn't seem so long... our destination not so far away.

* Dossier packet - Includes a list of all documents that you have to chase down and have notarized and authenticated, US Embassy info, Power of Attorney, and a lot of other very important stuff!  By having this packet during the home study, we can be finished with it by the time the home study is complete.  Which means we can "skip" several months of the adoption process.  Quite important to have.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This is the dream, and it is possible...

More good news!  Our application to West Sands has been approved!  Our focus is now on the home study.

Gathering the paperwork is taking a little bit longer than I expected, due to some setbacks... but it really should be soon that we will be able to send in our home study packet.  After it's all sent in, we can have our interviews with our social worker.

I've been gathering the documents I can for the dossier at the same time...  but there are quite a few documents that we're unable to get until we come up with our next payment of $5000.  Our plan is to apply for grants and interest-free adoption loans, but we are unable to apply until our home study is complete (which is about 3 months away).  So we're doing what we can right now to save all the money possible.  Without the next payment, it will put us several months behind.  BUT!  We're not worried!  We know God will provide the money in His time.

Speaking of... We have a fundraiser planned for May 18 & 19.  We're having a garage sale at the pavilion by the storage garage in Reno.  If you have anything you would like to add to our garage sale... please let me know!  The more stuff, the better!

Thank you for reading and keeping up with our journey!  More updates to come!

“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”  - Katie Davis

Home Study