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


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stepping out onto the water...

After many months of researching my brains out, I have an amazing announcement!  My husband and I are officially adopting from Ethiopia through the agency West Sands Adoptions!  They operate out of Utah, and were one of the very first agencies licensed in Ethiopia.  We have had a great experience with our coordinator so far.  She's been very helpful and patient with us through all of our many questions and concerns.  I did extensive background checks on the agency and checked all the references I could find.  Considering all I discovered and all the prayers, everything points to WSA as GREEN for GO!  WSA estimates that the entire process from application to the "gotcha day" takes about a year.

So!  Application is filled out.  Contracts are signed and notarized.  We are just waiting approval at this point.

In the meantime!...

While talking to my Spanish professor, who previously adopted a little boy from Vietnam, I found out that her mother is a social worker for an agency that conducts home studies in our area.  That's convenient!  It gets better though.  This agency happens to be the exact same agency used by the only other couple we've found in Paris who adopted from Ethiopia.  Now it's very convenient!  So I contacted Lutheran Social Services to start the process.  We have received the home study packet in the mail and have begun to collect the paperwork required.  Once we finish all the paperwork (which should be next week) we'll get that sent in and set a date for our social worker (my professor's mom!) to visit us at our house!  The whole home study process is estimated to take a few months to complete.  During that time we can begin to collect the massive amount of paperwork and documents required to turn in our dossier.  Hopefully we will have our dossier compiled by the time our home study is approved, and can get the adoption process rolling!

While it is my intention to keep our family and friends up to date with our adoption, I would also like to inform others of what it's like on the inside of international adoption.  Maybe you're just curious about the process, or maybe you are contemplating being a part of the adoption journey yourself.  Whatever the case, I would love to make it easy for you to learn more about it.  As a start, I have highlighted certain words and phrases that are important to know concerning international adoption.  I'll provide corresponding links at the bottom of my post for you to reference if you're interested. :)

Thank you so much for reading my blog and for your continued support/prayers!  I love each and every one of you!

“I don't always know where this life is going. I can't see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter getting out of the boat, stepping out onto the water with complete faith that Jesus will not let him drown.”  - Katie Davis  (Amazima Ministries)

 West Sands Adoptions

Gotcha Day

Home Study

Lutheran Social Services


Thursday, February 16, 2012

In the words of Katie...

I may have found our agency!  I'm still researching the reputation and reviews, but it's looking pretty good.  I know, I keep saying that... and it keeps falling through.  But you can't afford not to hope a little in this process.  Especially now that I have been obsessed with searching for the agency that can take it over from here... I'm feeling overwhelmed and tired of research!  My heart needs some peace!

The organization I mentioned in my last post did give us some agency options... but none of them were for us.  People just don't trust a 21 year old to adopt!  I spoke with an agency this morning that I found on my own... they are willing to make an exception in our case because of these reasons:  1) Stephen is over 25.  2) We've been married long enough to be considered a stable family.  3) Our reason for adopting.  All of those things persuaded the Ethiopian representative to make an exception!  (It's the country's desire that says both parents should be over 25)  And yes!.. Ethiopia is the country we feel tugged towards the strongest!

This is a crazy time filled with wondering what path God will lead us down, and trying to have the patience to know it is happening in HIS time.  In this regard, I have gained inspiration from Katie.

I have been so inspired by Katie Davis and her willingness to let God lead her life, that I have been collecting quotes from her.  I think I will start adding a Katie Quote to the end of all my blog posts.  Maybe you will find her words as inspiring as I have.

Katie Quotes

The powerless, broken, dependent place was actually the place where the Lord was closest to me.

I feel powerless, broken and dependent right about now, but 2 Cor 12:9-10 covers this area pretty well. :)

Every morning, as I wake up with some impossible task in front of me, I know that God will meet it with impossible strength and love.

The task of finding an ethical agency is an impossible task... but God will provide.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Little Hope!

A lot has happened in the past few days!  I will rewind a little bit...

A few days ago I thought we had found our agency.  I had done a bunch of research, which all turned up very positively.  We were about ready to decide to send in our application when I had a thought... have I been praying enough?  The answer?  No.  I know you cannot adopt a child without praying every step of the way and expect to come up with good results.  I don't know what was keeping me from it.  I guess it was just the excitement and obsessiveness of it all that I got distracted from the point.  The point of our adoption is to glorify God... so why wasn't He being consulted more?

The next morning before I even opened my eyes, I prayed.  "Stephen and I have decided to start the process with this agency.  If it is not your will, then please block it."  And guess what happened?

I contacted my coordinator with our decision, and she threw a blockade into the mix.  The information we were given about the age of the children available was wrong.  There are only older children available now.  God gave us His opinion.  Pretty loudly.  LOL

As soon as we realized we could no longer move forward with this agency, we prayed that God lead us to the right one.  I called my mom today to tell her about the sad news, and she mentioned I should look at Katie Davis' ministry Amazima to see if the website had any adoption resources.  Great idea!

From there it lead me to a website of a not-for-profit Christian adoption organization helping families at the beginning stages of adoption.  Their program saves time, money, and headaches for couples interested in adoption – all at no cost.  They provide a list of agencies that are ethical, experienced and financially stable for the specific adoption program we choose.  They can provide a list of home study providers around our area.  They provide resources on how to fund adoptions.  They basically make the adoption process less complicated and overwhelming.  This made me feel SO MUCH better!  There is soooo much information to weed through and it was all overwhelming me tremendously... and then depressing me when something fell through.  I believe this program will help us so much.  I've just kept saying, "Why can't someone just tell us to use THIS agency???"  Hopefully this organization will help us weed through all the ridiculous stuff!  I'm so thankful God showed it to us!

So I will keep you all posted on how this goes!  Thanks for reading and keeping up with our journey!  (and the prayers, too!)

Side note:

It's possible that our baby has already been conceived and is growing in his mother's belly right now.  Please pray for our baby's health and the health of the birth mother!  I pray God blesses the two of them immensely.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

If you're here, you are awesome!

Welcome to my new blog!  My name is Mandy.  My main reason for creating this blog is to keep a record of my upcoming adoption!  I would also like to get the word out about what it takes to be crazy enough to change the world!

Where my husband and I are at in our adoption process:

We've decided to adopt from Africa!

... that's about all we know haha.  We have a few agencies we are currently researching.  It looks like we are leaning towards the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Uganda.  We are not going to specify gender.  We want whoever the Lord has planned for us!

Please stay tuned for my updates throughout the process!  It will an amazing journey into parenthood, and we are so excited about this decision we have made to save a child's life!  Please pray for us as we take this giant leap of faith!  Please also pray for God to lead us to the child He's intending for us, and for the safety of him or her while living in the poverty of Africa.

I can hardly wait to hold my child in my arms and to tell them, "God has great plans for you."