Welcome to our blog! We've had lots of people asking us to keep them posted on all the adoption happenings, so I decided to make a blog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We're home!

We've been home for over a month now. It's actually almost been 6 weeks home, so give us another week and we will have been home longer than I was in Congo!

We left for DRC the day after Thanksgiving, making an overnight stop in Washington DC, and another stop in Ethiopia on the way there. I wrote a couple of journal entries while I was there (and by a couple, I mean... 2 I wrote 2), one about the first day there and one about spending Christmas there. Not sure if I'll ever publish those, but I wrote them for me and Emily to have later. I posted a lot while I was there on Facebook.

Our 2nd day with Emily 

I honestly, really REALLY enjoyed my first 4 weeks in Congo. The first week there was rough with Emily, she was adjusting and testing boundaries. We had a lot of melt downs and we worked on setting boundaries, and establishing trust. Right now, she's adjusting VERY well, but it was rough the first week. She learned to open up and trust me, and at the end of the week, we said goodbye to Andrew and he came back to the States to go back to work and spend some time with our other girls back at home, inbetween their stays with their grandparents house.
Saying goodbye to Daddy

After the first week, things really started to turn around. The tantrums lessened, Emily opened up a lot and started playing with the other kids at the hotel. We were able to get out some- we went to see the bonobos (apes, local to DRC), we went shopping for souvenirs with an amazing missionary that lives there, we spent a lot of time sitting around St. Anne's (because, really... that's all there is to do there!).

my FAVORITE picture from my stay there

Like I said, I really enjoyed my first 4 weeks there, maybe even 5 (which included Christmas). There was a lot of waiting, there were a lot of stressful days. But then, there was the time spent bonding with Emily, and time spent making new friends. I will forever cherish the friends I made during those 6 weeks. 

Some of the friends that I knew, via Facebook, before coming 

 Emily's BFF for 3 weeks

Some more friends, they spent LOTS of time together!

After the 1st two weeks there, when I was still waiting on Emily's passport, I knew that it would be a REALLY long shot to make our original flight home, so I started making my peace with spending Christmas in Congo. Andrew and I had a plan in place already for how to handle Christmas, so one night of crying over missing Christmas, and I got over it. I actually had a great Christmas there, and a lot of special memories made. 

Christmas in Congo

We spent Christmas Eve with the other adoptive families "stuck" there. We had a dinner in another mom's room, made on hot plates, and then broke out some candles (bought on the street of course), and sang some Christmas carols. It was a sweet night. And the next morning the same missionary that took us shopping (I ended up going several times over the course of my stay there) came (actually, her husband came) and picked everyone up to take us to the Christmas party they were hosting. 

The last week and 1/2 there was HARD. I had packed (completely) twice, ready to rush to the airport if I received word my paperwork was ready. Twice, it didn't happen... and I was devastated. Then airfare got crazy with the new year and ticket prices jumped to crazy numbers, there weren't any seats with our airline for weeks. I was devastated again. Every day my exit letter didn't come, I was devastated. I clung to a few key verses in the Bible and leaned hard on the support of friends and family back home. 
There were a couple days that I spent a lot of time alone because the group of friends I had made all went home. Fortunately when my papers didn't come and I was stuck there another week and 1/2 I got to know the "new" group of families and they were amazing. I definitely couldn't have made it the last week without them to sit around and complain to ;) 
I was with them at a restaurant when I FINALLY got the exit letter. Cheers all around!

The coveted paperwork

And they were all down in the lobby to see us off, even the ones that were suppose to be on that flight, but had to cancel because they didn't get their letter. Not fun... I said goodbye from my room (with it packed up, ready to go) when that happened to me... and cried. 

Bye Congo!!!

My experience in Congo is one I will never forget. It's such a strange feeling... now that I'm home, I miss Congo. Like crazy. How many times I spent there in prayer and tears yearning to be home, and now I look back and get teary eyed thinking about Congo. I miss the people, I miss the community, I miss the simple life. No rush to get anywhere (most of the time). I just miss it. I definitely left a piece of my heart in Kinshasa. 

I really meant to update people on how Emily is doing now that she's home, but I've now spent too much time writing and it's getting late. Maybe I'll update the blog again, I'm terrible at it and do MUCH better updating my Facebook... much less of a time commitment! Short story is- Emily is doing GREAT. Her sisters love her, and they all get along great. We didn't really do the whole cacooning thing, we had 6 1/2 weeks of forced cacooning in Congo ;) It worked for us, and she's doing so, so well. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Cocoon

For those of you in the adoption community, you don't even need to read this post. You know, just by reading the title, what this post is. But, for those of you who aren't familiar... this is for you. It's really to write and inform everyone who is local what our plan is when we are all home.
Cocooning is a practice in the adoption community of bonding after you return home with your new child. Cocooning is when you stay at home with limited contact with the "outside" world for a while. Our plan right now is to play it by ear. We will be staying at home for as long as we can and as much as we can. We'll be getting home mid-December, so that is a hard time to do that. If Emily has a hard time adjusting to her new life, Christmas activities take a back burner.

While we know everyone is dying to meet her (right now, me included!), and I promise you will meet her. Eventually we'll be back at church, we'll be back to "normal" life. But it may take time. For the first few weeks and maybe months, we won't be having people to our house. We welcome meals and that sort of thing, but don't be offended if we don't ask you to come in.

What's the point of doing this? For the past 2 1/2 (or possibly more if they estimated her age incorrectly), Emily has had a lot of care givers. She has turned to any adult near her to receive food, nurture, safety, love... all of her needs were met by whoever she could get them met by first. So to teach her that Andrew and I are her parents, we're forever... we're not leaving, this is what we have to do. We aren't going to let any one else care for her, hold her, feed her, etc. until she KNOWS that we are her's... for keeps.

This "rule" includes all family that isn't Andrew and I. We will introduce the idea of grandparents and aunts/uncles while we're still in Congo, but we want her to know that WE are her parents, not everyone else. This may get tricky with it being the Christmas season. We may miss out on some events/get-togethers. Right now there's no way to know. She may fit right in and go along perfectly with everything. Or she may have a really hard time with everything, and we may just celebrate Christmas at our house with our new family of 5. We just have to play it by ear and see how it goes.

Everyone please be sensitive, that while we are over the moon excited to bring her home, this will be scary for her. She is going through an enormous amount of loss, she is being taken away from everything she knows and being thrown into a world that is completely different. New faces, new language, new sounds, new living space, and a new family... scary for a 2 year old! We just want to do everything in our power to make it easier on her and help her bond with us. Thank you so much for understanding and helping us with that!

With ALL of that said, all of this really doesn't start until we are HOME, which means... we'd love to see anyone and everyone who wants to make the trip when we arrive at the airport. I'll be updating as often as I can through our private Facebook group and I will post our return flight information as soon as I know for sure that we're going to make our original flight. Right now we're hopeful that I'll be returning on December 9th (after getting on the plane on Dec. 8th), so pencil us in ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things are moving quickly!

I haven't been very good at updating the blog recently. We created a private Facebook group and have been posting on that with more frequent updates.

Last week we got some great news, we passed court! This means that in 30 days (well 25 now!) we'll legally, in the eyes of DRC, be Emily's parents! Our facilitator and lawyer are working on the next steps on their end and our main job right now is waiting. Seriously... waiting is ROUGH. For those of you who have been pregnant, imagine that this is week 32-34 of your pregnancy... READY to be done and have your child. Except, you don't have the reassurance of the child being nice, safe and comfy in the womb. They are instead on the other side of the world, getting 1 meal a day, don't have a bed to sleep in, and no one to love on them. In my professional opinion... it sucks.

But we do have some things to check off the to do list while we wait, which helps. We're in the middle of an auction to raise money, next Friday night we're hosting a Parent's Night Out. The last weekend in September my awesome friends are throwing me a baby shower to help me raise money. They are awesome. I'm blessed with a few groups of great friends and hopefully this will be a fun afternoon to have them all in one place celebrating Emily! :) At the end of the month I'm also participating in a craft show to raise money and next month I'm *hosting* a craft show to raise money... so, lots going on!

A couple other things on my to do list- vaccines, paperwork, preparing to pack and finishing touches of Emily's room.

Our facilitator says I could travel in 6 weeks or sooner if things go REALLY well, so keep praying things go smoothly. So excited to have Emily home soon!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Upcoming Fundraisers

We have a ton of fundraisers coming up! It's seriously crunch time. We've got about 3 months (prayerfully!) until I travel and that doesn't leave much time for fundraisers. We've got about 5 fundraisers planned.

On September 5th I'll be dropping off a bunch of great things off at a local consignment sale. I've received some generous donations from a few people of children's clothes they were no longer using, and I've been busy sorting, hanging and tagging all of those things.

On September 10th I will kick off our 3rd Facebook Adoption Auction. The donations have been rolling in and I've got a ton of GREAT stuff to auction! We could always use more though, so don't be shy about donating :) A HUGE thank you to those who have already donated!

On September 21st (a Friday) from 6-9pm we'll be hosting a Parents' Night Out. For $10 per child you can bring your child (ages 2 months & up) and have a date night while supporting a good cause. The children will need to eat before being dropped off. We are using the children's space of Connect Rome in the mall for this event.

On September 29th Floyd Hospital is hosting a craft fair I will be participating in. If you'd like to see any of the things I've been selling on Facebook in person, come check it out! It's September 29th from 9am to 5pm  at Harbin Clinic, Tony E. Warren, MD Cancer Center- 255 West Fifth Street.

On October 13th from 10am-2pm we are hosting a craft fair at Connect Rome in the mall. If you're interested in participating it is $25 for a table plus a donation for our raffle. You will keep all of your profit. If you're interested in participating, you can email me- saragentry@gmail.com or send me a message on Facebook.

We're also still selling tshirts and all the other things listed on the Facebook album, so feel free to keep ordering that in the meantime.

More than anything, we could really use your prayers that these fundraisers go well. We're still a long way from where we need to be. And time is ticking away. 3 months seems like a long time when I think about my little girl sitting in an orphanage, but when I think about the money aspect, it seems like a short time!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Updates and the Facebook Group

Hello all! I haven't had much to update about in the last month or so, but recently there's been a few big decisions made that I wanted to let everyone in on.

First, I'd like to let everyone know that we started a private Facebook group to keep everyone posted on the adoption. It's completely private, so it allows for a little bit more disclosure than we're giving on our public Facebook accounts and the blog. If you'd like to be added to the group, please don't hesitate to ask. When I made it I only added family, so if you want in, you have to ask! We want to make sure everyone who wants to stay updated is updated, but if you only want to know the BIG things, you can stick with regular facebook and the blog :)

Another update on the fundraising front- we currently have a couple fundraisers going on. I'm making custom framed "lists", they range from $5-10, so if you're interested in one of those, let me know. I have some samples pictured on my facebook, but will be cranking some more out soon! We are also still selling tshirts for $15. Here's what our shirts look like- there are lots of tshirt color options, with a white, handpainted Africa and a heart over Congo. You can comment here to order or message me on Facebook!

On September 10th we'll kick off another big fundraiser- our 3rd (and final!) Facebook auction. If you have anything you'd like to sell (a service you offer, a product you sell, something you make, etc.), let me know! We've got a great list of stuff growing, but can always use more!

And last one, we're currently encouraging everyone to save their change. We've been putting all our change into a milk jug and every month or so we cash it in to our bank where we have our adoption account. On the night of September 8th we're having a "change drop off" (location TBA) and would love to fill that milk jug up and maybe have to start a new one! If you work somewhere that would allow you to put out a change jar, here's a sign you can use (or feel free to make your own)-

On to the update...
Over the last month I've been thinking and praying about traveling early to Congo. The normal timeline for adoptive families goes like this (a few smaller steps are left out to make it easier to understand):
-pass court
-submit I600 to US
-receive approval from US
-apply for child's visa
-travel (you'll be there for about 7-10 days)

If you travel early it looks like this:
-pass court
-submit I600 to Congo and apply for child's visa
-wait (you'll be there for about 3-5 weeks)

The reasoning behind wanting to travel early is that it cuts 2+ months off of the total wait time to bring Emily home. This may not seem like a "good enough" reason to stay in Congo for so long to some people, but to us we can't get her home soon enough.
The biggest negative is that Andrew can't take this much time off of work, so he won't be going. He could go for a week or so, but since I'll have to be alone for so long anyway, we're just biting the bullet and I'm going by myself. This will save us over $2,000... airfare, extra food, extra visa, extra vaccines... 

This is our perspective- we have a child that is alone, in terrible conditions, and she doesn't even know that we're here. She doesn't know she has a family that loves her and is doing everything possible to get to her. When I leave, it will break my heart to have to leave Alexis and Kaitlyn, but they'll be fine. They'll have plenty to eat, they'll have more than enough toys to play with, they'll be with people that love them and care about them, they'll get tucked into a bed every night, and they'll know (even if they have to be reminded) that they have a mommy that loves them that will be home soon. Emily doesn't have any of that. And we have the ability to make that a reality just a *little* bit sooner, so we're doing it. 

Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this. We still have what seems like FOREVER to go until it will be time to travel. We are hoping to go to court (our lawyer will do this for us) soon and then after that we'll have to wait 30 days for CONA (Certificate of non-appeal). After we get this, Emily will officially be a Gentry in the eyes of the Congolese government! Praying everything with court goes smoothly. Your prayers are SO appreciated!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Alexis!

It's my oldest daughter's 4th birthday today, Happy Birthday Alexis!!!!

This morning I "interviewed" her (thank Pinterest! ;) )

  1. What’s your name? Alexis!
  2. How old are you? 4
  3. What makes you happy? um... playing games
  4. What makes you sad? um... in the dark
  5. What is your favorite color? pink and purple
  6. What is your favorite toy? um.... *scratching head* my favorite toy is the bath toys
  7. What is your favorite thing to do? make necklaces
  8. What is your favorite tv show? Veggie Tales
  9. What is your favorite thing to eat? noodles
  10. What is your favorite outfit? this outfit! (pointing to her outfit of a tiedied pink/purple shirt and purple leggings)
  11. What is your favorite game? um, the slide game. What’s the slide game? Shoots and Ladders? uh huh! Shoots and Ladders
  12. What are you really good at? um....... matching cards
  13. What do you and Mommy do together? um, clean the dishes sometimes. We just do that sometimes.
  14. What do you and Daddy do together? play games
  15. Where is your favorite place to go? um... Ihop (where we’re going for breakfast)
  16. What is your favorite animal? um... giraffes
  17. What is your favorite song? Rainbows (Rainbow Connection)
  18. What is your favorite book? Daddy’s Girl
  19. Who is your best friend? Mary-Jane!
  20. What is your favorite drink? Coke (for the record she doesn’t have Coke except maybe a sip of our’s here and there)
  21. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? um.... blankey. My blankey.
  22. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? um... *hitting face* a sandwich!
  23. What do you want to be when you grow up? um, a cupcake maker
  24. What would you do if you had a million dollars? um, buy stuff
  25. What do you think will be the best thing about being 4? um.......... doing tricks

Love that little girl!

And just in case your wondering... she had a rainbow art party, and she helped decorate the cake. The inside was a Pinterest project!

Monday, July 16, 2012


We have a new referral!!!! I'd like everyone to meet Mima. She's 2 years old and A-DORABLE.

We won't know until the end of July/first of August "exactly" how old she is (what side of 2). Our facilitator is traveling for the month of July, and she doesn't trust her assistant to do age evaluations, so she will let us know soon. 

We are planning on changing her name, but keeping Mima as her middle name. Andrew and I don't have very similar taste in baby names and this is the third girls' name we've had to come up with! Right now the choices are Hannah, Natalie, and Michelle. I really like Abigail, but Andrew doesn't like it unless we can call her Abby, which I don't mind, BUT I don't want to name her something with the intent of calling her something else. Our conversations about names sound very similar to Ross and Rachel on Friends- "veto, veto, veto, veto..." And then someone chimes in "Is it just me, or is Veto starting to sound really good?"

We'll update again when we have a name for sure and know more about our little girl. 

Recently we've been working little by little getting the room ready. I've started a Pinterest board of ideas. I'm planning on keeping the paint the same, but painting the bed to better match the room. We'll be moving Alexis and Kaitlyn to bunk beds soon. Crossing my fingers that's not a big mistake! 

It's a little hard getting excited about Mima. Of course after what happened with Elizabeth, I'm a little guarded about getting excited, or buying things for her. We've got a couple things that I bought on sale for Elizabeth that I have to find time to return, because I'm sure they'll be to small for Mima. But today I worked some more on her room and cleaned out the closet some more. It's looking pretty good now :) 

In the next couple of weeks we've got some fun things going on around here. Alexis's birthday party is this Saturday and her birthday next Tuesday. Then on Thursday we hit the road for a little vacation. Andrew's grandparents live in Mississippi and have a little cabin at a fairgrounds and the fair is that week, so we're going with some of his other family and cramming in the cabin. We've never done it before, and I think the girls are going to have a lot of fun! The day after we get back from Mississippi, Alexis starts preschool! 

I'll also be updating with some more fundraising coming up soon. We're still recooperating from the concert and yard sale. They both took a lot of work, so taking a little break and then we'll be at it again! LONG way to go!