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, 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!

Monday, July 9, 2012


I really struggle even writing this.

Andrew and I got some bad (for us) news tonight.

I checked my email and saw I had a new message from our facilitator with the subject line "Elizabeth", immediately my heart dropped. It was late in the day to be getting a message from Congo. They're 5 hours ahead of us, so to be getting an email late in the day when I wasn't expecting anything, I feared the worse. It is not uncommon for children to pass away while waiting in an orphanage.
Thankfully, that wasn't what the email said.

Instead, it said "Elizabeth's case is not going to be able to be processed." and went on to explain that a biological relative of Elizabeth has claimed her. What this means for us is we will not be adopting her and she will be going to live with them. 
While this is great news for her- she has a family! It is (selfishly) terrible news for us. We love her, we were getting her room ready, I have a photobook ready to send to her with her picture in it, I have been calling her my daughter for a month. Heartbroken.

International adoption (or really adoption in general) is full of uncertainties. We are thankful that Elizabeth has a family, even though we are sad to lose her.

We are certain that God has a plan, and even though we don't know what it is right now (and we hate that), His will and timing is what is best for us, for our family and for our little girl (whoever she turns out to be). 

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our benefit concert

We had a great turn out for our benefit concert on Saturday! We had a table set up to sell some crafts (magnets, hair clips, t-shirt scarves/necklaces and our t-shirts). We also had pictures of Elizabeth set up so people could see who they were helping! 

Our youngest, Kaitlyn, modeling her new sunglasses. Andrew's parents came up for the concert and while we were getting things set up, they walked around the mall. The girls LOVE Claire's and Granny, who had 4 boys, likes shopping for little girl things (which usually works out pretty well for her two granddaughters!)

 Andrew went up to thank everyone for coming and talk a little about our adoption process, and Alexis wanted to go with him to show everyone a picture of Elizabeth. She held it up like this pretty much the whole time they were up there. So cute!

 The girls did some cool dance moves for everyone while the bands were playing.

Our girls! (minus Elizabeth...) 

The bands all came back on stage for the last song and played together. It was a great show! Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support us, and for all the volunteers that made it possible! The grand total for the night was $1,111!!!!! Seriously, thanks so much to everyone who was involved in any way!

We still have lots of t-shirts available. They're $15, or 2 for $25. If you want one, just let me know. If I don't have the size/color you want, I can get it. If you're local and you want a shirt, we'll have them available at our garage sale THIS Friday and Saturday!

Friday, June 29, 2012


If you're friends with me on Facebook, you already know we had some issues with the tshirts that we ordered. We finished paying for them a few months ago and at the beginning of this week learned that we would not be receiving them. So we were sort of up the creek without a paddle, because we really needed them in time for our benefit concert tomorrow.

Being an avid Pinterester (is that a word? probably not...), I knew there were lots of ways I could make my own shirt, so I decided to make 4 for our family to wear at the concert, so we could all match. As I was buying the supplies for this on Tuesday night I saw how inexpensive it was to buy the supplies and the lightbulb went off. I decided I would make shirts to sell myself! So for the past 3 days I've been cutting out stencils and painting nonstop. We've got 60 tshirts ready to sell!
The supplies- tshirts, freezer paper, sponge brushes and fabric paint.

LOTS of time spent tracing and cutting out the Africa pattern... 
I'm starting to see Africa everywhere I look! 

 The first two I painted, for Alexis and Kaitlyn.

 Making progress... I also made an Africa canvas to sell tomorrow night.

 I love that I got to pick out lots of different colors! These are the regular fit shirts.

 And these are the fitted tee's, they were a little more expensive than the others, 
so we didn't buy as many of these. 

We also bought a few toddler and children's tshirts that we'll be selling, and some bibs! 

If you're interested in purchasing one of these shirts, let me know! I have sizes Newborn- Adult XXL (tomorrow night I'll have 12 month- XXL available), in varying colors. They're $15 or 2 for $25, and the bibs are $5. If you need the shirt shipped, just add $1 for shipping. You can email me at saragentry at gmail dot com to place an order. If you want a specific color, I can get it for you! AND if you are adopting from a different area of Africa and would like the heart in a different location, I can do that too!

Things to be praying for-
Please be praying that our fundraiser tomorrow night is a HUGE success! We've put a lot of work into it and would love to see a big turn out. Also keep Elizabeth in your prayers, as well as her caregivers. We're waiting on a document from immigration and Andrew's passport, so pray those things get here quickly so they can be on their way to Congo!

Monday, June 18, 2012


I don't know how many times I've read in articles, books, and blogs about adoption that it is not a journey for the faint of heart. I don't think you really get that until you're in it. I mean, really in it. We've been on our adoption adventure for almost a year now. It was July of 2011 that we decided God was definitely calling us to adopt and we started researching domestic vs. international, Africa vs. Asia, all the different agencies.

The official process- paperwork and all that fun stuff started in January of this year. We had applied to our agency (who we've now left) and were accepted, and we started our home study in January. That took about 3 months with all the paperwork and meeting with our social worker 3 times. Things had been (until last week!) really slow... we were fundraising and it was taking forever. We were gathering documents needed and when we got the funds, moving to the next step. We assumed it would be at least another year before we saw our daughter's face and maybe even another year before we went to get her.

At times I wondered if we were even suppose to be adopting. Was God not providing the funds because this wasn't His plan? Or were those thoughts Satan trying to weasel his way in? We decided to push through until every door was closed, and if that happened, it'd be God.

And then I learned more about the woman I'm working with now (D) and how she was finding referrals in a few days. To me it made sense.... there are SO many orphans in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). That's when I started vaguebooking on Facebook about prayer for guidance and wisdom. We lost a good chunk of money leaving our agency. It would've been great if we were able to go this route to begin with, but obviously we'd have no way of getting connected to these women who live and work in DRC without the connections I had because of our agency. God definitely had His hands in this! As I was praying and trying to decide if this is what we were suppose to be doing, we decided were 91% sure it was. I was on my way to the library to scan and email contracts to D, when I received the phone call from the campus pastor at our old church letting me know that they were giving us $1,000. Since pursuing this, and getting connected with our facilitator (V), I've definitely felt God confirming that this was the right move for us.

The referral for Elizabeth was official on June 14th, just 3 days after emailing D for the first time. What a mighty God we serve!

Since then it's been nonstop, I've been driving all over town, making copies, getting documents scanned, to the post office, to the bank, back to our house, back to the post office, back to make copies. Seriously, it never stops! We did get to take a "break" yesterday to celebrate Father's Day. We took the girls to 6 Flags, which was a lot of fun, but we learned they aren't a fan of water parks, so next time we'll skip that part of the park!

On Saturday we received a letter from Immigration, letting us know they got our application for fingerprinting, and they got our money, and we'll be getting another letter from them in 2-3 weeks with an appointment date to go get the fingerprinting done. Yay! We have 3 documents left to get in our possession before our dossier will be done and ready to translate. One of them is a form that will come after our fingerprinting appointment. The other is Andrew's passport. We were slackers and waited to renew it, so now we're getting it renewed and paying extra to expedite it so we don't have to wait on it. The 3rd is our GBI report (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), that our old agency has and should be sending to us now that we've terminated our contract with them. Praying that they don't make things difficult, I've heard they are tough to get a hold of these days with so many people leaving....

We are hoping to have the dossier done and sent in by the end of the summer. That's fast, but that's what we're praying for!

When I'm not running around like a crazy person (really... crazy. Ask the guy behind the counter at the post office today who I cried in front of.... or the customer service people at Kroger who have dealt with the Western Union mix ups for me, while Alexis and Kaitlyn whine, cry, touch everything, and/or dance in the way of other customers), I'm working on fundraising stuff! I've been working on crafts to sell at our benefit concert (June 30th at 6pm for my local readers... come out and help bring our daughter home!!!-- and invite your friends!)

We're also still collecting donations for our yard sale. The yard sale will be either the 1st or 2nd weekend in July, depending on when Andrew can get the morning off work. We'll keep you updated on all the fundraising!

If you could please keep us in your prayers, we would really appreciate it! Pray for us, pray for Elizabeth, pray for her caregivers, pray for funding, and pray that all the government agencies involved will be speedy. If you'd like to pray specifically, pray that everything will go smoothly and quickly and we'll have our baby girl home for Christmas! That's best case scenario, but that's the case we're praying for!

p.s.- Thank you SOOOOOO much for all the prayers and support thus far!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Drumroll please!

This is definitely the biggest update we've had so far! And we're so excited to share our news. It still feels a little unreal, so as I write this, I'm not 100% sure when I will publish it.

Are you ready??? Drumroll......

We have a referral!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Her name is Elizabeth (she spells it Elisabeth), she's 1 year and 9 months... and she's perfect! What we know about her so far is that she was abandoned and she was found in the market, and was given the name Elizabeth. Right now, we think we'll keep her name because it's an American name, and it means "God's promise" *and* it's my middle name and Kaitlyn's middle name :) We haven't decided on a middle name yet. Alexis and Kaitlyn think he middle name should be Alexis :p

We do have a picture, but aren't able to publish it publicly, so it can't go on Facebook or the blog, but if you'd like to see her, let me know and I can send you an email or Facebook message... or if you see me out and about, I have it on my cell phone :)

So for the last 3 days I've been running around like a crazy person trying to get all of our paperwork done, copies, scanned, emailed, etc. I've also been checking my email like a crazy person... thank goodness for smartphones!

"What's next?" is the question we are getting the most after telling family and friends about Elizabeth. The answer is paperwork, paperwork, paperwork... and waiting. Right now we're getting the last pieces of our dossier ready to go and then we'll be waiting on our fingerprinting (for immigration- we've done 2 sets of fingerprints already, for FBI and GBI) appointment, which should happen in the next month or so. And then we'll have to get the dossier translated into French and when that's done we'll send it all done to the Congo. Once they have everything down there, they'll submit it to court, which takes a couple weeks. After we pass court there is a 1 month waiting period for appeals (this is when birth parents/family can make an appeal). At the end of that month, assuming no appeals have been made, we'll apply for a visa and passport for Elizabeth and then we can travel!
We are hoping, praying and crossing all fingers and toes that this will go as smoothly as possible and we'll be able to travel before the end of this year. Obviously we want our daughter home as soon as possible, and if her adoption is complete in 2012 we'd definitely be eligible for the tax credit, which would be amazing!

After we finish the paperchase race, we'll be working on fundraising, hardcore. Traveling to the Congo isn't cheap, so we still have a long way to go!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Big updates and answered prayers

For those of you on Facebook, a couple of days ago I asked for prayer for wisdom and discernment concerning our adoption. Thanks so much for all your prayers! Earlier today I updated to let you know I had a couple big updates to share.

So, I won't leave you hanging any more, I finally have time to update. The biggest update is that we've decided to leave our current agency and we've signed on with an independent facilitator that works in the DR Congo. We made this decision for several reasons. About a month ago there was an update from our agency that was disconcerting (if you really want to know I'd be happy to tell you, but no reason to rehash it all on the blog), it just didn't sit well. I'm a member of a Google group of parents that are all adopting from Congo through One World and I read a lot of things that didn't sit well about their experiences (from people that have completed their adoptions and those who are waiting for their referrals still). One of the women on the group that had already completed their adoption mentioned that if she had to do this all over again, she would do it independently through this woman. She used to work at the US Embassy in Congo and has a lot of connections through that. She has a heart for adoptions and is offering her services to parents as a consultant. She will be working with us through our adoption process and connecting us to the right people. 

Another reason we're leaving is the wait time. The wait time for referrals keeps growing. That added to the issues they're having right now and a lack of communication, we decided to switch now before we've invested any more money (because the money we've paid to the agency we're leaving is non-refundable). Because we'll be adopting "independently", it is significantly cheaper, even if you take into account the money we'll lose leaving the agency. 

We signed on with the facilitator today and we will keep everyone updated on how things are progressing.

Speaking of progressing... we have some fundraising updates too!

Our tshirts should be ready by the end of the month, in time for our benefit concert on the 30th. 
I'm really excited about the concert. Chris Hayes and his buddy Vic Rockhill have graciously agreed to play as the headliners. They both went to Berry too, and now Chris works as a foster family consultant. I knew that he was a talented musician, and when I found out where he worked I asked him if he'd be willing to help me out by playing at the benefit concert. What I didn't know was how much he would be helping me out! He's been a HUGE help getting this thing put together. He found another act to play that night and has been so helpful in promoting the event. Thanks Chris!!! If you are local and haven't seen the Facebook event yet, you can see it here. Please share the event and invite your friends! We've got some great performers playing and Pal's has some awesome drinks (coffee, frozen coffee drinks and smoothies). We'll also have our t-shirts for sale, as well as some other Pinterest projects crafts. 

During our week on Give1Save1, we raised over $700, so a BIG thank you to everyone who donated and/or shared on their Facebook page! 

And the big fundraising news is that we've been blessed to receive a grant from our old church's Adoption Fund for $1,000! I am seriously blown away by how awesome our Church family is, even though we don't go to that church any more, I love all of them and love what the church is doing. I really miss it many weeks, but I feel like the church we landed is where we're suppose to be right now. So even though we aren't members of that church family anymore, we're still part of the Church (big C) family and I love that! 

The thermometer to the right -----> has been updated with the grant, Give1Save1 and various other fundraising (if we're friends on FB, you know I've been selling things from around our house that we don't want to sell for garage sale prices... old wedding gifts, furniture, etc.), but the total number hasn't been updated to reflect our big change. We'll have a more definite "final" number when we're matched with a child. 

Thank you so much for all the support we've received so far. As we continue this journey, we will need your continued support, especially your prayers! Pray for us, pray for our little girl, pray for her parents, pray for her caregivers, pray for our new facilitator, pray for funding.... pray, pray, pray. 

And if I haven't said it already....... THANK YOU!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another reminder

Just another reminder, we're the featured Africa family this week on Give1Save1.com If you have an extra dollar (or more), we sure would appreciate it! We're currently working on raising funds to submit our dossier. The check we have to write for that is $2,000, but that doesn't include the fees to schedule our fingerprinting appointment, translate documents, see our doctor, and a few other expenses that arise while putting the dossier together.

So far we've raised just over $400, which is awesome, but I'd love to get that number even higher before our week ends. If you're local and would prefer to donate cash/check please let me know and I'll give you our address. That amount will count toward our "Give1Save1" total :)

Next week we're going to start promoting our next fundraiser which is a benefit concert on June 30th. I'm excited about it, should be lots of fun!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our week is here!

Today starts our week on Give1Save1. Please, please, please go check out our video and share it on facebook, twitter, email.... any other social or personal networking arena you can. The more people that see the video, the greater chance we have of blowing the donations out of the water.

The premise of the website is that everyone can afford to give $1. You are welcome to give more, but even if everyone only gives $1 it can add up quickly! Thanks in advance and we'll keep you posted on how it's going throughout the week.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Just a quick reminder that our next fundraiser is coming up next week! We'll be the featured family on Give1Save1. If you have a few extra dollars, you can go check out the current family of the week, and throw a couple dollars their way! They're a family whose blog I already follow and will be traveling to bring their little Noah home next month and still have some last minute funds to raise.

Next week, on Memorial Day, our week starts. What I need from you is to BLOW UP Facebook, Twitter, Email, Pinterest... and any other anything you can think of to get the word out. Show your friends our video. Ask everyone for $1. THANK YOU sooooo soooo SOOOO much in advance! :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank you!

A great big thank you to everyone who participated in some way in our adoption auction! We raised over $600. The final total for what the items were sold at is $607, but as I'm receiving checks, cash, paypal payments, etc. many of you are being generous and rounding up or adding an extra $5-10, so the total has gone up a little from that.
After most of the auction money comes in, we should be able to send off our I600 in the mail, which is a petition for "advance processing of orphan". You ship it, birth certificates, marriage license, the home study and  $890 of to the USCIS (United States Citizen & Immigration Services) and they'll set up an appointment for us to get fingerprinted (again.), and then once that is approved (and we get other paperwork together... and more money...), we'll be able to send our dossier to the Congolese government. The latest fundraisers have been enough for us to get that check in the mail (Thank you God!). The next big chunk of money is the dossier fee, which is $2,000 and the translation fee (for the dossier) of $300.

All this adoption stuff is so new to me, I'm learning as we go. I only sort of/kind of know what we're doing next. I went to our agency's website that keeps track of where we are in the process, just to confirm that I'm telling y'all the right information!

Tonight I updated our little thermometer over there ------> to be accurate to the cash/checks we have (or have had) in hand. It doesn't include auction money that we haven't received, so I'll keep updating as the cash/checks/paypal keep coming :)

So... what's next? I'm still knee deep in auction stuff. The auction ended 5 days ago, but I'm still delivering items, collecting money, shipping out packages, etc. Honestly, I'm only able to juggle a certain number of balls. Children, house, husband, church, friends, adoption paperwork, adoption fundraising.... so I don't want too many "adoption balls" in the air at the same time. So, we won't be doing any other fundraisers until all of the auction items are out of my house and delivered :) BUT, we do have one on the calendar for the end of May... so everything should be delivered by then! ;)

On May 28th (which happens to be Memorial Day) we'll start our week on Give1Save1 as the featured family! The website is a fabulous website, run by a woman who is in the middle of the adoption process herself (and still raising money for their adoption), but felt like God was calling her to help others. This website has grown a ton just in the past 6 months since I discovered it. They now have 3 featured families every week- 1 family adopting from Africa, 1 from Asia and 1 from Haiti. The whole idea of "give 1, save 1" is the thought that not everyone has a lot of money to give, but pretty much everyone of us can afford to give $1. Just one dollar. So every week she asks people to donate 1 dollar to the family of the week. If 20,000 people donated $1 to our adoption fund... we'd be covered! If 10,000 donated $2... we'd be covered! If 5,000... you get the idea! So, that week I'll be asking you to support us financially (every dollar counts!), and I'll also be asking you to help spread the word! The more people that hear our story, see our video and click on that link to donate $1, the closer we are to getting our baby girl home!

So, that's our fundraiser for May :) At the end of June we'll be hosting a benefit concert, and you'll be hearing more about that at the end of May (remember... one ball at a time!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Upcoming Fundraisers

We have a lot of fundraisers coming up.
Our t-shirts will be here in a month or so, they are $20 and you can pre-order them right now. If you're local, you can go by Pal's Coffee + Company in the mall and pre-order there. If you aren't able to get to Pal's, you can mail me a check and I'll make sure the size/fit you want is saved for you! You can contact me through Facebook, or leave a message on this blog post with your email and I'll get in touch with you about how to buy a shirt.

At the end of April we're hosting our 2nd online Adoption Auction. Our 1st auction raised $900, so our goal with this auction is to break $1,000. We already have over 30 items donated and would LOVE to get some more donations in before the auction starts at the end of the month. If you're interested in donating something, let me know! The auction will take place on Facebook, and you can join the fun right here :)

This summer we'll be hosting a benefit concert. So far we have one act scheduled to play, but are looking for 2-4 more artists/musicians/singers/etc to play, so if you or anyone you know is good at those things, and has time to spare for one Saturday night in June, let me know. That night our t-shirts will be for sale, as well as some yummy baked goods and handcrafted Pinterest projects ;)

We're hoping to be featured on Give1Save1.com sometime this summer. A friend of our's is working on our video to submit with our application, which you'll be able to see if/when we're featured. The premise of the website is that everyone can afford to give $1 to help save 1 child. It's a fantastic website, run by a family who is currently in the process of adopting themselves, but started this website to help others adopt too. So awesome.

We're also looking into a few different local eateries who will host fundraising nights. We'll keep you updated on that!

Last thing- we are applying for a grant from Show Hope. We had a miscommunication with our agency that we thought might be a huge setback, but we got it figured out and should still have the application in by the deadline (April 30th). There is a 90 day minimum wait period after the deadline, so we won't know if we're awarded any grant money for a while.

So, that's it on the fundraising front. Lots going on! It's exciting that we're starting to see things come together a little bit. Please keep us and our little girl in your prayers, along with all of our fundraisers coming up.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Home study finalized!

We had a fun morning... the girls had their first Easter Egg hunt of the season, and when we got home I checked the mail.

junk mail, more junk mail.... some Similac coupons (no idea why we started getting these again, no one here has used formula in a year and 1/2!)... and what's that under there? Besides the dirty table... and even dirtier chair (these were a hand-me-down... note to self: NEVER buy dining room chairs with white seat cushions. It's just a terrible idea). I digress... it's our finalized home study!!!!! *happy dance*

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Something I read...

I stumbled on this post while browsing through Pinterest for adoption fundraising ideas. It's a post about what happens "after the airport." After the adoption is final, and you're all home as a family... and it's "the end." (But as this post says, it's nowhere near the end)

Tonight my heart just breaks reading this post thinking about our little girl. Really for all of the orphans everywhere waiting for a family.

I keep trying to think of something more to say, but that's all I've got tonight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So close I can taste it!

The home study is REALLY close to be DONE! *happy dance* We had our last meeting a couple weeks ago. We were waiting on the FBI to clear us, which takes FOREVER, but we finally got that back a couple days ago (yay! we're not felons!). Now we just need to fax those papers to the office, along with the certification from our online training (I forgot the website was down last month and I never got to print the certification for the last class). Those are the Last. Two. Things! Woohoo!!!

I've had several people ask me what's next, and a couple people thinking that we're done with the heavy lifting and just wait now. Unfortunately, no. We still have a LONG road ahead of us. After the home study is finalized we can move forward with our adoption agency. We still owe them a good chunk of money before that can happen too- $3200. So, after we pay that we'll start working on our dossier. Basically a boatload of paperwork that will be sent to the Congo on our behalf, along with our home study. After this is reviewed by them, we'll be put on a referral waitlist. When we get up to the top (which can take a year), we'll eventually be matched with a little girl.
After we accept a referral, our case will go to court in the Congo (this takes a month or longer). After the court approval there is a 30 day wait period to make sure there is no family that wants to contest the court's decision. Next we file a I600 (more paperwork), which takes a month or so to get approved. Next we request an appointment with the Embassy in the Congo. They'll issue a visa, and I believe this is when we will travel there. While we're there, we will receive a letter from emigration allowing the child to leave the country. We'll be there 1-2 weeks, assuming nothing goes wrong.

So, like I said... long way to go. At least another year, possibly longer. Some of these things don't take long, but you have to have the money to move forward before you can do the next thing on the list. Right now we haven't paid another other than the home study fees. We're still looking at around $17,000 which does not include travel expenses.

As far as fundraising goes, we have a couple things in the works. We just hosted a yard sale, which brought in $400. We are still working on t-shirts (they'll be $20 each if you're interested!), and we are eventually going to be a featured family on a fundraising website. Now that our home study is (almost) done, there are a few grants, matching grants, and low/no interest loans we can start applying for, which we will do. Any other suggestions? :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fundraiser next month

We're hosting a big garage sale next month (March 17th) to raise money for our garage sale. If you're interested in helping out, you can get all the details on the Facebook event-

For those who aren't local, we'd really just appreciate your prayers as we attempt to raise some money. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Home study visit

We had our first home study visit on the 30th. It was really laid back, no real reason to have been nervous about it (even though I was). Our social worker was really nice. She lives in the same town we do, and actually went to the same college Andrew and I went to, so we talked about that some (she has children our age, so the college changed a lot from the time she was there to when we were there!)
We went over the orientation form for the home study, basically just going over what the next 2 visits would look like, what paperwork we still had to turn in, and she answered any of our questions.
There was a LOT of paperwork still to do. So after she left Monday night I made a long to do list, and the next day we got to work. I filed our taxes yesterday, which helps with 2 things. We have to include our most recent tax return in our home study AND our refund will be paying to finish the home study (costs $900 to get started and the other $900 is due at the end). Yesterday we also called to set up a vet visit for all 3 of our animals, doctor's visits for Andrew and myself, and made phone calls/emails to references to get those in. We have 4 references that aren't related to us and 2 that are (one from each side) asked to write a "letter of support".
Today the stars aligned. Andrew closed at work (so he didn't go in until 3pm), the girls were at school, and the baby I watch during the day wasn't here today, so we took advantage and got a lot of errands done (and a lot of money spent ;) )
After we dropped the girls off at school, Andrew dropped me off at the dentist. This wasn't adoption related, I just had a cavity I had to get filled and added to the "lots of money spent" part. While I was there, Andrew went and dropped off the forms at the girls' pediatrician that they need to fill out and fax in. Then he headed over to drop off the 911 record forms that they'll mail back to us. He also picked up a copy of our marriage certificate, then I was done and he came to pick me back up.
After the dentist we headed to Pak Mail to get our fingerprints done for the GBI (Georgia) background check ($34 per person). Next we went down to the jail to get our FBI (federal) fingerprints done. This was only $5 for both of us to do it, but then we'll pay $36 when we mail it in to them.
We also picked up birth certificates for Andrew, Alexis and Kaitlyn. We got 3 copies of each, just in case we need more. They're $25 for the first one, but only $5 for additional copies at the same time, so we figured we'd get a couple extra just in case. So $105 later....
I'll have to mail away for my birth certificate, since I wasn't born in Georgia, so that's still on my to do list.
After all that craziness Andrew and I still had time for a quick lunch before we had to pick up the girls from school (they go to a 3 day/week preschool 9am-1pm), so we tried out a local BBQ place (Troy's BBQ for local readers). We've heard great things, but have never been. It was great! Not great for my diet, but taste wise... great!

Still on our to do list before the 21st-
  • get our FBI forms notarized
  • mail in our FBI fingerprint forms
  • mail away for my birth certificate
  • replace the battery in one of our smoke detectors
  • double check that all of our cleaning supplies are locked up
  • make sure all of our references get mailed in
  • get letter from Walgreens verifying Andrew's employment/salary
  • print our Will and get it notarized
I *think* that's it, but our actual to do list is in the car, and it's raining really hard... so we'll just say that's it.

We just got back from the vet to get all of our animals up to date on their vaccinations... $300 later, they're all mad at us and our bank account is empty ;)

Speaking of money... on the fundraising front, we have a couple things coming up, hopefully soon! Our tshirts should be ready in the next month or so (we have to finish paying for them, which requires our tax refund too), and the website that we're going to be the "featured family" on will hopefully be sometime in March. They've announced all the family's for February and we aren't on that list, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll make the cut for March. They pick the families to be featured based on their need and where they are in the process. We obviously need the money, but there are other families that are leaving next week/month to pick up their babies and still don't have the money needed. OR they have already brought their children home, and have debt because of it.

If you have any ideas about how we can fund raise in other ways, please let me know! As soon as our homestudy is complete we'll be able to apply for several grants from different organizations, so I'm looking forward to that phase... lots more paperwork!

Finally, please keep us in your prayers! This is a long process, but we're trusting in God's timing with everything and leaning on Him to provide. Thank you to everyone for your support!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another edition of FAQ

We have our first home study visit scheduled for one week from today! We've answered lots of questions since scheduling this and I'm hoping to answer some of those questions here for anyone else who might be wondering, but haven't had a chance to ask.

Q. What does it mean to have your first "visit" scheduled?
A. We will have 3 visits with our social worker. This first visit is very informal, she'll come over and see our house and talk to us about the rest of the process. We'll talk about what paperwork is still required of us (lots), what to expect in the next 2 visits, and things like that. She's already told us that before she comes for the 2nd visit that she likes us to have all the paperwork finished, so that could be several weeks. I believe by the 3rd visit we'll have to finish paying, but that shouldn't be an issue since it's almost tax refund time! The 2nd visit is when the social worker will sit down with Andrew and I together and separately to ask us a million personal questions. Not looking forward to that one, but I was referred to this particular social worker and heard that she's really nice, so hopefully it won't be too rough.

Q. How much longer is the adoption process going to take?
A. A long time. It really depends a lot on how fast we can get all the paperwork sent where it needs to be, all the documents in we need (birth certificates, etc), and of course how quickly we can come up with the money to move on to the next thing. Right now we have $900 left to pay to the home study agency.

Q. What happens after the home study?
A. Well, first the home study has to be approved, and then we have to complete a dossier, which is basically a bunch of paperwork that the Congolese government requires of families that want to adopt. After that we'll be put on the waitlist for a referral. How long we wait for a referral depends on how many other families are in "line" ahead of us- age/gender/etc. Eventually we'll be matched with a little girl that's in our requested age group, and if we accept the referral our case will be presented to a local court in Congo for their approval. Luckily, we don't have to be there in person (most countries require this now, which adds a lot to the cost). After the court approval we have to wait 30 days to make sure there isn't a blood relative or something of the child that wants to appeal the court's decision. After ALL that, we'll file a I600 (more paperwork), that takes a month or 2 to get approved. After the I600 is approved, the Embassy will process a visa and then we have to get a letter from the Congolese government that says the child is allowed to leave the country. As far as I know, that last step happens while we're there with our little one (Hannah... Natalie... we're undecided ;) ). Travel time is estimated to be 7-14 days.

Q. How much money do you still have left to raise?
A. Lots. We still have $900 to pay to the home study agency, and $14,700 to our adoption agency. And then we also have to pay all of our travel expenses which are expected to be about $3,000. So yeah... that's a lot of numbers. After we get through the home study process we can start applying for grants, etc. We'll keep you updated.

Q. Are the shirts here?
A. Not yet, but they're ordered! I ordered 100 shirts, so if you want one, I have one for you! I got lots of different sizes- everything from a kid's XS to an adult XXXL.

I hope that answers some questions people have had!
PLEASE let me know if you have any other questions. I know I still don't have all the answers, but I'm learning a lot as we go forward in this process. Our next "to do" is another big stack of paperwork (what else is knew?)