Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Taylor is 1 year old!

I can't believe we already have a one-year-old… that is completely unbelievable!

Taylor turned one on June 29th. 

Taylor had her 12 month appointment this week.

Weight - 18.1 lbs {10th percentile}
Length - 27 inches {10th percentile}
Head - 17.75 inches {50th percentile}

She's growing!  Her weight and length were in about the 3rd percentile when she came home in April so the doctor was pleased with her progress! 

We ate lunch with Uncle Chuck, Aunt Mo, and family.  For lunch Taye enjoyed a mini cupcake.  
We saved the smash cake for later that day. Taye wasn't quite sure what to do with it, so she just ate the icing. 
 Taylor had her first birthday cake in the same high chair that her Mommy had her first birthday cake.  

Taye feeding Mommy cake
We had a few friends over to play. 

Daddy grilled for us.  
The day after her birthday, we found out she had the chicken pox.  :(  Unfortunately, babies don't get the chicken pox vaccine until they turn 1, but Daddy had shingles about a month ago so T was exposed before she turned one.  Sadly the doctor said he will probably still recommend vaccinating her for this a little later. 
By the 4th of July she had her sweet smile back

Getting the Nursery Ready… Ready or not… here she comes!

I have a million blogposts running through my head but I just haven't had time to write one yet. So let's see if I can follow a train of thought here.

It has been an absolute whirl wind... If you had asked me mid-April,  I would have had no idea how drastically our life was about to change. Literally, I thought we had at least a few months to get the nursery ready and truthfully I wasn't ready to start having baby showers and get the room set up only to have to stare at it for who-knows-how-long.  I had it all planned out on my "private" Pinterest boards... I had a girl's room and a boy's room carefully designed (because if you know me that's what I love to do). I had purchased one sheet (that's it!) and had it on reserve "just in case." This one sheet was for our "boys room" because this bedding could have been gender neutral if it had to be (although I didn't want it to be - I wanted the room to be super cute and girly if God gave us a girl and very boyish and masculine if God gave us a little boy - so you can imagine I wasn't excited about the possibility of decorating a room without knowing the gender for sure.) To some of you this sounds ridiculous... You're thinking, "why did you care? All I would care about is that sweet babe coming home." And you would be right, that was at the top of my "care" list but, truth-be-told, I love to decorate and I have dreamed of decorating this room for many years so that was also important to me (although, of lesser importance than out sweet baby obviously.)

The day we got the phone call that a birth mom had picked us (Tuesday, April 22) I worked all day and then after school we went straight to our conference call to hear all the details from the agency. At this point, it still wasn't real to me. I think I was still guarding my heart, not yet ready to trust that this was all going to happen because my heart had been broken so many times before. After that conference call we had dinner with some friends (which helped us to debrief) and then if I remember correctly we barely had time to get home and the get the house picked up for it to be cleaned the next day before we went to bed (praise The Lord that He had worked out this perfect detail already - our house would be cleaned the day before we brought Taylor home. If you have a 75 pound shedding golden retriever, then you understand why this was so important before she came home.)

The following day, my principal let me leave work a little early and I ran to Target to pick up a few things for the baby.  I had a huge meltdown in Target (no one saw me) and in the car as I drove away.  My melt down occurred because I was frantically scanning the baby aisles in Target and this very-pregnant-momma was doing her baby registry with her mom (I don't know why she waited until the very end, but she did).  It was clear that her baby registry was way more important than anything I could be doing because I clearly wasn't 9 months pregnant.  She would not let me look along side her and they refused to have any kind of manners or scoot out of the way so I could walk by.  I wanted to yell at her to move out of my way because my baby would be home TOMORROW!  (It's all very comical now… but I could write a whole other blogpost on just this 15 minute visit to Target… oh the drama.)  It was also very hard for me to see her with her mom as they casually enjoyed this special time,  because I knew that my baby would come home tomorrow but my mom wouldn't be there to meet her or help out like moms do (again a blogpost for another day).

After leaving Target, God took care of me in my weakest moment… he prompted one of my best friends to call just as I hit the "ugly cry."  That was a good thing, because I did not have time for the ugly cry since we were meeting our birth mom in 30 minutes.  (I don't recover quickly from the ugly cry and it would not have been a good first impression to make… Praise the Lord for best friends!)  She listened as I told her my frustrations from Target and she did what best friends do… made me feel better and redirected my thinking to the more important matter at hand. Phew!

We spent the rest of the evening meeting our birth mom, her friends, and our sweet baby, then going to the foster family's home so that we could have our first visit with Taylor (feeding her, bath time, and bedtime).  Finally we ran to our friends' house to pick up some items they were loaning us until we could have a baby shower.  This is another amazing friend who had organized everything from loaner clothes, car seat, stroller, pack-n-play, toys etc.  She had washed it all and had it ready to come to our house for the new baby! Wow… I can't even describe the incredible blessing.

By the time we made it home that evening, we did not have energy or time to move all the furniture out of the guest room to prepare the nursery, so instead we set-up the borrowed pack-n-play for her first evening home.

That weekend our good friends, Ryan and Traci, came to paint and set-up the nursery for us.  They did the bulk of the work while we were out of town (we went to the Panhandle for DJ's mother's oncology appointment and also to take Taye to meet the family.) Ryan and Traci were such a blessing, because one of the hardest parts of our "quick" adoption was not having all the "stuff" ready.  My dream of spending months getting the nursery just right before bringing the baby home didn't happen, but God had different plans for us and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

The room is much closer to being done now and I can't wait to post pictures of the finished product soon!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Adoption timeline

We get asked all the time about the length of the adoption process. I have had emails from perfect strangers and even got to share our story with a sweet girl in the Hallmark store the other day who was interested in adoption. I love that! The biggest reason I share so much about our journey here is to be an encouragement to others... Maybe it's someone considering adoption, or someone struggling with infertility, or maybe it's someone desperately needing to see how faithful Our God is even when we are sometimes lacking in faith... So please, share on! I hope our journey is an encouragement to you and feel free to email me if you have other questions: dagfam212 at gmail dot com

Our adoption timeline
(please know that every adoption has a different timeline, but this was ours.)

June 17, 2006 - Got married in San Antonio, TX

January 2007 - We began trying to start our family. We knew before we married that God was calling us to adopt whether or not we had biological children as well.

February 2010 - Miscarried our first child

Dec. 2, 2011 - After much research and prayer, we made the call to our agency, Christian Homes requesting information to begin the adoption process

December 7, 2011 - Submitted preliminary application to agency

January 13-14, 2012 - Attended adoption orientation

February 2012 - Found out we were pregnant (and had been pregnant at the orientation)

April 2012 - Miscarried our second child, paused adoption process to grieve

Feb 2013 - I was walking through the Beth Moore James Bible study (specifically James 1) and DJ was in a men's study - on the same night, God used our individual Bible studies to clearly speak to both of us telling us it was time to trust Him and step out in faith, He did not want us to wait any longer!  (This will require its own blogpost later - I wish I had written it right when it happened while it was fresh on my mind because I am afraid I may have forgotten some of the amazing details.)

June 2013 - We met with a birth mom who was looking for a family to adopt her precious little one - ultimately this birth mom did not choose us but the cool part about this is that from that day forward we commited to faithfully pray daily for our birth mom and our child -  little did we know that our daughter would be born later that same month.  This is so unbelievable to me!

June 29, 2013 -  Taylor was born prematurely weighing 3 lbs - she was in the NICU for a month

July 2013 - working hard to complete all the steps in the application process (you can read about it here)

July - December 2013 - Began faithfully fundraising for the adoption - this was our biggest fear and what kept us from stepping out in faith sooner, but God continued to show us that He had it in complete control.

Some of our fundraisers included:
T-shirt sales
Parents night out fundraiser at Beamer's Gymnastics Center
Garage sales
Spaghetti Dinner
You caring website
And a Money Tree shower given by our church family

I will write a more exstensive post soon about the fundraising process, but I just want to say really quickly if you feel God calling you to adopt and your are fearful of the cost... don't be! He will take care of it! He completely amazed us with His faithfulness!!! Through these fundraisers, we were able to raise over $27,000.  That is so hard for me to fathom!  Please do not hesitate to email me if you have more questions about ideas to help you fundraise for your adoption.  God has called us all to care for the orphans, so He will provide the funds to be able to do this if He is calling you to adopt.

January 7, 2014 - Submited adoption application and all that this entails

February 3, 2014 - fingerprinting and FBI clearance

February 20, 2014 - Home Study Part I - adoption interviews

March 6, 2014 - Home Study Part II - house visit

March 28, 2014 - Received unofficial word that we were approved, but still had a few details to officially finalize

April 1, 2014 - Received officially letter we were approved but our photo album had a few typos so we were working to get it reprinted

April 2, 2014 - Our birth mom had a friend call the agency to inquire about adoption (we found this out later)

April 2, 2014 - our profile went live on the Christian Homes website

April 2, 2014 - (or it might have been April 3) finally got our photo album reprinted typo-free and submitted (I couldn't understand why our case worker was in such a hurry to have it but now I get it!)

April 3, 2014 - Maternity case worker drove to our birth mom's town to go over process and present stack of adoptive family profiles (including photo albums and birth mom letters)

April 7, 2014 - Our incredible birth mom made the most selfless decision to relinquish her parental rights. Taylor went into temporary foster care this day with an incredible family who happen to live 2 blocks away from us!

April 10, 2014 - Paternity registry checked and birth father's rights were terminated

April 11 - 20, 2014 - The agency and lawyer took care of the legal details before notifying us (the court docket in Abilene had over a month wait, but thankfully our agency also has a location in Fort Worth and they were able to get on the court docket there much more quickly.)

April 22, 2014
  • {9:30 AM} - Received the phone call that a birth mom had picked us
  • {4:00 PM} - Conference call with the agency to hear the family history, health history, and other         information - the agency asks you to pray about it for 24 hours before making a decision
April 23, 2014 -
  • {AM} -  notified agency that we felt God calling us to adopt Taylor
  • {3:30 PM} - Signed the paperwork to adopt Taylor 
  • {4:00 PM} - Met our birth mom
  • {4:30 PM} - Met our daughter for the first time! 
  • {5:30 PM} - 1st supervised visit at the home of our amazing temporary foster family 
April 24, 2014 - 
  • {4:30 PM} - 2nd supervised visit (required by the state)
  • {5:00 PM} - We brought Taylor home!  
It has been an amazing journey so far and we know God has even bigger plans for Taylor's life!  If you have not had a chance to read my blogpost "The Gift of Taylor" yet, you definitely want to.  I have included all the incredible God-sized details there.  Thank you for sharing our joy in this incredible journey of adoption!  We are truly HUMBLED and AMAZED by God's provision through the gift of sweet Taylor but also the incredible support we have received.  It is so COMPLETELY humbling to be on the receiving end of so much love and support, but that is what the body of Christ is all about.  I can't imagine trying to go from 0 - 60 (more like 6,000) in 2 seconds flat without all the amazing support.  Thank you EVERYONE SO much!  We literally have hundreds (if not more) of thank you notes to write, but I promise we have not forgotten you.  We hope to have them in the mail before the end of June (is that wishful thinking?), but this is a wonderful problem to have! We love y'all! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Gift of Taylor

So many people have told us that they are waiting on pins and needles to hear the story of Taylor's homecoming, but we have been so busy loving our sweet little girl that I have not had time to write this post.  Without further ado, here is the incredible story of how God brought our sweet baby home and made it clear to us that he perfectly planned for her to fit right into our family.  It was never an accident, but a miracle that was perfectly ordained by the Lord.  

On March 28th I wrote to tell you that we received word from our case worker that we had been approved for our adoption, but I also told you that I had a few small issues with getting our photo album printed and actually in the hands of our agency.  On April 1st we received the official letter notifying us of our approval, but we noticed a typo on the 10 copies of our photo album we had just printed. After a few small hiccups and reprints our photo album was finally reprinted and delivered to Christian Homes.  At that point I really could not understand why our caseworker needed it so urgently; however, everything is much more clear now that I am looking back.  :) 

On April 2nd our birth mom asked a friend to call Christian Homes to inquire about adoption.  The next day the maternity case worker drove to her town to meet with her.  During that meeting the case worker also delivered to her the adoptive family profiles from which she would choose.  Over the weekend our birth mom spent time with two friends reviewing the profiles and making her choice.  Incredibly we were told that these three ladies each reviewed the profiles and ranked their top three choices without sharing their thoughts with each other.  All three ladies choose us as their first choice to be Taylor's parents.  How incredible is that?! (There is another neat story here as well, but we will save those details to share with you in person.  Be sure to ask when we see you!)

On April 7th the caseworker once again returned to our birth mom's town because our birth mom was ready to relinquish her rights and choose the forever family for Taylor.  I cannot even tell you how incredibly amazing this is to us.  She made such a difficult but loving decision to put her own desires aside and choose what was in Taylor's best interest.  Wow!  What selfless love…it is almost unfathomable to me.  

On this day Taylor went into temporary foster care with a sweet couple who happen to live two streets away from us.  Even more incredible is the fact that we knew this couple because they lead a marriage ministry that our dear friends have taken part in at a local church here in Abilene.  At one point when we had just begun the adoption process we had the pleasure of meeting Taylor's foster parents while visiting our friend in the hospital.  We had a great conversation about adoption and their part in the adoption ministry.  So you can imagine how incredibly comforting it was for us to find out that they had been caring for our precious little one with such special care (we found this out on April 22nd).  

In the situation of a child who has already been born being placed for adoption, the agency takes care of the legal details before notifying the adoptive family.  We appreciate this so much because it guards our hearts in case something does not work out.  The court docket here in Abilene had over a month wait at that point; however, they were able to get onto the court docket in Tarrant County much more quickly.  Since our agency also has an office in Fort Worth, they were able to use their lawyer in Tarrant County to take care of this.  Praise the Lord! 

On April 22nd, DJ received a phone call from a number he did not recognize while in a meeting.  He let the call go to his voicemail and listened to the message a little while later.  He had trouble understanding who left the message, but he did understand the woman saying, "When I call you need to answer!!!"  LOL!  He called her back unsure of who he was actually calling and received the unbelievable news that a birth mom had picked us!!!  He actually did not believe her at first, but finally realized that she was in fact serious.  At that point she told him that they wanted to have a conference call with us later that afternoon when I got out of school to present family history and other information to us.  

Meanwhile, I am busy beginning our daily Writer's Workshop with my first graders when our school counselor walks in to tell me that she will watch my class because I am needed in the hall.  I was so confused, but walk into the hallway to find my husband there with the most unbelievable news.  I go back into my classroom and walk through that day in silent amazement, not yet ready to share our news because we did not know what would happen later that day. 

At 4:00 that afternoon DJ and I sat in his office anxiously awaiting the phone call from the case workers.  When the phone rang, three ladies were on the line (our case worker, the maternity case worker, and the foster care case worker).  The ladies walked through all the background information and details, first of the birth parents, then of the reason for choosing adoption, and finally we heard about our sweet Taylor.  We could not believe our ears when we found out that she was 9 months old and in foster care with the incredibly family we already knew!

From there, we were told of how the next 48 hours would go.  First, they asked us to spend the evening talking and praying about whether God was leading us to this birth mom and baby.  The case worker would call in the morning to find out our decision.  If we chose to proceed we would meet the birth mom and our baby the next day after school.  That night we spent time seeking the Lord's will for our family and felt great peace that this was our baby!  
These are the first pics we saw of our little girl. 
Incredibly, this picture was taken on Easter Sunday (the Sunday before we met her.)  Taylor is wearing the dress of one of my student's precious little sisters!  (These details are not lost on me… God has shown us every step of the way how He even cares about the little details and making us feel so loved by placing her in a dress of a little girl in a family who is so very special to us - in fact her father is the lawyer doing our adoption!!)

The next day we arrived at the agency right after school.  When we arrived we went to our case worker's office to go over some paperwork.  We were not expecting to see Taylor's name paired with our last name on the top of the very first paper we signed!  Wow, at this point DJ fell to his knees out of the arm chair he was sitting in and I had an incredible joy and peace.  We were stunned and completely filled with wonderful amazement!  

After about 30 minutes of paper work and talking about the next steps we were taken to meet our birth mom.  While we were signing these papers, our birth mom had the chance to see precious Taylor again for the first time since April 7th.  Next, we were brought to meet our birth mom, as Shelly, our foster mom took Taylor out for a few minutes so that we could talk before meeting Taylor.  After spending some time talking with our birth mom and her friends, Shelly brought Taylor back into the room.  We were amazed when we saw this sweet face.  It was clear from the very beginning that Taylor has the sweetest little personality.  

We spent the next 30 or so minutes in this room while we got to know Taylor.  For me this part was very overwhelming because there were so many people watching our first interactions with our sweet baby girl, but what I now understand is how important this step is to the process.  By allowing our birth mom time to see our first interactions with Taylor, she was able to receive peace knowing that she had made the rich decision for her baby.  At the end of it all, we talked about our plans for open adoption and came to an agreement about what that would look like as we discussed what we all felt would  benefit Taylor most.  We chose to stay in contact with our birth mom by sending pictures for the next 6 months and then by having at least yearly contact after that.  The goodbyes that day were so hard, but when we left we went to our foster parents home to have our first supervised visit with Taylor (the state of Texas requires that children in foster care have two supervised visits with adoptive parents before placement.)  

That night we had such precious time with Taylor feeding her dinner, giving her first bath as her parents, reading, and putting her to bed.  In addition, we felt a deep connection with our foster parents, CV and Shelly, and I know that this relationship will continue for Taylor's lifetime.  

The next day, Thursday, April 24th I spent my last day of teaching for this school year.  It was a bittersweet day with many tears as I thought about what was about to begin and as I said goodbye to my class sooner than I had expected.  In addition, I frantically readied my room for my long-term substitute teacher to take over.  

Thursday after school I literally left school in a sprint to make it to CV and Shelly's house, while DJ met the foster care case worker at our home.  CV and Shelly helped me to load Taylor in the car and I drove her the 2 short blocks home with CV and Shelly following.  

When we pulled into our driveway I wept as I saw a banner hanging across our house that said, "Welcome Home Taylor Nichole!"  

Our sweet neighbors stood in our driveway with DJ and the foster care case worker, all with joyous smiles.  These neighbors played a big part in why we immediately loved Taylor's name and knew we would not change it.  You see their granddaughter, Taylor, had passed away a few years  back in a skiing accident, but her life saved six others through organ donation.  Her mother and father have now started a foundation called "Taylor's Gift" in honor of their precious Taylor. 

Taylor’s Gift Foundation was founded in 2010 with a mission to Regift Life, Renew Health and Restore Families.  In its first year they were named Foundation of the year and appeared on shows such as "Good Morning America."  

We hope that our sweet Taylor will inspire many others to continue the legacy of Taylor Storch and sign up to be an organ donor.  

When we told our neighbors, Bernie and Joan, of our daughter's name you can imagine their joy as they welcomed a surrogate granddaughter to their family.  In addition to this special story for our Taylor's first name, she also has my middle name! That night, we had our last supervised visit before Taylor got to spend the night for the first time with her forever family!!!!

The days after this were filled with bliss as we literally spent every second we could loving on our sweet baby girl.  We were also completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we received as our friends and church family poured out support to our new family of three!  We had friends who did our registries (I mean how incredible is that?!?), planned our first shower, showed up with dinner, diapers, formula, organized the gifts... Oh man, someone would say "what do you need?" And I would say I have no idea... And poof it was just taken care of... We were also blessed by people who mowed the lawn, painted the nursery, organized baby clothes, did the laundry, went grocery shopping for us, stopped by with Starbucks and cried with me, brought dinner AND breakfast for the next day, made freezer meals… set up dinners to be delivered for a month, and the list goes on and on.  It is completely humbling and overwhelming us with joy. We are truly blessed. Our God is so good. Seeing this unfold shows me that the 7 year wait was exactly what he intended for a purpose to bring Taylor home just when he planned. 

These sweet little cheeks are asleep in the other room. I still cannot believe it! Thank you for sharing our joy!  Our thank you note list is getting longer by the minute.  Once we settle in we will start writing a personal note to tell each of you how thankful we are for your incredible love and support!!! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Don't Miss This Update!!!

Howdy!!!  Update on our Adoption... On April 1, 2014 we received our approval letter!  So now we begin our final push to reach and complete our fundraising goal.  We know that God doesn't call everyone to adopt but he does call us all to care for the orphans.  We want to give you the opportunity to take part in caring for orphans even if you are not called to physically adopt a child yourself.  
One way you can do this is by praying for us as we walk through this process. We need to be lifted up in prayer for wisdom in our decisions, and for God to make our paths clear.  We know that this is not an easy road, but we are so humbled by the opportunity only God can provide. 

In addition, we need support with our fundraising efforts. We are $12,760 short of our final fundraising goal. So if you feel led to support our adoption through fundraising here are a few of some of the fundraisers you might consider supporting:
                Donate money on this website 
                Purchase a Gililland family adoption t-shirt
                Purchase a worship CD of our dear friend Katie Cruddas

However there is one small detail I have left out....Yesterday (April 22, 2014) we received word that a birthmother had chosen us!!!!  Today at 4:00 PM we met our daughter!!!  She is the most precious baby ever and we are so amazed at God's loving kindness!!!  Taylor is 9 months old and will join our family forever on Friday April 25, 2014!!!!  WHOOP!

When we started this journey we were told it might take up to 2 years for a birth mother to choose our family.  Little did we know what God had in store for us.  Here we were thinking we had plenty of time to complete the baby’s room, put together a few more fundraisers and have everything perfect for when we would be chosen... oops!  God's plan is always bigger!  We are excited, joyful, amazed, and humbled by His precious gift. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Live Profile

Our adoption profile is live on the Christian Homes website!

Grief... it kinda creeps up on you

We all know that trials are a part of life, but they are such a challenge as you walk through them.  James 1 reminds us to "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have is perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

One of the darkest times in my life also produced some of my deepest times of reliance on the Lord.  It was seven years ago when my mom's renal failure and mental illness collided into the hardest year of my life.  She eventually passed away in November 2007 and I was left with so many conflicting emotions... from immense grief, to relief, and guilt, as well as joy in remembering the many great memories and a mom who taught me what it means to selflessly serve others.

After seven years, the grief does not consume me the way it once did, but grief has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it.  It has been normal to occasionally experience the sting of sadness when something reminds me how much I miss her or laugh a little when we bump into a funny memory.  Although, I did not realize how much the adoption process would stir up this grief.

This process has so many highs and lows.  I have really struggled with wishing she was here as we are walk through this.  I wish she was here to share in the joys and excitement.  I wish she was here to listen when days are hard.  I wish she was here to help me put the baby's room together and to sew our baby bedding like we sewed so many other pieces in our home.  Most of all I wish she was here to be the Grandy our children will only know through pictures.
Christmas circa 2004 

Nana, Mom, and Me 
Bridal shower at Coker Elementary
Spring 2006

June 17, 2006 

Friday, March 28, 2014

We are Paper Pregnant!

Well it's official... we are {just} waiting on a birth mom! Paper pregnant is what they call it when your paperwork is approved and you are just waiting to be picked by a birth mother.

I say {just} because this might be the hardest part of the wait yet... or it might be fast and easy (haha).  Realistically we are preparing our hearts for the possibility of a long, hard wait because honestly even a few months feels like a long time when you are waiting (and we know we may be waiting much longer than that).

We received word of our approval from our caseworker today!  Now we wait for a birth mother to choose us to be the forever family for her child.  I wrote about this process recently...if you didn't get a chance to hear the details you can check it out here.

Originally, our case worker had told us it would probably be April before we received approval.  When we learned of our approval today we were ecstatic, but we knew we still needed to print our final copies of our birth mother letter and photo album to take by the agency.  We submitted these a few weeks ago when we did our home study, but we had some edits to make based on our case worker's feedback.  We have been working hard on these edits for the last few weeks.

After school today, I left as soon as I could to take care of getting these printed and dropped by the agency.  However, after printing the photo album I still wasn't happy with the way it looked because the printer had left streaks through some of the pictures.  I ran by the agency to get our case worker's opinion.  She agreed I should probably have it printed professionally instead of printing it ourselves. I went ahead and gave her 10 copies of our birth mother letter and told her I would get the photo album printed this weekend and dropped off Monday morning.

Here are the final copies of our photo album and birth mother letter.  I can't even fully describe to you how much love, tears, and prayer went into creating these.  Thank you so much to those of you who have been such an encouragement to us as we have walked through this process.  I really cannot put into words what an emotional process this has been for us, but we are so thankful for so many people demonstrating how much they care.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us as we do our best to trust God's perfect timing in this process.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Homestudy is complete... what's next?

We have officially finished the home study process.  Praise the Lord! I'll have to write a post devoted to the emotions and difficulty associated with that later, but I wanted to update everyone on the next steps because I know that is what everyone is interested in hearing about.

Our case worker said that we should hopefully receive our approval within a month or so.  After that we officially become available to be picked by a birth mom.  At this point there is really no time line for how long or short it might be - our case worker said it might be 2 months or 18 months.  The longest anyone has waited (at our agency) is 3 years.

The way the process works is when a birth mom is ready to pick her family, she is given the profiles of all the families.  (We had to prayerfully decide what we felt the Lord was calling us to consider and mark it in our application.  This consisted of health conditions and family backgrounds, starting with cancer and ranging all the way from HIV to mental illness.  It also included things the baby might be exposed to like drugs and alcohol.)  As the birth mom or birth parents look through our profiles, they will rank their top 3 choices.  If we are picked as the first choice then we will receive a phone call from our case worker giving us the all the background information that they know and then we will again prayerfully consider whether we want to meet the birth mom.

The next step is meeting her to see if we (both us and her) feel it is a match.  Since we have chosen open adoption we really have to decide if we feel it is a good match because she will most likely be a part of our lives for a very long time.  After that we must give it 24-48 hours and then let the agency know if we would like to match with her (she does the same thing).  Our case worker also said that they typically like to wait to match birth moms with families when she has only 3 months or less left in her pregnancy.  The reason for this is because they want to be fully certain (as much as possible) that she is ready to choose adoption versus keeping her baby.  She has the option of changing her mind up until the end, but they try to guard our hearts as much as possible by not matching us until they feel she is ready.

If we do happen to match with a birth mom that has a few months left in her pregnancy the next step is making a plan about what this will look like.  Will we go with her to doctor's appointments?  Will we be there when she gives birth?  We did find out that one of the hospitals here in town (if she happens to give birth here) is very good about giving the adoptive families a room at the hospital of their own.  That makes me super thankful for hospitals that understand and support adoption.

After the baby is born, the birth mom must wait 48 hours before she can legally sign the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights form (and we will wait the 48 hours to take our baby home).   If the birth father is not there to sign the relinquishment form then the birth is listed at the courthouse and the birth father has 31 days to sign the paternity registry.  If he does not sign the registry indicating that he wishes to preserve his rights as a parent then a court date will be set to terminate rights.  I tell you all of this just to help you understand the many unknown factors associated with adoption so that you can know how to better support adoptive families through the challenges of the process.

Naturally people constantly ask us, "Are you so excited?!?"  The answer is we are very hopeful, but this process is very intense and emotionally draining.  There are so many unknowns and we just have to be really careful to guard our hearts.  After 7+ years of infertility and 2+ years of walking down the road to adoption, the road does not seem as exciting as you might think.  Yes, we know that there is joy coming and we fully trust that God is in control, but it's actually really hard.  Thank you for praying for our family, our birth mother, birth father, their families, and our sweet baby while we wait.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Checking Things Off the List

{the very long list}

Naturally the question we get asked the most is, "How's the adoption process going?" This is such a hard question to answer because there are so many details going on behind the scenes.  We try so hard to give people a true picture of how it's going, but honestly it is hard to put into words.  Most of you know that we submitted our massive amount of paperwork back in early January.  After that the agency sends you a checklist of the next steps in the process:

Since then we have been working to get all these details finished up.  In the last month we have:
  • Completed our 6 hour parenting class
  • Andrea completed CPR/First Aid training (DJ already had this due to his job)
  • Submitted our marriage license and birth certificates
  • Submitted paperwork for criminal history check, child abuse history, and FBI clearance (we get fingerprinted tomorrow)
  • Completed physicals for the medical report required
  • Completed our photo album for the birth mother (we will submit this to the agency tomorrow to get feedback)

Now we just have these few details left to submit:

Then the next step is the interviews and home study.  Slowly but surely we are getting there... 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Domestic Adoption? Why?

We get asked all the time why we chose domestic versus international adoption. I have to be honest, I feel a little like we have to defend our decision at times.

So I thought I would try to put my thoughts into words here for anyone who is interested.  First, let me say that we believe in international adoption and at some point we may take that route, but for now this is where the Lord has led us.

But let me also say that we believe there is a huge need for domestic adoption.  I read an article recently talking about the need for domestic adoption if we are to be proponents of a pro-life movement.  This article put into words what I had been thinking but hadn't been able to put into words myself.

For us domestic adoption is as much about the ministry to the birth mom as it is about impacting the life of a child.  Domestic adoption is about providing an alternative to abortion.  Domestic adoption is about telling pregnant women that there are great families out there who would provide a great home to their baby.  Birth moms who choose adoption are not selfish.  In fact, choosing adoption is one of the most selfless decisions she could ever make.

For us, we choose domestic adoption because we feel that God has called us to this decision.  We know that there are many great reasons to choose other forms of adoption and even less expensive forms, but we also know that God has called us to this path for a purpose and we are excited about the plans He has for our forever family.  For all these reasons and more we choose domestic adoption.

Looking Forward to a new Chapter

Many of you know that DJ is about to finish his doctorate and with this new degree our goal was for him to move back to the classroom so that he wouldn't have to travel so much when our new little one arrives.

The spring was filled with job applications, interviews, and major decisions.  We really thought that we would be leaving Abilene for another job, but instead we are happy to announce that we get to stay!

DJ has accepted another position at Hardin-Simmons that will begin in August of 2014.  This worked out perfectly for him because it gives him a full year of closure and time to get everything even more organized to hand over to the new Head Athletic Trainer that will take his place.

DJ's new job will be in the school of Education as an Associate Professor of Fitness and Sports Science, in addition he will also be the Clinical Coordinator for the Athletic Training Education Program.  Essentially what this means is that he will mostly teach classes in the Athletic Training Education Program and he will also organize/supervise his college students in their clinical sites.

Through the ATEP at HSU students learn to be athletic trainers, while receiving hands-on training in clinical sites.  He currently supervises the students that work in his Sports Medicine Clinic at Football and Men's Basketball.  Other clinical sites include the other sports medicine clinics at HSU for each of the athletic teams.  In addition, his students also receive hands-on training in doctor's offices/surgery rotations, as well as the sports medicine clinics at the local high schools.

I am so thankful that this will be our last year of 7-days-a-week during football season.  In just the past few days, he has spent 3 days with his student-athletes at the hospital for many hours late into the evening.  I am so excited to have my husband back, but know that he is a little sad that he won't have these opportunities to invest in his athletes like he does now.

We are very excited for this opportunity to stay in Abilene and for DJ to continue doing what he loves... working with college students.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 is the year!

We are hopeful as we pray that 2014 will be the year that our little one comes home! 

It has been 2 years since we sat in our adoption orientation.  It took us that long to turn in our adoption paperwork.

It has been a hard two years because we started the process by being very open about God's call on our lives to adopt.  With that openness comes lots of questions of those wanting updates on our adoption process.  But then the process came to an abrupt hault. We knew it was just a pause as we grieved the loss of our second miscarried child. We are so thankful to have so many people that care enough to ask, but it was definitely hard to answer people wanting to know how the process was going.

It was February almost a year ago that God made it very clear to us that we needed to step out in faith and trust Him. 

It is with great joy that I can say we have officially submitted our adoption paperwork!!!! 

We have also officially raised $20,000 of the about $35,000 - $40,000 needed! 

The next step is for our agency, Christian Homes, to review our paperwork and send us a checklist of anything left to complete.  We are currently working on our birthmother letter and photo album.  This is what the birth moms will use to pick the family for their baby.

We are also preparing our home for the home study.  Previous owners of our home took out the bath tub to make it handicap accessible, so we need to redo the bathroom to make it "baby accessible" by creating a working bathtub.  In addition, we had a water leak under our foundation earlier this year.  Thankfully the plumbers did not have to drill into the foundation, but instead redirected the water lines through the wall.  However, this left 3 holes in the sheet rock that also need to be fixed before the home study.  We will be working on these projects soon and hope to have our home study complete in the next month or so.

Once we have our interviews and home study complete we will be approved (hopefully!) and ready for a birth mom to pick us!

We are so grateful to so many for all your love and support!  Thank you as well for your prayers as we continue on this journey.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exciting Fundraising Update!

We are overwhelmed with humility and gratitude for our friends and church family.  The spaghetti dinner benefit was a HUGE SUCCESS!  We made more than $5000, which means we are getting so much closer to bringing our little one home!  Words cannot express how thankful we are to our God!  He is amazing.  Thank you Oh-so-much to all the volunteers who put this together!

We have recently had quite a few people reach out to say they wanted to lead forward with another fundraiser of their own to benefit out adoption.  So in no particular order, here are some other ways for you to support our adoption process and help impact the life of a child:

Click on the name of each fundraiser and it will take you directly to our friends' secure websites.

Mary Kay
Order your Mary Kay products from my sweet sister-in-law, Cassi and 100% of the proceeds in November will go to our adoption! Free shipping and 25% off all orders over $100!

Custom Christmas Cards
Order your custom Christmas cards from one of my best friends, Blaire and a portion of her proceeds will benefit our adoption!

Get organized or get some super cute personalized Christmas gifts from my friend, Candace and all of her November sales will benefit our adoption!

Worship CD 

Finally, our very talented friend, Katie Cruddas has come out with an amazing worship CD.  She is shipping 200 to us to sell for $10 each.  100% of the profit goes straight to bringing Baby G home! These will be available beginning November 24 on a first-come-first-serve basis.  Reserve yours now by commenting here or sending us an email/facebook message.  Hurry because I think they will be gone in a flash! 

We have a big goal of being 100% funded by the end of November!  We know that is a lofty goal, but with your help we can do it! Feel free to share our fundraisers with your friends.

We can't thank you enough for your support!  We are planning to turn in our paperwork next week and we couldn't have done it without the prayers and support of our wonderful friends and family.  God is so good! We love y'all!


DJ and Andrea

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Parents' Night Out Success!

A few months ago, my friend, Traci, came to me with a fundraiser idea.  She works at a local gymnastics center and she wanted to offer a parents' night out as a fundraiser for our adoption.  Parents were able to come drop off their kiddos for 2 hours of fun at the gym.  On Friday night, 42 kids showed up at the gym.  She divided the kids into groups and rotated them through stations, as well as pizza, and a craft.

I helped by manning the craft.  I found this idea on Pinterest and we ran with it.  All of the kids were able to create a watercolor picture and the older kids also added clear glue and salt to the pics.  It didn't turn out quite as neat as the way the blogger describes the original idea, but overall it was fun (especially since it worked for a huge range of ages - from 2 - 12!)

The fundraiser, on the other hand, was a huge success! We were able to raise $533 for our adoption!  Wow!  We were amazed!  More than that I was just amazed at everyone's willingness to come out to help us.  Traci organized volunteers that helped with each age group.  Many of these volunteers didn't even know us, but they were still willing to come out and help.  Amazing!  Traci's sister and husband also both came out to help. Another one of the volunteers was a sweet college student (now graduated) that I had in class and I even received an email yesterday from another one of my college students saying that if we ever do another fundraiser requiring child care again, she would love to help.  Wow!  That's all I can say... wow... walking through the adoption process has been nothing but a blessing and I know the biggest blessing is yet to come!

Thank you so much to Traci and Ryan Kana, Ashley Mensik, Emily Sudtelgte, and all the other volunteers!  Also a big thank you to Beamers Gymnastics and Cheerleading!