Thursday, June 30, 2011

A new place

I knew going into it that God would use the adoption process to refine me. That is what I prayed for . . . to be molded and refined so that I would look more like Christ. But we aren't even a month into it and I'm starting to think I asked for a little more than I can handle! :)

God has revealed sin in my life almost daily as I pray for our son and spend time in the Word. He has shown me pride, selfishness, jealousy, disbelief, a lack of trust, comparison, and impatience just to name a few. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thankful. I'm humbled that God is so personal. He has a desire that I don't stay in mediocrity and complacency, but doesn't just leave me on my own to get out of there. He leads me to a new place. He speaks. He guides. He washes me with the Word and transforms my heart and mind. He scrapes off the old and clothes me with the new. I'm grateful.

But it hurts. I expected God to reveal some "big" things that I need to work on. Which He has. What I didn't expect is for God to want to use this adoption to open up my heart and reveal the "small" things, the hidden areas where He isn't Lord of my life. I know I should have expected this, but I guess maybe I thought that would come later once I had some of the other things worked out.

But instead this adoption has wrecked me. I've been completely overtaken by thoughts of my son across the world. My eyes have been opened to the plight of the orphan, the hungry, the thirsty, the lost. This knowledge is invading every part of me and screaming for my life to be fully submitted to Christ, to reflect His glory to the nations.

I'll give you an example . . . We are in Arkansas spending time with my family and having a blast. We went out to eat last night and had a fabulous dinner. The problem is that I have a sensitive stomach, but I still chose to eat too much and food that was too rich. My stomach hurt for hours after dinner. Normally I would just say "Better not do that again," knowing that the next time the opportunity arose I would probably do exactly that.

This time, however, was different. As I felt the pain in my stomach, I thought of my African son and his people. If he feels pain in his stomach it will most likely be from hunger pains because there is no food or because he is ill from a lack of clean water. With those thoughts God convicted me of not letting Him be Lord of how I eat and how I take care of my body. I don't need to eat too much or eat a bunch of food that isn't good for me. That doesn't honor Christ.

I thought about when our son is home and when he is old enough to learn about where he came from. How will I explain to him the problem of hunger in Ethiopia if he has grown up in our home watching us eat in excess and operate out of instant gratification?

It may seem silly, but I was so humbled last night that God wants to refine EVERY part of me so that I will bring glory to Him . . . even in the way I eat. I'm heading to a new place. Are you?

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Moment

Self preservation. That's the mode I have been in, but didn't really realize it until today. I've definitely felt a lot of emotion as we have begun pursuing adoption so I guess I had fooled myself into believing that I had gone there . . . to that place where something consumes you, overtakes you. In reality, I have been walking through this process, but holding it all at bay just enough that my heart wouldn't break. I've prayed and prayed about our adoption, but haven't let myself pray for MY SON specifically. I've thought about the statistics, but haven't thought of how those will affect MY SON. That way, I can think and pray about our adoption, but at some level hold it together, not lose myself in it. Until today.

The kiddos were napping, I was listening to Glory Revealed II (my favorite CD right now), and making baby food for Grayson. As I was slicing pears to puree, my mind started wandering to thoughts of when our son is home and what his life we be like before then. Once I took that step, my mind continued on and my heart followed. I don't think I'll ever get it back.

How long will he live until he knows what it is to have a family that loves him?
Will he ever get kissed goodnight until I have the joy of tucking him in?
I'm making baby food for Grayson, but will my other son have a day where he doesn't eat at all?
Will he get to the point where he stops crying because no one comes?

Everything changes when you go from thoughts of a child to thoughts of your son. I cried as my heart broke for the plight of little ones who have no voice. My little one with no defender. Any chance I had of holding it all together was gone. :)

As I prayed, deep regret filled me. There have always been orphans, but I have spent my life, my marriage concerned about other things. As I talked to Chad about it later, he said I had a Schindler's List moment.

I grieve at the years we have wasted on ourselves when we could have done more to show God's heart for the orphan.

I grieve at the money we have wasted on ourselves when it could have gone to families wanting to adopt or orphanages caring for the unadoptable. We are saying no to spending money on things now with such joy because we know that our sacrifice (if you can really call it that) will go to bring our son home. Why didn't we have that same attitude for someone else's son or daughter?

I grieve that for years my prayers have been mostly about myself, my issues, my comfort, my worries. As I cried and prayed for my son and the millions of other orphans, I prayed desperately that God would truly be the Father to the fatherless. The Father to my son until he is in our arms. What a blessing to pray with passion for someone other than myself.

Chad said that had the movie gone on, we probably would have seen Schindler's life look much different because of his moment. Praying that my moment will change me forever.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where is my confidence?

I have felt such peace this week, even in the middle of spiritual attacks and opposition. We are realizing what a battle adoption is. The foundation of adoption is the Gospel, so naturally Satan is opposed to it. Not just to adoption itself, but to followers of Christ who obey His call and pursue adoption. It has been coming on strong, but praise God that He provides what we need to stand firm when the attacks come!

Yesterday morning as I spent time praying, my mind began to return to worrying. I was preparing to study Jeremiah and as I flipped to it God brought me to chapter 17:5, 7-8.

Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord . . .

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Thank you Jesus that I can put my full confidence in You! I don't have to worry when attacks come. I don't have to look for provision anywhere but in You. I can trust that you will cause me to bear fruit. You are ALL I need!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

HELP!! :)

As I mentioned in the last post, adoption is expensive, especially an international adoption that requires two overseas trips! But again, we trust that God will provide for what He is calling us to do. We know He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, which is a good thing because my mind can't fathom us having $30,000 for this adoption! :)

I want to let you know what we will be doing to raise funds and how you can partner with us to bring our little one home.

1. Pray! Without a doubt, prayer is the best way for you to partner with us. It is already becoming very real that Satan is wholeheartedly opposed to adoption, which makes sense because the foundation of adoption is the Gospel. Pray for our family, pray for our son, and pray that God will receive glory through this process!

2. Before we ask anyone to support and sacrifice for us, please know that we are committed to living sacrificially to make our son a part of our family. We are making cuts in our budget, selling things, and doing all we can to set aside money for our adoption, while still being generous to others as God leads. That said . . . don't be upset if you see us enjoying a snoball . . . we still want to have fun times with Ava and Grayson while looking for creative ways to save!

3. We will be applying for every adoption grant that we can find. We supported Shaohannah's Hope for years and the Southern Baptist Convention just started a fund for pastor's who want to adopt. Hopefully we'll qualify for help through these and others.

4. Fundraising!! I'm not going to lie . . . it scares me a bit, but also gets me a little excited! We want to have some creative ways for our friends, family and even strangers to partner with us to raise funds for this adoption. We also want to take every opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of orphans all around the world so we'll try to make every fundraiser fulfill that purpose.

We have plans for three fundraisers so far:

Adoption T-shirts - Who doesn't love a good t-shirt? Especially once you are out of college and aren't getting one for some event every month! We have a friend designing a shirt for us and hope to have them available in the near future.

Yard Sales - We are planning a yard sale for July 15-16 and may do more later if it is a success. If you are near NOLA and have things in good condition that we could sell, please let me know and I'll pick them up. You can make plans to come shop too!

Raffles - This is the one I'm most excited about, but the one we need the most help with. I would like to do a raffle every so often through the blog and facebook. We'll have an item, hopefully donated, for the raffle. Through Paypal on our blog, people can give a certain amount of money for a certain number of entries in the raffle.

Here is where we need your help . . . items for the raffle!
  • If you live around NOLA, do you have a service that you could donate? Maybe you are qualified to give a lesson for something or you could give your service if you have a business. Ex. I asked a photographer friend about donating a photoshoot.
  • Do you have a craft or something special that you make that could be a raffle item? I'm not crafty, but I know I have some pretty talented friends that could make some fun raffle items! Ex. My BFF offered to make greeting cards and hair bows for the raffle.
  • If you don't fit into either of the above categories, don't worry . . . I don't either! :) But you can still help! Could you donate or purchase an item that would be great for the raffle? Ex. Some SAINTS gear or a fun date night (a 2 hour class at the New Orleans School of Cooking for 2 would be $50). The possibilities are endless!
Please let me know if you have any ideas of how you could participate in donating a raffle item. Of course, you can always enter to win and support us that way too!!

As I said, we're excited about having fun as we raise funds. We know that times are hard for everyone, which is why we are placing our trust in Christ to provide what we need and to grow our faith in the process. We'd love to have you partner with us on this journey! Please let us know how you would like to be involved. You can send me a facebook message or email me at



Monday, June 20, 2011

Agency and Cost

As we were praying about which country to adopt from, we were also looking into adoption agencies to partner with. My thinking is that any company or agency can pay to have a great looking website so I put the most stock in personal recommendations when making a decision. As I said, we know several families adopting from Africa so I have spent time talking to others about their experience with different agencies.

One agency stood out from the beginning . . . All God's Children International. We have a few friends using them and all gave very positive feedback. I filled out a form on their website to get more info and got a call the next day to see if we had any questions . . . I am all about some good customer service!! After praying, we had pretty much decided that this was the agency we would use. I was so pumped and anxious to get the process started. Then God changed MY plans.

I was told that we have wait until Grayson is one year old to start the adoption process. WHAT??? It already takes 18-24 months so the thought of adding 6 months to the process felt like I was being punched in the gut. I was pretty disheartened . . . to the point that I was ready to find another agency that would let us start now (Martha, is that you again?). Thankfully Chad helped me slow down and seek the Lord.

And God spoke. Do you really trust that I have a plan for you and that I am in control of every detail of this process? Are you going to be so quick to change courses when things get hard or don't go your way? Are you really saying that you can't wait another 6 months for the precious child I have already picked out to be a part of your family?

Ouch. So that was a turning point. I let go of my plan, my anxieties (I'm sure I'll have to do it again, but it was a start!). I felt Peace overwhelm me. If I am following Him, every turn takes me one step closer to my son, whether it was on my map or not. I WILL trust in Christ!

Now I look forward to what God has in store for us in the next 6 months! We have 6 months to continue to pray for our son, to ask God to prepare our hearts for the road that lies ahead, and to raise funds for the adoption process.

Speaking of raising funds . . . I wanted to give some info about the cost of adoption. It is insanely expensive, to be honest, but it can't be a reason to not adopt. If we see the cost as being too great and don't obey, then there are still millions of orphans with no family. Their plight doesn't change unless we trust God to provide for what He is calling us to do. As my dear friend, Amy Hobson, pointed out to me . . . "What if God had considered the cost of our adoption too great? God went through the unimaginable with His Son to make us part of His family. It makes sense that bringing an adopted child into our family would mirror that in some ways."

Here is a breakdown of the cost given by our agency. I'll be writing in a few days about how you can partner with us. Let me be clear . . . we are trusting in God to provide. He can rain down the money if He chooses. However, we know that He often uses His children as an avenue of provision because then the growing process isn't just about our family. He has an opportunity to do a work in the lives of many others as well. I pray that the adoption of our son will have an impact far greater than we could every know . . . all for the glory of God!

Application & Paperwork
Application Fee $300
Home Study Service Fee $1,975 (*$1,750)
Home Study Review Fee $350 (non-AGCI HS)
Adoptive Parent Education $200 (approximate)
Agency Service Fee $6,000
Program Fee $1,000
USCIS Fees $720
USCIS Related Fees $85 (per adult)
County Certification $70 (if applicable)
State Certification $140 (if applicable)
FBI Fingerprints for Dossier $18 (per adult)

Dossier Submission
International Service Fee $4,500
Authentication $300
Dossier Translation $200

Acceptance of Referral
Care of the Child In-Country $2,500 (per child)
HIV/PCR Testing $350 (per child)
Medical Checkup $100 (per child)

Airfare to/from Ethiopia $1,500-$2,000 (per person, per trip)
Travel Visa $20 (per person, per trip)
Transportation $200
Food $20-$35 (per person, per trip)
Immigrant Visa $404 (per child)
Lodging $100 (per night)
Translation of Final Documents $100

Post-Adoption Translation
and Administration Fee $1,500
Post-Adoption Reports $350 per report (3 required)
Medical Insurance Varies
Re-Adoption Fee $200-$300 (varies)


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adoption Update

After God clearly spoke to us that we will be adopting from Africa, we began seeking Him about which country to adopt from and which agency to use. Praise God that He is faithful to lead His children!

We are adopting from Ethiopia! Why Ethiopia? Glad you asked!

When I began researching, I was surprised to find that there are only a few countries in Africa that allow inter country adoption. Most agencies I've found work with Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and maybe a few others. Most of the people that we know adopting from Africa are adopting from Ethiopia. I wasn't sure why it seemed to be the most popular choice until I did my research.

There are two main reasons why we are choosing to adopt from Ethiopia . . .

1. Pretty much every other African country allowing inter country adoption requires that you stay in country a significant amount of time before you can bring your child back to the United States. By significant I mean anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. Yes . . . you heard me right. You have to live there for months before coming home. Praise God that some families are able to do this, but unfortunately we aren't one of those. Chad obviously can't be gone for that long or quit his job to go and I can't leave our two kiddos for that long either. Ethiopia, however, makes a way for families like us to still pursue adoption there. They require that you make two trips to Ethiopia, but each trip is usually only 7-10 days. Both parents must go on the first trip to meet your newest family member. Then 6-8 weeks later, one or both parents will travel back to finalize things and bring your little one home. My heart aches at the thought of meeting my son and then having to leave him for 2 months, but this has me clinging to the promise of John 14:18, "I will not leave you an orphan; I will come to you." I pray when that day comes, he will cling and believe that promise too!

2. The other reason to adopt from Ethiopia is the obvious one . . . the overwhelming need. Here are a few statistics that demonstrate the need. Don't forget that these aren't just numbers. They represent beautiful, precious children made in the image of our God.

  • There are 4.6 MILLION orphans in Ethiopia.
  • 1 out of every 9 children is an orphan.
  • 1 out of every 10 children will die before their 1st birthday.
  • 1 out of every 6 children will die before their 5th birthday.
  • Malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths.
  • Only 5% of births are attended by a doctor.
  • 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world).
  • The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years.
  • Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa.
  • The majority of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Please pray for the little ones in Ethiopia waiting for a forever family. Pray for our little one . . . that God would protect and provide for his needs until we can bring him home! Pray for more Christians to be willing to say "yes" when God calls them to adopt a child.

I'll write tomorrow about what agency we will be using and how God is continuing to refine me through this process. Thanks for walking with us on this journey!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This is the sticky note that is on my desk. I wrote it yesterday when God made it abundantly clear that I was indeed acting like Martha . . . "distracted by all the preparations that had to be made . . . worried and upset about many things" (Luke 10).

I know this about myself . . . that I have the tendency to plan and organize and get things done in my own strength. This is why I was so desperate at the beginning of this process to NOT do all that. I wanted to passionately pursue God, hear Him speak, and follow only where He leads. I wanted to walk according to His plan, His timetable.

For two weeks I was successful in my endeavor. It was priceless to hear Him graciously speak as we prayed. My faith was being challenged and grown. I was being refined by my Savior, molded by the Potter, spoken to by the God of all creation.

And then I took it back. I let Martha creep in (blow through like a tornado would be more accurate). God spoke to us about adopting from Africa and I quickly set to work on "all the preparations that had to be made." I was researching countries, agencies, fundraising, etc. I quickly became overwhelmed and worried about all the decisions, all the unknowns.

I can't tell you how blessed I am to be married to Chad. He knows me and loves me. God often uses him to speak hard words to me in such a gentle way. As we prayed together on Tuesday night, Chad prayed that we would not be like Martha, but like Mary. (For those of you who are thinking that he was pointing out my faults disguised as a prayer and you would have wanted to slap him, he wasn't. God had convicted him of the same thing the day before and used his confession to speak right to my heart too.)

What a revelation. I was consumed by Martha and hadn't even realized it. I've been meditating on this since Tuesday. The fact is, there are things that need to be done, preparations that need to be made in order to move forward with this process. We can't completely be inactive. So I've been asking God how I can be active in what needs to be done with a heart that is completely resting in Him. I want to sit at His feet like Mary, listening to what He says. I want to "choose what is better" and know that it won't and doesn't have to be taken from me.

So I'm giving it back. I'm going to be like Mary. I don't want to be in control of this process. Or of my life for that matter. I want to accept His gracious invitation to pursue Him, be refined by Him, and demonstrate His heart to a world that needs Him . . . all by His power and for His glory!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A God Who Speaks!

The past 14 days have left us humbled and insanely grateful that our mighty God would speak so powerfully to us!

Here is a glimpse of what God has done to get us to what we know so far:

We prayed for God to show us how He wants us specifically to be involved in orphan care. He gave us an answer almost immediately. Psalm 68:6 says " . . . God sets the lonely in families." His ultimate desire is not just for orphans' needs to be met, but for them to be embraced and grafted into a family. Our family. So we are definitely adopting!

On Tuesday I woke up praying about adopting, but my mind kept going to the financial aspect of it. I was worried and started confessing my fears to God. I know that if we could just write a check our faith wouldn't grow, but the cost just seems so huge! I began to think of ways we could cut and save (which is good and we will be doing), but sadly my heart was creeping toward being greedy as I thought of moving some of the money that we have been giving away each month to our adoption fund instead. I asked God to speak in His Word to assure me that He will provide and He led me to Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." At first this was very encouraging, but then I read the whole paragraph and God spoke directly to my heart. The Philippian church had sent a financial gift to Paul EVEN THOUGH they had their own needs. Paul was thanking them for their generosity despite their own need and assuring them that God would indeed meet all their needs. God knew my heart and spoke clearly that we should continue to be generous as He leads and completely trust Him to provide for all our needs. As if that Word wasn't enough, God decided to give us a tangible sign that He is sufficient. That same afternoon I opened a letter from some dear friends who have been praying for us about this process. God led them to give in an incredible way toward our adoption. I completely fell to pieces! :) God is our Provider and we will trust in Him!

Since we began talking about adopting, we both felt like we would adopt a son. The world and Church have such a need for men that will wholeheartedly follow Christ and lead their families and churches to do the same. We would be blessed to raise another man to honor Christ! So we're adopting a son!

We still had no direction about international or domestic and really couldn't go any further until we knew this step. On Wednesday night I wrote a prayer in my journal. I asked God to answer that one question (I'd love to have the whole plan, but I realize that usually isn't how God works!). I asked for Him to tell Chad and I individually, but that we would be unified. Then I asked Him to confirm it in a radical way. I usually don't pray so bold(as I should), but I guess I had the confidence since God had been speaking so clearly and powerfully. I honestly was leaning toward domestic, but confessed to God that it might be for selfish reasons (it could be quicker, cheaper, and we could get a newborn). Thursday morning I started reading the newest Compassion magazine. The first two articles were about orphans in Africa. Okay God . . . is this you? I prayed more and then asked Chad if God was telling him anything. His response: "I keep thinking about Africa." So there it was . . . Africa. We thanked God for speaking and asked that He confirm it that day in a way that only He could get the credit. I started telling Chad about the Compassion article and began to cry (I don't know if I'll ever stop with this process!). Ava asked why I was crying. We hadn't talked to Ava about us adopting yet so I just started telling her that I was crying about orphans in Africa. As soon as I said Africa, God opened my eyes. We do family worship every night and use the Operation World book to pray for a different nation every day. However for the last few months, Ava has asked to pray for Africa EVERY NIGHT. We have never understood why she had such a desire to pray for Africa, until now. Through our precious little girl, God has had our family praying for Africa for months! This was definitely the radical confirmation we had asked for not five minutes earlier! So we're adopting a son from Africa!

Isn't God so good?! Our next step is to choose a country and agency. Please be praying for wisdom!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gilbert . . . Party of Five?!

Yep. We are adding another little one to the Gilbert family, but it will most likely take longer than 9 months. :) We are adopting!!!

I'll explain a little bit of our journey so far and then add posts later to fill in all of the amazing details that our God has already written into our adoption story. This is a long one itself, but gives the background of what got us here. At the bottom I have a few details of what God has told us so far . . . I understand if you want to just skip down there, but you'll be missing the good stuff!

We started talking about adoption from the very beginning of our relationship, but it was always a "down the road" idea. We supported Shaohannah's Hope (a non-profit that gives grants to families for adoption costs) for 3 or 4 years because we felt God telling us to be involved in adoption that way at that time. Once we started having kids, the idea was there, but still at the back of our minds. The last few months have changed that completely.
All of a sudden it seems that tons of people we know are adopting or have just adopted and we have been encouraged and challenged by their stories. Some of our best friends have become foster parents to four children in the last year. We have some great friends from Doulos that have adopted and we were able to help financially and prayerfully in February toward their second adoption. Chad went to a pastor's conference in February and most of the speakers have adopted and shared much about their experiences and about the theology of our adoption in Christ. At that point we started talking about it more as a real possibility. We read Adopted for Life and Orphanology, two great books about the call on the Church to be involved in adoption and orphan care.

Most importantly, we really started looking in the Word about how we have been adopted into God's family. Believe me, once your eyes are opened to this reality, it is amazing to see this truth all through the pages of Scripture. For example, I recently read Genesis 12 in a new light as I realized that God was essentially calling Abram to become an orphan . . . "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." The beautiful thing is that Abram wasn't left an orphan. He was adopted by God. He was given a new name, a new identity, a promise and a purpose by his new Father. Amazing, isn't it?! Thousands of years later, we were given the hope of being adopted by that same Father because of Jesus' death and resurrection. Ephesians 1:5-6 tells us that "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." We were orphans, but through Christ we are adopted as sons . . . with all the rights, benefits and inheritance of a firstborn son. What a blessing that God didn't leave us in our fatherless state!

We've also seen in the Word that God's heart for the fatherless is something He desires and calls His Church to demonstrate. Over and over God tells His people to care for the orphan (Duet. 10:18, 24:17-22, Psalm 10:16-18, 146:9, plus many more). The verses that stick out the most are Psalm 68:5-6 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families . . ." and James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Because of these truths found in the Word, our question changed from "Does God want us to be involved in caring for the orphan?" to "God, how do you want to demonstrate your heart for the orphan through us?"

In March, some friends asked us to pray daily for them for two weeks as they considered pursuing adoption. As we prayed for God to direct them and for God's heart for the fatherless to be displayed by His Church, God really started speaking that the time for us is no longer "down the road", but now. After more talking, studying and praying, a few weeks ago we prayed and just told God "yes" to whatever He has for us. We had no clue what that meant, but knew we were called to obedience.

My first instinct was to research options, get advice from others and make a plan (no shock to most of you I'm sure!). But I knew that I didn't want to be in control of this process. We know it will be a hard journey and we want to be able to look back and know that we heard God speak and were led by Him alone. To combat the desire in us to figure it all out and to pursue options that would be quicker, cheaper, etc., we committed to just spending time in daily prayer asking God to teach us, refine us and show us our next step.
Boy did He speak! In the last week, God has given us some clear answers. These came in awesome ways, but this post is already too long so I’ll save those stories for later.
What we know for now is that we are to adopt a son from Africa!
Just typing that sentence gives me such excitement and yet overwhelms me at the same time. We are already being attacked by the evil one so we know we are on the right road. We are choosing to focus on what we know . . . that God knows our future son, loves him more than we could ever imagine, and WILL make a way for him to be a part of our family!
We covet your prayers as we embark on this journey, not knowing what is ahead, but trusting that He who calls us is faithful and He will do it!