Folks, we’re buying a crib (and other fun information from our home study adventure!)

I haven’t been posting as often as I’d like, things have just been so busy!  I’m working on winding up another term at SNHU, things at work have been a little extra crazy (my partner at work is retiring. Today was her last day), Ryan’s picking up an extra day at the Barber Shop and we’ve jumped head first into the home study process.    I know that eventually life will slow down but for now we’re having a hard time keeping up. I feel like I’ve said that a few times before during this process & I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Yesterday we had our first in-home interview with the social worker who will be completing our home study.   We were so nervous! I took a day off work to deep clean our house, fix a few things that had needed our attention and organize the garage. We had some friends (thanks Whitney, Matt & Blake!) who came to the rescue and helped us out.  I’m telling you, we’d pass a white-glove test for sure!  Where I work we have state inspections from time to time in our homes.  The name of the game is for the inspector to try and find something that isn’t done correctly, isn’t clean enough or properly documented and issue a citation.   I’ve been programmed through that process to expect the worst and stress out until the day of the inspection arrived.  (BTW… we have one of those at work this week! Ugh!)

As the weekend arrived I had debated on skipping out on prayer with my Life Point family because I wanted to have those few extra hours to work.  I’m so glad I changed my mind and made it a point to go on Saturday.  Having that time to join in prayer really helped me to get my mind and my heart in the right place.   I’ll be sorry to see this series on prayer end and our Saturday meetings come to a close, but this week is our last week.   After prayer I ran a few errands and went back home.   As I hung pictures on the wall and talked with Whitney I realized that the purpose of the home study isn’t for me to fail.  In all reality, the probably want us to succeed because the social worker knows more than most people how many families are needed to welcome children into their homes.  I started to calm down and not worry so much that I had a few stray dog hairs on my sofa.  (Seriously, I was using a lint brush after vacuuming and scrubbing… )  I mean, we have 2 (adorable) dogs. When you have pets, you have hair.  I’m certain we aren’t the only pet owners to go through a home study.  Dog hair happens.  My house was SUPER clean.  I wasn’t going to worry.

Sunday morning arrived and while we took the week off of working in Kidspoint, Ryan and I went to church.  Again, this series on prayer has just been awesome!  Ryan and I have made it a goal throughout our marriage to pray together every single day.  We haven’t always been successful. There are times one of us falls asleep or we lost sight of our goal in the busyness of our day.  This has really reinforced with both of us how important that time is for us to have together and to build on our prayer time individually. We were reminded on Sunday that God has answered some BIG PRAYERS for us in the past, and that we know He is leading us in this journey.

As we were leaving our pastor’s wife grabbed me and asked how I was doing.  It meant so much to me to talk with her for a few minutes and for her to let me know that she would be praying for us. A few other people offered words of encouragement as we were leaving.  We are seriously SO LUCKY to have such an amazing & supportive church family.  I don’t think we would have made it this far without their love and support.

I don’t want to go into detail of our actual interview with the social worker.   I mean, if you want details feel free to ask one of us.  It’s just a lot to type.  We talked for quite a few hours.   She was pretty easy to talk to even if the questions were a little difficult to answer at times.   As she began to wrap up this part of the interview process she asked for the grand tour of our house.   We walked around….. for all of 5 minutes.  She didn’t use a white glove. She didn’t look in my closets or cabinets that were so clean and organized.  Ryan and I laughed after she left at how hard we had worked for a 5 minute tour of our house.  She loved our dogs (they were on their best behavior!)  She’ll be back in 3 weeks.

We have a LOT to do in 3 weeks to be ready for her.  We’ll be running around a little extra crazy to get all of our forms and documents gathered, signed, sealed and delivered.  We have our fire inspection tomorrow, a safety check in 3 weeks when she returns, physicals, and about 17 other things to gather and complete on top of some parenting/adoption training that’s required.  But, once all is said and done we should be FINISHED with our home study in 3 weeks.  That’s seriously incredible!  She promised that she would get us done as quickly as possible and she meant it!

We have to have at least a crib before she comes back in three weeks.   I haven’t really let myself look at baby stuff since we started this journey.  There were too many unk
nowns and “what if’s” for me to let my heart travel down those isles or look over those pages online.  I mean, we know how we want to decorate our nursery, but we haven’t purchased the first thing. That was just dreaming.  Dreams are becoming a reality. Big Prayers are being answered. This is going to happen.  We’re going to have a real, live crib in OUR house.  I’ll probably cry.  It’ll probably stay in the box for a while longer.  I’ll probably still avoid those isles and pages online.  But folks, we’re buying a live, genuine, safety-check approved baby crib!  AHHHH!

We still have some fundraising to do.  We still have a long way to go, but look how far we’ve come.  In just 4.5 short months God has taken me from broken-hearted to full of hope.  He’s taken what seemed impossible and is making a way.  This journey is difficult and crazy and stressful, but I am so thankful that Ryan and I get to travel this road together.  We’re praying big prayers that we will be completely done with fundraising by Christmas 2015! Hey, it can happen!

P.S.  my partner at work who is retiring is the best!  I seriously don’t know how we’re going to do it without her.  She has been such an incredible support to me since I took on this role in our agency.  When I came in to the artoffice today there was a picture hanging on the door to my office that I absolutely LOVED!  There’s this awesome art gallery (Open Door Art Studio) in Columbus that sells art that is exclusively created by adults with Developmental Disabilities.  I have this great painting in my office from the gallery that I got as a wedding gift from my friends at work.  Anyways,   Rita came to my office and said, “This is for the baby’s room! “  I LOVE it and it will ABSOLUTELY be going in our baby’s room. It’s always been a goal of mine to have only original art in our house that I find in cool little places.  I’m so excited that this is the newest piece to be added to my collection!

Love,

Cera

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Dear Birthparent(s),

We’ve been moving full steam ahead the last several weeks.  Things have been moving so fast it’s hard to keep up- but for now I’m not complaining!   We’re elbow deep in preparations for our home study which is exciting and scary all at the same time.   We are in this season of perpetual forward movement because we are so anxious to get the “hard” parts over with.  I want to be finished with our home study. (Please be in prayer with us that we can wrap it up before Thanksgiving!)   I want us to be finished with fundraising! (Wouldn’t it be INCREDIBLE if we could finish up before the start of 2016?! We have big goals but we serve a BIG God!  Be praying with us about that too!)  In this season of moving forward,  I’ve started to gather photos for the book that will be shown to the birth mother (and possibly/hopefully the birth father).  They will be shown this book as a way to help them decide if they want us to parent their child.  This book will include facts and stories about Ryan and I, as well as our family and friends.  We want them to have a good glimpse into our lives and know that this baby will be loved more than they could hope.

On the first page of this book we’ll write a letter to the birthparent(s).  I’ve thought about what I wanted to say to them (or her)  off and on since we first started to pray about adoption. I don’t know how you narrow down what you want to say to the woman who is giving birth to your child- and then fit it on to one page. Obviously, I like to write! (ha!)  The task seems impossible and completely overwhelming.  There are so many things I want to say to her.  I’ve started drafting this letter at least a dozen times and each time I end up scratching it and putting it aside.  I just can’t figure out how to condense everything, share my heart and still make sense.

(For the sake of not being too wordy… I’ll refer to the birth parent(s) as “her” for the rest of this blog. We are hoping and praying to also have the same opportunities to share with the birth father)

I really want to share with her how much she is loved.  Not only do I already love her and pray for her because of the journey she has chosen, I also want to share with her how much she is loved by God. I hope she has heard it at least 100 times by the time she reads our letter.  One of the reasons why we chose to go with Abba is because they love Jesus and share His love with the mothers who come to them for help. I want her to know that she is His child & that He wants her. He loves her. He isn’t mad. She is valuable.   I hope that she already knows Him, but if she doesn’t it’s my prayer for her to come to know who Jesus is through her adoption journey. I want her to know that He is powerful enough to help her overcome any obstacle she is facing or may face.  We will continue to pray for her. I want her to know real love.

I want her to know that we are so thankful to have the opportunity to raise her child- and that our baby will grow up knowing the sacrificial love she had for him/her. We won’t take the privilege of raising this child lightly.   We will be thankful for her and her sacrifice every single day.  We will love this baby unconditionally.  It doesn’t matter to me that he/she didn’t grow inside of me.   This baby has already taken root in my heart so deeply that my love could never be removed.

I want her to know who Ryan and I are and be comfortable with the choice she is making. (Praying for that peace in her heart that surpasses all understanding.)  I don’t think we’re a “typical” couple. We’re serious about our walk with Christ.  We’re serious about our love for each other.  We’re serious about making our life fun & adventurous!   We knowUnselfishness-e1426958130750 that our life will change dramatically with a baby, but we don’t ever want to stop having fun with each other or as a family.  We want to be spontaneous and although we will age in number- we always want to remain young at heart!

I want her to know that we will do our best to point this child to Jesus in all things.   We pray every day that this child will know without a doubt that they are loved by God.  We want them to know that He created he/she for a plan. This child has never been unwanted because we have wanted them since before they were conceived.  We will walk beside them through every victory and every trial.   We will love them no matter what choices or mistakes they may make. We will always fight for them & with them.  We will love them regardless of where they go in life. We will never, ever give up on them.

I want her to know that we will make mistakes.  We won’t be perfect.  We’ll get frustrated.  We’ll lose our temper.  We’ll get overwhelmed from time to time.  But we’ll always give him/her our very best.

There’s so much I want to share with her. I want her to know that we’ll speak of her in our home with love and respect.  We will walk with our child as they wrestle with the emotions of understanding adoption.  We will support them in their decisions regarding the future and whether or not they want to seek out their birth family when the time is right.  This is just the tip of the giant ice burg that is floating around inside of my head.   I’ve been praying that God will give us the words to share our hearts with the heart that He is preparing to step in to this journey with us.  I’m sure I’ll keep starting and erasing until the words just seem right.

There is nothing about this process that is easy. Most days I feel an urgency and a heaviness in my heart because I want to be ready whenever this child comes into our life.   Each step is difficult, and as we travel down this road it seems that the steps get even more difficult.  Our hearts are more invested with each step- which means that the risk and depth us being hurt also grows. But, each step is worth the effort, the risk and the fear. Each step that we take brings us one step closer to meeting our baby.  I still dream about that moment. I imagine what it will be like to hold our baby for the first time and to know that this is the child that we have prayed for and fought for. I know that this will be one of the sweetest, most profound moments of my entire life.

I also have to remember that we aren’t the only ones who are traveling on this difficult journey.  The woman who will be carrying our baby will also be traveling a long, difficult road.  Our road ends with the unimaginable joy of having our baby placed in our arms!  Her journey will end much differently.  Ours in joy- hers in pain.  Ours with full hearts, hers with empty arms. No matter the circumstances that led her to the decision to give her baby to us- she will be making a precious sacrifice for the life of our child.  What a beautiful story we’ll have to share with our T-bird.

Please join us in praying for her.

Love,

Cera

Rummage Sale Success & the Basket Raffle Winner!

I can’t begin to tell you how I feel about the last couple of days because I don’t even know that I can adequately put it in to words.  Each time we step out and do something that brings us another step closer to bringing our baby home I wonder how it’s going to turn out.   I tend to limit God and think conservatively about what will happen because I don’t want to put too much pressure on me (or those who are helping us)  as to how things are going to turn out.  I’ve talked quite a bit about how I’ve had doubts along the way that we’ll ever reach our goals.   Each time I doubt, God provides.   Each time I worry,  something happens to calm my fears and ease my anxiety.

From the very beginning of this dream planting itself deep into my heart, I worried that we would never raise the first payment in time.  We needed to come up with a pretty huge dollar amount within 6 months of being accepted by our agency.  Our 6 months is up October 27th. Ryan and I both work.  We can pay our bills and we have all of what we need and most of what we want but thinking of having an extra $35,000 to cover the expenses of an adoption has just seemed impossible.

When my mom approached me about doing a rummage sale I was thrilled!  Her and my older sister have seen first hand how stressed I have been with the craziness of life and the pressure we’ve put on ourselves to make this adoption goal happen.  My mom told me that her and Melissa (my sister) were going to own it. They’d get it together, they’d run it.  They would make it work.  This was one thing I didn’t need to let myself worry about.  We thought we’d get enough donations to raise between $1,000 and $2,000 which would pretty much put us where we needed to be to sign a contract.

Guys, the donations came pouring in.  For those of you who live out of town or weren’t able to make it-  the church basement was PACKED.  It was so full that we decided last minute to host a special “friends & family” preview to try and get rid of more stuff.   We had furniture,   household items,  baked goods,  NICE clothes… you name it!  Friends and Family night was awesome.   Ryan and I were truly blown away by how many people showed up to love on us and to love on this baby.  Over 1/2 of the girls who work in the office with me showed up after a long day of work!  Our Life Point family was there all night.  We saw so many familiar faces and we sold a LOT of stuff.   We had people doubling and tripling what their total purchase price was. We had people who sacrificially gave just to help us move one step closer to bringing home our T-bird.

(Notice I keep writing and not telling you the grand total? I know some of you have been anxiously waiting… I just really need to share the story that goes along with what was given… plus, who doesn’t love a little added suspense?!)

Friday morning we were swamped with people.  It was busy!  We quickly sold all of the furniture that had been donated and we were bagging up clothing and household items by the garbage bag full.   To say it was incredible… is an understatement!  Everyone was so kind and genuinely excited for us.  It makes my eyes tear up just thinking about it.  At the end of the day yesterday I was exhausted- both physically and emotionally.   My mom and sister decided to NOT share what the grand total of the sale was until everything was said and done.. so the suspense was killing me too!  (See… I get the suspense just as much as I give it!)

This morning I was up early. I didn’t sleep well… I was too excited to get to the church and power through the day.   We had a lot of fun today and got rid of even more stuff.   As we packed things up anticipation was building. I had a good guess of where we were at and I was anxious to see if my guess was correct.  I knew we had surpassed our initial goal of raising between $1,000 and $2,000…. but I wasn’t sure exactly how far we had gone over that total. We drew for our picnic basket raffle.  The winner of the raffle was Kari Prosch!  Then, it was time for my mom to spill the beans!

***DRUMROLL PLEASE******

We raised exactly $4,000!

It makes me cry just to type that number.  Not only did we surpass our goal we doubled it.  Not only are we financially in a place to sign our contract with the adoption agency, we can also pay for our home study and have a good jump on our 2nd big goal.  I really can’t put my emotions in to words because what I am feeling is something I have never felt before.

I don’t know why I limit God and his ability to work.  He placed this dream and desire in our hearts.  He will certainly provide. I am seeing a miracle in action.  People are loving on Ryan and I that truly don’t even know us.   Our friends and family are rallying around us and loving this baby that isn’t even here.  I am so humbled and so amazed!

One of the things that has made this rummage sale so incredible is how many people who have volunteered to help.  I wish I would have kept track of the volunteer hours that were put in on this project… but maybe its better I not know because my heart my just explode.  We had TONS of people there to help fold and price and organize,donate,clean up and check people out. Thank you just isn’t enough to say..but it’s the only words I know to share my appreciation!  Our family rallied around us and worked together like I’ve never seen.

I am exhuasted!  My feet hurt.  My back hurts. I’m sweaty and gross and my face is streaked with tears…but mostly my heart is FULL.  God has been so, soo good to us.  We cannot WAIT to see where the next step in this journey takes us.  Be watching!, there’s a LOT MORE in store!  We’re nearly 1/3 of the way there…. we just have another 2/3 to go!

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Mary’s Spirit Shop in Portsmouth, Ohio will be donating 20% of their sales to our adoption fund on August 17th! Perfect time to finish up your back to school shopping & pick up a shirt or two to support your favorite high school team!

I’ll also be placing another tshirt order in the coming week.   Let me know if you’d like one!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Ryan & Cera