Thursday, December 22, 2016

Next!

So Christmas is only a few days away. I’m not working in the office today, which is great. While catching up on some Facebook this morning, I got a reminder that it’s been one year since we made our announcement to all our friends and family on social media that we were going to be adopting. One year. 

A lot has happened since then. I missed writing a post during Thanksgiving time, though I wanted to, but time got away from us. It wasn’t that we had a major update to send out or anything, but just to share some thoughts about how much God has blessed us over the past year - and He has - and we are so thankful! He has provided and is providing and has shown us over and over how He is clearly preparing for us to adopt.

I figure it’s time for another long-overdue post. As with most people, it’s a busy time of year for us, filled with Christmas musicals, end of the year events, parties, and of course shopping. Everyone is always in such a big hurry to go somewhere, meet someone, or buy that one last present. Patience is not something many have this time of year. I admit that I’m not always the most patient person either.

I was reminded of this fact when standing in line the other day waiting to buy a gift for someone. I hate lines. I hate waiting. People wait in lines all the time for various reasons - some good, some not so good. For example, no one likes waiting in line at the DMV, especially if you have to sit there for a couple hours. But waiting in line at a theme park in order to ride your favorite ride of all time, well that’s another story! The anticipation can be excruciating, knowing that what waits for you at the end is so good!

And then it hit me. Thinking about our adoption and the waiting. “God, when is this going to happen for us?” He reminded me that some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. That only the BEST things in life take time. He created the world in seven days. Why? He could have done it all in just an instance. Why take so long? Being Christmas, we’re reminded of and now celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our long awaited Messiah! Why did His arrival on earth take so long? I think it’s because even from the beginning of the earth, God teaches us that His greatest gifts take time. We just need to be patient and trust in Him that He’s getting things ready. The Bible says in Lamentations 3:25, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him.”

Standing in that long line at the store the other day, I observed others in front of me stepping up to the registers as I heard each available cashier call out, “next.” It’s a great word to hear when waiting in line! God reminded me that “patience is a virtue” and that according to 1 Samuel, “lack of patience can cause you to miss blessings.” It caused me to stop and say a small prayer about our adoption. I thanked God for all the ways He’s been proving His love for us, and all the ways in which He’s shown that He is preparing a way for us to adopt. And then I prayed that our wait would not be much longer. I prayed that we would soon be called “NEXT!”

Monday, October 10, 2016

Waiting...

It was about this time a year ago that my wife and I came to the decision that God was calling us to adopt. We didn’t really know at that time what that might look like or how it would happen. We were pretty clueless back then and didn’t even know where to start, but we prayed, asked, and searched for answers.

We’ve looked into and prayed about medical treatments, fostering, fostering to adopt, international adoption, domestic adoption, private adoption, agencies, lawyers, etc. We’ve taken classes, gone through training, done our paperwork, questionnaires, and multiple pages of homework. We’ve done a ton of reading, listened to podcasts about adoption, and sought the advice of friends and family. We’ve gotten background checks, medical checks, taken care of our wills, had our home inspections, and thoroughly questioned during our home study. We’ve had new photos taken of us and created our profile book (my favorite part of this process). We’re still fundraising, and there will be other things to take care of before we’ll be able to bring our child home, but for now, EVERYTHING IS DONE!

So now we wait…

After a year since making this decision to adopt, this may be the hardest part of our journey. How much longer, God? Where is the money going to come from? How is this going to work? What about this? What about that?

We know this will change us. It already has. God is bringing Rachael and I closer together through this experience and teaching us more and more to trust Him. He’s teaching us to pray, to trust, to be patient, to love and depend on each other more and more, AND to wait patiently on Him!

Patience takes time. Not something our society accepts well. But it’s developed through life’s difficulties. So is trust in what God is doing. Our pastor at church as been preaching the last few weeks about prayer. Just yesterday, on a weekend in which most of Florida and the east coast were facing a Category 4 hurricane, he shared about God’s provision - that we don’t need to worry! God knows our needs! He will provide! Why worry about things you can’t control? Why worry about things when God has got our backs?

Sometimes, I write these updates because I know others want to know what’s going on in our adoption process. But sometimes, I find it therapeutic to write out these thoughts, which also give me a reminder of where we’ve been and how God has been bringing us through this journey all along. There is no need for us to worry so much! He’s got our back! We just need to trust Him!

I close this update by once again asking you all to continue to pray for us, for the strength to endure the wait knowing that every day that passes is another day He is preparing and putting all the pieces in place, to pray for our child who we’ve yet to meet, for the expectant mother carrying our child, and that all will work out in God’s timing and through His provision! Take care and God bless you all!

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's Official!

So today and this weekend, Rachael and I will be celebrating our birthdays! (We were born 2 days apart on the same year, so that's pretty awesome!) What makes this birthday for us truly special is that just a couple weeks ago we finished our home study visits, and today, we are able to share that...

WE ARE OFFICIALLY A "WAITING FAMILY!!"

Special thanks to Kerri Cutting Photography for donating
their time and talents to us and doing this awesome photo shoot!


This is a VERY big deal for us! It means that all the paperwork, the training, the reading/homework, and the visits are all done and we have been APPROVED for adoption by our agency!

So, you're saying, "Hey, that's great! So how long are you going to have to "wait"? Well, that's not so easy to answer. There are many scenarios and factors that play into it. Generally, we're told that the average wait time is about 12-18 months. It could come sooner, or it could take much longer. We'll have to leave that in God's hands.

Here's how it tends to work: Typically, the agency will try to "match" expectant mothers/couples who are choosing adoption for their child with couples like Rachael and I who are "waiting families." If we fit the profile that the expectant parent(s) are looking for, our profile book (which is a book that tells all about us, our family, where we live, why we want to adopt, etc.) is shown to them along with a few others and they will choose which family they want for their child. Since only one family gets chosen per showing, most couples (including ourselves) choose not to know whenever their book is shown, thereby eliminating any heartbreak that may occur whenever you are "rejected."

For this reason, things tend to settle down quite a bit during this time and their is little communication with our agency until we get "the call." If we are chosen by an expectant parent(s), then, because we are willing to have an open or semi-open adoption, a time and place will be set to meet each other. Think of it like a blind date, only they've had a little bit of a chance to check you out first, but you know almost nothing about them. Anyway, maybe I can share more about that in another post.

So, bottom line for today is, we are very happy and excited to be where we are now. Again, this might be a long wait for us, but we are hopeful it will not be. We do ask that you all continue to pray for us during this time. Your prayers and encouragements and support of what we are doing gives us strength and hope and helps us in times when we are emotionally tapped out (it happens far more than we care to share.)

One other piece of good news about where we are now, is that we can start applying for grants! Most grants (if not all - because I haven't found one that stated otherwise) require as part of the application a copy of our home study report. So we can work on that to help with additional fundraising, which we still very much need. We're just a bit past the halfway mark in our fundraising, and most of it is gone now due to recent payments. Let's just say that our most recent payment was the largest check I've ever written! What's truly awesome and absolutely AMAZING about that is that we were able to cover the full cost of that payment because of the extreme generosity of others who have donated to our fund or purchased shirts or necklaces over the last few months. We are SO grateful to you and wish we knew how to thank you all properly! Every gift, big or small, helps bring our child home!  I so wish we could express what it means to us.

I'll try to do posts more often, but honestly, our summer has been so extremely busy. Work has been crazy for both Rachael and I as we were preparing for the start of school and fall semester, not to mention the work we had to do for the adoption. Now our sites are on things leading up to and into the holidays. In addition, we have to start preparing for the reality that we could be called any time now about a possible match or "stork drop" and have to drop all we're doing. Our lives could change very quickly at this point, and that's a bit scary, but obviously exciting at the same time.

Keep us in your prayers! Love you all!

David & Rachael

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nursery Is Done!

Rachael and I finished our nursery this week! It's themed in a classic Winnie-the-Pooh decor. We started painting a couple weeks ago, got a Pooh lamp and crib set, and joked about nicknaming a corner of the room where we intend on placing dirty diapers "the house at Pooh Corner." We're very happy with the results!



We're not intending on doing any more at this point or getting any more baby items until we know more, but we wanted to do at least this much in order to add a photo to our adoption profile book.

If you're asking where are we now in the process, well, we're still waiting for our home study to be completed. Please pray for us about that as we were told it would be done by the end of July and haven't been given any updates on when that will be accomplished. It's very frustrating! Rachael started back at school this week full time, so scheduling another appointment is going to be much harder now and will likely result in her having to take time off.

We're also in the process of working on our profile book. Not an easy task when it's your one and only first introduction to the expectant parent(s) and there's so much you want to say. There's a bunch of back and forth also with our adoption agency through the revision process. Once completed, we'll need to provide our agency with 6 copies, 2 to each of their different office locations in Florida. So there is something else we could use some prayer about.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

One Step Closer

So the last few weeks have been very crazy as the school year came to an end and we transitioned into summer. For some, things tend to calm down during the summer, but for me at church, it's been quite busy with preparing and doing Vacation Bible School, followed by patriotic services on July 3. Add to that new responsibilities at church, all the stuff we've had to do for our adoption, plus trying to prepare our home for a baby, and it's been quite a juggling act! I know I haven't done much in the way of updating this blog lately, so I asked Rachael if she would share with you all. Here it is: 

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster. We had our first home study visit on June 21st. This visit was more of a “get to know you” with our caseworker.  She interviewed us together, and she did a walk-through of our home to make sure it was safe for a little one.  It went very well, and we eagerly anticipated our next visit.

On top of the Castillo de San Marcos
Between our first and second visits, David was very busy with Vacation Bible School at church, and I attended a teacher’s conference in Orlando that I have been wanting to attend for a couple years now.  When I came back home, David and I took a few days for a quick get-away in St. Augustine.  It was VERY hot, but we had a great time! It was perhaps the last vacation that we would have a chance to take before we bring our child home!  It was good to spend some time away just the two of us and reconnect with each other.  We are so grateful to David’s parents for helping us make that get-away happen! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Our view of the fireworks in St. Augustine
While we were in St. Augustine, our caseworker called us to schedule our next home study visit.  It was scheduled for the day after we returned from vacation! Yikes! This visit was the second of three visits and also the LONGEST one, where she interviewed us separately for about 2 hours each.  If the first visit was a “get to know you” visit, this visit was a “REALLY get to know you” visit!  We knew that these questions could be very personal, and for two people who are very much introverts and who don’t like to talk about themselves or their personal lives much, this was very intimidating for us.

So, we had our second home study visit this past Thursday.  David and I couldn’t be in the same room as each other during these interviews, so I met with our caseworker first while David was at work.  David came home on his lunch break for his interview.  We both agreed that the questions were not nearly as invasive as we were told they would be.  Think of it more as telling your life story.  Where were you born?  What schools did you go to?  Who were some people who were influential in your life growing up?  What traditions did you have growing up? What were family vacations like? Where did you go to college and what did you study? How did the two of you meet?  How did David propose? (That was my favorite story to tell!)  What is the rest of your family like? What are your strengths and weaknesses as a couple? On and on it goes...

A lot of the questions asked gives insight into how we will parent our child.  How we were disciplined as children can influence how we will discipline our child.  The values and beliefs that we were raised with will influence the values and beliefs that we teach our child.  As nervous as we were leading up to this second visit, God gave us a lot of peace during the interviews, and we both felt that they went much better than we had anticipated! We know there were a lot of you all who were praying for us, and we really appreciated that during our interviews. 

We still have one more home study visit to go.  We were told that we should be done with the home study before the end of July.  In the meantime, David and I have several things that we still have to take care of.  We have some “homework” that needs to be completed, which includes some required reading and writing summaries of what we’ve learned – almost like short book reports!  We will also be taking a “Newborn Care” class at the hospital next Tuesday night.  This is also required by our adoption agency. 

David and I are also in the process of putting together our “profile book.”  This will be a book that our agency will have and share with expectant mothers/parents around the state (and possibly the country). It introduces the expectant mothers and fathers to us, and tells all about us, our families and friends, our home and community, and essentially shares why we think we would make good parents for their child in the hopes that they will choose us to parent their child. It’s kind of strange putting this together – like trying to market yourselves as parents.

It is so exciting to see how God is providing for us during this time!  Currently, we are less than $10,000 away from reaching our fundraising goal!  A large chunk of the adoption fees are due when our home study is completed.  The great thing is….we have EXACTLY what we need (and I mean down to the penny!) to make the next payment!  God is so good!  He provides everything we need in HIS timing!  The rest of the fees, which is another large chunk, will be due when we bring our child home.  We are continuing to raise funds through our blog (PayPal) and through GoFundMe.  Please consider sharing our story and those links with others through social media to help us spread the word about our adoption and to help us raise the remainder of our funds. Our GoFundMe address is gofundme.com/halladoption and our blog site is hallfamilyadoption.blogspot.com.

So many of you have allowed God to use you to be a blessing to us as we raise the necessary funds to bring our child home.  “Thank you” is not adequate to express how very grateful we are to each of you.  None of this would be possible without your generosity!  David and I so appreciate the love and support that we have received from you all.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  We love you all!  Please continue to pray for us and encourage us as we anticipate bringing our child home!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Home Study & New Shirts Update

Exciting news! Yesterday we got word that our paperwork from DCF came back! BCS has cleared us to move on to the next phase in our adoption - our home study! Admittedly, it's a bit nerve-wracking to think about. We could really use some prayer from those of you reading this post that each meeting will go well and not be too stressful. We're told that once they are scheduled, we'll be assigned a case worker who will visit our home 3-4 times to inspect and interview us. As we understand it, they get VERY personal with you during that time!

The other piece of exciting news is that our shirts have come in! If you have ordered a shirt from us, we'll do our best to get it to you as quickly as possible. When you get yours, please be sure to take a photo of yourself (and any other family or friends) wearing your shirts and share those photos with us! We want to remember all of those who helped support us in our journey to adopt and to be able to show your picture our child one day! Again, we thank you so much for all your support and prayers!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fun with Family & Friends

Not much to share on the adoption front at this time. We're still waiting from some paperwork to come back from DCF and clear us with Bethany so we can move forward with scheduling our home study. We were told this can take 3-4 weeks to come back. Hopefully we'll hear something this week or next.

In the meantime...

On Monday, we got to spend some time with family in Merritt Island for the Memorial Day holiday. Our nieces and nephews (7 of them) had fun swimming in the pool. Dad did burgers on the grill, while Mom cooked some super good corn on the cob, and my sister, Michelle, made an incredible cobbler from fresh picked blueberries they all picked at a farm in Mims! Rachael's parents also drove over for lunch, and some of us played our traditional game of Shanghai when it began to rain.

As part of this exciting occasion, we got a crib! My sister still had one from when her children were little and was willing to give it to us! Such a blessing! And because Rachael's parents have a van large enough to transport it, they were willing to take it with them and will bring it to us next weekend. So there's something to look forward to!

On Tuesday, we drove to Orlando and spent a bit of time visiting with my grandparents, before coming back home.

This evening, we had a pot luck dinner with our community group at church and had a fun time talking with everyone. Some of those in our group are pretty new parents and we had fun taking turns holding and feeding some of the babies present. I think it was my first time trying to eat and hold a baby at the same time! Good practice for me! We managed to snap a quick photo of the group as everyone was leaving, but missed a few members. Perhaps when we all come back from our summer hiatus we'll try to take a new photo.