Thursday, October 6, 2011

Moving Forward

For most of today I went through the motions with a nagging ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. We were expecting one last piece of paper that would be the final piece needed for our dossier to be complete. I can tell you that when I saw that envelope in our mailbox and called Trey at work to let him know it had arrived, it was like telling him that labor pains had started.

A quick text back from him stated that he would be leaving his office in 15 minutes and would be coming home. We knew we had to run a fine toothed comb through everything to make sure this growing mass of paperwork was absolutely perfect before it was sent. As I went through the papers for what had to be 53rd time, there were a few questions that popped up. What if the notary seal wasn't prominent enough on one page? Did the copies of our last three years' income tax returns need signatures on every page? Did our case worker have a page that was missing? Did we need to sign that?

Four hours after my initial call to Trey all our questions were answered and 3 additional copies of the dossier were made. After taking a couple of pictures of what had wrapped up the last five months of our lives, Trey bolted to the post office. And it was done. Sent. In the hands of the Bethany office, and ultimately the hands of the Philippines agency.

We do not know how long we will wait before we get a referral. We have been told that it could be between six to twelve months before a match is made. We have also been told that referrals involving sibling groups happen more quickly. I would love for this to be the case.

As soon as the packet was in the mail, I felt the pit in my stomach slowly ease away. I could suddenly think about something other than the the pile of dishes in my sink! And for those of you who are interested in what the dossier included, here's the short list:
  • marriage license
  • birth certificates for both of us
  • 8-12 pictures of our family and house
  • psychological evaluations for both of us (this was a 3-month process by itself!)
  • police clearance for both of us
  • clearance through the Department of Homeland Security (about a 2 1/2 month process)
  • autobiographies for both of us (mine was 22 pages!)
  • copies of last three years' tax returns
  • Risks of international adoption--four pages detailing what could go wrong along the way. You sign it saying that the agency won't be blamed if these things occur
  • 3 reference letters from friends
  • 1 reference letter from church
  • 2 reference letters from both of Trey's jobs
  • medical evaluations (about a month of tests, shots, interviews)
  • checklist of special needs you will consider
  • personal information sheet (4 pages long, and by this point, I'm pretty sure they have all the answers anyway)
  • guardianship letter from those we have chosen to take care of our children should both of us die
  • Adoption services contract
Every piece of paper had to be notarized in the proper way and sent to us unfolded. It's no wonder it's all we talked about for the greater part of this past summer!
Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us and with us. Thank you to those who have provided letters and who have watched our children so we could drive many miles to get things signed and notarized. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have reached this milestone!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Taking a Break

If it were left to us, we would continue working at the pace to which we’ve become accustomed and never leave time for rest. Rest seems so contrary to what we do. In church planting, as with most ministerial occupations, you are “on call” at all hours of the day. You made the commitment to minister to those God brings along your path regardless of your personal level of fatigue. To leave in the midst of a busy summer to take a break with the family almost carries with it a feeling of guilt. So that must mean it’s not something we are supposed to do, right?

Wrong. I don’t have to break down all the verses in the Bible that address the necessity of rest and our correct handling of rest. God calls us to rest just as He calls us to work. Logically, how can we be fit for service without periods of rest? Sometimes this rest is forced, like when we are sick and must stay in bed. Other times, He makes it obvious that it is a time of rest when He provides so clearly for it.

This is what happened to us. God used two sets of people who have never met to provide us with a family vacation. The first group handled three nights in hotels for us in the Boston and Sturbridge areas of Massachusetts. The second couple provided the funds to explore these areas without having to worry about the effects on our personal budget. So our family took the first "touristy" vacation we’ve ever had alone to do things we’ve never done before. (Trips to visit family don’t qualify as “vacations”.)

I cannot express how humbled I’ve been by this entire experience. God continued to provide for us as the trip progressed with little add-ons like a gas card given to us for our return trip home.

And now that we are back…it’s time to get back to work!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I sometimes feel like the Little Engine That Could. With each step of this adoption, I find myself saying, "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can..." I can't wait until the moment on the other side of the hill when I can change that to "I knew I could...I knew I could...I knew I could..."

We know that nothing can be accomplished for God's glory without Him being in it. It is no less true for this adoption. We can look at the financial bottom line and say, "There's no way." Trust me, we've had plenty of moments to be tempted with this thinking. However, we are viewing this time as an opportunity to have our faith increased. We wait with anticipation to see how He will bring it all to pass. In the meantime, we are still faithfully completing paperwork and doing what we can to secure necessary funds. We are so thankful for those who have already visited our coffee storefront and made purchases. Every little bit helps!

If you don't know about Just Love Coffee, you can read more about it in our earlier blog entry, "Drink Coffee...Support Adoption". Through this organization we are able to raise support for the many costs associated with international adoption. By going to our storefront located at, you can place orders for coffee. For each bag that is sold through our storefront (you have to make sure it's ours, so type the address in as stated) we receive $5.00 to go towards our adoption costs.

The biggest thing we were able to cross off our dossier list this week was the I-800a. This vital piece of paperwork will basically allow us to immigrate our to-be-children back to the United States. It takes about 8 weeks to hear back from them, so we must be patient in the meantime. This is not an attribute I am known for.

Please continue to pray for our family through this adoption journey.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Adoption Story

We are adopting because we believe God has called us to open our home up to orphans. Back in January, 2011, both Trey and Robyn had separate individual experiences where God began to impress upon their hearts this calling to pursue adoption. In mid-January, we were discussing this tug in our hearts, and we both saw this as God’s leading us to stop “talking” about adoption and start “doing” something about it. We both agreed that God had prepared our hearts with “extra love” that was stored up for children that were not yet living with us. We also saw how our decision to homeschool last year was the leap of faith that God used to prepare our home for bringing adopted children in where they could have personalized attention. In addition, we have seen how God has prepared our own children’s personalities to be suitable for the flexibility needed in an adoption.

In deciding to adopt internationally, we both were directed toward the Philippines after reading about the extreme cases of child trafficking and the sex-slave trade in the country.  In addition, we feel called to adopt a sibling group of 2-3 children because tsibling groups are, in general, more difficult to place for adoption since the agencies try to keep them intact as a family.

We also believe our adoption calling and experience is part of God’s plan to encourage our young church plant and the students we work with at Norwich University. We pray that God will use our journey and testimony of His provision for this adoption as a discipleship opportunity for our church to learn about God’s heart for the fatherless and God’s provision for those who obey His calling. Therefore, in response to God’s leading in our lives, we are pursuing an international adoption from the Philippines of a sibling group of 2-3 children.

Please see the post below for information on how you can help us bring our future children home!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drink adoption


Our family is answering God’s call on our life to open our home to adopt a group of siblings from the Philippines. We have completed our home study through Bethany Christian services, and are now working to get our international paperwork complete so that we can be considered for a referral.

One of the ways you can help us right now is to pray that God with give us favor with all the agencies involved as we submit mountains of paperwork, and that we would see His provision for the financial expenses of this international adoption.

Another way you can help us raise the estimated $26,000 for our adoption is by doing something you might possibly do every week…buy coffee! We have created a storefront through Just Love Coffee, a Christian company that helps adoptive families fund their adoptions. Roasting Fair Trade Specialty coffees, Just Love uses proceeds to help an Ethiopian orphanage and families adopting not just from Ethiopia, but from anywhere in the world. For every bag of coffee you purchase through our storefront, we receive $5.00 toward our adoption expenses.

So, we invite you to visit our Just Love Coffee storefront at

Make sure you cut and paste the link as-is, so that we get credit towards our adoption expenses for your purchase. Please feel free to pass this link on to all the coffee drinkers you know!

If you would like more information on how you can minister to children in need of families through adoption, or how you can help us with our adoption journey, please send us an email at


Trey and Robyn Cates