Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Newest Announcement

Hello friends and family!!
We wanted to make sure you were aware of our newest and exciting announcement- we are adopting a 5 year old boy from the Congo!!!
Our whole crew is so excited about adding Isaiah to our family!  He is such a sweet little boy.  While Eric was in Congo to train local pastors, he was able to meet him for the first time and spend a couple of days with him.  It was so hard for them both to say goodbye.  The orphanage director said it took her a full 2 days to make Isaiah understand that we are coming back for him :(  Totally breaks my heart that he thought he was being abandoned.
Can't show his face quite yet, but isn't that the cutest smile?
I am writing to ask for your help. There are 2 ways that you can help us bring our son home.
1. Give financially.  We are in a time crunch right now.  Almost all the paperwork and court process has been completed.  Financially, everything has been paid for except the final payment of $4,000.  Adoption is very expensive and we have been blessed up to this point to have everything paid for either by us selling things, borrowing from our retirement, and a couple of generous people who donated to us.  We just need the final $4,000!! 
We can NOT move forward with the rest of the adoption process without this payment being made, which means Isaiah has to stay in an orphanage longer without his family!
We would appreciate a donation in any amount to help us with this payment
To show Isaiah how many people helped to bring him home, we have bought a 500 piece puzzle.  For every $5 donation that we receive, we will write your name on the back of the puzzle piece.  When the puzzle is completed, we will frame it in a special frame so that he can see the picture that the puzzle makes and all the names on the back that helped to bring him home.  For example, if our family was to donate to someone else for their adoption I would donate $5 for everyone in our family at this point (which would be 6) for a total of $30.  Then each of our names would be written on the back of the puzzle pieces. 
To make a donation that is tax deductible you can go to this link:
Then click "Back This" and make your donation.  It's really simple!!
2. Pray.  We know for some people that money is seriously tight. So tight that you can't even spare $5. We've been there done that.  If that is you, we would ask that you please pray for Isaiah, for us, for the adoption process to move quickly, for finances to pay the last payment, for the orphanage and the director, etc. 
One of the major things we learned from our last adoption was that Satan attacks everything about an adoption.  He wants the kids to stay orphans, to feel unwanted and unloved, hopeless, etc.  So we ask that you please pray.  We can always tell when people have been at the throne of God petitioning on our behalf!!
Just recently, I read a blog post.  The person writing the blog was asking for people to support a cause she was passionate about and someone asked her the question, "What do I get out of it?"  Some of you may be asking that same question.  The only answer I have for you is that you get to be a part of Kingdom work!!  You get to help an orphaned child become an orphan no more!  You will get to see the difference a family makes in the life of a child!
We truly thank you for your support, encouragement, and for helping bring the sweetest 5 year old boy in Congo home to his family!!!
Brittany Gibbs( and family)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Overdue Update

As most of you know, we finally got to travel to DRC and bring our daughter home!!  It was a long and very complicated process that I intend to write in detail about at some point.  I also plant to write about our time spent in DRC and what it was like meeting Emmalyn for the first time. But for now, I would like to do a quick update.

We left AZ on November 4 and arrived in DRC on November 6.  It seemed like it took forever to get there!!  Our "gotcha" day was November 7- a day that I will remember for the rest of my life!

First meeting at the orphanage

Our paperwork moved quickly while we were in country, and we received our exit letter from the DGM in just a week!  It was bittersweet for us leaving DRC.  We truly enjoyed our time there.  It was hard for me to believe that we were taking our daughter from the only home she had ever known and taking her to a place that would be totally different.  I was upset for her.  While there are tons of "bad" things that people can point out about DRC, I can see the beauty more than I can see anything else.  When God showed us that we needed to adopt from the DRC, I believe He gave us a love for the country and people that will never go away.  However, as much as we loved our time, we also missed our kiddos at home.  We couldn't wait for them to meet Emmalyn and finally start living life as a family under one roof.

First night at home

I would like to try to answer some of the most common questions that we have gotten about our sweet girl.  If you have questions that aren't answered, feel free to ask and I will try to respond to those on a different post.

So, what has it been like since Emmalyn has been home?

Busy, fun, crazy, hard, wonderful.  Yes, all those words.  She has adjusted extremely well- much better than I expected.  Please do not take that as I am saying everything is perfect.  It's not.  BUT, it has gone much better than I expected.  I was preparing myself for the worst.  Every picture that we received of her for a year was of no smile, really no expression at all. Even the videos we had of her were of her sitting, not moving, no expression.  I was preparing for a child that wanted nothing to do with us.  That hasn't been the case at all.  But that's not to say that she can't throw a really good fit.  She's got a great poochy lip :)

How would you describe Emmalyn?

Beautiful, Funny, Concerned, Giggly, Opinionated, Perfect for our family!

She has the most beautiful smile and the best laugh.  She loves to joke around.  She loves clothes and prefers the color pink over all the others.  She loves sparkles (she has two pair of sparkle shoes).  She is definitely a girly girl :)

She LOVES to eat!  I thought for the first couple of weeks we weren't going to be able to afford to feed her :) She seriously ate so much!  That has started to slow down though.  She is even starting to be a little picky about the things she eats.  Her favorite foods are pizza, spaghetti, chicken, and rice.  While in Congo, she ate chicken and rice everyday (sometimes 3 times a day).  I thought we would be eating that forever. But now, pizza is her absolute favorite. 

She is a very strong-willed child.  Very persistent.  She hardly ever accepts "no" for an answer the first or second time :)  She can throw a huge fit when she doesn't get her way.  However, that's becoming less and less as time goes on. 

How is her English coming?

She is doing well learning English.  She understands most of what we say, though we still use Lingala words some.  She is speaking less of Lingala, but still does quite a bit.  She does a great job using both languages together to get her point across.  For example- She will start out a sentence with many Lingala words and then end it with Brayden or Ella and sometimes a gesture.  She does this when she is telling on them:) 

She is learning sentences.  She says, "I want a drink."  or "Mama, I eat." or "Mama, I play."  Overall, she is doing well.  I really, really hope that she will be able to learn English and still keep Lingala.  I know it will be hard, but we are going to try.

What is her name?

Her name is Emmalyn Jewell Benedicte Gibbs.  Emmalyn comes from my maternal grandmother, Emma.  Jewell comes from my paternal grandmother, Jewell is her middle name and was also my great grandmother's name.  Benedicte was her name in Congo.  It means "blessing".  She is, in fact, a blessing to our family so we chose to keep it in her name.

How old is she?

She turned 4 years old on December 6 so we were able to celebrate her birthday with her this year!  We don't know for sure that that day was her official birthday, but it's the day that was given to us and we decided to keep it.  The doctor believes that it is fairly accurate so we are going with it.

What happened for her to become an orphan?

We get this question a lot.  It most often comes in the form of "What happened to her real parents?" While I know what you mean when you say that, it is better to use the term biological parents.  Because I am real.  Eric is real.  So we are her real parents  (It would be good to remember this when talking to adoptive families.  Sometimes it hurts our feelings. It also confuses our children.)

But back to the main question.  We feel that this is something that is very personal to our daughter and do not feel that it is appropriate to share with everyone.  She can decide one day when she is older if she wants it shared or not.  The truth is, we don't really know that much anyway.  We are trying to find out more, and we don't want to share things that are not true or that would be hurtful to our daughter.

Why did they shave her head?

She had a fungal infection on her head when we arrived in DRC.  Fungal infections on the scalp get into your hair follicles.  In order to treat effectively, you have to shave the head and treat with the proper medicine.  If not, the hair will not grow back in those places and there will be bald patches. 

We have been giving her the proper medicine and her hair is growing back nicely.  I think I'm gonna miss her short hair if/when it gets long.

What are you working on with her?

Obviously, communication.

Potty training.  She does really good during the day, but still has issues at night.

Teaching her how to play.  She loves toys for a couple of minutes.  Then she is right back at my side.  She would rather help me with the laundry, or the dishes, or cooking, or just about anything else.  She wants to be with me all the time.  While I love that and understand her wanting to do that, I also want her to be a child.  To know what it's like to just wake up and have to play all day without worrying about anything else. 

Well, I need to wrap things up for tonight.  I plan to talk about our trip to DRC and the end of our adoption process in the next several posts so check back soon if you are curious about those things.

We are so thankful that God brought this precious little girl in our lives!  She is just perfect for our family- a true blessing!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The 5th time is the charm...

Yes, you read that title correctly.  Finally, after the 5th date/time that we have had an appointment for our embassy, it actually happened!!!!  Holy Cow!!  This past month and a half has been so stressful for us. (And that is an understatement.)

We never in a million years thought we would have this much trouble when it came time for embassy.  And let me be clear- it was not the actual embassy that was the issue. It was the person we had representing us that was. 

It really is a long story to tell of the events that have taken place over the last month.  One day I will tell of those events, but not today.  I do not think it would be wise to do that before we actually have our daughter on US soil.  But I will say it has tested my faith.  It is very humbling and even somewhat embarrassing to admit that, but it's true.  There was one day last week that I was so upset.  Thoughts sprang into my head that this adoption was not going to happen.  That the past 2 years and 4 months have been for nothing.  I was asking God "why?" 

Thankfully, my awesome husband that I am so blessed to have, brought me to reality.  He said, "We have to trust Him.  He's got this under control."  We spent the next 30 minutes praying together.  Then I spent the next couple of hours just giving it ALL to God, confessing and repenting of my lack of trust and faith.  And when I finally just gave it to Him (like I should have already done) I had such a peace in my soul.

When I went to bed that night, I was utterly exhausted.  I knew that I would sleep well.  However, I woke up about 3am and couldn't go back to sleep.  I tossed and turned for a couple of minutes and prayed once again that we would hear good news.  I still couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to check my phone for the email that we had been waiting for.  And IT WAS THERE!!  The email we had been waiting for to let us know that everything was going to be okay!

Just like that- our prayers had been answered and our day had a total new outlook.  Oh how I let my circumstances dictate the day that I am having so many times!! 

And it became so clear to me once again the things God had been teaching me throughout this whole adoption process.  Thank you, Lord, for the ups and(and maybe even more so) the downs of this journey!!! 

So, now where are we?  We are just waiting to get the approval to travel.  We are hoping and praying to travel in the next 2 to 3 weeks.  We need to travel before the end of November because our visas will expire if we don't.  So you can be praying for that!

There are 3 families in Congo this week with our adoption agency that have been able to see Emmalyn and love on her.  We are so thankful for that!  It's been fun keeping up with their facebook and blogs to see how their personal experience is going with their kiddos and what it's like being in Congo. 

Now we just dream of the day that it is us, and we are confident that it will be soon! And the list making and packing shall begin!!!


This is the picture we received last week when we found out everything was okay.  The first picture we have ever received of her smiling!!!  Isn't she beautiful?  (We did find out, though, from the families that are there now that her head has been shaved.  We don't know why.  So, the next time we receive a picture of her it will be of a bald beauty!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Embassy Appointments- Take 2

As most of you know, our lawyer missed our Embassy appointment drop off on August 30.  It was a huge bummer.  Like made my cry for days.  I guess because we were so excited and it wasn't expected that he would miss it.  We just knew that we would travel in September to bring our daughter home (in fact we would be there right now), and it was such a HUGE disappointment to find out that that would not be the case.

That first week was rough. I talked about getting on a plane and going to Congo anyway.  Even if I didn't have an embassy appointment for another month at least I would be with my daughter and know that she is ok.  Then I talked myself out of it.  Then back into it.  And the pattern continued a million times until I finally decided that I would just wait patiently.  I just came to grips that God has perfect timing.  (And let me just say- it is super easy to say this, but much different to actually believe it.)

So, our new embassy drop-off date is September 27- just 2 days away.  The actual appointment is October 1. 

Would you all please, please, please pray for this?  Pray for our lawyer to actually make the document drop off.  Then pray that all paperwork that is needed is there and we are approved.  We really NEED this to happen.  Our daughter NEEDS this to happen.

I posted this earlier in the week on facebook:

"Get your "YES" straight at the very beginning. Decide on it. Roll around in it. Put it on the table and shellack it. Because you cannot let every delay and snag derail your certainty about adoption. When you say YES, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THEM. I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance through every unforeseen discouragement and delay. Do not imagine that something outside of "your perfect plan" means you heard God wrong. There is NO perfect adoption. EVERY adoption has snags. We Americans invented the "show me a sign" or "this is a sign" or "this must mean God is closing a door" or "God must not be in this because it is hard," but all that is garbage. You know what's hard? Being an orphan. They need us to be champions and heroes for them, fighting like hell to get them home. So we will. We may cry and rage and scream and wail in the process, but get them home we will." --Jen Hatmaker, Author of Interrupted and Seven and mother of five (two all the way from Ethiopia)
I needed to hear/see that this week.  I can relate to everything that Jen Hatmaker says. This past month- the crying, raging, screaming, wailing- has been me.  But so is the fighting and so is the determination to get our daughter home!!  
Thank you friends and family for your love, prayers, and support.  This adoption journey would be so much harder without you.  It is true that adoption is not for the faint of heart.  It is HARD. But would I do it all again?  You betcha. 
Because this precious girl is WORTH it!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sad news

This is gonna be short and sweet because I am still trying to process everything.

We were so excited today that we got our visas in the mail. Unfortunately, the news about Embassy is not good.  We just got an update from our agency director.  She said that our lawyer in Congo was in a car accident last week and missed our Embassy appointments.  They have been rescheduled for Sept 27 and Oct 1.  That puts us a month behind where we thought we would be.  Another month without our daughter :( 

My heart hurts.  I feel like it's in a million pieces. 

Thanks for your prayers!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Embassy Appointments and Other Things

Thank you so much for your prayers for our adoption process!  We are getting so close!!

I wanted to give you a brief update on where we are.  Since my last post, we got our Embassy appointments.  They were actually last week.  However, we have not heard anything about them yet (i.e. did they go ok?, was all the paperwork there?, etc.).  We are praying and hoping to hear something this week!

We have also sent in all the paperwork to get our visas to travel.  It was a little weird putting our passports and yellow fever vaccination cards in the mail and hoping they didn't get lost somewhere.  They didn't though.  They have arrived at the Embassy in Washington, D.C. (we may have stalked the USPS website with our tracking number) and we hope to get them back at the end of the week.

So once we get our visas and hear that Embassy went ok, what's left?  Emmalyn has to get her visa and then we can travel to Congo!!  It is seriously so close!  Like we are down to just weeks away (at least we hope)!

The question has been asked several times- "What can we do?  What can we send?" 

Well, you can send a couple of things if you so desire. 

1. Small toys- we are going to take these to pass out to the kids at the different orphanages.  They need to be fairly small since they have to fit in one suitcase/dufflebag. 

2. Non-perishable Candy- we are also going to take some candy with us to pass out to the kiddos.  I am thinking like dum dum suckers, smarties, etc.

3. Size 3T clothes- these would be for Emmalyn.  I am just guessing that this is the size that she will wear.  We have several things already, but we don't have many bottome (shorts or pants) or pajamas.  Please don't go out and buy anything.  I am just saying this mostly for people who may be cleaning out their  closets and may have some hand-me-downs that would work.  We know that she will grow quickly so we don't need tons of stuff just yet. 

Most importantly, though, you can just pray.

1. Pray for Emmalyn- that she will remain healthy, that she is being fed, that she is being taken care of, that she will not be moved again (she has been moved to a different place again since my last post), that God is preparing her for our family

2. Pray that we will hear good news about Embassy quickly.

3. Pray that we get our visas back by the end of the week.

4. Pray for our family- that we will trust God in His timing, that God is preparing us for Emmalyn

5. Pray for timing of travel- We need someone (preferably our parents) to take care of our children while we are gone to Congo.  However, my sister and Eric's sister are getting married the 2nd week of October and it doesn't look like our parents can come to AZ if we travel in October.  Also, Eric is the one marrying the two couples so it would be a good idea if we are home by then :)

6. Pray for the other families within our agency's adoption group.  Many of their children have jiggers in their feet that are absolutely awful!  They need surgery as quickly as possible.  If they do not get the surgery, their feet will get infected to the point where they could possibly lose limbs or even worse- death could occur if left untreated. Our agency is trying to raise the funds to pay for the surgery for each child.  They also need about 3 people to travel to Congo to take care of the children after the surgery is over.  If you would like to read more about this go to

Oh how I love her and can't wait to hug and kiss her!