Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Monkey Girl...

At 5:30 a.m., we crossed the bridge. Silently we sat...

fingers interlocked. Stomachs fluttering.

We'd waited for this day for 9 months. 38 weeks to be exact. The day our first little girl would be born. It was a scheduled c-section. Estimated time of birth? 7:00 a.m.

No labor. No pain.

A very structured, Type A birth for a very structured, Type A personality. My dream birth story.

They wheeled me upstairs (which always makes me feel awkward because I'm perfectly capable of walking to the elevator myself) and take me to the waiting room.

For those of you who don't know, the pre-labor waiting room is ridiculously small. This is not like your standard labor, delivery, and post birthing room where there is room for an entire army. There is room for one hospital sized bed, the heartbeat monitor and a couple stools. It's cramped and lucky for us, we were only going to be stuck in there about a 1/2 hour.

They hooked me up to the monitor, took my health history, read me the risks of a cesarean, and I signed my life away. Literally. Ten minutes until take off...

And then the unthinkable. Some other pregnant lady decided to have an emergency of her own and take up the entire surgical room! How could someone bust in on my perfect schedule and push everything back another 2 hours!!! Not only that but the fluids they kept pumping in my IV made me need to visit the bathroom every 15 minutes (which is not easy to do in a hospital gown while pulling an IV pole.)

I was aggravated.

But when they came in and said another woman had an emergency, and then a THIRD, I just had to laugh in humor. I lay in bed trapped by my gown that made it far to embarrassing to leave the tiny cave of a room. Nick couldn't handle the claustrophobia any longer and had to leave. My mom and Nick's mom took turns keeping me company...and we just waited.

All afternoon...

Finally at 3:00 p.m., nine and a half hours after our journey to the hospital began they walked me to the operating room. Yes, I walked. I needed to move.

It took fourteen minutes and at 3:14 p.m. our beautiful little Amra Grace was welcomed to this world. She came with a thick head of beautiful black hair and full lips that made the prettiest pout. And that day she became our "little monkey girl."

Amra brings so much joy and happiness into our home...not to mention drama (she IS a girl). But she is the sweetest, cuddliest little girl and I will never forget the first time I held her in my arms and knew that I would spoil that little girl rotten.

Happy 5th Birthday Amra Grace, we love you so much and are so blessed to call you our daughter!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Best Decision of My Life...

On May 20, 2000, I walked out my parents' front door and took a step into a new life. I hopped into the old beaten up green Bronco, Nick's first car, and took in a deep breath. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the dress bag. The enormous white dress and its beautiful train completely covered the back window.

It was hard to believe the day I'd been waiting for my entire "short" life had come. I started the engine, put it in drive and pushed on the gas. As I headed full speed into epiphany.

Des'ree voice came over the speakers and the whole way to the church I sang this song:

I walked down that aisle with full confidence that I was making the best decision of my life.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house...except for mine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The City of Addis...

In awe that I get to bring my daughter home from this beautiful country, culture, and people. Inspires me more to never let her forget where she is from. We are getting so close and it still feels so surreal. The excited little butterflies are beginning to flutter in my stomach, she's one day closer to being home!

The City of Addis - A short documentary from Session 7 Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

Many are asking..."So...where are you on this adoption journey?"

Good question. And I have answers.

After a fast paced start and a looooong winter of waiting, we've finally made some progress. Things that may seem little to others are actually BIG steps forward for those going through an adoption. We finished our home study back in February but it took a couple weeks for the state to approve the document. Then you have to send in an application to Immigration and Home Land Security for fingerprints. That application took another couple weeks, and then they send you an appointment to get the actual fingerprints taken.

Not like the instant response from e-mail, text, and facebook. No, we are talking snail mail here, people.

Anyway, our fingerprint date is May 23rd. While we are waiting for the fingerprints, I am collecting the final documents and paperwork needed for our dossier (the paperwork sent to Ethiopia for government approval). This is the last big step! Our hope is to get our fingerprints back by the middle of June and send these along with our dossier to our agency...

And then we wait...and wait...and wait some more.

The current waiting time for a referral for an infant girl has been ranging around 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 months. That means we could be receiving a match and picture of our little girl around December! It still seems so surreal and far away for us, but we know that every waiting minute leads us closer.

In the meantime we are doing little things like: getting our passports - check, preparing the house and nursery - check, and planning Service Projects/Fundraisers.

In case you haven't heard, Nick and I, along with 28 other volunteers of friends and family are doing a Service Project based on 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 becoming polluted by the world."

On June 11, we are doing an "Extreme Home Makeover" type work project for a local widow. We are planning to repaint the entire interior and exterior of her home, replace the flooring, cabinets, and countertops, and other various home projects that her house needs. We are looking for people to sponsor our work day. 100% of the gifts donated will go to help support both the work day and our adoption fund.

If you are interested in supporting "Operation 127", please send tax deductible donations to I CARE, Inc. PO Box 1603 Bel Air, MD 21014. Please designate Nick and Erin Kellerstrass in the memo of your check, or you may donate online at

Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and financial support. We have been incredibly blessed by the outpouring of love from those closest to us and those we don't even know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Meeting of God...

Only He could have coordinated a meeting like this.

This is something I'm so sure of that I revel in the excitement of what this could mean.

For her. For us. For our child.

We wanted to help but everywhere we looked we couldn't find someone in need. We tried churches, we asked friends and family, we even called The Salvation Army. Those doors all closed. But we prayed that we could help someone who truly needed and wanted help.

And we waited.

She was at home. Praying. Seeking peace. She woke up determined to let her heart move on past the grief. It's been two years and he still leaves shadows throughout her house.

It took her a week to paint one bedroom wall...and another to recover. She was unable to brighten the home that held so many memories. Memories that kept her from embracing life alone. The only thing that she could change were the pictures hanging that served as a constant reminder.

It was time to take initiative. She reached out to a close friend and told her that the only way she knew she could move forward was to update and brighten her home. And that close friend knew just the people who wanted to help.

A month ago we didn't know Kathy. We didn't know her story and we didn't know her need.

But God did.

She is now a dear friend of ours and someone that I can relate to. A loss so overpowering that sometimes just putting the pictures away means something more significant. To realize that life after death is not just a betrayal but a necessary step.

We aren't just helping Kathy get new flooring, new cabinets and countertops, and an entirely new paint job. We are helping her find her life again, and she is helping me to find mine.

It's a meeting only He could have coordinated.