The Stanley Family

Written/Interview by David Clark of Hands of Hope

About the gFamily (Gerald, Gretchen, Grant, Grady, and Gillian)

Married in 1999, and giving birth to Grant in 2002 and Grady in 2004, Gerald and Gretchen Stanley adopted their daughter Gillian from Guatemala in March of 2008. This is a snapshot of their journey toward adoption.

Tell me a little bit about your adoption story.

Gerald and Gretchen: We were married in 1999 while at Taylor University and started thinking about adoption at that time. Gerald had been volunteering his time reading to young children through a football school reading ministry program when he began to feel a pull toward young people who had little or no parental influence.  Gretchen “grew up with the idea” as her mother was always interested in international adoption and the plight of orphans around the world. After having two wonderful children of our own, we felt like God was calling us to do something active to respond to God’s “nudging” toward adoption.

Gretchen (Aug 06 – Jan 07): My biggest concern at the time was financial. I felt that if God wanted us to do this, He would need to show us a way financially to do this. Over lunch one day I asked God “show us how we can afford this.” Within 2 hours, a long-forgotten $1,300 severance check arrived in the mail (this check was from Gerald’s previous job that he had left 6 years prior). We felt like God was telling us to trust Him and he would provide the resources. Within 5 days, we contacted an agency and were set up with FTIA (Families Through International Adoption) which had an information session two weeks later (which was also evidence of God’s timing)!

Gerald and Gretchen: We started with FTIA in January of 2007. We targeted Guatemala because of the adoption policies in that country at the time, proximity to the U.S., and because of the ages of the children available for adoption (we both felt called to adopt an infant). By April of 2007, we had been approved and put on a waiting list for a baby girl. In August of 2007, we received our referral with a picture of Gillian at just 3 days old! She was our little girl! By October (2007), we decided to visit Gillian and were blessed to spend four full days with her in a hotel. While it was a blessing to see her and confirmed our mission, it was heart-breaking to give her back to her foster family in Guatemala (however, her foster mother was a wonderful Christian woman). Just two months later, we felt like we were missing Gillian so much that we returned to Guatemala and spent five full days with her. All along, we felt like God was again providing the financial resources for us to do this. Every time we needed money to travel, etc., it was just “there.” Late January/early February 2008, then, was the time we had waited for: Gillian was released from another level of the Guatemalan court system - which, in turn, made her officially our daughter. On March 7 we picked up Gillian and returned to the U.S. with our daughter on March 12, 2008!

Why adoption?

Gretchen:  We both really felt God’s call to adopt.  Throughout our marriage, I felt like God kept “putting it in front of me” in a variety of ways…like it was never far from our hearts and minds.

Talk about feeling God’s hand throughout this experience.

Gerald:  We both felt like Gillian was our daughter right away…as soon as our referral came through, we felt like she was immediately a part of our family.  Initially, I felt like God had to “push us through” the process, but now we think “why doesn’t EVERYONE do this?” 

Gretchen:  I tend to be anxious when venturing into the unknown, but throughout our adoption journey, I felt so much peace and contentment that I know that God was guiding and directing us through the entire process.

Do you have a particular verse or quote that has helped you throughout this journey?

Gerald and Gretchen:  Matthew 18:5 – “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” – has been a source of inspiration and comfort for us.

Was there anything unexpected that came as a result of your adoption of Gillian?

Gretchen:  God not only changed our lives, but our perspective of life changed as well.

Gerald:  It completely opened our “world perspective” and forced me to ask “what are Christians called to do in - and for -  this world?”  I don’t think I saw that coming.

Gretchen and Gerald:  Not only did this experience expand our family…that was just the beginning.  We’ve found ourselves more “on fire” to do more – for this ministry, for the people of Guatemala, and for orphans around the world.  Our world view has been completely transformed!

Any advice for those considering adoption?

Gretchen and Gerald:  Go for it completely.  God calls us to care for orphans and if you feel that God is leading you toward adoption, you have no other response but to go.  He will provide resources, direction, and peace.  He just needs you to act.

You can keep up with the Stanley family by visiting their blog @