THE RAY FAMILY
We knew we wanted to adopt someday, but we told ourselves that we were too young, too inexperienced, and well, we didn’t have $30,000 waiting to be spent. However, adoption began weighing so heavy on our hearts, it was all we could think about. God was opening doors and making the way, so we took the first step and never looked back.
We went on a wait list for an Ethiopian adoption in late 2012, but it became evident we’d be waiting a while. In July of 2014 we saw a little boy on a waiting children’s list. I had looked at a lot of list and saw a lot of faces, and while my heart broke for all of those children, it had not felt what I felt for this little boy. He was somewhere between 3-5 years old. We knew this was our son. We went on hold with our first agency and started from scratch financially to bring him home.
It took almost 16 months to get to him, but he was finally ours in November of 2015. During the waiting to bring our son home, we had transferred to their Colombia program due to the many uncertainties in their Ethiopia program. After arriving home we picked back up with our first agency and our Colombian adoption. We’re waiting until the end of October 2016 to open up for a referral, so that we have a full year with our son. Our age and special needs parameters are quite broad, so our agency expects an immediate referral, with us traveling at the beginning of next year. Our adoption story isn’t at all what we planned, and that’s the beauty of it, really. It’s so much better. It’s lead us to places we would have never gone; physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Ethiopia and Colombia have become part of our family culture. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it. We’ve had the joy of seeing this precious 5 year old boy grow and THRIVE. He has come so far in 8 months, and it has been an absolute joy getting to be his parents. We can’t wait to welcome another child into our family next year! Our son is going to be an awesome brother, and we’re really looking forward to exploring Colombia.
**The Rays were one of three stories we were able to help fund this month. Check back soon to read the other two**
THE SHEFFIELD FAMILY
“THIS IS CRAZY….BUT WHAT IF WE SAID YES?”
We are the Sheffield family. Doctors by training (OB/Gyn and Pediatrician), but church Youth & College ministry is our joy. We have four beautiful biological children ages 6, 7, 9 and 11 and four boys, ages 4, 12, 14 and 16 waiting for us in Colombia. The oldest boy “W” is 16 and is about to age out of the system. “W” offered to stay behind to allow his siblings to be adopted, but we believe no 16 year old should have to make that choice, so time is of the essence for us. We have come to recognize “The Face”. We are having a pleasant conversation… then adoption comes up. The questions start as an amiable exchange of information: “Where are you adopting from?” “Colombia” “Do you know who you are adopting?” “Four boys…three of them are teenagers.” Then “The Face” appears. It is a mixture of emotions: confusion, fear, disbelief. There are a few other, darker emotions mixed in. We have exited their box of “normal”. We are coloring outside the lines. Awkward silence follows. My (Tamara) first instinct is to throw my arm around their shoulder and comfort them. “It’s okay. It took me a while too.”
We didn’t start our adoption journey intending to adopt four boys. I remember the date night five years ago where we wrestled with whether we were open to 1… maybe 2 children. But the story that God is writing is bolder, more chaotic, less controlled. If you knew us, you would know that is not our modus operandi. We are rule followers, embracing routine with a vengeance. The journey has been long, but He needed time to change us from people who made “The Face” to people who say “Thy will be done in us and through us in these boys’ lives.”
We started in Ethiopia, moved by the sheer weight of millions of orphans. Paperwork submitted; the email came. Gut punch. Possible shut down. 3-5 year wait. We went back to the Lord; gathered friends to pray. The Lord said, “Walk with me.” Honduras. We love Latin America! Growing up biracial, we were drawn to a connection with my Latin roots. Dossier submitted. News came: “restructuring”. We waited, and waited, and the Lord closed the door. We were just going to watch the webinar on waiting Colombian children to get an overview. Our reserves for the rollercoaster of the international adoption journey were spent. We questioned, “Did we hear you correctly?” But then, the first face appeared on the screen; tears streamed. They each had a name, a story. Then THEIR faces appeared. Their “special need: older children”, “large bonded sibling group.” . It took us a month. We tried praying over other, individual children. At the end of the day, our minds would wander back to, “this is crazy…but what if we said yes”. They were the faces that we could not forget: in the morning, in the evening, in prayer. Due to the circumstances of our adoption and our oldest Colombian son’s age, we are advocating for an expedite with U.S. immigration and Children’s Services in Colombia. We hope to be in country in late September, early October.
Photo Credit “Stars and Stripes” 1976 Christin and her sisters were reunited with their birth family 19 years after being placed for adoption. She found her roots, learned about life before adoption, and the circumstances surrounding their placement in an orphanage. Christin says one of the many things she has learned in her journey is this: “As a mother can love two children, a child can love two mothers” Christin says she believes with all her heart, body and soul that adopting is what God wants her to do. She is pursuing a domestic adoption, after recovering from a failed international adoption several years ago. She told us that in order to keep waiting for a placement she often quotes this familiar verse as a comfort “Blessed is she who hath believed in that which the Lord had promised her…” Christin is currently waiting to matched with a child and hopes to complete her adoption by the end of the year. She is passionate about sharing her story as an adult adoptee who is adopting to encourage others.
JASON AND PATRINA
Jason and Patrina’s adoption story began the summer of 2014 when they first volunteered with Royal Family Kids Camp where they were actively involved with children who were desperate for their forever families. One amazing bright and stubborn girl was their inspiration. It was after spending time with her at camp that they knew they would open their home to children from foster care. After several roadblocks and delays, they had essentially given up on opening their home to children. Until one day, a lawyer reached out to their church leadership with information about the failing foster placement of a medically fragile 7-year old boy. They met with the lawyer, and God took over from there. Roadblocks and hurdles disappeared.
In February they received their full foster approval and met their son! Their son has Short Bowel Syndrome and requires both tube and central line feeding 16 hours a day. They spent that Friday night in the hospital with him and haven’t left his side since. This is the first time he has ever had anyone stay with him in the hospital. To quote Patrina, “This is not our story. This is God’s story and we will tell everyone who will listen.” Jason and Patrina’s adoption story is one from the foster-care system and therefore requires very little in the way up-front costs and fees, but their sweet son requires monthly visits to Children’s Hospital from West Virginia. This along with medical costs and the cost of missing work to care for their son, has put a financial strain on their family.
We were inspired that they opened their hearts to the idea of adopting a 4th child ten years ago, and that now is the time for that openness to become reality. Remi will be home soon. You can read more of their amazing story here. DECEMBER 2015 We had an overwhelming number of grant applications in December. Our board was honored to read so many amazing adoption stories. We prayed, cried and then unanimously voted to fund an additional December grant.
DECEMBER ADOPTION STORIES: Meet the winners of our first ONE17 Grant.
The Sammons Family from Clarksville, Ohio
The Sammons family is adopting from Nigeria. They adopted Prince when he was 16 and are now in the process of adopting his 9 and 11-year-old brothers, Emmanuel and Izuchukwu.Adopting Prince was a challenging process but one that God was ever-present in and instrumental in opening doors at just the right time to make the process happen in an expedited manner that many said was impossible.
Prince shared stories of his homeland and his siblings who were left to care for each other after his parents passed away at separate times. He longed to help his siblings and often worried about them and their ability to sustain themselves in a country where food is scarce and you are expected to carry your own weight. His younger brothers are who he most worries about. We have wanted to adopt them for a couple years now. This past spring we found out it was possible, and we immediately began pursuing it.
We want to adopt to be able to reunite Prince with family and help relieve some of the pressure on older siblings of taking care of younger ones while they are trying to grow up. See more of their story, pictures and updates here and pray with us for the Sammons Family.
Mandy Cormier from Winnie, Texas Mandy is adopting Adriana, a little girl with Downs Syndrome from Colombia. Since I’ve started this adoption, orphans have become my heart. My adoption story has already caused people to message me and ask how to start the adoption process (and that was just from my announcement video which completely caught me off guard because I didn’t think people watched videos, especially mine). I believe that as my story unfolds, more and more people will have a heart for the orphans. My community really hasn’t witnessed many adoptions, and I think that as a single woman, my story has opened people’s eyes to realize that adoption truly is POSSIBLE for many people, not just for married couples.
Read more of Mandy’s story on her blog and join us in praying for movement in her adoption of Adriana. KISS Two of our founding board members were invited by Rebel Storytellers to tell part of their adoption story during “KISS” a live storytelling event. Follow the link below to watch the video.
4LTR Word show: KISS (#7 of 10)Brooke and Aaron Wright share their very personal story about adoption and childbirth. Part 7 of 10 from the first 4LTR Word show- a night of storytelling centered around the same word- KISS. For info on the next show go to http://rebelstorytellers.com/events Posted by Rebel Storytellers on Thursday, June 18, 2015
We are thrilled to announce that our December grant winner(s) are: THE SAMMONS FAMILY The Sammons Family from Clarksville, Ohio are adopting the two younger brothers of their son Prince who they adopted from Nigeria 3 years ago. Read more about them on our stories page. MANDY CORMIER Mandy Cormier from Winnie, Texas is adopting a little girl with Downs Syndrome from Colombia. Her story has had many a twist and turn, but she is faithful and persistent and fun! (her youtube announcement is proof of that). See more on our stories page.
Join us in praying for these two adoption stories and all of the applicants. KISS Two of our founding board members were invited by Rebel Storytellers to tell part of their adoption story during “KISS” a live storytelling event. Follow the link below to watch the video.