Each family has a unique story.
Each child has been given a loving home.
Browse the families below to read their stories.
The community of givers has been essential in making it all happen.
Dan & Melissa Brillhart are a warm and joyful couple with three biological children, and one son they just brought home from China. The Brillharts worked very hard over the course of a year to raise the funds necessary to bring home their son. They partnered with the 35Kcampaign to raise the final portion of their needed funds.
The Brillharts live in Pennsylvania where Dan works as a machine operator and Melissa is a nurse. Together they embarked on a journey to adopt Tian, a six-year-old boy from China.
Dan and Melissa always hoped to grow their family. After the door closed to have another biological child, the Brillharts began praying and reflecting on God’s plan for their family. Around the same time, Melissa’s friend was advocating on Facebook for a 6-year-old boy in China who needed a family. Melissa heard God whisper to her, “This could be your son. You could love him as your own.” After much prayer and discussion, Dan jumped fully on-board and the two went on a faith-filled journey to complete this adoption.
The Brillharts have had Tian, now Mathew, home since March 2017. They are a very fun family and frequently have fun playing around the house. The Brillharts anticipate additional medical expenses when they return to the States due to Tian’s special and medical needs.
The Harpers have lived in Northern Uganda for the past 7 years and serve on mission as family mentors. They currently have 11 children ages 6-27 and one beautiful granddaughter. Their first adoption in 2010 was of two boys from Ukraine with Down syndrome. Their second adoption was two boys in 2018 from Uganda. They are currently fostering to adopt their daughter, "M". She was born with limb differences of both the upper and lower limbs called Tetra-Amelia. She is a spunky, strong, compassionate little girl and does not let her limb differences limit her.
The Harper Family has a passion in their hearts for children with special needs. In 2016 just before their first Ugandan adoption, Wendy had clearly felt that the Lord was going to place a child with a limb difference in their family. Wendy felt this so strongly that when the Harpers were given photos of their boys she thought, “God, neither of these boys has a limb difference.” But, after much prayer they felt confirmation that these boys were to be part of the Harper family. God knew He had additional plans.
In 2017 while settling in their two Ugandan boys, Wendy saw a picture of the most amazing little girl. It was a moment imprinted on her mind. Later in the fall, the Harpers met their daughter for the first time and knew she belonged, even in the difficult transition of adding the boys to their home.
Over the following years, the Harpers would visit their little girl. Finally in September of 2022, they snuggled the happiest little girl into her own bed, kissed her goodnight, and prayed bedtime prayers with her. God knew her story and brought "M" home in His timing.
The Harpers have been working over the past year to compile all their documents, fundraise for adoption expenses, settle their new little one into family life, and address some overwhelming medical needs for one of their sons, all while continuing to fundraise to live as missionaries. But they trust the Lord will provide all their needs. The Harpers would love your prayers and financial support as they prepare to head to court in May and to finalize all the remaining adoption tasks. They are so excited to share her sweet face once their sweet daughter "M" is legally theirs forever!
The Holmes have two wonderful children, Dayton and Millicent (Milli), but God is not done growing their family. God has been working in their hearts and used a trip to Honduras to help them realize God’s plan.
While working with the Trash Mountain Project in Honduras, the Holmes went to a local Sunday church service where the pastor gave a sermon on God Given Talents and told the congregation, “God has given each and every one of us a talent.” He asked the congregation if they were using that talent to glorify God and further His mission. At one point during the sermon the pastor asked everyone to “please turn to your neighbor and tell them your talent.” It struck Megan instantly. She turned to Andrew and said, “being a mom!” Megan had realized that being a mom was her talent and it was not only meant for their two biological children. She knew she could be a mom to any child God placed in their home.
When the Holmes decided to adopt, they began the researching process. Not knowing where to start they did a quick Google search of adoption agencies in Kansas. That led to a number of agencies in a nearby metro area and some negative experiences in the pre-application phase. So, one day Andrew had a discussion with a friend, and pastor, from church and was reminded that Lifeline was right in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas. That same day Andrew checked out Lifeline’s website and applied. Through Andrew’s conversation, God led the Holmes to Lifeline and it has been a perfect match for them since the word “Go.”
When Andrew and Megan started working with their adoption agency it just felt right. No matter the quality or quantity of questions the Holmes asked, the agency staff was supportive and willing to answer every question. The process can be long and intimidating at times, but the caring staff from Lifeline has been such an amazing guiding force that Andrew and Megan journeyed without worry. They originally began their adoption process in the pursuit of a domestic infant adoption, but reconsidered their plan upon learning about the long wait times that can occur with being matched to an infant adoption.
Through a lot of prayer and discussion with their agency, the Holmes have decided to pursue an international adoption from China. This change has made them more aware of the need for families for waiting children around the world, and the Holmes are thrilled at the idea of being that family to one of these children.
Currently there are an estimated 8 million children living in institutions and in waiting children programs around the world. In Asia alone there is an estimated 60 million orphaned children. Children in China, if not adopted, age out of care at 14 years old never knowing the love of a family and having limited options or resources.
God has blessed the Holmes family in many ways, and they know He will continue to bless their family as they continue growing their relationship with Him. For Andrew and Megan, this was not a leap of faith. They did not have to hold their breath hoping God would provide something positive. This was the Holmes saying “Yes” when God asked them to follow Him and to be His hands and feet. They are excited to see what God has in store for their family through this journey called adoption.
Please stand alongside the Holmes and help them help a waiting child know the love of family.
Mark and Jeri Iwasaki were two elementary school teachers from Haleiwa, Hawaii. They had a desire from the Lord to start their family by adopting a child in need. Knowing that their love and God’s love was not bound by borders, they began their global adoption journey with the desire to bring their child HOME. Therefore, the theme of their adoption became The Journey Home.
The Iwasakis inspired the 35Kcampaign when they met with the founders and expressed their heart to adopt and their need to find the funding. From that conversation came the idea that “$35,000 is a lot for two people, but $35,000 is not a lot for 35,000 people giving $1.” Just like that, the 35Kcampaign was born and the founders partnered with Mark and Jeri to bring home Zy Moses ZhongYong Iwasaki.
Zy was a seven-year-old Chinese boy from Xian, China. He was abandoned around 9 months old and grew up in an orphanage. Zy was born with a cleft pallet, cleft lip, and congenital heart disease. Zy underwent surgery at a young age, and was blessed to have his cleft lip and part of his cleft pallet repaired with minimal scar tissue. He also received several heart surgeries and is healthy!
In nine short months (through t-shirt campaigns, website donations, and promotional events), the 35Kcampaign helped Mark and Jeri raise over $5,000 – directly paying adoption bills and traveling fees. 35Kcampaign also acted as a major sponsor for several fundraising events where the Iwasakis made an additional $5,000+. Mark and Jeri’s loving community of supporters were able to help them raise an additional $18,000+. In the end, the Iwasaki adoption was 80% funded by the love and support of the combined community surrounding them.
On May 18, 2015, only a year after the Iwasakis began their adoption process, Mark and Jeri met Zy in Xian, China, for the first time. They spent 3 weeks finalizing the adoption and traveling around China before returning home to Haleiwa, Hawaii. Zy, an orphan who grew up only knowing life in an orphanage, now has two loving parents who will be in his life forever. The Journey Home is complete!!
The adoption process is difficult for many reasons. There is a high level of time commitment spent on training, paperwork, and education. The expenses add up quickly, as there are many people involved in getting approval from two countries to bring a child home through international adoption. Each one is important and must be paid to do their work; each child worth the cost. The emotional costs sneak in too – the impact on family members, the realization that one’s life and family is about to change, the overwhelming joy matched by fear as you watch your child led by the hand into the room to be handed to you forever. Titus, who became ours in July 2015, is an absolute joy. We expect to bring home Mei by September 2016. Our family has now spent the last two years on our two back-to-back adoption journeys. The strain has been real, but the blessings have far outweighed the cost.
Aside from our precious children who are themselves the greatest blessings, we have been overwhelmed with the love and partnership we’ve received by the community we’ve found in adoption and adoption fundraising. Our family has been surrounded by support of people eagerly standing beside us to help cover the costs of bringing our children home. Those of you who have stood with us understand that while we can provide a loving home and daily necessities to these children, the cost to bring them home would prevent us from doing so. You have given sacrificially to support our adoptions. You donated items to our garage sales and our auction. You sold personal possessions and donated the proceeds. You bought my paintings, tee shirts, weighted blankets, and sensory bins and commissioned Eric to make furniture, all to help us bring our children home. You brought us dinner, more than once, because you want us to enjoy an easy evening with our family. You gave me a hug when you saw tears in my eyes. You prayed for me when I was down. You’re the stranger who met our family in the post office and gave on the spot. You watched our kids so Eric and I could enjoy an evening out. You educated yourself and your children on differences and special needs so our families can interact well. You love us even when things get a little wild, and then you bring chocolate. Together, you have FULLY FUNDED our fees to bring Mei home! Can I tell you a little bit more about what that means for us?
Being fully funded means we don’t have to have one day’s delay in our process due to getting a payment together. Fully funded means we don’t have add a loan payment while adding a new daughter and new medical expenses. This helps keep our stress levels down, keeping our marriage stronger, our parenting more connected, and our family time more carefree. Being fully funded means I can focus my summer on preparing our home and our family members for Mei. It means I can spend more time schooling our big kids so we can take a longer break when we really need it in the fall. Fully funded means each of my children receives more quality time which builds into them the assurance of our love that they need in this time of transition.
You have taken part in a miracle that we can joyfully share together for life and eternity. “Thank you” is not adequate to express the gratitude toward all who are sharing in this journey with us – friends, family, and strangers alike. We pray God will bless you with joy as you continue to watch this story unfold, and that He will always provide for your needs as you have so generously provided for ours.
Nathan and Rachel Kivley have talked about adoption since they were dating. In fact, Rachel was adopted! Rachel is thankful for her birth mother who always has a special place in her heart. She’s thankful to her parents for adopting her and for being open about adoption.
Nathan and Rachel are approaching their adoption with their hearts and their hands open. Adoption always comes with so many unknowns, and the Kivleys have been flexible through timelines, processes, even ages of children. They’re learning to trust God’s timing and perfect plan for their family.
The couple lives in Illinois where Nathan works as an Automotive Technology instructor and Rachel is a full-time mom to their 2 year old daughter, Emmalyn. They hope to have several children, and are excited about the adoption adventure. Here is an excerpt from a letter they wrote for a birth-mother who may consider choosing their family for her child:
“We love the idea of being able to tell this child that we chose them. We wanted them. We sought them out. That they are loved and they are cherished. We plan to raise this child to know about the deep love that you had for them. You will always be the woman that helped our family to grow in such a beautiful way. We want you to know that you will not be forgotten by us, but that you will be honored and respected so deeply by our family. You are giving this baby a beautiful life and for that we thank you.“
Jon and Elissa Kuert sensed that adoption would be part of their story from early on in their marriage. They always felt that their hearts were open to adoption and that God may call them to grow their family through adoption. Their eyes were opened more as they worked together on multiple mission trips around the world, meeting kids that come from tough places and have a need for loving parents to raise them.
During these trips, their hearts also grew an intense love for the people of China. They began taking more and more trips to China. Eventually those two-week trips turned into a four-month trip, that turned into a seven-year-stint doing non-profit work in Yunnan Province, China. During those years in China, they began their first adoption process that ultimately lasted three years. They brought home their beautiful daughter Gili in 2013.
The Kuerts now live stateside and continue to serve in missions with a church in Minnesota. They’ve treasured the time they’ve had as a family of three, but they again sensed the call to grow their family. The Kuerts cannot wait to return to China and bring home a little sister for their beloved Gili.
The Kuerts shared that “The journey of adoption is not always easy, but it is always beautiful with its twists and turns. We are so excited to be growing our family through adoption again and adding a new little girl from China to our tribe!”
When Michelle was 22 months old she was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma. Through the incredible care of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital she received life-saving radiation, although the side effects later left Michelle infertile.
As a teenager, Michelle decided to take the news of infertility and turn it into an opportunity to bless the lives of others around her. She began to dream of a family built through adoption.
During the same time, God began working on Tim’s heart, planting in him the idea that adoption was an incredible opportunity.
Together Tim and Michelle hope to provide a home built on trust; a home filled with love, safety, laughter, compassion, encouraging words, and lots of affection! The Kutchers believe T-I-M-E is the proper way to spell “love,” and cannot wait to spend time camping, hiking, and playing with their new child.
With the help of the 35Kcampaign, the Kutchers were able to finish the fundraising process for their domestic infant adoption. Tim and Michelle believed the Lord was faithful to complete their adoption in His timing, and they waited for the anticipated phone call for 1 year. God was faithful and brought them a beautiful little girl. Thanks to their loving community, and the 35Kcampaign, they were 100% ready to answer the call.
This story is under construction...
Catherine is not only a mom, she is an adoptive and foster care Wonder Mom! Over the years, Catherine has served as a teacher in several states (and another country!), worked with inner city youth outside of Los Angeles, and has opened her home to countless children. Catherine has adopted 6 amazing children, and is fostering another. Quite unexpectedly, Catherine received a call about a little one born premature and with Down Syndrome. Catherine was chosen by her birth mother to parent Tatum Faith.
Catherine has wanted to be a mom since she was a toddler. She grew up loving on kids with many different special needs and always dreamed of the day that she would be married and could adopt kids that needed a forever home.
Teaching students with special needs, volunteering, being a foster parent, and working overseas have been a joy and have continually lit that passion in her heart. While she never imagined that she would be a single parent and didn't enter foster care with that in mind, she adores the five forever children that came through foster care. They are such treasures and she loves every minute with them. Since they came to her through foster care, she spent the first several years of their placements working hard with their birth families trying to empower them to get their kids back. Catherine shares that she doesn't regret that time at all, but she has always longed to hold a baby from day one and know that she is her baby forever.
Catherine has fostered many children of all ages with complex special needs. Her kids have a heart for children from hard places or those with different abilities because of their own trauma and special needs. For several years the kids have asked, and they prayed, about adopting a baby someday. Catherine had far less hope than they did that that would ever happen or even that they should pursue that as a single parent home. But, they began to earnestly pray that they would be faithful to whatever plan God had for them and that He would make it clear.
God did make it clear, and brought a 6th little blessing to the home: Elliot. Elliot was born with Down syndrome. Her mother chose Catherine and Catherine's family to raise Elliot. 35Kcampaign sponsored Elliot's adoption in 2020.
After Elliot's adoption, Catherine continued to foster and transition children back to their families or forever homes. Unexpectedly, Catherine received a call about another little girl born prematurely and with Down syndrome. A little over two weeks from receiving that call, Catherine was chosen by Tatum's family to raise her. Tatum means cheerful bringer of joy; all the other children agree, she has brought so much joy already!
An advocacy post was made for 4 brothers from Latin America needing a home - Sam, Ben, Josh, and Dan. At a young age, Sam was found trying to prepare food and care for his younger siblings. When these brothers were first discovered and brought into safety, the children were severely malnourished. With the love and care of their orphanage, these boys are overcoming significant trauma and have grown to be very close knit.
While in the orphanage, Sam and Ben are constantly looking out for their younger siblings. These boys have been through a lot together and share a strong bond. They have each expressed their desire to stay together and be adopted into a family. Josh tells his classmates that they are looking for a family for him, and he often asks his caregivers whether they have found a family for him and his brothers. These siblings have been in the orphanage for almost three years now, and Ben has expressed that he feels tired of waiting as he is eager to find parents who will love and care for him and his brothers.
Recently, the government has been faced with the difficult decision to separate these brothers in hopes of finding a home for them. The adoption agency was given one week to find a family for these boys to ensure that they stayed together.... in stepped Chris and Kasey Lieu!
Chris and Kasey are a vibrant couple who live in Atlanta, GA. They are excited about their Christian faith and were committed to adoption prior to being married. They have been journeying in faith that God would bring the right child to their home, not expecting that he would bring four!
One day, Chris and Kasey were scrolling through an agency’s photo-listings when we saw the story of Sam, Ben, Josh, and Dan. The story of the boys was firmly etched into their hearts and minds as Chris and Kasey began praying that these children would be adopted together soon, whether by them or another family.
The following week, Chris and Kasey learned that a family was urgently needed to step forward and pursue this sibling set due to the government's order.
Stepping up to the plate, Chris and Kasey Lieu have been tackling the overwhelming effort of adopting all four boys. They have almost completed three-fourths of their fund raising and are looking to the 35Kcampaign community to help them with the remaining $10-000-$15,000.
Please consider being a part of this wonderful story by helping these 4 brothers stay together, join a family, and be raised in a wonderful gospel teaching home.
This story is under construction...
Joe and Jenna live in New York with their 4 daughters Brianna, Chiara, Savanna, and Stella. Stella, who was born with Down syndrome, was adopted from China in 2018 and now they are excited to be going back to China for their 5th daughter, also born with Down syndrome and a heart defect.
Joe and Jenna’s adoption story began in 2010 when adoption was first planted in their hearts after the loss of their unborn child and the news that they were not able to conceive any more children. In 2013, their 3td daughter and miracle baby, Savanna, was born. She is truly a blessing that they were not expecting. But the seed of adoption had been planted years earlier, and it was growing. The Neris knew they had so much more love to share and their family had room for more.
Faith has been the hallmark of the Neri family from the very beginning and has carried them through the most difficult times. They, like many other families, had a heart for special needs adoption. Jenna has worked with adults and children with both physical and developmental disabilities for 23 years and knew the unique challenges individuals with Down syndrome face. Then Jenna saw a picture of a beautiful little girl with Down syndrome on Reece’s Rainbow and she new this was her daughter. They worked hard to bring Stella home in October 2018 and now, less than 2 years later, they have fallen in love with another little girl that they know is meant to be their daughter as well.
Joe has just started his own small business and serves as the youth director at their church, and Jenna works as a Residential Manager for individuals with disabilities. They may not be a family of financial means, but they are rich in faith and love to share with another child. Despite the many uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and international adoption, they are committed to giving this beautiful girl the love, support, and family she deserves. Join them as they make room for one more precious soul.
This story is under construction...
The Perry family is currently in the process of their second adoption. They have four children ages 3-7. Their daughter was adopted from Uganda while they were serving as missionaries in the country. They are passionate about adoption and have always felt called to special needs adoption. The Perrys are pursuing the adoption of a young boy in Haiti with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture, which also mildly affects their daughter. They are currently living in Abilene, Texas, where Keith runs a home-based senior care business and Elyse homeschools and works as a pediatric physical therapist.
"Back in February I ran across a picture of a little boy in need of adoption with cerebral palsy and the biggest, most joyful smile you can imagine. My heart started racing and my chest felt heavy and I couldn’t stop smiling," Elyse said. She thought about him often for the next several weeks, prayed for him, and asked some questions about his story. "I couldn’t explain this burden on my heart for him but whatever it was it wouldn’t go away or ease-up. Finally I brought it to Keith, told him what I was feeling, and asked him to pray," Elyse said. "He looked at me like I was crazy but committed to praying about it." Elyse knew Keith was right to question her, the timing and facts just didn’t add up: they had just bought a house for their growing family; Keith was quitting his job the next month to start his own business; they didn’t feel ready to tackle another long, hard, and costly international adoption; and they had never considered adopting a child with as significant needs as this precious little boy. They both felt wholly inadequate and unprepared.
Elyse went to Keith after both praying about it separately for two weeks. They hadn’t spoken about it at all and Elyse had no idea how Keith was feeling. He quietly but confidently told her he thought they should move forward with the process. Elyse was floored! But his answer gave her such confidence and confirmed what she had been feeling, that the Lord truly was in this and was calling them to pursue this little boy with reckless faith.
The Perrys have been busy the past few months with lots of paperwork, saving their pennies, and putting every spare dollar towards adoption fees. They have felt overwhelmed many times in this process, but each time God has quieted their hearts with a confidence that could only come from Him. So, they keep putting one foot in front of the other on what they know will be a long journey. The Perrys would love your prayers and financial support for their family and for this sweet boy to whom the Lord is leading them.
Our adoption journey began many years ago, before Steve and I even met. Adoption had touched both of our extended families, and we both knew that one day we would grow our family through adoption. Let me begin by saying that we are blessed to be the parents of five treasures, all with their own unique stories. In the beginning, we had our first biological son with no issues. After quite a bit of struggle with infertility, a failed adoption attempt and a miscarriage, we were blessed with our biological daughter. During our struggles with infertility, God grew in us the desire to adopt. We adopted our third child domestically in 2010, our son, when our daughter was 19 months old. Two years later in 2015, we adopted our fourth child, our daughter, from China. The road to our decision to adopt internationally is one that is laced with the fingertips of God. The evidences of His guidance and direction to follow His leading were too obvious to ignore.
So, in a five year time frame, we adopted two children, one domestic and one international. We are not super wealthy people. We meet guidelines, but we live on a budget. We don’t have the cash reserves just sitting around to pay for adoption fees, so we worked and worked to fundraise for each of those adoptions. It is exhausting but so worth the effort!! God provided for every penny we needed both times!
In May of 2016, God began stirring in our hearts to return to China for our fifth child. It was a small whisper of a stirring, but it was there. In November 2016, we began very preliminary paperwork to wait. In December, I saw his picture. I contacted our agency to inquire about a beautiful 2 year old little boy needing orthopedic surgery to be able to walk. We were told that we would never see his file since there was a waiting list for it… there were 10 families ahead of us. February 2017, his file hit my inbox. We had 2 days to make a decision. Medically, there was some scary stuff in his file, but to be honest, the financial side of things terrified me the most. My first “no”? Fundraising. “God, I know you’ve provided in the past, but fundraising is HARD. I DON’T WANT to fundraise.” It was a pitiful “no”. I knew that, and God knew that. So, after much prayer, consulting with specialists over the course of those 2 days, we knew. I think we knew from the moment we set eyes on him. He was our son, regardless of the cost.
We began fundraising, and we watched God blow our minds. Online auction, massive yard sale, mixing batches and batches of taco seasoning, selling capes… Money came in when we needed it. God is our provider and we have learned over and over again that he provides when we need it, not necessarily when we WANT it done. We are so thankful for the 35KCampaign for partnering with us to help ease that fundraising burden. Our son came home on November 11, 2017. He fits our family perfectly. We have a long road ahead with surgeries and therapies. There are still some unknowns up in the air, but one thing is certain. He is chosen and loved and treasured and forever a part of our family.
Andy and I have always known that we wanted a big family but honestly didn’t know exactly how that would play out. God has blessed us with 6 children and now has opened our hearts to adoption once again. This time, we are pursuing an international adoption from the beautiful East African country of Burundi.
God has given us a deep love for East Africa through friendships, missions, and business parters. Now we feel that God has led us to Burundi to complete our family. We began the process on June 1. We had an idea of how we thought this may go but God had other plans. When we began the process we envisioned one child joining our family. However, our agency has a waiting child list and when we inquired, we discovered that there are siblings, a brother and sister, who have been waiting for a family for a very long time. We asked for more information and have since fallen in love with these children. We feel that God led us to two children, A & P, and they are already blessing our lives even though we haven’t yet met. There are still many hurdles to jump over in order to bring them home but we have faith that God will continue to lead us down the right path.
We have been sacrificing financially, saving, adding additional jobs, and fundraising in order to pay for the fees and travel to adopt 2 children. While we had hoped to be able to pay for everything on our own, we do need some help. It is very humbling for us to ask for you to join us in this journey. We would forever be grateful for you to join us in prayer and if you feel led, financially. We are so excited to have A & P join our big, wild, and silly family. We would love for you to be a part of bringing them home. Thank you! We love you all!
We are the Smith Family. Scott (Dad), Jennifer (Mom), Julian (12), Cooper (9), and Elijah (4) with a daughter awaiting us in heaven, and another in China. Welcome to our story, a story that only God could write. A story we wouldn’t change, although the path is not one we would have chosen on our own.
In early 2016, we sat in an ultrasound room with our boys waiting to hear the gender reveal of our sweet baby. The news we received was not the news we expected that day. Our baby had been diagnosed with severe skeletal dysplasia, with a less than 2% survival rate. She wasn’t expected to live beyond life outside of the womb, and most likely wouldn’t make it through the entirety of the pregnancy.
The news devastated us, but the Lord was so close to us through it all. I dare say, I have never felt closer to Him. My husband and I leaned on God through everything. We cast all our worries, pains, and sorrows on Him. We learned as much as we could about her diagnosis and prepared our family as best we could. For eighteen weeks leading up to our daughter’s birth we did everything possible to celebrate her, prepare for her, and to prepare for what was the inevitable. We would be giving our baby girl to the Lord much sooner than any parent would ever like to.
July 2, 2016 we welcomed our sweet daughter Sandra Lyn to this world for a brief two hours. Sandra’s life was short but in those two hours we fit in a lifetime of love. She was small but left a large impact on many. Her hands were tiny but had a sizable hold on our hearts. Her life was important, her life had meaning, and we will continue to see the blessing she was to all of us. Until we see her again we will hold on to these memories.
Seven months later, here we are embarking on the journey of adoption that God has set in front of us. In the middle of it all, I cannot help but think about how Sandra’s reach is extending through this process. If she was here, would I be considering this leap of faith right now? Would my faith have been this strong if it hadn’t been matured by the experience God gave us with her life and passing? Scott and I had talked previously about adoption/ foster care but the conversation never really went far. Now, I long for the day I can wrap my arms around our daughter in China.
We have been blessed by watching a couple families in our church adopt, and three members of our family begin foster care. Foster and orphan care seemed to be all around us more and more! A good problem to have, since the need for families is dire! Our heart strings were definitely being tugged, this being an understatement. The stories of each one of these children and the places they came from, you couldn’t help but be burdened. Through time in prayer, reading the Bible, conversations with an elder at our Church, and through much research we decided to pursue an adoption from China. China was best match for our family as whole, and more importantly that is where God was leading our hearts and where He had our child.
We have since been matched with a delicately framed, sweet 4 year old girl who we will name Elizabeth (God of plenty) Belle. She was left outside the gates of the welfare institute at just under 6 months and bears a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. Our sweet girl will need open heart surgery to repair this when she comes home to us. She participates in a school program called Big Sky, is close with her nanny, and loves to answer the questions in class first. We were told that she does well at performing and she was a fairy in the Children’s Day program this past year. We are blessed by her already and hardly know her. The day cannot come soon enough where we will begin enjoying life with her and for the healing to begin.
Lee and Sara Jo Waldron live their lives full of courage and faith. When Sara Jo talks about courage, she quotes Shauna Niequist: “No one lives out an exciting calling without just plunging forward at some point, full of fear and uncertainty.” For the Waldrons, courage and faith are the only ways to overcome fear and uncertainty. Their adoption journey is no different.
Lee and Sara Jo live in a cozy little community in Kansas. Lee works at Tabor College and Sara Jo as a youth pastor at a local church. Together they serve and transform the lives of children, youth, and young adults in their community. They passionately invest in others and are a true joy to be around.
Sara Jo always had a tender spot in her heart for those with special needs. Over time, she and Lee began to feel the calling to adopt and parent a special needs child. In April 2016, a unique connection put them in touch with a birth mother and about 3 weeks later their son was born. “He is a Waldron. He is our son. He is perfect in every way,” the Waldrons said.
At the birth of their son Hezekiah, the Waldrons launched into a whirlwind of fundraising, medical appointments, adoption fees, and learning to parent a special needs child. We at the 35Kcampaign helped to alleviate almost a quarter the financial burden for the Waldrons so that they could focus on caring for Hezekiah and his needs.
Thank you to our 35Kcommunity. You were generous and amazing and we are always blown away to see a community come around an adopting family.
Since their adoption the Waldrons have repaired Hezekiah’s cleft lip! They have been an active part of the 35Kcommunity, and we love partnering with them every chance we get!
Meet the Watsons! Justin and Jennifer have two biological children and they adopted four siblings from the country of Moldova. WOW! When the Watsons heard about the plight of children in Moldova and the need for families, they made the decision to extend their love to children waiting for a family.
After a career in the military, the Watsons settled into civilian life in Alabama where Justin is a helicopter instructor. About three years ago, a group of orphans from Moldova spoke at their church. The children shared the overwhelming need for loving homes for orphans, especially sibling sets who often have a difficult time being adopted together. That day the Watsons decided to pursue adoption and have been on the journey ever since.
They adopted three girls and a boy. Two of the children have varying levels of special needs. All four children were abandoned soon after their births and have lived their entire lives in orphanages. If not for international adoption, these children would age out of the orphanage and be forced to live on their own. The difficulties children face after aging out are grave.
Upon arriving in Moldova to pick up their children, they learned about a new 5th infant sibling. Justin and Jennifer did everything they could to process the 5th adoption while they stayed 3 months in Moldova. However, when it was time to leave the adoption was not finalized. They will be returning soon to adopt the 5th sibling into their family. What a journey!
Buck & Beth Webb live with their five kids in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. The Webbs felt a calling to adopt and seven years ago, they began the adoption process. They did not know where or how or what the process would look like, but jumped all in. Eventually, they ended up choosing to adopt from Burundi, a small East African country where 5% of the population is orphaned.
In 2020, the Webbs were matched with two unrelated boys. These boys lived together at an orphanage in the jungle mountains of Burundi, about five hours outside the capital city of Bujumbura. While the Webbs awaited their court date, they received a call that the older of the two boys had been reunified with biological family members. Adoption loss can be complicated; the Webbs rejoiced with the boy who would be their son. He was no longer and orphan and no longer needed them. They mourned for themselves as they had imagined their life with this little boy. They mourned for their other son, who would not be coming home with a pseudo sibling from the orphanage.
The Webbs kept their home study updated for 2 children, and six months later they saw the face of their newest son. They were again matched with two boys, but they would not be able to bring both home at the same time. In December 2021, they traveled to Burundi to pick up Oliver, now 8, knowing that a second trip would come sometime in the following year for their newest son.
The Webbs will travel this fall to pick up their son - another 8 year old! And Oliver will have a playmate from his previous life in Burundi. The Webb's newest son is form the same orphanage.