Friends’ desire to offer support with the adoption process leads to forming organization.
Nearly everyone you know has been touched by adoption. In fact, according to the Adoption Network, six out of 10 Americans have had a personal connection to adoption.
Thousands of children are adopted in the United States each year. However, it isn’t always apparent how difficult the adoption process can be.
Adoption can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the process can take years.
A local organization, Hearts of Compassion, works to aid those seeking to adopt to make the process a little less daunting.
Hearts of Compassion began with two friends, Julie James and Julie Welch, who have both been deeply impacted by adoption.
“It wasn’t some idea that we just came up with, but something we had been praying through,” James said.
Welch and her husband Jerry first felt the pull to adopt more than 18 years ago. With a lot of support, prayer and patience, the couple adopted all three of their children over several years.
“She felt like they were probably done adopting, but they didn’t feel like it was the end of their story,” James said of her friends. “She said something like, I feel like God has something more for us to do in the area of adoption, but I don’t really know what that is.”
The Welch family felt the need to give the support they received through their own experience and the tips and advice they learned along the way.
It wasn’t long after this discussion that the friends learned about a family at their church, Colonial Heights Baptist, who was going through the adoption process, only for it to end abruptly because of the expense.
“We read a blog that the mom wrote, and it was called ‘The Greatest Disappointment of All,’” James said. “I found it one night and read it. By the end, I was ugly crying. And I thought, ‘This is not okay.’”
And so, Hearts of Compassion was formed.
It was at that moment James knew she and Welch had to do something. “We didn’t know what the name would be or what it would look like at that point, but that’s how it began.”
Hearts of Compassion, whose leadership team is composed of six to eight volunteers, has a three-pronged approach. In addition to financial support, the group also works to spread awareness in the community and emotional support and encouragement for families going through the adoption process.
“Funding-wise, we give matching grants and no-interest loans to help, just based on their need and the timing of their need,” James said.
When the Welchs first went through the adoption process, there weren’t as many resources or fundraising opportunities as there are now.
“Some of the things that we know as an adoptive family, that we know people will need,” Jerry said of the help he and his wife are able to offer. “They’re gonna need somebody standing up for them when they can’t for themselves or asking the questions that they can’t ask. You know, rallying that support.
“We’ve been there,” he said. “We’ve fought those battles on our own. Now we want to make sure no one else is fighting on their own.”
Since the ministry was founded in 2011, they have partnered with more than 90 families pursuing adoption.
Hearts of Compassion, a ministry of Colonial Heights, is able to provide these services through donations and fundraising efforts. Their main fundraiser, the Hearts of Compassion 5K, fun run and silent auction, will be held on November 2.
The silent auction will open on Tuesday, October 29. On Friday, November 1, packet pickup will be at Colonial Heights Baptist Church from 3 to 7 p.m.
Registration and packet pickup will begin at 7 a.m. on November 2, with the 5K starting at 8 a.m. and the fun run at 9 a.m.
At 9:45 a.m., the awards will be announced, as well as a time of recognition for the adoptive families.