A beautiful placement with one of our precious families!
When Sarah’s parents first saw the picture of their little girl, waiting in Russia, they knew she was theirs! Twenty-one years later, Sarah and her parents share their memories of that special journey to adoption — and Sarah shares what it was like to grow up and eventually work at An Open Door!
Pictured: Sarah in Russia with director Jane Gilbert
We are so excited to share our first Suitcase Movement adoption story with you. It is truly a privilege to be part of bringing children from the foster care system into loving Christian families.
The joy you have helped bring our family through adoption is the most beautiful thing we have received. Ryker is now 3 ½ years old and lights up our life. Words cannot describe how deep our love for him runs. Now we are here, falling in love Jamin and feel as though our hearts might burst with love. We know the care and love you give to the birth families, children, and adoptive families is the reason we can celebrate and thank God for our family we have been blessed with.
Tyler and Brianne
Eighteen years ago a young woman faced a major life decision. She had an unplanned pregnancy. Her marriage was falling apart and she had a daughter less than a year old she loved more than anything. But she chose to give birth to her unplanned child.
Her choice to give birth led to another choice. She had to decide whether to keep the child or place him for adoption. She chose adoption to give her child opportunities she was afraid she could not offer him. This choice led to yet another choice. She then had to choose the family who would take her child and nurture and guide him into the kind of adult she wanted him to become. As a result of the choices the young woman made, I stand here today, because I was that child.
I am honored to have my birth mother and sister along with my parents here this evening. I would like to thank all of them for the tough choices and sacrifices they have made to make this day possible for me. To them I say I love you and am truly blessed to have such a loving, generous, and supportive family.
In December 2009, we adopted a beautiful baby girl through An Open Door. In the almost three months since that time, my husband and I have been busy, not only loving our sweet baby, but also singing An Open Door’s praises. With all the random “horror stories” one seems to hear about adoption, I have to say that the process for us was smooth as silk. An Open Door held our hands every step of the way. There were no financial surprises whatsoever. All our questions were answered in a timely, professional, and thorough manner. And our hearts were warmed by the care and concern that the caseworker gave (and still gives) to our daughter’s birthmother. We couldn’t be happier with An Open Door and with our adoption experience.
– Joe & Elizabeth
Our 3rd child, Ella, an African American infant, joined our family through An Open Door, and we could not imagine having a better experience. While we were fortunate to have had great experiences with the agencies we worked with in the previous adoptions, our relationship with An Open Door was truly exceptional!
We believe that our faith not only being accepted, but actually required, opened our hearts even more to the amazing Grace that guided, and continues to nurture, the creation of our family.
– Will, Renee, Ben, Sophe & Ella
Our journey of becoming a family began back in July 2002 after we got married. We started trying for a family right away….we prayed for a large family right away too. After about a year, we felt something wasn’t right. We went to see doctor after doctor after doctor. Nothing was wrong with us. No rhyme or reason for not getting pg. We continued on with our lives and prayed that God would someday bless us with a child.
We knew no matter how God brought a child into our lives it was meant to be and would be loved unconditionally. We tried a few more new treatments with no luck and after months of trying to move forward and let our hearts heal, God led us to an amazing agency in Georgia called An Open Door. We needed to put together a Life Book and a Dear Birth mother letter. The life book was much, much easier to do than the birth mother letter. Ugh! That was so hard to write. How do you possibly put into words how much you were going to love their child and how much we long to be parents?!?!
When we were chosen it was the most amazing feeling. It took our breath away when we were sent the first photo of a baby boy. We couldn’t believe how much love we had in our hearts for a child that was over 1,000 miles away.
An Open Door, our Social Worker and foster parents of our son were beyond AMAZING. I know that God knew we needed these people in our lives and to help us every step of the way. An Open Door and our Social Worker were always willing to answer questions (I had tons of course) and were always just a phone call away. We can’t say enough about how great of an experience we had. Adoption is the most phenomenal way of becoming a family. We tell everyone what agency we used and always share the website to couples who are looking to adoption. We are truly blessed in life and are going to be adopting again thru An Open Door in the spring of 2011.
– Jenn & Joe
In 2005, after God called us to grow our family through adoption, there were so many things to think about and so many decisions to make. Some decisions were difficult; some were easy, some we regret, and some we never will. Due to the fact that they came highly recommended by friends, the decision to use An Open Door as our adoption agency was easy and one that we will never regret. We waited four and half years for our precious daughter, Ruthie, but we felt cared for and loved during the whole process and knew that the staff at An Open Door was praying us through this long but amazing journey.
In 2010, when we finally received our referral, we were in daily contact with the staff and they more than prepared us for our travel to China and they made us aware of any obstacles that we might face. When Ruthie was placed in our arms, the four and half years of waiting quickly faded away and we were so thankful that An Open Door had been the ones to help us, lead us, prepare us, and pray for us. If we ever feel the call to adopt again, we know exactly where will seek guidance, An Open Door Adoption Agency! Thank you to the entire staff for the love and support we felt during our adoption process, we will be forever grateful to you and the part that you played in bringing our daughter home.
-Angie, Jon, Anderson and Ruthie
We are so impressed with An Open Door and especially our social worker Cathy Sawyer. Things went so smoothly and if they had not told us we were their first family adopting from Bulgaria, we would not have had any idea.
When we first started the process with An Open Door some of their staff were on vacation, so Walter Gilbert, the CEO, actually worked with us and answered many questions. We called many times a day for those first few days and he was quick to call back and respond to all our questions.
An Open Door and their Bulgarian counterpart were so thorough and efficient. They moved as fast as we were able and would have slowed down if we needed them to. We didn’t realize that not all agencies help you put together all documents necessary every step of the way. We were given lists of documents needed for each step. After we completed them, we scanned them in so that the staff at An Open Door could proofread and edit if need be. Once they approved we would then mail in the original documents. At times it may have added a day more to our process, but it sure was worth it when there were no glitches or hang-ups with our I800 or court in Bulgaria.
We read many blogs along the way and were more thankful than ever to An Open Door for there thoroughness and the lack of bumps along the way because of it.
The staff in Georgia along with the staff in Bulgaria were so kind and worked so hard to help bring our son, Andrew home. We are now friends with Cathy Sawyer because of the time we spent with her on the phone. She went above and beyond for us so many times. She even made a special trip to the airport to meet us in person for the first time for our son’s homecoming.
We are now friends with our translator/facilitator, Maria, in Bulgaria as well. She also went above and beyond. She was wise and knew the simple things that would make a difference in our adoption experience like making sure we were the first ones our son saw each of our visits with him and not her.
We cannot express how thankful we are to An Open Door and all their staff for helping us bring our son home. This was not just a job to them and it was obvious. They were excited when we were and worked harder to get paperwork put through when there were deadlines. They were prompt in responding to our many questions. If they did not have an answer they told us and found one as quickly as possible. If we were to ever adopt again, unless God told us otherwise, we would use An Open Door and base all other decisions like country on what they had to offer.
We would highly recommend An Open Door for any of their adoption services.
My wife and I became aware of the terribly concerning situation of orphans in Ukraine through our church. Our biological children were young adults, so we decided to host a 14 year old boy from Ukraine during the summer four years ago. He was an amazing boy, and we fell in love with him. We later found out that he had a 16 year old sister that was still in the orphanage only because of him. Normally, children age out of the orphanage at age 16. After his summer trip in our home, we decided to adopt them both and began working with An Open Door Adoption Agency. Olga Klatt, who spoke their language, was our angel during this process and helped us communicate by telephone with the children while we were home doing the paperwork.
We will never forget the day that the children agreed to become part of our family. They kept saying, “They want to adopt us? They want to adopt us?” They couldn’t believe it, and were also very concerned about what our other children would think. Our college-aged daughter, surprised them on our second trip to Ukraine, and made another lifetime memory. We took a total of three trips to Ukraine to complete the adoption process and without the help of An Open Door Adoption Agency, it never would have happened. They arranged for a fantastic facilitator in Ukraine, that looked after every piece of paper, and every step in the process.
The children are now fluent in English, and are part of our family. Because they were adopted together, they were able to continue to speak their native language and keep a close relationship. Our new daughter graduated from high school and is now in culinary school.
Our adopted son will graduate from high school in May and will start aviation mechanic school in July. They are well on their way to a successful, independent life they would never have known otherwise. I’m not even sure they are aware of the fact that most orphans in Ukraine never live past the age of 25.
We are glad that they took the courageous decision to become part of our family!
We adopted boys recently through An Open Door using Cathy. I can tell you adopting 5 is no easy task… and if anyone had a reason to experience glitches in the adoption process it was us! However our adoption was truly flawless. I’m very organized and any adoption requires someone to walk you through every step. I appreciated that Cathy was also so very organized and spent phones calls going over forms with me step by step. I would say that rather than being your assistant she will be the one leading you through the maze of adoption every detail of the way. I recommend her so highly. More than anything you need to feel like you can trust her and that she is your expert in this area and your advocate. She was both for us! No adoption is without stress, but I will say that Cathy makes it as easy as possible. I would also say that having the right attitude helps to makes adoptions successful. A lot of people become demanding of their adoption worker and expect them to do the impossible.
I think it’s important to understand that adoption coordinators walk a tight rope of international legal policy, different cultures, even different time zones can cause delays in answering questions at times. So whoever you choose I would encourage you to realize that God is ultimately in control, and she is a blessing helping you on this journey. 🙂 Certainly if you have questions ask! That is what she is there for! Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many “parents” act entitled, then complain that their adoption is a disaster. Adoption is a complicated process and the professionals that are in this field have seen it all. Our boys have been home almost a year and I’m still amazed I’m their mom! I appreciate every person that helped us along the way. It has been a beautiful process.
Thank you An Open Door!
Video courtsey of National Council for Adoption
Video courtesy of National Council for Adoption
Everything to Me
Platinum recording artist Mark Schultz shares the story behind his song “Everything to Me” … from the moment he decided to write about his birth mother to his hopes for her today.