A family expands through adoption
By ANN PARKS
Carrie Wood is one of those people you read about or see on television and wonder if they're real people or just Hollywood characters. Most of us never meet someone who's willing to put their life on hold for tiny little strangers, but people like that do exist. This Cypress resident is proof.
Our Family Adoptions
Wood and her husband, Brian, are part of an organization called Our Family Adoptions, which helps people in the U.S. adopt children. The organization also supports six orphanages in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Woods adopted their daughter, Grace, from China because they both had connections to the country. But adoption became so difficult there that they began looking for another country. They came across Our Family Adoptions, which helped them adopt a son, Haven, now 21 months old. They are in the process of adopting another daughter and son. Grace's adoption took about two years; Haven's took about eight months.
After Haven's adoption we became so interested in the work Our Family Adoptions is doing that Brian and I are now board members," Wood said. We help support two orphanages in Jamaa Letu (our family" in Swahili) where we got Haven. One is for boys and one for girls. These facilities are funded by the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.
We also work with three orphanages in Kinshasa, the capital of the Republic. We haven't done any adoptions with them yet, but we've been supporting them with food and sundry supplies.
One orphanage we've done a lot of adoptions through and supplied a lot of food to is actually a government facility. They have virtually nothing and are hugely overcrowded. There are few beds, little food, no electricity, no indoor plumbing of any kind it's the worst of the worst. We always bring as much food and supplies as possible when we stop there."
Our Family Adoptions began in 2002 when Jilma Meneses took a church mission trip to the Congo. She volunteered at the orphanage in Jamaa Letu where she and her husband wound up adopting a daughter. Meneses is an attorney with a full-time job who spends her spare time" working pro bono to help families navigate through the adoption process.
Each family pays for their own expenses when adopting a child. Our Family Adoptions relies on individual donations, mostly from churches to help them purchase items such as food and first-aid supplies that adoptive families take with them when they travel to get their children.
Wood recently won $20,000 for their organization when she entered the Chase Community Giving Project. The project was a grant contest conducted through Facebook. Approximately 9,000 organizations competed for votes and Our Family Adoptions ended the contest at number 107 out of a possible 200 winners. The organization plans to use the money to purchase food and medical supplies for their orphanages.
I would say that adopting children from the Congo is not for the faint of heart," Wood said.
It's a very unpredictable country. The country's violence is feeding the orphanage crisis. There's a lot of disease. You have to go in with your eyes open. You have to be aware that these children are probably going to be sick. Our son caught malaria before we brought him home, and we almost lost him. Some children have suffered malnutrition and neglect, but the rewards of bringing home a child who might not ever have a family otherwise are huge. I can't tell you how it makes my heart feel every morning to see that smile on Haven's face when he wakes up."
How to help
If you would like to help support Our Family Adoptions, visit their website at www.ourfamilyadoptions.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 713-301-7963 or 390-903-3648.