Heart of Country Competition Information

Industry Category

Local BBQ Food Trucks and Restaurants

  • 10 ft. x 15 ft. space for preparing and cooking food, as well as handing out samples
  • 2 oz. cups for tasting samples
  • Competitors will hand out tasting samples to patron’s to conduct the judging for the People’s Choice award.

Entry Fee: $200

Backyard Category

Those who BBQ for sport or fun

  • 10 ft. x 15 ft. space for preparing and cooking food, as well as handing out samples
  • 2 oz. cups for tasting samples
  • Competitors will hand out tasting samples to patron’s to conduct the judging for the People’s Choice award.

Entry Fee: $150

Bacon Side Dish Competition

  • All dishes must be prepared ahead of time
  • Dishes must be marked with any dietary allergens
  • Must contain enough for 100 1oz tastes

Entry Fee: $40

Kid’s Cooking Competition

  • All dishes must be prepared ahead of time
  • Dishes must be marked with any dietary allergens

Entry Fee: $20

Heart of Country

August 26, 2018
3:00 pm to 8pm
Dorris Ranch, Springfield Oregon

A Family For Every Child is proud to announce our 2nd Annual Heart of County Celebration. This year we are changing things up by adding a BBQ cook off! We will have professional and backyard divisions competing for the bragging rights of best barbecue ribs, pork, and chicken. We will also have a Bacon Side Dish in which competitors bring a homemade bacon dish for the chance to win the People’s Choice Award for best side. There will be a kid’s dessert competition allowing children the opportunity to show off their awesome cooking skills along side our other competitors.

This is a family-friendly event and there will be activities for kids.

Adults: $30
Youth: $15
Under 6: Free

Event Information

Food and Beverage:

On top of the barbecue, bacon, and dessert competitors providing food samples, we will also have a beer garden stocked with cold beer for purchase. Each guest will be given tasting tickets for samples of the competitors dishes. Additionally, we will have corn on the cob and watermelon included with your Heart of Country ticket, as well as for sale along with non-alcoholic beverages such as water, soda, and sweet tea.


We will have live country music featuring local bands from the area including, Jeri James, Haywire, Outlaw Shine, and Dusty Herd. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on at the event. There will be plenty of room for dancing and enjoying the music.


If you would like to volunteer to help us make Heart of Country a great event, please email events@afamilyforeverychild.org

Heart of Country Raffle

This year at Heart of Country we will be raffling off a Green Mountain Jim Bowie Grill Wifi Enabled Pellet Grill!

This grill has a value of $899.99. Tickets for the raffle are $10 each or 6 for $50.

Tickets are available for purchase, and you don’t have to be present to win. Those living in Oregon are eligible to win the grill. For all those living outside of Oregon, more raffle prizes will be available! This is a great way to get involved in Heart of Country for those who are not local to the Eugene area.
Purchase Raffle Tickets


We still need sponsorships for this event! Without the help of our sponsors we would not be able to hold these fundraising events benefiting so many children.

  • Headline Sponsor – $5000
  • Heart of Country Partner – $2500
  • Barbecue Sponsor – $1000
  • Kid’s Zone Sponsor – $1000
Sponsorship Packet

Draft – Heart Gallery

What is the Heart Gallery

The Heart Gallery is an “art exhibit” of beautiful professional photographs of local and nationwide children who are currently in foster care and waiting to be adopted. Our Heart Gallery displays the personalities of our foster children and siblings that are waiting to find their forever families by photographing them in settings outside of a caseworker’s office. These are the smiles of children you see in your neighborhood playing, children that your child goes to school with, these are children you could see as an addition to your family someday. The Heart Gallery is not just a program, it is the hope that you can provide a forever family for a waiting foster child. It is designed to bring awareness to the foster care system and children that are in search of permanent homes. Professional photographers volunteer their time to take beautiful pictures of children presently in foster care that are waiting for their forever family. A Family For Every Child’s Heart Gallery works closely with child welfare partners to coordinate these photo sessions for adoption recruitment.

The Heart Galleries can be seen everywhere: from the grocery store to your church to the car dealership and everywhere in between. The goal of our Heart Gallery is simple-to-open the mind and heart of the viewer to the idea of adoption.

Who are the Heart Gallery Children

The children pictured represent the 500,000 children in foster care in the United States, 30,000 of whom are here in the Northwest, waiting for a forever family to love them. Since A Family For Every Child was founded more than 500 foster children have been featured in Heart Galleries, and more than 250 have found their forever families.


Photographers in every state across the country donate their time and services to take these beautiful photos. The photos they take capture the personalities of the children and help them on their path to finding forever families.

“The kids are really three of the sweetest children I have ever encountered. Considering the circumstances, I just didn’t know what to expect. Little J*** ran up and hugged me around my legs when we walked in. That was just about too much for me a softy at heart but tries not to show it. Patient, courteous, and sweet to each other was not what I expected. The foster parents really cared for the kids. Again, my pre-conception was that they might be just doing it to make a little money (who doesn’t need that), but I was really impressed with how they loved the kids. Those three are lucky to have a safety net as good as that.”
— Louie

“I feel truly blessed to be able to use my talent to help these beautiful kids find their forever families. Nothing compares to the joy that comes from giving them a chance to let their personality shine in front of the camera. It is worth every minute and as they say, “priceless”.”
– Dawn Marie Barth

“I volunteer because I love being able to showcase the beauty and inner love of children by capturing their photos. It’s amazing to see their personalities and their smiles, and I want to share that with everyone! Every kid deserves to have a family that adores and loves them, so being able to contribute any little thing I can is the best feeling in the world. It’s also incredible to see these families who take them in and provide them with safe and loving homes until their forever families come. Beautiful moments like that need to be caught on camera!” 
– Meg Hainz

“For us, the chance to connect with a kiddo and make them feel loved and seen in that moment, is worth every minute. It’s not just about them getting their picture taken. It’s about having an experience where they feel valued and loved. We also love that we get the chance to do what we’re passionate about for such a worthy cause, capturing the heart and personalities of these kiddos with our cameras.”
-Mike and Julie Smith (with MIKE + JULIE | storytellers)

“AFFEC holds a special place in my heart and in my work. I will always find time away from my busy schedule to photograph AFFEC’s children who are getting yet another step closer to finding their forever family. To be able to photograph these children is a special privilege for me. Every single child I have photographed left an imprint on me even though I only spend a little bit time with them. But during that time we share stories, we laugh, we play. My wish for all of the children is to find the best possible forever family and to be happy, loved and respected.”
– Livia Fremouw

“I love the Heart Gallery. When I worked at Market Of Choice they had pictures there. One day this little girl was sitting on her dad’s shoulders and he pointed to the picture wall and said, “Your picture used to be right there – I had told you I found you in grocery store.” And the girl started laughing and smiled at the wall. That about broke my heart in a happy way, I almost cried. And that’s why I love the Heart Gallery.”
– Brittany Goodman

Contact us

Photo Coordinator
(541) – 343- 2856

Draft – Heart Gallery FAQ

What does it cost to set up a Heart Gallery?

Nothing! We take care of all setup. You can sponsor a Heart Gallery if you are interested. It costs $75 for the year.

Can any business have a Heart Gallery?

Yes! We’ve had venues ranging from doctors’ officers to pizza parlors, and from 1 to 30 frames.

How do I become a volunteer?

Fill out the volunteer form and we will contact you

Do these children really get adopted?

Yes! The goal of the Heart Gallery is help children get adopted.

Are these actual pictures of the children?

Yes! These photos are taken by professional photographers who volunteer their time and skills

Is there any liability as a business owner?

No, they are legally freed for recruitment. We have permission from their workers to place them in the Gallery

Do Heart Galleries only display local children?

No, they feature kids from all over the country.

What happens if a frame breaks?

Just call us and we’ll come take care of it!

How often are displays changed?

Every two months a volunteer will come to switch out photos. We do not switch out every photo each time.

Who is responsible for the display?

A Family for Every Child venue volunteers. But if there are ever any issues, you can call us at 541 343 2856.

Eugene Big Wheel Rally

Eugene Big Wheel Rally 2018
  • WHEN
    July 28 – 29
    See schedule below

About this event

The first ever Big Wheel Rally is coming to Eugene and all proceeds will be donated to A Family For Every Child. We are honored to be the first charity chosen by this great organization. Take yourself back to your childhood for the weekend, grab your big wheel and ride for a great cause.

This event will feature an Over 21 Pub Crawl on the 28th and races for all on the 29th following the Sunday Streets parade. There will also be a raffle with great prizes from places such as Ding Ding Cycles and Blue Heron Bicycles. To learn more about the prizes and the Big Wheel Rally visit eugbwr.com!

When is the Eugene Big Wheel Rally?

For those over 21, July 28th will feature a pub crawl from the Downtown Athletic Club to Sizzle Pie with lots of fun in-between.

For those under 21, July 29th after the Sunday Streets Parade. Kids and adults can race through the streets for Big Wheel Glory.


July 28th

The over 21 rally starts at 5:00pm at the Downtown Athletic Club and runs as follows:

July 29th

The under 21 races start after the Sunday Streets parade at 12:00pm at Broadway and Lincoln St.

Good Karma Monday

Eugene Emeralds vs Everett Aquasox

  • WHEN
    July 2, 2018 at 7:05 PM
    PK Park
    2760 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    Eugene. OR 97401

About this event

We have been nominated as a Good Karma partner with the Eugene Emeralds! Come on down to PK Park on July 2nd, and you can help support A Family For Every Child!

NEW! The Eugene Ems have changed Good Karma Monday. Now you can purchase tickets ahead of time online. Tickets will still be available at the box office day of. All tickets are $10 and A Family For Every Child will receive 50% of all ticket sales. Click the button at the bottom of the page to purchase your tickets now!

Homerun Reading Challenge Redemption Game! The July 2nd game is also a chance for kids to redeem their reading challenge tickets!

Thank you to Yogi Tea for nominating us for Good Karma Monday!

If you have questions about the event or tickets, please contact the events team at events@afamilyforeverychild.org or call 541 343 2856.

Información en Español

A Family for Every Child (una familia para todos los niños) es una organización enfocada en encontrar hogares adoptivos permanentes y amorosos para niños de crianza temporal que están esperando. En los últimos 12 años, hemos desarrollado 10 programas que ayudan a los niños con necesidades especiales para encontrarles sus propias familias para siempre. Nuestros programas incluyen:

Heart Gallery (galería de corazones): The Heart Gallery es una herramienta utilizada para involucrar y educar la comunidad sobre las situación difíciles de los niños que viven en hogares de crianza temporal. Hacemos esto al mostrar imágenes profesionales y biografías de los niños esperando en lugares locales. Trabajamos con más de 50 negocios, lugares corporativos y religiosos

El sitio de web: Usamos nuestro sitio web para trabajar con los Heart Galleries y con asistentes sociales para proporcionar y facilitar imágenes profesionales e información sobre niños en crianza temporal. También es una herramienta de reclutamiento independiente con opciones de listado públicas y privadas.

La Programa de asistencia complementaria (MAP): El programa está diseñado para ayudar a las familias adoptivas a hacer frente al proceso de adopción complicado y, a menudo, frustrante y complicado. El concepto es tener una persona en nuestro personal y un sitio web de inicio de sesión exclusivamente para estas familias

Estamos aquí para ayudarlo ya sea si apenas está buscando recursos, si está empezando el proceso de adoptar, si está esperando una colocación, o si está buscando recursos postadopción. Todavía estamos en el proceso de traducir el sitio de web. Para información, recursos, o consultas enviarnos un correo electrónico a espanol@afamilyforeverychild.org.

Special Needs Adoption Coalition

The Special Needs Adoption Coalition (SNAC) of Oregon is facilitated by Boys & Girls Aid through a contract with the State of Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS). An adoption is usually considered “special needs” if the child is over eight years old, part of a sibling group, has some physical, mental or emotional disabilities, or is part of an ethnic minority.

SNAC is comprised of 14 private adoption agencies who work with DHS to locate potential adoptive families for foster children in state custody. The agencies each have their own fee structure and fees are partially reimbursed through the State of Oregon.

A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency is different than many existing agencies because is focuses entirely on “special needs” adoptions. Most of these children are over 6 years old, part of a sibling group, have some physical, mental or emotional disabilities, or are part of an ethnic minority. Unless they find their forever families soon, these children will likely spend the rest of their childhood in multiple foster care placements.

Of special concern are children at risk of “aging–out” of foster care. Once these children reach 18, their foster families and the State of Oregon no longer have to give them assistance. Left to fend for themselves, these hardest to place children have been in the system the longest and because they lack the family support system that most young adults take for granted, they face a higher risk of dropping out of school, homelessness, poverty, and young parenthood. They do not have any more time to wait! We know, from working with many families over the last several years, we have a role to play in bridging the gap between really wonderful families and really wonderful children!

A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency commits to supporting Oregon children and potential parents, throughout the United States, in their search for each other. A Family for Every Child Adoptions partners with DHS and other SNAC agencies to provide families with home studies and updates. We also provide committee representation in Oregon for out-of-state families who have been identified as a prospective match by the Department of Human Services. A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency guides prospective parents through the process of a special needs adoption at all stages!

Other Special Needs Adoption Coalition Member Agencies (SNAC)

Adoption Options, Inc.

18008 NW 61st Ave.
Ridgefield, WA 98642
Phone: 503-655-9470
Email: adoptionoptions@comcast.net
Counties Served:
Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill.

Adoptions of Southern Oregon, Inc.

10 Crater Lake Ave.
Medford, OR 97405
Phone: 541-772-3284
Email: adoptionsofso@aol.com
Website: www.adoptionsofsouthernoregon.org
Counties served:
Coos, Curry, Deshutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake and Lane

All God’s Children International

3308 NE Peerless Place
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 800-214-6719
Email: ehouse@allgodschildren.org

Bethany Christian Services

5319 SW Westgate Dr., #117
Portland, OR 97221
Phone: 503-200-5748
Email: ewallace@bethany.org
Website: www.bethany.org
Counties Served:
Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deshutes, Hood River, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill

Boys & Girls Aid

Boys & Girls Aid began in 1885 and remains as the oldest adoption and child welfare agency in Oregon. Over 17,000 adoptions have been completed since the agency was founded. We are a non-profit organization licensed to provide adoption services in Oregon and Washington. Boys & Girls Aid is a founding member of the Child Welfare League of America. As one of the few Oregon agencies accredited by them, we are held to a higher standard than the State of Oregon’s licensing requirements.
018 SW Boundary Ct.
Portland, OR 97239
Phone: 1-503-542-2392
Email: adoptions@boysandgirlsaid.org
Website: www.boysandgirlsaid.org
Counties Served:
Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Linn, Lane, Polk, Washington, Yamhill

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities has had a passion and commitment for helping to find loving homes for waiting children in Oregon for more than 20 years. As an agency, we have been involved in the field of adoption since 1903. We serve prospective adoptive SNAC families in the Portland tri-county area and work with families in outlying areas on a case by case basis. Our adoption staff consist of masters-level counselors and social workers, many of whom who are licensed in the State of Oregon. We also have native Spanish-speaking professionals on staff who assist prospective adoptive parents and/or birth parents.
2740 SE Powell Blvd, #7
Portland, OR 97202
Phone: 503-238-5196
Email: psa@catholiccharitiesoregon.org
Website: www.catholiccharities.org
Counties Served:
Greater Portland and Willamette Valley

Christian Family Adoption

Founded in 1958, Christian Family Adoptions is a nonprofit adoption agency licensed in Oregon and Washington. CFA provides a full range of services to children and families, with the goal of changing the world, one child at a time. CFA has been contracting with Oregon and Washington for over 12 years to place foster children in permanent homes. CFA’s other services include placing infants in adoptive homes and conducting home studies, and post placement supervision, for international and independent adoptions. CFA is a member of the Coalition of Oregon Adoption Agencies which meets monthly to discuss changes in legislature, current trends, policies, licensure and other adoption related issues.
6040 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97215
Phone: 503-232-1211
Email: mail@christianfamilyadoptions.org
Website: www.christianfamilyadoptions.org
Counties Served:
Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill

HOLT International Children’s Services, Inc.

9320 SW Barbur Blvd., Suite 280
Portland, OR 97219
Phone: 503-244-2440
Email: oregon@holtinternational.org
Website: www.holtinternational.org
Counties Served:
Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deshutes, Douglas, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Washington, and Yamhill

Red Thistle Adoptions

PO Box 5428
Salem, OR 97304
Phone: 503-508-9251
Email: redthistleadoptions@yahoo.com
Website: www.redthistleadoptions.com
Counties served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

Tree of Life

5816 SE Powell Blvd, Suite A
Portland, OR 97206
Phone: 503-244-7374
Email: info@toladopt.org
Website: www.toladopt.org
Counties Served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP)

WACAP is a non-profit, domestic and international adoption agency established in 1976. We have placed over 9,600 children in loving homes across the United States and provided humanitarian aid to more than 200,000 children worldwide. WACAP’s domestic special needs adoptions with our US Kids program works with private and public agencies to find permanent adoptive homes for children, of all ages and races, who have entered the child welfare system, as well as provide adoption training and support. Fees are highly subsidized.
PO Box 88948
Seattle, WA 98138
Phone: 206-575-4550
Email: claires@wacap.org
Website: www.wacap.org
Counties Served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

Assistance for Adoptive Families

There are many resources and supports available to assist families with their decision to adopt.

Adoption Subsidy

Some of the children who are adopted through Child Welfare are considered children with “special needs.” Special needs, as defined by the Department of Children and Families includes:

  • A child who has one or more special needs as a result of a mental, emotional or physical impairment, behavioral disorder, or medical condition that has been diagnosed by a licensed professional who is qualified to make the diagnosis
  • A child who is a member of a sibling group of 2 to be adopted together and one of the children is 8 years of age or older
  • A child is a member of a sibling group of 3 or more to be adopted together
  • A child is a member of an ethnic or cultural minority of whom reasonable, but unsuccessful efforts to place the child in an adoptive home were made and documented
  • The child’s birth and/or family history places the child at risk of having special needs but, due to the child’s age, a reliable diagnosis cannot be made.

Adoption subsidies are available to parents who adopt children who have physical or mental disabilities, or severe emotional problems. In addition to those children who qualify for subsidy through the Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance program, state subsidies are available to offset the additional costs of caring for a child with special needs. The subsidy programs are intended to remove financial barriers to the adoption of children with special needs, but they are not intended to cover the full cost of raising a child. The amount of the subsidy cannot be greater than the amount that child would have received had the child remained in a family-based foster care setting. The benefits available through the adoption subsidy programs are determined on an individual basis and may include monthly care and maintenance payments (a daily rate), health insurance coverage.

Adoption Tax Credit

In the summer of 2001, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was updated. The most important update was to expand benefits to children with special needs adopted from the U.S. foster care system. Originally families adopting from the foster care system could claim the adoption tax credit, provided they had qualifying expenses. Unfortunately, the IRS list of qualifying expenses was limited to the cost of the adoption process, but not the day-to-day costs of raising a child with special needs. However, beginning in tax year 2003, families adopting a child with special needs from foster care, had access to this same tax credit without needing to document expenses. Since tax year 2005, the tax credit is $10,630 and you have the current year and up to the next five years in which to use it. For families that adopted in 2002 or earlier, you can only claim the credit against expenses you paid related to the adoption process.

If you have questions on the adoption tax credit, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children at 651-644-3036 or  adoption.assistance@nacac.org. You can also visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or call 1-800-829-1040.

Employee Benefits

Employer adoption benefits may include reimbursement for costs, paid or unpaid time-off and other support services. For more information contact the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption at 1-877-777-4222 or info@adoptionfriendlyworkplace.org, or visit their website.

MAP Success Stories

People always ask us why we chose to adopt. The funny thing is there is no deep reason, we just thought it was something we should do. We are able to have biological children, and we would like to have one eventually, but we knew this was something we should do first. We had love to offer, why not help a child?

We received an adoption broadcast email about a 19-month-old named Kimi and the minute I saw her picture I just knew. The child I had had always dreamed about – her angelic face, her curly hair, her smile; it was like I had dreamed her into existence and here she was on a piece of paper in front of me. We submitted our homestudy and we got the call that we were selected to be her family. She has special needs and we received the case file detailing her history, diagnoses, and prognosis. She has 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and 16p duplication syndrome which cause her developmental delays but none of that fazed us at all, we were so excited to meet our daughter.

My husband was head over heels. She was absolutely imperfectly perfect, quirky, silly, and the best thing to ever happen to us. She is now four; she struggles with severe verbal apraxia so she can only say four baby words, including mama and dada – which is so heartwarming because she works so hard to say them. She may be verbal one day but it doesn’t matter to us as she is perfect the way she is. We taught her sign language, enrolled her in deaf-education/total communication where they speak and sign everything and she excels there. She is so innocent, and absolutely hilarious. I could never imagine living one day without this child.

We looked into getting a sibling for her, and helping another child with special needs. We applied for a three-year-old boy with Shaken Baby Syndrome whom we saw on the adoption resource exchange website for our state. We expected Levi to have many delays but surprisingly, he doesn’t. He is very bright and physically active. He is somewhat verbally delayed but makes huge gains daily. They adore each other and have so much fun. I feel so proud when I see her signing to him and he understands and can speak and sign back to her and they have a little conversation.

We said we were done adopting but realized life had different plans for us, we felt drawn to look at the website afamilyforeverychild.org and we came across the profile of a little girl so much like our daughter, the same age, the same sweet personality, even the same curly hair, and with very similar special needs. We know that our experience can help her excel and we were thrilled that our daughter would have a sister so much like her. We were chosen by her workers to be her mommy and daddy and she comes home for good in April, 2013. We know without a doubt that she belongs in our family and have enjoyed our visits with her immensely.

Our experiences with adoption through the foster system have been completely free, relatively easy, and have blessed our family beyond belief x 3. Nothing has ever been more meaningful and more fulfilling to us than this and we hope to encourage others to help children in need, whether it’s by being a mentor, a volunteer, a foster parent, or by becoming a mommy or daddy to a child who needs you.

With Love, Dolores, John, Kimi, Levi, and Grace
May 2013

In 1997 a speaker from the Mississippi Baptist Children’s Village came to address our church congregation on orphan ministry opportunities in our community. My wife and I had no prior knowledge and had given little thought about opening our home to help other people’s children. Our hearts were deeply touched by the stories the speaker recounted. Immediately after the service my wife and I began to consider becoming involved as an extended family to local children from the village. The children at the village are not adoptable as the purpose of the ministry was to provide a safe Christian temporary environment for children whose parents for a variety of reasons (incarceration, drug treatment, financial) could not care for their own kids. What the ministry needed was families to qualify and be trained as ‘extended families’ providing weekend, holiday and summer foster care for the children so they did not have to live 24 x 7 on campus in cottages with many other children. This ministry also allowed children to get one on one adult time and hopefully allowed us to model what a functional loving home looked like.

My wife and I were only able to have one son of our own. We always desired to have a daughter but were never able too. With this ministry we were able to help a little girl and my wife was able to have a young lady in the home (even though temporarily) that she could invest in, love on and teach her about being a lady and sometimes just having fun doing girly things. My wife and I ministered to several girls and a few boys over the next 10-12 years working with the Mississippi Baptist Children’s Village.

Once my son was grown and moved onto college. My wife and I were deciding what next and began for the first time earnestly considering adopting a daughter of our own. We thought we knew something about adoption only to quickly learn we knew little at all. We made all the usual early mistakes by thinking we could venture out on our own but made little headway. Working at the church I had missionary connections all over the world and began to make contacts and let people know that my wife and I were looking to open our home to a Latino girl. We contacted various people in Central and South American countries and were learning about international adoption but were put off on the cost and time it took. We knew we were on the high side of the adoption age and didn’t have time for a two or three year process. I am in my early 50’s but lucky for me I have a wife who is 7 years younger than me. I think because of her age we were at least considered at times.

Anyway, in the summer of 2011 we happened across a local couple that had connected with an adoption agency in a town close to ours. It was a non-profit organization that assisted families with fostering and adoption at no costs. NO COST? Hey that sounded good to us. We at least owed it to ourselves to look into it. We made an appointment with the agency and the head lady said all the right things so we signed on excited about this new opportunity. The agency said it would be no problem for them to locate a Latino girl here in the states that needed adopting.

So we began the cumbersome process of ‘getting approved’. Most anyone reading our story would have that story also. We began in late October 2011 and in March 2012 we got the final process completed. We now knew a whole lot more about adoption but still were very naive about what challenges still lay ahead. Our agency gave us the green light to ‘begin the search’. We clumsily logged thru various Internet websites teaching ourselves along the way about setting up accounts and filtering criteria that helped us narrow the search. Another important factor at this point was our decision to search for sisters. Instead of opening our home to a girl we decided to open our home to girls.

We had no idea that there would be almost a competitive challenge to being matched with the right children. Sometimes a sister group in our desired age range would show up on line and be removed the same week after as many as 80 families submitted their home study. Wow… How are they going to every match us (old people) when so many families are actively looking for the same siblings?

In the summer of 2012 we happened across the AFFEC website and like many others signed on. But this site was different. This was the first time we were able to include our home study and had some control on when and how our information was forwarded for possible matches. This site also allowed us to customize information and photos about our family and our desires to become a forever family for children needing healing, time and a lot of unconditional love. We found children on the AFFEC site that were not listed elsewhere. We also found the site contacts fast and helpful in sharing information and providing useful suggestions. We were very thankful for locating and using this helpful site.

Fast forward to August 2012. A new sister sibling group appeared online and like many before them my wife and I submitted our home study. About 10 days later our agency worker asking us to review the details on these girls and see if we still wanted to be considered as a match contacted us. Like many children they had come from a traumatic background of unfortunate abuse and neglect. But our hearts immediately were drawn to them as we knew that what these precious children needed more than anything was honest love, time to heal, a safe environment where they could flourish and achieve their dreams and goals in life. My wife and I understood more than ever that adoption was never about filling a void in our lives but about filling the void in a child’s life. Giving children a permanent home. My wife and I prayed hard about this decision and made the commitment to open our home to them if they would accept us as a match. Yes we expect that in time they will get better. Yes we will support their continued counseling. Yes we want them to heal. But we need to be their family no matter how difficult the future may be.

We offered our commitment. We went through another few weeks of questions and discussions about specific plans and situations. And then it happened. The phone call that changes many lives. We got THE CALL. We had been selected as a match for these precious girls. Are you kidding me? Us? Out of all the people that put in for these children they want us? Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus! How awesome that God would entrust us with their care, safety and future.

Then it keeps getting better. We were told we could call them on the phone. No way I can begin to tell you about the first time we heard their voice. Then it keeps getting better. Then they told us to go to their state and meet them. WOW. Last week we spent the week with OUR daughters. Unbelievable. Sadly we had to leave at the end of the week without them. But we call them most every night. We are told that within the next 30 days they should be in our home… permanently. Let the spoiling begin. We are going to love the hurt right out of these girls.

-A MAP Family
September 2012

Here is what happened. I clicked on his picture June 6th. The next day you had his worker was from Walla Walla Wa. and we where headed down to Dayton which is only 32 mile further. I called her up she said that she would look at our home study but may people were looking at him. A week and a half later she called and said we should meet him when we came up. We meet him the next week at a park in Dayton, with out him knowing who we were. We liked him and we told her so when we got home. She called back and arranged a time in July when we could come down and meet with him on his area. The day before we left we had a call from her and she said his foster mom was really burn out and could we take him home with us, he was to visit with us later that month for two weeks, so we did take him home with us and he has not left.

-Sharon McCartney
September 2012

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU to the Matching Assistance Program.

Norberto and I have been foster parents since 2007 and prior to that we were tribal placement parents for a child from the Oneida Reservation. We have always known we have wanted a large family and began working on our dream shortly after we were married.

We tried for a little over 1 year when we started infertility testing. Years of infertility treatment and no babies in site. We decided to start the process to become foster parents when we were told that Jaymie had stage 1 uterine cancer requiring a radical hysterectomy. There went our dreams to ever have our family. Through our journey we were graced with a beautiful foster baby that just over 1 year later we were able to add him to our forever family through adoption.

We continued to foster and 24 placements later, we still were not able to add to our forever family and actually went through a seemingly never ending nightmare with the foster care system. Our journey took us to our adoption agency that then told us about the interstate adoption program. It was on February 18, 2011 that we joined the Matching Assistance Program.

Through the Matching Assistance Program we got leads on well over 250 children that we inquired on. My MAP specialist was sending me searches weekly, but I was out daily searching and inquiring. We ended up inquiring on 285 children and only heard back on a hand full of those.

Some we were matched to and subsequently decided against, some we were not chosen as the best family. Unfortunately, there are many ups and downs with the adoption journey and you get out only a portion of what you pour in. Working with our adoption specialist and Jennifer and Christy, we stumbled on a sibling group of 4 from Texas. We saw them and inquired on 3/4/11 and found out we were the matching family on 4/18/11.

We waited for what seemed like forever for their files, but it wasn’t even 1 month later. We soon found ourselves reviewing the files, presentation staffing and accepting the children as a possible placement. We then had to wait for the ICPC to be completed which would allow Florida to take over the month to month case evaluation. We found out that the ICPC was approved on July the 8th we were allowed to go visit the kids. We flew out on July 13th and we were able to spend 7 full glorious days with our kiddos, and subsequently found out we were allowed to take them back with us on the plane. There have been extremely minor speed bumps, but all is going very well with our family which is now 5 kids and 2 adults.

It all seemed to take forever when we were going through it all, but when I put it in prospective, from seeing and inquiring on the children to official placement of them, it was 4 months and 19 days, a whirl wind in prospective. As much help as the Match assistance program is, it is dependent on the adoptive families willingness to put in effort.

-Norberto and Jaymie
August 2011

After being in the final selection process more than twice, getting very excited to meet our newest family members, and then being told we were not selected, it was hard to be positive some days. But, we kept at the process, submitting our inquiries and home study, praying (lots and lots of praying) and continued to keep a positive attitude.

We were recently selected, exactly six months after our home study was approved and after inquiring on over 250 groups of siblings. We are beyond thrilled with our match of three siblings, 2 boys and 1 girl, who were living in different foster homes until we were all matched together.

We all fell right into place as a family during our first visit and we could never have dreamed of this day finally coming. It seemed like a very long road (and sometimes a disappointing road) to get here, but when the fit was right for everyone, it was absolutely worth every moment we waited.

-Kristine and Josh Habetler
February 2012

Our journey toward a very lively household began, as do all adoption journeys, with the home study. Our social worker from Catholic Charities was raised on a ranch. We live on a small farm and found that she understood our ways and goals. Friendship, trust and understanding flowed both ways.

Paperwork seemed to take forever, but once the home study was completed we started putting in our home study for children. We were considered, but not chosen for several sibling groups. Discouragement crept into my thinking, but not so much into my husband’s thinking. We both have a very strong faith in God and knew that He was the guiding force in the process. That faith and knowledge did not keep us from discouragement and frustration, but it did keep us moving forward.

Our social worker understood both our faith and our discouragement. From the beginning, she had our permission to send our home study if she saw a child or children that we might be a good family for. She ended up sending in our home study for two little boys ages 3 and 23 months. Our social worker did not tell us she had sent the home study in until she found out we were one of two families being considered for the boys.

What a Friday morning that was! (July 16, 2010) I had worked from midnight until 8am and had just gotten home; my husband was at work when our social worker called to tell us the news. She told us the oldest boy had a kidney disease and then emailed me two pictures of the boys. (Kidney disease is actually a special need we are comfortable with as my husband had been on dialysis for 10½ years and is a living donor kidney transplant recipient.)

The weekend was spent wondering how the meeting on Monday would go and if we would be chosen. Our social worker told us that she probably would not hear until Tuesday because the adoption worker had a placement after the meeting. We heard nothing on Tuesday, but called our social worker and told her we would stop by the office on Wednesday when we were in town. She greeted us at the door with “Hi Mom and Dad” and let us know we were chosen!

After much frustration with two states and their respective paperwork, we brought the boys home on January 29, 2011. Since then, we have been through surgery with the oldest to place a peritoneal dialysis catheter, started him on peritoneal dialysis (which we do at home every night) and enjoyed every minute of getting to know our perfect boys!

Our advice is to give your social worker permission to put your home study in when they see a child or sibling group. Trust and have faith that the right child or children will be in your lives at the time they are destined to be. Don’t be afraid of what you read in the preliminary social services reports about your child. Ask the medical professionals that treat the child for information and guidance.

-Kristina and John
April 2011

One morning in November of 2006 we opened the Register Guard and noticed a picture of a little boy under the heading of Child of the Month for the Heart Gallery of Lane County. A cute little boy named “”Austin” who was looking for a Forever Family. Thus began our journey down the road to adoption. We already had 4 kids of our own from the ages of 9 to19, but only two were still living at home and after a family discussion, with our two boys, we decided to try and adopt a little boy in the 8 year old range.

January of 2007 we began the process. We came to find out we had to take 8 parenting classes, get a background check and then a have a home study done. What we didn’t know was that it would take nearly five months to get all of those things accomplished. Unfortunately, while we were going through this process, Austin the boy we saw in the register guard, had already had his committee set and we weren’t able to be considered.

Austin had his forever family so we started reviewing bulletins looking for another little boy who we could open our home to. Our DHS worker sent new bulletins whenever they came out and she thought they might fit into our home. We found another little boy who we were ready to open our home to that we were selected again for committee if it came to that. Unfortunately for us but great for him, his grandparents found him in the Heart Gallery and were able to be his adoptive resource. A few months later we again found a child we thought would fit well into our home. Our home study was sent and we were selected for committee, but for whatever reason we weren’t selected. This was the point when we really had to ask ourselves if riding this roller coaster of emotion was worth staying on. After talking with Christy Obie-Barrett over and over again and constantly talking with our worker, we decided it was definately worth it.

March 11th of 2008 we were selected at committee for Michael. Later that after noon we were notified we had been selected, but the joy was short lived because we were also told the decision of the committee was going to be reviewed. We then spent the next two months waiting for DHS to decide if we were going to be Michael’s adoptive resource. During this time we asked ourselves many times if this was worth it and there were many occasions we were going to tell DHS to withdraw our name and give up.

We didn’t give up and Michael has been with us for thirty days now and we’re happy he’s joined our family. Everyone is adjusting to having a 6 year old in the house again. The boys are behaving like brothers playing together one minute and arguing the next, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

It’s been 19 months since this journey began and now that Michaels in our home we’re glad we didn’t give up because he deserved to have a forever family and he needed someone to not give up on him. We are very happy to have Michael as our son and hope that someday he comes to love us as we do him.

This is really just the beginning of our journey and now the hard part begins.

-Jenny and Dave H.

We found a 10-year-old boy right here in Texas! Can you believe it? I didn’t want to say anything until things looked really promising, but we looked around in Texas and found Danny. Our agency from Austin contacted us around the end of November and said they wanted to talk to us about him. We met with them in January and about a week later, we had been selected as Danny’s family for adoption out of three couples that were interviewed! 

We were all a little blown away but the response has been awesome and the support system has been phenomenal. Danny has been at a treatment facility right here in Austin (I have been driving right by there for two years on the way to work every day) but he is under the care of the County.

We had a great first 2 hour pass here at the house. We stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries and came back to the house and ate them at the bar. Ashley, our new in-home therapist, met us here and hung out with us. She is very nice and we all like her. She helped us set up the badminton net (not an easy job while fighting off those pesky gnats).

We played badminton, horse shoes and passed the football. He loved his new bedroom and invited the dogs to jump up on his bed with him and play. He also got a new basket ball and we have a new hoop on the way. Hopefully it will get here by Saturday so we can shoot some hoops on Sunday. He is quite good and loves to “slam dunk” the ball.

On the way back to the treatment home we told him that we loved him no matter what and he smiled. He calls us every night now around 7:30 and tonight he sounded a little down, so we asked him what was wrong and he said he missed us. What a sweet and loving little boy. He will hopefully get to come home by the first of August.

He is a wonderful child and is attaching to both of us! All three of us are happy and blessed. I really wanted to thank you so much for taking up all that time with me and encouraging me and trying to help me find my son. You will never know how much you helped me through this. I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart too. If it hadn’t been for you, I think I would have gone stir crazy. You gave us hope and the courage we needed to not give up and for that I will NEVER forget you.

I guess you can tell we are pretty excited. Danny’s whole world has changed and so has ours. We already love him so much and are spoiling him completely rotten 🙂

Thanks again Christy and keep up your great work because we see now firsthand what a difference it makes in a child’s life to find a home and feel part of a forever family.

Thanks to you all for your support and love,

-Tom, Todd and Danny
July 2011