MEET OPEN HEARTS FOR ORPHANS: from sorrow and tragedy, something beautiful was born.
What led to the creation of Open Hearts for Orphans?
The real founder of this organization is our son in Heaven, Daniel. He was a beautiful two-year-old boy living in China with CHD (congenital heart disease). We brought him home in 2010 and enjoyed four treasured months with him in our lives. When his broken body could not recover from the open-heart surgery that he needed, our little boy left this world on May 30th - Trinity Sunday - that same year at only 2 ½ years old. We were devastated but not without hope. God called us to go back – and we did three times - bringing home two more sons and another daughter. I was also called to share our son's life story with others, which is penned into a memoir called With an Open Heart (ALL royalties go to Open Hearts for Orphans), and every scrap of detail we could remember about our sweet son is preserved within those pages, keeping his spirit alive. In 2016, when we were given signs that it was time for our own personal adoption journeys to end and for a new chapter to begin. Open Hearts for Orphans was created six years after Daniel left for Heaven. It is an incredible blessing to see how the ministry has grown over the past five years, fighting for children all over the globe in memory of not only Daniel, but of all the beloved heart warriors gone too soon. We have an incredible board of directors - we share a love for all children, regardless of where they were born, and we are passionate about our mission. Collectively, we have 45 children, grandchildren, and little ones in Heaven, and we have gone through 21 adoption processes! We are also fortunate to have some wonderful volunteers on Team OHFO that help us meet our goals.
What was one challenge you worked through while started to create a non-profit, and how did you overcome it?
Just like an adoption process, once we said YES to forming this ministry, things started to fall into place. For us, the main challenge was all about funding to get it off the ground, since we knew precisely what our mission would be. And we knew that it would take time to earn the respect and credibility of those in our various circles– people needed to see that we had “staying power” and that we were committed to being a stable and fully-transparent entity. We were fortunate to have a local church community that embraced our mission from the get-go and that helped for sure.
How is Open Hearts for Orphans working to make a difference?
Our mission is divided into three areas: adoption assistance, medical intervention, and meeting basic needs. For our Say Yes adoption grant program, we give a $2,000 financial grant plus some wraparound care, including a copy of “The Connected Parent”, a strategic prayer partner, and quarterly virtual trauma trainings. For our medical intervention piece, we help fund necessary medical surgeries and/or procedures for vulnerable children. We also provide medical equipment and supplies that are not always accessible in orphanages and medical foster homes, such as pulse oximeters, and simple things like antibiotic ointment, bandages, vitamins, and pain relievers. We are in the middle of a wonderful project right now to provide an echocardiogram machine for the first female cardiologist in Uganda!
In the area of meeting basic needs, we ask the Lord to bring us the projects…and He does! We have helped with projects involving victims of human trafficking, providing formula and nutrition programs for starving babies, providing basic essentials such as beds, bedding, and mosquito nets for children sleeping on the ground and have provided food and clothing for many vulnerable children. We have built multiple houses for vulnerable families, including “child-headed households” , and we are working to get many of these children educated.
It is our passion to bless these families and give them hope when they need it! We are just now starting a new initiative that is super impactful. With our partners in Uganda, we are looking to empty four orphanages and place 48 children into loving families. You can read more about that campaign here.
How has FTN fit into your mission?
So far we’ve had two really great shirt campaigns through FTN. Our first one was called “Love Them All”, and the proceeds helped fund a new house for a vulnerable family! Our design is very popular and we will likely do another run this summer (stay tuned). Our second shirt campaign (active now!) is called “Love Says Yes” and proceeds support our “Say Yes” adoption grant fund. We would love for you to grab one of our shirts (campaign ends May 23) and share about them!
Where do you hope to see your non-profit in the next few years?
We hope Open Hearts for Orphans will continue to grow as the Lord wants us to! We trust that He will continue to send us the projects and pray the funding is provided as needed. We would love for our adoption grant amount to keep growing, too. We hope that more people will learn about our mission and join us in this fight to protect ALL of God’s children! And we definitely hope to develop more business partnerships down the road. Please contact us if you are a business who would like to partner with us in this orphan care mission!
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about orphan care?
I wish everyone knew that the lines orphan care are not always clear, and the meaning of “orphan” has changed in many ways from the true definition through the years. Many vulnerable children in the world do have at least one living parent, yet we consider them “modern day orphans” or “social orphans” due to the fact that they have been abandoned by one or both parents. In those situations, our focus then shifts to “orphan prevention” to keep families together. Our mission then looks to support and defend child-headed households however needed, or in the case of a widow/abandoned mother who is struggling to care for her children, we will provide for the family, because the last thing we want is for those children to end up in institutional care. So, many of our projects are based around family preservation. It is all very closely tied together.
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