'Adoption Is Not Plan B,' Couple Says
by Sharon Hall - The Nugget
If you ask three-year-old Ru Helvie to count past 10, she gets a little confused. But when it comes to why Mark Helvie and his wife, Kim Scheil adopted her, she has no problem telling you the reason – it’s because “they wanted me.”
The couple did not want Ru because they could not have their own family. They have a six-year-old daughter, Mary. They wanted her as part of their family.
“The thing I like about AWAA [American World Adoption Association] is that they don’t think of adoption as ‘Plan B.’ They look at it as part of God’s plan for building a family,” Scheil says.
Scheil and Helvie discussed what they thought their family might look like when they became engaged. They always expected to have children in their home. They decided then, she says, that if they had trouble conceiving, they would go right to adoption.
“We didn’t [have trouble conceiving], but after we had Mary we were still thinking about adoption. So we did some research, and we found AWAA.”
The couple have since become advocates for the agency that helped them through the process of adoption by sharing its message with others who may be considering bringing a child into their home. They will be holding an adoption seminar Saturday, April 10 from 2-4 p.m. at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church.
“It’s a free multi-media program that addresses what God’s word says about adoption and helps families to understand the blessing and the process of international adoption,” Scheil says.
AWAA is a Christ-centered organization whose mission is to help American families and the world’s orphans experience God in Jesus through the “spirit of adoption.” The agency believes adoption is a God ordained way to build a family.
AWAA works with several countries in placing children – China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine. Both healthy and special needs children are available, though the wait time for a healthy child is often longer.
“Special needs children range from minor to major issues, but the wait is really short,” Scheil says. “In China, they call them ‘waiting children.’”
Ru came to her new family from China, and was considered a waiting child. She had a hemangioma - a strawberry - on her face. It is a benign tumor of the cells that line the blood vessels. It was removed before the couple went to China to bring Ru home. “We didn’t have to do anything,” Scheil says.
There are more serious conditions, and even the healthy children may suffer from the effects of institutionalization, AWAA’s literature warns. These can include malnutrition, delayed development, rickets and scabies that diminish once a child is placed in a loving home where he or she receives proper nutrition, medical care and attention.
“It takes a lot of soul searching and prayer to know what you are open to,” Scheil says. “There are orphans all over the world.”
Scheil says there were several reasons the couple chose to adopt a child from abroad. It wasn’t important for them to have an infant. The idea of fostering a child through Department of Family and Children’s Services and possibly losing the child before being able to adopt did not appeal to them.
While adopting an international child is a sometimes cumbersome and paperwork-intensive process, Scheil says, “Domestic adoption has its own pitfalls. “The parents can change their minds, even after you have adopted, for a time. We had more than one set of friends have a baby in their homes and have the parents change their minds. This felt like a more certain outcome.”
In addition, the couple takes seriously Jesus’ exhortation from James 1:27 “to look after orphans and widows in their distress ...” Most U.S. children have family. Many children from elsewhere around the globe do not.
Besides, Helvie says, “When we were doing the research, when we saw all the little babies we decided that we were being led to adopt one of them.”
And both were touched by the children of China.
Ru can tell you where she is from, and that that’s the reason she looks different from her two sisters – Mary and little sis, Sarah. (Scheil became pregnant with the couple’s second biological child shortly after Ru came home. Sarah will be two in July.)
“She knows all about being adopted. She knows she’s from China, and we try to share her heritage with her. We celebrate Chinese New Year. We got a language program so we can speak a little Chinese,” Scheil says, holding her index finger and thumb about a quarter-inch apart. “And she loves Chinese food.”
Saturday’s seminar on AWAA will be the second the couple has presented locally. Scheil says that one reason they decided to advocate for the organization is the process of working with the agency. Throughout the process, they worked with a Family Coordinator trained to handle all the many details of a foreign adoption. “There’s a lot of paperwork and red tape,” Scheil says. Scheil says the family coordinator they worked with was "there for any questions or concerns along the way, or even just to talk during the long wait."
Perhaps most importantly for the couple, Scheil says she knows "that the AWAA staff start each day in prayer and pray over the waiting children's placements. There is no doubt in my mind that Ru is our child by God's design."
The couple is in the process adopting a second child from China through AWAA. They may have a new daughter to add to their family by the end of next year, Helvie says.
“The main thing – the thing we stress in the seminar – is that adoption is not option B. It’s such a valid thing to do,” he adds. “So many children in this world need a loving family. The more people know about this, can think about it and pray about it, the better it will be for kids and families.”
St. Luke’s is located at 91 North Park Street. The seminar is free and open to the community. For more information on AWAA, visit their Web site at www. awaa.org.