We are Michael and Scarlett, parents of Nick and Hannah (now married) and bonus parents to our son-in-law, Justin.
Early on in our relationship we discussed our future plans for a family and decided that we would have at least one biological child but we would also like to adopt at some point. Adoption has always been a part of Scarlett’s life, as she was adopted as was her sister. From an extremely young age, she knew that adoption was something she hoped to pursue as an adult. As a couple we the possibility of adopting a child with special needs one day, since Scarlett grew up with a special needs sister and went to school to be a special education teacher. There is a bit of an age difference from our youngest biological child (19 years old) and the age range that we are pursuing through adoption (0 to 9 years old). We intentionally waited until our youngest child was older in order to be able to have more dedicated one on one time for our adopted child. We look forward to adding another child to our family and providing the love and care of a family that every child needs and deserves. To us, the most important thing we can impart to our children is the love of a family and the love of God. In addition, we realized that there were many kids who were considered harder to place due to being older or having special needs. We wanted to provide a family a child who may not otherwise have one.
Here are some things that are of note in the chronological timeline leading up to our adoption:
Scarlett began to feel a strong tug in her heart about adoption and she prayed continually for God to show her what this meant. Signs began to show up everywhere…in word games that she played the words “orphan”, “adoption”, and “adopt” began to show up repeatedly…to the point of her beginning to save pictures of the game screens because it seemed uncanny. Random people would approach her to talk to her about adoption – even strangers – and the idea was never far from her thoughts. She talked with Michael about it all and asked him what he thought…was it a sign that they should consider adoption now? He said he would think about it and pray about it and they would begin discussing the logistics, etc. Discussions and prayers began for the entire family.
Scarlett and Nick we on a Mission Trip to Honduras with Journey Church. During their time there, Scarlett asked God to help her to clearly be present and to fulfill God’s purpose for her on this trip. During her journalling it was clear that adoption was something He wanted her to keep in her heart, and there were 3 path possibilities He put on her heart. To help others who were adopting, to actively be an ambassador for the children’s home in Honduras, or to pursue adoption as a family. As it turns out the answer was all three of these things, but that didn’t become clear right away. Part of the mission in Honduras was to serve at an orphanage/children’s home. Scarlett and Nick were able to meet the little girl their family had been sponsoring that year and they were able to spend time with her as well as MANY other children there. The children were beautiful, their stories were heart-breaking and the need for families was evident! While in Honduras, Scarlett asked about adopting from there and quickly found that it is extremely difficult to adopt from Honduras and that it often took many many years and would still be a denial in the end. Upon return to the U.S. it was clear that it was time for a family discussion about what was next for the Ritenours.
December thru May 2018
Through the J:127 MInistry in which Scarlett serves in S.C., a little girl in need of rapid placement through fictive kinship foster care was presented. The Ritenours met the little girl and she moved into their home a few days after Christmas. She was placed with the family for just under 6 months through the Department of Social Services. While she was with them, her background of trauma and abuse was discovered to be very extensive. Her biological parents rights were in question, but it was determined that it could take several years for that to be resolved. From there it was determined that she needed to be in a fully therapeutic environment and she was placed in one at that time. Needless to say, the Ritenours were completely heart-broken for the child and her leaving left quite a void in their lives. During her time with the family, it became evident that the Ritenours were open to adoption.
June 2018 thru November 2018
The family took some time to allow for mourning the loss of the little girl. During that time, Michael and Scarlett prayed about adoption and what would be next for the family. In addition, their daughter, Hannah got married to Justin and they gained a son-in-law. During that time frame, they also met with someone from Lifeline Children’s Services and got some questions answered. The next step was prayer about when to adopt and from where. It became very evident that they were called to adopt from Hong Kong despite the initial concern about funding an international adoption. Iit was made loud and clear that God was speaking to them and that He would provide a way if they were obedient to Him.
Now fast forward 7 months from May 2018.
On Christmas day, Michael gave Scarlett a puzzle box as a gift and inside that box was a great big YES to pursuing adoption from Hong Kong and that they should get started in the process. They submitted their initial application a few days later.
January 2019 to August 2019
These months were filled with adoption pursuit. They have done tons of reading, training, and seeking education and experience from many resources: other families in their church who have adopted internationally and domestically, S.C. adoption and foster trainings, trauma trainings, and many many books and websites referred to them by Lifeline. They also attended a weekend training conference in Alabama called “Rooted in Love”. During the following months there was what seemed like tons of paperwork, forms to be filled out, questions to answer, home visits and a home study to be completed, and them more and more paperwork in addition to fundraising and lots of prayers.
August thru November 2019
We continued to pursue adoption in Hong Kong, but with all of the political unrest and a few other factors, we began to question whether or not we should stick with the plan to adopt from Hong Kong. After much prayer and discussion, we made the decision to pursue adopting from China rather than Hong Kong.
Wow, this is a big month for us!
On December 6 we were looking at the list of waiting children from China and we came across the file of a little boy who had recently turned 7 years old. His mini-profile told of his personality and medical condition. The mini-profile was enough for us to make an inquiry and request his bigger file. The bigger file spoke of medical procedures and life circumstances and had a few videos of him. After reading through that file, we knew we wanted to pursue him and we asked our caseworker to send a letter of intent on our behalf. We are currently waiting for a Letter of Acceptance from China. From that point, we will be able to share who our child is!! We should hear something by early January.
We feel that God’s perfect timing has put us on the adoption path, and in spite of the fact that we had no money saved for an adoption, we are stepping out in faith and trusting that we will be able to bring our son home to his forever family through a combination of saving, fundraising, and grants.
As of this week (third week of December 2019), have been awarded a $3000 matching grant from Josiah’s Adoption Fund, administered by Lifesong for Orphans!!!!
Although we are both blessed to have jobs and Michael makes a good salary that is fully able to pay our bills and my income is supplemental, there aren’t too many people fortunate enough to have an extra $30,000 sitting around for an adoption and we are no exception. When we began the adoption process, we obtained a 401K loan for a portion of the intended expenses We have also been cutting monthly expenses as much as possible in order to add to that savings. In addition, we have been and will continue to fundraise as much as possible and have applied for grants. So far we have held an online auction, a t-shirt sale, an event scheduled at a local farm, a Spirit Night at our local Chick-fil-a, and a Noonday fundraiser, each of these has raised a small amount of funds. We also have a few other fundraiser ideas that we plan to pursue in the near future as well. Unfortunately, we are limited in the amount we qualify to borrow at this time, due to still making monthly payments on our student loans.
Although we have all the resources needed to raise this child, we do not have all of the resources we need to bring him home. Therefore we will have to rely on the understanding of grant selection committees to help us come up with the final $20,000 or so we will need in order to bring this sweet boy home to his forever family. We believe that every child deserves a family regardless of their age or disabilities, and this little guy we are pursuing is no exception. We also believe that where God guides, He provides, and we ask that you find it in your hearts to help our little guy, whomever he may be, come home to his forever family because we can’t wait to meet him!
Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey.
The Ritenour Family
STRIPE charges an online processing fee (2.2% +.30 USD per transaction). Your donations will be decreased by this amount. You may also send a check payable to “Lifesong for Orphans”. In the memo line please write “Ritenour 08764”, to ensure it is credited to our account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.
Lifesong has been blessed with partners who underwrite all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.
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