From Caribbean to Clinton, Haitians to have new life
Family is very important to Ron and Michelle Schaffner of Clinton. Their seven children range in age from one to 19, but they felt a need to expand their family.“The Lord was calling us to have more children,” Michelle said.The pull to adopt was strong. Aware there are many people misrepresenting children in foreign countries as well as the government corruption involved with some countries, the Schaffners were careful to work with a reputable and Christian organization.Working with America World Adoption Association (AWAA), the family felt comfortable with the adoption process knowing the organization’s reputation. They first learned of the group through Christian artist Stephen Curtis Chapman, the AWAA’s spokesperson. “It’s a credible organization,” said Ron.At first, the couple worked to adopt a child from Ethiopia, but in 2013 they learned about the need in Haiti for families to adopt orphans. With Haiti still recovering from the hurricane of 2012, the AWAA has been careful to work with groups in the private sector.When doing research on Haitian children, the Schaffners found a family of boys looking for a home. “We felt really drawn to these four brothers,” said Michelle about the family that touched their hearts. “The boys live in a private run orphanage.”The process has been slow and agonizing for the family who are anxious to welcome the four Haitian brothers into their Clinton home. The Schaffners have been pre-approved for the adoption of the brothers, and just need their official referral to meet the boys for the first time.“We are waiting for government approval,” said Ron. “It’s the official last word for the adoption.”“We’ve been feeling like, is this ever going to happen,” Michelle said.Until notification is received, the family is not allowed to share personal information on the boys, including names and history. Photos also cannot be shared.Initially, Michelle and Ron were amazed by the costs involved with international adoption, which seemed insurmountable on the salary of a high school teacher and stay-at-home mom. Michelle spent many hours researching cost assistance for the adoption, finding many grants and matching grants that would help the family bring the brothers to Clinton.So far the family has raised a little over $40,000 towards the adoption. “It’s been a huge step of faith,” Michelle said about finding the financial resources necessary to adopt the boys.The time frame for finalizing the four adoptions has taken longer than the family anticipated. Although waiting has been hard, the extra time provided the Schaffners with an unexpected opportunity. One fundraiser to help with adoptions is done through the Both Hands Foundation, where people come together to help widows and at the same time benefit families working to adopt orphans.The mission statement for the organization said, “Our purpose is to help people raise funds for orphans while serving widows through home improvement projects.”During the school year with Ron’s teaching and the children’s activities, the Schaffners felt it would be impossible to participate in a Both Hands renovation. With the unexpected extra time in the adoption process, suddenly the Schaffners could organize a Both Hands fundraiser.The family appreciated the focus of Both Hands fundraising, with benefits going to a local person. It was much easier to ask for financial help knowing another person would be benefiting besides their family.“It’s not doing something trivial,” Ron said.Right away Michelle and Ron knew whom they wanted to help. Tamara Ball belongs to the same church, Gracepoint Evangelical Free, and has been struggling since losing her husband two years ago to cancer.“People like Tamara often fly under the radar,” Michelle said. “A lot of times we talk about the love of Christ, but we don’t show it.”Thanks to Both Hands, Ball will receive some necessary home renovations. Over 60 people have committed to help with the work happening on Saturday, July 26.“The work that’s being done at her house is incredible,” said Ron. “She’s getting a lot of structural things done to her home. We have a great cross section of people coming to help with the work.”The Schaffners and their team of volunteers send out letters requesting sponsorship for this day of service. With the fundraising done through private donors, no administrative costs are deducted by Both Hands.Indirect connections have played a big part in the Schaffner’s experience fundraising. Michelle said one volunteer was getting her hair cut and shared about the Both Hands renovation with her hairdresser. The hairdresser responded by refusing payment for the haircut, saying it should be donated to the project.“It’s been very humbling the amount of support we have received,” Michelle said.Donations can be made online through the Both Hands website at www.bothhandsfoundation.org/ron-and-michelle-schaffner.