Help Rob and Kirstin adopt a baby!

Here’s something we really like about the thought of adopting a child: we can’t do it alone.

As people with a lot of ideas and the skills—or perhaps the foolishness—to make them happen, our need for others has been one of the most important themes in our lives. It’s a lesson we’re still learning.

We started dating as sophomores at Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, Illinois. When we were juniors, our journalism teacher sat us down and told us she was thinking about making us co-editors of the paper the next year, but she had one reservation: what happens if you break up? No problem, we said, and that was the beginning of a collaborative spirit that has characterized our 22 years together. We revamped the paper, then went to college in Iowa where we started an underground magazine and organized a music festival to raise money for community causes. In 2001, shortly after we were married, we started *culture is not optional , the non-profit organization that’s been our life’s work. And then in 2003—why not?—we helped start a volunteer-run, fair trade store called World Fare in downtown Three Rivers, Michigan. Through it all, we’ve learned to depend on a community of people working together. The challenges have helped us grow in ways we could not have predicted, and the camaraderie has brought us great joy and hope.

Even when we were teenagers dreaming about what a life together might look like in the future, we talked about the possibility of adopting a child. As we got deeper into our 30s without any answers about why we couldn’t make a baby ourselves, we decided that adoption was a way we could contribute to the common good while starting our family. This decision makes perfect sense to us as one more chapter in our lifelong theme of community. Now, as we work toward adoption, we need family and friends who are committed to helping us find the resources we need and to supporting us while we learn how to be good parents, and we need a birth family who’s willing to trust us with the care of their little one.

We know we can’t predict what life will be like when we welcome a kiddo into our lives, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming. When we picture the future, we see days spent learning how to grow vegetables on the urban farm that Rob tends, or exploring the woods and building forts at the retreat center where Kirstin works. We see train trips to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Chicago area and in Idaho. We see loving friendships between our kids and dear friends of diverse ages and backgrounds in our local community, who have truly become like family to us through our church and our small town neighborhood. We see meals shared around the dining table, four-season play time in the nearby parks, and we see books—tons of books!—read alone and together, opening up worlds of wonder and imagination.

Thank you for being part of this story of community in whatever way you can. We are praying and trusting that the way to grow our family will become clear, and we look forward to embracing the challenges and joys of a new kind of community!

What is the age of the child you hope to adopt?
We would very much like to adopt a newborn baby, of any gender or race. We both enjoy spending time with babies and would love the opportunity to bond as parents and child from the earliest days of life.

Where are you planning to adopt from?
We’re pursuing a domestic adoption—so, within the U.S.

Will you be working with an agency?
We will be working with an adoption agency for a home study, legal assistance, and birth parent support. The agency can also help connect us with a birth family, though we’re open to making our own connection as well. If you know someone who’s seeking an adoptive family, please feel free to share our information with them.

What is your timeline?
We hope to raise most of the funds we need in February and then finish initial paperwork by the end of April. A home study can take up to six months. We’d love to welcome a baby into our home within the next year or so.

How will the money raised in this campaign be spent?
Adoption expenses include fees for legal assistance, a formal home study (including at least one visit in our home), services to help make a match with a birth parent, various kinds of support for the birth family, adoptive parent education for us, and more. $25,000 is just an educated guess, and if we end up raising more than we need, we look forward to discerning how to pay it forward to support the needs of other kids, birth families, and adoptive parents.

Are you looking into other resources, like grants and loans?
We’ll be exploring a variety of ways to reach our goal, including the adoption tax credit, and will make the next part of our plan at the end of our February fundraising campaign. We’re starting with our personal network of family and friends because you all are the ones who will be supporting us in raising this little one! We feel very grateful to have such a strong community of support in our lives and recognize it’s a privilege that not all adoptive families have.

Have you considered becoming foster parents as a way to adopt?
We have thought about fostering and deeply admire those who choose to provide a home for children while they wait to see if they can reunite with their birth families. At this time in our lives, we’re seeking to build our family through mutual agreement with a birth family, but we may consider being foster parents in the future.

Can I contribute by check?
Yes, and thanks for considering it! We certainly welcome online contributions, but a check saves us the fee we pay to accept cards. A check can be made out to either of us, and mailed c/o World Fare, 37 N. Main Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093. We’ll add it manually to our total on the fundraising site.

See our web site for more information!
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Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma
Three Rivers, MI

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