Friday, January 21, 2011
I met my friend, Rachel, in February of 2009. It was unseasonably warm for the time of year, so I wore a flowery short-sleeved shirt and a pair of comfortable black pants to our first meeting. I was accompanied by my husband Andrew so that he and I could talk to Rachel about the Hogar Program, a service based program that Andrew had heard about one day while sitting in one of his recreational therapy classes. It was Rachel who announced in his class that she was looking for two summer volunteers to live in El Salvador in an orphanage for children with disabilities. Andrew, knowing I was eager to live in a Spanish speaking country with him while doing humanitarian service, knew right away that we needed to find out more about the program. We called Rachel later that evening to set up a time to meet with her to learn more.
Our meeting was awesome. I left knowing that Andrew and I were going to live in El Salvador the following summer because everything just felt so right and so exciting. Andrew felt the same, so a week and a half later we applied to be the Hogar volunteers for the summer of 2009.
We were accepted! Rachel kept in contact with us until we left for the Hogar the following May, and continued to talk with us via email throughout the summer. The Hogar was amazing. It was life-changing in so many ways, not only for those we helped, but more specifically for Andrew and I. We left knowing that the world was bigger than us, but that, despite being only two people, we could make a small difference with hard work. I left with so many new friendships, including a great friendship with Rachel. We worked together closely (as close as you can get via internet!) all summer, and we realized that we got along pretty well. Before leaving the Hogar, I told Rachel that there was no way I was going to return to my old life as a selfish-minded college student. I wanted to go back to Provo and continue to help the Hogar by helping Rachel find more volunteers.
That was nearly 2 years ago, and over that time, Rachel and I have become good friends. We talk about the Hogar Program, and we talk about life. Through our emails, I learned of her strong desire to have a baby, and also of her struggle to get pregnant. She told me that despite her difficulty in getting pregnant, she had hope that she would have children to call her own one day.
Last year, Rachel and Ryan Nielson created their adoption page, and made everything official to become parents via adoption. However, their journey has been far from easy. They have faced rejection and disappointment that even adopting couples rarely face. Yet, they have remained positive and firm in their beliefs that they will have children someday.
And so I want to share on here how much I admire Rachel and Ryan, and how deserving they are as a couple to become parents. I have known no other couple to be as giving, as self-less, or as motivated as these two. Rachel, at the age of 21 (I believe), began a non-profit program, The Hogar Program, because of her love for the children and her determination to change the world. She, with some help, fundraised over $20,000 to officially begin the Hogar Program, and continues to run this program from NY (the program is based out of Provo, UT). She has grit, and will be the best mom I can imagine.
If you know of someone who is pregnant and contemplating adoption, send them to visit Rachel and Ryan's adoption profile, and DEFINITELY visit their blog. Rachel is an incredible writer. I'm not much of a blog reader (I prefer images, which makes sense!), but her blog is one of my absolute favorite blogs to read. The posts can make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. One of her most recent posts made me cry like I haven't cried in a really long time. And yet, her subsequent posts made me smile from ear to ear.
Tell you friends about Rachel and Ryan Nielson, and their desire to adopt! Giving a child up for a adoption is so difficult (I can only imagine, as I've never experienced it before), but giving a child to these two would be the best decision for a mother to make who is looking to place her unborn child in an incredible home full of love, learning and joy.