Advocating for the Orphan: The Interview

January 18, 2013
Brandi Friesen Thorpe |

Earlier this month we published 'Advocating for the Orphan' The following is more of the extended interview. Enjoy!

1. Basic Bio information - Names/ages of family, church, occupation, location, etc

Jared: age: 26, occupation: website administrator at SIAST
Chantel: age: 26, occupation: substitute teacher
Raeca:, age: 2
Location: Warman/Saskatoon
Church: Bergthaler Mennonite Church

2.On your blog, it says you are ” passionate about advocating for the orphan “ - can you tell me more about that?
C: For as long as I can remember I have had a heart for the orphan. I remember being a teenager and hearing stories about orphans around the world and the deplorable conditions they were living in. I started sponsoring children through Compassion Canada when I was still a teenager and it was always my dream to be able to work with orphans and give them the love and attention they had never received and ultimately one day adopt at least one.

I have a strong desire to see a world where every child has a home and hope that sharing our story will stir up this desire in others and they will see that caring for the orphan is not just a call but rather a command to all believers..

3. You are currently in the process of adopting -- What brought you to this decision? How did your own adoption story begin?
C: Adoption was always something I hoped to do and we had talked about it offhandedly as a couple about how it would be something that “we would like to do in the future” but it wasn’t really something we discussed as an actual possibility until shortly after our daughter was born. The more we began talking about it the more the thought of adoption worked itself into our hearts and we decided to pursue it.

The beginning of our adoption journey had it’s ups and downs. Our province does not have any adoption agencies which slowed us down in the process but we were able to find an agency in the US to work with and since then things have gone quite smoothly.

4. Where are you currently in this process?
C: We are currently waiting for a referral -that’s when our agency will send us a photo and a brief introduction of a child and we have the opportunity to accept or reject the referral. We have completed all our paperwork (our dossier) and right now it is just a waiting game for the referral. We expect it to be a few months yet before we get it.

After the referral there is some paperwork that takes place before we are allowed to travel. Right now the wait time with our agency between referral and travel is about 6 months. The country that we are adopting from only requires us to travel one time and the stay is usually 7-14 days, unlike other countries which often require multiple trips or stays of several months.

5. What are the biggest challenges in this journey?
C: So far the hardest part has just been the unknown. Not knowing how long each step of the process will take, not knowing the details of our child-to-be, not being able to see their face or know if they are safe . . .

6. What keeps the hope?
C: Knowing that it will all be worth it in the end and knowing that we will be able to give a child or two a better life than they would have had.

7. How has this affected your parenting now? How are you preparing for the expansion

C: For the most part things haven’t changed yet. I am expecting that to happen once we get the referral. We have not explained to Raeca that she is getting a brother or sister because the wait time is too long for a two year old to grasp. Once we have our referral and have photos to show her it will be much easier to explain.

We also haven’t done much preparing yet. Once we know if we are getting a boy or a girl or both or two of the same gender we can start moving things around in our house to accommodate the expansion but right now we are just waiting. It feels like things are at a standstill until we get our referral and as soon as we do we are going to have so much work to do, it is something I am really looking forward to.

8. How has your faith been effected?
J: Our faith is growing. There is a lot of waiting and a lot of unknowns throughout the process and most of the time there is not a lot we can do about it. All we can do is continue to trust that God will work things out in the end.

9.What is a message the church needs to hear about adoption?
J: Adoption, and more generally, orphan care ministry should play a larger role in the church. It can be easy to ignore the plight of the orphan because for most of us it is not something we encounter day to day. Throughout the bible we see examples of God’s compassion towards the orphan, the poor and the defenceless.

Psalm 72:12-14 “He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.”

Hosea 14:3b “In you the orphan finds mercy”

As followers of God we should share His passionate compassion for the disenfranchised of the world.That compassion should compel us to take action on behalf of those who are in need.

10. To take a quote from your blog “we have started an organization to help adoptive families raise money to fund their adoption”. Can you tell me about the organization, and why you started it?

J: Once Was Lost is a registered non-profit organization which aims to provide financial support to families currently in the process of adopting internationally.

We started this organization as we saw the large financial burden placed on those adopting internationally. The average international adoption costs between $25,000 - $30,000 and can go up top $50,000 or more. We saw a lack of fundraising options in Canada and that is when we decided to get involved.

Once Was Lost works with families in various stages of the adoption process. A family can let us know they would like to become an affiliate with us and once approved they receive a share of the sales from our store. Customers purchasing through our store may also designate the proceeds of their purchase to go to a specific affiliate.

50% of the money from each sale goes to our affiliates.

11. I know that you have already taken a trip to Africa (Uganda?) - I am curious about how ‘witnessing the orphans firsthand’ played a part in your decision to adopt from abroad. Why Africa?

C: We had actually already started the adoption process prior to going to Uganda but our trip there helped reaffirm our decision to adopt. As for why we chose Africa you can take a look on one of my blog posts where I answered that here:

Thanks Jared and Chantel, for sharing your story!

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