The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 31, 2013

Aiding adoptions: Ringwood church group provides grants to parents

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

RINGWOOD, Okla. — One of the groups holding a fundraiser during Ringwood’s Watermelon Festival and Community Fair was an organization that helps parents adopting children.

Oklahoma Hearts For Adoption, a branch ministry of Ringwood First Baptist Church, gives $1,000 grants to qualifying couples to assist with adoption expenses.

Those expenses can be large. Connie Johnson, one of the board members for Oklahoma Hearts for Adoption, said even getting to the stage when an application can be made is expensive.

“The purpose is to give grants to Oklahoma families who have successfully passed a home study,” Johnson said. “They’ve already invested probably $6,000 by that point.”

A private adoption in the United States can cost upwards of $50,000, and an international adoption can cost $30,000.

“If they apply with us, we award a $1,000 grant,” Johnson said.

The group’s mission is to assist in getting needy children into loving homes, Johnson said.

Johnson and her husband have 11 children of their own — three biological and eight adopted from China. The adopted children range in age from 3 to 17.

Johnson said six of the Johnson children have special needs, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and cleft lip and palate.

“All manageable things,” Johnson said.

The organization has a five-member board of directors and four regular volunteers.

Becky Guffy, president of the board, planted the seeds of Oklahoma Hearts For Adoption. Her sister-in-law and daughter-in-law both were adopted. Also, two of her brothers have adopted children.

“Seven years ago, I was painting my daughter’s house and I was listening to ‘Compassion’ on the radio,” Guffy said. “God just laid it on my heart and I knew then. I brought it to these ladies and they took it from there.”

“On our board, there are two families who have adopted and the other three have not,” Johnson said. “They just have a big heart for the orphan and the adoptive family. We just all share the same heartbeat.”

Oklahoma Hearts For Adoption’s mission statement was decided at the first meeting: “All care; many give; some adopt. Each member of the body of Christ has been given a command (James 1:27). Our aim is to engage the church in bringing Scripture to life by easing the financial burden of those whom God has called to adopt.”

“Our focus is on couples in Oklahoma, especially northwest Oklahoma,” John-son said. “We also focus on Christian couples, because we want children to come into a Christian home.”

The organization has awarded grants to assist with the adoption of 17 children, Johnson said. Four of those adoptions were domestic and 13 were international adoptions.

Three families have pending grant applications, and one of those families needs to get to China to pick up their child before the child’s fast-approaching 14th birthday.

China’s orphanages only work with children 13 and younger, Johnson said. The approach of that child’s birthday was a motive to hold Saturday’s fundraiser, Johnson said. The group sold lunches of ham, turkey and roast beef sandwiches, cookies, and corn on the cob for $5.

Oklahoma Hearts For Adoption eventually would like to be able to increase the size of grants, Johnson said.

“I think $3,000 is an excellent amount for a grant,” Johnson said. “We would also like to form mission teams to go into orphanages and volunteer for a couple of weeks.”

People who want to donate can send a check to Oklahoma Hearts For Adoption, c/o First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 133, Ringwood, OK 73768, or donate online at oklahoma hear tsforadoption.blogspot.com.