We are excited to announce that Maryheather Coelho has joined our Project HOPEFUL team as our Canada Associate.  Allow us to introduce her to you:

PH: Maryheather, your life has been touched by adoption. Can you share a little about your own adoption journey?
MHC: As a child the whole idea of children not having parent(s) or a family didn’t make sense to me, I thought everyone had a family.  Then when I found out that was not always the case my heart hurt, as I grew up the desire to help became even greater.  After we got married my husband and I dealt with infertility issues, but the desire to become parents grew.  I didn’t understand why God would have our desire to become parents grow so strong when we couldn’t give birth.  Well, His plan is always better than our plans.  I brought up the topic of adoption to my husband, Manny, and much to my delight he was for it!!!  We prayed about it and it seemed as though everywhere we went the topic of adoption came up.  I think we were trying to be told something.  The decision was made and the announcement to our families was made – we were met with support, tears of joy, everything a couple could possibly want from their families.  We made the phone calls to agencies and within a few days the process began.  It was an interesting journey, home study, interviews, classes, more visits with an adoption worker…. and then the phone call!!!!!  We had a match. Our two beautiful, wonderful boys arrived to us within 9 months.  It was a pregnancy in our hearts.

PH:  What drew you to Project HOPEFUL?
MHC: After reading the article in the December issue of People magazine I felt so many feelings; heartbreak for the children that were parentless, pride that someone was loving these children enough to change their worlds, and the need to want to help.  I just happened to be watching Full Circle on the day that Carolyn and Kiel were being interviewed and the desire to help just became stronger.  The truth that Carolyn and Kiel were speaking, the fact that they were just average everyday people who listened to the call of God to help those that had no voice and the sincerity of the two of them drew me in more.  I could really relate to what Carolyn was speaking about, it made sense to me.

PH: We’ve had a lot of Canadians interested in bringing Project HOPEFUL home. What are you most excited about in your new role as Project HOPEFUL’s first Canadian associate?
MHC: EVERYTHING!!!  There is a lot of stigma here with respect to HIV/AIDS.  People who seem educated don’t know and are fearful.  I look forward to putting an end to the fear and hope to create, through education and advocacy, a climate that is more loving and tolerant. I look forward to working with people that have gone ahead of me and have done research (I know these people can teach me a lot) and supporting them as well.  I also look forward to walking with parents while they go through the process of adopting their children and watching families be created.

PH:  What have you learned so far?
MHC: I have a lot to learn. There is a lot of work to be done in calming fears and educating others. I am happy to be involved in an organization that is so supportive, encouraging and resourceful. They are helping me to get equipped to serve others.  I plan to share as I learn so that other Canadians can benefit.

PH:  What are your hopes for Canadians with regard to orphan advocacy and adoptions for children with special needs?
MHC: My hope is that people take off the rose coloured glasses/blinders and see that there is a problem in the world.  All children need loving families.  That the stigma attached to some orphans be removed and that as Canadians we see orphans for what they are….kids that want to be loved and give love.  After all aren’t we all special needs? We all need to feel loved, cared for and that we matter.  We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus and hold hands with people that want and can make a difference in the life of a child and walk with those same people as they make the journey.  Orphan advocacy and promoting adoptions for children with special needs is not just something in Canada, it is global. Why not make a difference in the world one child at a time. I want Canadians to be at the front of the orphan care movement willing to open our hearts and homes to ALL orphans needing families and not excluding ones with HIV/AIDS.

PH:  How can people keep up with all you will be doing with Project HOPEFUL in Canada?
MHC: Please come and visit me at the Project HOPEFUL blog spot www.projecthopefulcanada.wordpress.com  Should you have any questions or comments please send them to me at hopefulincanada@yahoo.com and I would be happy to answer them.  I look forward to spreading the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS and love for ALL God’s children.

Thank you, Maryheather!  We’re so glad to have you join us.