Project HOPEFUL has touched thousands of lives because one family said “YES” and stepped forward to care for overlooked children. Here is the story of the Twietmeyer family:
If we have learned anything over the past ten years, it’s that we serve a God who has a plan (even when we can’t see it!).
Our “yes” to adopting Rachel, Samuel, and Seth in 2007 was only the beginning. Their adoptions led to working to change US immigration laws for HIV positive children, igniting an effort to eliminate HIV stigma, and now, to catalyzing orphan care for overlooked children.
After building Project HOPEFUL into a well-functioning, focused non-profit organization, we moved to Guatemala to focus on helping Project HOPEFUL develop and grow the Walk on Water Initiative. There is so much exciting work ahead! Here’s our story, as short as we can make it!
During our first adoption, while we were in Ethiopia, I met Selah. Selah experienced more than any child should have to bear as she battled AIDS. As I sat with this beautiful, heartbroken girl, I had no idea that a year later she would become our daughter. We returned to the U.S. and continued our work with Project HOPEFUL, dedicated to eliminating HIV stigma so more people could care for HIV+ orphans and trying to get the U.S. government to make adoption of positive children easier.
A year later, we found ourselves returning to Ethiopia to adopt Selah; when we got there, she was literally clinging to life. At 10 or 11 years old, she weighed only 32 pounds. If she did not receive immediate medical assistance, she was going to die. We quickly learned that Selah needed a blood transfusion. Because of the lack of healthy blood in Ethiopia, I (Carolyn) decided to give my own blood for Selah and pray that it would be a match. The doctors in Ethiopia were certain our blood wouldn’t match but I knew in my heart, God had other plans. My blood was a match! After a large transfusion, Selah began to recover enough to travel home. And she did not have to wait for months because Project HOPEFUL had recently worked to get the U.S. government to remove its unnecessary HIV immigration requirements. God’s tools? Government reform and my blood. GOD IS IN EVERY DETAIL.
Throughout our first two adoption journeys we were struck by the reality that siblings are often separated when one of them has HIV. This crushed us. As we fell more in love with Selah, we grew to understand the degree of loss that our daughter and her siblings had already suffered as a result of HIV/AIDS.
At that point we again said YES to bringing home two more children from Ethiopia: Selah’s brother and sister. Our third adoption journey took two years, and yet, faithful God brought home our children one week before Andarge turned 18 and would have been unable to immigrate into the U.S. In May of 2010, all our children were (re)united in Chicago. The last time Andarge and Sarah had seen their sister Selah, she was near death. The looks on their faces when they saw her healthy and whole was something none of us will ever forget.
In April 2011, God tapped our family on the shoulder again. This time Kiel and I were asked to make room in our hearts for a precious newborn girl blessed with an extra chromosome. After educating ourselves about Down syndrome, Kiel and I jumped head-first in love with sweet baby Sofia. Again in November of 2012, we found ourselves drawn to Ukraine and to a little boy with Down syndrome. Through our adoption, our eyes were opened to the atrocities happening around the world to children who have Down syndrome, especially once the children reach four or five years old. We brought home the long awaited and promised son Isaac in March of 2013.
NEVER in our wildest imaginations did we think that the Lord’s perfect plan for our lives and for our family would include “scary” viruses and “extra” chromosomes. Through those challenges, He moved mountains, not only to glorify Himself, but to BOLDLY show Himself and His desires for His children. While it is NOT always a cake walk, and the challenges are daily, God worked out His plan in our lives. Our treasures had been stored in dark, scary places; places kept secret, hidden in institutions, shrouded in disease . . . But He says: “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3
The most “OVERLOOKED” have found places in our family and within Project HOPEFUL’s staff, volunteers, friends, and Board members. This passion drives everything we do. We pray that Project HOPEFUL is a safe place to learn, grow, share, and most importantly DO, for the sake of the ones that wait.
ALL for ONE,
Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer, Co-founder and Founder/Executive Director