Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund
Adoption Fund Awards Grants Annually To Couples Seeking Adoption
Since it's inception in 2010, the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund has awarded grants to 16 families over six years, for a total of more than $75,000 directly supporting the gift of adoption. Applications are due in the fall of each year for the following year's grants. If you know someone who would benefit from a grant, or you would like to donate to this fund, you can find more information throughout this site or call the Office of Natural Family Planning at 314-997-7576 to speak with a representative. For application materials, please click here
READ SOME OF OUR GRANT RECIPIENTS' STORIES
Four Boys, Endless Joys: Meet One of Our 2017 Adoption Grant Families
Like many couples, Beth and Eric L. dreamed of marriage and starting a family. Looking back, the road to achieve that dream would have been hard to imagine, but the hand of God is clearly recognizable in their beautiful story.
Today the busy family of six, relies on God’s providence more clearly than ever, as four rambunctious, fun loving boys bring equal measures of fun, love and chaos into their sunny Affton home, “We encounter all the normal issues of family life, but we feel really intensely joyful that our family has grown beyond our wildest dreams,” said Beth about their active brood.
Beth and Eric began their story as high school sweethearts and lifelong St. Louisans. Blessed to have been raised in two active, Catholic, faith-filled families that have been a fixture in St. Louis parishes for more than three generations, Beth said, “Our parents and grandparents gave us amazing role models for loving marriages.” When the couple said “I do” in 2004, they were committed to living a sacramental marriage according to God’s plan, thanks to the solid foundation laid before them and their mutual commitment to their faith.
As a newly married couple, they did everything right to position themselves for a secure family life. Both got good jobs in marketing and, with two incomes, worked on building their savings for their future dream of raising kids with a parent at home full-time and while paying tuition for Catholic education.
The couple was diagnosed with fertility issues relatively early in their marriage, thanks to “a few years of charting” that Beth had begun since their engagement and early education in Natural Family Planning, which she called, “the most amazing blessing” because it allowed doctors to really “hit the ground running” in diagnosing and treating their fertility.
“Because our doctors were able to identify particular issues so quickly, we saved thousands of dollars and months - if not years - of time compared to other fertility treatments,” said Beth. “We attribute that, of course, to the grace of God, but to the work of the NFP office as well.”
While working on achieving pregnancy, Beth and Eric both continued to excel in their careers, serve the church and stash savings for the future. Beth began working for the Archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate. Eric became the director of marketing for a fire and life safety device manufacturing company called Potter Electric Signal Co. They dug deep into life at their home parish, with Eric joining the parish council and Beth volunteering for the respect life committee and also becoming a consecrated member of the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales.
Throughout their early years of marriage, Beth said, “We had always been open to adoption, but it took a couple of years to really grieve the fertility issues and prepare for the adoption process.” When they did turn to adoption, the couple found themselves in a great position because they were still young and had built up some savings.
The couple used a private agent for their first adoption process, which brought them a son, Christopher, in January 2012. “After catching the first flight out to Southern California when we heard his birth mother was in labor, we met him in the hospital about an hour after he was born,” said Beth. Christopher was brought home 10 days later after all of the paperwork had been completed.
“The adoption process is very stressful, but Christopher’s arrival healed our every desire to parent. We felt the most amazing joy introducing him to our families and friends and really becoming a family, experiencing all the joys and struggles that come along with that,” said Beth. “We have loved watching him learn at every stage of development, seeing his eyes light up at something that interests him, and feeling his arms wrap around us for a hug or crawling into our laps at story time.”
After a couple of years, the family felt called to begin the process again, and they found Lutheran Children and Family Services to be the best fit. Sure that the whole family wanted another child, Beth relates how their then three-year-old Christopher began praying nightly for “three babies.” When the birth mother of triplet boys looked at the Lauver’s profile book on the feast of John Paul II, Beth believes it was more than a coincidence, “LCFS truly miraculously placed us with our triplet boys, who were born in December 2015.”
After 25 days in the hospital, Michael, Alexander, and Matthew came home to join big brother Christopher and Beth said they “have amazed us at every turn.” During their hospital stay, their weights ranged from just over three pounds to nearly five pounds by the time of discharge. They have hit every developmental milestone right on target despite arriving seven weeks early. Beth said all three boys have very different personalities, but complement each other so well it’s impossible to imagine one without the others.
“Michael has been intense and focused from day one, fighting through an array of newborn battles, and now is the first to walk, smiling and clapping the whole time because he’s so proud of himself!” said Beth. “Alex can be the quiet middle child of the bunch, but loves to blow kisses and has a smile that lights up the room and Matthew is the biggest and silliest of the triplets who loves to belly laugh, but he’s also the most likely to crawl into our laps to snuggle. With four boys, there are certainly times where we’re learning what it means to “fight like brothers” with each other and for our attention. However, there are just as many moments where they give each other hugs and especially make each other laugh until they fall over!”
Adoption can be extremely expensive, and adopting four babies over the course of four years necessarily compounds the financial burden. For Beth and Eric, it meant going through a significant portion of their savings. With their family size instantly doubled, they knew that finances would be an issue, but continued to believe that God would provide.
As recipients of a 2017 adoption grant from the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson adoption fund, the family has begun to rebuild their savings towards a future of raising their four amazing boys within the Catholic faith. Beth learned about the fund through her involvement in working with the Archdiocese years ago, “I worked for the Archdiocese at the time the fund was founded, and thought it was a wonderful effort, not imagining I would ever need it myself!”
With a total of six grants awarded in 2017 totaling $36,000, the adoption fund continues to aid faithful families, in living according to God’s plan. And the hand of God continues to guide Beth, Eric, and their four beautiful boys into a bright future filled with family love and endless possibility.
Waiting for Sabella: An Adoption Story by Grant Recipient Sheryl Crosier
I have been a Christian since childhood, but nothing would test my faith more than losing seven children to miscarriage and our son after his short visit on earth. I prayed that if I did get pregnant, the Lord would allow me to hold our baby in my arms. The Lord answered my prayer on September 7, 2010 when I was able to hold Simon in my arms for 88.5 days until he went to his eternal home at 10:45 a.m. on Friday, December 3, 2010. The Lord used Simon to teach me how to live in the moment, patience, compassion and most importantly, unconditional love.
Simon was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, otherwise known as Edward's Syndrome on his 3rd day of life. Simon had three of the number 18 chromosome which causes heart defects, bilateral cleft lip and other medical complications. The doctors were quick to say that Trisomy 18 means "incompatible with life." Even before the "label" during the pregnancy, because of Simon's cleft lip, medical professionals encouraged termination. Even though we changed hospitals, things didn't change. We tried to explain the value of our child, but our words fell on deaf ears. We believe that all children, regardless of their "label," posess inherent dignity and value. Simon was not incompatible with life. He was alive and living. I realized that God did not bless us with a syndrome; He blessed us with a son.
I started to feel a strong indescribable love for special needs children, because of Simon. I know the Lord gave me this love. I knew that children were not defects or disposable; they are created by our Maker. Sharing Simon's story is the ministry that the Lord granted me and Simon continues to impact people all over the world. Hearts are being changed and many have come to Christ and have been awakened spiritually because of our son. I learned very quickly that God does not want us to keep our testimony to ourselves!
As a Christian, I am called to spread the good news of the gospel. "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple," Luke 14:27. It is because of my faith and hope in Christ Jesus, that I can rest in Him. It is clear to me that all things work together for those that love Him. Our story is part of His plan.
It was a few years after we lost our son Simon, that the Holy Spirit kept nudging us to adopt. In late 2012, we began the paperwork for international adoption of a waiting child. We wanted to help a child with special needs. God led us to China. We believe our Simon also found his sister who had been waiting for years in an orphanage, and the Lord used our friend, Maggie Weik, as a vessel to introduce us to our daughter. This moment was so special. When we saw the picture of her in April 2013, we knew that she was our daughter. We also were humbled to discover that while I was pregnant with Simon in January 2010, our daughter was born, abandoned in a village and then moved to an orphanage.
In July 2013, at a Trisomy conference in Rhode Island, we named our daughter Sabella. Her name, which means "consecrated by God," kept popping up everywhere and we were sure it was a sign from Simon in heaven. Throughout our adoption journey, both my husband and I learned patience and allowed the Lord to comfort us when we were anxious. God gave us a peace and wisdom, and we realized that this was our "pregnancy on paper." We knew that we wouldn't get our daughter overnight, so we prayed for Sabella and asked Jesus to keep her safe until we got there. While we were waiting for Sabella, the Lord placed many compassionate people in our path: those who had lost a child and those that had adopted a child. Maggie Weik and her husband had already adopted nine girls from China. We were learning that love truly crosses oceans.
The journey was long and arduous, but after record snowfalls, school closings, travel delays and language barriers, we were finally able to hold Sabella in our arms at the Taiyuan Civil Affairs Office on February 10, 2014. Our daughter wobbled into the room after a seven hour train ride from her orphanage, turned towards us and walked into our arms. Our guide introduced us as Mama and Papa. We could hardly believe our eyes. She was absolutely beautiful and so small. Our daughter who we had been waiting for was finally with us, four years old, 34 inches tall and only 23 pounds. We couldn't wait to love and nurture her.
While in China, we witnessed something that will forever be disturbing. Sabella was absolutely starving. I am sure she never knew what the feeling of "full" was in her life. For several days, Sabella ate more than my husband and I combined. We could not believe our eyes! We were reaffirmed over and over why the Lord sent us our daughter. We were helping our daughter, previously an orphan, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. We would have taken ten children with us. No child should go hungry. I couldn't stop thinking of little Sabella so hungry and in need of a family...our family.
Scripture is clear that we are called to care for the orphans and we know that God has his hand in our adoption journey. We are teaching Sabella about Jesus and this is an absolutely beautiful experience. My daily prayer is that our daughter will feel God's love through our family. We were learning that God granted Sabella to us to look after and for that alone we are forever blessed.
Sabella has brought so much joy to our family. We know that if it wasn't for Simon, we wouldn't have Sabella. We most likely would have never considered adoption. Sabella has taught us to stop and take in the moment that God gives us. Everything is a first to her. We are so appreciative that we have food, shelter and freedom and can share this with her. We are not the same people we were before Sabella. Our hearts continue to be molded by Christ. Yes, our story is part of God's plan and all children possess inherent dignity and value regardless of their diagnosis or label. Our daughter deserves medical care and an opportunity to thrive. Sabella was from the poorest region in China and became another vulnerable child that was abandoned at birth. Yet, I am forever grateful that she was given life. She has so much value. I love how the Lord led us to her country and gifted us with a beautiful daughter.
We are honored and humbled by the generosity of the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund and their donors. The adoption assistance grant was an absolute blessing to our family. We are so thankful and continue to pray that this adoption fund may be of assistance to other families like ours, who at times struggle on a single income. May the Holy Spirit stir in more hearts every day that more families can be blessed by the miracle of adoption.
In Christ, Sheryl Crosier
Sheryl Crosier is an author, an activist and an advocate for life and for children with special needs. She travels the world to speak about the value of every child and works tirelessly to pass laws that protect the most vulnerable children. More information about Sheryl and her ministry can be found online at www.simonismyname.com.