Heather: I grew up in a small, rural farming community in northern Wisconsin in a strong Christian family and community. Despite the lack of diversity the town offered, my heart and passion was always for diverse populations and people groups. Along with my desire to know more about diverse cultures, the topic of adoption always weighed curiously on my mind.
My father was adopted as an infant and while it was not something that was talked about often, it was not a topic that was off limits either. I always admired the way my father talked about his love for his adoptive parents, my grandparents, yet showed respect for the choice his birth mother made. My heart and passion for other cultures continued to grow and at an early age I was determined that once an adult, I was going to move to Africa and work in an orphanage, caring for children without parents.
I had the opportunity my sophomore year of high school to taste what that would look like when my church youth group took a mission trip to Honduras. I was overwhelmed with excitement, desire, and sadness as I served the people and children of Honduras. I remember as the plane took off leaving Honduras after a full week of ministry, tears were running down my face. I wondered how I could go back to my current life, knowing most of the children we spent time with struggled to receive what I felt was the care and love they needed and deserved. A little girl, just over a year, stood out in my mind. Her mother was in prison and she lived there with her mother, where their time to see each other was limited. I remember holding her while she cried, trying to put her down. It was the first time I truly saw the impact that adults’ choices had on their children and the memory of her never left. I had the chance to return to Honduras a second time as a sophomore in college and during and after that trip I experienced similar emotions. However, after time, college and eventually “adult responsibilities” took priority and my dreams of caring for communities evolved into serving as a Clinical Social Worker.