Project HOPEFUL has flourished because of the profound “YES” of a family dedicated to following God’s heart for the most vulnerable children and after a series of Spirit led-miracles impacting this family and many other families to come. Here is the story of the Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer family:
If we have learned anything, it’s that we serve a God with a plan! Our “yes” to adopting Rachel, Samuel, and Seth in 2007 was only the beginning. Their adoptions led to working to change the immigration process for the children that would follow.
Our first adoption journey was replete with an array of miracles. For example, while we were in Ethiopia to bring home three of our children, I met Selah. Selah “just so happened” to be at an orphanage for younger children because the one for older children was full. On that first trip, I witnessed Selah experience more than any child should have to bear. As I sat watching, and then interacting with this beautiful, heartbroken girl, I had no idea that a year later she would become our daughter.
In July 2008, after we said yes to adopting Selah, I returned to Ethiopia where Selah was literally clinging to life. At 10 or 11 years old, she weighed a mere 32 pounds. If she did not receive immediate (and advanced) medical assistance, she was going to die. In the course of advocating for her, I learned that Selah desperately needed a blood transfusion. Because of the lack of healthy blood in Ethiopia and other circumstances, I decided to give my own blood for Selah and pray that it would be a match. While we waited the results of the testing, I was informed that Selah could not fly because of her blood counts, that she would not survive a long flight in any event, and that her situation was hopeless. But the doctors in Ethiopia didn’t know what I knew: My blood was a match! Selah received a blood transfusion from me. With new health streaming through her veins, the year-earlier changes in immigration, directed by God through Project HOPEFUL, would literally save Selah’s life. God’s tools? Government reform and my blood. Without either of these things Selah would not have survived. 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. We were able to bring home three siblings in our first adoption, but Selah left two siblings behind: her teenaged brother and sister who lived alone in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 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 biological siblings. Our third adoption journey took two years, and yet, faithful God brought home our children one week before our son 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 joy at that airport welcome was palpable and inexplicable. 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 inviting us into yet another adventure. 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. Sofia has stolen the hearts of her brothers and sisters, regularly enjoying the lime light in our home.
In November of 2012, we found ourselves drawn to Ukraine and to a little boy with Down Syndrome. As we journeyed forward, 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 kids. While it is NOT always a cake walk, and the challenges are daily, our treasures were stored in DARK 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 Who knew that something so hard could be so…….treasure-ish!
Through this process we have witnessed God piece together our family in the most extraordinary way. Our home is blessed with unspeakable joy. Never perfect….. but always blessed beyond measure.
The most “OVERLOOKED” have found places in our family and within our staff. This passion drives everything we do. These “issues” have names and faces. Our goal remains to pour out everything we have been given as a result. 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