Paul and Tina Ury of Seattle, Wash., lived the American dream. They lived in a lovely home and had two adorable kids.
Although the couple seemed like the ideal family, they said something was missing from their lives.
"We felt like more kids would complete our family. And our hearts turned to adoption," Paul said.
Adoption holds a special place in Paul's heart, and for good reason.
"I'm an adopted child, so is my father. So it's kind of a neat legacy almost," he said.
The idea of adopting more kids burned in their hearts, but knew they could not afford to do so.
Paul's wife Tina said, "we talked about it, we just couldn't afford it."
No Fee Adoptions
During a friend's birthday party, Paul and Tina heard about something called, "No Fee Adoptions" through Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington.
"It gave us hope to be able to adopt when there wasn't a way before," Tina said.
Antioch Adoptions made it possible for the Ury's to adopt 5-year-old Amanda and 4-year-old Hannah.
"We were going to stop with Amanda," Tina said. "Then God said no; He took us on another journey. We were shaking in our boots, not knowing what that plan was but Hannah came out of it and she's been such an incredible gift out of it all," she said.
Antioch Bible Church said the difficulty families have paying for adoption can make it hard for the more than 100,000 children in the U.S. to get into a permanent home. The agency adds that the cost for adopting a newborn can range anywhere from $4,000 to more than $35,000.
Antioch wanted to do something to help potential adoptive families with the expenses.
The Dream of Foster Children Adopted into Loving Homes
It all started with a 12-year dream of Antioch's pastor, Dr. Ken Hutcherson. He desired to see all children from the foster care system adopted into loving homes. He also desired for more families to be able to afford infant adoptions.
The services offered by Antioch Adoptions are free of charge.
Tammy Snyder is the Executive Director of Antioch Adoptions.
"We don't try to have hidden fees. If you look at the Web sites of other agencies, you'll find it's kind of incredible what they'll charge their families for," Snyder said.
The church admits offering no fee adoption services is pretty radical. But the church is so serious about helping families to adopt that it even states on their Web site, "No fee adoption? Whoever heard of such a thing?"
Adopting Across Racial Lines
Another unique approach about Antioch Adoptions is that they encourage parents to adopt outside of their race.
"The Holy Spirit puts a family together for us far better than we ever could," Snyder said. "And part of it means valuing the child that they're receiving. Don't make them you. If they come a child of color, value their race," she added.
Laura Rehwaldt serves as a birth counselor for Antioch Adoptions. She has been able to help parents adopt across racial lines.
"My last birth mom was 50 percent Korean but had been raised in Korea. She really wanted a mixed couple or some sort of ethnicity within the family," Rehwaldt said. "The parents are both Caucasian but their two prior adoptive children are. Chinese and Caucasian and one's African American. The last baby is Korean Caucasian, so she ended up with this international family," she said.
Antioch's Adoption program only serves the state of Washington, but word of the agency has spread across the country.
"We have so many people who call and want to do this in their church, churches all over the country," Snyder said. "So what we're going to do is an April awareness, spring awareness on how to start Antioch at your church."
Giving Kids a Chance
Antioch's mission is all about giving kids a chance. They say it's a message that the entire body of Christ should embrace.
Snyder points to the biblical exhortation for adoption, James 1:27: "Pure and undefiled religion states that we the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to take care of the orphans and widows."
For families like the Ury's, the adoption message is more than a biblical mandate. They feel it is their calling. They urge other Christians to follow suit.
"Start by praying and soften your heart to open your mind to an arena that is in desperate need of help from parents and action," Tina said. "Many times, you hear people say, 'Well, that's good for you and I'm glad you're doing that I could never do that.' We said the same thing and God says lets soften our hearts and obey the call," she said.
The Ury's say they won't be adopting anymore kids, as far as they know, but Paul admits, "I don't know if we're done adopting. Tina and I talk about that sometimes. With our four kids I'm not sure. Right now we're just enjoying. I don't know what the Lord has for us but He's going to take care of us."
*Original broadcast April 1, 2008.