Our journey started on the other side of the globe on a small, remote part of the world called the Marshall Islands. This is where Martha was born and spent the first few years of her life before she was adopted by Ralph and Donna Baleno. Both of our parents raised us at Wantagh Baptist Church where they taught us to know and love the Lord. At the age of 12, our friendship started and eventually grew into marriage! Throughout our lives and relationship, God has been active in growing and guiding us. Currently, we serve the students at Cairn University having them in our home for meals, conversations, mentoring, and prayer.
Recently, God has put on both of our hearts, through prayer, to grow our family in a specific way; we feel called to adopt. This is something we have talked about for a long time and began feeling God leading us towards this year. Our desire is to give a child the same opportunity, love, and support that Martha was given. It is so amazing to see how God is bringing Martha full circle and allowing the both of us to give the same blessing that she received.
We are so very excited about the adoption agency we have chosen: Shared Beginnings. This agency is based in northwest Arkansas and focuses on keeping costs clear, the process simple, and caring for the birth mothers (something close to our hearts). Shared Beginnings provides care for the mother during the pregnancy and six weeks after birth. They also encourage open adoptions where the birth mother maintains contact with the adoptive family, which we hope to be part of our journey. Also, there is a significant Marshallese population in northwest Arkansas, a population Shared Beginnings has been passionate about serving. In 2019, a scandal was brought to light involving an Arizona politician who was trafficking Marshallese women to Arkansas so he could put their babies up for adoption. While researching that scandal, we came across Shared Beginnings. This agency is going above and beyond to make sure the mothers are cared for and that their rights are protected in light of the scandal. They now work exclusively with Heimer Law, a phenomenal adoption law firm, to make sure the mother’s best interests are cared for and to make sure her rights are protected.
We see this adoption not only as an opportunity to love a child, but a great opportunity to connect with the people of Martha’s culture. We have been excited to already begin to learn about Marshallese culture so that we can relate to our match and impart that to our future child. Shared Beginnings requires $30,000 to help cover the cost of the birth mother’s non-insured medical expenses, legal fees, matching fee, and other related needs. With that being said, once we raise $15,000 between support, our own savings, and working any extra jobs we find, we will begin the process with Shared Beginnings! Once we are approved, we will immediately be shown to expectant moms to be matched. Once we are matched, we will be in contact with the mother until birth.
We are so excited for what comes next and are excited to include you in this journey!