Tim Tebow and team Titus
By JEANNIE WILEY WOLFSTAFF WRITER
BLUFFTON — Travis and Faith Gingerich got some unexpected help from former NFL player Tim Tebow when it came time to adopt their son, Titus, from Ethiopia.
Tebow, now an outfielder for the New York Mets organization, created the Tim Tebow Foundation which provides an adoption aid grant to a family adopting a child with special needs internationally. The Bluffton couple received $8,000 that they used for travel expenses when they brought Titus home in 2015.
Faith said she and her husband were honored to receive the grant.
“He’s another one, he lives his faith,” she said of Tebow. “That’s how a lot of people know him because they know, ‘Oh yeah, he’s the one that is very open with his faith.'”
The couple had wanted children from the very beginning of their marriage.
“We talked about adoption, even before we were married,” said Travis, a K-3 special education teacher at Arlington School. “It’s just something that we had both been interested in.”
They thought it would be a domestic adoption until they went on a mission trip to South Africa in 2010.
“Then it was like, ‘Yeah, we love Africa, the entire continent, the people that are in South Africa’. So that really opened our eyes up to the need internationally,” said Travis. “Really, there are a lot of kids here and the foster system of course isn’t perfect. But we thought comparatively, they really have it pretty good here.”
The couple felt God was calling them to look to Africa, and that summer they applied to the America World Adoption program.
“The agency is incredible. We just had the most amazing experience with our agency,” said Faith, who works part-time as an assistant children’s director at College First Church of God. “They are very supportive from a Christian perspective, so they really understand when we said we were called to adopt.”
The entire process would take five years to complete.
“Ethiopia has suspended adoptions numerous times since we started it because of legitimacy,” Faith said. “They want to make sure that it’s not a trafficking issue, because sometimes it can get into kind of that child trafficking.”
“Our agency and other agencies pulled out of certain countries because they found there was an ‘I’ll give you $100 for your kid’ kind of thing,” Travis added.
In May 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia tightened the visa process for adoptees, which includes the requirement that the adoptive parents appear at a court hearing in the country.
As time passed, other costs involved in the adoption process increased, they said.
“It’s an expensive prospect no matter where you go,” said Travis. “When we started, they said $20,000 to $25,000.”
The final cost, however, was closer to $40,000 to $50,000.
At one point, the couple operated an online boutique, making and selling knitted items for children to raise funds to help pay adoption fees. They also pursued grants, including one to Show Hope, founded by Christian music singer Steven Curtis Chapman. What the couple didn’t know was that Show Hope partners with the Tim Tebow Foundation, and had passed along their information.
Faith explained that Show Hope provides smaller amounts of money more often, while the Tim Tebow Foundation offers larger amounts of money, but less frequently.
“It was amazing. It seemed like it was out of nowhere,” said Travis.
“Because we hadn’t applied to them, we didn’t know anything about them,” added Faith.
They received the notification about Titus in October 2014.
The first trip to Ethiopia was in June 2015 for court proceedings and to spend time with Titus. Faith, who was pregnant with the couple’s biological child, was just getting over morning sickness, so Travis took both his and Faith’s mother along.
“Both grandmothers got to experience this with us, which was really pretty awesome,” he said. “And then Faith went on the second trip to pick him up.”
When they brought Titus home to Bluffton, he was two weeks shy of his second birthday.
Three months later, the couple’s biological son, Ian, was born.
“He was a surprise,” said Faith. “It was very overwhelming at the time, but we couldn’t imagine life without them.”
The couple said Titus has blossomed since coming home. At first he spoke very little English and had a host of health issues.
“It was an adjustment,” said Faith. “And I feel like we’re still adjusting. There were a lot of health issues at first, and we’re still dealing with some health issues now and will be.”
Travis said he can see the progress his son has made.
“I keep looking back at where he was, and he’s come such a long way,” he said.
Titus today is a typical 3-year-old who likes to draw and sing and play. He will attend preschool in the fall.
Someday the couple hope to take him back to visit his hometown of Harar in eastern Ethiopia.
“We want to be open to his culture. And that was one thing that was very encouraged to continue with his culture,” said Faith.
The couple credits staying strong spiritually to helping them make it through the lengthy adoption process.
“When Ian turned about a year, I feel like that’s when we were starting to thrive a little bit more than survive,” said Faith.
The whole process was a spiritual journey, she added.
“Overall it’s been a very long journey of trust and faith and lots of doubts at times and crying, but life wouldn’t be the same without the two of them,” she said.
Wolf: 419-427-8419Send an E-mail to Jeannie Wolf
SOURCE : THE COURIER