Luke and Christy Stoffel always wanted to have children. The New Haven couple didn't know until recently it may take Both Hands to do it.
Both Hands Foundation, a nonprofit Christian organization in Brentwood, Tenn., helps couples raise the money to adopt by asking them to assist a widow who needs help with home maintenance or improvement projects.
The adopting couple and a core team of volunteers earn donations toward adoption fees by seeking sponsor pledges for their work on the widow's home.
“It is a neat way to raise money and also help a widow in the community,” Luke said.
The Stoffels need to raise about $30,000, so they and about 30 friends will gather Nov. 10 to work on the house of a Fort Wayne woman who lost her husband six years ago after 27 years of marriage.
“When I was talking with her, I think she was just shocked,” Christy said. “You could tell it touched her dearly.
“With all the other needs in the world, she said sometimes it seems widows go unnoticed,” Christy added.
Both Hands, founded in 2008, grew out of two unrelated experiences, founder J.T. Olson wrote on the nonprofit organization's website, http://bothhandsfoundation.org.
Olson had asked a friend to sponsor him in a golf event that benefited a ministry aiding women with crisis pregnancies. The friend sent a note back saying he would support Olson happily if he was working on a widow's house rather than playing golf.
The thought stuck with him, he wrote. It became one-half of the Both Hands mission after another friend mentioned his need to raise money to pay the fees for four children he and his wife were adopting.
“It is a chance for all of us to do what we are called to do (in the Bible) — help widows and orphans,” Olson said in a phone interview.
When evaluating applicants, Both Hands looks at the couple's statement of faith — the organization only works with Christian couples — the home study evaluating the couple's suitability as adopting parents and their financial need, Olson said.
Both Hands asks adopting couples to find a widow to serve, but the organization will help find one if the couple doesn't have luck on their own. The Stoffels found the woman they will help through their church, Brookside Church on Evard Road, which she also attends.
All money raised through donors' sponsorship of project volunteers goes toward the couple's adoption fees, he said. That makes it possible for a couple to raise thousands of dollars toward their adoption fees.
Olson describes it as a win-win-win situation: The couple gets help paying adoption expenses, a widow receives help with home projects, and volunteers glow with a good feeling for at least a couple of weeks.
The Stoffels' project will be the third Both Hands project in Fort Wayne; the first took place in August 2012, the Both Hands website says. There have been five previous Both Hands projects in northeast Indiana, with the first taking place in Auburn in March 2011.
The Stoffels, who met at Indiana Wesleyan University and married in 2009, said they dealt with infertility for about two and a half years before thinking of adoption.
“We are confident this is where the Lord directed us to,” Christy said.
They started checking into the adoption process and adoption agencies in fall 2012 and decided to use Bethany Christian Services, which has an office in Indianapolis.
“They put Christ first,” she said.
They also felt the training they receive will equip them well to be adoptive parents. In addition, they like the quality of care Bethany provides for birth mothers.
The Stoffels already have gone through interviews and a home study and are approved by Bethany to adopt, they said. They now are waiting for a birth mother to select them to become the adoptive parents of her child.
The $30,000 the Stoffels must raise will go to Bethany to cover the birth mother's medical expenses and counseling, as well as their own training.
“We prayed about it a lot,” Christy said. “We know there are a lot of different ways to fundraise.”
A couple of friends offered to help them, she said. That connection led to another connection and then to a third person who had worked with Both Hands to adopt in Illinois.
“We are just completely in love with it,” Christy said. “It is not just about us. It also is about caring for a widow and her journey.”
They also like how the Both Hands project gathers a group of fellow Christians together to help someone else. Many volunteers on their project attend their church.
One friend, Whitney Wassell, also offered to ask businesses and individuals to donate supplies needed for the work on the widow's home.
Projects include interior painting, chimney and roof work, replacing light fixtures inside and out, putting weatherstripping on a patio door, power washing the house, caulking, spreading mulch and more, Wassell said.
Christy Stoffel said they feel blessed and thankful they have the opportunity to help someone else.
Being able to serve will be a good experience, “regardless of what the financial side is,” Luke said.