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Open up your hearts

The process of adopting a child from another country can be confusing and costly, but one group is working to remove barriers for those with a heart for adoption.

The process of adopting a child from another country can be confusing and costly, but one group is working to remove barriers for those with a heart for adoption.

Hearts of Hope is a budding non-profit organization on the Coast meant to raise money for and awareness of international adoption.

The group is spearheaded by Erin Wilson, who believes that, "no innocent child should have to suffer or die when there are families out there who are willing to help."

According to Wilson, there are families on the Coast that would adopt children waiting in other countries, but the $25,000 to $40,000 cost for adoption is a deterrent.

"That's why I wanted to start some kind of organization to educate people that this can be a community effort," she said. "With a bunch of small donations, we can do a lot to help. It may be overwhelming for one person, but as a group it really isn't a big deal."

The Hearts of Hope group also plans to help walk families through the process of international adoption because rules often change and completing paperwork can be complicated.

Wilson learned what to do the hard way when she and her husband Richard adopted their son Georgi eight years ago from the Republic of Georgia.

The process was long, confusing and costly, but Wilson learned a lot, and about half the cost for Georgi's adoption was raised among friends and family.

"That's what started the whole idea," Wilson noted.

Now that idea is about to take shape, and the Hearts of Hope group plans to kick off their effort with a coffeehouse fundraiser on June 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Seaside Centre in Sechelt.

Attendees will enjoy local entertainment by children and adult musicians, desserts and beverages and have the opportunity to hear from local families who have successfully adopted children from other countries.

Tickets for the event are just $5 and all the proceeds will go into a fund to benefit one local family currently working on an adoption in Ethiopia.

Nate and Megin Pearl will be the beneficiaries of this first Hearts of Hope fundraiser. The Pearls felt blessed with their three children, but also felt the need to look into adoption.

"We prayed about it a lot and made sure it wasn't for selfish reasons," said Megin. "It came down to the fact that there are children who need homes and people to care for them and we wanted a larger family, so the two worked together to provide the things we both need."

She said many children in Ethiopia are severely malnourished, ill and in need of medical attention.

"The children in Ethio-pia are loved and cared for to the best of their caregivers' ability, they just can't meet all of their needs with the resources available," Megin said.

The Pearls are excited to help meet the needs of one or two children from Ethiopia soon and Wilson hopes the upcoming fundraiser will ease the financial strain on the family.

"We will assume all of the debt if that is what we need to do, but if people want to be part of our adoption and donate some money toward it, that would be awesome," Megin said.

Chartered accountant Richard Wilson will handle all money raised at the June 5 event. Tickets can be purchased from The Coast Group Chartered Accountants at Suite 200, 5710 Teredo St. in Sechelt.

For more information about the Hearts of Hope fundraiser, contact Jane at 604-885-5807 or email jvanklinken@dccnet.com.