GREENVILLE - Hearing about the number of orphans in the world weighed heavily on the heart of Shannon McDaniel of the Greenville Police Department, so much that he and his wife, Dawn, began talking about adding to their family of six.
They have begun a journey to adopt a 10-year-old girl from Eastern Europe, if she gives her consent.
McDaniel said his wife, the former Dawn Miller, has had health issues over the years and didn’t think they would ever have children.
“We sat down and with a caseworker and were looking for fostering to adopt before we had any of the kids,” he said. “And, lo and behold, we have four. During the process, I wanted more.”
Then, the couple attended an adoption seminar put on by their church, Castine Church of the Brethren.
“At first, I didn’t think I could adopt someone else’s child,” he said. “But I still had a desire to have more kids.”
He said there are several families at the church who have gone through the adoption process and by watching those children worked on him a lot.
“It’s very contagious,” Dawn offered. “You have the thought in the back of your mind. The families who have done it have a support system. That’s why we’re doing it. These adoptive families in our church helped us. One family will hopefully be bringing home a 16-year-old girl this weekend. It was a long process.”
The children the McDaniels and other church families are hosted through New Horizons For Children, a Christian organization out of Georgia.
Hearing the song, “Do Something” by Matthew West that McDaniel heard while coming home one day confirmed to him that they should adopt.
“I was to educate people,” Shannon said. “Our goal is to advocate for kids to adopt them. There are an estimated 163 million orphans in the world,” McDaniel said. “In Eastern Europe orphans are turned out into the street at age 16. Twenty percent committee suicide in the first two years; 50 percent will never see their 20th birthday; 60 percent of girls end up in prostitution (girls are kidnapped and sold into the sex trade); 70 percent of boys will be on the streets or in jail; and after age 5, there is only a 20 percent chance of being adopted.”
He went on, “We gotta do something,” he said. “I can’t live with myself if I don’t. I have got to answer to God one day and He’ll ask me why I didn’t.”
He said when he heard those statistics at Christmastime 2012, the thought of adoption started working on him.
“I said, I can’t take this anymore,” he said. “So, last August, we started the process of a child to host.”
The McDaniels will be married 24 years in June. They are the parents of 15-year-old Madyson, 13-year-old Nina, 10-year-old Elias and 7-year-old Maria, all of whom are home-schooled by their mother.
Shannon, who indicated he is their “principal,” remarked, “A couple of our kids are excited and one is apprehensive [about the adoption]”
“N,” whom the McDaniels would like to adopt, visited the McDaniels for 30 days around Christmas time. After her return home, they learned that she did not want to be adopted. However, the McDaniels have heard that is what some of these potential adoptive children do before going through with it.
“We haven’t give up hope on her,” said Shannon. “This won’t keep us from pursuing adoption. We’re in the beginning stages of paper work of home study.”
Before they began talking about adoptions, Shannon said he would never leave the United States. But, he’s changed his mind.
“Now, I’ll do whatever we need to,” he said. “These kids carry a lot of baggage with them. There are a huge amount of orphanages in Eastern Europe, but not a huge amount of supervision. Imagine not having a mother or father to tuck you into bed at night; no one to care for you when you are hurt; no one to tell you that you are loved.”
He went on, “We feel called by God to do this. Where it will lead us, we don’t know, but we’re willing to take the next step.”
The local family knew three months ahead of time that “N” would be visiting.
“We fell in love with her before she got here,” he said.
Yes, there was a major language barrier, but they had access to translators. He said in the future, that language barrier may take a couple of years to overcome, but they’re willing to do it.
“We feel we worked out all the problems we came across,” he said. “We now see why people who adopt fall in love with the kids before they meet them.”
Whether or not we adopt “N,” they will still pursue adoption. In the meantime, they’re keeping in continuous contact with her “like she is our own child.”
They said their Eastern European visitor’s first wish was to go swimming, so they went to the Y.
“She loved McDonald’s, loved to go shopping, liked Kroger’s, going to the zoo and her grandmas and grandpas [here]” he said.
His advice, however, is not to go to the zoo at Christmas time.
“We went a couple days afterwards, and it was a zoo,” he said. “There were so many people there.”
“It was like the Darke County Fair,” Dawn said.
The orphanages in Eastern Europe, Shannon said, are not an ideal life setting for these children.
“But, it’s what they know and the people they know there,” he said. “As for the conditions of the orphanages, they tie the kids to their beds and chairs. Not all of them are like that but it goes on, he said.
International adoption, he said, is a costly endeavor and could be between $35,000 and $40,000; thus, they’re planning some fundraisers, including a golf outing tentatively set for June 28 at Beechwood Golf Course, Arcanum. they may also hold a spaghetti dinner. An account - the McDaniel Family Adoption - has also been set up at Greenville Federal Bank.
The adoption agency New Horizons for Children is involved with is Open Door in Georgia. In Ohio, the McDaniels are working with Family Adoption Consultants, with whom they are currently doing a home study. Caseworkers will be coming to their home several times.
In conclusion, McDaniel shares this Bible verse:
“In James 1:27, it says, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…in their distress.”