Faith, Hope, Love

Mark, Sara Chreene thankful for
support, prayer along adoption journey

Faith, hope and love are three essential elements to raising a child. Most, if not all, parents would agree.

For Mark and Sara Chreene, those words mean so much more. It is what they’ve clung to in trying times.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared November as Adoption Awareness month across the state of Louisiana, with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services reporting that 764 children had found loving, permanent homes with 528 adoptive families between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017.

Mark, who owns and operates KASO/KBEF Radio in Minden and Sara, a teacher at Central Elementary, have struggled with infertility while trying to conceive their first child. Sara recalls the first time the topic of adoption came up, almost three years ago, noting that it was more conversational than concrete.

“I just mentioned it,” Sara said. “It wasn’t until the end of this past summer that we actually said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.'”

The couple announced their intentions in late July after meeting with their social worker and carefully considering their options with their families and closest friends.

“We discussed it a little bit, kind of polled people,” Mark said. “We had friends that had connections with people in the adoption world, which was good, because after we got into it, we found out there is a lot of paperwork and a lot of hoops to jump through.”

Mark and Sara spent countless hours filling out page after page of paperwork before undergoing what’s referred to as a home study, a common practice in the world of adoption.

“They come into your home,” Mark said. “They interviewed us together, interviewed us separately, we did a local, state and federal background check, had to give them income tax returns, financial statements… we had to read two books and 16 hours of online education, take notes and at the end of it there’s a test that’s all essay questions.

The last thing they did was come into the home and measure the rooms to make sure the child has a safe space to live.”

Mark also said the social worker inspected their vehicles and smoke detectors in their home, all in order to declare the Chreene’s a proper family for a child.

“We’re grateful they do all that,” Sara said. “This way not just anyone can adopt a child.”

All of the above only accounts for step one of the adoption process which will cost somewhere close to $30,000. Shortly after the Chreene’s decided to adopt, Mark was in a car accident that left his vehicle beyond repair. With the cost of the adoption process and a new vehicle looming over the couple, their social worker asked if there was anything they could do to raise money to help ease the financial burden.

Sara went to work on baking chocolate peanut butter squares, while Mark was introduced to a website that creates T-shirts in exchange for a share of the profits. Mark and Sara thought they might sell 50-75 T-shirts, however they’ve now surpassed 400 shirts sold and counting. Emblazoned across the front, the shirts read “Faith, Hope, Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.”

The baking operation took on a life of its own as well, with Sara’s close friends from her bunco group coming together at First Baptist Church for a bake-a-thon in late August to crank out enough squares to feed a small village. Others have helped out by hosting makeup and jewelry parties at stores and even at Central Elementary where Sara works, with portions of proceeds going towards adoption fees.
The beloved couple even received a few substantial anonymous donations, either dropped at their door or their mailbox, but beyond the financial support, Mark and Sara say what’s meant even more are the prayers and emotional support they have felt.

“We just appreciate all the support,” Sara said. “It’s been overwhelming at times, and there have been times when we’ve wondered what we got ourselves into, but everyone’s prayers and messages have kept us going.”

“Thank you just doesn’t feel like it’s enough,” Mark said.

The Chreene’s journey to adoption is far from over. The couple still must speak with adoption attorneys to determine their compatibility with eligible children, a process that could take anywhere from six months to two years.

Soon enough the couple will receive their greatest blessing, a child to love unconditionally as their own. Until then, Mark and Sara Chreene are holding onto those three most important things.

Faith, Hope and Love.

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