words by: Sabrina Schlabach
Adoption is just the first step in a lifetime journey. Walking through the adoption process can feel overwhelming, both financially and emotionally. That’s what prompted the beginning of Pure Gift of God. A nonprofit organization, Pure Gift of God believes that adoption is a beautiful correlation to being God’s hands and feet here on Earth as we were adopted into His family; adoption is the heart of the Father.
Over the last 10 years, Pure Gift has given over 1.5 million dollars in grants. They are able to do this through individual and business donors along with fundraising events such as a Classic Car Raffle, Annual Banquet, and some organized running events. Through those funds, Pure Gift continues to give grants and has been able to branch out into counseling, training, foster care support groups, and, most recently, therapy.
Pure Gift believes in post-adoptive care, coming alongside families for as long as needed. Once an adoption is complete, that doesn’t mean there are never any more hurdles; it’s just a transition to the next phase of the journey.
In 2022, Cheryl Mullet joined the team at Pure Gift of God to begin therapy services for children affected by adoption and their families. At the time, no one really knew what it could look like, but as they created the Connection Center, things began falling into place. Isn’t that just like our God? We don’t always see the big picture, but by placing trust in Him and stepping out in faith, He brings the pieces of the puzzle together. Located in Berlin, Ohio, the Connection Center provides a friendly, comfortable space for families to meet with Cheryl.
Cheryl hasn’t always worked in therapy, but she’s always had a heart for children. While a student in China, they took a short trip to Vietnam. Standing outside of an orphanage there, she fought going inside. “I knew I would cry,” she shared, “because those poor children hadn’t had any form of touch. And that’s when God said to me, ‘Cheryl, you might cry, but they haven’t been touched.’” Cheryl went inside and, yes, cried, but that was when it became very clear to her that God was going to use her to work with—and love on—children from hard places.
After her time in China, she moved to Thailand. Cheryl began working with a woman who ran a home for children that were HIV positive. However, some of the children that came into the home didn’t have HIV. This woman asked if she could give these kids to Cheryl and her team to raise and care for until they were adopted. Of course she said yes!
Once back in the States, Cheryl got a degree in social work. She wanted to understand more about the system that many of these children were coming from. That was a good learning experience, but it wasn’t where her heart was. So, she went back to school and got her master’s in therapy. Cheryl wanted to help make a difference in the life of a child rather than just the decisions on placement. All these steps were on God’s path for her toward Pure Gift of God.
When preparing to adopt, a family is examined from every angle. There is very little privacy. “Often, once the adoption is complete, families are excited to have their lives back. However, that’s when families may face their greatest challenges and need the most support,” said Cheryl. Bringing someone into your home, no matter how much you love them or how much information you have on their background, whether the child is an infant, toddler, or teen, there are biological reactions and past trauma to consider. If you find yourself in that place, Cheryl and Pure Gift want you to know you are not alone. “It’s okay to say, ‘I need help. This is tougher than I thought it was going to be,’” she said. “We are here for you with absolutely no judgment. Don’t live in your discouragement. You have good tools, but sometimes you just need a different set of tools. And that’s okay!”
Cheryl begins meeting with children once a week. Consistency is key to build rapport and trust with a child. “We want to know what’s going on with the child’s heart. We want them to feel safe and valued and see themselves as the person God created them to be,” Cheryl shared. “We do this by play activities. There’s a lot of teaching that goes into play. The child doesn’t necessarily feel like they’re being taught, but they are practicing and learning.” Cheryl uses the TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) method developed to help caregivers build connections with the children based on the principles of connecting, empowering, and correcting. “You can’t correct a behavior until you connect with that child and they feel safe with you,” she said.
To read the full story, purchase a May 2023 back issue here.
Subscribe today to get the full stories in print each month!
Pure Gift of God
P.O. Box 292, Berlin, Ohio 44610 | 330-795-4948
Sabrina and her husband live near Ragersville, Ohio, and have been blessed with four spunky children. She values time with her family, loves to bake, and is an avid reader.