About 400 are expected to participate in the second annual Trot to Adopt at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. The event, which includes a 1-mile family walk, also benefits a South African orphanage.
“There’s really nothing better you can do on your Saturday morning than come on out and support a cause that brings these four families together and benefits orphans,” said Sohailla Digsby, who, with her husband, Thomas, adopted a little girl from China from proceeds from the first Trot to Adopt.
The family continued the fundraiser to help future adoptive families offset their own adoption costs.
“We knew there would be adoptions after us. It was too much fun and too profitable for us not to do it again,” she said. “Last year, while we were still counting the totals, we stood up and said, ‘Save the date. We’re doing this again next January.’ ”
Four families were invited to participate this year.
Kelly and Jessica Cote live in North Augusta and are members of In Focus Church in Evans, like the Digsbys. The family is seeking to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. Kelly is a civilian engineer at Fort Gordon, and Jessica home-schools the family’s three girls.
Jason and Michelle Wiley live in Evans. Michelle home-schools their four children, and Jason is the owner of a small business, Jostens-Georgia Campus Services. The family attends Warren Baptist Church and is seeking to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia this year.
Josh and Audrey Wilkerson attend Grace Fellowship Church. Josh is a Web developer at Powerserve in Augusta, and Audrey home-schools their three boys. The family is adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia.
Mike and Stephanie Fennema live in Evans, where he works as the associate pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. She is a physician assistant at Covenant Pediatrics. They have two boys and are adopting a daughter from China.
“We’re four different families, four different adoptions, all wanting to do this thing together,” Jessica Cote said. “There’s nothing we want more than to get the word out because we believe in adoption.”
Each family faces about $25,000 to $30,000 in costs.
“That’s the standard range for international adoptions,” Audrey Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson and her husband will make two trips to Ethiopia in the year ahead. She said she’s grateful for the support of family, friends and a community that has decided to embrace the care of orphans.
“There are 147 million orphans worldwide,” she said. “There is really an incredible, growing adoption community in Augusta. It’s been a blessing to be a part of it.”
Each of the four families is in a different stage of the process, but some could bring home a baby by the end of the year.
“No doubt, it’s an expensive endeavor,” Jason Wiley said. “But there’s a desperate need for children to be placed in forever families.
“This is a calling from God. We have total faith in God and what he commands us to do in Scripture, which is to care for widows and orphans. We’re asking for the community’s help to make that happen.”