Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series about adoption during November, which is National Adoption Awareness Month.
RIVERVIEW — When Brian and Holly Festa got married in 2012, they shared a dream of having a large family.
Like so many newlyweds the couple planned to raise many children. Adoption wasn't on their radar.
But after losing their first daughter, Sawyer, to an unidentified disease only three days after her birth and losing their second daughter, Adelyse, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome less than two years later, the Festas decided to research adoption.
"We are trying for a third baby, but Holly's doctor said three is the max since she's had two c-sections," Brian said. "We've always wanted a large family and we kind of came to the conclusion at the same time that adoption is what's on our heart."
When they initially discussed adoption, the Festas decided it was too soon. They were still heavily entrenched in the grief of losing their daughters.
But the pair found some solace after becoming members of Relevant Church, and the idea that they had pushed aside, fell right in front of them through the new friendships formed at church.
"After Addie passed, there were a lot of people who came to our life through church that had been adopted and told us their stories," Brian said. "And adoption was so foreign to us before, but we realized how normal it was."
Last June, the couple began the lengthy process of finding two adoption attorneys, filling out mountains of paperwork and creating a 32-page book about themselves and their unique story for potential birth mothers.
In August, they completed the final major hurdle of being approved after their home study — the last step before being matched with a birth mother.
Daunted by the costs associated with a private adoption — which can cost up to $40,000 — the couple has gotten creative when it comes to raising funds to grow their family.
"I feel like what I'm doing with my efforts in fundraising also serve as a distraction from being sad," Holly said. "It's also keeping me going and keeping me hopeful."
So far, approximately $18,000 has been raised using many methods including Apparent Project jewelry sales, Gobena coffee sales, eBay sales of donated items, their upcoming yard sale and their own creativity.
Holly, an elementary arts teacher, makes use of her talent and started her own business called Waiting in the Wings, where she instructs painting parties for children and adults.
"Art is something I love and it keeps me busy," Holly said. "But it's also something fun that I can teach people so it's kind of a win-win in that regard."
The Festas plan to raise funds until they have their baby in their arms and prepare for a tough outcome, in which the birth mother decides within the allotted 48 hours that she wants to keep her baby. In such a case, the Festas lose the money they've put into the adoption and have to start from square one.
"As soon as we're matched, we have to give between 5 and $15,000 amount to the birth mom for living expenses," said Holly. "I'm scared that if that happens that we'll lose out not only emotionally but of course financially."
But for now, they remain hopeful, simply because they say they have to.
This weekend's yard sale will be held at their home at 13020 County Road 672 in Riverview on Saturday (Nov. 12) and Sunday (Nov. 13).
Contact Kelsey Sunderland at firstname.lastname@example.org.