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Couple continues to fundraise in hopes of adopting a child

Marietta resident Justin Sheaves plays basketball with his 3-year-old son Axelton. Justin and his wife, Crystal, hope to raise enough money to adopt a child from Colombia. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

A local couple is hoping fundraisers will help them adopt a sibling for their 3-year-old son, Axelton.

Justin and Crystal Sheaves, of Marietta, have chosen to adopt from Colombia through Madison Adoption Associates.

Crystal said the couple had trouble conceiving Axelton, so adoption has been on their minds for about eight years.

They wanted to give another child a home, so they connected with other families in the area who had adopted internationally. They discussed it and thought it was their best option.

“We’re pretty much on the same page with international (adoption) instead of domestic,” Justin said. “They’re a bunch of the same reasons.”

Crystal explained they were looking at international adoption agencies and overwhelmingly found China and Colombia had the most stable adoption programs.

“We initially chose Colombia because it was closer than China, but we ultimately fell in love with the Colombian culture.”

She said the liveliness, the food and the country’s celebrations were all things that attracted them to Columbia.

“The Colombian culture is so diverse,” she said. “There’s a strong Latin American influence and a strong South American influence.”

The Madison Adoption Associates notes that in Colombia, children ages two months to 16 years are available for adoption.

Crystal said the main criteria they had for the adoption is that they maintain birth order. They wanted to make sure Axelton was the oldest child. She noted research shows an older child getting an older sibling can be confusing.

She said a home study agency will help guide them through the process of getting Axelton acclimated to having a new sibling.

“There are also children’s books to help him understand,” she said. “He just turned 3, so he understands a lot.”

Crystal said the entire adoption process “from start to finish” could take seven to 18 months. She said they have no say in the gender of the child, they can only specify that they want to maintain birth order. They want a child that is at least a year younger than Axelton.

Justin said they ultimately decided to adopt because of their ages.

“We’re both getting older,” he said. “Plus, the older you get, the more problems you can have trying to have one.”

Crystal said international adoption is a little more expensive than domestic. International adoption can cost $40,000-$50,000, while a domestic adoption can cost $30,000.

While both have full time jobs — Crystal is a seventh grade science teacher at Marietta Middle School and Justin is a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office — they would need to fundraise to help with costs.

“Fundraising was the big thing,” Crystal said. “We tried to get our finances together.”

So far, they’ve done a golfathon and she’s making snowflakes which she’s selling through their website and Facebook pages.

An art auction will be held soon, Justin said. Crystal explained local artists were donating pieces for an online auction through their Facebook site, www.facebook.com/1more2love.

They hope to do a virtual 5K and in the spring, they would like to have a golf scramble, as both Justin and Axelton love to play golf.

Crystal said they wanted to tell their story because if it weren’t for other people being open and willing to share, they probably wouldn’t have made the decision to adopt.

So far, they’ve raised almost $3,000 for the adoption, but they have several different ways for people to help them through donations. Donations can be made through PayPal at paypal.me/JustinSheaves or through their GoFundMe page at https://gf.me/u/ywqtqm. Their website, https://sites.google.com/view/one-more-to-love tells more of the story of these high school sweethearts.

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