Ages: Robin Scharff, 32; Andrew Scharff, 31.
Children: Wade, 4; Chloe, almost 2.
Wedding: June 21, 2003.
Occupations: Robin, stay-at-home mom; Andrew, works for Covenant Transport.
Reside in: Red Bank.
Church: Calvary Chapel Church.
Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/OutOnALimbAdoption.
Robin and Andrew Scharff believe adopting a child is something they are called to do. "The story of Jesus is about God adopting mankind into his family," said Robin Scharff. "We want to echo that story by bringing an orphan into our home."
Married for almost nine years, Robin, 32, and Andrew, 31, said they began talking about adoption early in their relationship. Now, they say, the time is right to bring home a brother or sister to join their two biological children, Wade, 4, and Chloe, almost 2.
The cost of an adoption -- about $28,000, they said -- is overwhelming, and they didn't want to have to borrow all the money. So the Scharffs began thinking how they could use their creative minds to raise funds.
After attempts at other enterprises, they began making cuff bracelets from old clothing and leather belts. Using upcycled materials, they said, was a reminder of Revelation 21:5, "Behold, I am making all things new."
The Scharffs are in the process of applying to be parents to a child born in China, and they look forward to the day their family of four becomes a family of five.
"It's easy for me to look at it and think 'this process is the hard part -- the waiting, the paperwork, the cost,' but it's not," said Andrew. "I fully acknowledge that bringing a child into the family -- and this child will be as much of a child to me as Wade or Chloe is -- is going to be a growing process."
Q: What motivated the decision to try to adopt?
Andrew: It comes from [a feeling] that God has a special place for orphans. We just felt like the more we engaged in a relationship with our family, as well as with our church and the world we live in, we realized it became more something we really felt compelled to do.
Robin: Part of it was compassion and love for children, part of it was a little bit of adventure, but it's interesting how God has deepened that. ... We are alone, and we make a pretty big mess of our lives without him.
Q: You're clearly both people of strong faith. Has that always been the case?
Andrew: I grew up in a Christian family, so ... it was the world that I knew.
Robin: I did not grow up with a faith background until high school. I began attending church with a friend. I think I was 15.
Q: How did you meet?
Robin: We met in college, at Harding University. Not Harvard. Sometimes people mishear it. It's in Arkansas. It's a Christian school. We were both elementary education majors.
Andrew: I was one of the very few guys in the entire department of hundreds.
Q: What drew you to each other?
Robin: Andrew has a very sensitive and compassionate heart. That and his love for children are some of the first things that drew me to him.
Andrew: She wasn't very loud or outspoken. When she spoke, you could tell she had thought through what she was going to say. I was very drawn to her intentionality and her sense of humor. I knew she had a lot of compassion for kids.
Q: You were originally planning to adopt from Haiti. Why is that?
Andrew: I went with our church to Haiti last April. A large portion of our time was spent at a handful of orphanages. At one in particular, we had opportunity to engage with kids whose families could not afford to take care of them, so they voluntarily gave up rights to them. It was heartbreaking for me. I feel like God just really rocked my world and took us from "this is a great thing" to "hey, it's time for us to engage."
Q: How did you end up deciding to adopt from China?
Robin: Haiti has very restrictive laws. You have to be 35, and you have to be married for 10 years to adopt a child from Haiti. A couple months ago, we started working with Lifeline Children's Services and were told that if we wanted to proceed with Haiti, we'd have to wait three years to apply. We couldn't put our family in limbo for that long, so we began praying about another option. The Lord kept turning our thoughts back toward China.
Q: How did making bracelets become a part of fundraising for adoption?
Andrew: Once we realized we were ready to engage in the adoption process, we wanted to find a creative way to save some money.
Robin: One day, we saw a little cuff-style bracelet in a kids craft magazine, and the idea spawned from seeing that, though the end product is nothing like the picture other than the fact that it's a cuff. It was a process to figure out how to do it.
Andrew: The first wave of bracelets had all the snaps done by me with a hammer on our back deck at 11 o'clock at night.
Q: Since you plan to adopt from China, will you most likely be adopting a daughter?
Robin: We are going to be choosing a child with special needs, which can be something as simple as the child needs glasses, or it can be cerebral palsy. There's a wide array. You get to specify what would be a good fit for your family.
Q: Are there considerations to keep in mind with two other children in the home?
Andrew: Lifeline's advice on the parameters is significantly different for families who have children than for those who don't. That's certainly something we're going to wade through. Just like the door for Haiti closed, if a door for a certain situation needs to close, it will close.
Robin: Because of our faith, we trust that this is in God's hands, and it's not just us choosing a child but that he has chosen a child for us. If he has chosen a child for us, then he has equipped us to take care of that child. Ultimately, that's what we rest on.
Q: How much do the children understand what you're trying to do?
Robin: Chloe is just turning 2, so she has no clue. But with Wade, we read a little book called "A Mother for Choco." It never says adoption, but it's a story about adoption, so that was really cool as a launching point. He'll talk about when his new brother or sister will come home. We have a four-seater car, and recently he asked "Mommy, where's our new brother or sister going to sit?" That showed me he's grasping that this is going to be a change in our family.
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...