Our Founders Story

"I have purposed not to look back, but only go forward in placing children in a compassionate atmosphere."

Nancy VanHoose

Nancy VanHoose

GLAD Founder

How It All Began

Wow, a trip to the 5 & 10-cent store with her Mom. What a treat! The aisles seemed to stretch forever. First priority for the 10-year old girl was to visit the Cosmetic Department and delight to the fragrance of Midnight in Paris. And, after cosmetics, she proceeded to the toy aisle, checking out the tin tea kettles, play money and baby dolls that cried real tears. Then, something at the end of that long toy aisle caught her eye. A colorful stack of flat books. Rushing past the marbles and sports equipment, the small girl tiptoes to reach the top book. It was a book alright, filled with blank pages. Her mother explained it was a scrap book. On the cover of that scrap book was an irresistible vase filled with colorful fresh flowers.

Seeing her fascination, her mother purchased it for her. They forgot to buy glue. Nevertheless, being from a resourceful German family, her mother showed her how to make glue from flour and water. She was leafing through a stack of Life magazines to try to figure out what pictures to put into the scrapbook when there it was the most adorable baby clad only in a diaper with an amusing smile that showed just a little drool in one corner of her mouth. After that first picture was in place, she couldn’t see anything else pleasing enough for her scrap book except babies. She filled the whole book with babies.

How do I know this? I am that little girl. I’m all grown up and still filling picture albums in my office today with babies. Do you think God can speak to a 10-year old girl’s heart about a special ministry she will have someday? I do!

When I was 36 years old, I heard the phone ring in the night through a haze of sleep. My husband answered. It was our friend in Oklahoma. Sometimes, this colorful friend was a cowboy, sometimes an investor, sometimes a millionaire and ended up being a pastor. It seems he knew of a baby boy to be given up for adoption and wanted to send a private plane to fly us to Oklahoma so that we could meet the baby’s birth mother. This was totally unheard of to me at the time, but the birth mother was actually interviewing adoptive families herself. I arose from my sleepy state with my heart pounding in my throat, thinking if this was of God, I would walk through the door and a lot of good would come from it. I don’t know if God really had this in mind for me, but I got up right then, cleaned my house and packed some clothing for the trip to Oklahoma.

The next morning, we informed our 10-year old daughter, Julie, of our mission to possibly adopt a baby brother for her and left her in the loving care of my sister. Having never considered any of the parties to adoptions, we flew to the Oklahoma City Airport where the birth mother met us to interview us. My husband told me on the plane that he had a dream that the baby had blonde hair and blue eyes just like us. I told him that I did not think for a minute that God had given him that dream. Based on his God-given dream, I further informed him that I would not exclude a brown-eyed brunette baby if that was what was waiting for us in Oklahoma.

My mind was working overtime trying to imagine what the birth mother would look like. Would she be attractive? How old was she? How would she act? Would she be educated? Will she expect us to do all the talking? I relied heavily on my husband at that moment. He was an experienced pastor and would be able to guide our conversation.

Then, she suddenly approached us in a hallway. Could this be her? She was a beautiful, young, almond-eyed brunette with an endless white smile. Look how thin and shapely she is, and who chose her well-coordinated outfit? We sat in a small airport coffee shop. As soon as we sat down, I gave a firm nudge to my husband under the table, which interpreted meant, she has brown hair and brown eyes. Blue-eyed, blonde baby, right!?

She introduced herself as Tana. She told her story. We couldn’t wait for her to quit talking so that we could start selling ourselves as great parents. Our conversation flowed so wonderfully. We had so much to share. Too soon, it was time to leave her. We provided transportation for her in our rental car. My husband bravely suggested to her in the car that she choose us for parents since we all spoke so easily. Oh no, she said, I have another family to interview, but I will take you to the day care center and let you see him. In unison, we agreed. Tana disappeared into the day care center and emerged with the most beautiful 11-month old baby I have ever seen (even to this day). He was just waking from an afternoon nap and rubbing his little fist on the most crystal clear baby blue eyes I had ever seen. And, yes, he had blond hair. I am still shocked at myself. I saw him for five minutes and wanted him forever.

We called home and spoke to our daughter, telling her that we did not know if we would get to adopt the beautiful baby named, Jeron, or not. I could hear the disappointment in her voice. Next, we called Tana to inform her that we could not stay in Oklahoma for her decision. Our nephew (who is also adopted) was playing in a high school state championship football game, and we wanted to be there for him. She gave us her phone number. We were to call when we got a motel room. See how difficult things were without cell phones.

We met up with Rick’s family to go to the football game. Our daughter, Julie, was frantic and persistent for an answer concerning Jeron’s adoption. Right before the football game, the phone began to ring. Before a full ring was complete, my husband, Rick, grabbed the phone. It was Tana. You’re going to be a parent. Rick relayed the message, and the most joyous spirit broke out in the room complete with tears, laughter, hugs, jumps and, all the while, Rick was trying to get the particulars on when and where we would be meeting. Julie ran to Rick’s parent’s room (Nanny and Papa) to tell them the news. Later, they told me that her knocking was so pounding so loud until they opened the door that they knew before they answered the door that we had heard from Tana.

Having the motor home there was a real plus. We collected my parents from some dark spot on the highway and proceeded to Oklahoma City like we were going to a Sunday picnic. We stopped at a shopping mall on the way to shop for the new baby. Julie chose a teddy bear that smelled like baby powder. Due to it being late Fall, I chose an outfit with a little sweat jacket. Despite knowing we were rude, we could not resist stopping every mom with a stroller and asking, “Excuse me, how old is your baby?” We did that until some unfortunate mom said, “eleven months.” Then, we told her we were going to adopt an infant boy of that age. Julie dropped to her knees in front of the stroller, eyes filled with admiration, and spoke to the baby. He focused on her with wonderment as this strange little girl began to explain that she was going to be a big sister.

After the adoption documents were signed, we proceeded to Tana’s mother home. Her name was the same as mine, Nancy, and she was called Grandmother Nancy. We entered the gated neighborhood and approached a very nice home. Julie burst from the motor home and entered the home through an open garage door. When I got inside, she had already swooped Jeron up in her arms and was bouncing him. Our visit was friendly and went well until it was time to go. I noticed that Grandmother Nancy had disappeared, leaving Tana alone to say goodbye.

There are no words to say thank you for a baby. There are no assurances that he will grow up strong. There are no guarantees that he will be educated. I thought it best said with a hug. I held my new son in my right arm, and put my arm around his birth mother. Alone. She was alone. Her back was hot and shaking. Not only shaking, but muscles were shaking in her back that I have never felt shake in anyone’s back to this day. I know I rattled something to her, but, in my heart I said, God, if I can ever help a girl in a situation like this again, I will.