Sandra Russell Angel Fund
The Sandra Russell Angel Fund was started in honor of the founder of Heaven Sent Children Adoption. The purpose is to help families with the expenses of international and domestic adoption. Through this organization more than 1,000 children have found their forever families. The agency has been committed in its services to all members of the adoption triad: adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. The agency provides education for adoptive parents through classes and the home study investigation; ongoing support before, during, and after the adoption placement; and advocacy and support for birth parents regardless of their decision to parent or make an adoption plan. The Sandra Russell Adoption Fund serves as a wonderful gift to assist families with placement fees, travel expenses, and finalization of their adoption. The legacy of Mrs. Russell will continue on with the financial gifts made possible by donors to continue her mission of creating families through adoption.
Donations can be made directly by Paypal on our website or by check to Heaven Sent Children. Checks can be mailed to Heaven Sent Children, 514 Belmont Ave., Shelbyville, TN 37160. Please specify Angel Fund on the donation.
The seed of adoption was planted in Sandi’s heart at the age of 12. She attended Central Christian Church in Elkhart, Indiana where a local family had adopted two girls from China. They were two of a family of 10 children. Sandi watched as the girls thrived and excelled from the advantages they had in their adoptive home. Through this experience she learned about children all over the world who struggled and had many dreams of helping them find forever homes. When Sandi and Wayne got married they had discussed the desire to have two children of their own and then adopt two children. They applied to Family and Children Services in Fort Wayne, Indiana and expressed their openness to adopt children with minor disabilities, any race or ethnicity, from infant to 4 years of age. At the time Wayne was a student and their total household income was $5,000 a year. (Adoption costs were $1,500.) The other people in their learning group were much wealthier and had been married longer so they were the least likely to be chosen for a child. So when they received word from the board of Family and Children that they were approved it was a surprise and miracle. Soon afterwards, Wayne had a dream one night about a little dark haired girl running through a field of yellow flowers and told Sandi about it. On August 13th they were notified that a full blooded Korean infant had been born in Fort Wayne and was ready for them to adopt. At 9:00AM August 14th their Social Worker from Family and Children Services brought a hot, crying, red faced, wet and hungry two week old infant girl to their home in Indianapolis. Sandi pointed out that she was not the first to hold her. It was Wayne who took the baby, cleaned her up, cooled her off, and changed her diaper and fed her. Sandi recounts what a beautiful picture it was to watch her husband so tenderly take to this newborn child. They named her Kristen. As their daughter grew they decided it was time to adopt once again. The war in Vietnam was going on and they were aware that many children were in orphanages and needing families. Wayne was a career serviceman and had served in that part of the world and had seen many children left without parents due to the ravages of war. In April of 1974 they applied to adopt once more and in July of that year they were notified about a little girl who was 6 years old. Sight unseen and only being told she was a bright girl who needed parents who were patient, they welcomed her into their family. Tonya arrived on November 13, 1974. Tonya quickly took to her baby sister who was now two years old. She was a shining star, highly intelligent but troubled with the emotions one might expect from a child who had come from a war situation and the tragic loss of her parents. Tonya often spoke about her best friend who was still in Vietnam. Sandi and Wayne desired to adopt her, but were told that it would be impossible. On May 16, 1975 Sandi and Wayne received a phone call that their daughter Melissa had arrived in Boulder, CO and that she would be joining their family. An orphanage worker had placed an arm band around the child’s arm designating “Russell’s in Indianapolis, IN” to be her parents. When Melissa saw Tonya they immediately remembered each other. Sandi recalls that at that moment they knew their family was complete. Over the next 20 years Sandi and her family traveled throughout the United States and overseas due to Wayne’s career in the military. They eventually settled at Fort Campbell where Wayne retired from the military. From there they relocated to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Sandi had finished her undergraduate degree in Social Work and had a desire to work with families. She had already worked in various government jobs including the foster care system. In 1991, she was approached by a colleague about starting an agency which would perform home studies for adoptive families. She was thrilled because it was an opportunity for her to reach her lifelong dream. Heaven Sent Children was created and the vision was expanded to help families adopt internationally. At that time, no one in the state of Tennessee was doing them because of the amount of work and difficulty. Sandi researched the process, built relationships with placing agencies, and began advocating for families and children. She felt a calling from God that this was the direction she was meant to go and was not going to live in the fear of failure. By 1995, Sandi had completed her Master’s degree in Social Work and found that her agency was growing due to the increased numbers of children being placed for adoption internationally. The agency grew under her guidance and she had the opportunity to travel to China and Guatemala to help families process their adoption and see first-hand the staff and directors at the orphanages in those countries. In 2007, Sandi left her career in adoption due to health issues. She thanks God every day for the wonderful board and staff that were able to carry on in her place and ensure that the organization would grow and thrive. Sandi has shared that it was her dream fulfilled and that it is a touching tribute to see this mission carried on by others. Adoption and the organization she founded will live on as her legacy.