CLERMONT – Ben and Jaimie Homan are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their third child.
They are not in the midst of a pregnancy, however, but an adoption. The daughter they’ve been matched with is a baby girl from India who will be turning 1 in January.
But they hope it sticks.
“When couples find out they’re having a baby, they sometimes don’t reveal it to friends and family until they are certain everything is OK. Well, with adoption, especially when it’s one where the child lives in a third world country, it kind of works the same way,” Ben Homan said. “The adoption is approved and we have been paired with an 11-month old girl name Eknoor from India, but we’re not sure that’s the baby we’ll be bringing home.”
But the Homans are busily preparing like any expectant parents.
They are purchasing basic supplies, have talked with family and friends about the baby’s arrival and have a place in their home awaiting her arrival.
They are also hard at work raising funds for their expected court costs and travel expenses, which could top $40,000.
But rather than make a broad appeal for money, the Homans have taken on side work — selling Christmas trees.
“There are a lot of ways people go about raising money. We looked at GoFundMe and there’s nothing wrong with doing it, but we felt funny doing something where we’d be giving nothing in return,” Ben said. “We considered selling T-shirts or puzzle pieces, but then this just fell in our laps.”
Ben’s father Greg Homan, who owns the Citrus Tower, gives back to the community each year with a month-long Christmas light show complete with music, snow and more. Each year, Homan adds something new to the show, and this year, his idea was to bring in a Christmas tree stand.
Ben’s brother was also involved with running the Highlights Market, a new home décor store next door to the tower, and so the natural thing for Ben to do was take on the Christmas tree project.
The only thing holding him back was that his forte is in web design and marketing.
“We talked it over and decided we can do this,” said Ben.
The next thing they knew, Ben was on a plane to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he rented a 26-foot box truck and journeyed another two hours north to a nursery that sold him 200 fresh cut, number one (only one flaw per tree) Frazier pines he drove home to Clermont the day before Thanksgiving.
He and Jaimie sold their first tree for Eknoor on Black Friday at the Citrus Tower Light-Up and have been going strong ever since. They only have about 80 trees left. To make it more fun, they are even giving out hot chocolate and candy cane cotton candy to all children Friday and Saturday evenings until 9 p.m., though the tree stand is open daily.
“We didn’t realize how much work this was going to be, but we’re enjoying it,” Ben said. “People are loving the quality and freshness of our trees.”
In the back of their minds they know that one day they’ll be telling their children the story of the year they sold trees to be able to pick up number 3.
“The adoption could be finalized in six months to a year or more. We don’t know. These adoptions take time because you’re dealing with agencies and court systems from other countries,” Jaimie said. “We have five pages of information about her, a little bit of medical history and one picture. That’s it.”
Meanwhile, they’re relying on their faith to get them through. They said their two young children don’t understand quite what’s going on, but their family and friends do.
“We are lucky we have a lot of support from both sides of the family and we have enough excitement between us for the kids,” Ben said.
He explained that adoption is nothing that came as a shock to anyone in either family. Ben said he remembers he and his brother, at about 5 or 6 years old, waiting with excitement for their parents to arrive home with their adopted sister.
And Jaimie, for a long time, worked with placing children who had come out of abusive homes.
“For us, it wasn’t necessarily IF we were going to adopt, but WHEN we were going to adopt,” Ben said.
Then, several years ago, the couple relocated to India for a year for a consulting job Ben took and noticed how many children — especially girls — lived in orphanages.
Ben said in India, like in China, female babies are not regarded as highly as males, so many of the children in orphanages are girls.
“We knew that one day we wanted to adopt a child from outside the country to give at least that one child more hope. I know it may sound terrible, but the worst foster care in the U.S. is better than the best orphanage in third-world countries,” Ben said. “There are all kinds of rules and regulations in some of these places but we applied as soon as we were able.”
Upon leaving, he and Jaimie founded a non-profit organization that supports orphanages and evangelists and had a feeling they’d be back.
“We’re just going on hope,” Jaimie said.