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Our Family Adoptions: Jilma Meneses



Journeys abroad can be life-changing. For a Washington state woman, a trip to Africa nearly a decade ago changed her life-and at least 100 more, so far. Kim Riemland has the story.

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(Locator: Camas, Washington)

In a back pew of a small church in Washington state, sits a mother of two &ellipsis; and a hero to a hundred children.

It all began in 2001, when Jilma Meneses took a church mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She volunteered at the United Methodist-supported orphanage called Jamaa Letu-which is Swahili for "our family."

Jilma Meneses, Our Family Adoptions: "I said to the orphanage director, 'You know, you need to consider an adoption program, these children have to go somewhere, eventually.' She said 'Why don't you start by adopting one of our children?'"

With the blessing of her husband and daughter, Jilma did just that. By adopting Gracia, she gained a precious daughter-and a calling.

Jilma Meneses: "Soon after that, we started Our Family Adoptions. Our goal is to raise awareness about Congo and to bring resources to these orphanages. And one way we get there is through adoption."

Jilma is an attorney who works from a home office-for free-helping U.S. families navigate the adoption process. This way, more dollars go directly to the orphans and those suffering from Congo's civil war, corruption and poverty.

Jilma on Skype: "Bonjour, Pastor Loma, ca va."

Thanks to technology, Jilma and her family keep in close contact with those who run orphanages in Congo.

Jilma on Skype: "She is about a month old."

Jilma can see the results of her hard work on the other side of the world &ellipsis; and right in her own community&ellipsis;

Jane Lovelady, Adoptive Mom: "It's been wonderful."

&ellipsis;where many of the adopted children now live.

Chris Roberts, Adoptive Dad: "It's changed our lives immensely."

Steve Webb, Adoptive Dad: "He's just a joy."

To date, Our Family Adoptions has helped connect nearly 100 Congolese orphans with loving families.

Lisa Webb, Adoptive Mom: "We'll just be forever indebted to Jilma and what she's done. It's an amazing legacy that she'll leave."

Jilma has a demanding full-time job and is the mother of two teenage girls. In her "spare time" Jilma is changing the world.

Jilma Meneses: "I want these children to have an opportunity. That's what drives me. And, yes, the next morning I might go with bags under my eyes to work and I might have three extra cups of coffee instead of just one, but it's worth it. It's worth every minute because these children, they need us."


Our Family Adoptions works closely with the United Methodist Jamaa Letu orphanage in Lubumbashi, and the Hope for the Children orphanage in Kinshasa, DRC to place children with families in the U.S.

For more information on adoption, visit the website or call 360-903-3648.

Posted: June 30, 2010