Nathan Gwilliam returned from his LDS mission to South America over 20 years ago with a new passion — promoting international adoption.
After spending two years travelling across Brazil, Gwilliam was moved by the children he saw along the streets, fighting to survive.
“I came back from my mission and fell in love with the kids, the street children in Brazil,” he said. “When I came back, I vowed I would do something that could make a lasting difference in their lives.”
What resulted for the Rexburg native was Adoption.com. Through a web-based registry, individuals across the United States who are searching for adoption options can sign up for a profile. Adoption.com representatives will work with potential parents to match them with families worldwide looking to put their children up for adoption.
This business has helped Gwilliam expand his portfolio, and assist families in their adoption search.
“Throughout the years, Adoption.com has offered a variety of adoption-related services,” he said. “For example, we offer a photo listing that has thousands of children, with pictures and bios. These children are from foster homes in the United States, or from orphanages from around the country. People can come and find the child, and contact an agency about adopting that child.”
Gwilliam is also involved with Brazil-based airline Azul, along with a number of other ventures.
Rigby residents Zack and Courtney Excell utilized Adoption.com, registering in November. This led to their adoption of a son, Easton, in January.
“Our experience was fantastic,” Zack Excell said. “My wife and I had been trying to have kids for years, and we just weren’t able to have them. Adoption always seemed like an option, but we weren’t sure that was going to be our primary way to have kids until it actually happened.”
Working with a representative at Adoption.com’s Rexburg headquarters, the Excell family found their son, Easton.
“His birth mom found us, really,” Zack Excell said. “The first time we talked to her on the phone she told us she wanted us to adopt her son. And a month later he was born.”
The birth mom was from Salt Lake City and registered through Adoption.com.
“Before we took custody, we texted back and forth every day, or every other day,” Zack Excell said. “There was constant communication with her.”
With Adoption.com headquartered in eastern Idaho, the Excell family was able to receive one-on-one service. And it was a quality they looked for throughout the process.
“It came down to a Google search, and we saw it was one of the two options close by physically,” Zack Excell said. “It was important for us to meet with someone physically in order to discuss options and plans.”
The adoption has been a life-changing experience for the Excells.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Zack Excell said. “The ability to be able to be parents, it’s completely changed our lives and made our dreams come true.”
In an effort to promote adoption throughout the world, Gwilliam recently embarked on a promotional tour, highlighting the cause. Gwilliam hoped to receive a response from President Donald Trump through a petition on the White House’s website.
The petition closed April 17 and it did not receive the necessary 100,000 signatures to receive a White House comment. But Gwilliam is still dedicated to promoting the cause of international adoption in the United States.
”International adoption in America has dropped by 81 percent since 2004,” he said. “In 2004, there was just shy of 23,000 international adoptions where U.S. citizens adopted a child from another country and brought them to America. This year, according to the International Adoption Accrediting Agency, they’re projecting just over 4,200 adoptions. If that trend continues, the chart line hits zero around 2022.
“There could be no international adoptions in the next four years.”
And Gwilliam hopes Adoption.com will help stop that downward trend.
“There are a variety of different solutions to solve the problem,” he said. “There are plenty of amazing families that would love to adopt. We just got to make it possible for those families to do it.”
Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.