Adoptions are not easy decisions to make and are naturally emotional for the adoptive parents and the child involved. The stars of HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous, however, shared the particularly agonizing three-year process of bringing their daughter home.
Dave and Jenny Mars, stars of Fixer to Fabulous, struggled to start a family of their own but always knew that they wanted to adopt. Jenny explained that their desire to adopt started after hearing about the challenges orphans face throughout the world.
She said, “It felt a little overwhelming when we started to learn about the need and all the kids without a family, but you can only do what you can do. We thought, ‘We’ll focus on one and see.’”
The journey had a twist, however, when Jenny unexpectedly got pregnant with twins. She had a high-risk pregnancy that resulted in premature labor, and she had to be airlifted from their home in Bentonville, Arkansas to a hospital in Little Rock.
She said, “We were given every worst-case scenario for when the boys were born. Thankfully, Nathan and Ben, now 12, arrived “perfectly healthy and awesome.”
They put the plan to adopt on hold since Jenny and her sons spent the first month of their life in the hospital. She recalled, “That first year with twins was really hard.”
But 18 months later, they decided to proceed with the adoption with the hopes of growing their family.
On November 12, 2012, the Fixer to Fabulous mainstays came across the adoption profile online of a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.
They immediately knew that they wanted to adopt her and started the process. The paperwork was settled by August 2013 and the girl was finally their legal child.
Dave and Jenny were ready to welcome baby Sylvie home within the next month but tragically, the Congolese government shut down.
Exit letters were suspended and without them, no adopted children could leave the country. The Fixer to Fabulous stars were understandably devasted.
Jenny shared, “Her adoption had been finalized. She had her U.S. passport. And then the country shut down adopted kids leaving, so she couldn’t get her exit permit.”
With no end to the crisis in sight, the Fixer to Fabulous stars were contacting anyone they thought could help. They had people writing letters and they met with various congressmen and senators.
During this difficult waiting period, Jenny became pregnant with their now 8-year-old daughter Charlotte. She recalled, “I wasn’t able to really rejoice in the amazing news because we were so overwhelmed with sorrow that we couldn’t get our daughter home.” This too, was another high-risk pregnancy for Jenny.
Dave took the lead in trying to bring their daughter home and made five trips to the Congo, but sadly returned alone each time.
He said, “It was heart-wrenching. There was nothing we could do. I specifically went over to Congo, waited outside our U.S. embassy to try to get in and plead my case with the U.S. ambassador.”
Eight weeks after giving birth to Charlotte, Sylvie was finally able to travel to the U.S. On July 8, 2014, Sylvie’s foster mother was given permission to fly the girl to America.
Jenny said, “Make no mistake – a battle took place to bring our daughter home. The exhale that took place when she was back in my arms on US soil was echoed in heaven. The spiritual battle that I couldn’t see during those long days and nights was finally over.”
Sylvie was given an exception since she was considered medically fragile due to a breathing irregularity from which she has since recovered.
Dave said, “It was a lot of emotion because we honestly didn’t think that she would ever come home. It is 100% a miracle.” After 602 days, the Fixer to Fabulous stars finally welcomed their new daughter home, who joined them at age 2.
Now with a family of seven (they later welcomed their youngest, Luke, 3), Dave and Jenny are focused on showing their kids and the world that they may be a little different from what most would consider a normal family, but they ARE a family.
As well as managing the family and other businesses, the Fixer to Fabulous stars also co-host another show called Home Town Takeover.
These home makeover stars are not only converting homes, but also transforming the meaning of family. As Jenny said, “Adoption is a part of our family. It’s a part of our story, but they’re all just our kids.”
The family also owns a blueberry farm in Bentonville which partners with Help One Now to help orphaned children in Zimbabwe.
The journey may have been a long one for this family, but Jenny always believed that everything went according to God’s plan.
She said, “He is only, always good. Sometimes, we can’t see past our current sight line but, just over the horizon, He has good, good things in store. Keep trusting.”
To learn more about their story, watch the video below: