Three years ago, Mike and Amy Vagnoni of Grayslake adopted two Ethiopian brothers following a lengthy, nerve-wracking and life-changing process that tested their strength, but rewarded them with love.
"We are humbled and blessed," said Amy of the couple's sons, 7-year-old John Eyob, and 6-year-old Ryan Ephrem.
Now, the Vagnonis are doing it all over again, to give another child the opportunity for a better life.
They began the process to adopt a third African child in October 2011. Just this week, said Amy, they learned their family would be blessed with another son, an 18-month-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, located in central Africa.
The Vagnonis will travel to Africa this summer to take their new son, who they will name Daniel Aaron, home to Grayslake. By that time, the little boy will be 2 years old.
Because the adoption process is an expensive one, and they've done it once already, the Vagnonis have been trying to raise additional funds, from artist Mike selling his creations to preschool teacher Amy selling homemade cheesecakes, doll dresses and holiday crafts.
On Friday, a magic show fundraiser, "The Magic of Adoption," will be held at 7 p.m. at Lakeland Church, 440 N. Hunt Club Road, in Gurnee.
The hour and a half show will feature three performers, including popular Round Lake area magician Brent Allan, whom the Vagnonis have known for 15 years.
The three are performing free of charge, said Amy, to help their cause.
Admission is $4 per person or $10 for a family.
Amy said she and her husband were fortunate to receive a tax refund for their first adoptions, but there are still many expenses in which they could use the community's assistance.
There will be a display board to show guests the cost breakdown of an adoption. For example, said Amy, a Visa for the child will cost $400. The couple also has to foot the bill for the plane ride to and from Africa, and so forth.
Amy said little John and Ryan are so excited knowing they have another brother coming into the family.
Not too long ago, before the boys knew about the new addition, said Amy, she and John were sorting through clothes that he had outgrown when he made a prophetic comment.
"He said, 'We need somebody new to wear these.'"
John and Ryan were just 4 and 3 when the Vagnonis adopted them. Amy said it didn't take long for the boys to become acclimated to their new home in the Grayslake community.
"They adapted relatively easy, but it helps that they have each other."
Amy said her playful boys, who attend kindergarten and first grade, picked up English quickly, love amusements parks, superhero cartoons and eating mac-and-cheese — even more than Ethiopian food.
The Vagnonis plan to take the boys to visit Ethiopia when they are older, perhaps early teens, so they will remember more of the experience.
Amy and Mike have a great Internet blog, God's Plan A for Mike and Amy, full of photos and insight into their adoption journey, dating back from Day 1.
They also enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience with other families considering international adoption. In fact, the couple are associates for America World Adoption, the organization they used to adopt John and Ryan.
Click here for more infomation on Mike's artwork and Amy's gourmet homemade cheesecakes that are for sale to help their cause.