When Gayle Fidanzo was offered a job at Christian Family Adoptions, she was reluctant to accept. “We all want the desires of our heart — but I didn’t know my heart yet,” says the leadership and ministry major. Fidanzo dreamt of working somewhere risky, of living overseas and rescuing women out of slavery. “I thought an adoption agency would be boring and safe,” she says.
Quite the opposite. “Adoption is anything but safe,” she says. Adoption is built on loss, and Fidanzo is constantly faced with the grief experienced by everyone involved. Many adoptive parents face the heartache of infertility, and birth parents feel the pain of not being in a position to raise their child. “We come alongside them and help them make a loving, giving choice,” says Fidanzo.
‘I wouldn’t be the leader I am’
Fidanzo connected with the adoption agency through Multnomah’s service learning requirement. She interned for six months, but she still didn’t want to work there. So after she graduated from MU, she volunteered for the Department of Human Services, hoping to land a job there. But after nine months of volunteering, things weren’t coming together.
“I was getting very frustrated with God because I still didn’t have the job I longed for,” she says. “Then one day, as I was thinking about all this, the phone rang.” It was the executive director at Christian Family Adoptions — she offered Fidanzo a part-time job, which she half-heartedly accepted.
But today Fidanzo is singing a different tune. Last year, the agency’s board asked her to be the new executive director. She accepted — this time whole-heartedly — and she’s loving her job. “I wouldn’t be the leader I am without the principles I got at MU,” she says. “I really value my employees’ development. I encourage them to be the best they can be, and I do my best to help them achieve their goals.”
‘I felt very valued’
Fidanzo had gone to several colleges after she graduated high school, but she never stayed at one for long. Then she got married and raised a family. She wasn’t expecting to go back to school. But one day she heard a radio ad for MU’s degree completion program, and it changed everything. “God told me, ‘This is what I want you to do,’” she says. “Sometimes you need that degree to fulfill his purpose for your life.”
And earning that degree was a rewarding experience Fidanzo won’t soon forget. “I felt very valued by the professors,” she says. “They cared about my success. And I loved my fellow students and the cohort experience. I loved being able to get to know people, pray for them, root for them, see them go into ministry and make a difference.”
Making a difference is exactly what Fidanzo is doing every day at the adoption agency. But she credits God with the heavy lifting. In her office, she has the sentence “Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle” painted on her wall. It’s a hope-filled reminder that keeps her going. “We go from miracle to miracle at this place,” she says. “It’s God’s vision. We just get to be a part of it.”