One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Rich Stratton, Assistant Director of Public Relations

Adoption is not a foreign concept to Cedarville University junior Ashlyn DeVries. As a child, she knew that her maternal grandparents raised 14 children — all adopted. Her family’s legacy combined with her experiences on a university-sponsored trip to assist children’s homes in Mazatlán, Mexico, intensified her fire for adoption advocacy. 

DeVries, a computer science major, partnered with Back2Back Ministries, an international orphan and family care organization headquartered in Mason, Ohio, on a global outreach trip that added fuel to her passion for adoption advocacy work. On the trip, she encountered children living with the trauma of being orphaned — and DeVries wants to help solve this problem. 

Ashlyn DeVries“I had never given much thought to the fact that adopted children were once orphans, as I never viewed my mother as one. That would mean at one point she wasn’t my grandparents’ daughter, and that seemed impossible,” reflected DeVries, which is a testament to her grandparents, Robert and Janet Schout of Ada, Michigan. The Schouts modeled adoption as a supreme act of love that builds forever families. 

DeVries believes adoption has strengthened her family. 

We don’t love one another merely because we are family by blood; we love one another because we are family by choice,” said DeVries. “I believe biological families could learn something new about love from families who have adopted children in their homes.” 

Because adoption was such a normal part of her family, DeVries had spoken often to her grandparents about their adoption journey, but her trip to Mexico prompted her to dig deeper into their story and to learn more about how their decision to adopt children with varying ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities became a witness. 

What she learned has increased the abundant pride she feels for her grandparents and strengthened her resolve to be an adoption advocate. 

After the Schouts were married, they discovered that they could not have biological children, so they trusted that God had a different plan. They recognized “that God places a need alongside our desires,” and they wanted lots of children and there were lots of children that needed parents. This reality led them to commit to adopting as many children as possible over the same number of years they would have had biological children if they could. 

As a child, DeVries dreamed of a future family where she and her husband would “have four children, two biological, two adopted.” As an adult, she realizes God’s plan may be different and because of the trip, she is aware of additional ways to be involved, including, financially supporting orphan ministries and orphaned children through sponsorship and volunteering at orphan homes around the world. 

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is a Baptist university with undergraduate programs in arts, sciences, and professional programs, and graduate programs. With an enrollment of 5,456 students in 175 areas of study, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio and is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its BS in computer science, and high graduation and retention rates. For more information about the University, visit

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