fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

Erica Stone and the Roads Less Traveled

By Felicia Ferguson | Photography courtesy of Erica Stone

What does it look like to set aside your talents and hopes to travel down a dusty dirt road and find a new dream you never knew lived in your heart? Ask Erica Stone, who put a burgeoning career in country music on hold to adopt an orphaned child from Sierra Leone, Africa—a move that would change her life forever.

This hidden dream was planted in her heart when Stone was only fourteen years old. She explains, “I went on a mission trip to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and, at the time, I thought I was going to be a doctor when I grew up. I was in junior high school, and I remember seeing kids my age so sick and struggling, which wrecked me. And I think the switch flipped for me then. I thought, wow, there are a lot of areas of the world that live a lot differently than I do, who don’t get this kind of care, and I’ve got to figure out a way to impact that.”

Jason and Erica launched The Raining Season in 2007. Since then, they have adopted five of their six children from Sierra Leone. Their family now serves, travels, and speaks on behalf of the orphaned, raising awareness and pursuing God's heart through the gift of family.
What does it look like to set aside your talents and hopes to travel down a dusty dirt road and find a new dream you never knew lived in your heart? Ask Erica Stone, who put a burgeoning career in country music on hold to adopt an orphaned child from Sierra Leone, Africa—a move that would change her life forever.

Still, it wasn’t until Stone read a newspaper article as an adult that her new path began to unfold. Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was coming to the area of Missouri where she and her husband, Jason, lived at the time. Chapman was interviewed by the local paper and mentioned adopting his daughter from China. Erica had never heard of international adoption. Intrigued, she searched online and found a website with thousands of links to children in various countries looking for forever homes.

“At the time, in my very limited understanding of adoption and experience in the world, I thought, ‘I just had my son, so let’s adopt a little boy.’” As she clicked through the links, she found a profile for a boy the same age as her son. But when the link opened, the picture was of a little girl, Jayda, who eventually—after four years of searching and trials—became their oldest adopted child. Over time that one adoption led to five more successful additions to her family and the devastating loss of a sixth.

The Raining Season has a center in the capital city of Freetown. It provides round-the-clock care to over one hundred children and employs over seventy Sierra Leonean families.

Jayda’s adoption also led Erica and Jason to open an orphanage in Sierra Leone called The Raining Season. But the road they’ve traveled has not been without its potholes. When the orphanage first opened, it housed forty children. An organization called Kids Against Hunger donated a large container of rice to help the orphanage get started and cover their food needs for months, giving the Stones time to arrange for sponsorships.

Then the unimaginable happened.

Two hundred farmers drowned when their ferry boat sank, leaving fifty-five children fatherless and their families unable to care for them. The orphanage director in Sierra Leone called Erica, who was back in Nashville consulting with other nonprofits, and asked if they could take the children. Erica agreed, knowing their supply of rice would now only last a month, but at least the amount would be enough to feed all ninety-five kids. Then the director said the extra rice was no longer available. He had coordinated a community food event and given this staple away to others in the area. Erica was devastated.

She pushed the anger and worry aside and consulted with the nonprofit group she was scheduled to meet that day. As she was leaving, the nonprofit’s owner said she wanted to donate to The Raining Season. Her group was just getting started, however, so Erica tried to deny the donation, but the owner was adamant. Later, when Erica opened the check, she found it was for the exact amount they needed to provide for the additional children. “I felt like God was saying, ‘You know what, don’t be mad at your people for doing a community food day. You did what I called you to do. I'm always going to provide.’ And He has. Over and over again.”

Erica Stone with her daughters in Alys Beach, Florida

God’s care during the Stones’ journey has been more than financial. It has also included a place of respite for them and their children—the beaches along Scenic Highway 30-A in Northwest Florida. Erica said, “Every time we could, with what little money we had left, we would come to 30-A, and we would sit and watch our kids love on each other in the sand. It’s like 30-A was a place to breathe and be restored.” As the family grew together and the children healed from their traumas, the beach became a haven, a respite from stress and the anxiety of school, life, and adoption transitions. Erica, Jason, and the younger children now live full-time on 30-A, and Erica has an apartment in Nashville where she writes music.

But moving to the coast full-time doesn’t mean relinquishing the journey in Sierra Leone. In fact, new paths are forming. “We have been looking to expand. We’ve been maxed out since day one, and we have a lot of special-needs kids. With special-needs children, you can’t just make room. The staffing and rooms are different. And we have a school we want to expand and be able to offer it to the community for kids to come for free.”

I felt like God was saying, ‘You know what, don’t be mad at your people for doing a community food day. You did what I called you to do. I'm always going to provide.’ And He has. Over and over again.

Erica, Jason, and their Raining Season partners have recently met with a paramount chief in rural Sierra Leone, who is gifting the urban-based orphanage three hundred acres. The land will allow them to build a larger facility, teach life skills, produce food from farming, and decrease their dependence on sponsorships.

Eighteen years have passed since they started on this road together. “I think if there is any lesson I’ve learned in this whole journey, it’s that we don’t have time to waste. Most of us respond to God’s call or our bigger purposes in life with ‘someday.’ We think we have time, and, in reality, we don’t.”

When asked what she hoped to be able to say at the end of her life, tears filled Erica’s voice as she answered. “I want to be able to say I showed up…and that I paid attention.”

The roads less traveled can lead to the most unexpected places, but, as Erica Stone can attest, they could be the most perfect and meaningful life destinations.

To learn more about Erica and her many ongoing projects, visit EricaStone.net and TheRainingSeason.org.

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail