‘I saw a need’: Changing countless lives through courage and advocacy

Marcy Bursac

Online Master’s in Business Administration, 2023

Marcy Bursac is a woman of many stories. This one starts at an orphanage in Moldova.

Marcy was fresh out of her undergraduate studies and looking to discover her calling in life. Through her church, she found a week-long mission opportunity working with orphaned teenage girls in one of Western Europe’s most impoverished countries. It was a transformative experience for her.

“They were at the orphanage not because they had no family,” she says. “Their families actually dropped them off there — and they were dropped because the family couldn’t care for their basic needs. They couldn’t feed them.”

From the first moments visiting the orphanage and throughout her career, Marcy has seen firsthand how disadvantaged and dangerous life can be for children who don’t have a family to raise them. Many struggle throughout childhood, she says, and those who age out of the system without finding a forever family are at extreme risk of abuse, imprisonment, or worse.

“I remember coming back from that trip,” she says, “and just having a moment of, ‘I am going to adopt children. I’m going to go find kids just like the girls I just met, and I want to do something to really make that not repeat itself.’”

It’s easy to connect the dots between that trip and Marcy’s life today. Now a St. Louis resident and Maryville University online Master of Business Administration (MBA) student set to graduate this May, Marcy has dedicated her life to helping kids in need. She is a proud adoptive mom of two, a congressionally honored foster care adoption advocate and coach, a philanthropist, a two-time book author, and the founder and CEO of The Forgotten Adoption Option, a charitable organization focused on helping children waiting in foster care find adoptive families. She also acts as creator, host, author, and designer of the organization’s related podcast, books, blog, and app. Last year she was named United States of America’s Mrs. Ohio 2022 after entering the pageant in partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to promote foster care adoption.

That’s all on top of her day job as a technical analyst and product owner at an international cybersecurity firm.

One spark of interest lit a fire of adoption advocacy that has changed lives across countless families: Through philanthropy, outreach, and personal counseling, Marcy has dedicated herself to helping connect children in need with loving families.

“Keep your eye and your heart on these kids,” she says. “All you have to do is muster through that process and you can become their forever family. So, that’s the big picture of all the pieces.”

Marcy Bursac family
Marcy Bursac family

Building bonds and stronger families

Adoption is, by its nature, a family affair. So when Marcy met her future husband, Nathan, she was sure to broach the topic early in their relationship.

“I saw a need,” she says, “and I thought he’d say, ‘Well great, let’s break up,’ or something like, ‘This is a terrible idea, how dare you,’ or ‘I don’t even want kids anyway.’ But instead, he said, ‘I’m 100% on board with you.’”

As it turned out, adoption was close to Nathan’s heart, too. His great uncle, great aunt, and grandfather, Sam, were orphaned as children in the 1920s in St. Louis when their parents both died of pneumonia. While the other two were taken in and adopted by a family who needed help on their farm, Nathan’s grandfather never found a family. Instead, he lived a tough life struggling with homelessness, hunger, and crime.

The couple’s relationship with adoption led them to focus their efforts on older children — as opposed to infants or toddlers — in the United States. It initially proved more difficult than they had hoped.

“We couldn’t find information,” Marcy says. “We could find out about infant adoption. We could find out about adopting children from other countries. But I couldn’t figure out how to adopt an older kid in the U.S.”

The process took years. But when things finally started moving — once they learned about adoption through foster care — it was a whirlwind. After a promising lead fell through, Marcy and Nathan decided to eat their feelings, but before Nathan even made it home from the store, Marcy learned through an email that their lives were about to change.

“While he was at the store, I messaged and said, ‘When you get home, be ready for anything,’” she says. “And he was like, ‘What is anything?’”

In her inbox, Marcy learned about a pair of siblings within her state — three and four years old — who needed a family quickly. There were no photos, and only a little bit of basic information was available, but time was limited. Nathan wanted to sleep on it, but Marcy reminded him that their social worker would have to do a lot to prepare their application on such short notice.

“The deadline was actually the next day, so we didn’t have the time to wait,” Marcy says. “Typically what happens is it’s months long in the process.”

The next week, they learned they had been approved and chosen, and just two days later they took the five-hour car ride to meet the sibling pair. The process of going from fostering to the adoption hearing was at times difficult and frustrating, but ultimately it was one of the most rewarding and defining times in Marcy’s life.

“I know that I’m going to be able to continue to make a significant impact in my own country and around the globe — simply because I said ‘yes’ to a program that taught me well beyond the online classroom, things that apply to my life.”

Moving forward on her terms

Marcy knows a busy life doesn’t have to mean compromising on goals — and she’s got plenty she wants to accomplish. But when she decided to earn her MBA, she knew it would be a big commitment, and that gave her pause.

“I had my own personal doubts about even enrolling in Maryville or any higher education and finishing,” she says. “I think initially, it was about, ‘Can I balance this in my life?’”

To make it work for her, Marcy decided to take it slow. For many, a benefit of online education is that it can be streamlined and finished quickly. But Marcy chose to focus on one class at a time and use the whole five-year period she was allowed. That way, she could make sure she got the most growth out of each course while still giving proper attention to her personal and professional projects. Breaking major undertakings into constituent parts makes them far more manageable.

It’s a principle that has benefitted her across multiple aspects of her life.

“I’ve learned to slice things down,” she says. “If I can just focus for four months on coursework, I can advance an MBA over five years. I don’t have to focus for 24 months. And I’ve taken that exact same principle to my life and gone, ‘Well, if I can focus for a month, I could write a book.’ And I have.”

A loving future for thousands of children

If it’s not clear by now, Marcy is never complacent. She sees that a better world is possible, and she’s determined to help build it.

The ups and downs of foster care adoption only inspired Marcy to do more. So she channeled all the frustration and joy she experienced into creating The Forgotten Adoption Option, an effort to connect with and help other current and future adoptive parents.

“That led into a blog,” Marcy says. “Then all of a sudden, I was coaching families in my living room. The [COVID-19] pandemic hit, and those conversations couldn’t happen in my home anymore. So, we shifted to Zoom for a little bit, and it opened this big door: I don’t have to just coach families that are local. I can coach families across the country.”

Part of Marcy’s aptitude for remote, cross-country action and communication stemmed from what she learned working toward her MBA. Initially she chose Maryville’s program because the online format and 8-week courses gave her the flexibility to study around her schedule. However, she found that the structure also helped build her confidence, prepare her for online and tech-based interaction, and open doors to new opportunities.

“The MBA is such a powerful mechanism for catapulting my career,” she says. “I have no idea what’s next, but I do know that it’s something that’s going to be highly aligned with my passions. I know that I’m going to be able to continue to make a significant impact in my own country and around the globe — simply because I said ‘yes’ to a program that taught me well beyond the online classroom, things that apply to my life.”

Marcy’s efforts with The Forgotten Adoption Option extend far beyond personal consultation now — although she’s still happy to talk eager parents through the process. Through the organization, she now hosts a monthly podcast, runs an app that helps people navigate the sometimes-challenging and paperwork-dense adoption process, and published two books that have reached some 4,000 families.

“As my daughter likes to say, ‘Well, mom, if all of them adopt two kids like you did, that’s 8,000 kids,’” she says. “I like to think of it that way.”

If you’re ready to see how Maryville Online can help you be brave and pursue your educational and professional goals, we’re here for you. Check out our online bachelor’s degreesmaster’s degrees, and doctorate degrees, or schedule a call with an advisor today.

Looking for more Tales of the Brave?

Find more stories from students like Alison who prove that you can achieve your goals on your own terms with Maryville.

Celebrating our outstanding nursing graduates

He faced extreme challenges — then built the courage to find success.

Kevin King understands firsthand that it’s not about where you’ve been. It’s about where you’re going. After he reached his lowest point, he made the brave decision to aim higher, earn his college degree, and seek a better career — and a better life.

Read more about Kevin King.

Nursing was always her passion. With Maryville Online, it’s now her mission.

Her love of the St. Louis Blues brought Danielle Van Komen to Maryville. But her commitment to finding greater purpose as a nurse pushed her to become a nurse practitioner and change lives in healthcare facilities.

Read more about Danielle Van Komen.

Her nursing dreams evolved. Maryville helped her follow them.

Driven by a passion for caring for others, Krystal Donley’s nursing journey began in high school. Several career advancements and nursing degrees later, she’s leading by example — and caring for her fellow nurses as well as patients.

Read more about Krystal Donley.

Be Brave

Bring us your ambition and we’ll guide you along a personalized path to a quality education that’s designed to change your life.