Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Adoption Journey In a Very Small Nut Shell

I'm not sure that I have ever put down in the blog our journey to adoption. With 9 adopted children and a story that started many years ago this could be a long post. I will try to give the most important information but I'm sure there will be holes left. If you would like to ask questions feel free to do so. If there is enough interest I will answer those questions in a separate post not just in the comments. If your questions are personal and you don't want to share you are welcome to email me and I promise I will get back to you!

Our first experience with adoption was in the first year of our marriage. We were approached with the possibility of adopting 3 girls under the age of 10. I was still working but had the plans to be a stay at home mom. If we were to take the girls I would need to stay home and Doug take full responsibility of the finances. It was a hard decision but we chose to go forward. The adoption fell through but the seeds were planted.

When our second baby was just a few weeks old I had the impression that there was a child that wanted to be a part of our family but they would not be born to me. After much prayer and pondering we received an answer that, yes, we were to adopt. I took foster care classes but when it came time for other licensing requirements we found out I was pregnant. We put the adoption on hold. Over the course of 12 years we started and stopped the adoption process a few times because I would find out I was pregnant again and didn't want two babies at the same time. When our 7th child was about 4 1/2 months old I felt an urgency to get our paperwork in order for our adoption. I spent 2 full weeks getting educated and pulling together homestudy paperwork. I talked on the phone most of the day for those two weeks to attorneys, agencies, social workers and people who had adopted. I needed to know all I could about adoption and what I was doing. 6 weeks from the time we first felt the urgency to find our baby we were in a hospital in Chicago picking up our newest son. This was May 2001. We now had two babies, a 6 month old and an infant. At the time most adoptions took  a year so we thought we had a lot more time. So much for not having 2 babies at once!

About January 2002 the feelings started coming again. We knew we would adopt again when we got Casey but not quite this soon. We were wise enough this time to realize that a baby could come quickly. After a failed adoption we were blessed with Niya the beginning of April 2002. While in Louisiana we got a call from our agency asking if we would adopt another baby, but this birthmom was already in labor. After 3 hours of preparing ourselves to be ready to hear what the Lord had to say we prayed. The answer was clear, we were to adopt again. Sadly, that situation fell through as we were in final preparations to go to the airport to pick up the baby. Our same agency called again in a week or so and asked if we would take a different baby since we were already willing. Doug right away said yes, this was our son. I picked Marshall up 3 weeks after Niya was born. We now had 4 children 18 months to infant and 6 older than that.

We had learned a lot about African American adoptions and the great need at the time for adoptive families. We couldn't stand by and allow so many babies to enter foster care because there were not enough families willing to embrace them. We started a non-profit organization to teach families of the need and walk them through the adoption process. At the same time we began to advocate for the children and agencies by helping them find families for specific babies. One of those babies came our way and I advocated hard. I was on the phone talking to anyone that I could about this little Down Syndrome baby. 5 families committed to sending in their profiles and with each one my stomach would drop. Within a day or so of each family committing to this baby they each called me back and had to back out because it just didn't feel right for them. At one point I called Doug and told him that if he didn't want another baby he needed to get on the phone and find a family. He quite work and started making calls. Despite the fact that we were completely opposite of what this birthmom wanted in a family she chose us to parent her daughter. We got Emma in August of 2003.

Two weeks after we got Emma I found out I was pregnant once again. We were unaware that Heavenly Father had another biological child for us so this news, or nausea, came as a surprise.. Clayson was born in April of 2004. We had 12 children with 7 of them being 7 and under. It was a busy life. We had grown out of our 5 bedroom house and needed to move. In the process of fixing up our new home I began to realize we had 2 more children that needed to come to our family. An Asian Girl and Boy with special needs. Somehow I didn't think of Down Syndrome as a special need and the thoughts of special needs were new to me. For the next 6 years we looked for our kids. We got fairly far into the process for a deaf little boy when he was found to be hearing. The orphanage director informed us that this child's referral would be pulled from us and given to a more deserving family, one with fewer children. That failed adoption hurt deeply and affected the family for quite some time. We then were turned down by China to adopt because of our family size then got caught in the Vietnam adoptions shut down with only one family ahead of us for a referral. We had spent a lot of money and had no child to show for it. I was spent emotionally and spiritually. Even my children had lost faith in what I thought I knew was to be.

After great hardship on many sides I received a glimmer or hope. A friend emailed to tell me China had just opened up to large families. I started researching right away and was completely drawn in. We began our international homestudy and found Bria on a waiting child list. A couple of weeks after that we saw Hyrum and I just had to go get him. In April of that same year while in process for Hyrum and Bria we were privileged to adopt Oliva who was 9 at the time. She was originally from India and had been adopted by a family in the US. Because of home circumstances Olivia needed a new family, or as I feel, she needed HER family. A short 5 months later we had our 2 Asian children in our laps headed home. On our way from China Doug informed me we were done (again) and I made him a promise I would never ask  to adopt again. I have kept that promise but credit for our last two children must be given to Doug for his willingness to feel the Spirit and trust what I feel.

We came home with Hyrum who was almost 4, and Bria, just turned 3 in October of 2011. It was not too long after getting home that I had a real longing to go back to China and get another child but I would keep my promise and not ask Doug to adopt again. I substituted adoption by trying to help a little heart baby possibly get a medical visa. When it started to look like this little boy could come to our family during his medical care Doug and I both recognized that if he came we could not let him go. The medical visa fell through and I stepped away from the situation. A few months later I received a call from a friend that was advocating for this same little boy that had heart issues. She informed me that he had been available for adoption for 2 months and no one had even looked at his file. She then asked, "Would you adopt him?". I was a teary mess for 3 days but I couldn't allow myself to consider this may be my son because I was not going to ask my husband ever again if we could adopt. In wisdom he decided to pray about this child. We both soon came to the conclusion that this was our son and we needed to go get him immediately. 5 months later, in April of 2013, we picked up Gideon when he was 2 years old. Gideon went in for surgery a week after being home to fix an irreparable heart.

I had been out of touch with the adoption world for a month. So when I had a moment, after getting home from the hospital, I  took care of emails and things. I began to see a 13 year old boy all over the internet that needed a home by the end of July or he would lose his chance for a family. We were flat broke and a little battle weary from our latest adoption. I was not considering this boy but I couldn't get away from all the posts about him. In his situation it took a family that had recently adopted to get the paperwork done in time for his adoption. There are not many families at one time available for the speed this adoption required. We were in that spot but had no money, however, the Lord took care of that and a generous family gave a grant for the entire adoption costs. I had no excuse not to look into this adoption. I needed the monkey off my back so I told Doug about him thinking he would say no. Well, history tells us that 13 year old boy became our son Scott In July of 2013 just days before he turned 14.

So, to sum it all up. Yes, we adopted in the midst of having biological children. We know many families that have raised the biological children then adopted. Adoption can work well either way. We knew early on in our marriage that we would adopt but many don't have that experience. We have felt strongly that God has been in the details. Are we done yet? No. We get asked often when we will stop. We just don't know that answer but will trust in the Lord to lead us. I will not ask Doug if we can adopt again but I will let him know if there are promptings or feelings and I know he will listen with an open heart. The decision to adopt is always mutual and NEEDS to be that way. Our children have adjusted well. There is emotional work to be done but there is with all kids. We are extra aware and watchful of bonding. It has become part of how we think so is no longer an added burden.

All of the children have done very well with our new additions. There is not one of our children in the home that has concerns of adding more to the family. As they say "It's who we are".  Everyone is welcoming and inclusive to each new child. The kids have a good understanding of the great loss of not having a mother and father that love them and desire other children to have that love too. They feel like there is something they have to offer as they partner with us to welcome someone else into our family. Some children blend  in faster than others but they all come around in their own time as they overcome their fears and mistrust. We have had only one child that has shown signs of jealousy. In talking with that child they were wise and aware enough to recognize the added attention given to the new child and wanted it for themselves. It was a clear cry for mom to step it up. There is a balancing act on mom and dad's part and sometimes we fail but we always get back up and try again.

We all have talents and the Lord uses them to our fullest if we allow him. God has used ours more fully than we ever expected or imagined. We do not advocate for all families to do what we have. Use your talents to bless the lives of others and you will do more than you ever thought you could, if you allow the Lord to magnify you. Trust him and believe in yourselves. (That is advice I tell myself all the time.)  :)



  1. I'm glad you shared this. You said you got Casey in April, it was May. Emma was July not August. Probably not a big deal just thought I'd point it out jut in case.

    1. Thanks Sereen! I had Casey down as May and for some reason changed it. I do think Emma was the beginning of may. What makes you think July? I might have to pull out the paperwork.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! We have 6 children under 10 and are in the process of finishing our special needs home study through the state. We live in WI and are limited by the number we can adopt due to their 8 in your care rule. Are there agencies that specialize in large family adoptions? Have you ever felt that you both needed to get pregnant and adopt at the same time? Any tips on easing the adjustment of adding new family members for all of your children?

    1. Nichola, I don't know of any agency that specializes in large family adoption but there are some that are very supportive and others that accept large families. You just have to ask when you talk with the agency. If they are hesitant just move on and forget them. We haven't felt the need to be pregnant and adopt at the same time even though that did happen to some degree. I do know of a family that did it 3 times purposely. They loved it.

      Adding new family members is a juggling act. There is a great need to do a lot of bonding with the new child or children but the other kids notice the extra attention. When we are in the adoption process I mentally block out 3 months from the time we bring a new child home for bonding. It takes all my time like a nursing baby. I don't just spend time with the new child but extra time is needed with the other children. We do a lot of family activities, almost like a vacation. The other kids are distracted with fun and I have more excuses for touch and interaction in a natural setting. It is very important that the other children recognize what they have to offer before the new child comes and are praised for their contribution to bonding, adjustment and charity after the child arrives. We also use prayer, fasting and other resources for heavenly help and strength for all the children. This is just the basics on helping with the transitions. Hope that helps.

  3. I loved reading this more detailed story of your adoption process. You both have such open hearts and a love for children; I know that the Savior loves you so much for your willingness to adopt children and especially the special need children. You do have such a precious family and I know you both are such amazing parents. When I am around your family I feel the love that you all have for one another. What a blessings your family is to all those that know you both and witness the miracles in your life and the miracles that are sure to come. Love and hugs!