When I married Derek, thirty-two years ago I never dreamed I would become the momma to eighteen beautiful children, we have thirteen biological children and five adopted. Through the years we have seen seven of our biological children grow up and leave home to start families of their own. We had six biological children at home when we found out about a sibling group of seven that were soon to be orphaned due to neglect and abuse. We began the process of preparing to adopt them, as we couldn’t imagine them being split.
We have seen our children grow up together and couldn’t even think of the trauma and loss a child feels when ties are severed from the parents and then losing all they have left which is their siblings. As we filled out paperwork and prepared, an uncle stepped up to take the seven children. We knew in our minds that the seven kids had prepared our hearts, so we decided to move forward with another sibling group. We asked our worker to give us three profiles of sibling groups that were legally split (or close to it) and had no prospects of a forever family.It was tough to choose between the three sibling groups as we felt we were leaving the other two behind.
A decision was made and we choose a sibling group of five that were legally split into three homes, but by us adopting all five they could be together again. We brought them home in May 2014. They have blessed our lives more then we could ever imagine. Sure, we have had tough times and have had to work through many challenges. But these children know they have a forever family. It amazes me that the 4.5 years of separation did not destroy the bond they had to each other. They are happy to have each other again and to be together as a family.
In January 2015, Derek was in Africa on a mission trip and I was home with the other eleven children. Since life without “Dad” home meant easy meals and taking a break ourselves, I decided to read the book, “Kisses from Katie,” by Katie Davis. My heart wept through so much of the book as I thought of all the children the world deems unwanted. I knew God was calling me, but what about Derek? I called one of the social workers we know and just put our name out there and she asked, “Would you consider Tamara, Ricky, and Mary?” My first thought was, “I don’t know.” But as soon as the thought came, I heard God tell me, “you said, you would say YES, until I say NO.” So without even talking to Derek yet I said, “YES.”
Derek finished the mission trip and was so excited to come home to tell me something God was doing. But he wanted to talk to me in person about it. God has a pretty funny sense of humor! Well, it seems some land in Africa was donated to build a home for special needs children, and specifically for a woman that has taken in thirty-five children with Cerebral Palsy. Ricky, the sweet middle child from the sibling group has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheel chair. So, I am sure you all know what Derek’s answer was!
We began pursuing the adoption of all three of the children but at the last minute the foster family decided they wanted to adopt the two girls. The state allowed the sibling split, so we had to decide should we adopt Ricky. At first we were devastated by the news that these siblings would not grow up together, but God asked us, “Doesn’t Ricky still deserve to have a forever family?” Finally in November 2015, Ricky was given his forever family. Our hearts still grieve for the loss of his sisters but God knows what he is doing, so we have worked at building a relationship with their foster family. We have been able to have phone visits with the girls weekly and plan to travel back and forth across the state a few times a year to see them.
I have to laugh at some of the questions Derek and I have been asked. “Do you really need more children?” The truth is we don’t need more kids. We have a house full, but there are kids that need us. We have hearts filled with love to share and a desire to give them a forever place to belong. I really believe what we have realized, is that we need them too. They have filled our lives with a strength and bond to work together, to love when life is hard, and to find joy when life throws you curve balls. If anyone really thinks about it, we are adopted by God when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord. Yes, he accepts us, loves us, and gives us the hope we never thought we could know. Can we at least do this for the most vulnerable of this world? The children who have no parents, no family, and no place to feel secure, safe and loved? We have been blessed to be able to open our home and hearts to just a few of these children, and our story continues…