This year my husband and I will celebrate 36 years together! As a young couple, we had two biological children and thoroughly enjoyed our family. Yet as our children, Margaret and Victor, moved through the teen years, I started thinking of enlarging our family. We agreed we had been blessed in many ways, and Mark and I decided it was right for us to open our home to waiting children. We went through the needed classes and decided as a family to pursue adoption, not foster care. Looking on the Kansas adoption website (www.AdoptKSKids.org), a brother and sister caught our attention. To make a long story short – we met Jerrod and Rhonda right after Christmas in 2004 when they were 13 and 9.
A year later they officially joined our family on Valentine’s Day. The next years were challenging in many ways, especially in parenting our new son who carried many hurts from his childhood. Despite the ups and downs, we were always grateful for our family and had fun building family traditions and making new memories together. Jerrod and Rhonda were active in their teen years and we kept busy with the added activities. Our family story took an unexpected turn just over two years ago when Jerrod was diagnosed with cancer. This aggressive cancer, Renal Medullary Carcinoma, almost exclusively strikes young people who have sickle cell trait. Just 4 months after diagnosis, Jerrod passed away at the age of 25, surrounded by his wife and adoptive family.
Being mom to all of our children is one of the best things in my life. My husband and I are grateful for all we’ve learned as parents and as individuals from the challenges and experiences adoption has brought into our lives. I am so thankful for all that adoption has meant to our family and how it continues to impact each one of us. Our oldest daughter, Margaret and her husband work with children in Africa, Victor and his wife have one son and just opened their home to fostering children, and Rhonda graduated with a social work degree and is working in the child welfare system (actually now a co-worker with her former social worker!) Jerrod’s wife is forever part of our family and another “daughter” joined us as an adult after leaving a private foster care situation. Adoption will always have a special place in our hearts!
Image Caption Photo Number 2:
“This was ten days before Jerrod passed away. We had just learned what type of cancer he had, we and his wife shaved our hair to show support.”