Wednesday, November 6, 2019

This Is Us... our adoptions!

November is National Adoption Month!
How many kiddos have we adopted?
When did they come home?
 why did we adopt?

Mom, Dad and the original five!

Our first five bios (boy, girl and 3 more boys) are all adults,
college grads and on their own!
Three are married and 2 have steadies
(which they plan to keep around for...ever)! 

We have 5 grandchildren ages 5, 3, 3, 1 and 1!
Four girls and one boy, in that order!

Unfortunately, all of our grands live...
out of state.
(We are actively praying them back to Minnesota!)

When our youngest bio was 12 and 
our oldest two in college, 
Hubby and I re-evaluated our lives.

We had three wonderful boys, still at home.

And we new it wouldn't be long
before they were moving on to college,
 like the older two!

Two were in High School and one in Middle School.

We had some life changing circumstances
that caused us to look back and look ahead.

Is our life going in the direction we want it to go in?

Is our life going in the direction that God wants it to go in?

How is our marriage looking
and what changes do we need to make?

How can we serve God in a way
that is in line with our passions?

We love kids and enjoy parenting.
The years were going by, too quickly
and we had more to give.

So we prayed.

In the spring of 2006 God placed adoption in our hearts.
But we had no idea how to do it or what we should do?

So we adopted a puppy!

Within 2 months... we realized that was not what God meant.

So we began to research adoption.
Early on, we felt led to international adoption
and then to China.

In our hearts we knew, that
 was where our children were.

That is...
the 2 children that we planned to adopt!

We took our first adoption class in September 2006
and found our daughter on the waiting child list
in October 2006!

In July 2007, we traveled to China for our first adoption!
(Yes, it is very hot in July, in China...)

 Anna was 17 months old!
We loved and adored her!

And she was a huge hit with all of the
"getting bigger" kids at home and in college!

Next we had a failed "attempted adoption"
through Guatemala.

We were planning to name her Emma.

 During that time all countries interested in
partaking in international adoption
had to adhere to the rules in the Hague Adoption Treaty.
Guatemala had decided not to follow
the Hague rules,
so all adoptions were being halted.

We knew there was a chance this was going to happen
so we were not surprised when the adoption fell through.

I occasionally think of this little one and wonder how she is doing?

In December 2008, we completed our 2nd adoption
and Sarah came home (at 8yrs 9 mo.)!

Big sister Katie and I traveled to China
to meet Sarah!
Hubby stayed home with Anna and the boys.

So, at this point we realized that we were going to adopt...
more than 2 children...

In July 2010 we traveled to China for our
3rd and 4th adoption of bio siblings!

Emma and Ellie turned 10 and 8 yrs old
as we flew home from China.
This time hubby and I traveled with Katie, Sarah and Anna!

Four kiddos were home now!

The big kids were so helpful and very involved!

 God kept calling us...

In March 2011, we completed our 5th and 6th adoption!

We met Sam first!

He was 4 yrs and 6m old!

Sam had a lot of positive energy!

30 minutes later, Ava walked in!

 She was 5 yrs 9 m old.

Ava was calm, reserved and interested!

Sam wore Dad out!

And finally Sam wore Sam out!

God was audible and spoke to us about the next two kiddos.
So off to China, we went again!

In November 2011 we adopted #7 and #8!
Abby was 5 yrs 11 m old!

In this photo, Abby is grieving the loss of everything familiar.
She is filled with fear.
Her new Mom is trying to comfort her
but she doesn't know me or trust me yet.
Everything is changing in her world.
The language, the food, the familiar surroundings and smells,
whether they are good or bad, they are all she knows.

Abby was very sick and needed to come home,
 not only because she now had a family
and a brighter future,
but for her health.

It didn't take long for her to
become comfortable with the changes!

And next we met Luke #8!

God spoke to me about Luke!
He said,
"He is your son!"

I was shocked that I heard God speak so clearly.

And shocked the HE had planned for us to adopt such a young child!
Luke was 3 yrs old and I was 53 yrs at the time!

We continued to feel the Lord encouraging us to adopt.
God was loud and clear.
He was in my ear and He said,
"Bring home the children, bring home the children."

So we did...

Mia's first photo.
She is trying hard to be okay
with everything that is going on...
Unfortunately, she was not prepared ahead of time.
The photo album we sent
was never given to her and
she had no idea who we were...

I can only imagine where her brain was at...
flight, fight or freeze...

We visited the orphanage.
This was her room.
She slept in a bed with her 2 other girls.
There were 9 girls in one room.
The beds are slightly bigger than a single
but not as large as a full size bed.

This was the only running water.
It was for bathing and washing clothes.
The bathroom was around the corner...
it was a hole in the ground.

There was no heat in the buildings,
except in one meeting room.

She was in shock.
Mia came home at the age of 11 yrs 3 m.
She hadn't had parents her entire life
and she wasn't so sure
she even needed them, at this point.

Mia was our 9th adoption and on this journey to China,
we were adopting 3 kiddos at once!

And then there was this girl!
Melissa made quite the entrance!
She was our 10th adoption and she was 7 yrs old.

She was prepared to be adopted and she was excited!
She wanted to go to America, learn English and have a family!

Sweet little Madeline,
 was the last of the three to be adopted,
 on this journey.
She was 6 years old and our 11th adoption.

She took to her daddy right away!

Adopting three kiddos at once was challenging.
Our older son Mark came with us for half of our time in China!
We were very thankful to have him with us!

Just as Mark was about to leave China,
Katie arrived!

What a blessing to have our big kids helping us out!

They were fun in a way that Hubby and I...
could never be!

In December 2013 Hubby and Mark went back to China!
This time we completed our 12th and 13th adoptions!
Ben was 7 yrs 7 m and Joey was 5 yrs 5m,
when they came home.

Meeting Ben for the first time!

Big brother and little brother!

Meeting Joey in China!

He was tiny!

But mighty!

Adopting two at a time has truly been a blessing to us!
The kids have found comfort in having
 a sibling that speaks their language!

He looks so sweet, doesn't he?

Well... he wasn't!
He was a huge handful in China!
That would be a whole other blog post!

Mark had everything under control!

Both boys have a special bond with their big brother, Mark!

The rest of us met them at the airport!
We were so happy to have them all home,
safe and sound!

An orphan no more,
instead, a beloved son!

The welcoming committee!

With 13 kids home between the years 2007 and 2013...
we were exhausted!
Our hearts were full!
We felt done, tired and busy, enough!

We were in the process of having our first grandchild and then...
 we saw our daughter!

Yikes, this was not on our radar and completely unplanned...
it was the summer of 2014.

We began working on our paperwork and
then decided to add a little boy with her.

Bringing home 2 at a time had been such a blessing,
how could we not do it this time?

due to very unfortunate circumstances
that adoption fell through
and we were heart broken...

Thankfully, both children found other homes
and are right were God wants them!
They are loved and cherished!

We were done...
completely emotionally exhausted...

But then God called us again...

In November 2015 we were contacted
by a family that was dissolving their adoption
and in December 2015 we added Jenny #14, to our family!
She was 10 yrs 9 m at the time that she joined us!

Jenny fit right in, immediately!

She was meant to be our daughter, sister and BFF!

Jenny was officially adopted in June 2016!

By that time, it felt like she had been our daughter, forever!

(In December 2015 we hosted an 8 yr old boy from China
and we were smitten!

The welcome posters the kids made
and put on the refrigerator at home!

Waiting to meet Jake at the Chicago airport!
We hosted him for 3 weeks...
and then had to send him back to China.
It was heartbreaking...

First pic we took of him!

Lot's of Jakes!
We needed to work with him, on smiling for photos...
and we are still working on it!

Pic of the crew that welcomed him to the USA!
 Then we headed back home from Chicago to Mpls, with Jake!

We excitedly committed to bringing him home!
Jake and Jenny were with us for the Christmas of 2015!

The process to adopt Jake took one year and of course we added a sister!

So in December 2016 we completed our 15th and 16th adoptions.
Jake and Grace joined our family (they were 9 yrs 8 m and 8yrs 7 m).

First, we met Grace in China.
She was from Beijing, so it just worked out that way.
Grace came to us with an un-repaired club foot
and a catheter that she carried with her all the time.

It was hard for her to leave her comfort zone.
The registered nurse in me, couldn't wait to help her!

In this pic we got a little smile from our girl!
I think Melissa and Ava may be tickling her!

We went to the Great Wall!
It was amazing!
A first for the girls but not for me.
 Do you notice anything different about Grace???
No more catheter!
The first time we ever "cathed" was on the Great Wall of China!
It was all GOD!
So thankful!
Nothing made me happier than to throw away that old catheter!
And she loved the independence!

Hubby/Daddy joined us before we left for Jake's Province!
He was from the most northeastern province next to North Korea.
It was very cold!
But nothing these Minnesotan's couldn't handle!

This was the first time we saw him after waiting a year.
We were concerned about the lack of a emotion and no smile...
Living in an orphanage for 9 yrs,
then leaving all you know behind...
forever (even if it's not good)...
is all hard...
BUT all so worth it!

Moments of hard for a lifetime of love... is a good thing!

He warmed up quickly, especially with Grace, Melissa and Ava with us.

We had an awesome guide...
whose name escapes me at the present moment?
Please tell me!?!

He was a great guy and we had so much fun with him!

After this adoption, we moved immediately to Colorado.
Not necessarily a good choice
but we thought that was where God wanted us...

 We enjoyed our year living there.

 There were so many positives
BUT it was beyond challenging.

So after a year,
we decided it was time to go back home to Minnesota.

It was good to be home.

In the winter of 2019, we were contacted by a family
that had decided, it was best for everyone to dissolve their adoption.

So we began advocating for this dear child...
until we realized that she was our daughter!

And once we knew...
we asked if we could adopt her...
and began the process!

In early May 2019, Mary joined our family, she was 10yrs 11m!
Although first meetings can be a little awkward,
she stole our hearts immediately!

We brought these four kiddos,
to meet our new girl!
We wanted the focus on the immediate transition
that was taking place
and not on the "crowd".
Mary met the rest of the kiddos at home,
a couple hours later!

On October 31st, 2019
her adoption was legally completed!
We are blessed!

22 children, 5 bio, 17 adopted,
3 in loves and 2 lovely significant others,
 5 grandchildren
and more to come!

Thank you Jesus!

This is US...
for now!

Our kids at home are-
19, 19, 18, 17, 14, 14, 14, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13,
12, 11, 11(Mary, the youngest girl but very mighty),
10 (Luke, who will be 11 in two weeks and
he's as sweet as can be plus a little sneaky)!

This is US,
at least all of them that live at home...
for now!

This is WHY,
we have adopted!
And this is why, we feel abundantly blessed!

This is what families are made of...
perfectly imperfect!

We are beyond thankful,
beyond grateful,
beyond blessed!


jill funkhouser said...

this is beautiful! I would love to know how you paid for all the adoptions and what kind of budgeting you do as a family? We have so much medical debt we can never get ahead. Thank you

kimjax said...

I love this post! So many emotions as I remember some of our concurrent adoptions and all the timelines, worries, joys, etc in between. It has been a blessing to follow along over all these years and can’t wait to meet in heaven someday when time and distance are no longer concerns. You need to write a book someday, Jean. What an inspirational read it would be. Love to all!

Linda McMichael said...

Love this post❣️ Amazing, God loving family!

Updated by Lila Huggins (grandmother) said...

Girl, you are living my dream life! I'm 72 now and too old to adopt so I live my dream through you! God has truly blessed you! Keep writing these posts please! I love, love, love hearing about the children!! Thank you so much for sharing!! Miss Lila

Megan said...

I so enjoyed reading this post! I’ve followed along for many years, of course, but it’s fun to see the timeline of bringing each of your little loves HOME!!! I just love the story of your family :)

Barbara said...

What a marvelous post. I found that I've been following since 2010 when you traveled for Emma and Ellie. It's a wonderful story and yes, you should write a book.

Jenny said...

Been reading long enough to celebrate from Virginia many kiddos coming home. Was fun to relive! Blessings to you all.

Faye Verquer said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about this post and LIVED meeting you when you came to Cincinnati....come back sometime please!!!

Love you guys!
Faye Verquer

Françoise said...

Love this post! Amazing family !

bobbie said...

God has blessed you greatly as you and your husband bless the children in your home. Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us.

Sarah said...

Wow! I can’t believe I have been with you through almost all of your adoptions! Maybe we met as I adopted my daughter from Guatemala in 2005 and blogging back then as I thought I may also adopt from China. But God told me that Sophie was my caboose to my two older bios as a single mom. I always wanted a big family and many years later, I got it when I met my soulmate. We now have 6 kids, 4 grandkids and growing! Sarah

pam said...

I love looking back at the timeline of all your adoptions! I've followed along through them all!

Andy said...

What an amazing story! Thanks for always sharing—you inspire me!!

Jennie said...

Thank you for so wonderfully summarizing the adoption stories for each child~~an awesome read for a lovely family. I have been following your family for several years, and did not realize Grace had a catheter when you first met her. Our God is a gracious God to provide a Mommy who is also a nurse.

Both you and your husband are kind and generous. May our God continue to provide strength and encouragement as the children grow up.

To God Be The Glory.

Unknown said...

It is impossible to read your post and not smile! You have a beautiful family. Happy Adoption Month!

Kris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janet said...

WOW! I can't believe I've been reading since Sarah came home. Jean, would you consider a post about things you are doing to transition the older ones into adulthood? Our China kids are now 16, 16, 15, 15, 14, and 14. None of them are "on track" as far as the world is concerned. Two will probably get to drive at age 18. A couple will probably never leave home. Most are doing great with simple cooking, cleaning, and laundry skills ,but I feel like I should be doing more.

Susan A said...

I loved reading your post on your adoptions, and I would really love it if you can share about how you knew God was speaking to you, what it felt like, and all that, that'll be awesome if you can post it, but maybe that's not related to this adoption blog... do you have a faith blog or something like that? smile