A family with five children joined our church. We learned that 3 of these children were step-siblings and were in foster care with this family. As we got to know the parents, they shared that these 3 children had been removed from their home because of neglect, the parental rights had been terminated, and they were available for adoption.

A few weeks later the foster Mom, who knew we had adopted our children, asked me if we would be interested in adopting these three kids as a sibling group. I said I would mention it to my husband. You can probably imagine my husband’s response: “Are you nuts? We don’t have room in the house (3-bedroom ranch). You’re already busy. We don’t have a big enough car. We don’t have enough money to send them all to Christian school.”

After investigating the options with Bethany Christian Services again and God clearly removing all the above-listed obstacles, we ended up adopting three more children ages 12, 5, and almost 2. Our birth order changed drastically. We now had a 12-year old boy, 7-year old daughter, 6-year old son, 5-year old son, 4-year old daughter, 2-year old son, and almost 2-year old daughter. Times were crowded, hectic, crazy, and filled with joy.

Adoption brings unique sets of challenges. We navigated through uncharted waters as we did our best to parent and help brothers and sisters, new to each other, find their place of belonging in our home and within our family unit.

This meant brief counseling for some who felt displaced, time-outs for the kids and me as well. We dealt with hoarding of food, eating until vomiting, screaming for attention, and learning about fetal alcohol syndrome, and ADD/ADHD (3 children).

One child asked after every meal for a year what we were having at the next meal, until I figured out it was a trust issue and explained that there would always be food on the table and that I would never use food as leverage for obedience.

I learned it was okay for a 12-year old to play cars, with all the appropriate noises, because he never got to be a child in his home of origin. We watched him learn to trust us and gradually give up his weighty, adult role that he had carried inappropriately before.

There were many explanations of why something they had done in their past environment was not appropriate then and now (stealing). It also meant deprivation and early trauma carrying through into the teen years and learning that because you saw someone hit your Mom in your original home, that it did not make it okay to hit your girlfriend when things didn’t go the way you planned.

With God’s grace we got through it. We learned a multitude of lessons and wished we had done so many things differently. We prayed frequently and fervently for wisdom and patience.

Though my husband and I both grew up in Christian homes with wonderful parents and siblings, we had different parenting styles and had to learn what was best for each child and what was the most effective. Many times, I felt as though I was in deep water way over my head. I felt like I knew nothing about parenting and was the worst parent ever. I made many mistakes and learned to apologize to my kids (still do), and they graciously forgave me. I was filled with a love for these precious ones that I didn’t think was possible and was given unconditional love in return.

We have watched our now-adult children go through heartbreaking experiences themselves — divorce, loss of jobs, and their own infertility issues. We are able to share with them the lessons we have learned and give them hope for a future filled with joy.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat! Though in reality there were many rough spots along the way, there were also times of intense joy – hearing that one of your children shared salvation with another sibling and led them to Jesus, watching them date, graduate, go to college, find a spouse, marry, start a career, and give birth to 8 wonderful grandchildren.

Adoption has made me grow, learn to be more empathetic, and has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.