• Questions and answers

    Date: 2013.08.29 | Category: Adoption | Tags:

    While we were in the hospital, I was asked quite a few different questions about our family.  It got me to thinking about all the questions people ask me when we are out and about and the statements that are said while we discuss our family and adoption .  This got me to thinking that maybe some of my readers might have the same questions so I thought I’d try my best to answer them.

    You aren’t actually considering adopting more are you?

    Well, we haven’t ruled it out completely, I am assuming we are done.  Our house is pretty busy with all the special needs and surgeries going on, but I believe fully that God has led us to all of our children.  He has blessed our family over and over again by following His lead and it would  be insane for me to say “No” to him now.  Besides whenever I say things that are absolute it usually turns out the other way.  I will leave it in His hands and keep my focus on the children we are caring for right now and pray that if there is another child(ren) in this world that are meant to be with us that He makes it abundantly clear as quickly as possible so they are not alone for any longer than is necessary.

    Let’s see how you feel about having so many children the same age when they are teenagers.

    Truth be told, bring it on.  I pray that I get the chance to parent five teenagers at the same time.  Eli, Ben, and Evie all have very complex heart defects and their life span will be shortened.  No one can tell us for sure how long they have.  They may have many years or at any time they may have a weird rhythm issue or plug a shunt and then their lives will end.  Every time we go in for a cath or a surgery, we live with the fact that they may not come back out from surgery.  We have to ask ourselves questions like “Is it worth it to take the slim chance of survival from surgery or do we just enjoy the time he/she has left?”  These are not easy questions to answer.  I pray to God that I am allowed the wonderful opportunity to parent five teenagers that have three and 1/2 years separating them.

    Are you insane?  Are you crazy?  Have  you lost your mind?  

    No, I am not crazy, insane or any of the other phrases that you might ask.  I am, however, obedient to God’s calling.  The first time it was hard to turn it all over to Him, but when you see the blessings that have been bestowed on you for following….well, each time gets just a little bit easier until you know it would be insane not to follow His lead.

    What about your other kids at home?  Do they feel neglected?  Do they resent sharing their time?

    No, if anyone should have had a problem with us adopting more children, it would be Gracie.  She was the baby at the time.  But Gracie loves her siblings and brings me new pictures of children available for adoption almost every single day.  She has mentioned wishing she could hypnotize Dan and I so we would forget how many children we have and adopt again.  Jasmine informed me the other day that “I could love more”.  When asking her what she meant by this, she informed me that I could love more sisters.  When I asked her how many more, she informed me that I could love two more mei mei (little sisters) and two more jie jie (older sisters).  She told me that she would share her room and they could fit bunk beds in there.

    You must have lots of help.  

    I don’t have paid help, but I do have help with my older children who live at home in an apartment, in our garage, on our acreage. When we moved here 11 years ago, we wondered what we would do with a 9 car garage.  We chose to turn the back 6 into an apartment for the kids as they go to college.  Cassie is a junior at Iowa State University and she has arranged her schedule to be here every morning while we get everyone up and ready.  Zach, a software engineer who works from home,  helps out whenever I need a sitter.  Dan works from home during the week and Dan’s mom comes down whenever I ask.

    Who takes care of the house and the other children while Dan and you are in the hospital with your sick child?

    We have gone back and forth on the right way to do this each and every time we are in the hospital.  If you know Codey’s story, you know we have spent years in the hospital.  We were lucky when Codey was in the hospital because we lived in Iowa City at the time. It makes it harder when you have to travel.  Each time our family gets bigger, it gets more complicated.  In the end, we have decided both Dan and I need to be in the hospital.  Dan because of his medical expertise and me, well, because I’m mommy of course.  It would be nice if we could go to a hospital in our home town, but that isn’t an option.   Zach, Cassie and Mema (Dan’s mom), take care of things on the homefront.  This usually works great for short stays.  It is like a mini vacation full of fun when they get to spend their days with their older siblings.  Every family has to figure out what works best for them and so far, this works for us.

    How many children do you have at home?  How many children do you have all together?

    We have twelve children.  Eleven still living.  Kyle passed away at five days of age, twenty-six years ago.  All eleven children live at home.  Zach and Cassie are roommates in the apartment and the other nine live in our home.  Our oldest son, Codey, is severely mentally and physically challenged and continues to reside in our home.

    How do you cart everyone around? 

    We have a bus.  Yes, a bus!  The children love it.  I love it too except for the six miles per gallon that it gets.  It has a wheelchair lift and room for sixteen passengers, two wheelchairs, and the driver.  This is another reason why the girls think we should be able to adopt more.  Apparently, if there is room in the bus, there is room to adopt.

    Is your house huge?

    It is a nice size ranch house.  It has three bedrooms upstairs and three downstairs.  We remodeled to a more open concept a couple years after moving in and it has worked out wonderfully for Jasmine’s wheelchair.  We have a big sunroom that we have converted into a playroom for the kids.  It is big and sunny and they have lots of room to play.

    How do you pay for all of this?  Isn’t adoption expensive?

    Yes, it does add up but it doesn’t cost much more than a car these days.  You can find a way to pay for things if you truly want. It takes a good year to complete the adoption and your agency will set out exactly at each step when the fees need to be paid.

    We wiped out our savings.  We adopted more than one at a time so the travel costs would be less.  Only paying for one trip at a time and getting two children or four children helped.  When you say $20,000 or more for an adoption, it instantly turns people off.  But you have to remember that part of that is agency fees, part of that is orphanage fees, part of it is government/paper fees, and then there is the travel costs and it is all spread out over the time that you are adopting.  I know many people hear that amount and think they can’t do it.  I say money should never be a factor in your choosing not to adopt.  There are many, many ways to do it.  There are grants.  You can adopt through the foster care system.  People will step forward.  I believe you would be amazed by the amount of people who want to help.  Plus, I believe fully that if you belong to a church and feel called to adopt, your church family should be helping.  James 1:27 clearly states the churches role in adoption.

    I know people think that we have it easy because my husband makes a good living, but if you think we just had enough money and it didn’t cause us any hardship you’d be wrong.  Plus, the Lord has always provided.  When they agreed to expedite Elijah’s adoption, we were out of money. We were contemplating borrowing against our 401K when we got the most unexpected gift.  We had known years before that there was a disagreement between the University and the government about taxes that were withheld.  This happened when Dan was a resident back from 1995-1999.  We figured nothing would ever come of it, but a few days after receiving notice about Eli and trying to figure it all out, I sat in my car and opened an envelope from the University paying for those back taxes AND interest.  It was because of that interest that we were able to pay for Elijah’s fees and take Cassie along to help.  God is good.  Don’t lose sight of that fact.  He can surprise you in the most amazing of ways.

    Well, I would love to adopt, but….

    “We don’t have enough money.”  I know as well as you know that you could save.  Most everyone has areas that we could cut back on.  I know that doesn’t mean everyone, but most of us can and could cut back.  We find the money for cars and a vacations and nicer houses filled with stuff we will never use or don’t really need.  DON’T let money hold you back.

    Besides that, did you decide to have biological children?  When the news states facts like it costs $200,000+ to raise a child nowadays did you say, “We just can’t afford that” or did you assume you would find a way as the years went by and that God would provide for all your needs?

    “We don’t have enough room.”  Seriously?  This has to be the most ridiculous statement.  We are talking about children who live in an orphanage.  Some of these orphanages are big, sterile, buildings and some have no windows or doors.  These children share rooms with many, many cribs or beds.  They have no toys of their own.  In most cases, they don’t even own a toothbrush.  Believe me when I say, “You have enough room and can provide for all of their needs.”

    “I don’t want my other kids to do without.”  (Usually this means extracurricular activities.)  What makes you so sure that your other children will have to do without?

    So if you have ever said any of the above sentences or anything similar to it, I want to take this moment to say, “STOP!”.   Please don’t say this to a parent who has adopted, especially if they have been to a third world country and seen the need.   These excuses make no sense.  I’m going to say this knowing full well that I may tick some of you off, but I am assuming if you were saying something that offended or didn’t make sense, you’d want to know it.

    When you say these things you are in fact saying  __________  is more important than a child with no family, living his/her days in an orphanage, with no future or hope.   You can’t honestly think that your child playing a sport is more important.  You can’t honestly believe that your child having a room to themselves is more important.  If you have been thinking about adopting and have said any excuse to yourself, then really let this sink in.  Let it seep into the deepest recesses of your heart and mind.  What is truly important? Do these excuses still hold up?  And if this doesn’t work, pretend Christ is standing right there in front of you (because someday He will be), try out that excuse now.  “Lord, I would have loved to save one of the least of these, but Junior would have had to share a room and it just didn’t seem fair.”  How does that excuse feel now?  How about all the things your children will learn.  How about all the ways your heart and your home will be opened to love and caring and Christ-like behavior?  What about all the blessings that you can not even fathom?

    What has been the hardest part?

    The waiting is hard.  Once you see their picture, you want to go get them.  Every day you wait, knowing where they are, is painful.

    Unknown diagnosis are hard.  Believe me I am not looking forward to explaining to Jasmine what she really has.

    Lainey not sleeping has been very hard.  She is up every two to three hours and our family has had to take turns caring for her at night.

    But truth be told the hardest part, for me, is that I can’t do more.  We are sponsoring children.  We are helping others who are adopting but it still doesn’t feel like enough.

    Every day in China girls age out of the system at the tender age of 14, and are released with no resources.  Many times they don’t have an education or anyone to turn to.  The sex traffickers know this and many girls are lost.  Every day children die in orphanages – alone! Every day children are hungry and hurting and wanting a mother and a father to love them.  Only a small percentage of the orphans in the world will ever be adopted.  A heartbreaking fact when you consider just how many Christians there are.  If we, as Christians, stood up and either adopted or helped others, there would be no orphans.  What a beautiful statement of the love of Christ.

    Why aren’t we doing more?  Why do we choose to close our eyes to what is going on around the world?  Why do we continue to make excuses?

    “The problem seemed so vast, so endemic, that stopping to help a single panhandler (person) could seem pointless.”  – Laura Schroff.

    If we all stopped and helped just one, we could help them all.

    And so we swept past them everyday, great waves of us going on with our lives and accepting there was nothing we could really do.”  – Laura Schroff

    What are you doing with your life?  Are you caught up in the busyness of your life?  So much so that you can’t stop to help one?

    What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock

    Are you looking?  Do you see the hurting people?  Do you see the children in need?  Stop and look for that one that you can help!