I didn't miss a post yesterday~ I just posted on my other blog! :o)
I'll try to make this brief. Hopefully it won't bore people to tears.
Tonight I'll share how we started. If I make it brief I think I can put it in one post! LOL! I thought I had written it before but couldn't find anything. :o(
Tom and I married in may of 1976. A million years ago. (wink*) My daughter Angel was 2 weeks old. Tom adopted her. We knew each other since he was 16 and I was 13, we'd broken up a few times and people laughed when we told them we were going to get married. My mother insisted I date. Boys would call, she'd happily tell them I was home. And I wish I'd been strong enough to say no. Tom was in the military until Feb.1976. So he wasn't much help!
Being an unwed mom was hard. Having alcoholic parents was hard. (my parents are so precious to me now, mom became a Christan at age 50! Dad passed away.) I wanted to make a difference in hurting people's lives. To help others overcome difficult situations.
I also desperately wanted to be a Christian!
At 22 I became a Christian!! YEAH!!!
We bought a home when I was 20. It felt so empty. Four bedrooms. Tom was working 70 miles away.
So we started taking un-wed moms in. We did that for a couple years. I really wanted to adopt. Tom was o.k. about it but not too excited about my idea of having a big family of 6 children!
We applied to adopt when I was 23. And promptly found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child! A huge blessing after being told at age 16 I'd never have kids. So back then if you got pregnant- the adoption stops, baby is born and one year later you can apply to adopt.
But we didn't apply to adopt then.
When my son, my 3rd child was 2 yrs old, we applied to be child foster parents. We fostered our Andy then age 7 and adopted him at age 10.
Andy was developmentally delayed from FAS and mentally ill. He was the most difficult child we ever parented. And yet we are so over-joyed that we did! We are overjoyed that he is our son.
We fostered a few more times. But the County thought we were wanting to adopt the foster kids and back then (1985) it was not good for foster parents to adopt their foster kids. In fact we were offered much more foster care work if we did not adopt Andy.
But then he would have ended up in a group home. :o(
We couldn't do that.
So we quit foster care and started Day Care! :o) We asked the County if we could adopt through them. They said "we don't look for kids for families". Whatever that meant?
So we did Day Care and applied to do a homestudy from the Adoption agency we started our first application with in 1980!
My Day Care ended up being almost all special ed kids!! :o)
We had Chance age 15 (profoundly delayed), Keith age 14 (Down Syndrome), adorable Kelly adopted from Korea had Hep B. Hep B is not a disability but other parents refused to let me watch their kids with her, for fear their kids would get it. :o(
Years later Keith lived in our group home for a year. Sadly his family had a disagreement with us and he moved. We haven't seen him since. He was precious.
After 2 years of Day Care we heard that large corporate Adult group homes were closing. Small County licensed group homes (4 bed) were needed. So we opened up our home to adults with disabilities. MA was our first blessing!! (I quit Day Care after 4 years.)
Then we got the call! Our baby Joy was born in September 1988 in AZ. She had DS. She was also born without nasal passages and an elctro-cardial defect in her precious heart.
We lost Joy in February, 5 months later. We were devastated. In June we were called to pick up our 5 1/2 yr old daughter Molly from CT. She was from a disrupted adoption. We were told she had a TBI and CP. But they were wrong and it took 10 years to figure out it was a terminal form of the severest genetic ataxia.
After Molly came in 1989, a super healthy perfectly formed Grace came in 1990, Matthew with a hernia, severe food allergies (egg & peanut) came in 1991, Hope- super healthy came in 1993, Gabriel with severe chronic asthma (he didn't sleep through the night until he was 3 years old!) came in 1995.
In 1990 a wealthy business owner offered us a salary, a home on 50 acres and free adoptions! But there would be a board of directors and we would have to do as they asked. We would also have to shut down our group home and parent full time. It was so tempting. But we declined.
In 1998 we prayed for another baby with DS. And God blessed us with Samson age 3 who had DS. He is the same age as Gabriel. At first Gabe was o.k. with it. But eventually he had a hard time understanding having a brother like Samson. Grace, Matthew and Hope were more accepting. But personalities in brothers sometimes differ in ways that are hard to understand. Gabe loves Samson very much. Samson was/is perfect for us!
After MA had joined our group home in 1987. Susie who had DS joined us. Susie was a hand full! Spirited, feisty, loud, and although she was much lower functioning..................you didn't dare tell her that she was wrong! LOL!! Or she'd tell you it was you!!
No one else wanted her in their group home. She lived with us 16 years until the week before she passed away in the ICU from alzheimers at age 44.
Oh! how we cried. Her family shared her with us and we adored her. We miss her every day.
I became pregnant with my Isaiah 2 months after she died. I thought for sure God was giving me my own little baby with DS.
We had many more adults with DS live in our group home over the last 25 years. Sometimes they had families that were too hard to deal with, who expected too much from us and we had to ask them to leave. Sometimes families will knit pick everything you do, and you just have to tell them to find another home. We do our best. We're not perfect.
I only had troubles with one woman with DS. She had mosaic DS. She was incredibly bright. She wrote stories, and talked circles around MA. But her family was convinced that DS meant she was very very disabled. This was so not true.
So she wet herself, and refused to stand up straight- hiding from everyone. She shop lifted and lied. It broke my heart but there was nothing I could do. Sadly I asked them to find her another home. I was offered a huge raise to keep her. But we don't do this for money. We do this to support ourselves. We don't need to be rich.
So I guess as you can see. Our life was sprinkled with people with DS throughout whatever we did. And we LOVED them ALL! Each one a uniquely individual person who taught us incredible lessons about life!
But we hated that they came in and out of our lives without any control! (Isn't that just how life is? :o)
Our Joy passed away. Our Samson, we were told that his heart condition could not be repaired and there was no way to know how long he'd live. But he's still here! And I quit worrying years ago. Because every day with Samson is a gift!
After Samson we adopted Faith in 2001. She has FAS. We were told we were number 9 on the waiting list for a baby. But everyone else waiting said no to her, so we were blessed with her! Her full name is Faith Blessing and she lives up to that name every day!
2002 we adopted our granddaughter Elizabeth (healthy) at birth. 2003 we adopted out granddaughter Katherine (healthy) at birth. (birth sisters 11 months apart) 2004 "surprise" baby Isaiah was born! And then I pouted for 5 years because these 4 in a row kids were hard!!
When Isaiah turned 5 he looked at me and said "You should have another baby mom!" Sadly I told him that I was 52 and that wasn't going to happen. He and I almost died during my high risk pregnancy.
But I had an idea..........that Tom at first didn't want to hear! LOL!! Let's adopt!!
So we applied and waited a year for a US child, and no luck.
I suggested to Tom~ "You know if you would consider going to Europe, we could adopt two, three or four children!!"
Now I'm thinking this is a one time thing. Tom is thinking- what the what!!??
I found our first 2 boys when Shelley B asked "Why isn't anybody adopting these 2 boys, they are young, at the same orphanage and their Country won't release more files of young children if they aren't chosen!"
Both boys had DS, right up our alley! LOL!! And I JUMPED at the chance to tell Shelley B several times- "we want them! Those are our boys!!" I was worried that maybe I was in competition with many other families wanting my boys! Nope!! They were OURS!! I asked if there were any other children available at that orphanage, but there weren't. Tom said only two!
After learning everything about this Country, the special needs children, the living conditions. Tom's heart softened and he was on a mission. After J & P came home, he would go back again. Being ex-Army he was ready to rescue! LOL! Even after years of adopting we knew we could not bring 4 home at a time, (too hard) we thought we could do 3 if they were older. So we scoured the RR pages and found every child in our Country.We sorted according to orphanage, read, sorted some more. One orphanage had quite a few. We picked Mosie first, (oh how I loved his video!) then we picked Jacob. Finally we asked Shelley B if there were any others there. She mentioned Noah and a few others.(We could have picked Katie, but we knew boys were picked less, of course God knew Katie had a family!!) Even then Tom wanted a girl, but I was busy worrying about those less chosen boys, the boys had stolen my heart.
And that was it. We picked 3 more to join us the following year after J & P!!
We know this was God's plan. Everything fell into place. And even though satan battled to stop it. God will always win! We give God the Glory!!
Tomorrow I'll tell how it felt for two strange little 4 year old boys to enter our family!
I apologize if this ended up just being long winded!