A FAMILY THROUGH
THE GIFT OF ADOPTION
by Jenny Graber-Peters
by Frankie Leal
do singer Shania Twain, Wendy’s restaurant
founder Dave Thomas, and Olympic ice skater Scott
Hamilton all have in common? They were all adopted.
Yet, this may be the only similarity that they
share. Each year, approximately 120,000 children
are adopted in the United States. Since there
is no one source for reporting information related
to adoption, it is difficult to trace more adequate
data. While most of us probably know at least
one friend or family member who has some experience
with adoption, few of us really know all that
adoption entails. That includes me.
I set out on this adventure to learn more about
“growing a family” in a completely
different way than I have grown my own. I was
inspired by my friends John and Christine Reed,
truly exceptional parents of 10 children. The
Reeds, along with a few other friends, The Kroekers
and The Warkentins, were gracious enough to share
their thoughts on adoption with the readers of
Traffic magazine. They hope that sharing their
experiences will help to educate us all and initiate
more opportunities for those involved in adoption.
word “Adoption” conjures up different
meanings for different people. Speaking about
adoption, Christine has this to say:
We are raising the future generation of our country,
and there are not many things that I can think
of doing that trump that.
are not rich, but we live more extravagant than
most of the people on this earth do, and adoption
is a wonderful way of sharing what we have with
another precious living person. When I think of
adoption costs, yeah sure I wish they were free,
and I can’t quite understand why adoptions
cost so much, but what better thing to spend our
money on? Others might say, a nicer car, bigger
house, fancier vacations, and such, but I just
don’t think those are the treasures that
God is talking about storing up in heaven.
6:19-20 says, “Do not store up for yourselves
treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal. But store
up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth
and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do
not break in and steal.”
As of now, I am storing up 10 precious lives in
heaven, well worth their weight in gold. Pretty
soon it will be eleven. If all of us could spread
the word, and touch people’s hearts enough
to put the desire in their heart to want to adopt
too, then just think of how much gold would be
stored up in heaven.
Audra Warkentin explains adoption as “treating
someone who is not a natural part of your family
as if they were a natural part…For example
- Some people have a special person they call
mom or dad that isn’t their biological mom
or dad but a close friend or family member that
fills that need for them…To me this is what
adoption is - wholly loving another person as
part of you.”
continues saying, “God adopted us all as
well, he chose us to love and cherish.”
For Christians, this is evidenced in part in Romans
8:15 which says, “You received God’s
Spirit when he adopted you as his own children”
and again in Ephesians 1:4-6, “Long before
he laid down earth’s foundations, he had
us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of
his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his
family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he
took in planning this!)” (The Message).
cool is that? God chose us, with all of our imperfections,
bad choices, and mistakes. He chose to adopt us
anyway AND He took pleasure in it! Now that is
love and that is exactly why these families chose
to adopt. They had love to share with a child,
no matter if she or he was born from their bodies
or born from their heart.
experiences, while having some similarities, are
often very distinct. There are different types
of adoption, various reasons why children are
placed for adoption, and differences in why people
choose to adopt. I think Audra says it well when
she says there are 3 sides to every story: the
adoptive parent’s side, the adopted child’s
side and the birth family’s side.
First there is the adoptive parents’ side.
Each family has their own reason for choosing
adoption. “Adoption is just another way
to build your family,” says Kristen Kroeker
as she shares her adoption story. “We adopted
because of infertility and people deal with infertility
in different ways. Since we were in our mid-30’s,
we didn’t want to pursue treatment. We didn’t
have time on our side… adoption was a very
easy decision for us. We wanted to be parents
more than we wanted to continue the bloodline.”
“Some adoptive parents are chosen by birth
parents, some are chosen by a government or agency
and some choose the child they wish to adopt -
these are all very different situations emotionally.
Some wait a LONG time, and some don’t wait
long at all,” says Audra.
She goes on to say, “I have found two common
scenarios. Adopting to have a family and adopting
to minister to a child.” Both of these reasons
were a part of the decision to pursue adoption
for John and Christine Reed and their family.
In a journal entry (in one of her blogs dated
November 7, 2005), Christine writes these words:
a Mom, I cherish my beautiful children. I love
my job being a mother and wife and I am so happy
to “Have my hands full.” I married
my husband John when I was eighteen and this December
we will celebrate our 12th anniversary. I am very
blessed to be able to call him my best friend.
Our journey to becoming parents started in 1995
with the birth of our oldest son Adam. During
the next eight years we had six children biologically.
With five boys and one girl we always hoped our
next child would be another girl (maybe just to
level the testosterone in the house.) With that
in mind we were always open to having more children
with the belief that they are a blessing. But
to our surprise, God seemed to have other plans
for us. In the beginning of 2004 I had a hysterectomy
which ended our baby boom and we began to live
life as a family of eight. Fine with that being
our fate and excited that our 10 year bout of
diaper changing was finally coming to an end,
we were again surprised when we began to think
about adoption. After the Asian Tsunami hit we
began to seriously discuss adopting another child.
With so many factors to consider we finally decided
to adopt two older children from Russia.
That was three years ago. Today they have adopted
four girls and are in the process of adopting
a baby from the Ukraine. For those of you counting,
that brings the count to 10 children, two parents
and one on the way. The Reed children from oldest
to youngest are Adam (12), Rachel (12), Caleb
(11), Sveta (10), Annalyn (10), Julia (10), Anna
(9), William (8), Andrew (6) and Jonny (4). I
am sure that, if asked, each one of them could
have written their own story about adoption and
how it has changed their life.
addition to the adoptive parent’s side,
there is also the adopted children’s side.
They too have unique experiences from one another.
No circumstance is the same. “Some have
been hurt, abused, and neglected by their birth
families/others have not; some wait a long time
to be adopted/some wouldn’t even know they
were adopted unless they’re told. Some adjust
quickly and easily, some never seem to feel settled.
Some children long to meet their birth families,
others have no interest,” explains Audra.
there is the birth family’s side. Here again,
no situation is the same. Some birth parents have
been abusive or neglectful and have had their
child(ren) taken away from them. Yet many others
have chosen to place their child(ren) into the
arms of loving adoptive parents who are able to
provide for them in a way that they cannot. Audra
says that many times people don’t see this
side of adoption. She says, “All birth parents
are left with a void. Some birth families don’t
care about their children or are unable to fathom
what they are missing while others live every
day with an ache in their heart about this child.
Some birth parents live in peace knowing their
child is well cared for and taken care of while
others are tormented wondering about this life.”
no matter which side of the story you look at,
Adoption is a gift; both in the giving and the
receiving. Christine says, “Adoption is
difficult, but worth every bit of the effort.
The experience and rewards of bringing a child
into your home is a feeling that is indescribable.
It is the experience of a lifetime.”
and John encourage anyone who feel called to adopt
to “go for it!” Along with Audra and
Kristen, they offered these suggestions to others
wanting to adopt:
Examine your hearts and motives.
2. Do your research: visit and
talk with others who have adopted
and ask lots of questions.
3. Don’t be afraid. “They become
yours in your heart as much as if
they came from your own body.”
4. Join a support group.
5. Prepare yourself to handle
post-adoption related issues.
For more information on adoption check out:
To learn more about the Reed family and follow
along with their next adoption adventure check