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Local Feature

GROWING A FAMILY THROUGH
THE GIFT OF ADOPTION

words by Jenny Graber-Peters
I
mage by Frankie Leal

What 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.

So 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.

The 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.

We 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.

Matthew 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.”

Audra 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).

How 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.

Adoption 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.”

Additionally, “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:

As 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.

In 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.

Finally, 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.”

But 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.”

Christine 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:

1. 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:
www.adoptionark.org
www.bethany.org
www.hallmarkchannel.com/
publish/consumer/home/shows/adoption.html
www.godswaitingchildren.com
To learn more about the Reed family and follow along with their next adoption adventure check out:
http://smilesandtrials.blogspot.com
http://theukrainetrain.blogspot.com

 

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