Adoption Stories: Week 3

Raymond’s story shows the great need for families to adopt older children out of foster care and the power that LOVE has to change a life forever:

“Ok, to start, the story of my life has had many ups and downs when it comes to families. I really don’t know much of my biological family and I don’t know at what age I was given to the state. My earliest memories are of a foster family that I was with for about a month. After that, I remember being adopted with my 2 half-brothers and my sister by a mom and dad who already had a biological daughter. The mom tried her best to keep us all together after her husband left her. I can’t remember at what age this was, but it was when I was still young. On a teacher’s salary she was hard pressed to try and provide for all of us. Sadly, she had to let us all go.

One of my 2 half-brothers was adopted by a neighbor who was looking for a son and my other half-brother went to a friend of the family, as I understood it then. My sister and I went back into state custody and so back into to foster care. At this point I was about 9ish. I was sent to live with a foster family and it lasted for a few months before the state came back in and put me in state funded residential care facility.

I did get lucky with my next foster family though. They were an elderly couple who were very involved in a church and decided to take me in and foster me. I was with them from right before I turned ten to right after I turned 12. Needless to say boys at my age hardly ever find a family to adopt them so I figured I was stuck in going from foster home to foster home without having a real family. My foster parents were really good to me and would have adopted me but at that time the State of Arkansas did not allow people over 60 to adopt. Which we all wanted because they would have been a stable Christian home to come up in and to heal the holes that were left in my life from the past.

When I first met the people I now call Mom and Dad, I didn’t even know they were possible parents looking to adopt a boy. I met them while I was at a friend’s house for play time, so pretty much, I ignored them and was myself without any charming or trying to impress on my part. But still they saw something in me that they liked and decided to try and get to know me more and to develop a relationship.

After I found out that they were looking to adopt, I thought that they wouldn’t want me, but inside I was secretly hoping that it would happen. Well as most adoption processes go, you have a six month period of living with them before you can sign the papers to be adopted. During this six months, I was introduced into what a good strong family should be like, and I loved it. I could see that here with this family I was going to be happy, accepted and loved even though they didn’t really know me.

At the end of that six month period I could tell that this was the family I had always wanted. But like most things, it would take both parties to agree on it. I knew I wanted it, and I could see that they wanted it to. The day we went to sign the adoption papers was the happiest time of my life… to be able to get a family that actually choose me to be with them and one that I had always hoped for and dreamed of having. It was a choice they made not because I was thrust on them, but because they actually wanted to be a family. I was raised in a strong Christian faith with lots of love and support which taught me what I needed to become and that raised me to be the person I am today. And in that setting, I was able to grow up with what I had always wanted but never really had up till then. I am so thankful to my Mom, Dad (Mary and Rodney), and the rest of my family that taught me what family is all about. Love. Because that is what we have.

I was not a son born of blood but of choice and love and that is exactly what I needed and it bonded us closer because of it. I have to say that being adopted is the best thing that happened to me and I strongly recommend anyone looking to adopt a child to do it. It means a lot to us and from what my parents have told me that it is very fulfilling, rewarding and well worth it.”- Raymond Jackson

From Anton’s mom, Dana: Anton wrote his story for National Adoption Day. I shared it in our church here in Russia, where we live and serve as missionaries. I first met Anton while teaching Bible lessons in his orphanage. (For more information about their ministry in Russia, please visit Dana’s Blog)

“When I lived in the orphanage, I felt lonely and abandoned. I didn’t like being alone and I didn’t feel like I was special. And I was surprised when mom came and she gave me a toy car, and I thought that she would be my mom. I thought she was pretty and kind. And when she told us about Jesus, and how He came to the earth and died or our sins, and how God created the world, and how He flooded the earth when people sinned. When I heard this, I found an answer to my questions; “Am I alone?” “Am I special?” “Does anyone love me?”

Mama took me from the orphanage for visits on my birthday, Christmas and during the Summer at first. The first time Sveta and I went home with mom, I felt peace, joy and comfort. The first thing mom did when we got home was to put us down for a nap. Mom had a room ready for us with bunk beds, two dressers, toys, clothes and a lot of other things. Mom also took me to get an operation. When we went to the hospital, I said “We could live here.”, even though there was only 2 small beds and a sink in the room.

A couple weeks before Christmas, mom adopted me and Sveta. I was indescribably excited! And God is healing my heart little by little. Oh, how God loves and values every child! And I know that if it weren’t for God, none of this would have happened. I know I have a mom and other kids don’t. But I don’t want this to be a reason for me to get proud, but rather to be compassionate and pray for the orphans who do not yet have a family.” -Anton

I recently “met” Samantha on Facebeook, and asked her to share her adoption story! I’m so grateful our paths have crossed:

“‘Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone but still miraculously my own.’ This quote lies across the top of one of the single most important documents I own…my adoption card! We live in a culture of adoption. Many families have embraced and crossed cultural boundaries to welcome in a child not “of” them, but instantly a part of them. A family is not only bred, but also built.

I was born to a substance-abusing mother and a non-existent father; quite ironic for being born on Fathers Day, June 17, 1990. I grew up in a dirty old trailer that consisted of constant verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. Drugs, alcohol and men were the normal in our little blue makeshift home. My mother was often running off with a “friend”, leaving her three girls to be cared for by our grandmother. Grandma wouldn’t have won any awards for “Grandma of The Year”; she was nearly as abusive as our mother. But the one place where she did become a beacon of hope was when she decided to no longer care for my sisters and I.

Grandma took us to a little church, the kind you see in a painting, called Glorious Church of God. She told the preacher on a Sunday that she was tired of looking after us girls and would be willing to give us up to someone in the church; if they wanted us. Luckily, an older woman, an angel in disguise, heard and went home to tell her granddaughter of the situation. I left church that Sunday scared and confused; I knew I was unloved, but I didn’t know I was totally abandoned at heart.

A week and a half later on a Wednesday night in January of ’95, I met Love face to face for the first time: Tony and Kim Smith. Two smiling faces looking right at me! Interested in me! And I in them. They talked to my sisters and I for a little while out on the side of the church. Before they left, I asked them if I could go with them right then, but they told me “soon we will meet again.”

Eventually our “Love Story” began! My sisters, Savannah and Sara, and I began to go back and forth between the Smith’s and our trailer. My mother had not made this time with the Smith’s altogether easy; in fact, she was very rude and hasty. Never knew when she’d call and demand us girls’ back. However since I was the youngest and not in school, I was able to visit more often…even sleep over! After a few short months, I started calling Kim and Tony, Mom and Dad. Tony cautioned me to not do that and when I would tell my older sister Sara to do the same, she would reply, “I can’t, it doesn’t feel right.” I could have cared less what I was being told. I knew I had never experienced love and this was the real deal. Shortly after coming to the conclusion in my young mind that parents love, I was determined to make Tony and Kim all mine, but my fantasy came to a screeching halt.

I remember like it was yesterday hearing Kim and Tony talk somberly and then being escorted to the car after hugging Kim goodbye. As I sat in the backseat, I tilted my little head up and asked Tony, “Is that what it looks like when you cry?” When no words were spoken, I lost it. My heart was breaking into a million little pieces. I began to throw a fit and cry violently, all the way to the door of the trailer. Life seemingly had ended in my heart.

When Tony returned home, he told Kim he couldn’t take it any longer that the stress of not knowing what was always coming next was too hard on him and their marriage. But Kim couldn’t let go. A few months had passed and my mother contacted the Smith’s stating, “If they want me, they can have me.” They fought for adoption and of course being the woman that she is my mother had to make things difficult. Persistency pays off though. After all the mess of court, dealing with my biological parents and much more…the day had finally arrived!

May 23, 1996 I arrived to the door the of judges chambers. I remember sitting anxiously waiting to see the smile come across the judge’s face in completion of the ruling and the next thing I know I was taking my very first family photo! I had finally become Samantha Rose Rachelle Smith. I was living the dream.

Life has moved quite quickly since that day. My sister, Savannah, was never adopted, but my sister Sara was adopted into Tonys brother’s family. How many sisters can say they are also cousins! Today, I am 22 and in the first stages of stepping into my life dream. My calling began the moment I was born, although it took me years to fully understand it. Bringing justice to the fatherless is my life mission. God is so faithful and has blessed my family beyond measure. Many times people will not believe me when I say I am adopted because I look so much like my parents. It’s amazing how truly perfect the plans of the Father are! I am so honored to be the proud daughter of amazing parents who are pastors, this year marks 25yrs in ministry, and have truly shown me the Father’s love. Mom and Dad, I love you! I literally owe my life to you and I couldn’t show it to you any better way than by serving the Lord and pursing my calling! Thank you for never giving up on loving me!” – Samantha Smith

I met Rebekah soon after I moved to Kansas City, through the children’s ministry where I was teaching.

“My name is Rebekah Sue Ariana Allen. I was born in Whittier California and adopted at six days old. There are six kids in my family, the younger three are adopted. I’m nineteen the oldest of the younger three. I have one brother by my birth parents a year younger than me.

My adoption is open, I have always had contact with my birth parents. Actually I got to see them this past week. Although goodbyes are hard, I have to say I have the best of both worlds. As a child it’s not always the easiest thing to understand the whys to everything. Although personally my strength in those younger was only came from the Lord. My understanding and faith in knowing my Lord had a plan and purpose for my life was beyond comforting. I can be a worry wart but I had peace in that fact he never gives us something we can handle.

I was raised in Nipomo California until I was thirteen. Then I was stripped of the title of a Cali Girl when we moved to Kansas City Missouri. Which as a new teenager of course I was not pleased about it. Although it was where I need to be. I was mature enough to know that it was what the Lord had for us. If I’m being honest I had a peace about it. I of course fell in love with KC, it just took a while. Then after falling in love with this place I proudly called home. Another move landed us in the boot heel of Missouri, a little town called Portageville.

My parents have been married for forty years. So to say the least I always had a strong support system. I must say they did well in teaching us that home is always where family is. Our moves where always under strange family circumstances though they always worked out. When we don’t always understand God always has a purpose.

Adoption has changed my life I would be a completely different person if I hadn’t been. Wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Not saying I haven’t had hard times. Although I was the most spoiled, that still mattered none. The enemy had a strong hold in my life, he lied to me and made me believe I wasn’t loved. Which was so far from the truth. That lie alone messed me up.

Coming out of my teenage years, I can say now without shame that lie made me struggle with my purity. Even a year ago I don’t think I could completely admit that. I had so much shame because I was one that was so aware and told how important saving yourself for marriage was. As a child you have dreams of what you want to be. All I wanted in life was to be wife and even more so a mother. One that walked in purity and by faithfulness. Not only a mother but a spiritual leader to guide them in a path of righteousness.

So with my struggles they have only made me stronger in my faith. My hope and prayer is that my lessons I have learned in my life in staying pure, keep my own kids and other from making those same mistakes.

If I could leave you with anything from my story would be that, adoption is Gods answer for abortion. That God is merciful and will forgive.

‘For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.’
-Jeremiah 29:11”

Katyana Reed is the daughter of my dear friend Kerry Reed, you may have heard her sister Syndey’s story earlier this month. I am so grateful for Katyana’s willingness to share her story. In her words you will see the painful struggle that children can face as they walk through healing. As you read, please pray for Katyana and children like her who are asking God to help their hearts to heal from years of wounds and pain. Katyana, I love you.

It is a journey that has good times and a lot of hard times.

My name is Katyana and I am thirteen and a half years old. I was placed in foster care with my younger brother and sister when I was three years old. I am glad my foster mother adopted my siblings and me almost three years later. But it’s not easy. It wasn’t easy when I lived with my birth mother and it’s not easy living with my adoptive mother.

Adoption can be very hard for a lot of kids for they have to get used to a new way of life and a new home. The rules are very different. Disobeying your new parents doesn’t mean they will stop loving you. New parents love their new child no matter what happens. At least, that’s been true with me.

Opening up your heart is hard for some adopted boys and girls especially to those they love. They will try and try to open that heart but it is so very hard. Some adopted kids have a hard time because hearts can be ugly. It is so hard for me to open my heart because I think that those I love will see my ugly heart and won’t want me anymore and will put me back into foster care. I don’t understand yet why I steal and why I lie to everyone all the time. But I know it has to do with my ugly heart and keeping it hidden. My adoptive mom says my heart is beautiful and that God thinks it is too. I don’t believe this yet.

Don’t give up on your adopted kid. Adopting a kid may seem wonderful but sometimes it’s not. It all might take awhile to understand and sometimes an adoptive kid may love you and then hate you. But don’t give up loving them.

Visiting a birth mom or a birth father may be kind of hard for them especially if they don’t get the choice whether to see them or not. It’s scary. I wish people would remember that kids who are adopted have birth parents who could be scary sometimes.

I loved my adoption party. I loved getting a new last name. This was so important to me. It was a big day and it meant I had a new mom forever that loved me and I have the same last name as her last name. I also got to get a new first and middle name. This was very important to me too. It helped me remember that I was changing and growing in a family that loved me. Also, having a keepsake box is very important to me so I can remember the years I am loved.

Appreciate your adopted kid because the years go by fast. You will eventually realize how much you miss them when they are gone. And nothing can stop an adoptive parent from loving their adopted child. Every time they think of their very hard times, they will realize what was so hard. Don’t give up on them. Adopted kids are trying their best to reach their goals and make their adoptive parents proud.” -Katyana Reed (Katyana’s sister, Sydney shared her story in week one)

I have know Sierra since she was a little girl. She is precious to our family, and was one of our favorite babysitters back in the day when our first three were little. It has been a privilege to watch her grow and become an incredible woman of God. I love her!

“In 1986 I was born to a woman who hadn’t planned for me and couldn’t take care of a baby. I lived with her until my younger brother Josh was born a year later. Once Josh was born we were placed into Foster Care.

For the next few years Josh and I lived with numerous families and in many unhealthy environments. Abuse was a part of my life until I was adopted into a great, Christian family at age 6, Jere and Julie White adopted my brother and I and had previously adopted 2 older boys who were cousins. My mom told me that the months previous to my adoption, (when we lived with them as foster kids) every night I would pray and ask God to please let them adopt us. When I was adopted I was shown lots of love that was unfamiliar to me. I reacted positively to it and thought that my life would be a fairy tale from that day on.

When I was 6 I asked Jesus to be my Savior. The first time I ever sang in front of people was at a Christmas program at age 6. My mom had me sing Silent Night and I learned all the verses by memory. Afterwards my mom a got a prophetic word that God would use me as a Singer for His glory.

When I was 8 I was sexually abused for 4 years. I became more introverted and found my friends in books and movies. I was rejected by my peers in school and became the object of bullying.

I was treated so meanly that in a sense I became almost immune to the harsh words I would hear. Because of everything in my past I was a hurt, rejected, and abused, angry mess. I began to take my anger out on my mom and do poorly in school. However, I excelled in putting on a mask and being the “perfect little Christian girl”. I was the “Go-to” person for anything musical, if anything needed done people came to me to get it done.

I began to find my identity in serving and doing things rather than finding myself in Christ. I truly loved God and wanted to serve Him but was so hurt and angry I never really let Him take control. I began to immerse myself in ministry without working through all the hurt from my past. As I got older my mom began to notice this and asked me to go to therapy, which I did. It helped and God began to tear at my heartstrings and show me the depths of His love.

I rededicated my heart to Jesus when I was 15 and began to go hardcore after His heart. I began to lead worship and began tinkering around on my keyboard. It wasn’t until 2005 when I was in Fire in the Night at the International House of Prayer in KC, MO when the Lord did a great work in my heart in helping me overcome the pain. I was in Track 1 when we did the Deep/Inner Healing course for 3 days and it was intense. I began to ask God to work in me and change me and do what He needed to do. I left a changed person. A week later I was in the Prayer Room and was supposed to sing that night but for some reason I asked for a friend to sub for me. I was sitting in the back on the floor praying when someone was on the mic and said, “You cannot love others or truly love God until You love Yourself.” As I heard that I began to weep and weep for 3 hours. God began to tear another layer of hurt and rejection off of me.

My life has held a lot of pain, hurt, and rejection, but God has been so faithful to me. I am one of the few children to be adopted into Christian families and am so grateful for the Hand of God on me.

Last year (2011) my birth mother found me on Facebook and I learned that I am the oldest of 7 kids! My brother Josh and I have met 2 of our (birth) siblings and are still in touch with them. I hope to adopt kids someday. I have seen firsthand the power of giving children a Christian home to grow up in any my heart breaks for kids who are not adopted into families as great as mine is.”- Sierra White

I am blessed to share yet another one of my niece’s beautiful adoption stories. Keyolla is the daughter of my husbands brother Derek and his wife Renee’.

“My name is Keyolla Crow, I am 21 years old. My parent’s Derek and Renne Loux adopted me and my twin sister Teyolla at the age of 10 from the Marshall Islands.

I grew up in a very poor environment and didn’t have a good stable life. My birth mom was a wonderful mom to me and my 4 siblings. She did the typical things that moms do for their kids. We were always fed and groomed and she taught us our manners. We lived in a shack and were very poor. My mom had two jobs, one was to take care of us but she also went to work at a hotel as a maid in downtown every night just before sunset.

She did her best to be a good, supportive, caring, and loving mother to us kids. My dad was kicked out of our house when I was 3 years old. I remember him being very controlling to my mom and very abusive to her. I have never seen my mom so unhappy as she was after he left us. Life was good for us in a way, but at the same time us kids needed a dad around.

But things started to get worse. I was 5 when my aunts oldest son started to play with me and cousins. It all started out with playing horse back or piggy backs, but as the years went on, it went from that to sexual stuff. I remember being very confused about what he was doing to me and cousins. I was being molested by my cousin and I didn’t even have a dad figure to go and talk to about it. I was so scared to tell my mom what my cousin had done to me. In my country everything is “hush hush” about things like this, and you are expected to keep everything to yourself. I knew in my heart what he was doing to me and my cousins was wrong, but I felt helpless.

When I was 9 ½, (I can still remember it to this day), my mom left me and my siblings. I didn’t really realize what was going on at that time, but she told us that she was going to be staying with her guy ‘friend for awhile. We would live in our house alone with my older sister Lilly who was at the time 11 years old. At night, we were scared and hoped that in the morning we would be alive. The Lord really protected us from harm and he watched over us. One night we, were very scared so we decided to sing a hymn called “It Is Well With My Soul”. I remember feeling something in my heart but didn’t know what it was. We all felt peace and comfort, and I know know it was the Lord. Even though we didn’t really go to church and were never taught about Him.

Terry Sasser took us in for couple months. He really showed me and my siblings kindness and loved us as his own. One day, he sat us down. He told us that his sister Renee’ and her husband Derek along with their two daughter’s Sophia and Michaela wanted us to be apart of their family. Of course we said yes! Just the thought of having a family, who would love and protect, treat us as their own…. We were both thrilled!

Five months later my new family arrived at the airport. I was very shy, but was really happy to meet them! We got very close as the weeks went on, and then the day came when Tey and I had to leave our loved one’s and homeland. We were both crying with joy and sadness. We arrived in Indiana, and there was our new family waiting at the airport to greet us. It was so good to have met them all, but every thing around us was a culture shock.

Through the years of healing, comfort by Lord and my parents, I have learned a lot through the good and bad, by the grace of our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. If it wasn’t for Him who hand picked me and my sister, my cousin, and friends to be adopted, we both would have ended up without a hope and a bright future.

Today, I am a changed woman who loves the Lord and is now married to Eric Crow, an awesome, incredible man who’s heart is on fire for the Lord. I am just blessed beyond words.

I thank the Lord and my parents for giving me a second chance. I have learned to love, forgive, heal, and to respect others. I am so grateful to my Dad who is with Lord, for being such a good father to me and my 11 siblings, and a great husband to my mom.

I love you Dad and Mom, thank you for loving me.” -Keyolla Crow

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