I always want to sing The Brady Bunch theme song when I think of my brother’s family:
“Here’s the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very handsome sons. All of them had hair of …. “
“Here’s the story of a man named Oscar who was busy with a daughter of his own … “
“Till the one day when the lady met this fellow and they knew that it was much more than a hunch that this group would somehow form a family. That’s the way they all became the …” (You get the idea).
But, when you hear “the rest of the story”, Osc and Deb make The Brady Bunch look pretty lame in comparison!
My brother was a single dad with full custody of his teen-aged daughter when he met his wife-to-be. She had three sons of her own. They only had a few more years of child-rearing until they were DONE raising kids. It could have been all smooth sailing after that.
Instead, they announced that they were adopting.
We all thought they were a little crazy, but they forged ahead with the paperwork to adopt a little girl from China. At the last minute, China stopped allowing foreign adoption. Instead of giving up, Osc and Deb decided to adopt a child from Russia. They fell in love with a little red-haired moppet named Alyona.
And then the orphanage said, “You know, Alyona has a brother.” And, just like that, Dima joined the family too. This brought the CKT (“Combined Kid Total”) to SIX!
And then, China opened their doors to foreign adoption again. And suddenly, AnLi, a sunny little sweetheart with spina bifida, joined the family. A few years later, a return trip to China brought tiny, little Kathryn (who was born with a hand missing) into the “bunch” and the CKT went to EIGHT.
At a time when the rest of us were enjoying retirement from child-rearing, Osc and Deb were leaping once again into diapers and homework and doctor visits. And, they moved from the city into a big old farmhouse in a small town. They now had the room and the hearts for more kids. So, why not get licensed to become foster parents for kids who needed temporary housing?
I don’t think the ink dried on the licensing papers before Chris, Brian, and Leilani arrived. Leilani suffered from shaken baby syndrome and so the three siblings were removed from their birth parents (Leilani is permanently disabled from the abuse). Although their mother was given every opportunity to regain custody of her children, in the end she just wasn’t up to the task. Oscar and Debbie could not imagine the three going anywhere else, so guess what … the CKT leapt to ELEVEN.
So, they were done, right? Nope! Rocky and Jasmine followed (also from the American foster system). Both kids are disabled (Jasmine wasn’t expected to live more than a few months). But, they have surpassed what was expected of them because of Oscar and Deb’s loving care.
It’s been a few years since they’ve adopted any kids, so I think they may have decided that THIRTEEN is enough. After all, grandchildren are now arriving on the scene. But, with Oscar and Debbie, you just never know. A phone call and a child in need of a home may at any time result in a new addition to the family.
I think what Oscar and Deb’s story has taught me is that my excuses are weak. Oscar and Debbie were really “too old” to adopt when they began their journey. They weren’t wealthy. Neither one of them was a stay-at-home parent who could give undivided attention to a child with a difficult background. Any one of those things would have been a valid reason to change their minds about adopting A child (much less nine of them!). And yet, in spite of all that, they simply did it. They didn’t overthink, they saw a need and filled it … again and again. It’s a lesson so many of us need to learn. And, whether we’re called to adopt or support adoption agencies in other ways, I hope we all learn from Oscar and Deb and simply do it. These “throwaway” children are so very precious.
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