It was a balmy, bright day in Maui, Hawaii when our two separate lives came together to become one life. We said our vows on a breathtaking beach and enjoyed a private dinner by candlelight with the waves crashing in the background. It was a night to remember for both of us. Never, in our wildest visions of the future, did we imagine ourselves as parents to 4 children; 2 biological and 2 adopted out of the Texas Foster Care System! Never, in the wildest predictions of our lives, would we have guessed we would sell our worldly goods and move to a remote jungle region of Honduras! Never. But, that is exactly what we are called to do. And with God’s grace and the prayers of our dear friends behind us, we will walk forward.
So, how did we get from that gorgeous day in 1997 to this one in 2019??
It is almost overwhelming to think about, really. Only through the transforming power of God could such a thing happen to two ordinary, self-centered people like us. The transformation of hopes and dreams is just the business God is in… and He has been the ultimate Transformer for the two of us. He is our Everything, our only Hope.
Our early married years were spent chasing the ‘American dream.’ (Prior to our marriage, Alex had actually lived ‘Every Boy’s Dream’ by playing both college and pro football) We enjoyed material success and recognition; consumption became our middle name. Saving our pennies for our ‘dream house’ in the country became almost an obsession. It was a collective goal and we did everything we could as ‘American dreamers’ to make it happen. Read more about Alex’s Story
As for children… we spent several years thinking infertility was a reality. There was some sadness and we did contemplate adoption at that time. One surprising fall day, we found out we were pregnant. The dawn of a new millennium brought the celebration of new life with the birth of our oldest son, Aidan. His exuberance and love of life still prove to be contagious and an important part of our family. Aidan currently studies and serves at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Three years later, after many weeks of bed rest, we gave birth to our only daughter, Arlee. She is tender and tenacious – two qualities that will serve her well as she grows up. Arlee loves soccer and is a fierce friend and competitor. To know her is to love her.
Honestly, 2 children were enough for us at that point. We had high hopes for these 2 and felt that we were just fine with a boy and girl. In 2004, we found ‘IT’ – a beautiful piece of country property with lots of trees and a lovely home. Now, THIS was the place our small family would live until our last breath. Our children became country-folk and ran around muddy and bare-footed. We were filled with a new-found appreciation for God’s creation. We held onto this place with fists-clenched; nothing could separate us from this land… nothing. Right.
In 2006, the idea of additional children started creeping into our conversations. We played the ‘what if’ game, trying on the idea of adoption like we were playing dress-up. By August, we felt led to adopt through the foster care system in Texas. We went into the entire experience as an ‘adoption only’ family. Right. After our training, we were surprisingly moved to a place where we wanted to be a foster-to-adopt family. Our first placement was a precious baby girl without any identifying information. She had been abandoned in an ugly place with absolutely nothing. We were able to name her and we believed with all of our heart that she would be ours forever. She was Hispanic and American Indian, which will mean more later in the story :)… and we had her life with us all planned out.
She, though, was not to be ours. Come to find out, she had 2 biological brothers who were already being adopted. CPS keeps families together whenever possible and we sadly agreed that she should have some semblance of her biological family. The heartbreak was real and exceedingly painful, but God was at work.
We continued to provide respite for other foster families while we prayed about our future. In June of 2007, we received a call about our Aaron. We would later find out he had been in 4 placements before coming to our home at 3 months of age. Through a series of deaths, vacations, etc., our little guy had been shuffled until a foster-to-adopt family could be found for him. During his initial time with our family, we believed it to be a true foster situation. All signs were pointing to reunification with his biological family. We supported this on most levels and tried to love him without reservation. In early 2008, his biological mother relinquished her parental rights and the green light was given for us to adopt him. Today, he is our inventor and most inquisitive child. He is a hand-full of a boy who fills our home with lots of laughter.
Shortly after Aaron arrived at our home, we found out that we were selected to be our precious Adam’s forever family. Adam had been in foster care since birth and he was 15 months old when he joined our family. His foster family had loved him like their own and he was able to quickly form a healthy attachment to each of us. Adam is 9 months older than Aaron. Adam is our sensitive, gentle child who wants to be a Mechanical Engineer in the military.
In 2008, the adoptions of both boys were complete. And… so then there were 6!
Our call to full-time missions is to the Miskito people of the eastern coast of Honduras. This area is comprised primarily of indigenous Miskito Indians. The Spanish explorers also made their impact on Honduras. The Miskito people have a rich blended heritage of both Spanish and indigenous Indian influence. It is amazing that the love God planted in our hearts for one little Hispanic/Indian girl has led to a desire to serve an entire people group. It seems unbelievable… that is what makes it ALL GOD!
In 2012, our dear friend and missionary, Katrina Engle, told us about a baby girl whose birth mom had recently passed away. The baby was living at the House of Hope, a ministry of Send Hope, Inc. Katrina asked us if we were interested in raising her. That very day, Cumi, joined our family. Her birth mom gave her the Miskito name, Cumi, which means ‘my one and only’.
Our missionary experience has been extraordinary and one we are grateful for as a family. The Miskito people have taught us a love for family that is rare in this world. They have taught us that God loves and cares for the poor. They have loved us and cared for us.