I never really thought about having a wife, home and children when I was younger. In the back of my mind I thought it might be possible but, at the time, it just wasn’t a priority for me. I was too busy with college, playing in a rock band and thinking mostly of myself….there had to be something more. I knew there was a greater calling. Today, I am the father of eight precious children….
I married a wonderful woman and had three handsome, smart and thoughtful sons who were truly blessings from heaven. We started attending a local church, and we both accepted the Lord and put our trust in Him. Thus began the tale of the adoption of our daughters from China who needed homes of their own…. We adopted Faith, Hope, Grace, Joy and most recently Jewel, who was 13 when she came home to us. We have had very similar, yet distinct, experiences early on with each of our children.
When we traveled to receive Faith, who was 15 months old at the time, I had no idea what to expect. When the caregivers brought her out, she cried and cried and continued to stay in a glazed state for several days. My wife and I often prayed for guidance in this matter and to help our daughters adjust, we eventually quit our jobs and moved to the mountains where we worked from home and were able to spend more quality time with our children.
We felt called to look into adopting another child from China and adopted Hope when she was five years old. Her room at the orphanage was eight by five feet, with a small bed on the cement floor and a Red Cross blanket. That was all there was. The workers do wonders with what they have and truly have a heart to help children, but they just don’t have enough resources.
Hope was quiet at first but then she became tense and cried, screamed and wanted nothing to do with us. This attitude towards us continued for quite some time after our return home. However, there was less consternation for us, as we knew that this too would pass. Once our children came home and began to get adjusted to new adults in their lives and the fact that we would care for them no matter what, each one began to bloom in their own special and wondrous ways.
Faith is my little dancer, so elegant, beautiful and graceful. Gracie is my little, happy one, always laughing and playing tricks on me. Her laugh is infectious-I love her more than I can ever explain. Gracie’s heart condition has been repaired, a simple operation here but not possible for her birth parents, to whom I am forever grateful for their selflessness and bravery at helping their daughter have a better chance at life.
Joy has been unbelievably resilient. She learned to speak English in a matter of a few months, and translates from Mandarin to English to help us with our new daughter, Jewel. Yes, after much prayer and financial help from family, friends and strangers, there was another calling to adopt….
Jewel is 14 and almost completely deaf. She speaks Mandarin and is learning English day by day. And, like all my children, she is a treasure that I cannot imagine living without.
When we traveled to receive Jewel, she grieved and cried from the depths of her soul. At one point I had to leave the room, find a quiet place to pray and ask God if this truly was His will. I immediately was answered with: “Have faith in Me – it is not about you now, it is about her.”
At first I could not see myself with this many children or any children for that matter, and now I cannot fathom being without them. They are my family, and I am their Daddy. I could not fully live without them. Yes the boys get irritated sometimes, but what a lesson for them to see their parents doing the right thing for a child with no place to call home or anyone to love and care for them.
I get many questions, mostly from men, regarding adoption and specifically adopting older children. Yes, it costs money but that is typically spread out over many months. It would cost you much, much more, in terms of a rich life, not to have these loving children in your life.
Many times men worry over special needs more than prospective adoptive mothers. I can tell you from my experience that it’s no different than having biological children; it is all in God’s hands. Even with all the day-to-day activities, there always seems to be time to care for the needs of the children, and what could be more fulfilling?
People often say to us, how lucky these girls are and I say to them, no we are so very blessed to have them in our lives. There is no longer a void in our lives or our hearts – only a peace that goes beyond our understanding.
by Brad Burns