Our family isn't exactly the "typical" family, but I believe we have been built by God's leading and that's worth much more than 'normalcy' to us! Michael and I married in July 2001 in our hometown in Florida. We each finished our Bachelor's degrees, Michael's in business and mine in elementary education from UCF in 2003 and 2004. After we began our family, Michael went back to school and received his Master's degree in Organizational Leadership in 2009.
God made us parents for the first time when Kristopher was born to us in February 2004. What a gift it is to be a mother and father!
In January 2006 Brianna was born and in March of that year she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. She underwent open heart surgery and the placement of a g-tube in June of that year, but is now a healthy 'typical' little girl! God used the diagnosis of Down syndrome as a blessing to us and called us into adoption in the fall of 2007.
In February 2008, Emma (5 yrs old) and Micah (18 months old) joined our family through international adoption from Ukraine. Emma (born February 2003) was in very bad health when she joined our family, weighing just 17 pounds and in need of open heart surgery. She has Down syndrome as well as autism from the years spent in a crib without interaction, and mild CP from strokes caused by her heart defect. Micah is 8 months younger than Brianna (born September 2006) and has Down syndrome as well as moderate hearing loss. He was 11 pounds at 18 months old and had pneumonia since birth due to aspiration. He is now an active and happy little boy and uses sign language to communicate.
The Lord blessed us further when we had our next biological baby girl, Lynae, in September 2009! She now is challenging her siblings to keep up with her and is a lively little girl with such a great imagination!
In July of 2010, Michael and I answered God's calling to commit to a little boy waiting in Ukraine. Wesley (born February 2005) has cerebral palsy and joined our family in December 2010. We didn't know God would be "filling the gap," but he is exactly a year younger than Kristopher and a year older than Brianna. Wesley is considered a "total care" child, as he cannot do any of his own daily care. He is fed with a g-tube and cannot sit or stand. He can roll to get what he wants and enjoys the activity of all his siblings around him! Wesley is also legally blind, which affects his sensory input and he has difficulty with loud sounds and changing light when he's not in a familiar environment.
|2012 Left to Right: Brianna, Micah, Aleksa, Delaina,|
Meredith, Lynae, James, Michael, Emma,
Our newest addition is another 'home made' child, our daughter Delaina, born to us in July 2012. She is a spunky and determined little one as she tries to keep up with her older siblings. She is a precious blessing, as are all of our children, and we are enjoying seeing her grow and learn.
During the first 12 years of our marriage, up until recently, Michael worked in several ministry positions including youth, administration, and network administrator at our church. I was a children's minister for several years, taught home school classes for individuals, and have since focused primarily on our family and currently on homeschooling all of our children.
As our children got older and we found the need for more adapted church programming for most of our children with special needs, God called us out of our church of 12 years. We believe that God is leading us back in to pastoral ministry and we are looking for the church home that has a heart for the special needs community with a desire to incorporate them in to the Body of Christ. In the mean time, we have found a place of "rest" at FBC Orlando, and despite the long drive to get there, we are enjoying being a party of that Body. We are thankful for the Journey that God has us on!
Michael and I have left our "yes" on the table, and we continue to answer God's calling wherever he leads! He has blessed us abundantly as we strive to serve Him in every aspect of our lives.