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Posts by thebarefoothomeschooler

Bringing Home Jude

The first time I heard his sweet voice………..he was also wearing this same outfit in the first picture we ever received of him.

As God would have it…the little boy to his left, lived in the same village as Jude.  I imagine their families could have been friends and the boys could have been friends when they lived in region.  They left, together, on a bus to Addis Ababa, to the orphanage.  There, they spoke each other’s tribal language.  They played together, ate together, remained friends.

Then God stepped in.

He had other plans

Once they were just friends….now they are cousins, as my sister adopted that little cutie, and because they both know Jesus as their personal Savior, they are brothers in Christ.

You just can’t get much better than that!

We started our process in Feb 2010, with minor paperwork snags (to be expected), we got our referral on our anniversary in June, we traveled in October and met him….there are no other experiences, that I have had, that could’ve prepared me for the awe, love and deep fulfillment as when I stepped off the plane onto the soil of a country I loved so very much.  It was like I was home.  Very strange feeling beings I had never been there before.  It was instant.

The noise, the smells, the sights, the people….it was overwhelming.  It was a smoggy piece of heaven.  Then, to drive up, see the orphanage and these giant iron gates open and to see the faces of all these children………..words can not describe.  We were instantly surrounded by children (there were 83, in all)….all who wanted a hug, a hand, to play ball, candy, bubbles, they all wanted to be loved.

I scanned the crowd and my eyes landed on this sweet little boy, sitting by himself with his soccer ball, not paying attention to anyone.  I touched my husbands arm and said “there he is.”  My heart leapt, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t find my words…my body moved without my knowledge.  It was almost like I was floating to him.  I squatted down, beside him and made eye contact.  It was then, I saw my husband looking back at me.  He looked so much like my husband it took my breath away.  My heart stopped, all the worries of the world went away and I thought to myself “I have found you…in this far away place, you have been waiting for me and I have been waiting for you.”

It was a joyous time.  Playing with him, learning his language, his culture and the sweet women (and some men) who took care of him.  We met with the judge, heard the blessed words “he is yours” and and from that day forward, he was mine.  A mere glimpse in my eye when I was a child was reality.  We were blessed to do a “mini” tour of his country.  We visited museums, churches, the local market and ate glorious food.  We swatted mosquitoes the size of my head, we slept to the music being played next door.  Blessed.  Humbling.  Wishing my kids were all there to see it with me.

In the blink of an eye, we had to head back to the US to wait for our Embassy appointment.  We were told it was to be 6 weeks before returning to get our son forever….that 6 weeks turned into over a year.

We got home and the day after we returned home, still on a high, we received a letter from OUR government stating that we would not be able to bring him to the US.  We had 6 weeks to get more income in or we would be denied, not by Africa, but by America.  It stated that we didn’t make enough money and that no matter what we said or did, he would not be in our arms.  I remember feeling my legs go out from under me and a wave of sadness and despair flooded me.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t function.  That depression I went through years ago, emerged.

I called the government and asked what I could do. They said I could go back to work, up our income, reapply and then we would see.  I called our homestudy agency, both of our adoption agencies….they said that we would win, there would be a few phone calls made, letters typed, money borrowed and it would be okay.  6 weeks later, between my birthday and Thanksgiving, we were officially denied.  In ET, he was ours.  In America, he wasn’t.

My heart broke, in half.  I was told to just let it go, what are they gonna do, take me to court for not going to get him?  I was told that I should think of my other children and let it go.  I was told that we could fight, but the chance of winning against immigration was slim.  Every person we spoke too had an opinion.  I tried to explain to them that I had held him, rocked him, wiped his nose, fed him and loved him….when he is just a picture, that people see, it is different than touching him.  He was my son and I would move Heaven and earth to get him in my arms.

We had decided to sell everything and the children and I were simply going to move to ET for 2 yrs, while Big Daddy stayed here to work.  We had a place to live, we knew people there and I could have all my children under one roof…without the glue that holds our family together…Big Daddy.  Then, we were all going to move.  We were going to do what it took to reunite our family.

We tried one last ditch effort to change things.  We hired the best adoption immigration attorney around, we got a new homestudy agency, we lit fires under our adoption agencies, we put all the kids in public school (after home schooling for close to 12 years) and I went back to work, full time.  Our lives turned upside down.  I got a job at a department store and I worked my butt off.  Those working moms, out there, hats off to you all!  We worked for a year…we sacrificed.  We almost gave up because the longer we waited the more our knowledge grew that he would become “unadoptable” because of his age and gender.

The Lord worked miracles.  He provided the funds, through family, friends, yardsales, wreath sales, etc to pay for our adoption, not once but twice.  In three days, we raised $3000 with a YARD SALE!  Tell me that isn’t MY God showing up!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was enough to pay for our attorney, visas, fingerprinting… many things in 3 days (remember who rose in 3 days, just sayin’).

I remember meeting our new social worker with the new homestudy agency.  We sat in a restaurant, eating (me being skeptical and not so nice because we had been down this road before and I wasn’t up for more disappointment).  Then she said these magical words “you did it.  You made enough money for your family and you are going to bring your son home.”  The world stopped spinning.  I couldn’t eat, I just sat there with my head on Big Daddy’s shoulders weeping because I never thought I’d hear those words.  We still had a long way to go, but this was a HUGE step.

More fighting, more paperwork, more money, more more more.  Again, the Lord showed up big because Jude had been transferred to the “Transition House”.  There, he was loved by thirty nannies and his next door neighbors were our good friends.  My friend Betty, came almost daily, to love on my son and have her children play with him.  She was me.  She was the mommy he needed in a time of uncertainty and pain for us and for him.  We are SO incredibly grateful to Woudneh Mulugeta and Betty Mamo and their children.

I got a call, one day, and it was our immigration worker.  I was told not to talk to them because the last worker was nasty and she denied our case.  This officer was different, she heard my plea for my son and she worked with us and for us.  She kept saying, “I need this paper or I need that paper.”  I would fax it and then call to confirm she received it.  During one of those faxing/calling moments, I was sitting in the closet talking to her and I heard these words “you are approved.”  I sat there.  Silence.  She said it again.  I sat there.  I asked her to repeat herself at least 5 times and then I burst tears thanking her, blessing her, praising God and shaking like there was no tomorrow.  I couldn’t keep it together.  I was on my knees, on my face, praising our God.  She kept saying “please don’t cry, get your stuff together and go get your son….you deserve him and he deserves you.”

I stood at my bedroom door and screamed for my girls and I told them, through tears and praises.  We all stood and cried.  I through on my shoes and we went to where Big Daddy works (in a factory, at the time).  I flew in and I couldn’t even get the words out.  I finally muttered “I need to see my husband, it is an emergency.”  The lady didn’t ask, didn’t flinch, she just escorted me to a room because, I’m assuming, she thought I was nuts.  Moments later and he walks into the room.  It was, again, like slow motion…I ran into his arms crying saying “we did it, we are bringing home our baby, we did it.”  We both sat, with tears in our eyes.  A blessed moment.

We flew out a year to the date that he “should have” been home.  God’s timing is perfect ya know and He has a sense of humor.  I remember stepping off that plane and seeing sweet Woudneh in the crowd and his smile…that radiant smile of his.  He escorted us to his car.  I sat, frightened and thought “will he remember me, will he be “institutionalized”, will he have RAD, will he hate us, what will I say, what will I do?”  We pulled up to the transition house and the giant gate opened.  My first thought was “where are all the kids?”  There was NO ONE in the court yard.  He told us to stay in the car because he wanted to capture all of this on camera and video.  I remember thinking “he is nuts…I’m not staying  in this car LOL.”

We parked under the tree and I looked around and I saw a group of nannies walking towards us and in the center of these beautiful women, there he was….my son….decked out in his best whites and holding a bouquet of flowers.  I was speechless.  I no more squatted down to see if he would remember me or want to hug me and he started running towards me and hugged me like I’ve never been hugged before.  We laughed, I cried, Big Daddy cried….he just patted my face.  I kept saying to him “I told you I would be back to get you.  I told you I would never leave you here or forget you.”  He couldn’t understand my words but he knew.

Our story didn’t end there, it began.  He has been pure joy.  He is full of life and love.  He is smart, athletic, loving and he is joy.  He exudes joy.  He laughs, all the time, he is humble and forgiving and he eats….he eats so much LOL

Is our story finished?  Your guess is as good as mine.

All I know is….

The Lord remembered.




Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken

My oh my…my story is coming full circle in so many ways.  It is a story that I choose to hold so tightly to my heart because the pain is almost unbearable.  It isn’t almost unbearable it is all the way unbearable.

Almost 10 years ago, Big Daddy and I decided to expand our family through the blessing of adoption.  We had had 3 biological children and we decided when our youngest was 2, that he would “get fixed” and that would be that.  We later regretted that decision and our conviction was to step out of our comfort zone and embark on an adventure.

Adventure it has been.

We quickly realized that international adoption was out of the question because the cost was astronomical.  We also decided that we had already done the baby thing, so we focused on older children through our state foster care system.  We took all the required steps.  We did 10 weeks of PS-MAPP classes, we filled out paperwork, worked on our home, got our homestudy, background checks, criminal checks, so much paperwork.  We were finally approved after what seemed like forever.  I believe it was over the summer when we were approved.

We were approved in June.  I was ecstatic.  We did not want to foster because I just couldn’t.  My heart couldn’t take that uncertainty.  We were going to adopt.  That was our grand plan.  The next month, my sweet granny decided it was time for her to see Jesus.  My heart….I can’t even begin to describe what her loss did to me. I knew she was better off.  I knew she would never want to come back here for anything.  I know I will see her again, but she was my person.  She was my source of strength.  That hole is still very much in my heart.  I began to sink into a depression.

Depression is nothing new to me.  I’ve struggled with it my entire life.  It was a black time filled with many tears.  In October of that year, we got the call.  My goodness….I thought we had won the lottery.  We wanted just one more child and we were getting two!  A girl (2) and a boy (10 mths).  I immediately began gathering things, preparing my heart, my other children, my family.  I was on cloud nine.  My babies …I remember when they walked in…so frightened.  So tiny.  My daughter couldn’t speak.  My son looked like Don King LOL.  His hair LOL…still makes me chuckle.  The social worker came in and stayed while we all met. My kids had a carseat, a coat, a sippy cup, a bottle and the clothes on their backs.  That was it.  We were set to adopt because they had already been in the system, returned and now back in the system.  We were preparing for these precious babies to be a forever part of our family.

We lived in a 1000 sq ft home with 5 kids and us and one bathroom.  It was crowded but doable.  I remember taking my son out of that 6 mth onesie he was wearing and when I did….he looked like an octopus unfolding…he had LOTS of rolls, lots of leg, lots of arms and he had been shoved in that onesie that was entirely too small for him.  He was wearing, comfortably 18 mth clothes.  He had never eat food.  All he did was drink out of a bottle.  When we introduced food to him…..he ate and ate and ate.  I’ve never in my life seen such a phenom.  His laughter.  Oh my, it would light up a room.  He laughed from the top of his head all the way down and his eyes would dance all over the room. He was contagious.

My daughter was a bit more reserved.  She was a bit pickier of an eater. She like to eat shoes and struggled with sleep.  Her teeth….I used to laugh and say she could eat a corn cob through a picket fence…those babies stuck straight out of her head.  She was shy but loved to be held and loved to look around.  She was mesmerized by the kids and all of the new surroundings.  She loved cats and flowers.  So precious.

My kids were VERY sick when they came to us. Our son had asthma and our daughter had a bit of it, so I would sit them in their high chairs and do breathing treatments for them, together.  My daughter had ringworm which spread to all of us.  It seemed like whatever was going around we ended up with.  It was hard.  It was also joyous.

Our social worker (or the kids worker) was a deceitful woman.  Her intentions (as stated to us) was that SHE wanted to adopt them but couldn’t because it was an ethical issue.  I sent pictures, gave updates, she came for visits…I did everything I was taught to do and then some.  After Thanksgiving…we ALL got the flu.  I was in bed, the babies were in bed with me (all 5 babies)…we were all so sick. I called the worker to see if she could possibly take the babies to their doctors appointment. She had previously told me that she would be there to help in any way.  I stupidly took her up on that offer.  When she got there, my babies were needing to be admitted for dehydration.  I immediately pulled my vomiting self out of the bed, got childcare for my other children and I hauled off to the hospital.  I stayed day and night for a couple of days. I thought everything was okay.

It was not okay.

When the SW went back to her office, she called for a court date.  She told me that I did not need to be there, it was just a review.  I needed to stay home with the babies and she would call if any changes with visitation were changing or if TPR (termination of parental rights) date was set.  I did that.  The babies and I were home.  I was deep cleaning the house, but first I had to set the babies in their chairs for their breathing treatments. I got the call.  The call was not from the SW, it was from her supervisor. All I remember hearing was “you have been deemed unfit as a parent and we are coming to get the babies.  Have them ready in an hour.”  I sat in silence.  The supervisor had to repeat herself several times because I was not comprehending what she said to me.  I was unfit because my kids had had the flu.  Because I had the flu.  I was unfit.  My babies were leaving.

I called Big Daddy, who was at work….I don’t remember all I said to him.  I do remember screaming and saying “she is coming to get my babies.  She is coming.  Please come home.  The babies are leaving.”  He got home and I was in the floor with all my kids surrounding me and the sound of me wailing was heard in the driveway.  Everyone was crying but my cry was from the pits of my soul…animalistic almost.  She pulled up and we all stood at the door. The kids were screaming.  They were holding onto us and screaming MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY.  My daughter was screaming, my son was screaming, I was screaming.  That worker looked like evil had just taken hold of her.  I asked her why she lied to me…why was I unfit…why was she doing this?  Her goal was for her to adopt or get them close to her so she could have constant access.

I finally ran to the bathroom because I was trying to muffle out their screams.  Those screams still haunt me.  I told my husband that I was going to bed.  When I woke up…I wanted to sign that they EVER lived in my house.  I wanted to erase all the memories….as short lived as they were….they were still my kids.  They stole my heart.  I told him I would not get up until I knew it was all gone.  He took care of everything.  Losing children in that manner is like my kids died and I didn’t even get a visitation to say goodbye.  I didn’t know where they were, if they were safe, if they were back with an unsafe mom, were they hurt…I knew nothing.  I still don’t.

My depression escalated quickly…to the point where the doctor thought I was going to kill myself (which I wasn’t).  He put me on antidepressants and some other meds to help even me out and get me out of bed.  That was in January of the next year.  I don’t really remember much of the rest of that time. My next good memory was when Gigi and Catfish moved in with us in March.  That is a whole new chapter.

In December of that next year, was the annual foster child Christmas party.  It was huge..Santa was there, food, gifts, lots of people.  I came in and sat down. I knew my kids were 3 and 2 and my prayer was that they were not there.  We all came in and sat down and I looked across the room and there sat my babies.  I just stared.  Bart wanted to go and speak to them and I told him that I simply couldn’t do it.  I told him my two fears. 1) That they would not remember me. Let’s face it.  They weren’t with us for long, they were 2 and almost 12 mths…they were babies.  That would break my heart.  2) That they would remember me and wonder where I’ve been.

I did walk up to that table.  They were with another foster family. Their birthmom couldn’t do it.  I squatted down and I simply whispered “hello babies.”  They both looked across the way and saw me squatted between tables.  I was prepared for them to not know me.  What happened in those following moments is what I hold in my heart so tightly….they both jumped off their foster mother’s lap and came running screaming MOMMY! MOMMY!  I cried as they jumped in my arms.  We all hugged so tight.  I kissed every part of their faces.  I thanked their foster mother for letting me hold them and love them and for her loving them so well.  My heart was full of joy…for a moment…until that evil social worker saw what was happening and she walked over and ripped them out of my arms again.  Again, the were screaming and crying while she physically removed them from me.

I left.  I couldn’t be that close to my kids and not be allowed to love them. I couldn’t be safe around that evil woman whom I still have not forgiven.  I simply couldn’t.  Bart did go the next year and he did take a couple of pictures for me but they didn’t remember him.  That is the last pic I have of them.

So when we are again, embarking down a similar road…a road where I’m forced to relive this pain and hurt…my sister said that someone told her this “when you are a foster parent… is my job for my heart to be broken so the hearts of the baby’s (regardless of age) do not have to be broken.”  I step heart is shattered….their heart is whole.  I take the blows, I take the beatings.  I take the pain to prevent it from falling and permanently damaging these children.

Grayce and Daniel came to live with us in March of that following year.  It has been difficult with moments of glory.  Our adoption was about 2 years after they moved in with us.  We had to do LOTS of therapy, lots of counsel, lots of trials (you know, where there is a judge) and lots of red tape to get through, but we did it.

Would I change it?  No, I wouldn’t.  Even though satan tried to use the difficulties of our children’s past (reactive attachment disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, trust issues, food issues, adhd, odd, ptsd, blah blah blah), he did not steal our joy.  Jesus is constantly refining us, through our trials to be more like Him.  It hurts to be stretched and pulled and refined…..but through His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness…we are plugging along.

They are all my blessings.  Every single one of them are worth it.

Wordless Wednesday


I Saw What I Saw

Guest Blogger: Jayna

Meet my friend, Jayna.  She has been married to Jimbo for 28 years and together they have a beautiful daughter, in heaven, Torri Dean. We met eons ago, at church.  This couple struck me because Jayna is t-tiny and Jimbo is not so much….and then there was Torri….a daddy’s girl with her mom’s big smile.  Sweet memories of long ago and I’m blessed to still be friends with them, today.  Her story is from the flip side.  She was adopted, as a baby and has also found, and formed a relationship, with her biological family.  Maybe she will guest blog again and continue her story….but for now….

I’ve never posted anything on a blog. However, I️ believe my story is not only unique but beautiful & I️ do love to share about it.
In 1970 adoption wasn’t near as popular as it is now. Sorry, but popular was the only word I️ thought fit….I️ realize some may not like it, but it’s my story (haha). The couple who adopted me, from a children’s home in Louisville, KY, had already adopted a little boy from Cincinnati, OH 3 years earlier.  They named him Mike. This couple, James & Ann, had a son in the late 60’s who died at only 3 months of age from genetic abnormalities. When the tragedy of losing their son, Joseph, happened they knew they couldn’t face such a tragedy again & adoption would be their way of creating a family of their own.
Fast forward to June 1972. This amazing couple who adopted a boy then a girl were a family. Mike & Jayna (that’s me) were their children & they in turn were our mom & dad. No blood biologically needed for any of us. However, Mike, our mom & I were in a car accident & our mom, Ann died. I️ have to take a minute to talk about our dad. He & Ann (who was 28 years old) had been married for 10 years. He had buried his son & now he would be burying his wife. Yes tragic, but also now having the responsibility of taking care of a 5 year old & 2 year old……without his wife. I’m sure this was almost more than he could take. I’m sure my dad questioned God about how & why. Not only questioning her death, but the decision to adopt us.
But God…..don’t you love that saying?

Yes God……sent us all such a blessing when my dad met Shelda.

They married in May 1974 & Shelda became our mom. Can you imagine? She must have really loved our dad to marry him with 2 children who weren’t even his biologically!! And did I️ mention she had no children? Talk about being thrown to the wolves!! Becoming a wife is hard, but becoming a mom & wife at the same time….that could be tragic! (I’m kidding no one get offended by that okay?)

This mom. Shelda, had such a wonderful family also & we got a new set of grandparents, aunts & uncles.  Everyone  loved us the same as the grandchildren born biologically into the family. Heck! they even loved us the same as the ones they had loved since birth & they didn’t meet us until we were 3 & 6 years of age.  Don’t get me wrong, we were already extremely loved by so many & our dads side of the family was crazy in love with us too, so we weren’t lacking in the love & attention category!!
Can I️ throw another piece into this story? My mom & dad were able to have a son biologically in 1976. His name is Billy.  So there we were, a family. A family that had been placed together by love & what I believe to be Gods sovereign plan. A plan no one could have come up with on their own. We are a family  not biologically,  because our parents have 3 children & none of us have the same mom & dad (biologically). Let me tell you though, WE HAVE THE SAME MOM & DAD. We are brothers & sister. We love each other so much & I️ am beyond grateful for my family.
Yes, when I️ was 21 yrs old I️ found my biological parents & that’s too long for me to share,  but I️ love them & respect their decision. I’m ever so grateful for their decision to put me up for adoption. I’m ever so grateful to be raised in a home that I️ never questioned if I️ was loved.
If you see me out with my parents and/or my brothers you’ll NEVER hear us say the word “step”.  I️ don’t believe in that word. I️ won’t use that word. They are my parents & they are my brothers. We are family.



Guest Blogger: Linda

My name is Linda Kelley and I am happily enjoying retirement after working in the accounting profession for too many years to count.  My last position was as an accounting officer for the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.  I currently live in Riverside, California with my husband of 17 years, Tim. 

My very first experience with adoption involved my grandson, Joshua.  Unfortunately his biological father was not involved in his life.  My daughter’s second husband chose to fill the position as his dad and wanted to make it legal by adopting him.  I know this was important to Joshua and it made him feel more a part of his family which included his little brother, Jeremy.  Unfortunately the family did not stay together but I know having a “legal” dad has meant a great deal in Joshua’s life.


My second encounter with adoption was quite different.  At the age of 50 I found myself ending a 28 year marriage and starting on a new path in my life.  I was fortunate enough to find my current husband, Tim, and the two of us jumped into a new adventure together.  At that point I had two grown daughters, both of which were busy with their own lives.  The younger one, Christina, was having a difficult time finding her way in life and lived with us on and off for several years.  Tim was always understanding and very patient with the struggles we went through with her.  My older daughter, Jeni, had her own family but was still close to us.  She went through a few hard times of her own at which time Tim and I did our best to be there for her.  Her relationship with her biological father had gone downhill to the point that they were no longer in communications with each other.  One day she approached me and asked if I thought Tim might be willing to adopt her and become her legal father.  She told me that she felt Tim had been much more of a father to her than my ex was and that she appreciated all he was doing for her and would like to be able to put Tim as her father in any legal paperwork she needed.  She had met a man from Finland and had married him and moved there with her two sons.  They had a daughter at this time and with citizenship papers, passports, etc., there was always something too fill out.  She said whenever she had to put down her father’s name, she always thought of Tim first as her father so she would like to make it official if he would be okay with it.  I told her I was sure he would so she asked him if he would be willing to become her legal father.


As for Tim’s reaction to her question…only he can tell you exactly how he felt but from my point of view I think it was something he had never expected but he embraced the idea completely.  He loved both of my daughters as if they were his own.  Christina had also grown apart from her biological father and loved Tim very much but felt a duty to remain at least cordial to her biological dad, especially if Jeni were to go through with the adoption.  She remained very close to Tim up to the time she passed away almost seven years ago.  I think a little background info is needed about Tim to understand why this adoption was so important to him.  He had two sons from a previous marriage.  Due to many circumstances he had decided to give up his parental rights to the boys after his ex had remarried and her new husband wanted to adopt them.  This is something he has regretted every day of his life since.  He was forced to end all communications with the boys and had lost all track of them.  Luckily we have reconnected with the oldest now and he is a welcome part of our lives, but the thought of Jeni wanting him to be her father was especially touching to him since he had lost his sons.  The adoption was very simple from the legal aspect of things, but the bonding it helped to create between my husband and my daughter is something I will always be thankful for.  It is the best feeling to refer to Jeni as “our” daughter and not just “my” daughter.


Guest Blogger: Jeni

Meet, my person, Jeni.  We have been friends for 14 yrs.  We met online….she moved close….we lived life….she remarried Teemu….and moved to Finland LOL.  She has 3 children (Joshua, Jeremy, and Lizzy aka J1, J2, and Tito).  Her parents are Tim and Linda Kelley.  Here is her story of being adopted, as an adult, by her step-father.  I am blessed to know them all.

I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to find the words to convey my adoption story. I’ve read through the amazing stories on the blog & feel a bit humbled because my story is so simple & straightforward. In 2010, at the age of 36, I was adopted by my stepdad, Tim. Step-parent adoption isn’t all that unusual but I like to think we’re unique because he didn’t raise me & I didn’t meet him until I was an adult, married & pregnant with my 2nd child.

I’ve had a couple of people question why I would ask a man who didn’t raise me, a man who I only met when I was 25, to adopt me. No, he’s not rich. 😊 I’ve had a good relationship with my dad, my children have grown up thinking of him as “grandpa,” and I watched him love & support my sister as she dealt with her personal demons. During his time as my stepdad he also loved & supported me through a suicide attempt, a very painful & drawn out divorce, depression. I was not exactly at my best & yet I knew that I had his support. He’s loved my sister & I unconditionally.

I don’t like to refer to this part but it is relevant so… In 2004 I learned of an incident that led me to cut all ties with my biological father.

In 2007 I married a truly wonderful Finnish man. My boys & I moved to Finland to start our lives as a new family. In 2010 I was filling out forms to renew our residence permits & when I got to the section asking for my parents’ information, it just hit me. I hated having to enter bio-father’s information because in my mind, that person was no longer my father. Tim was. Tim was the one who loved me & my children the way a father should. I had come to think of him as my dad, I loved him as my dad, so I asked him to legally become my dad. I was nervous & felt a little silly about asking but I was so happy when he said yes.

That summer my husband & I flew to California so that our daughter (she was 16 months old) could meet my parents. During that visit we all went to the courthouse & I was adopted. One of the things I remember most about that day was the judge telling me I could pick a stuffed animal to take home with me. I let my daughter choose & she picked out an adorable snow leopard. I think it probably goes without saying that she decided that she was keeping it.

In January 2018 I have to once again renew our residence permits. I’m looking forward to entering “Timothy Kelley” as my father’s name. This will be the first time I get to formally recognize him as my dad.


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Guest Blogger: Tim

Meet my favorite Pirate, Tim…..he is married to Linda and they live in CA.  His adoption story is one that not many people think can even happen….but it can and it is beautiful.  He loves his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.  I am proud to know him.

I have been asked to share my experience in adopting my daughter Jeni Kuivala. My experience is going to be much different that most since I adopted my daughter as an adult.

Let me preface my actual adoption of Jeni with a little bit of back story. I met Jeni about 19 years ago. Her mother Linda and I had been talking and seeing each other for a while. We met at a restaurant to have breakfast it was a family get together. Jeni was pregnant with her youngest son Jeremy. Well poor Jeni was so sick I think she spent much of her breakfast time ill. I felt so sorry for her knowing how miserable she must be. So that was my first meeting of her and she was, despite being sick, warm and very accepting of me and really treated me like family.

From that time on when we were together she treated me as though I were her father and much more a friend.  It was very easy to feel as though she was my daughter even then and it has been a very great relationship ever since. So fast forward to 2010 Jeni and her husband Tassu were planning on visiting us in California. They both live in Finland where he is from (another story).

At the first of 2010 Jeni made a request of me that I must admit kind of took me back and surprised me. She asked me if I would adopt her when they came out to California. Well it was kind of overwhelming and was something I never thought of. It is hard to explain the feeling you have when someone asks you to do something like that. The thought of Jeni having those feelings that she wanted me to be her legal father I guess in some ways humbling. After talking with Linda and making sure that she was good with it I of course told her I would adopt her. I told her I would find out what we needed to do and how it all works.

Now I worked for the Courts in Ventura, so it was a bit easier for me to get rolling on what needs to be done. I was kind of familiar with child adoption but had no idea about adult adoption and quite frankly didn’t even know adults could adopt adults. This was a learning experience for me. Fortunately our court has a Self Help Legal center which is staffed by clerks that are familiar with different areas of law such as adoptions, civil suites etc. I made an appointment with them and they were able to explain the whole process and what documents I needed, and paper work needed. Fortunately adopting an adult is very easy to do. So that was great knowing that Jeni and I could go through this journey relatively easy and enjoy the results. What I found out is we just had a few forms to fill out and I think we had to provide birth certificates for both of us as proof of who we were. The forms were basically our information and signatures plus Linda and Jeni’s husband Tassu had to sign consent to the adoption also.

When Jeni and Tassu arrived, we had to go to the Juvenile Court house (yes that is right Juvenile Courthouse) to file paperwork to go in front of the Judge for her to approve and grant the adoption. We were on a tight time frame, so we filed the paper work on a Monday and had our Court date the next Friday morning. Adoption day I think we were all nervous, we were at the Juvenile Courthouse to have the adoption heard. Our Judge was the Honorable Tari Cody. I have met Judge Cody several times with work related issues. She is a very nice Judge and I think was excited about hearing an adult adoption. If I remember right it was the first she had heard.

Anyway, we were brought into the courtroom, the five us. Jeni and I, Linda, Tassu and of course our year and a half old Granddaughter Lizzy. (I think Judge Cody had a lot of fun having Lizzy in there). She asked us a few questions then asked Linda and Tassu if they consented to the adoption and she approved it. Next big step which is a big custom in our Adoption Court is to give the adoptee a stuffed toy. Jeni decided to defer the stuffed toy to Lizzy which all of us including Judge Cody felt that it was a great decision, so did Lizzy. That was the whole adoption in a nut shell. Like I say it is easy and very simple. But then this adoption is not like adopting a child.

After the adoption we left the building and joyfully took pictures. Will share a picture after I finish this. My final thoughts on all of that has happened and the process was so good. The fact that she wanted me to be her legal father gave me a feeling that I guess I cannot put into words. I know that I do love Jeni as my daughter no matter what. I’m proud of her and Tassu and proud to call Tassu my son-in-law. Jeni has a great family, Linda and I have wonderful Grandchildren with Joshua, Jeremy and Lizzy. I feel like I married and was adopted into a great family. Bottom line while adopting a child is a great reward so is adopting an adult.

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Out of the Mouth of Babes

Meet Grayce (16), Daniel (13), and Jude (11)….Grayce and Daniel were 6 and 2 1/2 when they moved in with us.  We adopted them from the foster care system.  Jude, we adopted at 4 and brought him home at 5 from Ethiopia.  Hunter (3) is actually my great nephew.  This is verbatim what they wrote about their experience.  This is spelling errors, bad grammar and all LOL


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Grayce (RAD, PTSD, ADD, PMDD, FASD, and realizing her AWESOMENESS)

I think adoption is a neat thing.  It gives kids hope.  I moved in with my adoptive parents at the age of 6 and was legally adopted at the age of 9.  Adoption can also be a scary thing, mainly for the kid.  They may be used to a certain environment then suddenly they are in a new place with new people.

When I was adopted it was scary at first.  Even though I wasn’t with my biological mother I was with another family that I was used to being around.  There is no telling how long it will take a kid to adapt.  I guess it depends on all that the kid has been through.

But their are some positive things about adoption you get a family that wants you, who cares for you.  After all they CHOSE YOU out of tons of kids.  You get all of your basic needs met and maybe some wants to.

The past may be hard to forget but we can choose to make our future a better one.  If I hadn’t been adopted, I would really be struggling.  Living with a mom who didn’t really care what I did and would let me do anything I desired.  I could be addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age or pregnant like my birth mom.  But luckily someone saw that I could be something more than what I had grown up to be and adopted me.  They saw more in me than I did.  And I can never repay them for it.

Adoption is a gift from God.  Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery, to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

Adoption can save lives.



Daniel (ADD, PTSD, RAD, FASD, Dyslexia, Low Functioning, Brain Damage, Developmental Delays, and AWESOME)

Dear readers, I’m going to tell about my life.  As a boy do not remember much of the past but if I was not abopted my mother could not take care of my need and health.  I was all ways sick untill my new mothe and father got me and adopted me.  I got new mother who cared for me and a new father and brothers and sisters who loved me with every breath they have, and taugh me new things and how to love God.  And though they love more my other family that did mean things to me and I’v learned to forgive them but they still loved me the only way they could, and I loved them sure the life was rough and hard but I had a new chapter to start.


Jude (Developmental Delays, Single Sided Deafness, and always knew his tendency towards AWESOME)

I remember giving the people in ethiopia candy and how I sat down i nthe living room and wached them make coffe and when I was abopted I was five years old and that was when I met my new family I have three brothers and three sisters and a mom and dad if I was never aboted I wouldn’t have never experinced playing and sports or making new friends or seeing new places I like it here because I can experince new things and how my brothers taught me new things and how to play other games and how they helped me with stuff and I remember not liking the airplains water and how I remember puking in the van.


Hunter (Developmental Delays, Oposoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, and never knew he wasn’t AWESOME)

Me:  Hunter, did you know you were adopted?

Hunter:  Uh huh

Me:  What is your mama’s name?

Hunter:  I don’t know.

Me:  Do you love being adopted?

Hunter:  Yes.

Me:  Who sends you letters in the mail?

Hunter:  Mama Paige.

Me:   Who are your brothers and sisters?

Hunter:  Karen, Bro-man

**Karen is our cat and Bro-man is Jude….he also has Victoria, Alyssa, Grayce, and Kaleigh.  Brothers are Noah, Daniel, Jude, and Jack**

Me:  Where does Kaleigh and Jackie live?

Hunter: In my room.

Me:  Do you love MaMaw so much?

Hunter:  Yes.

Me:  What about PaPaw?

Hunter:  Yes

Me:  Anything else you want to say?

Hunter:  I am wearing Superman underwear.

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Giveaway: Kutless Alpha and Omega CD

Alpha / Omega

The last CD giveaway, Big Daddy swiped it before I even knew it had come in the mail!  Well, not this time, my friends…..Not.  This.  Time.  I won.  I beat him.  I listened first.  It is all about me……………ALL.  ABOUT.  ME.

Well, maybe it is all about Jesus…..of course it is all about Jesus, but Jesus let me beat Big Daddy to the music 🙂

I have to get in my listening time before he steals it and puts it in his truck…..the kids and I are considering it school work (hey, it’s music, Bible…we can write the lyrics….).  I’m drawing a winner for this CD on my oldest girl’s 22nd birthday!  So, like or comment any of my social media posts and I will draw on November 24, 2017!






About Kutless:

Since signing to BEC Recordings in 2001, Kutless has transformed from a new rock band to a staple artist in the industry that has multi-format, top-charting hits, sold millions of records and more than eight million streams. Launched by original members Jon Micah Sumrall (lead vocals) and guitarist James Mead, the band formed first as a modern rock/worship band at Warner Pacific College in Portland in 2000. Kutless has two RIAA Gold-selling albums for Strong Tower and Live from Portland. The band has had 12 No. 1 radio singles across all formats including their major hits “Strong Tower,” “What Faith Can Do” and “Carry Me To The Cross.”

After more than 15 years together and reaching fans around the world, Kutless continues to be focused on sharing the Gospel with a younger generation that is searching for answers.

“We really believe that music can make a difference in people’s lives,” shares Jon Micah Sumrall. “Music is an incredibly powerful tool that can break down walls and allow us to communicate a message of hope to people who may not listen otherwise. We are still recording and performing because we really do believe it makes a difference. We hear stories all the time from people who share with us how a concert or a song has radically impacted their life, and it’s these types of testimonies that keep us going year after year.”

In 2012, Kutless formed EOTA Ministries (End of The Age) to expand their evangelistic outreach around the globe. EOTA is the non-profit arm that aids Kutless in hosting large, free outreach concerts and events. In 2015, they partnered with other organizations to bring concerts to Kiev, Ukraine and other cities for six events – the largest of their kind in that country. The next year, Kutless returned to 11 cities in Ukraine as well as in Belarus, a communist country, where more than 100,000 heard the Gospel and over 40,000 commitments to Christ.

With their upcoming album ALPHA / OMEGA, Kutless has created a collection of rock and worship songs of both original and cover tracks that are true to who the band has been for the last 17 years. They wanted to create a project that would engage the Christian community and have the greatest impact. The songs are true to who the band is at their core – rock and worship. ALPHA / OMEGA features a new version of “Strong Tower” as well as the debut radio single “King of My Heart.”

Social Corner:

Landing page to buy/stream the record:

Video link:





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