Everywhere we go, we attract attention. Maybe it’s because there are so many of us (17 when we are all together). Maybe it’s because there are so many races represented in our family. Maybe it’s unusual to see so many boys with hand differences or a family with two children who use wheelchairs. Maybe it’s just the fact that we travel everywhere in a big ol’ rattling shuttle bus!
The staring used to bother me. Now I see it as an opportunity. I smile, nod, and will usually attempt to start up a conversation with the ones who stare. Most people want to ask questions but don’t want to offend or embarrass us. I would prefer questions over stares, and I think most of our children would agree.
The question that my husband Dale and I are asked most often is “Why?” People don’t understand why we would want 15 children (two biological and 13 adopted). They don’t understand why we would give up the life we could have to be parents to all these kids. Most people in our age group are busy traveling the world, pursuing interesting hobbies, or enjoying an empty nest. People don’t understand why we would willingly choose to adopt/parent children who will need lifelong care and constant medical attention. They don’t see or understand the beauty in serving and obeying. They feel like we are missing out on what the world has to offer us.
Dale and I have several answers to that “why” question. First of all, we do love children. They bring us joy (except when they all have homework at the same time) and we truly love the constant interaction and activity of a large family. We don’t ever have to worry about being bored in our household! But the biggest reason our family looks the way it does is because it represents an act of obedience to our Lord Jesus. We truly believe that each child in our family was destined to be with us. God called us to step out in faith and pursue these children. Our family would not be complete with even one of them missing.
Adopting so many children has stretched our faith, tested our patience, and pushed our perseverance to the very limit. And it certainly has put a strain on our budget! But the realization that our crazy family is pleasing to the Lord is reward enough, and the smiles and joy our children bring us is a bonus.
Our family, the family God created, has given us the opportunity to share Christ with total strangers. It has encouraged others to adopt, and many orphans have come home to forever families because of the influence of my beautiful children. And because of our family — considering the places we have been and the activities in which we have participated — our life has been one giant adventure. My life is fuller and more exciting than I ever dreamed it would be. I should also add that I have done more laundry and changed more diapers than I ever thought was humanly possible! But I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it!
My prayer is that all Christians would seek God’s will for their lives in regard to the children without a family. I challenge you to seek information about how many orphaned children are in our world. Look up the staggering statistics. I also recommend the video, “Hope is Fading.” It will wreck you, but it is truth. The orphaned children in this world don’t just need your donations, your hand-me-downs, your short-term mission trip visits — they need a FAMILY.
Will you hear the cry of the orphan? Will you step out and be a family to those without one? I promise you the Lord will smile upon you as you take that step to love a child who is alone, abandoned, in need. He has certainly smiled upon my family!
“Together, we can build amazing families and put a dent in the orphan crisis. Together, we can change the world, one child at a time. Nothing would make me happier than if my story was not unique, but instead, it was common. Can you even imagine?!” ~ A quote from my book, “Always Room for More“
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. (Psalm 127:3-5)
Editor’s Note: You can purchase Ann’s book about her family’s adoption journey, “Always Room for More,” here and read more about her family on the Always Room for More Facebook page. See previous Live Action News coverage about the McKinney family here.
Author bio: Ann McKinney and her husband, Dale, are parents to 15 children, 13 of them through domestic and international adoption. Ann is a team leader and board member with In His Hands Orphans Outreach (Inhishands.org) and also serves as the Haiti Team Coordinator where she manages trips to the IHH Orphan Home in Grand Savanne, Haiti. She was the original founder and director of Treasured Adoption Foundation, where she helped dozens of orphaned children find forever families. She has devoted her life to advocating for orphans and vulnerable children and enjoys sharing her experience through speaking engagements and conferences.
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