Blessed or Blessing?

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Family Life, Instructors, Marriage, Parenting, Society

“He will be so blessed to be part of your family!”  “You guys will bless his life so much!”  These are the most common phrases we heard when we began our first adoption process.  When we got married, we discussed our family plans.  We knew we desired children, but we were not exactly sure what that would look like.  I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and poly cystic ovaries when I was 18 years old.  I was never sure if I would be able to get pregnant, let alone sustain a pregnancy.  We promised to always be open to the gift of adoption.  Well, we achieved pregnancy five times in our marriage and have three living babies ranging from the ages of 13-9.  In 2015, God started to call us to consider expanding our family, but we didn’t think he was calling us to have one of our own, so we began praying about adoption.

After much prayer and discernment, we knew we were indeed called to adopt. After reading, “Amoris Laetitia” by Pope Francis, we knew we were called to adopt a child with special needs, particularly a child with Down Syndrome.  We began the process of adoption in March of 2016.  After a grueling process of paperwork and delays we were finally given travel approval to go get our son, George, in July of 2017.  George was abandoned when he was estimated to be six weeks old and lived in an orphanage since then.  When he was placed in my arms on July 30th, he was three years old, he could not bear weight on his legs, he didn’t eat anything but a bottle, and he couldn’t speak words, even in Chinese.  The orphanage he came from was in a poor province and was very understaffed, in fact, a 12 year old girl with Down Syndrome herself was tasked to take care of the babies with Down Syndrome.

From the moment George entered my life in the flesh I knew that this boy was not going to be blessed just by us, but that he was going to be a blessing for our entire family.  This child, who was merely kept alive in the orphanage, had beautiful and joyful outlook on life.  He had nothing but gave everything.  I often tell people that within 24 hours George changed my life.  I was a high strung, type A personality, that strived for perfection.  I often lost my temper for things that, in hindsight, did not matter.  George taught me that life is a gift and to live joyfully.  I remember being in China with my husband and George, looking down at George’s face and saying, “If he can be joyful with what he’s been given, I can also be joyful!”  At that moment life changed for me.  He taught me patience through his patience.  While he was learning new things (walking talking, eating) he kept on going with persistence, rarely becoming impatient with the process.  He taught me to take one day at a time and to treat each day as gift. Our family is a much stronger and better family because of his influence in our lives.  How can you have bad days when you have a joy box sitting next to you?  We love deeper because George knows nothing but love.  Our family did not know how much we could love until George taught us.

Yes, we’ve taught him much since he joined our family. He can now walk, run, bike, speak most words, eat some foods, and most importantly we have given him a family who loves and adores him.  By no means do I think those people who told us how much we would bless his life were wrong, but they missed the other half.  Yes, we blessed him, but he is one of the biggest blessings our family has ever received.

Moving forward almost three years, our family has almost completed yet another adoption process to bring home another child with Down Syndrome.  We should have traveled to get him at the beginning of March, but COVID had different plans for us. We have hope soon that we will all be doubly blessed!

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Tara Brooke

Tara Brooke is a wife, mother, educator, and child of God.  Tara has worked in various aspects of ministry in the Catholic Church for over 20 years, her last years as a Director of Marriage and Family Life for her local diocese.  She now stays home and tends to the needs of her growing and beautiful family.  She has three biological children and two adopted children, both with Down Syndrome. She loves helping engaged couples grow in their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage as well as helping enrich already married couples in growing in holiness together.  She resides in Bismarck, ND with her amazing husband, Deacon Dan! 

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