Monday, December 15, 2014

Her family is forever - Meet my daughter, Mya

This is Mya ( our animal whisperer). She is almost 13 yrs old and has a lot of things she wanted to share so she asked if she could start a blog. So here is a link to her blog. I love seeing the pictures the kids who blog chose to share and the thoughts that are on their minds. Hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some of my thoughts about Ferguson,MO, NY and praying for peace

I am posting in my blog some of my thoughts and reactions. I am not interested in dialogue on fb or here. If you wish to comment and it is negative than I will delete . If you wish to have a conversation with me I would welcome it thru my personal email or message....My husband and I live our lives as proof of our love for all people . God made us all and all life life should be valued - babies in the womb, black, white, disabled, and not . We are grateful for the service that the police have provided in our lives and we hate the negative publicity and how undervalued they must feel. So we as a family want to say - Thank you to all police officers who serve the public and risk their lives daily for us. 

Being the momma to 10 almost 14 African American children and 26 white children from multiple countries, and I have a son in a police academy, I have to say a few things :  First I am saddened anytime I hear of a death because I believe all life is valued and precious . Second I also believe and have experienced some prejudiced about some of my children ( not all because of their color but often because of their disability ). Third I am sickened by all the unrest I watch that is violent, and disruptive to other innocent people and their business or ability to travel in their communities. I have read on fb many other adoptive moms who I would disagree with their opinion about what is happening in our country....The nite the Ferguson grand jury case was announced we watched and we watched the second nite...during our family time of Bible and devotions we talked about all of this and here is what we came to think...and we still believe this after watching both videos of the NY incident. First as this article shares you must obey the authority that is there in your life. Whether it be your parents, a teacher, a coach or a police officer. You be respectful to authority even if they are not to you. Understanding this will make your life better in the long run. Even if you are not treated fairly. We talk thru this one concept constantly with our kids. When I leave and one older sibling is left in charge all the kids must obey them even if they think they are being treated wrong or unfairly. They also must be respectful...then when I return we will deal with this and sometimes the younger children were correct and the authority ( in this case their older sibling ) was wrong. It would be the same with any other authority in their lives. After the time or incident we will help our children go thru what happened and if it was something that was wrong we would deal with it in the appropriate manner...even if it means going to see a lawyer, or the police. I speak from experience too but that is all I will share.

Now we also try to teach our children a positive way to handle their emotions...especially their anger . Watching the news lately and even some of our leaders has been the best worst example of how to behave when you feel you have been matter what the situation may be. I am a rebel by heart and will do things the opposite way or if you tell me it can't happen I will do my best to prove you I have that deep within in me. No time have I ever been successful getting my way or my message heard by acting in a violent or abusive way to any authority I have had in my life. It harms my message or cause even more if I behave that way. So watching the news and all the people react to what appears to be some mistakes that have cost these lives has me quietly seething and angry. I have seen what every one else has watched and I don't get some of the remarks or comments I have read. I was not there and even those witnesses who were more on the side of the victim changed their story when they testified before the grand jury? I watched the 2 NY videos and I also don't see what some others saw. I did wonder why so many officers and people and the EMT did not start CPR because it is hard for me to not react to emergencies if I am out I am one who steps in...I am just wired that way. Even a black female police officer in the video did not . The responses I heard to the crowd asking were, " He is breathing and has a pulse ". You don't usually start CPR when that is the case. I have not heard anything about the time of death to help me understand this better... but if the video is correct and what I heard it makes sense . Sadly none of our conjectures or wondering will bring back this life.

I also never hear much about what these people ( the victims) were doing to cause police to intervene the moments before these tragedies. The Ferguson yg man had just robbed a convenience store , manhandled the clerk on his way out. He did not obey the officers command and resisted arrest...and according to witness even tried to assault the officer and remove the gun...hummm if any of my kids were in that situation I would not blame the officer totally for his behavior as the parents and many of this community have. The yg man should be held responsible and his choices that day contributed to his own death....I do feel sorry for the police officer and his family because I do feel he is being used as a scapegoat. I don't see how this man with a good record all the 10 yrs with the dept...never had any issues with harassment brought against him nor even once ever drew his gun before this has to suffer. He also has to relive that moment over and over...the day he took a life doing his job.

The other gentleman, was doing an illegal activity that the shop owners said he did often and they were upset about. The shop owners complained and the police show up to deal with the man who was not paying sales tax like the shop owners do for selling cigarettes and he was taking away some of their revenue....He was a big man and not obeying the police officers. My kids even saw that...which I don't understand why a CNN legal analyst minimized the crime...It was a crime and the man behaved in a way that help to contribute to his death. Doing something wrong is wrong...and resisting the authority of a police officer is wrong...That is why we teach our kids - You will lose if you don't obey the authority of a police officer. The consequences of your choices and how you behave could be just as deadly as it was for these people...even the 12 year old boy at the park who was pretending to shoot people and not listening the the command of the police officer. Many shooters in school have been this age and if they are going to "act" bad how can one blame a police officer for reacting to this threat ?

Having said all of the above and expecting some negative comments ...I do think it is a good thing to look at some of the issues these past shootings have brought up. We have taught all of our children ( black or white , disabled or "normal" ) to obey the authority of a police officer. It just can't be all about race to us. I don't think the violent protests and stopping of traffic, burning police cars and businesses is the way to go about it. For our family it is not just about a race issue. This common core sense of obeying your authority , not causing the need for an officer to be in your life ( a crime ) , and dealing with your anger and pain in positive manners is how our family will choose to see these past police confrontations.... and if there is a mistake we forgive. I can't imagine the pain the families who lose loved ones in this way must feel...first the loss, then all the media attention and then the criminal background and not so positive lives of their loved ones come out. Praying for peace here.

Here is a link to an article I like...especially his first 3 things listed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Many new things to share and just life...

Meet Mya's new bird- Sofia. Her sweet first bird,Polly died we think trying to lay an egg : ( 

Lucy and Lucas as well as Grace are doing so well.

Missing these sweethearts but process is moving along

Hanging with my grand much fun ! No matter what we do.

We love the new," Mary Did You Know" by Pentatonix- Here they are tonite singing along which lead to practicing their Christmas choir performance songs...first the little ones ( with some extra singers in waiting ).

Then the older ones practiced while the little ones watched and sang along.

Missing the 2 in the green shirts, Sandra and Jr but,we are very close to bringing them home - Praise God. Exit interview scheduled soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lots of food, fun and fellowship today

Our day started with brunch....

Our day ended with games and playing paper dolls and a Christmas movie. 

Leah took all the kids outside after dark to play find the turkey...which was why the boys are wearing glow sticks on their ears.

 These paper table cloths were a huge hit

 More eating and fellowship. So much fun to watch Levi and Grace during their first Thanksgiving. Levi's comment, " There is so much food. "
Some of us even grabbed a nap

 Some of my kitchen help

 We had a family Thanksgiving service and because the Bible says in Psalm 150 : 6 , " Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord. " We did just that.

Thankful to be surrounded by loved ones and to have food to eat, and a home to meet in... and the sound of children's voices as they played hard all day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ask me why these two sweethearts are smiling so big ?

Lucy and Lucas have been home 6 weeks. We have always been open about their medical status of HIV. When we first heard about them we knew they had tested positive for HIV. Mom had died of it. Paul and I were in Ghana picking up our older children when we heard about them. Paul and I also were adopting another baby. So we shared with our daughter, Mary Kate and her husband, Keith these precious ones. They decided to step out in faith and adopt these babies with HIV. Most of you know our heart for children especially those with a need or issue that would make them more difficult to place . We fully supported them as they began the process to adopt again. It is very dear to us to watch your children understand fully about the love God places in your own heart for children and then to watch their own journey.

Here is Mary Kate holding her babies at the HIV clinic at the U of Maryland a week after we brought them home. We waited for all the labs and the evaluations to be completed...and finally tonite I can share that my grand babies, Lucy and Lucas do not have HIV.                                                

We are very thankful this Thanksgiving for this healing of these babies. We are grateful for healthy babies...but you know what even if they were not we would be thankful for being in their precious lives. Me as their Nana and Paul as their Paw Paw and all of their many aunts and uncles can't imagine our lives without them.

They live only 9 houses down on the same street so we get to be in their lives every day just about...God sure does give me the desires of my heart. Surrounded by my family and grand kids ...I can't imagine what heaven will be like because I get to experience such sweetness as these precious ones in my life. Thank you Jesus for bringing them into our lives.

When Keith met his babies for the first time...We all fell in love with them.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A few of my thoughts about all the media attention our family has gotten....

Here are 2 more of many articles written about our family. Neither one of these were we asked permission for. However, I don't ever post anything I would not mind to be copied and, my blog is an open blog. I do this so there would be no restrictions to who may see what we do or how we live as a faithful family trying our best to follow Jesus . We are not a perfect family by any means but our motivation rests there with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I have been amused at some of the comments on all the articles . I wanted to clarify a few things about us. We are christian and believe in the Bible as the authority and main spiritual guide for our lives. We are not perfect and have struggles like everyone else . We do have a hope and a joy as we walk thru these struggles and life because of our deep christian faith and love of Jesus Christ.

We do not receive any govt. assistance for the care of our children. We fully support our children with Paul's salary. Our medical costs are covered by the insurance we get thru his employer. We chose a plan with a high deductible and we usually meet our deductible in January and that reduces the cost to us of our medical care and eventually we have even hit the highest level in a year and paid nothing the rest of the year for our medical needs. Remember we have done over 120 surgeries in the past 12 yrs and many have required additional therapy and follow ups . That with the costs of medicines and additional cost for walkers, wheelchairs etc... it is not hard for our family to meet our high deductible.

We do not receive medicaid or any assistance from anyone to pay for our medical care . However, some of our providers ( doctors ) have provided treatment and care at no cost , bought equipment or even visited us in our home with their own family. They do this because they support and want to encourage our family in what we do...period. We believe this blessing is from God. I won't defend it either.

We do feed over 30 people , 3 meals a day. We do spend a lot on food , diapers, supplies and that includes the many b-days we celebrate every month. Paul makes a good salary and we spend every bit of it...but , God provided the employment as well as any surprise deals we find when we purchase things. We are very grateful for His provision wherever it comes from... Including the many individuals who have shared with us.

Our life is intense and crazy but we love it. It is exactly what God designed for us. We do wish more people would consider adoption and especially the child with special needs or the older teens . This is the main reason I blog and share so openly on fb...I desire to encourage others by allowing them to see us. We know that not everyone can live the way we do but everyone can do more for a child or children. Find what you are passionate about, search your heart for the deep love you have that I believe the Lord places in all of us and start " doing it ". Don't get just a warm feeling from reading about us. Don't feel guilty either ...spend some time with the Lord and ask Him for direction. I am positive He will answer this prayer.

Not many people I know get to live a life knowing that they are fulfilling the very purpose they were created for...I do. Many of you know my story and how we got into wanting to adopt. I never in my wildest thoughts we would adopt as many into our family as we have but with the Lord anything is possible. When I was growing up I always wanted a big family . I also always wanted to adopt. Paul and I are childhood sweethearts. We met at a christian camp for leaders. We lived about an hour away when he returned from camp I realized he might be the one that God had chosen for me to marry...even at the age of 14 I was pretty mature and had a deep relationship with the Lord. Our first " date" was a babysitting job I set up to personally see how well Paul got along with kids....He passed and we have been dating for 43 and a half yrs - married now for almost 38 yrs. God knew what He was doing when He brought us together : )

We married and began our own bio. family. We adopted and raised Abraham when we had our " first" family. We have tried to adopt thru the foster care system in 2 diff. states that we lived in. We have 22 children from that experience in our hearts. We hated the foster care system but we loved the children...and that is all I care to comment on that. We believe that God does not look down upon the Earth and say...humm those children are in the USA and those are in Ukraine ....He sees all children the same. When a child needs a family it does not matter to God where they are from. So it should not matter to us either.

I felt like I needed to share some about the comments and you can figure out what they might have been. Overall I was amazed that most were extremely positive. One more thing...we have found that our story has moved all around the World. It has been rather funny to read some of them. One had me actually giving birth to all 34 children the normal way ...I mean really . We continue to allow our story to be shared because it is not at all about us or our inspiring children but all about the amazing God we serve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our story was run on The Today Show and more.....

I shared this on my face book wall and felt I needed to on my blog as well. This is a link to an interview I did for The Today Show Parenting Blog and then very quickly things happened...My friend requests came in, comments and shares of the story came all afternoon. Just minutes after the story was posted on The Today Show web site I got a call from an executive producer for the Dr. OZ Show asking if they could do a piece on our family and adoption...You can imagine our reaction and so stay tuned for more about this.....They are sending a crew to our home this week to film and Paul and I are going to NY Sunday for a taping on Monday.....What a wonderful opportunity that has been given to us to be able to share our hearts for adoption , orphans and special needs and older teen adoptions. Please pray as we walk this journey that the love of Jesus for all children will shine thru everything we do and say.

Move over, Duggars: Meet the family with 34 children... and they're not done yet!

9 hours ago
Ask Jeane Briggs about her kids, and the conversation can last a long time, spanning many names and continents, and containing enough joy and heartache to fill several lifetimes.
That’s what happens when you’re a mom of 34 kids — five biological and 29 adopted. 
Briggs and her husband Paul began adopting children almost 30 years ago, and they’re not done expanding their family yet.
“I just enjoy it. This is my career. I say to my kids, you’re the very air I breathe so I need you, I need that oxygen,” Briggs, 58, told TODAY Parents as she was preparing to travel to western Africa to bring home her latest child: a baby with no legs and no hands who was found abandoned.
Courtesy Jeane Briggs
Jeane and Paul Briggs hold a baby boy with no hands and no legs they plan to adopt in Ghana. 
Africa is a long way from her home in Falling Waters, West Virginia, but the trip is just the latest for the couple, who have adopted children from Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Ghana. They seek out hard-to-place older and special-needs kids.
The medical challenges alone can be enormous: one child had a hole in the heart, another suffered from polio. Others are cancer survivors, have cleft lips or cleft palates, leg deformities, scoliosis, kidney problems, autism, learning disabilities and attachment issues.
Then, there are the financial realities for the huge family: the Briggs spend $52,000 a year just on groceries.
None of it shakes Briggs, who said she never put a limit on how many children she wanted.
“No. I still don’t. It just happens that you know that these kids are your kids,” she said. When she sees an orphan in need, she usually has the same reaction: “Nobody is going to want this child -- can we bring him home?”
Courtesy Jeane Briggs
The Briggs now have 34 children, including 29 kids adopted from Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Ghana. 
Briggs always knew she wanted to have lots of children, both biological and adopted. She and Paul first tried foster care in the U.S. but were frustrated by the system, she said. Through her church, she heard about Abraham, a 2-year-old blind boy in a Mexican orphanage who suffered brain damage after a beating. When she met him, she immediately knew she wanted to adopt him. That 1985 trip marked the couple’s first international adoption.
More than two dozen adoptions later, Briggs tears up as she recalls some of her children’s harrowing beginnings. Like Joseph, who was born with a cleft lip and palate in Ukraine and abandoned by his biological parents.
Briggs met Joseph when he was 14, abused and made fun of all his young life because of his special needs.
“It was hard to believe that someone wanted me with my problem,” Joseph, now 24, recalled about the moment he found out he would be adopted. “I can't repay them for what they did for me… I love my parents to the moon and back.”
Courtesy Jeane Briggs
One big, happy family: A recent celebration in the Briggs home. 
Other children were also thankful.
“When Mama Jeane and Daddy Paul adopted me it was a life changing moment,” said Leah, 21, who was adopted at 12 from Ukraine.
“I was given a life that I never imagined I'd have,” added Nataly, 21, who met the Briggs in Ukraine when she was 11.
“You are fed, loved, and cared for,” said Rachel Ann, 21, who was adopted at 14 in Ukraine.
“I always wanted to have a mommy, daddy and a loving family. I love that they have a big heart to adopt, especially a 13-year-old teenage girl like me,” added Catelyn Joy, who is now 22.
How do the Briggs afford it? Paul, 59, has a “very, very good job” with a credit card processing company and they spend every bit of money he makes, Briggs said. His employer pays workers $10,000 each time they adopt a child, which helps with the initial expenses. The company also provides good health insurance — vital for a family with so many medical needs.
Courtesy Jeane Briggs
Jeane and Paul Briggs will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary in December. 
An inheritance from Briggs’ parents helped the couple expand their house, which now has nine bedrooms and more than 5,000 square feet. 
There are currently 26 people living in the home, including Jeane and Paul. Feeding them costs $1,000 a week. The house has two stoves and several refrigerators and freezers to handle all that food.
There are many other challenges for Jeane, who has a background in nursing and teaching and home schools the kids. With so many young people in the house, discipline can be tricky, things get broken and there are sometimes serious problems to deal with. One boy ran away from home.
Jeane's faith helps her during difficult moments, she said. And it's all worth it when she thinks about her kids.
“Because we have seen what change in their life we can make,” she said.