It was a few weeks before Christmas forty-nine years ago that we brought home our three-month-old baby daughter, Carol.  We named her Carol because of the season—it was Christmas time and she was our little Christmas Carol.  We first met her one month earlier in a community hospital in Stuttgart, Germany.

They wouldn’t let us take her home until she was three months old, a German law we had to endure.  At that time all adopted babies had to be at least that old before being taken home by adoptive parents.  Some laws are just plain tragic and that one definitely was.  This baby needed a home, a loving family, and we wanted to be that family.

The first time we met Carol was when a nurse brought her out so we could see her and decide if we wanted her.  Her little face was completely blank of any expression, with tear tracks running from each eye to her tear-filled ears, making it apparent that this little orphan child most likely spent her days lying on her back crying.

I took her in my arms and whispered to her, “Would you like to be my baby?”  At that moment we saw a tiny smile appear, as if to say, “Yes, take me home.”  We took it as a sign, and immediately made arrangements for the adoption.  We didn’t know at the time (and didn’t have our suspicions confirmed until she was four years old) that she had suffered brain damage that caused her to be mentally impaired her whole life.  But it wouldn’t have mattered. She was supposed to be ours. One month later we received the call that we could come and get her.  What a happy day that was, and just in time for Christmas!

Three Babies

Carol is our third child, so she was welcomed by her two-year-old brother Michael and one-year-old sister Lynda.  Yes, we had been through this process before.  Long before he was a marriage and family therapist, Gary was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Germany at Ramstein AFB for three years. Three months before receiving this assignment we were told the news that, due to problems made known through an ectopic pregnancy, I would not be able to bear children. After five years of praying and seeking medical help, doing all in our power to become parents, we were devastated by the news and the loss of our only pregnancy. 

Now with the news that we would be stationed in Germany we were determined to come home from this tour of duty with three babies, adopting one each year.  And we did, relying on the Lord each step of the way.  We wanted to be sure to find the children the Lord wanted us to have as our own.  Spirits that would have been born to us had we been able to bring them into the world.  We felt His guiding hand each step of the way.

We remember well that first Christmas with Michael.  At last Santa could come to our house.  Gary had waited a long time to buy an electric train for a son, every daddy’s excuse to play with one.  Michael was only a few months old, but, of course, Santa had to bring this train.  He was quite fascinated as I held him and we watched Daddy set it on the track and pull the switch.  Around and around it went, as did our eyes, following it with great interest.  Gary kept it safe until Michael was old enough to play with it.  By then it was a bit difficult for him to relinquish control of it, but he finally did, teaching our little son to take proper care of it.  Michael loved this train and took it with him when he grew up and moved out.

Our Second Baby

After that first Christmas as parents, Lynda joined us the following year.  She was also a Christmas baby, born in December, but we could not bring her home until March.  Cruel, indeed. That miserable law kept torturing us and our babies.  All of our three German babies were born in Stuttgart.  When we went to pick up Lynda there at the Catholic “kinder care” orphanage where she stayed until three months old, we were filled with indescribable excitement.  A loving, kind nun brought her to us.  The nun was quite distraught because she was sure Lynda was now a lost soul being raised out of the Catholic church.  We assured her we believed in Jesus Christ and would teach our new baby all about Him.  She then placed her in our arms and sadly turned away. I think she had become attached to her and was sad to let her go.  She was an adorable baby with curly brown hair.

I can only imagine how hard it was for our little baby Lynda. Suddenly she was taken into a new home with parents she had never known and a little brother who could hardly keep his hands off her.  It took us a while to win her over.  Adjusting to Michael may have been her hardest challenge. She was his playmate, like it or not.  They went through their childhood bugging each other at every opportunity.  It was one little crying session after another. Many years later, the day Michael left for his mission, Lynda ran into her room, threw herself on her bed and sobbed so loud it scared us.  We went to her side to comfort her and asked what was wrong.  Through choking sobs she said, “I never knew I loved Michael.”  They have been close ever since.

Matching Dresses

Both Michael and Lynda somehow seemed to sense Carol’s needs and acted as her protectors all through her growing up years.  When Carol was placed in special education classes Lynda asked me to make matching outfits for her and Carol.  She said, “I want kids to know she’s my sister so they won’t hurt her.” 

Michael was equally protective.  One day when he was in sixth grade he came home quite upset. He said Carol had come running into his classroom, and in front of all his classmates, shouted, “Michael, some boys on the play ground are calling me a retard.  You have to come out and beat them up.”  We could only imagine how embarrassed Michael was by this outburst in front of his peers.  I asked him, “What did you do?”  He said, “I went out and I beat them up, but I can’t keep doing this or I’ll get into trouble.”  He was always looking after her, in spite of the risk.

Looking for our Fourth           

Four years after we returned to the United States we had a strong impression that the Lord had another baby for us.  Once again, we prayed to be guided.  At this time we were stationed at Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico.  Gary was serving as the branch president and I was teaching early morning seminary (tricky with three little ones to look after, but it worked, thanks to a loving LDS neighbor who tended them when Gary was away on duty).


 

 

 

It was during this time that Gary had the distinct impression that he should resign from the Air Force.

A huge decision after seven years of military duty.  We both knew it was the right thing for us.  He resigned almost immediately and worked as an insurance salesman (not his cup of tea, he found out). A year later he was hired by IBM and we moved to the Los Angeles area, all the time praying to be guided to “our baby”.

A few months later, through the blessing of nothing short of a miracle, we were holding our fourth child, a beautiful new born Hispanic baby boy.  Once again, we knew beyond any doubt that this was our baby, chosen by the Lord for us.  We named him John, which means “gift from God”. He was adorable, and so quick at learning, with a little body so coordinated that he was doing hand stands and flips not long after he learned to walk. And he loved to sing and dance.  He entertained us all at a very young age.  Lynda was his self-appointed guardian and babysitter helper.  She packed him on her hip whenever she could until he was too big.  As for Michael, this was his “prayed for” baby brother and he adored him.  Carol, too, had fun playing with her new little brother.

We remember one Christmas when he was three years old, all he wanted from Santa was a drum, “a real drum”. We searched until we found a deal on a used snare drum.  When he saw that under the tree Christmas morning he ran right to it, picked up the sticks, held them like a pro and began to rat-a-tat-tat on his drum like he’d been in a marching band all his life. We don’t know where he learned that, just must have picked it up by watching drummers in parades or on TV, or in the pre-existence . It was the cutest sight ever.

That Feeling Once Again

Three years after getting John, we had that feeling again—the one that says there’s another baby for you.  So our prayers began again.  This time it led us to Salt Lake City.  We enjoyed California and didn’t want to move.  But when the feeling to quit his job and move to Utah hit Gary the same day it hit me at home, we knew what we had to do. 

We quickly sold our home and off we went to Salt Lake City, unemployed but full of faith that somehow things would work out.  Gary found a job, we bought a home and settled in when another miracle happened.  Soon we were holding our new born son in our arms. We named him Paul.  We had to wait several days before we could see him because he wouldn’t eat at the hospital.  In those days, adoptive parents were not allowed into the hospital to see the baby.  They just had to wait until proper papers were signed and the nurse would bring him out of the hospital to us. 

This was a serious problem because Paul was losing weight every day, not eating.  He would not suck on the bottle.  Every day we would call our lawyer to check on our baby, always being denied the chance to see him. After a few days of this I called our lawyer and firmly said, “Please get me into that hospital now or I will break the law and force myself in. I am going to hold my baby!  He needs his mother now.”  He knew I was serious.

Within hours we were permitted in.  We were dressed in white sterile gowns and taken to the isolation room. Then the nurse placed this precious little boy in my arms and handed me his bottle.  My heart was pounding.  I held the bottle to his mouth and tenderly said, “I’m your mama, and I love you.  Now you eat for Mama.”  He immediately began sucking , and kept sucking while looking directly into my eyes. The doctor and nurse were amazed.  Then Gary took him and he drank for Gary, too.  He was our boy; we knew it and he knew it.  What a blessing he has been his whole life.  Every Christmas, every day, is sweeter because of him. 

Years ago I wrote a poem, Lullaby to a Newborn, about these tender feelings and Janice Kapp Perry put it to music for our album of songs on adoption, titled Do You Have a Little Love to Share.   

Listen to the song here

These dear children have blessed us even more by giving us fifteen grandchildren, and now three great grandchildren (that’ll be four in four more months).  Every minute we spend with them brings joy to our hearts. Every traditional gingerbread-cookie-baking day with them delivers extraordinary Christmas cheer. We can’t imagine life without them.

Has it been an easy journey?  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  There have been heartbreaks along the way.  Times we thought we couldn’t make it through the challenges.  But with faith in a loving Heavenly Father, we’ve made it, and will continue to make it. 

Having these children sealed to us in the temple — Michael in the Swiss Temple, Lynda, Carol, and Paul in the Salt Lake Temple, and John in the Los Angeles Temple — unites us for eternity.  We pray daily that each cherished member of our posterity will hold to the iron rod, repent when needed, and rely on the Savior and His atonement.  We could not ask for more.  Our goal is to live worthy to be an eternal family. The happiness they have brought into our lives is impossible to measure.  Even though many of them live too far away, they are all close to us. We feel their love and concern for us daily, and pray they feel ours in return. 

For any of you who may be wondering if adoption is the way to go, we hope our story let’s you see the blessings it can bring to your family, and we’ve barely touched the surface in this article.  Our plan A, to be able to bring children into the world, didn’t work, but plan B, allowing others to bring them into the world for us, did work.  We praise the women who gave birth to our precious children, and pray God’s blessings upon them for being willing to choose life.

 

We didn’t know what lay ahead when we began our journey of adoption, but now, in the later years of our lives, we stand amazed at the blessings these dear ones have brought to us.  Now they and their children are looking after us.  They call to make sure we’re okay. We hear a little voice say “I’m praying for you, Grandma.”  They visit and shower us with hugs and happiness, seek our prayers in their behalf when troubled times are upon them, and share heartaches, tears, and the miracles that come their way.  Looking back is a excellent vantage point.  We can see that it was all worth it, and then some. 

At this Christmas season we reaffirm our faith in Christ and express our profound gratitude to Him for blessing our family, and all the families of the world.


 

 

 

  May we remember Him and strive to live lives worthy of all He has given to every one of us.

 

What a heritage we have—we are His.  Merry Christmas!                                              

[To order the CD on adoption Do You Have a Little Love to Share visit our website, click on “Store”.  For our Gingerbread Cookies recipe see the menu at the top and click on “Family Dinners”.]