If you ever met Steve, you'd like him. He's tall and husky, but he's also a gentle guy. A real softy, actually. Steve would probably disagree with me. In fact, his wife Carey told us he never cries. But God did an amazing thing in this man's heart after using my wife's blog about his now daughter, Julia. You can read it here.
I don't want to take the thunder away from Steve's story. So why don't we go right to the interview and learn how this amazing guy turned from being a Reluctant Husband to an all-in daddy!
And do yourself a favor. Go to the Schwenzer's blog and see pics of his beautiful family, expanded by two precious FORMER orphans. The address is http://www.schwenzerfamilyupdates.blogspot.com/ You'll want to make it a "favorite!"
Tell me about how God started your adoption journey.
My wife Carey and I had always discussed the possibility of adoption, but it was always for some time in the future. We figured once Evan, our two year old, was a little older, we would look into adoption. We just weren’t ready to take it on. We had four kids and Evan was the biggest handful out of all of them. We didn’t think we had the money. I didn’t know if I had the capacity to love someone else’s kid as much as I love my own. Our house was not big enough. It just didn’t feel like the right time.
Well, God had different ideas for my wife and me. Adéye, your beautiful bride, came home from Ukraine with a burden on her heart. She told the story on her blog about a little girl named Julia that was suffering from a terminal illness and was basically being left alone in a small crib in a back room. My wife read this blog one night and came upstairs to bed and told me about it. I basically responded with a “mmm, okay…send me the link. I’ll read it tomorrow” thinking in my head that it would be a nice story, but that I wasn’t going to do anything about it.
Oh, how wrong I was. Little did I realize that my life would change forever after reading that blog post. I got to work, logged onto my machine, and brought up the blog. By the end of the blog, I was sobbing in my office. I immediately sent a text to my wife. It basically said “Find out what we have to do to get that little girl out of there.” The Holy Spirit had worked in my heart so much so that I jumped without thinking. Carey started crying as soon as she got my text. The Holy Spirit had been working in her, too, but she didn’t know what to expect with me.
Were you and your wife in agreement about adopting from the beginning? If not, who hesitated the most and why? What changed that person’s mind?
We were in agreement about adoption. We were not going to do it for a while, and in no way would it be special-needs kids. We have enough to do with healthy kids. One little blog post…oh and a LOT of pushing by the Holy Spirit…sent Carey and me down the adoption path at the same time with the same motivation. Neither of us stopped to think about how this would impact us. It just felt right.
How did you pick the two orphans you are now adopting? And how did you know these two were the ones?
Well, Julia picked us via the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We read her story and we knew that she was meant to be in our family. We needed to share the love and words of Jesus with this special little girl before her time on this earth ends.
Aaron just kind of fit. Carey fell in love with him as soon as she saw the pictures of him. He was due to be shipped off to an adult institution which is never good. Carey showed him to me and I had a so-so response, but only because the push to get Julia was so huge that other feelings were kind of overrun by that. But I didn’t have any misgivings other than we would be getting TWO special-needs kids instead of just the one.
Were your children’s special needs ever an issue?
With Julia, I didn’t really consider her special needs other than the fact that we knew she had a very limited time to be ministered to and to be shown the love of Jesus and a family. Since we were going through Reece’s Rainbow for Julia, getting a second special-needs child just made sense. And, to be honest, cerebral palsy is probably one of the easiest special needs to deal with. It is not progressive. We already know all the issues with it. And there are things that can be done to correct some of the issues such as his ability to walk! The knowns were attractive to us since what we were getting with Julia was so unknown. And, he just seemed like a really cool kid.
Bottom line is we realized after we started the process that someone has to adopt these kids. Everyone can’t say someone else will do it.
Tell me about any fears you had, as man of the household, that aren’t there now.
Before we were introduced to Julia and touched beyond belief by her story, I had many, many misgivings. How could we afford $30,000? We don’t have time to do anything as it is, how on earth can we take care of more kids, especially with special needs? How could I possibly love someone else’s kids? Adoption is for other people, not for me.
Well, the money took care of itself. Adéye ran a fundraiser for Julia on the same blog post that she told her story on. In five days, $20,000 was raised. Five days! Thank you, God!
As for the time issue, well, it’s still there. I have no idea how we are going to have time for all six kids! But you know what? We are managing with God’s help. There’s an old adage that if you want something done, give the task to a busy person. I think this may be true. We have more to do now than ever before. But now we seem to work more efficiently and let certain things slide where we need to.
And Julia was in the hospital an hour away, which ate into a whole lot more time. But we did it! Was it stressful? Yes. Is all this doable? Absolutely! God tells us through James to take care of the orphans and widows. It is very important to God. He has a special place in his plans for children. So, he will make it possible!
As for loving these kids? I was in love with them long before we even met them. There is something that happens in your heart once you commit to bringing a child home. Once Carey and I decided to bring home Julia and Aaron, we now felt like we were being kept separated from our two kids and we wanted to bring them home. When I finally got to hold Julia in my hands, I, without a doubt, knew she was my little girl and I would do anything for her. And hearing Aaron tell us he had been waiting for us for his whole life made me cry. God is good, my friends. Adopting is God’s will. And he makes it work, and work beautifully.
What would you say to other men reading this blog who had the same concerns you had about adoption?
Misgivings about adoption are natural. It is a change and most people don’t like change. But God wants us to do it. He will give us a way. You will have to make sacrifices. It is a fact of adopting kids into your family. But what sacrifice is not worth the life of a little child? God gave his only Son for the lowest sinner among us. I think we can afford to sacrifice a little comfort for the sake of these beautiful children. And, as with everything in God’s plan, there are great rewards for doing His will. These children bring so much joy into our lives as we watch them blossom and respond to the love of a family!
Now that you have your children, what do you realize now that you didn’t realize before you got them?
It is so easy to love these kids!!!! The daily routine is a bit more stressful. The process to get the kids is long, arduous, and sometimes painful. Satan does not want us to do this. He works very hard to throw obstacles in our way. But you know you are on the right path when Satan gets interested. But when the journey is done and we are at home with these kids, watching them learn how to fit in and watching our bio kids learning how to fit them in, it is so worth it.