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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love Never Fails- My daughter, Rachel's blog

A life of an Ukrainian orphan

I was born in a little village in Ukraine.I was the second oldest.I have two other sisters one older and the other one is youngest.My parents were not christian and we did not attend church at all.So I didn't know God or who he is. It was pretty sad.Our dad was been killed or that what the people told me there.I still don't know the truth,but that does not matter anymore.We left with our mom to live with our grandpa but he got very sick, and didn't want to go to the hospital so later he past away. Our mom got the same disease as our grandpa it called TB.She died in 2002 and we been send to the orphanage in 2003. We were sad when they told us about our mom.
     In the orphanage life was not easy for any kids.We had some Christian people come and talk to us about God.We got to go to the Christian camp every year during the summer.I was glad that I went.I learned about God but not all the way.I got saved in 2004.We also had some Americans who would come and do a bible camp in our orphanage for a week.I thought that we would not have another family ever.In 2008 I have been asking our director is there any family that would be interesting in adopting us?Well, we got a response. There was an American family that was interesting in us, and they are Christians.Also, they have a lot of kids.Well I didn't care I just wanted parents who would love us as their own.We got adopted in summer of 2008.
     We got adjusted very well. We also got a better education then in the orphanage. If you get sick you will be taken care of much better here then there.You are well fed and you know that there is always protection in your family.I will just say this,"why do most people say things but not respond to the needs around the world and here too". Like if  you tell people that you are adopting and they say oh, that is amazing.Why don't they start doing the same?Because if people start caring more about kids and saving their lives rather then dogs.I know dogs are best friends, but what about kids.If we start caring for one orphan kid at a time there would be no more orphans.Because they would be raised in a loving family.Who would love the least of these?I know that God would.
This is a post from my daughter, Rachel who was adopted from Ukraine in 2008 was 14 almost 15 when she came home. She was one of many older teenagers that we have adopted. We have been so enriched by the older teens that we have adopted. They have very different issues than the younger children we have adopted but , the older teens also have different very positive things they bring to our family than our younger children adoptions. All of our children have had trauma and past histories that break my heart but all of them have been amazing at how well they have transitioned into our family. It has been a gift to watch them transform from very sad, and hurt children to seeing confidence and self esteem build in them. Being allowed to walk along side of them as they discover who God is and what he wants for them is the best high anyone could experience...and when they realize the love of God for them personally my heart rejoices. I have shared the link to her blog here so you can go and read some more of what she shares. She is an amazing young lady who will bless you with her thoughts and heart.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Just how are they doing ?

These are the "triplets" - the twins and Calea who is only 3  months older are getting along great.
Lucy and Lucas love a bottle and that has provided some wonderful times of holding , cuddling and bonding with all of us.

Calea who only has ever been nursed all of sudden wanted a bottle too.

They are such happy babies.

It has been almost 4 weeks since the twins came home. Everyone is enjoying them. They fit right in to their family and ours. It is hard to remember our life without these precious ones.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Celebrations

We studied textures and so they colored each strip of their pumpkin with diff. textures. 

It was cold the day we carved our pumpkins so we set it up in the garage...which works well for so many things.

The younger kids did string painting pictures...

Trick or Treating with 15 kids emptied lots of bowls of candy when the kids rang the doorbells but they had a lot of fun ...