How I Got My Sisters (Part One of Our Adoption Story)

June 26, 2013

How did a family with three *fairly* normal birth kids morph into a family with twelve *crazy* kids with a nineteen year age range?  It’s an amazing, God-filled story with so many crazy twists and turns.  Like I promised, I’m here to share my part of the story and give you a little insight into the brain of one of those birth kids.  I’ll be including some tips for adoptive families for things to do and not to do to attempt to make your adoption a good experience for the whole family.  I’m no expert but I feel that I’ve learned a lot from talking with other birth kids, leading workshops on the topic, and experiencing it myself.  If you have question about what I suggest, don’t hesitate to email me at susannah.kellogg (at) ——– Taiwan was a fabulous place to grow up.  According to the Taiwanese people, my family ideal – two sons and then a daughter.  They called it having an heir, a spare, and a little princess.  Nothing, in their minds, should make us unhappy with the way our family ticked.  The thing was, my parents didn’t agree.  They thought our family was missing something…  Or, more accurately, someONE. Taiwan is right off the coast of China so we heard all sorts of stories about little girls abandoned in China due to the one child policy.  It was so horrible to hear about.  The thought of little babies being left on the side of the road to die was heartbreaking.  Through a lot of thought and prayer, my parents came to the decision that, although they couldn’t change the laws in China, they could change the life of one of the abandoned girls. So many families adopt babies from China and my parents really didn’t want to be back in the baby stage, so they decided to look into older child adoption.  My parents decided that they wanted to keep with the natural birth order and adopt a little girl younger than me.  I was five when the process started and the girl they chose was just eleven months younger. Note to adoptive families: Be very conscious about your birth children (or previously adopted children)’s dispositions.  Do you have a very mothering, “bossy”, mature daughter who definitely has an older child disposition?  Do NOT adopt a child, especially one of the same gender, older than her.  That was the daughter I was and it would have crushed my spirit to all of a sudden have an older sister.  Do you have a “needy”, attention-seeker, fun-loving son who definitely has a youngest child disposition?  Do not take that position away lightly.  It’s a little easier to adopt a child younger since that would be a natural occurrence if you were to give birth but possibly consider a child older than the child you have.  There is no easy answer regarding birth order except to say to be extremely conscious of the children you already have in your family. GARDNERA (263) My parents included my brother and me in so much of the adoption process.  I always thought of it as “our” adoption, not “my parents'” adoption.  Bringing my sister home was a family goal and my brothers and I were completely on board. The little one we adopted was my sister, Rebekah.  She was a precious, fun little sister who had been born with a cleft lip and palate.  My parents longed to give her love and the medical attention she needed to thrive.  They believed we had done our part and had served the Lord by bringing one of his loved orphans into our family.  Two boys and two girls.  Our family was complete. Note to adoptive families: It’s a very good idea to keep the kids already in your family an important part of your adoption.  If they’re old enough, let them know the process you’re going through.  Make sure the younger ones understand adoption and that there’s no way THEY will be put up for adoption like their new sibling was.  Explain to them their new sibling’s story (age level appropriately).  Be intentional about involving your children.  Know their maturity level and what they can handle but, no matter what, keep them involved. GARDNERA (96) A year or so after Rebekah had joined our family, my oldest brother, Peter, was reading through a magazine for adoptive families.  In this magazine there was info about a few orphans throughout the world who, for various reasons, especially needed families.  Peter brought the magazine to my parents and expressed his desire that we adopt another child.  He shared about how he believed this little girl would be a wonderful friend to Rebekah and me and would be such a great addition to the family.  He then turned the magazine to my parents and showed them a picture of a gorgeous East Indian 14 year old girl. He was 13. Needless to say, my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea of bringing this teenage girl into a family with a hormonal 13 year old boy.  Peter laughingly told them he hadn’t been serious about that girl.  The girl he really wanted them to consider was a little four year old Russian girl…  who had been born without arms. My parents’ initial reaction was to tell him no.  They didn’t feel as though God was calling them to adopt again…  They didn’t think they could properly care for a girl without arms…  They didn’t understand the Russian culture as well as they had understood the Chinese culture…  Peter wasn’t having it.  He asked them to pray about the possibility of adopting this little girl.  What parents can tell their 13 year old kid that they’re not willing to pray about something?  Pray they did – and God made it very clear that Deborah was to become a part of our family. Note to adoptive families:  Take your kids seriously.  Obviously YOU are the parents and the decision makers in the family but if your children have insight into your adoptions be sure to listen.  It really helps children not begin to resent the adoptions and could possibly be a way that God speaks to you. GARDNERA (83) In Russia, orphans with disabilities who are not adopted are sent to “orphanages” for the mentally disabled where the care is horrendous.  The reason Deborah was in the adoptive magazine was because she was going to be moved into one of those “orphanages.”  My parents came to find out that, if we hadn’t started the adoption process, she would have been moved there on her next birthday.  It absolutely breaks my heart that any child would be in conditions like that and that intelligent children like my sister would be treated as though they were mentally disabled simply because they have a physical handicap.  Every child should be loved and cared for – even if they are orphans. GARDNERA (166) Once again, we were certain our family was complete.  Three daughters and two sons.  Such a wonderful sized family…  But, of course we know that’s not the end of the story… GARDNERA (221)


  • Kayla

    June 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    That is such an INSPIRING story!

  • Jayda

    June 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I may have cried a little reading this, especially when your brother was talking to your parents about adopting your sister. Seriously, so sweet 🙂

  • Trish

    June 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I totally can't wait to find out how the rest of your siblings made it into your family!

  • Chelsea Phelps

    June 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    This is such a beautiful story. What a wonderful and selfless family you have! I can't wait to read the rest 🙂

  • Johanna

    June 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    What a touching story! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sew Much To Say

    June 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Wow! You seem to have such a loving, open minded family. Gods will is amazing.

    Amanda Rose

  • Katie

    June 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    such an inspiring story! can't wait to hear the rest 🙂 thanks for sharing with us…

  • Katrin

    June 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Oh wow, this is such an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing this! You are one wonderful family! And I can't wait to read more. It is heartbreaking to hear what would have happened to Deborah in Russia! Can't believe it. I am so glad your family adopted her.

  • Kiki

    June 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    This is such an amazing story (and this is only the very beginning, too!). It is so inspiring to see all of the love for Jesus and for others–it radiates in you AND your family. I can't wait to learn more! I know I've told you before, but adoption is something I hope to do someday and reading these kinds of stories only stirs my heart more! 🙂

  • Mrs. M ~ a.k.a. ~ April

    June 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Ah! This leaves me with a smile and encouragement. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story! Thank you for sharing!

  • criticalcrass

    June 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    your parents… your family… they're pretty remarkable. :]

  • Sam M

    June 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    This is so cool! I love the tips that you give. I've never thought about including birth order into your plans, what a great idea! It was so cool to hear their stories from your perspective, and how cool that your brother is the one who found your sister.

  • Jessica

    June 26, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I have to say that I think your family is very inspirational. I cannot wait to read the rest of the story.

    Tracy @

  • Angela

    June 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    What an amazing story! I can't wait to hear the rest.

  • Ashley @TheCreamToMyCoffee

    June 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Oh man, Susannah, I literally have chills reading this story. Your family is amazing and I cannot wait to hear more!

  • Z

    June 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    wow, I'm so impressed with the amount of love you have inside you. I wish these things could be adapted/adopted by those who just have an execuse to spend money.
    I don't know if you believe in God, I do and I know you and your family are God sent!
    Love Zainab

  • Ashley

    June 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I want to hear more!!! I love that your parents included you and your siblings in the process. That must have made the transition to having more siblings a little easier. I'm so heartbroken that there are abandoned/orphaned children…your parents are amazing!

  • tiarenie

    June 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    can't wait to read your next post! what loving, wonderful parents you have!

  • Becky Dougherty

    June 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I can't wait to read more! It is really interesting to learn more about you and your family, and your insights and advice make a lot of sense. I'm sure that they will be helpful to people considering adoption.

  • Kirstie Semler

    June 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    I can't wait to read more! Your family seems amazing! I found your blog from your guest post on Impractical Composition! So glad I stopped by! New follower 🙂

  • Liz Clark

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Really incredible. That's so amazing how God used your brother, Peter, to lead your family into adopting Deborah.

  • Ginny

    June 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks p much for sharing part of your families story with us!

  • Jodi

    June 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    So glad you are sharing YOUR experience! I think it is great. I love reading this and look forward to reading more.

  • Midnight Cowgirl

    June 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

    What a wonderful post!

  • Rachael SparkFire

    June 27, 2013 at 1:19 am

    This is just AWESOME. you have been blessed with such a lovely family!

  • Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren

    June 27, 2013 at 2:03 am


  • Marsa

    June 27, 2013 at 3:32 am

    so cuuute! your story just put the biggest smile on my face 🙂
    my husband was wondering why i was grinning at the screen so much haha

    The DayLee Journal

  • Carol {Everyday Delights}

    June 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Wow this is just so amazing and beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story!

  • Ashley R

    June 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. I can't wait to hear more. I got goosebumps… so much love in your family. So special.

  • Kate @ Daffodils

    June 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    WOw, I can't wait to hear the rest. Your family must be so full of love. Big kudos to all of you for answering the call to adopt.

  • Rachel

    June 28, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Wow–this is such an awesome and interesting path that your family took! My parents have often spoken of adoption–and even now, I would be so excited if they did–but because of their age and for legal reasons they've so far chosen to go the unofficial route in caring for children that weren't born to them. There's 2 two year old girls that my family takes care of nearly every day–in one case, the parents simply work a lot, and in the other case, the mom doesn't show much if any interest in being a mom, so the little girl is cared for by her grandma and my parents. And that girl is going to have a little brother born in August–so most likely my Mom will have a baby boy to take care of soon! I've never met the two little girls, except on Skype, because they are usually there when I call my family, but I can't wait to meet them when I visit!

  • Surrogacy India

    July 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this article. I hope every family should have happiness like yours. Thank you so much for sharing the story.

  • Adoption Q+A – Simple Moments Stick

    October 16, 2017 at 3:42 am

    […] ones!  Hope you enjoy the answers!  (If you missed the adoption story, here are parts one, two, three, and four)   Do you have current (group or otherwise) photos of everyone to share? […]

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