We Lost Two But Gained One (Part Two of Our Adoption Story)

July 12, 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) gmail.com If you missed part one – adopting my two sisters – you should check it out! ——– Deborah had joined our family while we were living in Taiwan.  Two short years later, our lives had changed drastically.  We had moved from Taiwan back to America and we were all getting used to the American culture – something we hadn’t truly been a part of for six years.  At this time, my parents realized God was calling them to adopt another child.  They had heard about a little girl, living in Thailand, who needed a family.  Pearl had been born without an arm so she was a special needs adoption and was harder to place.  Since Deborah (who’s missing both her arms) had adjusted so well and we had helped her figure out how she could do pretty much all every day things, we thought it would be easy(ish) to add another girl with a similar disability.  The girls could help each other out and show each other that they’re not alone.  Rebekah was also struggling with being the only non-caucasian in the family and my parents knew that another Asian girl would help Rebekah out a ton. My parents began the paperwork and I began to get attached to this little girl.  The more paperwork that was done the more I loved her.  I had her picture hanging in my bedroom.  I prayed for little Pearl.  She was beginning to become my sister. A few months (I believe) after we began the process of adopting Pearl, my parents called all us kids together and sat us down to have a talk.  They told us that the Thai government had decided that we already had too many kids in our family for them to allow us to adopt another.  They had decided to deny our family any access to adopt from Thailand. I was heartbroken.  This little girl needed a family.  Why on earth would the Thai government think it was better for a child to live in an orphanage than to live with parents and siblings who loved her?  So what if we already had five kids.  We had more than enough love to go around!!!! This was kind of my wakeup call to adoption.  The system was not the answer!  I began learning about all sorts of corruption, legal silliness, and, ultimately, how helpless orphans are.  I gained a passion in my heart – at eleven years old – to be a voice for the children that don’t have one.  (Also, check out the bottom of the post for more info on what happened to Pearl!) Note to adoptive families: If you do end up losing a child, be aware of how the children at home are handling it.  I am a passionate, loving person and I took it so incredibly hard.  I don’t think it really phased one of my older brothers, though, because he didn’t grow that attached to the kids until later in the adoption process.  Each child responds differently.  It is SO important that you are able to help your kids through their emotions.  They may not understand why it happened.  Give them the ability to ask questions and grieve the loss of a potential sibling. Since the paperwork had already began, my parents looked into countries that WOULD accept our family.  Through a lot of prayer, paperwork, and more prayer we found out about a little blind boy in India, in need of a family.  We were told that John’s vision was basically the equivalent of looking through a piece of wax paper.  He could see muted colors and (kind of) shapes but nothing distinguishable. GARDNERB (427) We followed God’s leading in our lives and brought John home.  John and Deborah are the same age and became fast friends – being in classes together and sharing tons of friends.  John was such a special addition to our family.  Three boys, three girls.  Three adopted, three biological.  Perfect. Note to adoptive families: Be cautious with twinning (adopting a child the same age as a child you already have or adopting two unrelated children the same age) your kids.  Out of our twelve kids, we have four sets of twins (within one year of each other).  One set has a pretty rocky relationship (getting better as they get older), two sets are decent friends, and one set (the baby girls) are best friends and have psychologically truly become twins.  If you do chose to twin your kids, know that it could go either way.  Don’t expect them to be best friends and don’t ever compare on to the other.  Do not adopt a “twin” thinking you’re getting your child an instant playmate.  That mindset could go horribly wrong or wonderfully right – Just don’t have expectations and think hard about whether or not twinning is for your family! GARDNERB (417) Not for long, though.  A few years after bringing John home, all us kids were once again rounded up and sat down for a talk.  This time our parents told us that they were praying about adopting another little girl from Russia.  She was an adorable little four year old redheaded girl who was missing a leg.  We were excited but this time I was a little more timid.  I didn’t want to fall in love with a child before I knew that child was truly going to be my sister. My attitude during this time shows.  I can’t remember this little girl’s name or why Russia decided to not approve us (probably family size again).  I never let myself grow attached to the little one.  I’m sure I would have once I knew my family had been approved but I had already begun not trusting the system.  My heart had been broken and I didn’t want it to break again.  In some ways, losing Pearl caused me to grow up faster than I would have otherwise. Of course, like before, having already begun the paperwork spurred my parents on to look into another country – Ethiopia – and that started us down a road that brought a whole slew of kids in to our lives…  But that’s for next time. ——– God is so good and we did end up finding out what had happened to little Pearl, my “lost” sister.  My mom used to put on adoption conferences and shared the story of not being allowed to adopt Pearl many times.  At the end of one of the conferences, a couple came up to my mom with some clarifying questions.  They wanted to know what year this happened and other things like that.  After telling them, they happily were able to let my mom know that THEY had adopted Pearl.  She had been adopted by a wonderful Christian family, brought up to love the Lord just as we had prayed she would be.  To make matters even better, we had planned on naming her Hannah when she joined our family and this family had named her Anna.  Without a doubt, it was a God thing!


  • Always Maylee

    July 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Wow what an amazing story. I'm so glad things worked out for Pearl too and that she went to a great and loving family!

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  • Jen

    July 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Wow such an amazing story! Thank you for sharing.

  • Victoria

    July 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    thanks so much for sharing! and for giving a Pearl update!

  • Shauna

    July 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Your family is amazing. I admire your mom and dad so much. Very interesting and miraculous about the Pearl story. Thanks for sharing. Take care and have a good weekend. 🙂 Love,


  • Katie

    July 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    love hearing about your family's adoption story! thanks for sharing, it's so interesting to hear about your experiences and also your heart for helping and advising families who are adopting or considering adoption…

  • Eleanor Harte

    July 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I love that your family was able to find out what happened to Pearl!

  • Becky Dougherty

    July 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I love reading about your family. I can't wait to read the next part of your story!

  • Z

    July 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I have tears in my eyes. your family is amazing Susannah!

  • Katrin

    July 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing another part of your family's story! It is so interesting to read about this. I can imagine how horrible it was that they denied the adoption of Pearl! I really don't understand this system and these things can make me really mad. But I am glad to hear that another loving family adopted Pearl!

  • Ginny

    July 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Corinne

    July 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Oh man, I read the part one and then this, it made me cry. How wonderful of your family to take on children that need help, especially loads with special needs. What a wonderful family.

    I can't wait for the next part – please please please link me to it when you put it up so I don't miss it!

    Definitely following you now!

    Corinne x

  • ThistleAshD

    July 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    the ending about Pearl gave me chills. How amazing is God that He knows who His kids are and has a plan for their life and nothing can stop Him. Just beautiful!

  • Angela

    July 13, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Wow! I love that you are telling these stories! Thank you for sharing your part of your family's story–it is very fascinating and I love the heart behind it all. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    July 13, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Hi Sus. The little girl from Russia was named Maria. She was actually missing both legs. Anyway, our family was in the process of adopting her when the agency did a "switch-a-roo" on us. They had promised the little girl to us, but "assigned" her to a different family instead. We were heartbroken – but, had we adopted her we most likely would not have adopted any of the Ethiopia kids – at least not Andrew and Dinah. Funny how The Lord works things like that out, huh?

    Love ya, Dad

  • tiarenie

    July 13, 2013 at 10:41 am

    i was so excited to see this post come up in my feed! cant wait to read the next part.

  • Allison

    July 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Such a cool story. I'm so glad you found out what happened to Pearly. God is good. 🙂

  • Care

    July 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I am in tears- what an amazing and inspirational story!! Thank you for sharing your blessed story and keep on counting your blessings!! Love it!

  • Linde Lou

    July 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Amazing pics!!! <3


  • Charity

    July 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Beautiful story. So touching….three of my friends recently adopted children. One from China, one from the USA, and the other is in Ethiopia right now as we speaking this waiting on the visa to bring her child back home with her. It's such a selfess things to adopt but trying none the less. Thank you for share your story.

    The Word of A Nerd

  • Jenn

    July 14, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My husband and I are in the process of looking into adoption and it's so amazing and helpful to read about this type of journey from this perspective.

  • Midnight Cowgirl

    July 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    So amazing!

  • Lala H

    July 15, 2013 at 3:02 am

    sorry about what happened to Pearl but its great to know that she still found a Christian family. What you guys are doing are very inspiring.

    Delightful Ideas
    Sandal Giveaway

  • Jamie Sefcik || Hello Little Scout

    July 15, 2013 at 4:14 am

    This is so amazing! Thanks for sharing this! Adoption is such a wonderful thing.

  • Sam M

    July 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I just love reading these stories and reading your insights into adoption. There are so many things that I've never even thought about like twinning. I have a question, does your family change all of your siblings names from their original names, or do they try and keep their names?

  • Ashley R

    July 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Beautiful story. I cannot wait to hear more. The addition at the end gave me goosebumps.

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