November is here and this is the month we recognize nationally Adoption Month. While we’ve had this national recognition month only about 20 years, adoption is, of course, an ages-old means by which children are given an earthly forever family. Adoption is a great option to abortion, but it’s also how some of us get brothers and sisters.
I’ve told my personal adoption story before in this commentary and in doing so have alluded to my brother’s story.
My parents wanted 6 children, but as it turned out couldn’t have any biologically. They trimmed their sails a bit on that number as they began considering adoption. I was adopted first, and they immediately set out to adopt again. This time they wanted a baby boy.
Way back when, apparently private adoption agencies tried to ensure some level of compatibility when multiple children were adopted into a family. The story goes that I was given all sorts of tests—intelligence, aptitude, personality, etc.—and try as hard as they might, the agency repeatedly told dad and mom, “Sorry. We can’t find anyone compatible with her.” Like all biological children are compatible with each other, right?
Anyway, after three and a half years, the call finally came that they had a baby boy for us. I remember vividly his homecoming. He was five months old, very active and had blonde hair and brown eyes. We were all immediately in love with this little guy who from the beginning was full of life. Dad and Mom named him John Kenneth but to me he was Jack. For the first six months we had him, he was in and out of the hospital with severe asthma, which fortunately he eventually outgrew. With Jack, our family unit was complete.
He grew up to be a real charmer. Everyone liked him. He kidded the life out of me and knew every button to push to get a reaction, which he unceasingly found delightful.
He married and had two daughters, one of whom had some respiratory issues. That prompted Jack to look for his birth mother. He found her, and she supplied medical information but declined contact with him. In fairly short order, however, she changed her mind and for years she and Jack talked on the phone at least once a year, especially on his birthday, November 15. She passed away several years ago with Jack never having met her, although he saw pictures and also knew he had some half siblings.
Several years ago, Jack sent me an email with a picture, introducing me to his biological father. I couldn’t believe the picture. He and his biological father could have passed for twins. It was jaw-dropping the similarity. Jack did meet his biological father and his half-siblings and even shared some visits in each other’s homes.
I think meeting his biological parents and getting the story of how he was put up for adoption helped Jack. We didn’t know it until he was about to get married, but he had long struggled with understanding why anyone would have rejected him as a baby. Understanding that both Norma and Jerry, who had each gone on to marry other people, had wanted him and had always thought about him, but had known as teenagers there was no way they could care for him, helped him with that sense of rejection. In recent years, he told me that he knew God had provided him with amazing, loving parents in Bob and Mary Appling. He said, “I had the best dad and mom; God knew what He was doing.”
When John Kenneth Appling entered our family, our lives were forever changed. This handsome, loving and lovable guy was my brother in every sense of the word, although we share no biology at all. When he suddenly died in June of 2017, less than 36 hours after I had waved goodbye to him as he headed back to Michigan after spending six fun and busy days helping me with house projects, I was stunned and heartbroken. I miss him every day. Because his adoptive family made sure he heard the Gospel, Jack was twice adopted—once into the Appling family and once into God’s family by faith in Jesus Christ.
It was the grace of adoption that brought Jack into my life—my adoption and his adoption—and I am forever grateful that God thought we were compatible! He enriched my life beyond measure. May this Adoption Month result in more families reaching out in grace and offering children a forever earthly family and bringing more richness and beauty to their family unit.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council, reminding you that God, through the prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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