Meet the Simmons Family!

The Simmons family’s journey of adopting 3 sisters from Bulgaria.

 

Q: What made you decide to adopt?

A: I had always wanted to adopt a child since I was a little girl. I always thought and hoped that maybe someday I would adopt but I was unsure how it would all fall into place. Fast forward to meeting my husband. We often discussed adoption off and on as more of a general, “maybe someday we would do that” idea, but we weren’t sure if we would be able to. We both felt like if we were missing something that we were supposed to do, then we would know when it was the right time. We just needed to wait until we felt that urgency to adopt. 

Some time had passed, we had five kids of our own, and we loved the family we were creating. Even though we often talked about adoption, we still weren’t feeling like it was the right time. Then, when I was pregnant with our sixth child, I kept having dreams about adoption and it was on my mind all the time. I thought that it was crazy to be thinking about adoption because I was pregnant and it was not a good time to think about it. I kept trying to get the thought of adoption out of my mind as much as I could. Then, when our daughter was 6 months old, I started to think about it again… A LOT! I approached my husband and talked to him and told him that I thought we really needed to pray about it because maybe God was trying to tell us something. We agreed to really seriously pray about whether we should look into adoption. 

One morning I got up early before everyone else, and decided to pray about it. During that prayer, I got a really powerful answer and I just knew it was what we were supposed to do. I felt really strongly that we needed to move forward and we needed to do it now, like it was urgent. Dean did not get that same kind of answer, but he felt really good about it and thought we should move forward. He felt like if that was what God had in mind, He would help us. A few minutes after we realized that we were going to move forward with adoption my husband said, “but our house isn’t big enough and I don’t make enough money and it is expensive!” I said that I didn’t know what to tell him, but that maybe we should take it to the Lord in prayer because I knew He would help us.

And He did! About a month later we were approached by my husband’s employer asking us if we wanted to buy a property they had purchased and were not going to develop, like they intended to do. We were surprised, but we looked into it further and it was definitely an answer to our prayers. Then Dean got a raise at work around that same time. His employer did not know that we were trying to adopt, so that was a confirmation to Dean that God was helping us and we were doing what we were supposed to do. God was helping us, every step of the way.

Q: What drew you to adopt in Bulgaria?

A: We didn’t know anything about international adoption. We had always thought that we would adopt a sibling group and probably older children. So when we decided to move forward, we started looking at the lists of waiting children on different adoption sites. I knew there were lists like that and so that is where we started looking. We looked everywhere we could, nationally and internationally at groups of siblings. We found a couple of sibling groups that we wanted to find out more about, so we talked to the adoption agency that had their files. I also spoke to several other agencies, trying to find out more about the process because it seemed very confusing.

During my many calls, I spoke to this woman at a certain agency and I really liked her and she was so helpful. I spoke to her about the sibling groups that we were interested in and she then told me that those groups already had families interested in them. So she emailed us a few other children who were waiting. That is when we found the girls. We really connected with them and felt really good about them fitting in our family. We weren’t totally sure, so we prayed about it. I wanted another powerful answer, just like the first. Instead I just felt a feeling of peace. After really pondering together about it, we decided to keep going forward. We both felt a good peaceful feeling, but we were still hoping for more assurance. We started praying that if these were supposed to be our girls, the doors would open and things would keep working out so that we could move forward with the adoption. And they did! SO many miracles happened. 

We didn’t really choose a country, we just chose the girls, and they happened to be in Bulgaria. After getting a little farther into the process we found out that it was actually one of the few countries that would allow us to adopt because of our family size. We didn’t know that going into it, but we know we were just led to the right place. The place where our children were at.

Q: What was going through your mind when you/your agency received your grant?

A: The day we found out about the grant, we were sitting in the living room. I was actually sitting there thinking about all the things that would be coming for the adoption and also thinking about just our normal expenses. There were things in our house that needed to be replaced, but we were waiting and trying to make do with them as long as we could to save money for the adoption. I started making a mental list of all the things that needed to be taken care of and then thinking about the cost of fixing those things which then caused me to feel a little overwhelmed right at that minute. As my husband and I discussed this we kept reminding ourselves that somehow it would work out. But we were feeling a little tired. Dean was getting ready to go to another side job to earn a little extra money and we were sitting there just trying to collect our energy to go on that day. 

I then looked at my phone and pulled up my emails. There was an email from CNF and so excitedly I opened it up to see what it said. Honestly, I was not expecting to receive an email about the grant that we would be receiving. I thought this email would maybe be asking for more information or something. I was pretty much speechless when I read it. It was so funny, like here I was thinking over all the things [that needed fixing] and feeling the weight of all the expenses and then, just reminding myself it was going to be okay. I thought God was going to help, just like he had been doing all along. I told myself (and I think we were even saying that out loud to each other as we sat there together), that it would all work out. Then here is this email saying we just received a grant and it was so generous and so much what we needed, and such a relief! We were pretty shocked and in awe. This was just another miracle and reminder to us that God is helping us in every way possible.

Q: How did the grant impact the cost of your adoption?

A: It was huge for us. We had been working extra hours and saving all we could, but we are not really rich. We have enough, but the cost of adoption is a lot. We were trying to do our part and do what we could with lots of faith, but we really weren’t sure how we would make it work. Part of me was thinking, “yes maybe we could earn enough, but it would be tight and then what would happen if something broke or a big expense came up that we weren’t expecting?” We had lots of backup plans on how to make this adoption work…they weren’t that great, but we had some. We didn’t want to bring the girls home to chaos though, and we didn’t want to feel a lot of extra stress during that big change. We felt like in some areas we were running on fumes to try to make ends meet so we could save every penny and it was a lot of stress. The grant took a lot of the stress off of us so that we didn’t feel like we were stretching too much and could take time to prepare our family and ourselves better for the adjustment and transition during adoption. This grant also allowed us to go meet the girls in person and to be able to connect and bond with them. It was such a blessing to be able to do that. It really helped them and us to meet and connect more. We know that will make a huge difference when they come home because we had that time to connect. It really took a lot of weight off our shoulders. I think this grant helped us feel supported, strengthened and encouraged to keep going and let us know that everything would be alright.

Q: What is the current status of your adoption?

A: We just received a court date. With that appointment, we will find out if the judge will decree that we are legally the girl’s parents and can bring them home.

Q: Tell us about “The Girls”?

A: We are adopting three girls and they are sisters. The oldest is 17. Since she is 17, this is her last chance to be adopted with her sisters. She is so good and so special. She has sacrificed and taken care of her sisters and loves them dearly. She is very responsible and thoughtful. She has been living with foster grandparents since she was taken into care and they have been so good to her. It has been a real blessing that she is with them. They have nurtured, loved, and helped her. She loves rowing and has been doing it for the last four years since she was put in foster care. She is very good and has won medals. She also loves art and she works hard and does well in school. 

The middle sister is 16. She is the classic peace maker and tries to cheer up her sisters when they are sad. She is more quiet at first, but she is loving and she enjoys music and dancing. She lives with foster grandparents in a small village about 30 minutes away from where her sisters live. 

Then the youngest girl is 13 and lives in a crisis center. It is kind of like a group home, a place where kids live when they can’t find a foster home. She is very expressive with her face and eyes. She is full of energy and really loves her sisters and misses them. She does really well in school too. She was hesitant about the adoption at first because she didn’t feel much connection to us. Her sisters were able to communicate with us regularly because they had phones and internet but she isn’t allowed a phone or a device. She felt left out and her opportunities to bond with us were limited. So the trip we took to visit the girls was really important – for her especially. She really opened up to us and we felt a much stronger bond to her. 

We have just felt so much love for them. We know there will be struggles ahead for all of us, so these connections and memories will make those challenges a little easier to work through.

Q: When do you predict that the adoption will be finalized?

A: We are hopeful that we will be able to return to Bulgaria and bring the girls home at the end of August or early September.

Q: What has kept you motivated during the long process of the adoption?

A: We have tried to stay busy and just keep focusing on the next thing that is needing to be done. It is hard at times when we are just waiting for a response or signature or something like that, but then we try to focus on what things we can prepare at home, by getting our home and family ready. 

Q: How are you preparing for your children’s Homecoming?

A: Well, I guess we have just been thinking about all the things. It is kind of like when you have a baby, but the needs are very different because they aren’t babies. You start going over in your head all the ways it will change the dynamic of your home and think about school, work, transportation, fun stuff you can do with them and how to help them adjust to this new life. 

We have been trying to learn all we can about them and their culture and tried to think of ways to incorporate that into our family culture. That has been fun as we have tried food and read about Bulgaria’s history. We have been learning together as a family. We also have been learning more about the girls as individuals. 

We have been trying to make a welcoming space in our home and family so the girls can really feel like a part of our family. We also feel like we are okay parents, but I think we have felt like we need to be even better and so we have been reading and taking training classes and just reflecting on that preparation, too. We are so excited for when the girls can be home and we can all be together as a family under one roof!

The Simmons family adopted with: Hand in Hand International Adoption

Who we collaborate with

Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome – A CNF grant was awarded to fund 491 Down Syndrome children.

Kyampisi Childcare Ministries – A CNF grant was awarded to fund 19 survivors of human sacrifice.

Hand In Hand International Adoptions – A CNF grant was awarded to provide adoption escorts for 10 children.

Solutions – A Haitian based digitizing company. CNF is working with Solutions to digitize over ten thousand children’s adoption files for Haitian orphanages.

Respire –  A campus of 500 former restavek children (House slaves), Respire received a 50K grant from CNF for educational and other campus needs.

Goya Foods/Goya Cares –  Initiative working with CNF to connect orphanages in Mexico and the Dominican Republic with adoption agencies.