The Hudgeon's Family
The Christian Leader
It's Saturday morning and things are hectic at the Hudgeons house. Samuel and Michael are getting ready for soccer. Nine year old Samuel is the analytical one of the two brothers. He enjoys science and reading. Michael, his younger birth brother is 7 years old, is the exact opposite of his brother. The boys are of Korean decent and outside of the two enjoying soccer they are like not much alike. Michael enjoys playing in the mud, working with tools and building things. He is aggressive and it's not unusual for him to take down a player twice his size in a soccer game.
Emily, the same age as Michael, is turning cartwheels in the driveway as her dad, Dean, finishes packing the mini van with supplies for the soccer game. Emily is a child of Mulatto origins, her birth parents where from Caucasian and African American backgrounds. Emily enjoys dance and is involved in gymnastics. She is quite at first but loosens up after awhile.
Emily has two younger sisters, three year old Aunah, an African American, and two year old Abbey who is Caucasian. Aunah is the most outspoken child, not afraid to speak her mind. She enjoys playing with her sisters. On the other hand, Abbey is quiet and shy. She is currently being cleaned up from breakfast prior to the soccer game by her mother, Jeanette. Abbey enjoys playing with her dolls. Even though they are only a year apart in age they are quite the opposite.
It is a busy Saturday morning for this family with 5 children ranging from age 2 - 9 from 4 different racial backgrounds. It is a remarkable journey from the time that Dean and Jeanette were told they would not be able to have biological children.
Dean and Jeanette are a Caucasian couple in their mid thirties who had dreamed of having children of their own. After trying for a couple of years they finally saw several doctors who told them about several medical options that were available. They were quite expensive and had a low success rate. "It was really hard for me because even though I had my college degree and was working , I never really wanted to be a career woman. My goal was to be a mom, a wife and a mother." Jeanette would recall, "Dean was the one who took my hand and led me down that adoption road." Dean, a bank trust officer, sees his family as his first ministry. "Making sure that we are raising them to know the Lord and raising them to honor God."
"God led us to some friends who lived in Topeka, Kansas who had adopted 3 children. We saw the wonderful family that the Lord had put together and the Lord opened our hearts." Jeanette states still showing the joy of the process.
The Hudgeons family would begin the process of application that started with Life Choice Ministries in Manhattan, Kansas. This ministry, a pro-life agency, provided assistance in the adoption of each of their children. In the early stages of adoption when presented with what types of children to adopt Jeanette describes, "After a lot of prayer, we decided that we didn’t want to tie God's hands. We wanted to be open to whatever child God placed in our home."
The Hudgeons placed their initial application for adoption in June and heard back from the agency in September. Their first adopted child was Emily. Emily's birth mother wanted an open adoption. The birth parent was able to look through a list of applicants and actually choose the couple she wanted to adopt her child. She chose the Hudgeons but there was still some fear. Jeanette detailed one of her concerns, "Was the birth mom going to change her mind?" Aunah, the cute 3 year old jumps in the conversation to reassure her mom, "She didn't change her mind."
With the adoption the birth mother, Dean and Jeanette each selected three male names and three female names. They were surprised that on each list of names was Emily, this despite not seeing each others list. The birth mother wanted to give Emily her middle name and chose Elaine which is also Jeanette's middle name which the birth mother did not know. Not only was this confirmation to the birth mother but Jeanette saw this as, "kind of a sign of God's seal of approval." Dean and Jeanette took Emily to her new home the day after being born.
When adopting Samuel and Michael, biological siblings, they had less than 30 minutes notice. They received a phone call from their attorney and dropped immediately to their knees and started praying. Dean asked Jeanette right after their prayer, "What do you think?" "These are our sons." Jeanette would reply. The next day they had 2 new sons.
Samuel and Michael were an answer to prayer for Jeanette. She had been praying for twins and shortly after receiving Michael and Samuel she realized that Michael and Emily where both the same age and they quickly became like twins.
Aunah became a member of the Hudgeons family shortly after her sister Emily had been praying for a younger sister. Emily recalls, "I wanted a sister to sleep with, but I don’t want to sleep with her now." A typical big sister reaction as Emily and Aunah start teasing each other.
Emily's prayers did not seem to be answered right away. Dean and Jeanette had found out they would be receiving a son, named Talon. They picked Talon up and after 8 days in the family the birth mother decided before the final papers were signed that she did not want to give him up and took him back. This would be a down time for the family. Their church, friends and family would begin praying for the family. Two weeks later the Hudgeons were notified that Aunah's birth mother would be giving birth in about 2 months and had selected them as the adoptive parents.
It would be hard to imagine the Hudgeons family without Aunah. She is outspoken 100% African American and a joy to be around. The 3 year old is emphatic about letting one know that she "wants grape juice and communion." The relationship that has developed between the birth mother and the Hudgeons is also exceptional.
The Hudgeons were confronted with various beliefs related to adoption and abortion through Aunah's adoption. Aunah's birth mother became pregnant after being raped. Jeanette explained her opinion on this issue, "Some had said that abortion is wrong except in the case of rape but God put us face to face with that. It was like God had a plan for this child. This baby was not a mistake. Even though Satan meant this for evil, God is going to use this for good. Life is sacred and even though she might not have been conceived in the ideal circumstances she was not a mistake."
Aunah's adoption, like all of the other adoptions was an open adoption. Jeanette begin to develop a relationship with Aunah's birth mother and grandmother, even attending the doctor's visits during the pregnancy., Jeanette was also present during the birth. Aunah, the Hudgeons, and the birth mother have become a testimony to almost everyone they meet. Together they share their story across the Tulsa Community in churches, women's groups, public schools and more. They tell how the birth mother was going to have an abortion but after being told that she had to wait for 7 weeks she changed her mind. Instead, as Jeanette describes it, she made a "sacrifice of love for Aunah." "We are so proud that our birth mothers chose the path they did as opposed to abortion. God has strengthened our faith because we have seen God at work. Our open adoptions are not coparenting. They totally let us be the parents. They know that is our role and that is what they want us to do." Aunah's birth mother and grandmother visit on a regular basis and the birth mother is also now enrolled on a scholarship in music and drama at a local university.
When Dean discusses the positive aspects of open adoption and how that Aunah has been released to the Hudgeons family Aunah jumps in an emphatic tone, "I don't belong to mom and dad, I belong to Jesus. Now come on."
Two year old Abbey is the youngest and the only Caucasian child in the family. Her birth mother, 15 at the time, was involved in a church and decided that it would be best to give her up for adoption. She called the Hudgeons on December 3rd telling them that she had signed over papers for them to adopt her. This day was Dean's birthday and while the Hudgeons where not in the adoption process they knew this was a gift from God. They recognized the gift of love from the birth mother. "It was such a selfless decision out of love for Abbey. She knew the pain it was going to cause but wanted the best for Abbey." Jeanette describes.
While it is clear that the Hudgeons family has been blessed with a family, it has not been without difficulty. One of the areas the family has had to learn is methods of their children's skin and hair care. The open adoption process has helped a great deal with this. Dean is quick to point out that those are things that are learned rather quickly. He even points out that "even people of the same race have different hair and skin types."
Dean and Jeanette are often asked about the involvement in educating each child of their heritage. The fact that they home school 3 of their children and eventually will all 5 makes this easier. Home schooling allows them to establish the curriculum and some of the birth parents have also assisted in the integration of each child's culture. Dean quickly point out, "We don't want to over do that though because we don't want them to think that we're different. We have our own Hudgeons traditions." He goes on explaining, "We don't want our children to feel like they are in compartments. They are a part of the whole. Our first heritage is that we're God's children, after that we're Hudgeons, then Jeanette's family is Stigge's . We are making our own heritage and it is whatever God makes it. It is fun to explore, Africa, Korea and everything else that is a part of our biological background but really our spiritual heritage is what is important and that is what we try to highlight."
Jeanette adds in "We don't downplay anything about how God made Aunah or any of the other children." Dean then jokingly adds, "Yea we celebrate Aunah's hair for about an hour and a half every week."
Dean and Jeanette are also quick to point out the difficulty they had with some of their family, especially after the adoption of their first child Emily. Deans grandfather at first "disowned", him. After a long and difficult discussion with his grandfather Dean explained that the adoption was something they "just had to do and it was the right thing to do."
His grandfather had been active in, and grown up in the church and it was something Jeanette describes as, "We just didn't see it coming." "He had grown up in Colorado and had had virtually no contact with minorities whatsoever."
Dean explained that although there are still some difficulties and things are far from perfect, "the blessing came later on when he began to see all of our children as children of God and there was absolutely no difference except for a little difference of skin tone. It was an incredible blessing to us and later he actually affirmed our family and we had discussions where he essentially said I was wrong and you were right. For someone of that generation to say they were wrong was quite a big deal."
Jeanette going into additional detail, now filled with tears of emotion, "To think that a 80 year old man, set in his ways, and see God began to change him, we have seen God do that. He, (God), can change someone's heart like that. You know if people don’t come face to face with it, (racism), if they don't have to confront it a lot of times they will go through their whole lives and they will never have to deal with, 'How do I feel about people of a different race?' I think our family didn't know what it was going to be like because they had never been put in a situation but it is so neat to see how they have just embraced our kids and loved them."
It was during a Thanksgiving dinner when Aunah was sitting on Jeanette's fathers lap that she observed him sharing a cup and spoon with him that she realized how far people could come if they just took the chance.
Dean believes that "for a long time Christians were a big part of the problem in regard to racial relations. Scriptures that were used to support racism were taken out of context. Today a lot of churches are leading the way to restore racial relationships. Our church Westport Mennonite Brethren has been wonderful. One of the positives is that it's just no big deal that we have the family we do. They, (Westport) don’t over react and try to over compensate. They just don't make a big deal about it and that is one of the best things they can do. Our church doesn't over react, we’re just a family, another family in the church, another family with an extraordinary God."
The Hudgeons openly admit that they don't know what the future holds in regards to additional children. "The Lord is too big for us to say it can't be done or shouldn't be done. If the Lord puts it in our heart we'll know, it's been clear each time. Abbey and Aunah are still pretty little, we want to give them all that we can but we want to be open to what God has for us." Jeanette describes, Dean adds in with a smile, "The answer to that is that we don’t know." Dean also adds, "America is badly in need of parents who care passionately about their kids and are willing to make them their top priority. I hope that the passion that we have for our kids encourages people to be patient parents whether they have natural or adopted children. Children are a gift of God. Hopefully, parents will see that parenting really is the number one occupation."
Jeanette reflects on their journey thus far, "When times were difficult and we wanted children there was a verse near the kitchen sink that gave us comfort. Jeremiah 29:11-13." Jeanette then quoted the verse from memory, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." She quotes the verse perfectly as her son Samuel recites it with her.
For complete edited version contact The Christian Leader, Hillsboro Kansas. Not to be used without permission from the author and publisher.
Now this video is not of the Hudgeons Family, but it is a great video to show the effects of adoption. I can tell you from personal experience regarding the adoption of our son, it is something I will never regret, what a gift from God.
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