17 years ago today, to the day in fact, my life and the life of my family changed forever. It is a day we still recognize and honor as a continuation of Christmas, but before I get too far ahead of the story, I need to go back to the beginning, the beginning of why it is all so important. But be forewarned, the story is not a short one, but it is one worth the read, and one that will let you know of the power of love, especially during this, or any other Christmas Season.
Growing up the way I did, I always knew I wanted a large family. Of course I never got that wish but I got what God gave us. My daughter Marathana was our first gift from God. We had our daughter after we had been married going on two years. I wrote about her in another blog, but wanted to designate the blog today to our gift some 17 years ago. My wife and I knew we would want other children, but with college and everything else we did not know how that would happen.
My daughter was approaching 3 or 4 years of age and we lived in Hillsboro Kansas where I attended Tabor College. We decided, after not having another child for some time that we would consider adopting a child. During this time we began our efforts of trying to adopt with The Villages Inc., an adoption agency for needy children. We were so excited, there was one little girl we were interested in. She was beautiful with shoulder length brown hair and wore glasses. She was older than our daughter and while it was a different way of growing a family it was one we pursued.
It was a pursuit we ended up regretting because the agency drug the procedure on for over a year, never telling us after they had shown us the little girl as to why the adoption procedure was not moving on. It was some time later that my wife and I that learned it was because of my background of being an abused child. There was believed an abused child would become an abusive parent. This hurt as much as the abuse I received as a child. Not only had I been mistreated by people who were supposed to love me, now I was being treated by a system and policy that assumed guilt without the checking out facts. My wife and I were so upset we put off the possibility of adopting or having children for several years.
It was now some years later and we lived in Greenville South Carolina. I had a great job I loved at Gateway House and the future looked promising. It was during this time my wife and I decided to begin the pursuit of adoption again. We went to an agency called Bethany Christian Services that handled adoption of children across the country. They had an office in Greenville and we thought we should again make the effort to adopt.
This time, with this agency, things were much different. We were assured that while we would have background checks done on us, that if I had indeed become a new person from my youth, we would be able to adopt a child. We were also assured that cost would not be a factor for our family as the agency would work with us. We learned a lot of other things regarding adoption though; we learned about the difficulty, we learned about the children, the number of children not adopted and a whole host of other things. We had hope.
One of the things we learned early on was that if adopting a white child that the process could be quite expensive, and last for some time. We were told some families have to wait over 10 years when requesting a white male child, a little less for a female. My wife and I, along with our daughter, had spent a great deal of time talking about this and we knew we were going to adopt a "Special Needs Child" or a child having difficulty being placed for one reason or another. In our research we discovered children of black and white backgrounds were among the most difficult to adopt. There were other issues within the Special Needs category; it could be a child with medical issues, an older child not yet placed, or any other number of variables. We requested from the agency though, a child having among the most difficulty to place, and age was not a factor. We were even willing to adopt an HIV/Aids baby. We specifically stated, we want the child hardest to place, and we know that is often a mulatto child and we are willing to accept a child like that.
That process of initial applications, interviews and so forth lasted a couple of weeks. We were given assurance we would likely have no trouble adopting a child, we were asked to come up with $500 if we did adopt to handle the court costs, and the church we were attending had gladly agreed to cover this. We did not know how long it would be, but we thought; "There is hope."
Time moved on and we were approaching the first year after the application process. We had heard nothing and assumed the adoption was likely not going to happen, just like the previous adoption had not happened. God had a Christmas miracle in store for us though; we just did not know it yet.
I had continued working at Gateway house when one day I received a phone call from a social worker at Bethany Christian Services. I will never forget that call. The phone call came in on Friday December 15, 1989. On the phone was a social worker, I can almost remember to this day the conversation, word by word.
"Mr. Furches, this is Nancy with Bethany, you had done an application at our agency for an adoption." She would state.
"Yes Mam, it was close to a year ago but my wife and I did do a request for an adoption." I replied, my heart pounding, not knowing if she was calling to deny, or to move ahead, or what.
"Well Mr. Furches, we wanted to know if we could schedule a home visit with you as soon as possible. We need to come by the house, check out everything and meet again with your wife and daughter. Would that be possible?"
"Yes Mam." I replied, starting to stumble a little with words because I knew the bad options had gone out the window. "When would you like to schedule it?" I asked, fully expecting she would reply sometime over the course of the next month.
"Well Mr. Furches," she responded, "Would it be possible to come by your house tomorrow?"
At this time I was more than nervous, I was ready to hit the floor. I knew the house was not up to our approval, as most any family we wanted to make sure everything was ready, so I asked, "Would it be possible to do that on Monday? I have to call my wife and I know she will want to clean up the house a little."
"Sure Monday will be fine, will say, 7:00 be okay?" She asked
"Yes Mam, that will be fine." I answered
"Fine, see you on Monday, December 18 at your house; are you still living at the address on Fernleaf Drive?" She asked.
"Yes Mam, that is correct." I responded,
"Great" she replied, "I'll see you Monday."
We ended the conversation and I had to almost run to my supervisor at the time, Donny Smith and ask if it was okay for me to call my wife. He stated fine, that I needed to make sure I did that and so I called. I think as I recalled the story to her, she was as dumbfounded as I.
I can't think of a slower weekend in my life than that particular weekend. It seemed as if Monday afternoon was going to ever arrive, but it eventually did.
Nancy arrived on time, at first things were different than I expected but the meeting went on. The meeting was at our house, a split level in a community just outside of Greenville called Travelers Rest. Our family had worked diligently on the house over the weekend including Marathana who was excited about the possibility of a new brother and/or sister. Nancy began to ask questions, questions I didn't fully understand as to why she was asking. Many were questions asked before in previous interviews at the agency. Yet, she continued to ask some of those same questions, questions about my background, our family's involvement with church, about our faith and on and on. None of them were offensive or upsetting, just strange to see repeated.
After about an hour Nancy indicated the meeting was about over, my wife and I, somewhat confused, asked the question; "so are we being considered for a child?" Nancy’s response was something that would last with us for a long time.
"Yes you are, we actually have a child, and I am not supposed to tell you this, but a small infant boy born on November 28. The situation surrounding his birth is somewhat difficult. I know you had stated in your initial interview that you would be willing to adopt a special needs child. Well this child was born at home. We know his birth mother was 15 or so when she got raped by two young black men. The story is she was delivering beer to the brothers, and was raped; she isn't sure which one is the father. The young lady had actually gone in to obtain information regarding obtaining an abortion and went into Bethany who talked her into having the baby and taking care of all of the costs associated with the pregnancy. The agency has tried to identify the father via testing and both deny the episode of the events. That doesn't surprise us though because of the nature of the pregnancy. We know the child was born at the girls' home, in the bathroom. Apparently the mother of the girl didn't know she was pregnant until the delivery. Everything related to the birth tested out fine with the infant tests. The paramedics arrived at the home and the baby boy was in great health. We would like to do placement as soon as possible. How soon do you think you can have a nursery ready?"
My wife and I were between shock, and excitement. We did not know what to expect or say at this point but I still tried to answer Nancy's question. "I don’t know when do we need a nursery ready?" I asked.
"Could you have one ready as soon as tomorrow?" She asked back.
At this point, my wife and I had gone through close to a year not hearing anything back, and all along the while assuming our effort to adopt a child would be as our last effort, something good we desired that just would not happen. Yet, feeling this and knowing my wife Mary Jane felt the same thing by observing her body movement and eyes, I responded. "I don't know about tomorrow, but we could have a nursery ready by Thursday." I realized this was Monday night; Christmas was one week away. The last thing we expected with this short of a notice was the gift of a new child into our family. It was totally unexpected. We didn't have paint, a crib, nothing for a newborn. Nancy was great and very pleasant with her response.
"I think Thursday will be fine. Expect to hear from me in the next couple of days but I really don't expect any problems. Just get the nursery ready, it looks like you are going to have the opportunity to have a baby boy for Christmas."
We prayed, and that night, my family was in shock, we couldn't believe what had just happened.
As the week went on we had not heard from Nancy, I was starting to get a little worried again, as was my wife so I decided to call Nancy on Thursday while at work. As I called I found out we indeed did have the chance to go and look at and adopt this little infant boy. She asked if we would be willing to wait until the Tuesday after Christmas, December 26 because the foster parents wanted the opportunity to have the baby with them over Christmas. The infant was called Jake by the foster family, he did not have an official name yet. I stated we could wait until Tuesday and made plans to meet at the Adoption agency.
To be honest, I do not know what Christmas day was like that year. In less than a week, we had gone from a 3 member family to suddenly getting ready to likely have a fourth member and a son at that. We were open to either a son or a daughter, but to be honest, as I had told the agency, it would be great to have a son. It was as if from one Christmas to the other, God had heard our prayers, our requests, and answered them. God was getting ready to give our family a Christmas we would never forget.
The following Tuesday finally arrived. We arrived at Bethany Christian Services around 9:00 AM. We realized and fully knew this little boy would be of milado (black/white) heritage and we were fully expecting a dark skinned little boy with nappy hair. We had been told in the past that sometimes one of the biggest shocks to families adopting mulatto children is that they were light skinned. We had thought about that and while skin tone did not matter, it was something that was still a surprise when we first saw baby Jake.
We went into a private room to get information on the baby, and to meet with the foster parents. We had never done anything like this. The excitement and electricity filled the air. One of the first things we noticed was the curly hair on the baby, and the fact that his skin was more olive color than dark brown or black as we had expected. We also noticed the baby was very small. Even at nearly a month in age, the child weighed less than 9 pounds. Our daughter when born weighed over 9 pounds and was approaching 11 pounds at one month of age. We were not used to a baby this small. The meeting went on for about an hour and a half. We knew we wanted the boy.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the staff at Bethany, including Nancy informed us we could go home and think about this adoption over a couple of days. We replied we did not need to think about it, we wanted our son. After a few moments of discussion, they encouraged us as to at least go eat lunch, then decide if we wanted the child. We stated we would and that lunch meeting lasted all of thirty seconds.
Across the street from Bethany was a Burger King Restaurant. My wife and I went in, and to be honest, I do not recall if I ate anything or not. I sat down across from Mary Jane, and asked her, "What do we need to talk about?"
"I don't know" She responded, "I want the baby."
"Yea, me to," I replied emphatically. I think that was the jest of our conversation, we waited around at Burger King for about an hour talking about our new son and how God had met our dreams, and then went back to Bethany. Upon our return, we met again with the Foster Family, and the administrators at Bethany. After a few questions, filling out some paper work. We were literally handed a child to be our own. It was a feeling I will never forget.
When asked about deciding on a name for the child, we knew right off the bat what the name would be as we had discussed it when we first started the adoption process some years before. In fact, Mary Jane and I had discussed child names even before getting married for both a boy and a girl. We had always wanted to name a son Nathaniel Seth if we had one and my grandfather had recently passed. His name was William and we decided on the name Nathaniel William Seth Furches. It was not long afterward we learned the name meant, Anointed Gift of God. Nathan for our family would always be a reminder to the goodness and love offered by God to our family, even when things at times seem tough.
The first couple of years were not easy. Nathan had gone through some fairly serious health issues that had required surgery, and one of those health issues was a life threatening event. We struggled during those times early in that first year, and the subsequent years to come. He lived his first years in South and North Carolina, he was born in Charleston South Carolina, but would end up growing up in Oklahoma and Kansas.
For 17 years now, we have had a celebration in our family that concludes on December 26. On that day we keep back one present for each member of the family from Christmas and open it as a family. As I type this, we are going to my daughters' house in Newton Kansas to celebrate the day. It is a reminder of the day Nathan came to our family, and a reminder of the day God completed our family. We are also reminded of the gift God gave to earth for all of humanity.
A lot has happened over those 17 years, some good, and some bad. Among the greatest joys of that time is being there to hold my sons hand as he prayed the prayer to receive Christ into his life. It was at a Power Team presentation and we only went because he had ring worm and was unable to wrestle at an AAU National Championship tournament in Tulsa. Then there was the time I had the honor of baptizing him at our church in Owasso Oklahoma. We have had other things happen most of the enjoyable ones were related to spiritual accomplishments, and family.
Nathan has not only been a blessing to me and my family, but to many whom he has come to know. His story has appeared in various publications and he has had feature articles written about him in various magazines. I still say, he is a child of God, and a gift from God. He has turned into a fine young man among many other things. I am honored to call him son, but even more honored that God was willing to give my family an incredible gift, at Christmas on that Christmas 17 years ago.
Today is the last blog/article in the Christmas series. I thank those of you for reading them. I also appreciate the prayers and support for our family over the course of the next year. We value this ministry, we know God has blessed us and we hope we can share more about his love over the course of the year than ever before. If we know how to give each other good gifts, how much more does our father in heaven know how to give each of us good gifts. I have experienced that blessing in life. It is my hope that the ministry of The Virtual Pew can help you see and experience those same blessings.
Now before we get to the videos today, hopefully everyone will remember to pass the blogs along to your friends. The Christmas Special blogs from TVP can help a lot of people. You can show them what we are doing by Clicking Here at this Link. They can also get in the Christmas Spirit by Clicking Here and reading about The Virtual Pew and our Christmas giving options.
Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are numerous postings, and you will have to go into the archives to see the 100 plus postings over the last months.
Now I also want to remind you that you can visit www.thevirtualpew.com and on the front page scroll down to the left hand side of the page where you sill see our store. Your purchases through our Amazon store provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something on the page to buy, you can click on the search engine for the store, (do not put anything in the search box at this time) and you will then be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully as you shop for Christmas you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew and/or at the very least shop our store. The items on the store page are highly recommended.
Now prior to checking out the videos for the day, here is that information, contact and contribution information regarding The Virtual Pew. Again, thanks for visiting, have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. Just remember though, from The Virtual Pew, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Blessed New Year.
Contact and Giving Information
Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
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Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html
To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can also subscribe to the newsletter at www.thevirtualpew.com or see the newsletter on line at http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can also sign up for the free newsletter from The Virtual Pew by visiting the main page for The Virtual Pew, or you can see the newsletters online by visiting this web site: http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.
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