Anna Dellinger, Features Editor
I can only remember truly weeping twice in my life. Once was when the absolute lostness of one of my friends hit me, bringing me to my knees. The other was as I lay in my bed listening to a girl scream and cry as my dad held her in his arms, trying to calm her. That night wasn’t the only time the girl screamed, and it wasn’t the only time my dad held her.
That girl is now my sister.
I am the oldest of four biological children, all about three years apart, and we all have the same mom and dad who have been together over 25 years. With a family of six, we had a pretty good thing going, it seemed, and our family was big by our church’s standards. The joke at the church was always “Don’t let the Brewsters go on vacation – they’ll come back and have another kid.”
My parents, though, were unfazed and didn’t plan on having any more children. It seemed like life was moving along quite nicely… but then God had another plan.
My family decided to follow God’s call to leave our church of over 13 years – the only church I had ever known – to start a new church. That contained plenty of emotional turmoil for all of us, but it didn’t stop there. We also started reading a book by David Platt called “Radical,” and it brought about some radical discussion in our family: adoption.
A normal family with four children – two girls and two boys – might not consider adoption as an option, because four children are already a lot to handle. My parents aren’t normal though – they chose to obey God over wanting to be the typical American family.
We began talking about adoption as a family in 2010. Even though we were already a “big” family, we decided we were open to sibling sets, other ethnicities and any age. My parents read and filled out hundreds of pages of paperwork and attended many meetings and trainings. Our house was inspected, background checks were run, references were called and bedrooms were switched around.
And then, we waited. For a long time.
At one point my family attended an event called “an adoption party.” It was bittersweet, because it’s almost like a puppy mill for children. The prospective families get to meet children that are up for adoption, and can request further meetings about placement with the children they connect with at the adoption party.
For the children that attend, it’s an opportunity to meet their possible families and a chance to play some games and eat fun food. If they are adopted soon after, it’s not too bad.
But with those that attend party after party with no family adopting them, it’s easy to lose hope. We met some sibling sets – played with them and talked with them, but no real decisions came of it.
Months went by, and there was no word from our social worker. We had done what God had asked, so why were we still waiting?
Then, on a Wednesday night in February of 2012, my mom received a surprising phone call while at church. She waved three fingers at my dad, who was sitting across the room. Her face flushed, like it does when she’s embarrassed or excited, and he just sat there confused.
After she ended the phone conversation, she rushed over to my dad and told him the news.
“Three girls,” she said.
There was a sibling set of three African-American sisters, ages 6, 8, and 11, and DHS was considering placing them in our home. Wow. After so many months without news, this was quite the shocker.
We met them for the first time at Chick-fil-A. It was actually the first time they had seen each other in months, since they had been split up into separate foster homes. Apparently, it went well, because they started staying with us at home in March.
Mariana, the 6-year-old, went by the nickname “Anna.” I decided that wasn’t going to work, since that was my name, and I proposed the nickname “Mari” instead. It stuck, which was great for me, and she seemed to like it too. Mari was rambunctious, and she had a hard time following our house rules, especially when it came to eating the food set in front of her.
Deliasha, the 11-year-old, was very quiet. She seemed timid and always wanted to make sure her two little sisters were taken care of.
Sharia, the 8-year-old, didn’t like to learn names, so she would call my brothers “that boy” or “your son” in speaking to my mom. She also had an aversion to going to bed. Every night for weeks, she would cry and scream in an effort to stay up later, but the real fight was for control. My dad would hold her tight in his arms and go out to the front porch or the back porch until she stopped. Sometimes it went on for over an hour.
One of those nights of Sharia’s tears and screams is when I wept. I wept angry tears. It wasn’t fair. These girls had come into my home and changed everything. There was so much tension between all of us all the time, because everyone was trying to make it work. It felt like they were tearing my life apart, and each scream accentuated the fear and frustration I felt.
I wept sad tears. What must these girls have gone through to be the way they were? They didn’t really talk about what had happened to them or why they were being adopted, but children aren’t adopted because of small things. I was so sad for the lives they had been forced to live up that point.
But, God was faithful, as he always is. Constant prayer, counseling and other adjustments cased the screaming episodes to fade into the background. Over the weeks and months, these three girls were becoming a part of our family.
Usually it’s a year-long wait for the adoption to go to court. For us, though, they did an accelerated process because there were three girls being adopted. The official adoption was Sept. 24, 2012 – only seven short months after we had met, we became permanent family members.
At the time of the adoption, I was actually living overseas in the Philippines with my grandparents, so I had to Skype in to see it. The internet connection was terrible, the courtroom was loud and it was painful for me not to be present. But, I could hear the judge’s gavel pound, and it was such a strange mix of emotions to have three new sisters with the same last name as me.
Their last names changed from Green to Brewster, and they each got to choose a new middle name to add in front of the one they already had. Now, they are Mariana Eden Deshawn Brewster, Sharia Elizabeth Ann Brewster and Deliasha Faith Lee Brewster.
Each year, we celebrate “Gotcha Day” as a family, to commemorate the day my sisters became Brewsters. Now that I’m married, I look forward to the day my husband and I adopt and celebrate Gotcha Day with our own children, Lord willing.
Five years later, when I think back on that night that I wept, I am so glad I did. God used pain, fear, anger and sorrow to make me eternally more grateful for the sisters I have today.