Before Jeff and Julie were married they both knew they wanted to adopt at some point in time, but they didn’t really know much of anything about the different avenues to accomplish that goal. About five years into marriage Jeff and Julie decided it was time to start trying to have children, but with Julie going into a brand new job, they decided it was best to look into different adoption options. After researching international adoption, domestic adoption, and foster-to-adopt, they both agreed that their heart wanted to help those close to home who were in need of a safe place to grow. The need for safe and healthy homes for foster children in Los Angeles County alone was staggering- so they decided to be trained through the same foster family association their friends had used to adopt two of their five children.
At this time in their lives, Jeff was leading a ministry of about 600 students in grades 7-12. They decided it would be best to let the group know that they “may show up one day with a child” so that the shocking comments would be kept to a minimum. Not too long after Jeff had made that announcement he received a phone call from a girl on the student leadership team. “Are you foster certified yet?” were the first words Jeff heard on the other end of the line.
“No” Replied Jeff in a concerned voice, “We have a few more training hours. What is wrong, are you OK?”
Without warning the phone was ripped from this young girl’s hand and another voice came on the line.
“Hello, I am the social worker assigned to this case and I was wondering if you would expedite the process and accept these two teenagers this evening?”
The conversation was brief and translated in spurts to Julie via Jeff’s responses, questions and short explanations. In a look, and no more than a 30 second conversation, Jeff and Julie both knew the answer was yes. God had arranged it all. Just two months before they had bought a house one city block from the church where Jeff was working and prayed, “Lord, use this house for ministry” Little did they know, God had way more planned than pool parties and small groups for this home.
Three hours after that first phone call the “guest room” was no longer for guests, and the office was transformed into a bedroom. Two seventeen year-olds moved in and the definition of “full-time ministry” vastly changed for Jeff and Julie. “We all had a lot to discover and learn both individually and as a family. It was a tough transition for everyone- we all did our best and sought the Lord through the process.”
After the twins graduated, one left for a four-year university, and Jeff and Julie decided to go back on the waitlist for an infant. Just before being added to the list, Julie found out she was pregnant. They would have a baby boy the next May, immediately after Julie finished her second season as Head Water Polo Coach at Azusa Pacific University.
After the birth of their son, Jeff began a transition out of Student Ministries into planting a multi-site campus for their church. December 20, 2013 was Jeff’s last day serving with students- and for the first time in their relationship, Jeff was home every night of the week. Just 10 days later the phone rang again with a call to bring their youngest son home. He was not yet named and recovering in the NICU, where he had been staying for (you guessed it) 10 days. God’s timing, as always, is perfect- crazy- but perfect. He provided everything Jeff and Julie needed to parent their children. He gave them a house, a perfect-fit nanny, jobs with flexible work hours, and most importantly a huge support system capable of raising two 18- year-olds, a 7 month old, and an infant.
Before having children Jeff would joke, “yeah, it would be great to have all our kids at once- one right after the next.” Little did he know just how quickly their family would multiply. Having four kids between January 2012 and December 2013 was definitely not in their “plans”- but it is something they would both agree is the best and craziest thing that has happened to them. If you ask them how they did it, they will tell you, “By the grace of God- and a lot of prayer. We are by no means the perfect parents, and we are learning everyday how to better provide for the deep heart-felt needs of our children.”
Jeff and Julie feel that their family is their biggest calling in life. So if you are wondering if they will have more children, which is a question they are asked often, their answer is, “We have given up ‘family planning’ in the traditional sense. So we don’t know. God has a way of setting up things even greater than we can think of or imagine. We are simply focused on doing the best we can with the children we have.”