Happy 23rd, John and Alison! Our family has been wildly blessed by the two of you in ways too numerous to count.
However, on your special day, I want to acknowledge a role you have played in our unusual extra-large bio-adoptive family. You two are the only ones who weren't added to our family through adoption. As the biological children, you could have tried to claim a special place in your parents' hearts. At times it would have been easy to mock or demean your other 10 siblings. But you haven't--ever. As your older sister, Anna, met her birth parents after she turned 18, you were in her corner cheering her on and praying for her.
In addition, each of the three times we adopted three children from Russia, you demonstrated the constancy, patience, love and encouragement your new siblings needed so much to adapt to their new lives in America. You lived sacrificial love like no one outside our family could possibly fathom. And you did so without a word of complaint. In fact, each time we considered adoption, you were in the forefront of the crowd encouraging us. You saw children who needed a family and helped give us the fortitude to take the steps of faith needed to be that family for them. And then you followed up with day-in, day-out love and support for them as they adjusted. You lived Christ-like love before you knew much about the theology of it.
This time around I'm only posting photos from our first adoption of a trio of siblings, but each of these pictures is worth 1,000 words. These photos were taken in the first six months after the adoption of Zhenya, Sarah and Matthew. Despite the short time your new sisters and brother had been your siblings, their security in your all-embracing love shows in their eyes and their smiles. Although there are no photos here from the adoptions of your other six siblings, the story is the same. Your sacrificial love made an incredible impact from the start and, your dad and I firmly believe, has been a key factor in the reason they are all progressing so well years after their adoptions.
Thank you, twins, for making all the difference in the world.
With much love,
|Alison (rear) age nine and Zhenya age eight -- December 2001|
|Matthew age six and John age nine -- December 2001|
|Matthew age six and Alison age nine -- Christmas Day 2001|
|Matt age six and John age 10 -- Spring 2002|
|Sarah age 7 Alison age 10 and Zhenya age 8 -- Easter 2002|
|Zhenya age 8 and Alison age 10 -- Spring 2002|