Fighting for family: Blessings come in threes for foster-to-adopt family
Story by Chelsea Quackenbush
Photography by Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Micah and Sarah Brown get weird looks when they’re out in public with their kids but luckily, they handle it with humor.
When their first daughter, Kyrah, now 3, was a baby, they had taken her out to eat. She was sitting in her car seat, all covered up.
She started crying so Micah took her out of her carrier. A guy at the bar turned around and he said, “Holy, baby! … Is she adopted?”
“I said, ‘We don’t know who the dad is!’” Micah says. “You should have seen the guy’s face. It was –
“Hilarious, for you,” Sarah cut in.
“And then we were laughing,” Micah says. Sarah nods and smiles.
“He laughed, too.”
Sarah tells another story of a similar run in.
“This lady said, ‘I bet she acts just like her dad.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I never met him.’ And she kind of looked at me. ‘She’s adopted.’ And then she said, ‘Did you want black?’ I said, ‘No. I wanted purple, but they were all taken.’”
Micah and Sarah laugh again and look at their three kids. Kyrah is following her big sister, 5-year-old Kennah and Jeremiah, almost 2, is bringing toys to show his daddy.
“I said we didn’t care what the Lord gave us.”
A family of their own
For the first few years of their married life, Sarah and Micah debated a heart-wrenching issue – whether to have their own children.
Micah was born with a rare genetic disease that had taken his brother and sister’s lives when they were young. His dad also has the disease but has had relatively few problems. They went through testing to see if Micah could pass it to their children and the results came back inconclusive: there was no way of knowing if the child would have the disease. It was a coin flip.
They tossed around the idea of adoption but didn’t know if that was the right path for them. Sure enough, the following Sunday, their pastor preached about the church’s role in foster care and adoption. The couple was shocked to hear how great the need was in Midland and that more than 50 percent of kids removed from their homes have to go outside the region to find a foster home.
They called Buckner Children and Family Services in Midland after church and the following afternoon, Jim Palmer, Buckner foster care home developer, came and spent three hours talking about all things foster care and adoption.
They decided to sit on it for a while. But during a prayer event at church, both felt like God wanted them to pursue foster care now.
It wasn’t an easy decision at first. The Browns weren’t sure they wanted to give up the idea of having their own children.
What happened next was like a scene from a commercial, they say. After the sermon and prayer event at church, they were sitting at lunch in silence when they both blurted out ‘What do you think about becoming foster parents?’
Everything took off from there.
They finished their paperwork and completed training and parenting classes in July 2011. They had prayed and prayed and they were ready. Sarah, a schoolteacher, still had some time off for the summer, a perfect time for them to have a child come into their home.
But when their family reunion rolled around, they still had no child to take with them and Sarah was heartbroken. Her dad called to ask what kind of food and drinks they wanted for the reunion and Sarah answered that she didn’t care.
He asked what was wrong and she said she was mad at God. She wanted a baby and she was about to go back to school. She was afraid that by being in school, she wouldn’t have time to bond with her baby.
Her dad said something profound that changed her heart immediately: “It’s not when you need a baby; it’s when a baby needs you.”
She says she realized he was right and she was being selfish. She decided to look at it as possibly their last trip together as a childless couple and enjoy it. With a new perspective, she happily started packing for the trip.
At 5 o’clock that afternoon, Micah called Sarah.
“She was born yesterday,” he said.
Sarah immediately called Buckner to find out her name. When they said Ja’kyrah and spelled it for her, she knew God had been working.
“Micah’s name ends in “A-H” and my name ends in “A-H”,” she explains. “When we planned our perfect little family, our kids were going to be Hannah and Noah, with the “A-H” at the end. They said her name was Ja’kyrah and it was J-A-‘-K-Y-R-A-H. And I said, oh my gosh, the Lord didn’t just give me a little bit, He gave me every desire of my heart.”
They met Buckner at the hospital to pick up Kyrah. When Buckner asked if Sarah wanted to meet the mom, she heard herself say ‘yes,’ even though she was terrified.
“I had prayed the whole way there that we would be a light in her life,” Sarah says. “So when I sat on the hospital bed and she handed her me, she broke and lost it. And here I was, overjoyed. I couldn’t even look at her. Like all I could do was rub her back and say, ‘we’re going to love her and pray for you, and it’s going to be OK.’
“She just sobbed; said, thank you; changed her heart. Since then I’ve been able to pray with her. She’s the one that called me the other day and asked me to pray for her. So it’s been a crazy journey.”
Micah and Sarah also accepted two of Kyrah’s siblings into their home – Kennah and Jeremiah. They’ve developed a relationship with their birth mom and have prayed with her.
At the time, they didn’t know they’d be able to adopt the sibling group. They also had other foster children in their home, who were eventually returned to their families.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” Sarah says. “You know, every time I’ve seen any parent of any of our kids, especially the first time, I have pictures for them. I love photography, and so every time I have fresh pictures. When we went and picked [Jeremiah] up, I took Kyrah’s one-year pictures and gave them to mom.”
Micah and Sarah hope to make Jeremiah and Kennah’s adoptions final by the end of this year, which they’re looking forward to. Kyrah’s adoption was one of the most memorable days in their family.
“It was Sarah’s birthday,” Micah says. “We got on the stand and they said, ‘Do you realize this is as if this child was your own biological child? This is exactly the same … Just as if this child was born to you.
“It was just one of those awesome things that really puts it into perspective. Not that somebody having a baby isn’t emotional but this felt like more. You fight for it. We fought to have our kids.”