Our Family Introduction (just in case anyone is interested)
Mike and I knew each other in high school but never really got to know each other or hung with the same crowd.....I do remember thinking about him in high school a lot and even having dreams about him. Both of us became parents while teens (with other people) and so were were busy growing up fast back in those days. After high school we pretty much forgot all about each other.
Ten years later I found myself a divorced welfare mom with 4 young children. My youngest child a baby girl named Gayge had died of SIDS and I was still in middle of the recovery from that. One day I forced myself to go to a church singles/social group and who should walk in but Mike Feser! Mike worked at a nuclear power plant and was also divorced and dad to two girls a bit older than my kids. He looked so handsome....sigh. My heart still flutters to think of that night when we saw each other in that church lobby. We remembered one another instantly and could not keep our eyes of each other. We became instantly twitterpated....just like Bambi and Faylene in the movie. That was it...ever since then we've been inseparable. We were married almost twenty years ago. What an adventure God had in store for us!
We started out married life with the six kids between us and within a year we had added a bio baby boy. Seven kids was a lot to us and everyone else we knew, and we KNEW our family was complete.
Mike and I considered ourself Christians and we were. But after we'd been married about ten years God starting working on our hearts and began to call us out of our "lukewarmness". It was an exciting time and we had no idea what plans God had for our lives ....but I was sure it was something exciting. The main thing was that the Lord had brought us to a place where we were ready to do whatever he said. What he told us to do was a BIG surprise.
When we first felt the Lord prompt us about adoption I was thinking it was a big misunderstanding. Mike was SURE it was a misunderstanding. After all we already had seven children, most all of them about grown up. We had no desire to have any more. Early retirement and life spent enjoying grandchildren and our golden years sounded really good. But God spoke very clearly to us that we were suppose to adopt a baby girl from China. It was only after we agreed to do what He said did we get jazzed up about the idea. So it began....
We were such adoption virgins then that we were scared about everything. How could we get the money to adopt a child let alone pass a homestudy with our backgrounds???! Would we ever be able to love an adopted child like a birth child?? What if our adopted child had something "wrong" with them like they were sick or had brain damage? What is they had been abused??! Oh goodness what if we were referred a toddler and not a baby? How could we "bond" with an older child? So many fears and doubts. But our Father was infinitely gentle and kind. He took us baby step by baby step. When we opened our hearts and ears to what He wanted us to do...what He told us to do....then we found He made it our heart's desire. He calmed our fears and gave us faith....abundantly. Even when He told us to do things that were scary, out of our comfort zone to say the least....He was holding us...giving us what we needed at that moment. What a beautiful thing to be able to "rest in Him"!
December 2001 we found ourselves in China adopting Anna 20 mos old with minor amputee issues. Six months later we were in South Africa adopting Josiah 14 mos with mild CP and Maggie 11 mos with CP, and a VP shunt. Next in August 2003 came Miriam almost 4 years old from China with limb difference. Mulu age 14 and Yasab age 10 came home from Ethiopia in January 2004. A year later in April 2005 we brought home their friends Tigist age 12 and Meseret age 8 long waiting bio sisters at Layla. With the girls we adopted unrelated Berhanu age 3 with retinoblastmo (eye cancer). That next October (2005) we got a surprise phone call about a newly born baby boy in our state with Down Syndrome. That was our sweet Jonathan. Solomon came home from Ethiopia at Christmas a few months later at age 15 mos with spina bifida. 2005 was the year we moved from our farm back to town and adopted 5 kids. Busy! In June of 2006 we adopted 15 year old Roza from Ethiopia who needed a new family. A few months later 15 year old Haiminot from Ethiopia joined the family as she also needed a new family. Mike traveled in early 2007 for then 5 year old Tamar MyHao from Vietnam. She is "chromosonally enhanced" (Down Syndrome) like Jonathan was. In spring of 2009 we got another "surprise" our newborn baby boy Jarib from Alabama with spina bifida. Our next adoptions happened in this past year. Two little boys from Ethiopia, Judah Gezehegn age 4 with Down Syndrome came home in last October (2009), and Job Assefa age 18 mos (HIV) came home in February. Mike leaves for Ethiopia October 10th to go pick up our new daughter Towabech age 9 (post polio).
Of course our children are not defined by any sort of special needs. We really rarely ever think about who has what medical issue and whose history includes whatever. There are some things that our kids came with like Hep B, burn scars or major abuse background that are too private to share. The only reason I share their special needs here is this...to show how God worked on the hearts of a couple that was initially so frightened of adopting and so against adopting kids that had special needs. Isn't is amazing?! Mike and I have seen so many miracles and heelings in our children. But the truly amazing miracles are that of a changed heart and new life.
We live in an average size house (2500 sq feet or so) and Mike has a average income. We are normal flawed people who struggle to be a decent spouse to each other and good parents to our kids. I think all our kids are awesome but they are normal...not perfect by any means. We get tired and discouraged at times. We need each other so when one is struggling the other can boost the needy one up ( I must be honest here and say it is usually me Julee who needs Mike's level head to hold me up). But we love each other passionately. More importantly we love God with joyful deep abandon and an unfailing trust He has taught us through our mountain top experiences and the deep dark valleys we have walked. We are ordinary people whom God has extraordinarily blessed. All because we choose to do what He said and let Him be the boss. This is a concept that is not a one time choice and "that is it and a done deal!" kind of thing. It is something we have to struggle with, muck through, and pray for all the time. But we find living life in God's will is the very best this world has to offer. Total fulfillment. Total peace. Feeling like we are living and breathing exactly what we were made to do.
So for those keeping track and who care about such things.. here are the facts:
~Mike and Julee both age 51 big ole years old and married 20 years
Blessed with 26 precious children:
~Dalaina (bio) who is Safeway manager age 34 married to Rob and mommy to Skylar and Robert
~Lindsay (bio)who is Starbucks manager age 33 married to Sean in Colorado ~ Cody (bio) age 32 sous chef and talented musician in Maine
~ Tasha (bio) age 29 wonderful mommy to Maryn age 13 in Portland.
~Jake (bio) age 27 business owner and city councilman in Oregon, husband to Holly and daddy to Silas, Lauren and Claire
~Kayla (bio) age 25 CNA and big sister extraordinaire
~ Mulu Hope (Ethiopian) age 20+ model and medical assistant in Seattle adopted at age 14
~Haiminot "Haimi" (Ethiopian) age 20 medical assistant and mommy to sweet baby girl Makeda, adopted at age 15
~Roza (Ethiopian) age 19 dental assistant in Everett and expectant mommy to baby girl due in Dec 2010 adopted at age 15
~ Michael (bio) age 19 Safeway checker and collage student for English degree
~Tigist (Ethiopian) age 18, 11th grade high school student who wants to be a doctor adopted at age 12
~Yasab (Ethiopian) age 17, homeschool 10th grade high schooler adopted at age 10
~Meseret (Ethiopian) age 13, 7th grade homeschool junior higher adopted at age 8
~Miriam (Chinese) age 10 and 5th grade homeschooler adopted at age 3 1/2 years
~Anna (Chinese) age 10 and 5th grader adopted at age 20mos.
~Josiah (Zulu-South African) age 9 and 3rd grade homeschooler adopted at age 14 mos
~Magdalene "Maggie" (Xhosa-South African) age 9 and 3rd grader adopted at age 11 mos
~Berhanu (Ethiopian) age 8 and 2nd grade homeschooler and adopted at age 3 yrs
~Tamar MyHao (Vietnamese) age 8 and 2nd grader adopted at age 5
~Solomon (Ethiopian) age 6 and Kindergartner adopted at age 15 mos
~Judah (Ethiopian) age 5 Pre-K and adopted at age 4 years
~Job (Ethiopian) age 2 and adopted at age 18 mos
~Jarib (from Alabama) age 17 mos adopted at birth
~Gayge (bio) with us her earthly life from 8/4/88-12/17/88
~Jonathan adopted at birth. With us here for his life from 10/23/05-4/3/08
~ newest daughter Towabech age 9 due home soon from Ethiopia!!!
Are you caught up with us now? Good. It never lasts for long. Our life and family is always changing praise the Lord!