Tammy’s Beginning

My wife has a soft heart. She always has.

Adopting parentless children has been just one expression of the empathetic response to life I see flowing out of her all the time. When Tammy sees need, she wants to do something about it.

And often does.

She never even ruled out adopting again, though we’ve done it twice, and everyone who knows us has probably secretly concluded that the five kids we already have are probably a tad more than we can handle as it is. Still, “never” didn’t live in her mind like it did in mine. She knew it would take some kind of miraculous something, and even then she was only open to it if for some odd reason the whole family got on board.

Our oldest wasn’t on board, that’s for sure.

“If you guys ever adopt someone else,” Enoch said, “I’m leaving.” That was his standard and oft-repeated position. Sadly, we knew why. Adoption three years ago, our second, couldn’t have come at a worse stage of life for him. The attention that a new little three-year old stole away from that seventh-grader just when he most desperately needed us will be a major part of his story for the rest of his life. As to leaving, fourteen-year old American kids in China—no cash, no ATM card, no passport (cause wise-ol’-Dad would have hidden it away)—have no real way of making good on such threats even if they wanted to. But in his mind he was serious, so it was serious to us.

“Of course, son, if that’s the way you feel about it, I’d never dream of having us adopt again,” Tammy assured him.

I had a better answer: “Duh, people, of course we’re never adopting again.”


Tammy has always dreamed about opportunities to get involved with orphans wherever we’ve lived. When an entire semester had passed by after moving and still no chances to get involved in our new city materializing, it was discouraging. Then, in March, a friend was in our living room late one night giving me opinions about a couple of query letters I’d written to literary agents. She’s an adoptive parent, a writer herself, and a social worker, and she was telling Tammy about seven special-needs children’s files she was responsible for updating. A full, informative, picture- and video-laden file can make all the difference for a waiting kid, many of whom are aware there are families out there somewhere; dare they hope one will choose them?

The seven files all got new videos shortly afterwards, and Tammy sat down one day with Enoch to watch them. When they got to the one of the kid who said he wanted “a big family,” Enoch turned to Tammy and said, “We should adopt that one.”

You could have knocked Tammy over with a panda’s tail.

What on earth could have made her son say something so opposite to all he’d said before, including serious threats about leaving made not six months earlier?

That God might be speaking through her son was a thought Tammy couldn’t shake. Days turned to weeks. Enoch, to our amazement, stood by his comment.

Tammy’s heart began to burn.