On Siblings and Adoption: From the Oldest of 14

February 13, 2016 Family Stories, February 2016 Feature - Siblings, large families, sibling perspective, siblings 12 Comments

Upon learning that I am the oldest of fourteen children, six of whom are adopted from China, a typical response goes something along the lines of, “Bless your heart, that sounds crazy.”

My answer is yes, it is crazy! Crazy in the most wonderful, beautiful, joyfully-chaotic way.


hannah1


Others might say, “Weren’t your parents busy enough? How do they have time for all of those kids?”

As if we biological children are somehow being cheated on our fair share of love and attention. Excuse me as I try not to laugh – with all the people living around here, it’s hard to get away from the love and attention!

“Well, where do you put them all?”

Let’s just say a bedroom in our house is like a Chinese bus. How many can fit? One more! Always one more!

And so it goes… For every question wondering why or how we do it, the answer is that when it is God’s will, He will always show us the way! I think it is puzzling to some people why a family who is already larger than average would want to grow by adoption. They act like bringing in a needy orphan is a burden on those already born into your home, but in reality, that is the furthest thing from the truth.

People often imply sympathy to me (or our family as a whole) for having to “put up with” and “deal with” such a crowd on a daily basis. A common concern is that with so many people to watch after, we older children will not be able to have a life of our own. That is not the case! Along with giving piano lessons, babysitting for friends, and participating in our church’s music ministry, I work at my dream job as a wedding coordinator. My siblings are all involved in sports, music, and other extracurricular activities, besides being great students under my homeschooling parents. Yes, we are still busy at home helping with the younger kids, cleaning, cooking, etc., but that’s just part of living with others – being part of the team, as we say. I would not trade my life for anything!

I have seven sisters who will paint nails, dress up, or just lie around talking with me (what more could a girl ask for?) and six brothers who are just as protective of me as I am of them (it’s as amazing as it sounds). I am incredibly close to my siblings. My bond with each of them, biological or adopted, is unbreakable. None of us ever has to be alone. Whether I want to take a hike, go shopping, bake a cake, or watch a crime show, there is always someone around to join me.

While all of this may sound superficial, I just want to point out that being one of many children (whether adopted or not) is a BLESSING! Not a hindrance or disservice. And not only is my life filled with pleasure because of adoption, but God has used them to sanctify me in greater ways than I could have dreamed!

Having siblings with special needs ranging from barely noticeable to completely disabling has taught me compassion, servitude, and humility like I’d never imagined. My life has been – and continues to be – changed by this miracle of adoption. These sweet boys and girls have shown me daily the characteristics for which I should strive.

My eight-year-old brother, who is in first grade and learning to read despite two cognitive disabilities, teaches me diligence.

My four-year-old sister, who has to sit through frequent blood transfusions to live, teaches me contentedness.

My ten-year-old sister, who has slowly but surely overcome cerebral palsy to walk around the house with a walker, teaches me strength.

My (other) eight-year-old brother, who plays the piano in spite of both hands being deformed, teaches me determination.

My (other) four-year-old sister, who was once unable to straighten her legs but now runs nonstop, teaches me perseverance.

My five-year-old sister, who can only move her head and arms yet still has the biggest smile and loudest laugh of anyone in the room, teaches me joy.

So when you see our family circus traipsing through the public, please do not gasp or feel sorry for us or wonder how we manage. I promise, we are having the time of our lives! Do not wonder if we biological kids are missing out on something because of our adopted siblings. We – I – would be lost without a single one of them. Do we have moments of stress and insanity? Of course! Is it worth it? Yes. Yes, and yes.


hannah2


I would not be the person I am now without adoption. My life has changed completely since our family started this adventure… in the very best way possible. As have all my siblings – the biological ones now have best friends who share our last name, and the adopted ones have a family to call their own. (Because even a wild, crazy, hectic crowd of a family is 10x more desirable than no family at all.)

So what really makes being in a large, adoptive family so wonderful? It is that rather than losing our individuality in the midst of the group, our personalities and strengths are amplified by the opportunities we have to serve and grow in our own home, which we never would have had otherwise. We are not just someone else to take care of, any more than those in your household. No matter how many siblings I have, whether by birth or adoption, each of us will always be a loved, necessary, and valued piece of our unique family puzzle.

– guest post by Hannah



12 responses to “On Siblings and Adoption: From the Oldest of 14”

  1. Cherlyn Clemons says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you Hannah for sharing. Easy to tell that you wrote from your heart. You have an amazing family.

  2. Amanda says:

    Well said! We are a family of four adopting three more. We get some crazy looks and comments like, “looks like you have your hands full” as the toddlers pull me along..lol..but we couldn’t imagine it any other way. Thanks for an awesome article.

  3. Julie says:

    So beautiful! Thank you for your heartfelt words, Hannah.

  4. Holly says:

    This is beautiful and I deeply appreciate this personal post.

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. suzy says:

    This family blesses my very soul and knowing Hannah and her 13 brothers and sisters has made me a better person….this was so beautifully written and so from Hannah’s hesrt!

  7. bria Cosper says:

    Beautifully said Hannah! Wow, what a testimony.

  8. Brooke says:

    Thank you! I’m a momma of 10 – 4 that I birthed, 6 that we adopted. This was very encouraging to read, as I often wonder if my children will appreciate what they have in a large family. I didn’t have this. I was the only child. I feel that I missed out, as I didn’t know how to communicate, especially in the midst of a struggle. I didn’t know how to cook or clean or plan my day. I didn’t know how to problem solve or work as a team. So I guess that was God preparing me for my crew that we have now. Thank you for writing this!

  9. Patti says:

    Dear Hannah,
    I am overcome by your beautiful post!!!❤️
    We have 3 wonderful grown birth children, and five beautiful adopted children from China????❤️
    Thank You for taking the time to write this post and encourage so many adoptive families.????
    I love that you LOVE your large family and have unselfishly poured yourself into and graciously embraced each new sibling.????❤️
    Oh how I wish that more of God’s Chosen Family ( the Church ) could have their eyes and hearts opened to Really Seeing that Each Child is a BLESSING FROM THE LORD… Not a burden to bear!!!
    I want to encourage you to keep shining brightly for Jesus by speaking out and sharing these messages from your heart…you are gifted and your parents are ,I’m sure , so deeply grateful that God gave them YOU!!!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!!!❤️

  10. Mary Mabry says:

    What a special tribute to your family…I loved reading your message…your family is so special…I sold your parents their first house in delavan and I think you are still there…I want to send big hugs to all of you bless you .???? You have wonderful parents. Mary Mabry

  11. Kelli Smith says:

    Hannah,
    Thank you you for putting this into words. I know my biological and adopted children love being part of a big family. I love that you said your strengths were amplified. I pray that others see the beauty of large families as well!

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