Loving Our “Lifers”

November 1, 2018 developmental delays, large families, Lifelong needs, Linny, sibling perspective, siblings 5 Comments

Bringing these three home forever was hands down – three of the very best decisions we’ve ever made in our entire 40+ years of marriage!



We affectionately refer to these three little girlies of ours as “our lifers” – because we get to keep them for the rest of our lives! I’m sure to some who knew we were bringing each of them home forever it probably sounded scary, perhaps overwhelming or even crazy, but we couldn’t envision a day in our lives without each of them!

For those who don’t have a lifer in their lives, it might be hard to imagine the continual joy they bring! But think about it: If bringing Jubilee home was “the worst decision ever” would we really have fought passionately for our miracle-girl Ruby and a few years later wildly chased after our sweet little Birdie? I’m pretty sure there would be no way! Our continual pursuit of “lifers” assures others that having them is a most beautiful blessing!

Jubilee, the oldest of our three lifers came home forever a few years back. We had brought Isaiah home in 2007 and after he had been home for a couple of months we found her picture. Some of her many special needs were vaguely listed including “severe intellectual need”.



We clearly understood that a “severe intellectual need” would likely mean Jubilee would be our first “lifer”. Never wanting to be empty nesters we knew that we knew – she was ours!

Do you know what else drove us? We just couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen to her if she “aged out” without a family… how in the world could Jubilee ever navigate life on her own?

Bluntly put, she couldn’t.

The other reality really is that anyone’s typically developing child could need lifelong care with one wrong step off a curb, a tragic car accident, even a sudden life-changing illness or a myriad of other things! There are zero guarantees in this life.

And with that, we just couldn’t get to her fast enough.



Tragically, in the midst of Jubilee’s adoption, we lost our home and all its contents to a horrific fire literally the same day we received approval to bring her home.

Little did we know that we were then required to start all the paperwork over because we would no longer be living at the same address (even though we owned the property and would eventually rebuild on the exact same land).

Every piece of paper, including our immigration paperwork, would need the new rental address – when we found a rental that is! It was so complicated on top of losing everything for our large family – it was a nightmare.

It took almost a full year after the fire but our astoundingly faithful God allowed our fourth oldest Emma and I to head to China for Jubilee arriving back home with her on Christmas Eve 2009. What a most treasured Christmas gift – our Jubilee Promise was finally home – forever!



Jubilee’s early days were excruciatingly painful. It was very apparent that she had endured significant trauma and devastating abuse while in China. It was tormenting to know that Jubilee had been living in such despicable pain and yet we had not been able to get to her due to complications from the fire. To this day I still can hardly think about it or I become a heap of ugly tears.

She had desperately needed us and we had not been able to get to her quickly.

With itty-bitty steps Jubilee began to heal emotionally – which was most important of all. Before long she was known around our home as “My Shadow”. She follows me everywhere. Truly everywhere. Some have wondered if I find it annoying to have her follow me all day long? I explain, “She waited eight excruciatingly painful years for her mama to come for her, she can be My Shadow forever.”



Her cognitive delays coupled with the severe abuse meant that she was unable to speak. In fact I actually wondered if she would ever learn a word of English. In Jubilee’s case she was basically nonverbal for the first five years home. One day, to everyone’s surprise she spoke three words together! “Come upstairs Liz (Elizabeth).” We cheered and threw a party – what a stride she’d made – three words together forming a short but important sentence!

She still does not speak much, but when she does it’s usually something very comical and we all laugh heartily – she has a tremendous sense of humor!



And on a side note: another upside of having “lifers” is that every teeny-tiny victory is a celebration and in our home we party almost daily!

Jubilee Promise has now been home just about nine years and the day after Christmas will turn 17. She has finally emerged and is a tender, kindhearted, sweet, always helpful, spunky treasure! She’s endured over fifteen surgeries and her attitude is unbelievably amazing. Jubilee does have significant cognitive delays but that doesn’t stop this sweet chica of ours! She’s a total hoot.

While working on this article Jubilee came in to grab a diaper for Ruby. My husband, Dw, opened the door to our room looking for her and laughingly I joked, “She ran away!” Jubilee emerged with the diaper in time to hear me say that and laughed heartily while beaming ear-to-ear spoke, “Dad! I no run away!”

Seriously, such a treasure! And I shudder to think, where would she be if she had aged out!



Some have wondered if having our lifers permanently affects our other kids? Good gracious, I sure pray so! In fact a million times over I shout Yes! I’m so thankful for the permanent affect bringing Jubilee, Ruby and Birdie home has had on each of them!

I’m convinced that our non-lifer treasures are more tender, more willing to help others, much more compassionate, more protective, more caring, more accepting, more gentle, more sensitive, more loving and more likely to advocate for the broken than most of their peers. They truly get it and love-big their lifer sisters! They serve their sisters (and our quadriplegic son without cognitive disabilities) with joy! They know it could be them needing help! Their attitudes are admirable and the blast we have as a family is pretty obvious to all.

In fact about six months ago, our youngest son, Elijah (age 11) was alone with me in the kitchen. Out–of-the-blue, quietly and thoughtfully he softly spoke, “You know mom, I was thinking about when you and dad pass. I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but mom when you guys pass, I think Jubilee should come live with me. Cause mom if she’s not with me she could easily be taken advantage of!”

Jubilee is five years older than Elijah and he’s already thinking ahead, planning and looking out for her.



Yes indeed! Having “lifers” has definitely affected our kids in the most beautiful way and our family is so very humbled and grateful that we get to love Jubilee, Ruby and Birdie for the rest of our lives.

God has been so very gracious to us.




5 responses to “Loving Our “Lifers””

  1. Maureen Tripp says:

    Thank you for saying yes to having these lovely “lifers”.

  2. Sandra Dayton says:

    Wow, what a beautiful gift to read this today!

  3. Rachel says:

    I bawled through this. So much joy radiates from all your hearts. Makes me grateful to know others out there with “lifers” are part of this grand village.

  4. Jenn says:

    Jubilee is just so strikingly beautiful. The joy in her eyes is bringing tears to mine.

  5. Stacy says:

    This post is beautiful. ❤️

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