Family Friends & Farm

Adoption | One Way to Build a Family

My new book, One Heart At A Time, was released on October 16.

So much attention since has been placed on my unusually large number of children, and I’ve lost count on how many time I’ve answered the how and why questions.

For all the big and small details (and so much more!) pick up a copy of my book! For a quick run-down, and to know why I feel so passionately about adoption, read this blog post.

A family gathering a few years ago - not even close to a complete showing!

A family gathering a few years ago - not even close to a complete showing!

Here’s the short answer to the questions: I had three biological children from two of my marriages, and I have adopted 10 children (number 11 in process.) My husband, Paul, has 5 children of his own. So that brings my number to 14, and our combination to 19.

The longer version is this:

I’ve always wanted to be a mother. When I married at 22 I couldn’t wait to make my new family of “me and you” into “baby makes three.” My husband was a divorced father of 2 children already and not one that you wouldn’t exactly define as present or available. I knew I could change that. Ha!

Sonny and I - or Robin Hood and Maid Marion…

Sonny and I - or Robin Hood and Maid Marion…

At 24, I gave birth to Isaiah, “Sonny” as his dad called him… He is my Number 1, my first child, the miracle that made me a mama!

Fast forward 9 years later - my husband had found greener pastures around Sonny’s 2nd birthday and I had been a single mother since.

My job in radio had taken me from Seattle to Boston, and then on to Philadelphia. While in Boston I’d met a young man in a church group that was cute, charming, loved to laugh, and loved the Lord. I married him, glossing over the fact that he was 8 years younger, lived with his parents, and his fine set of wheels was - a bicycle. Soon after, I was thrilled to be pregnant with Shaylah, my baby number 2.

A few years later we were back in Seattle, Me, Sonny, Shay, and Doug. The marriage was shaky but I was determined to make it work. I was feeling that the 10 year gap between Sonny and Shaylah was too much and I thought about adoption. By thinking about it, I mean I moved forward, looking for a child to love, to embrace, to ‘fill out our family’. We were introduced to a boy, one year younger than Sonny, and learned about “twinning,” matching up children that are of similar age to one you already have in your home, which helps the bonding process. And so, enter my child #3, Emmanuell.

A single mother of 8!

A single mother of 8!

Manny, we soon learned, had two younger siblings in a foster-care situation. Of course they could come for visitations… of course you may call me Mom while you’re here… and when their foster family had a crisis and they needed to be re-homed, of course that home had to be ours. The month that Tangi and TJ (#’s 4 & 5) moved in with us? Of course I find out I’m pregnant!

When Zachariah, my third bio-babe and number 6 to join the family, was born, we’d gone from a family of four, to a family of eight in less than a two year period of time. Eight is great, but not so much for Shay and Zack’s dad.

In all fairness, I hadn’t given his push-back much consideration. I worked and provided for the family, I was willing to put in the late nights and early mornings, and anxiety isn’t a word in my personal vocabulary, so the fact that he was completely and totally overwhelmed didn’t really register. Two years later the marriage ended.

Soon after, I got a call from a friend who was an adoption facilitator. There was a toddler in need of a home, STAT. I drove to the parking lot of a local teriyaki restaurant; TK was placed into my arms and clung to me tightly. He was just a year younger than Zacky, and became child number 7.

My radio program had been syndicated for a while and my career was taking off. The older kids were transitioning out of the house and I found a farm (a life-long dream) to move myself and the three left at home to. Just three. Shaylah, now aged 12, Zacky 7, and TK 6. I renovated the farmhouse and built three bedrooms for three kids. One. Two. Three.

My Angel and my Blessing.

My Angel and my Blessing.

And oh… I dated a wonderful man briefly, a pastor with a young adult daughter who had a baby of her own. I fell in love with this earnest young woman, who had never had a mother in her life… Adult adoption? Yeah, it’s a thing. Lonika, my number 8, has never lived with me but became my daughter when she was well into her 20’s, and, I gained a granddaughter close to the boy’s age, all in one fell-swoop!

Bridget with Sammy, who is now in Heaven.

Bridget with Sammy, who is now in Heaven.

This plan was working until my attention was steered toward a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana, West Africa. Point Hope was re-born and soon I brought into my home and heart, Angel and Blessing, welcomming numbers 9 and 10! Surely this was enough!

Nooooo, because a few years later, Sammy, (#11) who had spent 15 years in an orphanage, and Bridget (#12) who had a personal horror story she shouldn’t have even survived, wandered into my life, my heart, and my home.

And then Blessings little sister, Delilah, my Lucky 13, whom I had been taking care of in Africa, became critically ill, and the birth mother, critically uncaring.

And then their little brother, Baby Paul - whom I was also caring for in Africa, and who had been dropped off with Point Hope personnel because their mother had decided he too, was not worth her time or attention.

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And here I am - a mother of 14 (or will be as soon as Bae Paul’s process is complete).

Before bringing Sammy and Bridget home, I married Paul. We’d dated for 6 years and as a father of 5 grown children, he was looking forward to a child-free retirement. Hahaha!

He loves this crazy menagerie as much as me and is so stinkin’ in love with Baby Delilah and Baby Paul, to whom he is their Papa.

Last week I found myself in Washington DC, speaking to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about the crisis facing inter-country adoptions. It was important to me to be there, and share my story, because International adoptions have slowed to a trickle - down over 80% since 2004 and may cease all together. This means there are hundred of thousands of children that need homes. Children who are the victims of civil war, disease, famine… Children that have been ostracized because of physical or mental impairments, which are looked upon as a cursed in many societies... Children born female, which don’t have the same value as males…

When I completed my first international adoption in 2006, my children were two of 26,000 adopted from foreign countries. last year there was 4,200. This is a crisis.

I was also given the great honor of being inducted into the National Council for Adoptions, Adoption Hall of Fame, for my support of, commitment to, and involvement with building my family through the process of adoption and for founding Point Hope, a voice for forgotten children.

Another alarming reality; 80% of children - boys especially - who have spent time in the foster care system will be in jail before age 25.

Here’s some statistics on the US foster care system that will shock you. There are over 486,000 in the foster care system right now. About 20,000 “aged-out” last year; that is, they reached the age of 18 (20 in some places,) were turned out of the temporary living placements they’d been given, and financial support ended. I ask people, “How many of you have an 18-25 year old child? Are they ready to be 100% self reliant? Who do they call when a tooth breaks, when their heart breaks, when they’ve been in a fender bender?” Another alarming reality; 80% of children - boys especially - who have spent time in the foster care system will be in jail before age 25.

I am passionate about this! There are so many ways to build a family. Adoption is one.

You don’t have to be rich, married, or perfect. If you are at all interested in helping a child in the foster care system and providing a forever home, please don’t hesitate to do the research and make the connections!

Here’s a link to get started:

Adopt USKids

My book, One Heart At A Time, is available for purchase everywhere books are sold, and through the website HERE.

Gobble It Up Cheeseball

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I was cruising the internet 'tother day looking for some holiday party inspiration and crashed into a rendition of this fine not-so-feathered fella.

He's so cheesy! And completely nuts! In fact, he's gone crackers! (And that is how I humor myself friends...) So if you find this appetizer funny, and clever, and aren't worried about your teenagers groaning and rolling their eyes when you present him with a proud-as-a peacock (er, turkey) flourish. Then get your nutty cheese on!

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite cheese ball recipe (I've included a recipe below if you don’t have one. Don’t be afraid to improvise and add/subtract spices and ingredients.)

  • Red, yellow, and orange bell pepper slices (the mini's do the trick!)

  • Pecan Halves

  • Almond Slices

  • Pumpkin Seeds

  • Crackers for tail feathers - oblong work best

  • Pepper Corns (or other edible "eyes".)


Directions:

  1. Make your cheese ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm.

  2. Remove from fridge, place on center of serving plate.

  3. Insert "tail feathers" in a wide fan - I placed a smaller number in front and in back of the wide row.

  4. Press Pecans in at the "shoulders" working down and toward the back.

  5. Press the sliced almonds in near the tail feathers.

  6. Press the pumpkin seeds in in front of the almonds.

  7. Cut a slice of the Orange Bell Pepper to form a "head and neck (experiment with this) an press into the front of the cheese ball.

  8. Cut a "wiggly" slice of Red Bell Pepper and "glue" to the neck with a bit of the cream cheese.

  9. Cut a tiny bit of Yellow Bell Pepper for the beak. I used the tip of a paring knife to poke a hole in the "head" and inserted the bit for the beak.

  10. Find some "eyes." I used a bit of cracker, but I thought later that pepper corns would have been perfect! Glue the eyes on with another little bit of cream cheese.

  11. Now, present that proud fine "bird" with a bowl of crackers and shake your tail feathers!!!

Cheese Ball Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature.

  • 3/4 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon bacon bits.

  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped.

  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions:

  1. Mix together all ingredients by hand, or using a mixer, in large bowl until well blended and an even consistency.

  2. Form into a ball inside the bowl.

  3. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap.

  4. Place in the refrigerator until firm (about 2-3 hours.) Use the freezer for 30 minutes if you rarely think ahead (like me.)

  5. Decorate your bird! OR

  6. Roll in almond slices and serve with a basket of crackers.

My Book, One Heart At A Time, Is Gathering Attention!

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What an exciting week it’s been!

My new book, One Heart At A Time, became available in book stores everywhere on Tuesday, October 16th, and it has recieved so much media attention. I feel so very, very, blessed!

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It was a labor of love to write, and especially difficult after losing my son, Zachariah, to suicide. Finishing was nothing short of a miracle, but one, with the help of God, that happened.

Complete it, I did, and it’s all shiny, polished, and on book shelves ready for you to pick up and read! I hope that you do, and I hope something in what I write about my life and my heart inspires you to reach out to others, just one single heart at time. Get to known them, their hopes, hearts, dreams, and struggles…

This is the way we will change the world!

The book’s release is gathering a lot of attention. Here’s a few of the places I’ve been or have picked up on my story and how I hope to be a small part of changing the world - just as I encourage you to be - One Heart at a Time!

Find your favorite - or find new favorites - in the media coverage that follow !


Good Morning America on ABC:

Early this Tuesday morning, I got to spend time with one of my favorite people, Robin Roberts, on ABC’s Good Morning America! (How is she always so chipper at that early time of day?!)

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On the show, we were able to talk about so many things - life, farm, kids, and the devastating loss of my beloved Zacky - and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears even though I told myself I wouldn’t!

Of course, we talked about my new book, One Heart At A Time, which is available wherever books are sold!

I had an amazing time with Robin, she is a warm, engaging, smart, and gracious woman who’s love knows no bounds, I’m so grateful to be included in that circle.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to view the GMA segment:

Good Morning America Link


Megyn Kelly TODAY on NBC:

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Wednesday, I joined another TV legend, Megyn Kelly! I hope you were able to tune in to the TODAY show on NBC!

There I was, bright, early, and nervous, with my make-up on and in my Sunday best, talking to Megyn about my book and my life, the challenges, the joys, and how I am so very very blessed.

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Megyn was engaging, sensitive, and kept me on-track (as I tend to go off on tangents about things I’m passionate about - and I’m passionate about a LOT of things!) I was grateful for her allowing me to share some facts and thoughts about the broken US foster-care system and I hope by doing so it touched both hearts and nerves. We have got to step up and do something about the way that kids are warehoused and shuffled around until their time runs out and they are forced out into society, broken and ill-prepared.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Megyn, and I hope to do it again soon.

Bonus - I was able to meet and hug a bright news personality, Jenna Bush Hager while on the set!

Here’s the link to watch the segment!

TODAY with Megyn Kelly Link


Woman’s World Magazine:

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Most likely, you’re going to be in a grocery store line sometime this week. If you’re like me and you are the supply sergeant for a small army, you’ll probably find yourself there multiple times!

While you’re standing in line trying to keep your kids entertained, or making eyes at the toddler in the cart in front of you, look around for this weeks copy of Woman’s World Magazine!

Yep, that’s me on the cover, in the fuscia colored dress, looking happy as a girl from a small town that finds herself staring back from the cover of a national publication can be!

The folks at Woman’s World were so kind and compassionate, as all the media have been, when asking about my family is coping after our loss. I feel so fortunate that they chose to showcase me on their cover, and share a beautiful story of my family inside.

I’ve asked folks to share pictures of where they find this issue of Woman’s World magazine - take a picture and post it to Facebook or Instagram with the #radiodelilah, like others have been doing - it’s been a lot of fun!  


Guideposts Magazine:

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In late September, I was also featured in Guideposts Magazine. I’ve read and loved Guideposts all my life.

The stories contained between the glossy front and back covers always inspire and uplift me, and I am both honored and humbled to think that perhaps my story will do the same for you and others.

Here is the link to Guideposts video on the role of prayer in my life - something I do every day, all day!

Guideposts Link


InsideRadio, Extra Close Up:

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InsideRadio launched a new feature on Tuesday the 16th, called “Extra Close Up,” and they chose me to be the first to showcase!

What an honor!

As a radio-gal, this has Extra Special meaning to me, and I’m so very pleased and proud to be featured in this new segment.

Here’s the link to a short, but sweet, and very nostalgic little story:

InsideRadio Link


Parade Magazine:

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I was in the midst of the media blitz in The Big Apple - New York City - when it was brought to my attention that Parade Magazine had run an article me and One Heart… Here’s the link to that!


Parade Magazine Link



Headline News with Mike Galanos on CNN:

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On Thursday morning I sat down to talk with Mike Galanos on HLN. (How handsome is he?!)

I loved his directness and his authenticity. I know Mike has the capacity to change the world and a platform to touch many hearts.

He did not shy away from asking about my faith, which is central to my being and what gets me through each and every day. We touched on Zacky and Sammy, my radio program, my sometimes crazy but wonderful life, Point Hope… and the big message; Say yes!

Open your heart to the possibilities of loving larger and more vulnerable than ever before and the return on your investment will be overwhelming blessings.

Watch the segment:

HLN Link 


And…

Good Day New York, Fox 5:

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It’s always great to be able to drop in to Good Day New York when I’m in the city!

I had a delightful time with the morning team, and even though I’d covered the ground (I thought) several times before, found there is always more to talk about!

My heart feels so full and hopeful as I am gifted the opportunity to share my message with so many people on so many platforms.

Here ya go, if you’d care to take a listen:

Good Day New York Link


I know there will be more to come, stay tuned and thank you for being a part of my world and my heart!

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Falling Into October

It's been an emotionally difficult few weeks. 

A year ago, on October 2nd, my son, Zachariah, changed his address to "Heaven". I wrote this in my newsletter, and shared my raw truth with you, because to skip over it and write only about the wonder and joy of autumn would be disingenuous. I grieve.

Grief is like the wake of a great ship, beginning as a mighty and powerful wave that smashes against that which is closest, but continuing as many, many, many spreading ripples, reducing in size and fury, but still felt long after the ship has passed by.

It's been a year of firsts. The first day without him, the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. The first winter without his snow boarding gear piled up after a day on the slopes, the first spring, birthday, Mother's Day. The first summer of bonfires with his friends present in the evenings and he missing. The first anniversary of the last day I spent with him, and the last day he spent here on earth. I grieve.

And I hope. 

I hope that you are not taking a single moment of a single day for granted. I hope that you are holding those you love close to you, if not physically, in thought, heart, and prayer.

I hope that you remember how much value you have to the world, how much you are loved, and how your absence would be felt not just by those who gave birth to you, by those who grew up with you, by those you brought into the world, but by the hundred, thousands, millions perhaps of lives that would be impacted by your absence.

I hope that you are greeting autumn with open arms and an open heart, marveling as I am, at the colorful display of turning foliage, the flight of birds overhead, and the sounds of children gathered in school yards. 

And I hope that as the bushes and leaves shed their leaves, preparing for a Great Sleep so they may awaken in the spring refreshed, green, and Alive, you, as I, are taking a cue and learning to let go...

I 'Eight' It All! Chili

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Today is my older brother, Matthew’s birthday.

If he were still with us, he’d be turning 60 years old today. Instead, he’ll forever be a young, goofy but brilliant, 26 year old engineer, unafflicted with the arthritis, declining eye sight, and other maladies of age I’m beginning to experience.

I’m posting this recipe in honor of him, because of his love of chili and cornbread, both of which he could put down in extraordinary quantities (6’5” after all…)

And after consumption, I swear he could have provided enough natural gas to fuel a third world country! With 8 cans of beans, I’m sure this is one recipe he would both find fulfilling and get immense devilish glee from!

Make it with ground beef or turkey, or leave the meat out all-together and have a delicious, yet still quite musical, vegan meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans White Beans (drained)

  • 2 cans Chili Beans (seasoned pintos, not drained)

  • 2 cans Pinto Beans (unseasoned, drained)

  • 2 cans Kidney Beans (drained)

  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil - your choice

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced

  • 1 large Yellow Onion, diced

  • 2 cans Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes

  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes (w/green pepper & onion)

  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes

  • 2 pkgs dry Chili Seasoning (to taste)

  • 1-2 cups of Water

  • 3-4 tablespoons granulated Sugar

  • 1 ½ pounds of Ground beef or Turkey, browned and fat drained

  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

  • Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Sauté pepper and onion in large stock pot until onions are tender and translucent.

  2. Add ground meat to pepper/onion and cook until brown.

  3. Open Everything! That’s the most difficult part of this recipe (all that thumb exercise!)

  4. Add everything on the ingredient list to the large stock pot.

  5. Stir together, cook at a simmer for 2-4 hours, just enough to let all the flavors combine; stirring occasionally.

  6. If desired, top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream & green onion.

  7. Serve with a nice chunk of cornbread with butter and honey!

  • This also a very good crockpot recipe, but you’ll want to cut the recipe in half to make everything fit!

Happy Birthday Matt! Thanks for taking care of my boys up there in heaven. I’m sure you’re eating chili, watching Blazing Saddles, and laughing your heads off together!

Spinach, Beet & Feta Salad with Candied Walnuts

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One of the best things about living amongst a goat herd is the abundance of fresh feta cheese - I kid you not! (See what I did there?!)

And one of the best things about having an abundance of fresh feta is this recipe using another of my favorite things - beets! In combination with a bed of vitamin and iron rich spinach, and protein packed walnuts, it's pretty much a win, win, win, win...

Try it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets - cleaned and cut in half

  • 10-12 oz baby spinach greens

  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place beets in enough water to cover in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender; 20 - 30 minutes. Drain, cool, then slice or cut into cubes and salt lightly.

  2. While beets are cooking, candy the walnuts. Using a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the nuts until warm and beginning toast. Stir in maple syrup until evenly coated. Remove from pan to small plate and let cool.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to make the dressing.

  4. Place a large helping of baby spinach onto each of four salad plates. Divide beets into equal portions and top spinach with them. Do the same with the sliced onion and candied walnuts. Top generously with the feta cheese.

  5. Drizzle each with dressing and serve up to hungry diners!

    * For a hearty meal, slice up some grilled chicken and add to each plate!