Billy and I have been married for eighteen years this coming July. We have been blessed with three children here on earth, and one in heaven. Heidi, our oldest, is fifteen years old, and our identical twin boys, Micah and Noah, will be thirteen this May. We thought our quiver was full until we saw our sweet Teagan from China on a dwarfism blog. Where did our family’s story begin?
I was born and raised in Germany. My parents have been serving as missionaries in Europe since 1969. My parents and siblings (I have two sisters and a brother) are all average height. I am an achondroplastic dwarf. My type of dwarfism is the most common, although there are over two hundred kinds. My folks didn’t let my dwarfism hinder any of my activities, and having a sister only fourteen months older helped me be adventuresome and outgoing.
Eight years later, my younger sister, Mikki, was born and then four years after that, my little brother Michael was born.
My parents always told me that the Lord had a special plan for my life, but it wasn’t until my adult years that I began to see that He did have a plan and purpose. I worked in the medical field for years and never found satisfaction. Although I did enjoy interaction with my co-workers and patients, I felt like something was missing. I wanted to do something that had eternal value. So I went to Child Evangelism School in Switzerland and learned not only how to reach children, but how to train teachers how to work with and evangelize children. While I was visiting one of the churches who sponsored me, I noticed this good-looking guy staring and smiling at me. I thought it was my imagination, but after the service he asked me and my sister to join him for a meal at a local restaurant. His name was Billy, and he was working with the youth at his church and wanted to share his work with me. After the meal (which, by the way, neither of us ate a bite of), we said our goodbyes. I stopped at a gas station nearby and to my amazement, Billy pulled in behind me and asked if he could pump my gas. Insert a swoon sound here! Billy later called and invited me and my siblings to his alma mater, Georgia Tech, to see a volleyball game in Atlanta, GA. I told him everyone else was busy, but I’d love to go. Well, that was twenty years ago this November, and I am blessed beyond measure that the Lord put us together.
Billy and I wanted to start a family, but I wasn’t even sure I could carry a child full-term. We spoke with my OB and he didn’t see why we wouldn’t be able to have a baby. We knew the odds of our child having dwarfism were 50/50 since Billy was average height and I was a dwarf. We were thrilled when we found out we’d conceived! Our prayer was for a healthy baby. My first trimester was difficult, as I was hemorrhaging heavily most of the time. We thought we’d lost our baby several times, but every time they ultra-sounded me, we’d see our sweet baby’s heart beating vigorously. We found out in my second trimester that we were having a girl and that she, too, would be a dwarf. At the time I was seeing the high risk doctors. I was stunned when the doctor confirmed that our little girl had dwarfism and there were “things they could do”. I can’t tell you the sorrow and disgust that filled my heart knowing that they would abort a child because of dwarfism. It was as if they were saying my life as a little person wasn’t worth living. It made me wonder how many mothers, not understanding dwarfism, would opt to abort their little ones due to a lack of education and understanding that all life is precious. It’s a seed of action that the Lord is cultivating in my heart even to this day. Well, I carried Heidi until her 36th week. Due to my dwarfism I had to have a C-section under general anesthesia. Heidi was born with no complications and we were thrilled having our sweet little Heidi fill our home with lots of giggles, love, and joy.
Two years later we thought we’d love to give Heidi a brother or sister. We again were thrilled to find out we were expecting. We went through all the rigorous testing and ultrasounds to make sure the pregnancy was progressing normally. We’d seen the heart beat and everything looked great the week prior to my appointment that Friday. Billy and Heidi accompanied me to my appointment. We were all excited when the doctor came in to perform the ultrasound. However, our hearts and hopes were shattered when the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat. He recommended that I have a DNC that afternoon, as to not prolong waiting for my body to respond to the death of our little one. This was one of the hardest days of my life. So many questions as to why, but no answers except that we knew God makes no mistakes. There were many gut-wrenching tears and depths of sorrow that I’d never experienced. I’d known ladies who’d miscarried, but I’d had no idea the pain and sorrow they’d experienced until I was thrust into this world of miscarriage. I told Billy I didn’t want to forget our little one who’s life was so short, so he made me a little framed picture with passages from Psalm 139:
For thou hast possessed my reins:
thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise thee;
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
Thine eyes did see my substance,
yet being unperfect;
and in thy book
all my members were written,
which in continuance were fashioned,
when as yet there was none of them.
Although, at the time of our miscarriage, I thought I’d never want to try to have any other children, God worked in our hearts and once again we conceived. The pregnancy was progressing well, and I told Billy not to attend my scheduled ultrasound. As I was lying there on the table, the ultrasound tech gasped, and my heart sank thinking I’d miscarried once again. She said, “Umm, Robin, you’re having twins!” To say I was in shock is an understatement. All I could think was: “How in the world was I, 4’2″ Robin, going to carry two babies in my belly?” My OB was in shock, and asked if I knew of any other dwarfs who had carried twins successfully. At the time I didn’t, and all I wanted to do was shoot myself for not asking Billy to attend this appointment. I called Billy and asked him if he was sitting down, to which he replied, “Did we lose another baby?” and I said, “No, we’re have twins!” [Insert a long pause and then laughter here from Billy.] Yes, we were in mostly uncharted waters, but we were thrilled with the news. Once again I was referred to the high risk doctors, and once again they offered to abort our babies due to their dwarfism. Again the Lord was cultivating a seed of action to help raise awareness that children born with dwarfism deserve a chance to live. I was able to carry the boys to 29 weeks and 6 days. My OB got nervous, and although neither I nor the boys were in any distress, he delivered them early. They spent the next five weeks fighting for their lives in the NICU. The NICU never gave us hope the boys would survive such an early delivery, but God had given me a verse in Genesis that I clung to with all my heart, soul and might. Both boys were on ventilators and they’d been given the maximum amount of Serfactin to try to help their lungs work while waiting for the valve in their heart to close (that usually closes prior to birth). My only hope was in the promise from Genesis 50:21 :
Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones, (notice the plural “ones”) And he comforted them, and spake kindly to them.
This was my view for five weeks. Everything in your mommy heart says hold, touch, and caress me. These aren’t the rules in the NICU. All I could do was sit beside them, pray, and talk to them. The NICU says that preemies need to reserve all their energy and strength to grow, and a simple touch can use up that energy and strength. I remember one day the boys were not doing well. Their monitors were going off constantly, and I had gone to a little room in the NICU to pump. I was determined to have my milk available for them when were able to receive it. Anyway, I remember the Lord speaking to me so plainly, asking, “Robin are you going to trust me, no matter what?” It wasn’t an audible voice, but I could hear Him so clearly: “Robin, are you going to trust me no matter what I choose for your boys?” I said, “Yes, Lord, you know I trust you!” Again the question, “Robin, will you praise Me even now?” Now you have to remember: I was in the middle of pumping my milk, in this little room in the NICU. I’m doing my best to hold both pumps up against me and raising my hands up in the air saying, “Yes Lord! I am and I will praise you no matter what you decide, I’ll praise you!” Milk was running down my stomach all over my pants because I’d lost track of time and the bottles were overflowing. I was a mess, but I had peace. It was at that point the boys turned the corner and started the road to recovery. God is amazing! I’ll never forget that special day, nor the fact that God reached down and healed my boys.
Finally we were able to bring the boys home on monitors. It took me thirty minutes to pump, thirty minutes to feed each boy, and they were on a three hour feeding schedule. Those were some rough days, but days that grew our faith and made us grateful for the miracles God had allowed us to call our sons.
Billy and I really thought we were finished having children, especially since I had to have a partial hysterectomy after the boys were born. We had friends who had adopted, but never saw that in our family’s plan. I knew that the Lord had created our amazing family for His glory. I often tell the kids that their lives are a reflection of God’s grace, love and mercy. A hundred people can walk through the doors at Walmart and no one will remember them. When our family walks through those doors, they remember us. Some because they stare, others because they video or take cell phone pictures. We’ve had some tell us they love our show on television, lol. Some people laugh, snicker, and others put their hands over their children’s mouths in hopes of silencing their honest questions. I’m sure we do look like an odd bunch, but I pray that our public and private lives bring God glory and pleasure. God made us different and it’s up to us to testify through our lives of His greatness, love, and mercy. I’m proud of our children. They handle their dwarfism—both the positives and negatives—with grace and love to any and all they encounter.
I belong to a dwarfism group, where I saw a picture of a little Chinese girl named Teagan with dwarfism needing adoption. My heart was drawn to her, and I sent her picture to Billy with the caption, “A sister for Heidi?” Billy responded that we could prayerfully consider it. I prayed, like Gideon putting out a fleece, that the Lord would give me peace that this was His will for our family. I was amazed at all the many ways the Lord allowed circumstances to confirm this decision in our lives and that this little girl would complete our home. We called the adoption agency and made inquiries.
It was December 2016, and in December we always watch the movie, “The Christmas Child“, which is a story about a man seeking answers about why he’d been given up for adoption and how it correlates with our spiritual adoption through Christ. We woke the next morning to find that Heidi had rearranged her room through the night to make room for her little sister. Our pastor’s sermon that Sunday morning was about our spiritual adoption through Christ. That evening our church’s children’s Christmas play was also about adoption. (Are you noticing a theme?!) To top it all off, the Advent video we watched was about adoption.
We woke Monday morning to an e-mail from the adoption agency stating another family was being considered for our little girl. Our hearts fell and we prayed. Like Gideon, we asked God to show us, without a doubt, that this adoption was His will for our family. As we began to read our morning family devotion, the title stunned us: “Trust Him With Your Children.” As I looked down at the scripture reading that went with the devotion, I was moved to tears and laughter. It was the very same reference that the Lord had given me fourteen years, almost to the exact date, for the boys.
Tears flowed down my eyes as I read this passage with the family. The very peace that the Lord had given me thirteen years before regarding the boys’ survival was there with me in our adoption process. Billy told me I should call the adoption agency and express our desire to adopt Teagan from China. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I made the call to the adoption agency and told them that we wanted her, sight unseen. We knew that the Lord had directed us down this path and it didn’t matter to us about any physical needs or disabilities she may have; we wanted her. The adoption coordinator asked us to fill out some paperwork and return it as soon as possible. She said she was not making any promises, but she’d speak with her supervisor and let us know something. Thankfully, the adoption agency supervisor called us later that week and said they’d like us to move forward with the adoption process. Words like gratitude, thankfulness, amazement, overwhelmed, and complete rapture don’t encompass our thoughts or feelings. We’re thankful to be on this adoption journey and we can’t wait to hold our little one whom God brought to us. She, like our other four children is a gift that we humbly accept and cherish.
I’m still amazed that God would choose to entrust us with these eternal souls to nurture and raise to become mighty warriors for Him. It’s humbling, but we know it’s a Divine Assignment.