I love when unexpected situations pop into your life when you least expect them.  Friendships that you never would have made if you didn’t make a step out of the comfortable box you live in.  Since starting this blog my world has gotten so much bigger.   What a blessing to know that while walking this amazing journey of life there are others doing the same thing, providing encouragement, support and inspiration.

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.  For me to be inspired by others yet even more invigorating.  Adoption has a very soft spot in my heart.  Something I never thought much about unfortunately until Grace was born.  Now I think about it all the time because I am aware.  I am aware of the babies who just happened to be born with Down Syndrome laying in cribs with no one to love them, hold them, or teach them to walk.  Babies that deserve a chance to go to kindergarden at 5 years old, not a life sentence to a mental institution.

I hope I can use this blog to share with you amazing stores of individuals going the extra mile to help others.  People who make this world a better place for everyone. I promised on Wednesday to share with you the sweetest family and  I know you are going to just fall in love with them just like I did!

The Browning family is as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside.  Phillip and Charrissa are loving parents to 8 gorgeous children with a 9th bundle of joy due any day.   I hope you enjoy their story…….

How do you organize 8 children???!!!
This makes me laugh. I once heard someone who also has a large family say that when you reach a certain amount of children in the house, you just HAVE to find some sort of organization! I would agree. I would not necessarily call myself super organized. However, I do try and keep things orderly as much as is possible.
I have also relaxed a bit over the years. No longer do socks on the floor stress me out. Now, don’t get me wrong – it would be nice if those socks made it to the clothes basket, but I am reminded to not sweat the small stuff. Soon enough the amount of stray socks on my floors will lessen by quite a bit. Not sure if I’m ok with that …
What inspires you everyday? What gets you excited?
I LOVE being at home. I love it when God shows me the absolute best things in life happen on that everyday (sometimes mistaken as mundane) basis. I love being able to have the option of taking a break from home school activities to make cookies with my girls. I relish the thought of making my home a sort of sanctuary. A place where fun memories are made.
My children inspire me. They work so hard, every one of them, to achieve new victories. My husband inspires me – he has a deep joy and insightfulness that isn’t common, and my faith is my greatest inspiration. God has surely been good to me.


How or did your life change when your son was born with down syndrome?
This question brings tears to my eyes, as I’m sure any mom with a child with special needs can relate. Justus being born with Down syndrome was a complete surprise. We did not know until he was born that he had an extra chromosome as well as a heart condition requiring repair. Having Justus is a huge gift. All of my children are blessings and gifts from God, but having a child with Down syndrome has enriched our family’s life that much more. Our family as a whole is more benevolent – seeking out those with special needs just to strike up conversation, whereas before we may have felt awkward. Justus has manifested in me a very fervent desire to express the sanctity of life to others. His smile and sweet almond shaped eyes, remind me everyday how sweet life is – how beautiful every life truly is. I am a better person having had Justus – more patient, more thoughtful, etc. Also, if we had never had him, we never would have not set out to adopt Max and Ivanna, thus never seeing the bigger picture of redeeming those who are otherwise thought to be undesirable.
Picture above of Ivanna at 5 years old when she was adopted.  Picture below is Ivanna with her sisters 1 year after adoption.  Amazing what love can do!
What inspired you to adopt 2 children?
My husband and I have always had a strong desire to provide love to a child that perhaps was without that. Even from the very early years of our marriage, we sort of loosely talked about one day adopting. I think a lot of people sort of think of adoption as a far off goal, or dream. I came from a very difficult childhood, and was actually able to move in with my Aunt and Uncle at the age of sixteen – that became a turning point in my life. So, I know firsthand what a difference a positive environment can do in a child’s life.
When we had Justus – we all of a sudden found ourselves researching Down syndrome and all the information and resources available. While doing this, we sort of stumbled upon what happens to children in other countries that are also born with an extra chromosome. Our hearts have forever been broken. All I could think, was ‘what if’ …
What if that had been Justus born in a different country? We decided to really pray, and within that month it was clear: we were to adopt two children with Down syndrome from Ukraine. It’s not easy having a burden placed within your heart – and then just not doing anything about it.
What would you tell other families considering adoption?
I, obviously, have a deep passion for adoption. I believe it not only good, but biblical. However, I have always cautioned a prospective family to consider the costs associated with adoption. I don’t just mean financial. I mean long term. Adoption is a beautiful thing – however, it can be very hard on a family. It proved to be an adjustment for us. Time, and prayer has allowed that transition to occur and we are doing very well now. I would just be sure that your family is able to withstand the stresses that are going to come. Remember – these children come from some very difficult situations, and patience is absolutely required. With that said – I think that adoption has made our family better in so many ways, and I think Max and Ivanna would both agree that it has been a positive experience for them as well.
How has adoption enriched your life?
Adoption has allowed me to experience great joy, as well as a great need to understand both of my adopted children and the new feelings and emotions I had never quite felt. Adopting Max and Ivanna has allowed our family to sort of “clean up” some raw edges. The process allowed for different feelings from our children to emerge and be dealt with in a way that was good and helpful. We realized some of our family’s weaknesses as well as strengths. More than all of that, our family has been apart of a process of loving two beautiful children, helping them to find physical strength and emotional attachments that I had always just taken for granted.
Ivanna especially has shown us what a big difference just a bit of love and care can make. Her testimony alone – is inspiring. Once crib bound, head shaven, weighing only 20 pounds at five years old, unable to walk, unable to hold a bottle, no desire to play with toys, and wearing only 24mos – 2T clothing: she now walks everywhere, has piggy tails, outweighs Max at 38 pounds, has grown 7 inches, feeds herself with a spoon, plays with more and more toys and wears a size 4 – 5T! She also goes to school and rides the school bus. You can’t watch all of that take place in just a year, and not be absolutely amazed at what God has done. A great work – and enriching for all who witness it.
You can find more about this family, their adoption journey as well as the many fundraisers they support in honor of other families adoptions through Reeses Rainbow at An Extra Leaf.
I hope to share this tutorial on napkin bunny ears for your Easter Table this weekend!
Cutest thing ever don’t you think!!!
Happy Weekend, make it beautiful!