Through my work with Bethany I’ve been blessed by the number of strong, Christian families I’ve had the privilege to know. I am constantly amazed by their generosity and selflessness. Adoption can be a long road for families, but there are many who persevere to provide a loving, forever family for children who might not otherwise have one.
One such family is the Bykerk family. The Bykerks have four biological children and nine internationally adopted children. Their children range in age from 8 to 29 years old and span four nationalities. Four of their adopted children have specials needs that include a heart defect, brain tumor, blindness, cerebral palsy, and seizure disorders.
The Bykerks weren’t thinking about adoption when they started their own family, but after viewing a documentary that highlighted the horrible conditions in an orphanage, they both felt God working in their hearts and pointing them toward adoption. God had provided more than enough for their family and they felt it was time to share it with someone else.
The Bykerks have faced many challenges with their adoptions. Some were fairly standard—such as not qualifying for certain programs or countries—but some of their struggles have been unique. One child contracted meningitis a month after her referral. Even though there was the possibility of permanent brain damage, the couple continued to pursue the adoption. To them, she was already their child and they couldn’t imagine not being her parents.
During the adoption of another child, they learned that the birthmother had taken her from the orphanage. A few months later, the Bykerks saw her on the waiting list at a different orphanage. When they called to alert the orphanage, they were told that she had been referred to another family. Eventually, after a lot of prayer and paperwork, the situation was remedied and they were able to bring their daughter home. A third adoption was finalized just weeks before the child, who has a brain tumor, was to “age out” of the system and, at the age of 14, would have found herself on the streets.
If you were to talk to the Bykerks, you’d never hear them mention “their decision” to adopt. You’d hear them talk about God directing their path to each and every one of their children, opening doors and removing obstacles along the way. You’d hear them talk about Someone and Something working to open their hearts to just one more. You’d hear them say that each of their children has felt like theirs from the moment they laid eyes on him or her.
The Bykerks are champions for adoption. They participate in a prayer warrior group, praying for the adoption of children with special needs. They sponsor a yearly picnic for families with children adopted from Guatemala, opening their home to nearly 100 parents and children in need of friends and fellowship. They’re also supporters of Bethany’s One Family campaign, an initiative that partners cities in the U.S. with cities around the world to develop sustainable family preservation services. This fall, Bethany is partnering Grand Rapids, Michigan, with Chichicastenango in Guatemala.
The Bykerks are just one of our many amazing adoptive families. I am humbled daily by the work that Christ is doing through them and through Bethany. If you are considering growing your family through adoption, we invite you to discover how Bethany can accompany you on your journey. Click here to learn more.