Brian and Amy Shaw in Wauseon always knew they wanted a large family. Amy wanted ten children, Brian wanted four, so they settled on six as the magic number. They were elated when first daughter Jensi was born. Their next pregnancy was a lifelong dream of Amy to have twins. The couple were devastated when they lost one of the babies five months along, but daughter Anneli was born healthy.
The young family of four embarked on a two year journey to China where they devoted their time to community development within the Chinese culture. While there, Amy became pregnant and then lost another baby. “I was being to feel as though I would never have my big family,” Amy says.
When their duties were complete in China, they returned to the States, seven months pregnant with son Oliver. They knew they wanted to be missionaries overseas. Through a friend in China, they fell in love with India and began to embrace all things India. “God broke our hearts for India,” Amy explained. The couple began the process to become career missionaries.
During this process, Amy was pregnant with their next child Oskar. At thirty-nine weeks gestation, the couple lost him. Brian who was working a temp job near Columbus was offered a permanent job in Northwest Ohio. Still reeling from the death of their son, the couple decided to make the move and put their missionary dreams on hold. Unable to find suitable housing to rent, the family purchased a home in Wauseon. “The bottom line was that God wanted us here,” Amy believes.
Still desiring a large family, Amy found herself in what seemed like a painful pattern of every other pregnancy a baby lost. Her last pregnancy about six years ago was a difficult and scary pregnancy, but daughter Darrah Kate was born healthy. “We were satisfied with the number of children in our family. We were done.” Secretly, though, Amy kept the longing for twins in her heart.
Brian called Amy one day from work and proposed a simple question to her that would forever change the path of their family’s future. He asked her, “Have you ever thought about adoption?”
Since they were a family with international ties, they knew they would pursue international adoption. They researched the greatest need and decided on Africa and eventually, Uganda.
They began the process of the homestudy, the required process of social work visits, paperwork, and financial commitment all adoptive families must do, with an agency that worked in Uganda, but the agency placed primarily healthy babies. The couple desired an older child or a child who was living with HIV. They asked themselves, “Why are we doing this? We don’t need a baby.”
Since that agency would not assist them with finding an older child, they plunged forward alone without an agency-something that is unheard of, especially in first-time international adoptions. Through networking on Facebook, Amy began the search for a set of older twins.
They were connected to an orphanage with a set of healthy twin boys age four who were aging out and needed a family. The boys’ father would not sign off his rights so the director of the orphanage referred them to another boy, Zareb “Zeb”, who ironically was a twin. The couple traveled to Uganda to meet their son. They obtained legal guardianship of Zeb and returned to the United States where six months later, they were able to officially adopt him.
After Zeb’s adoption, they questioned what they were supposed to do next. Amy truly believed God was speaking to them-“We were a family who had lost children. Maybe we could make room for some of these children who had lost their families.”
Amy stumbled upon a photo of a child on a blog. The blog author was advocating for a young child from China with a condition known as Arthogryposis Multiplex Congenita. Amy researched everything there was to know about this condition, and by the time Brian came home from work that evening, she was well-versed in the condition. He listened and understood, and responded with this phrase, “Alright, we can knock on this door with a feather.” Every door opened.
The family embarked upon a massive fundraising event and were able to raise all $32,000 needed for the adoption. In March 2013, Toby came home to the Shaw home as a happy, 2 ½ year old child. He used his toes as fingers, but through surgeries at the Shriner Hospital to assist with his range of motion, he is experiencing improved grip and use of his hands.
Before Toby came home, doors were opening in November 2012 for another child. Amy saw a photo listing for a beautiful girl in China with Spina Bifida and heard God telling her they could handle this child’s needs. Two days after returning from China with Toby, the family began the adoption process for Esty.
Through massive fundraising efforts once again, the family raised all the money they needed in only ten months to bring Esty home. They thought their family was complete until another photo of a child stole their hearts. Gable, a young boy also from China residing close to the area where they had spent two years of their lives just a few years ago, popped up in a photolisting for special needs children. Gable has a rare childhood cancer so the Shaws were able to medically expedite the adoption process. Amy anticipates they will travel April or May to bring this child home.
Those that are touched by the Shaw’s story and their family and would like to contribute can donate a tax deductible gift towards Gable’s adoption at http://www.childrenslantern.org/shaw-adoption.html .
In addition, Love Endlessly necklaces, designed by Amy, are available through Mountain Girl Silver at https://www.mountaingirlsilver.com/products/love-endlessly-necklace/ with portions of the proceeds donated towards the adoption. Locally, the Upper Crust has partnered with the Shaw family to create Easter packages where a portion of the proceeds will benefit the adoption. For more information, contact Toni Britton-Harmon through her Upper Crust Facebook page.
For the Shaw family, they are only weeks from fulfilling their dreams of a large family when they welcome Gable into their arms and his forever family. “Special needs do not define the child,” Amy affirms. “These children inspire others.”
Tammy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org