Click here to read an article from the blog called “Welcome to My Brain.” The article is about adoption disruption. It will give you a small idea of what some adoptive parents go through with difficult children – things most parents won’t share with you.
The path I have chosen with God’s direction has been enlightening. I have learned many things, especially the past few years. After 20+ years of dealing with “interesting children,” I’ve seen my share and then some of children tied up in a world of sinfulness. Not only have they sinned in record measures, but they have been sinned against in ways that would cause even the most experienced sinner to blush. I’m talking about the kids who were adopted out of families that did not regard them as precious jewels the way Christ does. They were broken as small children and grew up with that reflected in their behavior and thought processes. Nearly all of my children who were violated as small children by their birth families have fallen into great vast pits upon leaving our home and striking out on their own. Yes, you can sit back and judge them – or you can have great compassion for a fellow human being who experienced the worst the world has to offer and is trying to make sense of it. Sure, they could have leaned on the One who created them and could have trusted and obeyed Him, but for some reason their view was so darkened they were not able to look up at the light at that point in their lives. It is not for me to judge, though I have tried to reason the “why” of it all.
We tried to make up for all the “bad stuff” that they had experienced prior to coming into our home. It was certainly our intention to do so, but for some reason we were not enough. We gave them a safe home that had proper education, both spiritually and mentally, love and concern along with the discipline to train them in the right way to live. Did it “take?” No, not for the ones who were resistant to such things. But it was planted in their heads. That’s the key. We’re beginning to see that for some of them, when the time is right and they’ve discovered that the world has nothing for them, they know where to look when they decide to seek God and all He has for them.
It’s obvious to everyone what a parent’s stand ought to be in the midst of their children’s life’s journey. They support the good decisions and don’t support the bad ones. They seek the best for the child. When sinned against, they are to be willing to forgive if the child is genuinely repentant. That doesn’t mean the parents have to support them when they aren’t living right, but they pray for them and give godly advice when asked. They don’t brow beat them or slander their name. They sit quietly by and wait for the child to see the light and welcome them back when they do. They do their best to advise them and try to teach them to keep their paths straight. If the child gets off the right path, the parent does not go off with them. They continue on, waiting for their child to return. If the child is living at home, the parent is to grab them and put them back on the right path in any way God directs them to do so. I’ve told my adult children that they have the right to choose whatever path they want to walk down, but to not expect me to go down with them, for I too have a responsibility to walk with God in the way He directs me.
But what is the responsibility of those who are not family, those who the child has sinned against? If they are believers, then their responsibility is the same. The only exception is deferring to the parent for discipline. Compassion ought to rule. We are in God’s family. Too often I have seen my children offend or sin against another believer and receive the same amount of offence right back. If we consider ourselves mature believers, then we ought to return love and compassion, not seek to “make them pay.” We ought to consider what is the best for that child, not recompense for our offended pride. Brow beating someone into submission out of our so called spiritual standing as authority is not love. The desire to capitalize on their sin is as bad as the original sin we were considering. It is prideful arrogance – showing we care more for our hurt feelings than the offender’s welfare and spiritual needs. To not offer forgiveness and reconcilliation when there has been repentance is to curse the love of God. If the love of God dwells in us, we will love others. If it does not, we will allow our selfish desires to walk all over those we consider less than us. It is then at that point that we become the offender and turn God’s attention off the sinner and on to ourselves. That is not a place I would ever want to be.
John 8:7 “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
A couple of weeks ago we attended a meeting in Lansing with some key people regarding the issue of adoptive families trying to access residential placements or theraputic foster care using their medical subsidy for funding through DHS (Department of Human Services). This was the second in a series of meetings that addressed the problem of families in crisis being charged with neglect. MI Representative Alma Wheeler Smith attended the meeting along with her assistant, 4 adoptive families in crisis, Atty. John Lewis, 2 DHS personnel, and a representative from the legislature. At that meeting Atty. Lewis requested a moratorium for the families present, including ours. We were hopeful that our need to immediate help would be met. We again found ourselves needing in crisis shortly thereafter, but had heard no promise of relief other than through the grapevine. We thought we’d be stuck in the neglect charges arena again, but due to a quick phone call to the Dpty. Director of DHS from an adoption compatriot, our needs were temporarily met for our son with only an hour to spare.
The problem we are encountering now is the uncertainty of the system. Once you receive approval for residential, you must agree to allow the child to return home whenever DHS decides – whether or not the child is ready. Oftentimes it is just down to a question of funding. To keep costs down, funding may be withdrawn without considering the needs of the child. This is how many families come to be charged with neglect. They refuse to let their child back into the home because they fear for their family members. All they are doing is requesting DHS to either extend the residential placement or find a therapeutic foster care placement (trained foster parents with no children in their home) for the child. In my book, any parent who spends hours pleading for help for their child has already proven they are a parent who seeks to provide for the needs of their child. Yet, in Michigan, parents who ask for help from DHS in the form of alternate placement often must be charged with neglect in order to get the needs of their child met. It’s one of those ridiculous glitches in the system that ends up destroying families.
I know of a couple who considered divorcing, not because they wanted to, but because they needed to provide a safe home for their children with one of the parents, while the other suffered charges of neglect – for refusing to take a dangerous child back into their home. Protective services had threatened to take all of their children during their standoff. It’s a pretty common occurance, to use such a power play to keep adoptive parents in their place. In the end, the parents signed off their rights in order to save their family from being destroyed. How’s that for DHS’s primary goal of family preservation?
On our medical subsidy contract, it clearly states that medical subsidy payments are made in order to provide and obtain services necessary to achieve or protect the child’s adoption – based on the needs of the child. How on earth does that translate into neglect? Like MI Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith said, we need to redefine the word “neglect” [for DHS and the Legislation]. I have great respect for Rep. Smith, for she has taken time out of her busy schedule to help adoptive families. Her advocacy work, along with Atty. John Lewis has made a difference in several adoptive families lives and probably will pave the road for system change. Too many adoptive families are not finding the help they need when they run into trouble with their difficult children. They are being charged for neglect when all they want is a safe, appropriate solution for their kids. Until it happened to me, I had no idea what was going on. Please remember to pray for them and the changes that need to be made in the system and legislature.
As I said in part one, we’d tried to access post-adopt services but ran into a road block that seemed too large to overcome. We had used Christian residential, boy’s homes, for two years but were not able to use them anymore, so we turned to the state for help. We were told they would fund a state approved residential for only 30 – 90 days and that it could take weeks to do the paperwork and make arrangements. This seemed completely ludicrous to us, since we’d used two private ones for over two years and seen no improvement in behavior, how could the state do any better in 30 – 90 days?
At that point we were told that if we didn’t accept the state’s decision to limit residential due to funding issues, we’d be brought up on charges – charges of neglect! We were completely appalled that this was what we were offered when we asked for help. When we told him this plan was totally unacceptable and we would not agree to it, he suggested we cut to the chase and just start the paperwork to call Protective Services in and charge us with neglect! We told him we’d get back to him and hung up. There was no discussion, suggestions, or an effort to find a way to work something out that would benefit the whole family. Our eyes were opened to a system that was more interested in saving money than the lives of the children or their families that try so hard to meet the needs of their adopted children. After talking with other adoptive families and a lawyer that had been working with families who were similarly charged, we decided we were going to ask God would to preserve us as we continued on our quest for state help – even if it meant we were charged. Since the law requires that adoptive parents be charged with neglect in order to get services for their child, we knew the ax might fall on us next.
One parent who adopted the first FASD child back in 1973, advised us to go forward with asking for residential and see what happened when the funding was withdrawn. We didn’t even have to wait that long. Because of circumstances beyond our control, our number came up sooner than the original 30-90 days we were expecting. We found ourselves in the middle of charges with lawyers, protective services and a judge. Through the years we’d experienced many things, but this was a new one even for us. We were very fortunate to have the ear of several people who were experienced in this area and had connections to those in charge at the top of the DHS ladder. We also were able to seek the help of a lawyer who was well versed in this type of situation and already had been working on a similar case. Fortunately he didn’t require a retainer for his help – we’d really been in trouble! As a rule. adoptive parents of tough kids tend to have empty pockets and we’re not the exception that that rule!
Long story short, we pressed DHS to give us immediate help when we were in serious crisis and found ourselves charged with neglect the next day complete with a court hearing that we missed because we weren’t informed. Fortunately it was postponed, which gave us a few hours to seek help from our experienced allies. In just one day, we met with DHS, started the paperwork necessary for residential placement for our son, met with the court appointed lawyer, talked with half a dozen workers, had our sons interviewed by the local PS worker, and got the charges dropped. We don’t know who exactly was responsible for getting the hearing dismissed and the charges dropped, and we may never know. But we do serve a sovereign God who can do anything and between Him and whoever He chose to do His work we were rescued! DHS had even gone so far as to lump all our boys into the petition of neglect, using the typical scare tactic, “If you neglect one, you must be neglecting them all, so we’re going to take all four.”
I met an adoptive mom a couple of weeks ago who told me that she went through the same thing, only worse. She was told that it would be easier for her to move out her “good” children and take back the difficult one and that her adoptive child wasn’t like a puppy that you can just dump off anywhere when you want to get tired of them! This mom has demanded residential for her son because he physically attacks and tries to kill his brothers whenever they are in the same room together. When she was told he had to come back home due to his funding being pulled, she was also told that if any of her other children were hurt by this boy, she’d be charged with neglect. She is in a lose/lose situation. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who hears her story that she has good reasons for not wanting that child to live in her home any more, don’t you? This poor lady has mountainous lawyer fees, multiple charges of neglect, and has been reduced to a frazzled, worn out mom. I don’t know about you, but it is pretty clear to me, especially since I’ve been living it, that this ought not to be going on. These are families who opened up their home to adopt kids who had no mom and dad. It isn’t right that they should have to fall on the sword to get help when a child is too hard to handle in a normal family setting.
To be continued…
Occasionally I run across things that I just have to share. This is one of those times. People need to be informed. Most likely you, my reader, are one of them. Here you go, lesson #1…
Below is my comment on my Adoptive Families’ FAS Yahoo Support Group. One of the moms said she thought her son would do better if he could see immediate and appropriate consequences when he saw other kids get caught stealing. Below is my response and then below that is hers.
“Well, I’ve had a lot of kids mess up and my younger kids watched and even though they saw the consequences, they still did the same thing themselves. I never understood why they wouldn’t learn from seeing others suffer consequences. They just always either didn’t think they’d get caught or didn’t think before they did it. “
Here is her excellent explanation of the typical behavior of a FASD kid – friends, welcome to MY world:
“You are right….., I agree with you completely on this. As a matter of fact, this particular behavioral feature (not learning from consequences) is what seems to me to distinguish FASD. So, when I said: ‘I postulate that if he had seen others steal, and seen them get caught, and seen them suffer some unpleasant consequences, he would have avoided doing the same. Seeing is believing. All else is just conjecture, and does not apply.’
I should have said: ‘If he had seen someone steal the money and get caught and punished immediately, he might have decided not to try stealing the money from the same place in that situation, as least not right away. As long as he knows that there was someone watching everyone’s every move, ready to immediately punish every act of thievery, then he would behave himself most of the time…. except when he was really mad, had a strong feeling that he deserved to have whatever he would be stealing, and thought that he had a good chance of not getting caught…. i.e. no one is looking.’
In residential treatment settings, my son rarely ever steals anything. At home, even with locks on every cupboard and door that contained forbidden items, he was constantly trying take anything that he wanted any time he was upset about anything. He did the same at school, but he was even more sneaky about it.
The therapist at the residential home apparently thinks that he is reformed, because he has stopped stealing. Knowing him and FASD as I do, I am thinking that this may be short sighted. It seems to me that it is only the fact that 2 staff watch EVERY move of EVERYONE 24/7. He has stopped this behavior because the environment has been modified to meet his needs. (thus the need for the “external bodies” to monitor in order to ensure proper behavior)
In written reports, while admitting that he has “not yet internalized” the lessons he has learned in therapy, his therapist maintains the words “not yet” which imply that he is going to do this, can do this, and is expected to any moment internalize these things that he can speak so well about.
This is the reason I think FASD training is so important for professionals serving our kids.”
I ran across this introduction by an adoptive mom that has joined a Yahoo Post Adoption Support Group I’m in. Have you ever been tempted to judge an adoptive parent of a child who has FAS? Do you think they are somehow responsible for the behavior of a child who has been damaged by their birth parent’s drinking? Do you think you could have done better? Have you ever wondered why it is that even though you have taught your adopted child how to live right they totally ruin their lives with bad decisions once they are out on their own? Well, welcome to our club – the Adoptive Moms of FAS Kids Club. It’s exclusive club. You have to have loved someone else’s child and been ostracised because of it to join.
Our questions may never have any answers, but God knows that the parents of these kids have been faithful and are not responsible for damage done way before they came on the scene. That’s really all we do know for sure – God understands and knows. Well, maybe there is something else we know for sure. Others who haven’t adopted and raised a child with FAS don’t understand and don’t know. Am I bitter? No. God has taught me way too much to dwell on the ignorance of others and to let it affect my view of myself or God. Am I disappointed? Yes. I am disappointed for this adoptive mom – that she’s not supported or helped by those who ought to care and have the resources to help. BTDT!
Here is Mrs. Smith’s introduction:
I am an infant mental health specialist, certified teacher ART k-12 and general ed K-8. I have a Master’s in Early Childhood Education, and specialist in FASD [A term used to identify damage to a child because the mom drank alcohol while pregnant] issues. I’m on the state’s FASD Task Force as a parent, but previously as a professional I was the coordinator for Wayne County’s FAS Awareness project. I live in the Ann Arbor area. I adopted 2 children from foster care…. long story but I am a single parent…. I became involved in foster care when I decided to participate in a grant to take in drug-affected infants. That must have been about 16 years ago, because my son is now 14.
Yes, my ds [dear son] was my first infant I took in on the grant, 3 days old from the hospital. As an infant mental health specialist I worked hard on the attachment piece. The attachment had a bigger impact on me that I expected, and when his birth mom’s rights were terminated at age 2, I decided I would adopt. About 4 years later I decided to adopt one more. That is my dd [dear daughter], who is now 9. Interestingly, my son looked good at birth, full term, full head size. Only “alleged” drug use. My daughter, on the other hand was premature, low birth weight, tested positive for crack and came out swimming in alcohol. Guess which one has the brain damage. My son! Go figure. This is one of the big mysteries that surrounds FAS. We know that of twins both exposed to alcohol, one can have the syndrome, the other not. We know that brain damage can be just as substantial with the facial features as without them! Kids with an average IQ, like my son, can have the same serious brain damage as a kid with low IQ, but people don’t recognize it as brain damage because of his IQ, and hold him culpable!
Ah well, enough preaching!
My son has been in residential for 2 years, supported by adoption subsidy. I have been facing threats of neglect charges for almost that long. I have come to understand that this is not uncommon in Michigan post adoption support services. It is sad for the parents who try so hard with the state’s most difficult kids. It is sad for the children who, through no fault of their own (i.e., alcohol and/or early neglect), must be abandoned by the state if they cannot be “fixed” within a time frame, or look like they will need a life time of support. I want to work with the state to find solutions to this problem. The solutions need not be expensive, but must be practical. “Punishing” parents won’t help. In fact, it will deter “good” potential foster/adoptive parents from considering the state’s children. It is a lose/lose situation. Let’s work to discover the “win/win.”
Love – putting others ahead of ourselves
Faithfulness – consistently being available to those we love
Compassion – faithfully loving others especially through a trial
Godliness requires us to faithfully love others by displaying compassion even to our own hurt.
Christ faithfully loved others by displaying compassion – He went to the cross for us.
Some people think love is a warm fuzzy feeling – a feeling that can be hidden. Some think faithfulness is a state of mind and compassion is empathy or a kind thought toward others. I say love, faithfulness and compassion are all actions. Christ faithfully loved us by having enough compassion for us to suffer and die on the cross and shed His blood so we might be free from sin’s penalty. He could have sat up in heaven and had a warm fuzzy feeling for us day in and day out throughout eternity. He could have even felt bad that we all would die and go to hell. But what good would it have done us? His love, faithfulness and compassion were proven by His actions. I am very glad He did. And I feel that I must do for others what He has done for me. In my actions I need to love faithfully using compassion toward others – to support them as they walk through this life. Sometimes it will hurt me. Sometimes it will be inconvenient, tiresome or annoying. Sometimes I will have to stop what I want to do, what I need to do, to help someone else who needs a helping hand.
Life is hard. Life is really hard. We’ve found it to be really hard lately. But it’s so much harder when you have no one that you can reach out to, no one who cares enough to take the time to be compassionate. When I look over my past 25 years, I can recall many who have made a difference in my life. Each person’s face that I recall made that difference by their faithful love and compassion. It was inconvenient. It took effort. It may have been painful for them. But they did it anyway – because that’s what Christ would have done. The trials that we’ve experienced lately have been made more tolerable by those who have chosen a compassionate path in life. I’m really glad they chose to walk by me and take me along with them on the journey.
To be honest with you, I really didn’t feel like going to church yesterday. We’ve had a lot of heartache in our lives lately and the ol’ “lock the doors and draw the blinds” feeling had crept back. There are days that I just don’t want to be with people because the heartache is so great. But believing God’s Word, I went to church just because I knew He expected me to. My, was that a great decision! Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t go to church just because I didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned that those days are the days you really need to be there because God has something good waiting for us. So off I went yesterday, with a heart filled with lead.
Our pastor started out Sunday School with a riviting discussion about how this world is uncertain and was on a roll the rest of the day. When I left my heart was full, but not of lead. It was full of the confidence that God will do His perfect work and that He’s pleased with my faithfulness. It was full with the amazement that there are people who love us no matter what, that they have an obligation to love us because that’s what real Christians do. Wow. When I got to church and looked around, all I saw were loving Christians. And I knew that if I told them everything on my heart, they’d hug me and tell me they loved me and would pray for me. That’s what church should be like. It should be a place where even the greatest sinner can find refuge. I’m going to share some pearls of great price with you that Pastor Ron gave us.
He began by telling us to not tust in uncertain things like riches, position, etc. Then he went on to say that we ought not to avenge ourselves, but we need to trust the One who knows everything and is longsuffering. Often our first reaction to being wronged is to strike out, but God’s first reaction is to use the situation to draw that person to Christ. He tells us to be patient and let Him handle it. Personally, I have a hard time doing that. I’m a “fixer.” Most of my days are spent trying to make paths straighter, fix errors and draw new lines, encourage a better way, catch wrong and make it right, etc. It can be very tiring and discouraging to act the keeper of others and on a day that I was very weary of doing so, Pastor Ron showed us Scripture that told us to keep being faithful and patient, to keep going and not quit – to endure.
James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Frankly, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that He would take the pain away, to make everything right again and bring peace into my life – NOW. But that’s not what I’ve been told these past few days. I’ve been told that hard things are good and that I need to remain faithful, forgiving and not quit. I’ve been told to sit back and let Him work and to endure through it all.
James 5:7-11 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
One of my sons told me lately that he felt some people hated him. Real or perceived, it is still real to him. I assured him that wasn’t true, to no avail. Satan had recognized these feelings and really did a work on him. Bitterness can destroy, and that’s what it nearly did to him. I guess it’s a challenge to me to make sure no one around me feels the same way about me. My son’s future service to God is the fruit that I’m supposed to wait for. I’m to be faithfully guiding, forgiving, encouraging, teaching, disciplining, etc. and then let God work. I can’t always see fruit. I don’t see my efforts being used or appreciated. So, in my humaness I want to quit or despair. God tells me to keep on and endure – that He will work and I must trust Him.
Those who faithfully endure, forgive, speak the Word and suffer affliction with patience will need to endure to be happy (James 5:11). He reminded me that God is merciful, so we need to be merciful. We can’t see the big picture, but God can. We only see a small snapshot and judge from there. God see’s and knows the outcome and what to allow or do to bring about our good and His glory. We ought to trust Him just on that fact – He sees down the road where we cannot. We just want the pain to go away. We just want it to all work out. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to wait – but we must if we want His perfect work.
God also knows when His cup is full and it’s time to show his wrath. But it’s not for us to decide or do. He is waiting for fruit to grow – even through bad times, so He can reap the harvest. And remember, He lets the tares grow up alongside (evil men) and will one day burn them after He takes his fruit out (believers) and has His own secure and safe. I don’t like the tares. I spend my days rooting them out, watching for more to grow so I can get at them before they overtake us. I wonder sometimes why God doesn’t help me root them out completely, but He says He doesn’t want to do that because they have their purpose in our lives. I don’t get it or want it, but I trust He knows best. A lady once told me that the hardest people to be around are the ones God uses to root out the tares in our own hearts – for if we were only with people who kind and loving, we’d never uncover the sin that lurks within. I think she is right. It’s easy to be kind and loving back to those who are a blessing, but those who try our patience and hurt our spirits are the very ones who uncover our unloving, selfish side. If we never see it, how can we get rid of it?
After just one day with an irregular person we’re ready to smash them! But look how long God took to destroy the earth in Noah’s time – 12o years it took Noah to build the ark and all during that time, he preached repentance to the people. God gave the people of the world 120 years to get their life right and in the end only 8 people were saved. Now that’s longsuffering. How an I do any less? What do you think were the percentages in that story? Yet God thought those 8 people were important enough to save. I suppose that ought to tell us how important we are to Him. We are often criticized for being too longsuffering with our children – yet others criticize us for not being longsuffering enough. We learned a long time ago that we just need to follow God’s direction and not man’s, because we get conflicting judgements from those around us. There is a reason God gave us these kids – and for better or worse, we’re going to work for their good, point them the right way, and when God says, “Hands off,” we will let them go. Then it will be time for Him to take over completely and we are to back away. It’s hard, but we know it to be best.
Sunday God told us to be patient for His work to unfold in the lives of our kids, to endure and be a good example of patience in affliction. OK. One more day I will do what I’ve done for the past 25 years. One more day I will give Him the reins and watch Him work. One more day I will trust His timing. One more day I will accept the twisted heart and heavy weight that threatens to crush me. It is my choice and I choose Him.
There have been many Christmas gifts that have been wonderful through the years, but this year there is one that particularly stands out in my mind. It is one that rests on my mind daily and could not be shaken off if I tried – not that I would want to, for it is a gift that I have desired for years.
Recently I received bad news that threatened to take my peace. I think disappointments are the hardest for me to live with – for the death of a dream has always been hard for me. I must also admit that the greatest things in my life have come directly after the death of a dream. I find myself tooling along in a happy state, encouraged and hopeful and then bang! The dream is ripped in two and I’m left in the middle of a sad, empty, cold room all alone with no light. (When I say “I”, I’m including my husband. We take life’s ups and downs together as one person. Along with us has always been my mom – even when she didn’t have an answer, she was always present.)
But this time was different. I can barely believe it myself. This time, little by little there began to be light. Then a little heat. Next I saw various people I knew sitting near me encouraging me to look up – to see the Savior’s shining face giving hope. I wish I could say I expected it to happen. But I never thought it would. In the past the cold empty room was a sure thing, something that I was used to, something that was familiar. Just me, the Word and nothing else.
But this time was different. It was so different that I feel like I’m living in a different world. Why was it different? People. People made it different and I don’t know why this time it all changed, but it did. I know God did it, but I don’t know why He did it this time. Before it was just Him and me. This time it was Him and me, four daughters, one son, two sons-in-law, one nephew and a niece, a brother, pastor, 5 friends and 4 strangers. Wow. This time it was different. It’s like God grabbed people and said to them, “Hey, go walk beside them, they need you right now.” Wow. God did that for me. If you are one of the four daughters, one son, two son-in-laws, one nephew and a niece, a brother, pastor, 5 friends and 4 strangers . . . thank you. I like this new world that God has given me now that you are in it.