Charles and Vicki, parishioners at St. Timothy in Mesa, have been married for nearly 17 years and have eight children. Charles is a Knight of Columbus and a member of the Sons of St. Joseph at St. Anne Parish, and Vicky is a member of Ministry of Mothers Sharing.

Seventeen years of married life have brought many challenges and blessings. We married with the intention of having a family naturally, then adopting, because we both felt called to love those who needed love the most. Little did we know how challenging having children naturally would be. After almost three years of “trying” and struggling with infertility, we finally surrendered our will to God’s will. We chose to be open and let Him start our family in His own way.

As others have experienced, this surrender opened a new window, one we hadn’t anticipated. Vicki read an article at work about some children who were looking for a “forever home.” After some discussion and prayer, we decided to call the adoption agency. They said the children in the article were no longer available, but there were other children in need of a family. Two weeks before our adoption certification class was completed, we were called to start our new family!

The day we brought our 2- and 4-year-old girls home for the first time in 1998 was the beginning of our adventure of parenthood. It was a difficult time for them because they had to leave the home they had known for the prospect of a new life, but had the benefit of their birthmother helping with the transition.

Our family has blossomed since that time. We brought our third child home when he was nine days old, again through adoption. We had “mastered” being parents to two children; now we had to learn how to be a family of five and how to care for a baby. Then the phone rang again when our “baby” boy was four; two more boys needed a forever family. They were two and four at the time, and while we experienced some rivalry challenges initially, they now play and get on each others’ nerves like all brothers.

In early 2011, by earthly standards we were “maxed-out” with five children, and we were feeling comfortable that God’s will had been fulfilled in our family. However, one of our oldest daughters had planted the thought in our minds about having one more little girl. We decided to open our hearts again and place the decision in God’s hands. Soon we were blessed to become the parents of a beautiful three-day-old baby girl. She is almost a year old now and has a nearly permanent smile which blesses others. Again we felt we had a family resting point, but then felt God knocking at the door again, twice. In late 2011 another 3-year-old boy came home with us and in early 2012 we were blessed with our eighth child, a one-month-old boy.

Our main method of family growth has been adoption, but for our last three children, God has called us to be open to foster care. Our two most recent arrivals are still in the foster care system. We don’t know what God’s plan is for them just yet, but do know our calling as husband and wife. Our calling is to do God’s will and to love His children. In following this path we have experienced the grace of parenthood, multiplied by eight. When we first said “I do” in 1995, we never imagined we would be the parents of eight children, but now could not imagine our lives without them!

Be not afraid

We started our family after reading an article. Sometimes, God speaks to us. Other times, God writes to us. Our story of the challenge of infertility and God’s abundant love is different than the story of others, but whether through appropriate medical intervention following the teaching of the Church, or the adoption or foster care route, we encourage married couples struggling to have a child to be not afraid. If we had given into earthly concerns or fears, we would never have experienced God’s surprising fruitful love and blessings in the gift of children. We thank God for the opportunity to raise His children, and we thank heroic birth mothers facing difficult challenges who choose to say “yes” to life.

One strong way to see God is in the eyes of a child. One strong way to feel Jesus, is to hold a child who is meek and mild like a lamb. The sure way to hear God is to open the doors and windows of your heart so you can hear His voice when He calls.