Our Story

I, David, grew up in the home of a Presbyterian minister. Some preacher’s kids say it was hell on earth growing up in that environment. My experience was the complete opposite. I can honestly say I really believe my dad is, aside from Jesus Christ, the greatest man to ever walk the earth. I love to rise up and call my mother blessed. A blessing is what she has been for her family throughout the years. They are both deeply flawed human beings who have loved their God, friends, and family well.

I have great brothers on either side of me and I still consider them as two of my closest friends. We traveled around for a few years but home for 17 of my years was Montgomery, Alabama. Beginning in the sixth grade, I took it upon myself to consciously rebel and lead my own life. By the time I reached my senior year in High School I was an alcoholic in need of treatment. I attempted to sober up out of respect for my family and the love they gave. But it wasn’t until the end of my freshman year in college that things really changed.

AA had already convinced me that my life had become unmanageable and that only a power greater than me could restore me to sanity. That power was in the God of my parents – Jesus. I had known about Him before, but now through this colossal failure to overcome, I began to experience Him. A few years later I met a brunette out West named Judith Smyth. She was a student at Auburn and we were working at a Ranch in California.

Judith grew up in a Christian home in Rome, Georgia. She is the last of four children who enjoyed every moment with the family. Her parents loved and supported all of their kids in all of their endeavors. She chose to follow in the same path as her oldest brother and sister to Auburn University where she studied Speech Pathology (although deep down she really wanted to be a fashion designer). The summer of 1992 was when we met. That’s when life changed.

Upon returning to Auburn in the Fall, she began to exercise more and eat less and it took a toll on her body. By the middle of that school year she was in over her head. We married in October of 1995 after she had graduated earlier that Spring. Our friends did not like us much that Saturday. Auburn played Florida and Alabama hosted Tennessee. In addition the Braves were playing in the World Series that weekend.

The beast that is anorexia dominated her life the same way that alcohol had dominated mine. She underwent treatment in 1997 and it saved our marriage and her life. I was an intern learning youth ministry at a large church and Judith became a manager at a mall retail store in Atlanta. Without a stable income, we thought having children at that time would not be the wisest choice.

Even before we were married we talked about our desire to have a large family. Somewhere between 6 and 8 kids seemed the perfect number for us. We wanted to raise children who were forced to live with less, share more, and rely on each other. We did not believe this was a “better” way to live, just a way that was ideal for us.

In 1998 a mid-sized church in North Carolina called us to serve there and we were confident now was the time to start a family. We could not get pregnant. Month after month led to disappointment after disappointment. We figured eventually it would happen, but each year that past disproved the old saying that “time heals all wounds.” It did not get easier to deal with. It just got tougher. We knew we were called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” but bitterness came much more naturally each time friends shared with us they were pregnant. We smiled on the outside. On the inside we were bitter with God and ashamed of ourselves for being bitter.

We sought help through a fertility specialist. He poked and prodded but could not find any medical reason why we shouldn’t get pregnant. All we knew was that we couldn’t. From then on we no longer tried to get pregnant. Five years later we would discover that we could never get pregnant.

Without being able to get pregnant, we easily turned our attention to adoption. We knew others who were themselves adopted and even knew a few who were adopting. We even had talked about adopting long before we knew we could not get pregnant. The thought of bringing children into our home who were not our biological children was really no hurdle at all. The pain was not over how children would come into our home, but just that they had NOT YET come at all.

We cherish the story God has written in our lives. It is not an easy one but full of blessing. In 2003 we adopted twin boys. Two years later we adopted another son. The next year we brought in another son. May 2 of 2009 I traveled to Ethiopia to adopt two more orphans; of course, they are boys.  We came home on May 9. It was a bittersweet journey. Judith miraculously turned up pregnant in January, but just two days before I left we lost the 19 week old baby girl Judith was carrying. We do not yet know what healing from this means. 

Adoption for us has been a grueling yet blessed process. We do not recommend it for the fainthearted but do know it is an absolute blessing and joy in the end. Our boys are an amazing gift to us and we are so thankful that the Lord chose to build our family through adoption!