Adoption Stories: Phil and Christy Krause
About the Guest
How could we ever afford to adopt? Will we love our adopted children as much as our biological kids? Are we sure we want to become a multi-racial family? These are some of the questions Phil and Christy Krause had to wrestle with in their quest to adopt Abraham and Grace. Hear their story on this Thanksgiving Day edition of the broadcast.
Phil and Christy KrausePhil Krause is a former FamilyLife staff member who now works with Revive Our Hearts. Phil and his wife, Christy, live in Michigan with their six children. Phil works with ROH's Spanish broadcasts.
Phil and Christy Krause talk about their quest to adopt Abraham and Grace.
Adoption Stories: Phil and Christy Krause
Bob: All right, let me see if I can get this put together here – Dennis!
Bob: Finish your mashed potatoes, it's time for the radio program.
Dennis: [mouth full] Okay.
Bob: I've got Phil Krause's audio journal here. We're going to listen to part of it on the program. Let me see, this goes back to 1971 – October 5, 1971.
Woman: Well, Philip is six day old today [baby crying].
Bob: No, no, no, that's way too early. Let's see, this is March 20, 1977.
Boy: I don't like my teacher.
Bob: No, I'm going to have fast-forward this. Dennis, do you know where, in Phil Krause's audio journal, where it is that he and his wife adopted the two babies from Africa? Was that about a year ago?
This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 23rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, who is finishing his Thanksgiving dinner. I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear what has made one family very thankful this year. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.
Dennis: Happy Thanksgiving, Bob.
Bob: The Thanksgiving Day edition – Happy Thanksgiving to you. Welcome to Barbara Rainey's favorite holiday of the year, right?
Dennis: No doubt about it. As folks are listening to this, we're going to be – well, gathered around the table with a few family members. Not everybody came back this year, but a few of them journeyed back.
Bob: One of the things that we're thankful for here at FamilyLife is the number of folks who, in the last several weeks, have joined with us to say, "We want to help with the needs of the orphan around the world." You know, it was just last week that we made a week-long emphasis on the needs of the orphan, and you never know who's listening when you talk about things like this but – well, we do know at least a few people who are listening, because when we're done with an interview, it goes to the editors, right?
Dennis: That's right, and one of the editors who listened to not just these broadcasts but some earlier broadcast – Phil Krause is his name, and he and his wife, Christy, now have six children – four girls and two boys. But you're about to be taken into an experience of his diary. Phil edits the broadcasts so he gets a chance to listen to some of these broadcasts, Bob, multiple – multiple times and trying to fix what you or I say or maybe a guest says here on FamilyLife Today. In the process of listening to the broadcast – well, I want you to hear the rest of the story.
Phil: January 7, 1998 – Rebecca, our second, is two months old, and Christy and I have been talking about adoption. Between programs, I've been editing at FamilyLife and just desires that I guess God is putting on our hearts, we're thinking about maybe adopting.
January 8, 1998 – here's what's really bugging me about this whole adoption thing. International adoption is extremely expensive. The word that comes to mind is "highway robbery." You have to be rich or something to do this.
January 9th, 1998 – so today Christy reminded me that, yes, even though adoption is extremely expensive, there are financial helps available, and so I said, "Okay, let's look into it."
March 20, 2002 – I know it's been like a long time since I've said anything about adoption, but we've still been praying about it a lot, and it's kind of been on the back burner. We had a house to build, we had issues to work through, we've had two more children, and so now we have a total of four, and still God has put this desire on our hearts to adopt.
July 1, 2005 – Wow! Things are really flying now. In a nutshell, we went to a FamilyLife Hope for Orphans If You Were Mine conference, and that really encouraged us that, yes, adoption is possible even if we don't have a ton of money. I hadn't made the connection in my mind, the picture that physical adoption here in this life, is like our spiritual adoption into God's family as a child of God. That's just really cool, and so it's like I've turned the corner from "Yeah, something needs to be done to help these kids," to now it's that "something" has to include me in some way.
October 20, 2005 – [phone rings] To log onto your mailbox please enter your password. [enters password] You have two new messages. To listen – message received – "Hey, Phil, This is Paul Pennington at Hope for Orphans. I just wanted to leave you a message that there may be a unique opportunity if you and Christy are interested with the Gardner Center. They are going to be opening up a brand-new program in Ethiopia, and when a new adoption program like this is being launched, they look for pioneer families who are willing to kind of blaze the way to see how that program will work. And since I know you've had an interest in this area and wanted to find out if you would like to follow-up on going to Ethiopia."
January 26, 2006 – Well, we just got off the phone with the International Adoption Pediatrician Specialist lady, Dr. Heidi Schwarzwald, and we've been talking over with her the records of not one but two children from Ethiopia. They're little babies under two months old, a boy and a girl, and she says their medical records look great, their tests have all tested well, they're healthy little kids, so we are getting excited. It looks like we'll be traveling soon to Ethiopia. The Lord has done so many things. There is no way I could list all the things God has done for us over the last few months. Our church hosted a dessert social for us, it was a fundraiser, and that raised multiple thousands of dollars. We have been given grants from Shoahannah's Hope, the Lydia Fund has offered to help us with travel expenses, Life International gave us a matching grant, and that's just on the money side of things.
It is very encouraging and you know what? It looks like we're ready to go. We have what we need for the trip. Even our neighbors – let me tell you this – our neighbors brought us encourage envelope, cash, for the trip. They said, "Here, use this," and it was encourage envelope with $100 in it. And stories like that are just replicated over and over again. All we did was send out some e-mails saying, "Here's what we're doing, please pray for us," and the Lord has brought us all the money we needed, and we're ready to go. It's so exciting. It's really exciting.
February 4, 2006 – and we are getting close.
Phil: So what are we going to be doing?
Girl: We're going to Ethiopia to adopt Abraham and Grace.
In His kindness, God is allowing us to take along Rebecca and Rachel, who are eight and almost 10.
Phil: Are you excited?
Girl: Yeah [giggles]
Phil: And who are you?
Phil: What are you going to be doing while we go to Ethiopia?
Curt: I'm going to stay at the Fontenoy's [sp] house.
Phil: At the Fontenoy's house? And what are you going to do there?
Phil: I had a question for Christy, though.
What's been the most difficult thing in the preparation for this adoption trip?
Christy: Leaving son behind.
Phil: Well, it's Tuesday, February 7, 2006. We left on Sunday afternoon, left Little Rock, flew to Chicago, to London, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and we are tired, to say the least. That was a long trip. But we're also very excited. The man who is helping us here in Ethiopia with our adoption is a man named Balai Taphase [sp]. I'm probably butchering this name, but Balai is really a neat guy, and he – I mean, he's like a tour guide. As we travel everywhere, he tells me all about city and about the country, and he's very knowledgeable and helpful and kind.
Do you know how many orphans there are?
Balai: There are 4 million – estimate that 4 million orphans in Ethiopia.
Phil: That doesn't mean that all 4 million of them are living in orphanages because, as Balai explained to me, community living is the norm in Ethiopian culture, so when a child's parents die …
Balai: The aunt or extended family, even the neighbors, will take care of the kids. But average annual income in Ethiopia is about $120 a year. So you can see how difficult it will be to take care of, like, eight kids in the house.
Phil: I asked Balai what conditions had to be true in order to be classified as an orphan.
Balai: Both of their parents are dead, or they have been abandoned, and they can't find the parents, especially in the city that's a big problem. If you have kids, and they tell you they might have a small medical problem, the mothers will just leave their kids in the hospital and run away. And, actually, the Blackline [sp] Hospital, there is a kid that's gone in the hospital because his father checked him in there, and the bill was piling up, so his father just abandoned him. I think he's been there for five years now.
Phil: The boy?
Phil: He's still at the hospital?
Balai: He's still at the hospital, and there is also [unintelligible]. We have a picture of another kid that has grown up in the hospital. Everybody – all the doctors, nurses, know about them, so they just give them – everybody supports them.
Phil: Balai shares story after heartbreaking story like that and, really, back to our story, we don't know all the details, but we do know that the two we are going to adopt have been abandoned. Today was the court hearing. It was brief. The judge read the statement, and these two children are ours now. It just blows your mind if you think about it too much.
Wednesday, February 8, 2006 – I knew today was going to be an emotional day. I guess I didn't know how emotional it really would be. The first orphanage we went to was where we picked up Hermela [sp]. She's the one we're going to call "Grace." The orphanage was in a poor part of town, a small compound of buildings. I suppose each building houses a different age group of children, and we went into one of them, which was where the babies were. There were 25 cribs in this room and a baby in each crib, so you can imagine it was not quiet [sounds of babies crying].
They showed us Grace [baby crying]. The first thing Christy did was put on some clothes we had brought and a diaper, and then we just held her. She was little. She's less than eight pounds. There were happy tears. One thing Christy had been worried about was that she wouldn't love our adopted children like she does our biological children. It's pretty obvious that's not going to be a problem.
On our way to the next orphanage, Balai told us a little bit about it.
Balai: This orphanage was donated by the empress, Haile Selassie's wife, about 60 years ago, and it's the girls' orphanage, but they also will take boys under the age of six, usually, and the girls will stay here until they get to the age of 13. Once they reach the age of 13, they will give them about 2,500 Birr.
Phil: That's about $285.
Balai: And they'll be sent out on their own. But what happens is some of them will not have the skills to support themselves. They will go out to become prostitutes, so we have second-generation orphans in here. They'll just have babies outside. They can't afford to feed them, and they'll bring their kids here.
Phil: The scene largely repeated itself at the next orphanage where we picked up Kitibel [sp], Abraham. Kitibel is Amharic for "cherubim." So he's our little cherub. The television was on in the room next door.
February 15, 2006 – Well, all the paperwork is done, we are ready to go home soon, and we're really looking forward to that. I made a little list here of things I want to be sure I remember about Ethiopia, about Addis Ababa, and the people here. One is it's just the kindness of the people. I think it's easy for me, as an American, to think that goodness of heart and kindness come with wealth, and that's not at all true, because here is a country where people are very poor, and they are very happy, many of them, they are very happy. You see people smiling as they walk down the street, even though they don't have shoes on.
Another thing I want to remember is a family that I spoke with who had been living in Dallas for several years, they were Ethiopian, and they decided to move back to Ethiopia to have a better place to raise their children. That's sobering to me, because here I am taking an Ethiopian child back to the United States. It makes me think, "What do I have to offer? What do I have to offer this child?" The only thing I have to offer is a loving home and a loving family, is certainly not perfect, and God. Otherwise, I'm bringing them from a poor, but in many way, still content culture, to a very wealthy, discontented place. And I don't want to – you know, I know the United States is a great place to live but you know what I mean.
The third thing is just the children in the orphanages. There was one little boy who had the biggest smile. He looked like he was about Curt's age, maybe five or six years old – the cutest kid. His name was Thomas. In fact, I did manage to record just a few words with him. Here you go, listen to this –
Phil: What's your name?
Thomas: Thomas Mik [sp].
Phil: How old are you?
Thomas: I am seven.
Phil: Oh, okay, so he's even not five or six. Anyway, I tell you, if we had been approved to adopt three instead of two, we would have brought him home. He would come up, he'd shake my hand, he'd say "Hello." He'd smile, and there he is at the orphanage. So I don't want to forget them. We're looking forward to going home, but we'll also miss Ethiopia a lot. I hope we come back.
November 12, 2006 – people often ask us if the babies have adjusted yet to life in this country, I guess. I tell them, "Yeah, they're just a normal part of our family now." As with our biological children, I can't remember what it was like to not have them as part of our family, and I like it that way. They still have most of their lives ahead of them. I know it won't always be easy, but for now I'm content to listen to the sounds of babies with sniffly noses playing with obnoxious electronic toys.
[Playroom sounds] Okay, so it's not always that peaceful. This was right before suppertime [babies crying]. But there's nothing a couple of bottles and a jar of baby food can't fix.
Bob: That's fun. We got a chance today to hear one of our editors, Phil Krause, get on this side of the microphone and share a little of his story.
Dennis: A 12-year journey.
Bob: A 12-year journey and six children later – and I have to tell you, you look at Phil and Christy, and this is a couple that lives modestly, they didn't have a big bank account they could reach into to go over to Africa and adopt these children, but they stepped out in faith, and they watched God work, and they're raising their family, and two of those family members are brand-new to their family this year from Africa.
Dennis: And, Bob, I want our listeners to see a picture of their family, so I'm going to ask our staff to post this on the Internet, because I got this picture in an e-mail, and I'm going to tell you something – if you don't fall right into the middle of this family, I mean, if you don't just break out in a big smile when you see these two little babies, and their skin is different from their other children but you know what? They have the same family. They have the same Lord, and they have the same love as those other kids.
And I was thinking of Psalm 145, just as I was listening to Phil and Christy's story here on Thanksgiving – Psalm 145:3-4 – "Great is the Lord and highly to be praised. His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Thy works to another and shall declare Thy mighty acts." What a privilege we've had today on our broadcast to declare God's mighty acts of a humble couple who stepped out in faith and took God at His Word and to hear the story of how God supplied the means and the heart and the ability to be able to adopt these two little ones, and I'm sure this will not be the last time Phil and Christy cry out to God to ask for help and comfort in the process of raising their children but you know what? That's what a family is all about; it's all about raising a generation to know Christ and to carry on His work as you and I move off the scene.
Bob: And it may be that someday in the future Phil gets a note from a listener who says, "You know, Phil, you don't know me, but I was listening to your story on Thanksgiving Day, and God did a work" …
Dennis: "And here is the picture."
Dennis: Just like he sent me. Because that's what he did, Bob. Phil sent me – he said, "You know, I don't think you know the full story here, but as I was editing the broadcast, I started thinking about children, and I think our listeners have had a chance to hear how God works in the heart of a young couple today.
Bob: And it may be that folks are looking around the Thanksgiving table today and going, "You know, we could set another plate or two or three or whatever. Maybe we ought to think about this. Maybe we ought to pray about adoption."
We've got resources on our website at FamilyLife.com. If folks want more information about how you walk through the process, we've got a 32-page guide you can download called "Welcome Home – Eight Steps to Adoption" that walks you, step-by-step through the process – what to think about, what to pray about, what to consider, as you think through the possibility of adoption.
There's a Homebuilders guide that we've created called "Considering Adoption, a Biblical Perspective" that a husband and wife can go through together or a small group of couples could go through this material and, again, think and pray about whether adoption is right for you.
You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and download some of these resources or order others. When you get to the home page, you'll see a red button that says "Go," and if you click that button, it's right about in the center of the page, click that button, it will take you to a page on our site where there's more information about the resources that are available on the subject of adoption. There is also information about other ways that any of us can help care for the needs of orphans around the world. With more than 140 million orphans worldwide all of us, as Christians, need to be asking what can we do to help children who are waiting for our help.
Again, there is more information on our website at FamilyLife.com. Click the red button in the middle of the screen that says go, that will take you right to a page where you can find out what's available, and you can place an order online for some of these resources, if you'd like, or download documents that are available there as well.
Now, tomorrow we are going to hear from a number of individuals and families who share with us some unique ways they've gotten involved in helping to care for the needs of orphans. Some of those involve adoptions, some of them don't. We'll hear about that tomorrow, and I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Happy Thanksgiving, we'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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