Healing the World: The Stolz’s International Adoption Story
It didn’t occur to me how relevant the song, “Heal the World” was to my family until someone mentioned it to me a few weeks ago.
Three of my daughters participated in Cincinnati Children’s “Heal the World” holiday video and something clicked. My husband and I have 15 children, 10 of whom were adopted from international countries.
While we aren’t healing the world in the literal sense, we do hope we’re making a difference for the kids we’re able to help. And right now that’s 10 from other countries:
- Catie, 26, from Ukraine
- James, 19, from Ukraine
- Andriy, 19 from Ukraine
- Jake, 17, from Serbia
- Evie, 17, from Bulgaria
- Laura, 16, from Bulgaria
- Christina, 15, from Bulgaria
- Joey, 16 from Ukraine
- Marty, 12, from Bulgaria
- Dido, 10, from Bulgaria
You might be wondering how we started down this path of adopting children from other countries. It all started with one of our four biological children, Matt.
Matt has Down syndrome. Our five other kids, Julie, 33, Marie, 32, Daniel, 31, and Emily, 27, and Katie, 26, are all older and have moved out of the house. Because we figured that Matt would be living with us for the long haul, we thought, why not help another kid who doesn’t have a home?
When we started looking into international adoption of kids with Down syndrome, we realized that eastern European countries see the condition differently than we do. The babies with Down syndrome are given up for adoption, sent to a sick room, and left there. The don’t receive interaction of any kind.
Catie and James, who are biologic siblings, were our first adopted children. They do not have Down syndrome, but the remaining children we adopted do. We then we adopted Joey. Then Jake. After this we thought, okay, we can realistically handle one or two more kids. So we adopted two more boys, Dido and Marty. At this point, we thought we were done adopting because the last two children needed a lot of help.
A couple of years passed and we settled into our new normal. Then we saw that another child was about to be “aged out” of adoption. In the United States, we’re permitted to adopt children from international countries up until the age of 16. So we adopted Andriy when he was 15 ½ years old.
All of our kids at home were boys, and we were feeling good about the dynamic. Our family was complete. Then we saw a picture of Evie. No one had inquired about adopting her, and she was about to age out of the process. As we considered adopting her, we thought, maybe it would be tough to be the only girl.
So, perhaps we should adopt two girls at the same time. That was our intention. Then we saw another girl from the same country about to turn 16 as well. So we decided to make room for three more. Thus Evie, Laura and Christina joined our family.
That is the over-simplified version of how we became a family of 17. Evie, Laura and Christina are the newest members of our family. They’re the ones who took part in Cincinnati Children’s “Heal the World” holiday video.
You can see them dancing around the :16 and 2:26 time mark (video below). I can’t remember why we were at Cincinnati Children’s that day, but it all kind of blends in together given how often we’re there. Whether it be for the International Adoption Center, the Thomas Center for Down syndrome – the list could go on and on – we’re frequent fliers to say the least.
We were happy to take part in a video that spreads a message of hope and healing. It’s what our family is all about. Every family has their own story, and ours is about making a difference for those within our means.