Lynn Neathery and her husband Jay were in their fifties with three grown children when they became the adoptive parents of three children from Russia. It was not a set of circumstances they anticipated, but they gladly accepted the challenges of adoptive parenting. At the time, Drew was almost 13, Alona was 10, and Caleb was 7. Now, four and a half years since enlarging their family in one huge leap, Lynn is pragmatic about the importance—and the many blessings—of motherhood.
Jay and I got married in 1977, but I didn’t have Cara until 1981. I think God calls us to different things, but for our family, it was really important to us for me to be home with our kids. It has been an incredible blessing. Cara is 34. She is the instructional facilitator at Turlington Elementary School in Waller. Jason is 32. He is married, and they have three kids. He works for Jay (a home builder). Austin is 27. He is married and works for Caterpillar in Waco. Another amazing thing—both of my daughters-in-law are named Rachel. They’re both a gift from the Lord to our family.
Austin, our youngest, was in college and home for the summer. Friends in his college department at church were talking about having some kids from a Russian orphanage come over on a hosting program. He said, “You should talk to my mom. She would like that.”
We weren’t planning on adopting. We were too old, and our kids were grown, but we prayed about it and thought, “Sure, we can do that.” I had to fill out this immense amount of paperwork. It still just amazes me the way God works. One of the questions was, “How many kids would you take?” I thought, “We have three kids, so I will just put down three.” I repeatedly said, “We are not adopting. We are hosting them for a short period of time.” They said, “You will be surprised. Lots of people end up adopting.” So they came.
Our three biological kids were here a lot. We did a lot of stuff with them. We took them to an Astros game. They didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t speak any Russian, but I have worked a lot with kids. It was pretty sad to put them on a plane, knowing they were going back to an orphanage where they didn’t have a family, but we promised to pray for them.
A friend from church was planning to go to Russia to see the child they were adopting. She was really concerned about the other kids that didn’t get adopted and asked, “Are y’all praying about adopting those kids?” I told her, “No, we’re too old.” She said, “I think you need to pray about adopting.” I started praying about it, not really thinking God would want us to adopt.
Then God started bringing things to my attention about older people adopting kids. I thought maybe that was what God wanted us to do, but we were too old, and our children were all out of the home. I hadn’t even talked to Jay about it. I finally worked up the courage to tell him. He felt the same way I did about it. I asked him a couple of times if he was still praying about it. I didn’t pester him. I wanted it to be something Jay felt convinced that God wanted us to do—not that I was convincing him. Then he said, “I think we should pursue it. God has convinced me we should adopt the kids.” We called our kids. Jason said, “I knew when those kids walked in the door you were going to end up adopting them.”
We started the process February 1, 2010 and brought them home in November 2010. I get asked pretty often why we adopted internationally when there are so many kids in America that need to be adopted. We tell them, “God just appointed us to these three kids, and that is where they happened to be. There’s no other explanation for it except that God wanted those specific kids to be in our family.”
They didn’t speak any English. My mom had purchased Rosetta Stone for Russian. I tried to learn Russian. It’s a very difficult language, and I slaughtered it. I totally gave up on grammar. I had a hand-held translator and used my iPhone as a translator. It did a poor job. There were a lot of errors in communication. And because we adopted three, they spoke Russian to each other.
At some point, Jay said, “Quit speaking Russian to them. They have to learn English.” My Russian was crummy, anyway. After they had been here a year, they started speaking English to each other. I homeschooled Cara, Jason, and Austin, but we thought it would be good for Drew, Alona, and Caleb to be in school. That was a really tough year for them. If you can imagine going into a foreign country where you didn’t know anything—all the customs were different. They didn’t know if people were going to be nice to them or not.
I am so grateful to Alpha Omega, because Mr. Davidhizar has made allowances for them and has made every decision for them based on what he believes is best for that child. None of us can appreciate how difficult it was for these kids. In Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge, the first thing is: “I suffered profound loss before I was adopted.” All adoptions come from some sort of grief. They lived through a lot of hurt before they got to us.
I was having a kind of low day one day, and I found a plaque about adoption in an antique store in Huntsville made by GloryHouse.com. I thought it was a real sweet combination of scriptures that put things into a good perspective: “Because of His great love for us before the world even began. . . we were chosen by God to be adopted as His children. . . We love because He first loved us. . . A pure act of faith is to care for His children just as He cared for us. Adoption is partnering with Jesus to see lives transformed. . . Adoption is a miracle!”
It has been sweet for me to watch my parents and Jay’s parents and our extended family with our younger kids. They all knew it was what God intended, and there was love given. The younger kids have all been really great with my parents and with Jay’s parents. It has been amazingly wonderful to see how the siblings love each other.
Drew enjoys sports. He is a quiet, reserved person. He is 17. I think he is pretty athletic. He plays basketball, baseball, and runs cross country. His movement is so smooth; it’s enjoyable to watch him. He is doing better in school. He is very interested in geography and in visiting places. We’ve been able to take them to several states, and Drew, my mom, and I went to Oklahoma last month over spring break.
Alona is amazingly gifted with children. She is sweet and compassionate. She is very generous. She sees people in need, and she wants to help them. Alona is beautiful. When we were in Russia, a doctor asked us, “Do you have a gun? You better get one, because boys are going to be knocking down your door because she is so beautiful.” When she genuinely smiles, she absolutely lights up the room.
Caleb has a very sweet personality. He is thoughtful, he is helpful, and he is energetic. He likes to organize things. Most every weekend in the winter, Jay cuts wood, and almost every time, Caleb is out there helping. Caleb has the most amazing voice. Jay and I love to hear Caleb sing. He is fun. No matter where he is, Caleb can always find a friend. He is also respectful and kind to older people.
There is no way on earth I could have done any of this had I not been married to Jay Neathery. He is an amazing man of God who leads our family. Jay is a fabulous father, and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else on the face of the earth. Both of us work as a team. When I am tired, he takes over. When he is tired, I take over. I could not be the mother I am without him being the father he is. I think we are both very thankful God gave us each other. I am incredibly grateful for my husband.
I pray for the kids each morning. I am very grateful for the victories God has given them, because each one of them has overcome a lot. Being a mother is a privilege from the Lord. I love being a mother, and I love being around my kids. I value the time I spend with them. We look at each other and smile and think what a privilege it is to be a part of this. It’s an amazing journey. Jay and I really work on recognizing the victories, recognizing the positive things they accomplish with God’s help, and being thankful for those.