Family portrait’s not yet finished

Published 2:47 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

5th adoption planned

Last November, Karen and Luke Philpott and their family of nine children had a new family photograph taken.

“We were done,” Karen Philpott said.

Emily, 26, lives in California. CJ, 20, is a third-year student at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Twins Erin and Abby, 18, just enrolled at Troy University, and Grace, 15, is a sophomore at Straughn.

The Philpotts also had adopted four children from China, and felt like their family was complete. But that family portrait is quite possibly short lived as an official photo of all of the family, as the Philpotts now feel called to Columbia.

It started in January, when Mrs. Philpott read a blog about the need for a family who could move quickly on paperwork to adopt a child before she aged out of the system. An American family had been poised to adopt her, and had spent time with the girl last summer. But a month before the adoption was to be completed, the family backed out.

The Philpotts felt they had the experience to move quickly.

“Luke and I prayed about it a couple of days,” Mrs. Philpott said. The agency liked them, because they already had experience with older child adoption.

“We prayed some more, and were moving forward,” she said.

But another family got ahead of them.

Parents who wish to adopt in China are given preapproval or a specific child, and then have six months to complete a dossier. In Columbia, parents make application to adopt a specific child, but there are no guarantees.

“In mid-July, we found out that the child that we were working toward bringing home had been matched with another family,” Mrs. Philpott said. “We are thrilled that she has a family but we are also heartbroken because we felt like she was supposed to be a part of our family. We are currently reviewing a referral of another young lady and we are praying for guidance on this decision.”

This will be the family’s fifth international adoption. Three of their four adopted children were born with special needs.

“Richie came home seven and a half years ago (age 2 ½),” she said. “He was born with ammoniac banding syndrome – being born with only three fingers and clubbed feet.”

But there is nothing he can’t do.

“He plays soccer, baseball, basketball and he swims on the Andalusia Stingrays,” she said. “He has competed at the State swim meet the past two years. He is in Mrs. Evan’s 4th grade class at Straughn.”

Three years later, Sophie joined the family. She was 3 years, 8 months old.

“She has the most common form of dwarfism, achondraplasia,” Philpott said. “She is a member of Little People of America. We have had the opportunity to meet several Little People in the past couple of years when we attend the district 13 meetings. Sophie is in Mrs. Windham’s 2nd grade class at Straughn.

Next came Liam.

“Liam was an older child adoption, being 12 when he came home,” Philpott said. “Liam has been home for two and a half years.

“He participates in the cross country and track team at Straughn, he has played city soccer, he takes piano lessons, and he plays guitar in the Bethany Baptist Youth band. He is treasurer of the sophomore class and he is the treasurer of the Student Government Association as Straughn.”

Liam is a sophomore.

Charlie has been home a year and a half.

“We brought him home when he was 9 years old,” Philpott said. “He has a rare genetic disorder which causes scoliosis. He has had multiple surgeries since he has been home, one of which was replacing all the hardware in his back because he broke his rod.

“This past spring he was able to play baseball and you would have thought he had won the lottery,” she said. “Because of Charlie’s disability he was never allowed out of the kindergarten class in China – so besides having a family, he says the best thing about America is learning!! He is also in Mrs. Evan’s 4th grade class.”

The children get extra help with language.

“Mrs. Lisa Lowe, a fifth grade teacher at Straughn who is EL certified, gives Liam and Charlie help with their language each week which has been a blessing to us,” she said.

The Philpotts had already begun fundraising for the fifth adoption when they learned they would not get the daughter for whom they had applied in Columbia. They have raised approximately $20,000 of the estimated $35,000 needed. They’ve also had lots of donations for a yard sale, and are planning that sale next weekend.

The event is set for 7 a.m. until next Saturday, September 8, in the parking lot of Barrow’s Fine Furniture. Items to be sold include clothing, a microwave, refrigerator, stove, dishwashers, bikes and some tools. All proceeds will go toward adoption, which is costly.

“We are reviewing another child’s file,” Philpott said. “Our pastor is translating the file for us because it’s in Spanish. We still feel like we’re called to go to Columbia.”

The Philpotts often are asked why they don’t adopt locally.

“At the current moment, God hasn’t called us to adopt locally and I am not going to rule that out in the future,” she said. “Wherever God calls us, we will go. And if anyone would like to know more about adopting, please contact me.”