My name is Wendy Jo Milligan. I live in Sparta, Tennessee, with my family. My family consists of my husband, Duane, and our six children: 12-year-old Hollister (Hollie) Kay, 10-year-old Devon Michael, 9-year-old Ryan Grant, 7-year-old Parker Tobias, 5-year-old Joelle Dawne', and 3-year-old Ethan Tyler (E.T.).
I am a homemaker/home-school instructor by trade; my husband, meanwhile, works at American Airlines, where he is an airplane mehanic. He makes very good money; he's been at his job now for the past thirteen years, which is also how long we have been married.
Our children are all adopted: we adopted them because nobody else would. All were older than the age of one, and some (like Hollie, Devon, Parker, Joelle, and Ethan) all had special needs. They didn't have a chance; this was when Duane and I stepped in. We'd wanted a family; it just wasn't meant to be, so God opened the door to adoption, and the rest is history, as they say.
It's gotten to the point where we cannot imagine our family without any of the children. All have brought us incredible moments of joy (and even some heartbreak). We wouldn't trade them for all the gold in the world; we love them all too much!
As I said, five of the children have special needs. Hollie has Down syndrome and heart issues (she's had two heart surgeries already). Devon is autistic and has learning disabilities. Parker is legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa. He will eventually become totally blind by the time he reaches 18; then we will have to invest in a seeing eye dog for him, as well as the training that goes along with it. Joelle has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches and braces on her legs. As for Ethan, the youngest, he is deaf and mute; he was stricken with meningitis when he was a baby and it left him without hearing and speech. He is learning sign language.
Some people do have a problem with our children's disabilities, but I really don't pay attention to that. All I see are the children themselves; their disabilities, even though they might be obvious, just doesn't matter to us. We see what the children can do as opposed to what they cannot, and we try to focus primarily on that.
We have beautiful children, and I want people to see what they can do instead of focusing on the fact that they are children first, children who just happen to be disabled.
We are very involved in our church. I sing on the praise/worship team, and my husband is the associate pastor at the Sparta Church of God. We go every Sunday and Wednesday (or try to, when he isn't working). The kids are involved in children's ministry, where they are learning about God; we want them to have a very strong Biblical foundation ni their lives. Church is very important to our family; it always has been.
When we aren't at church, we belong to a homeschool group, where we all get together for different activities and talk to other parents about what we are doing to better the education of our children. It is a very good way to meet other families who have chosen to educate the children themselves, as opposed to going to public schools, which, in the end, are only failing our chidlren. We don't want that for our children; this is why we opted for the homeschooling route.
Well, E.T. is howling again, so I'd best see what he needs. I will write in here again soon; until later, this is Wendy saying so long; may God bless you always! This isn't the last time you will hear from me!
~Love, your new friend in Tennessee, Wendy Jo Milligan.