The Stewart Family
“Please assure that adoptive families have the needed tools and resources.”
“Our family is a beautiful blend of nationalities,” write Jeff and Kari Stewart, parents to three biological children (Jeremiah, age 30; Sarah, age 25; Hannah, age 24), and six adopted children (Elisabeth, 17, born in China; Abigail, 15, born in Korea; Logan, 13, born in Florida; Luke, 11, born in Haiti; Jillian, 10, born in Tennessee; and Zinnia, 8, born in Hong Kong). The children were each adopted at various ages between infancy and toddlerhood.
The Stewart family bustles with activity; the children are all active with music, sports, school, and clubs. A week in the Stewart household might include Elisabeth working on college applications, Abigail running in her cross country meets, Logan practicing his drums, Luke fundraising for a Haitian orphanage, Jill practicing new recipes in the kitchen, and Zinnia playing with her friends and listening to music.
When asked what motivated them to adopt, the Stewarts reply unequivocally, “God put that desire on our hearts.” The Stewarts enjoy putting their faith into action in the way they care for each of their children’s needs. In discussing the difficulties they have faced in raising adopted children, Jeff and Kari explain, “Most children who have been placed for adoption have experienced trauma. That trauma can bring challenging behaviors into the family. The hardest part early on was educating our friends and families on these challenges and how we needed support.” Their youngest, Zinnia, has Down Syndrome, and benefits from Kari and Jeff’s extensive parenting experience.
Kari and Jeff were grateful for the Adoption Tax Credit, which allowed them to pay off expenses for their expanding family. The Stewarts are able to enjoy each other’s company on a monthly “night out” thanks to the organization Kids At Heart/Fundango, which serves foster and adoptive families. Jeff and Kari have also taken advantage of adoption support groups, where they found encouragement for the challenges they faced as adoptive parents. Clearly, this family also has much wisdom to offer others who are on the adoption journey.
Kari and Jeff Stewart would like members of Congress to know how crucial that post-adoption support is for adoptive families. They urge Congress, “Please ensure that adoptive parents have the necessary tools, resources and respite to raise a healthy, whole family.”