Monday, December 9, 2013


We want to introduce you to Jordan Barr and her wonderful family. Jordan is a senior in high school and is in the midst of the college selection process. She hopes to major in Nursing and eventually either become a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician's Assistant. Her story of adoption will inform and inspire you! 
Jordan (2nd on the left) with her newly expanded family.

I was born into an old-fashioned upper middle class family: two parents, two kids, and a comfortable suburban neighborhood.  When I was seven, however, my family made a decision that changed my life forever.  I still remember my parents sitting me down with my little brother and explaining that we were going to add a new member to our family by adopting a child from Ukraine.  My brother and I were excited to have a new playmate.  My only stipulation was that the child be younger than I, thus preserving my position as oldest child.  We spent months preparing for the arrival by teaching ourselves Russian, getting bedrooms ready, and imagining what the child would be like.  By the time my parents finally left for Ukraine, we thought we had become used to the idea of adopting. We were wrong.

While looking through books with information about available Ukrainian kids, my parents fell in love with a brother and sister. They hesitated because the sister was a couple years older than I was, but they decided to visit the kids nevertheless.  Then they encountered an unexpected hitch. The kids had an unregistered older sister who was twelve years old, and my parents were not allowed to adopt her two siblings without also adopting her. Thus, my parents were faced with adopting three kids instead of one, and the oldest was almost a teenager. They called home to ask what I thought, and I immediately said, “No.” In my mind, twelve was much too old, and that was the end of it.  Of course, a seven year old can change her mind.  After spending a few hours thinking about how much I enjoyed spending time with my babysitter, who had been adopted from Russia, I reconsidered.  Thankfully, I got word to my parents before they had made their final decision and they were able to adopt the kids after all. If my parents had listened to my initial reaction, my life would be completely different.  Life might have been easier.  But now I have three siblings that are a crucial part of my family and I can not imagine life without them.
Jordan and Elena
Every time I tell this story people ask me how it felt to have three new Ukrainian siblings overnight. This question always seems odd to me because they did not gradually learn how to become Barrs. Even though the five of us were born into completely different worlds, we are a family. We love each other despite the differences in age, language, culture, background, and even sibling rivalry that could have come between us.  This adventure has also opened my mind to rejecting society's view of the “perfect” and “successful” life. I have recently participated in mission trips in urban Chicago and rural Guatemala, two very different places with radically different cultures. In serving the various people I met on these trips, I have seen further evidence that, when we overcome differences in culture and background, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. I am pursuing a career in nursing to continue to learn how to serve people in better ways, and I am excited to start making a difference in the lives of others.

Serving on a mission trip
A family is a sacred and special unit, and in any family the decision to have another child is monumental. Yet it happens all the time.  However, adjusting to one infant is a very different task than accepting three already grown children at one time. I can’t say much about adjusting to a new infant in the house. As for “older” siblings, there are little changes that need to be dealt with, like buying more chairs for the kitchen table and finding room for three more people to sleep. Those types of things came easily for us. 

And then there are changes that take more adjustment. The best advice I can probably give to other biological kids is to get ready for the adjustments that you’ve never considered, and see how God uses them for His glory. For example, you now get 1/3 of the attention that you are used to getting from your parents, sometimes even less. When you go out in public, the size of your family causes everyone to stare. Family vacations must be planned around seven people instead of four, which is a very difficult task when you realize how strong willed and opinionated we Barrs can be. These are some of the consequences of the adoption that I still deal with today, and I'm sure other biological children with adopted siblings have experienced to some degree.  
The Barr children today.
Although some of those consequences may appear to be bad things, I don't see them that way. Sure, having a large family can be annoying sometimes. But every family can be annoying. Because of the adoption my family is so much more dynamic and complicated than it was before, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I doubt you could find seven more different people if you tried, and that is a big part of what makes our family so special. The fact that we are not blood related has never mattered in the slightest. Every one of my siblings is very different from each other and each has a special role in my life. One brother is always there when I need to talk, the other is always up to join me on adventures. My sister is always ready to teach me how to do practical tasks like cooking dinner and I can always turn to my other sister when I want to explore my imagination and very limited artistic side. I honestly don't know what I would do without them all, and these past 10 years with them have been an incredible gift from God. 

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