Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are They All Yours? by Janette Pepall




 

Why did I choose this title?   

 When our children were young international adoption was unusual, and Australia was not multi-cultural. We were constantly asked, “Are they all yours?”  Well, yes. We know our family ‘looks different’ …….the adults are Caucasian, the 6 children are close in age (6 under 9 years) and there are two Caucasians, two Chinese, a Vietnamese and a Sri Lankan! 


Our birth, foster and adoption journey, which has spanned over 43 years, has shaped and changed our lives, it has taken us on a journey of joy, adventure, challenges and connected us to a network of friends across the globe.  I would not be an international educator and consultant on children at risk nor an author of training manuals and more recently my children’s books on adoption! 

Dean and I married in 1968, and wanted to have a large family. God fulfilled our dreams but not the way we envisaged.  While we often think of personal issues as a challenge, they are also the place of new beginnings. We just don’t recognise it at the time! Our continually growing family now consists of 6 adult children, one from birth and 5 from adoption, their partners, and now five adorable grandchildren.  We have also been foster parents of two children with disabilities.

Our first adoption was an infant son born in Australia, with our second son arriving 20 months later by birth. At this time, the 1970s, the war in Vietnam was raging, and we became aware of the horrific situation for thousands of Vietnamese children.  There was no legislation to allow Australians to adopt, so with several other proactive South Australian individuals and couples we formed Australia’s first adoptive parent group.  

After many months of lobbying, the only Australian airlift, a Hercules transport plane with over ninety children, arrived from Vietnam. With a toddler and an infant, we were allocated one of the youngest babies (4 weeks old).  We never got to meet Daniel, who died in hospital a few days after arriving. We were very sad to have lost a son, especially as we had not held him in our arms.
Committed to adoption, and with our state finally passing adoption legislation, we were the first family to be allocated from Thailand, an infant girl. However, on the very same day we received a second phone call from the Adoption Unit.  Would we consider the placement of a 9 month old Vietnamese baby boy?  He is 9lbs, and so our third son had arrived. 

In 1977, with three sons, but with a desire for a daughter, we re-applied for adoption to Thailand.  We were soon allocated a 4 month old baby girl and called her Miriam. Sadly, in the following hot summer, measles took many babies lives in several orphanages, including hers.
We transferred our paper work to Sri Lanka, and were allocated a 6 month old baby girl. While we adored our sons, how exciting, a daughter at last!!   A long story and lots of heart aches with three allocations, but after 4 weeks I traveled home with a week old baby girl. 

During this time a visiting pastor called me to the front of our church and prophesied, “You will be an author of many works’. Hm……….was that possible? Again, God had His plans!
In the 1980s we were living in the Northern Territory which did not have legislation to allow international adoptions. After being stopped on the street many times- Are they all yours? we pioneered another parent adoptive group and became a political force! In the next two years, two daughters aged three and a half years and five years from Hong Kong arrived. Three sons and three daughters, our family was now complete!
I am sure from this snap shot of our family, you will recognize that we are passionate about the care of orphans and vulnerable children. After a distinct call to be missionaries to Hong Kong, we lived and worked there for a large children’s agency.  During the early 1990s I was instrumental in pioneering the adoption of children with disabilities to the USA and setting up the Hong Kong small group homes and foster care programs. 

God was able to use all these experiences, positive and negative, to His purpose and plan for my life! I am the Founder and Director of janettepepall.com, with a team of twelve people in seven countries. We have trained over 3000 people, in 12 countries, including adoptive and foster parents, social workers and orphanage child caregivers, Sunday school teachers, teachers and pastors.
My journey as an author began at a ‘mature’ age when I felt God ask me to write training material for those in the developing world who are directly involved with children. I wasn’t sure why, but I have always trusted God and His promptings. But would it be valuable to my heroes, the child caregivers in orphanages, who had grade 3 or 4 education?  My responsibility is to do as asked; His is to bring forward the fruit.

Now I have written three training manuals, Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, National Training: Understanding and Responding to God’s Vulnerable Children, and National Training: Understanding and Responding to Children At Risk.  The Understanding God’s Children is being translated into Chinese, Spanish, Bahasa and Burmese and is being used across the globe.
Then my latest adventure! After many years of advising adoptive parents, grandparents and professionals that it is never too early to introduce and ‘normalise’ the word adoption, I was unable to find any books for toddlers, especially those adopted within certain cultures. So…….I am the author of a series of children’s books on adoption! It has been hugely challenging!  Do I self publish? If so, where? What is an ISBN number and do I need one? Do I sell on line, or through a book company?
The first books, I AM ADOPTED (Sui Ling and Lok Tin) I believe will prepare children, both adopted and biological, for understanding the adoption experience.  They are currently in English, soon they will be bilingual. After finishing the series, I intend to write about our life’s journey.
So, yes, praise God they are all ours…

To learn more about my work and resources, please go to:

www.janettepepall.com and www. nationaltrainingforchildrenatrisk.com.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Janette - Thanks for sharing your story with us. What an amazing journey God has had you and your family on. It's great to see how God has used your interests and passions in your writing. I'm sure your training manuals and children's books will be a blessing to many. May He continue to open doors for you in your writing and advocacy.

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    1. Thank you Nola for your encouragement. Writing was the furthest thing on my mind when I started adopting, but as you wrote, God has used my passions to his ends!

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  2. Wow Janette. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story. You and your husband are truly inspirational. Bless you for the way you have been obedient to God's call on your lives. Not only have you blessed 6 children and given them a firm foundation for life - you are impacting many children all over the globe.

    I was especially interested to hear you have one child from Sri Lanka since I am a Sri Lankan Australian myself. I was also interested to hear you had 6 children under 9. My Mum and Dad had 7 children, 8 and under (the natural way) and I am the youngest.

    May God continue to bless your family and your ministry. Every blessing. And thanks for sharing your very inspiring story.

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    1. How interesting Anusha that you are a Sri Lankan Aussie! Our Sri Lankan daughter is now the proud mother of a little girl. Your family certainly was large too, but contemporary standards. Thank you for your blessings!

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  3. Hi Janette. Thanks for sharing your story. Our youngest son is adopted from Taiwan and we are active members of the local adoption groups in Brisbane. CSS (Taiwan) produced a picture book for young adoptees to understand the experience. It has been a great blessing to our family - only possible because of pioneers like you. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Jeanette, great to hear from an adoptive mum! How old is your son from Taiwan? Our children are now 43-35 years! Yes I guess we were pioneers in the early 1970s, but at the time we were 'just' wishing to give a child a home. I love writing the little books on adoption, and they are a result of many asking when, and how, do you tell children they are adopted. Hence the first are contexualised for the Chinese culture. Have you looked at them? You may also be itnerested in registering for my regular newsletter. Both the books and registraton on my websites, end of the blog. Best wishes, Janette

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    2. Hi Janette - He's 8. I'll take a look at your books and website. We've always been open with our son & have a great adoptive community which has been a real blessing.

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  4. Your sharing this journey really blessed me, Janette. Thank you. I have never had anything to do with adoptions but watched a discussion round once where young adults, who had been adopted, shared their feelings toward their adoptive parents. What struck me most was that about 80% were VERY ungrateful, and only a few were truly thankful. I am sure this is different in Christian circles. May God bless you and further increase your ministry.

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    1. Thank you Margaret for your best wishes and blessings! Sorry to write that it seems that non-churched and churched adoptees are similar in their adjustment, including the loss and grief of losing their birth parents. If you are interested in children's ministry, or overseas issues, you may like to register for my regular newsletter. Both the books and registraton on my websites, end of the blog. Best wishes, Janette

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  5. What a beautiful heart you have, Janette! Thank you for sharing a story very close to my heart. God bless you and your wee, though now grown up, tribe.

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    1. Hi Catriona, thank you for your encouragement! I And blessings on our family. Yes, it continues to grow. If you are interested in children's ministry, or overseas issues, you may like to register for my regular newsletter. Both the books and registration are on my websites, at the end of the blog. Best wishes, Janette

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  6. What a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing with us Janette. You are sure a supermum...with the Lord's help. I'd have loved to have seen you all around the dinner table! Your grown children must be so glad they have you as a mum.

    May God continue blessing you abundantly.

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    1. Thank you Rita, only with the Lord's strength, wisdom and peace.

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  7. I went to BCV with a Yasmine Pepall, now Bath, who was adopted. Is she one of your love daughters?

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  8. Hi Elizabeth, wow, you know our new mum! Yasmine had a beautiful little girl, Kaitlin Mary nearly 4 weeks ago. Her and Richard now live in bendigo. Not sure if you are her FB friend, but if you check out my FB page, you will see loads of photos....I am a very proud grandma, now of 5!

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