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.