Botetourt County family finds adopted child's sister a world away

Published: Sep. 19, 2016 at 6:12 PM EDT
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A Botetourt County couple has eight children including five who still at live at home. Now they're adding one more.

The Shupe house in Botetourt County is a busy place especially at dinner time. Dad Jeff Shupe is at the stove where this Salem High School culinary arts teacher is sauteeing a large pan of chickn for the family dinner "Are you ready to eat?" Wendy Shupe asks one of the couple's children. "Have you done your homework?" she shouts out to another.

The Shupes have been married for seven years and compare their combined family to the 1960's television family "The Brady Bunch." "When we came together he had three children. I had three children." Wendy Shupe said.

Then five years ago the Shupes, both teachers, decided to adopt a special needs child from overseas. They began looking online. "One day I came to Wendy and I said 'I think I found our daughter.'" said Jeff Shupe. "And she said 'Well I think I found our son.' I said 'Let's just adopt both of them." "So we did," Wendy Shupe said.

Seven year old Caden has Down's syndrome. "He is such a loving kid," said Jeff Shupe as he reached out to give Caden a hug and a kiss.

Avery is nine years old. She has dwarfism. "She's just the kind of kid her smile always brightens your day," said Wendy Shupe. Both Caden and Avery are from Eastern Europe. With a full house and a full life Jeff and Wendy Shupe had no plans of more children until one day earlier this year when something happened. They got a phone call with the news that Avery has a sister in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.

"We didn't even know she had a sister," said Jeff Shupe. "They had found our Avery's sister. How could they do that?" Jeff Shupe said. "And I said man we can't leave that baby over there. We've got to go pick her up."

"I could hear it so clearly that was what we were supposed to do. That was God's will for our life," said Wendy Shupe.

Brianna is three years old. She also has dwarfism like her sister and lives in an orphanage. "You go into an orphanage where there are 100 kids or more and you don't hear any sounds and you know it's just quiet," Jeff Shupe said. "They spend a lot of time in cribs. They don't get any outside time. They just sit there."

Brianna has big brown eyes like her sister. The Shupes wonder if she will also have the same energy. " It was like man, are you kidding me? We're gonna have another little Avery in the house," Jeff Shupe said with a huge smile. "It's so funny Avery is on track to be one of the shortest people in the world. [smiles] but she's got so much packed in that body."

The older siblings, the Shupes, say are thrilled to have another member of the family. "It's what we do. Kids are our life. We're both teachers. We're just used to being with kids. We enjoy it," said Wendy Shupe who teaches special education in Salem.

The adoption will cost anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000 that includes adoption fees and travel costs, but that's not deterring the Shupes. "Every time we've needed something it's been there," said Jeff Shupe. "When God gives you a mission he'll give you the provision, so we've just put our faith in God that it's going to happen," Wendy Shupe said.

Chicken dinners at their church, Fincastle Baptist, an upcoming golf tournament and even anonymous donors have helped them cover the cost.

The Shupes will go to Eastern Europe over Christmas break for a required bonding trip with Brianna. If all goes as planned they hope to bring Brianna back next Spring.

In the meantime the family awaits her arrival and keeps their faith.

"Dear Lord, Thank you for our family," said Wendy Shupe as she led the family in a prayer before dinner. "Take care of our little Brianna. She's living across the ocean right now, in Jesus name Amen."

****Links to more information about international special needs adoption are listed to the right of this story.

A golf tournament to benefit the Shupes is being held Sunday, October 2, 2016 at Ashley Plantation.