I’m John Simmons and this is my family. On the back row we have Steve, Emily and Cory. Middle row: Holly, Amy, me, Sarah and Annie. The front row has Mike, Celeste, Denney and Jack. Mike, our oldest, is married to Holly. She’s a sweetheart. She is pregnant with our first grandchild and is due the beginning of August (2013). Jack, our 18-year-old, has Down Syndrome. He loves babies and has wanted one forever. He wants to know if Holly’s baby is his. Gosh, I hope not. Jack is a riot!
Our three older sons are biological. They all work with me full-time at White Knight, a business my brothers and I own. We manufacture pumps. Mike, Cory and Steve also go to school full-time at the University of Utah. All three are studying business. Needless to say, they are pretty busy. In fact, I think Cory is too busy to find a girlfriend. Do you know anybody???
The rest of our children were adopted. We adopted Jack here in the States when he was a month old. He underwent open-heart surgery when he was six months old and we almost lost him. All of our daughters are biological siblings who came from Russia in two different adoption adventures. Denney also comes from Russia but he is not biologically related to the girls. We were just finishing up the adoption of Sarah, Celeste and Denney when we learned that the girls had older biological siblings. It took another year and a half to find and adopt Emily and Annie.
Aside from our family’s enormity, and the fact that it is fairly diverse, we are a typical family. We have good days and bad days. Amy’s coping tools are patience, prayer and faith. She’s a “God works in mysterious ways believer.” There is no limit to her faith. My coping skills are Tylenol, caffeine and profanity (not necessarily in that order). Our older boys had to grow up fast and they were saddled with adult-sized responsibilities when Amy and I took on more than we could do. We have had challenges in our family and diagnosed disorders include Developmental, Learning, Reactive Attachment, Post Traumatic Stress, Fetal Alcohol, and others suspected but not diagnosed. Everyone agrees, though. Dad is the only crazy one in the family.
We have seen the world at its worst. Members of our family have witnessed murder, neglect and abuse to the point of a sibling being thrown on a wood-burning stove where she burst into flames (Lydia, who could never survive away from institutional care, is still in Russia). We have loved and lost and we have been forced to leave friends behind.
We have also seen this world at its best. We have seen harrowing rescues and great sacrifices. We have seen miracles happen when family sticks together. Individually, we have been supported by friends and family when we felt tired or weak, and we have carried each other when we have felt too exhausted to stand, only to have the person we supported pick us up when we fall. We have watched communities live by the mantra that it takes a village to raise a child and we have seen what an incredible difference it makes in children.
Our family loves animals. We have horses and a dog and I have heard that we will soon have a cat. Animals have always understood us. Even when family members and friends have been frustrated, our pets have been loyal. We see the metaphor of our family in abused and abandoned animals and our heart goes out to them. Their situations remind us that we can’t fix everything and we can’t rescue everyone, human, or otherwise. Still, we can help. We can change the part of the world that we touch.
There have been times when some of us have given up hope on others, but even at our darkest moments, we never gave up trying to help them. And as we look back, we see that our most difficult times and circumstances built us up the most. When we look at the good and bad we have seen, we are extremely optimistic for the future. There are good people everywhere and they are always willing to help those who are down.
Our family members all share two passions. The first is for our family itself. The other is for children without parents; the ones left behind; the ones who will only have the family of their dreams if they build it from the position of a parent. Our hearts go out to them. We remember them every day. We consider them all to be our friends, and some of them have been our close friends. Much of what we do is focused on directing attention towards these children in an effort to help them to have homes and families. Please join us in this effort.