The Konold Family:
Parents Irene and Ray with Adopted Children John, Joseph, Keyeria, Nadine, Beula, and Jeremiah
Mother's Day weekend of 2008 was life-changing for the Konold family. That's when John and Joseph entered their lives. Though initially the children were only staying with the Konold family for a few days, there was an instant connection. The Konold family decided to adopt John and Joseph. Then they heard there were three more siblings.
Irene and Ray Konold turned to an adoption specialist in their county for more information about the siblings. They were told Keyeria had a stroke at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Keyeria was constantly in and out of medical foster homes, and had severe behavioral problems, most likely related to challenges associated with her grand mal seizures. Beula was born with chronic lung disease and had spent most of her life in the hospital.
"We made the decision to adopt because it was too hard letting them go," explains Irene. "You become extremely attached These children have missed out on so much in their childhood, and we wanted to make it up to them."
In 2009, Irene and Ray made one of the biggest and happiest decisions of their lives and adopted all five siblings: John (12), Joseph (11), Keyeria (9), Nadine (8) and Beula (5). This is not the first time Irene and Ray were going to be parents. Paul (31), Erik (28) and Rebecca (26) are their grown biological children, who each have families of their own.
"Our biological children were extremely happy for us and supported us with lots of love when we adopted the children," explains Irene. Irene and Ray have 13 grandchildren, who are all very close with their adopted family members. "They look forward to family gatherings and vacations every year," Irene says. "Each child is special to the older children for different reasons," she explains. "When Beula was in the hospital, Rebecca went to be with her so Ray could take a break since he was there constantly. Rebecca will relieve me sometimes and take her brothers to get a haircut. The children love it when Paul comes over because he pays a lot of attention to them. They think the older siblings are cool. I love the fact that as we get older, they will always have each other."
For everyone involved, the day of the adoption was a big relief. "We were so glad it was over," Irene explains. "We were finally free and felt we could be a real family." In February 2010, the Konolds adopted again: four-year-old Jeremiah whom they met through a series of play dates with other foster parents.
What was one of the first things Irene and Ray did for these children when they were officially adopted? They all had the opportunity to pick new names. "We sat down with each child and let them write down three names," says Irene. "I firmly believe children should have names from their new families."
Each child is adjusting in his or her own way. All five siblings are attending the local elementary school. Prior to the adoption, John and Joseph were not going to school. John started kindergarten when he was eight, because he had been forced in the past to take care of his younger siblings. "My children cannot believe when I actually walk into their classrooms with birthday cupcakes for them or when we dye Easter eggs at home," explains Irene. "The everyday things I took for granted as a kid are so new to these children because this is their first time experiencing them."
Today Keyeria is doing well and continues her therapy. Irene works with her daily on stimulating tasks to improve motor skills such as holding a pencil, playing games and drawing. Since she began living with Irene and Ray, her health has improved tremendously and her spirits are up. "Everything is new and exciting to Beula," adds Irene. "She is really fun to watch because she doesn't take anything for granted." Nevertheless, Irene and Ray are prepared to face future challenges. Ray, a jail deputy, saves up his vacation time from work in case there are medical emergencies.
The Konolds credit their supportive family, neighbors and church for allowing the transition and adoption process to go as smooth as possible. Adoption has taught the Konolds that life is ever-changing.
"Open up and give more - in the end it will pay off," says Irene.