Please don’t call these parents saints. They will argue that they’re no different from the rest of us. They simply said yes to go where their hearts were leading. And please don’t call their adopted children lucky. The lucky ones have never had to endure what these kids have.
“We’re the lucky ones to have Corbin in our lives,” say Steve and Andrea Klump of Leawood. “We believe we should live our lives by giving back, but in so many ways, Corbin is giving back to us. And it doesn’t take special skills to do this,” Steve says. “Adoption is much like having biological children. When issues come up, you deal with them. If put your heart into it, with the help of others, you’ll be successful.”
The Klumps’ story of adoption is one they hope will inspire others, but their story doesn’t end with them. Their daughter, Emily Cowley, and her husband, William, are also adopting two sons.
“My sister calls it ‘Father of the Bride: Adoption Edition,’” Emily jokes. “Obviously, my parents have been very supportive as we go through this process together.”
From the Beginning
It all started four years ago. After Steve, an engineer, and Andrea, an RN, had three biological children (Emily, 27, Whitney, 22, and Nate, 16) they adopted Corbin, now 11 and a 5th grader.
“Corbin has added greatly to our lives,” Steve says. “After years of mistreatment, he was taken from his birth family where he likely wanted to stay. Then he was taken from his foster family where he likely wanted to stay. These are transitions no one should have to go through, but Corbin has. We’re so proud how he’s weathered the storms of his life.”
Steve says that when Andrea first felt called to pursue adoption, she ignored the internal urge, but it strengthened for years. Steve agreed that this was God’s will for them: “And we know following God’s will makes us happier.”
But for months, the Klumps couldn’t find a good match for their family.
“We were discouraged and almost gave up when we found Corbin,” they say. “We considered this carefully because rejection from us was not something we wanted to put a child through.”
Corbin moved into their home as a member of their family, and seven months later, the adoption was final. They’ve enjoyed the support of family, friends, coworkers and church—including those who didn’t think it was a good idea at first.
“Now those same people are stepping up and supporting us,” Steve says.
Daughter Emily explains that when she became pregnant with their son, Liam, now 2, she also felt called to adopt. She pushed the notion aside for months, but it persisted.
“The timing made no sense,” Emily says, “so I told God He would have to convince Will. A lot of little things led to Will saying yes, and we started the process when I was seven months pregnant.”
Emily and Will obtained their license when Liam turned one. They soon welcomed two brothers, ages 10 and 13, into their lives.
Emily says the brothers had endured years of bouncing around homes and a few failed adoptive placements, so it’s taken time for the boys to build trust.
“They were uprooted from their lives in another state…extended family, foster parents, friends, schools…It was all gone in an instant on the gamble that we could provide and love them—people they had only met three times,” Emily says.
Support, Patience + Humor
Emily, an engineer at Burns and McDonnell, says that her workplace has been flexible and supportive, as has their church family at Cure’ of Ars. “They’ve prayed for us throughout this process and welcomed the boys without reservations. I know people who have lost friends over being foster parents, so we’re exceptionally thankful.”
Emily adds that patience and humor go a long way.
“I’m 27, and I have an 8th-grade son, so it’s an odd scenario,” she says, “plus the boys are mixed-race, so we get lots of questions. I don’t think people mean to be rude. People ask questions to make conversation or to understand. Here’s what I would ask of society in general—if I introduce him as my son, just go with it. If you don’t have a reason to know more, then just accept he’s my son.”
The Cowleys hope the adoption will be final by Christmas. After which they will close their license—for now.
“We have three rambunctious boys, all with different needs, and our house feels full now,” Emily says. “A few weeks ago, I watched my three boys wrestling, laughing and giggling up a storm, and it warmed my heart. Yes, it’s loud, and our house is constantly messy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
This Christmas will be one of celebration for both generations of families.
“It’s the first Christmas that Corbin will be with us fully through all our traditions, and our first Christmas with our new grandsons,” Steve and Andrea say. “Family is everything.”
“We hope we’re setting our boys up for success in life, whatever that might look like for them. We hope to love them well enough that they can love other people. We hope they are good, strong men who take care of those who depend on them. One day at a time, one hug at a time, we hope to raise our sons to know they are infinitely cherished.” – Will and Emily Cowley