BY KATHY SCHMUGGE
When it comes to family size, a husband and wife may not have the last word on what that number may be.
Sometimes through God’s grace, what seems impossible or unthinkable can happen, bringing much joy when one’s heart is open to love.
Such was the case with Karen and Dan Roger, who for medical reasons accepted the fact that they would not be able to conceive another child. But despite this sad reality, Karen, the mother of three, continued to yearn for more children.
The Rogers’ journey to adoption began with the weekly suggestions of their two youngest children, ages 9 and 10. For three years, on their way to church, the family passed Epworth Children’s Home, an orphanage in Columbia that provided care, shelter, food, and support for South Carolina children who had no place to go.
Once their children were aware of the mission of Epworth, they immediately began to ask if their family could provide a home for those poor children who did not have a mother and father to care for them.
The Rogers were touched by their children’s tender hearts, but they did not give the idea serious consideration.
“I remember thinking that we already had a family, and parents must be called to adopt and I did not feel called at that time,” Karen said.
However, Karen remembered the moment that her heart opened to the possibility.
“I went on a Regnum Christi retreat, and while I was quietly praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I felt that God was calling us to adopt,” Karen said. “Adoption was not even on the radar screen. At first I was not sure if it was God’s will or my own, but I figured if the reasons for adopting were right, God would open the door for us.”
Still before the Eucharist, Karen composed a letter to Dan, explaining what had happened and what she thought God was encouraging them to do.
Her first hurdle was her husband’s reaction. When she came home and handed Dan the letter, she was glad to discover that he was open to the idea.
When the Rogers started the adoption process, it took a huge leap of faith.
They had no idea where the money would come from, but over a period of eight months, when a bill had to be paid it seemed as though God always provided.
“I think we sometimes focus too much on the negatives and forget that God is in control,” Dan said. “He will take care of all the ‘what ifs,’ and it is our job to trust.”
“Our parish, St. Joseph Church in Columbia, was so very supportive, especially our pastor, Msgr. Charles Rowland,” Karen said. “He allowed us to have several bake sales, and we invited the parishioners to be a part of our effort.”
The adoption process began Jan. 25, and in about eight months, they returned from Guatemala with their new son, Gabriel Andres Roger, in their arms.
“The reason we chose Guatemala over the other four countries offered by the adoption agency was our affinity for the Hispanic culture,” Dan said. “Growing up as military brats (both of our fathers were in the Air Force), we got a chance to experience the Hispanic culture firsthand.”
Karen lived in Puerto Rico for a few years, and Dan grew up in Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
For the last 12 years, the family has also sponsored a young girl from Guatemala through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, a Catholic agency.
“It just felt like a natural and complete fit for our family,” Dan said.
The Rogers began bonding with Gabriel on the day they received the adoption referral. The referral is when the agency called and provided the first block of information about the child selected for the adoptive parents.
Christina, their 23-year-old daughter, happened to be on break from school when they received the final approval to get their son. She was able to extend her stay so that the entire family could be together for the special family reunion on Oct. 9.
All three of their biological children were able to meet their 5-month-old baby brother at the airport.
“The children have been fantastic,” Karen said. “We figured there would be an adjustment period but they have been tripping over each other to be with the baby.”
The journey has really just begun for the Roger family.
With Gabriel’s smiling brown eyes gazing up at his new world, he brings hope for all, showing that God still performs miracles.
With this adoption, God answered the heart-wrenching prayer of a birth mother who wanted her child to be loved and cared for, and for the Roger family who had prayed for the chance to do just that.
“God has entrusted another soul to us,” Karen said. “How gracious God has been to our family to allow us to form another child for his kingdom.”