Inside Out, Upside Down: An Interview with Kelsi
The following interview is a part of the Inside Out, Upside Down series, in which we will hear the stories of Christ-following families who have taken part in orphan care. To read more about the series, start here.
Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Kelsi Romero, a Christ-following wife, mom, and advocate for people with Down syndrome. Check out her adorable family on instagram @downrightwonderful. You can also read more of their adoption story here.
Tell us about yourself! Do you prefer coffee or tea? What do you enjoy doing if you have a kid-free moment?
As a homeschool mama to many, I don’t have a lot of free moments. However, I have always been a morning person and LOVE my early mornings with my coffee and time in the Word. I love reading good books that help me understand God’s word better and push, convict and inspire me. Charles Spurgeon is my favorite!
I love the outdoors, any form of exercise outside and natural, healthy living. And I absolutely love cooking and now teaching my daughters how to cook. I would do record amounts of laundry when we had cable because I felt like folding clothes gave me a good excuse to sit and watch Ina Garten and other chefs on the Food Network to learn new recipes and tips. ☺ I’m only somewhat joking.
Introduce your family.
My husband Jim and I have seven children, starting with our oldest son Luke (13), followed by four daughters, Ryann (11), Graci (9), Presli (7), Morgan (5), and then two more boys, Colt (3 ½,) and, last but not least, Nic who is almost 2.
When did God first make you aware about the orphan crisis, especially for children with Down syndrome? What was it specifically that grabbed your attention?
We learned that our son Colt was gifted with an extra chromosome shortly after his birth in July 2014. The truth of Psalm 139:13 — “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” — became that much more intimate as we explained to our children that God added the extra copy of chromosome 21 more than a trillion times. We knew that God made our son and every one of us uniquely, in His image, for His glory and there are no mistakes.
We had never thought about adoption before, but through our son’s birth the Lord opened our eyes to the needs of children all around the world. We felt a special calling to those with Down syndrome and special needs.
At our first Buddy Walk, we learned about Reece’s Rainbow, a ministry whose mission is to find families for orphans with Down syndrome. We read that in other parts of the world these children are viewed as outcasts with no ability to learn or to be functional members of society, languishing in mental institutions, hidden away from the world in shame. Our heart broke for these children. We saw their faces and pictured our son being born into those circumstances. Our family knew that we had been called to serve these children.
What caused you to take that first step and pursue adoption, rather than just observing from the outside?
We stared at the Reece’s Rainbow magnet on our refrigerator and their web site for almost a year, praying for the children and saying that we will adopt “one day.” When we saw this precious baby boy, only a few months old, who was abandoned to live his life in an orphanage, we knew immediately that we needed to bring him home, but we also continued to consider all the obstacles. We prayed AND prayed.
Finally, we realized the only thing holding us back was fear — fear of traveling, fear of all that is involved, and a lot of financial fears. We thought about how powerful our God is, and the fact that the bigger the “task,” the greater glory we see through His hand in it. We were reminded of Gideon, whose army was dwindled to 300 just so that the glory would go to the Lord. We remembered the miracles of Christ, and all the works of God throughout the Bible. He is the Creator of this universe. How could we fear or doubt His power in this? We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we would trust in Him.
We also thought about what the life of one child was worth. We would sacrifice everything and do anything for our children. Aside from the command “follow me,” Christ repeats, “whoever loses his life for my sake,” more times than any other saying in the Gospels. We knew that we needed to obey where he had called us, whatever the cost.
Tell us about your adoption journey with Nic. What were your fears throughout the process and the greatest challenges to overcome?
International adoption is an emotional roller coaster. We were aware of the orphanage situation in Eastern Europe — malnourishment, sedation, isolation. We wanted everything to go at full speed to get us there and get our son out of there, but that just isn’t the way things work when you are dealing with two governments. We had to continue to trust in the fact that God loved Nic more than we ever could and that the timing and whatever happened was all a part of His perfect plan.
Jim and I are not “adventurous traveler” types, either, and the thought of leaving our six children for several weeks worried us… a lot. But again, we knew that we just had to trust in God’s sovereignty and the fact that His ways are so much greater than ours, and His love for His children far surpasses ours.
Last, I’ll mention the money aspect. We did not have the funds to adopt Nic. We knew that all Christians have been called to serve orphans. The Lord had called our family to adopt this baby, specifically He called us to Down syndrome adoption. We also knew that others have not been called to adopt but they can serve through their prayers and their giving. We began the process knowing that it would take the body of Christ, each doing their own part, to bring Nic home. What a beautiful picture we got to witness of the body of Christ working as God intended through their generous prayers and giving. Everyone played an equally important role in saving this orphan, our son.
In what ways has adopting Nic turned your world inside out and upside down? Even in all the difficulties, would you do it again?
Adoption is not easy, but we have gotten to see the faithfulness of God and grown in our trust in Him in ALL circumstances because of it. We have also had our eyes opened to the huge need of these orphans, specifically those with special needs, in other countries. They will not be adopted by people within their country, and should they be left, they will face life in these institutions. This knowledge will continue to tear at our hearts. Our driver in Ukraine told us that they believe we adopt the children with Down syndrome for their body parts, because why else would anyone adopt them? That being said, yes, we would absolutely do it all over again and still regularly talk and pray about if we will adopt again.
We have become advocates and warriors for some of these orphans, and our children began their own club to raise funds and awareness for them. It’s wonderful to see the Lord working in them and opening their eyes and hearts to the needs of orphans, as well, and for them to see the power of prayer.
How has God deepened your understanding of the Gospel through adopting Nic into your family?
We have seen a small, beautiful picture of Christ’s redemption of us as we have seen Nic, chosen, adopted, and saved from a life of darkness and hopelessness to blossom and grow in the love of his family.
What would you tell someone who has been thinking of international adoption but hasn’t taken that first step? Are there any resources or organizations that were especially helpful to your family throughout the adoption process?
Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:25)
It is not going to be easy. It will be scary. But, the God of Angel armies is on your side, and as you walk in obedience to His calling, He will be your still waters and has already worked out every detail for His glory.
Visit Reece’s Rainbow if you are interested in Down syndrome or special needs adoption to see some children that desperately need a family.
What is one piece of wisdom you would tell a family as they go throughout the adoption journey?
Focus on the greatness of our Lord every step of the way. Use scripture, worship music, and prayer to remember Who it is that is taking care of every step. Don’t plan on it going your way, but know that God’s ways are always better.