Imagine growing up in war-torn South Sudan, where all you knew was fear. Imagine feeling lonely, afraid, and desperate for twelve years of your life – and then being adopted in a family who chose you, loved you, cheered for you, and accepted you. This was reality for Rebecca Kusunoki, 26. She and her five sweet sisters spent the morning with me yesterday, and I’ve never seen a more beautiful picture of our slogan for this week: “Family Is More Than Blood.”
Rebecca isn’t the only one of her sisters who was adopted. Hanna, 21, and Faith, 18 were both brought into the family as well – Faith when she was a baby, and Hanna after her mother passed away when she was a teenager. Biological daughters Heather (29), Courtney (24), and Elizabeth (16) clearly adore their adoptive sisters and couldn’t have been more enthusiastic as they shared their stories. “Sometimes people get confused at school when they see that Faith and I have the same last name,” Elizabeth said, through laughter, “and when we go to the mall, people sometimes ask if we’re a youth group.”
The girls shared with me some of their favorite things to do together – traveling (they’ve all been to Uganda together to visit Rebecca’s and Faith’s biological families), singing, playing Nertz, going Black Friday shopping, and sometimes just talking.
They were honest about the hard stuff too: “It took me almost ten years to really, truly trust my new family…younger kids get adopted so much easier than older children, so I think for an older child to be adopted it’s overwhelming. It’s one thing to dream of something, but it’s one thing to actually have it and it’s actually here, and I say to myself, what do I do with it now, it takes time for feelings to fall into place with that.” Rebecca said. “It was hard for us to understand why she felt the way she did, because we loved her…but we knew to just keep pursing her, loving her and being patient with her and love her unconditionally because that is what breaks down the walls and the barriers.” Heather explained. But the message they all wanted to convey was clear – it was so worth it.
I asked the girls a simple question: what does the word “Family” mean to you? The thoughts they responded with were simple and traditional – yet they seemed to hold so much more meaning as I considered them in the context of what this family has been through together.
Courtney shared, “when I talk to other people, it’s like, well you could be born into families where you have siblings with the same personalities that I have with my adopted sisters. When you think about it, biological families have polar opposites and personalities that clash and I look at our family and I think, hey we aren’t all that different! With the different dynamics, it’s actually a lot of fun! I consider them all my best friends. I hardly have to go anywhere by myself.”
“Last year when I went back to Africa, it’s crazy how my brothers and I are still alike. It’s crazy how we all have different personalities, but we all fit in,” Faith.
“Everything is just so natural…when we tell people we are sisters and they give us a weird reaction, we are like, why is that so weird?…it’s just normal for us. We forget that we don’t look alike,” Elizabeth said about her and Faith going to school together and being in the same classes.
As my team and I have worked on this week’s campaign with Show Hope, it has been incredible to see so many beautiful stories from our world changers. The Kusinoki girls are just one example of how adoption can be such a gift to a family. It truly is a journey of joy, pain, growth, and ultimately a picture of the kind of love we are called to exemplify. I’m honored that we get to help families embark on this journey.
Written by Sevenly Staffer: Samantha Paul
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