A Mother’s Journey to Adopt 15 Children

When we first stepped out in obedience, we asked God to work in our lives in a way that only He could get the glory.

And He did. He called my husband Dave and I to adopt.

We currently have 17 children. Our family is happy, organized chaos. 

We were first blessed with 2 beautiful, home-grown children. And then God called us out on the ride of our lives to this journey called adoption. Through international and domestic adoption, God has chosen to add 15 additional heart-grown children to our family, 9 of whom have mild-to-moderate special needs.

God strategically knit together our family, and He’s created a tapestry—a divine masterpiece—for His glory.

Who We Are As Parents

Here are 3 things you should know about Dave and me—

We are not perfect parents—not even close—but we always purposefully and intentionally point our children back to God, Whose sustaining grace and keeping power holds it all together in His steadfast love.

We are not saints or saviors. There is only 1 Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are soldiers, fighting in God’s army for the lost and vulnerable in hard places. Dave and I humbly accept this invitation God has extended to us, striving daily to imitate His love by extending tangible grace to these precious children He has entrusted to us.

We get to adopt. And you can do it, too.

Why We Adopt

In our home, we refer to faith as fantastic adventures in trusting Him. And boy, our adventures have been fantastic! But if we’re honest, these adventures have also been fearful at times. And they can be infuriating. But through it all, God has been faithful.

Our real motivation to adopt is simply the heart of our Father. More than 60 times in Scripture, God re-iterates His desire for us to care for orphans.

If we, the Church, are to mirror the heart of God, this means every Christian’s role in the orphan crisis requires active participation.

In James 1:27, when God calls us to care for orphans in their distress, we believe God calls us to join them in the mess—arms reaching, extending far and wide, deep into the trenches, to the mess and the muck, as the hands and feet of Jesus.

My Story

Often, God uses the circumstances of our lives—our story—to reach others. Such is the case with my story.

I was born in a small town in Georgia to a family suffering the effects of poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse. This resulted in neglect and abuse of every form. Our family portrait was not one of hope and happiness.

Every day was a struggle to survive. One day, the rage and violence started—like every other day—but this time, it cost my mother her life. And it happened right before my eyes. The next day, when the police came to the house, they found my mother’s body—beaten and strangled—and in the corner, they found a little girl who was shivering, abandoned, and battered. I was fearful to be touched but desperate to be loved.

I entered into the foster care system and was passed from home to home until a family welcomed me in and decided to fight for me. This family loved and kept loving me no matter what. They would choose to see beyond my behaviors, pouring into who they believe I was created to be for the purpose and plan that God had in store for me.

Through their love and nurturing, I would learn of the greatest love in the world—through Jesus Christ. So I was adopted twice—once into their family, and once into God’s family.

Our Story Isn’t Over

God does not waste a thing. He’s in the business of re-writing our story and redeeming our suffering.

My parents said yes to adopt me, and it has created ripples of hope for generations to come. The power of my parents’ faithful, fear-filled yes continues to impact me today. Today, I am the mom of 17 children, most of whom came to us through great loss. But God has equipped me—through my own experiences—to invest in their lives.

Mine could have been a story of ultimate destruction and brokenness. Instead, it is now filled with blessings—beauty from ashes.

You, too, have the power to step into a child’s story and say, “I will not allow it to end this way!” Will you do it?






Mandy Litzke is the Founder of Safe Harbor Orphan Care Ministries, which walks alongside families and churches that are following the call to adopt or to begin Orphan Care Ministries. Additionally, she is a featured speaker at numerous conferences and churches. You can connect with her on her Facebook page.