Pastor Steven Broers and his wife Kristy welcomed a young Stephen into their world amid emotions of great anticipation and excitement, yet they felt overwhelmed. That's probably how any young parent would recount such an event.
Steven Maldea, now 6 1/2 years old, is one of four children the Broers have. He lives with cerebral palsy and was adopted by the Broers from an orphanage in the Philippines at age 4.
November has been National Adoption Month.
The Broers went into the adoption somewhat blindly in terms of knowing Stephen's medical history.
"They said he had global developmental delays, which is very normal for a child who has been institutionalized for four years," Steven said. "That just means that in more than one area he has developmental delays."
Welcoming Stephen home were the Broers' three biological children — Sophia, Micah and Malachi. Instead of raising a fuss, all three have warmly embraced their younger brother, who has been given an additonal middle name to follow a family pattern of the boys all having Old Testament Biblical names. The parents chose Isaiah.
"We were concerned with how the other kids would do when we brought Stephen home and he'd be drooling or not talking or interacting, but they had the most beautiful hearts about it. They made us so proud," Kristy said. "They love on Stephen in some beautiful ways and it's not something we really needed to work on with them."
Steven and Kristy were able to establish a more thorough medical assessment of Stephen soon after he came home through a trip he took to the emergency room with an intestinal infection. Stephen has since received medical care at places like Blank Childrens Hospital in Des Moines and Joliet Children's Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.
Stephen, who attends preschool and receives great attention and care at Nodaway Valley, also receives therapy of many kinds twice weekly at ChildServe in Johnston.
"We're very blessed with all God has lined up for us in how to care for Stephen so that he can be the best him that he can be," Kristy said.
Steven and Kristy started the process of adoption the year Stephen was born, though they originally were looking in Ethiopia to adopt a child from there. They worked through All God's Children International. Once that organization closed Ethiopia as a choice, and the country eventually also closed its doors to international adoption, other avenues were explored and Stephen came home to the Broers.
Kristy always wanted to adopt, after she saw the love displayed by a family in her childhood 4-H club who had adopted a child from South Korea.
Steven came from a much different school of thought.
"I didn't want to and it didn't make sense to me. We already had a 1-year old at home that Kristy was overwhelmed with and she was already talking about adoption," he remembers. "I was leading a Bible study at church and [through that] I ended up deciding that I needed to follow my wife if God was leading her."
Though one of the biggest criticisms or questions Steven and Kristy are presented with is why they adopted outside the United States, they saw adopting Stephen as a chance to meet a need. They felt called to be the ones to meet the need no matter where the need called home.
"I'm not saying there's anything wrong with adopting [from the United States], but this was a child needing a home," Steven said. "It doesn't matter to me whether it's international or not, but there are many people who don't like the idea of us adopting internationally."
The special needs Stephen lives with weren't a hindrance either.
"When you have a child biologically, you don't get to choose. If he was our own, when he was born we would've loved him the same," Steven said. "It seemed like we could do that."