Hello! My name is Brandon Sammons. My wife and I have 4 children: Prince, Sophia, Micah and Adyline. While my wife did not give physical birth to Prince, we feel so strongly attached to him and love him as if she had given birth to him (which she tells him from time to time J). My wife has a heart the size of Texas, and she has taught me so much and allowed my heart and my faith to grow so much. Dinner for 25? The more the merrier she says. The compassionate and welcoming spirit she has cannot be rivaled by many. The two of us combined, with our skills, knowledge and willingness to let God lead the way, have rarely found a situation we can’t somehow figure out. The best example I can give you is our adoption of Prince.
Let me start with January 2, 2012.
I had heard from a guy that I coached basketball with that there was a kid looking into the school that I teach and coach at, and hopefully coming there. I was told this young man was from Nigeria, but more importantly, that he had recently lost his mother and father. I had heard a little about him over Christmas break, but this piece of info along with the fact that the person he was currently staying with was trying to find a family to adopt him made me pause and think. My wife and I had always said we thought someday we would adopt or foster, as we felt that was a calling God had placed on our lives. I texted my wife, as I had already told her a few pieces of info about him in casual conversation, “They are trying to find a family to take this kid in.” Her response to me, “Why don’t we do it?”
At that moment our lives were immediately changed.
We talked that night for a few hours about what it would look like and how things would change to bring a 15 year old boy from Nigeria into our single income, small farmhouse with a 4, 3 and 1 year old in it. We talked about what a boy in his situation, who had been in America for only a few months, would need to be successful, how he would need to be supported and cared for with everything he had been through in leaving his country to pursue his dreams and then losing his parents. We talked about the protection he would need and guidance he would need to learn how things work in America and how to nurture his faith and trust in God. We prayed fervently for the next couple of days about what God would have us do. The timeline was very compressed in this situation, so we had to make decisions in a very short time and trust God to wisely lead us in this great adventure. Prince came to live with us on January 8, 2012. Immediately, our little ones took to him and could be found most afternoons climbing on him and gazing up at him, as he was literally larger than life at 6 feet 7 inches.
Our journey in figuring out how adoption worked with his unique situation was no cake walk. We fought, we battled, and we hit road block after road block. Many days, I wondered what God’s plan was in all of this. I wondered how all of this was going to work out. Many days I would drive to work with tears in my eyes due to bad news in the process, or not knowing what the next step would be. All along I leaned on God and the only thing that pulled me through some days was my music in the car on KLove, Star 93.3 or my worship cd’s. I had people tell me we were crazy, a lawyer told us to send him back to Nigeria, but finally we found a Godly woman who would ultimately lead us through the process of gaining custody, processing for naturalization, and then legal adoption in our home state about 15 months after he moved in with us. The process was full of turmoil around us, but our family, now including Prince, became stronger through all of the nay saying, the doubting, those against us, and especially the long odds. We truly felt a call from God to step into this situation in the beginning. We felt His presence throughout the process. We came across Godly people who opened doors for us to navigate this very confusing path. We felt His love when everything seemed to be going wrong and seemingly impossible. We knew that Romans 8:31 was true, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
So many times throughout the process we wondered how we were going to be able to complete the next step, make the next deadline, or come up with the funds necessary to proceed. We knew God’s plan was sovereign and that He was in control. My wife has the saying, “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.” We did our best to be good stewards and to be proactive and prepared, but all along the process we knew we would be relying on God and His strength, His love, and His provision for things to be complete, as we knew going into this there would be challenges that we could not handle on our own and would have to lean heavily on God. This is why we prayed over this decision early and often, for God to be with us, to be part of this process and to lead us in every step.
Early on in learning about Prince and hearing from him about his homeland of Nigeria and the family he left behind to come to America and pursue his dreams, we learned about the brothers he left back home. He has a sister, older brothers and younger brothers, but with the passing of his parents (at separate times) his eldest brother who was still in the home was left to care for and lead the rest. The two youngest, Emmanuel and Izuchukwu, have always been heavy on Prince’s heart. He worries for them as they are the youngest, and were roughly 7 and 5 when he left home. In a land where jobs are hard to come by, money is sparse and thus eating is not always an everyday thing. Prince has talked to them on the phone and heard their cries of hunger. They have begged him to send food. We have done what we can to help when we can and it has helped, but hasn’t always been enough. Prince longs to see them again, and has asked us in the past if there was any way to bring them here. We didn’t believe it was possible until now.
The thought of being able to help these two young boys and nurture their faith and trust in God, and help them become men of strength, character, integrity and warriors for God is a driving force along with reuniting Prince with some of his family. They are orphans. They do not have their earthly mother and father anymore, but the love of a family pulling for each other is what we hope to give them by bringing them into our family and back with their brother. Helping them have opportunity, giving them security of knowing they will have a meal at their next sitting, knowing they will get education and not having to worry about if they can pay the rent each month are things we want to provide them. They currently are being cared for by their older brothers who are in their early 20’s. I know they love their younger brothers, but thinking about having to do that at that age would be a daunting task. Giving them the opportunity to pursue careers and find a livelihood while knowing their younger brothers are being cared for and reunited with another brother would be very comforting.
We recently received pictures of the boys and it was a very special moment. Prince was full of joy when he was able to see the pictures of them after so much time away. Seeing those pictures made the situation all the more real and gave us joy to think about the possibilities and the fact that could be here in as little as 6 months if we can fund it.
We have looked into the possibilities of bringing them here but always to find it denied in one way or another. We met a man from Nigeria last fall who was in America on business with Back2Back Ministries, a great organization that I have been on two mission trips with previously. He came over for dinner one night and he and Prince enjoyed the fellowship with each other. He has been in contact with my wife, Betsy, since we met last fall and recently reached out and told her after looking into the process he has found how it can be done, but that the cost would be heavy. He told us the cost of the adoption alone in Nigeria would be $20,000 plus costs for him to travel and gather information, attend necessary appointments and handle things for us there, as well as flights for the boys here to America and then back for them and us for court appointments to grant final adoption after a probationary period. On top of this will be the costs here in America to file necessary paperwork, court dates and other items required to finalize all citizenship issues and documents for living here.
Our lives have been forever changed by the addition of Prince to our family. Seeing God’s blessings on my family and the mentality our children have in accepting others and how much they love their big brother Prince is a sight to behold. I have been stretched as a father and a man in this process. My faith has been strengthened as well as my trust in God. Betsy has learned deeper patience and gratitude for family and thanks for God’s gifts to us. The outlook our biological children have on helping others and compassion for people is so fun to watch. All of this is impacted by the journey we have been on over the last three plus years since Prince has moved in with us. Prince will graduate this coming school year and has made such awesome strides in school, and is a straight A student. He will continue on in college as a scholarship athlete, which is a huge blessing for him and his future. He has dreams of becoming a doctor or pursuing engineering as a career, but is in no rush as he is enjoying his high school days.
Our excitement in this situation is tempered in reality, but we are cautiously optimistic. Our young ones keep asking when they can have another brother. They are anxiously waiting to see if this can be done and if we can raise the money to afford it. My wife has since begun working again, but we are not in a situation to be able to afford this kind of endeavor on our own. My wife loves being a mother to her biological children and her adopted children. Our hearts are open to these two young boys and we pray for them often. We truly believe that God has placed this desire on our hearts and that He will lead us in this and finding our way through it whether through fundraising, bringing extra jobs, or stretching money to meet needs.
We thank you for taking the time to read about our journey so far and we hope that you will pray for this situation. Our greatest need in this whole situation is for prayer and for God to lead us and be present in this situation. If you feel compelled to join us and partner with us in this journey any contribution is much appreciated. We know that we are the hands and feet of Christ and that He cares for the orphans and widows. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions of how you can help or anything we can clarify for you. God bless!