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Five adopted girls bring new experiences to pastor’s family

 


Five adopted girls bring new experiences to pastor’s family

 

June 4, 2004                       

 

A UMNS Feature

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

 

When the Goughs married in 1973, Paula told Mark she wanted a dozen children.

He thought she was kidding.

Thirty-one years later, they have nine children and are hoping to bring the 10th one home to Indiana soon.

The boys, Nathaniel, Gavin, Tyler and Joshua, are the Goughs’ biological children. They range in age from 18 to 29.

Carroline, twins Julienne and Lareesa, and Natalee and Alanna are the Goughs’ adopted children, all from Eastern Europe. They range in age from 2 to 6. The Goughs are trying to adopt Carroline’s older sister, Valentina.

Growing up as an only child, Paula says she always “longed for siblings.”

 

“My mother is elderly now, and I just wish I had a sibling to share the burden with. I guess my kids won’t have that burden,” she says, laughing. “They are never bored; they always have a playmate.”

Mark and Paula were in their late 40s when they adopted their first daughter, and they have spent thousands of dollars to bring the children to the United States.

“I have borrowed from every source I can borrow from, second-mortgaged houses, borrowed from my pension program. You name it, and I am still paying it back,” Mark jokes.

He admits a lot of people think he’s a little crazy. “But when they meet our girls, they know we are not crazy,” he says. The girls “are just as sweet as they can be.”

Mark is pastor at Goshen (Ind.) First United Methodist Church. Before moving to Goshen, he was pastor of Taylor Chapel United Methodist in Fort Wayne, Ind., for nine years. It was while he was at Taylor Chapel that the adoptions began. Soon, his whole congregation was supporting an orphanage in the Ukraine, which was where he and Paula got their second daughter, Natalee.

After the birth of their sons, the Goughs experienced fertility problems. Mark says both he and Paula reached midlife feeling their lives were incomplete.

“We knew there were children out there that needed a home, that needed a family to love them, and we had a lot of love left and we wanted to provide that for some girls,” he says.  “God opened the doors, and we were able to do that.”

Mark says there is a difference between raising daughters and raising sons. The girls are a lot more loving and caring “and all that stuff” than the boys were, he says.

“The part that is most difficult with girls versus boys is the pitch of the voice,” Mark says, laughing. “The girls scream more than boys ever screamed. That is something we had to get used to, that screaming stuff that went on — squealing that is happy but still drives you crazy.”

As an older father, Mark feels he has a lot more experience and time to give to his children.

“I believe at this point I give a lot more time to my children than I did when I was trying to build a career and move forward and do all the things you are suppose to do when you are 20 and 30.

“Right now, being able to just sit down and rock a child without having to worry about anything else, that’s the most important thing in my life, versus all the other stuff that I thought was important.”

“Mark is really hands-on,” Paula says. “There is nothing he won’t do. In fact, he is really better with their hair than I am. He is involved and caring. We don’t divide up our roles at all; whoever is there just does what needs to be done.”

Mark credits Carroline with saving his life.

For each adoption, the Goughs must present the authorities with medical information on themselves. While adopting Carroline, Mark learned he had prostate cancer.

“My wife told me, ‘We can stop this,’ and I said, ‘No, the reason I found this was because of Carroline and I am not going to leave her over there now.’”

Two of their sons still live with them, and Gavin, 20, says “there is never a dull moment.”

“When they first started adopting, we (the sons) thought it was really cool,” Gavin says. “It was really fun having a little sister in the house. But then it went from one to two, and about on the third one we started wondering what was going on,” he jokes.

 

Five adoptions later, he still thinks it is “really neat having little sisters running around.”

Alanna is the first girl in Mark’s family in 55 years.

Paula says she is open to adopting either boys or girls, but Mark wants more girls.

“I really don’t know what the future will hold,” Paula says. “Alanna is requesting a baby brother next time…”

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

News media contact: Kathy Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

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