HER Style

Two sis­ters share in the joy of adop­tion

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tog­ra­phy by Grace Brown

The con­cept of a fam­ily varies from house­hold to house­hold. For some, a fam­ily can be as con­crete as a blood re­la­tion, but for oth­ers, it ex­tends far be­yond that and en­com­passes in­di­vid­u­als who share a kin­dred spirit. The lat­ter hap­pens to be the case for two lo­cal fam­i­lies. Their bond tran­scends the tra­di­tional no­tions of a nu­clear fam­ily, with a foun­da­tion built on their in­tan­gi­ble love for one an­other.

For sis­ters An­nie Mas­sanelli and Becca Oh­man, the ques­tion of adopt­ing was never a ques­tion to be­gin with, but an an­swer to their prayers and an inkling that they were cre­ated to serve a much big­ger pur­pose. Al­though the sis­ters did not plan on both of them adopt­ing chil­dren, the ex­pe­ri­ence al­lowed them to share in the joys and hard­ships that brought their adopted chil­dren into their lives.

An­nie Mas­sanelli and her hus­band, Tim, first con­sid­ered adop­tion be­fore they even mar­ried. They shared a car­ing na­ture that even­tu­ally led them to adopt their son Au­gust and later, his bi­o­log­i­cal sis­ter, Carolyn Chris­tine, “CC.”

The cou­ple chose to go through a pri­vate adop­tion at­tor­ney out of north­west Arkansas. Mas­sanelli said the ini­tial process was slightly over­whelm­ing due to the ar­ray of op­tions they had at their dis­posal as far as how they wished to adopt. Mas­sanelli said prayers were sent up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and tears came of­ten, but they kept their faith.

“Over­all the hard­est part of adop­tion for us was stay­ing pa­tient and keep­ing the faith while we were wait­ing,” she said.

Even­tu­ally, a friend aware of their de­sire to adopt steered them in the di­rec­tion that they felt fit their needs best. Nine months af­ter ham­mer­ing out all the fine de­tails with their at­tor­ney, Au­gust Mas­sanelli was born.

“When our son was born, my hus­band was out of town, so I kept him com­pany un­til Tim ar­rived. When I first met him, I put Au­gust in the hospi­tal bed with me and talked to him all day and night about his fam­ily and how he was our wish come true. Our con­nec­tion was in­stant,” she said.

Just a short time later, the cou­ple re­ceived word that Au­gust’s bi­o­log­i­cal mother was preg­nant and wanted the Mas­sanel­lis to be­come the adop­tive par­ents of her child once more.

“There was no thought process when adopt­ing CC. The an­swer was just yes. Our love for Au­gust was not sta­tion­ary. We knew adopt­ing him meant adopt­ing his bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily in a sense,” she said.

This time around, An­nie was inside the de­liv­ery room when CC was born. To­day, the fam­ily en­joys a nor­mal life just like any­one else. Au­gust is an ac­tive 5-year-old who loves sports, build­ing houses just like dad and ter­ror­iz­ing his lit­tle sis­ter, while CC en­joys paint­ing her nails, play­ing in the dirt with her brother and any­thing that sparkles.

As her sis­ter’s jour­ney through adop­tion and be­com­ing a mom was on­go­ing, Becca’s jour­ney was be­gin­ning. Af­ter the tragic death of her still­born daugh­ter and the late mis­car­riage of her son, Becca and her hus­band Cory were reel­ing from two dev­as­tat­ing losses in the same year.

“Our hearts felt open to grow­ing our fam­ily, how­ever God guided us,” said Oh­man.

“Our home group at Lake Val­ley Com­mu­nity Church hosted a Christ­mas party for the chil­dren at Hill­crest Chil­dren’s Home the same year of our losses. We met a beau­ti­ful young lady, Markeda, that night and it was like she was in­scribed on our hearts. We didn’t know it un­til sev­eral months later that we were des­tined to be a fam­ily.”

When they met Markeda, she was a ju­nior in high school. Al­though she had al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced the bulk of her young life with­out them, she still had an abun­dance of ex­pe­ri­ences she wished to share with her new fam­ily.

Due to her age, Markeda was never for­mally adopted, but ac­cepted into their fam­ily and em­braced as one of their own chil­dren. At the age of 17, Markeda went to live with the Oh­mans as her new host fam­ily.

The time they spent to­gether deep­ened the bond be­tween them. An­nie was able to help Markeda pre­pare for her home­com­ing court nom­i­na­tion, which so­lid­i­fied their feel­ings and led Markeda to choose to move in with them upon grad­u­at­ing high school.

“We at­tended a beau­ti­ful grad­u­a­tion party for Markeda and her friends and at the end, Markeda came home to her new home with us. It was a very sur­real mo­ment that is dif­fi­cult to cat­e­go­rize or de­scribe. We all felt from the be­gin­ning that al­though we had no idea where God would take our re­la­tion­ship, we knew our hearts were knit­ted to­gether,” Oh­man said.

“As ‘ par­ents,’ we were open to be­ing what­ever Markeda, as a young adult, needed from us, be it men­tors, par­ents, friends or an aunt and un­cle. We tried not to la­bel our roles or to place bound­aries on them be­cause this was un­charted wa­ter for us.”

To­day, Markeda serves in the U.S. Army and is ex­pect­ing her first child with fi­ancé Travis Wid­mer. Oh­man said she, her hus­band and two bi­o­log­i­cal sons, Grady and Peter, are ecstatic to wel­come the new baby into the world and their fam­ily.

“Cory and I had ab­so­lutely no idea how to be par­ents to a 17-year-old young woman who is now a 21-yearold ex­pec­tant mother. God has stayed true to His word and His pro­vi­sion has been made,” said Oh­man.

On the other side of it all, the sis­ters have both learned valu­able lessons from their shared ex­pe­ri­ence, the most im­por­tant be­ing un­con­di­tional, fear­some love. Al­though their de­ci­sion to adopt has brought on chal­lenges, each fam­ily takes them in stride.

“For us cur­rently rais­ing in­quis­i­tive lit­tle ones, we are del­i­cately ex­plain­ing our fam­ily story and why we look dif­fer­ent than most fam­i­lies we are around,” said Mas­sanelli.

“I strug­gle with the tragedy that a fam­ily was sep­a­rated but I am hum­bled and grate­ful for the priv­i­lege to be their ‘mommy.’”

Tim, back left, an­nie, CC and au­gust Mas­sanelli, Markeda ervilus, becca, Cory, Peter and Grady Oh­man

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