March 13, 2017
By Judy McSpadden
We often read stories about people from different walks of life doing good works for others: A soldier sacrifices for his country in a hazardous place. A mother adopts a homeless child. A teacher gives his students new skills and confidence.
It isn’t often that these stories converge as they did for Heavenly and Honesty, the last two daughters adopted by Lt. Col. Bruce and Cindy Brewer.
Bruce and Cindy, married 28 years, have 11 children – six biological sons and five adopted, multiracial daughters. Given the unusual number of children they have and the fact that Cindy and Bruce (a National Guard chaplain for 25 years) both have
doctoral degrees, one can imagine the interesting stories that could come from a family like this. In fact, a quick Google search turns up several articles about them with little effort.
At Our Military Kids, we’ll start the story with recent history. This coming Easter will mark the fourth anniversary of the adoption of Heavenly, age 10, and Honesty, age 12 — two kids who, along with five of their siblings, received OMK grants for activities. Like much about the Brewer family, this adoption happened in an unusual way. Utah law requires that children be placed in their new family’s custody for six months before the adoption can be finalized. Unfortunately, Bruce was scheduled to deploy to the Middle East with the National Guard just six weeks after Heavenly and Honesty joined the household.
“It was incredibly difficult,” said Cindy, who had already experienced the adoption process with their three youngest daughters
“There’s a lot of newness and fear for a child being adopted. Add to that the fact that Daddy is gone overseas, and Mom’s exhausted.”
Heavenly and Honesty’s case was unique in other ways, as well. Cindy and Bruce had considered adopting them seven years ago, when they were ages 2 and 4, but the adoption didn’t work out. Cindy said it was heartbreaking, but she had to move on without them. Then, three years later, the agency called again, and the girls eventually came back into their lives.
“Nothing about their lives had been stable,” said Cindy. “They had moved from place to place, school to school, always leaving their friends and toys behind.”
But the Brewers are “can-do” people, who appear to be used to taking on tough challenges. On the day when the adoption would be finalized in court, Cindy and the seven kids still living at home made their way to the court house, where they used an internet video chat to call Bruce at his deployed location. The proceedings were conducted online.
Once ensconced in their new lives, Heavenly and Honesty received their grants from OMK. Bruce, who has deployed several times totaling four years, said, “I can’t thank the OMK program enough for the amazing support given while I was deployed. Heavenly and Honesty had come from disadvantaged backgrounds; they had never been exposed to any extracurricular activities in their lifetimes. However, when my kids were involved in the OMK program, they had lots to look forward to and they developed new talents and interests that continue to this day.”
Cindy enrolled the two girls into an all-sports camp that would expose them to a variety of athletics. She said it was a real success.
“The grant provided something we couldn’t afford, especially after paying for adoption. The girls were able to achieve and learn things they had never done. They got to connect with responsible adult role models. They were doing something they could be proud of and tell Daddy about over the phone.”
As Easter approaches, the Brewers are residing on an Army post away from Utah for the first time. Bruce, a part-time Guardsman for most of his career, has accepted a full-time, 4-year, chaplain position with the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
According to Cindy, the kids love living on the post. Noting the multicultural nature of their neighborhood and the fact that there are lots of children to play with, she said, “This neighborhood is fabulous for my girls.”
International Women’s Day was recently celebrated to globally commemorate achievements of women. At OMK, it’s a good time to also recognize Heavenly and Honesty, these international daughters who have flourished when given attention, care and opportunity.