David and Stephanie met in 1991 at First Baptist Church Frisco through David’s sister, Cindy, who was Stephanie’s Sunday School teacher. Stephanie grew very close to Cindy and her family as she began babysitting Cindy’s son and daughter. David and Stephanie were only initially family friends who only saw each other at church when David came to visit his family since David was in college and Stephanie was in high school. Once Stephanie graduated high school and began college, their relationship forged into a friendship where they occasionally met up to hang out. However, all of that changed in November 1996 when David’s mother was in the end stages of terminal cancer. Stephanie rallied around David’s family and became a strong support and source of comfort to David. It was during this time that God made it abundantly clear that their relationship would become more than “just friends.” In the month that followed, they began praying and seeking God’s will and timing for their new dating relationship. A month later, in January 1997, David and Stephanie became engaged to be married. Over the next eight months, as Stephanie finished her senior year in college, they continued to seek the Lord in their relationship and prayed for ways to serve Him together. In September 1997, David and Stephanie were married.
Initially they did not want children, so David continued his career as an accountant and Stephanie began her career as a secondary English and Reading teacher. For the next four years they happily continued on their career paths and continued to pray that God would open doors for them to serve Him in a mighty way through their daily lives. In May 2001, Stephanie’s life was shattered when her brother, Shane, tragically passed away. During this time of unspeakable grief, David and Stephanie sought comfort in God and remained steadfast in their desire to serve Him. God, in return, began to change their hearts in relation to their views on having children. Within a few short months, Stephanie was pregnant with their first child. What started as an uneventful healthy pregnancy changed when Stephanie entered her second trimester. On December 23rd, during a routine sonogram, the Barnett’s were informed that their precious baby no longer had a heartbeat. They were completely devastated and in mourning, but found comfort in knowing that, without a doubt, their precious baby was in the arms of Jesus and that they would one day be reunited as a family. The Barnett’s also found solace as they continued to place their trust in God and believe that, in His Sovereignty, God still had a plan for them that included children.
In February 2002, the Lord led the Barnett’s to begin an apartment ministry and Stephanie took a leave from teaching to focus on the ministry full time. They absolutely loved the diverse apartment residents and cherished the fact that they were serving the Lord through ministering to this community. As they were serving, they could not help but feel that God was using this apartment ministry to prepare them for a bigger life-changing permanent ministry. They continued to pray and ask God to lead them where He wanted them to serve by opening the doors “to get there.”
On a Thursday night in April 2002, God widely opened the first door that would place David and Stephanie on their life ministry. Stephanie was on her way home from a ladies’ night out event for the apartment community when she received a call from a family member. This family member knew of a perfect blonde-haired newborn baby who needed a family because his birth mother was unable to care for him. Immediately, Stephanie told the family member that she and David wanted this baby! It was only after she hung up the phone did the word “adoption” form in her mind and sear into her heart. Her very next thought was, “Oh my goodness, I just committed to this baby and did not even consult David!” Oops! When David got home from work later that night, Stephanie informed him that he would be a daddy in a matter of days. Thankfully, David reacted with more enthusiasm over adopting their son than Stephanie did! Several days later, the Barnett’s became first time parents through the beautiful world of adoption. They named their precious gift from God Copeland Shane after David’s grandpa, Copeland, and Stephanie’s brother, Shane. It was at this moment David and Stephanie knew their family would be built through adoption and not biologically. They could not believe that God would bless them in this way and could not wait to see how He would grow their family!
In 2004, the Barnett’s moved to San Antonio and began to earnestly pray that God would once again open the doors to adopt another child. Stephanie had returned to the high school classroom by then and, in 2005, met a teenager with Down syndrome who changed her life forever. Although he was not Stephanie’s student, this amazing boy asked her to help him with his homework each morning. As Stephanie tutored him, she could not help but fall in love with him and marvel at just how perfectly and beautifully God had created him. So, for the next three years, David, Stephanie, and Copeland prayed that God would bless them with a child with Ds whom they could adopt. In 2008, their many prayers were answered when God blessed them with a beautiful blonde-haired hazel-eyed newborn baby with Down syndrome! God had now wonderfully added the words “Down syndrome” to the word “adoption” while building their family. They named their new son Silas Eli. In the New Testament, Silas was one of the first Christian missionaries who served beside the Apostle Paul. It was only fitting that they chose this name because this was the missionary journey that they had been praying for and that God had called them to. Eli was David’s grandpa’s middle name.
From the moment the Barnett’s brought Silas home, he absolutely rocked their world! They now knew that God would call them to adopt more children with Ds. In 2010, Stephanie happened to be reading her weekly People magazine when she came across an article about Andrea Roberts and why she was inspired to start Reece’s Rainbow. The Barnett’s lives were forever changed because of Andrea and RR. There were absolutely devastated and their hearts were broken when they learned that special needs babies are abandoned at hospitals as newborns and then sent to mental institutions by age three or four to live out the rest of their lives, with a large percentage of them dying within the first year of transfer as a result of malnourishment and mistreatment. They could not believe that the majority of people in this world could not see just how worthy and capable children and adults with special needs are. They immediately realized that God was calling them to action in order to show the world just how wonderful, worthy, and capable those with special needs are. The Barnett’s had living proof: Silas Eli.
Over the next few months, the Barnett’s found themselves praying about RR and growing their family again through “adoption” and “Down syndrome.” During Thanksgiving week 2010, Stephanie reached out to RR for the first time. She made contact with Andrea and implored about the possibility of adopting ONE boy from Ukraine. Over the next couple of weeks, God made it clear to the Barnett’s that they would be bringing home TWO boys from Ukraine as He led them to Igor’s and Tihon’s pictures and profiles on the RR website. As David, Stephanie, and Copeland prayed over their two boys’ pictures on RR each night, they could not help but scroll past the picture and profile of a tiny little girl named Leeza with both Ds and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Stephanie found herself literally knocked to her knees late each night for almost two weeks sobbing as she begged God to bring Leeza a mama through a forever family. Little did Stephanie know that she was actually praying for herself, David, Copeland, and Silas! Through a series of miraculous events, the Lord completely opened the doors for the Barnett’s to bring home THREE children. A few days after Christmas 2010, they officially committed to bringing home Igor, Tihon, and Leeza. In October of 2011, David and Stephanie landed on US soil with Igor (whom they named Teague Josiah), Tihon (whom they named Trenton James), and Leeza (whom they named Maclayne Faith – Mackie for short). The Lord had now graciously added the word “orphan” to the words “adoption” and “Down syndrome” as He continued to grow their family.
Now, a little over two years after bringing home Teague, Trenton, and Maclayne, the Lord has answered the Barnett’s prayers of adopting again by opening initial doors for them to bring home Felix, a tiny 10 year old boy with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe. They are absolutely head over heels in love with Felix and cannot wait to bring him home and officially make him a Barnett. Please join the Barnett’s on their journey through prayer and support as the Lord once again grows their family through “adoption,” “Down syndrome,” and “orphan.” The Barnett’s are forever blessed and humbled by all those who have joined and will join them on their beautiful journey to fulfill God’s calling for their lives and ministry. Thank you!
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. – Proverbs 3:27
2/4/2014—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at obedient2hiscommand.blogspot.com