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Couple adopts five from a place called 'liberty'


Couple adopts five from a place called 'liberty'

By Chris Birke | cbirke@secc.org

Alicia Ahlers studied the word "liberty" for two and a half years.

She closely examined the liberty Jesus Christ offers and how people have freedom to choose God’s will. She loved the word so much she named her youngest daughter Liberty.

When she and her husband, Glenn, decided to adopt older children from West Africa, "God showed us why liberty was so important to us."

The couple learned about the thousands of orphans in Liberia. Right away, Alicia believed that would be where she’d find her children.

She learned that Liberia means "place of liberty" and knew they were being called there.

The Ahlers, who have seven home-schooled biological children, ages 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15 and 17, said they used to think they had a large family.

"I guess we thought we had a big family because that’s what people told us," Alicia said. "But as soon as we decided to adopt, we started to think of our family as small. We believe God grew our hearts to receive more."

With the help of Children Concerned, a non-profit missionary aid organization that helps Christian families adopt from Liberia, the Ahlers decided to adopt five children.

During mission trips, the Ahlers fell in love with the children and returned from Africa "forever changed from the experience."

"I went there thinking, ‘How can I help change Africa?’ but Africa helped change me," Glenn said. "There are a dozen more faces that I’d like to see around my table, and if I had more money, and enough time to be a great dad to each child, I’d go and get every one of them."

For now, the Ahlers, who are members of Southeast, are getting the five they recently adopted settled into their 7,000 square-foot home in Pendleton, Ky.

On Oct. 5, Botianna, 17, Andrew, 15, Lightning, 14, Cherish, 12, and Kabiera, 11, arrived in Louisville, escorted by Pastor Edward Kofi. (Read Kofi’s story on page A1).

Kofi is founder of African Christians Fellowship International (ACFI) which runs four orphanages in Liberia, including the country’s only orphanage for deaf children. The children are the victims of war and the orphanages are places of refuge.

The Ahlers, the first couple in Kentucky to adopt children from Liberia, are in the process of adopting one more.

"I have a 15-passenger van. Our plan is to fill it up," said Glenn through a grin. He quickly added that he takes the adoption of the children seriously and realizes there will be difficult days ahead.

"I know our family will have challenges, but I also believe these children want to be successful," he said. "They grew up in a Christian orphanage so the foundation is there. They are extremely grateful to be part of a family and we’re blessed to have them."

Alicia agrees. "Tough times may come, but I’ll never regret adopting these children," she said. "I often hear people say they regret not having more children, but you never regret the children you have. I already can’t imagine my life without these five."

Shepherd Ahlers, 17, said he and the rest of the couple’s biological children "were totally on board with the adoptions."

"How could I not have been?" he asked. "My life is for Christ and I believe this is what He has for our family."

His sister, Prayse Ahlers, 15, was excited about the adoptions from the beginning.

"We knew going in that there would be no room for us to be selfish," she said. "You have to learn to give a lot but you also learn to love doing it."

The Ahlers said their newly adopted children still are trying to figure out "the little things" in their new culture.

"They still don’t understand how there can be such an abundance of food. They were blown away when the woman at the grocery store handed them free samples." And, she said, they screamed while riding up the Southeast glass elevator like they were on a roller coaster. They were scared of the escalator, too. "There are just so many things they’ve never been exposed to."

Alicia said she believes God will compel more couples to adopt children from Liberia. "I believe there are hundreds of families in Kentucky that God may be preparing for adoption from Liberia."

And, Alicia also believes at least one of her adopted children will one day return to Liberia.

"They’re not going to forget their country, and so it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of them go back to their homeland as missionaries."

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2006 Jan 11