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Special Easter blessing

Katie Jean Wentland.

Those three words bring smiles to the faces of Sammy and Lisa Wentland as big and bright as the sparkling eyes of two-year-old Katie Jean.

At long last, the papers have been signed and little Katie Jean is their baby girl.

“On March 31, 2009, the adoption was final and all of the anxiety and worry of the past two years was finally over,” Lisa Wentland said.

Lisa’s eyes get a bit misty when she talks about the obstacles that had to be overcome to make the dream of family come true.

“It’s been a long time,” she said.

“But through it all, I always believed that it would happen. I think God had His hand in this from the beginning.”

And it would seem that way.

In March 2007, a young mother, unknown to the Wentlands, came into their lives, either by chance or divine plan.

Lisa and Sammy believe it was by divine plan.

In the mother’s arms was a three-month old “precious little” girl.

“We didn’t know her but we knew the person she was with,” Sammy said.

“She said she needed somebody to look after her baby while she looked for a job.”

Lisa agreed. One day passed and another and, slowly, the days drifted by.

“There are times when a mother doesn’t have the means to care for her baby,” Lisa said.

“We were just blessed that we were the ones there when she needed someone to do it for her.”

Sammy was as “taken” with the blond baby as his wife was.

“We had always wanted a little girl,” he said.

“Lisa had cared for a friend’s little girl until she started kindergarten. When she did, Lisa was lost. She had gotten so attached to the little girl. We had two boys but we thought it would be nice to have a little girl around the house.”

When the opportunity came in the person of Katie Jean, Sammy said there was never any doubt that they wanted her to be a part of their family.

“We were excited and we loved her from the start,” he said.

Lisa said the little blond, blue-eye baby won her heart the first time she held her.

“The thought of her being put in a foster home was something that I couldn’t bear,” she said.

“We’re not rich but we knew that we could give her a good home and all the love in the world.”

Sammy and Lisa have two sons, Thomas, who was 19 at the time Katie came into their lives, and A.J. then 15.

“We had the boys to think about, too,” Lisa said.

“We knew that it would be a big change in all our lives.”

The boys would not have nine months to prepare to share their parents and their home with a baby. The time was then.

“At first it was real different,” A.J. said.

“But it didn’t take long before it was just like Katie had always been here.”

But there was a lot of paperwork and red tape to contend with before Katie Jean could wear the name Wentland.

“There’s a long process and until those final papers are signed, there’s always a chance that something could change,” Lisa said.

“There were background checks done on all of us and we had to be fingerprinted and interviewed. The social workers had to make a lot of home visits. It seemed like it would never end.”

The weeks turned into months and the months into a year and more.

As time went on, Katie became more and more a part of the Wentland family.

“Katie was our world and we didn’t know what we would do without her,” Sammy said. “But all we could do was wait.”

Lisa knows what it’s like to wait, worry and pray over a child.

Thomas has tuberous sclerosis so she’s done her share of worrying and praying but she also has the confidence that things will work out in God’s time.

“I knew the adoption would happen. I just didn’t know when,” she said.

“But Judge Bill Stone had handled our case and he said he wanted to clear his desk before he retired on March 31. If he didn’t, we might have had to wait another year or two. We really appreciate him doing that for us. I think that was one of the last things he did as Pike County’s probate judge. Our adoption of Katie Jean is final and it will be sealed for 19 years.”

The Wentlands will tell Katie Jean that she is adopted when she is old enough to understand.

But they know that she is as much a part of their hearts, their family and their home as if she were their biological daughter.

“It doesn’t matter who brings you into this world,” Lisa said.

“What matters is who loves you and takes care of you and we all love Katie and will do all that we can to take care of her, now and always.”