Carmen George

12 children, 7 disabilities and 1 big happy Clovis family

Bryan and Tamera Wong of Clovis once had a very different plan for their life together.

The accountant and behavior analyst anticipated having two children and Tamera driving a convertible. But God had a different plan, they say, and it’s far better.

The couple has 12 children. Eight are adopted – seven with disabilities. Tamera drives a van that can seat 15 people, and she couldn’t be happier.

Their eldest biological daughter, Breanna, 20, had a hand in the adoptions. At age 6, she asked her parents a big question as they collected items to send to an orphanage in Mexico:

“Mom, we’re gathering all these clothes and toys for orphans, but isn’t what orphans really need just a family?”

They prayed over her question, and it led them to adopt a healthy baby girl, Brooklyn, from an orphanage in China in 2004.

“While we were in China adopting Brooklyn, we asked to go see an orphanage, and when we saw the orphanage, it shocked us,” Tamera says. “It really shook us up. … There were all of these kids, and very few workers to help these babies.”

After that, they started looking for children with the most needs.

That led to the adoption of Blythe, 17, Bethany, 10, Braxton, 10, Bayley, 8, Bella, 7, Beka-Joy, 4, and Bennett, 4.

Four are missing limbs, and two have spina bifida – a birth defect where the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly.

Blythe has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder, and was facing another kind of challenge when the Wongs adopted her at age 13. Many orphaned girls end up on the streets and falling prey to human trafficking and prostitution, the Wongs say, because Chinese orphanages only care for children up to age 14.

All their children were adopted from China. The conditions orphans face there and Bryan’s half-Chinese heritage compelled them to adopt from the country. They don’t plan to adopt more children – although they thought they were done adopting after each new child they brought home. Then, they’d spot another on an adoption list or in an orphanage who captured their hearts.

At their Clovis home last week, the siblings were busy playing board games, watching movies, and giving each other piggy-back rides. Three of the children missing limbs are in gymnastics and did cartwheels and flips around the house.

“I feel joyful because it’s fun to play games with them,” Braxton says. “I love them.”

He says he has “good parents” who are fun and “do great things for me.”

Bella really likes that they cook her bacon a lot.

“We think we are saving these kids and we’re helping them out, and really, they truly blessed us,” Bryan says. “We’re able to learn many things through them.”

Tamera says the children remind them of their “adoption through Christ” – that “we are adopted sons and daughters of God.”

“It reminds us of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, that we’re dependent on Him, we need Him, we need to be saved, we need someone to rescue us. It’s just a beautiful picture every day to remind us of our own need for rescue.”

Bryce, 16, one of the Wongs’ biological children, loves his big family.

“The Bible says we should love the orphans of the world, and I feel like we are pretty much doing that,” Bryce says. “We got that one down.”

He’s proud of his parents.

“I think they are definitely following God’s word, taking action. Not just listening, but doing.”

Bryan and Tamera say their adopted children give them “front-row seats to everyday miracles.”

“We wake up in the morning and we know exactly what we are called to do,” Tamera says. “There is no question during the day … that’s a huge blessing.”

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge