Meet a Family with 17 Children!
Dave and Mandy Litzke (pictured above with 16 of their children) believe God put them here on earth for 3 main reasons—1) to love Jesus, 2) to show their scars, and 3) to tell their story.
So here is their incredible story of God’s faithfulness to their family—
The Litzke family’s story begins with heartache.
Mandy was born in a small town in Georgia to a family suffering the effects of poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse. This resulted in neglect and abuse of every form. Her family portrait was not one of hope and happiness.
My mother had entered into a second marriage—not derived from love, but driven by desperation to care for her children.
Every day was a struggle to survive. One day, my stepfather’s rage and violence started—like every other day—but this time, it cost my mother her life. And it happened right before my eyes. A day and a half later, when the police came to the house, they found my mother’s body—beaten and strangled—and in the corner, they found a little girl who was shivering, abandoned, and battered.
I was fearful to be touched but desperate to be loved.
I entered into the foster care system and was passed from home to home until a family welcomed me in and decided to fight for me. This family loved and kept loving me no matter what. They would choose to see beyond my behaviors, pouring into who they believe I was created to be for the purpose and plan that God had in store for me.
Through their love and nurturing, I would learn of the greatest love in the world—through Jesus Christ. So I was adopted twice—once into their family, and once into God’s family.
Now, God has invited and equipped our family to an unimaginable journey of faith and obedience to live out loud James 1:27, caring for the vulnerable; inviting me into sacred spaces to continue my own healing as I allow God to use my scars as agents of healing in the lives of others.
Through years of healing and trauma repair, by His grace, God transformed my utter brokenness into beauty, taking what the Enemy meant for evil and using it for good (Genesis 50:20).
A Divine Tapestry
Mandy and I were first blessed with 2 beautiful, “home-grown” children. And then God called us out on the ride of our lives to this journey called adoption, Through steps of faith and obedience, constant prayer, and total reliance on Him, God strategically grew our family with 15 additional “heart-grown treasures” through international and domestic adoption.
We currently have 17 children—9 of whom have mild-to-moderate special needs. Our family is happy, organized chaos.
We GET to do this!
Our family motto is, “We put our yes on the table and THEN God asks the questions.” It’s a daily choice to surrender to His plan for our lives and the lives of our children.
One of our big yes’s involved welcoming two beautiful girls from Armenia into our family. God pierced our hearts and invited us to once again say yes to two special treasures with Down Syndrome. We knew our yes was to adopt, but we knew the adoption fees for one would be costly, and potentially a barrier. But TWO adoptions?
We began to pray specifically for provision because we knew it would only be through His providence (a.k.a., a miracle) that this could ever happen. And we knew if God called us to it, He would be faithful to provide and bring us through it—we just didn’t know how.
We shared the news with special friends, and they celebrated with us. They devoted themselves to a time of prayer over our family and asked God for direction for what He would have them do personally. Their response to us was, “Your yes is to adopting these two beautiful girls. Our yes is being obedient to help you do it.”
So in 2007, Lifesong distributed $54,000 through an adoption grant from a Lifesong Adoption Fund Partner. Through the joint efforts of these incredible friends and Lifesong, we brought Aliyah and Kiara home to their forever family where they teach us, stretch us, challenge us, and inspire us every day.
Fast-forward a few years, and God would whisper to our hearts again through that familiar tug. Once again, the barrier would be funding, but once again, Lifesong would be the lifeline God would use to bring our son home.
Through our adoption experiences, we have also learned that not only does it “take a village to raise a child,” but it quite often “takes a child to raise a village” bringing people together to fulfill God’s plan … God’s way.
Life is hard. God is faithful.
I see the evidence of God’s goodness all over my life. In all of my history, His faithfulness has walked beside me.
Over the past few years, the struggles have seemed intense. Together as a family, we have battled cancer with our daughter, who continues treatment today; we have often fought for the life of our medically fragile son, Noah. (Just to give you a glimpse into our world … Noah has been in the hospital 8 times this year, a total of 106 days this year alone.)
However, every day we’ve been given with him is a miracle and beats the odds that were presented to us almost 5 years ago.
This past February, after a vigorous road of seeking mental wellness, we lost our beloved son, Christian, by suicide.
An Invitation to Step Into Their Story
We continue to grieve, yet we continue to believe God will redeem even a tragic loss like this. We remain intentional to celebrate Christian’s life and not allow his suffering to be in vain by staying silent. And we will speak up against the stigma of mental illness and suicide prevention. Though our time together was short, and our hearts long for our son’s embrace, the importance of our yes in his life is no less. Knowing he was chosen, adopted, and unconditionally love mattered.
We continue to thank God for every day we were granted and shared together.
Though the adoption journey is difficult, the lessons and growth experienced by all are irreplaceable; the joy of Jesus amidst the sorrow—is our foundation.
You may be asking: Knowing what you know right now—all the energy, effort, money, sacrifices, hospital trips, emotions, losses—would you still adopt? Would you still adopt 15 children?
Our response remains a resounding, faithful YES.
Life is messy. Adoption can be messy. Caring for vulnerable kids is messy. In the messy, miraculous, or mundane, God remains faithful and He’s inviting us to step into their story.
Here’s what we know: Messy does not mean mistake. Redemption is costly. Yet we know God wastes nothing and will “restore all the years the locusts have stolen.”
God is faithful.
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93% of families who apply to Lifesong for adoption financial assistance would be unable to adopt without financial help. Lack of funds prevents many families from starting the adoption process, and far too many children in the world are left to grow up alone.
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