Family Forever: Brad and Bridget Michaels’ Story

Family Forever: Brad and Bridget Michaels’ Story

by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:4, 5, ESV).

Brad Michaels grew up on a farm in Sandusky County, Ohio, and was homeschooled from fifth grade through high school. His wife Bridget grew up in a church where having 75 people in attendance was a good Sunday. She was also homeschooled during her middle school and high school years. Brad and Bridget met at the Christian Home Educators of Ohio graduation ceremony in the summer of 1997, were engaged in October 1997, and married in August 2000. They didn’t know if they would ever be able to have any children. But now their quiver is full of them.

Embracing Not Normal

Bridget explains, “One of our biggest challenges as a couple has been dealing with infertility for our entire marriage, including our only pregnancy ending in a miscarriage in 2018. Dealing with infertility brings about so many emotions. Loneliness, doubt, isolation, failure, and inferiority are just the tip of the painful emotions that come along with being infertile. We knew that God had a plan for building our family, it just wasn’t going to be the ‘normal’ way. Someone once told us that the pain and tears of our infertility was just to ‘give birth’ to our family.”

Beginning in 2007, Brad and Bridget were foster parents for a total of fourteen children in ten years. The twins Josh and John were their third placement, from November 2007 until May of 2008, when they were placed in a different home for kinship care. Gregory, Elaina, and Brianna were their fourth placement, coming just one week after the twins left. Bridget says, “I had to talk Brad into taking in three kids at one time because prior to that we had only had sibling groups of two.”

In January 2009, the twins came back to their home and they had five kids under the age of four. Bridget says, “God knew what he was doing because there was no way that our foster agency would have even considered us for Gregory, Elaina, and Brianna if the twins had still been in our home. We had to get a special waiver for the twins to come back. When they called the supervisor, she just happened to be standing beside the person at the state level who wrote the waivers. The road to adoption was a long bumpy road due to red tape, but on August 31, 2011, we adopted our five forever children. All of our kids know of their adoption and are proud of it. Their current ages are Gregory (15), Elaina (14), Josh (12), John (12), and Brianna (12)—and NO, they are not triplets!”

Bridget continues, “Around our house we often say, ‘We can’t do normal—it’s too boring!’ It’s a family motto for us. We have learned to embrace the things that make us different and get excited over the smallest steps that others might take for granted.”

Loving the Church

The Michaels family began attending Christ’s Church in August of 2015. They had never attended a large congregation before but decided to give it a try. Bridget shares, “When we were leaving the parking lot of the church the first week we attended, we asked the kids if they’d ever want to go back. They quickly all replied with an emphatic YES!! At that time, we had two foster children in addition to our five adopted kids. One of the foster kids needed the Access ministry, which was a blessing and allowed us to worship without worry. We were able to sit together as a couple for the first time since we started being foster parents.”

Bridget continues, “We love that the people in this church don’t try to be something that they aren’t. They are real people with real struggles. We’ve been able to volunteer in areas that we enjoy and know that we are called to. We’ve also joined groups and made friends with many brothers and sisters in Christ.”

“Most of our kids have some special needs, but they aren’t all easy to see. We spend a lot of time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for appointments, so much so that we call it our ‘second home.’ Since July 2018, we have had two hospital stays with one of our kids, Elaina. One was an emergency, taken via ambulance, that resulted in a 7-day hospital stay. We were so grateful for the way the church came alongside us, organizing a meal train for us during this time. Many people from the church stepped up to help with our other kids at home, keeping their schedules as normal as possible.”

“Then, just six weeks ago, Elaina had her second inpatient stay in the hospital for double jaw surgery and wisdom teeth removal.” Bridget’s Rooted facilitator, Megan Seta, set up a meal train that continued for a number of weeks. Brad says that feeding their crew is no small thing! Several members of the church and friends visited Elaina in the hospital and others watched the other kids so Brad was free to spend time at the hospital with Bridget and Elaina.

The biggest lesson that they’ve learned through these events is when someone offers to do something, let them! It can be hard to do when you’re usually the one offering help, but it is OK to accept help. By doing so, you are actually letting God show his love for you through those around you.

Engaging Each Child

As a homeschool family, Bridget says they do a lot of things as a family. “We do plan ‘Date Nights’ where we have specific one-on-one time with each of our kids, but we’ve discovered that a quick drive to the store, taking one kid with us, can be just as fulfilling. The kids also like to hang out with Brad in the shop. Recently, they have started going with Brad to the YMCA at 5:30 am to exercise before he goes to work. The kids all love it so much they have been begging to go with him. This gives them some alone time with just Dad and is a way to stay connected with him during his busy times at work. Sometimes our quality time spent together involves a therapy or medical appointment, a soccer game or practice. We’ve learned that squeezing personal time in with each of them is important—no matter when it happens.”

In the midst of homeschooling their five children, the Michaels are very intentional with the extracurricular activities their kids are involved in. They participate in Warren County 4-H, soccer, and church. 4-H has given them the ability to connect with each child’s interests by helping them with projects such as sewing, woodworking, cooking, small engines, and raising chickens. Bridget coaches most of their soccer teams which allows them to be together for all of their practices and games.

Leaving a Legacy

Bridget shares, “Although we’ve both been Christians most of our lives, it’s been the past 5-10 years that we’ve really grown spiritually, moving from an understanding of faith that consisted of obeying rules and regulations—focusing too much on condemnation and guilt—to one of embracing grace and love. We’re still a work in progress.”

Brad and Bridget believe it is vital to keep their kids engaged with Christ and the church. They both grew up with the perspective of doing things in the church to make someone else happy or somehow earn their salvation based on the number of hours they served in the church. Their desire for their five kids is for them to learn what it means to be servant leaders, whether they are noticed or not. Rather than doing it as a way of earning points, they want them to experience the joy that comes from serving others.

The Michaels’ home is one that strives to live out Joshua 24:15: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (NIV).

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