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Mark and Debbie Warner Family



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10/01/2009 - It was a treat to visit with Mark and Debbie Warner and three of their six children Abby Grace (15), Liberty (8) and Ellie (5). Their other three children are grown and living on their own. The family, originally from Louisiana, has lived in Casper nearly eight years. They moved here for the drier climate and Mark's job as the manager at Rocky Mountain Communications Systems. They say they enjoy the change of seasons and the snow. The wind not so much. "It's a resource," Mark said chuckling.

The family enjoys traveling, and since they homeschool the children, they are able to have more flexibility. Mark was in a job that had him doing a lot of traveling, so they decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Before moving to Casper, the family loaded the four kids, the dog, and all the school materials into the suburban and travelled across the country. In one year they traveled 85,000 miles and visited every museum they could find.

"It was fun on the road," Abby said.

"We live a fairly sedate life now," Mark added with a smile.

Well, if you consider two trips to China, piano and violin lessons, dance lessons, tumbling lessons, homeschooling, church and Awanas a sedate life, maybe he's right.

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When Mark and Debbie married 24 years ago, they knew they would not be able to have children. They also knew they wanted to be parents. So soon after the wedding, friends and family started encouraging them to start the adoption process. Thinking it could be five to seven years before they would get a child, the couple started the adoption process a few months after the wedding. Within nine months they had their first child. Over the years they went on to adopt three more kids and thought they were finished. But about seven years ago, Mark and Debbie started talking about China. Debbie had never been on a plane before and had never thought an international adoption was in her future.

At breakfast one Sunday morning after the family had been discussing China, Debbie said she was going to ask God for a sign. If He wanted them to go to China to adopt a child, would he please have the pastor (who NEVER mentioned China) talk about China during the service. All six Warners sat in a pew together and listened to the sermon.

Nothing.

Then as the pastor was dismissing everyone, he said, "Oh by the way. I would like to encourage everyone to be praying for China."

"Five heads swung around and looked down the row at Debbie," Mark said.

The family had their answer. The next step was to raise the $700 for the international adoption filing fee. The kids decided to have a garage sale. Total raised: $705. Seven years ago this past May, Debbie and Mark when to China to bring home their fifth child, Liberty. A year ago, they went back again to get Ellie. This time they took three of their children with them.

"We wanted everyone to go so they could see how blessed we are to be U.S. citizens," Mark said.

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"It was totally different," Abby said. "I appreciate things more. If I wake up with no hot water, I think at least it's clean water."

"There are no bad days in Casper," Mark agreed. "There's a lot of humanity that suffers. It really changes your perspective on everything."

Having gone through four domestic and two international adoptions, Mark and Debbie have learned a lot about the process. They now share their experiences and mentor adopting couples. They feel privileged to help others cut through the cloudiness of the process.

"Adoption has molded a lot of our life," Mark continued. "It is simultaneously the most challenging and most rewarding experience."

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