How much can a life change in just five years?
For Emily Christensen, that span began with her conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and ended with the adoption of six children with special needs. But the highs and lows between those two points are almost too hard to believe: enduring cochlear implant surgeries, meeting and marrying the man of her dreams, grieving the death of both of her parents, becoming a chaplain, and fostering more than seventy children.
At the core of the story is an account of her ongoing efforts to save the life of her youngest daughter, Kyrie (pronounced keer-ree-ay). Born with captivating eyes and a full head of curly hair, Kyrie also came into the world with Pierre Robin Sequence, a disorder where her lower face and airway were not properly formed. First as a foster mom and then as an adoptive mother, Christensen has fought her way through red tape, endured tremendous physical discomfort, and upended her entire world (all with the patient support of her husband), just to help her daughter breathe.
Looking back, Christensen shares how those trials ultimately helped her to gather a unique family from the chaos of life. Her stories, both joyful and harrowing, mark out a path that has led her toward deeper faith and spiritual understanding, emotional and physical healing, and blessings that she had never imagined were possible for her.
A real-life page-turner, this memoir abounds with tears and laughter, surprising insights into our relationship with God, and hope for surviving those seasons of trial that come to everyone. “Living is how we gain our wisdom,” says Christensen. “I try my best, hopefully learn from my mistakes, and keep moving forward, one stumble at a time.”
Christensen’s memoir is a heart-wrenching testimonial for foster care, adoption, and the Mormon faith. She relates the story of finding her church and then a perfect husband, Nathan, but as the new couple attempt to have children, they endure a number of miscarriages. They fill the empty space of childlessness with foster care and, in an extraordinary real-life tale of patience and endurance, they foster over 70 troubled children. Personal challenges continue to test Emily’s determination to build a family, but she and Nathan eventually adopt five children. They then learn of a baby, Kyrie, who has been born with a daunting medical condition. Emily cares for Kyrie through many traumatizing surgeries and tries to adopt the child, but bureaucratic obstacles block the way. Christensen writes with a gripping style and grim honesty as she tells her very difficult story; the narration is sometimes oddly dispassionate and yet is also intriguingly blended with deep emotion (“The brothers described being given alcohol, seeing people doing drugs, and ‘lots of screaming and hitting and throwing things’ ”). Filled with descriptions of life’s struggles, love of family, the details of medical procedures, and prayer, this book is likely to be inspirational to those of the LDS faith. (BookLife)
"The author has crafted a powerful memoir that skillfully unspools itsdramatic anecdotes from Kyrie's airlift onward, effectively showcasingChristensen's awe-inspiring commitment to demonstrating her faith... She ultimately engages readers with her musing narrative... A humble andhumbling saga of spirituality and service." - Kirkus Reviews
"Inspired." - Paige Lovitt, Reader Views
"While reading this incredible story, I experienced so many emotions.There were times when I wanted to shed tears for the painful experiences that the parents and each child had to go through, especially if theywere caused by neglect of the birth parents. Emily's refusal to give inand give up in spite of all the personal issues she was dealing with was inspiring."
"I thoroughly enjoyed reading Keeping Kyrie by Emily Christensen, Ph.D., and I highly recommend it for social workers, counselors, persons considering fostering or adopting, and medicalprofessionals who deal with the health needs of children."