When Joel was born, he weighed 1 pound and 6 ounces because his birth mother had tried to abort him using drugs and a coat hanger. Immediately after Joel entered the world, he had to have open-heart surgery on a ruptured valve in his heart.
“I know my birth mom was a pastor’s daughter, and she was a piano player and singer. My dad pretty much got her pregnant and then took off on her. She was 17, so she was young and scared, and she gave me up for adoption. In that process, I was a baby, so I wasn’t sure of everything that was going on, but I was in the hospital for months on end in incubators until I was 1. I then got put into foster care and was placed with a lady named Sunshine who took me. Since I didn’t have parents, I didn’t have a name. So they called me Steven for a long time.” Joel lived the first year of his life in and out of hospitals with no parents, until he was taken in by his adopted parents.
“My parents that adopted me were from the east coast, and they were praying about adopting a baby. I got placed with them, and they had me for about 11 months before the courts allowed them to adopt me. During those 11 months, they lived knowing there was a good possibility that they wouldn’t be able to keep me because the courts had already given them a warning. My mom that adopted me kept holding me, praying and praying. After these 11 months, they finally cut the tape and said, you guys can have him--you are good to go. They took me in, and I grew up with this incredible family that wasn’t perfect.”
Little did Joel know as a baby, his mother that adopted him had a miracle existence just like him.
“My mom that adopted me went through sex-trafficking from ages 4-16. She had no choice in the state of force. She was molested and raped by her mother, her father, her step-father, her grandfather, and sold into sex-trafficking. She came out of that not knowing God until 19 years of age. At that time, she met my dad coming out of the Navy at a coffee house on the east coast. She met him not knowing God but she always knew that there was a God. And because of the pain and torture she went through and all the things that I saw on her body growing up--things that no kid should see--to see how she treated my brother, my sister, and I was the coolest. She was very loving, supportive, and driven to steer us towards God. But we were still kind of babies growing up in the faith, needing to learn about God on our own.”
Chapter 2 on Joel coming soon.