His prayer went something like this: “God, my wife is driving me crazy. Get her off my back.”
He remembers reading the Bible one morning during his daily “quiet time” when he came across a verse in Matthew. Jesus was holding children on his lap and said: “Whoever receives this child also receives me.”
So that morning, he left a hand-written note in his wife’s purse saying he wanted to move forward with more children. He called the verse a sign from God.
That was 17 years ago, and the Kesedays certainly have followed what they call “God’s plan.”
Besides their three grown daughters, they have 11 adopted children from 8 to 20 years old, are in the process of adopting two more, and have fostered more than 50.
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When people ask how many children the Kesedays have, the response is simple: “A lot.”.
“We don’t keep count,” said Margie, a nurse manager who works from home.
And that number, whatever it is, doesn’t include Margie’s parents and special needs sister, Becky, 43, who share the same Warren County house.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Margie said.
The most recent addition to the Keseday family tree was placed in the home by Children’s Medical Missions West. Rayagnewende “Anne” Bamogo was severely burned when her dress caught fire while she was standing too close to her mother cooking outside.
Anne, who is somewhere between 4 and 6 years old, is from Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa.
She suffered burns to the front of her body, from her knee up, and she receives treatments at Cincinnati Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Surgeons have used donor skin and Anne’s skin to replace the large section on her right leg. Her legs are tightly wrapped with pressure garments to speed up the healing process. The skin on her face is blistered, and that restricts how wide she can open her mouth. She probably will stay with the Kesedays through November.
Tami Shobe, director of the medical mission, called the Kesedays a “very good” host family.
“They’re pretty amazing people,” she said. “One of a kind really.”
They have cared for other children from third-world countries who suffered “life-changing injuries,” Bob said. The children typically stay with the family for one year, then return home after they receive medical treatments.
Most of Anne’s medical treatments are covered, though the host family is responsible for some of her medications and all of her clothes. They said members of their church, Lifehouse Church in Lebanon, have supported the family through financial and clothing donations.
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“God takes care of our needs,” said Bob, an HVAC foreman. “Not everyone is called to host a child. But everyone is called to serve.”
On this day, when Anne woke up from her nap, Margie carried her into the kitchen, where her husband was cooking a large pot of tortilla soup for dinner. Margie asked Anne if she was hungry and if she wanted an apple. She pulled an apple out of the refrigerator and Anne shook her head.
Then she was offered strawberries. Her face lit up.
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Margie cut up some strawberries, washed them, then placed them in a bowl. Anne raced to the kitchen table, only to return a few minutes later, strawberry juice running down her face.
Right around 4 p.m., the front door swung open, and one by one, the Keseday kids raced inside. Margie said the Springboro school bus drops off six children, and five of them live there. It was time for homework. Everyone grabbed paper, pencils and computers.
Bob, 54, and Margie, 51, married for 31 years, are cooks, coaches, counselors and caretakers, and for two people who should be nearing retirement, they couldn’t be happier. They may not have the largest 401k, but few, if any, have a more diverse family.
“Every person counts,” she said.
“Everybody should have a family,” he said. “This is our purpose in life. God has every person for a purpose. Our purpose is to help children.”