Inspired by Faith, the Autrys Turn to Adoption
A home is where your family is. It’s not the material possessions or the dwelling itself. It’s about the people. It’s about being open to life’s journey, accompanied by faith. That’s the foundation of this Draper family.
Randall and Tracy Autry moved from Texas to Utah in 1996. Randall had grown up in Texas, and Tracy moved there in the sixth grade. They met in a church youth group, dated in high school and got married in college.
The early years of their marriage brought four sons who are now grown: Luke, 31; Christopher, 29; Zachary, 27; and Nicholas, 25.
“We were knee-deep in raising boys with all that entails, including sports, mountain biking in Corner Canyon, band, church youth group and lots of noise,” Tracy says.
They reached the point where their oldest son, Luke, was graduating from Intermountain Christian School and their youngest son, Nicholas, had reached age 12. They were thinking ahead to being empty nesters when they found out they were pregnant.
“God totally surprised us,” Tracy says.
Their fifth son, Micah, who is now12, was born.
The Autrys are members of Grace Community Bible Church in Sandy, and their faith is integral to their lives. In 2009, when Micah was about 3, Randall and Tracy were involved in a Bible study.
“We were doing a study on living radically and what that looks like. Because the Bible is very clear about taking care of widows and orphans, taking care of the oppressed and needy, our eyes were opened to orphan care and what did that look like in our family,” Tracy says.
They were also grappling with Micah growing up like an only child since their other children were grown. Another couple in Randall and Tracy’s Bible study who had connections to Ethiopia suggested adoption.
“Our first reaction was, ‘No, we’ve raised kids,’” Tracy says.
But that thought took root in Tracy’s mind and heart, so she began reading blogs about orphan care, adoption and ministries, focusing especially on the blog of a young college woman who visited Uganda and eventually returned there to adopt 13 young women.
“I’m reading her stuff thinking there is a purpose. For us, raising kids has been the most important thing,” Tracy says.
The Autrys began to fill out adoption paperwork and met with a social worker for approval, a social worker who had adopted herself. They thought a girl under the age of 4 would fit best in their family. But the more research Tracy did, the more she realized that’s what the majority of people are seeking to adopt.
“So we stopped, took a break from the process and prayed about it. We wondered, ‘Why are we in this group? We want to grow our family; why are we requesting a child that everyone else is requesting when there are boys, special needs, sibling groups, kids with AIDS that aren’t getting chosen? We don’t need to be in this group,’” Tracy says.
At the same time, the Autrys began focusing on Ethiopia because of that connection through their Bible study.
The next months were a whirlwind of paperwork and preparation, then two trips to Ethiopia, the first in July 2010 for a court date. The Autrys took their sons Zachary and Nicholas on that first trip to help them.
“We saw them [the adopted children] for 10 days and then we had to leave, which was really hard,” Tracy says.
They returned in October, and after going through the embassy, they brought home David, Eribka, Anne and Samuel. That was nearly eight years ago.
Fast forward to today, and David is 14, Eribka and Micah are 12, Anne is 10, Samuel is 8, and Tracy and Randall are grandparents through their older boys. The family loves to camp together, go biking or hiking, and they’re all big soccer fans. Randall does a mile timed-run with each of the kids on the Porter Rockwell Trail. They also simply enjoy hanging out. They love to take the family back to Texas to visit. They also try to stay connected to Ethiopian culture by eating at Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant in Salt Lake City, visiting a multi-cultural church and being part of an Ethiopian group in Utah.
For the Autrys, adoption wasn’t about improving their status with God or rescuing children.
“It’s not about earning a relationship with God, but what are we doing to show that relationship to others?” Tracy says. “We look through the lens of our faith.”
In a household as busy and diverse as theirs, the Autrys have learned to let the little things be little things. Perfection is not the goal.
“What society says is successful doesn’t mean what success is. It’s what’s inside—your character—that matters, not what society looks at,” she says. “I can’t imagine our life without our kids. Our family wouldn’t have been at all the same.”.