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Keeping Kyrie

Keeping Kyrie: A true story of faith, family, and foster care

Keeping Kyrie: A true story of faith, family, and foster care

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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 just to help her daughter breathe.

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Review by Rosemarie Howard in Deseret News:

“Keeping Kyrie,” by Emily Christensen with Nathan Christensen, is the true story of a family — an unconventional family brought together by hope and bound with love.

The book’s acknowledgment includes Emily Christensen’s thanks for “the brilliant editing of my husband, Nathan, who took the dramatic documentary of our life together and created a masterpiece, painting my own hot tears into art.”

Kyrie and her health challenges are shared in "Keeping Kyrie: A True Story of Faith, Family and Foster Care" by Emily Christensen and Nathan Christensen. | Provided by Emily Christensen

The “dramatic documentary” begins with 2-month-old Kyrie being rushed to the hospital and unfolds in the ensuing chapters through a series of flashbacks — memories from Emily Christensen’s life along with the continuing story of Kyrie’s first year and her battle to breathe — and to live — because of a severe cleft palate and an incorrectly formed airway. The chaotic, unpredictable, yet amazingly coherent nature of the family’s experience is reflected in the narrative’s structure.

In the span of five years covered in this story, Emily Christensen became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, married at 35 and became a foster mother. During that time, she also experienced several miscarriages, the death of her mother, ovarian cancer and the adoption of six foster children — all with special needs. Emily Christensen herself is deaf and uses sign language along with cochlear implants to help her communicate.

The well-told story reflects a deep faith and commitment to the teachings of the LDS Church and understanding of the eternal nature of the family. The process of becoming a foster parent, caring for foster children and going through the adoption process with children born to abusive and/or drug-using parents is deftly and poignantly woven into the narrative.

It is a 2016 Forward Indies Finalist in the religion and family/relationships categories.

Among other things, Emily Christensen is a writer, chaplain, licensed counselor, wife to writer Nathan Christensen, and mother to six adopted children: Mary, Anber, Alex, Barrett, Kirk and Kyrie. She and her family live in Oklahoma. She blogs at housewifeclass.com.

CLICK HERE to see the Book Release Video.