HOOPER -- Raising a child with disabilities is a challenge to any parents. Adopting children with disabilities is another matter altogether, but one couple knew it was something they were just meant to do.
Steve and Anita Ure had talked about adopting children even before they were married. They had seen children being airlifted out of Vietnam in the 1970s and vowed to someday adopt.
As time passed, they weren't sure it would happen. They started raising their own children, but adopting was just something Anita couldn't stop thinking about.
"When our oldest son was 11 years old, I just had a strong impression that we had to do this, and it wouldn't go away," she said.
The thought that wouldn't go away eventually became a family with nine children, three born to Steve and Anita and six adoptees who have grown to be well-adjusted, happy adults.
"In the beginning, we were looking for older children to adopt," Anita said.
"In 1982, we applied for adoption with LDS Social Services. Nine months later, the delightful Vance came into our lives, a 2-month-old baby with spina bifida, and from there, we were hooked."
Once the word was out that they would adopt children with a disability, they received calls from caseworkers in several states. From there, Anita said, "we pursued the ones we thought were ours."
Within five years, they adopted Barbara, Jeff, Chris, Mike and Tony, ranging in age from 5 to 10 years old.
"We have had a lot of miracles and blessings in our life, and I just really appreciate all of my children," Anita said. "They have grown into such wonderful adults who are loving, considerate and giving, and I can't imagine life without them."
The years have not been free from stress, Anita said.
"When the kids were younger, the challenges were greater than they are today, since now there is so much they can do to take care of many of their needs," she said.
"But years ago, the mental and emotional challenges were many. Just keeping up with it all and staying ahead of the problems while trying to keep a positive attitude was a full-time job in itself.
"There were many nights of sitting and waiting for what was to come next at Primary Children's (Medical Center in Salt Lake City). Would they live through this operation, or what would be the outcome of the most recent illness?"
There were more than the emotional demands.
"The physical demands for children who are mentally challenged also take their toll. There is constant lifting, shifting and moving for a gamut of reasons. We had to repeat ourselves over and over again, and the constant reminding about this and that was endless."
The Ures' three biological children and their families live nearby and are very close and supportive.
The adopted children still live at home, except Vance, who is married and lives with his wife, Maria, in Roy. Both Vance and Maria work for Weber Human Services, and Vance also does respite care for his parents on Saturdays, when the whole crew goes out for activities, such as bowling, Lagoon, shopping at the mall or dinner.
Barbara, 36, is intellectually challenged and has worked as a cook at a day care for the past 17 years.
"We have great parents, and they care about us," she said.
Jeff, 34, and Chris 33, are intellectually challenged and work at Enable Utah, a sheltered workshop for the handicapped. Each received his Eagle Scout badge this year.
"They are my helpers with the garden and the outside," Steve said. "I couldn't do all there is to do without them."
Mike, 30, has cerebral palsy and cognitive delays. He also works at Enable Utah, where he was honored as Employee of the Year this year.
Tony, 28, who is hearing-impaired and blind, is a student at Weber State University, majoring in computer science.
The Ures have lived in Hooper for 26 years. Over the years, Steve has renovated the house by adding bedrooms and family-room space.
Steve owned his own tile-setting business until 1993, when physical problems forced him to close the company. Today, Steve's ambition is to grow the biggest pumpkin ever.
Anita went back to school when Steve retired and earned a bachelor's degree in 1996 and a master's degree in 1998. She now works for Weber Human Services as the program manager of the Northern Utah Autism Program, which is for preschoolers with autism.
"Mom and Dad never let us be handicapped or lazy," Vance said. "We have always had our chores to do, and we knew what was expected of us."
"They were always expected to do everything they could do, and we all helped each other," Anita said.
"I believe that children live up to their parents' expectations, so aim high and don't be disappointed if they don't quite make it."