Dr James Hood Spokane Valley Dentist

In an Ethiopian orphanage, three sisters have watched for nearly four years as orphans come and then go to homes throughout the world. As each year passes, their ages – 8, 11 and 12- work against their chances of being adopted. Worse still, they must be adopted together because Ethiopia will not break up siblings. And then they have health issues – all three have abscessed teeth. But Spokane Valley dentist Dr. James Hood and his wife Karen are doing everything they can to take those little girls from their bleak prospects and not only fix their teeth but fix their future as well.
“We just finished and sent the adoption paperwork off today,” said Dr. Hood during a recent interview at his home, “ We put it to a family vote and the boys, who are outnumbered said it wasn’t fair . But when we told them that we were the girls’ only chance, they said we should do it.”
The three girls will put the Hoods at 15 children. Five are their natural offspring, three came from the foster program and the others come from other parts of the world like Korea and India. They are all equals and they are all Hoods.
“From the day you bring them home, there is no difference,” Dr. Hood said while shifting back and forth on his wooden chair trying to find relief from the discomfort of his recent hip replacement surgery. “ We’ll be out in public and someone will say, ‘ Oh how nice that you adopted’ and we wonder how they knew and then we realize they see the color difference.”
“Actually we have had 6 of our own,” he said, explaining the tragedy that set them on their course of taking in less fortunate children. “Gabriel, our first child, went full term but was stillborn.” It turned out Dr. Hood was RH positive and Karen was RH negative and they were led to believe they could not have children and so Karen immediately set about adopting a child from Korea only to find out within 12 weeks that she was pregnant. Brianne arrived first in 1980 and then Marrissa made the trip from Korea the next year.
From there it has been bringing them in and loving them and setting them on the right path. They have had 10 foster children in their care, all of which they tried to adopt. They live on a horse ranch on the rolling hills of Saltese where they raise Icelandic horses and dogs. Each child has gone to St. Maries and have had careful attention paid to them.
“Either Karen or I go to every conference,” Dr. Hood said explaining that before he attended dentist school in his home state of Iowa, that both he and Karen taught school in the Virgin Islands. The older kids are either college students or graduates. Conducting the interview in the library, with ten foot high bookshelves lining the room it was obvious that intellectual pursuit is important to the Hoods. “Karen and I both went back to college in 1990,” he said, “ Karen is working on her doctorate dissertation and I have just that still to go.”
“My dad has been a role model in every sense of the word,” Brianne Hood, who has a PhD. from Gonzaga, told me recently, “I loved growing up in our home. My parents did everything possible to create a family environment.” For example, every morning the Hoods sit down for breakfast and each night have dinner together, with every one doing a job. “ I think that is what made it work,” Brianne said, “We all had our roles and we knew we were important.” With 12 horses, 7 dogs, and 8 kids at home there a lot of jobs to do. It takes two dishwashers, two washers and dryers, two refrigerators and freezers.
Beyond the daily meals, the extended family and friends are invited each Sunday and all holidays are celebrated with as many as 30 people. Birthdays are a madhouse when each child is allowed to invite their entire class over for a sleep over. Once they had two birthday sleepovers in one night. At the center of the storm is a loving couple that are devoted to each other. Every day at noon, Dr. Hood drives home to have lunch with Karen and has for nearly thirty years.
They surely need their time alone but they seem glad to share all the rest of their time and energy with their family. And we should all pray that God grants those girls in Ethiopia the miracle the Hoods are offering. When asked why he would want to take on such great responsibility at this point in  his life, Dr. Hood simply and humbly replied, “Because we can.”


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