This article is the 31st in a series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, “Young adults want to know that it’s possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.” It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
When Lamar Hood heard his daughter Jennifer tested positive for Down syndrome: “It was like being hit by a truck,” he remembered, “ I just didn’t believe God would do this to me.”
Twynette, Lamar’s wife of two years, was waiting at home, praying that their new daughter would be “normal.” Her intuition as a mother told her otherwise. Jennifer’s disability would ultimately reform their marriage.
Today, after 42 years together, the Hoods draw attention wherever they go: Lamar, Twynette, and Jennifer—still living at home—with Amy, Amanda and Jason, three more Hoods, all adopted, all with Down syndrome. The Hoods’ dream-shattering crisis has become a mission of mercy.
She was 15 and he was 17 when Lamar invited Twynette to a church sweetheart banquet. Three years later, Lamar proposed: “God just put her in my life. He knew exactly who I needed.”
After the wedding, Lamar worked as a banker and took night classes to finish college. Twynette clerked at a car dealership. Busy building the happy life they had planned together, God was not on their calendar.
Four months after Lamar graduated, Jennifer was born. Her doctors suspected Down syndrome. While waiting for conclusive test results Lamar assumed the baby was fine. Twynette did not: “We were on opposite ends. He could not tolerate me expressing my feelings.”
When the diagnosis finally came, Lamar was crushed. He still tears up when he tells the story. Twynette says, “I never saw Lamar cry before Jennifer was born.” In their brokenness, the Hoods drew near to Christ. His comfort in their grief forged a new intimacy of shared suffering and hope. A local church helped the Hoods adjust to Jennifer’s disability by embracing her. “Everybody’s arms at church opened up,” Twynette said. They provided meals, babysitting, and friendship. And the Hoods began to sketch a new plan for a happy life together.
Nine years later, God stirred a desire in Twynette to adopt a special needs child. Lamar was hesitant: “I didn’t think I could love another child that was not my own.” Plus, adoption was expensive. Lamar prayed and God gave him the faith he needed: “We can’t do it, Lord, but You can.”
Within months, God sent Amy into the Hood family. Later, they added Amanda and Jason. Each child’s adoption began with a phone call. A voice said, “We have a baby with Down syndrome …” And each time, Lamar and Twynette said yes.
When couples in the Hoods’ community grieve for their children, Lamar and Twynette pass on the comfort God gave them in their initial sorrow. As Lamar says, “God gave us Jennifer to show us our future and give us our calling and to bring us to Him.”