Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a way a traditional post might not allow.
Q: Tell us a little about your family.
A: I’m Nicole and I’m so honored to be sharing on No Hands But Ours today! I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart since 2003. Together we have four children, by birth and adoption. We have two biological children, born 2005 and 2007, and two children who joined our family through adoption. They came home from China in 2011 and 2014, our daughter at 13 months and our son at three years old. My husband is a financial advisor and I am a classical homeschooling mama. I am also a founder of Red Thread Sessions and a board member of The Sparrow Fund.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
A: God laid adoption on our hearts in January 2010, right after the big earthquake had hit in Haiti. My husband and I were enjoying a night out to dinner, and we happened to be watching the news coverage on the devastation. The news reporters were sharing about all of the children who were displaced and separated from families. We watched for a few minutes and then turned to each other at the exact same time and exclaimed, “We should adopt!” The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. After never discussing adoption and previously thinking our family was complete, we were both suddenly ready to bring a new child home. It was the beginning of the most amazing and stretching journey we’ve ever been on!
Q: Which provinces are your children from?
A: Our daughter was born in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, and our son was born in a Guangdong city named Zhanjiang.
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
A: Cleft lip and palate and hearing loss.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
A: I have many favorites, but I’ll go with the two biggest. First, my children have added so much joy to my life! I can’t imagine not having brought them home. The extra love, hugs, kisses, laughs, and general happiness in our lives are so sweet. Watching all of my children grow together and love each other is very special, and I feel so privileged to be their mama!
Second, I love, love, love the adoption community we’ve become a part of. The connections shared with other families who truly understand the beauties and difficulties of our life journey are priceless. My dearest friends are now all adoptive mamas. Knowing that my friends have walked similar journeys and they “get” the struggles gives me such peace.
I think the most difficult aspect for me personally is letting go of my pride and need to control so the Father can teach me through my children. But I am trying to humble myself and learn to let go of my need to wrap everything up with a pretty bow so that we can grow together.
Q: In just a few sentences, share two tips applying to any part of the adoption process.
A: First, I would suggest that new adoptive families connect with other adoptive families as much as possible. I value the friendships I’ve made with other adoptive families so deeply – they’ve been our support many times! Second, I’d suggest that families read and prepare as much as possible before coming home. Some agencies don’t offer and/or require much adoption parenting education, but there are plenty of resources out there (HERE are my favorite reads). Obviously many serious issues cannot be healed by reading books. But a robust understanding of attachment, trauma, and the effects of institutionalization go a long way to help families in transition.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
A: I have grown in more ways than I can count because of adoption. Mostly, I’ve learned and am reminded daily that I don’t have it all together. I used to think I did, so this was a very humbling transition for me. I don’t always get things right and I mess up a lot. But embracing this reality has made it easier to rely on my heavenly Father and His unconditional love. I don’t deserve the grace or forgiveness that He continually showers on me, but He gives it freely anyway.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite blog posts shared on NHBO? Some from your personal blog?
A: A few of my favorite NHBO posts (I have many, but these came to mind):
I am so glad Stefanie wrote A Dirty Secret in Adoption. It’s true that this does happen but it’s so rarely spoken of or written about.
On a much more lighthearted note, Kelly’s #ohChina post makes me smile every time I see it.
Amy’s post titled Comfortable is filled with truth.
Mandy’s post about Intimacy in Marriage is a great reminder, no matter where you are in your adoption journey.
Rebecca’s Yes is so beautifully written … I just love everything about it.
A few of my own blog posts:
It’s Different is a post I wrote about the parenting differences that sometimes come up with biological and adopted children.
Her Birth Heritage is about making a conscious effort to keep China in our hearts so our children born there will know where they came from.
The Ripple Effect perfectly demonstrates one way our family has changed through the miracle of adoption.
6 Months is a more recent post about our newest little guy and how far we had come.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
A: I love to read, but these days I study mostly non-fiction. During the days of fiction, one of my favorites was The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love a few years ago.
A quote that is sticking with me these days is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As I approach the year-mark of suddenly and unexpectedly losing my Daddy, this quote resonates with me because of how he made me feel. I want the people in my life to feel that too.
I have too many favorite verses to choose, but I just highlighted Romans 5:3-5 in my Bible a few days ago. It seems fitting for the tougher days. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: A lot of people probably don’t know that my Daddy taught me how to shoot a gun when I was younger. Despite not getting out to shoot often, I’m pretty good at it. My Daddy always said, “It’s in your blood!” Ha!
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
A: I don’t know if it’s a “hack,” but one thing that makes our mornings more efficient is putting together outfits ahead of time for my younger children. I do it as I fold laundry, so it doesn’t add a lot of extra time. They each have a hanging fabric organizer in their closets – an outfit goes on each shelf. They still get to make a choice about what to wear, but the process is streamlined and doesn’t involve me at all. Morning routines are low maintenance because they can do all of the other stuff on their own too.
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
A: Adoption is difficult and messy, but it is so very beautiful and redeeming.