In an effort to pull the curtain back a bit, we’re beginning a once-a-month series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors. This will give y’all, our regular 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. Since it was my idea, I was
challenged nominated to go first – and I accepted. Thank youuuu, Rebecca.
Okie dokie, then.
Q: Tell us a little about your family.
A: My husband, Chris, and I have 12 children. 8 of our kiddos were adopted from China through the special needs program. Chris was a pilot in the military for 21 years and shortly after retiring he accepted a dream job offer at Lifeline Children’s Services in Birmingham, AL. I work at home, schooling 9 of our kids, managing No Hands But Ours, occasionally blogging and frequently procrastinating.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
A: Quite honestly, it had nothing to do with us. We had four biological children and felt like the growing phase of our family was completely done. But the Lord wasn’t done. In mid-2004 my husband’s heart was gripped by a calling to adopt a little girl from China. Thinking he had to be losing his mind (after all, we had no friends that had adopted, knew nothing about adoption and had no money to pursue an adoption), he tried to ignore it. But the Holy Spirit kept nudging until finally he shared his heart with me. By May of 2005, we were on a plane to China to bring our little girl home.
Q: Which provinces are your children from?
A: Isabelle, who came home in 2005, is from Jiangsu. Sophie, who came home in 2006, and Vivienne, who came home in 2010, are both from Guangxi. Jude, adopted in 2007, is from Fujian. Shepherd, adopted in 2008, and Poppy, adopted in 2011, are both from Guangdong. Tallula, who joined our family in 2012, is from Hubei and our little Clementine, who came home last year, is from Hunan.
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
A: Heart defects (from an 18mm ASD to a more significant partial canal defect), clubfoot, prematurity, skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism), bilateral arm deformity, symbrachydactyly, Down syndrome and complete tracheal rings.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
A: My favorite is how adoption has changed the landscape of our family in the most profound of ways. We are, in every sense, a completely different family. And individually, we are completely different people. It is so beautiful to witness how He blesses us when we are simply willing to put one foot in front of the other and follow Him.
For me, the hardest part has been how adoption reveals many of the broken and yucky places I’d somehow managed to hide, ignore, or simply miss altogether. Adoption is a beautiful, potent, overwhelming thing and when God is doing the work, He uses the grafting in of a complete stranger to point out the places that need healing in not only that child, but in ourselves.
Q: In just a few sentences, share two tips applying to any part of the adoption process.
A: My first would be practical. When beginning your journey, be wise in your choice of homestudy agencies. You will be working very closely with your social worker for many years to come and having someone working alongside you who “gets it” is so very essential, especially if/when you hit a rough patch. We just completed our one-year post-placement for Clementine and when our social worker comes over to visit it’s less like a meeting and more like an afternoon spent catching up with a friend.
My second would be spiritual. Trust God on this journey. I mean, really trust Him – like you actually mean it – because He has got this. Don’t spend all your time and energy trying to do a job only He can. Pray, fundraise, be diligent in preparing for your newest little one, but enjoy the months leading up to travel, don’t wish them away. They are full of blessings and memories-in-the-making that might otherwise be missed.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
A: It would be easier to answer how has it not changed me. And the answer to that would be only in the areas I haven’t wanted to let the Lord work.
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 (this is ridiculously hard, our contributors are so very talented):
By Carrie – An Uncertain Journey with a Certain Guide.
By Mike (have your tissues near by) – Who Would Want a Dad Like Me?
And this one, by Rebecca – Yes.
A few of my own blog posts:
One I wrote when we were in-process for Vivienne about feeling okay about your own comfort zone (and not judging others and theirs) when it comes to which special needs you’re considering.
Another post I wrote about the too-often undiscussed difficulties in adoption. Adoption is hard, y’all – and only made harder when we feel like we’re the only ones struggling.
And this one – about reluctant husbands – was mentioned by a friend who’d recently read it and thought I should share it again. So here it is.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
A: In this season of life I don’t have time for books, instead I listen to podcasts. My favorite right now is Elisabeth Elliot, she is the perfect antidote for my weariness most days.
A current favorite quote, also from Elisabeth Elliot, is this one: “Obedience is my business. The result of that obedience is God’s business.”
A verse the Lord is using in my heart right now is 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I asked my best friend to help answer this question. She said that I could share that I’m shy. And she’s right – I’m borderline painfully shy. I love to stay home and if I didn’t have to leave my house for a month I’d hardly notice. Definitely comes in handy when you’re cocooning.
I asked my husband to help answer this question, too. He said that I make a funny sound when I fall or trip, which evidently must be frequent since this is the first thing he thought of. The second thing that came to his mind was the loudness of my sneezes. Geesh, he really got himself a winner when he married me.
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
A: Yes. Delegate. I read a quote several years ago that went something like this: “If you’re still doing all the chores, you’ve missed your promotion.” It struck me, because my husband and I were doing almost all the chores. But, as mom to an ever-growing brood of busy, messy children, there is simply no way I could do all the chores, even if I wanted to (and I definitely don’t want to.)
Since that wake-up call, we’ve worked side-by-side with all of our kids to show them how to do basic chores, nothing more difficult than they feel capable of, and they are now responsible to do a designated chore six days a week. Recently we made some changes to our screen time allowance – no gaming during the week and only 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. But minutes can be earned – 1 minute gaming for 2 minutes doing a chore – by doing extra chores during the week. I cannot tell you how much more organized my house is now. *handclap*
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
A: If the Lord is leading you to adopt, do it. Read, yes. Research, yes. But most of all sit at His feet and be encouraged to say “yes” to what the Lord is asking you to do. It is an invitation like no other.
– images by EB Photography + Artistry
Loved reading this, Stefanie!! That last Q&A. #truth
How do you learn about the agencies before progressing to the point of requiring them? Thank you very much.
About the homestudy agency tip–how did you evaluate homestudy agencies and social workers to make that choice? Where/how did you find the necessary information? And did you have a choice as to which particular social worker from an agency you would work with?
Good question, Christie. I would try to connect with other APs locally, and find out who they have used and what their experience was. I’d also place a lot of value on conversations and/or communication you have with a prospective agency. You could also request to talk to the social worker who would be assigned to your case before you have your first homestudy visit, too.
Stefanie, loved reading this and seeing the pictures of your family!! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we adopted Sally and you were my secret sister and had just adopted Isabelle. I love your heart for God, and His call on your heart for caring and adopting children!
Stefanie, you have been a tremendous encouragement to my wife, whom you know; but also to me, her husband, whom you don’t.
Thank you for your family’s example. Sharing your experience with others has encouraged others, like me, to go beyond what we were taught by “society” was logically possible. You have been a great encouragement to my wife and a great example to me what living by Faith means in practice. And that going beyond logical limits for the sake of precious children of God is not just possible, but a great good.
And our family has expanded, because you (and others just like you) showed, and shared, the way. Thank you for sharing. It is helpful to me, and others (I’m sure) like me.