Q: Can you tell us a little about your family?
A: I grew up in an Air Force family, which among many things, means I lived in several different locations during my childhood and teen years. Every time we moved to a new location I would wonder if that was where I would meet “the one”. I was very much about “the one”. In 1995 we moved to Texas, and a year later I met Matt. We started dating when I was 16, y’all… he was my first kiss, too! Almost six years later to the day, we got married. Our family grew to include three children, and at that point, we honestly thought we were finished!
I’ve always loved adoption; I am adopted, and I have three siblings and two nieces who are adopted as well! Together, we felt like our calling was to support those adopting… financially, emotionally… but then one day that all changed and we knew that our family would one day grow by another. It took almost two years for the Lord to open the door that would lead us to Julianne, but she is a perfect fit for us and well worth the wait. As of right now, our children are Rachel (9), Eli (8), Brady (almost 6), Julianne (almost 5).
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
A: The short story is this… God led us there. Because SHE was there. I looked into foster-to-adopt, and various other programs, but we felt peace with China.
Q: Which province is your child from?
A: Julianne is from Shanghai. Shanghai is distinct in that the city is so huge, it is its own province as well. There is one main Children’s Welfare Institution, which houses upwards of 600 children.
Q: What special need(s) are represented in your family?
Julianne’s medical need is Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
Q: Favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
A: Favorite? Watching her change so much. I can’t even begin to describe how crazy it is to see people’s faces when I tell them she has been home less than a year! She fits in with us so well.
Hardest? There are many difficult things, but one that I struggle with is how little we know about her past. I am a historian at heart, and knowing about the past fascinates me. It’s difficult to know I will most likely never know more than what is on a few sheets of paper concerning her past. At this stage, she has only started to process that she used to live in China. She knows she did, but she doesn’t understand what that means for her, and her ability to understand her own history. I wonder a lot about what it will look like when she starts to comprehend those deep things, and asks questions I cannot answer.
Q: In one or two sentences, what are two tips applying to any part of the adoption process?
A: Enjoy wherever you are at in the process. Don’t wish away the days.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
A: Too many ways to count! I am much more chill now than before. Much more willing to let things go when they need to be let go.
Much more wiling to say “no” when a “yes” conflicts with the best interest of our family.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite personal blog posts? Some shared by others on NHBO?
There are SO many good posts on NHBO! One of those that has stuck with me is by Hannah Samuels…. Wanmei.
One of my favorites from my own blog is Grieving because it made me realize that when the tough conversations happen, the Lord will provide the words, the compassion, the “know how” I need to get through them.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
A: My favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 2:18: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
I have too many favorite books to name just one. I’m a book-a-holic. Seriously. This question could be yet another complete blog post.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I can touch my foot to my face. I don’t do it because I think feet are gross. Like, really gross. The few people who know this about me will tell you it’s true. I used to not be so grossed out by feet. I’m not sure when this part of my personality came into being.
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
A: My kitchen “command” center is my favorite hack. I have a place for all of my school-aged children to drop their papers or things I need to see/sign. This has cut back dramatically on the amount of lost papers/forms, and countertop clutter in the kitchen!
Another part of the center is the kitchen help chore rotation. They either help with wiping down the table or vacuuming/sweeping the crumbs. I pair a big kid with a little kid for each day. I also base my pairs on personality. The older/younger set that works best together gets is paired together to both promote helping each other and having the chores completed without as much complaining. 😉
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
A: Our daughter’s special need wasn’t even on “The List” you painstakingly have to complete. Not even on it! Her need is long-term, and there is no cure. I went into the process thinking that, medically speaking, we wanted to look for a child who could be “fixed”.
I know. I have repented.
Surgery, sure… but daily life with wound care? Not on my agenda. But you know what? I am the PERFECT mama for Julianne. Perfect in every way. I knew I was her mama when I looked at her picture and her eyes stared into mine from the computer screen.
Was she our “ideal”? Nope. She was even better than that. She was God’s ideal for us.
So, be okay with unknowns. Be okay with stepping outside of the boundaries you think are safe because in case you didn’t know, you are already stepping outside of “safe” by saying yes to the fatherless.
Q: (Wildcard question; contributor’s choice) List the foods you really love and will always eat if given the chance.
A: Bacon. Almond Joy. Kale (just kidding!).