Q: Tell us about your family.
My husband Cory and I “met” the first day of college – he was in line behind me to get his student ID made. We didn’t talk and continued to not talk when we were placed in the same orientation group. As the weeks passed, he told a mutual friend that I “just didn’t do anything for him.” Apparently his opinion radically changed because here we are with almost 17 years of marriage and four beautiful children. We have Carter, age 13, and 13 in every way. Kind and gracious, I often have to pull him from the planet Endor to remember to take out the trash. Then there’s Claire, age 10 going on 24. She is inquisitive and fiery, a perfect mix of sugar and spice – strong and merciful. Then there’s William, age 7, and arguably the best hugger in the house. He has a contagious laugh and a love of rap and hip-hop. Last, but definitely not least, is Grace, our adopted daughter age 4, who despite just having surgery, was bouncing around the living room last night doing some amazing lip singing with a microphone, a la High School Musical. She is a joy and incredibly brave. She was also a dream in those dating college years for us – we sort of always knew we would go find her.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
Honestly, it was a lot of reasons. I can remember conversations in our dating years that we both wanted to adopt and always thought about China. My husband is in Women’s healthcare as a GYN/ONC surgeon and he was always struck by the mass numbers of girls aborted or abandoned in China. I had a literal dream (and I don’t make life decisions solely based on dreams) early in our marriage and I saw who I believe was the grown up version of our daughter – worshipping. This idea grew from a thought, to something we thought we’d do eventually, to something we did “right now” because to not go would have been disobedient. Over a period of about 10 years, the Lord kept speaking and confirming that this was for our family.
Q: Which province is your child from?
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
A really impressive bi-lateral cleft lip/cleft palate
Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
My favorite aspect is this amazing picture of the family of God represented in their love for our daughter. Of course, we delight in her, but to see so many others who carry a genuine love and concern for her is really amazing. That we get that treatment too as we are adopted into God’s family – it’s mind blowing to me. The acceptance no matter where you come from or what you come with – mountain moving love to make sure you are secure. It’s such a beautiful thing. I don’t know if I ever understood it to this degree until after we adopted Grace. So many verses make sense and the power and weight behind them land stronger now.
The hardest part for me in adoption – and I know this would be the case with any of our children – is watching her suffer through surgeries. I hate it. The moment they wheel her back and she’s taken from us – even with the happy juice, I hate that she has to prepare for 7-12 surgeries in her youth. She’s had four so far and the older she gets, the harder it is to prep her for them.
Q: In one or two sentences, what are two tips applying to any part of the adoption process?
No amount of wishing can make the mail arrive any faster or a document show up any sooner. Prayer can, but even better to trust a Sovereign God who knows what you and your waiting child need better than anyone else and not wish a day away pining over the postman. I trained myself to take the ache and offer it to the God of time and give Him my heartbreak over it, and then engage the day He had for me.
Get your own house clean. Not literally, but spiritually. Adoption will test the foundations you stand on – make sure they are solid without false identity, false righteousness, and false beliefs about yourself and God. We can’t sell this kind of freedom to our new children if we haven’t bought it for ourselves.
Q: How has adoption grown, stretched, or changed you?
I am definitely more relaxed and can “roll” with chaos much better than I could three years ago. I think I have a greater appreciation for the pruning that adoption brings and can really embrace it with gratitude. I am always challenged in the best way by Grace’s life and how her determination and resilience mark her days. The purity in which she shows love and asks hard questions also just makes me incredibly grateful. I don’t stress the small stuff as much because we’ve had some big stuff and come through it.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite personal blog posts? Some shared by others on NHBO?
That seems like an awkward question but I’ll give it a try… my favorite posts to write have been the ones that come easily and are light hearted in making a point. Light hearted or tongue in cheek are important to me because I realize that many adoptive parents are simply worn out. It’s good to laugh. I also really like writing anything that points back to God. Adoption really belongs to Him. So, probably What Happens When It Doesn’t Work and The One Thing were the most gratifying for me to write personally.
The second part of this question has enjoyably wasted some hours in answering because I went back to look for the titles of some of my favorites from other authors and got sucked into reading so many that were so good. And looking at the pictures – I love to see the family pictures included from the contributors. So, I like Carrie’s 488 Days, and I am humbled and pay attention to just about anything Jean writes, and because I have some play therapy in my background, loved Mandy’s theraplay post. Really, there are so many beautiful posts written by some beautiful people.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
Book: That is a really hard question and it changes with the season. Lately I’ve been hanging with a few that shape me and that I revisit on a regular basis. “The Spirit of Truth” by Art Katz and Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline.” I also think “To Kill a Mockingbird” is genius.
Quote: “Don’t mess with Texas.”
Verse: That can also change according to the day! Today it is Psalm 134:1 – “Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the house of the Lord!” This is a really precious verse to me because much of the ministry I am involved in happens in the evening and into the night. I’m a member of this phenomenal team of people who wait on the Lord for those who are hurting, trapped in sin or who have been wounded. I love this team and those who come to pray with us. Serving by night in the house of the Lord has become a “band of brothers” of sorts and a second family that I function in. It is sacred ground to take back what the enemy stole from people and watch them become free. To serve in that manner, in the quiet of church in the evening, is such a gift.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
1. I have a fake knee.
2. I serve on the board for the non-profit The Freedom Resource where I’m a speaker and train church prayer teams. I helped write a book on Freedom Prayer too.
3. I remember being really bored in Kindergarten and pretending I was Wonder Woman throughout my school day. Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman – old school but awesome.
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t think I have one. But, this past Easter, we had around 22 people over for dinner and I was walking around the kitchen with oven mitts on both hands. I didn’t take them off and was pulling food out of the oven and simultaneously wiping down the stainless steel on the kitchen sink and wiping the counters. If I wanted to, I could have also wiped some children’s noses so I’m going with the all-purpose oven mitt hack.
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
As scary as the special need may seem on paper to you, or as scary as you can imagine it being, there will come a time when other things in life become just as or more scary. It won’t be the defining scary or hard thing all the time. It is really about seasons and what stands out in those seasons. You will be surprised by how easy it can get, and what other things are actually harder that you didn’t imagine. And, that there are other harder things that don’t even involve your special needs child. The beauty of family is that we are all special in our needs at one time or another.
Q: (Wildcard question; contributor’s choice) What is the funniest thing that your adopted daughter is doing currently?
Currently, she is trying to get away with saying the word “butt.” She is four but she has two brothers and her middle school brother likes that word even though he has been asked not to use it with younger ears around. To get around not saying a “bad” word – Grace is saying things like, “You are a big mean BUTler.” Emphasis on “butt” however, used in the context of a household hired server. A household server who we don’t have or employ. Nice try.