Q: Tell us a little about your family.
Craig and I met and married in college. We had our oldest two while in seminary and then a few years later came our last bio baby. We have since adopted three children from China. Michigan is where we have made our home for almost nine years now! Craig works from home (in a basement ballet studio) running a website for a family business. I just started China At My Door and stay super busy running kids to school and keeping the house from falling down. We love to play board games and sit around the fireplace in the evenings after school and practices.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
I read a book when I was seven years old. No joke! And ever since then my heart was turned towards the orphans of China. When I started dating Craig I asked him how he felt about China and adoption. When he said he would like to pursue it someday he could have proposed on the spot. LOL
We took the long road to China, starting first by trying to adopt through the domestic waiting child program, and after a year of that we fell in love with a boy from China. The rest is history.
Q: Which provinces are your children from?
Guangdong, Jiangxi, Henan
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
Beta thalassemia, anophthalmia, microphthalmia, brain differences, cognitive impairment, non-verbal, Dandy Walker variant and microcephaly.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
Favorite is watching a child go from unattached and unsure of life in general to loved, attached, growing in confidence each day. I love the way the entire face changes with love. I would say the eyes, but well… we are short on eyes around here.
Hardest is probably the way the family breaks apart individually as well as collectively before rebuilding into something far better. But the rebuilding is hard. It takes so much work and dedication and tunnel vision. It is so hard. Finding that new normal and realizing it is nothing like normal should be is a shock but then you learn to grab it and run with it. Somehow that oddity of the new normal becomes so much better than average ever was.
Q: In just a few sentences, share two tips applying to any part of the adoption process.
Survive. Literally just focus on survival. Wake up, eat, feed people microwaveable meals, fall asleep in the laundry pile, possibly squeeze in a shower once a week but survive at all costs.
The human touch is so healing. So even when you don’t want to find a moment to stroke the head of your new child. Go hug your spouse and stay in that embrace for fifteen seconds. Set a goal to touch at least three times a day in the beginning. Increase it over time and allow it to heal all of you.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
The bigger question is how has it not changed me? I’ve changed so drastically. The biggest change I see is that I now grasp grace. I stopped thinking I had life all figured out and realized I know nothing, not one single thing about how to do this right. There was a time that would have paralyzed me. But grace won me over and I realize that God is breathing out this grace on me daily. So, I just grasp it. I hold onto it. I fail over and over again and I grasp that grace yet again.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite blog posts shared on NHBO? Some from your personal blog?
When It Isn’t Harmonious was one of the hardest but most intimate posts I have written. I love looking back at it and knowing from this side of things how it will all work out for the best. I love knowing that I DID fall in love with Ellie. Gosh, I love knowing that.
On Surviving Adoption I love the post The boy who called me Mama. It feels like it always continues. It is a reminder that there are so many we left behind and how much work there is still to be done.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
I really don’t have one favorite book. Books are my favorite. Period. Our house bleeds books. They are in every last crevice and corner of this place. And we treasure them for their knowledge and the adventures they lead us on when we open them.
Quote: “What if I fall? Oh, my Darling, but what if you fly?”
Verse: “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5 And “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
I struggle deeply with shyness. Strangely, when my husband is with me it disappears. Love him! But when I visit new people or parties alone I have to really make an effort to talk to everyone. I am an extreme introvert who can fake it well but it will wipe me out. If I go out with friends I need a few days at least to just stay home and not even go out at all. If I don’t get to be alone for days at a time I start to feel like my skin is crawling!
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
Paper plates. LOL. For real though a mom of a large family once told me that they are so cheap and worth every dime. She was right. Most nights we dine in on paper plates and then there are only the dishes that I cooked with to clean.
Spread the chores to your children. They will be better human beings for it and you will be able to breathe for a few moments each day.
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
Remember these are children. It is easy to see them as a diagnosis, but that paper, that file, represents a real child who is dealing with all those needs without a parent. They have no one. Yes, carefully consider, pray, research, but please remember they are real children.