Q: Can you tell us a little about your family?
I have been married to my high school sweetheart for sixteen years and we have five amazing children. I am a teacher turned homeschooling mom, and my husband is a web developer. We were blessed with our three biological children fairly early on in our marriage and felt as though our family was complete.
God had different plans and in the spring of 2011 we began to feel a strong pull toward adoption and foster care, and after the required 36 hours of training we became licensed foster parents. Our original hope was to foster and at some point adopt through the foster system, but as time went on the desire to adopt became stronger and God soon opened our hearts to international adoption which eventually led us to the China special needs program.
In September 2012 we began the process to adopt from China, and in January 2014 we adopted our precious boy. From that point on my heart belonged to China and all of the waiting children, and after being home only six months we began thinking about a second adoption. Although it took a bit longer than we expected due to an agency change, we eventually brought our sweet daughter home in December 2015.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
I can’t pinpoint any one thing that ultimately led us to China. When we decided that we wanted to fully pursue adoption we researched both domestic and international adoption, and after deciding on international adoption we began researching different countries. All sorts of factors played into our decision, but China was always at the top of our list and in the end we knew that it was the best fit for us.
Q: Which provinces are your children from?
Jiangsu and Jiangxi.
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
Anorectal malformation and thalassemia.
Q: Favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
My favorite part of adoption is watching our children blossom and thrive, and goodness do I love them something fierce! Seeing our older kids with their two youngest siblings has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined and the bond they have formed melts my heart.
The hardest part has been adjusting my parenting perspective and realizing that parenting adopted children is very different than parenting biological children. It has been a learning process for sure and I am still a work in progress.
Q: In one or two sentences, what are two tips applying to any part of the adoption process?
My first tip is to find your tribe, and by that I mean adoptive mama friends who are walking the same road that you are (online and in real life). Make an effort to connect with fellow adoptive moms who are parenting children with the same special needs, who have experienced the same struggles, and who have been through similar circumstances.
My second tip is to just breathe. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the paperwork and seemingly endless steps (complete with acronyms) that you miss other stuff along the way, and I fully acknowledge that I was guilty of this more times than I’d like to admit.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
I honestly could not list all of the ways adoption has grown and changed me. Visiting an orphanage gives you a whole new perspective on life and it is one of those things that once you know about it you can never turn away. I know I will always advocate for the precious children who need families and I know my heart will forever be intertwined with adoption, orphans, and China.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite personal blog posts? Some shared by others on NHBO?
Most of what I do at NHBO is behind the scenes, but occasionally I do manage to turn out a post and my favorite is probably the post I wrote on International Adoption Clinics because I think it is a great resource for adoptive families (and because I’m a research junkie).
As for my favorite NHBO posts it is so hard to choose because NHBO has so many talented contributors, but some of the posts I often go back to read and share are Yes. and I Could Never Do That by Rebecca, Adoption Changes Everything and This Is What I Know by Whitney, and Samaritan by Katie.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
In what feels like a past life I was an avid reader and would read multiple books per week, but in this season of life I am lucky if I read four or five books a year. Some of my favorite books from my days of avid reading are The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kisses From Katie, and Mere Christianity.
Favorite quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliott
One of my all-time favorite verses is “From the end of the earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
My very first job in high school was working at Chuck E Cheese (and yes, I had to dress up as the mouse a few times).
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
I almost never sort laundry. I do laundry by room and I only sort it if there are special wash items (delicates, bright colors, or items being washed for the first time). In practice, it looks like this: our boys share a bedroom so on their laundry day my older son takes their dirty clothes basket to the laundry room where I put all of the clothes in the washer (if I can’t fit it all in one load and I have to split it into two loads I might sort it into lights and darks if I have time). Once it is washed and dried I put it back into the basket and my son takes it back up to their bedroom where they help fold and put away. I then do the same thing for the girls’ bedroom and our bedroom.
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
Keep an open mind and remember that behind every file is a child who is so much more than their special need, and whose greatest need is a family. Though it may not feel like it, you are so much stronger than you know.