Q: Can you tell us a little about your family?
My husband, Eric, and I have six children. Five of our children were adopted from China, and four were born with congenital heart disease. I have been a stay-at-home mom since 2000 and working from home as the Executive Director of Little Hearts Medical since 2014.
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
I had always dreamed of adopting and Eric was open to the idea, so after the birth of our eldest daughter we began researching adoption as a way to further grow our family. Initially we considered the foster-to-adopt program through our state, but once we learned of the China program we felt it would be an excellent avenue for us. After we brought home our daughter and we decided to adopt again, it felt natural to us to pursue the China program once more (or in our case, four more times!).
Q: Which province are your children from?
Jiangxi, Yunnan, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, and Guangxi
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
Congenital heart disease ranging from already repaired in China to end stage heart failure; various developmental delays/disorders; speech disorder; swallowing disorder; neurological impairment.
Q: Favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
My favorite aspect of adoption is watching children bloom. The petals of the flower may not open smoothly, on my anticipated timeline, or without trauma, but they will each be unique in their beauty.
Q: In one or two sentences, what are two tips applying to any part of the adoption process?
Keep an open mind and heart, and trust that you are capable of becoming the parent your child will need. When you choose to adopt a child, you are bringing a child with a history into your life and that history needs to be respected. These children don’t choose the path that leads them to their adoptive families, and it’s not their role to fulfill a dream or fantasy that we may carry.
Letting go of the idea of parenting as a means of self-fulfillment and instead focusing on helping to heal and fill the soul of a child will make the path much smoother.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
Before adoption, particularly before the adoption of our medically complex children, I was a worrier and quite control-oriented. I was often so focused on obtaining a desired outcome that I neglected to appreciate the lessons to be learned in the present.
Experiencing the long-haul parenting of children from trauma and serious medical issues has stripped me of so much unnecessary worry. I enjoy the process now even through the difficulties, and I have faith that the answers are there, even if they don’t look like I anticipated or desired they would.
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite personal blog posts? Some shared by others on NHBO?
Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart Be Broken, published here on NHBO, is my favorite among the pieces I have written. Where do I begin when deciding my favorites from all of those that have been submitted by so many dedicated parents on NHBO? May I answer, “All of them”?
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
Book: Oh goodness, there are too many to count! But if I had to name the book that had the biggest impact on my life and the choices I have made, it would be Alex: The Life of a Child by Frank Deford.
Quote: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Verse: Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have a Bachelor’s in Scientific/Industrial Photography with a specialty in Biomedical and Forensics.
In my spare time, I am currently working on tasting every flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
This probably doesn’t qualify as a hack, but I try to live by the motto “If it needs to be done next week, do it yesterday!”
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
You have the opportunity through your children to become the best version of yourself. The process may sometimes bring out the worst in you, but if you aren’t afraid to look directly at your reflection during those times and you are dedicated to improving and stepping out in to new territory, you may discover that many things you thought were too difficult are really not insurmountable after all.