Q: Can you tell us a little about your family?
Richard and I have been married for almost 15 years and live on a hobby farm in north Atlanta with 6 kids, 1 dog, 2 cats, 2 donkeys, 2 goats and 13 chickens. After a recent science fair fail, we also welcomed 20 goldfish. (Never use live animals for a science fair project.) Richard works in the energy/oil industry, and I stay home homeschooling 2 kids with a baby on my hip by day and helping the kids who go to school with their homework by night.
Ten years ago, we helped start a school in Zambia (Africa) with a group of friends called Wiphan. We were in over our heads, but this is what we spend our free time investing in. We now school 900+ orphans and 150+ widows in our schools there. We live a crazy life, but it’s day by day following Him in it. We also spend our free time with our neighbors we are learning a lot from — everything from gardening to caring for animals. We are city folks gone country learning more by mistakes than anything else!
Q: What led you to adopt from China?
Ohhhhh… this question. How do I not write a book for this one? To make a long story short, I lived in China for a year after graduating from college and fell in love with the people. I studied Mandarin for a year in a law university and lead small groups on the side. There was a little girl whose mother sold cigarettes on the street each day named ShangDanDan. She’d come over for free English lessons and a game of checkers while her mom worked on the streets each day. I fell in love with her and her mom, and when that little thing would grab my hand I just knew I wanted more than anything to be a mom myself one day.
Fast forward 10 years later – we had 4 children, 3 biological and 1 adopted from Africa. Our hands were deep in our African ministry and I thought we were done – until we had a surprise pregnancy. At 12 weeks we lost our baby. My heart no longer felt done.
After my doctor’s appointment following the D&C, the doctor said we were safe to try to have another baby. I’ll never forget going home and telling my husband I’d been thinking so much about ShangDanDan – and could we just pray for waiting children in China? We looked on Rainbow Kids, a site for special needs adoptions, that night to find little sweet loves to pray for, and I saw him. We thought he looked like our Frank. Crazy how you can see things in other children, but we just felt he was our son!
We called the next day.. the paper chase began. And because he was on the Special Focus list things went really fast, we had him home in 9 months! I’ll never forget receiving the I-800 Approval on what was our baby’s due date, God worked in crazy ways to show us everything was part of His plan!
Q: Which province is your child from?
Zeke is from Sichuan Province. I couldn’t believe it when they told us this, because this was the province I had spent so much time in during my year in China, and now where all my dearest friends lived! We got to stay with them when we traveled, and they were there holding the video camera for us on the day we met our son! They are now back in the states working for Lifeline for (un)adopted serving the unadopted of China.
Q: What special needs are represented in your family?
We have a child with hypotonia because of malnourishment, but there has been so much improvement over the many years home. We did a lot of physical therapy the first years home, but you almost wouldn’t know it now. It was really a rough first few year home for our first with lots of unknowns, but the Lord healed him in so many ways and we are forever thankful.
We also have a little guy who came home with epilepsy. Several years ago, the epilepsy diagnosis was dropped after years without a seizure. Now this little one just has hypoglycemia, which they think could have actually been more of what causes seizures.
Q: Favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?
My favorite thing about adoption is how adoption has made me a better mom. To be honest, I started my parenting with this “obey right away” mentality. I wish I could go back to parenting my biological children in the way I studied and learned to parent kids from the hard places because y’all… it’s just a beautiful way to parent all of our kids. I was parenting in the beginning to produce kids who obeyed and made me look a certain way – like everything had order. Now I parent their hearts.
I really think I’ve learned so much more about how the Lord loves, leads, calls us in when we mess up and sits with us when we just need someone there. I can’t go back so I’m thankful for grace and to get to parent all of their hearts deeply and authentically now.
The hardest thing about adoption? Oh man. The brokenness. I’m sad I don’t have the first moments and years with my boys. There’s so many things that make me tear up thinking about what I missed. I’m also so sad for what they have lost. I’m bummed for the questions we will never have answers to. I want to fix things, and I can’t.
There’s just lots of heavy, deep breaths and just holding the hard with them instead. I’m thankful we are here to sit with them, and that we have each other.
Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?
Definitely my parenting as a said before! I’m stretched daily by the little triggers that happen in my boys. I want to Karen Purvis it all day long, but the truth is… I’m so not Karen Purvis. (But gosh when I channel her it really does help.)
In all honesty, I’m just a big puddle now. How can adoption not change you? I waved goodbye to over 200 kids in an orphanage when I left the last time. How can I not be changed? I’ll never forget when one of the orphanage directors grabbed my face with our first adoption and told me that I couldn’t adopt them all, and to just go home and love my son. (Tears. I mean…changed. Forever. Help me do this well Jesus. That. Is. All.)
Q: Can you share a few of your favorite personal blog posts? Some shared by others on NHBO?
I wrote this one last month and it’s still sitting with me. Just a reminder how we were made for so much more, and how He really writes the most amazing stories as we trust Him.
The Skating Rink will always be a favorite of mine I wrote fro NHBO because… y’all we need each other!
I love this one by Rebecca on NHBO. I am a huge Rebecca fan – of her and her writing. How can you not love a warrior mom like that? She champions so beautifully.
I’m just so thankful for all the NHBO writers and how they share their hearts. It’s sweet to be able to read and be reminded we aren’t alone in the busy of our day.
Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?
My favorite book is forever Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I married a Michael Hosea.
My favorite quote is Kip in Napoleon, “Your mom goes to college.” (I’m so sorry – it’s not inspiring… and totally not right. But I love to laugh. So I say that one often.)
My favorite verse is Job 42:2. I mean take Job and all his troubles. And then 42:2. The truth. “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose can be thwarted.” Man. That is solid. I say that all day, every day with or without trouble. Nothing can change what God has planned for you today!
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Hmm… I bet most people don’t know that as a stay-at-home mom I often struggle with loneliness or feeling in a funk too often. Turning 40 has been life changing for me seeing He has me right where I am for a purpose – not to do but to accept where He has me because of His great love for me. I’m surrounded in this season by friends who are 30-40 years older than me, and they are the best friends I have ever had.
Most people also don’t know I’m an introvert and scared to death every time I invite people over. I invite and people gather a lot – and every time I hold my breath 😉
Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?
My kids think it’s cool to make their own lunches – and I’m okay with that. I bought huge, cool tin bins from Walmart and I have snacks that are only for school lunches in them. The kids love making their own lunches and getting to get things from the bin… and I totally release the idea of making lunches topped with a love note from me each day. Responsibility is a good thing, and I like to think they are being taught that while I have a cup of coffee instead 😉
Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?
Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Just know as you follow Him – you will gain so much more than you ever imagined and lose far less than you fear. Sure there have been losses, but the gains are right there with holy ground status. Trust Him. He is faithful.
Q: Wildcard question (contributor’s choice): Is there an interesting or creative way you are investing in self-care this year — taking care of *you* as mom caring for many?
Why yes 😉 I’m so glad you asked… hahaha! So I’m walking with a friend right now who is starting her journey as a single mom – and there is something so beautiful about walking together through hard things (adoption has taught us that too, right?!) She challenged me to start a “Dreams for Me” notebook. So I bought this cheap little compound tiny notebook and – as I have dreams big or small – I jot them down. Then I think and daydream whether in carpool or on walks, little ways to reach them.
Current things in my notebook?
Grow long hair.
Get past my fear of big animals.
Take horse-riding lessons.
Y’all. Pray for me… because my first lesson is next week. I’m so thankful for friends who challenge us to take care of ourselves and to keep learning more about ourselves, pushing ourselves into new spaces and discovering new things that make us come alive.