What first led you to adoption?
*My husband, surprisingly 🙂 In July 2004, he came to me, hands shaking, and told me that we had a daughter in China. I thought he was crazy! I think HE thought he was crazy, too!! But God had spoken to him and there was no denying it! We had never discussed adoption and I don’t think either of us had ever considered it. Ever.
Did you ever think after adopting once that you would be back for more?
*With each adoption we’ve always thought that this adoption would complete our family. Obviously, God has changed our minds each time, because we are heading back to China for #4 😉
Did you always plan a on a large family or did God slowly lead you to one?
*Our last biological son, Dalton, was born in 2001. We were done with him, we thought. So sure that we made *sure* that we wouldn’t be having any more biological kiddos. So when God brought the idea of adoption into our family, we were all surprised! And with each child, we’ve thought, “Surely, we can make room for one more…” and it’s always been much easier than we’d expected. So yes, God has slowly, slowly, lead us to grow our family. I think if He’d mentioned something about doubling the size of our family at the outset, we’d have run for cover!!
Mom To Six said…
How in the world did you get Chris to go back again, and do you think this is it?
*I have tried very hard, each time, to defer to Chris for the final decision. There have been many tears shed and many prayers said on my part over little ones that had captured my heart. But the reality is that I DO have a mama’s heart and I know that. So, in an effort to stay in touch with what God wanted us to do, and not rely on my emotions (which is a bad idea, anyway!) I committed to waiting for Chris to make the final decision. And he has each time. I knew that if God had another child in our future, He would definitely make it clear to Chris. And I am very blessed to have a husband who is open to God’s leading. So I tried my best to be still and wait, knowing it would be much easier for Chris to hear from God if I wasn’t chattering away at him all the time.
And do I think this is it? Uh, no. Neither does Chris. ‘Nuff said 😉
Here’s my question …
what is the secret to affording, raising & parenting 6 children?
*Well, first of all, it’s almost 8 kids now 🙂 And I guess our ‘secret’ really isn’t a secret, it’s learning to prioritize and then live our lives in a way that demonstrates those priorities. Our family is THE most important thing in our lives. So that means we choose to give up things that aren’t necessary. We don’t do a lot of extra things, we don’t have lots of new clothes, we don’t spend tons of $ on birthdays and Christmas. We don’t eat out a lot (‘cept McD’s and making an occasional ‘run for the border’, where we can all eat for $20). We teach our kids about God and what He expects of them, His rules and how He is at work around them all the time. We expect our children to be part of the family unit, help out, and be obedient to us. We always keep in mind that they are still children, but know that eventually their obedience will be to their Heavenly Father, when we are no longer in the position of primary influence. We try to keep an eternal perspective instead of a worldly perspective, realizing that little lives and hearts are worth infinitely more than any ‘thing’ the world has to offer.
After growing-up in a one-income family (with four girls), I’m curious to know about your budget–not necessarily specifics but maybe just about grocery shopping. How do you keep food spending under control? Thanks so much for sharing!
*In September, we stared on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It’s a budget set up based upon spending cash only, paying off ALL debt (excluding mortgage) and getting rid of all credit cards. It’s been a challenge, for sure, but we have always been a bit on the *frugal* side. I say ‘a bit’ because I realize that frugality, like many things, is relative. I’ve never searched circulars and shopped different stores to save a buck or two. We, thankfully, have the commissary (a military grocery store) which saves us a good bit of $. I do try to check prices weekly and if something is much cheaper at WalMart (which has happened before) I’ll hold off. But most times, we save at least 25% off our groceries by shopping at the commissary. We spend about $150 week on groceries, which I consider to be very reasonable. I really don’t have to watch what we buy at the grocery, I just try to avoid buying anything we won’t use, if a child requests something special, I’ll buy it, but then they’d better eat it! I buy a lot of my boys’ clothes at Goodwill. Now this might not be some people’s proverbial ‘cup of tea’, but I love to go to the Goodwill… I find some great stuff there. It’s the only place I can go and afford anything in the place! Since my boys love to dress themselves, and anything goes where boys and ‘matching’ are concerned, I buy Gap and Old Navy jeans and tees at Goodwill and then pass them down from oldest to youngest. Jude is so much younger than Dalton, I’ve had to buy him a lot of *new* stuff, but my sister, Angie, has given me a lot of her son’s clothes.
Now, for my girls, Goodwill doesn’t work. I do find a few things there for play, but not much. I buy a lot of their clothes off ebay in lots. Or when Gymbo is having a big sale.. I’ve been known to spend some major dinero. I love to buy a lot of a certain line (I do love Gymboree for my girls 😉 ) and dress them similarly, but not identically. When they outgrow it, I resell the clothes that don’t have holes or stains at a local consignment sale. Many times I make back what I paid for the clothes. It can be laborious, but it’s how I justify dropping the big $!
Chris and I are pretty low maintenance. We shop at Old Navy mostly, and if I have to buy something dressier I usually hit Marshall’s. I’m really better with a smaller selection, I lose my mind at the mall. And I don’t stress too much about clothes, I’d rather spend the time, energy and $ on my family! That said, I do try to look nice for my man, so when I need some updating, I don’t wait for him to have to tell me to get with it 😉 I color my own hair, don’t do my nails (unless you consider clipping with a nail clipper ‘doing’) and really don’t mind living without a lot of those extras. Being able to bring home our babies has been MORE than worth it… a million times over!!
The Ferrill’s said…
Do you have to straighten your hair or does it just naturally looked so brushed and coiffed like that?
*Girl… I spend less than 10 minutes on my hair. It’s stick straight. And believe me, when we finally get together, you’re gonna see it does not look ‘coiffed’ in person! I get out of the shower and it takes 8 minutes to blow dry. I know it’s just 8 minutes because often that’s all the time I’ve got!
What was the most difficult part of your time spent in China? The most amazing (Gotcha moment not included)?
*For me, the most difficult part was making the trip(s) without Chris. It was lonely and scary at times. The jet lag is SO tough, SO exhausting… and without sleep, I am a different (in a bad way!) person. The absolute *worst* time of all the trips was the first few days after we adopted Jude. He was in pretty bad shape, his head was super misshapen, he had an infection on his head, there was something funky going on with his eye, he was very stoic and his feet just freaked me out!! Jude’s adoption was our third SN adoption, but our first ‘physical’ SN. And I like to think of myself as pretty tough, but there is a huge difference between looking at someone else’s child and looking at your own. I truly felt overwhelmed by what his needs might be. It’s embarrassing to admit, since I had seen a picture of his feet, but his feet looked so deformed, his little ankles were all bruised, I was afraid that Dr. Ponseti would never get them corrected. I spent several sleepless nights sitting on the floor of our hotel bathroom, crying on the phone. Again and again I reminded myself of how God had lead us to Jude, and Chris reminded me, “God doesn’t change His mind!” Chris and my sister Angie were my ‘rock’ at that time, reassuring me that for many, the initial few days can be tough, but that things would get much easier as the days passed. Indeed, within days I was feeling renewed and reassured that everything was going to be fine. And now, clearly, I am totally in love with the boy!! But those first few days were very stressful, frightening and emotionally overwhelming. And it was our third adoption. To say I was caught off guard would be an understatement! My advice for any waiting parent is to have support IN PLACE when you go to get your child, either in person or waiting back at home: emotional support and medical support, if you can arrange it. Some people have a fairy tale ‘gotcha’ experience but I would guess that most are difficult in some aspect. I don’t want to frighten anyone, but I hope that my experience might help better prepare other waiting parents who might find themselves in a similar position, having a surprisingly difficult initial adjustment.
I think the most amazing experience would have to be the Great Wall… it was truly spectacular. And I am really not into ‘stuff’ like that. But it was something you do NOT want to miss. We went to the Mutianyu section which was much less popular so we felt like we had the Wall all to ourselves. And May is a gorgeous time of year to be there 🙂 The most fun was the time right after we settled in with Jude and headed to Guangzhou. Tori and I had a blast shopping, hitting Starbucks, just goofing off with Jude in the room at the White Swan. Of course, it helped a lot that by this time, my body clock was finally adjusting to China time 😉
There are still more questions that I have not answered yet. I will do my best to answer them all, so if you’re interested in the musings of a slightly nutty, God loving, fly- by- the- seat- of- her- pants kinda mom, stay tuned 😉
I certainly LOVE this slightly nutty, God loving, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants mama! I love the answers. I love hearing you “talk”. I love that you are a human being following God’s plan. I love that you are YOU!!!
Oh, and one more question:
Do you know when you have to move again and where it will be yet?
(OK, that was really two)
OH! It is so nice to read about your focus on eternal things rather than earthly things! I wish we lived nearby so we could do some frugal shopping together and then make a “run for the border!”
Mary Beth says
I will definitely stay tuned. I love reading your answers, learning about your family and hearing how God has worked in your lives. He is amazing and what He has done through your family’s faith is inspiring and challenging. Again, I thank you for sharing your faith and your story.
Mom to my China Posse says
Your amazing! I loved your answers and found alot of my answeres were similair to yours, especially the doing without awhole lot of extras , like fancy clothing and getting my nails done. Just recently came across at word on Oprah for me……. I am a slumpadinka! Which in my words is a sweat shirt and jeans type of gal! I might just have to do a whole post on just that!
Michelle - Blessed Mother of Two says
I just love your honesty and hearing how you and Chris let faith lead you in every aspect of your life.
I love how completely honest you are in this post. It’s reading this post and pieces of other people’s posts that I believe will help me prepare for whatever SN my little Karleigh Mei will have. And that however I will feel is “normal”. Thank you for sharing your heart. Golly…I wished you lived near me! You are a gem!
Well, there you go, helping me out once again! About 2 weeks after we received our SN referral of a girl with a heart defect…I FREAKED out!! I mean bad! And that’s significant because I spent 5 years as a nurse working with children with heart defects. It was comforting to know that I’m not alone. Now I realize that I might have another moment like that but that somebody else has gone through that too. And Chris’s words are just what I needed to hear (and did) during that “freak out” time. Thanks for taking time out to bless so many of us!
John & Michelle says
With any other mom I think I’d be embarrased to ask this…did you feel “love” for your kids as soon as you met them in China or is that an emotion that grew as you got to know each other? You can email me if you wish this answer to be private.
great answers!! Love your honesty.: ) As you know we have adopted twice, both NSN and are now adopting SN. I am a bit nervous, but feel it is the right path for us : )
Your honesty is so refreshing and real! I love this post. I have enjoyed your Q & A session so much. I can’t wait to hear more answers…
Great Q&A!!! Thanks for sharing.
Chris & Deb says
I love the Q&A too Stefanie! It is just amazing to hear how it all works so well! You are one well-oiled machine……not really “machine”….can one say “well oiled family?” 🙂
Loving EVERY post and thanking God for the home HE choose for these precious, beautiful children! Your faith is inspiring! Thanks for sharing SO much!
bOh, WOW! I had a similar experience to Chris’s where I believe God told me we would adopt another child. My husband’s response was, “I think you’re crazy.” Too weird. Still, I am so glad I read this post because I am biting my tongue and praying that God does the convincing. So, I’ll try to keep my lips zipped so he can hear God. Not any easy task for a motor mouth like me who really, really wants to persuade my DH ASAP!!!
Thanks again for sharing Stefanie. I hope you answer the question about “What kind of car do you drive.” …Is it a BIG VAN????
Thanks for sharing all that, Stefanie…the prioritizing for the kids really made a lot of sense to me (I know – simple thing! But those of us who haven’t BTDT yet, it’s hard to imagine how one does manage)
and your honesty about your experience with Jude and your Gotcha panics is very helpful.
Stacy & Andrea says
Fun Fun Girl! Big Big Life! Ain’t God Grand?
Chad and Sandy says
I’m so glad that you love Goodwill! It’s my all time favorite store! I’ve been blessed to be a fulltime mom (finally!) and Goodwill has helped me get there!
I love these Q&A posts! Thanks for sharing your amazing life and how you do it all. I love hearing how others deal with the challenges of parenting, especially with so many children. It’s very inspiring. You make it sound so simple and profound all at the same time! Best of all you love it and that is the best gift you can give your children. They may not have the priciest clothing, toys, etc., but having parents who cherish them is what really matters.
Thank you Stephanie for being “Real”! Your honesty is such a blessing and refreshing!
*The weather was Terrible Fri. but we did go to Moneky Joes and had a blast!!! We will be back later, maybe we can meet then!!
I am really loving these posts Stef.. and you can refer to me as Kris- I’m going to change that back :O)
I was really moved by your candid response to my question. I had no idea, and it helps tremendously seeing how it really is, not how we might paint it in our minds.
Anonymous here … thank you so much for answering my question (what is the secret to affording, raising & parenting 6 children?
). I do want to appologize when I said “6” children … I knew you were on your way to #8, however I know your oldest is in college & your youngest (Shepard) is not home yet thus you have 6 kids in the home at the moment. I am sorry if I accidently insulted you. That was not my intention. I really enjoy your blog. I am inpired by your passion to Christ & your large family full of love. Thank you for answering questions. I have found your answers VERY helpful. Again, I appologize if I accidenly insulted you in my question …I hope you have a wonderful day. 🙂
Kelly O says
did you say you “We spend about $150 week on groceries,” I’d love to see your grocery list girl! How do you keep it under $150 for that many people? I have trouble keeping it to $100 & there is only 2 of us.
When do you find any Mommy & Daddy time??? Please tell me you do get some alone time?!?
Ebay for buying & selling clothes … Oh I have so much to learn from you!!
When I come home from China with my first can I email you for advice please? You SO have it together …
Hi Anonymous! No, I wasn’t offended at all, just clarifying 🙂 You are right, our oldest isn’t at home, but we’re still raising her, in a sense, and probably will be for a while 😉
Thanks for the question and glad to hear you enjoy following the blog!
The Byrd Family says
Wow! I think $150.00 a week for groceries is awesome for a family your size!
I love hand me downs and I love to give hand me downs!
I love this post….some great ideas!
Blessed. I could leave it at that. But I’m not going to! As someone who has to straighten their hair (just to avoid the ‘fro’) I can assume that God gave you straight locks because He knew that you would one day have your hands FULL of babies (& going to China in the HEAT) I am also a-m-a-z-e-d at what you get by at the grocery & we go to the commissary too! Our family of 4 probably spends close to that! yikes!! Somethings gotta give! Thanks to be to GOD for your testimony of how truly scary & exhausting gotcha can be. We need to hear that. As a PAP of a SN babe, I spend time worrying about the very things you mentioned. I see such ‘happy’ stories and pray that ours will be ‘happy’ too – but there is a certain amount of fear & unknown & just plain FAITH involved. staying tuned for more!! happy trails 🙂
thanks so much i am leaving in 8 days for SN child who is 6 and it helps to talk and read about others journeys! also how you live is wonderful to know- I told my husband if we want more kiddo’s time to get “pinch-a-pennyish”
You have got it goin on! I have said it before but oh man you are an inspiration to me. I like how you keep it real! I want to call TLC and tell them how great your family is! Have you seen John and Kate plus eight? Its a story of a family who had two multiple pregnancies, twins then six, I think thats Quintuplets!? How cool to have an adoptive family on reality T.V. Can you imagine that!
I have enjoyed all your adoption journies and its also helped me on mine!
I so love your mommy heart!
God Bless you guys
Thank you for taking some of your precious time to share. I think about you every morning when I have to get only 2 “up and at um” 🙂
A big thumbs up for debt free living.
All your answers were great, but I was particularly touched by your obvious love and respect for your husband, and faithfulness to God, in deferring to Chris for a each adoption. In addition, your candor in relaying all your emotions when you first met Jude is greatly appreciated as a future parent to a SN child. God bless!
I agree, I have wondered what you drive! We have a bit freaked at the prosptect of adopting 3 more all at once knowing that our entire family will no longer fit in our Town & Country mini van!
I have also wondered if you know that you know that you know that the Lord has called you specifically to Chinese orphans or do you think you all would ever consider adopting from another country? (you know I ask because we always thought we would go back to China for a girl and the Lord clearly showed us that we would go to Africa instead.)
Your blog really is a ministry outreach! Thank you for your openness and for your LIGHT that reflects the SON.
Holly in NC
I just love reading you honest answers….
I want to know how you are getting child after child from china… Basically 4 in four years, when some couples have been waiting two or three years for their FIRST referral. Something about it just doesn’t seem right (nor fair) to me.
Love your answer to the last one…love your honesty…inspiring. 🙂
hey- you need to teach me how to do the e-bay thing. We shop at our local consignment, but I need to branch out. next chat, you will need to hook me up! 😉
Much Ado says
Wow, what an amazing story of God’s grace, adventure and goodness you have! I just loved reading this post. Blessings! 🙂
I LOVE your blog. It was so inspiring to read your story. We have 3 bio and are in process for our 1st adoption…a little girl from Taiwan!