In our Family Spotlight series, we catch up with our foster and adoptive families to highlight their unique and personal stories. This month we are happy to feature our 2021 Photo Contest Winners! This family of eight, based in the South Twin Cities Metro, is full of love for one another. When asked about what makes their family special, one of the kids said, “Our family is special because we always have each other’s backs.” Read more about this family’s adoption story, as told by mom, Becca, below.
Hi Becca, we are so happy for the chance to connect with you and get to know your family. Please introduce us to everyone!
We have six kids and two dogs! Michael, our oldest, is 14. He has a great sense of humor and enjoys snowboarding, making content for his YouTube channel, and playing soccer. Lily, 13, is extremely compassionate and enjoys painting, horses, and hanging out with friends. Sammy and Sadie are our 10-year-old twins, and both are incredibly creative. Sammy likes reading, basketball, and building with Legos. Sadie likes acting, dancing, Legos, writing, and reading. Via is seven-years-old and a natural leader. She enjoys playing with Legos, pretend play, art, and dressing up. Teddy, our youngest, is six. He is super capable and loves to do everything himself. Teddy loves pretend play, Legos, transformers, and ninjas.
Our four oldest kids, Michael, Lily, Sammy, and Sadie were all adopted internationally and our two youngest were adopted through foster care. When my husband Matt and I aren’t busy running kids around to sports and activities, we enjoy walks, game nights, and working on house projects together. When we asked the kids how they would describe our family they all immediately said “crazy!” We love to be goofy together and have fun. One of our kids said, “Our family is special because we always have each other’s backs.”
Tell us about your family’s adoption journey.
We decided to pursue adoption after trying to get pregnant for about a year. Because we always wanted children, it wasn’t a difficult decision for us. We didn’t care if the kids were biological or adopted, we just always wanted a family. We were presented with the opportunity to do IVF first, but we decided against it because we thought it was more important to give kids a home that did not have a family instead of continuing to try to get pregnant.
I always wanted to adopt, so it was a natural transition for us to pursue adoption. We adopted Michael and Lily internationally in 2010. About a year later, we decided we were ready to add to our family, so we adopted internationally again in 2013 and adopted Sammy and Sadie. While we were picking up our twins, we had the opportunity to meet their birth mom. Because of this life-changing experience, we decided to become foster parents. Our passion and our motto as a foster family was to give back to our community by helping families in their greatest time of need. Our hope was to give a lending hand so that birth families could stay together, whenever possible. We fostered for seven years and had 45 children in our home over those seven years. Through this experience, we were given the opportunity to adopt two of our foster kids.
How do you help your children connect with and celebrate their birth cultures and racial and ethnic identities?
One of the easiest, and most delicious, ways we help our kids connect to their birth cultures is by eating food from their country of origin. It has become a tradition to order out from our favorite Ethiopian restaurant for Easter each year. We also celebrate their culture on their adoption days by watching videos and looking at pictures from the time we adopted them.
When we asked our kids what advice they would give a family considering adoption, one of our kids said, ‘Do it. It will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.’
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday as a family?
A typical Saturday for us would be spent together playing games, having a movie night, working on projects together, or going to our kids’ sporting events. In the summer, we love spending the weekend nights together grilling, jumping on the trampoline, and having a bonfire with smores. When we asked the kids their favorite things to do together on the weekends they said: playing outside in the backyard and bouncing on the trampoline together, game nights, playing gaga ball or basketball together, and going to Valleyfair or the Renaissance Festival.
What is one of your favorite family memories?
Some of our favorite memories as a family are going on vacation together – whether on a long road trip, or just a day trip to the beach. On our last family vacation, we surprised the kids by staying at the Great Wolf Lodge for the last few nights of the trip. As we were pulling up, the kids were chatting about how it would be so fun to stay there someday. When we actually arrived at the hotel, they all started to scream with excitement. They could not believe that they were actually going to get to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.
Our kids also love that we celebrate their adoption days each year. Our tradition is that the child we are celebrating gets a lunch date with just Mom and Dad. We always watch old videos of the child and have a special dessert together as a family. All the kids look forward to their adoption day each year and love celebrating their siblings as well.
Our family is special because we always have each other’s backs.
What have you learned about adoption that you weren’t previously aware of?
Through our 13-year journey of adoption and foster care, we’ve learned a lot. Adoption is definitely a beautiful and amazing gift, but we think the heartache, loss, and grief that go along with it are often lost or misunderstood. These children have been through so much to end up in our families as adopted children. We have learned that we also need to let our kids be sad, grieve, and feel the loss of their birth families. We need to be secure in our role as their parents so that we can be emotionally available to love our children, especially in their greatest times of need.
What advice would you give families who are considering adopting?
Be open. Open to a family that looks different and acts different. Open to new cultures and traditions that you can add to your family’s traditions. Open to criticism because many people are not going to understand the different way you parent your kids. Open to new adventures and activities that are out of your comfort zone. Open to your child’s big feelings and experiences and open to loving them through it. When we asked our kids what advice they would give a family considering adoption, one of our kids said, “Do it. It will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.”
What do you wish you would have known about adoption before you started the process?
I think we were probably a little naïve when we started the adoption process. We thought kids are kids. However, we have realized is that kids who are adopted are very special kids that often need a different strategy for parenting and love. We’ve learned over the years how to adapt and change in order to meet each of our children’s unique needs. They have taught us so much about unconditional love and sacrifice. We would do anything for our kids, and we are so grateful for each of them.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from your children?
Some of the greatest lessons we’ve learned from our children are how to love big, how to fight for those in need, and how to laugh and have fun, even when things are hard. Our kids are definitely the pride and joy of our family. We always wanted a big family and adding kids to our family through adoption has been an incredible blessing.
Through this journey, we’ve learned how to love big because our kids need that big, exaggerated, over-the-top love. We need it too. We’re reminded daily that our kids are worth fighting for. Some of their struggles and needs are different from their peers and some of our parenting strategies are different from ours, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. We’ve been through lots of amazingly good times as a family, and we’ve also had some very hard days. But we’ve learned together how to fight for each other, advocate for the extra help they may need, and stand up for our family. It’s a beautiful gift on the best and the worst days.