Sweet home Alabama is where my story begins . . . but it took a few trips around the world before I realized that Birmingham was exactly where I needed to be. I grew up in Oxford, went to college in Auburn, and then met a man from Arkansas – while on a trip to Africa! After a (very) long-distance relationship, we were married in 2009. Together we founded The Sound of Hope, where we work to provide rescue, protection, and holistic care to orphans and vulnerable children around the world.
Our hearts (and time) have been split between here and other countries and cultures since our love story began. We’ve logged a lot of hours in cars (speaking around the Southeast) and planes (traveling to our children’s homes in Thailand, Burma, India, and Africa). We even enjoyed several beautiful months living in northern Thailand for work. But our first few years of marriage were spent in a little house in Michigan (when we weren’t traveling, of course).
It didn’t take long for us to realize that we belong south of the Mason-Dixon line. As much as we loved the snow, we were homesick for sweet tea, SEC football, and springtime in the South! We also missed our family and friends terribly – and we knew we wanted to be closer to them once we started a family. In 2011 we came back to “sweet home Alabama”, and settled in Birmingham to plant our roots. After all our time spent overseas, we loved the diversity and culture we found in the city. In 2013, we were thrilled to buy a home in Crestwood North – where we found that Southern hospitality is alive and well! Our neighbor-friends make our life so much sweeter!
We loved living in Birmingham as a married couple – the slow Saturday mornings spent at the farmer’s market, delicious dinners at our favorite local restaurants, and nights out watching live music at one of the many music venues! These days, though, we are experiencing the city through fresh eyes as parents for the first time. We enjoy taking our daughter out for her favorite “pink ice cream” at Crestwood Pharmacy, to lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant (Blue Pacific), or for an afternoon of fun at one of the many beautiful parks in the area. As she grows up, we can’t wait to introduce her to all the incredible things that Birmingham has to offer!
When my husband and I decided to start our family via international adoption from Thailand, we never guessed it would take almost five heart-wrenching years to get our daughter home. Our journey was full of mis-steps and mistakes, roadblocks, and detours. There were many days when we wondered if we would ever meet the child we’d prayed for and loved for so long. We were determined to see it through, though, and on December 18, 2016, we landed at the Birmingham airport with our precious little girl in our arms! We were so thrilled to finally welcome Kate home!
I had a beautiful and brutal first year as a mom. Becoming a first time parent to an almost-four year old has a pretty steep learning curve. Being an instant mom to a child who has just lost her home, caregivers, friends, language, culture (and everything else familiar) was unbelievably difficult. I have learned so much about trauma, loss, grief, and love this year. People say that adoption is beautiful – but they often forget that it begins with brokenness. Adoption is a redemptive response to a tragic loss. I am learning how to grieve with my daughter and for my daughter, how to help her heal, and how to heal myself (from the losses I’ve experienced by mothering an older child). I am learning what it means to be in a transracial family and how to parent a child of a different race. I am learning the importance of maintaining my daughter’s language and culture – and once again, I am grateful for the diversity our wonderful city provides!
Most of all, though, I’m learning how to be grateful. After so many years with an empty house and an aching heart, my Thai darling is HOME. These days I am trying to soak up every beautiful moment with our girl . . . every giggle, snuggle, adventure, discovery, and milestone she experiences. I feel so lucky to get to be “Mama” to our smart, strong, kind, compassionate, dramatic, adventurous, beautiful little love – and I would endure all we went through a million more times just to get to call her mine.
Considering that I’m the author of our nonprofit blog (where I write about The Sound of Hope), business blog (where I write about our video and photography company, RJackson Media), and my personal blog (where I write about our adoption) – it seems a little bit crazy to have committed myself to yet another blog! But when I heard about BMB, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share my heart with other moms! I hope to share some of my perspective as an adoptive mom with others on their adoption journey, and with those of you wondering how to support your adoptive mom friends, too! I’m also looking for the opportunity to share some fun, creative posts that wouldn’t have a home on my other blogs. Most of all, though – I’m excited to CONNECT with my fellow mom bloggers, and with you, our readers! Working from home (for 10 years and counting) can be pretty lonely . . . so I’m really looking forward to the stories we’ll share in this space. Now that you know a little bit about me, I hope you’ll comment below so I can get to know you too!