My best friend Becka and her husband, Zack, have been trying for six years to add more children to their family of three. Becka and Zack have an 8-year-old daughter named Sarah. I really thought hard about what questions to ask because I know for some adopting a child is not in their initial family plan.
What are some of your best and some of your worst childhood memories?
B – I grew up in a very loving and stable home. Some of my best memories are eating around the dinner table every night as a family and traveling. My parents instilled in me a love for learning and growing that I hope to pass on to my own kids. My teenage years were the worst for me as a child. I think that is fairly common, though. I pushed boundaries, and my parents pushed back. I will not be the same way my parents were, but I’m grateful that they cared enough to discipline.
Z – Some of my favorite memories are holidays spent with family and time at my Nana’s house in MA. My parents were pretty toxic together, and my dad was abusive and had bipolar so that was always hard. My parents divorced when I was 17, and I’ve had very little to do with my dad since. Even with those situations, I try to have a positive outlook on life. The good memories I have of my childhood far outweigh the bad. I was so lucky to have the mother and grandparents that I did. They’ve truly shaped who I am today.
How do you think your growing up years have shaped who you are now? Do you think that your childhood impacts the way that you parent?
B – I grew up in the military and moved around my whole life. Because of that, I can make friends easily, but I also don’t let many people in. I feel like that has really impacted the people I’ve met in my adult years. I try to give my daughter the same confidence and happiness in meeting new people that I have. I guess it’s hard to know if those characteristics will be passed on.
Z – I would say that I am a very passive and diplomatic person because of my growing up years. I never want to be like my dad was and that has directly affected how I am as a father today.
How did you and your husband meet? Is there a funny story behind that?
B – My husband and I met at BYU-I in 2010. We had instant chemistry and went from MEET to MARRIED in three months. I was 18 and he was 24, but it felt like we’d known each other forever. I don’t think there is anything super funny, but the timing felt meant to be. I’m still in love with him to this day, and we share the same chemistry ten years later.
Z – Ditto.
Were you married for a long time before you decided to start your family?
B – We’ve always wanted children. The number has fluctuated over the years, but we were married a little less than a year before we decided to start our family. Turns out, our daughter was a miracle because we have struggled with secondary infertility since having her.
What does your family like to do for fun?
B – We enjoy watching movies, being outside, entertaining friends, and spending time together.
What are some of your family’s favorite movies to watch together?
B – We have loved Greatest Showman, the Frozen series, all the Marvel movies, and Harry Potter.
What is one of your family’s favorite vacation spots and why?
B – If we had to pick one of our favorite spots, it would have to be North Carolina. We fell in love with the coast, the farmland, the mountains…everything. We would love to own a vacation home there someday.
What is your family’s favorite meal to eat?
B – Anything grilled! We love the summers in Idaho because we get to break out the grill more often. We love trying new foods as well, and cooking is one of our hobbies we enjoy doing together.
Where do you like to go and/or do when you and your husband go on a date?
B – I enjoy being outside and going out to places: new restaurants, new experiences, etc. I would say that I’m much more adventurous. I’ve been trying to be more healthy so a lot of our dates recently have been sunset walks. We are in a very busy stage of life, so any time we have to steal away is wonderful!
Z – I love just being with Becka, but I am more of a homebody. I enjoy staying in and cuddling and watching a movie or show. We love to cook, and I also love going out to new (or old) places to eat. Like Becka said, we are pretty busy, so time has been small lately. One of my favorite times of the day is watching a show after work together. It’s a great decompression time for us.
What are your favorite or memorable anniversary places or something given to each other?
BZ – We just celebrated our 10th anniversary this year and went to Bear Lake. It was a blast! Zack got me a wedding band which has been one of my favorite gifts. We hope to travel to Ireland or go on a cruise next year. We’ve always wanted to travel, and hopefully, we get that chance soon.
Where is your favorite place you’ve lived as a family? And why?
B – One of our absolute favorites was Paducah, Kentucky. It was a small river town in the upper western corner of Kentucky. The people were incredible (talk about southern charm!), and the quaint atmosphere of the small town made it dreamy. There were a few too many bugs for our taste, but we would absolutely still be living there had we had the chance to. We loved how open everyone was about God and how neighborly and helpful people were.
Did you and your husband discuss how many kids, names, etc. before you were married?
B – We touched on it lightly before we got married. I even had Zack write a letter to our future child(ren). I should find that. I always knew he’d be a good dad, and he is. We didn’t really talk names, but we know our future kids’ names now!
What are some family traditions that you have as far as holidays go?
B – Family traditions are some of my very favorite things. One tradition I brought to our family was singing the hymn “Now the Day Is Over” before bedtime and prayers each night. My family did that, and I’ve loved that continuation. I would say we have a small tradition for each holiday. For Valentine’s Day, we set the table super fancy (even with menu cards) and have a yummy dinner. For Christmas, we have a whole list of movies we love to watch before Christmas. In the fall, we always carve pumpkins, and one of our new traditions is a “spooky dinner” where we decorate the house all scary and dress up. Family and friends come over, and we do a themed dinner. It’s a blast!
What are some of your hobbies? Both personally and as a family?
B – I’m super creative and love to do anything and everything that involves art and creativity. Zack loves video games, reading, and building things out of wood. Sarah loves to read and be outside. She is also very creative and just discovered whittling on our latest camping trip.
How would you describe your personality?
B – I’d describe myself as an extroverted/introvert. I love being out with people and doing things, but after a while, I need to be alone to recharge. I’m definitely more emotional and “red” in my personality type and love to take charge and be in charge. I am organized and never on time and value memory-making.
Z – I’m also an extroverted/introvert, but I have way more of the introverted tendencies. I can do small amounts of time with others and need to be alone to recharge more than Becka. Right now, I work a lot, and that takes up most of my time, but I would describe myself as a happy and patient man. I am hardworking and value integrity.
What is the highest priority you consider as a family?
B – Our highest priority is each other. Nothing comes before God. We try to be as close and happy together as we can. Family is everything.
What are the hardest parts of parenting for you?
B – With myself being back in college and Zack working 60+ hours a week, I think the hardest part about parenting is finding time for it…if that makes sense. It’s hard to juggle so many things at once, and raising a happy, healthy daughter (kids) is a number one priority for us. Parenting is always hard, but one of the biggest things right now is making sure we are paying close attention to Sarah’s raising…not letting things slip through the cracks during this vital stage of her life.
What made you decide that adoption or foster care would be a good fit for your family?
B – I’ve known since I was 12 that I wanted to adopt one day. I always thought it would be the last few kids we would adopt, but it’s looking like our adopted children will be our middle children. I would love to have one or two more pregnancies, and we want Sarah to have siblings her age so “filling the gap” will be kind of where we lie. Foster care is something I’ve also always been interested in. I would love to adopt teens later in life so they have a home to go to.
Z – I also have always known I’d adopt. I love all children, and so many need good homes. Becka and I talked about adoption when we were dating, so it’s always been in the cards for us. “When” has been the biggest issue. We still don’t know what our journey with adoption will be, but we know that it is right for us.
Have you thought about where you might want to adopt such as which agency you might want to use, and how did you make that decision?
B – Adoption is extremely expensive. We’ve never been in a situation where private adoption is an option, so foster care has always been our focus. Zack has family who grew up in the foster system and has always wanted to go that route. I think it was never really a question of how we’d do it.
Have you discussed with your child anything in regards to adoption and, if so, does she have positive or negative feelings about it?
B – We discuss adoption all the time with our daughter. How it will be so exciting to add more kids to our family and what a great big sister she will be. She has always reacted positively and wants us to hurry up. She really doesn’t like being an only child. That’s one sad thing about infertility. You have no control over it, and our daughter is getting old enough that she questions why we haven’t added any more. Just not our time yet.
Are you for or against adopting internationally and why?
B – Not at all. We are both open to any kind of adoption. I know one concern we’ve had is our [adopted] child feeling “out of place” or “different.” We would love them regardless, but you have to take your child’s feelings and thoughts into consideration. For now, we are focused on adopting children from the U.S.
If you were to adopt or foster an interracial child, would you make sure that the child knows what his or her heritage is?
B – Absolutely, no questions asked. It is important to know where you come from. We would embrace their heritage and culture with open arms and enthusiasm. A family we know adopted a little girl from China. They celebrate all the Chinese holidays and made it a point to learn about where she came from. I think that adds love and stability to any relationship. When we feel loved and valued, we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin, and that goes more so for children.
Do you have a specific age range that you would foster or adopt from?
B – We would love to keep our daughter the oldest. She was born first, and we have been counseled to keep her as the oldest. Right now, we want to “fill the age gap,” so our daughter has siblings closer to her age. We hope to have a few more children of our own, but that gap is large, and it’s fun to have siblings closer in age to you.
Would you be willing to adopt a child who’s older, possibly older than your daughter?
B – We might be open to it if the right situation came along, but for now, we would like to keep our daughter as the oldest. In the natural progression of things, she would be the oldest anyway.
Would you be willing to adopt a child with special needs and why or why not?
B – We would be open to it, but it would need to depend on the child and where we were as a family. Different parents are equipped to handle different special needs. I don’t think we would be equipped to handle every special need, but some we could absolutely handle.
How old is too old an age for you to consider when adopting or fostering?
B – There is no maximum age for us overall, but the family composition plays a role, and we are planning on younger children right now. We would love to adopt older children and teens later in life and plan to do so.
If you were to foster, would you be willing to foster siblings together so they wouldn’t be split up?
B – Absolutely. At this point, we almost prefer it because we want more kids, and our daughter has gone so long without siblings it would be nice to “catch up” and add more fun and laughter into our home. We are definitely ready for lots of little ones.
If you were to adopt and were chosen, would you want to be in the delivery room with the expectant mother and why?
B – That would be an amazing experience. We didn’t know that was a thing! It would be a very bonding experience for us and our child and also with the birth mother. Emotions run high in those kinds of situations, so it would depend on what the birth mother wanted. It would also be cool to tell your adopted child that you were THERE for their birth and experienced it. As a parent, we wouldn’t have missed ANYTHING.
What are your feelings on an open adoption versus closed adoption? Which would you prefer?
B – I think it depends on the situation again. We would prefer a closed adoption but would be open to keeping contact with special family members. Closed adoption makes things less complicated, but if an open adoption would be healthier for our child, we would work with that. We are fully aware that foster/adopting older children comes with more and would expect situations like that to come up.
If you were looking to foster before adopting, would you be worried about the home study that is done and why?
B – Nope. We’ve actually already been through that whole process, and it wasn’t hard. We plan to do it again as soon as I graduate.
Do you have concerns and/or fears about adopting or fostering children? Tell me a bit about that.
B – I think there are always fears. The biggest fear with fostering is that they would be sent back to their biological parents, especially if those biological parents had serious issues like drugs or violence or negligence. Not only do you then lose the child you’ve grown to love, but you also would worry about them. It’s like losing a child. Something we were told was that with fostering you would experience some of the highest highs and lowest lows.
Who is included in your support system?
B – Both of our families would be incredibly supportive of our adoption. There have been lots of questions about why we would want to open ourselves up to heartbreak, but we feel strongly that it is the path we need to take to add to our family. Our friends would all be very supportive.
Do they support your decision to foster and/or adopt? Would they treat these children any differently?
B – I don’t think they would be treated differently. They’ve questioned whether it would be a good decision for us, but once those kids were ours, they would be NO different than our [biological] daughter. We would make sure of that. It’s easy to question things until they’re real.
What do you know about some of the unique challenges faced by children who come into and are adopted through the foster care system?
B – All foster children have a background of trauma, so there is a lot of [support] that needs to go into those children. They respond differently to normal situations because their backgrounds are not normal. Counseling and support are incredibly important for these kids, but we also have to remember that they are children. They need love, consistency, patience, and support. That’s what we want to give.
What are your hopes for a child you would foster and/or adopt?
B – That [he or she] would grow up to be happy, helpful, healthy citizens. We want a happy family and plan to have that. We hope that the [child or children] would think of us as their mom and dad and never question how loved [he or she is]. We hope that the child or children would feel no different from our biological kids because, in our eyes, he or she would be no different.
Would you be willing to foster/adopt a child who has mental or behavioral issues and what concern about that would you have in regard to your daughter?
B – We would be willing to do that, and open to it, but it depends on the child and how [he or she] worked in our family. We are open to certain limitations and behavioral issues, but definitely have our daughter in mind. It’s a fine line you walk with foster care, helping [foster] children and loving them while also protecting [your biological children] from any trauma. It’s why we have to go to the classes. There are many resources for foster and adoptive parents. Parenting is never easy but always worth it.
Becka and Zack have answered questions that many hopeful adoptive parents may want the answers too. Of course, this is only a drop in the bucket of questions that COULD be asked, but I hope this interview will aid those looking at adoption. More great resources for potential adoptive parents can be found at Adoption.com, Gladney Center for Adoption, and Adoption.org.