“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” – Valerie Harper
I first met Rose when I was young girl. She married a family friend from my home town. Her husband’s parents were dear friends of my parents. She is one of the strongest, bravest, most inspiring women I know. Her childhood had not been like most. I never once heard her complain when she recalled her childhood and her family’s hardships when leaving Cambodia. Since I have known her, Rose has always had a positive outlook on life. She is also the woman I chose to place my daughter with.
She is such a joy to be around. She also makes the most scrumptious Thai food you’ve probably ever had. I admire her in so many ways. She is a fantastic mother to her three children, a loving and supportive wife to her husband, Matt, and a great friend. She is always putting others before herself. When it comes to Talia, my birth daughter, she always tries to include me. I am so grateful for our dear relationship. As one of the remarkable mothers in my life, I asked Rose a few questions about our adoption experience together, and this is what she said.
How has adoption touched your life?
It is hard to put into words how adoption has touched me. I grew up thinking that I would have seven children, just like my mom. I wanted a big family. I can only imagine that every woman dreams, hopes, and wants the same thing that I do. I fantasized about my kids: that they would be intelligent and articulate like their Dad and good-looking and well-rounded because of their mother, that their lives would be enriched with languages and cultures since Matt and I are polyglots, and we love to travel and see places. The Army has given us the opportunity to be all over the world, so we have witnessed firsthand many adoptive situations and families. Until we did it ourselves, we didn’t fully understand it. Adoption is something that you have to experience to know its beauty
Can you describe holding Tally for the first time?
Well, I was a little bit surprised to see how white she was and her hair was straight. Really, I expected to see a black baby with curly hair. She was nothing I expected and she still continues to surprise me every day. She is one of a kind and she is definitely a joy. Having her in my arms for the first time was incredible. I knew at that moment that baby was bigger than Jori and I. She heals and blesses us in ways that she won’t ever fully understand.
What are some ways adoptive parents can keep their kids’ birth mom involved in their lives?
We treat her like one of our family members. The kids call her Aunt Jori, and her parents are Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop in Delaware. Since the beginning, we have felt a special connection with Jori, knowing how she sacrificed to give us such a precious gift. We stay in contact via Facebook. I call her on Talia’s special moments such as birthdays, first day of kindergarten, or when Talia made four goals on her first game of soccer. Sometimes we call just because. I text and Skype her when I can. We also visit her in person as often as time permits. We saw her twice in the year of 2014–lucky for us both!
Have you ever had a negative response when speaking with people about adoption/adopting a biracial child?
Never! The frequent questions asked are, “So are all you kids adopted?” “Is it hard to do her hair?” Factually, Matt and I have been very explicit in teaching the kids that “who they are is more important than what they are.” She knows that she is not biracial: She is a Badell!
How much does Tally know that about her adoption? What does she say about it?
Talia knows she is adopted because we talked about it a lot in our home since all three children are adopted. But Talia’s birth mom is the only one that we have contact with, so Aunt Jori is very significant to the other two kids as well. I don’t know how much she comprehends, what it really means when we’ve explained adoption; but what she has said is really cute: “I love you and my birth mom both!”
Is there any message that you would like to tell others about your view of adoption and or having and raising children who were adopted?
Adoption is a good thing. It is ordained of God, it is a healing force, and it blesses lives all around. The birth mom, the adoptive mom and dad, and the children who were adopted, and if the family already has biological children, it blesses them too. Adoption completes families…adoption completes me.
A mother is many things. Since having my twin girls and now son and watching them grow, I know that moms are a number of things. We are a nurse, chauffeur, maid, chef, jungle gym, book reader, boo-boo kisser, and so much more. Ask any mother: Our love for our children runs deep. Thank you to the mothers in my life. Debbie. Barbara. Rose. You all are remarkable and inspiring in your own ways. A woman does not need to give birth to a child to be a mother. Being a mother is about love. Adoption is about love.