I’m happy you’re here. I’ll go first: I’m a full-time journalist turned work-at-home writer. I’m hitched to a shaggy-haired pastor and we’re smitten with two wild + crazy boys: Joseph (4) and Asher (1). I drink strong coffee, I like pretty things, and I believe there’s beauty in the broken.
I hope this little space will encourage you to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
What is Many Sparrows?
This little corner of the Internet aims to encourage women, spurring them on to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
God tells us He cares about the little things — even down to a teeny, tiny sparrow. And if He cares about a little bird, how much more does He care about us — who are worth far more than many sparrows? Let’s dwell in the truth that He loves us with an arms-stretched-out kind love. Let’s rest easy, knowing we’re valued, loved, and worth more than we can even fathom.
I’m a person who’s blemished and blessed. All good things in my life flow from Jesus. My mission is to reflect his generous, grace-filled love with all my heart, soul, and mind. I’m passionate about shedding religious cliches and living an authentic, Kingdom life. Sometimes I get frustrated and often times I fail. I’m a work in progress.
Find Your Worth & Live a Story Worth Telling
My heart is to use this corner of the Internet to make much of Jesus. To use my words to reflect the creator of all things who gives extravagant grace, who radiates beauty and light in a very dark world.
I’m a mama of two little boys, and sometimes I just need a space to talk about things like shift dresses and wedge booties and dry shampoo. Let’s share our secrets, shall we?
Motherhood is messy. My hope is that my words + stories can be an encouragement to you in your parenting journey.
What does your family look like right now?
My family consists of my husband Derek, who is a high school math teacher, Viola who is 6, Gideon who will be 5 in December and Charlotte who is 4 months old. As for me, I stay at home, I am an ambassador for Noonday Collection and a Mary Kay consultant.
What brought you to international adoption?
Derek and I had been trying to get pregnant for a little under a year. Even though I know that is not a long time compared to how long many couples try, I knew that I was ready to be a mom and didn’t want to wait. We had discussed fertility treatments for less than 10 minutes and came to the conclusion that our time, energy and money would be better spent pursuing children who otherwise might not have a forever family. We looked into domestic adoption and as we were about to sign on with an agency, Derek and I both felt like we weren’t making the right decision.
I remember being very confused, as I thought adoption was what God wanted from us and then we were feeling like it wasn’t. Long story short, we researched local adoption agencies that work internationally. Within 18 hours of talking with the agency we chose, we were provided our first two referrals from Uganda. Fast forward about 10 months, we had lost three referrals and finally had a travel date to go to Uganda to meet Viola and Gideon.
At what age did you meet your little ones?
When we met Viola, she was 4 years old. She was a terrified little girl who had not seen a lot of white people before in her life. We were supposed to take her that day, but because she was so scared of us, clinging to the pole in the middle of her hut, we decided it would be a better idea to come back and visit a few more times before actually taking her with us. We did not want her to be traumatized from her coming with us. That was one of the best decisions we ever made. After visiting a couple times, we went again, but this time we knew we were going to bring her with us. We got to her home, she was given a bath and a new dress, and her grandmother leaned down and whispered something in her ear. She then quietly walked over to me and let me hold her hand. The Lord was so present that day, she came with us with no fight or tears.
Gideon was 2 ½ when we met him. He was a quiet yet cuddly boy from the beginning. He came with us right away, with no fuss. We took him to eat, where he had his first bite of meat. He ate his lunch and most of Derek’s lunch, too.
How did you foster attachment with them?
Making sure adopted children build attachment can be challenging, but is so important. While in country, we all slept in the same bed, held them when they wanted to be held, bathed them, fed them, met all of their needs. It did not take them long to understand that we were going to be there for them. Derek and I feel very blessed by how quickly they attached to us.
What was it like jumping into motherhood with two children?
There were many challenges that came with jumping into motherhood with two children. Most of the challenges came with Derek and I as a couple and as parents. Generally, when people become parents, they start with a newborn(s) and have time to ease into their parenting techniques. So there were times when we might have disagreed on how to deal with a certain behavior, but didn’t have ample time to discuss the issue and how we wanted to handle it. When you start with an infant, you ease into different behaviors such as touching things you aren’t supposed to, putting things into your mouth, etc. With toddlers, who don’t know a lot of English, it was very challenging learning and adapting to proper discipline techniques that Derek and I both agreed on.
What types of training or books were helpful for you?
Derek and I took a class on attachment in children who have been through some sort of trauma. I credit this course for providing the resources we needed to properly attach to the children.
How can a friend of someone who is adopting be helpful? What was most encouraging or helpful for you?
I think everyone is different in what they need and what is helpful when going through a stressful time. There is a lot of waiting and paperwork and more waiting, and then some more waiting after that. It can be a very stressful time for people going through this process. Our hearts were aching for our children and the waiting is terribly unpleasant. I always appreciated the friends who let me talk their ears off about my worry and stress.
How do you plan to preserve birth culture?
I am always on the lookout for Africa-related activities, books, food, etc. A year ago, my dad and stepmom’s church hosted a Uganda Children’s choir for a meal and a performance. We took Viola and Gideon and they ate a meal with the Ugandan children, who got a kick out the words that Viola and Gideon still remembered vs. the words they completely forgotten. I could tell that they really cherished that event. My dad occasionally makes some Ugandan staples for meals when we visit. But most importantly, we talk about Uganda whenever the kids want to. We watch videos from when we were staying in Uganda and we are constantly telling them about the love that their biological family has for them. Some day we would love to be able to take them back to see where they were born.
How do you navigate being a transracial family?
We definitely get looks, most being looks that say Aw, what a sweet family or Those are some cute kids, but occasionally we get looks that are a little more curious in nature. In the two years we have been home, I have probably had about 15 people come up to me and give me hair care tips. There are definitely days where it is very obvious that this clueless, white mama is trying to care for my beautiful black daughter’s hair. I will say that the blog Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care has revolutionized my life and has taught me how to care for the kid’s hair.
What brought you to domestic adoption?
Derek and I were taking the classes necessary to get our foster license. While in the class, we were approached by someone at church about a birth mom that they knew. This woman had chosen adoption for a baby the year before and had just found out she was pregnant again. She had made the brave decision to choose adoption for this baby, too. After some careful consideration, we decided that this baby was going to be a Kimball. The birth mom allowed me to be at all the appointments starting at 20 weeks and then graciously gave my mother and I the opportunity to be in the delivery room.
How has adding to your family domestically been different from international adoption?
Our situation with the domestic adoption was pretty rare. We did everything privately with one lawyer, so there wasn’t much paperwork compared to if you were to use an agency. The biggest difference was the relationship I was able to build with Charlotte’s birth mother. I was never able to foster a relationship with Viola and Gideon’s mothers and I really value the time I was able to spend with Charlotte’s biological mother.
How did Gideon + Viola adjust to adding a little one?
They did great! There were and still are some bumps in the road where Gideon feels left out or Viola feels like she can appropriately meet all of Charlotte’s needs on her own. But they truly love Charlotte and she lights up around them as well.
The Bible is very clear about how God feels about adoption. It’s not just something to skim over. God literally calls us to care for the widow and orphan. Because of this, Derek and I are committed to always being open for what God has planned for our family. We are finishing our foster license because we want to be available if there are vulnerable children that God has intended for our family. Our faith is the reason we do what we do and our faith is the reason our family looks the way it does.
What do you want others to know about adoption?
Adoption is scary, full of waiting, full of unknown, costly, and trying. Adoption is absolutely, 100% worth every stress, worry, and penny. Adoption is a beautiful way to build or add on to a family.
Everyone has a different story and perspective on adoption, and this is Kristen’s. Kristen’s guest post is part of National Adoption Month. Earlier this week, my friend January, who was adopted as a toddler from the Philippines, shared her perspective of being an adult adoptee. Later this week, my friend Zach will be sharing his experience of being domestically adopted and his journey to meet his birth parents. You can read my friend Kaia’s post about adoption through foster care here. For words from an adoption family therapist, check out Rachel’s moving guest post. This week, I’ll be closing up National Adoption Month with a giveaway of Mary Ostyn’s “Forever Mom” (multiple copies!) and Sara Hagerty’s “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.”
I haven’t been more excited about a guest post! I’m honored to share my friend January’s words on adoption. She has a beautiful heart and spends her days serving as a nurse at the University of Iowa. January was adopted from the Philippines at 1.5 years old, and she’s generously is sharing her perspective and thoughts on adoption. (January and I have been friends since we were seven years old and she was the maid of honor in my wedding, so full disclosure: I love this lady!)
When Jonny and I started researching adoption, January was one of the first people I talked with. I believe it’s incredibly important to hear perspectives from adults who were adopted. I asked January to share the good, the bad, and the ugly for National Adoption Month. I just asked her to share what was on her heart — not what she thought I wanted to hear, not what she thought others wanted to hear — just to share. I’m thankful that she’s sharing her story. Each adoption story and each adoptee’s experience and story is so different, and this this is January’s.
I could talk about adoption forever. I don’t think it’d ever bother me. Some people have built up ideas that adopted kids don’t have a place in the world, but I don’t feel that way.
When I’m caring for patients, they ask me all the time: Where are you from? You sound so American. You don’t have an accent. I answer, I’m from Iowa. And they’re like…oh. And then I tell them that I’m adopted.
On Inappropriate Comments:
Adoption is all I’ve ever known. I hear people say you should be thankful and your parents should be thankful. Just because someone might have biological parents doesn’t mean they’re good parents, just because someone might have adoptive parents doesn’t mean they’re good parents, either. I was fortunate to be in a family that loved me unconditionally — not everyone can say that, adopted or not. I don’t know anything different.
I think some people are uninformed. As someone who is adopted, you have to explain it in a way, and that can be tricky. I don’t think people ask inappropriate questions, but rather have an inappropriate tone. One time someone said, You must be really resilient because you’re adopted. I was like, What does that mean? Keep that to yourself. I’m not offended because I’m adopted, I think a lot of times people don’t know what they’re saying — I just have to take it with a grain of salt.
I also get the question: What are you? Um, I’m human. When you’re transracially adopted, I feel like you have to have a thicker skin to understand the world.
My parents told me: No matter what people say about you, no matter what misconceptions they may have — never let them make you feel not much as ours as a biological kid. That’s not the way this works. Because of that, I never felt insecure. Ever.
On Talking About Adoption With Parents:
My parents didn’t make me feel out of place. I had a good connection where we all felt very secure. My parents always told us that we might not look alike (my brothers and I don’t look like our parents or each other), but it doesn’t matter what you look like, what your hair looks like, what your skin looks like. What matters is love.
I remember when they sat me down about my sister. My mom was pregnant at a later age and there was a chance the baby would be born with a disability. My parents sat me down and said, if your sister has a disability, we’ll love her disability, and we’ll love her. We’re family. I’m also extremely close to my brothers. They’re not biological, but it feels that way. It’s all I know. Growing up, we relied on each other. That’s what family is — you rely on the people you’re with. Even though I’m from the Philippines and my brother is from China, we’re siblings. I feel very fortunate. I know not everyone feels that way.
Advice for Adoptive Parents:
You need to teach your kids your family values. Adoption is another way to let someone in your family. There’s so much information on the Internet and all different types of media. Do the research about adoption. Be really be well-educated and informed. There’s also a lot of mis-information and falsified information — get to the source.
Make sure that if you go through adoption, teach your kids quickly and early — give them their base. I was given a good base and built off of that foundation. My parents taught me what was important — loving people unconditionally whether they look like you or not. Kids are way smarter than we think. Start talking about it young. David doesn’t look like Daniel but they’re still brothers and they love each other. The world will try to change their perspective when they’re older.
Biggest Misconception About Adoption:
I think the big misconception is that your parents can’t love you as much because you’re adopted. Growing up, children asked me if my parents didn’t love me because I was put up for adoption. They’d ask me if my parents loved me less. I’d say: No. They take care of me and love me just the way your parents love you. I think kids don’t know about adoption, and kids who aren’t adopted don’t know what it means…and their parents don’t inform them.
Advice for Children Who Were Adopted:
I’d tell them the same thing my parents told me and what I hope their parents tell them: You’re not different. People are people across the world. Philippines, Russia, USA — adoption goes across all countries. It doesn’t make you any different. The idea is that you’re becoming part of a family and someone wanted that. But your validation should be internal. as you get older, people will ask you more about adoption. By being open, you will see that they might ask things because they just don’t know. Apply that base your parents gave you to people you don’t know.
On Being a Transracial Family:
My brothers and I would always say that we we’re a melting pot of a family. We have a lot of different looks, but we’re still a unit. My brothers have dated all races and one brother married a woman who grew up in Europe. I think it just shows there aren’t boundaries about being accepting of other races within family or marriage. We were raised to be very accepting, whether we look alike or not.
On Identity, Heritage, and Biological Family:
I feel like in the last couple years, I’ve had to reflect on this stuff a little more. I still go back to what my parents reminding me that they’d love me no matter what, biological or not. My siblings and I have talked about researching biological parents. I just haven’t. I”m just not there yet, maybe. My parents have asked me what I thought about my brothers being interested in searching for biological family. I said they’re adults and that’s their choice — it’s just not something that has come into my mind.
I’m a very Iowan, Midwest girl. People say, Filipino food is so good! I’m like: Guess what’s better? Corn! I guess I carry characteristics from the Midwest.
We’ve talked about going on a trip someday, just to see where we came from. I had a closed adoption. My biological mom was really young and couldn’t keep me. I don’t know a ton of details. They have a picture book. I don’t feel like I’d look up birth parents, but we could look up the agency. The one thing I wish I knew more about is medical history. I have no idea if something will happen to me. When I get sick, I have no history to look at to know if I could get something chronically. Medical history. That’s kind of scary. But other than that, I honestly forget I’m adopted sometimes.
January’s guest post is part of National Adoption Month. Later this week, my friend Zach will be sharing his experience of being domestically adopted and his journey to meet his birth parents. My friend Kristen, who adopted two preschool-age children from Uganda and a newborn through domestic adoption, will be sharing as well. You can read my friend Kaia’s post about adoption through foster care here. For words from an adoption family therapist, check out Rachel’s moving guest post. This week, I’ll be closing up National Adoption Month with a giveaway of Mary Ostyn’s “Forever Mom” (multiple copies!) and Sara Hagerty’s “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.”
Community is so important. There’s nothing like sitting face-to-face, across the table, joining in conversation with someone. There’s an intimacy to the table — an insight that can only be gleaned over a warm cup on a cold day.
Which is why, in partnership with Old Factory Coffee Shop, we’re throwing open the doors of the giveaway and offering everyone — local or not! — easy ways to enter “The Way of Tea and Justice” tea prize pack.
We want you to remember, each time you sip out of this hand-lettered campfire mug, that you matter. That there are folks out there who are grateful for you. We want you to invite someone over for (some of the Old Factory Coffee Shop’s whole leaf!) tea and slow down, just for a minute, in the midst of holiday hustle. And we want you to read Becca Steven’s words about empowering women over a cup of fairly-traded tea and we want you to see how we’re all connected, even in this great big, messy world of ours.