Interviewing other mamas is one of my favorite parts of the Outnumbered Podcast and when it’s one who also homeschools a large family? Even better! Listen below for an amazing interview with an incredible woman where she talks about home school rhythms, adoption and life with lots of kids.
Hey guys! I’m thrilled to present you all with this interview with an amazing mama, creator and photographer: Rachel Kovac! Rachel has a beautiful blog and Instagram feed that you just MUST follow. She shares messages from the heart about homeschooling her 6 kids, international adoption, sewing and her involvement in the Wild + Free community. We’re both just tickled pink to bring you some beautiful thoughts and wisdom from Rachel!
Be sure to check out another amazing and tender interview with craft blogger Kim Coffin.
**Note: the text below is taken directly from the podcast audio (with a few edits for clarity) so please forgive any awkward phrasing! We love having the text available here on the blog for anyone who prefers reading to listening. Enjoy!
Speaker 2 00:30 hello and welcome to episode 26 today we have the pleasure of having Rachel Kovak with us. She’s a mom to six and blogs at stitched together. We’re going to talk to her about her beautiful and unique lifestyle. We’re going to talk to her about the wild and free homeschool community of which she is a prominent member, and we’re also going to talk to her about adoption. So we’re really excited to get started and so we’re going to start off today with a humor segment like usual. But once again, we want to just take a second and say, if you guys have something funny that you can relay us about what your kids said or something you said that you thought you’d never say, send it to us. We want to hear from you. So my two year old walked into the room today and she made this announcement, I’m going to make some noise now.
Speaker 2 01:25 And she put both fingers in her ears and started yelling at the top of her lungs. Lalalalala uh, and so we, uh, my, after my teenage daughter and I got done rolling around on the floor laughing, we thanked her for giving us warning that she was going to be making some noise. You were prepared for it. That was really nice. I wish my children would give me notice when I’m on an important phone call. I’m going to start screaming now. They just don’t do that. Right. So Rachel were super excited to talk with you today about some of these topics that we’re getting into. But first of all, we want to ask you, what is one of your strengths as a mom?
Speaker 3 02:08 Are you familiar with the Enneagram at all or,
Speaker 2 02:11 okay, tell me a little bit in a little bit. Research on it. Yeah.
Speaker 3 02:14 Okay. Yeah, so in the Enneagram, I’m at Enneagram Nine, which is the peacemakers. So as a mom I would say I’m naturally very easy going and patient. Um, so I think those are probably some of my greatest strengths. Having a large family, because you guys know when you have a large family you can never predict what’s going to happen. And I think if you are too controlling, you’re going to be disappointed a lot going to be able to go with the flow and just stay call. And I think naturally I have a lot of patients. Those are all things that bode well, having a large family.
Speaker 2 02:48 Absolutely. Yeah. I think I’m an enneagram one, but I haven’t studied it enough to be positive about that. But patients is definitely something I could use more of. Yeah. What’s the, again, Audrey,
Speaker 4 03:00 that’s a reformer. Oh, we’re the perfectionist. Okay. Yeah, I think that’s me too. We’ve talked a lot about how we’re pretty similar personalities and I always joke that God gave me a bunch of kids so that I would stop being a control freak. You cannot control anything, but I do. I do see you as a peacemaker. I mean we’ve never even met Rachel, but I do see that in you.
Speaker 3 03:23 Yeah, I think like even on Instagram, I really try to stay away from saying anything too controversial because I really do just want to bring people together. So about homeschooling, I would never say homeschooling is the only way or it’s the better way. I just think everyone needs to do what’s right for them and we can all learn things from each other rather than thinking like we’re superior in some way or you know what I mean? Sometimes when you gather around anything, people can get like a bit of a superiority complex and they just don’t like.
Speaker 4 03:51 Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Good for you. Well, as a followup to that question, and I would ask, what do you think is one of your weaknesses as a mom?
Speaker 3 03:59 This one is definitely easy for me. So back to personality tests on the Myers Briggs, I’m an Enx p and they say one of my greatest weaknesses is poor practical skills. So really struggle with things like laundry and cleaning and staying organized. Those are all things that are not at all natural to me. And so I’ve had to adopt the whole Marie Kondo method in order to make my life manageable and livable.
Speaker 4 04:31 Yeah. Yeah. You definitely have to put systems in place when there’s a bunch of kids and all their stuff running around. Right. Audrey? We talked about that in our couple episodes ago. Yeah,
Speaker 3 04:41 I really struggle with, and you know, with a big family you, you have to have some systems in place. I think, um, before we did the whole camaraderie thing, we would just be losing things or I just felt really overwhelmed by the clutter or we couldn’t find our school books. Um, so I never, I always wanted our home life to be about connection and creativity and love, but we really needed some more order just to make it doable. So, um, by just getting rid of the stuff that we didn’t need and taking a more minimalistic approach, it really just helped.
Speaker 2 05:17 I can relate to that 100% and I say, um, that we have less like less stuff and less because we live in a small house, but I think it’s as much for my mental sanity, um, as any other reasons. So I can 100% relate to what what you’re saying.
Speaker 3 05:35 What about you, Bonnie? Do you have thoughts on this?
Speaker 4 05:37 yeah. Um, we have adopted a similar philosophy and my problem is I am a, um, a buyer. I guess I just like to accumulate things. It’s kind of like, oh, this thing I can collect or this thing will look so pretty or whatever. And over the years I’ve realized that it’s just not worth my, my time and effort to maintain them, to organize, you know, and so little by little I’m, I’m getting more that way. However, I still really have a hard time with craft and fabric supplies. If someone can teach me how to be more minimalistic in that arena, I would appreciate it. I say fabric and books are the exception to Marie Kondo. It all brings you joy. It brings me joy.
Speaker 3 06:21 My home is organized, but that’s because we had these systems in place and I also make my kids clean a lot.
Speaker 2 06:28 Yeah, yeah, totally want that mentor to work.
Speaker 3 06:32 People will say, how was your house so clean as if there’s like magical cleaning fairies that just come through. It’s like that might just make my kids clean a lot.
Speaker 2 06:42 Yes. Your blog and your Instagram feed are so full of beautiful, like white clean. If they’re real photos of your children and your family and lots of your pictures are outside in nature. It’s like it’s really relaxing to look at. So we’d like to know more about how you came to choose this beautiful and simple lifestyle for your family.
Speaker 3 07:04 Well, I think like I was saying earlier, I struggled so much with clutter and organization and I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me mentally. Like, I don’t want to have the headspace, I don’t want to spend the headspace or whatever trying to plan things about cleaning or organization or I just want to be able to go so that when I have free time I can focus on my creativity or my photography or spend time with my children without feeling so overwhelmed. Like the walls are closing in. And I’m also kind of a sensory sensitive person, which I think I really realized after we did the declutter. I just like a more simple environment. I don’t like a lot of noise. So if the kids are playing just like it more peaceful rather than like the kids playing and music. Even music playing in the background. I like that if we’re doing art or something like that. But I like the environment to just be a little simpler, but I don’t think it’s boring. I mean we have a lot of, we have a lot of fun, but I don’t like the sound of screens or, um, loud music, I don’t know. Just gets to be a lot when you have six children.
Speaker 4 08:14 Yeah, that’s totally true. It’s just like sensory overload for me. Yeah. Yeah. I felt that I felt the same way. In fact, the other day one of my kids turned the radio on in the car and I just heard my own mother’s words come out and say, can we not have that noise on right now? Oh my gosh, I’m an old lady, wouldn’t it? It’s true. You just have so much sensory overload all the time with kids talking. And especially as the mom, you need to be, um, you know, paying attention to all the talking. Like you need to be able to pull out someone’s cries of distress through the noise or someone’s really needing you or et cetera. So it’s a big job.
Speaker 3 08:47 Yes. And as homeschooling moms were around it constantly. And so I think that also plays into it for me, like there a time when I sent my children to preschool and you know, I could go and shop, like I’d go to the grocery store and pick up things for dinner and I’d go to the gym or do a yoga class or something like that. And I had more quiet and silence. And space built into my day, but when we’re homeschooling and when we’re with our children, literally 24, seven, like may have sleeps with me. So I’m literally with them all the time. I just feel calmer when our environment is more peaceful I guess for me.
Speaker 2 09:26 Yeah. I read a book, um, early on in my mothering career and it was called the highly sensitive person. It doesn’t really have that much to do with mothering, but it helped me understand myself and I have like quite a few sensory issues too. Like my Stefania where noises just get to me and our triggers and stuff. And it really, um, part of me was like, okay, so Audrey, how are you going to do this? The whole motherhood Gig with being so sensitive to noise and things, but then also, um, I think incoming to understand myself better and like I think what you’re describing is coming to understand you and yourself and your limits and what you could and couldn’t have, what your threshold was to make it easier for you to function as a mom to a bunch of kids.
Speaker 3 10:16 Yes. And I think being a highly sensitive person has this positive sides too because you tend to be more empathetic and you can see the other perspective and you know you’re compassionate. I think they say that all goes together from what I’ve read on the highly sensitive person, so it’s kind of, it has its strengths and weaknesses, but I think it’s helped me a lot to just keep things a little bit quieter and more simple. Although you know, there are times when other people will come over and say, your kids are being so loud while they’re playing and I don’t even hear. It depends. I can tune out some of it, wouldn’t you say or was
Speaker 4 10:53 and survival. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. For that survival. I also think it’s so important to just listen to our own body and mind and emotional needs. Like you were saying, Audrey, you realize that that was an issue for you and how how you were going to deal with it. But I think sometimes moms just think, well, this is motherhood. There’s nothing I can do about it. I personally have realized that I get to a certain point, usually about three or four o’clock in the day, um, where I’ve just had too much, like you say, sensory overload, too much yelling, too much, this and that. So we’ve tried to implement quiet time, but I’ve found that for me personally, I have to go lock myself in somewhere and that’s when I do my blogging and things, um, to have a little quiet in a little alone time. And then I come back and I’m this great happy mom again because I’ve been able to distance myself from the chaos. But, and maybe everyone doesn’t need that. But for me personally, that’s been the solution to not losing it by 4:00 PM because I’ve just had too much
Speaker 3 11:46 Bonnie. We do the exact same thing. And when I was studying Waldorf education, they suggested do a quiet time every day, have your children go in separate rooms and read or do something quiet. You take your own quiet time. And I thought, this is never going to work. My kids are going to see this as a punishment. I could just never do this. And they just kept insisting when I would listen to these lectures and whatnot. This’ll be such a great time. And it is so true. I am so glad we did it. It’s been great for our kids. They even look forward to it now and they come back together and are happier and bigger, less. And I am so much happier too.
Speaker 4 12:23 Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s pretty life changing. Yeah. Okay. So moving on, we wanted to ask you a little bit about wild and free. So we know that you are a prominent member in this community, wild and free community. So can you tell us and our listeners a little bit more about what this movement is all about?
Speaker 3 12:42 Yeah. So, well then free is a movement that’s really about, um, I guess I would say recovering the wonder in childhood. I’m spending time in nature reading good literature. It’s really, um, a very wide umbrella. So there are people of all different viewpoints and philosophies that will come to like a wild and free conference. It’s not just one kind of homeschool or there are all kinds of homeschoolers present. And just coming together on our commonalities, supporting each other, learning from one another. Um, so I, I love it.
Speaker 4 13:18 It sounds really amazing. I keep wanting to learn a little bit more. So if you could like sum up the, their, the kind of philosophy in, in a sentence or so, is it just all about like learning from, from nature and your environment?
Speaker 3 13:29 W what would you say that would be? I think it’s more about supporting homeschoolers in general rather than taking on any one philosophy. So I lean toward Waldorf. Other people lean toward, you know, Charlotte Mason or classical or you know, like a box curriculum. People come up with all different, um, you know, they come from all different kinds of philosophies of homeschooling. So I think in, in our local homeschooling community, a lot of people are motivated to homeschool out of fear still where I live. So it’s like they’re afraid of like the world or, um, you know, it’s just this very fear based mentality in my local homeschool community where wild and free is really about homeschooling because of all the beautiful things that you can offer your child. It’s a beautiful education to spend time in nature and have these extra hours with our children and embrace the time together and it’s not so much coming from a fear based mentality. Do you guys understand what I mean with that? Yeah,
Speaker 2 14:31 absolutely. I love that. Um, I think I find the same thing locally, but then it’s like after a few years of homeschooling, you just relax into it and it just becomes such a beautiful, natural thing. And one, one thing I love about the wild and free community is that it’s so many different kinds of homeschoolers. It’s
Speaker 3 14:52 not all about one way of homeschooling. Exactly. It’s not about any one mentality. So like no matter what your religious beliefs are or you know, no religious beliefs, whatever, it’s not about, it’s not about like an US versus them mentality. Anyone is welcome and it just about coming together around our children, about providing our children with the best education, but being excited for it. The ways that we can grow as women and just having a community building each other up and nurturing each other through this process.
Speaker 4 15:24 Wow, that sounds, sounds really awesome. You know, I have to say personally, I, uh, started homeschooling just because I kinda felt led towards it. I didn’t really have any personal reasons to do it. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. And so those early years actually was me kind of developing like learning to love it because I didn’t love the idea at first I thought, I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know what the, why I’m being led this way. But I appreciate those early years because it was a chance for me to realize, oh, there’s this, I’m going to get out of it and the kids are going to get this out of it, you know, et cetera. And so I can really relate to just being in a place where you can try to enjoy this phase of life that you’re in.
Speaker 3 16:01 Yeah, I completely agree. And I think with homeschooling and get so much easier as you go on with it and just find your, your groove and you know, they say homeschooling is a lifestyle and I think that’s really true. The longer I do it, the more I see it as a lifestyle that we’re constantly learning together. And um, I think there’s just more liberation in it as I go. When we first started, I thought, this is so overwhelming. How am I going to do it when we have four children that I have to be homeschooling and then having babies or you know, whatever, that as we’ve added more of our children into having to do formal studies, um, it’s just, it’s been okay. It’s been fine. And when we do have a great local community in terms of offering enrichment classes, so my kids do go to a co-op one day a week where they can get some of those classes and then that gives me a break from teaching.
Speaker 3 16:51 Um, so like science and grammar, they take at a homeschool enrichment program, which is amazing. Yeah. Yes. Tell us, what does a typical homeschool day look like for your family? Um, so for us, this was another thing I learned from Waldorf Education. I have learned that I need to have a release, strong rhythm in place because otherwise for me it’s very easy for me to be carried off by the inertia of the day. Um, and so I, I started implementing a rhythm that we do with our kids and it’s, it’s, so it’s pretty predictable. Every day we’d go for a morning walk, we come back, we always gather at the table and do something that we call morning time. A lot of homeschoolers, we’ll call it morning time where we, um, you know, we’ll read whatever we’re learning together. We’ll just spend some time rather than, um, like segregating the kids based on age.
Speaker 3 17:43 We just do a lot of learning together as much as we can. Um, and so we’ll do our learning together at the table and often we’ll have an art component at the end. Um, and then they’ll go and work on their individual work and we’ll eat lunch and then they clean up. Um, and then they do a quiet time, quiet reading and practice their instruments. Uh, four of them play instruments and then in the afternoons they go outside and play with our neighbors. We’re really fortunate that our neighbors homeschool and have four children. And on our block there’s something like 18 children, so awesome to say this free range childhood where they can just roam and play. And we live essentially on a culdesac. So we have a lot of freedom to just play with the children and it feels like a very old fashioned kind of childhood, you know.
Speaker 4 18:36 Well that sounds awesome. I think I want to come move on your street. Yes. So, so on that note, do you continue doing school during the summer? Do you do like a modified type schedule or rhythm like you said?
Speaker 3 18:51 Um, well it’s funny. I feel like the longer I homeschool I just feel more flexibility with it. So we will continue doing a little something like, I guess we call it morning time where we’ll read Jody Maccabi recently, um, released a nature. Have you guys seen that at all? A Nature Curriculum, Huh? No, it just looks really fun. It’s about survival skills and there’s a book to go along with it. My side of the mountain, which we won’t read cause we’ve already read it, but it has like how to tie knots and how to survive if you don’t have water. And it has various books like forest school and things like that. So I think in the beginning of the day we’ll meet and we’re going to start that on Monday. Um, we’ll just do that together, but not do assignments at peeled to schoolies. So we’re still reading and learning a bit together. But no, we take off of mass. Um, and a summer. Totally. We usually do a little something in the morning. How about you guys?
Speaker 4 19:48 Yeah, we’re kind of similar. Um, I’ve, I’ve learned over the years that completely eliminating all structure to our day is the worst thing ever. Yes. It’s like a street road to chaos and you know, fighting. Um, so we try to keep some structure, but like you say, just maybe reading aloud together. We do do a little bit of math because we have a pretty easy online program that the kids enjoy doing. But yeah, try not to force them to do anything. They really hate in summer.
Speaker 3 20:13 Uh Huh. Well we do like summer is the one time that we will use, we try not to do electronics really, but in the summer we’d like to use some apps because it’s so hot here in Texas, it’s harder to get out when you can get outside, but it’s pretty miserable. Well you live in Arizona. Yeah.
Speaker 4 20:28 Yeah. The same here. It’s kind of, we tell everyone our summer is kinda like everyone else’s winter are basically stuck inside most of the time.
Speaker 3 20:34 Yeah. So rather than doing formal math worksheets, I’ll have them do things like, have you guys heard of squabbles? No. It’s like a math fact game that they could do on the iPad. Um, and it’s kind of like flash cards, but they, you don’t have the cards because with all my kids, we can’t keep track of games for like more than 24 hours. Is that right? And she had maybe 20 games stacked up and I asked her daughter, who’s nine, how do you have all of these games stacked up? And she said, we just put them away when we’re done. And I’m like, well, kids would never do that. That mixed with the game
Speaker 2 21:14 rule. When they play a game that the winner has to clean up the game and put it away.
Speaker 3 21:19 Oh, that’s smart. They came up. So I can’t take, I can’t, and I purposely never go for that because I have some that are like really into justice and they would say that’s not fair. Cards would not last long around my house at all. So this is, it’s on the iPad and they have incentive to, we don’t let them, you know, we just give them a certain amount of time on it and then they keep up on their math facts. It’s called scribbles and stuff like that. Or like stack the states. Have you guys seen that game? Yeah,
Speaker 2 21:53 my kids love that. And stack the countries also. Oh yeah. That’s a fun one. We do school through the summer. Um, a little bit. I don’t like to reteach in the fall. I’m kind of too lazy to reteach things that I’ve already taught. So my kids keep up on, um, Spanish math and music through the summer. And um, they just in the summer too. Yeah. And then they just do math a couple times a week enough that they can, um, keep it, keep it. And it’s, that is often enough that they can keep their facts without losing it with that, by not doing it for three months, but then they do some special things in the summer. Um, like typing, they get a little, I think we still use the Mavis beacon typing and there’s probably new programs out there, but my kids like that one. So we use that and then I always try to have a little something special for them.
Speaker 2 22:46 And your nature, the nature curriculum that you were, um, talking about. That sounds really cool. I’ll have to look into that. Um, some of my kids really, really are into nature. Um, in fact, a couple of years ago, we studied the flora and fauna of our local area because one of my, um, my 13 year old son, he wanted to know if I just go out in the wild and I want to live a week in the wild, what can I eat and what can I, you know, what can I dig up and what our course is all about? Yeah. Yeah. So we did that. Um, a couple of years ago, we just wrote our own course for it basically. And um, so he could go out and live like a, I dunno caveman again.
Speaker 3 23:26 We went in the backyard in a tent. I said, yeah. They said, what about if we built our own shelters? I said, I think so. You guys are going to be really bad. So I dunno. You know, I guess you’re going to have to think about it.
Speaker 2 23:45 My kids are always
Speaker 3 23:46 building themselves shelters and then fairy houses. That’s the two things they’re always building outside. Those are fun. Yeah. Fair enough. That’s so sweet. Okay. So you have a lot of poetry and music and art in your homeschool rhythm and I’m sure you would encourage other families to do this also, but how, how do you prioritize those and adding them to your rhythm? Well, this is something that I think is really important for families to consider also with things like Instagram and homeschooling conferences or you don’t like the wild and free bundles app for so much beauty. At the last conference in Frisco, um, one of the speakers had talked about how she sings to her children every day and, and she was a classically trained singer and um, I had spoken with another mom who’s this amazing, accomplished, beautiful woman, an artist. She has so many amazing qualities about her.
Speaker 3 24:44 And she said, I just felt so terrible. I don’t sing to my child. I feel like a terrible mom that my kids are never going to have these memories as this person’s child. But I thought, look at all that you do. Do you know, I think when we see other moms and we see what everyone else is doing, it can be really easy to start comparing. And feeling like we’re not enough when there is no family that does everything. And so I think it’s so important to just think about what do I want my family culture to look like? What is our family about? And that’s going to be different for everyone in my family. We are so unathletic except for Tia who is not biologically related to us. My husband and I are just not that balletic type of people. You know, we struggled at, you know, we’re always the last to be picked up sports teams and schools and whatnot, but we really enjoyed, we can run what we joke, we were both runners so it’s like we can run in a straight line, but I was always getting hit in the face with the dodge ball.
Speaker 3 25:49 They’re like, our family culture is really around music. Um, but I don’t think that that’s going to be everyone’s family culture. Do you know what I mean? Like everyone has to think about what they want their family culture to be and then not compare it to other people. You know? So someone might say for myself, let’s say, Oh, you’re still your child, a birthday dress. Yeah. But I am not a party mom. Like that is just not my strength. Do you know, some people just throw their kids epic birthday parties or whatever, you know. And so I think, or we’re not a sports family. Um, so I think every family has their own,
Speaker 2 26:29 their own what, you know, things that they want to, you guys get what I’m saying with it. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And we were talking about this a little bit in our episode on how to afford kids, um, last week’s episode that, um, we choose what things, um, to prioritize and then we let other things go and we don’t feel the obligation of, oh, everybody else’s kid is on the sports team. My kid needs to also just, um, choosing what’s important to us and then prioritizing that.
Speaker 4 26:58 Yeah. And you know, that’s just life in general. Even if you had all the money in the world, we all just only have 24 hours in a day. And if we were to sign our children up for all the things or try to incorporate everything good and beautiful in the world and their day, they would just collapse from exhaustion at midnight every night. You know, it’s just not possible. And still would, we tried to get them to everything exactly.
Speaker 3 27:20 Live into a lot of that guilt when I was a younger mom and you know, I would see what everyone else was doing and I would just think, oh, I’m just coming up so short. But I’ve found a lot of freedom from that now and I’m so grateful. Um, and so I think at the same time I would see other families in the wild and free community that inspired me. So I would like, I didn’t grow up having poetry read aloud. We didn’t read aloud at all in the family that I grew up in. We didn’t, we, once we could read ourselves, we read to ourselves. And even reading wasn’t a big part of the family culture of the family I grew up in and definitely not poetry. Um, or like singing together. My family, we sing together, but my husband and I, our parents tried to do that stuff.
Speaker 3 28:03 We thought it was super cheesy and awkward, so it wasn’t a part of our family culture that we grew up in. But we saw this in other families and we thought this was cool. This is what we want our family culture to look like. And so we started just taking these elements that we liked. Like, oh, can I want to be a family that reads poetry aloud or we want to sing together. This is, this is fun for us, you know? And so these are things that we’re going to prioritize and then build into our daily rhythm.
Speaker 4 28:32 Yeah. Well I love that when asked about how or why you incorporate these things you started with, this is what we’ve chosen instead of here’s how to cram more things in your day. Because I think that’s so much more valuable to sit in and evaluate what is the most important thing for me. And it’s not going to probably not gonna look like anyone else, you know? It’s going to be your own unique brand of you. You know, and, and whatever your strengths are, whatever you want your children to grow up with, that’s what you prioritize. And that becomes, like you say, your family culture and that’s so much more valuable than trying to cram all the good things in that everybody else is doing.
Speaker 3 29:04 Yeah. Don’t you think that if your kids just see you coming alive because you just love life and you love learning and, and you’re delighted by whatever it is that you, that that makes you come alive. You know, that that is the most important thing. So I think if I love poetry or I love music and they’re seeing this every day or art or you know, whatever, then you just are setting that example that life is something exciting and worth living. That is fun being an adults, you know? Right,
Speaker 4 29:33 right. Exactly. And you know, my kids are gonna obviously gain a love for crafts from me over gaining a love for sports. Cause that’s not my thing. But they’ll gain a love from maybe for sports from someone else. And that’s okay too. But I like what you say if they see you come alive because it’s one of your passions, they’re more likely to love it as well.
Speaker 3 29:52 Yeah. And there might be other things like a DIY kind of mentality based on seeing what you do that could apply in all areas of life outside of just, you know, sewing or crafting.
Speaker 4 30:02 Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Okay. So we’re going to switch gears a little bit and ask you a little bit about adoption. So, um, we know that you’ve adopted your sweet little daughter Tia from Ethiopia. Is that correct? Yep. So can you share us a little bit about, to why you guys decided to adopt? We’d love to hear that.
Speaker 3 30:21 Yeah. Um, okay. So when we adopted, so t his full name is totally quad, that’s her Ethiopian name. But some people struggle to say it and then somehow it just became Tia. I mean, I think people could get it. Sometimes I want to go back to calling her to require more because I love that it’s part of her Ethiopian culture. Um, but my husband, he has a sister who was adopted from, um, South Korea and my husband grew up in west Africa. He was homeschooled and then he went to boarding school. Um, and so he grew up, you know, in Africa who spent his entire childhood there. Um, and so after we had Jude in Indigo, um, he was in India on business and I just had this impression on my heart that I really wanted to adopt and you know, because his parents had adopted his sister, we, it wasn’t completely foreign to us. And while Dan Dan was in India, he had the same feeling. We just had it at the exact same time. And so, um, that was ultimately what led us to want to adopt.
Speaker 4 31:23 Oh, that’s awesome. That’s cool. He grew up in Africa. How, how interesting.
Speaker 3 31:28 Yeah.
Speaker 2 31:30 Yes. I just get chills listening to your story. That is so beautiful. Yeah. So, um, we know that like I spent a couple hours reading through your blog and all about like I went way back to the beginning on when you were first adopting to Rico and went through all the, like the hurdles that you went over and um, everything that you went through to bring her into your family. So, but can you share, um, just like looking back now, what, what was the most challenging part of adoption?
Speaker 3 32:02 Well, I was asking my husband when he thought was the most challenging part of adopting and he said all of the paperwork. And for me, I didn’t think that was the most challenging part. I really felt it was the weight. So after we had been placed and given her photo and then she really wasn’t in very good health at that time. And then we had to wait all of this time, I think it was something like four months, but it felt like an eternity before we could travel to be with her and to bring her back home. It was just so hard knowing that she was in an orphanage, that her cries were going unmet. And you know, just, it’s just really, that was the hardest part. I felt like I couldn’t eat but just wake up in the nights and just be praying for her that to be taken care of and loved and I emotionally, that was extremely challenging for me.
Speaker 2 32:54 I think that would be the hardest part for me to like if I think about if one of my kids that I have right now was in Ethiopia and in that condition. And so it’s like you already have a connection to them already and just wanting, wanting that and the weight I think would be the hardest part for me too. Yeah,
Speaker 4 33:16 I’ve heard of that too. I was just reading through someone else’s story and they said the exact same thing that it was just months and months of knowing that their baby was there and they couldn’t do anything about it. I thought, oh my goodness, what a trial. So how old was she when you brought her home?
Speaker 3 33:29 She was almost one.
Speaker 4 33:31 Oh, okay. So how many months did you know about her, um, before you were able to bring her home? Or was it finalize? I guess I don’t really understand those last few months how that works.
Speaker 3 33:42 Yeah, we got her picture. They were matched. It was actually really cool. So my best friend here was having a baby and I was her doula. I went through training to be a Doula and lactation counselor and so I was her doula and right before I left for the birth, the adoption agency called and said, hey, we have a match for you but it’s not totally official. Then I went to the birth and it was this amazing birth, had a birth center with candles and beautiful music and I was like holding her in my arms, like jasmine washcloth up to her forehead while she goes, you know, pushing the baby out and, and then I drove home and I got a letter from the adoption agency. How was your labor? And I was like, why? I thought he was maybe continued as he was Romanian and he said, here’s your baby. So I got to see my friend’s baby girl.
Speaker 4 34:33 That is really, really sweet.
Speaker 3 34:36 Yeah. That we were matched with TSA. That was in near the end of October. And then we traveled to bring her home of February 18th. Oh Wow. Yeah, that’s a long time. But I think coming from a mentality or a parenting style of more attachment parenting, like you know, carrying my babies, wearing them breastfeeding co-sleeping it was really hard knowing that she was in an orphanage environment and then when you get the adoption education, and we did a lot of um, I guess education and we got a lot of information from the University of Minnesota adoption clinic and they talk about how when children come out of an orphanage setting, all adopted children have some degree of attachment issues because their needs have not been met, you know? And so, you know, the longer that she was there, the more her needs weren’t being met and that first year of life they can overcome that. But you know, it’s just like more damage for them put in doer being in that orphanage setting, you know? Yeah.
Speaker 4 35:38 Yeah, that’d be really hard to see that you couldn’t, you couldn’t help her that first year. You just had to start from where she was when you got her. Right.
Speaker 3 35:44 Yes. And so because of that, when we came home, we encountered quite a lot of challenges too, just from effects of, you know, the orphanage living. So Kombucha is great now. Yeah. So how old is she now? She’s 10. Oh Wow. Yeah.
Speaker 4 36:02 That’s awesome. So, so along those lines, what would you say was the most rewarding part of the whole experience?
Speaker 3 36:09 I mean, I think it’s really wonderful to have a child. I mean, I said amazing that now part of Ethiopian, we have some Ethiopian heritage in our family. I mean, we’re transracial family in a sense and we have such a fondness for Ethiopia. Um, and so many ways, she’s so much like me, even in ways that my biological children are not. Um, and so, I mean, it’s just great to be her mother. That’s the most rewarding part.
Speaker 4 36:40 Oh, that’s awesome. That’s really, and that’s very interesting that you say you have this Ethiopian heritage now. It’s almost like you adopted a country as well, right? You get to learn all about it and teach her about it. I think that’s wonderful.
Speaker 3 36:49 Yes. It’s so true. And the Ethiopians that we have, Matt and you know, we tried to get involved in various Ethiopian communities and um, you know, so she feels a connection to her culture. They’ve always been so kind and welcoming and loving. It’s just a really, and we loved our time in Ethiopia. It was so incredible. We loved it.
Speaker 2 37:08 Have you been back with her since, um, you adopted her? We haven’t,
Speaker 3 37:13 if not then back, um, for Sunday we would definitely love to go back and I, I think we will, um, just hasn’t been something that we have done yet. I think because also I’ve been pregnant and, um, you know, with young babies it can be hard to travel internationally
Speaker 4 37:31 really. Maybe. But how cool would that be to be able to take all your kids that over there and say, Hey, this is where your sister came from. Isn’t this amazing? And to see all these people that look like her and you know, that’s just really neat. So what would you say
Speaker 2 37:49 say to another family considering a transracial adoption? Words of advice? Words of caution?
Speaker 3 37:57 Yeah, I think the number one thing that, that I would say is to like to read a lot and educate yourself and don’t just get swept up in romantic stories because I think when you start to read, you can see like our, the, the adoption agency that we first started with, um, they made us do a lot of reading and they talked about how, um, on the, in the research based on, uh, I think it was adoptees from South Korea, something like 80% of the children wish they looked like their parents because it was hard for them to grow up looking differently from their parents, you know, but a lot of times they didn’t feel comfortable expressing it because they worried about offending their adoptive parents, fighting their parents. So they just kept it inside. And we’re carrying a lot of negative emotions. And so I think it’s really important when you have a transracial family to just be really open to conversation about.
Speaker 3 39:00 I think with adoption in general, it’s so open to, it’s so important to be open to conversation about first parents and that is okay. It’s okay to, to talk about and to have any feelings about it, whatever those may be. It’s not a competition. It doesn’t affect me in a negative way to hear whatever you feel, any feelings are welcome. And then also to recognize that it’s really important to make them feel a sense of connectedness to their birth culture, you know? And that they can have these conversations too about how they might feel being transracially adopted, you know? Yeah. This is probably not the right thing to say, but I think if to was my daughter, I would say I wish I looked like her.
Speaker 4 39:43 Does she like to know are you going to fall? I do tell her that actually she is so beautiful. You know, adoption is such an interesting thing and I love what you have said that, that you need to be open to listening to their feelings and opening open to hearing whatever they have to say because every child is gonna go through it and experience it in a different way. Right. Depending on maybe if they still have contact with their birth parents or if they don’t or if they’re very far from there, their country of birth or whatever. But, um, sometimes today we have this need to like make everything pretty and happy all the time, you know, and in major life changes, you know, like birth or death or adoption or, or anything like that. There are all kinds of feelings that come out when she’s young, when she’s older, maybe when she starts having children of her own, et cetera. Um, and I just think that that’s such an important thing is to just listen to the feelings and say, that’s interesting that you’re feeling that way. Let’s, let’s talk about it. Let’s probate instead of trying to make everything happy and pretty all the time. Cause I might not already, Lee,
Speaker 3 40:43 I could not agree more. And sometimes when you read blogs or Instagram or you know, adoption videos or whatever, it can look really romantic or whatever. But I love being an adoptive parent. I just think sometimes it oversimplifies these issues that are very real, that children have to face being adopted or um, you know, being transracially adopted or, um, you know, my husband experienced it being that he was the only white child really when he was living in Liberia. Um, so the way that he felt different, even if you think you have a lot of confidence or whatever, it’s different to, to look different from everyone else. Um, but you know, even in our country now, the demographics are changing. Sometimes when people see me with Tia, those that kids have made comments to her like, why does your mom not look like you? But now there’s a lot of children that don’t look like their biological parents because families are becoming more diverse, you know, are trans racial families that are happening biologically. So,
Speaker 2 41:43 um, it’s not just adoption. Do you guys know what I’m saying? Yeah, yeah,
Speaker 4 41:48 yeah. I think that’s wonderful and hopefully makes things a little bit easier on those, in that situation that, look, this is totally normal. What’s the big deal?
Speaker 2 41:56 Yeah. Yeah, I think so too. Well. Thank you so much Rachel for talking with us today. It’s been so nice to talk to you about these different topics and get to know you better, so thank you so much.
Speaker 3 42:10 Oh thanks you guys so much for asking me. It’s been so fun to connect with you. I definitely feel like I know you already from your Instagram and then your Instagram stories.
Speaker 4 42:19 Yeah, and we just love following you. If you guys don’t already follow ratio, go follow her. We’ll put a link to her Instagram and blog in the show notes, but she just portray such a beautiful, wonderful life. So go take a fall. You’ll definitely be inspired.
Speaker 3 42:34 Aw, thank you. Bye guys.
Speaker 1 42:39 Thanks so much for tuning in. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, we’d be so grateful if you’d leave us a written review on iTunes. If you have any questions or ideas for future episodes, you can reach us at our number, the firstname.lastname@example.org and find us on Instagram at outnumber the podcast. See you next week.
Speaker 2 43:01 Can you guys hear my son is mowing right outside the window, what a brat. You can’t. I can’t at all. No. Okay. It’s like the only thing I can hear.
Speaker 1 43:16 Okay.
Speaker 2 43:19 Yeah. I called my son at jerk from mowing. Right. I’ll just leave that in. Okay.