She can be a nurse, teacher, counselor, fashion designer, home decorator, spiritual adviser and chef.
Motherhood encompasses a variety of job descriptions.
Every May, a special day is set aside to pay tribute to the first person most people meet in their lives -mothers.
Maternity is not limited to the relationship felt between a mother and a child she carries in her womb.
Just ask three Columbia County women who believe adoption changed their lives.
Kimi Roberts’ eyes sparkle when she talks about her four children.
She points to little paper “hands” cut out of paper that seem to climb up a filing closet in her office.
“Those are from my baby, Iris,” she says touching tips of the tiny fingers. “She likes to trace her hands and cut out the prints.
“Roberts points to the numerous snap shots that wallpaper the closet.
Some of them are Christmas photos, others are pictures of her daughters reeling in a big catch on a fishing trip.
Roberts’ life was touched when she decided to open her home as an emergency shelter for children.
She met and accommodated several children in their neediest times.
Soon she connected with four children and soon adopted them as her own: Tammy, 11; J.C., 10; Hannah, 9;and Iris, 7.
Her youngest child has muscular dystrophy.
Roberts’ epiphany came on New Year’s Eve.
“I was sitting in church on New Year’s Eve and we were singing, when it hit me,” she said.
She was already enrolled in parenting classes to serve as an emergency shelter.
“I knew I had a good support system to make it happen,” she said. “I connected with these kids, loved them and knew they were meant to be mine.”
Roberts legally adopted her children and calls them gifts from God.
“I couldn’t love them anymore if I had birthed them myself,” she said. “They may have been birthed from someone else’s womb, but they have now been placed in my hands.”
Each of the children has a special need, but also many strengths.
“My son is my little comedian while Iris will be quick to lay her little hands on you and pray for you; she isan old soul in a little body,” Roberts explains.
She calls Tammy her quiet helper who always asks what she can do to assist her mother.
Hannah is described as the inquisitive child, very intelligent who wants to be a mother to everyone in her family.
“I have taught them to support one another and be each other’s strength when they need it,” Roberts said.
She says she was never afraid of being a mother.
Rather, she relied on her strong faith in God to help her face any challenges.
The biggest challenge so far has been juggling many obligations at the same time.
“Recently, my mother had to have emergency surgery and Iris was also very sick so I had to run back and forth and care for my other three children at the same time,” Roberts said.
Watching her children grow up and being able to give them a good life is the biggest reward, she said.
On one occasion, Roberts recalls making extensive arrangements to be able to go on a field trip with herson.
“He told me it was his best day and he was so happy to be with me,” Roberts said, smiling at a photo of him.
Roberts doesn’t see any difference in mothering a biological child or an adopted one.
She and her children enjoy riding horses, taking trips, and visiting family.
The family also bakes together and makes homemade soaps and candles.
“You have to remember that children don’t come with manuals or signs; they all have challenges and you have to be willing to meet their needs,” Roberts advises. Returning the Love.
Anne Conner knows all about raising children.
Each of her four grown children was adopted.
She adopted twin girls, Dominique and Danielle, when they were 4 years old and soon adopted her two sonsas well.
The twins are now 26, one son Donnie is now 21, and her youngest son Jimmy is 19.
Dominique obtained her master’s degree in special education and teaches at Five Points Elementary.
She is married to Dennis Thomson.
Donnie is serving in the Navy and Jimmy attends college and works as a lifeguard and at a local restaurant.
Danielle has a 19-month daughter, Natalie, with her husband, Frank Beasley.
She recently moved and now works with Children’s Home Society in Ocala, recruiting other adults to adopt.
Conner said a special personality is required to adopt a child.
“First I decided to be a foster parent and I think there is always a need for quality foster homes,” she said.
Conner had contacts in the child welfare system who gave her advice and information about adopting.
She became one of the first single parents of adopted children in North Florida
“Now I can’t imagine life without my kids,” Conner said.
People used to ask her why she didn’t give her daughters to a couple so that they could benefit from amother and a father.
“I told them I agreed, and asked them if they could guarantee me that the couple would still be together infive years,” Conner said. “They couldn’t give me that guarantee that my girls wouldn’t suffer through adivorce and possible remarriage so I asked why I couldn’t give it a try.”
The children benefited from a strong support system including Conner’s brother, Jim.
“Their Uncle Jim taught the boys about fishing and hunting,” Anne Conner said. “I don’t think they couldhave had a better childhood.”
She remembers watching their happiness when she took them to Tennessee for Christmas to see snow.
One memory that stands out in Conner’s mind is one day when she took the twins to a restaurant and ordered them a strawberry shortcake.
“They loved it and kept asking me, “Mommy what is this? It’s so good,” Conner said. “Other patrons looked at me as if to say, ‘Don’t you take your children out?'”
The first time she took the girls to see Santa Claus at Christmas-time, Conner said she couldn’t stop crying.
She said that while people are more likely to want to adopt a baby, many times it is the older children who need families most.
“They are old enough to remember their past situations, and they really need good families to adopt them and help them get their lives on track,” Conner said. “I want people to think, ‘We could do something.'”
She says that the most rewarding part of adoption was watching her children grow up as healthy kids.
“Adopting a child will change your life. Every child is different and has different needs,” Conner said. “Butthey are not perfect, just like any other children.”
Conner likens the situation to sending a baby to war.
“Of course they are going to have some problems,” she said.
Conner describes motherhood like a balloon that keeps getting bigger and bigger with love.
As she faces serious health problems, Conner now finds herself relying on her children, as they did when she adopted them.
Danielle Beasley calls her mother amazing.
“My mother gave us a second chance, a chance to live,” she said. “She was always there for us because wewere her first priority.
“Beasley says Conner taught her and her siblings not to use their past as a crutch, but to use it as motivation to make the most of their lives.”
She’s been our rock. Now we are her’s too,” she said.
Beasley advises individuals considering adoption to understand their situations and what they can and can’t handle.
“I would encourage all interested to consider it; you can change a child’s life,” she said.
A Life Saved.
Debbie Stitt and her husband, Patrick, decided to adopt when they found out they couldn’t have children oftheir own.
Years later, the couple feels that their decision was life-changing.
Their 9-year-old daughter Rebekah’s life was a miracle in itself.
Rebekah’s birth mother went to the Pregnancy Crisis Center abortion-minded.
After receiving counseling, she decided to have her child and put her up for adoption.
“I feel so blessed because I was able to be in the room when Rebekah was born” Stitt said.
She sees no difference in mothering a biological child or an adopted one.
“I don’t think the challenges are any different; I still have the daily parenting tasks of raising my child just like anyone else,” Stitt said. The most important thing the couple did before they adopted was pray, she said.
In addition, they received counseling from the Children’s Home Society.
“Adoption is wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone,” Stitt said. “I view it as a such a blessing because it allowed me to be a mother. Without it, I would not have been able to.”
She enjoys playing with Barbie dolls with Rebekah, bike riding, baking, camping and reading.
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.
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