My story began at an Eagles concert in 1983, where my parents conceived me after jamming out to a night of sweet seventies rock. This auspicious start would be an omen of things to come. I came out of the womb opinionated, headstrong and with my own sense of style.
This independence streak usually didn’t work well for me growing up, as you could often find me in time out, locking my Nana out of the house or driving my parents’ car through the fence at the ripe age of 3. Most of the time, my parents just hoped that I could make it out of childhood alive and in reasonable health.
Growing up the Rio Grande Valley, I knew that I wanted to experience life outside of my smaller city. The bright lights of South Austin called to me, and in 2002 I enrolled at St. Edward’s University. College was challenging, but I absolutely fell in love with Austin. I got a job being a mentor and teacher’s assistant in an East Austin elementary school and fell in love with education and the power of an amazing school.
In 2006, I graduated from St. Edward’s and accepted an offer from Teach for America to teach back in the Rio Grande Valley. I taught middle school, which is a bit like drinking scotch: initially it’s bitter and it tastes awful, but eventually, it’s the only drink you order. The experience taught me how much I felt like I belonged in education because my flair for the dramatic and persistence served me well when I was advocating for my students. That passion took me to a variety of positions, including writing curriculum, coaching other teachers, hiring teachers, hiring leaders and eventually leading my own school as a principal. The call to lead other leaders and create more quality school options drew me back to Austin. Now I work as Executive Director for IDEA Public Schools here in Austin, and I’m responsible for leading our work here in Austin and growing our 6 schools here in Austin to 26 schools by 2022.
I’m married to this nerdy guy I met when I was 14 in the Valley. I initially thought he was the spitting image of Beavis from the acclaimed Beavis and Butthead, but our friendship grew stronger over the years. We dated a few times, but after college, we dated for real. It only took him 10 years since we first met to convince me to marry him, and we married here in the Hill Country outside Georgetown on New Year’s Eve in 2009.
Marriage has not been easy, but it’s been what Glennon Doyle calls brutiful: brutal and beautiful. We’ve learned a lot together and we’ve strengthened our partnership through all the good times and bad. There’s still no one that makes me laugh like my husband CJ.
We wanted to be parents, but biology had other plans. After a miscarriage and failed medical interventions, we shelved our plans to be parents. We began feeling the call to expand our family and started investigating adoption. The huge price tag made us wonder if there were other options we just hadn’t thought about. We began investigating adopting children through the Texas foster care system. We were shocked to learn of the 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, more than 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. These kids are waiting for homes with families who will love and care for them, who are willing to parent them from a trauma-informed perspective and are committed to them through thick and thin.
Our initial thoughts? Oh my – can we do this?
We thought a lot of things: that we weren’t good enough, kind enough, smart enough or just competent enough to parent kids from hard places. That maybe others were better suited to do this. But the more we learned- we started asking ourselves a different question….
Why not us?
It might seem weird that I’m here writing for Austin Moms Blog when I’m actually not a mom yet. But I am here to openly share the process that my husband and I started in January 2018, when we made the decision to start the process of becoming a certified foster and adoption family through the state of Texas. We are opening our home to whichever kids are matched with us, with the hopes of welcoming our children to their forever home this year.
I’m sharing my experiences because the crisis is real- there are over 100,000 kids waiting for homes right now. There are thousands more in Texas tonight who need a safe place to sleep and don’t have one. If sharing our story helps just one of those kids- whatever discomfort I feel in openly sharing what is shaping up to be the most challenging and extraordinary experience of my life will be worth it.