You couldn't say Tiffany Clark was lonely last Mother's Day. After all, the Columbus mother was surrounded by five loving children. But there was someone missing.
"It was hard knowing last Mother's Day I had a child across the world and I couldn't hold her in my arms," Clark said, getting choked up. "This Mother's Day my family is all together."
Will and Tiffany Clark's family became complete the end of February with the adoption of WillaJane, now 3, from China. Tiffany's three youngest children are from different parts of China. Ruby is 5 and Grady is 4. Her biological children are Adams, 16, Reames, 14, and MaggieRuth, 12.
The Clarks had thought and talked about adopting since their early days as a family, but God didn't press it upon their hearts to take action until MaggieRuth was 3 and they were meeting with a financial planner, Clark said.
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"He was going through a list of questions and asked, 'Y'all are done having children?'" They looked at each other and said, "We might adopt," she recalled.
They started with foster-to-adopt and, after a series of closed doors, found a way to the initial adoption. They found that "China was the best fit for our family," Clark said. All the way, their faith guided them and provided answers.
"The Lord provided answers," she said, adding, "The money always showed up. If this is what you're supposed to do, the money comes and the answers come." Money came in the form of grants, low-interest adoption loans and even a government adoption tax credit. They belong to a group called Jeeah's Hope, which helps families seeking adoption. They adopted through lifeline, a Columbus child services non-profit whose board they sit on, she said.
Their biological children have accepted the adopted children beautifully, Tiffany said.
"They have all been very excited about the adoptions; it's almost supernatural."
Because of how well everything has worked out, "It's obvious how we were meant to grow our family," she added.
After adopting Grady, Clark's heart told her they weren't finished adopting, but her husband "was not hearing that from the Lord," she said. They prayed about it and went to their older children seeking their opinions.
Adams looked at her and said, "Well, whatever you do, don't do this after I go to college. Then I won't have a chance to know them."
The children were young enough at adoption not to have too much culture shock, and they have had a fairly easy time overall learning to speak English. Some have "food issues," which consist of hoarding food because they didn't always have enough, and WillaJane is speech-delayed.
Although her adopted children are classified as "special needs," Clark wants people to know that what might qualify as special needs in another country is something that can be easily handled with health-care and insurance in the United States. Something as simple as club feet might label a child special needs elsewhere, she pointed out. The label special needs "scares a lot of people off" from adoption, resulting in millions of children not being adopted.
"I could talk all day about adoption," Clark said, the enthusiasm evident in her voice. She is a former teacher and home-schooler who is now a stay-at-home mom with WillaJane, while her other children are in five different schools. She spends a lot of time in the car, she said with a laugh.
Her family attends CrossPointe Church in Harmony Place shopping center, which has an active adoption ministry. They offer support to adoptive families and have support groups.
"This Mother's Day will be wonderful," she said. "We'll all be together, and not have a piece of my heart in China."
For more on the antics of the Clark family, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about adoption, visit www.lifelinechild.org, or contact the adoption agency of your choice.