So, we’re adopting! I know that this blog is for and about TNT, but I’ve learned a few things over the past 15 years in business and marriage: so much of you is your business. Rephrased with guts, I would say “so much of ME is MY business.” We can’t help it. It’s our dream, our passion and our hope, fueled with our blood, sweat, tears and time. So it naturally comes through that who we are is so much of what TNT is. And any one that has ever had any type of relationship knows that your relationships affect your life. And your work.
We have the most amazing team on staff that we have ever had in the history of TNT. Hard working, kind people that are trust worthy and faithful. Good people that have caught the vision and are committed to see it through, whether it’s in their job description or not. They drank the proverbial kool aid, and God, we are so thankful. When we go through “stuff”, we go through it together. When one of our techs welcomed a new baby in to their home, the rest of the team pitched in to cover his job so he could be there for his growing family. When our parts guy wanted to head north for two weeks over the summer to spend some time with the other side of his family, the others worked early and late to make sure we still got it all done. When our office manager was recently engaged, the rest of us pitched in while she dizzyingly settled in to wedding planning in the clouds for a bit. So I would be ignorant to think that when Tim and I go through something, it doesn’t affect any one else. As much as I would like to think I can keep it seamless and flawless, I’ve been playing this game called Life way too long to think that is a reasonable hope. One DOES affect the other. In that way, in that light, because of all those detailed points, i can deliberately write in our TNT blog: We Are Adopting!
Our hearts are already full, and we are already so blessed. I have a beautiful grown up stepdaughter that I have loved as my own from the day she looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes from hiding behind her dad’s back when she was five years old. Tim and I have four other children, ranging from 13 to 4. I am sure I am biased, but they are all beautiful, healthy, strong and kind human beings, and I’m so glad I didn’t send them to the moon in those moments when it seemed like such a good idea.
So by all intents and purposes, our cup runneth over, we are beyond blessed, and I truly feel like we are living the dream. Our house is full, our hands are full, and our hearts are full. Sort of.
It is because of this nightly revelation that I first realized the Void. Counting my blessings every night, even thanking God for the hard times, the pain we may go through that He is using for His purpose, I realized the Void: We have it All. So if we have it all, how can we share it more? Surely someone needs some of what we have. Because why else do I have this Void?
Around the same time I was beginning to feel this Void, I sat in church to hear one of the most profound sermons I’ve ever heard in my life. The theme went something like, “What can we do besides pray?” And the premise was that, though we can never dismiss the power of prayer, what can we DO to live the work of God? It was one of those life-changing moments. And that’s when I realized what the Void was. I went home that day and read a magazine article that stated there are over 100,000 children in the United States alone that are available for adoption right now. There are over 400,000 in foster care, needing help and homes until they can either be restored with their biological parents, or placed in a permanent adoptive home. So first, my heart broke at the realization, the facts, and the pain that was so prevalent in our country that I was thus far ignorant of. Then I resolved to be a part of the change: I cannot fix 500,000. But I can fix one or two… I can start there. And as I reached that conclusion, that Void began to fill in my heart, and I knew I was headed in the right direction.
I know so many that can’t fathom “how” we can do more. “You already do so much, Tara, how are you going to do this?” They mean well, shaking their heads and laughing at our crazy-busy-wonderful life, as they go back to their peace and quiet that I am sort of jealous of if I let myself for a moment. “You already have so much on your plate; your life is already so full!” And it is all true; it is. But that’s the thing about the Void: when it’s empty, you have to fill it. And I was raised to believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way. It is also simple mathematics (in a very non-mathematical way): adding children to your home multiplies the work, but also the hands to teach and train to help. Think about it: I am already cooking, baking, doing laundry and washing sticky spots off of floors for 4 kids. I tuck in 4 kids every night, and drive them to school every day. I grocery shop for them and take them to doctors and dentists. Honestly, what is it to add 2 more to the mix of what I am already doing? If it means a chance at a life they never would have had, siblings, stability, love and hope, what are sticky floors, anyways???
I would be remiss if I did not clarify, I have amazing helpers at home, a 13 year old daughter that can cook dinner any night of the week, and boys that can sort and wash their own laundry. I have several incredible babysitters that are more like family than hired help, and I have a husband that blows any dream man out of the water. He has challenged me to be the best me from the moment he became my friend, and loved me so fiercely from the beginning that my biggest fear was that I could never love him enough to match the love I saw he had for me. 16 years down the road, I’m catching up. I adore him. I still have a crush on him. I’ve walked through fire for him, and with him. But it’s because he’s the kind of guy that, when I sat him down to explain my Void, and my thoughts on how to fix it, that I thought we should bring two more children into our home, his first and only response was, “Okay, how should we do it?”
So we have spent the past couple months juggling even more than normal, collecting documents, filing paperwork, getting fingerprinted and taking classes on how to become foster parents to help these children the very best we can. Our team has stepped up to fill in the gaps, our babysitters have given of their own time and social lives to shower our own kids with extra snuggles and stories (and ice cream according to the wrappers and napkins that litter our vehicles), and our family and community has shown so much love and support, it has truly carried us over the hurdles and through the hard times.
We are so close to finding our kids. Any day now, we will be official. But the last thing we have to fix is the issue of a vehicle. No longer will my trusty Town & Country fit our whole family once we get our new kids. That’s all right by me: it was a little too fancy and flashy for my liking, but it was a great deal and the bells and whistles definitely made life with little ones much easier. It will be hard to let it go, saying good bye to some precious memories, feeling the rip of change when there has already been so much, and ultimately admitting that what we are doing is a pretty big deal. (Sometimes I like to deny it, because acknowledging that we are doing big things makes me tired and can shake my faith a bit. I’d just rather “git r done” rather than analyze it to let any fears in…) But I had to admit it: we are getting shoved out of minivan status in to the realm of the unknown. And I’m not talking about the Void. I’m talking about vans that are conducive to a family of 8 or more people. And they are big. So we found one that fit the criteria, and took to making it fit in our family. It’s one thing for the vehicle to fit the number of people that you need it to fit. It’s quite another to get it to fit who your family is.
Remember where I explained how business meshes in to family, and family is just who we are, and then that blurs and overflows in to what TNT is? Well, that’s what happened with our new van. We just decided that it’s crazy to pretend one is not without the other, and it’s just where we’re at in life, and it’s just who we are, so we went for it: that nice white van that seats our growing family? Well, we painted it. TNT green. But we did it TNT style: team in hand, opinions, discussions and laughter abounding, deciding the color scheme, the process, and the necessary “bling” to make the team proud. (Who knew wheels and chrome and pinstripe could create such lively conversations among office staff, body techs, and painters alike???)
And at the end of the day, we finished it TNT style: that man that I love so much took one of my sons that I love so much, and together, together, they sprayed color, untaped, sprayed some more, and taped some more until it became more than the paint job: it became a memory, it became part of who we are, and that helped heal the rip from some of the change, and fill the Void a little bit more, knowing we’re one step closer and we’re still doing it TNT style… Tim and Tara style… one or both of those, no matter which, a little bit of both, that blending of team and family and business and life, once again and again and again…
It has been a long, hard road. But any good life is full of sacrifice. What is the cost to save a life? Until I can answer that question, I will keep going, and continue that road of sacrifice. So when I say “We are adopting!”, what I mean by that is that there is a team of people that support us, and a community (family, church and business all included) that has stood by us to enable us to do what we feel is right for us, and ultimately, to help this converted Southern girl to fill the Void she had in her heart. And I have no other words except to say, “Thanks for that.”