“I think we all have the capacity to handle something hard.”
A year and a half ago I got to travel with Nick and Whitney (my amazing and super cool 😉 bosses) to Beijing, China with the Harris family of 5 to adopt their son and brother Nate! (To watch Episode 4 of the Advocates: China!) The Harris’ have been home for about a year and a half with Nate and let me tell you, The Harris’ are the real deal. They are kind, encouraging, and not afraid to step out of their comfort zones… like adding a teenager to their family, who knew barely any english, and is also blind.
This summer we had the opportunity to visit the Harris’s in San Antonio, TX to see how they are doing, a year into adoption. Adam and Tiffany and each of their kids carry a humility about them and a willingness to share the good, the bad and the ugly, and we are so honored that they continue to let us be apart of their story!
Below are a couple questions we asked Adam and Tiffany! To watch the Harris’ Adoption Follow Up video, click here!
Allie Chandler- TAP Storyteller
Adam Harris- Nate’s Dad
Tiffany Harris- Nate’s Mom
Allie Chandler: What has life looked like for your family over the past year?
Tiffany Harris: I’ve never felt as many emotions as I have felt in the last year. Lots of good things, lots of tears and lots of hard things. I’ve been overwhelmed and happy and at peace and thankful.
Adam Harris: There have been a lot of challenges but the joys far outweigh the challenges. You’re introducing someone new to your family, that’s an adjustment for them and that’s an adjustment for us. We’re still trying wrap our heads around how we can best help Nate and serve him for just the person that he is and the person that he will be. So that’s a challenge but it’s been so much joy for our whole family.
AC: Has your view of adoption changed? If so, how?
AH: My view of adoption I would say is the same. The bottom line is that everyone deserves to have a family. Going into adoption I knew that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses, and it hasn’t been… but I knew that there would be a lot of rewards in it too, as our family would grow and as Nate would have a family. So I would say my view is the same, it’s not easy, but it’s wonderful.
AC: What has been the biggest challenge in adoption?
AH: Probably what you think are going to be the challenges are not the challenges you are going to face. Him being blind and him being 13 are not a challenge at all. Yes he’s a teenager and he does teenager things and yes he is blind so he bumps into stuff once in a while, but those are really not issues at all. It’s the details underneath that can be the biggest challenge, which a lot of times are our issues not so much his issue.
TH: I think for me, it was just realizing he’s not a problem to be fixed. I talked to another adoptive mom, and it was so great to know that we were walking along this path together, and that our kids aren’t problems to be fixed, but they are wonderful people to pray for and help mature and grow into their full potential, whatever that may look like. And as much as we tried to not have any expectations, when you’re in the thick of it, and the reality of it, it’s different than when you’re just reading about them and they’re still just on the computer screen. When it translates into your real life and you realize there are some more intellectual delays than maybe you had expected, but it’s okay, we’re getting through it, and we’re finding that support helps a ton.
AC: What has been easier than you thought it would be?
AH: His blindness is not really a challenge at all. He functions so well and we’ve got great resources here locally. I would also say, him integrating into our family has been really easy, our extended family and even our kids here.
AC: What would you tell someone who is thinking about adopting?
TH: I think one of the best pieces of advice we got, and it was from my mom, was that we needed to be in 100% unity in that decision, and we were. It wasn’t one of us trying to convince the other one, we were in 100% agreement. I would also say, pray, talk to people and pray some more.
AH: I would just say to know that that’s what you feel like you’re supposed to do and then be ready to be flexible because you can’t plan out all the details, you’ve just gotta be able to roll with it and make the best choices that you can. Get people you can lean on, that you can talk to and that can help, whether that’s friends or support within the community.
AC: How would you encourage someone when things get hard?
TH: Go ahead and type that email and send it to the friend that you’ve been thinking, “I think I could learn something from them, or I need some help,” send, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. I would type that email over and over again and then delete it and think, “just be positive, everything will be alright.” But it made a world of a difference for me when I finally just broke down and said I needed help.
AH: We’ve really had to rely on each other, which has helped a ton. Especially in the early days of our adoption when sometimes it just felt so overwhelming. Even in China we would look out for each other and say, “why don’t you go take a break”. It helped to be able to take a breather and then come back and keep marching.
AC: A lot of people could never imagine adopting a 13 year old boy who is blind, how did you take on such a huge calling?
TH: I think we all have the capacity to handle something hard.
AC: What’s next for Nate?
AH: It’s a fine line of encouraging him and giving him opportunity and seeing the potential within him for him to become all that he has the potential to become, without putting the expectation on him being able to do things that he may never be able to do.
TH: We’re still asking ourselves what’s next for Nate. And really it’s just today and tomorrow. He completed his 7th grade year in public school in America and it was a great year for him! He had a great team working on his behalf teaching him things. He’s like a sponge and he loves learning! But when thinking about the future, it’s just today and tomorrow and the next day, and that’s really all we can think about at this point.
We are so thankful for Adam and Tiffany and the wisdom they have shared with The Archibald Project over the last year and a half. If you have questions for Adam and Tiffany regarding older child and special needs adoption, please contact [email protected] and we will connect you with the Harris’!
HERE ARE Some photos from behind the scenes wITH THE HARRIS’S!