Meet the Mamas

Nicole

Brandy

I am a 41-year-old motherless daughter, wife, and mom of two. Two completely different kids. One boy, Jamie, who is a teenager and has cerebral palsy and autism. One girl, Riley, who is a tween and neurotypical. Jamie is sweet, giggly, and learning on a two-year-old level. Ri is funny, artistic, and striving to be independent. She’s outgoing, he tends to withdraw in large groups of people. She’s loud and very verbal, he’s non-verbal. She’s easily excitable, he’s so laid back. She’s sassy and opinionated, he is too. I love them both so very much and couldn’t be more proud of them.

Joel and I have been together for 20 years; married for just about 17 of those. We have a wonderful relationship, with all the normal ups and downs. We love, fight, and genuinely enjoy each other. We also work full time with each other, so that adds to the craziness.

I have a full-time job as Co-Commander-in-Chief of the Family Eck.  I enjoy reading, writing, music, and being with friends and family.  My other full-time job is Human Resources, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Social Media Marketing at our web design firm. Because I don’t have enough on my plate, I also run a non-profit adapted sports league.

If I learned anything from my Mama and Grandma, it’s that family is everything.  They were both big influences on my ideas about family and friends, forging lasting relationships with those you love, and helping your fellow man.

I am opinionated and get fired up about a lot of different topics.

I have been told that I’m talkative (I guess that’s due being a middle child), which is a good thing because I write like I talk. I am not afraid to talk/write about any subject. Nothing is off limits with me. I may discuss sex, boogers, and poop. Hopefully not in the same article, but you never know. This whole motherhood thing is like quicksand. You never know where your feet will land, or if you’ll be standing at the end of the day. I hope you feel comfortable enough to ask us anything!

If you choose to come along for the ride (and I hope you do) you’ll find that it gets a bit bumpy along the way.  After all, I’m a work in progress.  I’m still being “Modified by Love”.

Nicole

The story of my family starts with kids, specifically KWSN’s.  I worked with kids and adults with special needs all through college in therapeutic recreation and became a special education teacher for low incidence populations (kids with functional mental and/or multiple disabilities.) During my first year teaching, I married my high school sweetheart and got ready to watch all of our dreams come true, especially having children of our own.  Except they didn’t.  We didn’t get pregnant without years of trying and the assistance of fertility medication.  When we did get pregnant, I miscarried.  That was the hardest thing I ever lived through and I got down on my knees, again, and promised God that if He would just allow me to carry one child, I would never turn any child He sent me away.  He listened.

Skip a few years into the future when my own beautiful, perfect Laura-Elizabeth was four, my husband, Brandon, and I became foster parents.  Since I had always worked with KWSNs, it only seemed natural that exceptional kids were the ones with whom we would work. Over the next four years, we were blessed to love some children a little while until they found their forever homes and we found three who, despite having varying kinds of special needs, are beautiful, perfect and perfectly ours as well.

Conner and Mylie are full biological siblings.  They both have prenatal drug and alcohol exposure which has caused brain damage in both of them.  In Mylie, that brain damage causes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which for her includes seizures, major sensory integration dysfunction, tremors, poor balance, cognitive delay, language delay, chewing and swallowing concerns, ADHD, low muscle tone and overall developmental delay.  Conner is also diagnosed with FASD but for him it manifests in minor motor planning delays, some reduced strength, serious ADHD and impulse control issues and serious sleep disturbance.  Other than the attention concerns, he has overcome speech and motor delays and is learning like a pro at school.  Unfortunately for Conner, his abuse history (he’s the only one of our three adopted children that didn’t come straight to us from the hospital) also left him with a host of anxiety and behavioral concerns which we battle daily with love and frustration.

When we got ready to adopt Conner and Mylie, I went back to school for the third time and became a developmental interventionist to work with families with KWSNs ages birth to three.  It allowed me to do what I love most, support KWSNs and their families, with a more flexible schedule than a classroom.  Little did I know that only a few months after starting that wonderful job, we’d be approached about another little man.  This little guy was a premie, had a g-tube and food absorption issues and a sweet little body twisted by a musculoskeletal condition called arthrogryposis.  Our little Isaac was so sick and required so many appointments for surgeries and casting to address his joint concerns that it was costing us money for me to work, so I am now a stay at home mom.

So, it was a crooked path that brought our family together.  We are an eclectic blend of biological relations and true ties that bind, of mixed abilities and races, of unconventional and traditional, of bits and pieces that make the collective US.  We take each day as it comes with successes and learning opportunities (because isn’t that what failures always are) and we are finding our way together.  All of these things make us US, a family brought together by circumstance and “modified by love.”