The creation of Joey has led me into some exciting new territories. But one of the most fun aspects has been getting to meet and know Joey Moms. I have come across some amazing women that I am honored to have met. I have learned something from each and every one of them, and have on more than one occasion been utterly inspired by them.
The truth is: EVERY MOM HAS A BEAUTIFUL STORY & EVERY MOM HAS KNOWLEGE TO SHARE & GAIN.
This fact inspired Joey's Moms I'd Like to Hug Interview Series. We are here to CELEBRATE & INSPIRE MOMS, to bring awareness to the already existing 'connected roots of motherhood'.
Moms will open up about the joys and challenges they face, lessons they’ve learned, as well as what fuels them and what gifts lay within them, making them the amazing, unique women they are.
Our first interviewee- is a mom that Joey has already been lucky enough to hug, and was a big part of inspiring the Joey Fosters Love Program. She is a Foster Mom who exudes strength, love, and passion for her role as Mom. Bari and her family were recently surprised by a precious baby girl in need of a loving home just before Christmas. Thank you, Bari for sharing your heart and home with us, and with little ones in need.
(And after this head to our IGTV and check out the ADORABLE VIDEO of Bari and her newborn- Be sure to have SOUND ON! It's just too sweet not to :)
'Joeys Moms I'd Like To HUG' Interview Series
Bari Alexander- Harvest, Alabama
Hi Bari! Give us your 'Mom Stats'!
“My daughter is 6 years old, she's amazing and such a blessing. She was adopted as a baby through a private adoption with an agency and her birth story is quite beautiful, and she's just as beautiful, she's my everything!!! At this time we also have a 2 month old foster love who has been with us since I brought her home from the hospital- she's beyond amazing and such a wonderful blessing! We love our girls so much! We have been licensed foster parents for 2 years, and in that time we have had 6 foster loves come 'to and through' our house. This year alone, I have sadly had to say goodbye to 3 foster daughters, and that hasn't been easy, but that just makes us hold our daughter and current foster love that much closer!”
Q: What is your favorite part about being a mom so far?
A: "I dreamt of being a mom all my life, I was always that little girls taking care of her baby dolls, carrying them around with me in my make-shift baby carriers, highchairs with my dolls next to me at the dinner table feeding them their baby food, changing their diapers and tucking them into bed at night. Becoming a mom for me was a much harder thing than I dreamt it would be, and took a lot of years, tears and prayers... so when we were finally blessed with our daughter 6 years ago, I took great joy in the simple tasks- like changing her diaper in the middle of the night because I waited so very long for her.
My favorite part? Honestly, it's kissing my daughter's skin... hear me out... it may sound strange but what that means is she's real. It means she's here with me- right here, right now, where I can actually hold her, kiss her, and feel her! When my husband was deployed, I would tell him over the phone "I cannot wait 'til you're home and I can feel your skin again", because that would mean he's more than just an image on a computer screen, but real and where I can hold and touch him. This is honestly even more true with my daughter, I tell her nearly everyday I love her skin (it's okay, she gets it), it's so simple but such a big thing, after so many long years dreaming of her and only seeing her (and her siblings) in my dreams. It's more then words!"
Q: What is your least favorite or most challenging?
A: "My least favorite part is when I get a bit overwhelmed with chaos, and disorder. Don't get me wrong, I do not live a completely, perfectly put together life. Motherhood and living in a house where your children's ages and needs are constantly changing is somewhat messy and disorganized. But I'm talking about when you finally get an area cleaned up, and you feel good about it, then one of your wonderful children comes in and 2 minutes later has a mess all over that area again.... I have been known to "loose my cool"... when I wish I was better at letting the kids come in, exist in that area without loosing it."
Q: What brings you joy outside of your children?
A: "Sleep... whenever that actually happens which is not as much as I wish.
That and my parents, who moved down here 2 years ago to be closer to us and the grandchildren. Family is everything, and everything that brings me joy. And of course, horses, when I get to go out riding in my very little free time...lol! "
Q: What would you plan for your dream mom-cation?
A: "This whole year, all I've been dreaming of is a beach vacation, sleeping in, then when I feel like it- go hang out on the beach, feel the warmth & joy of the sun rays, the refreshing waves of water, a cool breeze on my face while I nap in the shade. No schedule, no responsibilities, just RELAXATION!! My brother lives in Hawaii... I fantasize about visiting him and killing two birds with one stone- see my brother and enjoy the beach!!"
Q: What are you most excited for once the kids are in bed?
A: "That depends on the night... but it's either a spoon full of ice cream, so the kids don't see or a moment to finally watch an episode of something that isn't a cartoon- a "mommy show". To turn off all the lights, sit back on the couch and not be needed to do something or share something... but finally relax for the first time, and watch something I want to watch. Sometimes that means staying up a little too late just so I can sit in solitude and enjoy something just for me."
Q: How did you know you were meant to be a foster mom- what were the deciding factors?
A "Well, when we moved to Alabama after hubby got out of the Army, we were surrounded by friends who were nearly all adoptive or foster parents, and that's just what I had been praying for at that time. This is after several years of trying to start our family without success naturally. We witnessed many of our friends get to adopt the foster kids that were brought into their home and it felt like a 'win-win'. Doing this was a chance to help foster kids who were in need of a safe place and a warm bed, to nurture them when they were in such need of love and tenderness, but also provide an adoptive resource when that was needed. We started foster training years ago, but didn’t feel wholeheartedly that the time was right, so we pursued our private adoption and miraculously almost 9 months later to the day, we were proud parents of our daughter. We would love to do another private adoption, they are so expensive, but we are keeping our hearts open for another opportunity. Since then, foster has been a better fit, so we finished our training and now it's been 2 years and 6 kids later. We have loved every foster love God has brought into our home with all our hearts, and we pray one day some of them will be able to stay and we will be able to adopt. Until then, we will continue to be a safe home for them. Unfortunately, there is such a need for good homes, not everyone who fosters has good intentions."
Q: What was the most gratifying/ sweetest moment you’ve experienced with a foster child?
A: "There are so many, but my favorite moments are at bedtime, when I have each of them in my arms. With my daughter, it’s just me and her, and we are rocking. Nothing else exists, just her breath on my neck, or the weight of her on my chest. I feel her breathing, each breath getting a little deeper, and the feel of sleep washing over her. This feeling of peace comes to mind, it tells me they feel safe, they feel loved and comfortable enough to completely let go and trust me to take care of them. Depending on what has happened to bring them into our home, this moment changes. The steps it takes to get each of them to this moment of surrender and trust is a process... so when it happens, I feel whole this ‘whole body bliss’. To witness a child whose been brought to your home in such a way, reach a point of peace, trusting you, & letting go.... again... it's beyond words."
Q: What advice would you have for someone considering fostering?
A: "Do it, say yes! Just open your hearts, your home, your love- and just do it! Honestly, it's not easy, and it's not all rainbows and unicorns, but it's real, and there is a real need, a R.E.A.L. need!!! Go for it! Be that safe place for a child who is in need of a warm bed for the night to sleep. Be those warm and cozy arms to hold them and rock them to sleep when they feel insecure and confused about what is happening. Be that person who says "yes" to helping a child who didn't ask for this situation but is living the consequences to something completely out of their control and did nothing wrong. Say YES. Do it!”
Q: What made you fall in love with Joey & how has it benefited you and your little ones on your foster journey?
A: "This Joey has been a life saver more than once, and with several foster loves. We had one foster love who from day one struggled with finding the right formula, leaving here with rashes and stomach discomfort I've never experienced before... and until the Joey, I couldn't so quickly provide her with as much comfort and support for her little upset belly as the Joey allowed. I remember the first time I put her into the Joey, within minutes she went from wailing and retching her body all over to complete peace and soon was passed out asleep. This allowed me to put her in such a soft, snug, yet comfortable position, it allowed her body to relax and find some peace, which in turn saved my sanity. The compactness of the Joey is amazing, I love being able to stash it in my purse and have it ready to grab easily, or even better- have it even closer around my neck, ready to go- because it is also a gorgeous scarf. And OH- so soft! You have to feel the fabric, it’s nothing of this world! I love it, it's my "go to" carrier over all others and is ALWAYS with me when I am anywhere (even my living room) with my foster loves!!!”
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*Do you know an AMAZING MOM!? NOMINATE an inspirational Mom you’d like to see HIGHLIGHTED in future Joeys MILHUG Interviews! Email firstname.lastname@example.org