Adoption Talk with Joy and Leslie

She sent me an email asking if I was, “free for lunch Friday?“.

She went on to say that she and gal by the name of Leslie were meeting at 11 o’clock, and that I was invited too.

The email was from Joy, who I had first “met” when she appeared on an episode of “Designers Challenge” on HGTV back in 2008, and then had the pleasure of meeting in person later that same  year. I’ll never forget the day she brought her newly-adopted Ethiopian daughters into the photography studio I was working at at the time.

By the end of her email, I learned that Leslie and her husband (a student minister at a local church) are adopting from the Congo sometime this year, and that Joy thought it would be a good opportunity for me to meet someone else traveling a similar path.

Well, the thought of getting out of the house for a couple of hours to have lunch and “talk adoption” sounded amazing, so I immediately wrote her back and said “YES, YES,YES! Just tell me when and where, and I’ll be there with bells on!


The restaurant we met at was dimly-lit, and had a masculine feel to it. Joy and Leslie shared a booth upholstered in red & black plaid, and I sat across from them in a dark brown leather chair, complete with sturdy wooden arms and shiny nailhead trim. We were the only ones there. Perfect. (I’m all about eating at restaurants before the rush, grocery shopping after the rush, and seeing movies at noon during the week!)

We placed our drink orders, then our food orders, (chicken salad sandwich and kettle-cooked potato chips- mmmm!), and then dove straight into “adoption talk”.

Joy shared stories about her Emme and Zoe from Ethiopia, and since that’s where Kev and I hope to adopt from this first time around, I clung to her every word.

When I met Zoe three years ago, she didn’t speak much English. But I tell ya what- she had “hello, yes ma’am, and thank you” down pat. Such a polite little girl!

Her biological mother passed away during childbirth, and for the first few years of her life, she shared a small mud hut with her father and grandmother. The only water they had access to was also used by cattle as a bathtub. I can only imagine what kinds of things were living in that water. When both her biological father and grandmother died, Zoe was taken to an orphanage by a caring neighbor.

Zoe is 12 years old today, and Joy said that she, and Emme, are both super bright & bubbly kids! Zoe is doing great in school, and is passionate about helping bring awareness to the worlds clean water crisis, and Emme will start Kindergarten next Fall.


Joy told us about adopting Samuel from China, too. He had to undergo some major surgeries (cleft lip and palate, and a single ventricle heart) but he’s doing great these days, and will celebrate his 9th birthday in March!


She told us about Eli’s challenging domestic adoption as we walked to pick him up from the daycare center.

Sounds like it was quite an ordeal, but everything worked out in the end. (Yay!) He turned one last year, and my friends at the photography studio I mentioned above put together the cutest video of him (and Joy, and birthday cake!)…


Joy and her husband recently became foster parents too. They’re lovin’ on the little fella in the car seat below right now…

He’s 18 weeks old. Life has been really tough for this little guy so far. It was extremely hard for me to even comprehend how someone so young could go through all the things he’s had to go through in just 9 months, and 18 weeks. I’m so glad he has a safe place to call home now, and that the Portis family loves him the way he deserves to be loved!


Joy has been such an inspiration to me over the past few years, and it’s so nice to know she’s just right around the corner (in Montgomery) if we have any questions or need emotional support throughout the adoption process. And, thanks to Joy, now we’ve got the lovely Miss Leslie to bond with too! I look forward to getting to know her more over the coming months, and Kev and I will definitely be praying for her and her hubby as they travel to the Congo later this year.

(Joy, me, and Leslie)


If you’d like to visit Joy’s blog, you can find it HERE!

(Joy’s family)

And if you’d like to visit Leslie’s blog, you can find it HERE!

(Leslie, Brian & Knox)


Check out the cute necklace my friend Christine sent me…



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  1. kelly says

    It moves me to tears what big hearts you all have! Thank you for taking your readers on this journey with you.

  2. says

    Oh wow, this post made me smile and sort of gave me chills. We are adoptive parents too. It just makes my heart beat fast to hear of other adoption stories and hopes. Our domestic adoption of twins was a dream come true. It was as if adoption chose us….instead of us choosing adoption. Greatest experience of our lives! Wishing you a wonderful journey. God bless.

  3. Sherri Langford-Farrell says

    Thanks, Layla, for sharing that. Amazing! What an incredible journey you and Kevin are beginning!!! I’m so excited for you both and the new addition(s) to your family. Children so deserve wonderful lives and families. Once that light of love is shone on them, they blossom into the wonderful people God intends for them to be.

  4. says

    What a beautiful family Joy has and the video with Eli is adorable! Looking forward to reading more adoption stories – especially yours! We adopted our beautiful daughter so I know first hand how amazing the journey is.

  5. Jenny B. says

    What a wonderful connection! Seeing the picture of Joy and Zoe gave me goosebumps because I think their faces look very similar. I recently thought the same thing about a dad at our church and his new little boy from Korea. I’m not saying all adopted kids look like their adoptive parents, but sometimes – even though they look very different in some ways – they seem to have a family resemblance. :)

  6. says

    COngratulations Laylal!!! I did not know y’all were adopting!!!

    This is such exciting news. We have adopted internationally too. It is a blessing like no other. i would like to do it again:)

  7. geri says

    You and your friends are heavens angels
    sharing your gifts and love so easily.
    You inspire us all in so many different ways.
    There is nothing but love and peace and joy on
    everyones beautiful faces.
    Cheers to you Layla & Kevin, Joy, and Leslie
    and all adoptive familes everywhere.

  8. Pattie says

    Layla, reading the post was so sweet and BIG tears, My daughter Tia is sitting here with me and while I am reading this out loud to her she blurts out maybe Layla and Kevin would adopted me…I would have the coolest room and Kevin plays in a band what more could I want… I looked at her and said WHAT!!!! thanks a lot Tia.. You see my daughter is quite the character she is so cute she has CP and is in a wheelchair, she saw the picture of the little girl that has down syndrome and thought she was the cutest. But now I thinking.. HUMMMM… That might not be a bad idea…LOL.. What do you think Layla???? Best wishes and know that we are there for your journey.

  9. says

    HI Layla,

    I just wanted to officially “de-lurk” as we like to say in this blogging world of ours. I have read your blog for a while now and of course we share a love of interior design and all things beautiful! But we are also in the adoption process ourselves. We are adopting domestically and our next step is the home study.

    So glad you have been sharing your story….it helps to hear from others in similar situations! Can’t wait to see what God has in store for your two!


  10. Debbie says

    Been following you for awhile. My friend, Rhoda (who I greatly miss every day), introduced me to your blog. I love what you’ve done to the place! We’re probably less than an hour from Prattville.

    My daughter, Tiffany is adopting too! She and her husband, Steven, directed an international children’s choir for 5 years and God laid it on their hearts to adopt. We are waiting on our little China doll later this year. Her boss and wife are adopting their 2nd child from Ethiopia. They have a cutie from Guatemala already. Back in our day, you didn’t hear very much about adoption – but y’all absolutely rock! I’ll be following your journey too!

  11. says

    God has been doing something in my heart for Ethiopia this past year…
    I will just continue to pray and trust God to show us if there is a child there to add to our family….
    praying for your sweet child even now…and will continue to pray!!

  12. says

    It sounds like you are getting set up with a great support group – mommies are the greatest friends! Somewhere there is a little one waiting for you, needing you! Wishing you the best,


  13. says

    Hey Layla! I just wanted to pass along a blog of a friend of mine. Her and her husband adopted a little boy from Ethiopia almost two years ago and are in the process of waiting for baby 2 from there. Thought maybe you could send her some messages and get some info. She has some fabulous stuff on her blog from their journey picking up their son as well.
    Here’s the address…

    Good luck to you and Kevin!

  14. says

    I’ll never forget the moment I walked into our local Starbucks to meet my first fellow adoptive mom-to-be. I found her adoption blog online and realized that we lived in the same city and were both adopting from Ethiopia and had started the process at similar times. It was so nice to meet someone who was going through the same process. We’re both still waiting (our adoption agency declared bankruptcy last year :S) but we’re so glad to have met. No-one “gets” adoption like other adoptive families, that’s for sure.


  15. says


    I don’t think I’ve ever commented here before… I’ve been a long-time reader. I’m the mother to two children, adopted from Guatemala and Ethiopia, and I just wanted to say congratulations on starting this amazing journey! Our two children have made my life complete and their adoptions will always remain the best things I could have ever done with my life. I wish the same for you!

  16. says

    I’ve been following your adoption journey, and I’m so excited to see that you are adopting from Ethiopia! My husband and I are still in the research phase of our adoption, but my heart is telling me that Ethiopia is the country for us as well. Best of luck with your adoption, and thank you for sharing your story!

  17. Heidi says

    Thank you for sharing this…and all those great, smiling pictures, so sweet!!! Just wondering, do you think Leslie has a FB? I would love to hear how her process is going and who she is working with (maybe we’ll be traveling there around the same time!) :)


  18. Alima says

    I love that you are sharing your journey with us. :) I found your blog because of home design, but my husband and I have always thought about adoption so I sort of feel like maybe I found your blog for other reasons too :)
    And what a perfect gift from your friend. Even the name of the company is perfect for you! What a thoughtful friend!

  19. says

    Thank you for sharing all of these heart-touching adoption stories. I am so excited for you and Kevin and am grateful you are sharing your journey with all of us! Are you planning to do an adoption timeline? We’re all wondering what the schedule is looking like!!!! I know there is the perfect little someone(s) out there for you and Kevin and we all cannot wait to meet him/her/them!

  20. Jody says

    So very sweet to read this entry. Love your blog for the decorating inspiration – but this is so very more inspirational!! My Best friend here in WI adopted from China & Ethiopia – their daughter from Ethiopia is the sweetest, sweetest soul and their son from China is goofy & oh so smart. They have since had a baby also – surprise!- so now they are a family of 5. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the love to come.

  21. says

    Really special stories, I wish you well on your adventure of adoption. My heart went out to all the orphans in Russia so long ago when people were willing to except them into their homes. It became so hard at that time to adopt, I hope it is easier now.

  22. Jennifer says

    Hi Layla,

    What an exciting journey you are beginning! I knew I liked you when I first discovered your site through Hyacinth’s room project. We both love decorating and helping Hyacinth and now we both share a love for adoption. There truly is no other experience like it! Thank you for braving this journey and being willing to share it. I am convinced others will be inspired to do likewise through your testimony!

    One word of wisdom…when your little one arrives – embrace the experience! Just 5 months ago a sweet 1 month old baby foster daughter was placed in my arms. It has made writing my weekly decorating email a challenge. Not that I don’t have things I want to say…I simply don’t have the time to sit down and write like I used to. Recently I let my readers know that I just couldn’t keep up the weekly pace. My baby is growing so fast. I wanted to experience her quickly changing life so for now I am not writing, at least not as much. Everyone has been so understanding. I just wanted to “give you permission” to do the same if it begins to feel like to much. They are only small a very short time. :)

    So very excited for you!

  23. says

    Layla, congratulations on your adoption journey. Leave it in God’s hands and he will lead you to your children who have been a part of His plan all along. So excited for you. (we “chatted” a bit about fost-adopt via email awhile back)

  24. Angela Bushatz says

    Hey, I love the site Blessed that you posted today. It is wonderful and what a Godly family. Truly someone to mentor you and Kevin on your journey!!!

  25. Emily Zimmerman says

    Love love love your blog!! I’ve been following your blog for over a year now and I always leave inspired. I had to pass along this photography blog I’ve been following. They just brought home their son from Ethiopia last week and she shares their journey in the blog. Beautiful story!!

  26. says

    Thanks for sharing this post. My hubs and I are “trying” for a baby right now (shhhh….), but because of our ages and the fact that it’s been over 6 months now, adoption has definitely been discussed. I would much rather adopt than try to go through any wacky fertility treatments! I look forward to following along on your path, and hope it’s an easy one!

  27. says

    We to are in the process of adopting! It is such an exciting journey. I actually started blogging about it on our blog today. Thank you for your blog, I very much enjoy it! I wish you favor and blessings on your adoption journey! Angela

  28. Stephanee says

    I always love hearing adoption stories. My husband and I are currently hoping to adopt soon! We have been adoption approved for almost a year now. We have thought about fostering, but heard that if you were currently fostering a child your adoption had to be put on hold. Unless, of course, you were going to be adopting the child that you were currently fostering (which sometimes happens does happen!)

  29. says

    So exciting to meet someone like her! Those kids are so lucky to have a loving , safe home! I can’t wait to see your new addition soon!
    What a nice gift too!


  30. says

    i randomly found your site… i am not very creative on my own and very jealous of your special gift!!

    i really wanted to say congrats on starting the adoption process… and being “paper pregnant”! my husband and i are anxiously waiting for the referral of our little hun-nee from ethiopia!!

    excited to follow your story!

  31. says

    Congratulations on your first steps to building your family!

    Adoption friends are wonderful angels of support and it looks lile you have two pros! From the challenges of the paper chase and the unique challenges once you finally have your child home, those who go before us are cherished friends.
    We adopted a waiting child from China, age 26 months on hugging day. We are the most fortunate people on the planet to have her as our daughter!

    Godspeed in your paper chase and thank you for sharing your story with us.

    (and Tybee Island last fall)

  32. says

    We are completely surrounded by friends who have adopted precious little ones from around the globe. (Our best friends even adopted from Ethiopia in July 2010!) The love and sacrifice they have shown in their own journeys has been so inspiring. Congratulations to you and Kevin on taking this amazing journey! Praying God’s blessings on your family!!

  33. says

    Here’s another family, another story you might want to read about. There is a lot of good information and they too are passionate about adoption!!! Love that beautiful necklace. . .what adventures lay ahead for you and Kevin :) Glad you have friends IRL to bond with as well as the support of the whole world wide web!

  34. Elizabeth says

    SUCH a small world. I live in Joy’s neighborhood and went to Trinity. Didn’t realize you live in Montgomery!! I did a story on their family for a journalism class at Auburn! I hope to hear more about your story as a I recently became a follower only because of your DIY design things! I am glad you know Joy as she is the best to get info from!!

  35. Maureen says

    I just came across your blog and figure I better follow it because of all the parallels. Married to a musician/producer for 26 yrs, I owned and ran one of Canada’s best known recording studios and have a good idea of the struggles you face in the music world. My youngest daughter is a singer/songwriter and the eldest has a little farm that she devotes to running Cobble Hills Animal Sanctuary. She rescues abandoned and abused farm animals and has found homes for dozens of unwanted cats. She has 2 bio sons and, next month, completes her adoption of a family of four (aged 3 to 9) that had been adopted once before and returned (if you can imagine that!). The clincher is, 13 years ago, I took the gamble and became an interior decorator. Instead of luck, I wish you vision and faith in yourselves!

  36. says

    Love this! We adopted our son from Ethiopia and well, it’s just about indescribable. But if you want to chat about it, let me know! I actually have hundreds of friends who are also Ethiopian adoptive parents. Have you chosen an agency yet? Good luck — the paperwork gets crazy! : )

  37. says

    Layla – I was just introduced to you by my friend Donna Konuch! Love your website and what you’re all about! My husband and I are also in the process of adopting. At the moment we are pursuing a domestic adoption but as Donna says, you never know were God will lead you so I trust that we will find the son or daughter that is meant for us. And I wish the same for you, too! It’s a very special time filled with hope and anticipation and excitement. Blessings to you – elizabeth

  38. says

    What a beautiful family she has! I can’t imagine what that poor little baby has gone through…it breaks my heart to think of all the kids/babies out there that are being mistreated! I just can’t imagine hurting a little one…oh my heart hurts just thinking about it!
    Your lunch sounds like it was very informational (and fun too!…who doesn’t love girl talk and chicken salad!) :)
    Hope you have a great week my dear!
    love ya oodles

  39. Laura says

    Layla, I love following your story. I’m not that far away in southern Shelby County, AL and I became an adoptive mom in November 2009. Our adoption was domestic and our birthmom is in Montgomery. So while you’re looking to another continent, our baby was waiting for us right around the corner from you! Best of luck to you on your adoption journey. I know the waiting is hard, but you and your little one(s) will be brought together at the right time.

  40. says

    Hi. Huge congrats on your journey into parenthood. Hope it all goes smoothly.
    I was thinking about your bed comment. We bought singles for our girls and a king size for our boy. King size in much better ont he nights they need a snuggle (sick, sad etc) as you can fit beside them!!
    You are in my prayers, and I hope you recieve your beautiful one soon.

  41. says and are posts about part of our own adoption journey.
    Before we ever brought them home they were ours, our heart forever children. Love formed when we decided to bring a child home forever. Before we ever took the first step toward “making” it happen. It was not always a smooht journey but the joy, oh the joy!!! Our daughters of the King bless us each and every day!

    May your journey be smooth and bring you great joy!

  42. says

    I just discovered your blog while taking a break from cleaning and painting. Not only am I loving the home stuff I’m seeing, my eyes instantly went to the adoption tab. We also just began the adoption journey the past few months. We sent in our preliminary app to Adoption Associates ( and will (Lord willing) have our home study done within the next month. We are doing a domestic African-American adoption. Can’t watch to follow your blog and see your creativity, but also to share in your journey to your little one(s).

  43. says

    I am a prayer warrior and I will be lifting you and your husband up in prayer as you are about to receive your little blessing. Children are such a gift from God and I am sooooo excited for you!! God bless you!!

  44. says

    Hi Layla,

    Thoroughly enjoyed browsing thru your website & especially loved this post because Joy’s story is so inspirational (p.s. I’m from Ethiopia :). I am SO thankful for generous people like you & Joy & Leslie & many others who are taking in orphan or unwanted children. There is such poverty and such great need out there! I do hope you end up adopting from Ethiopia. I’ll keep checking back to see where you are at with the adoption.
    Many, many blessings to you & your family.

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