Reece’s Rainbow Report #45: Edwards Family

Beth Edwards was getting her daughter down for a nap when she made an unusual declaration. 

“You can’t win this,” she told three-year-old Avalyn, adopted from Taiwan. “I am going to love you forever whether you ever love me back or not, so you’re stuck with me.” 

That was 10 years ago. Today, Edwards, the Inquiry Manager at Reece’s Rainbow, is happy to report that Avalyn does indeed love her adoptive mother. 

“My first adoption taught me to love somebody who might never love me back,” she says. “I learned how to just let her feel what she was going to feel and give her the space to mourn and grieve and grow. I definitely didn’t have that skillset before she came home.”

But Edwards does now, alongside her husband Kyle, a teacher and basketball coach. Raising five biological children taught them plenty, sure — but international special needs adoption felt like a whole new planet, not just a different nation. 

It all started when one of Edwards’ closest friends adopted a daughter with Down Syndrome from Taiwan. The friend passed along an email containing the information of another waiting child there with the same diagnosis. That child was Avalyn, known as “Crystal” on Reece’s Rainbow. 

Just then, Kyle walked behind Edwards’ computer and noticed the photo. He paused, taking in her sweet toddler face. “We need to pursue her,” he announced. They brought her home to Texas in 2013, kicking off a journey of learning to love even when the child doesn’t particularly like you.

Edwards thought she knew a lot about parenting. Avalyn showed her otherwise. 

But the new Edwards eventually came around. “Avalyn is sweet and quiet,” says her adoptive mother, age 51. “She’s my introvert who wants to hang out at home.”

Five years later, in 2018, the couple pulled the trigger again, returning to Taiwan to adopt five-year-old Ian, code-named “Micah.” Like his 13-year-old sister Avalyn, he also has Down Syndrome.

“I really loved the idea of two siblings having Down syndrome and being raised together and sharing the same culture, but it wasn’t until our agency sent me Ian’s file that I knew for sure I wanted another one,” Edwards explains. “The first time I saw his face I knew he was an Edwards, so I showed my husband his file and we started our adoption process.”

Thankfully, Ian’s adjustment was easier than Avalyn’s; he strode into his new house like he had lived there forever. Today, at age 10, he happily chats with anyone and everyone at the grocery store, loves going on adventures and has earned the nickname of Little Boy MacGyver because of his figure-it-out skillset. 

One thing Edwards herself was learning to figure out: how to find her new village. Because was she enough for her new children? Would their birthmothers and/or birth families — all of whom the Edwardses met in Taiwan — approve of the job she was doing and the medical and education teams she was building? Where were these people who would help her unique children reach their fullest potential? 

Even when Edwards thought she found the right doctor or therapist, she often felt flustered, forgetting to ask a certain question or phrasing her opinion awkwardly during appointments. Then she would return home and overthink every interaction and sentence.

“When you’re not an expert and you have children who have special needs, you really need other people you can trust,” she says. “That includes doctors that you feel comfortable with and will answer your questions thoroughly and patiently and that really want to work well with your child.”

Edwards kept trying, though, even on days when she felt less-than. Her perseverance paid off. “I have a few favorites and they’re the ones who talk to my children and really give me the grace to just really talk through all my concerns,” she says. 

Besides medical and educational cheerleaders, Edwards discovered that she also needed some bosom buddies who understood what she was walking through, especially after she and Kyle, age 55, adopted seven-year-old “Annabelle” in 2021. Like her adopted siblings, “Annabelle,” who became Sophia, now age nine, was Taiwanese and has Down Syndrome.

“You’re going to need a strong support group in your friends. You're going to need people that you can talk to you in your saddest moments when things are just tough, or when you feel overwhelmed, or when your child throws some new behavior at you that makes you feel like a total newb all over again, or just to laugh at the new awkward thing you said in the doctor’s office,” Edwards says. “A good friend will hear you out, love you, support you or sometimes just be there.” 

Edwards definitely needed someone to “just be there” when they decided to adopt Sophia. Right after they got home with Ian, she saw a video of Sophia giggling on a playmat — and she fell in love. One problem, however: Taiwan requires a year-long wait between adoptions. So she spent the next 12 months advocating for someone else to adopt her. 

“I got close to Ian’s one year home anniversary and I knew I wanted to be Sophia‘s mommy, so I emailed our agency and the subject line on my email was, ‘We’re not crazy. I promise,’” Edwards laughs. At this point, she hadn’t even mentioned her wild desire to Kyle. But eventually, their agency agreed the family was equipped to handle another, and Kyle was immediately on board. 

These days, the Edwards family has a rhythm going. There are nightly dance parties, Ian regularly asking his older brother to bring him French fries, Sophia’s consuming love for the color pink, philosophical ramblings by the older kids while their younger siblings join in with made-up words and expressive hand gestures and at-home concerts complete with a microphone where the three youngest belt out their favorite hits. And there are always plenty of snuggles. 

All of them, their forever mama says, are more outgoing, more sassy, more comfortable being who they are than when they first arrived home. 

“Some things are so much harder than I could’ve ever imagined, but it makes us appreciate how hard things are for them,” Edwards says. “We get to experience this life filled with these little humans and it’s a front row seat that we’re honored to be a part of.” 

“They make our lives better.” 

And there it is: a final declaration alongside “You can’t win this,” “We need to pursue her” and “We’re not crazy. I promise.” This one, in fact, takes complete precedence.

Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.
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