Mallory Everitt and husband, Kevin met in college. And just as they believe that was destined, meeting their daughter, Tabitha (or T) was destiny too.
“She was always destined to be my daughter and I, her mother, but our lives didn’t touch until Oct. 4, 2012. Most mothers go to the hospital to meet their daughter…not us! We met ours at the Pottery Patch in Valrico! She moved into our home the day before Thanksgiving of 2012. Her legal adoption was finalized Feb. 20 of last year. Our hearts were knit together the moment we met.”
Everitt is the middle school principal at Seffner Christian Academy and her husband is the worship and youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Ruskin. “I guess you could say that I eat, sleep, and breathe pre-teen. We feel God has placed our family in all of these kids’ lives to have an impact on them to live a life full of serving others and serving Him.”
“I love to watch kids grow and blossom. It’s a blessing to watch children accept a challenge and achieve their goal! As I work with students in the student ministry at our church, my goal is the same. I want them to know there is at least one adult in their life that loves them, and God loves them.”
When I’m not working with students, I love to spend time as a family and try new experiences. We love to travel, cook, watch movies, and try new restaurants. This past summer we went to Hawaii and tried ziplining, paddleboarding, and surfing for the first time!
Why did you decide to adopt?
From the time we married, we knew we wanted a family but there was never a strong desire to bring our own children into the world. We had many kids in our lives through education and student ministry, and we filled our lives through working with kids. As we grew, both personally and professionally, we became overwhelmed with the plight of children in our own backyard. When praying and considering building our family through adoption, James 1:27 appeared to us multiple times. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. We understood that adoption is not an easy process and raising a child half way through their childhood would be a challenge. We believe God would not call us to anything without giving us the grace and wisdom to see us through.
We have both been blessed with amazing families filled with love, compassion, and nurturing. God was more than gracious to us in our life. There are more than 2,500 children in Florida praying for forever families. Why couldn’t our family be that forever family for a child?
It was this staggering statistic that pricked our hearts, and we knew that foster care adoption was for us! It was January 2012 when we attended our first MAPP (Model Approach to Partnership Parenting) class. That first class was further confirmation to us. As Kevin and I walked out of class, we wiped the tears from our eyes after hearing some of the stories of children in foster care. Our hearts were unified in saying, “We’re ready for the challenge! Here we are, Lord. Send us!”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced as an adoptive family?
Learning my daughter. Most mothers who birth their child or raise a child from birth are able to watch their child grow, learn and blossom. Sometimes, they know their child better than the child knows herself. When I met our daughter, much of her personality was already formed. It was a crash course in learning my child. I’m still learning her. Little pieces of information float to the top every once in a while. We hit bumps in the road all the time, but it’s the learning and growing process that pulls us closer together as a family.
What advice would you give to other women?
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is a joy thief.” As women, we tend to compare ourselves to other women and people in our lives. Don’t allow yourself to compare your life to others or other families. God has a path and plan for you and your family, and you will find true joy and peace for you and your family when you’re living out God’s call for your life. To quote Jim Elliot, “Where ever you are, be all there!” Live out your life and invest in the others around you.
What is your proudest moment/biggest achievement?
I would say my proudest moment before I became a mother was being the first in my family to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In the past year, my perspective has shifted. My focus became growing and nurturing my daughter. I think the proudest moment was when my daughter (who had only been living with us for 6 weeks) brought home an essay that she wrote about a leader she admired. It was about me. One of the first sentences was, “My mom is the kind of mom that is all up in your Kool-Aid but in a good way.” I literally laughed out loud. In her own way, she was saying that she knew that I was always going to be in her life — good, bad, and ugly. To be the “all up in your Kool-Aid” mom is my biggest achievement!
What makes you happy?
To know that I’m a part of having an impact on lives. Spending time with people and investing in family, friends, and others gives me a sense of peace and satisfaction in life.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
My ideal relaxing day is sleeping in, watching a funny movie with my daughter and husband, a little alone time for shopping and coffee, dinner with a good friend and ending the evening with quality conversation with my husband.
What message would you like to give families who are considering adoption?
Adoption is a miracle! It’s the opportunity to step into a child’s life and radically impact them with love and grace. You do not have to birth a child to be completely and totally in love with them. That love will radically and miraculously change you as well. The greatest gift you can give a child is forever love and a home for their heart.
What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom, about your work?
We have a family blog that we’ve kept through our adoption journey: kevmaleveritt.blogspot.com.
How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?
I love the focus on education and helping families making informed decisions for their child’s education and future.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in Tampa Bay?
Tampa Bay Rays games, musicals at the Straz Center, movies at Tampa Theatre, Manatee Viewing Center and Apollo Beach.
If you could share one tip with future adoptive parents, what would it be?
You won’t be a perfect parent, and your children won’t be perfect either. And it’s OK. They don’t need perfection. They need you. The path won’t always be sunny. You’ll have to fight some ugly monsters of past hurt, depression, abuse, and neglect, but, in the end, you’ll be together and stronger for having fought the battles together!