East Texas Moms Blog is taking some time in 2018 to shine the spotlight on some moms in our East Texas community. We hope these stories continue to shine a light so bright, that it brings us together and let’s us know we are not alone in this journey!
Intentional. Positive. Kind. Wise.
Just a few words to describe our spotlight Mom of July. She has the ability to make you feel warm and fuzzy after a 30-minute phone call and is more refreshing than a cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer day. She has a way with words that perfectly describe her life experiences and projects positivism on everything she touches.
“I am very blessed. I didn’t come from anything, and want to use what I have been given; my life, my work, my experiences to contribute to someone else. There is nothing in life better than that.”
We are proud to introduce Deena Shelton, the ETMB July Mom of the Month. Deena is the adoptive mom to Everly (8) and Banks (10), and wife to Ben Shelton. Deena currently works full time, part time, and just completed her Ph.D.. She holds a doctorate in Counselor Education Supervision. Deena is a licensed professional counselor, the Director of Career Services at LeTourneau University and adjunct faculty member.
She met her husband, Ben, at LeTourneau and initially turned him down when he asked her out. She had big school and career plans she wanted to accomplish first before marriage and family.
“It’s a miracle he ever asked me out again,” she said recalling their early relationship.
Thankfully Ben was persistent and though Deena said she didn’t want to marry until age 31, they married at 21. They have now been married for 12 years. Ben and Deena decided early in their relationship that they would adopt.
“Ben and I connected early. We both wanted to adopt and knew that would be part of our family plan.” Deena said.
After filing the papers to adopt in May 2011 and a home study in June 2012, Everly and Banks were placed with Deena and Ben on July 25 2013. The five year anniversary of their “ Gotcha Day” is coming up later this month, and every year they celebrate with a balloon release. The official adoptions took place on Valentine’s Day in 2014.
“They had been growing in our hearts for a long time.”
Deena said she tells her kids, “They had been growing in our hearts for a long time.”
One way Deena creates special memories with Banks and Everly is through her Facebook account. She started posting commentary with her children early on as a way to record and create the history many adoptive parents do not have.
“ I don’t know how much they weighed at birth, or when they took their first steps, or their first words,” Deena said.
As a licensed professional counselor, Deena also understands the importance of creating stability and attachment with kids who may have an unstable history.
“Kids in foster care have a hard time understanding the concept of their own life story,” Deena said.
A friend of Deena’s used My Social Book to print the first year of “Banks and Everly Moments,” as a gift and now they have one created annually. She said she enjoys watching them pick up the books and look back at old memories of funny things they said or did.
“We may not have the stuff from the beginning, but these memories are so important to me,” Deena said.
“ I don’t know how much they weighed at birth, or when they took their first steps, or their first words,”
As a Mom, Deena shared that her biggest struggle is the myth of the work/life balance. She is a full time working parent, wife, volunteer with the Junior League of Longview and board member at Wellness Pointe. She dubs herself a “recovering perfectionist”. Deena stresses that you can have it all, but you cannot give 100% of yourself to everything and expect perfection.
“Sometimes you’re not going to be the best mom, but your kids need a real mom, not a perfect mom,” Deena said.
Her biggest advice to other moms is to be intentional with who you surround yourself with and choose other women that are living as real and authentically as you.
“You’ve got to have your tribe,” Deena said.
Deena is a blessing to her family, our community, and our growing Mom tribe. It’s an honor to know her and share her with the East Texas mom community. Her influence is broad, and she uses what she has learned throughout life and pays it forward ten-fold.
“I am very blessed. I didn’t come from anything, and want to use what I have been given; my life, my work, and my experiences to contribute to someone else. There is nothing in life better than that.”