Irene Stanfill, a true southern girl at heart, wife to Quinn Stanfill, mother to Megan Stanfill Bates (22) and Connor Stanfill (18), and supporter of all things football, truly knows the experience of joy in motherhood. However, Megan and Connor are not Irene and Quinn’s biological children. Through the blessing of God, the willingness of the Stanfill’s to do His will, and a bit of time, Irene and Quinn adopted both of their children at their birth. In fact, one would be hard pressed to argue that giving birth is the only way to make Irene a mother; no, it is the love in her heart that makes her the perfect mother. Irene knew from a young age that she wanted to either foster children or adopt them when she grew up. “My family had a foster child for quite a few years. That little girl changed our world and made us better people. Quinn and I spoke of adopting before we were married, and both knew that was something we felt led by God to do. After seven years of the ups and downs of fertility treatment and no explanation of why we were not conceiving, we prayed and felt that God was leading us to adoption. We worked with Volunteers of America in New Orleans and within eight months were matched with a young birth mom. Four months later, we brought home the most beautiful baby girl for an early Christmas present. Four years later, and after a move to north Louisiana, God put us in contact with a church member that was an adoption attorney. Within two months we were blessed with our second child; a very healthy and beautiful 10-pound boy.”
As joyful as motherhood is, it also has its challenging moments, especially when it changes family dynamics due to quarantine procedures being implemented. So, how does Irene cope during this difficult time? “At first, I had to wrap my head around what life was about to look like not only for us, but for my mother as well. I am the primary caregiver of my 80-year-old mom, and of course worried about her. One day, soon after the Shelter-in-Place order was announced, and I began to realize going back to school was not looking very positive; I was pretty down. My son is a senior at Pleasant Grove High School, and I realized he would probably not be able to attend his football banquet to receive his State Championship Football Ring. He also would not be recognized for his excellent academic achievement which meant the Top 20% Academic Banquet would be postponed, followed by prom and graduation looking less and less likely to happen. On Thursday, April 2, in my prayer time, God told me not to worry, but be thankful. Be thankful for the extra minutes, hours, days, and weeks with Connor before he goes off to college. Be thankful for the opportunities you have to talk, text, and FaceTime Megan, who lives in north Little Rock, with husband, Noah, be thankful for the bonus family dinners, neighborhood walks, and the Sunday morning worship at the breakfast table.” Irene went on to describe the changes presented in their actual home as she says, “The only difficult thing is managing time. My husband is the worship pastor at First Baptist Church Texarkana, and lost his office due to a recent fire, so he is working from home. I am trying to get my lessons done for my students, make sure Connor has his work done, and like everyone else, the never-ending cooking and cleaning. I asked Connor one day to be honest with me about his feelings, and his reply was simple as he said, ‘It does no good to be upset, mad, or frustrated with something we cannot change or control.’ He did say he misses school, his team and his lunch bunch and wants to go back to school at least to have some sort of closure.” That is one sentiment that many seniors in our town are wishing for daily. As for her daughter, Megan, she remains busy with settling into her new role as wife and adjusting to her new home and town. Megan’s husband, Noah, is home working as well, which allows them to spend more time together than they would have otherwise.
Irene’s favorite moments during her motherhood are found with Megan and Conner. Recently, she had the privilege of planning Megan’s wedding with her as they spoke in depth about her future with her new husband. Irene reflects on the times Megan went back to her childhood and their family values and voiced her desire to pass on those same values to her children. Also, conversations with her son, Conner, and his future race to the front of the line as a favorite mom moment. “It is rewarding and heartwarming to step back and watch your children become young adults and bloom. I have prayed many verses over my children, but lately claiming the verse found in Proverbs 22:6 that says, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart.’” Knowing both of her children prayed, and asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior is definitely Irene’s happiest moments of motherhood.
Irene has multiple things to be thankful for; many of which surround her daily. She feels blessed to have joined her husband, Quinn, in marriage nearly 29 years ago. “Quinn loves the Lord, me, and our children unconditionally,” Irene says. She is thankful for both of her children, and that she has lived to see them grow and enter into young adulthood. Her family, as well as church family, continue the list as she reflects on one of the most loving things someone has done for her. “Quite a few years ago, my appendix ruptured, and I became septic. I spent 16 days in the hospital. My Life Group from my church cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and made sure my family was taken care of.” Irene is thankful for her health, friends, home, and many things that make her part of the Pleasant Grove ISD Family. A sixth-grade math teacher at Pleasant Grove Middle School, teaching for a total of 29 years, and the corporate sponsor coordinator for Pleasant Grove Athletic Booster Club, Irene is thankful to be a “Grove Mom”, and the friends she has within that tribe. “My reputation as a teacher in the Pleasant Grove community is something I am most proud of. I think the parents know that I really love their children first and foremost. I believe my district knows that I have a high standard of excellence and a drive to be the best, and that I encourage my students to be the best students in the state.”
Looking to the future, Irene would like to experience the birth of a grandchild with daughter Megan and her husband, Noah. She is also looking forward to seeing Conner play football at the University of Louisiana – Monroe, spending as much time with Quinn as possible, and being sure to hug her people and tell them how much she loves them and how proud she is of each of person.
What the kids say…
My Mom is:
Megan: A huge football fan.
Connor: My biggest fan.
Megan: I really love when my mom spends time with me doing the things I enjoy. I also love it when I go to the mailbox and find “a happy” that she has sent to me and Noah.
Connor: I really love when my mom does yard work with me. She gets it done fast and she gets it done right.
Megan: My favorite thing to do with my Mom is visit and drink coffee together. Especially drinking coffee and watching Gilmore Girls.
Connor: My favorite thing to do with my Mom is going to the grocery store with her. Because it’s just us driving, walking and talking.
Megan: My mom always tells me, I love you, make wise choices, pray before making decisions, and never go to bed mad at my husband.
Connor: The main two things my mom tells me – I love you and make sure I get my work done.
Megan: I love my mom because she loves mE.. well really because she cooks my favorite food and food is my love language.
Connor: I love my mom because she is awesome and never complains no matter what is happening.