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At a time in life when people usually kick back and contemplating retirement, Debbie and Mike Beeles decided to start a family.
After more than 30 years of teaching and administering to hundreds of students, Debbie, the principal at Bedford Elementary, finally pulled the trigger on a decision to adopt — not one, but three children.
Debbie received her education in Trimble County Public Schools and began teaching here after graduating from the University of Kentucky.
She and her husband married at the age of 30, and soon discovered they were unable to have children. They considered several options, but at the time they didn’t feel comfortable with any of them.
“We got to about 45 and decided that we had a lot of love to give,” Debbie said. “And we could afford it.”
So, the household of two – complete with a Corvette and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle – began their family. With three children, they now come with a “mom-mobile” and toys — lots of toys.
Their garage is no longer home to the vintage vehicles. They got rid of those. Now the vehicles she and her husband use are banished to fight Mother Nature every night, while her children’s bicycles are protected in the garage. Just the way it’s supposed to be, right?
From a simple life arranged for two people, the Beeleses quickly noticed the change when newborn Cree Ann joined the family.
The couple had vacationed many times in Hawaii and had begun to love and understand its people. They went so far as to contact an attorney there to see if adopting would be a possibility.
“Two years had gone by, and I had just about forgotten about it when I got this phone call,” Debbie recalled. “We got a call on a Friday, flew out, and on Monday we were instant parents.”
Two years later the same attorney called to ask if she knew of anyone who would want to adopt a child, and she immediately said yes. Voila, the Beeles’ household expanded to four. The family, Cree included, flew to Hawaii and within 10 days had embraced a new family member — Ella Ann.
“When we got home, grandma and grandpa met us at the airport. Cree was so happy to have a sister.
“As a matter of fact, we were standing in the backyard one day as a jet flew over, and Cree said: ‘Look mommy, more babies going home.’”
It wasn’t any time later that the attorney called a third time with a 3-week-old child she knew of in foster care.
Thus Elise Ann.
If you haven’t noticed there’s a lot of “Ann” in the names of the Beeleses’ three children. That’s because Debbie is Deborah Ann and her mother is Shirley Ann, Mike’s mother is Anna and Michael is, well, Michael Anthony.
So, the Beeleses have gone from watching realty TV shows to being a potential story line in their own series.
“I am a reality show,” Debbie joked.
Unlike the ill-fated family in “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” the Beeles’ family expansion has ended.
Mike told his wife, “No more babies.”
“He loves them to death, but they are quite expensive,” Debbie admitted.
Debbie said she never cooked much, but has now started exploring her culinary skills.
“No one wants to hurt my feelings, but I’m trying to work on my cooking a little more,” she said with a smile.
As a matter of fact, Debbie’s smile is one of the first things you notice about her. For those who know her well, her personality couldn’t be more perfect for the task of starting a family in her 40s.
She and Mike have a lot of help raising their three daughters. All their friends have just about raised their families, so “we get plenty of advice.”
Vacations in Hawaii have been replaced by family gatherings, visits to a water park, camping and biking.
By her own admission, becoming a mother has helped her in her job as principal. “Before, I was only able to see and understand the teacher side of things. I didn’t really understand. This has made me a better administrator. ... I’ve had the best of both worlds.”
They remain in contact with the girls’ birth mothers — mailing them letters about the girls’ accomplishments and photos on birthdays and at Christmas.
Nine years ago, if you’d asked, the Beeleses’ probably would have told you they’d turned their world upside down. Today, they seem to have everything in balance.