When I asked Shana if she would be willing to be interviewed for my Inspiring Moms blog series she said “I guess… I am afraid I probably am not all that inspiring as I just wing it for the most part.”
Shana who is a teacher by trade has always had a passion for working with children. Between foster parenting, adoption, and two biological children Shana and her husband Tony have parented 17 children in the course of their 22 years of marriage. They have also run several companies of their own including a construction business and bilingual preschool. In 2015 they left their businesses and their completely remodeled historic Texas home to pursue their dream of living in Honduras.
They are currently raising three incredible young men (Vinton age 15, Reuben 14, and Naaman 7) at their new home in Honduras and their oldest daughter Mikayla who is 19 is finishing up her Senior year at Evangel University in Missouri. Mikayla plans to continue on with her Masters at Texas A&M and feels called to eventually move to Spain and work with Project Rescue (a group that takes women out of the sex trafficking).
That’s Shana’s motherhood journey in a nutshell so far. Winging it or not, I would describe it as pretty darn inspiring!
From infertility to adoption, to attachment disorders and self-employment, there are so many things I could sit and talk to Shana about all day long. For the sake of this particular piece though, I thought we would focus on moving overseas with children.
It wasn’t until 11 years ago that a spark was ignited for the country of Honduras. It happened after Tony and Shana took a cruise to Roatan and fell in love with the island and the people over there.
When most people take a trip to a Caribean Island and talk about going back and never returning, they don’t really mean it. However, Tony and Shana Deemy are not like most people. When they say they are going to take in drug babies they do it. When they talk about starting a business they make plans and launch it. When they chat about moving to a tropical third world country to raise their family they are actually crazy enough to follow through! And they aren’t deterred by inevitable set backs either.
They moved to Roatan 6 months after their trip with 4 young children in tow. Shana taught 1st grade in a bilingual school and Tony did construction. Shana said
“It was a tough year but by the end we were totally in love with this country and the freedom it allowed us in raising our children. Kids could be kids here. They can explore without fear, they can walk to the local bodega (corner store) by themselves, and they can even ride in the back of a pickup truck! The kids were free to use their imaginations. No fancy playground equipment. Balls and jump ropes. If those are not available, plastic bottles and lids to kick and play with. It was the childhood I had and one that does not exist in the US anymore.”
Unfortunately, after a year in Honduras, their home back in Waxahachie still had not sold and they were forced to return to the states. It would be another 9 years before the house would sell. In the mean time their oldest daughter had graduated from high school. They also had a new addition to the family (an unplanned pregnancy after 13 years of infertility!) and sadly they also lost a little girl that they had adopted.
“All of this was God ordained as we see it now looking back,” Shana says “but we were very frustrated and a little homesick for the country that we had fallen in love with. I began a bilingual Preschool and Kindergarten in the states. After our 2nd year we were able to sell the facility and with the money that we made we were able to purchase our home in Honduras.
The home was one that they had wanted to purchase the first time they lived in Honduras but couldn’t afford it at the time.
It was back on the market and with the sale of the preschool, this was now a reality. They flew to Honduras and never even looked at another property. They knew it was the one. Three months later things fell into place for their historic home to finally sell too. So they packed up and moved back to Roatan, Honduras. This time with no property remaining in the states. Within 6 months they had their residency which is us unheard of. They have gradually had their truck and two 20 foot containers shipped down to the island.
I asked Shana about some of the biggest cultural differences and if there were things she preferred about living in Honduras or if there were things she missed about the US. This was her response:
I love the Honduran way of life. It is a lot more laid back than the US. If you get one thing done on your list for the day, it is a very good day. Learning to sit and just be has been one of my biggest challenges. Sitting in the hammock and reading a book on a Wednesday morning, I felt sooo guilty doing this and still kind of do.
Cooking and cleaning are more challenging here. Hiring a housekeeper/cook/nanny is very common and not at all expensive. Common labor is 200L to 300L a day. That is about 10 to 15 dollars. My issue is that I am a control freak and I do not want another woman taking care of my stuff and my family. The bread they have here tastes like Styrofoam so I make my own sandwich bread every Monday. I bake and cook everything from scratch. We can get a lot of supplies now that we could not 10 years ago. However, they are a ridiculous price so I make most everything from scratch. I have to say that the entire family misses fast food. There is no fast food. Even the places that have express written in their name take at least 20 minutes for food. Pizza is awful here. So I make my own for our pizza night.
I feel that my children are very safe here. Actually safer than they were in the states. We can go to the store and I have my seven-year-old run back to the car for my grocery bags while I continue shopping. The older boys can walk anywhere here.
Schools are safe. No school shootings. No innocent lives being taken. There have been 3 people murdered on our island since we moved here. All were mixed up with the wrong people on the mainland. All were hits. We have not had any break ins. I am praying that continues. There are thefts on the island but usually the items are found and returned as we are on an island and there really is nowhere for them to go.
My kids are exposed to not only Hondurans but people from all over the world. Some of their best friends right now are from South Africa originally. We bought our house from a man from Australia and know people from Europe.
As I mentioned before, because the children are safe, they are free to play and to explore. We can enjoy crazy fun activities without having to sign a bunch of legal forms saying we will not sue if the child gets hurt. The children are ours and we are free to raise them as we see fit. We can also pray in the schools. In fact, there are Bible classes in schools.
On that note, there are dangers and they are very real. There is sin all over the world. There are 9 and 10 year old girls who are pregnant and sex trafficking is very real. Aids is very high in Honduras. This is a Caribbean island that we live on. People come here to party.
Lastly, I asked Shana her advice for a family dreaming about moving overseas and she responded with a hearty “DO IT! The US is not the end all. Taking your children to another country opens the world to them. They can go anywhere and do anything.”
Her children were hesitant and a bit worried about leaving the US at first, but now they love it. “Giving your children a world view is a tremendous gift,” Shana says, “and I am excited to see where all of my young ones end up!”
Shana’s advice to moms overseas or not “Live life and enjoy the people around you. Stop allowing things to run you and your family into the ground. I am still learning this bit of advice. I still have a workaholic personality, but I am striving to live each day as it comes.”