by Gordon Nary
Gordon: To what parish do you belong and what do you like most about the parish?
Maria: I’m a member at St. John Paul II Catholic Church in Ponte Vedra, FL. We are a young parish, and the community is vibrant and growing. My favorite thing about our parish is our Youth and Family Mass. We have kids serve as Altar Servers, Ushers and Lectors. It’s amazing seeing kids excited to attend and serve at Mass. Our pastor always gives a kid-friendly homily that most of us adults always love and learn from too!
Gordon: You have several adopted children. What are their names?
Maria: I have four daughters. My oldest, Regina, is our only biological child. Our twins, Hope and Bailey, and our youngest, Charlotte, were adopted through foster care.
Gordon: What was your husband's interest in adopting children?
Maria: When we were first married, my husband and I wanted a big family naturally. I always thought adoption might be an option down the road, but he did not. He feared that he might not be able to love an adopted child as much as a biological child, so we planned to have our children the old-fashioned way.
Gordon: What led to their adoption?
Maria: After having our first daughter, we suffered recurrent miscarriages. We have five children in heaven lost through four pregnancies. During this time, my husband and I decided to become foster parents. We wanted to serve and stay busy while we were growing our family naturally. Since we had had one healthy, biological child, we believed we would have more. Unfortunately, I never carried another pregnancy to term. God blessed our family in a different way, though. After years of foster parenting, we were able to adopt first the twins, and later Charlotte. They are not biologically related to each other.
Gordon: What prompted you to be a writer?
Maria: I’ve always loved writing, and my dream was to write a book. After majoring in English, I fell in love and began the rewarding and demanding vocation of motherhood. As a foster mom, I had additional obligations and responsibilities related to caring for the children in my home. Needless to say, writing was not something that crossed my mind much during those long, busy days!
Now, all of my girls are in school and I am blessed with time during the day. I prayed about potentially finding traditional full-time work, but felt called to remain available to my kids for the before and after school hours. I then discerned that writing is the perfect role for me. I get to share my love of Jesus and be there for my kids while they’re still home (and mostly still want me around).
Gordon: What is Adventures with the Saints?
Maria: Adventures with the Saints is my new chapter book series ideal for kids ages 6-9, or in 1st-3rd grade. One day, while I was reading a secular time-traveling chapter book with one of my daughters, the idea popped into my head. I wanted a series for emerging Catholic readers with time-traveling kids who meet a saint and learn from them. I created the Adventures with the Saints series to fill this need for Catholic kids. In each book, the three siblings encounter a kid-sized problem. With the help of Saint Raphael, the patron saint of travelers, they get to meet a saint. Through a fun, engaging encounter with the saint, the kids learn a lesson that they go home and apply to their lives. My goal is to leave out dates, locations, and other “facts” about the saints. Instead, the saints are presented as friendly, approachable, and personable people who have something that all kids can learn and use in their everyday lives.
Gordon: Please provide an overview of your book Saint Joseph: The Foster-Father Saint
Maria: Joshua is a seven-year-old foster child who moves in with the Martin family. They seem really nice, but Joshua isn’t sure if his new parents can love him as much as their biological children. With his new brother and sister, Luke and Becca, the three kids go on a special journey and meet Saint Joseph at the time of Jesus’ birth. Can Saint Joseph teach Joshua, Luke, and Becca a lesson about love and adoption? Will Joshua ever fit in with his new family?
You can find Saint Joseph: The Foster-Father Saint on Amazon or order autographed copies from my website mariarileyauthor.com.
Gordon: Does writing bring you closer to God?
Maria: I feel so close to God when I’m writing. Before I begin writing, I always start with my favorite prayer (that happens to be only three words!): “Come, Holy Spirit.” When I’m writing, I try to let God be the one typing on my computer.
I love being able to look back on my life and recognize the ways that God has been preparing me for this. From my degree in English that I never thought I’d actually use, to my experiences as a foster and adoptive mom, God has molded me to be the perfect person to share this story with the world. I wrote this book primarily for my own children so that they can know how deeply God and I love them. I pray that other children are able to hear this message and come to know that truth in their hearts.
Gordon: Thank you for an inspirational interview.