Not Your Average Family

With two Korean children and a foreign exchange student, Tracy and Amanda Harvey have a lot on their hands.

By Paige Lavender and Ben Hancock | 05/04/2010

According to Tracy Harvey, there’s no better place to grow up than Boone County.

Harvey, 35, has lived in the place where “everybody knows everybody” all his life. He graduated from Sherman High School, and shortly after, married his longtime girlfriend Amanda.

They settled into a home in Ashford so Harvey could take over the family trucking business he had helped with as a young man. He was ready to start his own family, but not in the conventional sense – instead, he and his wife chose to adopt children from Korea.

The humble twosome’s decision to adopt from the Eastern country was unconventional for a place like Boone County, where the population is 98 percent Caucasian. It had been 26 years since a child was adopted from a foreign country when the Harvey’s first child, Connor, made his way to their home.

After putting their newly honed parenting skills to good use for a year, the couple decided to adopt a second son, Corey.

Despite being born half a world away, Harvey said his two boys were at home in Boone County.

“The boys fit right in,” Harvey said. “Everyone wants to see them, talk to them, play with them. We get more attention with them, but we’ve never gotten any bad attention.”

Corey, 2, and Connor love riding in their Fisher Price pickup trucks and pushing toy motors around the spacious green lawn behind their home. They spend hours playing in the sandbox with Amanda, who takes every Monday off from her job as a cosmetologist to be with her sons.

“What do we like, Connor?” Harvey will ask.

“Trucks and hot chicks,” the 4-year-old will respond, shooting his dad a mischievous grin.

The Harveys always expected a similar family scene to happen in their back yard, but they didn’t quite know how it would play out.

The couple was happily married for years before they ever thought of children.

“Me and Amanda, we didn’t want for anything,” Harvey said. “We thought we had everything.”

As they entered their thirties they still hadn’t conceived, so they decided to look into adoption.

“It’s something that Tracy has always wanted to do, so when we got closer to the time when we realized we wanted to have kids, we started in on the process,” Amanda said.

Harvey felt strongly about adopting from another country after he learned of the poor living and family conditions some Eastern children experience.

“You read and see so many kids who don’t get good families over there,” Tracy said. “If you can help two, I know it’s just two but that’s two that’s not having to be worried about.”

After looking at several options, the Harvey’s chose to adopt from Korea. The agency there provided an escort service that could bring the child to America, which was comforting to Tracy because of his fear of flying.

The process was not simple, and the anxiety of becoming new parents brought a new level of suspense to the couple’s relationship. Harvey said the process made their kids even more special to them, noting that seeing the first photos of his kids was as great a moment as being in a delivery room would have been.

“From the time you get the first picture, you realize that’s your baby now.”

To this day, Harvey says adopting is the best decision he and Amanda ever made.

“We probably should have done it while we were younger,” Harvey said. “It was the best thing to ever happen to us.”

Although Connor and Corey may not have Harvey’s nose or Amanda’s eyes, the couple said they never thought of the Korean boys as anything other than their kids.

“We never did anything to prevent having (biological kids), but I guess (Connor and Corey) are ours,” he said.

Still, others have been interested in the Harvey’s unique situation and their generous nature, including the director of a foreign exchange program in Charleston.

Knowing the Harvey’s family makeup, the director called Amanda and asked if they had room for one more addition. In a process that took less than 48 hours, the Harvey’s had welcomed a Korean foreign exchange student into their home.

The student, whose American name is David, had been staying with a family who encountered financial trouble. Harvey said he and Amanda felt for the teenager, but never considered helping a possibility.

“I wanted to help but still, bringing a stranger into your house, it’s just different,” he said.

The Harvey’s soon learned they could provide more help than they could have imagined. David was quickly moved to Ashford, and Harvey’s sister, Sherman High School counselor Jennifer Jarrell, set up all the proper paperwork for his enrollment.

Although the move was quick and unexpected, David said he is happy the Harvey’s took him in.

“The people here are really kind and open-minded,” David said. “They make me feel like a real family.”

That feeling of belonging is important to Harvey, who doesn’t want his children to feel foreign in their own home.

“I actually feel that they’re from here.”

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    Though they aren't your average family, the Harveys know how to live and love in Boone County.

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