Emilee: A Mother, Attorney and Mrs. Iowa International

I don’t know why, but, for about six years, pageantry was on my bucket list. I had never been in a pageant. It’s not something my family does or most of my friends do. I mean, I didn’t even get my makeup done for my wedding. But pageantry just seemed like something cool and different. It’s something outside of my wheelhouse and would allow me to get out of my everyday experience and into a whole new environment. As a slightly-introverted person, pushing myself out of my comfort zone is important for my growth.

So, I just asked myself, “Okay, what’s the worst that can happen?” I thought, “Well, I wouldn’t get it.” Then I thought, “Okay, well, I’m in that same position right now. So why not go for it?” Since I’m not getting any younger, I also thought, “Well, I guess the sooner the better.”

Mrs. Iowa International
A recently made friend of mine has been in pageantry her whole life. The lessons she’s learned from that have enriched her life. During lunch one day, I heard her say her goal was to become Miss Iowa. Hearing that, it just suddenly became possible for me. Going alongside her helped me get over the hump of submitting the initial paperwork and seeing what happens. Just having a friend there and doing it alongside me was amazing.

I’ve also been amazed at the tribe of supportive women that are involved in the Mrs. International organization. You have super amazing stay-at-home moms. You’ve got professionals. You’ve got lawyers. You’ve got PAs. You’ve got a wide variety of people in government. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, do this and give it their all.

Not only has that tribe been supportive, but my family has been really supportive. My husband calls himself Mr. Iowa. I have four kids (ages eight, six, four and two). My girls love the dresses—especially my four year old who is obsessed with princesses. I hide my crown so that she doesn’t steal it. We’re only midway through the year and it has to last the whole year. It was fun wearing the gowns and while we didn’t have a swimsuit competition, we did do sports wear which was very fun, and more my style. 

When I started telling people I was running for Mrs. Iowa International, I was nervous about their reactions. As an attorney and professional woman, I was worried that some people would see it as silly or unprofessional. But I’ve been pleased with how supportive most people have been. For every eye roll, there are 100 people who say, “That’s really cool.”

My chosen mission, in my reign as Mrs. Iowa International, is to promote the discussion on alternate ways to grow a family which also requires resilience of two families. 

In my role as an attorney and as a mom I am passionate about working with people who have a tough time creating families or bringing children into their family on their own. To help these families, I work in adoption as well as surrogacy.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about surrogacy. There are a lot of sensationalized stories. So, as Mrs. Iowa International and someone who works in this field, I wanted to educate people on what surrogacy and adoption really are and how life changing it is for families.

In surrogacy, I work with parents who have struggled for years with infertility. A lot of them have tried to adopt, had several adoptions that have failed, or are just never the ones that are picked by the birth mother. That’s why they have decided to go down this hard road of surrogacy.

In December 2018, I alongside with a business partner, opened Dakota Surrogacy. What we do is we match parents that are looking for a surrogate to carry either their own embryo, a donated sperm, or a donated egg. We work with a lot of different people; it’s sometimes single parents, gay parents, or international parents.

I also work with surrogates. They are amazing people. A lot of them have had their own struggle with infertility. They went through it and came out the other side. God blessed them with a child or children, so they just want to give that to somebody else. To go through fertility treatments and shots is an amazing gift to give.

It’s a year-plus commitment of these two families coordinating and journeying together. They experience heartbreaks and hardships alongside another family that are so personal. Working with them, we’re a team of people with the same end goal. All we want is for the parents to come away with that child or children in their arms. That’s all we want.

With adoption, it’s the same thing. The end goal is that you’ll have a child to bring into a loving home.

Adoption is life-changing for the parents. These parents get to bring a child into their home and spoil him/her rotten at Christmas. That’s great, but more importantly that child suddenly has stable support and love that he/she didn’t have before.

It’s not easy. It’s such a complicated and personal journey. But that’s what it’s all about.

As a mother, it’s so amazing to play a small role in making that happen for anyone that wants parenthood in their life.

The best part of my day is when I hear of a client whose child has been born. I ask them to send me a picture. When I get the picture, I just tear up—literally every time. It’s just amazing to be a small part of that for a family. It’s the same with adoption. When I get that final adoption decree for my client, it’s amazing and I absolutely love it.

As a mom, attorney and Mrs. Iowa International, resilience to me is learning to stop, slow down and enjoy the ride. To stop myself and ask, “What’s it going to be like in a year from now? What will this feel like then?” Life is fleeting and every hardship passes. Sometimes it’s next week. Sometimes it’s more than a year. Sometimes it’s a couple of years. But things can change. Every moment that we go through will pass. Then a new moment will arrive and it’ll be different. Once I look at what that future will be, it calms me and allows me to put one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward. 

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