By Katherine Long


Andrea Marshall, the director of development at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School, and her daughter Ava, 7, are parishioners of Holy Family Church in Syracuse. Ava was adopted into her forever family with Andrea on Dec. 10, 2008, at seven weeks old. The Sun sat down with the mother-daughter duo to talk about what makes the Marshalls the Marshalls. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.)

Unique and universal families

   “I think what makes our family special is the gift that we were given to be together and to be our own special family,” Andrea said. “I think we were meant for each other. I don’t think I was just meant to be a mom, I was meant to be Ava’s mom and Ava was meant to be my daughter. What makes us special is that through the gift of someone else and her love for Ava and wanting so much more and something better for her, she created our family out of that love, which is pretty remarkable.”

   Ava said she likes being a part of her little family. “Mama is very peaceful, she’s quiet,” she said. “I’m loud! She’s the quiet one.”

   Ava also loves being a part of her large, extended family, which includes her Grandma and Papa (Andrea’s parents), two great-grandfathers, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Her favorite part of spending time with them? “They give me piggyback rides,” she said.

   Though their families are unique, they’re also universal in their love for one another. Just like other families around the world, the Marshalls “care about each other,” Ava said.

Faith and family

   Andrea said it was important to her to hand her Catholic faith on to her daughter. “To have the faith that I have is what has always gotten me through some of the best days and some of the worst days,” she said. “It’s that faith that I relied on while waiting to bring Ava home. I want her to grow up in that faith and to have faith in God so she always has a foundation to lean on.”

   At home, the two say prayers and remember to thank Jesus for all he has done for them and for bringing them together. They both serve their parish as well: Andrea is a lector and a Eucharistic Minister, and “Ava is a greeter and what she likes to call a ‘bulletin minister,’” Andrea laughed.

Family traditions

   With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, the Marshalls are looking forward to their family traditions. On both days, the extended family will gather for a shared meal and Ava will get tickled and hung upside-down by her uncle, which she said is her favorite part of the day.

   As Christmas approaches, they’ll put up a special tree in their family room, a tree reserved for cherished family ornaments. Some of them Ava made for Andrea, some of them were gifts from mother to daughter, and many of them are gifts Andrea received from her parents as a child, Andrea said.

   Andrea and Ava will also roll up their sleeves for some baking. “A lot of the cookies that we bake are cookies that I’ve baked with my mom — and we still bake some cookies with my mom,” Andrea said. (See the Marshalls’ recipe for Italian Chocolate Ball Coookies at right.)

   “All the things that we do as a family are traditions that I’ve had that I was raised with,” she continued. “I think what I love most about Thanksgiving and Christmas is just the time we have with our family. It’s a time for all of us to be together and be grateful and just enjoy each other and laugh.”

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