DI PEDERSEN always knew she was going to adopt children and 14 years ago her instinct became reality.
When Di and husband Cec brought sisters Jennifer, 4, and Evie, 3, home to Australia from the Philippines in 2003, their lives changed forever.
"It was everything we thought it was going to be and more," Di said.
"I've always had a very strong feeling that I was going to adopt a child - it was never a question in my mind that was going to happen.
"Both Cec and I had a very strong desire to be parents but no desire to breed them ourselves. We figured there are so many kids in the world that need a good home - it didn't matter that we didn't breed them - they are still our children and we still have a very strong relationship with them."
At the time, the Pedersens were called trailblazers in Queensland because they were a couple who could have biological children but wanted to adopt, and who wanted to adopt older children that were also in a sibling group.
"We went against what others wanted, we were happy with older children - who in the adoption area often miss out because they are older," she said.
"Some people think the older kids don't bond as well - but the bond we have with our girls is just unbreakable - absolutely unbreakable."
Di recalled the adoption process taking about five years and involving a large amount of paperwork.
"But it was so worth it," she said.
"It's been so rewarding to be able to give them a better life.
"People always say to our girls 'oh you are so lucky', but we say 'no we are the ones who are the lucky ones because they've brought so much to us'.
"They really are beautiful, great kids."
Di is in her 13th year as principal of Mt Tarampa State School and recently celebrated an astonishing 30 years of teaching in April - with many of those years spent teaching at schools around the Lockyer Valley.
"During my teaching career I have loved working with kids - particularly disadvantaged children and just trying to make their lives better in whatever way I can," she said.
"I taught our girls at Mt Tarampa all the way through.
"Afterwards, we decided to send them to Faith Lutheran College at Plainland because it was a small school. The orphanage they came from was small with 25 children from 0-5 years, and 25 teenage girls who'd been sexually abused, so the girls were used to just small numbers and couldn't cope with crowds."
The Pedersens have taken their daughters back to the Philippines and even stayed in the same hotel they chose when they went over to pick them up.
"They absolutely loved going back and seeing where they are from," she said.
Di was born in Brisbane and lived there until she was transferred out to teach at Laidley North, 26 years ago.
"For my own schooling I went to Eagle Junction State Primary and then to Kedron State High," Di said.
"From there I went straight into university to study child care, but soon after I decided to continue studying to become a teacher.
"After my diploma in teaching I did a graduate diploma in music education."
Music has been a big part of Di's life and she has had two stints as president of the Lockyer Performing Arts group.
"From a very young age I played clarinet, flute, violin and was in any band I could get into, along with school choirs, musicals and community bands as well," she said.
"I still do work on music with the kids here - I really enjoy that."
It was while studying in Brisbane that Di met husband-to-be Cec at the Brisbane College of Advanced Education, which is now the Queensland University of Technology in Kelvin Grove.
"We will have been married for 30 years this year," Di said.
"Cec was the manager of the student union and I got involved as activities officer for one of the campuses."
The Pedersens were married on June 20, 1987 at the Crest Hotel in Brisbane.
Di revealed that the secret to a long and happy marriage was to make the effort to hear each other out.
"We never argue, because we believe that's just a negative waste of energy," she said.
"It doesn't mean we agree on everything - but we don't argue about it because we respect each other's opinion."
Now settled in Glenore Grove, the Pedersens make sure they take time every night to connect as a family.
"Every night we sit down together as a family at the dining table, there's no TV or phones, we don't interrupt it," Di said.
"Communication is the most important thing, so everyone is on the same page and we are all working together.
"So that's our famiy time."
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