WASHINGTON — Rep. Markwayne Mullin knew it was coming and he had his speech ready.
So when his wife, Christie, suggested they adopt twin girls who had lived in separate homes since they were infants, he let her have it.
“I said, ‘No babe, don't even go there.'
“I said, ‘Look, do you remember I'm in D.C. all the time now, do you remember that you're raising three kids by yourself, do you remember you just recently had to pull your first calf? You remember you're taking care of the farm now? Do you remember how much more responsibilities you have with the business now? Do you remember all these different responsibilities?'”
He would write a check, he said, since “it's easier sometimes to give money than it is to give time.”
When she tried again soon after, he gave the speech again, but she played what Mullin called her trump card.
“Would you pray about it?” she asked him.
“How do you pray about that?” Mullin asked the people who attended his town hall meeting in Henryetta a week ago. “I mean, really.
“‘Hey Lord, would you please, please make her heart as selfish as mine?'
“No. You pray, ‘God, change me. Change my heart' ... And man did He ever.”
On Aug. 21, a judge approved the adoption of Ivy and Lynette Mullin, who are now 2, “and man, what a great day it was,” Mullin said.
Mullin, a freshman Republican representing a largely rural district in eastern Oklahoma, said in an interview Wednesday that the girls had been living with distant relatives of his wife.
The girls had been born into “kind of a bad situation” and the women had agreed to raise them, though neither was up to taking both. The twins were separated when they were 3 months old, Mullin said.
“They were very loving homes,” he said.
Christie Mullin told her husband that the relatives — a great-aunt and a great-grandmother — hoped they would live long enough to see the girls graduate. Mullin said he knew when his wife told him that, “she was setting me up for something.”
The Mullins had the twins over for Christmas “and I saw the twinkle in her eye and said, ‘Aw crap,'” the congressman said.
The “beautiful little blonde girls” charmed him.
“They've got the sweetest disposition,” he said Wednesday. “If you talk to anybody, they say twins need to be together. The bond between them is just amazing. They can have a conversation with each other for hours and nobody else can understand it.”
He said his family was fortunate to find out early about the girls' situation.
“I think families should take care of families, and we live it every day in Oklahoma,” he said.
The Mullins had three children — Jim, 9, Andrew, 8, and Larra, 5 — before they adopted the twins. Like Mullin, the twins are Cherokee.
Mullin, 36, owns a large plumbing company that operates primarily in eastern Oklahoma, along with a few other companies and his farm. He won his first race for political office last year, capturing a district that, in its current configuration, had never been held by a Republican.
Mullin told a detailed story at an Aug. 23 town hall meeting in Henryetta about his wife's determination to adopt the girls.
“People say, ‘Man, you're going to be such a blessing to those girls,'” Mullin told those gathered in Henryetta. “And I'm going to tell you right now — if you're someone who's thinking about adoption — you're going to be blessed more by them than you will ever be a blessing to them.
“They have blessed our family so much ... They never had a mommy and daddy they got to call mommy and daddy. To see the way my kids have took on to them. My two boys won't set 'em down. My little girl is such a proud big sister.”