This is the third in a series of adoption spotlights from friends and acquaintances of mine. Although all three stories are unique and different, these three have one thing in common. The adopted children are of a different race or ethnic background than their adoptive families. This is often referred to as interracial adoption, meaning the act of placing a child of one racial or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group. According to Time.com, more than 40 percent of adoptions today are transracial. In an article titled, “The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Color,” author Karen Valby says, “Part of loving your child is seeing and loving the color of their skin. Allow your child their story, whatever it may be.”
Let me introduce you to Seth and Shiloh. Seth and Shiloh had been married for nearly 10 years when they actively began their adoption journey. Several years earlier they had attempted to adopt, but it did not work out. However, as time went on and there was still no possibility of pregnancy, Shiloh started the foot work once again towards the adoption process. Seth wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as she was in the beginning. Shiloh had considered foster care as an option, but after a decade of infertility, she was ready for a permanent family of their own.
Shiloh and Seth chose to use an adoption facilitator. An adoption facilitator is an independent, unlicensed and unregulated person or persons who match hopeful adoptive families with women considering adoption.The facilitator they worked with was associated with a lawyer. They submit a profile explaining their desires to adopt a child. SInce both of them worked in the educational system, they focused on their strong connection to children and their development. They also included comments about the community they lived in and the environment the child would be raised in. They also mentioned strong family bonds and extended family support. They noted that they were open to a child of either sex up to the age of 5.
They were told it would be about nine months to a year before they would hear anything. Fourteen months later, they had been matched to a birth mother. At this point, they began working with an adoption agency to complete the adoption process.The birth parents had previous children, but they had decided to place this child for adoption. At this time, the baby was 2 and a half years old and weighed only 24 pounds. He had been born premature at just 27 weeks gestation weighing only two pounds and four ounces. He spent three months in the neonatal intensive care unit in the hospital. Seth and Shiloh traveled across the United States to pick him up directly from his family’s home. As the other siblings looked on, an instant connection was made between father and son. They picked him up in June and the adoption was finalized in August. The judge was more than willing to perform the happy ceremony during his otherwise depressing cases of the day.
Seth and Shiloh had hoped for an open adoption, but the birth mother said that when he is 18, he can contact her. However, during the pandemic, the birth father reached out through social media to make sure their family was safe. Baby J just celebrated his 7th birthday and is healthy and thriving. He is aware of his birth siblings, but is creating a loving bond with his little sister who has also been adopted by Seth and Shiloh. They have a belief in a loving God and instill in their children a desire to have a relationship with Him as well. They plan to teach them about their heritage and background as requested by baby J’s birth father. Ironically, he had been given the Biblical name that was noted in a scriptural reference made in the couple’s profile.
About seven months later they completed an updated profile and home study and began working with an adoption agency in hopes of adopting again. This time they were told it could take several months to find a match. Once they had actively been connected to the agency, a match was made in a short eleven days. Things began to move very quickly and before they knew it, they were on Facetime with an expectant mother in labor. The labor resulted in a c-section delivery of a healthy baby girl. Shiloh and Seth flew to meet them both with high expectations. The agency had informed them that the baby’s grandmother had stated that the adoption would not happen. But, it was eventually decided that they could adopt the baby as long as they agreed to give her a middle name suggested by the birth family. They quickly accepted the condition given to them. Again, they hoped for an open adoption but agreed to updates through the agency. The agency they worked with provided lists of hopeful adoptive families and are a continued source of comfort for those involved in the adoption triad.
The Gladney Center for Adoption provides these same types of services along with support for women facing unplanned pregnancy. Gladney aids in adoptions nationwide and can help you find resources nearby.
Seth and Shiloh have shared the names of the birth mothers with both of their children. The little girl thinks about her birth mother often and sometimes cries because she says she misses her. Although she never lived with her, they acknowledge that there is a loss and allow her to express her emotions.They believe it is important to validate their feelings. Their advice to hopeful adoptive couples is, “Don’t be afraid of the unknown, you don’t have guarantees with biological children either. God has a hand in it.”
Both children are happy and have a healthy relationship with each other and their adopted parents. During our interview in Shiloh’s 4th grade classroom, the two children played together and would occasionally climb on their daddy’s lap to be reminded he was there for them. He would quickly acknowledge them with a kiss on the forehead and an “I love you.” The adoption story of Seth and Shiloh, baby J, and his little sister started nearly five years ago, but it will last a lifetime.