We used to hold a camera up to our face to share our perspective of the world. Now, we are turning the camera around to share ourselves—vulnerable, unfiltered, and, sometimes, Live. The power of social media has grown with the rising popularity of different platforms. These platforms have opened the windows into homes where we used to tightly draw our curtains and keep our differences a secret. As more influencers have shared their stories, communities have grown and flourished all online. We’ve connected through our stories, our similarities, our differences, and our personal discoveries. Christy Gior is one influencer who has used her YouTube channel to connect with other families like hers. As the mother of a family who has experienced foster care, adoption through foster care, and transracial adoption, Christy shares her day-to-day experiences with her growing audience.
Meet the Giors
Christy and Ed met in 2002 and were married in 2009. They have adopted five beautiful children through foster care: their twins Ace and Avaya, daughter Eliyah, and sweet little Lilly and Natalia. Ace and Avaya were adopted at 18 months old. Eliyah, who was originally fostered by a friend of Christy’s, was adopted at about 4 years old. And sisters Natalia and Lilly entered the Gior home when they were 1 and 3 years old. The Giors have fostered nearly 40 children over the years.
Choosing Foster Care
Fostering is no joke, and Christy is an inspiration when it comes to her perspective on the subject. Although the process can be consuming and information must be protected, Christy sees the value in sharing as much of her story as possible. Some foster parents feel alienated and alone in their challenges. Christy says, “That is one of the reasons I am on Youtube.” Her channel shows the realities of the system: the heartaches, heartbreaks, and celebrations along the way.
When asked where her urge to start fostering stemmed from, Christy recalled her parents, who had fostered a number of kids when Christy was an infant. Some of those fosters have even reached out to Christy as an adult to reconnect. Although Christy and Ed had some trouble conceiving on their own, they had already decided that they wanted to foster. They saw the need, found inspiration in other families adopting through foster care, and they became licensed in 2011. Just two days after they were licensed, they received a call about their first placement. She says that the lifestyle, even with its challenges, is rewarding. She says that seeing families reunite—“you can’t imagine not doing it.”
Although their first placement was challenging, “They looked just like us and bonded with us super quick.” That did not deter Christy and Ed from going on to foster dozens of more children over the years. Their children not only received foster parents but foster grandparents who were involved with every child. As the Gior family grew through adoption, Christy chose only to foster children who she knew would thrive together with her own.
As a foster parent, Christy says, “You have to be this child’s biggest advocate.” Foster parents become a resource of emotional support for children that no one else can access. Sometimes, children become confident enough to open up to a foster parent in a way they haven’t with caseworkers. Because of this, a foster parent can be made aware of some of the abuse or neglect that has taken place in the child’s life. Christy takes her role as an advocate very seriously and does all she can to act in the best interest of every child who enters her home.
Adoption Through Foster Care
We all know it—foster care strains your emotional well-being in ways that no one can prepare you for. As wonderful and necessary as these programs can be, I have never met a foster parent who sugarcoats the realities of foster care. Because every child, parent, and circumstance is so different, it would be impossible to adequately prepare yourself and your family for the challenges you may face. For this reason, I stand in awe and support of the compassionate foster parents I meet who approach their work with loving patience.
For Natalia and Lily, adoption did not come easy. When Christy recalled the girl’s arrival in the home, she said, “We were so in love with them.” They just fit into the family so well and brought the sweetest light into their home. The goal in foster care is reunification with the biological family. Christy said, “I’m all for reunification […] but it’s not up to me.” When Natalia’s and Lily’s permanent placement began to be explored by the caseworker and court, Christy entered an emotional roller coaster ride of a lifetime.
“Why does it have to be like this?” These were the words that a tearful Christy uttered in a video update of her little girls’ foster adoption case. At the time, the girls had secured bonds with the family; court dates came and went with updates on the families involved and the chance of reunification. Remember, the goal of foster care is to reunite kids with parents who have proven to develop appropriate skills in providing healthy, nurturing environments for their children. Not only was the mother of Chrisy’s little girls working toward this goal, but another sibling of the girls had been placed in the system during the process. Due to these and other circumstances, the girls’ caseworker felt the need to reevaluate their placement in the Gior’s home.
Devastation doesn’t begin to describe Christy and Ed’s feelings in response to the possibility that their girls could be placed elsewhere. The caseworker came for a home visit to evaluate how the girls were adjusting and what the next step would be in their best interest. Ultimately, that is what was hanging in the balance: Lily and Natalia’s best interest.
After months of back and forth and contemplation, the parental rights of Lily and Natalie’s birth mother were terminated. Out of respect, Christy did not attend court the day of the termination, but she kindly reached out to the birth mother to let her know of her love and compassion for her during such a difficult time. There is no denying the tragedy in adoption–especially in cases of foster care.
Christy is no stranger to this tragedy and is a prime example of respect for the process. Her advice to other foster parents: “Be very open-minded. You’re not just there to take care of the child. You need to be comfortable building a relationship with the biological family [. . .] It makes them feel comfortable and at ease that their child is in a safe place so they can work to [reuniting].” In cases where reuniting is not an option, a foster parent’s role is that much more important.
Before they knew it, the Giors were signing the adoption papers for Natalia and Lily. They celebrated with family and friends as they welcomed their two beautiful girls into their home permanently. Christy also had the girls officially introduce themselves on her YouTube (whereas before, she always hid their names and faces in videos to protect their privacy as foster children).
Openness in A Closed Adoption
Once an adoption is finalized, in cases of foster care, it becomes a semi-closed adoption. While some biological parents and grandparents choose to continue with minimal contact (birthday cards, back-to-school gifts, and milestone announcements), many foster adoptions are closed. For her family, Christy has chosen to always reach out to biological family members, provide contact information, and keep the door to interaction open if it is ever an interest for the biological family. For her children, she says, “We talk about their biological families all the time.” As her children get older and ask different questions, she is open and honest about what she does and doesn’t know. She says it has to be a topic of regular discussion in their home because it is such a big part of their lives. Christy also says that being in the public eye has made her a better adoptive parent.
While Christy is very open about her family’s adoption journey, she reassures her children that it is not their job to tell people they are adopted. Some information just doesn’t need to be shared. Especially for children, adoption is a big idea for such innocent minds. Offering a safe and healthy environment to ask questions and discuss these big ideas helps Christy and her children navigate their adoption stories. The children talk about their adoptions with others when they are comfortable with it, but deeper conversations are had in the home. “We don’t owe any explanations,” Christy says.
Although building families through adoption has become more popular and heard of over the past decade, families who don’t quite fit what once was seen as a traditional mold can still turn heads in the grocery store. Whether your family is built through international adoption, transracial or transcultural adoption, or you are part of a mixed-race family, there is an undeniable reality that your family may look different than other families. With that reality will come opportunities to educate others about your life experiences and make connections.
Christy’s son, Ace, recently had one of these experiences on his first day of football practice in a new town. Ace and his mother arrived at the field to meet his team and begin practice. Christy noticed from afar another young boy who looked like Ace with a mother who looked like Christy. Before the families ever met, they had made a connection. The other boy, later on, told his mother how cool it was that there was another Black boy on his team with a White mom.
For families in the adoption community who do look alike, “Adoption” isn’t tattooed across our foreheads for everyone to see from the outside. It is something that people learn by talking to us, interacting with us, or—even years after the fact—discovering through family history research. For families of transracial adoption, it is a little more obvious. Christy ended up befriending this other mother and bonding through their shared life experiences. Amidst the many hardships of raising children in a transracial family, these moments of finding community and family in the most unlikely places can be a tender mercy.
When she offered some hand-me-down clothes to a friend, Christy had no idea that the baby girl who would wear those clothes would one day enter the Gior family. For children put in the foster system at such a young age, baby pictures can be hard to track down. Christy not only has baby Eliyah’s baby pictures, but she has pictures of Eliyah in the same baby clothes that her older daughter, Avaya, also wore as an infant. This connection means so much to Christy and felt like a special confirmation throughout the adoption process. Now, Christy is making connections and sharing stories like this across her social media platforms. Where others may feel unable to share their stories and connect, she opens her home to building relationships and fostering good.
Christy also wants to give other foster and adoptive parents resources. “It’s a very critical world and it pushes me to do more and do better,” she says, “I’m not just someone posting all this stuff on YouTube, I want to support people. Please reach out to me through Instagram. I will always answer and I can be your personal support system.” When you can’t reach out to people in your community or agency, Christy has left her door open to conversation, camaraderie, and friendship.
“No Matter where we came from or how we got here, what matters most is we end up where we belong.”
This was the quote on Christy’s Instagram that made me want to reach out to her. Belonging and finding home is something that we all crave. When I asked Christy what belonging meant to her, she said, “[It] is a sense of comfort […] We were all meant to be together.” And that is something she reassures her children every time they discuss their adoptions. Even if there are pieces missing, the Gior children know that they belong and that they are loved.
As I spoke to Christy, I just kept thinking, “what a prime example of the mother that our communities need—someone who shows compassion selflessly where it counts.” Her approach to life proves that you can be both a fierce, protective mother and a welcoming community resource of understanding and openness to those who need it. Those who stand for love and family will stand hand-in-hand with Christy, Ed, Ace, Avaya, Eliyah, Lily, Natalia, and all those in the foster and adoption communities.