Learning to Listen: A Chat with Adoptive Mama Hannah Eloge
At Adopt a Love Story, we celebrate the strong women of the adoption movement. From expectant moms to adoptive moms, we see that their powerful love creates forever homes. March is Women’s History Month, and we’re thinking about how adoption can empower women on every side of the adoption story, and we’re learning how to listen to all the voices of the adoption community. We recently chatted with Hannah Eloge, one of the adoptive moms in our community and creator of Kindred + Co, about her journey and the women of the adoption movement.
Over at your online community, Kindred + Co, you celebrate the women of the adoption triad. What is the adoption triad, and how have you personally experienced it?
The adoption triad is the connection of all the people that make up the world of adoption – the adoptive parents, the birthparents and adoptees.
I always said through the adoption process I found my people – adoptive moms have a unique spirit filled with grit and determination. I instantly bond with them and have yet to meet an adoptive mama that I haven’t connected with – but it is through adoptees and birth parents that I have learned the most. The adoptive parents tend to be the loudest “voice” in the adoption triad, but through reading and joining groups on Facebook, I have learned the most powerful voice, and the voices we should be paying more attention to are the voices of birthparents and adoptees. The Kindred logo is a triangle with a line through it – it symbolizes the adoption triad and that when we listen to all-sides we are transformed. As an adoptive mom the adoption triad affects me daily. I have a responsibility to learn about the other sides of the triad – I am constantly learning and trying to navigate this messy and beautiful and broken world of adoption – I am learning how to answer questions in public, learning how to protect my girls’ story, learning how to do their hair, learning how to share about their birth mom, learning when to share and when it’s not my story to tell. I am not always going to do it right – but I know making space to hear personal stories of everyone in the adoption triad will help me do it better.
Who are the women who inspire you as a creative and an adoptive mom?
I am surrounded by women that inspire me. My Kindred writers inspire me daily, they constantly challenge me, and push me to be vulnerable. Every month, I ask them to do something that I am not yet myself – write regular blogposts. I get so scared to write. Yet their words fill Kindred + Co’s website with strength, and vulnerability and authenticity. They wrestle with the hard parts of adoption, and help others feel like they are not alone.
As a creative, I read and reread the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. My favorite creatives to follow are Joanna Waterfall who started the Yellow Conference for creative ladies that want to change the world, and the talented Promise Tangemen – if you own your own business or do anything creative – you have to watch her videos here.
How do you think the movement of adoption has changed over time?
I think there is broader awareness about adoption – I think people are more willing to help people make a way to adopt. I think with technology changing it is making it easier to stay in contact with your children’s birth families. And open adoption is becoming much more encouraged and accepted. There is a movement to use positive adoption language and there are more stories being told from the perspective of adoptees and birth parents.
How can we support women in the adoption triad?
I mentioned this in an answer above, but I think it’s so important. Adoptive parents: we have a responsibility as the privileged voice in the adoption triad to stop talking and listen. To stop driving the narrative and to listen. To listen to how adoptees feel about their adoption. To listen to birth parents and how they feel five, ten, fifteen years after placement. The adoptive parent side of the narrative can tend to paint the picture of butterflies and rainbows in adoption. Learn from people like Ashley Mitchel of Big Tough Girl, go listen to the interviews on The Adopted Life’s Facebook page, and watch Angela Tucker’s documentary “Closure.” Read books like It’s Not About You. Make it a priority to listen and seek out the other sides of the adoption triad.
Can you tell us about the “big picture” of your adoption story?
My husband and I had conversations about adoption as soon as we starting dating – when we pictured growing our family, it was always through adoption. I worked at a global orphan care organization and many of my co-workers went through the international adoption process. Josh and I always thought we would go down that road as well. But, five years into our marriage when we felt like it was time to start a family, the conversation switched from international adoption to domestic adoption (for many reasons, but one of them being wanting an open adoption and being a part of not only our child’s story but their birth parents as well, if they were willing to have us). We were at a Johnnyswim concert and heard the words sung, “I don’t know what’s coming, but it’s going to be good” – and in that weird, and simple moment we both felt like there was something new coming. It was later that week when we were driving that I asked Josh, “when should we start our adoption?” thinking his reply would be something along the lines of “later,” “after medical school” or “when we have more money.” But to my surprise he paused, and with a huge smile said, “ready when you are!” We started looking into agencies the next day.
We started our home study in October of 2015, and by the end of December we were a “waiting family” – we had seen about 15 “situations” (information on expectant parents considering an adoption plan) but it wasn’t until one came across our screen on March 29th that caught our attention. Honestly, it started as a joke. The post was about twins, but said that you needed to live in Utah. Josh had been saying throughout our process that he wanted twins, and I thought he was nuts and I told him I was on the one child every 10 years plan. I sent the posting along to Josh with a smiley face knowing that he wanted twins, but also knowing this situation was impossible, since you needed to live in Utah. Josh came home from medical school and told me I should just contact them and see if they were willing to take families out of state. It took a little convincing, but I decided to send the email – since it was a long-shot anyways.
Now, I need to back-up a little bit. This was now March, and we were starting to feel a little discouraged. We had been praying and hoping that something would happening in April because Josh was in medical school and had a huge test on April 15th, and then he would have two weeks off. It was his ONLY break of the year, and we were hopeful that a baby would be home by then so that we could spend time together, figuring out this new normal.
So, we emailed about the situation about the twins, it took a while to hear back but we finally heard back that we did not need to live in Utah. WHAT. That changed everything. We didn’t sleep that night, and we didn’t really speak either, each of us was just processing in our own ways. But we woke up on the same page. We would regret not presenting our profile book, we would at least know that it’s not right if we get a no, and so many things had to go right if we were to get a yes. So we sent over our profile book. We waited about a week (this was the longest week of our lives) – and on Friday, April 8th – we spoke to a beautiful and brave woman considering adoption for the twin girls she was carrying. We spoke for two hours, and tried to answer her many questions as honestly as we could, and in the end, we heard the words “I am confident I want you and Josh to be the girl’s parents.”
We thought we would have about 17 days to get ready for the babies, but the c-section got moved up a week. So we had 10 days to raise 30K, make arrangements for Utah and get ready for TWINS! Josh took his test on April 15th, we flew to Utah on Saturday, we enjoyed our last Sunday just the two of us, and Monday morning (the first morning of Josh’s two weeks off) our beautiful twin girls entered this world.