Shileshia & Erik - Baby Milligan

Hoping to Adopt: Shileshia & Erik

Shileshia and Erik truly demonstrate the strength of our PairTree community. We are so grateful they were willing to share their story and insights into what keeps them going each day. This is a must read story chockfull of good advice. Read about a song that inspires them, and who they turn to when they need support the most.

Tell us about yourself and how you made your way to PairTree?

I actually had done a Google search for websites that helped with matching in independent adoptions.  I had heard about Adoptimist, but I didn’t know anything about PairTree.  I saw how new the platform was and to be honest, not knowing what I was getting into, I was a little afraid to join. I did get on Adoptimist, but began thinking about how more sites meant more exposure, and PairTree was a lot cheaper than Adoptimist so I took a chance. It was pretty easy to get all the info filled out for PairTree, but I still wasn’t sure how it would all turn out since the adoption process was so new to us.  But it’s been great. And every time I have needed help or advice, I could always reach out to PairTree and not be judged for it.  

What is one example of your perseverance in this process?

I would have to say that even with all the frustration and sometimes the dishonest people I have run into, I am still plugging away hoping to find Baby Milligan at the end of this.  

What has surprised you about this process – good and/or bad?

I have been surprised by the toll it has taken on us, me especially.  Erik can be more detached since I am usually the one up at all hours of the night trying to network, looking for any scrap of information I can find. 

Adoption is NOT for the faint of heart.

– Shileshia

It is a process where you basically make yourself vulnerable to have your heart broken repeatedly in the hopes that in the end it will be mended with another person and their family for a lifetime.  I know it is hard for everyone in the adoption triad, I can’t even imagine what expectant parents go through.  I constantly feel like my heart and mind are torn in multiple directions all the time.

On the other side of that, I have made some friends on all sides of this triad.  I have become good friends with several fellow HAPs, counselors, and lawyers.  I have also enjoyed talking to EMs, even though they have not chosen us, because I get a little more insight into what they are thinking.  I get to see why they are considering adoption.  There are so  many different reasons and different ways that lead to their decision. I have also been able to educate our extended family on just what it takes to adopt.  It’s not as simple as some people would like to think.  You have to be committed to the process long before a child ever comes into your home.  You have to work hard and hit the ground running.  You have to be ALL IN, there is no halfway.

What do you think is misunderstood about adoption?

The process to find a connection is really a full time job.  I have a full time job for a defense contractor, yet I am also pursuing this at the same time, all day long.  My quest to find a suitable match lasts long into the night and I am mentally worn out by the time I go to sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again.  I think people often misunderstand what an EM’s motives are.  They are not all in these horrible situations that involve abuse or drugs.  Sometimes they are in situations where it just isn’t feasible to handle another child or they are just scared and need some kind of support to know that they are not alone. There is a misconception that you pay these funds and then there’s a baby and it’s not that simple.  It’s never that simple, if there was a situation that straightforward, I would be leery of it.

Who are your biggest supporters? Who can you always turn to?

I can always turn to my pastor’s wife and my husband.  I know that no matter what, even when I am venting and ranting they will hear me out without judging me.  They may not always know what to say, but they are always there to listen, to encourage me to keep going even when there are days I don’t even want to turn on the computer or look at my phone.  

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra? A song that gives you hope?

Everything you want is on the other side of fear – Jack Canfield

A song I love is “The Story I’ll Tell” by Maverick City Music. If you haven’t listened to this song… go do so. RIGHT. NOW. The lyrics get me every time.  It talks about how everything seems dark but when we look back we will God’s hand was on it the entire time and that is the story I’ll tell. 

How often do you cry? (Seriously…)

I cry a couple times a week.  I swear I feel so stupid at times doing so, but I get so frustrated because I feel like we are doing all the right things, but we just haven’t been able to find the right match yet. The emotions hit at the oddest times. I can be sitting at my desk at work and I just get overwhelmed.  We have a nursery in the house now that we have just about got complete.  We started it when we had a match a couple of months back.  I can’t tell you how many times I ball myself up in the fetal position, lay on the floor and sob.  

What you are most proud of – so far – in this process?

I am proud that I am still here, still trying.  There are days that I want to give up because I am not sure how much more of myself that I can pour out, but at the same time I can’t stop either. 

What scares you the most about this process — and why?

I am most scared that no matter what I do, it won’t happen, we won’t be enough, we won’t get chosen. It is something that I have wanted for so long, I just don’t know what I would do.  I am sure eventually I would move on but my heart would be broken for a child that never was.

If you had a magic wand, what would you like to change most about this process?

I would make it more affordable and make sure all agencies had some kind of insurance where people could get their money back in instances of disruption.  People want to do independent matching because they don’t want all the overhead that comes with adoption agencies.  In many cases, you lose some if not all of the money you put in. Self marketing becomes the way to go. However, an agency can do all that groundwork for you. I would also like to change the stigma that there is something wrong with the members of the triad because an adoption took place.  HAPs aren’t broken or have to have something “wrong” with them to want to adopt and EMs shouldn’t feel ashamed for choosing to place, it doesn’t mean that they were not good enough to parent or bad people.  Adoptees are not unwanted children.  They were wanted by their first parents, wanted by their chosen parents and loved all the way around.

Click here to learn more about Shileshia and Erik. They’d love to hear from you!

We’re grateful for the outpouring of stories we’ve received in response to our Resilience Edition series and look forward to introducing more members of our PairTree community. You are ALL such strong and courageous couples and individuals and you inspire us with each answer. 

If you are an Expectant Mom, Birth Mom, Adoptee or Adoptive Family, and you’re interested in contributing your story, please email us at

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