Shileshia & Erik’s Adoption Journey
Adoption is a journey. In these features, we give hopeful adoptive families the space to share what they’ve learned, what they’ve struggled with, and what keeps them going. We’re so happy to introduce you to Shileshia & Erik.
Tell us about yourself and how you made your way to PairTree?
We first met in February 2014 while we were both working at a defense contractor in the Huntsville, AL area. After getting to know each other over a few weeks, we decided to date and we have been together ever since. We got married January 2018. Our permanent home is in Madison, Alabama, which is a neighboring city to Huntsville. We have been in the area for 30+ years. Erik is currently working as a senior program manager, and I work as a configuration analyst at a separate defense contractor. We are both associate pastors at our church. Erik has three adult children from a previous marriage, while I have none of my own. I am the sarcastic one when it comes to sense of humor, while Erik is very much into goofy jokes and dad jokes. He’s the chatterbox, while I am the quiet observer. Our relatives joke that he talked me into marrying him since I am not the most vocal. We talked about adoption after trying fertility treatments and them not working out. We figured that there are plenty of children that need homes and we felt like this was path that God called us to. After looking at agencies, we wanted to try to self match but weren’t sure how to do it. We joined a few Facebook groups and then we saw an ad for PairTree. The platform had only been online for a couple of months when we joined, but we love it so far.
What has surprised you about this process – good and/or bad?
The amount of ups and downs have surprised us. We weren’t sure how long the process would take but we didn’t expect the journey to be as wild as it has been. At the same time, we have met a lot of wonderful hopeful adoptive families and birth parents who are on this journey as well. We have become friends with many other adoptive families and even some birth parents. I have enjoyed learning from all sides.
What do you think is misunderstood about adoption?
I just didn’t realize how much goes on as far as making an adoption work. Of course we knew there were certain steps to take, but for instance we didn’t realize all the things we would need to do for the home study. Then having gone through this process a few times now, different agencies and firms are basically asking for the same information over and over but they may want it in a different format. It is hard to not let that exhaust you sometimes.
Who are your biggest supporters? Who can you always turn to?
We can always turn to our friends and family. My (Shileshia) mom passed recently and she was one of my biggest supporters. My dad and my mother in law are always encouraging us, along with our pastors. I am always reaching out to them for advice or venting when I need to. There are a couple of adoptive parents that I have grown close to as well that I am able to bounce ideas off of.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
God is with us in everything circumstance. If we are still here, we still have purpose.
How often do you cry? (Seriously…)
I probably do it once a week here lately. I keep wondering when we will meet the right match for us and if that child is out there somewhere. I know this decision is hard for the bio parents also, and I pray for them as well.
What you are most proud of – so far – in this process?
I am proud that we are still here, still trying, after all the disappointment we are still here. Although we haven’t met our match yet, I try to do my best to encourage others on this journey.
What scares you the most about this process — and why?
I get scared that we go through so much in this process and we might now find our match. We all have preferences, the birth parents and adoptive parents and I just wonder if we are good enough.
If you had a magic wand, what would you like to change most about this process?
I would like to streamline the paperwork. It seems like it would be easier to make the paperwork so it could be used for private or foster adoption since both entities want the same information.
Click here to learn more about Shileshia & Erik. They’d love to hear from you!