An adoptive mom who was adopted herself, Jenny Swisher shares her unique perspective including her journey with infertility and transracial adoption. Don’t miss Jenny’s authentic story and the way her family has approached the beautiful blessings and the real-life challenges of transracial adoption.
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Transracial Adoption – The Joys & The Challenges

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An adoptive mom who was adopted herself, Jenny Swisher shares her unique perspective including her journey with infertility and transracial adoption.  

Don’t miss Jenny’s authentic story and the way her family has approached the beautiful blessings and the real-life challenges of transracial adoption.  

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Jenny’s infertility story
  • How Jenny dealt with abandonment 
  • Jenny’s journey to parenthood through adoption
  • The challenges with the adoption process
  • Jenny’s experience raising biracial children
  • Resources for interracial families & adoptive parents
  • Cost-saving adoption strategies
  • Why adoption is a unique blessing

Books to Read as an Interracial Family

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Books for Adoptive Parents

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ABOUT JENNY SWISHER

Jenny is the creator of the women’s program SYNC: How to Fuel and Train with Your Hormone Cycle Digital Course. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist specializing in helping women sync their fitness and nutrition with their hormone cycles for maximum energy. She has an extensive history as a top health and wellness coach and also leads a team of over 500 other health coaches.

An adoptive mom who was adopted herself, Jenny Swisher shares her unique perspective including her journey with infertility and transracial adoption.   Don’t miss Jenny’s authentic story and the way her family has approached the beautiful blessings and the real-life challenges of transracial adoption.

CONNECT WITH JENNY SWISHER

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Transcript

Hi, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host on a Fullmer today. We have Jenny Swisher back on the podcast in case you missed it. She was on the podcast earlier, and she chatted all about how to sync your hormones with your fitness and nutrition. She is a fitness coach, and she specifically is an expert on hormonal health for women and how to leverage your cycle to maximize fitness and nutrition.
Be sure to check out that podcast. But today she is actually coming on the podcast to chat about her journey with infertility and adoption. Jenny is the mom of two adopted daughters, her and her husband, both adopted two sweet little girls and Jenny herself. Was also adopted. She has an incredibly unique perspective and I cannot wait to dive into it with her.
For those of you new around here, or maybe you have been hanging out with me here on the, in perfectly empowered podcasts, but you are not aware that we are also adopting adoption is something very near and dear to my heart. We are adopting our fourth child, a little boy from the Pacific island of Samoa.
We are three years into the process and we God-willing our schedule. Kind of on time to be matched with our son this year. We don’t know who he is yet, but that should be happening this year. And then again, God willing, we will be able to bring him home next year in 2023. So it is something I’m very passionate about.
I cannot wait to dive into it. Friends. Welcome Jenny Swisher. Well, Jenny, welcome to the podcast. I should say. Welcome back to the podcast. Yes. Thanks for having me back. I am so excited about this conversation after our first interview, you and I got talking about adoption and we were like, okay, we just need to have each other back on because we so much to say so much to talk about your story is so unique.
And what I love about your perspective is unlike mine. So I am an adoptive mom. I haven’t been matched with my son yet, but it is certainly he’s already mine. I just don’t know who he is yet. So I still say that I’m an adoptive mom. Bye-bye. I was not adopted myself. And I love your perspective. I’m an excited to dive into your perspective because I think it is the unique opportunity to hear from somebody who was adopted and is now adopting.
So let’s rewind and kind of go back to the beginning a little bit. Tell me a little of your story and what it was like to grow up as an adopted daughter. Yeah. Well, first of all, thanks again for having me back on here. I agree with you that it needs its own separate episode, right. To dive into this subject of adoption is something that’s very near and dear to my heart.
And obviously it is part of my story in so many ways. So I, I was adopted at birth, um, and my story is quite unique. There are pieces of my story that I know, and probably a lot of pieces that I don’t know. So I was born in the early eighties when, um, there wasn’t like, especially compared to now, there was a lot of, sort of informal processes around adoption then, whereas now there’s a lot more paperwork and a lot more formality.
So for me, um, my adoptive mother, which I consider my mother, um, she had had hysterectomy and was in her OB GYN office for an annual exam. And. He just happened to say to her, like, I think I may have met someone who is pregnant, who, um, I’m going to try to connect you to the baby. Like the OB GYN told my mother this.
Had you wanted to adopt you or was that totally out of the blue? She had just had a hysterectomy maybe like a couple years before and met my dad and, um, she’d always wanted children. So the OB GYN knew that. Yes. And so otherwise that’s like, boom. Yeah, expecting that on visit. Okay. You knew that he knew it.
And so, um, I guess previously to that, my birth mother had walked into his office about eight and a half months pregnant for the first time since. I have this baby and I’m looking to give this child up for adoption and I’d like to, I need your help. So he was sort of a, the magician behind the scenes, I guess, to make that connection happen.
And so he informed my, my mother that she then they, she and my dad hired an attorney and I was born in the state of Ohio. So we had, they had to cross state line with me, which meant, which meant they had to have an attorney take care of all that. And, um, very similar to now the interstate contract was, was in effect.
So, so long story short, I was born in the hospital, um, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and. There was, I was completely healthy, but in order to make this magic happen, the OB GYN had to actually write a false diagnosis. He said that there was something wrong with my stomach, um, to keep me in the hospital so that they could get the paperwork worked out for, for my parents to adopt me.
Otherwise, I most likely would have gone into foster care or into like the, the Catholic adoption system in Cincinnati. So yeah, so my parents hired the attorney and then I spent two or three days in the, in the hospital until all of that was worked out. And then the attorney himself and his assistant drove me across the state line and brought me to Indiana.
And, um, I grew up an adopted child right alongside my brother. My brother is four years younger than me. He was also adopted. And, um, so we were not biological brother and sister, but we were certainly siblings and. Um, so adoption’s always just been part of who I am. And from a very young age, I just have always known it.
There was never any sort of like moments, you know, when my parents sat me down and said, okay, well, we want to tell you you’re adopted. Like I just always, I always knew it. I grew up knowing. But that’s how I began. How did they have those conversations with you? Because I will say, I think that’s unique for their generation.
It was not discussed as openly now. So let’s also talk race. Are you the same race as your parents? Yes. And what about your brother? Yes. So my brother looked like you looked at them. Yes, it was really, it’s really kind of funny. And I tell this story a lot because my mother, my adoptive mother is very dark featured, so she has jet black hair, dark eyes.
And I look really nothing like her, aside from that we have the same skin color and my dad was baldheaded. He is a baldheaded man. And so it’s funny because all through school people would be like, you look just like your dad. And I really think they would say it because I certainly didn’t look like my mom.
You know what I mean? Like, so it happens biologically all of the time. I mean, that’s true often that you just may not look like your biological. So, so tell me a little bit, because I do find this interesting. How did they incorporate it? So early on into your life that you were adopted to the point where they clearly did something well, because you wanted to adopt, but that’s not always the case.
And so talk to me a little bit about how they did that and your perspective as a child. Yeah. So, I mean, I know that, um, we, there were a couple of children’s books that we had on hand that we would read as a family. I can’t remember right now off the top of my head, what they were. Um, but I find them out, let me know in the show notes, I will ask them and I can tell you a little bit later what, what books we use with my children now, but it’s on my list to ask you about, but back in the eighties, there were a couple books that I can’t remember now, what they, what they were, but, uh, just sort of instilling this, uh, sense of.
And this is how I like to talk about it with other people too, for my daughters is really illustrating to the child. And in this case, for me, illustrating your beginning, like how did, how did you come into the world? You came into the world through another woman’s belly and she loved you so much that she knew she couldn’t care for you.
And so she sought us out and we, we became your parents because we had space in our heart and space in our home to raise a child. And I don’t necessarily remember that exact language, but it was just, that was the overall vibe that I was just raised with. And so from the time I was three or four years old, I was, I knew that I was adopted.
I knew I didn’t necessarily understand obviously the intricacies of that, but I always knew that that’s kind of where I came from and how I started. Now. I will say my story is a little bit unique in that I think. And I think if I really had to summarize. What it was that you, cause you, you just use the phrase, you know, obviously it worked well.
Um, I think what worked well for me was just this sense that I was so loved. And so being raised a child that was just extremely loved, I had both sets of grandparents, you know, that were relatively close by just, I had this sense of family from the beginning and just this overwhelming love, like this overwhelming, you can do anything.
You get, you know, just the support and this confidence. And, um, because of that, I really, I mean, I, I can’t really look back. And S and really see any time in my life when I really struggled with understanding my adoption. Now that’s not the case for everyone. It’s actually quite the anomaly. Um, I know that even my brother and, and close friends of mine, that I have that were adopted, kind of went through some sort of phase, whether it was in their teenage years or even younger, where they just kind of had those, Hey, wait a minute.
Like those thoughts, those thoughts of like, why was I given up for adoption? Or why, why didn’t my birth mother want me so to speak? And I can’t say that I ever really had that. That feeling. Um, and I think it’s because I was told by my, my, my, my, you know, my mother, my adoptive mother, I was told that, you know, your birth mother was a teenager.
She walked into the, the, um, doctor’s office, fully pregnant, very petite woman, very pregnant saying, I just, I simply can’t care for this child. Can you help me? And so from the beginning, I just had this sense of like empathy for her, like this sense of like, she knew what was best for me. And, um, I trusted that, like, it was just like, okay, well, this is where I am.
And I’m, I can’t complain because I’m still loved. And so, um, again, that’s not always the case. Like sometimes a lot of times, you know, even small children will go through these sort of, I don’t want to say rebellious phases, but these phases where it’s, it’s really on their mind. Right. I mean that all those emotions of, of anger, and even though you feel the gratitude.
It’s still has to be that sense of, of loss. Absolutely. And trying to reconcile, like other people go through the same things and they didn’t give up their kid. Like, why did you, so it’s I can, I can’t empathize, but I can certainly sympathize with the range of emotions. Did you see anything specifically your parents did with your brother?
I realize it’s his story, but from your observations, did you see anything that you have taken away? Uh, I appreciated how they handled this, or I would do this differently. Um, I think I made, it was pretty much the same across the board for my brother and I both, as far as like, just that overwhelming sense of love and family and just, you know, I mean, I can think back to like, my mother’s side of the family was, um, not local to us.
And so whether it was my dad’s family that was local to us or my mom’s, you know, I’m talking about like cousins and aunts and uncles and just extended family, we never were treated any differently. We, it was never, it was never like, oh, you know, well, these are the biological grandchildren and these are the adopted grandchildren.
Like there was never any sort of difference. It was always just, you know, if my grandma had a sweatshirt printed with all the grandchildren as Teddy bears on it, like we were on there too. Right. Like for whatever. So, um, so yeah, so just, we just were always treated the same and like, like we, like, we may as well have come from, um, you know, from my, my adopted mother’s belly.
Cause that’s how it felt. So I have this, uh, it was actually like a cross stitch that was on my wall. When I was growing up and I actually had it done for Ellery too. That’s my oldest daughter, it’s in her bedroom and it says not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but miraculously, my own never forget, even for a minute, you weren’t born under my heart, but in it.
And it was just like, it was on my wall and I read that thing over and over and over. So pretty that gets on the show notes. I’m talking to my producer now that, yeah, that’s beautiful. I love that. Well, I think it’s just, it was almost like an affirmation right there on my wall. And as a child, it was just like ingrained in me that this is, this is the way everyone feels.
So, so you then, so you grew up in this adopted home, had a positive experience. Tell me a little bit about the transition and your struggle that ultimately led you to adopt. Yeah. So it’s funny because one of the questions that you know, that a lot of people get, I think, as adopted children, is, you know, do you ever want to beat you, meet your birth parents?
And gosh, like all through high school, I can remember friends being like, so do you think you’re going to be, you know, meet your birth parents? And again, I think I’m a little bit of an anomaly in that I’m not necessarily opposed to it, but I’m not necessarily seeking it out. Like for me, it just felt like just not, not something that I’ve ever come to a place to do, but I did come up against sort of a rock and a hard place in my twenties when I, and I shared this on the first episode that we did, um, when I started struggling with chronic migraine, I started having health issues.
And for me it was like, Gosh, if I, if I had some sort of biological history, if I had some, somebody to ask like a biological mother or something like, Hey, are, are you dealing with, you know, things like infertility, migraine, any sort of hormone imbalances, like that would have been really helpful for me. So there was a period in my twenties where I really questioned, like, should I seek this out?
Should I try to find this medical information? And, um, all of that to say that, you know, the story of mine regarding, uh, chronic migraine and infertility with my husband, it was all interconnected, you know, and it’s, it’s basically something where we got married in my early twenties. I started having headache issues, uh, led me to disability from work and all kinds of, I call it hormone hell basically is where I was living.
And I didn’t realize that it was ever going to affect my fertility. Like to me, it was just, these are headaches and I deal with them and I have to figure it out. So then when we got into our late twenties and we decided, okay, You know, we’ve been married for five or so years and nothing’s happening. And I had been off of the birth control pill.
We started to think like, okay, maybe we should seek some help. So we asked my OB GYN and she connected us to a fertility specialist. The fertility specialist met with us the very first day and basically told us that everything that we had been, um, doing as far as using like urine test kits and all kinds of stuff like that, uh, were just not accurate for someone like me at that time when you are
Yeah. So there’s things like population prediction, predictor kits, like those little Solera, sorry, the little urine tests that you can, you know, pee on, um, the apps or the apps that try to predict, right? Like that’s what we had been doing, thinking like, you know, well, there’s nothing wrong with us. Like as far as like fertility goes, so, um, he told us, oh no, that will never work for you because I was a very low body fat percentage at the time, but we were, we owned a gym together.
So we were training really hard. And he’s like, you know, I think maybe you guys need to do. Have some more intricate testing to see what’s going on. So long story short, um, my husband had surgery. I had surgery to remove endometriosis and we started our, we did two rounds of, um, basically like population injections, like to get, to get me to ovulate multiple eggs.
And then of course they give you that awesome time window. Like you need to procreate between these hours. And we went through it’s so special. And so we did that for, I would say it was about a four month journey of just like between the two surgeries and then doing these little population injections.
And we got to this point where we were like, this is for the birds. Like, this is just, it was so stressful on our marriage. It was so stressful just in general. Um, and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking like, but what if I do get pregnant? And I get these bad migraines again, like I can’t take medication when I’m pregnant.
So in the back of my mind, I just kept thinking like, oh no, like what if, you know, because I had just overcome chronic layering. Like I had just finally figured out what was going on with that. And if I’m being totally transparent and this is something that I don’t share often, I had never really had this like innate desire to have a child in my belly.
And maybe, you know, maybe some psychiatrists would say, you know, a psychologist would say that that’s from maybe me not experiencing that. Like, I didn’t have a birth mother that, or, you know, my, my mother didn’t have a baby in her belly for me to ever witness or something like that. Like, I don’t know if it, it goes back to childhood, but I just have never had the desire to.
I feel the baby kicking in me or anything like that. And so I can remember, like, in my twenties, when we were around a couple of friends and they were just like, oh my gosh, like, you know, I just, I love being pregnant. And I remember thinking in my mind, like, I don’t think I could ever love being pregnant.
And so I just never really had this, even though we were going through this, like we wanted children, we were going through the steps. It was so stressful. But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, what if, like, what if the headaches, what if I hate being pregnant? What if I hit? You know? And so finally we sat down with the fertility specialist and he said, okay, I think our only chance is he thought it was like a 30% chance based on the fact that both of us had infertility issues.
He said, I really think that your best chances in vitro. And we were like, okay, we need to sit on this. We need to think about it. And so we started talking to friends that had done it, and I think it’s obviously it’s a blessing for so many people. Um, but for us, you know, especially when we talked to my functional medicine doctor and she, she said, you know, I’m, I’m going to tell you it’s up to you, but.
Most likely, it’s going to put your hormones on a roller coaster, and we know that for you, that typically results in migraine. So she’s like, I can’t guarantee that you’re going to go through this process. Totally. You know, feeling great. And so that was enough for us to look at each other and say, Yeah, why are we doing this?
Like, we’re happy. Like I, at that time we were thriving in my career. He was, you know, he’s always been, um, sort of a business partner to me. We were loving our travels. Like everything in our life was going well, it’s just, this one piece was just so stressful, but it’s like, we even got to this point where it’s like, do we even want children?
Like, are we just good? You know, like, should we just, yeah. You kind of look at everything with a new lens and think of what is our future going to hold that’s right. And so finally we decided to, um, sit down with a local adoption attorney, just so happened to be the same attorney that my parents use to adopt my brother.
Cause they went through like a formal process with he was adopted. So we sat that we scheduled an appointment with them and we sat down for an hour. Great people. Um, They actually finalized both of our adoptions that we have with our daughters, but we sat down with them and, uh, took some notes and we left that our appointment and we were both totally freaked out.
Like we got into the car and we just didn’t speak like the entire way home. We just were just silent. And when we found out, tell me a little bit about what freaked you out. Like, what was it that scared you? Yeah. So when, when my husband finally said like, so like, what did you think? I said, there’s no way in what, what freaked us out for both of us is, you know, and of course an attorney’s job is to, you know, make sure that you understand every possible thing that could go wrong.
Um, and so we felt like he had as great of guys as they are. Right. And I’m sure, and they do this. This is what they do, their adoption attorneys that have high success rate, but we were just like, we were. Totally blown away by, you know, the odds that a baby could be drug addicted or could have, you know, you have to make the choice of, are you okay with any sort of medical issues, even just the concept of filling out paperwork to list preferences, you know, like race, gender, all of it.
We were just like, it was just so different than, you know, and here I had grown up with this beautiful story, right? If this woman walked in and she just happened to be a perfect match for your birth or, you know, your adopted parents and this, these magical angels came in and took care of the work. And so in my mind it was like, Where’s that beautiful story, you know?
And so sitting down with the attorney and it’s scary, it’s scary too, because you there’s this weird range of emotions. Cause I totally get this. I mean, I’ve, you know, obviously we’ve gone through that as well. And I remember feeling like, I feel like I’m ordering something off of Amazon. I’m like clicking off the preferences that you see there on the sidebar.
And it’s like, this is a child I shouldn’t be. Yeah. You know? And so there’s this sense of guilt almost like, well, I don’t know what medical problems I can and can’t handle. And then there’s part of you that says, I should take anything. I should take any child. And then there’s part of you that says, well, but I don’t think I can handle X, Y, Z.
And if I mark that, I can handle this. What if I can’t handle it? I mean, it is a truly terrifying range of emotions speak you. I think we’re probably getting into this, but speak to that a little bit. And how you, because the concern is we stopped. And it’s like, I just can’t do this and we never even take the next step forward.
How do you encourage somebody who may be at that very point? Where, where you and I just mentioned, we were both at, how do you encourage them to take the next step? What, what was your next step? Well, usually I do get people that reach out to me just on social media and whatnot, asking for assistance, like, Hey, we’re looking to adopt what you, what’s your advice.
And this is usually where they get hung up. Like they start to investigate either. You know, usually it comes down to either finances, like, is this something that we’re going to be able to afford? Or it comes down to, am I emotionally ready? And like, am I. Am I confident enough in myself and my marriage and everything to do this.
And so that’s where we, that’s where we sort of found ourselves and to be completely transparent. But the best thing I can do is to just share like the rest of my story and tell you, like looking back, um, if I, if I could redo, if I could kind of go back in time to that moment when I was stopped, when, when I just was looking at this stack of paperwork, like no way, and it’s a stack people stack, I have sold and bought multiple homes.
I have two masters in nursing and I have never, ever seen so much paperwork in my life. Alcohol, there should be, it’s a child’s life we’re talking about, but there’s so much paperwork. You will never have seen so much paperwork. That’s so true. Yeah. But if I could go back, I would, I would just take a deep breath and tell myself.
Stop thinking and just do, um, just take the next step. And that’s what I tell a lot of women that I talked to is stop thinking of everything that can go wrong. Um, this goes for health and fitness too, right? Like the stop thinking of everything that could go wrong or any sort of emotional stress that’s coming your way and just say, I’m going to take the next step for us.
We didn’t, um, we didn’t take the next step at that moment. We let the paperwork sit on my desk for months. It’s out there from November to April. I made, um, a post on my face by the Facebook following for my fitness page. And I had made a post on there, uh, with a picture of my brother and I for national adoption.
And I just said, like so grateful that we were adopted into such an amazing family, um, you know, just a little post basically about it and hashtag national adoption day. And, uh, this girl that had gone to high school with my brother reached out to me in a direct message, which was on my, through my Facebook business page, which I didn’t even see for a couple of days.
And it’s just said, Hey, I actually kind of forgot that you and your brother were both adopted. It just so happens that, um, I have a coworker and a good friend of mine who is, I think at the time, you know, a few months pregnant and is considering adoption. Would you be willing to talk to her? Because I think, you know, this friend of my brothers like knew that we were raised in this healthy family environments and that adoption was a good thing for us and wanted us to just talk to this friend of hers, to see, you know, to kind of convince her that adoption was the right way to go.
And so I remember telling my husband, Chris about this and he looked at me like, Oh, gosh, like if she’s thinking about adoption, like, should we be those people that say we’re here? You know? And so our, our story did turn out so beautiful and I think it always does. Um, but we literally just reached out to her directly and said, you know, we’re actually, uh, our friend connected us at first.
We had a phone conversation. Um, she told us she would be interested in meeting us. We drove to Ohio. Ironically is also where my daughter was born and we drove there and, um, I canceled all plans. I had this big event planned for my team. My team was probably like, why is this being canceled? Like we canceled everything for the weekend.
We’re going to Ohio. Yeah. So, and, uh, no, I totally agree. So, um, we sat down to her with her at dinner and she just, she just, I guess, fell in love with us and we fell in love with her and, um, From that moment on it was, we were, we were going to become Ellory’s parents and we knew it was a girl. We knew she was coming in September and, um, her birth mother kept us in the loop, the entire journey.
We really had a really seamless process. The first time around, we were there for her birth. She came out of the womb and landed on my chest. Um, and so it’s one of those things where, you know, here we were letting like all of our hesitations and our fears get in the way and someone from above was like, you know what, no, we’re just going to put this baby in your lap.
And then, um, you’re going to see that you should have just taken that next step. So we were kind of pushed, I guess, from, you know, uh, from up above to. To do it and to just keep taking that next step, even when it came to this person, like it was so scary. I mean, you want, you want to talk about that’s a subject in itself, like the relationship between adoptive mother and birth mother through the process, especially because for many, I mean, from, from the stories that I hear, it sounds like even that experience that you had is unique, that it is more unique to have a birth mother good at keeping you up to date and keeping in the loop more often than not as adoptive parents, you are very much out of the loop, which is one of the very great struggles.
And it’s, there’s so many unknowns, but still there’s unknowns, even in your story, there’s always unknowns. It’s easy to compare your story and be like, well, but ours is so much harder. Okay. There’s always. So the point is you still took a risk. You still took a risk. Yes. And I mean, ours was definitely not.
Um, I mean, it was as smooth as I think could possibly be, but at the same time, we definitely had moments. Insane fear, especially in the hospital, after she was born, right? Like, um, birth mother had indicated at first that she didn’t want any sort of connection and she just wanted us to have separate rooms and for the baby to come to our room and we were told in advance, you know, I feel like they do a good job of preparing you in advance.
Like these are the things that can change. These are the things that can happen. And, um, in the hospital she changed her mind and she kept wanting to see Ellery. And that, that was fine with us. But there were a couple of times where she would have her for a couple hours and my husband and I are literally just sweating, like sitting in the room next door, like what’s happening, you know, like just drenched in sweat and just shaking all over.
Um, wondering if she was going to change her mind, wondering, you know, what that, what that conversation was looking like. So our, our, our journey was by no means easy. Um, but I think when you look back, when I look back on it, and I, especially when I hear stories of others, I think we were so blessed that we had that the birth mother was.
It was health conscious. She was there weren’t, there were no drugs involved. Um, we did not have as smooth of a process the second time around with our Sutton, but we, you know, we had everything we needed as far as the guts and the willingness to, to pursue it because we had, you know, we knew we could, we had done it once and it was like, we’re going to do this again.
So, yeah. Well, and I think the beautiful thing to take away, period, from any story like this is that there’s so much beauty that comes out of unknown and you just have to be willing to take those steps forward and it is a risk, but again, it’s one of those things where you don’t know until you take that leap of faith and everyone’s story does look different and some are maybe smoother than others, but at the end, it’s like you just said it.
You know, it’s a risk that has the potential for an immeasurable reward. It can’t even really be a measured or a value put on it. We’re going to take a quick break, but we come back, stay tuned to hear more of Jenny story. We’re going to dive into her sweet family. And we’re going to talk about some of the resources that she recommends that has made the difference in their adoption journey and their process.
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And start your own transformation story. Oh, we are back here with Jenny Swisher. We’ve just been talking about her adorable kids. She has Ellery and Sutton and, um, these are the cutest little girls you’ve ever seen. I was just saying when I see her littlest ones, pictures on Facebook, it makes me smile every time she’s the cutest little cheeks.
It makes me smile. It’s the only reason I love Facebook is for all the babies and the cute kids. Let’s be really honest. Absolutely. Sometimes cute dogs do and sometimes cute. I mean, I’ll always take a cute puppy. I’m definitely partial to kids, but that’s why I don’t have a dog. I have we’ll have four kids.
So you guys adopted transracially, so Ellory and Sutton are African-American you and your husband are Caucasian. Tell me a little bit, there’s so much that could be expanded on, um, you know, in this conversation, but what kind of education did you do to prepare yourselves for. And interracial family. And what was the thought process going into it?
How did you and your husband even have the conversation of race and what you were willing to bring into your family and the kind of conversations that you had around that? So conversations and then education you did to prepare yourselves. Yeah, those are great questions. Um, so like I mentioned, when we came home with that stack of paperwork and we were sort of stopped and fear, I would say that, you know, one of the many things that stopped us was this idea of preferences, right?
Like what races are you open to adopting? And what races are you not open to adopting? And I kept saying to my husband, like, how could we ever, how could we ever identify to me? It’s like, I can love a baby regardless, like, right. However, and this, this comes up in my conversations with women who are looking to adopt as well.
Sometimes you have to take into account just your life and your life’s like, we live in a very, at that time, we lived in a very Caucasian neighborhood. And a very Caucasian suburb of a very Caucasian county. You know what I mean? Like we were. And so you also have to think about like, well, yes, I’m open to a baby of any race, but what would that life experience be like for the baby?
So I think that looking back, if we had filled out that paperwork, we probably would have specified to be completely transparent. We probably would have specified not out of any sort of like racism or prejudice, but just more of comfort for ourselves. We would’ve chosen a race, you know, the same as ours, but like I said, God had had other plans.
We knew that, you know, obviously we, we felt like this connection with Ellory’s birth mother was just meant to be like, it had literally landed in our lap. And so when she told us, um, at that first meeting, you know, that she wasn’t sure if the child would be African or biracial African-American or Caucasian, it didn’t even matter to us.
Cause it was like, well, we’re sitting here with you by, we don’t even know how like this even happened. So okay. Like, whatever it is, we’re going to, you know, make it work and Ellory was born. Like I said, we were in the room and um, she came out with this full head of just black, you know, dark black African-American hair.
And so we knew right from the beginning, like, okay, like we know, right? Like this is going to be different and this is something we’re going to have to travel. But because of that, because going into it, we knew that it could be either or, um, our home study company and a home study is something.
Domestically here in the United States, you have to complete before being legally approved for adoption. And you’re due for international adoption too, by the way. Okay, good to know that regardless. Yeah. So we, we had to do that and, um, ours was interesting cause most of the couples that were going through the home study process at the time that we were, we’re sort of still on a list, they were still trying to be paired.
Whereas we had, we had a birth mother and a baby and we were sort of retroactively getting the home study done. So we were a little bit more rushed in our, in our education process. So they required, I think it was 40 hours between the two of us. Um, each we both had to complete 40 hours of education and half of that had to be, um, transracial adoption related.
So I would say that the most helpful thing for us was, uh, the, the agency that we went through for the home study did a lot of live webinars where people of all different colors and races would contribute to the conversation on. What it’s like to be raised a biracial child in a Caucasian family or what it’s like to be raised, you know, an Asian child and a black family or whatever the case was.
And so we just heard a lot of different anecdotes and stories and, um, those were probably the most powerful things for us because is there any one in particular that stands out to you now that especially resonated with you or what was a takeaway? That was very, yeah, I think the number, the number one takeaway, uh, actually came when we went through, we had to go through it again for Sutton’s adoption.
We had to go through the home study again. And so when we did it for her, we, at that time we knew like, you know what I mean? Like the first time around we’re like this could be a Caucasian baby or, um, whereas the second time around, we already had a biracial child and we knew that our second was going to be as well.
And so, um, we just, we’d kind of dove deeper, I guess you could say. So one of the webinars, um, the lady that was leading it, and this is probably my number one takeaway. Uh, in general, but she said that you have to think about putting yourselves, especially as white parents in the place where you are the minority.
So, you know, think about like your day to day life. Like when you go to church, are you in the minority or are your children in the minority when you, when you go to the hair salon, are you in the minority or is your child in the minority? And so those types of things, it’s just hearing it that way. It was like, oh my gosh.
Like, I mean, it sounds so silly, but I had never really thought of it. And at this time we already had a four year old, you know, so it really influenced, we, we made a lot of changes after just hearing that one piece of advice. Like we changed churches, we had changed, um, hairstylists, like we’ve changed, we’ve changed so many different things to just help our children feel, um, Surrounded by people like them.
You know, it’s such a beautiful picture and powerful statement. I it’s so funny that you said that because we recently went to Mexico on a vacation with my in-laws. They blessed us with this trip to Mexico as a family. And we were walking on the beach, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and my mother-in-law and father-in-law for a period of time lived in Africa.
And my husband was a really little baby. And my mother in law made the statement. At one point, we were talking about our own adoption and, you know, um, we’re also adopting a colored child and what that looks like and what are proactive things that I’m doing even now to try to prepare a family. And she made the statement about their time in Africa.
And she said everyone should have the experience of being the minority at some point in their life. Every race, every person should experience what it is like to be the minority. And I remember even then thinking like, well, that’s a quotable and you’re saying that very thing. And I, it really has resonated with me when she said that.
And I love that you are repeating that same concept because I think it is so helpful and empowering in many ways to practically think through how I can make this work in my own family. So I just wanted to share that it’s such a powerful statement and I love that you said that. Well, I think it’s one of those things where, you know, and this goes for any mother, um, adoptive or not like you start to see the world through your children’s eyes, especially as they become verbal.
And you know, like my five-year-old is very opinionated and now already somehow into fashion at age five, like there, so that she’s growing up so fast and you start to really see through, right? Like, like those things. Um, we had an experience at Christmas time where she, she has, uh, let’s see her preschool, um, Has diversity.
Definitely. But it’s still dominantly Caucasian and her, her a couple of her close little friends are Caucasian blonde hair girls. Right. They look like Elsa. They can braid their hair like Elsa. These are things that you don’t think about until you have a child who can’t braid her hair like Elsa or who doesn’t look like Elsa, God bless and Canto for being released because my child looks like Mirabelle.
So, um, for her to be able to say, I look like her is so huge, but I digress. So anyways, um, that is beautiful though. I that’s a practical, I think that’s a practical takeaway, right? There is. If you know, you’re struggling with the concept of adopting a child that is a different race. It’s those little practical things it’s looking for.
Movies, obviously age appropriate that are showcasing ethnicities, similar to your child’s. I think that’s just a practical books that are anyway. Yeah. That’s beautiful. Yeah. So her little friends were, uh, her two little girlfriends were wanting a Barbie dream house for Christmas. And so when it, when it came time for, for Christmas at our house, I said, okay, well, you know, we got to tell Santa what you want for Christmas.
And she kept saying a Barbie dream house. And, um, we would walk by at a target and I’d be like, that’s what you want. And long story short, a couple days before Christmas, she says to me, mama, I do like the Barbie dream house, but I really like the LOL. Which is a different doll for those of you listening, who, I didn’t know these things either until children, but, um, I always had a Barbie dream house when I was a kid, but she, she really wanted this LOL house and this is not to shame Barbie.
Barbie is a very diverse brand. Like they definitely have Barbies of all colors, but LOL has really blown up the, um, the racial, I mean, they have dolls of all colors, all hair colors, all hairstyles, like you name it, they’ve got it covered. And it made me realize, like, she likes that she likes that she likes to have dolls that look more like her or that she can style more like she likes.
Right. And so those are things that we’ve had to pay extra attention to, you know, like what, who, you know, and we really try to encourage her, you know, um, she said to me the other day, something about what somebody else liked. And I said, well, do you like it? And she said, yeah. And I said, well, then that’s all that matters.
And so just, you know, taking, taking her confidence to a level of like, you don’t have to have a Barbie dream house. Like if you don’t feel comfortable with the Malibu Barbie situation, like then by all means let’s do the more ethnic, it looks like Barbie left. Yeah. So, um, but you know, one thing that we’ve really tried to.
Uh, you know, I knew from the very beginning, especially going through that education, that, and especially being somebody who I consider myself sort of like a personal growth junkie, I knew that there would be a lot of things that I can not control, like through raising a child of a different race. There are a lot of things that I can’t control.
I can’t necessarily control what other people say to her. Um, I can however, control how she thinks about that or how she responds. And so from the time she was a year old, you know, we started reading books about, you know, skin colors. And, um, we have some books that are called little leaders in black history.
And so we read about people who she knows, you know, she’ll bring up names sometimes. Like she asked my mom if she knew Jackie Joyner Kersey, and my mom was like, no, he’s like the track star, the wall I’m going to be like. So, um, but regardless, you know, like I just wanted her to feel confident in who she is.
And so a lot of times people will say to me, well, what’s it? What is it like. Raising a child of another race. And how do you handle those differences? And I tell them, well, we do it. Step-by-step like we do it day by day. And she literally is becoming someone who is so confident in herself. And I surely hope it, it continues.
Cause she, she says to me the other day, um, this little boy that she’s got, she’s really close friends with that preschool asked her, why is your skin so dark? And, um, she came home and told me the story cause she’s very, she tells me everything. So she comes home and she’s like, um, my friend asked me why my skin is so dark.
And I said, well, what did you say? And she said, I told him, why is your skin so light? And that girl, I was just like, you know what I mean? Like Mike dropped, like, I don’t think we need to. I think we’re doing okay. So, but she told him, you know, she said, well I have biracial skin and she’s, she’s very aware.
And um, you know, if you’re listening to this. As someone, especially, you know, who’s maybe a Caucasian parent of a Caucasian child, um, talk to your kids about race, you know, like you don’t, I think that’s my biggest, my biggest thing is I can always tell when her little friends are people who, you know, their families have discussed it, you know what I mean?
And so they like her, her little bestie, um, they, they love to talk about their differences. Like they’ll put their arms next to each other and they’ll, she’ll say you’re so tan. And you know, it’s like a joking, laughing, loving thing and they love each other for it. And it’s such a beautiful thing as opposed to a child who doesn’t know how to handle, um, a kid of another race.
So that’s just sort of a little tidbit that I’ve learned being on the other side. Absolutely. And I think too, one of the things that. Is, this is also true, even from a fitness nutrition standpoint is making sure that even our children are, and maybe we need to remind ourselves this as well is making sure that no one feels valued because of a physical appearance or attribute, meaning you are not more valuable because you’re white.
You’re not less valuable because you’re white. Your value is not determined by your skin color. It’s simply who you are. You have, you know, more melanin and that is what makes your skin tone darker. Like also trying to help our children see it in a more physiological way, as opposed to assigning some sort of value.
Your value is not in how you appear. There’s a physiological reason. You look that way, God designed you with a little bit more melanin, but that’s not what makes you more or less valuable. It makes you valuable is that you are a precious girl who has been made in the image of God period, regardless of your skin color, regardless of how fit you are, regardless of how objectively beautiful you are, not compared to how the world sees you.
Like you have been made in the image of God, you are valuable period. So I think for parents to listening, thinking like how do I objectives really help my children think more in that way? I think we need to change our own perspective at times, and stop assigning whether it’s subconscious or conscious value to certain physical attributes, you know, and that extends to really anything, whether it be your success in life, your achievements in life, um, you know, they don’t define.
They’re just kind of part of your development or part of your physiological being. So anyway, I, I, I love her response though. It’s just that, like, if we could think more like children. Absolutely. I don’t know. Why are you so white? Is that great? Amen. I didn’t know what she was going to say now, the response and I thought, perfect.
That’s just perfect. I said, well, what did he say back to you? She’s like nothing. It’s like, and they’re young. They’re probably like, okay. Conversation like great, great conversation. Now let’s go find it quick. I love that. Um, you mentioned this earlier. Money is in my experience and conversations. Probably the number one reason families don’t adopt.
I think there’s a lot of families who have had a lot of the conversations that I know you and I have both had with their spouses and they would love to adopt their onboard, but money is the number one reason. They don’t feel like they can, can you name some resources or organizations that you personally recommend to help adoptive families raise the funds or help with this hurdle?
Yeah. So this is a question that I actually am excited to ask you on my podcast. And I’m planning on also having the little adoption series, um, where I can dive deeper into this, because this is something that my husband and I did not take advantage of. And we did not do the first time around with Ellery.
We’ll be able to, obviously we didn’t have to go through sort of the marketing dollar, so to speak. We didn’t have to, you know, because we were sort of already matched with somebody through, through friendships. So our first adoption was not a, I mean, it was definitely a cost. Uh, there was a cost to it, but it was not quite to the extent of what most people will do that people listening, give them a sense of what is the average cost for a domestic adoption?
Um, I would say. Uh, you’re looking at around $20,000. Um, at least, at least I would say at minimum. Yeah. So we were very fortunate the first time through, like I said, that we didn’t go through those sort of marketing dollars, but one thing that I’ve been, and this is something that I want to mention. I’ve had people connect me to, to couples that are looking to adopt who are kind of in that sort of rock and a hard place.
Like they’re at that stopping point where they’re afraid. And so this is something that in the future, in the next year or two, I’d like to pursue myself, it’s just to kind of help educate couples on how to go about an adoption process, how to become emotionally confident, how to go through a home study, you know, how to, how to keep taking the next step.
I’d really like to walk alongside people in that journey. I can’t wait by the way. That makes me so excited just to hear. Yeah, I it’s so needed, you know, I love it. Cause like I mentioned before, and this is something I didn’t say when you asked me what was so helpful during our education, those webinars were amazing.
However, the textbooks from the 1960s were not so helpful. So I think that, um, couples going through this, they need modern information. They need help like much more help than I felt like we received, even though the agencies were great. Like they were so helpful and in a lot of things, but there was so much that was left unsaid.
So all of that to say, this is something that I’m working on and I’ve decided just in the last year to when, when couples have come to me, I’ve offered them the ability to just kind of consult with them. I’m considering it kind of like a heart project for myself. Like my primary business is my health and fitness business, but I just, I feel like it’s on my heart to help these people through because they are at that point where they’re just going to shut down.
And so. The fundraising concept or the, you know, the, the financial aspect of this is what holds a lot of people back. Obviously there are couples that are in this position of do I invest my, do I invest in, in vitro? Cause that’s also expensive or do I invest in adoption? What happens if I put my money into, in vitro and then I’m out of money?
I can’t, you know, so I have heard so many great stories from people who have adopted, who have had great success with fundraising. And that’s something that I definitely want to hear more about from those people. Who’ve done it from my perspective, being an online marketer, somebody who has like built a business online for the last 12, 13 years.
I can tell you that there’s so much you can do even just in marketing yourself to help raise, not just funds, but also just raise awareness and share your story about looking to adopt. I mean, you think about the fact that I made one post on my Facebook page and somebody reached out, right? Like, so it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have thousands of followers.
You just need the right person, the one right person. And so I tell, I’ll tell you the story of this woman who came to me. Um, I would say it was around fall of last year. She was referred to me by somebody who had taken my hormone course. She is a single woman, um, high executive in a pharmaceutical company.
And it has always had a desire to adopt and. She’s she wants to be a parent, you know, so she’s tried sperm, donor. She tried, she’s tried that she’s, she’s gone through all the rigmarole to try to figure out how she could have a baby herself. Um, and it hasn’t worked. And so she’s been so frustrated. And so she came to me, she was referred to me by this friend because she was in a place where she’s like, I just don’t think I’m, I’m not gonna be able to do this because she’s like, I’m going to be closing in on 40.
Like now I’m getting too old to be a parent, you know, like she had all these things in her head. And, um, it turns out that a lot of agencies were turning her away because she was not a married couple. And I wasn’t even aware that that that was even an option. Like I just assumed if somebody was willing to pay the money to an agency, that they would get a place on their website and they would try to, but that’s not the case.
Um, and so she has been really. Struggling because she is not able to find somebody who will help connect her to a birth mother. And so, um, we had a couple phone calls. I got to know her. We, I did some research. We found an agency out of Atlanta, Georgia, that she’s now she’s now on their list. And she, she said to me, I want, I want you to keep working with me.
Cause I think you could really help. Sell myself, right? Like I think you could really help me market myself. And I, I think that, that I could do a course on this. He wasn’t listening, who may not understand this because, um, this is even different in international adoption, but in domestic adoption, especially if you’re wanting to adopt from birth, what Jenny is talking about is there’s, there’s literally this whole process of you have to market yourself to the, to the birth mom, because the birth mom, as it should be, it is within her power to decide who gets her baby again, as it should be.
But it’s this whole process of trying to market your family. Talk about stress in a whole nother way. So that’s what Jenny’s talking about here. I mean, you literally have to put together almost like your family’s resume and why. That birth mom should pick you as the family. So just lots and lots and lots of challenges here.
It’s like an online profile basically. So it’s almost like you’re setting up your own little online profile for yourself. And, um, the reality is that agencies or attorneys, whoever you’re working with, they have a template and they tell you, we need a picture of you and we need you to fill. It’s like an ad-lib, right?
Like here, we need you to fill this in. Um, and so every single profile looks the exact same. Every picture is almost always like a couple of like holding hands by a lake or something in Ohio. Not making fun of you. I’m yeah. I’m just helping. Um, and so when I was speaking with this lady, you know, she’s like, I don’t know, like after talking with you a few times, I think this is something you can help me with.
So I, I helped her dive into her profile and, um, you know, I set her up with, she had a photographer come and took, took real pictures, candid photos of her doing what she loves, like cooking in the kitchen. Hiking with her dog and stuff like that. And I thought, this is what a birth mother wants to see. They want to see, like, what does your life look like?
What do you love and care about? You know, Sutton’s birth mother chose us because she thought she said she loved that we were high school sweethearts and that she loved how close we were. And all of our pictures, like intentionally chose photos where my husband’s arms were around my neck, like as opposed to the hands by the lake.
Right. So just certain small things like that. Like just in the fall, it’s always in the fall always. Yeah. That’s going to be our family picture this year in Jenny’s going to laugh. So there’s nothing wrong with it. But I just think that, you know, that in itself is so challenged. Yes. And so I know your question was about like, it was about like fundraising and, and all that.
But I think the two go hand in hand, right? Like, yes, I’m sure there are resources out there that you’re probably better equipped to talk about as far as raising funds for your own adoption, but also. You have to think about the fact that a lot of times what your money is going toward is marketing. You, you, whether it’s paying the agency to market, you paying the attorney to market you.
Right. Like I know for our, for our attorney, I think it was around $10,000 just for them to like list us on their website for them to list us. Like, you know, in like newspapers sounds old school, but things like that, you know? And you’re like, so a lot of the expenses in my opinion, could, could potentially be limited by you doing sort of your own work on you to market yourself.
Yeah. And so this is really interesting because we don’t have that in international adoption. We’re not marketing, we’re not marketing ourselves. It’s truly like, these are the waiting children who are orphaned in this country and. You know, you’re matched assuming that you’ve completed all the right paperwork, et cetera.
So like our adoption, for example, would probably be anywhere from 50 to $55,000. So anyway, these are all the differences and then fostering to adopt a whole nother whole nother avenue. There’s several people coming onto my podcast to talk more about these different areas. And I can’t wait to be on Jenny’s Jenny’s podcast.
There’s so many amazing things that you need to go over and check out Jenny’s podcast. And it’s called tell everyone the name of your podcast, where they can. Yeah. So my podcast is sync your life. It’s all about women’s hormone health, um, and adoption and adoption. Pretty soon, I’m going to be doing an adoption series on there.
So it will be coming here in the near, near future. Yeah. Jenny, one last question. So one of the things that has been the most powerful realization to me in the whole adoption process is interviews that I’ve done and testimonies that I’ve heard. It seems to me that the power of adoption is not in the way that it changes the life of a child, but in the way that the life of that child changes everybody else share with me the number one way that having your girls has changed your life.
Oh gosh. That’s a deep question. Um, well, I would say in so many ways, um, let me see if I can come up with the one most, the, the biggest, the biggest thing I think, you know, I think back to this is a story that I’ve rarely shared, but I think back to the day that we were leaving the hospital with Ellery and people who know me know that I’m not a highly emotional person, like I’m very type a in control.
You know, I’ve got my plan. Like that’s, that’s what I’m sticking to it while I have, you know, prior to those, to that day, I had never been a parent before. It was all new to me. I was so scared. I was so like, I was literally like so nervous because not only was I in the birthing room of another woman, but I was going to take that baby home.
Right. And so I was so afraid, like, you know, all the questions that probably every new mother asks like, oh gosh, like, how do I change the diaper again? Or how do I, when I do the bath, am I supposed to, what am I supposed to do? Like, do I put her head, you know, like all those questions, we were like, those logistical questions were all over me.
Like, I was just totally consumed by what if I’m not going to do this. Right. You know? And, um, I remember going into the whole situation feeling like my number one fear was what if I get there? And I just don’t feel the love for this child that I thought I would, it was so scary to me, you know, like, I didn’t know what color she was going to be.
I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, you know what I mean? And so I just was going into this unknown and it’s like you said, in the beginning, like the unknown is sometimes what is the most beautiful thing. And so I remember. After she was born and, uh, her birth mother was leaving the hospital.
We were getting ready to be discharged. Her birth mother came to the room and I was a mess. I was just like, this is the girl who always has it together. And I was just a complete mess, like basically on my knees, like, you know, just in tears, the whole situation. I mean, we didn’t get to talk about this, but the whole situation in the hospital is such a roller coaster.
It’s such an emotional rollercoaster. And so, um, I just remember her birth mother came over to me and she just, she was the most light is the most laid back person. Um, and she came over and she gave me a big hug and she said only happy to. And, um, that will always stick with me, like, because I just remember thinking like, okay, like she thinks I can do it, you know, I can, she just, she just trusted me with this child.
And so from that day forward, it really, I think, I think that the biggest takeaway and the biggest thing that my children have taught me is that you’re never going to know, like, what’s coming, you’re never going to know what to expect. You’re never going to know the right thing to say. You’re never going to know, you know, there’s so much, you’re not going to know.
And at the same time, like, God will put the words in your mouth that you need at that moment. Or he will give you the, the actions that you need to take. And so you just have to trust, right? Like you just have to, like I said it in the beginning, but taking the next step, you know, I’m sure that as Ellery gets older and as both of our girls get older, there’s going to be things that come up as far as.
Racial, you know, questions and even questions pertaining to birth mothers and, you know, adoption, you know, their stories and how they they’re beginning. Right? Like we talked about. And so just having the ability to trust that I am the person for them, that I was chosen for them for a reason, and that the words will come to me and the actions will come to me.
Um, but both of them have taught me, such grace, like just, you know, like be in the moment, like the, you know, be all here because, um, certainly someone thought that I should be the parent and that my husband should be the parent for, for our children. And there’s so much that they’ve taught me and I could, I could go on and on and maybe someday it’ll be a book, but for now I think the biggest thing is just to sort of, they taught me to just trust that I am the right, the right person for them, and that this is exactly what they need and where they should be and exactly where I should be and what I need.
Yeah. What I heard from that is to trust that you were chosen. Yeah. And you will be enough because. Yep. That’s beautiful. Well, you definitely want to check out Jenny. Jenny, is it Jenny swisher.com is her website. Certainly you can check her out for her expertise in hormone health and sinking fitness nutrition, especially as women and stay tuned.
Jenny’s got a lot of amazing things coming from the adoption standpoint and Jenny, I’m so grateful for your heart and I can’t wait to be on your podcast to sync your life with Jenny Fisher. You want to check out Jenny’s podcast and I just pray God’s blessing over your whole family and just keep those pictures come in.
I want to say more sentence cheeks. I mean, they’re both adorable. She makes my day, every single time I see her, it’s just like, That you can’t help but share she’s so they’re both so cute. That’s right. Yes. I’m here for your journey too. I’m so excited to see all everything transpires for you and to have you on the podcast again, would be great.
Thanks. Take care of Johnny. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. If you are watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode below.
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