Motherhood Series: Meet Hannah

Want to know something fun? I’ve never met Hannah in real life, but I count it such an honor to truly call her friend. We met through the adoption community on instagram. When I stumbled upon her business Kindred and Co, I knew we were kindred spirits (see what I did there?) and what she has created was something I wanted to be a part of. But truly, it’s been so fun getting to know her, to see how our stories and journeys of getting to motherhood are so similar and yet so different at the same time. I know you are going to be blessed by her today!

Tell us about your family.

Well, me and my husband, Josh, live in Chicago with our beautiful twin daughters, Ezra + Olive and our winsome goldendoodle, Hadley! My husband Josh is in residency for Psychiatry, and we started our adoption while he was in medical school, which felt a little crazy at the time, ha! Josh and I have been married for almost 9 years – and our lives feel very full in every sense of the word!

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What was your journey to motherhood like?

My journey to motherhood has been…. A journey! When I started college, all I wanted to be was a mom. I wanted to be a teacher so I could have a flexible job to have a family… and then everything changed when I went on a trip to Zambia my junior year. This trip wrecked me. I finished my teaching degree, but I realized that my priorities had changed so I picked up a degree in non-profit management. I worked for a global orphan care organization for 9 years as the Creative Director, and during that time I wasn’t sure anymore if I wanted to be a mom. I loved getting to travel around the world and I loved the freedom that we had in our marriage. About five years into our marriage, we felt like something new was coming. We didn’t know if it was a new job, a move, or if maybe it was time to start a family. Adoption had always been on our minds. We started talking about it and we felt so much societal pressure to have biological kids first and adopt later, even though at this time I had felt like I did not want to have biological children. All of our conversations about having biological children felt draining and ended in tears. It wasn’t until Josh said to me one day that our family can look like whatever we want it to – there is no rulebook! And if that means starting with adoption, that’s ok. We were at a Johnnyswim concert and we heard the words “I don’t know what’s coming but it’s going to good” and without speaking we both started crying and knew it was time to start the adoption process. It felt like there was this urgency, that we had to start then to cross paths with whomever we were supposed to meet. A couple days later we were driving in the car and I asked Josh “So when should we start our adoption” – and I thought he would say when we are done with medical school, or once we have more money… but he smiled really big and said “ready when you are” – and we started the next day. Later to find out our girls due date was exactly nine months from that conversation.

How did you feel when you found out you would be adopting twins?

Well, it was insane. Josh had been saying the whole time that he thought we would be matched with twins. I thought he was nuts. My family is very spread out and very close, so in my mind, I was on a child every 10 years plan. It was the beginning of April, and this post came up on my facebook about twins. But it said you had to live in Utah to apply. I tagged Josh in the comments. I will never forget it. I tagged his name and a winky face emoji. In some ways it was mean, I was like “here are some twins, but we can’t apply” but he came home and said “why don’t you just call them and see if we can apply from out of state” – well I didn’t think of that. So I made the call and they said we could apply if we could stay for a potential NICU stay. We overnighted our profile book, we waited a week, and then we heard that this expectant mom wanted to chat with us and a couple other families. We were the first to chat with her, and the phone call was honestly electric. We just clicked. And there were so many moments where so many parts of our stories were aligning. At the end of call we heard words that changed our lives forever, “I am confident that I want you to be the twins parents”. We started bawling. Calling family and celebrating with friends. We had 10 days between that phone call and the girls being born. It was a whildwind.

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What was the transition into motherhood like for you?

I don’t remember. Haha! Just kidding, but not really. The first year with the twins was such a blur. I didn’t realize until recently that somewhere in the madness of becoming a new mom to twins, keeping a full-time job, and running Kindred + Co. I lost some of myself and did not do enough self-care. My focus this year has been balance, saying no to good things so I can say yes to great things. Motherhood has transformed me. It has made me practice presence and have a whole new appreciation for life.

What does it mean to you to share the title of mom with your girl’s birth mom?

I didn’t realize it in the moment, but I got to be in the delivery room when the girls were born, what a gift it was that both of their moms got to welcome them into the world. During the c-section, I was rubbing Mama L’s head and trying to encourage, her. I told her she was my hero. And she looked at me and said, “no, you are mine.” Those moments together in the hospital I will treasure my whole life. There are no words to describe with it’s like for another woman to give you her babies. When Mama L held them for the first time, she was rocking them back and forth, singing the names she had chosen for them, and saying “this is your mom and dad, they are your guardian angels.” I am so thankful for open adoption, I wish more people understood the beauty in it. That it’s not something to be scared of but to embrace. I love that when I look at them I see her beautiful features. They will always know about Mama L and the deep love she has for them.

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Tell us about starting Kindred +Co.  and what it’s like being a work from home mom.

Through my own adoption process, my marketing brian was in high alert. I saw so many gaps that I could help fill. The first gap I saw the need for community and to bring all sides of the triad together so that we can understand each other. I saw people needing help with their profile book – so many families are parenting other children, or working full-time jobs, and the task of making a VERY important book that is outside of their wheelhouse only added to the stress of adoption. I knew I could help take this off their plate and do it with excellence – and that meant having a birth mom on our team. The other gap I saw was a need for education. We had a rough match with the agency we worked with and I learned so much. I wanted to come back to the table and help others do it better than we did. So, Kindred was born to fill these gaps. Kindred + Co. continues to evolve and grow and I feel like I am just along for the ride. It’s such a job to get to to do this every day. This community is so important to me.

What are some of your family’s core values? How do you keep them a priority?

Such a good question. One of our favorite quotes – which was actually in our profile book is:

“So much of this life is lived in-between, between the now and the not yet, between arriving and departing, between growing up and growing old, between questions and answers. Lord help us not to live for the distant day when the in-between will be no more, but help us to have the courage to step into that sacred space of the in-between knowing that is the place where life is transformed.” [Jim Brandt]

We believe transformation happens in the waiting seasons of life. We value living in the gray – not always having all the answers, and trying to live in the present. We have seen more beauty in the gray than we ever encountered in the black and white of life. We also value spending time together as a family. We want our girls to be good travelers and so we take trips together and spend intentional time with friends and family.

What are some things that you do for your own mental health?

This is a work in progress! When you are in college – you have no one that you have to take care of but yourself, so self-care is easy! I think my whole life then was self-care. Haha. Like I mentioned before, the first few years of motherhood swallowed me. I gained a ton of weight, my brain felt so full, and I wasn’t feeling myself. Recently, I have been trying to dedicate change to this area. Now I get a sitter every other friday for the morning and I spend it however I want – working on Kindred – meeting a friend – getting a pedicure. It’s been lifegiving. I go to a pottery class on Thursday nights that just for me and takes my mind off of my to-do list. I go to see a counselor once a month just to check in and make space to myself.  And I know this is a weird one – but I found this product that I LOVE called Refuge. It’s a hair mask that takes 5 minutes and you do it once a week in the shower and I literally look forever to it. (It smells amazing and you feel like you got a blow out after words) – it’s the little things right?!! (Go get yours here: https://refugehair.com

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What does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood is so much broader than I ever thought before. It’s woman that have lost babies, women receiving negative pregnancy tests every month, it’s woman that step to the gaps, it’s aunts, and friends, it’s birth moms that said goodbye – what a beautiful tribe to be a part of.

I remember first going into a target after the girls were born, and every mom I saw I literally wanted to run up to and fist pump or give a big hug to and say “I KNOW WHAT IT TOOK FOR YOU TO GET HERE TODAY!” haha.

My friend Christina Vance put it so much better than I ever could:

Motherhood is a positive pregnancy test, a swelling belly, a grainy black-and-white ultrasound picture taped to the refrigerator. It’s a newborn’s first cries and a drowsy nursing babe.

Motherhood is a stack of paperwork, signed documents, and background checks. It’s having a social worker in your home, getting a physical, and selling t-shirts to fundraise. It’s waiting. It’s hoping, and praying.

Motherhood is waiting expectantly for a due date and watching it pass with empty arms. It’s folding up tiny onesies, washed muslin blankets and tucking them away. It’s the waves of loss that wash over you and threaten to hold you under, and it’s the hope that rises and pushes you forward.

Motherhood is meeting your son when he’s three days old. It’s the smell of his newborn skin and the softness of his dark silken hair. It’s your heart whispering – there you are, I’ve been waiting for you.

Motherhood is the first glimpse of your daughter’s face, thousands of miles away. It’s the tear-soaked photo you tuck into the visor of your car and carry with you. It’s crossing an ocean and an unspoken number of obstacles to finally hold her in your arms.

Motherhood is the hope that this will be the month. It’s another twenty dollars spent on a test, and it’s the hope that lingers after the bitter disappointment has worn off.

Motherhood is sitting through that baby shower and celebrating with your mama friends. It’s bathroom floor, behind the closed door sobbing. It’s waiting for your turn.

Motherhood is loving your baby more than yourself. It’s choosing his life, feeling his first kicks and hiccups. It’s handing him to his forever mama, it’s saying goodbye.

Together we are motherhood. 

Be sure to follow Hannah’s motherhood journey and other life adventures on instagram, and if you aren’t already following the beauty that is the community she’s created on kindred + co. do that too!

 

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