Coleen

Executive Director/Co-founder, LCSW 
Coleen has two adopted children and is a member of a birth family. 

I earned my bachelors degree in family and consumer sciences (FCS) education from  
South Dakota State University and was a high school FCS teacher for 16 years.  I didn’t intend to work in adoption, but the adoption world ended up chosing me.  See the details in “Our Story” on another page. I completed my masters in social science administration at Case Western Reserve University, earning my LCSW license.   

When my husband and I first pursued adoption, we were led to international adoption because of our fears about open adoption (it was a new thing at the time!). We were open to a child of any race, and we were excited to explore cultural differences and similarities. After many disappointing experiences, we decided to take the chance for a closed adoption with a South Dakota agency. God had a different plan for us and through this match. We became pioneers of the open adoption experience (which was certainly not what we were planning!) This open adoption gave us the opportunity to grow as a family and know how incredibly blessed we were.  

The second attempted adoption for our family was also to be an open adoption. After developing a four month relationship with the birthmother, and parenting the baby for one week, the birthmother reclaimed the baby and decided to parent the baby herself. This was a very difficult and emotionally heartbreaking experience. See the full story at "Healing After Heartbreak."   

Our second successful adoption for our family was a semi-open adoption. This time around we moved forward with very guarded hearts for obvious reasons.  My husband and I  knew we wanted another child so we decided we had to take the risk again. This time we also felt very blessed to be chosen by a young birthmom. We cannot imagine our lives any differently!   

Over the years and as our children have grown, we have celebrated open and semi-open adoptions. We have had mostly positive experiences being a transracial family. It has been very interesting seeing the influences of our kids’ birthparents molded with our influence. The age-old question of heredity and environment has a simple answer in our world:  IT’s BOTH!!  We love our children with our whole hearts by honoring our bithparents and the blessing they gave us so many years ago.   

To create a full circle experience, I have also been blessed to be a part of a family member’s choice to place her child for adoption. This experience changed my life!  I really began to understand the loving and selfless decision that my birthmoms made so I could be a mother.  I watched as this family member held and loved her child at the hospital. I could tell her heart hurt as she gave a piece of herself to an incredible couple.  Their open adoption has blossomed and been a positive experience for my family member and for the adoptive family.   

As I reflect upon the journey that has led to adoption being ever-so present in my life, I consider this quote: “A child born to another woman calls me mom.  The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.”  Jody Landers