Erin Loechner is a stylist and writer by trade while her husband Ken is a filmmaker and local business owner. The two have been married for eleven years and live in the Midwest with their two little ones: Bee (4 years old) and Scout (2 months old). Here Erin shares her inspiring adoption story and more on her family. Read our interview with her below.
I’d consider our family life to be sweet and simple. Ken and I both work from “home” (me, sometimes at the coffee shop!), so we’re present quite often, and we split our childcare duties evenly. My day begins at 4am with a bit of writing, and then I’m with the children all day (playdates, Chinese lessons, errands, schooling, reading, crafts, and many, many Spotify playlists!) until around 2pm when Ken takes over for the afternoon and I finish emails, write articles, record a podcast or take a call with my publisher. We all sit down for a family dinner around 6 and after cleaning up, we settle into our bedtime routine: baths, books, bottles! I’m in bed fairly soon after the kids, so after a quick visit with Ken, it’s light’s out by 9 for me!
We’ve found a pretty good rhythm that works for us, and on rare weeks, I get a morning off and treat myself to a yoga class. It’s busy, and we’re often sleep-deprived with a newborn feeding around the clock (Ken gets the night shift, the lucky man!), but we often remind ourselves that these are the good days. We know we’ll miss them!
Oh, I could talk about adoption all day long! We’re huge advocates. Every adoption story is so different (ours is here!), but for a bit of background, adoption has always been a path we knew we’d take. As soon as I birthed Bee, we began the process of growing our family through international adoption (Ethiopia), but shortly before our paperwork was submitted, the government shut down a slew of incoming placements due to a high volume of child trafficking and we knew this was no longer a scenario we felt comfortable with. We regrouped and after a bit of research, settled on pursuing a domestic adoption. We couldn’t feel more right about our decision.
We spent nearly two years finishing our paperwork and participating in the many legal requirements (background checks, doctor visits, legal licensing, home studies, education hours), and just two weeks after our final piece of paperwork was submitted, we received a call that a newborn baby boy was in need of parents. And so, we became a family of four in a matter of a few hours! It’s all been quite a whirlwind!
We consider our son to be a tremendous gift in our lives and we’ve all grown closer getting to know him. He’s attaching quite beautifully, and we’re soaking up these early newborn days where time really does seem to slow. What a gift to meet a new family member, however the case! 🙂
HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY DYNAMICS CHANGED SINCE?
You know, I’d worried how Bee would feel as a big sister (she didn’t have much notice or preparation, that’s for sure!), but she’s loving it so far. I wrote a bit about her transition here, and in terms of my own transition, I’m still working on that, ha! It’s required much faith in the process, which I’ve written about here.
Really, we’re all just trying to figure it out as we go, to spend our time together getting to know one another. We’ve been in nesting mode over here, holing up and learning the ropes — not only learning how to be parents to this new little boy but in the larger sense, learning how to be a family of four. I know we’ll look back on this time in such a fond way – the many midnights waking up where we cannot remember what day it is, still surprised to have a sleeping baby swaddled next to us.
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
We’re stronger than we think, all of us. From birth parents to adoptive parents, from biological children to adoptive children. We all endure so much in this wildlife, and I think there is so much untapped strength beneath the surface. Humans have been built for trials, created for challenges, and we all have a way of rising up to meet what lies before us — even at 4am when the baby throws up on your last clean tee and you’ve just remembered you’re plum out of coffee. 🙂
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU’VE EVOLVED AS A MOTHER?
You know, I’m far more flexible now. I remember rigidly watching the clock with Bee — anticipating her every move, wondering if this was “normal,” or that was “normal,” or Will it ever get easier? Am I doing a good job? There was just such doubt, all the time. And I think I’ve grown into this place of flexibility and openness, finally coming to an understanding that there’s only so much I can control in the lives of these children. They are their own people – tiny little buds – and I have the immense pleasure of watching them bloom. I cannot make them grow at a pace or a direction other than the one they’ve chosen, but I’m the lucky one that gets to provide soil and shelter and water and sun. 🙂
WHAT IS MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT YOU’VE HAD SINCE EMBARKING ON THIS JOURNEY?
I think watching Bee become a big sister has been pretty remarkable. She’s not often outwardly nurturing and has never taken much of an interest in dolls or babies of any sort, but oh, the love she has for her baby brother! Seeing her come into her role with such an open heart has been an inspiration to me that we’re never beyond growth, never unable to adapt or adjust. We are such malleable creatures and are capable of so many more gifts than we know.
FAVOURITE FAMILY HANGOUTS
Home is definitely our haven! When faced with a choice — home or adventure?! — we almost always choose a quiet night in. Bee is just learning to read, so you can often find us piled on the sofa with a stack of Dr. Seuss books, or sometimes we’re in the office watching YouTube videos of hedgehogs eating carrots (you simply must see it!) or building forts and towers in the sunroom.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO REMEMBER ABOUT THEIR CHILDHOOD?
I want my children to remember that I was available to them, that I was present, that they were enjoyable to me, that they were immensely, wildly loved.
The greatest tip I can offer for adoption is to find an agency you trust. The process can be tricky and muddied, and it’s so important to have full faith in those who are partnering with you. Just as you’d research a beloved OB or midwife, we spent a lot of time finding an agency with social workers and case workers we were comfortable with. We asked many, many questions. We couldn’t have been in better hands!
As far as tips to make our lives as parents a bit easier, I find that for me, a decluttered house goes a long way toward a more peaceful mama. 😉 We believe that no room is too fussy to play in, so although we keep toys in various areas of our home, they’re nearly always corralled in something that can be easily stored and hidden from sight, i.e. ottomans, chests, trunks. I sing the “clean up” song more often than I care to admit! 🙂
I’m also a firm believer in the unofficial snack dinner. When our evenings are busy or we’re just getting home from a long day of errands, I simply cut up fruit and veggies, slice some summer sausage and scatter a few pistachios on the plate — instant snack dinner! I love how simple it is to prepare, and we all love how delicious it is to eat!