This all started back in 2002…

Where to begin?

Okay, we’ll start with moving to Chicago in August, 2002, right after Ron and I got married. There’s a whole crazy relationship story before that, which I’ll probably share at some other point. But he was in law school and I was finishing up my thesis to get my Master’s degree. We lived in a cramped apartment on the South Side, counted quarters to go to dollar movies, and made great friends. I got to know Ron’s grandmother, one of my very favorite people, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Fast-forward a couple of years. Ron is working at a law firm in downtown Chicago, I’m teaching and studying for a Ph.D. at Loyola, and we buy a condo a few blocks from Lake Michigan. But we are looking at our twenties in the rear-view mirror and really wanting to start a family. Unfortunately, I’ve had two surgeries to fix gyne problems, and fertility issues aren’t covered by our insurance.

So we decide to pursue adoption. We start a program through Lutheran Social Services of Illinois that, sadly, is no longer operating. This is doubly sad because we had such a good experience with them. It was a long, uncertain road, full of hope and heartbreak and every other cliche, but ultimately, we were united with a beautiful baby girl, Dawn.

Time to call it good, right? Not if you’re Ron. One kid was a good start. When she was two years old, we re-opened our search, hoping that lightning would strike again, so to speak.

And it did! On my favorite day of the year, December 21st, I got a call asking if we wanted to be matched with twins that had been born prematurely. I said yes. Our counselor said to talk it over with Ron. He was in the car, on his way to Cook County Hospital, before I could even finish the question.

At first, their beautiful, heartbroken mother, Danelle, thought that she would need to say good-bye to move on with her life–at least, that’s what I’m remembering. She’s going to be sharing her story, too. But when the twins, Danielle and Darnell, were about three months old, we got together at LSSI’s South Side office for a facilitated meeting. A few months later, she came to see us at our house. As we made connections and our friendship grew, we came to realize that Danelle was part of the family.

By the time the twins turned 3 or 4, we were getting together weekly. And there is so much to share about our dynamics and, well, everything. But I have to fast-forward again, because a once-in-a-lifetime dream job opened up for Ron. The super downside was that it meant moving across the country, to the Seattle area, which we did at the end of 2017. It was the first birthday that Danelle didn’t get to spend with her children.

It is still a tough situation for us all, especially with the current global pandemic making our next visits uncertain. But we are keeping in touch electronically and making plans, even if they feel more like pipe dreams right now, to get together in the future. And we are starting this blog!

So how’s that for, oh, nearly twenty years in 8 paragraphs? I promise there will be more–there is so much more to say!

Published by Danelle Henden & Stephanie Lundeen

Danelle: I am an HR professional with a keen interest in psychology and in adoption activiwsm. I work with a nonprofit that supports adoption, On Your Feet Foundation. Stephanie: I am a writer and editor with a background in education (I have taught English as a Second Language, college writing, and college literature courses).

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