An Adoption Story: Jessica Swenson

For a while now I have felt that it was time to share my story. I don’t know why, maybe just for me. I have held onto things that happened in my past for so long and they have often been binding. I coped by being quiet and putting sad, angry, horrible memories into a box to be forgotten. It’s easy to let the bad things that have happened, hold us back and keep us from progressing. It’s been a long journey but after many years I have finally found peace and happiness.adoptionweek

My biological parents were extremely addicted to alcohol. It consumed their lives and made them unavailable to be the kind of parent a child needs. I am the oldest of my sibling and from a super young age I had to be the mom. I had to find ways to feed us, change diapers, and make sure everyone stayed close and that they didn’t get hurt or lost. We faced trials of every kind and as a child there was only so much I could do to protect them and myself. I was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused because my biological parents weren’t coherent enough to protect us. That led to a lot of guilt, depression, confusion, and anger and it took a very long to time to overcome.

I spent my childhood going from my biological parents to foster homes to grandparent’s and at times being completely on my own with no adults to take care of my younger siblings and me. Being half Native-American and half White, I never seemed to fit in even within some members of my family. There was this one time while we were staying with my biological mother’s mother and she [my mother] snuck out in the middle of the night to go drinking. When we woke up her mother, Arlene told us we needed to go find her at our aunt’s house. We had to walk several miles and when we arrived our birth mom wasn’t there. That aunt told us she was at Arlene’s house and that we needed to go back. So we walked back just to be told that she wasn’t there and to go to our other Aunt’s house. We got there and she fed us but sent us away because we “weren’t her responsibility”. Nobody wanted us. Have you ever felt unwanted? My siblings and I stood in an unfamiliar neighborhood and I held them in my arms and we all cried until finally someone took us in.

After years of being torn from my siblings, being neglected by my birth parents, being abused; the State of South Dakota decided the best thing for us children was to be adopted. There were families that wanted to adopt us but they wanted to separate us. We were taken to a psychiatrist​ who assessed if that would be possible. I am so SO grateful to that person who watched us play and interact with each other and decided that we wouldn’t survive without one another.

Thankfully there was young couple who wanted to adopt us, ALL of us (6 kids total)! They took us in and loved us. They took care of us. They provided for all of our needs. They taught us how to work hard and be humble, grateful, and kind. They kissed our scraped knees, rubbed our upset tummies and gave us homemade Spider Spray to kill spiders with (which we now know was just water in an old hair spray bottle. Tricky! Very tricky!).

huntfamilyadoptionIt wasn’t always great. There was an adjustment period where we had to learn how to be and function as a family. I had to learn how to be a kid. I had to learn how to trust that they wouldn’t hurt me and that they wouldn’t leave me. Somewhere along the way we made it. We found happiness beyond what words could describe. We grew a strong bond that cannot and will not be broken. We are a forever family and that is what we needed and still need. We didn’t have a ton of money. I wore second-hand clothes until I moved out and got a job of my own. We didn’t have a fancy car or house and there were a few Christmases that we didn’t have any gifts until generous and kind people secretly left gifts on our door step Christmas morning. Those things didn’t matter because we had each other. We had parents that loved each other and always held hands in the car. We had a home filled with love.


I started off this life the way NO child should. I still think about the things my siblings and I had to go through before we were able to just be happy and loved and protected from the evils of this world and I weep. I think about how we could have grown up bitter and angry, how we could have become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol or how we could have chosen to be unhappy and depressed. We didn’t. I didn’t. My mom told us many times that we “could choose to be better or bitter” and I choose to be better!

I am all grown up now. I met an amazing man who showed me what true love was. He asked me to be his and after many persistent months I agreed! We got married and have since added two amazing boys to our own clan and they have brought the greatest joy I have ever felt. I have started my own business that has truly been one of my biggest accomplishments and has been childhood dream come true. I don’t have a perfect life and I struggle every day. My heart still breaks and I cry but at the end of the day I can always find happiness.

To my Mom and Dad, Thank you so much for taking such a huge leap from zero to six kids all at once! For loving us, for guiding us, for teaching us what a “real” family is like. One of my fondest memories is when we all stood in a circle with our arm around each other’s shoulders and sang “WE ARE THE FAMILY…WE ARE THE FAMILY…OF THE WORLD!!!” to Queen’s We Are the Champions. We are. FOREVER!

To my biological Dad, I love you and am so proud of who you have become. I know life has never been easy for you but I am so grateful you have become a person I can be proud of and have my boys look up to.

To my biological Mom, I don’t know where you are, what you are doing or if you think about me. You will probably never see this but I still hope you are well. I hope you have happiness in your life and I hope someday you will know how happy I am.

Thank you for letting me share this piece of me. There is still so much more of this story but this is what I have for now and I hope it simply has shown what a miracle adoption is. So many want those sweet tiny babies but don’t forget about the broken big kids like I was. I was 11 when I was adopted. It saved my life.


  1. Dee:
    on May 25, 2014 at 6:27 am said:

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. on May 25, 2014 at 7:35 am said:

    Everything about this is brave and I’m so glad you shared. It’s so full of love and hope, and I’m thankful for your perspective.

  3. Heather:
    on May 25, 2014 at 9:32 am said:

    Jess, you are so so incredible! Thank you for sharing this with everyone. I’ve always looked up to you and I think you’re a wonderful, beautiful mom and friend. Xo

  4. Kelly:
    on May 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm said:

    I am so moved by this. I don’t think Jess will ever know how many lives she’s affected by being so brave. Wow, what an incredible story of love, heartbreak and courage. I am forever changed. Amazing.

  5. Lora:
    on May 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm said:

    wonderful. I am so glad they adopted my grand daughters also. I hope you enjoy them as your sisters. I absolutely love your story. God Bless you.

  6. rachel:
    on May 25, 2014 at 3:48 pm said:

    thank-you for sharing, we are in the process of being approved for adoption and are looking to adopt from ages 0-18 and are open to siblings. It’s super encouraging to read your story and the happiness of finding your family.

  7. Lisa:
    on May 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm said:

    I don’t know you Jess, but I do know your family. They are the best neighbors! I love your folks so much — they are the most wonderful, caring people. I am lucky to have had them in my life.

  8. on May 26, 2014 at 8:53 am said:

    Every one deserves to be loved and protected. It is not a luxury but a right. I’m so happy that you have found that.

    I too was adopted, however, my story is different. Everyone’s is.

    Since losing my son, I believe that life is what you make of it and it looks like you’re making sweet and tasty lemonade.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

  9. Sande Mitchell:
    on May 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm said:

    Thank for your message of endless hope & endurance. Your story will bless the lives of many and give hope in unsuspecting circumstances. You are a hero! Love, Patti’s Mom

  10. Lynda:
    on May 27, 2014 at 7:49 am said:

    I am your paternal father’s current significant other. I didn’t know the whole story, just what I was told. Now, hearing this from you, what you and your brothers and sisters went through breaks my heart but also gives me such joy in knowing you had such wonderful adoptive parents. I liked you from the first day I met you, your husband and his family. You have definitely made lemonade out of lemons and I hope you and your siblings will always be blessed with God’s love. Love to all 🙂

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