What fun it is to talk with authors about their latest projects. My friend, Kelly Givens from ibelieve.com, introduced me to a fellow adoptive mama and her book about foster adoption. I’m excited to introduce you to that mama, April Swiger, as we hear more about her book baby in this edition of the Interview Series.
Interview with April Swiger
1. Tell us a little bit about your book and why you decided to write it.
Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption breaks down the often daunting, and easily misunderstood, process of adopting from foster care. After being in the foster care and adoption world for a few years, and welcoming two boys into our family, I had become weary of the inaccurate and often damaging views of foster adoption that had made their way into the church and into the minds of believers. My goal with writing Dignity and Worth is to change the way the church views adopting from foster care.
In my book I break down some of the most challenging aspects of the foster adoption process. I lead the reader to see the dignity and worth of every party involved in the process from the children and their case workers to the birth parents, and foster/adoptive parents. I also don’t shy away from discussing sensitive topics like transracial adoption, open adoption, and special needs.
I also share some of our family’s more personal stories from the last five years since we’ve been in the foster adoption world. We’ve been through a failed match, a move to a different state mid-process, an adoption scam, and have experience with transracial and open adoption as well. My prayer is that our story will resonate with others and encourage them in their own adoption journey.
2. What are some of the joys and challenges that come through fostering a child?
Our biggest joys have been watching our sons grow and mature. This has been especially apparent in our oldest son. Some of his behaviors pointed to the hard environment he had come from. It has been beautiful to watch him experience healing from his past and things no child should ever have to endure.
With our younger son, we will never forget seeing him in the NICU, one month old, weighing only 4lbs. He has grown into a seriously chubby little baby, and he brings such joy to our hearts. It’s a very different scenario than our older son, but still riddled with challenges that point to his experience in-utero.
I think our biggest challenge is when we encounter puzzling issues in our boys. Sometimes quirky behaviors arise and we wonder if it’s related to past trauma or just a new season in their growth and development that we’re unfamiliar with. Many (probably most) of these issues are typical for children their age and have nothing to do with the trauma they have experienced (we really are just a typical family!). However, the question is always in the back of our minds. It’s tough to decipher, and very easy to overthink!
Of course, one of the greatest challenges with foster adoption is not knowing whether a child will stay or go. We are set to adopt our oldest son in three weeks (yay!), but our younger son still has a long road ahead of him. Waiting for significant court dates, watching his birth mother’s progress, and longing for even the tiniest update from a case worker have been some of the most anxiety-ridden aspects of fostering for my husband and I. We pray our younger son gets to stay with us as we truly believe that would be best for him at this point, but we have many more months before a decision is made.
3. What are some misconceptions that people seem to have about adoption?
There are quite a few, and I tackle some of the biggest ones in Dignity and Worth. One common misconception is about the children who are in foster care. I’ve had a number of conversations with individuals who believe that these children are “damaged” or destined to work a “shameful” (in their opinion) career at the local fast food restaurant. These children have experienced trauma and often have special needs as a result, but for the vast majority they are typical kids who want to be loved, accepted, nurtured, and valued by a loving family.
I also share a few intimate details about the relationships we have with our sons’ birth parents. These relationships are awkward at times, yes, and take work just like any relationship, but they are not anywhere near the misconception that all birth moms are evil and planning to kidnap their child during a weekly visit (a belief I encounter regularly). We have found the relationships with our sons’ birth families have been rewarding, and well worth the effort and awkwardness.
We hope to have open adoptions for both of our sons, assuming we are able to adopt them. I share a bit about our thought process behind that decision, and how we practically will take steps for that to happen.
4. What are some of the most helpful resources that you have discovered to help you walk through the adoption process?
Other foster and adoptive moms have been the most helpful resource for me, by far! It’s so important to surround yourself with other foster and adoptive families who are walking the same road as you. It’s the rare person who understands things like permanency plans, weekly birth parent visits, and raising children of a different ethnicity than your own. I have a handful of trusted friends, who are also fostering or have adopted, who I can reach out to anytime and I know they will understand my joys and struggles on a very personal level.
Besides that, I would highly recommend reading Adopted for Life by Russell Moore and The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis. If you plan to adopt transracially be sure to seek out other adults of your child’s ethnicity and learn anything you can from them. I have a handful of valuable relationships with black women who I know I can reach out to anytime with questions about raising my black boys in America. I touch on this topic in chapter five of Dignity and Worth, and it’s probably my favorite chapter in the book.
5. What was one of the hardest aspects about writing this book?
The editing process was the most challenging aspect for me. I had a brilliant editor and she pushed me super hard (which I am immensely grateful for). I wrote my first draft fairly easily, but when it was time to edit and revise, I spent countless hours writing and re-writing each chapter based off comments and suggestions Jess had made for me. I learned so much about myself, my writing style, areas I need to improve upon, and how to capture an audience. It was the hardest, and best thing to happen to my book, and my writing in general!
I sincerely mean this, if anyone ever needs an editor for anything, I would be thrilled tor recommend Jess to you. She will make your content awesome!
6. What advice would you give to someone who would like to write a book?
I recently wrote out my six best tips for the busy mom who wants to write a book. From that list, my number one tip would be to make a commitment to write a certain amount every day, or every week. The amount is up to you, but if you make a commitment, and keep it, you will be amazed at how quickly you can finish writing an entire book!
Thank you for your time April! We are cheering you on as you spread this message of hope.
April Swiger is a wife, mother to two awesome little boys (Jayda and Zay), homemaker, and blogger. In 2013, her family moved to her home state of Connecticut, where her husband, Adam, serves as the worship pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church. Living in a 100-year-old farmhouse, being debt-free, cooking nourishing food, and enjoying introvert-friendly activities are some of her favorite things.
*If you order Dignity and Worth or other mentioned books through the links on this page then my friends will receive a small percentage via Amazon to help with their adoption costs.