What is Co-Adoption?

Written by Jillian Domingue
I am a proud foster-to-co-adopt mama of a 3 year old boy (N). I say co-adopt because my son’s biological father and I decided to pursue joint custody to raise our little man. Within the foster care system, this wasn’t an option that was ever discussed, but it turned out being the best one for our unique family. My son’s dad and I are sharing our story in hopes that other bio and foster parents will know that there are more options for you to come together to love, support, and raise children. ⁠

I had been interested in foster care for a long time and one day it hit me that life would always be busy, so what was I waiting for? At the time, I was single, 27, and the founder and Executive Director for a local nonprofit. I decided to sign up for an orientation, and three months later, my days were filled with karaoke and volleyball with a ten-year-old girl. As my first placement, and the first kiddo to call me mom, she will always have a special place in my heart. ⁠

Fostering has been a wonderful mix of challenges and the greatest joys. I spent days/weeks/months/years in the headspace of not knowing if the kiddo my heart was attaching to stronger each day would stay for a day/week/month/year. This is a very hard place to live mentally. Starting week one of my second placement (N), I was told almost every week for 10 months that he would go home within the week. It made it very hard to plan much of anything, so it really forced me to live moment to moment. Within this extremely uncomfortable and stressful space, I was unknowingly bonding with my future son and soaking up each little giggle, milestone, and even the bumps and bruises along the way. I was also introduced to a community of peer foster parents and supporters that to this day I am forever grateful to have met. It’s a beautiful mix of people who are all uniquely joined by the desire to step into the uncomfortable unknown to provide a loving, safe, and joyful home to kids. Kids that will steal your heart immediately and you are forever connected to their journey in such a heartbreakingly beautiful way.
My son’s dad and I had met through visits during the ten months N spent in foster care. During this time, we slowly built a supportive relationship around the desire to make sure N was always loved and safe. When N was almost two, the courts determined it was time for reunification and I packed up all of his toys, clothes, and lovies and placed him into the social worker’s minivan. This was the absolute hardest day within our journey. At this point, I was unsure if I would ever see N’s cute face, snuggle him close, and hear his adorable giggle again. A few weeks of silence passed, and then N’s dad reached out to see if I would like a visit because N was missing me. I immediately said YES! And continued saying yes each time he would reach out over the next year. These visits became more and more regular. N was thriving in this new scenario. Really, we were all thriving. ⁠

One evening as the sun was going down, N’s dad and I were standing under a tree in my backyard. While N was running around laughing with his bio brother, N’s dad asked if I would like to be N’s forever mama through adoption. It was a day just like any other day, but a moment that has completely changed our lives in the best way. Today, N has found stability through two homes that absolutely love and adore him. He LOVES getting to spend time with both his daddy and his mama. ⁠

A message from my son’s father to other bio parents: “If anyone ever finds themselves a 55 year old single father with a new beautiful baby boy like N, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are great people out there who love to help. I found them.”

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