Sand Creek Intermediate Staff Share Adoption Journeys
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Lindsay Cortelyou, an art teacher at Sand Creek Intermediate (SCI), and her husband Anthony, a fifth-grade math teacher at the same school, desperately wanted to start a family. After struggling with infertility and several failed attempts at IVF, they began researching adoption.
In 2015, they got in touch with Adoptions of Indiana, located in Carmel. The birth mom, who chose the Cortelyous to be the parents, was gracious enough to include the couple in her pregnancy. She also insisted Lindsay and Anthony name the baby.
“The birth mom had six other children, all with names that began with a T,” Lindsay says. “We honored her tradition by choosing a T name, too — Taizly Grace.”
During their adoption journey, the Cortelyous learned that within their school building several other families were going through (or had been through) the adoption process as well.
From the start of their marriage, Trevor and Kata Ewigleben knew that they wanted to grow their family through adoption. After doing some research, the Ewiglebens’ hearts broke for the nearly 10,000 children who are currently placed in Indiana’s foster care. They became licensed therapeutic foster parents through The Villages, and Tasha was placed in their home. Though they adored loving on their little girl, the slowness of the court system and the constant uncertainty surrounding foster care made some days unbearable.
“As you and the child begin to bond, there’s constant fear that they’ll be pulled from your home and will have to go back into an unstable living situation,” says Kata, a music teacher at SCI who was overjoyed when Tasha officially joined their family in May 2017.
The SCI colleagues have found that adoption often has a negative stigma attached to it, and they want to help change that perception. People sometimes make condescending comments like, “It’s a shame the mom didn’t want her baby,” or judgmental ones like, “How could she give her baby away?”
“We’re not heroes. We didn’t rescue a child,” Lindsay says. “We’re just ordinary people wanting a family.”
In 2016, Chris and Katie Hamon traveled to Nicaragua to adopt their daughter, Nina, who was six months old at the time. Chris (a science teacher at SCI) and Katie (a math and language arts teacher) were initially disappointed when the typical three-month process stretched into nine months.
“Despite the many ups and downs, we look at the time spent in Nicaragua as a special time of bonding and experiencing our daughter’s birth country and culture,” Katie says.
Sixteen years ago, Cathy Short, an art teacher at SCI, consulted the Adoption Support Center in Broad Ripple.
“The process was stressful,” Cathy says. “We were lined up a couple of times with a birth mother only to find that they had decided to keep their unborn child.”
Ultimately, Evelyn Alexis Kassandra (Lexi) became Cathy’s daughter, and from the start, Cathy has been open and honest with Lexi.
“Adoption is a wonderful process and I never wanted to hide that from Lexi,” Cathy says. “It took a great amount of love and courage from her birth mother to put her up for adoption. I’ll forever keep Lexi’s birth mother in my heart for she put Lexi in my arms forever to love.”
The Cortelyous agree.
“We know that our birth mom’s greatest void is our biggest joy,” Lindsay adds.
The same could be said for the adopted children. Bryan Alig, Assistant Principal at SCI, always tells his students, whom he knows were adopted, that he was adopted, too.
“That gives us a connection and helps them know that it’s something not to be ashamed of, but to be proud of, because somebody chose us.” Alig says.
For those who are looking to adopt, these teachers provide wise council.
“For anyone interested in adopting from foster care, find a support system and daily choose peace for there is great joy ahead,” Kata says.
“My persistent husband checked each month with the agency to make sure our profile was being presented to birth moms,” says Cindi, a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at SCI. When Matthew joined the family, their lives were brightened exponentially.
“There will be difficulties, lots of paperwork and times of waiting and uncertainty,” Katie says. “But the joys can far outweigh these temporary struggles.”
“The key is finding patience and peace,” Lindsay says.