In celebration of National Adoption Month, I talked with some good friends of mine about how adoption has touched their lives. They graciously allowed me to share their story.
The Illig Family:
Carl Illig was not necessarily looking for a new mom for his six-year-old daughter Katelyn when he met his future wife, Shannon, in 2013. He and Katelyn had a pretty good groove going on in their life. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty great.
Carl had dated a few women on and off but knew that no one would ever be serious unless they were a good fit with his daughter. Katelyn was his best friend. They had gone through one of the most difficult divorces imaginable. The details of which aren’t important, but it had left Katelyn completely, and legally, motherless.
This didn’t matter to Carl because he knew he could raise Katelyn to be a beautiful, caring daughter all on his own. Carl and Katelyn had no secrets. They even walked around in matching Nike sportswear.
Carl, who grew up in Georgetown, was in search of a fun activity to do with his daughter. He decided to enroll her in the Georgetown Palace Theater children’s program. They were working on a kid’s production of The Jungle Book. This was a nice way to get Katelyn out meeting other kids and Carl out meeting other adults in a fun family-friendly way. After all they had been through, they needed a nice creative outlet. This is where Shannon entered the picture.
Shannon, a long time performer, had recently relocated to the Austin area. She got involved at The Palace through a connection with her sister, Jesee, who is a choreographer for The Palace. It just so happened that Shannon was an assistant director for The Jungle Book. When she first saw Carl, she nicknamed him “hot dad” but never actually spoke to him.
Weeks later the two came across each other on Match.com and struck up a conversation. That conversation turned into dating. Shannon knew after one date that she would marry Carl one day. She even called her mother after the date and told her as much.
Shannon was admittedly scared at the idea of helping to raise a six-year-old girl. In the end she knew she was willing to do it anyway because she knew where her future lay. She wanted to be a part of Carl and Katelyn’s life. In 2016, Carl and Shannon were married with Katelyn by their side.
Legally becoming “Mom”
The following year, Katelyn decided that she wanted Shannon to legally become her mother through adoption. Katelyn had already been telling her classmates Shannon was her mom for years. It was now time to make it official.
On October 6, 2017, the trio walked into the Williamson County Courthouse to make Shannon the official legal mother to Katelyn. Shannon was a little nervous, Katelyn was excited but also very calm. Carl was just so happy and marveling at how his and Katelyn’s journey had come full circle. Carl was also adopted as a child.
“Giving Shannon to Katelyn and vise versa, has been one of the best things that I have ever done. I know that if something happens to me, Katelyn will be cared for.”
When the judge asked Katelyn why she wanted Shannon to be her mother, Katelyn answered simply “because I love her.” The trio were in a torrent of happy tears after that.
Shannon thinks adoption is wonderful, but admits it can be scary as a new parent.
“Sometimes I’m still scared. It was easier for me to grow the relationship with Katelyn since I knew her before Carl. I knew she liked musical theatre so there was one interest we had in common. Once we both felt comfortable with each other it all just happened naturally. I felt our bond grew very quickly and is very strong.
“I’m still learning how to be a mother but Katelyn really makes it easy— sometimes she is more mature than I am! I will admit I feel inadequate sometimes because I wasn’t there from the beginning, but you have to realize that a child is much more focused on the present and future.
“Adoption is wonderful and scary. Adoption is something that no one should feel shame for; whichever side you’re on during the process.”