This blog post is dedicated to my incredibly talented and inspiring mother and photographer, Lindsay Hinderer.
Lindsey is beautiful. Her story is beautiful. And her multiracial family is beautiful.
I first met Lindsey when she photographed me for the Lark Skin Co. (a local shop here) Campaign for Confidence. You can ask anyone who has ever taken an Instagram photo for me that I am awkward. Photoshoots are intimidating and I am no Kendall Jenner. Except with Lindsey it didn’t feel awkward, even with a room full of women watching me. Maybe because that experience was not about who was more beautiful than one another, it was about how we were all beautiful together. It was something that can’t be explained, just felt.
A few months later at the campaign launch gathering I mentioned to her that I was quitting nursing and wanted something special to celebrate that time together, because even if we decided and were able to have another baby, breastfeeding is no guarantee. Somewhere in our conversation she mentioned she had adopted - my love and respect for her instantly grew. Although MJ’s birth was smooth and harmonious, my pregnancy with him was uncomfortable and tiring with some health scares along the way. It made me angry and I said I’d never do it again.
Lindsey has golden hair, wears thick tortoise shell glasses and always has light pink lip tint. She is composed, soft spoken, and friendly. She and her husband, Gym, married when she was 26, enjoyed a few years of marriage and started trying for a baby. They took a trip to Seattle her first month off birth control, “I would only let myself have half a glass of wine here and there because I was so sure that I was going to be instantly pregnant.” Because, we all imagine it’s that easy. After a few years of trying, testing, and a couple IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) treatments, no baby. Their next medical step would have been an invasive surgery and IVF (In-Virto-Fertilisation). “…it wasn’t appealing to me, like, the idea of spending that much money and not having a baby at the end of it”.
Lindsey has two younger adopted sisters “it didn’t feel scary or intimidating to me, it’s always been a comfortable part of family life.”
Living in CA at the time, Lindsey and Gym started their adoption route, a long extensive trek: fingerprinting, background checks, home studies, interviews, and paperwork. The process is intrusive. “I was so annoyed at the time, some people just get to have sex with their husbands and then have a baby!”. A week and a half after their profile went up, they were matched with Will, their oldest. His due date was in three weeks, he came early and was born two days later.
Hank, her youngest was born in FL about four years later. They had already moved to MO, got a new home-study, and followed the same process. The news of his placement with them was an added bonus while visiting family in Kansas City, MO over Thanksgving weekend. How incredibly embracing. Lindsey flew to FL right away and got to be in the room when he was born via scheduled cesarean. Though bringing him home was fraught with obstacles. Trapped in a unkept rental condo with a newborn and stressed out toddler through Christmas and New Year’s, they were unable to leave the state due to pending completion of the adoption process. Lindsey, had the added worry for her wedding photography business with a wedding to shoot on January 2 with her business partner April, who went into labor on the day of the wedding. So, making it work, as families must do from day one, flew with Will, her eldest to STL to stay with in-laws, then flew to Boston - leaving newborn and husband in FL. Gym then drove home to St. Louis with the newborn. Some deliveries are biologically difficult and troubling, this one was emotionally and logistically chaotic.
It’s a chocolate chip family. Lindsey and Gym - the vanilla ice cream, Will and Hank - the delicious chocolate chips. “…you take one look at our family and you know the situation”, chuckles Lindsey.
Will, their sensitive boy, is especially alert to books or movies with a story line of any person or animal being left behind, she explains with tender affection. It’s no surprise he’s vegetarian. Hank is their tough guy. Both show adoration for her. “There’s something special about how boys love their moms.”
So, when I asked her what advice she has for people looking to openly adopt, she quickly responded not to take it lightly. And that you’re taking on another birth family and all that comes with it. She’s grateful for their experiences, it can be tumultuous for some. “It’s a wonderful way to grow your family but it’s very heavy and rooted in loss.” During the pregnancy, the birth mother can change her mind at anytime. The selflessness and unconditional love and support is the same, if not more effort, than having babies yourself. Adoption is its own kind of labor-of-love. You let go of your presumptions and set you own needs and ego to the side, just like in pregnancy.
Also, having the focus to support the birth mom unconditionally, no matter what she decides, is a hard thing to do when your emotions are so linked this new possibility. Educating oneself on how adoption plays out even as the kids grow, “it’s not like you adopt a kid and then that chapter is closed, it’s an ongoing part of your life.” If you can do those things, it’s a really special way to have a family, she says.
Our stories are different, our families are different, but regardless of how we become mothers, it’s really an incredible unfolding - as we love and welcome children, and build homes and lives where all are loved. Through that we learn how to support, encourage, and give to one another, like we do for our kids, genuinely, automatically. Mothers.