By Jenny Pope
The Duncan twins couldn’t be more different.
Aaron, 2, is mechanical and hands-on. He loves taking things apart and putting them back together, playing outside and snuggling with his mom. Eva is an academic. She loves books, watching TV and is very independent. If you put food on her spoon, she is known to wipe it clean in order to feed herself.
With such unique personalities, first-time parents Mandy and Will Duncan from Dallas need all the help they can get from their extended family – including the twins’ birth mom, Jordan, and birth grandparents Jerry and Judy Dixon of Mesquite, Texas.
“We’ve allowed more people into Eva and Aarons’ life that can love them,” said Will. “I don’t want to be the person to limit that.”
When Will and Mandy first considered adoption after struggling with infertility, the concept of open adoption was relatively unknown. But after learning more about it at Buckner adoption seminar and reading several books, “it just really seemed like it made sense,” Will said. “The more I thought about it, I realized all my other relationships that are healthy are based on openness and honesty without somebody mediating them. So why should this be any different?”
They decided to take the first steps toward open adoption, which included submitting their profile and photographs to be placed in “the book.” This book would eventually be the lifeline to their new family.
Meanwhile, Jordan Dixon was trying to leave a broken relationship during her freshman year at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. That’s when she found out she was pregnant.
“My initial feelings were shock,” she said. “I was angry and frustrated, too, because I was doing everything I could to try to get away from this guy who didn’t want to let me go.”
Jordan finished her second semester of school pregnant, unsure what her future would hold. Her dad encouraged her to talk to someone about her options. He found Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services online and gave her the phone number to call.
“The woman I met with at first didn’t end up being my caseworker, but she was still very nice and very understanding. I felt like I could really talk to her. I had a very good first impression,” she said.
Jordan continued meeting with her counselor at Buckner, researching her options and diving into the decision of what was going to be best for her future and the twins she was carrying.
Jordan’s parents, Jerry and Judy, offered Jordan a place to live at home so she could continue school somewhere in the Dallas area while Judy stayed home to care for the baby. But the one thing they made clear to Jordan was that she would be the mom.
“It was completely her decision to make on her own,” Judy said. “We said we would support her either way. But she had to decide whether she wanted to be a mom right now.”
Jerry took his role as a father carefully; seeking wise Christian counsel, reading his Bible and helping Jordan gather as much information as possible.
“I didn’t want anything bad happening to my grandchildren,” Jerry said. “I wanted the best for them; I wanted the best for Jordan. I didn’t want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to be happy above all else. I also wanted those sweet little children in there to be happy and not have two strikes against them starting out in life.”
For Jordan, the decision came down to one thing: the realization that the life she could offer her children was not the life that was best for either of them.
“I started understanding that adoption might be a really great alternative,” she said.
That’s when they decided to look through the book. The “book” is an important tool for open adoption – it’s where potential adoptive families introduce themselves to birth mothers, include photos of their family and share dreams for the way they want to parent. Birth parents review the book to find families they think would be a good fit for their child.
Jordan, Jerry and Judy reviewed the book separately, but they all chose the same couple – Will and Mandy. “Before we even laid eyes on them we knew they were the right people,” Jordan said.
Their first match meeting confirmed mutual emotions. Everyone was comfortable and familiar with one another.
“My first impression was she is so tiny, how are there twins inside of her?” Mandy said with a laugh. “The conversation flowed well, we asked questions and Jordan and her parents asked questions. It felt as comfortable as that can feel.”
Will and Mandy endeared themselves to Jerry with their constant affirmation and eye contact with one another.
“Neither of them would answer without looking at the other one,” Jerry said. “You could just tell that they were very nervous about the situation but what you could really tell, at least in my mind, is how close and connected they were to each other.”
About five weeks later on July 24, 2009, Jordan delivered two healthy babies with Mandy and Will in the hospital nearby. A complicated legal development nearly cancelled the adoption, but Will and Mandy remained faithful, checking in on Jordan and showing the utmost concern for her. A few days later the twins were placed in their home as a legal-risk adoption.
“We were excited that we were bringing them home, but we were very cautious,” Mandy said.
The couple wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to keep the twins or not. After years of waiting for a family, the uncertainty was unbearable. Fortunately, within two months, all the legal issues were resolved and the twins officially became Duncans.
“We love being parents,” Mandy said. “We had been married for nine years and so we were used to going to see a movie, going out to eat, jumping in the car and going. All that’s different now. It takes preparation to go anywhere with two babies.”
“I don’t know what is still the same. I still go to work,” Will joked.
Jordan is satisfied with her decision and still believes it was the right choice for her, Eva and Aaron.
“I just want them to have everything they could possibly want in the whole universe,” Jordan said, “and I have every confidence that where they are right now is exactly where they need to be. That’s how they’re going to get to the places they’re going.”
In the meantime, they will remain surrounded by plenty of doting family members eager to babysit when the invitation arises. Judy and Jerry keep the twins every other Sunday night so Will and Mandy can go on a date. And Jordan comes to visit as much as possible when she’s home from school.
“As difficult as it was and as much flack as Judy and I have received over time for allowing Jordan to do this, I still believe it was the right thing to do. And the relationship we have with Will and Mandy and with the babies I think bears it out for us,” Jerry said.
To learn more about domestic infant adoption and pregnancy counseling with Buckner, visit www.beafamily.org.
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