Erin Boggs was 16 in 1992 when she learned she was pregnant.
“I was scared, definitely kind of alone,” Boggs says. “So, I knew the decision was going to land on me solely, and it felt like a critically important decision.”
Boggs says people around her suggested she could parent or abort, but no one recommended adoption, but that was ultimately the choice she made.
“It was honestly through prayer and putting myself in each scenario and thinking through what each would look like, and adoption just made sense,” she says.
About 23 years after Boggs placed her son Jordan for adoption with Jeanne and Scott Hamilton, she had the opportunity to meet him.
From their first meeting, Boggs and Jordan Hamilton began building a relationship, and nearly eight years later, they, along with Jeanne and Scott Hamilton, are sharing their family story.
Boggs and Jordan and Jeanne Hamilton join “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain how adoption changed all their lives, and why it’s a powerful answer to unplanned pregnancy.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: I am so excited to welcome a beautiful family to the show today. Joining us is Erin Boggs, Jordan Hamilton, and Jeanne Hamilton. They are a family knit together through the power of adoption. So thank you guys so much for being with us today.
Erin Boggs: Thanks for having us. Glad to be here.
Allen: Erin, I want to begin by asking you if you would share a little bit of your own story. How old were you when you learned that you were pregnant?
Boggs: I was 16, a junior in high school.
Allen: What were the thoughts that ran through your head as a 16-year-old when you realized, “I’m pregnant”?
Boggs: “Oh, crap.” That was the first one. I was scared, definitely kind of alone. So I knew the decision was going to land on me solely, and it felt like a critically important decision, so I would say mostly scared.
Allen: And this was 1991, ’92?
Boggs: ’92, I found out Oct. 6, 1992, so in a couple of weeks it’ll be 31 years.
Allen: And what were the people around you saying to you? What advice were you getting?
Boggs: Actually, I got lots of advice, but never on adoption. At the time, there wasn’t shows on TV about adoption and pregnancy and teen moms. It just wasn’t a thing, and it definitely wasn’t talked about a lot.
So adoption actually wasn’t suggested to me, but abortion and parenting was, and I knew at the time I was going to make my own decision. I’m that kind of person, pretty much. Although I respect everybody’s opinions, I knew I was going to do what I was going to do.
And I decided at the end of October on adoption. I hadn’t told anybody. And it was honestly through prayer and putting myself in each scenario and thinking through what each would look like, and adoption just made sense. My life was in chaos. I was 16 and acted 12. It just made sense for me at the time.
And I had my older brother give me some confirming words. And after he told me, I was like, “I think I’m supposed to do adoption.” He was like, “Then do adoption.” I was like, “Greenlight, going to do it.” So I told my family and everybody was on board.
Allen: That’s amazing. And Jeanne, for you, what was your process for you and your husband of opening your hearts up to say, “We want to adopt a baby, and we’re going to take that leap and start on that journey of just considering, of getting the ball rolling?” What led to that?
Jeanne Hamilton: In 1992, I had been having trouble conceiving and so started with infertility treatments and got pregnant and was very excited. But then a few months later, I miscarried. And after that I thought, “I really don’t want to go through this all over again. I don’t want to go through the treatments.”
It was just tearing me apart emotionally and adoption had always been something we always wanted to do. We were thinking more internationally, but we were open to whatever God had for us. And so my desire was just to be a mom and my husband’s desire to be a dad, so it didn’t matter to us where the child came from. We just wanted to be parents and to love a child.
And so we started praying that God would just open those doors up. We didn’t have much money. My husband just got out of law school, so we didn’t know financially how we would be able to do it, but then a year later we heard from Erin.
Allen: And how were you-all connected?
Boggs: That’s a funny story. I’ll tell you my first half.
So, in high school in Georgia—you went to Georgia—we had the same homeroom teacher all four years. And my homeroom teacher, her name is Karen, approached me. I had picked up my transcripts at the school, and she approached me after school and said, “I heard you’re thinking about adoption. I just wanted you to know my sister is looking into adoption. Would you be willing to talk to her?” And I was like, “Yeah.” Because by this time, it was March, I think. And he was born in May. So I hadn’t picked yet. And I was very, very picky about how I did that.
I guess I don’t know what she said to Jeanne, but that’s how I was introduced to Jeanne the first time.
Allen: Well, Jeanne, let me hear your side of the story.
Jeanne Hamilton: Oh, yeah. We were actually set to go to a meeting of an adoption agency that day before we even heard from Erin. We had been told about her, but we hadn’t heard anything from her. So we thought, “Oh, she’s probably found somebody else.” And we decided to move on, and we were all set to go to this meeting, and we got the call from Erin and we were like, “Oh my goodness.” We couldn’t believe it.
And so after she talked to us and asked us some questions about her desire for her baby’s parents, we got off the phone and we thought, “Well, if this is meant to be, then she’ll feel good about us.” And so we just waited.
Allen: And then Erin, how long did it take before you realized, “Yes, these are the people that I want to raise my son”?
Boggs: So, I had made up a bunch of questions, handwritten, it was four pages—I’m not kidding. And it was like a 16-year-old would ask, dumb questions. I asked, “What’s your favorite animal?” And I’d still probably ask that, honestly. …
Another cool thing, this is before we had any kind of cordless phones, so one of them, when I called them, the first time I called them, they were both on the phone in different rooms hooked to the wall so I could hear both of them. It was really cool. I could hear both of them and I could talk to both of them at the same time.
But the first question on the list was, “What are your beliefs in God?” And Scott started talking, and I’m going to cry actually sharing this, he’s still talking, and I put the phone down, and there’s still probably 80 questions left. So this is Question One.
I put the phone down and I look at my mom and I’m crying. I’m like, “This is them. This is them.” And she’s like, “No, ask more questions.” I’m like, “This is them,” because of how he answered about his heart toward the Lord and then Jeanne, her heart toward the Lord, 100%.
So to answer your question, question No. 1, immediately, right when I talked to them on the phone.
Allen: That is so powerful. Talk a little bit, Jeanne, just about the first time Erin has just given birth, it’s exciting, what is that first time like that you lay eyes on Jordan for the first time?
Jeanne Hamilton: Well, Erin gave me the privilege of being there for the birth, and she called me when she was going into labor. I was in Florida, they were in Georgia. So my husband’s like, “OK, you got to get on a plane and get there.” So I got on a plane right away.
I mean, I was praying my heart out that I’d make it there in time and got into the delivery room right at the perfect moment, and she delivered a few minutes later and she said, “Hand him to his mommy.” And that was the most unbelievable moment, I think, of my life. So selfless on her part and it meant so much to me. And just seeing Jordan and how perfect he was and knowing that this was a gift I was being given that I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe it.
Allen: Jordan, I want to pull you into this conversation now. You’ve been waiting very patiently.
Jordan Hamilton: I love listening.
Allen: Growing up, did you know that you had been adopted? What was that like for you as a little kid?
Jordan Hamilton: Yeah, I love that question. I’ve always said the greatest act of love that I’ve experienced in my life has been being put up for adoption. And the second-greatest act of love is to have always known that I was adopted.
So I can’t remember a time that the word adoption was introduced to me, it was always something in the household. It was something that I understood. I had association with that word somehow. And then the definition of that word, obviously, grew as I got older. And so I came to understand the depth of what it means and everything.
But I think what that allowed for—so basically I always knew, is what I can remember, it feels like I was hearing those conversations in the womb and then I was just born.
So as I grew older, I think what I came to realize was having always known, because we actually, I got to grow up around some other kids who were also adopted. And there were moments I remember in my childhood where they found out, and it’s like the word found out.
And I’m not talking down. I have no judgment for how people carry themselves in that environment. I’ve never been there and I’m sure it’s really difficult.
But what it felt like to me was that my parents had given up control and that they had really allowed, in the same way they talk about, “If Erin feels a connection to us, then it will be.” It’s like that same heart of theirs as parents was clear to me in always knowing that I was adopted because it just allowed me to grow into the word and understand what it meant.
And what was beautiful about that in my life was that I always knew I was with my family and there was no question of, there was no concern about that word having any impact on the nature of my being present with my family. I grew up knowing that that word had to do with me and I also knew my parents loved me. And so I guess there was grace in that, I guess is what I’m trying to say, because I always grew up knowing that those words aren’t in conflict, I guess.
Allen: That’s beautiful. How old were you when you started thinking or asking, “Hey, I might like to meet Erin”?
Jordan Hamilton: There’s kind of two answers to that. One, I always wanted to. And I mean, I’ve told people before, usually when I get to tell this side of the story, like I say, I got the golden ticket because I got to grow up with photos of my birth parents and so I had faces that I could put to names. And that just gave such a sense of connection, which I’m so grateful for.
I always knew I wanted to meet her. I also knew that that wasn’t going to happen before I was 18. And so that was tentatively when I was going to always plan on meeting her, was 18. And I was probably, I can’t give you an exact age, but I mean, in my conscious mind maybe 5 or 6 or something when I was really able to communicate that I’d like to meet her someday or something.
And honestly, mom, you might have a better answer for that if I ever brought that up. But I knew I always wanted to and actually, Erin knows the story. I always envisioned myself pulling up in a Corvette with a suit and a fedora. And the thing we joke about is for some reason in this imagination of mine, I had a briefcase and it made so much sense to me as a kid, but the idea of showing up with a briefcase to meet her is, I don’t know what would’ve been in the briefcase. Anyway.
Allen: That’s great.
Jordan Hamilton: So yeah, I’ve always wanted to meet her. When the time came, it involved facing a lot of fear and there was a lot of things I didn’t anticipate when it was like, “Wow, that’s a real-life option right now.” So that’s a whole other conversation. But yeah, I’ve always wanted to meet her.
Allen: Well, let’s talk a little bit about that because, assuming that you didn’t go with the suit and the briefcase for the first meeting, so what did that look like? Jordan, share a little bit about that. And then Erin, would also just love to have your perspective on that.
Jordan Hamilton: So, I was living in Nashville at the time, and this girl I was dating I think recognized in the course of our dating, there had been multiple times where—and I was 23, 22 or 23, and I had been wanting to. So there was multiple times in the course of us dating where I would sit down and start trying to type a letter to reach out for the first time and make connection because although we hadn’t ever really communicated in conversation, I knew that door was always open.
I had received a letter from Erin when I was 17, which she had written to me sort of in reflection of, “Hey”—it was actually written to me for my 16th birthday, it arrived when I was 17. But she had written it to me, like, “Hey, I was your age when I had you.” And so there had been communication in that way, but I hadn’t really ever responded or reached out at all.
So this was something that the person I was dating at the time had noticed, and she also noticed that I wasn’t completing the letter. And so she told me, “I think you just need to take a Saturday and do it.” And I really appreciate that because that was a big step.
So a very emotional weekend. And I wrote an email and of course, it was really heartfelt and open and all that stuff. And I sent it to the email that I had for her, saying I’d love to meet. And then a few days later, I think I got a call from mom. She’s like, “Hey, Erin, got your email. She loved it. She said you wanted to meet but gave no way of contacting you to figure out how to meet.” It’s a very me thing to do.
Jeanne Hamilton: Yeah, it’s so you.
Jordan Hamilton: Yeah. So I had originally sent her an email when I was 23 living in Nashville and just expressing a desire to meet. And we had some email communications. We talked about some of our favorite music and among other things. And it was amazing to hear in her emails the same voice I had heard in the letter at 17. Just like in her words and in what she’s observing and her way of talking. The humanity of it was like, “Holy cow, it’s a real person.” It was cool.
Allen: So Erin, what was that like for you, of, “OK, we’ve sent emails, we’ve communicated,” you’ve obviously been in touch with Jeanne, “but now we’re actually meeting face to face.”
Boggs: Oh, I was excited. I was so excited to get the letter. It was amazing. He’s an amazing writer, so it was a really cool letter to read. And it’s the first time I’d heard him, so that was really neat. I was very excited.
I always knew I was going to meet him. I never doubted that. The way that it happened in the delivery room and after, all of that, it was constant. I knew I would know him, I knew it. And I knew that, honestly, because Scott and Jeanne just embraced and honored me so well.
I would say probably heading into our first meeting, which, side note, we met at Aunt Karen’s house in Kennesaw, so my homeroom teacher’s house. And Scott and Jeanne were there.
Allen: Full circle.
Boggs: Yeah. It’s so cool. It’s so cool. I think probably like Jordan, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to disappoint him.” Because his parents made me Saint Erin. I ain’t Saint Erin, not happening. I think more, it was just, “I don’t know. He might not like me.” That’s not at all what happened, but I think it’s just you have an idea of what it’s going to be like. So going in, you’re nervous that you’re going to disappoint.
But the beauty of the relationships that we’ve all made together is we’ve seen ourselves at every stage and love so much. That was from the first moment I met Scott and Jeanne, first time I looked at Jordan. And then when we met, it was really cool for full circle because after he was born, I had 24 hours with him before Scott and Jeanne got him.
I love looking at eyes. I’m an eye person, obviously, so I just love to look in the eyes. It says a lot to me. But we couldn’t get his eyes open. We tried. … It was like trying to get his eyes and they wouldn’t open. So I had asked my mom to let me have the last hour with him alone. So my mom left and right when the door literally closed, his eyes popped open and they stayed open the entire hour. So it was the one thing that I got that nobody else in Georgia got to see, his eyes. That was my personal gift from the Lord.
So in that moment, I remember I was holding him—I’m 16, so keep that in mind. I’m holding him looking out the window. I’m like, “Look, this is Kennesaw. This is Stone Mountain.” He couldn’t see anything, obviously, but I remember praying over him and the Lord was like, “You’re going to know him. You’re going to know him by his eyes.” And I was like, “OK.”
Which leads us to our first meeting. I was just kind of walking up to the house nervous, but really excited. And come around the corner, and Jordan’s sitting on the steps with his hands like this, crying, bawling, hadn’t even looked up yet.
Jordan Hamilton: I was bawling.
Boggs: He was crying. This is my first time even seeing him like that. I mean, my response was, “Why are you crying?” Just a huge smile. So he gets up and hugs me. That’s my take of the first moment we met.
Allen: Jeanne, what was that like for you to watch Erin and Jordan meet for the first time and begin to form this bond, this relationship together?
Jeanne Hamilton: I was so thrilled. I mean, I knew from a mother’s heart how Erin couldn’t wait to meet Jordan, and I wanted that for her. I also knew it was going to be huge for Jordan. I just knew, knowing and loving both of them, that this would be a really wonderful experience. I was thrilled and it was extremely emotional for everybody involved. But so cool that 23 years later, here we were again after being in that hospital room and now so much to share with one another of how the Lord had grown all of us through our lives. It was amazing.
Allen: So it’s been eight years since that first meeting, is that right?
Jordan Hamilton: Just about. I think closer to seven. Yeah, almost eight. Something around there.
Allen: OK. What has that looked like moving forward, the dynamic for all three of you? I’ll let any of you jump in who want to answer that.
Jordan Hamilton: I can jump in here. I relate to when we first met, there was kind of a mutual—that’s why the suitcase and the Corvette was part of my, I think, intention in how I showed up there. I just wanted to cover all my bases and have it all together. I still don’t have it all together, which is really something. But that was definitely the vulnerability of sitting on those steps, was feeling so aware of how far from that image of myself I was.
I remember the moments before we met, being asked, “Do you want to sit here in the kitchen?” or whatever. And every one of those questions was electric to me. I couldn’t figure out what to do, hence the walking outside and sitting on the steps. But I’m grateful to have done that because I got to work through some of that. And in the process of spending time in Georgia and being able to meet others on the biological family side, it’s been a continued learning experience, I think, for all of us in our own way.
But for me, a lot of that has actually just been a continuation of that being enough. It’s been a wonderful learning curve, and I’m blessed to be able to learn that in the presence of the people that I’m learning that with because they’re all very gracious with me and loving toward me. So I get to kind of let go and just be with the people that I’m with.
That’s been a challenge for me, honestly. It’s been hard. So for me, it’s almost like a lot of the interactions when I show up, I have to—sometimes, even now, honestly, after seven or eight years, I have to remember I’m not just meeting them and they know me and they’re still here and they love me, and they’ve shown that in many different ways. Everyone in my life has done such an amazing job of showing that that it’s truly humbling. But just remembering that, I think, has been my process. I feel like that’s been a lesson that gets to run deeper and deeper the more time we get to spend together.
Allen: That’s beautiful. Erin, I think so many people hear your story, they hear the story of your family, this adoption story, and there’s such tremendous beauty and there’s also just an awareness of this is weighty and it’s hard. For young women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy, what would be your encouragement to them to choose adoption? Knowing that every choice in front of them, no matter what you choose, it’s a hard choice. But why, for you, did you ultimately make that choice of, “Yes, I want to choose adoption”? And why would that be something that you would want to encourage other young women to do?
Boggs: That’s a great question. I have to answer this question every day where I work. The first thing that I say to the clients that I see now that are in—
Allen: Before you get going too far, if you would just share a tiny bit as well about where you work because I want to talk about that as well. And I think that’s so relevant to this question.
Boggs: OK. I’m a high school teacher by trade, but got injured and didn’t go back into the classroom. Several years into Jordan being up here and around getting to know—he encouraged me. He was like, “Maybe you should go back to the place that you went when I was inside you.”
Because I had found, it’s called The Hope Center, and it was called a crisis pregnancy center at the time, but they changed it because it’s just a pregnancy resource center for anybody at this point. And I started volunteering after he encouraged me to give back and then discovered they have an RV that goes into Atlanta into the most underserved areas of Atlanta. And so me and my sonographer, Tori, go down and take a big, old RV and give free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to women that are just like me.
We had a 15-year-old last week, 38-year-old. The first thing I tell them is, “You have to make the decision you can live with the rest of your life and it has to be your decision and you have to get at peace with it. And you have to give yourself time and space to think through it.” Because they come in, like I did, just scared and, “What do I do? What do I do?” But to take a pause and get still and really, really think through the three decisions they have and what the outcome is in each decision.
I always share my adoption story anytime I can and I do often on the RV and at The Hope Center. So that’s the biggest piece of advice as far as deciding.
Adoption is a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around. And a lot of times, in Atlanta specifically, the women are like, “I’m not going to carry a baby for nine months and then not raise it. I’m not going to do that.”
I’ve had one client do adoption. It’s not super common, honestly. I was the first person at The Hope Center to actually do adoption. They’d only been open nine months. So if you think back three, two years ago when I was there, it was open nine months and I was the first client for adoption. …
And the reason that I’m at The Hope Center now on the RV is what was most important to me during that time was after he had gone to be with his parents, they helped me with the grief and walking through what that looked like and that was critical for me.
So I obviously encourage adoption, but I mostly encourage the women to get at peace with what they feel like God’s calling them to do. I pray with them. I pretty much pray with every client. Nobody ever says “no.” So it always works out really well.
And there’s so many cool things that have happened since I’ve been at The Hope Center on the RV in Atlanta. There’s so many stories. So it is full circle. Full circle, full circle. And last year, Jordan is actually the person that did all of our banquet videos. He was the videographer. It’s just mind-blowing. It was awesome. It still is awesome.
So yeah, I would encourage them to make the decision they can live with and get at peace with, and we have any resource you would ever need, and we really do. So just encouraging them to trust their gut, trust their heart.
Allen: And Jeanne, for you, coming at it from a different angle, I mean, as an adoptive mom who received the blessing of Erin deciding, “Yes, I’m going to make this really selfless choice,” what would you say to those women, those moms who are facing that choice?
Jeanne Hamilton: Well, that every life is precious. And you never know how God will use that person in this world and how important that person—I mean, I just think if Erin made a different decision, we would never have the blessing of our son in our lives. And he has taught us so much mean and he has impacted us so much. And it just breaks my heart to think that there are babies out there who aren’t given that opportunity to live in this world. So I just encourage anybody to just realize that each life is important.
Allen: Jordan, I want to give you the final word here. Is there anything that you want to share about your story or just that you want people to know as it relates to this topic of adoption that you think is just really important to note before we go today?
Jordan Hamilton: I mean, I guess I would second everything that’s been said up until this point. Being a guy, I don’t have even the prospect of having to make the decision that was made on my behalf. But I am grateful.
And I’ll never forget a moment in Nashville where I was sharing this story—and I do a little verbal processing, if you haven’t noticed that already. But I was sharing this story with a close friend of mine at college and I arrived at this idea of, had the decision not been to adopt, but to abort me, there wouldn’t be a gap where I was missing. The world keeps spinning and all of that. So just with consideration, to me, I’m grateful to have filled the spaces that I have.
It’s been a continuing thought for me since that conversation back then. It’s just kind of the mystery of being a known soul. That’s a special thing. And so I guess I would just take it back to what I said at first, is I think the greatest act of love I’ve experienced in my life is being put up for adoption and the second is to have always known it.
And all that really does speak to family because there was defense of my being loved and being put up for adoption. And there was defense of my feeling loved and being allowed to know I was adopted. And I mean, even just this conversation is a celebration of how we see those doors open in the future.
Allen: Well, thank you, Jordan and Erin and Jeanne. Thank you all for your time, for being willing to share such a beautiful, such a personal story. And I do really want to encourage all of our listeners, check out the work of The Hope Center down in Georgia. Supporthopecenter.com is the website. We’ll leave a link in today’s show notes. But they’re doing such good work. And Erin, I know, as you spoke firsthand to that, your involvement with them. But truly, thank you all so much for your time today.
Boggs: Thank you for having us.
Jeanne Hamilton: Thank you so much.
Jordan Hamilton: Thank you.
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The post She Chose Adoption at 16, Now Tells Her Story Alongside Son and His Mother appeared first on The Daily Signal.
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