October 1, 2007

Love to share: LP family working to fulfill dream of adopting a baby

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

It started out to be one of the happiest days of her life. It was almost her last.

Lester Prairie residents Ryan and Shannon Alsleben had been married three years on the day their first child was born in 2003. Before the day was over, a near-death experience had changed their lives forever.

The excitement of starting their family took an unexpected turn when their son, Jayden, was born.

“I almost didn’t survive,” Shannon said.

Complications during childbirth resulted in her being flown from Glencoe Hospital to Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

She lost a lot of blood, and her blood pressure dropped to a dangerously low level. To save her life, she underwent an emergency hysterectomy.

“I wasn’t able to see my baby or hold him in my arms for three days, until he was released from Glencoe Hospital,” Shannon said.

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She added that the doctors in both hospitals did a great job, and did everything they could. She said she is lucky to be alive, but she is no longer able to have children of her own.

“The experience made me think there is something more to life. There is a reason I survived,” Shannon said.

Her faith, and the support of her family and friends helped her get through the situation.

Shannon said she did a lot of soul-searching while she was recovering.

“I am lucky and very grateful that I was able to have Jayden,” Shannon said, but added that she still dreams of having a larger family. She always hoped to have two or three children.

She began to consider the possibility of adopting a baby.

“If it is meant to be, it will happen. I am looking for a mom that needs help in her situation, and maybe, at the same time, she can help me with my situation,” Shannon said.

Ryan and Shannon grew up in Glencoe, and describe themselves as high school sweethearts.

After they graduated from Glencoe High School in 1997, Ryan attended Hennepin Technical Center in Eden Prairie to train as an auto body technician.

Shannon left Glencoe to attend school at Anoka Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, where she earned a degree as a physical therapy assistant, but she returned to Glencoe on the weekends to spend time with Ryan.

They were married in April 2000, and rented an apartment in Glencoe for six months before purchasing a home in Lester Prairie. At the time, Ryan was working in Glencoe, and Shannon was working in Lester Prairie.

The home they purchased is a four-bedroom house on a quiet street. It has plenty of space for a young family.

Searching for a baby

Their search began with McLeod County, where they were able to get a list of adoption agencies.

Shannon and Ryan visited a few agencies in the Twin Cities and participated in some orientation sessions.

They settled on Hope Adoption and Family Services in Oak Park Heights.

“I like the fact that they are a small company and I like the friendly atmosphere,” Shannon commented.

After their orientation, the Alslebens began working on their home study, a process that is required for all families who wish to adopt a child.

The process involves a lot of forms that must be filled out, and a lot of questions.

Some of the process is completed at the agency, and some takes place in the home.

The time it takes to complete the home study process is different for each family. For the Alslebens, it took about four months. They completed the process in August 2005.

An expensive proposition

Adoption is not inexpensive. Shannon said the process can easily cost $15,000 to $20,000 for adoption in the US, and can be more than double that for international adoption.

There are different methods available to those who are trying to connect with a birth mother.

“You can pay $3,000 to $6,000 to sit in a ‘baby book,’ a book that mothers can look through to find parents to adopt their children, and there is only a 50-50 chance of finding a match,” Shannon said.

Because of the cost, Shannon and Ryan decided to try to find a birth mother on their own first.

They have printed brochures, and have enlisted the help of family and friends to get the word out.

They have also been networking with other people who are in similar situations through the Internet.

One advantage of working with an agency like Hope Adoption and Family Services, Shannon explained, is that birth mothers get free services, such as counseling, from any agency. The cost for these services is ultimately paid by adoptive families.

Doing things together

Spending time in family activities is important to the Alslebens.

They enjoy camping, fishing, and visiting new places.

“I am a people-person,” Shannon said. She is employed as a physical therapist assistant at St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted. She finds her work very rewarding.

Shannon is 28, and her hobbies include gardening, exercising, scrap-booking, cooking, and singing in the church choir.

Ryan is 29, and has been employed at Glencoe Auto Body for about eight years.

His hobbies include hunting, fishing, golfing, and working on cars.

Jayden, 4, enjoys spending time with his nieces, and can’t wait for his new nephew to be old enough to join the fun.

He used to want a little sister, but now he says he would like a little brother to share his John Deere tractors with.

Like his parents, he is a NASCAR fan, and enjoys watching the races with his family. His favorite drivers are the late Dale Earnhart senior, Dale Earnhart junior, and Jeff Gordon – “because grandpa likes him.”

The Alslebens continue to enjoy spending time with family and friends, and look forward to the day when they can bring a new baby home to join them.

“We are just trucking along making contacts and looking for ways to get the word out,” Shannon said.

Want to know more?

Those who wish to know more about the Alslebens can contact Shannon Alsleben by e-mail, wishtoadopt@hotmail.com, or visit the family’s web site, www.myspace.com/wishtoadopt.

Questions about the adoption process can be directed to the Alsleben’s social worker, Sara Caton at Hope Adoption and Family Services (651) 439-2446.

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