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A blessed life

Cole and Jeanette McCormick celebrate one year with son Landon, whom they adopted from Utah in 2019

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Nov 29, 2020

Cole and Jeanette McCormick spoke from their Jackson, Minn., home as their one-year-old son, Landon played and ate snacks, waving and smiling at the phone during a FaceTime interview. Cole, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Estherville, and Jeanette, pastor of First Lutheran in Worthington, chronicled their journey to adopting Landon on a Facebook page. In November, 2019, they traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to pick up Landon, and to stay with him until legally cleared to leave the state with him.

The McCormicks maintain a relationship with Landon’s birth mom, who was experiencing challenges of homelessness and addiction when Landon was born.

Reflecting on their first Thanksgiving with Landon at home, the couple said they were grateful for the birth mom’s loving and brave choice to relinquish Landon for adoption.

Jeanette said she previously had friends and family members who were adopted and who had adopted children while adoption was a newer concept to Cole. Both, however believed adoption was a great way to grow their family. The decision to adopt brought them on a journey of a couple of years as they first connected with Lutheran Social Services in the Twin Cities resulting in a birth mother who had a change of heart. Afterward, working through Hughes Law Firm in Sioux Falls, the McCormicks were matched a couple of times before matching with Landon’s birth mother.It became unclear if the adoption would happen or not, but in the end, the adoption did go through.

“We weren’t sure if this adoption would go through or not, either, but it did,” Cole said.

Cole and Jeanette said they have had a wonderful year raising Landon. The joy has caused them to almost feel guilty in the face of the challenges COVID-19 has brought to their lives.

“We have not been removed from the hardships, though. COVID illnesses and death have hit close to home, but we have had the fun of having Landon through it all,” Jeanette said.

Landon, however, has hardly left his home since he arrived. When Landon was a newborn, RSV (respiratory synctial virus) was going around Jackson and the surrounding area, and it was winter, both factors causing the new parents to keep Landon at home. Additionally, due to Landon’s birth mother’s challenges with addiction, Landon was a withdrawal baby. The couple employ a nanny to care for Landon at home. They said the nanny, as well as support from family members, has been indispensable this year as they worked to balance parenting and pastoring. Jeanette:s mother cared for Landon for several months and other family members have filled in as issues have arisen.

“It:s been a strange first year. Landon has barely met our congregations,” Jeanette said. She added that community and congregation members have been very understanding, gracious and flexible, and generous with gifts, prayers and support.

Landon had a Zoom baptism in Jackson, and his first birthday party will be low-key at home with more video calls with family and loved ones.

Cole said many of the challenges of the past year are the same as any new parents would face, getting to know and find the best ways to take care of their baby. But Landon’s challenging background means Cole and Jeanette work with a nurse from a program that helps parents of children who have special health needs to know what to watch for in Landon’s development. Jeanette said she appreciates the support, and the knowledge of issues to be aware of with Landon.

Cole said the year has had a lot of firsts that were a joy to watch.

Landon’s first Easter both parents were busy with preparations for online worship services, and Jeanette’s mother came to watch Landon.

The couple said they were excited for the restrictions with COVID-19 to pass so the people in their lives can meet Landon.

Cole and Jeanette also said their adoption support group has been indispensable throughout the journey that has now stretched to three years since the beginning of the adoption process.

Each month adoptive parents meet to support, mentor and share with each other. When Cole and Jeanette started, they were the only hopeful adoptive parents in the group as the other parents had already adopted a child. Now that everyone in the group is parenting an adopted child, Jeanette said they have found grace and a community within the group.

“It’s a safe place to be honest about what’s happening in your family, helps us be better parents, and lift each other up” Jeanette said, adding that the group is through Grace Community but not faith-focused.

Cole said, “Adoption is beautiful, challenging, difficult, uncertain, and loving. We have been blessed to have this opportunity to parent.”

The couple said they would encourage other families to look into adoption, or if they have already adopted to reach out because support is available.