- Posted by Let It Be Us
- On August 7, 2017
Jodi Swanson, a Technical Project Manager at Cisco Systems, is also the creator of Women of Strength, a highly followed movement featuring women of all ages and their hopes, dreams and accomplishments. To those two significant life accomplishments, Jodi has added the responsibility of becoming a photographer for the Heart Gallery of Illinois – a digital photo and story exhibit of children awaiting adoption from foster care. You can see Jodi’s latest Heart Gallery of Illinois photographs of children available for adoption here, here and here.
We asked Jodi if – on one of the 5 volunteer days that Cisco provides to their employees – she would travel to a Chicago adoption court to document the adoption of a little boy named Kayden. Kayden had been waiting 1,016 days for this special event to arrive. Without skipping a beat she said, “Of course.” Below are some of Jodi Swanson’s favorite photographs of the day, along with an interview between Jodi and Let It Be Us.
Let It Be Us: On the day that you photographed Kayden’s adoption, what did you learn?
Jodi Swanson: On the day I photographed Kayden’s adoption I learned that if you want to know what love feels like, go sit in the waiting room at the court house where all the family are about to have an adoption go through. It is genuine selfless love that you wish you could absorb every day and it calls to mind the definition of a “Hero.” You wish there was a show that shared every story and that the court house had one beautifully painted wall that could be used as a backdrop for the photos of the “new” families.
Let It Be Us: On the day that you photographed Kayden’s adoption, what did you feel?
Jodi Swanson: When I photographed the adoption I felt incredibly honored to be part of such a special and intimate moment. I imagined what it would be like for Kayden to look back at the photos when he is an adult. Since he is three and this was the only family he has ever known, I felt an obligation to capture it, not only for the parents, but for when he is a grown man and can process what adoption means.
Let It Be Us: And, on that day, what surprised you?
Jodi Swanson: The day I photographed this adoption from foster care, my pleasant surprise was to the extent they went to in order to show the love of their child first. They told me to go ahead and post the photos, without even seeing them first. Just like most of us, they have insecurities, but they said the love for their son and documenting the event meant more than how they felt they looked in a photo. I have run across only a couple of people in my career as a photographer who are like that. How beautiful and remarkable to be so selfless and comfortable inside yourself, that you don’t stop love from being shared because of insecurities we all battle. For me, I walk away looking at them as to how I want to be as a person. Honest to God truth!
Let It Be Us: Thank you, Jodi, for spending your day with Kayden and his family in adoption court, so that you could show the world what such an event looks, and feels, like.
∞ ∞ ∞
Jodi Swanson is one of the over 50 professional photographers across the State of Illinois who have volunteered to photograph for the Heart Gallery of Illinois. Her work, and the work of all the Heart Gallery Photographers, has a direct impact on a child’s chance of becoming adopted because placing a child’s photographs in the Heart Gallery of Illinois significantly increases that child’s opportunity to be seen by the thousands of people who are interested in adoption from foster care. You can learn more about Jodi Swanson’s work with Women of Strength here.
Anyone is welcome to view the Heart Gallery of Illinois, where potential parents may complete a “form of inquiry” that is sent to each child’s case worker. If you are interested in adoption from foster care and have not yet obtained a foster care license – the first step in adoption from foster care – you can learn the locations of licensing agencies near your home on a new digital map that has been designed by Let It Be Us.
Let It Be Us is a registered 501(c)(3) with the mission of adoption and education of children in Illinois foster care. You can learn more about Let It Be Us on their website www.LetItBeUs.org.