It isn’t that motherhood means more to Jodi Griesman. If anything, she understands just how wide, how diverse, how far-reaching the notion of caring for children can be.
“It’s truly her passion,” said husband Randy. “She doesn’t just go to work to get a paycheck. She’s going there to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Not that she even has to leave the house. The Griesmans come from Michigan. Jodi worked for an adoption agency for a decade, until they arrived in Fort Mill in 2010.
“I worked mostly domestic adoptions,” she said. “We wanted to have our own family and we just couldn't stay pregnant. So we chose adoption."
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Their son Jesse was born in 2002 in Guatamala. He came to live with them a year later. A year younger is middle child Sam, the Griesmans’ biological son. Three more years and there’s Sofia, who was less than a year old when the family brought her home from a Guatamalan orphanage.
Three children wading into their teenage years isn’t easy, Jodi said, but the family “is in a good place.” There are questions. People notice two children don’t look like the rest of the family. Sometimes the adopted children have questions about their birth mothers.
“It's very rewarding,” Jodi said. “It can be challenging. It can be difficult. It's not for the faint of heart.”
Adopting taught her it “takes a special family” to meet the needs of orphans. Which helps her find them.
“I would do it all over again,” Jodi said. “It hasn't been as easy as I probably thought it would be. That's definitely an asset for me. I can share that with other families.”
Jodi stayed home for a while after the family moved to Fort Mill. It didn’t last. She now works with Christian Adoption Services in Matthews, N.C.
“There's a tremendous need for there to be more families step forward to adopt,” Jodi said. “We're always looking for good families for children.”
She also can support families working through the often years-long process of adoption. She need only look to her home to discuss openness, and preparation for the unexpected. To talk of how adoption changes families for the better regardless of genetics.
“We've always told them that, we chose them,” Jodi said of her adopted children. “We chose them, we love them and there is no difference in our eyes. They are all our children.”
Jodi has seen changes in adoption through time. Guatemala is closed now. Countries often can open and close to international adoption, and rules vary worldwide making certain countries more or less accessible. Another change in recent years is the creativity families have in overcoming often the biggest tangible obstacle to adoption — its cost.
Ideas like social media fundraisers weren’t always an option. Now, they are.
“Today, people are creative,” Jodi said. “And they explore all the options. We work with a lot of families that just can't afford to adopt, but they find a way.”
Having her own biological child, two adopted children and countless families steered through their own parenting stories, it seems natural Jodi would have a handle on the many faces of motherhood. Asked to ponder what it means to her, she first considers another group.
“I'm so blessed,” Jodi said.
“I think about the two that I have whose mothers are in another country, and the feelings those women must have on a day like this. I think about how they chose life. How they wanted a better life for their children than they could provide. And I thank God for them, too.”
Randy, through his wife, sees so many faces of motherhood but also sees what they share.
“It really means love, to me,” he said. “A mother’s love is unbeatable, except by God’s love. A mother’s love is so important to a child.”
One of many reasons to celebrate his wife on a day like Mother’s Day.
“She provides mothers for other children as well,” Randy said.