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Mother finds joy through adoption

By Staff | Feb 4, 2011

(Chronicle photos by Jennifer Wabnitz) Busy mom Tanya Shiben literally has her hands full with Daniel, at left along with his baby brother, Andrew. Shiben adopted the two children with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Almost 40 years ago, the Shiben family moved from a busy Washington, D.C., suburb to calm Shepherdstown. Tanya Shiben was the only girl with three brothers.

Shiben was satisfied running a home day care and becoming a kindergarten teacher at Shepherdstown Elementary School. She was satisfied until that magic day.

Many children came and went through Shiben’s classes, but one little girl changed her life in a big way. This child was living in a foster home.

Even though she was single, Shiben knew she could provide a warm, loving home. She had nurtured many children.

With great hope, she filled out an application. She went through the interview process and waited. Then the phone call came. The Department of Health and Human Resources was ready for her to become an adoptive parent, but not for the original little girl.


They had three siblings that they wanted her to have. Shiben being an experienced teacher eagerly accepted the children. She had the supplies. She had a lovely home. She was ready.

But by day two, she realized something.

“I was sinking,” she said.

DHHR coached her, but finally they all agreed that the threesome needed to go to another home.

Shiben was disappointed, but not defeated. She had her first dose of motherhood, and she liked it. She asked to be considered for other children. Other children came and went but then Shiben got the next big phone call. DHHR asked if she would take a 13-month-old baby boy.


The very next day, Shiben went to collect Daniel. They bonded quickly and comfortably.

“We are a terrific match. I can handle him, and he can handle me. Matches are important,” Shiben said.

Shiben and baby Daniel were settling into a nice routine when DHHR called again.

“Would you be interested in adopting Daniel’s newborn brother?”

Almost in disbelief, Shiben quickly agreed.

She brought home a beautiful, bouncing week-old baby boy, Andrew.

She carefully watches the toddler on her TV monitor in the kitchen. As he slowly wakes from his afternoon nap, she knows he needs a little time to become fully alert. He waits for her permission to leave the crib, then he gently lets himself over the lowered side.

Shiben has a full complement of supportive friends in this fabulous little town. She knows that whatever skill she can’t teach the boys, she can find in one of her friends. Recently one friend has been helping to build a set of shelves, another helping to select paint colors.

“As an older mother, I know I can’t do it all. I know how to ask for help. I know how to network. That is a skill I will pass on to my children,” said a confident Shiben.

As Shiben reflects on her adoptive journey, she is thrilled. She had originally thought she would possibly get an older child. As it turned out she is now the happy, full-time mommy of two adorable little boys, one an infant.