Dan Boylan isn’t shy about telling his family’s story. He reveals it to the 90 students he has each semester on the first day of Personal Finance 101 —a required Ball State class that he teaches 12 sections of.
Dan Boylan isn’t shy about telling his family’s story. He reveals it to the 90 students he has each semester on the first day of Personal Finance 101 —a class he teaches 12 sections of.
Boylan is always willing to talk about his brothers and sisters, but the subject takes on a level of relevancy in November, or National Adoption Month.
Boylan comes from a large, blended family. Four out of his seven siblings are adopted and racial minorities.
His mother, Nancy Boylan, a Ball State alumna, lived with her two biological children and husband in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when she started taking in foster children through Catholic Social Services.
It was the late 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement and Nancy and her husband were inspired by their time attending Ball State Teacher’s College and the diverse and accepting environment they experienced there.
“We wanted to use our Ball State experience and make the world a better place,” Nancy said. “We believed that all people are equal and deserve a loving, nurturing environment.”
Their first foster child, a newborn black baby they named Martha, was with them for a year before being adopted. Nancy said she quickly learned that it was much more difficult for the social workers to find homes for black children.
“It was hard for the social worker to find a black home for her and at that time white families were not adopting black children,” Nancy said.
This led to the Boylans adopting their first child, Nicholas.
“We decided to adopt a child of mixed background and were connected with an agency in Minnesota that had an American Indian child,” she said.
In addition to Nicholas, the Boylans adopted a child from South Korea, African-American twins from Fort Wayne and had two more biological children including Dan, the youngest. The twins were adopted just 11 months after Dan’s birth.
Dan said that adoption did not affect his siblings’ relationships growing up, but the family did face tension outside of the home.
It was the ‘60s and people “weren’t ready” for a family like the Boylans', he said.
“We had to kind of stick up for ourselves a little more, but not a lot,” Dan said.
The family did capture the attention of others, Nancy said.
“It was unusual for a white family to have black children in their home,” she said. “ We were generally treated with respect by others though ... but our large blended family did make us stand out.”
Nancy enjoys her family’s diversity.
“I have loved being the mother of a large and rather different kind of family,” she said.
Dan said that while growing up, he thought his family was weird, but over time he realized they weren’t so “different” after all.
“As you get older you realize every family is weird, like ‘gosh, these families where the kids all even look alike don’t even get along.’ So as I get older I realize that we were more normal than I thought,” he said.
Boylan’s diverse background shaped the way he wanted to raise his own children.
“I am very aware of wanting my children to see high caliber people from everywhere. Male to female. Rich to poor. All races,” he said.
Both Dan and Nancy find National Adoption month interesting because of the awareness it can bring to children that still need to find homes.
“Adoption is a wonderful thing for both the parents and the child. Bringing awareness to such an important way to help families is a great idea,” Nancy said. I would encourage everyone to consider adoption. As long as they have room in their heart, there is always room in the home.”