We are Family

Most everywhere Erich and Daniel Swartz go, people usually don’t believe they’re brothers.

They said their contrasting complexions and often confuses people.

They describe their family as diverse. Out of eight children, only Erich, 15, and Alice, 19, are biological siblings. The other six were adopted from various parts of the world, including Daniel, 15, who was adopted from Ethiopia at age 7.

“It doesn’t really feel out of place,” Erich said. “But, I’ve been told when we’re out in public it looks like the weirdest daycare ever.”

However, their classmates at Quest Forward Academy weren’t surprised. Since Erich started at the school in August, they’ve heard all about Daniel before he transferred to the school in January.

Erich and Daniel are among the 14 freshmen enrolled at the private high school on Bellevue University’s campus, formerly known as Next Generation Learning.

The two grew up homeschooled, so they said learning together is normal for them. Though they sit across the room from one another, they enjoy going to school together.

“There’s always somebody that you can count on, especially when it’s your brother, at school,” Daniel said. “It’s just nice having someone that you really know and can spend time with all day.”

Before he was adopted, Daniel was unable to attend school as his biological family couldn’t afford school materials.

Without his father in the picture, his mom was eventually unable to take care of him, so Daniel was put in an orphanage.

Once adopted, Daniel said he was excited, but also experiencing culture shock. It took him a while to get used to living in a house, he said. He loved the snow, and was disappointed when he learned it doesn’t snow year-round.

The Swartz home is filled to capacity, mom Danna Swartz said.

Lydia, 11, is also from Ethiopia. Hannah, 18, and Ethan, 13, are from China. Nathan, 13, is from South Korea. Naomi, 14, is from Vietnam. The family also has Grace University student, Galat Toang, 24 from South Sudan, staying with them, and three dogs.

Danna said this all came to be after a missionary couple spoke at church about their work in China. The speech left Danna and her husband Patrick Swartz feeling like it was their calling to adopt.

“I guess God used that to show us the need that was out there,” Danna said. “Everything just fell into place to make it happen.”

After about a two-year adoption process, they adopted Hannah from China. She joined the family as their second child, following their biological child Alice.

Now a family of 10, Danna said she’s fairly certain they’re done adopting, but added she never knows for sure. After adopting each child, they thought they were done.

“We never planned to have a large family, but every time there were different circumstances surrounding each child that we felt we we’re supposed to adopt,” Danna said. “God has clearly orchestrated our family. Each time he’s provided the money and energy to do it again.”

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