Dear Expectant Parent,
We are James and Denny. On a snowy winter night more than three years ago, we met for the first time and ended up walking around downtown Boston looking for the perfect place for a first date. We have been together ever since and made it official by getting married in January of 2016. Throughout the rest of this letter we’ll tell you more about ourselves, how we met and got married, why we want to start a family, and some of our hopes and dreams for the future. But before we get to those details, we want to say that, if you choose us as adoptive parents, your child will be loved, supported, and protected forever. As an adopted child, Denny’s adoptive parents always let him know how thankful they are to his birthmother for choosing them to raise him as their own. Because of this, Denny grew up knowing he was loved and that his birthmother made the toughest decision of her life to make sure he had the best life she could give him. And, you can be sure that, if you choose us, the love you’ve already shown for your child will always be a part of our family’s story and will always be honored in our home.
We met for our first date after meeting on an online dating site. After a series of long, hilarious, and surprisingly open phone calls, we agreed to meet in person to see where things went. Denny had his doubts when he first saw the tall guy in the goofy, puffy, winter coat walk into the packed restaurant. Those doubts grew a tiny bit when James revealed that he didn’t have a dinner reservation. But, after a snowy walk through the streets of Boston, we settled on a quiet little place right across from the Public Garden where we ate dinner and smiled goofily at one another the whole time. It was the first of eight dates in ten days. Denny would later say that he knew on that first night they would get married and for James, it might have taken another day before he had reached the same conclusion. Two years later, we would be cracking up as we watched our Puggle puppy, Ollie, leap and bound through two feet of freshly fallen snow. And, the next year, on another winter night filled with falling snow, we celebrated our wedding surrounded by more than a hundred friends and family. We recently moved into a brand new place with extra space, knowing this could be where our family grows from two to three (well four, if you count Ollie!) Our jobs give us lots of flexibility to work from home or even take our kids with us to work thanks to on-site daycare. And now that we’ve gotten to a place where we can give a child the best life we can possibly provide, we’re excited to start our journey of building our family.
Since you’ve now read a little about the two of us together, we want to also tell you about who we are individually. We struggled with how we should write about ourselves, but, in the end, we thought it was best to let each of us tell our personal stories in our own words. We hope it gives you a better idea of who we are as people and the kinds of parents we would be for your child.
When I was five months old, I arrived at JFK airport in New York City after a 20-hour flight from South Korea. I have seen the looks of joy and happiness on my adoptive parents’ faces as they held me for the first time, thanks to a video of my arrival, that my parents like to show all of my friends whenever anyone even mentions my adoption. Despite any embarrassment I might feel about this video, it’s also helped me visualize what it will be like when James and I hold your child in our arms for the first time.
Being Korean with adoptive parents who are Irish, Swedish, German and Italian, it didn’t take long for me (and others) to realize I was adopted. My adopted parents told me early on about how I came over from Korea and began my life as a member of the family. One of my favorite bedtime stories was the story of how I got adopted from Korea. My adopted mom would begin, “A long time ago, your dad and I were very sad because we wanted a baby to love. Then, your birthmother, who loved you very much, answered our prayers. She loved you so much that she chose us to raise you and trusted that we would give you the best life possible.” One day, when James and I are blessed with a child, we hope to tell them their own adoption story so we can share how amazing a person you are for choosing us to be your child’s adoptive parents.
After my parents adopted me, they also adopted my sister. Though we looked different from our family, my adopted parents surrounded me and my sister – who was adopted from a different South Korean birthmother – with family and friends who loved and supported us unconditionally. They taught me that it was okay to talk about my adoption; that it wasn’t something that had to be kept a secret. As I got older, I started to have questions about my birth family and where I came from. I was lucky to have my adoptive parents and other people in my life who were there to help me find answers to a lot of these questions. Ultimately, I am so happy to not only know I was raised by my adopted parents, but, to also know I was born to a mother who made such a huge personal sacrifice by placing me for adoption because she wanted to give me the best life she could. I can’t wait to be able to share my adoption story with our child and let them know that they are just as lucky, if not more, to have a birthmother who selected us to be their adoptive parents.
Growing up in a suburb just outside New York City, some of my favorite memories were riding my bike through the neighborhood with my friends and selling lemonade and cookies on hot summer days. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher and I set up a fake classroom in my basement, forcing my sister to be one of my students, while I got some practice for my current career in life: teaching. I love teaching and am blessed that, as a teacher, I have a have school vacations and summers off which will allow me to spend quality time with our child.
I grew up in a family where being with each other and following traditions held a very important role in our lives. This is something I want to foster with James and our child one day. Christmas was, and still is, our family’s favorite holiday. When I was a child, my mother would go all out decorating the house festively, starting the day after Thanksgiving. As Christmas drew closer, we had a Christmas tradition of going to the local garden shop to pick out a tree. We would spend forever bickering about which tree was the best, until it would become too cold to keep searching and we’d decide on one just so we could escape the winter air. After we picked out a tree we would trek to a local gift store and buy a few new ornaments every year. Then, on Christmas morning, my dad would always buy me a checkers set, rattle it in the wrapping, and then hand it to me to unwrap. For some reason this became a yearly Christmas tradition and, now that my father is no longer with us, it is something I hold near and dear to my heart. There are many other traditions that I could mention, but the traditions that matter the most to me are those we will be able to start as a family and what they might someday mean to our child.
As James and I began thinking about starting a family, it was clear to me that adoption – instead of surrogacy – would be our choice. Luckily James felt the same way! As you can guess, adoption holds a special place in my heart. It has given me a life full of opportunity, education, love, and support through the tough times. James and I want so much to give another child – hopefully your child – the same kind of opportunity, education, love, and support. For me, in particular, becoming an adoptive parent will help me return some of the kindness and love that has been given to me through my adoption experience. Finally, when our son or daughter eventually asks that inevitable question, “Where did I come from?”, I can speak from experience when I tell them how much their birthmother loved them and answered our prayers by trusting us to raise them and give them the best life we possibly can.
My name is James. I was born and raised in a small city in rural Georgia before moving up to Massachusetts a few years after college. When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money and there were definitely times when we all had to make sacrifices. But, my mom and dad always made sure that my brother and I had what we needed, and that our house was always full of laughter and conversation. My dad grew up on a farm with four brothers before serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, while my mom grew up in the suburbs with only one brother before going to college and starting her career. My parents worked hard and taught my brother and I to set goals, work hard, and believe in ourselves no matter what. I’ve used those lessons to keep myself moving forward through the tough times as I left home, put myself through college, built a successful career and earned an MBA. As a father, I will instill the same belief within my kids, and show them that they can achieve anything they want as long as they work hard and treat people with respect.
Growing up, both of my parents placed a lot of importance on school, and went out of their way to help us study and do the best we could. My mom would even stay up the night before a test, write out a bunch of questions from our textbooks, then get us up early the next morning to go over the answers. Dad had to be up early for work, so instead of outlining chapters and quizzing us in the morning, he would call my brother and I into the room to watch nature documentaries and always made sure he was home in time to watch the nightly news with us. I can’t say that my brother and I were always model students (or perfectly behaved), but we both knew that it was important to mom and dad to be curious about the world around us and make an effort to learn as much as we can in and out of the classroom. As a teacher, I know that Denny will place a lot of importance on our kid’s education in the classroom and because of my mom and dad, I know that I will encourage our son or daughter to always ask questions about the world they live in. We will both be active in our child’s educational lives, whether they choose to go to college and get multiple degrees or pursue other dreams after high school.
As a kid from the country, my brother and I spent lots of time outside running around and getting dirty. After school you could probably find us with a bunch of neighborhood kids playing some made-up game or building a fort in the woods. (After we did our homework, of course.) Now that I’m older, going home to visit my family also means I can show Denny all of the places my brother and I played together when I was little. And, once we become parents, I can’t wait to bring our own children to see their grandparents and play some of the same silly games I did when I was their age.
We currently live just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. For us, this type of location is ideal since it enables us to take advantage of all that Boston has to offer (from art, to music, shopping, museums, historical significance, and delicious food), while allowing us to live in a quieter neighborhood, where there are parks for our future child to play in, side streets for them to ride bikes on, and small local restaurants and stores where we can make memories together as a family. We love our neighborhood and the general Boston area and plan to always live in this area. Boston is the city we both moved to when we arrived in Massachusetts. Boston is the city where we fell in love with each other and Boston is the city that has become our home. We love this city and we want to raise our adoptive child in the area. We hope that one day we will be able to take our child on their first DuckBoat tour, on swan boats in the Boston Garden, to baseball games at Fenway, and to Quincy Market, where they can eat their way through the various cuisines.
Though the general Boston area is the place we call home, more specifically, we currently live in a newly constructed two-bedroom apartment. The apartment community has many open, shared spaces, like an indoor basketball court and a club room, and our apartment is beautiful and tastefully designed. While our apartment is great in and of itself, the dynamic that we have created in our home is what we value the most. When we first met, and as our relationship has developed, the thing we have always valued about being together was that we could be our genuine goofy, random, and weird selves around each other. So, what our home has come to represent, more than anything else, is a place where we can always be ourselves. This means that on Saturday mornings, as James is washing dishes, he sings a silly, made-up song about Denny. This means that Denny often asks our dog, Ollie, a question and that James responds in a silly voice we have given our dog. This means that the sound of Jeopardy, along with the sound of both of us answering the questions out loud, even if we are in different rooms, can be heard echoing through our home on weeknights. Having both come out as gay to our parents at various stages of our lives, we recognize the importance of having a place to call home that is filled with people who always make you feel proud, accepted, and loved. We know that our child will grow up with their own unique personality, likes, dislikes, and quirks and we feel confident that “home” will always be the place they can be themselves and know they will always be loved unconditionally.
Both of us come from different backgrounds and family structures that have helped to make us who we are today. We were both raised in Christian households and, when coming to terms with being gay, struggled, to some extent, to reconcile our families’ religious beliefs with who we were. Despite the various hurdles in telling members in our family about our sexual orientations, or them finding out and having various responses, we were both able to build a system of support around us throughout our adult lives. Moving to Boston, away from home, has also helped us redefine what we mean by “family.” Family is not simply made up of parents and siblings for the two of us; instead, family is also made up of the groups of people with whom we have chosen to surround ourselves. Both of us have a tight knit group of friends, many of whom now have children of their own, that we know will be a significant part of our child’s life. We want these friends and their families to be part of our child’s life from the beginning, so that when they, inevitability, have their first loss, breakup, or fight with us, they not only have us, but another adult in their life they can go, vent to, and explain how they’re feeling, and even how unfair they think we’re being. Additionally, we know that our immediate families will be a part of our child’s life and we will take countless trips to Georgia, where James’ mom lives, and to Amish Country, Pennsylvania, where Denny’s mom lives. We have two very enthusiastic future grandmothers-in-waiting and we can’t wait to adopt a child so they, along with our siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends, can engulf our child in love and support.
There are many things that we hope for our child and our family in the future. Recently, we took a weekend trip up to Maine and stayed in a hotel on the beach. The hotel allowed pets, so we took our dog, Ollie, along with us. At one point, we walked Ollie down to the beach and watched him experience the ocean, sand, seaweed, and waves for the first time. We both laughed when we saw Ollie’s reaction to all of these first-time experiences. But, as we laughed, we started to think about the trips we would take in the future; we thought of how we can’t wait to see our son or daughter put their toes in the ocean for the first time and generally experience all the firsts of life so that we can share these experiences as a family. Whether we’re going to the aquarium for the first time, taking our first road trip to grandma’s, or just giving them their first taste of ice cream, the two of us will never take these moments for granted.
Though we look forward to experiencing these things with our child, as clichéd as it might seem, we ultimately just want our child to be as happy and healthy as possible. One of the greatest gifts our relationship has provided us with is the ability to always be ourselves around each other—quirks, sense of humor, and more. Ultimately hope our child will grow up always feeling secure and in a place where they can just be who they are. Beyond this, we want our child to understand the value of empathy and always caring for other people. This is a value we try to live out every day, whether it is through James’ involvement in Big Brothers of Boston or Denny’s yearly volunteer trips to Camp Sunshine, a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses.
As we’ve talked about in this letter, we hope to provide a variety of different experiences for our child, whether that be traveling, learning a foreign language, or going apple picking. Though we hope to share these experiences with our child, we are also excited to have them develop their own unique personality and interests and be ready to engage with the world around them. We hope our child will be able to become their own person and think for themselves and we hope they will be resilient and equipped with the skills to persevere even when life gets difficult. Both of us went through the unfortunate experience of losing our fathers and, while their deaths were the most difficult things either of us has ever experienced, we were able to lean on our support systems, so we could healthily grieve and move on with life, while still always remembering our dads. We know that life is not always easy, but we want to make sure that our child will always be able to say what they feel and know it is okay to have a mix of feelings throughout the road bumps in life.
574-denny-james-profileAs we come to the end of our letter, we want to take this time to say thank you, just, thank you. The choice you are making is going to change a lot of people’s lives. We realize that you may have considered other choices aside from adoption, and that none of these choices were easy. But, through all of this, you’ve chosen to turn your choice into a gift. We truly cannot think of a greater act of love. So, even if we aren’t matched and we never have any connection beyond this paragraph, we just want to say thank you for making the choice to change people’s lives for the better. But, if you do choose us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the greatest gift we could ever receive, a child to love and bring into our family.