We hope you are safe and well as you read this. We know that you want the best for your child, and that this must be a very difficult decision, choosing the right adoptive parents for the child you are carrying.
To us, being parents means helping our child become who he or she is meant to be. We want you to know that we will devote our lives to making sure that the child we raise is enfolded in love and has absolutely every opportunity we can offer them. Had we been able to conceive and bear our own child, this is what we would have wanted for them, and we will give ourselves to our adopted child, heart and soul, in the same way. That child will be partly you, partly their adoptive parents, and yet entirely their own person, and we will love that child with our whole heart. And if it is your desire, we would want that child to know his birth mother through whatever ways felt right to you. We want to raise our child with an open understanding of how they came to join our family, and to honor whatever place their birthmother wants to have in our lives.
When we think ahead to the moment when we’ll be able to become parents, we already feel such love for the child who will join us. (It may sound a little strange to love a person we haven’t even met yet, but we know we do.) We began trying to have a child three years ago. When Karen got pregnant, it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to us. We were so eager to welcome our child into our family and to devote ourselves to loving and raising that child. During those three years we experienced the heartbreak of a miscarriage, and we underwent fertility treatments to try to become pregnant again. With great sadness, we finally realized those efforts were not going to be successful for us. We deeply grieved the loss of that possibility – but we also have always believed in adoption as a loving way to build a family, in part because of watching the joy that our close friends Jim and Colette have found with their daughter Emma, who came to them through adoption.
Both of us have always wanted children, and we both have had the experience of caring for babies and young children. Karen was seven when her baby brother, Jeff, was born, and when she arrived home from school the day her mother brought Jeff home from the hospital, Karen rushed straight to the new baby’s crib and wouldn’t leave his side. Over the years, she babysat for her brother and a number of neighborhood children, and she loved the opportunity to play with them, teach them and care for them.
Peter, as the youngest of six children, always wanted a younger sibling. So when his sister Carol started having children when Peter was fifteen, he couldn’t get enough of caring for her kids, changing their diapers, making them laugh and comforting their tears – especially during the six months they were living with Peter and his parents.
We are fortunate to have several young children in our extended families (who are longing to have another cousin to play with!). Our niece Jane, the daughter of Karen’s brother, is one of our favorite relatives to visit with. She creates endless funny plays, coming up with elaborate characters and scenarios for us to act out. She’s currently enjoying juggling lessons from Peter, and we love attending her dance recitals and gymnastics events.
We both value education, and want to make sure our child has the best opportunities possible: to attend good schools, to explore new ideas, to develop fascinations and curiosities, to go to college. In fact, in our careers we each work with college students, Peter as a career counselor, Karen as a teacher in a freshman writing class. We are both dedicated to helping students discover their passion in life and to express their ideas, and we want to help our own child find those passions and ideas as well. In addition, our jobs, at two well-established universities, offer both long-term stability and great scheduling flexibility. During the first two months of our child’s life, we will both stay at home, and for the first year, we will both work part-time so that our child will not need day care.
The life we’ve built together as a couple is shaped by the things we each love to do, and we are eager to share these things with the child we raise. Two of our favorite places are the mountains and the ocean, places with deep meaning for each of us. Since his teenage years, Peter has drawn spiritual sustenance from time spent in the mountains, hiking, camping and skiing, and for a couple of years, he helped lead backpacking trips for a college leadership program. And for the nine years of our relationship, we have shared the joys of hiking and camping together and with friends.
Karen grew up spending summer vacations at the ocean, and together we make time at the beach a key part of our summer. As a child she loved building sand castles, exploring tidal pools and collecting shells. For her, simply walking down a long stretch of beach, listening to the ocean, is a peaceful and magical experience.
Karen is a fiction writer, and our home is filled with books. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts a child can have – the ability to be creative, to make up stories, to pretend. Peter has recently participated in a read-aloud program to a classroom of third- and fourth-graders, and we imagine many afternoons and bedtimes of reading stories together with our own child. We look forward to that magical process of teaching a child to read and helping that child unlock the worlds in books.
The foundation of the love we want to share with a child comes from the strong and caring relationship we have together. At the center of that relationship is a commitment to each other; a shared spirited sense of humor; and the strong acceptance and support we each give to each other for who we are.
We first met at an anniversary barbeque for two mutual friends. While the guests were gathered outside on the lawn, chatting and eating, our friend Kelly brought out a cooler filled with squirt guns and water balloons. That playful moment was a great way to break the ice. And so this is how we met – flirting with squirt guns. The rest of the evening we talked and talked, and we realized just how comfortable we were together. In fact, we seemed so at ease and playful with each other that some of the other guests assumed that we were already a couple.
When one of us is going away to a conference or even just for a long day, we sometimes leave notes all over the house for the other to find. “I miss you already” or “I love you” show up on notes on the bathroom mirror, on the bed pillows, by the computer, or even in the microwave.
We both value working together as a team, whether it’s sharing the housework or supporting each other in the things we love to do. One of the readings we included in our wedding came from Anne Morrow Lindberg’s book Gift from the Sea, in which she describes a relationship being “like a dance,” one that we take turns leading. In the same way that we share the joys and the responsibilities in our lives, we look forward to being equally involved parents, both taking time to be at home and raise our child.
Karen is the kindest, least selfish person I know. When my mother was declining physically, Karen and I made a number of weekend trips to care for her. My mother had trouble dressing herself, using the bathroom and getting in and out of her wheelchair. I watched Karen ever so patiently and gently help my mother, making sure she felt cared for and safe, had the clothes she wanted to wear, had her hair brushed and a little makeup on. I knew then that I had chosen the right woman to raise a child with, that Karen would be a loving mother who would truly be a partner in dealing with all the ups and downs of child-rearing.
The first time I took Karen camping it was freezing cold; the hike I chose for the group we were camping with was too long and too steep; and she and I had to cook dinner for seven in the dark when we got back to the campsite. But Karen never complained – she just asked that next time the hike be a little shorter and the weather a little warmer. This is how Karen is – willing to tackle any adventure or problem; uncomplaining; straightforward and able to lovingly communicate in ways that strengthen our marriage. I know these qualities will make her a great mother, too.
Peter is the most generous person I know. That giving nature shows up in the way he’ll bring flowers home for no reason, or bring me a cup of tea in the morning. One night I came home and in the middle of our living room was a complete surprise – a beautiful Adirondack chair Peter had assembled for us to put in our back yard, because he knew I would love it as a place to sit outside and write. I saw that same loving generosity as I watched him care for his father when he was sick – Peter reassured his worries with such enormous patience and love, and gave him the simple pleasures of sitting outside in the sunshine or driving to a favorite restaurant for lunch.
Peter also has an enormous sense of fun. No one makes me laugh harder or more often (one surprise when we met was discovering that both of our fathers share a love for truly bad puns, and Peter definitely inherited that gift for humor). And I love watching him laugh, especially as he’s playing with the children we know, whether he’s chasing imaginary bad guys with his nephew Samuel or dressing up as one of the characters my niece Jane invents for her plays. Peter will also make sure that we’ve got fun things to look forward to: a baseball game to go to, a concert with singers we love, a trip that will take us to a spot that few other people find.
The things I treasure about him are many, but at the top of the list is the way he shares so much of himself, the way he is so honest and open. As we’ve come through all these steps towards creating our family, some full of heartache and others of joy, he has always shared with me his feelings and thoughts, his deep desire to raise a child together. I know that our child will learn many things from him: a love of nature, an attentive way of looking at the world, a sense of spirituality. Most important, our child will have the experience of being raised by an involved and loving father who will always want the best for that child, who will champion their dreams, and who is so ready to welcome the child who will hold such a special place in Peter’s heart.
The life we imagine giving our child is influenced in so many ways by the families in which we were raised: who we are and what we value comes so deeply from them. For the CD of songs we made for the guests at our wedding, Peter designed the insert and he included photos of us as children with our parents, honoring the love and the values that they have given each of us.
Both my parents were teachers and they brought that focus on education into our home. They actively demonstrated their commitment to peace and justice, through work in local politics and in service activities through their church. They believed it was their job to make the world a better place, and I have tried to follow their example through my work and my own volunteer activities.
When Karen met my parents, she says she immediately felt their welcoming warmth. She felt embraced immediately by our large family, an act symbolized by Peter’s mother knitting her one of the family Christmas stockings.
When I was eleven, my father joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and remained both sober and very active in the program for the last 38 years of his life. His participation in the twelve-step program had a profound and positive impact on our family. And through attending Al-Anon (a support group for family members of alcoholics), I’ve discovered the nurturing spirituality at the core of the program: one also based in being of service to others, and of trusting in a Higher Power to help guide our lives.
I have always felt lucky to have the family I do. My parents both worked as psychologists whose careers focused on helping people cope with difficulties in their lives. They raised my brother and me to value talking and sharing feelings. I’m so grateful to them for the support they’ve always given me – I always knew that they wanted me to be exactly who I am. They taught me that a family remains close by talking, sharing needs and feelings, and respecting the ideas of everyone in that family. When I think of raising my own family, these are the values I want to pass on.
They are very involved grandparents with my niece Jane. Dad bought her an apron with her name embroidered on it so she can wear it when she visits and they bake cookies together. Mom imagines inventive games for her and Jane to play: they drape themselves in scarves and jewelry for dress-up, and Mom packs up stickers and crayons on long car rides so Jane can make cards for the people we’re going to visit. Both of them are very excited to be grandparents again, and they’ve been so supportive of our journey through the adoption process. We’re grateful that they live only an hour’s drive from us and that they will know our child well.
One of the reasons we fell in love with our house was because we could so easily imagine a child playing and running around in its open sunny rooms. (One of Peter’s nephews has been testing the place out for us – he was here just the other day, and he reports great fun running laps from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room.) We have a fenced-in backyard just right for playing tag or hide and seek.
We chose our town to live in partly for its good schools, but also for its size: the town is small enough that we know our neighbors, that the streets are quiet and lined with trees, and that in five minutes we can walk to the small town center full of locally-owned shops. Recently the town built a new library, just a few blocks from our house, and the children’s librarian is the most creative and involved person – even parents in other towns have heard of him! A few blocks away, a renovated school building serves as an arts center, and artists from all over work in their studios there, hold art shows and offer classes. A band plays in a small park in the town center every Wednesday night in the summer. And in good weather you can hear children running through neighbors’ yards playing tag. Our church is only five minutes away, and is very family-focused in its program. We’ve also learned that there are more than half a dozen children there who have joined their families through adoption, and we’re glad that we and our child will be connected with other families that have come together in this way.
Our town also has the benefit of being less than an hours’ drive from a city containing terrific museums for children, as well as sports venues, programs in art and music, and a rich mix of diverse neighborhoods. We’re glad that our child will grow up in a close community while still having the benefits of those opportunities.
We hope that what we’ve talked about here helps you imagine the kind of home we want to provide for a child, and the kinds of parents we look forward to being. If it would help as you make this decision, we would be so happy to talk with you to tell you more about ourselves or to answer any questions you might want to ask. We would love the chance to hear your hopes and dreams for your child. You can be in touch with us through Full Circle Adoptions anytime at 1-800-452-3678.