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Al & Lauren
Words can't capture the emotions we have writing this, or the journey you've been through, and your feelings reading this. We want you to know we've approached this with compassion, love and openness - values that reflect us. It would be the greatest honor to be chosen to parent your child and fill their life with everything we can give: love and laughter, music and memories, dancing and cuddles, opportunities and adventures.
What Makes Us Unique
What makes Al unique is that he is from South Africa and lived in the UK for most of his adult life. This has given him a cosmopolitan perspective and allowed him to travel extensively across southern Africa, Europe and he once traveled southeast Asia for 3 months. South Africa has 11 official languages and he can speak a bit of three of them. He has a deep appreciation for local traditions, music and food. His adventurous palette means he might cook a Cape Malay curry or find an Ethiopian restaurant for a traditional coffee ceremony with popcorn. He loves catching live music and will always take the opportunity to play on unique, native instruments.
What makes Lauren unique is her career in journalism. She has worked for TV and radio news stations as well as long format magazines, winning awards for her investigative and reporting work. She has covered stories about everything from local crime and major court cases to presidential races, hurricanes and the development of new medical procedures and environmentally-friendly fuel alternatives. She now works in business journalism, covering volatile commodity markets and creating content for business decision makers. She is also very musical and can easily play songs on piano by ear.
Qualities We Love, Admire and Respect in Each Other
Al About Lauren: What I love most about Lauren is her deep, unshakable sense of loyalty to friends and family, with a seemingly endless supply of support and empathy. She is the most honest, ethical and sincere person I have ever met. I value Lauren's incredible work ethic in everything she does and her curiosity, which has taken us across the world traveling, introduced us to new hobbies like orcharding and inspired us to take extra classes together in statistics and ballroom dancing. She has a quirky sense of humor and enjoys live comedy clubs. I also like her theatricality, passion for the arts and the way she sings and plays piano.
Lauren About Al: What I love about Al the most is his self-confidence and authenticity - he is totally unafraid to be himself at all times. He is a sea of calm at his core: patient, in-touch with his emotions and unafraid to show them when he feels them. He is a great listener. He is a gregarious storyteller and can often be the center of attention at a party. I admire his classical guitar skills and great ear for imitating different accents. I respect his service-oriented mindset and interest in DIY projects - Al is always learning something new and getting into a new hobby or trying out the latest tech gadgets. Al is a steadfast care-giver, taking great care of our pets and of me when I have been sick. I love the way he sings in the shower and makes up funny songs.
We will embrace our child’s adoption story and hold you, the birth parents, in a place of honor in our household. We will be totally open and honest with our child about their beautiful and unique origin story. Our child will always know that they were and are loved both by you and by us. We intend to make a scrapbook commemorating aspects of their birth family, heritage and culture to help them form a strong sense of identity; a bridge between adoptive and birth families. Growing up, we will make it a ritual to share stories and pictures of how they were born and adopted into our family. We would also be sure to read them books and watch movies that help them find role models and see similar family situations in life. They will know that the decision to have us parent them was a decision motivated by an unimaginable amount of love for them and a desire to give them the very best. We look forward to exchanging photos, emails, letters and having an open relationship with you.
Our House and Neighborhood
We live in a small suburb of 3,000 people with good proximity to Dallas, Texas. We have a mix of retirees and young families, and everyone loves the local parks and being community-involved. The schools are some of the best in the nation and children always play in the neighborhood streets.
Lauren is a member of the local women's club which does annual charity events and auctions for the local volunteer fire department. Al stays involved with the local AFS group which supports study abroad opportunities for youth. The community hosts parades for 4th of July and Christmas. Neighbors host holiday parties for Halloween and summer block parties with hot dogs, live music, games.
Our home is 3,600 square feet and is 1 ½ stories with 4 bedrooms on the first floor and a large "bonus room" on the top. We have a huge 1 acre yard full of beautiful post oak trees that produce the most amazing color in autumn - a perfect place for children to run wild. We renovated our kitchen to expand the space since we love cooking so much. And we have a separate glass-enclosed music room with our instruments.
We attend a local gym which has a swimming pool we use regularly until we have one built on our property (a dream for the future!). We live on a cul-de-sac and enjoy cycling the safe streets or taking our bikes and kayaks to the local lake and hitting the trails.
Our Extended Families
We are lucky to live close to Lauren's family (sister, brother-in-law, mom, dad, uncles, aunts, cousins). Each week we have "Wild Wednesday" where the family gathers for fun outdoor activities (parks, walks, bounce houses) with a focus on our niece, age 3, and nephew, age 5. We end with a home-cooked meal, often picking vegetables and herbs from Lauren's parents' garden.
Our family does an annual trip to South Africa to see Al's mom, dad and sister. We go on safari, see wild animals and stay in the Kruger National Park. We often visit museums like the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and love to eat at local restaurants.
For major holidays, we gather with extended family and friends from across the state, prepare and eat a home-cooked meal together, play games (cards or "goof ball"), chat and watch football. We particularly enjoy doing "Friendsgiving" with others who have immigrated from other parts of the world.
But Christmas is our favorite time of year. It is full of decorations, food, hot cider and cocoa, Christmas sweaters, driving to see Christmas-lights, baking cookies and so much music. Going to see the Nutcracker, local parades and markets, and donating to charities are all part of our holiday traditions with family.
From Us to You
Thank you for your bravery in considering an adoption plan for your child. We imagine the path you are walking is full of challenges, emotions and unknowns. That's why we want you to know us better as you think about your child's future.
There's a Nelson Mandela quote we love: "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." This sums up our own adoption journey beautifully. We are full of hope for our future child and our life as a family. We have so much that we are eager to share and give to our child! Our child will always know unconditional love from us and our extended family and friends.
A typical Saturday includes gathering in the kitchen to make homemade pancakes. Having family and friends visit is common. Lauren's sister's family (with niece and nephew ages 3 and 5) and her parents frequently come over. They all live 15 minutes away. The nine of us would sit in the breakfast nook at the round table and the kitchen island where we can view the beautiful post oak trees through the windows looking into our acre property. It would no doubt get rowdy as Lauren's dad would want to try a fancy, wild recipe. If there is a good soccer or rugby game on, we would have friends over. Often, we do a Skype call with Al's family in South Africa and they share tales of their travels with us.
We always have music playing and when it's a great song, we'll all sing along. Some of the family might migrate to the music room and play on the instruments: piano, guitars, flute, harmonica and drums. In the early afternoon, we would run around the yard and play tag. Or perhaps head to the detached garage to help Al refinish some furniture. We might walk the streets of our cul-de-sac neighborhood with our child in the stroller, watching for local wildlife (Lauren's siblings are outdoor educators and teach us so much) or stop in at the local parks or some lake trails. We often go to the town square for people watching, a local festival, a bite at a restaurant or ice cream. We love to end our days on the patio watching the sunset.
In the evening, we would have consistent bedtime routines. We love and prioritize good rest. We would brush teeth, recount our gratitudes, joys and successes from the day, and read to our child. We will tell them of their beautiful origin story, about both their birth and adoptive families. Al and Lauren love to snuggle and cuddle up into blankets when it's cold and the two cats would join in on the cozy feelings with our child.
We want our child to realize their potential as the unique individual that they are. We will give them the resources to make the best possible decisions in life and to be filled with confidence as individuals. We value education and would support them in school and through college, exposing them to lots of subjects and supporting that with educational excursions to museums in our area and travel both in the US and across the world.
We look forward to sharing our love of animals and community involvement. Christmas traditions include giving to charities and community drives. Our child will grow up with chores, helping care for our cats and dogs, developing a sense of responsibility along with the fun that pets add to life. We look forward to our child's involvement in local sports if they show an interest as well as scouts, dance, music, theatre and science. We would have so much fun doing the at-home science packs together, arts and crafts. But ultimately we would let our child's heart and interests guide us in how we parent them.
Our child will be hugged and kissed everyday. They will know of the gift and sacrifice you made. They will know you through an open relationship we have with you with letters, pictures, emails and visits. Their home with us will be: Loving. Open. Honest. Compassionate. Giving. Educational. Secure. Adventurous. Joyful. Music-filled. Well-nourished. Physically active.
With gratitude and hope,
Al & Lauren