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Neal & Martha
How strange it must be for you to be looking through profiles for the right people to parent your child. We get it; this was strange for us when we matched with our daughter Annabel's birth parents in 2012. But we hope that by reading about us we will make a connection and can get to know each other beyond these words and pictures. Thanks for giving us a look!
What it Means to Be Parents
Our daughter Annabel was born in Texas to two wonderful young people who knew they were not ready to be parents and therefore chose adoption. We are so grateful to them for their trust in us and their love for Annabel. Although we live in different states, technology makes it wonderfully easy to share photos and updates which we do frequently; we also visit them once a year.
Annabel has taught us much about how important it is to nurture the uniqueness of each child, and we will carry these lessons with us if we are fortunate enough to become parents again. To start, Annabel is part Korean, part Caucasian, and part Native American, so teaching ourselves and her about her cultural heritage is something we have enjoyed. For example, for her first birthday we incorporated traditional Korean dress and a special celebration. The second thing that makes Annabel unique is that she was born with a visual impairment, so we have worked tirelessly to understand how she sees the world and to help her develop given this added challenge.At the very heart, though, is how a child feels about him or herself and developing a strong, confident sense of self. We do this every day with Annabel, by listening to her and by guiding her. We will do the same with any other child who joins our family. Seeing a child take pride in his or her accomplishments, make good friends, and show compassion towards others: that is happiness. That is what it means to us to be parents.
Our Leisure Time
Our interests cover a little bit of everything. Neal has been a long distance runner for many years and has run a total of fifteen marathons. His biggest athletic accomplishment was completing an Ironman triathlon in 2002, which is a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and finished with a 26.2 mile run. We also enjoy more leisurely athletic pursuits. Our home is just a few blocks from Lake Michigan, where we often go for a walk or a bike ride, and in the summer, a swim. Annabel is a total water baby and loves swimming and playing on the beach too.We also love the arts of all kinds. We have both been involved in theater, and Neal is currently an active board member on our friend’s theater company. Annabel loves music which we incorporate into many things that we do. We have all taken music classes together and go to concerts, a children’s theater in our neighborhood, and annual neighborhood street festivals.
Addressing Cultural Diversity
Living in one of the most diverse communities in Chicago, it is not uncommon for us to walk through our neighborhood and hear several languages spoken, see multiracial families playing at the park, or smell Latino, Asian, or African food wafting from the restaurants nearby. Still, picking up food at the local Mexican grocery isn’t just a special occasion, it is a part of our everyday life, and our interest in learning about other cultures goes deeper than just knowing where to get the best homemade tacos. Following college graduation, Martha moved to Mexico and lived with a Mexican family for three months where she studied Spanish and traveled throughout the country. Neal has also lived outside the U.S., spending three months working in Japan. And, since the adoption of our daughter,we too have become a proud part of our multiracial community. We will expose Annabel to local cultural events that celebrate her Korean and Native American background and support her in learning more about her cultural heritage. In our experience, we believe that differences make people unique, but love makes people a family.
Our House and Neighborhood
We live on the north side of Chicago, a city we love for its nearly unlimited opportunities for museums, music, restaurants, and culture. As city dwellers, we absolutely take advantage of all Chicago has to offer, but because we’ve lived here for years, we also have a tight circle of old friends and neighborhood connections.
Our home is a spacious three-bedroom condo that is three blocks from a beach and playground on Lake Michigan. How lucky do we feel to live in a city and also near a beach!
Our family friendly neighborhood has several music and art fairs we go to every year. On Sunday mornings we walk to our farmer’s market for fresh produce, which has also become a lively neighborhood gathering place.But what truly makes Chicago home is our friends of 20 years (and counting!). We all live nearby so we see each other often. Over the years, we’ve developed a Sunday night dinner tradition –soups and stews in the winter and outdoor barbecues in the summer. This extended family now includes several of our friends’ kids, and there is always room for more. Having laid down these roots, we’ve created a life that gives us the best of all worlds: a big city with a small town feel.
Our Extended Families
We both grew up with large, raucous, and loving families who taught us the importance of kindness, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. We also come from families who believe it is important to “show up” for each other. When we were kids, we’d see a huge family turnout at our baseball games, band concerts, and theater performances. Our families show up for the tough stuff too, and were thrilled when we adopted our daughter Annabel. They can’t wait to welcome a new baby to our ranks.
Martha is the oldest of four girls. They are a close-knit set of sisters who grew up in Wisconsin. We have four nieces and two nephews who, along with Annabel, bring great kid energy to every family gathering. Martha comes from a family of artists, with aunts and uncles who are painters, writers, jazz musicians, and dancers. Martha’s parents are retired now, and her mom’s creative endeavors include knitting for her grandchildren and making them personalized storybooks.Neal is the older of two boys. He grew up in Ohio with sixteen aunts and uncles and seventeen cousins who all love to be together, so large family gatherings are frequent and lively. As Neal’s generation has started families, we have exponentially exploded in size! Last summer we all set aside a weekend for a big family reunion. Over sixty people came from across the country to picnic, play games, and celebrate.
From Us to You
Choosing an adoption plan for your child is a brave and loving decision, and we imagine that you could be feeling a mixture of many emotions. We are grateful that you have chosen to learn more about us, and hope that this profile will give you more clarity and peace as you make your decision.
We initially came to adoption as many people do, after years of unsuccessful attempts to have a biological child. Through those years, we had to think long and hard about the decision to be parents. What we always came back to was how happy our own childhoods were, and how much we wanted to nurture a new generation and share our family traditions with children of our own. In 2012 we were overjoyed to become parents to our daughter Annabel. Her birth parents matched with us one week before she was born (!) and we were fortunate to be able to get down to their Texas home in time for Annabel’s birth. It was an exciting time, and we spent a month in Texas before returning to Chicago, which gave us an opportunity to get to know one another and build the foundation of our relationship. And now we would love to add another child to our family.
Openness is a big part of how we think about adoption. We believe that for a healthy and strong sense of self, every child has a right to know who they are and where they come from. If you choose us to raise your child, we will always share a connection with you in that child. We would talk with love and pride about your decision to make an adoption plan, and would share as much as we can with your child about his or her biological family. Our hope is to know you and share the child’s life with you, to whatever degree you are comfortable. At the very least, we will regularly send letters and pictures so that you can see your child and the person he or she is becoming. If, as we all get to know each other better, you’d like to have more contact, we are very open to figuring that out with you. We will always use your child’s needs to help guide us.
Our daily lives are busy and full. Neal works as an IT program manager and helps solve people’s technology problems. Martha is a clinical psychologist who helps people solve all kinds of other problems. Both of our jobs offer a lot of flexibility that has come in handy as parents. Neal cares for Annabel in the evenings that Martha works and takes Annabel to music class on the weekends. Martha’s private practice gives her the freedom to make her own schedule, which has allowed her ample time to be home with Annabel during the day. We also share our home with our two cats, Gracie and Lola. They are friendly and mischievous little fuzzballs who never met a sparkly ball they didn’t like.
We understand, and imagine that you do too, that life doesn’t always happen the way we plan. In grade school, Neal was certain he’d be drafted by the Cincinnati Reds right out of high school. He had to rethink that plan when didn’t make his high school baseball team. Yet, later in life, he fell in love with running, trained hard, and became an Ironman triathlete. Yes, dreams change, and that can be painful. But life can still be wonderful in ways no one could have expected. We hope to be able to create something just as unexpectedly wonderful with you through adoption.Sincerely,
Neal & Martha
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