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Tom & Kirsten
Five years ago, adoption built the family you see in this profile. A few years later, we're ready to welcome a new child into our lives, and to build a strong, respectful relationship with you, the child's birth parents. We thank you for reading our profile and considering us as a family for your child.
Adoption in Our Lives
Even before we met, we were both committed to the idea of adoption to help build our family. All of our lives have been made better by adoption, as we were lucky enough to welcome our first child, Bix, into our lives five years ago. Bix's adoption is closed, to respect the wishes of her birthparents. While respecting this, we've shared with Bix everything we can about her story. We frequently tell her about the day she was born and about her birthparents who loved her so much they worked hard to find a couple who would love her and raise her.
Even though our first child has a closed adoption, we would value an open adoption with the child's birth parents involved in the child's life. We think that every child deserves his or her full, true story, even when it's complicated. We're committed to sharing their story with them and making sure that the child feels secure and loved by everyone in their story. We understand that you may desire more or less contact and we are open to a range of possibilities.
Family takes priority in our lives. We love spending time together! We go to different trails on the island to hike in the forest and swim under waterfalls. We set up a shade canopy at the beach, and body surf the waves, build sand castles, or float in the water. We volunteer with Bix’s school events, often at a farm where they grow taro using traditional agricultural methods brought to Hawaii by the original Polynesian voyagers.
We sit down together for homecooked dinner every night. We also eat dinner with Kirsten’s parents, who live in Honolulu, at least once a week. We take vacation every summer to visit Tom’s parents, sisters, and nephews on the east coast. We Skype on the weekends with Kirsten’s brothers. In moments of need, we are all there for one another.
Individually, Kirsten loves cooking vegetarian food, reading books, making lei (Hawaiian flower garlands), gardening, singing, and playing board games. Tom enjoys playing the ukulele, sailing canoes, cooking, and puttering in the yard.
We are committed to raising a child with a strong foundation of their birth culture. What that literally means is a commitment on our part to making the child’s culture part of our family’s culture – we will celebrate traditions of their birth culture, cook the food, learn the language (if not English), and, most importantly, become a meaningful member of a local, living community in the child’s birth culture.
As an example of this, our daughter is Native Hawaiian and we’ve worked to build the language and culture of Hawaii into our family. In the five years she’s been in our family, we’ve raised her in Hawaiian language immersion schools, we’ve all learned to speak native Hawaiian, she dances hula, and we’ve and built a network of friends who both look like her and can serve as authentic, living models of her birth culture.
Our House and Neighborhood
We live in a three-bedroom, two-bath house a couple of blocks from the beach on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Hawaii is all about supporting family, or as we say here, ohana. Our neighborhood is full of young families, many of whom attend our local school. The neighborhood public elementary school is the best on the island and a 10 minute walk from our front door. We have a strong community that puts on plays, hosts paddling competitions, and throws neighborhood gatherings in the park.
Given the weather in Hawaii, we live as much outside as we do inside, and our house has wide doors to throw open to our garden. We have a lovely yard with loads of flowers and fruit trees (and soon, chickens!). The beach a couple blocks from our house has wide, white sand, protected waters, and a real, live coral reef. Families gather in the evening for picnics while the kids splash in the water. We are an easy stroll to a wonderful beach park, where kids climb on the playground, people paddle outrigger canoes, play soccer and volleyball, and BBQ with friends. A short ride down the bike path leads to a downtown area with a grocery store, restaurants, and shops.
Our Extended Families
We both come from large, loving families who are all excited to see us grow our family and to welcome a newcomer into the family fold. They have fully embraced Bix and supported us in our role as adoptive parents.
Both Tom’s and Kirsten’s parents are still together after almost 50 years, and we both have two siblings – so there are two uncles (Kirsten’s brothers) and two aunts (Tom’s sisters) ready and waiting for a new niece or a nephew. Your child will join a close-knit group of cousins ready for games, camp-outs, and fun!
Our families are incredibly important to us. Fortunately, we see each other quite often. Kirsten’s parents moved to Honolulu to be closer to us, and now they live over the hill in Waikiki. We have weekly dinners over at “Oma’s” house, and Oma and Opa regularly help out – taking Bix swimming or to watch hula dancing.
Tom’s parents split their time between Massachusetts and South Carolina, and we go back east to visit every summer. Fourth of July means fireworks, BBQ, and jumping off the dock with the cousins at Giga and Da’s!
From Us to You
We’re Tom, Kirsten, and Beatrix. Adoption has built the family you see in this profile. Now we’re all ready to welcome a new child into our lives, and to build a strong, respectful relationship with you, the child’s birth parents. We recognize that the decisions you’re faced with are all difficult. We thank you for reading our profile, and for considering us as a family for your child.
Tom is a marine biologist who studies how corals may adapt to a changing world and how we can best work to protect coral reefs. Kirsten is an environmental economist, who works to make sure that economics actually counts the things that really matter to humans, like standing forests, clean water, and plenty of fish in the sea. Our daughter, Beatrix Puakala, or Bix, joined us five very exciting years ago.
We met almost sixteen years ago, in the first year of our doctorates. We had our first date on leap day 2004, and were married four years later, on leap day 2008. One of our vows was to share a “joyful, adventurous” life together, and we’ve done a great job so far.
We lived for two years in Madagascar, bicycled through Holland, conducted research in Samoa and the Marshall Islands, sailed along the coast of Croatia, went on safari in Tanzania, and hiked in California. Bix jumped right in with us and has helped with field-work on Big Island and Maui, hiked through Yosemite and New Hampshire, and visited her loving grandparents in the snowy east.
Even before we met, we were both committed to the idea of adoption to help build our family and have now been living that dream for five years. After learning about the many different styles of adoption, we decided that we value open adoption with birth parents involved in the child’s life. We believe in open adoption and think that every child deserves his or her full, true story, even when it’s complicated. We understand that you may desire more or less contact and we are open to a range of possibilities. Whatever level of openness you prefer, we commit to sharing letters and pictures with you as your child grows.
As you might expect from two academics, we love learning and will surround your child with the joys of books, the wonders of the natural world, and the adventures of travel. Our home is full of books, both fun ones and weighty tomes, as well as cozy places set up for reading. For fun outside the house, we love hiking, camping, paddling our stand up paddle board, surfing, biking, listening to live music, and just setting up the canopy at the beach park for the day. Our family will see a lot of the world and its many cultures - from fieldwork on small Pacific islands to visiting extended family in Europe.
We’re at a point in our lives where we are ready welcome another child into our family, build a loving world around him or her, and watch that child grow to his or her full potential. We hope that you and your child will join us on this next joyful adventure.
Tom & Kirsten
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