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Jared & Erika
We can't imagine what you are feeling, but you probably imagine and hope for a beautiful life for your baby, full of love, acceptance, safety, support, family, and fun. As adoptive parents, we take seriously this responsibility to our family and to you; a responsibility to share a safe, sheltering home where unconditional love, acceptance, and understanding give children the best chance to be their best selves.
We have two incredible daughters from Jared's previous marriage. Both girls spend 70% of their time with their mother, who lives on a farm about 2.5 hours from us. (Jared's relationship with their mother is healthy and respectful.) Mazie is 14. She is independent, physically and mentally strong, and a very hard worker. She excels academically and got an opportunity to attend a prestigious boarding school as a high school freshman this year. The independence suits her, and her grades and performance on the crew/rowing team make her proud. It makes us proud to see her confident and happy. Maxine is 12. She is thoughtful and artistic, an "old soul." She also makes schoolwork a priority and does very well academically. She's also a talented artist and plays violin and ukulele. The girls both love animals, domestic and wild. They grew up spending lots of time outdoors in the woods and on the farm, digging in the dirt, wading through the creek, playing with the animals, and using their imaginations. They will be amazing big sisters!
Today, most of the time they spend with us is over long weekends and for stretches of a week or two during school breaks. They still share a room here, and we all spend a lot of time together when they are home. There will never be a shortage of loving arms to hold and care for a baby, especially when they are here.
Our Life Priorities
We prioritize acceptance, connection, and love. And to stay focused on those things in this distracting world is not always easy. So we try to be present in the moment - really paying attention to each other - and looking for the beautiful things in those moments. We believe that we can create a beautiful world by looking for and sharing those moments with others. We share so many of those moments with each other and our daughters; simple things like riding in the car, eating dinner at the table together, and going grocery shopping become meaningful and fun.
Making our relationship a priority helps us maintain a healthy foundation for our family. We focus on open communication and appreciation of each other not only for our own benefit, but in order to allow our children to feel comfortable to explore their feelings openly, explore their world, and to teach them healthy problem-solving skills. We work to listen without judgment and create an environment where we all feel understood, respected, and valued.
We also prioritize activity. While we enjoy the quiet times, we are often doing. Working, learning, cooking, cleaning, gardening, traveling, biking, exercising, playing, laughing. We have built a rich and beautiful life. As beautiful as that life is, we can't wait to adapt our routines as we pour that attention and energy into loving and caring for a baby.
Adoption in Our Family
Three of Jared's siblings were adopted when they were five, three, and two years old. That made a large family with five kids even bigger: now Jared was the oldest of eight. And now the family looked different, too, because Ivan, Jamie, and Anna are all biracial. His parents set the only right expectations for the new siblings: we are all family. One of Jared's fondest memories is coming home from college to seven brothers and sisters happy to see him, sometimes falling and wrestling in a heap in the front yard. A single, beautiful family. Adoption enriched their lives in so many ways.
Erika has been able to watch firsthand the beauty of being a birth mother. Her sister-in-law, Stacy, chose adoption for her baby when she was young. Stacy was often proud and excited to receive updates and photographs from the adoptive parents about Emily. As technology progressed, social media was a easy way for Stacy to stay in touch and feel connected. She couldn't be more proud to be attending Emily's wedding in 2021.
Our House and Neighborhood
We live in a wonderful, established neighborhood in the suburbs of a large city in Tennessee. We enjoy taking advantage of restaurants, theaters, museums, and parks in the downtown area. And our location in our neighborhood is perfect. Our back yard extends into a large park with playgrounds, a greenway, tennis courts, and the local YMCA and summer pool. We regularly walk or bike through the neighborhood, along the greenway, and to surrounding shopping - grocery store, book store, coffee shop, and local restaurants. Bonus: The neighborhood elementary school is just a short walk through the backyard and down the greenway. And the local public school system here is outstanding.
We're the second owners of our five-bedroom, three-bath house, built in 1959. We moved in about 2 years ago, after its remodel in 2018. There's plenty of room for us, our daughters, and a baby upstairs. The kitchen is the heart of our home, and whether we're entertaining or just playing games with the family, we spend most of our time upstairs in the open kitchen/living room space. Downstairs, there are two bedrooms and a bath (for visiting family), an office and a TV/family room for movie night.
Outside, we sit on the porch with a book and coffee waving to folks who pass by. In the backyard, we garden flowers and vegetables, grill out, and build fires in the evening to roast marshmallows.
Our next door neighbors, on each side, have young children, including one international adoption.
Our Extended Families
We are both so lucky both come from strong and close-knit families. The loving and accepting families that we grew up with continue to be the backbone of our support system.
Erika is originally from the Seattle area and still has family there. Jared's parents still live in the house he grew up in in Birmingham, AL. As our siblings have started their own families, they've spread out everywhere in between. We love visiting such different places to see them: Washington, Kansas City, Idaho, Alabama, Montana, and more. We travel to visit each other for any reason or no reason at all. We love spending time together, so it truly doesn't matter what the activity is, there is sure to be laughter and a lot of it. Silliness runs in both of our families, and it certainly comes out when we all get together.
With eight living siblings between us, we have 25 nieces and nephews, ranging from 30 years old to a newborn - and three new ones are due in 2021! That's a lot of cousins growing up together! The most amazing thing about our extended family is that it's so diverse - different opinions, colors of skin, religions, and personalities - and so inclusive. Our families not only accept, but welcome and embrace every difference. And they are so, so happy about our decision to adopt. It's hard for us to imagine a more wonderful group of people happier to welcome a child.
From Us to You
The world is its most beautiful when people help each other. We're really looking forward to growing our family and are grateful that you'd consider helping us do so. And we want to offer our help to you, too. We want to help realize all of your hopes and dreams for this child. You're making hard decisions and sacrifices out of love, and we promise to do the same, to always put our children first - doing whatever it takes to make sure they are safe, valued, respected, happy. And providing them every opportunity to grow into the amazing person you imagine.
We've both had lots of experience parenting children, from infant girls to teenage boys. And we've done that through different kinds of relationships: eldest sibling, married spouse, divorcee, biological parent, step-parent. No doubt adoption will throw us some curveballs, but we're resilient and adaptable. We also have the professional and financial flexibility to do whatever our family needs, from child care to being a stay-at-home parent, private school, or even moving to a better community that is a better fit for our family.
We understand that adoption is better for all, especially the child, when there are no secrets. Three of Jared's siblings were adopted, and that topic was never off limits in their family. So we commit to being honest with our child about adoption; and to speaking positively about you. We'll tell them about you, and we'll share with you about them. How they're growing and developing and being amazing! From the beginning moments of deciding to have a child together, we thought about the why. We believe in making the world a better place, and that we are all in this together. Helping a small human learn to love themselves will make the world a better place for all of us.
We love our family deeply. Our small, intimate immediate family, and our big, tangled, kind-hearted, goofy extended family. We have a happy and loving home where fun is in no short supply. We're not afraid to be silly, and we laugh a lot. A child in our home has a lot to look forward to. We eat dinner around the dining table as a family and enjoy nightly tuck-ins. We love snuggling on the couch for Friday movie night or playing board games as a family. We like quiet, lazy days in our pj's reading books just as much as we love days filled with adventure. We love days when we take advantage of the beauty around us. You'll often find us kayaking down the river, riding bikes on the greenway, throwing the frisbee in the backyard, or heading out into the mountains here for a camping trip. Erika loves cooking for those she loves, and having friends and family over is often the perfect excuse. Birthdays and holidays are filled with celebration and traditions from our own childhoods that we love to share. Jared is at his best when he is taking care of those that he loves, and he shines as the breakfast master on Saturday mornings.
Those feelings of home extend to wherever we go together - whether we're traveling to spend time with family or just to see new sights and meet new people. We go together, look for the beautiful things, and enjoy each other's company. Holding hands, laughing together… we look forward to sharing this beautiful world with your child, too.
We can't know the emotions that you're facing right now, but we can listen and work together to provide your baby with the kind of home you're looking for. You will always be a part of their story, and we are so grateful that you would take the time to get to know us and consider making us a part of that story, too.
Jared & Erika
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