S: Moments With You
FC: Mikal and Irena
2: From Irena | Hello! Well, I don’t think it’s going to be possible for me to tell you everything that I want to say to you in the next few paragraphs, so I won’t even try. The best I can hope for is that you get a little bit of a sense about me, our family, and our ideas about adoption. I hope that you have all the support and love you need and that you feel empowered, honored and at peace with whatever choices you make along your path. It’s easy for me to talk about Mikal, so I’ll start there. By the end of our second date in early 2006, we were both pretty sure we’d found our “person in the world,” and we were right! You would not think that someone with so many tattoos and who loves riding vintage bicycles would also be a successful business owner and have what our loan officer described as the “second best credit score she’d ever seen,” but it’s true. So not only is she fun, funny, smart and cute, but it turns out she is also incredibly stable, steady, and dependable – a combination so rare and precious that I often joke how I married a unicorn! Watching her in the world – with kids, with animals, at work, with our two rescue pups – fills me with so much joy, and I can't wait for the opportunity to parent with her. Some things that I like include: Mikal, our two small dogs Lucky and Fifi, science, my career supporting low-income families in their financial goals at a local non-profit, gardening (after almost four years in our house I think I am finally growing more vegetables than weeds!), tidepools, a good cry over ridiculous sad music, learning how to be a better person in the world every day, our home, laughing, being honest even when it’s hard, photography, easy summer hikes through the woods, and not taking myself too seriously. As a family, Mikal and I bring a lot of strength, self-knowledge, and respect (for our selves, each other, and others in our lives) to the table. We will not be perfect parents but we know how to be accountable when we mess up, how to learn from it, and how to do it better next time. I have learned so much about myself, about honesty and commitment and communication, about how to listen, and about authenticity and love from Mikal, from my friends and family, and from learning to listen to my own heart that I am truly ready for the adventure of being an adoptive parent. We both have flexible work schedules, and both plan to be home (full or part time) for at least the first several months. My work is extremely family-friendly, and allows babies up to 6 months to come to work several days a week. After that, we will transition into a regular work schedule of 4 days a week each and plan to have in-home care for about 15 hours a week. We have family in the area who are excited to be a part of our child-care plans too. Openness is extremely important to me. I believe that a truly open adoption is the best way to support an adopted child in growing up with an integrated sense of self that honors their unique identity as a child of many families. I welcome our kid’s family of origin as an important part of our own extended family, and look forward to continued contact and sharing the experience of loving and supporting our kid as they grow up. A member of my family was placed in the era of closed adoptions; we still have not found them and the sadness that I feel about this definitely confirms my commitment to an open and connected adoption. I hope this letter can help you figure out if you want to know more about us. Thank you for reading our letters and taking a look at our book. Thank you,
3: From Mikal | Hello, I am writing this letter in the hopes of sharing a little bit about me and my journey with Irena, and that it is helpful to you at this time in your journey. You and your unique story are unknown to me, but I am grateful that you are looking at our family book. And I hope that where ever your journey leads you, it is your desire. First a bit about me: I grew up in Los Angeles with my Mom, Dad, brother and sister. My siblings are quite a bit older than me (9 and 11 years) so I feel like I had an only-child experience growing up. However, we are close now that we are all adults and I value them tremendously. While my parents divorced when I was 11, they remained amicable and I stayed living in the same house and had an otherwise very stable childhood. I loved soccer and played from age 6 – 16. I also loved music and art and played the piano or made crafts/art whenever I could. I still love sports/being active, music and art! In my early 20’s I even made a go at becoming a rock star and was in several bands. While I had a lot of fun, none of them were very successful. After a career in the Human Resources field for several non-profit agencies, I again decided to pursue a creative career and put all my time and resources into learning how to tattoo. I had always loved tattoos and already had a bunch, so merging my love for tattoos and art was a naturally good fit. I have been tattooing ever since and now co-own a shop with a business partner and work with 4 other awesome artists. I love what I do and hope to tattoo until my hands fall off! Some of my other favorite hobbies and likes are restoring and riding vintage bicycles, running (I am training for my first 1/2 marathon!) and other fitness activities, cooking, my motorcycle and most of all, spending time with my family. Now about Irena and our relationship: She is the love of my life and I am very lucky to have such an amazing partner in the world! She is smart, funny, caring, loving, responsible, patient, honest and genuine. We have gone through big changes like relocating to Oregon, changing careers/jobs and buying a house with ease and grace: we have a very easy way and calmness about us. I am so excited to grow our family together and see her parent! I have no doubt that she will be an attentive, nurturing and fun mom. I have such a wonderful home and life with her, our furry family and friend "framily" that I can’t wait to share with the right little spirit. Together, we decided early on in our family building process to consider adoption. We were both already committed to openness in family building, so an open adoption is right for us. I would not have it any other way. There will be challenges, but with love, communication and honesty those issues can be navigated. I see it as a benefit that our child’s unique story will include an extended family rooting for them through life. Lastly, I would like to express to you that I am very ready and excited to be a parent! One of my greatest strengths is my duality of being a big goof ball who loves to joke around and have fun, while also being very stable, grounded and strong. I have an endless well of patience and love ready to give our child. I wish you peace in making whatever decision is best for you and your child. Thank you,
4: When we were wee... | Mikal | My first (but not my last) 70's Schwinn | Almost half way through my 10 year soccer career | Ah, the love of all things with wheels!
6: First roadtrip! | First garden vegetable! | First 5k race together! | First matching outfit! | A few of our favorite firsts together
7: We had a big party with a "Loveboat" theme, lots of family and friends, and maple bacon cupcakes. | Our wedding
8: We live in between two parks on a tree-lined street in the Portland area. We love where we live! Our neighborhood is very friendly, with lots of families in the area. We are walking distance to schools, bike trails, grocery shops, restaurants, parks, and a lot more. | Our home
9: But it took us a while to get ready to move in. We know the insides of our house really well....
10: Home and Neighborhood | We spend lots of time at our big kitchen table, looking out at the backyard | Lucky enjoys the deck
11: Our house (front and back), the views from our front porch, our office, and living room.
12: We have two rescue pups, Lucky and Fifi. They hear that kids often drop food so they are very excited for a new family member! Lucky is the brown one, and Fifi is the black one.
14: Irena's Family | Irena's aunts Estelle and Raven, grandma Jean, Irena | Grandma Jean, aunts Beryt & Estelle, cousin Kore and dad | With mom Helen at high tea | With dad Stanley on a walk at Multnomah Falls | Out with cousin Lyla (on the right), Dad and Lyla's daughter Kina
15: Mikal's Family | With dad, sister and brother Mark at the falls | With cousins and their Pomeranian on a visit to Los Angeles | Mikal and her sister Lesli | A visit from mom Joan and her partner Dick | With dad Warren and sister Lesli at a holiday dinner | With stepmom Pat and dad Warren
16: Home is our favorite place to be, but we do venture out on occasion... | Hiking on a camping trip | We love the Oregon coast! | Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Mikal enjoys a famous food cart hotdog in Reykjavik, Iceland
17: Ensenada Mexico, on a trip with Mikal's family | Fishing in Northern California | Vancouver (the Canadian one...) | Lucky likes camping too!
18: Holidays | Last year for New Year's Eve, we had our own 5k fun run around our neighborhood. We followed it up with our family tradition of folding up our dreams for the new year into paper cranes that we then unfold and read the next year! | Our block always puts on a big 4th of July party with lots of kids and fireworks. We usually make some sort of red, white & blue food to share with everyone.
19: Christmas decorations! | Mikal keeping busy at our Hanukkah party: playing dreidel with friends and lighting the menorah | We LOVE hosting a giant Passover Seder dinner with friends and family!
20: Possibly our favorite part of the book! Just about any theme will do... | "Come as you were"! We all dressed as another version of ourselves. | Dressed up here for a cruise ship theme party | Dress in all one color! Even our friend's baby played along! | Rockabilly zombies! | Theme parties
21: And rainbow theme, with food to match!
22: In front of our house, on the way to Sunday Parkways | After Mikal's first 10k run | With our friend's daughter, shortly after her adoption was finalized | With our good friend Ben in Iceland | Goofing around with Mikal's family
24: Our Family NAMES: Mikal and Irena GENERAL LOCATION: Portland ETHNICITY: White EDUCATION: College graduates (both have Bachelors of Arts) OCCUPATION(S): Mikal – Tattoo artist/shop owner Irena – Non-profit LENGTH OF MARRIAGE/PARTNERSHIP: 5 years CHILDREN: None PLAN FOR MORE CHILDREN: 2 children is our ideal A Little More About Us: ADOPTION STORY: We have always been interested in adoption as a family building option. When we decided to start trying for a family, Irena first tried to get pregnant. While we were successful is getting pregnant – three times – we were never successful in staying pregnant. We decided to move to adoption instead of pursuing more invasive testing or fertility procedures. We also have adoption in our lives already – a close family member is a birth mom, several good friends are adoptees, and one of Mikal’s oldest friends is an adoptive parent to a wonderful preschooler! In addition, two of our closest friends in Portland are also going through the adoption process as well, so we are very excited to have another family-by-adoption so close to us. VIEWS ON OPENNESS: Openness, in the form of ongoing contact and visits, is extremely important to us. We look forward to surrounding our child with the love, knowledge and support of extended family – by birth and by adoption – in many ways, and we believe that true openness and an ongoing relationship is a wonderful way to do this. RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL BELIEFS & PRACTICES: We consider ourselves Jew-“ish”! The rich traditions of the Jewish culture are close to both our hearts, and we LOVE hosting holiday parties like Passover Seders and latke parties (who doesn’t like a fried potato pancake?!). We do not consider ourselves to be strongly religious or closely affiliated with an organized religious faith. Our spirituality is more fluid, based in nature, and personally experienced. While we plan to encourage our child to develop their own sense of spirituality and religious beliefs, we are looking forward to participating in services, events and celebrations as a family through a local temple. HOW WE CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS: We love to celebrate with friends and/or family, and lots of delicious food! We enjoy hosting parties for New Years, birthdays, the pride festival, and other holidays and are blessed with close friends and families to share in celebrations. Thanksgiving is usually spent in Los Angeles with Mikal’s immediate and extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews. We also enjoy an annual “framily” (friend family) Thanksgiving the week after the official holiday and have a huge feast with local loved ones. On Christmas we have a tree and spend the holiday with Irena’s mom and friends. As we mentioned above, we love to host celebrations on some of the Jewish holidays, like the traditional Passover Seder. We also plan to participate as a family in other fun holiday events such as Easter egg hunts and fireworks on the 4th of July.
25: INTERESTS/ACTIVITIES: DOGS! We both share a love for animals – in fact we used to be a foster home for rescue dogs (Miniature Pinschers)! Some other interests we can’t wait to share with our child include: riding bikes, berry picking on Sauvie island (and then making jam) cooking and baking, hiking, growing food in our garden, taking walks around the neighborhood with our dogs and visiting our 2 local parks. Mikal looks forward to coaching sports teams, customizing/building bicycles, making art and coloring, making up fun bedtime stories, and tinkering and fixing things around the house with our child. Irena is especially excited to share spontaneous dance parties, dress up photo shoot shenanigans, and (nerd alert) math and science projects. We are currently very active, enjoying cozy time at home and mini adventures outdoors equally. PLANS/SUPPORT FOR CHILD'S EDUCATION/LIFE GOALS: We consider education to be very important. We believe that learning is fun and that kids have a natural interest and delight in exploring their world. Watching this process and guiding our child in developing their ability to learn is very exciting. Our child will attend public schools, and we plan to be very active and involved in their education, both at school and at home. Learning through life experience is also equally important to us and we look forward to sharing learning through travel, diverse cultural experiences, and honest experiences of life events. As college graduates, we have found higher education to be very valuable and will support our child in attending college and/or pursuing their life goals. PARENTING STYLE: The most important parenting tools for us are stability, consistency, patience, love and a good sense of humor. We are drawn to attachment parenting ideas, playful parenting, and having a fun and creative environment while providing the guidance, support and structure that will help kids succeed. We realize that parenting can be hard, and that growing up can be hard at times as well. We want our child to grow up knowing that all parts of their experience are welcomed, even the difficult and messy parts. It is our job to give them the chance to learn from their complex experiences, while providing a safe loving home and the tools to thrive. PLANS FOR DISCIPLINE: It’s our job as parents to set our child up for success and to set and enforce reasonable, consistent limits. Without knowing our child this is a hard question to answer, since a lot depends on what works best for that particular child. However, our guiding principles around discipline will be logical or natural consequences for negative behaviors, and reinforcing and encouraging positive behavior. There will be absolutely no physical discipline in our home – we do not plan to spank, hit, or forcefully handle our child. We do not believe in using guilt, shame, neglect or humiliation for discipline either. EXTENDED FAMILY/FRIENDS: We are so grateful to have such a wonderful network of friends. Both of us have pretty small immediate families, but a broad “framily” – our network of friends that we consider family. Most of Mikal’s family is in the Los Angeles area, and Irena’s family is mostly in the San Francisco area except for her mom who is planning to move from Seattle to Portland in early 2012. Friends and family have been rooting for us to start our family for a long time and are all extremely excited about our adoption plans. Our child will be the first baby in our entire immediate family, and there are four grandparents, an aunt & uncle, and a bunch of extended family with bursting hearts just counting down until they can welcome a new family member. Luckily we have friends who are parents already (through birth and adoption) so there will definitely be kids around as well. DAY-CARE PLANS: As the co-owner of her tattoo shop, Mikal has a great deal of flexibility in her work. Irena works for a family-centered non-profit with a policy to allow children under 6 months to come to work with their parents. Being home full-time when our child comes home is very important to us to allow as smooth a start as possible, then after that we plan to both work 4 days a week and use in home care, through some combination of family and professional care, part time (about 15 hours per week).
26: Mikal TV show/movie/actors/actresses - Glee, Dexter, Law & Order, Sopranos Vacation location - Visiting family in Southern California, Mexico, New York, Joshua Tree Outdoor location - The desert, the ocean, mountains I love it all! Books/authors - Tattoo and art reference books, home improvement books and the occasional autobiography Sports - I like to play soccer and tennis, go jogging and biking, and I like to watch football, soccer and basketball School subjects - Art, PE, Creative Writing, Sociology, History Foods - Sushi, meat and veggies from the grill, kale, corn dogs, cupcakes, salad and fruit Colors - Black. There is some debate if that is really a color, so I can go with blue : ) Animals - Yes! Love them all! Especially dogs Music/musicians/groups - I listen to a wide variety of music. Rock and roll is usually my go-to. Some favorite bands are Queens of the Stoneage, Sharon Jones and the Dapp Kings and Kings of Leon City/part of the country - Portland Places to shop/type of clothing - Thrift and vintage stores | Favorites | layer
27: Irena TV show/movie/actors/actresses - We don’t have a TV, but I enjoy watching programs on the computer. Favorites include Bones, Law & Order, RuPaul’s Drag Race and the occasional reality show. I love most musicals, but my favorite movie is The Sound of Music. Vacation location - Our backyard! I love a “staycation”. I also love Mexico, or visiting family in California. Outdoor location - The ocean Books/authors - I am kind of a non-fiction nerd. I love reading about social justice, weird history, science and “true life” stories Sports - Jogging, biking, hiking, and snowshoeing School subjects - Chemistry, women’s studies, math Foods - Please don’t make me pick just one! I love fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden, self-serve frozen yogurt, really good hamburgers, sushi Colors - Rainbow (yes seriously). Is that a color? If not, I would probably pick dark green, gold or teal. Animals - DOGS! Mostly of the small or medium variety. And anything too cute for its own good. Music/musicians/groups - Bad pop, 60’s girl groups (like the Supremes), 80’s music, and anything I can dance to. And the Carpenters & Fleetwood Mac. City/part of the country - I love Portland so much, and am grateful that I live here daily. To visit, I also love New York. And I will always love the rolling hills of Northern California where I spent much of my childhood. Places to shop/type of clothing - I am not a big clothing person or shopping person. | layer
29: We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.