S: The Journey of a Growing Family
BC: The End (and the beginning)
FC: "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams | The Journey of a Growing Family
1: Chris & Elizabeth | Over seven years and counting ... Sharing a love that grows more and more each day!
2: Hello, We are Chris, Elizabeth and Lily ... a family of three, excited to get to know you. We can only imagine the emotions you are facing as you make one of the most important decisions you'll ever make - for yourself and this child. It's impossible to express who we are in these simple words in a few short paragraphs, but we hope within these pages you'll get a glimpse of our family. Chris and I were 31 and 29 years old when we met in the summer of 2002. In early conversations we discovered how many times the paths of our lives had crossed previously, without ever meeting. Our grandparents and parents grew up within a short distance of one another - both with farming and factory work experience. We attended the same university, graduating two years apart. We even worked for the same company but in different cities. Chris had been an officer in the Navy and lived all around the world. After college, I lived in southern Ohio before taking a job transfer to Chicago. But not until we both "came home" to the Cincinnati area did we finally meet. We quickly figured out that we were meant to be together. We were engaged in six weeks, married in nine months, and settled in our first house in the year following our first date. The first year of our marriage was exactly what we wanted and needed as newlyweds. We traveled from east coast to west (and places in between) exploring things that were made new to us again by sharing them with one another. We are both "planners;" we like to set time lines, check items off TO-DO lists and accomplish goals through hard work and dedication. Looking back, that's just how we expected life to play out. Work hard in school. Get good jobs. Meet that "special someone" and get married. Start a family. Then live happily ever after. At 32 and 30, by the time we were married, we were ready to jump into the HAPPILY EVER AFTER chapter. We were blessed to learn we were expecting our first child just short of our one-year anniversary, but unfortunate to miscarry that baby at twelve weeks. Following the devastation of the miscarriage, we were referred to an outstanding fertility specialist who was very direct in telling us it might be a difficult road, but parenting was possible. With his help we welcomed our daughter Lily to the world in early 2006. We are grateful beyond words or imagination for the blessing of her presence in our lives. As a family of three, well SIX if you count our two dogs (Toby and Scarlet,) and Lily's goldfish (Goldie,) life is good. Actually, that's a HUGE understatement. Life's an adventure. It's not that we sail the seven seas or leap tall buildings in a single bound. But we do try to make the most of our day-to-day. We love to camp and do so with family as often as possible. We started out as tent campers - Lily made her first trip camping on Memorial Day weekend at 5 months old. She spent the majority of that weekend in a dish tub full of cool water or snuggled with Chris or me in the shade of a hammock to avoid the early summer heat. Since then we've upgraded to a pull behind trailer and marvel in the air conditioning and watch Disney DVDs, thinking back on the places we've been and ahead to the places we'd like to go. We're hoping to make a trip through Alaska in an RV in the coming years with Lily and our parents. We look forward to including our second child in these adventures.
3: We travel whenever work schedules and budgets allow. We make two annual trips to the beach. One in February, when the weather is cool and perfect for enjoying long walks to hunt for sand dollars and star fish and the other beach trip in the heat of August when splashing in the ocean or pool brings smiles and suntans to everyone's face. We invite family and friends to make these trips with us as memories made with others are the best. Every few years we do a BIG FAMILY VACATION with Chris' cousins and their kids. This summer there were nearly 20 of us at the beach. Chris and I try to get away for a long weekend once a year too. Regardless of the destination - Boston, Denver, Nashville - it gives us a chance to reconnect outside of our day-to-day routines and Lily loves the extra quality time with her grandparents, aunts and uncles, and close friends. The benefits of living so close to family and friends make our decision to stay in Ohio a very good one. Of course, life is not all glamorous and carefree. Chris works for the federal government and spends time in three local offices. He's home most nights but puts lots of miles on the car and hours of sports radio in his ears. He believes in serving his country and does so through his work. (Bless him - I don't think I could deal with the commute or bureaucracy.) I work part time in a local business with caring and compassionate people who always make the days interesting. The flexibility of my schedule makes it possible for me to get Lily to preschool three days a week and have the other two days for housework, errands and most importantly FUN TIME. We are members of the zoo, the local amusement park and have lots of playmates to fill our free time. Most nights we try to make it to the dinner table as a family sharing the details of our days. Sometimes dinner is a roast with veggies and mashed potatoes, and sometimes it's frozen pizza! We live in the house Chris grew up in - just about a mile from where his parents live now. They decided, after 30 years, that they were ready for a different home which gave us a wonderful opportunity to build our own memories within the walls where so many precious ones already lived. That said, we've changed just about EVERYTHING other than the physical address to make their house, our home. There are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a finished basement and a big yard. Lily's moved into her VERY PINK "big girl room" and is excited about what is now a spare room, returning to the nursery she remembers only from photos. Last spring Lily came home from preschool with what we're sure she thought was a simple request. She stated, without hesitation, "I want a baby sister and I want to name her Rebecca." I laughed and learned from her preschool teacher that they were working on a unit about families. (You see, Lily is a planner, much like her parents, but come on ... that's asking a bit much!) Oh how we wish it was as simple as wanting to make such a miracle happen. We've always planned to grow our family and we have talked about adoption numerous times through the years. We've been through the losses of miscarriages and failed infertility treatment; going back down that path isn't right for us anymore. We know that God's plan isn't always the one you've laid out, but it's often times MUCH BETTER. And so, that brings us to today ... our hearts are not set on a "baby sister named Rebecca." We are ready to grow our family and welcome another child into our home and hearts - through adoption. We feel that an open adoption will benefit the child, as well as all of us in this extended family. That said, we are willing to work towards the type of relationship that works for all of us. We pray that the days ahead of you are easier than you might expect knowing that the decision you are making for this child and yourself is the right one. Elizabeth, Chris and Lily
4: An Officer and A Gentleman | Chris | A great day for a beautiful morning walk on the beach - full of star fish and sand dollars. | Techies Unite! Chris & our nephew figuring out their matching iPods on Christmas morning | Chris was born in Guam while his parents were stationed there in the 1970’s. As a Naval Officer, Chris returned to Guam and served with the Naval Special Warfare Unit (front row/second from left.)
5: Chris (through Elizabeth's eyes) Chris is the "thinker" in our house - always rational, objective and concrete. He doesn't make rash decisions or rush to judge. He observes, ponders and acts. These characteristics are what drew me to him initially and keep our bond so solid. Chris is my best friend, my source of strength and the man I want to grow old and wrinkly with. | Chris is passionate about his Family, Friends, Faith and Football As only only child, Chris has always had a special closeness with both of his parents. We live very close to them and enjoy spending time with them often. Chris would much rather have a handful of close friends than a roomful of acquaintances. He is loyal to the bone and would do anything for a true friend. He was raised with a strong faith in God and lives his life with respect and appreciation for the blessing He gives. Chris has been active with a Christian youth organization for many years and enjoys helping young people grow their faith. Chris LOVES college football! We often gather a big group of family and friends on Saturday afternoons in the Fall to cheer on The Ohio State University. There's an OSU banner proudly hanging in our basement to let all who enter know - We LOVE the Buckeyes! | This is one of my all-time favorite photos of Chris. It was taken on the day I married my Prince Charming! | Each year we try to take a long weekend away, just the two of us, to stay connected and keep our relationship strong. Napa, CA (pictured here) is one of our favorite destinations.
6: ... memories made with others are the best! | Elizabeth | Elizabeth found a “Lil” Garden Fairy in Grammy’s back Yard. | Elizabeth traveling through southern France with her best friend the winter before meeting Chris. | Sarah, our exchange student from Germany, gave us a glimpse into the future of parenting a teenager. A growth experience for us all! | Though Elizabeth’s not a huge sports fan, she does enjoy a sunny outing for a college football game with her dear friend, who happens to be her favorite aunt.
7: Elizabeth (through Chris' Eyes) Elizabeth is the absolute center of our home. She is supporting and loving; she is the planner and social coordinator; she is, as my wedding band is engraved, my perfect match. As the saying goes opposites attract; but it's not so much that we are opposites, as our story together unfolds there are so many times where our paths had crossed. Rather than opposites, Elizabeth is the complete compliment to me to make our family whole. It was how our differences balanced each other that attracted me to Elizabeth and strengthens our relationship each day. | Depending on when one met my wife, she is known as either Betsy or Elizabeth. I can always tell how long someone has known Elizabeth, by how they address her. If they grew up with her or met her before college, she is Betsy. While I met and married Elizabeth, there is a comfort and simplicity when she is Betsy, which is usually when we are with her family in Darke County, Ohio. Though she made the conscience decision to go by Elizabeth when she started college, there is a part of her - yes, somewhat to her chagrin, the country-girl part of her - that will always be Betsy. And while she prefers to be Elizabeth, it is endearing when we are with her family and oldest friends that she is still Betsy. | We skipped the butterflies but filled up with belly laughs on our wedding day in 2003. | A great example of "Betsy" - all smiles - when posing with her sister, nephew, Lily and her mother, at her mother's wedding reception.
8: Elizabeth | Elizabeth found a “Lil” Garden Fairy in Grammy’s back Yard. | Elizabeth traveling through southern France with her best friend the winter before meeting Chris. | Sarah, our exchange student from Germany, gave us a glimpse into the future of parenting a teenager. A growth experience for us all! | Though Elizabeth’s not a huge sports fan, she does enjoy a sunny outing for a college football game with her dear friend, who happens to be her favorite aunt. | ... memories made with others are the best!
9: Elizabeth (through Chris' Eyes) | Depending on when one met my wife, she is known as either Betsy or Elizabeth. I can always tell how long someone has known Elizabeth, by how they address her. If they grew up with her or met her before college, she is Betsy. While I met and married Elizabeth, there is a comfort and simplicity when she is Betsy, which is usually when we are with her family in Darke County, Ohio. Though she made the conscience decision to go by Elizabeth when she started college, there is a part of her - yes, somewhat to her chagrin, the country-girl part of her - that will always be Betsy. And while she prefers to be Elizabeth, it is endearing when we are with her family and oldest friends that she is still Betsy. | We skipped the butterflies but filled up with belly laughs on our wedding day in 2003. | A great example of "Betsy" - all smiles - when posing with her sister, nephew, Lily and her mother, at her mother's wedding reception.
10: Lillian (Lily) | Spread your wings and FLY HIGH! | Resident Fashionista and Shoe Collector. That’s our Lily B! | This is the kind of snow man that results from snow that doesn't pack well. | Climbing, Running, Jumping. Oh yeah . . . That’s what I’m talking about! | OH – IO. Go Buckeyes!
11: "Sweet Lily B" | Lily has a “tender heart” and loves to snuggle. She’s been an only child for nearly five years, and has come to think of our pets as her brother and sisters. She said recently, “Mommy, if I had a baby brother or sister then Toby, Scarlet, and Goldie could just be animals.” | Lily goes to preschool three mornings each week. We spend afternoons and our days off doing fun stuff ... going to the library, visiting with cousins, having a play date at the zoo ... and much more! | One of Lily's favorite things to do is play at Grammy & Grampy's house. She spends mommy's work days there ... with lots of play time and love! Grammy just retired after over 45 years teaching kindergarten and preschool, so there's lots of time for learning too.
12: A family of three ...with room to grow!! | The priest who married us also officiated Lily's Christening. It was such a special day filled with family and friends. Elizabeth made the gown Lily was wearing - so will our next child and hopefully grand children a long time from now! | Birthdays are a BIG DEAL with our family. Our moms made our favorite meals and desserts on our birthdays when we were growing up and we do the same. Birthday parties with grandparents, aunts & uncles, friends and neighbors are always fun and yummy!
13: Fun in the sun! We make trips to the beach twice a year - once in the winter to escape the winter blahs of Ohio - and then again in August when it's HOT HOT HOT! Chris' family began this tradition over 25 years ago. We are excited to welcome our second child and continue building memories as a family. | All dressed up and ready for a night on the town! A few times a year we "play dress up," as Lily would say. This was taken before the annual Charity Ball in our community that kicks off the holiday season.
14: We're blessed to add our family memories to those Chris and his parents have created in this home for nearly forty years. | Home Is Where The Heart Is | When Miranda Lambert's song, "The House That Built Me" started playing on the radio, it was impossible for us to NOT sing along, because we do literally live in the house that built Chris. Chris' parents put lots of TLC and memories in these walls and we're blessed to built our own here too. | Elizabeth’s grandmother has passed down her Deep Dish Apple Pie recipe for years. Hopefully the tradition will live on for a long, long time! | The kitchen is our favorite room in the house. Turning this into our dream kitchen really was a dream come true.
15: Cold winter nights in front of the fire make for wonderful memories in the TV room. | Soft lights, warm blankets and lots of soft cuddly LOVE fill the nursery. We're so excited to hear coos and sweet baby sighs in the house again. | Elizabeth & her aunt put lots of love into the stitches of the handmade nursery bedding. | Chris, with Lily as his helper, put lots of work and TLC into building the new play set! We're so excited to watch our children play on it for many years to come.
16: family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... | Family names are a special "hand me down" to us. Lily is named after her Great-great Aunt Lil who is 95 years old and still fun to visit. We're excited to chose a name for our future child and continue a family legacy. | We’re pretty convinced this is how Toby and Scarlet spend most of their free time. They are the best of friends and playmates and LOVE to snuggle. | Thank goodness for digital photography. One of Elizabeth's hobbies - made this photo possible while we were on vacation with Chris' extended family in South Carolina. You can tell from the smiles and tans that this was a wonderful vacation. Hopefully soon another little smiling face will be in the mix. | Mimi, Elizabeth's step-mother, makes Easter a hands-on- activity by having the kids decorate a cake with neon icing. Beautiful and tasty! | Spending long-weekends camping has become one of our favorite summer activities. We have a permanent camp spot close to Elizabeth's family so we can watch our niece and nephew play ball games and still make time for swimming, campfires and fishing!
17: family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... family ... | We're blessed to have Grandpa & Grandma Great (Elizabeth's Grandparents) around at 93 and 91. | Everyone needs a Cowboy-cousin as cute as this one! Our nephew loves to wear that 10 gallon hat everywhere. It's a perfect fit. | Feeding the fish at Aunt T's new house (there's a stream for rock-skipping and 40 acres to explore.) | Barefoot is a beautiful thing! There's always a lot going on at family gatherings. Thankfully we always find time for a quick group photo - between eating lots of yummy food, playing games and having lots of fun.
18: Holiday Fun | After over seventy-five years of marriage, Grandma & Grandpa Great have more than a dozen grandchildren who love them dearly. | There are always more treats than tricks when visiting Grammy & Grampy’s.
19: No one ever leaves hungry from a family meal at this table. | Festivities | The big kids are more than happy to help the little ones hunt for Easter eggs. | Piling into the leftover boxes with Mimi's help is almost as much fun as unwrapping them.
20: Regardless of summer heat or a winter freeze, this waterfall is breathtaking. This is one of our favorite places to visit when we travel to see our friends in Denver. | We LOVE the water - lakes, pools, water parks! When ever we travel, finding water to play in is a MUST. | Trips to the Cincinnati and Columbus zoos are amongst our list of regular day trips. We particularly like the flamingos, zebras and manatees and look forward to discovering a baby's favorite animals.
21: The Magic Kingdom really is the most amazing place for family fun. Grammy was all grins on the Dumbo ride. | Look dad - NO HANDS! Kings Island Amusement Park is one of favorite family destinations - regardless of the season.
22: and the greatest of these is ... | Love | Faith, Hope and Love ...
24: Thank you for taking the time to get to know us through these pages. We are so excited to meet you! You are in our thoughts, our prayers and our hearts! Chris, Elizabeth & Lily
25: Contact us at: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Adoption Connection Phone: 1-866-489-1616