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Meet Our Family_BirthParentBook

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S: Becky, Tom & Nate: Our Family So Far

BC: This was in October at a New England tree farm, where Becky's friend Maggie now lives and had her baby shower. It was an unbelievably beautiful setting, perfect for making new friends. On the way home the next day, Nate saw the Statue of Liberty and fell in love with NYC. We're going there in a couple months for a short family vacation. There's so much to do & see -- so much more to share with our new little one and his or her big brother, Nate...

FC: OUR FAMILY So Far | Becky, Tom & Nate: | Welcome . . . | August 2012 after Nate's graduation from the "pink room" (for 3 & 4 yr olds), where the kids made these T-shirts.

1: "One of the main things about Tom and Becky that I love to watch is how funny and happy they are together. It’s a quirky humor ... they play off each other and that makes everyone around them laugh and enjoy the moment so much more." -- Mary Jane, Tom's mom

3: Hello there, Thank you for taking the time to read our letter. It’s not an easy letter to write, not knowing you personally or the details of your situation at all, but we want to give you an idea of who we are and what kind of life your child might have if she or he grows up as part of our family. Our immediate family includes: me (Becky), Tom (my wonderful husband, who’s helping me write this letter) and Nathaniel (or “Nate”)—our adorable and spunky four-year-old son. Tom and I have been together for over eight years, married over six. Although it took us a while to find each other (which we did online!), when we finally met, we knew very soon that we had something really special in each other. Two years later, we married at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, surrounded by family and friends. We feel so lucky to have found each other and to share our lives with so many wonderful people. I felt lucky also when I learned that Tom liked the idea of adopting, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. We were grateful when Nate came along fairly quickly after we started trying to have a baby, but we had already decided that our second child would be adopted. Adoption seems very natural and not very out of the ordinary to us because we’ve both had several friends and family members who were adopted or have adopted. But we also see it as a true honor and privilege to be able to adopt a baby. Our marriage is happy, balanced, often fun, always steady and reliable. To be with someone you love and who makes you laugh too is a wonderful gift, but when that person also shares so many of the same values as you, that makes life more fulfilling ... and also more harmonious on a daily level. As time goes on, I think we feel more and more grateful to have this family through the ups and downs that are part of every life.

4: There are many different ways people can show their love, but I think one of the main ways we show our love for one another is simply to spend time together. So even though we both work, one or both of us is generally with Nate at all other times (except for “date night,” every other week). Some things we like to do with Nate: go to the park or pool, swim lessons and gymnastics, play dates, movies or the library—and, of course, run errands. Regular, day-to-day life provides many opportunities for fun and togetherness. We also try to make sure everyone gets to see and experience new things. Tom and I both love traveling. Luckily, Nate does too. He's a very comfortable and enthusiastic traveler: we’ve gone on trips about twice a year since he was born. And he’s had a blast every time. He's also done great with museums, baseball games, live music and festivals, eating out at all kinds of places, camping and hiking, hanging out with different friends and their kids. At home, Nate has a fairly regular routine, always ending the day with us reading books in bed, but we’re not overly rigid—such as when we’re on vacation or something special is going on. I think one reason our son is happy and secure is that he feels valued and accepted for who he is. Nate seems to want and need to have a lot of activity and interaction, so we see providing him with those things as one of our main current goals in parenting him. We imagine our second child will join in with many of our current activities as soon as he or she can, but also know this little one will bring us on a whole new adventure. Although we will be drawing from our experiences and all we've learned with Nate, we know this child will be unique, having his or hew own needs and desires and personality. We have no idea what she will be like or what he will enjoy, but we are ready for the many changes he or she will bring into our life. And we--along with our family and friends--are committed to meeting those changes with love, acceptance, and creativity. We believe that our children need steady guidance to learn how to get along well in life-- also that they are their own people, not smaller versions of ourselves to mold into what we want them to be. So we feel that in addition to showing/teaching love, kindness, acceptance, and respect, our job as parents is to provide them with: a safe and comfortable environment; a wide range of opportunities to learn about themselves and life; and consistent support to help them become the people they want to be. One practical, day-to-day focus for us has been making sure we all get healthy food, physical activity and good sleep (when possible!); these things help people feel their best—plus, they seem to make a good foundation for everything else. We do not believe in physical punishment or intimidation of any kind.

5: Two years ago, we moved to the house we’re in now because of the beautiful wooded yard, because it offered more room for another child, and because of the great schools. The surrounding area is interesting and diverse; home to lots of good playgrounds, parks, and nature reserves; close to two major cities; and within a morning's drive of the beach in one direction and the countryside and mountains in the other. Things you might notice first if you visit our house are the art on the walls, music (Tom, most likely playing guitar) and Nate running around in his Spiderman outfit! (He always puts it on for guests.) You might also notice that we keep it clean and fairly orderly, but it’s not overly perfect because there's a lot of playing and living going on . . . and usually a project or two under way. At some point, if the weather was nice, we’d take you out onto the large deck off the main floor, where we’ve hosted family get-togethers and other special events. People always say our backyard feels like an oasis or sanctuary—you almost forget you’re in the suburbs. | Tom and I have both been at the same jobs for more than ten years. I have a master’s degree in literature and am employed as an editor for a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen health services for women and families in developing countries. I also do creative writing and visual arts—mainly just for my own enjoyment or for family and friends. Tom is a classically trained string bass player with a master’s in music, working for a division of the Army Band that’s permanently stationed locally. At home, Tom's learning to play guitar. Thank goodness he’s good because we hear a lot of it!

6: family built for all seasons....

7: One truly positive aspect of being a little older as parents is that we’re more settled ... in a good way. Nate has—and our next child will have—patient, gentle, loving, supportive, and fun parents, who are better able to be those things for them because we spent our earlier years as we did. I’m not saying everyone should wait as long as we did, but this is what has worked for us. We believe that we have something very valuable to offer another child. Although we all have our individual interests and are our own people, I can honestly say that our priority and joy in life is each other—spending time together. Adopting a child will be a dream come true for me and a strong desire fulfilled for both Tom and me. We feel sure that Nate will also enjoy, as well as benefit from, having a sibling to share life with. We thank you for considering us, and we wish the very best for you. Sincerely, To find out more about each of us, our lifestyle, and what we envision for the newest member in our family, please keep reading! We've also included some messages from some of the special people in our lives throughout and at the back of the book.

8: Together for | 8+ | YEARS | TOM & BECKY | In Becky's words: "More than anything, being able to really talk and listen to each other is what keeps us close and moving forward in our relationship. In Tom, I find a truly loving and supportive partner, someone who's always there for me. I'm so grateful to have this wonderful man as my husband..." In Tom's words: "The respect we have for each other's thoughts, and each other, guides us through disagreements and keeps us in a place where we remain warm and loving with each other. With Becky, I have someone who understands me and loves me. She's eager to stay focused on the good and move forward with our goals, while also letting me know what I might want to think twice about. She is truly my better half."

9: T | One of the first big things we did together as a couple was go camping in Maine (above) for two weeks. Friends joked that camping really tests a relationship so if we still liked each other afterward, we would know we were meant to be together and should get married. After 14 days of bugs and grime and a leaky tent, we actually liked each other even more. Our time in Maine is still one of our favorite memories. We hope to bring the whole family there some day. | Looking forward to growing our family and many, many more years together...

10: Being First-Time Parents | In Becky's words: One thing that makes Tom such a good dad is that he genuinely enjoys being around kids. Kids (and animals) just gravitate toward him. I think it’s because they sense his gentleness and playfulness. One of my life’s joys is seeing him and Nate together, laughing and having fun or being serious and having important talks about things like volcanoes or outer space or whatever. He definitely has more "daddy" in him to share! In Tom's words: Becky has an excellent way with children. She is very patient with them and empathetic to their feelings and concerns . . . knows when to ask a question to get a child to open up and talk, or if a funny story is what is called for. She's also great at planning activities and organizing outings -- she sees opportunities constantly for things to do together as a family or with groups of Nate's friends. She keeps us socially active and engaged, while also providing a loving, warm, and humor-filled home life.

12: Tom's driving passion in life (besides his family) is music. He is a professional bassist and acoustic guitar enthusiast. He also enjoys reading, watching old movies, and traveling to new places. Although a little on the quiet side, Tom is not shy -- loves good conversation and spending time with family and friends. | "He followed his dream, stayed focused and kept reaching, adjusting, learning, achieving, striving, accomplishing -- each step of the way with his eye on the goal." ~ Mary Jane, Tom's mom

13: TOM in eleven words: loving, smart, musical, witty, loyal, easy-going, focused, conscientious, disciplined, curious & perceptive

14: Growing up in sunny, southern California ... | Tom's dad is a retired firefighter--soft-spoken, thoughtful, funny; his mom was in sales--very upbeat, warm, and open. He has one sister, Jamie, who's three years younger and now a Special Education teacher with a family of her own. Although Tom's parents split when he was only 6 years old, they both remained very involved, supportive, and proud of Tom and Jamie. As kids, Tom and his sister often accompanied their dad on camping trips in the Redwood Forest, to the desert to visit grandparents & on other outings. Their mom, with whom they lived, liked to take them to the beach and do other fun things, while keeping a watchful eye over them. Tom remembers a very "normal" childhood, riding his bike a lot and playing with the kids in his close-knit neighborhood.

15: Tom's love for music grew right along with him. | Tom's interest in music became clearer as he grew older. Although he liked lots of the same music as his friends, he began to delve into jazz and classical on his own. As a budding musician, he played several instruments, such as the accordion when he was little, the saxophone in the school band, and the electric bass in his high school years--when he began playing in little rock bands with friends. In college, he decided he wanted to be a professional bassist, which he has become after a lot of schooling and steady practice. He made some sacrifices to get to where he is, but is happy with the choices he made.

16: Tom's main passion in life (besides his family) is music. He is a professional bassist and acoustic guitar enthusiast. He also enjoys reading, watching old movies, and traveling to new places. Although a little on the quiet side,, Tom is not shy -- loves good conversation and spending time with family and friends. | Becky is energetic and fun-loving and brings a lot of activity into her family's life. She loves to join with other parents to organize fun things for the kids to do, and to spend time with family and friends -- feeling connected and involved is very important to her. At the same time, just being with Tom and Nate is her life's joy. Becky also loves BEING OUTDOORS and to read and write and make things with her hands, especially collages -- like the ones shown below. Becky has always wanted to be a mom and to adopt. | "Having known Becky for more than 10 years, I've seen her experience many joys & challenges. Her kindness and insight help her and those she loves face life's unpredictable events with comfort and assurance." ~ Amy, close personal friend

17: BECKY in eleven words: warm, caring, out-going, creative, funny, cheerful, resourceful, intuitive, patient, reliable & enthusiastic

18: Friends, family, and pets were very important to Becky even as a kid... | Becky's dad is a recently retired mathematician and her mom was a Japanese translator --both are still real characters who just celebrated their 50th anniversary. (See them just above, being silly, part of the secret to their long marriage.) Becky has one sister, Margo, who's three years older; she's an instructional designer (and great singer!) and lives close by with her husband, son, and dog. When the girls were growing up, the family always had pets and went on lots of car trips (mostly to the beach or to see family). Their parents instilled in them an awareness/appreciation of the environment and all living things, the importance of family and community, and the absolute necessity of having a sense of humor. :) Becky has always been very social, and from a very young age, her friendships were a driving force in her life. Her first best friend was the daughter of her mom's best friend, who lived right next door. The girls never, ever, ever got tired of playing "Barbies" together...

19: As she grew older, building independence and experiencing new things became important too. | After high school, Becky went to college but was not as clear as Tom about what she wanted to do. She floundered first but finally decided to major in English and went on to teach Freshman composition and literature while in grad school. (She waitressed throughout college and for a while afterward.) This was also a time of little adventures for Becky. Travel and physically challenging activities (e.g., hiking, running)--which she'd been less confident about when younger--became favorite activities; she did them whenever she could get enough money/time together. Later, when she began her current career in editing and bought a rowhouse in the city (and got two cats and a dog), her life became more focused and grounded.

20: NATE | Independence is the goal, but it can't be rushed. We try to maintain a balance between helping our child feel confident to try new things, and ensuring that he's safe and feels secure. | ... in eleven words: happy, active, friendly, sweet, joyful, expressive, persuasive, strong-willed, strong, silly & cool | Above: chasing waves at Rehoboth Beach this past summer; right: having a tree-house picnic with the boys! Jack, on the far left, is one of his oldest and best buddies.

21: "The joy Nate has added to his parents' life is indescribable. He is such a smart, happy little guy and is so loving and loved by many -- with his contagious giggles, inquisitive mind, agile body that’s growing so quickly." ~ Mary Jane, Nate's Nana | Above: a day trip with daddy in Georgetown; middle: w/ "Lucy" at great aunt & uncle's lakefront house (left) & scooter riding at a nearby park (right); bottom: dancing with long-time pal Madi (left) and sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter aboard a big ship (right)

22: Nate has really enjoyed his preschool, which is very close to our house. It's a small school with great teachers who give lots of individualized attention to each kid. The families also tend to be very involved, so there a strong sense of belonging and community there. Above: Tom played bass for the kids one day. It was a big hit! We have to do that again sometime... | Preschool is cool!

23: ". . . The love Tom & Becky feel for their son is inspiring. They are always there to support and encourage him and it is evident through the compassionate words they use, their flexibility, their physical affection, their joyful attitude, and the way they adapt, collaborate and communicate with his teachers. What also strikes me as particularly impressive, though, is that they share this love with the other children in the preschool. They give a lot of themselves to encourage the other children, involve themselves in school activities, support other families that may be struggling, extending their friendship, and make all children and families feel included in their emotional generosity. They are a wonderful part of our preschool family and the teachers and I are thrilled to know them." ~ Dawn, Owner/Director of Nate's preschool (for almost three years) | Top: Nate w/ one of his teachers (left) and the school's Thanksgiving lunch (right); bottom: Nate with buddy Cami (left) and the large sunny yard at the school (right)

24: HOME | is where the heart is

25: "We jokingly call each other 'our favorite neighbors' but Tom and Becky do indeed embody all the characteristics you desire in a neighbor. They are charming and witty but more importantly they are genuine and dependable. Over the last two years, we have come to consider them friends who we could entrust with our children or call upon simply for a good conversation." ~ Daryl & Michelle, next door neighbors of 2 years

26: SPORTS | Benjamin loves board games, and started little league this year | Just above, here's what you see as you're walking in the door. To the right, this huge painting is at the top of the stairs (we're "storing it" for our old neighbor, who's an artist). Next is our Family Room, where we spend lots of time--it faces the woods and leads out onto the deck. Pictured below that, the dining area in the Kitchen, where we display lots of Nate's art work. This is all a big open space, one of the things we loved about the house.

27: We've got more pictures up now, but here's the Dining Room (which doubles as a "crafts" and "train set" room). This was our first Thanksgiving in the new house... Tom's mom came in from the west coast to celebrate with us. | Nate's room gives you lots of hints about what he likes, from the car bed, to the planets mobile, to the piles of books. | View from the kids' rooms...

28: FAMILY | Becky w/ her mom, Cynthia, & sister --mother's day lunch | Mary Jane w/ Tom's best friend/Nate's Godfather, Manny | Uncle Michael, Aunt Margo (Becky's sister), & Cousin Andrew | Aunt Jamie (Tom's sister) & Uncle Jeff | Becky w/ Nate's Godmother, Young, at his 4th birthday party | Mary Jane --Nate's Nana, Tom's mom | Alicia, "honorary member" member of the family | We are a very close family, regularly visiting with and talking to those who are close by as well as those on the other side of the country. We always know what's going on with every member -- and each is very excited to meet the newest member as soon as he or she comes!

29: US | Nate w/ his Grandpa, his "Gray," and Andrew | Grandpa (Tom's dad) & Grandma "Cinny" (Cindy), w/ Tom & Nate on the Bridge of Dreams ... | Nate w/ Cousins Levi & Destiny (Jeff & Jamie's kids) | US

30: FRIENDS | As important as family is, we place a lot of value on our wonderful friends. These lively, open & devoted people are so different from each other (and us) in so many ways--yet the same in how they're always there for us, sharing in our challenges and joys. They're all super excited to meet the newest member of our family!

31: "Tom and Becky are two of the most loving and caring people I know. The best evidence of this is in the relationships they have with their friends, and most importantly in the happiness of their son." ~ Young, our close friend and Nate's Godmother

32: A few more messages for you ... | Our daughter, Becky, and son-in-law, Tom, are wonderful parents. The welfare of their four-year-old son, Nathaniel, is their top priority. They consistently do everything they can to keep him healthy and happy. Holidays are always special-- as are many "regular" days. They take him to the playground or pool on days they might rather stay home. They’re in tune with his needs and know a little boy has boundless energy and needs to burn it off! They're also focused on his education. They read to him every night and talk to him about whatever he’s interested in, from stars to cars and more. They've taught him that everyone in the family has their “jobs”—some of this his are picking up his toys and clearing his plates. And Tom & Becky emphasize the importance of being kind. At preschool, Nate is the one who makes sure that the shyest child is included in the fun. ~ Grandpa & Gray

33: When I think about my son, Tom, it's "love." I love, love, love . . . and am so proud of him. He followed his dream, stayed focused and kept reaching, adjusting, learning, achieving, striving, accomplishing, each step of the way with his eye on the goal. Tom’s love for music expanded and created a world for him to grow in -- as a man strong in character, morals and conviction. This creative side of Tom has enriched his life along with mine and that of his sister and everyone he meets. Then he met Becky -- truly, the love of his life. Many parents say when their kids marry that they now have a new daughter or son. I’m one of the few who really mean it. Becky to me, "love." I love her as my son’s wife, who could be my best friend, who welcomes me into their home -- feels like the best part of the word family. One of the main things about Tom and Becky that I love to watch is how funny and happy they are together. It’s a quirky humor ... they play off each other and that makes everyone around them laugh and enjoy the moment so much more. As if it could not get any better, enter little Nate. The joy Nate has added to his parents life is indescribable. He is such a smart, happy little guy and is so loving and loved by many -- with his contagious giggles, inquisitive mind, agile body that’s growing so quickly. I love him dearly and look forward to every moment in time that I get to spend with him as he grows each day, each year into the great person he is becoming. Now, this family almost complete, wants so much to welcome another child, a little sister or brother for Nate, to make life even more of a joy for this family." ~ Mary Jane, Tom's mom

35: Though I am only 15, my Aunt Becky and Uncle Tom treat me like an adult. I appreciate how they don’t regard me as an ignorant teenager who doesn’t know much when it comes to life; they genuinely care about me and understand the difficulties of being a teenager. They respect me and are interested in everything I'm doing; they always make an effort to keep in touch, even though we live on separate ends of the country. They are wonderful people and any child would be lucky to have them as his/her parents. ~ Destiny, Our niece, Nate’s cousin | We would like to tell you a few reasons why we know Tom and Becky would be excellent candidates for adopting a baby into their home. Their son, Nathaniel, is a very happy, loved and cared for son, because his parents have a heart for parenting. They have the skills to teach and at the same time enjoy raising their son. Although Becky and Tom value their careers, it's obvious that Nathaniel is first and foremost in their lives 24/7 no matter what the situation. I've never seen them lose their tempers or even talk loud to Nate, and it shows in Nate's overall character and behavior. Becky and Tom are very interested in Nate's teachers and friends at school and how well Nate is interacting with them, as well as with family members. Nathaniel is loved, and because of that he seems to know how to love others at such a very young age, yielding him many friends. Becky and Tom are two very gifted people who have a lot to give and share with their children-- they're both very intelligent and very funny. They're a well-rounded couple, Becky being energetic and never at a loss for something to talk about, while Tom is slightly laid back and very witty. They're always fun to be around, I can only imagine how Becky and Tom's personalities will positively influence their children's lives. We have no doubt their children will grow up to be wonderful people just like them. | Hello.... | Sincerely, Tom & Cindy, Nate's grandparents | Tom & Becky do any number of things that all good parents do, but the one thing that sets them apart is their continual personal review of: "Am I doing this right?" I've found that parents who ask that question are most vigilant about the needs of their children -- not just their desires. The evidence is in their marvelous little boy, who decided at 2 years old that he prefers to be called "Nate" rather than Nathaniel. For such a young child, Nate is very keen on what he likes and clear on what he's not so crazy about. He doesn't always walk the road his peers walk, and we are all fine with that-- he thinks for himself, like his parents! ~ Trudy (w/ her baby boy), family friend for four years, mom of Madi, one of Nate's oldest/best pals

36: Tom and Becky are warm, caring and affectionate individuals who genuinely love and respect each other. As parents, they are patient, nurturing and supportive of their son Nate. They embody what a successful marriage and caring parenting should be. ~ Manny, Nate's Godfather | What can I say about my brother, Tom, and his wife, Becky? Well...I first knew that my brother would be a great father when I watched him with my own children. He was funny, tender, engaging, and a hands-on type of uncle. He was one of those people that would get down on the floor and play with my children and try to make them laugh. Now that my children are teenagers he treats them with respect and is truly interested in the young adults they are becoming. Becky is an amazing mother. She is kind, loving, cautious, and not afraid to be completely goofy to make a child or adult laugh. Becky has been so caring to my own children; she expresses true interest in them and everyone she meets. They are amazing parents and would love to give their son a brother or sister. ~ Jamie, Tom's sister

37: My sister, Becky, and brother-in-law, Tom, love being parents. My nephew Nate is a happy little guy. He really wants to be a big brother! My son, Andrew, who just adores Nate, can’t wait for another cousin. Nate and Andrew are fishing buddies. My husband takes them fishing together at a nearby reservoir, where Nate caught his first fish, a perch. ... The kids laugh a lot together, bringing so much joy to our family. One of the things I really like about being an aunt is the way Nate likes to chat with me. He always has something interesting to say, especially about places where he goes with his parents--like the beach or to a pumpkin patch or wherever else. They're always on the go. Nate has lots of play dates, too. This is a little boy who gets tons of love, and there is plenty more just waiting for a new little member of the family ... who we can’t wait to meet! ~Aunt Margo

38: Becky's father built this lovely place, which sits in the middle of many, quiet wooded acres. The land once belonged to his parents, who had a small farm, and is now shared by their children. All of our families spend time here, together or separately. Every season brings something different to the experience.... the quiet and natural beauty here are amazing. A hundred-year-old old cabin (right) can be seen from the new place (above) ... and you can hear the river through the woods. We've been taking Nate here since he was a baby. Last summer, we brought a group of friends with kids for a long weekend. One day, our kids and their cousins will be bringing their friends and families here...

39: Our second child, a son or daughter, will be celebrated and cherished along with Nate, who has taught us so much about life and love and being parents. Based on our experience (as children once and now as parents), we know how important it is for children to be told/shown and to feel-- in every part of themselves, on good days and bad-- that they are loved for exactly who they are are right at this very moment ... and always. We hope to have another child to love this way too.

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