S: Our Family - Betsy & Leslie
BC: Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what. ~Unknown~
FC: Our Family | ] | [ | Betsy | Leslie | Molly
1: As you can see, we have fun with our friends' kids... | But we'd love our own!
2: In 2007, we met for our first date at a local coffee shop. From the moment of exchanging "hellos," we found our conversation easy and natural. | The Story of Us | ] | We had so much in common, including the same quirky sense of humor, and we had close, valued relationships with our families. Before we knew it, we had been talking for three hours without even realizing it! Over the next several months, our relationship developed slowly and grew from a solid friendship. | [ | Leslie (left) and Betsy (right) in East Aurora, NY, where we were married. | When we met, Betsy was in graduate school and had to complete a year-long residency in another state for her degree. Still, during that time, we found a way to see each other every weekend. Looking back, that year made our relationship stronger. We were married in October 2012. | Betsy hitting the road to visit Leslie during the time we lived apart.
3: Betsy loves me unconditionally. She knows my faults and weaknesses, but she never criticizes or uses them unfairly. We appreciate each other's strengths, have no jealousy when good things happen for the other and encourage each other to pursue those things important to us. Betsy radiates a goodness I adore. She is quick to see the good in others and has an intellectual curiosity that will foster a fun learning environment for a child. | In Leslie's Words | Leslie is always there to cheer me on. Her sense of humor and laughter never fail to cheer me up on tough days. Leslie will be a great mom because she is loving, affectionate and kindhearted. She is an encourager and knows how to bring out the best in others, making them feel valued. I am really excited about our parenthood journey together. | In Betsy's Words | Cold and windy trip to Buffalo, NY! | Dinner on a summer trip to Orlando, FL.
6: [About Leslie] | I am a lawyer in special education and work with schools to develop educational programs for kids with disabilities. I enjoy this area because the parents and the school have the same goal - the best interests of the child. | I love to laugh. I'm not sure that's a hobby, but I spend a lot of time doing it. I enjoy working out at the gym (my favorite part is when it's finished!). I spend time watching my niece cheer and my nephew play tee-ball. I love to watch college football games with family, and Betsy and I often get together with friends for chips and salsa, one of my favorites! | Leslie's Job | Hobbies & Interests | Fun Facts | My 9th and 10th great grandfathers came to America on The Mayflower. I absolutely love pink bubble gum ice cream! I danced for 15 years without injury, but I tore a ligament in my knee picking up laundry off the floor. (Not a very FUN fact!) I hiked the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River (without injury to my knee). If I wasn't a lawyer, my dream job would be stand-up comic, second grade teacher or hair stylist ... in that order. | . | . | . | . | 4 | .
7: Below: A family lake trip, with Leslie's mom, sister (with soon-to-be-born nephew), and niece. | Left: Leslie's niece could get Leslie's dad to do just about anything, including wearing a make-shift pink hat from a bucket. | Below: Leslie's sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew on Halloween. | Above: Leslie and her dad, at her college homecoming. Gotta love that 90's hair! | Above: Leslie and her mom, dad, sister, niece and nephew on Father's Day. | 5
8: I have one sister who is 6 years younger than I am. She was born on my first day of first grade. We have a very close relationship, and she is one of my best friends. She is married and has two children: my 8-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew. I was a very good student in school, and my hard work opened doors for me academically and professionally. Like most, I suffered through that awkward stage when I was | My Mom and Dad have been married for 49 years and have always made family a priority. They live only five minutes from Betsy and me, still in the same house where I lived since I was 6 years old. My Dad is a retired dentist, and my Mom has been a real estate agent for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she was a stay-at-home mom. | Leslie's Story | [ | ] | Growing up years: Leslie, her dad and her sister pictured below. | Middle: Leslie when she took dance as a child. | Below: Leslie (right) and her sister.
9: The birth of my niece in 2006 completely opened my heart to love that I can't begin to put into words. When my nephew was born in 2010, my capacity for love grew yet again. I am very close to my niece and nephew, as well as to Betsy's four nieces and nephews. | Leslie with her niece and nephew at the beach. | Leslie playing her niece's made-up contest to see who could balance a mini-flashlight longer! | My Niece and Nephew | I took dance classes for 15 years, from the time I was 3 years old until I graduated high school. I was on the dance team at my high school and also went to dance competitions. During my senior year, I taught dance to young children, which was something I loved doing. | kind of a "geeky" kid. But, by the time I entered high school, the awkward geekiness faded (thankfully). Since I wasn't always in the "cool" crowd, I had friends from different groups and backgrounds.
10: With a total of six nieces and nephews between us, there are many activities for us to watch and share in - gymnastics, football, dance recitals, among others. Most of all, we do simple things with them, like playing games or reading books. Recently, Betsy and I had “Nieces’ Night” at our house, where all of our nieces spent the night. We watched movies, had a pillow fight, sang songs and went out for ice cream. The next day, we had a picnic and went swimming. Because it was such a success, the nephews are now demanding a “Nephews’ Night.” Stay tuned! | Betsy helping Leslie's niece ride a bike. | Leslie and her niece and nephew. | Left: On our way to get ice cream! Above: Betsy, Leslie and Leslie's niece and nephew.
11: My story would not be complete without mention of my maternal grandparents, "Mimi and Bobo." They were hard-working, affectionate, family-centered and incredibly generous. As kids, my sister and I, along with my cousins, used to have spend-the-night parties at their house, disco dancing in front of the full-length mirror in their hallway. They took us for ice cream in our pajamas and drove us in their golf cart to a neighborhood lake to feed the ducks. | Leslie and her grandparents, "Mimi & Bobo," at her law school graduation. | My Mimi was a beautiful Southern woman, married to my Bobo for 56 years. She was devoted to her family and also loved playing golf and hosting big family meals with our favorite foods. I am thankful for so many happy times with my grandparents, and I look forward to telling our child about them. | Important People in My Life | My grandfather, Bobo, had a big, infectious laugh with a broad smile and a gentle way of showing compassion for others. He encouraged me to always do my best and took a genuine interest in everything I did. Even since his death, I can still look at pictures of him and hear his laugh.
12: [About Betsy] | Betsy's Job | I am a psychologist and professor at a university hospital. I work with some amazing individuals who have spinal cord injury, brain injury or other physical disability and who remind me just how resilient the human spirit can be. | Hobbies & Interests | I have played violin since I was 7, and my grandmother practiced with me every day. My first time to have braces was as an adult. I LOVE dark chocolate, and I consider coffee a necessary morning staple. I eat my veggies, but I do not like Brussels sprouts. At all. I visited eight different countries before the age of 21. I made smoothies to earn money in college. | Fun Facts | I love traveling with Leslie and exploring new places. I enjoy music and playing my violin, documenting family history and doing things around the house, such as painting, decorating and taking care of flowers in our yard. | . | . | . | . | . | .
13: Betsy at her nieces' dance recital. | Betsy and Leslie, when Betsy's second niece arrived home from the hospital. | Above: Betsy's dad, sister and niece at her niece's baptism. | Right: Betsy with her mom and stepdad on Thanksgiving. | Left: Betsy listening to family stories from her great aunt (grandmother's sister). | Leslie, Betsy's mom and Betsy when we all visited upstate New York.
14: I grew up in a small town. I have one older sister, and although we had different interests, we were close. She was a great big sister and was (and is) always looking out for me! My Mom always encouraged us to develop into our own unique individuals - observing our developing interests and doing what she could to foster that. I also appreciate my Mom's value of others. She held the view that everyone is important and of worth, regardless of race, disability or walk of life. We learned that the more you get to know someone, you always find more similarities than differences. | Betsy's Story | My Dad was the creative one in our family, building forts out of blankets and chairs or playhouses out of old appliance boxes. Those times are some of my favorite memories: my Dad helping us cut out windows and decorate the outside to make those boxes look like real playhouses. | [ | ] | Above: Betsy and her family at the park. | Below: Betsy (left) with her sister.
15: I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, "Mudder and Granddaddy." They took time to teach me about nature, gardening and music. Mudder helped me learn to play the violin and made sure that I practiced everyday. I think my hardest performance was playing for her funeral in 2010. The loss of my grandmother had a tremendous impact on me. Time with my loved ones is precious. | Important People in my Life | Betsy at a violin recital. | Center: Betsy and her dad. Right: Betsy and her sister with pet rabbits at their grandparents' home. | Betsy with her grandparents, "Mudder & Granddaddy." | Betsy picking apples in her grandparents' orchard.
16: I have two nephews (ages 9 and 5) and two nieces (ages 11 and 7). They live close to our home, and Leslie and I often take the whole crew out for ice cream and other fun adventures we can find! I feel like I love those kids like my very own, but I always knew that I wanted to be a parent when I found the right person to share my life with. | My parents divorced when I was 13. The divorce was difficult in many ways, but I am thankful that my parents assured my sister and me that we were loved no matter what. We were always able to spend time with each of them. Today, my parents are both remarried, and I couldn't have picked better spouses for them. My parents and step-parents are all very involved in the lives of my sister and me, and especially their grandchildren! | My Nieces & Nephews | Betsy and her nieces before playing in the snow! | Bring your pet day at Betsy's nephew's school. He wanted our dog Molly to be "his pet."
17: Above: With our nieces at an indoor trampoline park. Below: Mollydog, wanting to get in on the blanket fort action with the nephews. | Below: silly selfie! | Above: Beach trip with Leslie's family.
18: We live in a diverse, mid-size city in the Southeast that offers a wealth of cultural and educational opportunities. Our home is a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house on a large, 1-acre lot, only a few minutes away from both of our families. There are playgrounds, parks and green spaces throughout our neighborhood, where we enjoy picnicking, playing outdoors and riding bicycles with our nieces and nephews. Our home has a wooded area for exploring nature and a large yard for play. | [Our | Our Neighborhood | ] | [ | Home...
19: Right: Our neighborhood ballpark. Leslie is in the background cheering for Betsy's nephew at bat! | One of our favorite places is a nearby one-acre dog park, complete with sprinklers and play fire hydrants for cooling off on hot summer days. Our mini golden doodle, Molly (seen running in the photo to the left), loves to run and play with neighborhood dogs there. | Education is highly valued not only in our family, but also in our community. We live in an award-winning school system, where 98% of students graduating from the neighborhood high school go on to college, and more than 68% of those graduates receive scholarships (whether academic, athletic, artistic or otherwise). | Left: A neighborhood park, with a dog park and plenty of room for flying kites!
20: Travels | ] | [ | Left: Leslie (right) and Betsy (left) at Niagara Falls, NY on a very windy day! | Above: Leslie on a hike inside Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. | Below: Enjoying a "hole-in-the-wall" BBQ restaurant after exploring the Blue Ridge Mountain waterfalls. | Left: A Summer trip to Disney World and Epcot. Right: When Leslie was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. | Photographs
21: Leslie with her seat-belt fastened and ready for the flight! | Below: With Leslie's niece and nephew on a summer beach trip with Leslie's family. | Right: Attending a friend's wedding in North Carolina. Below: Betsy during a winter trip to the mountains. | Below: Betsy and Leslie in Paris - Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, that is!
22: Family | [ | ] | Left: Betsy and her mom at the Broadway production of "Wicked." Bottom left: With Leslie's dad. Bottom right: Betsy's dad, nieces and nephews at the local ballpark. | Photographs | Above: After our wedding in Oct. 2012. Right: Our "furry child," Molly, who keeps us laughing with her antics.
23: Below: Betsy with all of our nieces. | Above: Leslie's dad and niece gardening. | Below: Betsy and Leslie's nieces having a spend-the-night party at our home. | Above: Leslie's mom and niece. | Left: Leslie being silly with a Hannah Montana wig, with Betsy and her niece.
24: Many of my fondest memories from childhood are our holiday family traditions. At Christmas, we would pick out a tree, listen to Christmas carols and decorate it together. Our tree was always unique and colorful because most of the ornaments were made by my sister and me. | Favorite Traditions | [ | ] | Betsy's traditions | Leslie's traditions | My family has taken annual beach trips together to the Gulf Coast since I was young. Of course, many of our traditions also centered on holidays. Christmas Eve was spent with extended family, but Christmas morning at home always began with the same routine: my Mom was the first downstairs, shouting with excitement, "hurry - I think Santa has been here!" | Below: Betsy's brother-in-law and niece at a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. | Below: Leslie's dad and niece.
25: We continue many of the traditions we each had growing up and also have made new ones in our marriage. We take summer beach trips with Leslie's family and watch college football games at her parent's home on fall Saturdays. | Left: Molly enjoying the calm after our family Christmas gathering. Below: Betsy's mom, serving cake at a family birthday celebration. | Celebrating Together | Above: Our dog Molly, apparently not so happy with the Santa hat. | At Christmas, we pick out our tree and decorate it with ornaments collected from our trips or handmade by our nieces and nephews. We divide our time on Christmas Day between our families, but we like to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us at home.
26: Our child will have the unconditional love of family and will live in a home with emotional and financial security. Both of our families, along with a strong social network of loving, supportive friends, will be an important part of our child's life. | Dreams | ] | We will give our child our time and resources to help him or her succeed in school and pursue any extracurricular activities that are of interest. We value education and will spend time with our child, helping with homework and school projects, reading together and encouraging curiosity and learning. We will provide the opportunity for our child to attend college and pursue the higher education path most helpful to his or her goals. | We will help our child identify activities that appeal to him or her – whether that is dance, sports, music or other arts – to develop self esteem and confidence. Our family will travel to experience arts and culture in different places. We also plan to continue our family vacations and to make regular trips to spend time with our child’s birth family. | Opportunities & Experiences | [ | for Our Child
27: We are deliberate in making time with family and friends a priority. We also believe in practicing compassion. We hope for our child to appreciate and celebrate his or her unique differences, as well as the differences in others. | We will surround our child with the stability, happiness and love that fill our home. We are patient. We love to laugh. We perhaps don't have everything that we want materially, but we have abundantly more than we need, and we appreciate what we have. We also value unconditional love, honesty, loyalty and faith in a power greater than ourselves. We believe that, as parents, we can best “teach” our child these qualities by being examples of them. | Values | Pictured as the background to the far left and the photo to the left are favorite vacation spots, moments that allow us to see beauty and remember what is truly important.
28: Our Aspirations | ] | [ | for Open Adoption | Above: Where this journey began - our visit to Portland, OR and OAFS. We look forward to many more trips to come! | Adoption is a familiar concept to us. Leslie's Dad is from a family of 10 children, and his mother, Leslie's "Nanny," was adopted as an infant. She was a living example of the impact adoption can have. As a same sex couple, we are in the unique position to make a deliberate, thoughtful decision about the way we will start our family. After learning that it would be difficult for either of us to have a biological child, we realized that our capacity to love a child as our own does not require a biological connection. When we chose adoption, we tried to imagine ourselves in our future child’s shoes. We kept returning to the importance of being able to know our full story, including knowing those who gave us life. Open adoption seems to best fulfill that desire. Our child will always know his or her story, a story that he or she not only has a right to know, but also deserves in order to develop an identity as a unique, loved, complete person. Everyone who is a part of that story must be respected and held in the highest regard, and those relationships must be protected for our child to develop and engage in them in whatever way he or she chooses. | For us, an open adoption is not a single event, but a long-term relationship. Selfless, unconditional love from a parent comes not only from a birth family making the difficult decision to entrust a child to us, but also from us being mindful of the important role you always will have in our child’s life.
29: To minimize any distance that separates us, we want to be accessible in any and all ways that you choose – in-person visits, phone calls, emails, Skype or FaceTime, texts, Facebook or other social media - along with any other means of communication that puts you most at ease and helps us keep in touch. In the end, we hope for all of us to feel thankful for the shared experience in the development and "unfolding" of this incredibly special child. | We wish you peace and happiness always, | We look forward to learning about your hopes and dreams for both you and your child. Although we haven't yet met, we already know, based on the decision you are considering, that you are brave, generous and unselfish. All of these are qualities that we hope for in our child. | For a birth parent, choosing adoption requires courage and a depth of love beyond what our words can describe. Our child will always know of your love and courage. Our ultimate hope is that you feel supported in your decision, that you are happy and at peace and that you find joy in watching our child’s growth and development – in whatever role feels most comfortable.