BC: Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. ~ Maya Angelou
FC: Josh and Tiffany
1: Peace and Love, Josh and Tiffany | Hello, Welcome to our love-filled, action-packed life of fun and adventure! Thank you so much for looking through our book of past memories, current hopes and future dreams. We want to give you a glimpse of who we are and the life we would love to share with little ones. We are filled with hope and anticipation to meet you. We feel deep respect and admiration for the decisions you are making for your baby. We can only imagine the journey you are on, and perhaps it has not been an easy one. Life is certainly a ride full of plenty of twists and turns. We've experienced some surprises in our own lives as well. Taking a leap of faith into the unknown can be a bit scary sometimes, and we understand that feeling. That's why we open our hearts to you in this book -- to provide some answers about who we are, how we live our lives and what we hold dear. When new people come to us, we never know what we'll learn from them as we grow together. We're happy that you've found us here in this moment. We'd love the opportunity to tell you more about us and the parents we dream of being. Our hope is that the pictures and words you find in these pages will make your heart resonate with ours. If you feel a connection with our story, we would love to meet you and share more of our life journey.
2: Our Love Story | Our love story began with laughter, friendship, mud huts, no showers, new food and an appreciation for discomfort. We met while we were serving in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Tiffany had already been in country for a year before Josh arrived, but we both participated in a bike-across-country event. We spent long hours sharing our pasts with each other underneath a huge tree along the bike route and we quickly learned that our common bond was a fun sense of humor. When you live in West Africa, you do not have the luxury of going to the movies or out to a restaurant to slowly ease into getting to know someone. We did not have our best clothes or our sweetest perfumes. All we had was time to talk, and we had a lot of that. One night, while dancing at a friend's birthday party together, Tiffany's version of the friendship turned instantaneously into a life-long love for Josh. To this day, she doesn't know what grabbed her, but it has never let her go. Josh had grown up all over the world since his dad was in the military. Tiffany was born and raised in California. But, we had a lot in common when it came to our sense of humor, our respect for others and a strong love of adventure. We spent a few months planning a vacation together and then left the desert of Africa for three wonderful weeks on the islands of Greece. This was the first of many dream vacations for us. Time would tell how often we'd explore something new together and that trip to the Mediterranean was only the beginning. When our service was up, we decided to begin the next phases of our lives together on the West Coast. We eased back into U.S. culture by spending a month on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sleeping in a small tent and washing in ice cold streams. This was the first time Josh realized that he wanted to spend his life charting new trails with Tiffany. After the backpacking trip, we lived with Tiffany's parents in a log cabin in the mountains, but it was time to venture out on our own into an apartment in San Francisco. This was a childhood dream of Tiffany's to live in San Francisco. Josh had never been there before, but he fell in love with it immediately. From our base camp apartment in the City, we soaked in all that California and the region had to offer. We took numerous road trips together, flew to Chile to learn to
3: ice climb in a glacier, enjoyed sea kayaking in the bay and spent as much time as possible with Tiffany's nieces, Kayla, Morgan and Paige. We loved taking them for the weekend once a month or so and exposing them to new, fun things. It was our introduction to the life we would eventually dream of living, one with kids to share in our adventures. Once, while hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls, Josh carried a secret that would blow Tiffany away. At the top of the hike, he knelt behind a rock and asked Tiffany to come look at a shiny stone he'd found. When she found him, he was holding her engagement ring and the promise of a lifetime of adventure, love and partnership. We were married in an open meadow in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. We had friends and family attend from all over, including two special friends from Niger who had witnessed our love grow over the recent six years. It was a fairytale wedding, complete with an awesome dance party! A year later, we took our honeymoon trip to Italy. We found the best pizza on the planet and lived out a dream while staying in a stone farmhouse in the countryside. Eventually, we wanted to buy our own home and begin adding to our family of two. We decided on Denver because it was close to one set of Tiffany's parents and it offered beautiful mountain excursions close to really fun, urban neighborhoods. We spent three and a half years hoping for a baby, but couldn't get pregnant. Then, Tiffany found out she was pregnant while traveling for work in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, ten weeks later, we lost that baby. We have what is known as unexplained infertility. There is no known reason why we can't get and stay pregnant, but it just doesn't happen. However, our dream of having children only grew stronger in the year that followed our loss. We became certain of our plan to adopt and are now hoping to welcome children into our lives through this beautiful approach to growing a family. We have prepared our hearts, our family and friends and our home for the new addition(s). Our lives are full of love, learning, adventure, giving and kindness. This is where we are coming from. We feel strongly that this is a beautiful thing we have going and we dream of sharing it with little ones.
4: Our journey together began in 2000 when we met in Niger, West Africa | Moved to San Francisco in 2002 | Got Engaged in 2004 | LOVE
5: And the fun continues... | Ready to Start Our Family in 2012 | Married in 2006 | New Home in CO in 2008 | Honeymoon in Italy, 2007
6: My favorite thing to do as a kid was ride my bike. I would see how far I could go, riding out beyond the neighborhoods, either to the open hills and farmland or to the fence at the edge of the airfield where I would watch huge cargo planes take off. Sometimes my friends and I would all ride down to the old railroad bridge and jump into the river on a hot day.
7: Born: December 5th Sign: Sagittarius Career: Environmental Planner | A | B | O | U | T | A | L | L | I lived in Washington, Indiana, Guam, Oklahoma, Michigan, Belgium and finally Colorado – all before I was 16. I loved the beach as a kid, and my brother and I used to play in the jungle and climb on old army tanks in Guam. In Belgium, I learned to speak French, and my friends and I played music together in the plaza at the center of town. In high school I played guitar in the jazz band. I played some sports, but I also learned how to tie ropes, rock climb and country dance. I went to college in Greeley, CO and then joined the Peace Corps after graduation. Living in Africa was wild, but the adventure really got started when I met Tiffany. When we came home together, we hiked for a month in California's mountains and she showed me a part of nature that I'd never seen. It was like I found something I had been missing my whole life. Even today I am still exploring the world. I volunteer my time helping foreign refugees settle here in Denver, and I get to practice my French when I meet people from West Africa. Learning music still brings me peace of mind, and playing with others has been a great way to make new friends. I know that the world I share with our children will be full of music and adventure. I can hardly wait to be a dad!
8: I grew up celebrating family festivities in two households because my parents divorced and remarried when I was very young. I've always been grateful for my brothers and sisters I got from their new marriages. We took really fun family trips to water ski in the summer and snow ski in the mountains in winter. We went camping every chance we got, explored National Parks on road trips and spent weekends playing games and having picnics. All of my parents were supportive of my school activities and anything I wanted to pursue outside of classes. This kept me very busy with girl scouts, dance lessons, cheerleading, track, in addition to leadership and social clubs. I never outgrew the desire to spend my time in meaningful ways. I am a weekly volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House for families with children in the hospital. I am an avid gardener so that I can be sure we are eating the healthiest food possible. Traveling and learning about new cultures is a passion of mine. I spend most of my time outside soaking up as much of what nature gives as I can get. This is how my parents raised me and what I hope to share with our kids someday. | Born: November 1st Sign: Scorpio Career: Engineer
9: When I was growing up, I fell in love with horses. My grandma taught me how to draw them and I begged to ride them on every vacation. I went to a summer horse camp and spent two weeks learning all about their care and how to ride like a cowgirl. I was one of the only kids who could ride the friskier horses. We all had chores at camp and I got to run the general store. This is one of my favorite memories.
10: 1. Playing music with people 2. Learning other languages 3. Biking along the river 4. Walking with Tiffany in our neighborhood 5. Creating new meals in the kitchen 6. Rockies games in summer 7. Riding the scooter around town 8. Tubing, camping and picnicking at Rockygrass music festival 9. Watching the sun set over the mountains from the back porch in Greeley 10. Breakfast burritos! | THINGS I LOVE IN LIFE...
11: A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS... | Learning about and living amongst other cultures | Singing really loudly | Floating along Colorado's rivers | Backpacking up high in the mountains | Live music outdoors | Sowing seeds and watching the garden grow | Camping on a clear night under the stars with a fire in the pit | Couch + Fireplace + Blanket + Good Book + Hot Chocolate + Cookies | "Talking walks" in the neighborhood with Josh | Eating good food and knowing where it came from
12: Our WORK... | I’ve always enjoyed helping people and being in the natural environment. Before graduating college I spent my senior year working as a counselor at a substance abuse recovery center. After that experience, I signed up for service in the Peace Corps and traveled to West Africa to work as a community health volunteer. My life hasn’t been the same since then. I met Tiffany while working together on a health education project for small villages along one of the main highways there. We had both learned to speak the same local language (Djerma), and we felt the same appreciation for the work we were doing and the people we were serving. When we came home, I got my Master's degree in Geography, specializing in Natural Resource Management. My job today consists of writing scientific reports and making maps for the National Park Service and other government agencies so they can better manage the areas I love to be in. I am responsible for doing research to find out if there will be impacts to the environment from new developments in places like Yellowstone and other parks and recreation areas. My favorite part of my job is that I get to learn about new places and explore some of the wildest parts of the country to map roads and animal habitats. I once witnessed a herd of wild horses and saw the vanishing tail of a mountain lion while conducting a field study in western Colorado! I like the work I do, especially when I can be creative, and I am happy to have a career that is both challenging and rewarding at times. | Josh's Education and Career
13: I have always been interested in figuring things out and learning about how the world works. When I was in high school, my math teacher, Mr. Brown, suggested that I go into the engineering profession. I'm glad he did because it has been my ticket to see the world. I spent two years in junior college before heading away from home to go to Cal Poly State University in California. As much as I learned about engineering, by the time I graduated | ...in the WORLD | Tiffany's Education and Career | I was burned out from school and thought I didn't want to be an engineer anymore. I had another influential professor suggest that I go into the Peace Corps after I graduated. I decided to go to Africa to figure out what to do next. My job in Niger was to build houses in a new way that didn't kill as many trees for the wood in the roof structure. My time in West Africa was the perfect opportunity to see how I could put my education to use doing something that felt meaningful to me. After some time in California working as an engineer, I found my dream job. I get to review plans for projects in all parts of the world. I even get to travel some. My work has taken me to look at projects in Ecuador, India, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Burkina Faso, West Africa. I am so passionate about other cultures and learning about new places. Working as a Project Manager for Engineers Without Borders is truly the perfect job for me.
16: Mom & Dad | Brother Peter | Dad and Me | Cousins Cristi and Steve | Opa Thillmann | Grandpa Schnabel | Coming Home from Peace Corps to Oma and Opa | Mom and Me | Niece Alie and Nephew Christion | Early Christmas
17: Josh's Family | Visiting Mom and Dad's place in Florida | Thanksgiving with Oma | Tiffany with Alie and Christion | Visiting with Mom and Dad in Indiana | Giving Christion a ride! | Turkey prep with Peter
18: TIFFANY'S FAMILIES | We are | MOM & STEPDAD | MOM & ME | JOSH & NIECES (FAMILY BAND IN THE PARK) | JAMMIN' WITH STEPDAD | MARTINDALE FAMILY | HOST MOMS
19: DAD & ME | Family in Niger | DAD | DAD & STEPMOM | DAD & BROTHERS | HOST DAD | SIBLINGS | SANDERS FAMILY | STEPMOM, BROTHER & SISTER
21: As we reach out to you through an adoption, our family roots will continue to grow outward together. Banyan trees grow in a unique and special way. Unlike other trees, they send their roots down from their branches. Those roots eventually grow strong and become trunks of their own, supporting new branches and new life. We believe that our family tree will be shaped like a Banyan tree, with roots reaching down and extending like open hands to plant themselves into the earth, rather than stemming from just one trunk. We have seen them in India, West Africa, Hawaii and even in San Francisco. And on Guam, where Josh lived as a boy, the native people believe in ancient spirit guardians of the Banyan trees. It can be said that a Banyan tree is really many trees in one. As a result, it is stronger than any tree that stands alone.
22: We first got to know each other in a village called Karma. The moon was incredibly full and bright that evening. The reflection of it setting over the peaceful Niger River was very romantic. Everything was lit up by moonlight, and in a village with no lights or electricity, we could walk along the quiet banks of the river without a flashlight. Ever since we first met, the full moon has had a special place in our lives. When Josh proposed, we decided to host our wedding on a full moon as well so that we could remember our beginnings in Niger each year on our anniversary and because we love the feel of those crisp autumn evenings when the moon is high in the sky. Our wedding day was absolutely everything we dreamed of it being. Tiffany's dads shared the duty of walking her down the aisle. We were surrounded by our family and friends from all over the world. Tiffany's brother and our good friend read letters that we had written from our respective huts in Africa when we were just beginning to fall in love. We wrote our own vows and promised to live out our days together in love, peace and respect. We also had a fantastic party to celebrate, complete with delicious food and a dance party that never seemed to end. It truly was a perfect day.
23: We were married in an open meadow in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Our reception was at the glowing Conservatory of Flowers under an October Full Moon.
24: We love our home! We have three bedrooms and bathrooms, a music play room, an office and living space. We've begun painting the nursery with animals from Africa and Banyan Trees. The back yard is half urban farm, complete with three beautiful chickens, and half barbecue patio and picnic lawn. Twice a year, we welcome friends and family to a Garden Harvest Party and a Winter Solstice Celebration.
25: Our Backyard Chicken Coop!
26: Our friends are extended family to us. We rely on them for support in hard times as much as for smiles and good times. These are some of our closest friends waiting to share in our joys.
27: All of these smiling faces are excited to welcome our little ones | home. We still have strong bonds with our pals in Niger and California, in addition | to Colorado. Our kids will be well traveled and LOVED.
28: A few snapshots of some of our favorites... | Home Sweet Home | Where We Met | Patricio practicing his English | New friends, Don Jose y Nina Mila | Yerba Buena Gardens | Big Island Luau | Ice climbing on a glacier | San Francisco, CA | El Salvador | Ecuador | Chile | Hawaii | Niger | Scotland | River gazing outside of Josh's village | Mountaineering with friends | Travel is our way of life. We can't wait to introduce kids to our passion for exploring other places and cultural experiences. | A new friend at the village pump | Burkina Faso
29: Honeymoon in Venice | School break in Addis Alem | Hindu festival on the Ganges River in Haridwar | Josh and brother Peter in Army tank | Italy | Ethiopia | India | Guam | Greece | First time snorkeling
30: Dia de los Muertos Altar | Annual Winter Solstice Sun Cake
32: You just gotta know this about iffany...(from Josh) | She LOVES cookies and her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. She loves to sing. She sings in the car and in the shower. One time she woke us both up by singing in her sleep! She isn't afraid to swing a hammer. She put her skills to work building our chicken coop. She knows everyone's birthday and always remembers to wish them well on their special day. She makes friends with people no matter where they are from or how different they are from us. Although Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, she loves the specialness of decorating for Christmastime. She loves animals. She can't resist petting cats even though she's allergic. (Raccoons love her too, but that's another story.)
33: If you don't know this, you don't know osh...(from Tiffany) | He can play any instrument just by listening to its sound. He tells completely made up stories to help me fall asleep each night. He has a great sense of humor that makes common events funny and hard times easier. He tackles a to-do list without procrastination, usually so he can get back to having fun! He is the master of the kitchen. He always learns new dishes and I'm happy to taste test. He is learning to make cheese and his pepper jelly is so yummy! Josh loves his family unconditionally. He is a kind, gentle friend to people and is very supportive when someone is in need. He can't wait to be a dad. He is made for teaching and playing with kids. His fun imagination will compete with that of any little kiddos.
34: Our family values love, support, patience, kindness, trust, communication and humor. We invite friends and family to our home as a place to feel comfort, peace and laughter. We believe in giving to others. We respect and nurture the planet and all of its inhabitants. We seek a diversity of new experiences in order to continue learning. These are the virtues we will share with our children. | Our Family Mission Statement
35: We thank you for looking inside our lives a little | and allowing us to open our hearts to you. Our | Wishing you Peace and Love, | consider your decision for your baby. We promise | most sincere hope is that you feel peace as you | you that our entire lives will be spent providing your | child the love, support, guidance, education, laughter | decision was not an easy one, but that you hoped | We will share with them that your courageous | They will always know how deeply you love them. | and adventure that you dream of for them. | only for their happiness. | Tiffany and Josh