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Featured Family: Daniel and Angela

Describe your childhood:
Adoptive Mom? I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in Maryland, with two brothers and a foster sister. My father managed bridge construction projects for the city and my mother was a pharmacy technician for the veteran's hospital. It was a close-knit place where neighborhood children played together everyday. We walked to the recreation center, where there was a swimming pool, baseball teams, a great summer camp and a community picnic every 4th of July. Both sets of grandparents lived nearby, as did most of my aunts and uncles. Holiday family gatherings were large events. On Christmas we often attended 3-4 family parties. Our street also threw a block party every year, closing the street off for an evening of food, fun and music. Some of the dads began a house decorating competition, and houses on our block became so covered in lights and decorations that it is a major tourist attraction during the holidays. We grew up with a positive sense of multi-culturalism. From early childhood on, many of my friends were African American and Asian American. I attended magnet programs at the public schools and did well academically and in extra-circular programs. After living in different states and in Europe, we moved back to Maryland because we have strong ties here and it's a wonderful place to raise a family. Adoptive Dad? I always had many friends in kindergarten, school and in the neighborhood, where we grew up. Growing up in rural Germany, I spent much of my free time playing pick-up soccer with my friends, building tree houses and enjoying the sports (gymnastics) and weekend activities (I was an altar boy in the Catholic parish). For many years, I was very active in our school’s photo club and school newspaper, and my friends and I would go out on photo shoots in the neighborhood, and spend many afternoon hours in the school’s photo lab. Later, during our late teenage years, we would all sign up to work as student reporters for the local town newspaper and earn money, which I would save for my college years (and frequently use to finance educational trips). The benefit of growing up in a small town was such that many of my friends from the gymnastics club would also attend the same Catholic church, where we were altar boys. And outside of organized sports (gymnastics), church and school, we would all meet on the pick-up soccer court. And in the summer, we would spend many days in the public swimming pool or in the nearby lake. I was always a very popular child, teenager and student. Subsequently, I’ve always enjoyed play dates, and nurtured the friendships that evolved from the early kindergarten days. Having close friendships was always very important to me, but I also felt were lucky that making friends came so easy to me.

Tell us about your home?
Our home is a great place to relax with family and friends. It's a four bedroom brick house on a quiet corner lot. We have a newly renovated kitchen with a large farmhouse wooden table that is a good place to play board games. Our yard is almost 1/2 acre, and offers a great space for children to play. There are soccer goals, tree swings, a sandbox, a vegetable garden, and a chicken coop that houses four spoiled pet chickens. We often entertain at home. We host holiday parties for family, potlucks with friends and play dates with our daughter's friends.

When you have a 3-day weekend, what do you like to do?
Sometimes a three-day weekend is the perfect time to just take it easy. Perhaps visit the grandparents, go out to dinner, or invite some neighbors over. We like to host gatherings at our house, and a three-day weekend would be a good time for that. But a long weekend is also the perfect time for a road trip. We hop in the car for a short getaway -- camping, visiting Pennsylvania Amish country, going skiing, or to a water park, or maybe horseback riding.

Do you have pets? If so tell us about them?
We have four pet chickens that live in a coop in our backyard. They have names and will come when they are called. Their favorite snacks are shredded cheese, ramen noodles and worms (of course). All of the neighborhood kids love our chickens and our 4-year old daughter knows how to give them food and collect the eggs. They are very tame and will let children pet them and will sit on your lap.

What do you hope to teach your children?
We have good formal educations and both worked for a while as college professors (teaching anthropology and journalism). For their general educations we'll work to teach our children to love learning, to have a good sense of history, and to have an interest in the world and in different cultures. We've studied several languages, between us, and our children will grow up bi-lingual in English and German. We'll support them in learning any other languages they may study. We'll give our children the support they need to become good at whatever it is they are passionate about. Our four year old currently tells us she wants to be an artist when she grows up. She'll spend hours making up her own songs, strumming on her guitar, and dancing. She's been enrolled in dance class since the age of two, and will take vocal lessons at school in the fall. As our children grow, we hope to instill in them a sincere respect toward people--and a willingness to help out when someone needs a hand. They should feel self-confident and well loved. Our family is environmentally conscious, and we hope to also pass this respect for nature and the planet on to our children. We hope to guide our children toward being thoughtful and compassionate people.

Describe your neighborhood?
We live in a great neighborhood—it’s very multi-cultural, neighborly and safe. Our neighbors include new immigrants and families who have lived here for generations, people of a wide variety of ethnic and occupational backgrounds. People here take the time to get to know each other and it's a great place to live. It's a part of the city where it's easy to walk around rather than always needing to get into the car. We can walk to the park, the library, the elementary school, the local bakery, shops, and even a theater that performs local plays. The block that we live on has a lot of families with young children.

What will you tell your child about their birthmother?
We will say that their birthmother loved them very much. When she planned for adoption she looked for the right family, and we are thankful she chose us. As our child grows, we will answer questions about their adoption honestly, as best we can, and will make sure that they have a strong, positive sense of identity, and of being loved.

It's Daddy's day - what activity do you want to share with your child?
Daddy Day is a great day to go to the playground, or the swimming pool. It's a day for building something really big with legos, or making an arts and crafts project that takes over the entire living room floor. It's a good day for inviting the neighborhood kids over to play soccer on the front lawn. It's a day when the kids get to make German pancakes with chocolate sauce with Dad.

What kind of education are you hoping to provide for your child - Private or Public?
We both have graduate degrees and both worked as college professors in the past, so we feel confident that our children will receive a good education. Our 4 1/2 year old will enroll in a private Lutheran school kindergarten this fall. There are good public and public charter schools in our area and it is possible that our children might attend public school in the future, dependent upon the program. We'll always be strong advocates for their education. They'll grow up bi-lingual in English and German and we will encourage them to learn other languages and give them the opportunity to do summer language and service programs abroad (perhaps as an activity for the whole family).

How did you come to the decision of adoption?
In 2004, we began trying to conceive a child. After unsuccessfully trying for several years, we realized that we needed to consult a doctor. The results of a series of fertility tests conducted in 2007 were inconclusive. We pursued IVF successfully and our daughter Ruby was born in October of 2008. We had always wanted to have at least two children, and our hope was that we might be able to succeed once more via IVF. After two unsuccessful attempts, the last of which ended in a miscarriage, we decided to no longer pursue fertility treatment. But our wish to have another child remained strong. So we decided to pursue this dream through adoption.

What faith will you raise your child?
We are very ecumenical, reform-minded Catholics, and will raise our child in this tradition. We are also inspired by many other Christian and non-Christian religious beliefs and philosophies, and wish our children to approach religious ideas with an open mind. Our Catholic belief is informed by the tradition of the liberation theology, which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions.

What kind of a relationship do you hope to build with your birthmom through her pregnancy?
We would like to be supportive of the birth mother's wishes. Some birth mothers wish to have an open adoption, and others do not. We look forward to speaking with the birth mother about her wishes.

How did you meet?
We were introduced in Germany, through a mutual friend. Angela was teaching herself German while hiking through Europe on her own, and she impressed me as entrepreneurial and adventurous. She is a bright, beautiful and positive person, and I admired and still admire these qualities. We had a long-distance relationship for several years. We got married while in graduate school. Angela lived for three years in Germany and we eventually decided to settle down in the USA.

What was your relationship with your parents like?
Adoptive Mom? My father was the stricter parent and my mother was the lenient one. When my father said "no," the kids knew that we could work on mom and eventually she would give in. My father had training in draftsmanship, advanced mathematics and engineering, but he especially loved to work with his hands. He took on many home remodeling projects throughout our childhood and often recruited us to help. When I was seven, I remember him letting us wear goggles and bang on the kitchen wall with a hammer. He taught me mathematics by measuring 2x4s to decide how to frame a new wall for our hallway. My mother is an enthusiastic, sincere woman, with a big heart. She is always helping out friends and family in need. I've always been on good terms with my father, but with my mother I've been very close. Since moving back to Maryland we talk on the phone and visit each other every week. Adoptive Dad? My parents were high school teachers and placed a great emphasis on education and exploratory learning. Subsequently, my siblings and I were exposed to books, nature and travel early on in our lives. We grew up in a moderately religious (Catholic) family, and my parents instilled in us the appreciation for nature, people and community. Instead of TV time, they read many books to us and taught us card games, board games, and sports. Teachers in Germany are paid more than in the U.S., and also enjoy a higher status, so my parents were always able to support us financially and connect us to resources and people. They took us on many family vacation trips to Italy, Hungary, France, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Denmark, paid for local summer school programs, financed piano lessons, and supported us financially throughout our college education.

What attracted you to each other?
We both enjoy a good discussion and are passionate about debating ideas and politics. We are both idealistic and adventurous, and share a deep rooted sense of "wanting to make the world a better place." This is where our personalities overlap, and what attracted us to each other. After meeting while Angela was on vacation, we were in a long distance relationship for several years, as we finished graduate school on different continents. We've been married for more than 15 years and enjoy each others' company as much as ever.

Please describe your personalities:
Adoptive Mom? Open minded, sincere, self confident, friendly, idealistic, intelligent, and determined. Adoptive Dad? Kind, friendly, joking, intelligent, well-informed, polite, open minded, idealistic.

What are your hobbies?
Adoptive Mom? Reading, researching ideas for my business, gardening, woodworking, crochet, hiking and camping, crafts projects with children, traveling, making food from scratch (including homemade jams and applesauce), volunteering, potlucks with friends, attending cultural events at the German Lutheran church, going to yard sales to find things that are old and unique, attending music concerts and community festivals, swimming at the neighborhood pool. Adoptive Dad? Organizing a monthly German language gathering for bilingual families, attending social gatherings and events held at the German Zion Lutheran Church and School, which has a weekly kindergarten our daughter also attends. Many activities involve parents, whose children are of our daughter’s age, or family gatherings. We frequently go to our friends’ homes for play dates, birthday parties and other outings. During the warm months, we meet friends at the private swimming pool we belong to and do nature hikes in nearby parks. Aiming to live sustainably (walking rather than taking the car, buying from local shops, recycling, and whatever else we can).

When you close your eyes and see yourself holding your precious baby in your arms what are your thoughts regarding the birthmother?
We'll always have a bond with our birth mother for this precious gift. She will always be a part of our lives. I do not know what led her to choose adoption, but I have the deepest respect for her choice, and would like her to know that we will love this little one with all our hearts, and will do everything to make sure that her child has a healthy, happy and prosperous life.

How will a child enrich your life?
There are no words to easily answer this question. Children are a window into our humanity. They give us laughter, renewal, hope, innocence, and unconditional love. They give us a new and fresh perspective. They depend on us and we are there for them. Family life is a wonderful thing, and we will relish being a part of our children's lives as they grow and expand their horizons.

Why did you each choose the career path you decided on?
Adoptive Mom? I was the first person in my family to attend college. I loved learning and decided to attend graduate school. Having grown up in a community that had been affected by factory closures, I decided to become a social scientist (anthropology and sociology), with a research specialization in unemployment and the future of work. I was a full-time university professor for five years and loved teaching, but in my field most positions had short-term contracts, which made it hard to start a family. After our daughter was born I decided to explore a new career path that would make it possible to stay at home and be a full-time mom. I started a home-based online business, selling sustainable craft supplies and children's toys. In its third year it is doing very well and I am now employing a friend part-time. The business is completely flexible and I am keeping it small so that I can work part-time and remain a full-time mother. Adoptive Dad? Since 2010 I work as a Special Projects Manager for a Nonprofit Refugee Agency. I coordinate cross-divisional projects, develop proposals, launch new programs and organize conferences. I also administer a $1 million dollar grant designed to assist the national network’s local affiliates in establishing volunteer programs. From 2007-2010, I worked in the same field as an organizational trainer for Refugee Works. Prior to this, I had worked as a journalist for national and regional newspapers in Germany and in the U.S. I took a position teaching journalism at a state college in the U.S., while still contributing articles and feature stories to a variety of media outlets. While I work as a nonprofit manager for a national NGO during the day, I still receive royalties from books I published in Germany and maintain many professional connections in the media. I intend to work after the adoption of our child. My current work is very flexible and allows telecommuting, so that I will be able to spend quality time with my family.

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