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Featured Family: Mark and Sandra

Describe your childhood:
Sandra: Growing up my family was very close and still is. I have one sister who is 3 years younger. We definitely had our fights, but have a great relationship with each other today. We also had close relationships with both sets of grandparents. I was active in sports; my younger sister and I were in swimming lessons, gymnastics, took piano lessons, downhill ski lessons and played softball as we were older. Summers we would go to the cabin where we swam, went boating, fishing and water-skiing. Our parents would also take us on a summer vacation to one of the State Parks in Minnesota or out of state for a road/camping trip. In the winter we would go ice-skating, sledding and downhill skiing. Mark: I grew up the youngest of seven children. We were a very close-knit family. We would take vacations where we’d all pile in the family station wagon (including the yellow lab), and go camping in northern Minnesota. We enjoyed fishing, swimming in the lake, having campfires, and generally just spending time together as a family. My parents stressed education as a priority, but encouraged us to pursue our own interests and directions. I was also very active in sports, and grew up playing football, basketball, baseball, skiing, volleyball, tennis, golf, and just about any other sport I could fit in the schedule. Being the youngest of seven was a blessing as my brothers and sisters all taught me different skills and lessons, and were always there to lend their support if needed. To this day, our family remains close and gets together fairly often.

Tell us about your home?
Our home is an off-white stucco walkout Ranch (one-story). Exactly what we were in search of. It has a three-car garage with a workshop that Mark installed; you can find him there often working on this projects. Our home has a patio and deck where we like to grill and eat outside during the summer, just hang out on with friends or family, or where you can catch Sandra reading a book. On the main level as you walk into the entry way from the front door there is a dining room to the left, adjacent to the dining room is the kitchen with an eat-in area that is open to the living room. The living room is straight ahead from the entry and has a fireplace that we enjoy using during the fall/winter when watching football. There are three bedrooms and two baths on the main-level, one room is currently used as an office. Downstairs has a media room where we like to watch movies in the winter while sharing our bowl of popcorn with our dog Rockwell. There is also rec-room area next to the media room and two more bedrooms and a bathroom, one room is used as our fitness area.

When you have a 3-day weekend, what do you like to do?
Three-day weekends can entail a wide variety of activities. Often, we take road trips around the state to explore areas we haven’t yet visited. We also spend a lot of time taking the boat to different lakes to cruise around or try our hand at catching some fish. At other times, we may just stay near home and enjoy the parks and trails around our house. We love to eat out at restaurants, go to the ballpark to watch a baseball game, or catch the latest movie.

Do you have pets? If so tell us about them?
Our six-year-old Great Dane, Rockwell, is black with white paws, and he currently weighs 130lbs. We call him Rock for short. We adopted him at 4-years-old. Rock is truly a gentle giant; he is very sweet and loving, yet so smart. He loves to be petted, all day long. He is very gentle with children and lets them climb all over him. He is extremely docile and laid back. He loves to eat string cheese, spicy beef sticks and frozen cheese pizza.

What do you hope to teach your children?
We hope to instill the same values that were instilled in us, values including honesty, respect, hard work, and trustworthiness. We believe in teaching our child to abide by the golden rule, “to treat others as you would like to be treated.” In addition, we want to teach our child to have a good sense of priorities. We want to teach him or her to prioritize family, friends, education, and maintain a sense of humility and respect for others.

Describe your neighborhood?
We moved into our home three years ago after finally finding the perfect house located in a suburb rated in the top 5 places to live in the country. We enjoy our quiet cul-de-sac street that is a mile from the one of the area’s most popular recreational lakes and a quaint small town with great restaurants and shops overlooking the lake. We are surrounded by parks and trails for walking, running, and biking in the summer, and have nearby sledding hills in the winter. The neighborhood is a great mix of families with young and school age children, as well as empty nesters and retirees that watch over the neighborhood. Our favorite place in the summer is our deck, as we enjoy grilling out and watching the sun set on a long summer day. In the fall, we love sitting by the fire while watching our favorite sports teams in our family room.

What will you tell your child about their birthmother?
That she loved you so much she wanted to give you a chance at a life that she may not have been able to provide at that time. She was very brave in doing so.

It's Daddy's day - what activity do you want to share with your child?
For a Daddy’s day, I would like to enjoy the outdoors. I can imagine going for a hike at a park, or going fishing at a local lake. Afterwards, we would attend a football or baseball game and root for our hometown team.

What kind of education are you hoping to provide for your child - Private or Public?
We reside in one of the top school districts in the state. In addition to attending the schools in this district, we expect to stay very involved in your child’s education to ensure they receive the necessary attention, motivation, and challenges throughout their childhood. We also hope he or she chooses a post-high school education and develops a love of learning that can be developed throughout his or her lifetime.

How did you come to the decision of adoption?
After going through the IVF process twice with no luck, we began looking into the option of adopting and after talking with a few friends who have adopted and couldn't be happier, we decided it would be something we would be so excited about and would love the opportunity to adopt to complete our family.

What faith will you raise your child?
We expect to raise the child in the Christian faith. This will further instill our values of honesty, love, respect, and treating others the way you would like to be treated.

What kind of a relationship do you hope to build with your birthmom through her pregnancy?
We would like to have a relationship with the birthmother. We would love to get to know her, and hope she would enjoy getting to know us as well. However, we would respect the birth mother's decision if less interaction is desired.

How did you meet?
We met through mutual friends at a popular downtown bar/restaurant. We were there to see a friend's brother play in a band. Once we met, we connected immediately. We dated for about 2 years and knew marriage was the next step for us.

What was your relationship with your parents like?
Sandra: My relationship with my parents was great. They certainly loved us unconditionally, were fair even though as kids we thought differently, and always were supportive in what we wanted to do/try. They were encouraging and taught us the value of hard work. They instilled values and respect for one another. Mark: My relationship with my parents was exceptional. They provided structure, discipline, encouraged learning and loved us unconditionally. They kept us active, instilled values, and ensured our priorities were straight. My parents taught us the importance of family and community, and the value of hard work and education.

What attracted you to each other?
Our sense of humor! We both have the same dry sense of humor and also share a love of friends and family and have very similar values. We both also enjoy being active, watching/playing sports, traveling, being outdoors, music and going out.

Please describe your personalities:
Sandra: I tend to have an easy-going, calming personality. I have a sense of humor and love to laugh. I really enjoy being active. My friends and family would say I’m very nice, caring and giving and treat others with respect. I’m always willing to lend a hand, am very thoughtful and fun to be around. Mark: I’m an analytical, logical-type and can be described as an A-type personality. I believe I am adept at handling stressful situations, and maintain an even keel. I hope my friends would describe me as someone they can trust. I hope I can be seen as someone that they could go to in times of need, and have confidence in how I value trust and honesty.

What are your hobbies?
Sandra: I enjoy being active and being outdoors. I like to go biking, running, yoga, golfing, tennis, boating, fishing with Mark and downhill skiing. I enjoy perusing Pinterest and Houzz websites for home décor ideas. I enjoy cooking and baking in the fall/winter. I also like spending time with friends and family, traveling, going out to eat, watching sporting events and live concerts. Mark: I enjoy many sports and activities. I enjoy golfing, skiing, camping, fishing, boating, duck hunting, and many other sports. In addition, I enjoy working on woodworking projects in the garage, and cheering on our local sports teams. I also like to try new things, and am trying my hand at photography. I would eventually enjoy learning to play the guitar.

When you close your eyes and see yourself holding your precious baby in your arms what are your thoughts regarding the birthmother?
She had so much courage to provide her baby a life that she felt would be better than what she could provide.

How will a child enrich your life?
It will complete our family. We look forward to the many joys and love we will experience when we are able to share our lives with a child.

Why did you each choose the career path you decided on?
Sandra: I fell into my current job as a property manager. I went to college to study business with a marketing-graphic design minor. My plan was to work in advertising, and my first job out of college was working as an assistant media planner at an ad agency. After having a couple different positions, one being merchandising, I obtained a merchandising position in retail. From there, a co-worker introduced me to some team members that worked in property development. Learning more about the area intrigued me and thus I was able to move into a roll within property management. I have been in this area for 9 years. Mark: During my college career, I took a class on finance and investing, and was inspired by the teacher’s passion for the subject, and common sense approach to evaluating various investments. The course also allowed me to use my analytical nature and incorporated my favorite subject, mathematics. After college, I took a job at a wealth management firm and have progressed to my current position of researching hedge funds on behalf of our client advisers. I also continued my education by pursuing CFA and CAIA designations that were helpful in gaining knowledge, and also lent credibility with others in the industry. I have worked at my present company for over 17 years, and am very blessed to be a part of a well-respected organization that shares similar values of always putting clients first.

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