Kristin is usually the one who brings change into our family. She’s the one who encouraged me to apply to graduate school. She adopted our first dog, Chewbacca, from a coworker, sight unseen. Our second dog, Chase, was also found by Kristin who was casually looking at puppies for adoption. How could I say no to a puppy?
Three days before Halloween, Kristin received a call from Michigan Standard Poodle Rescue at 10 am while she was at work. There was a two year old male Standard Poodle who needed to be rescued that afternoon. Could we do it? Kristin called me and I immediately asked my boss if I could travel across the state to see about a dog. This is what we do, Kristin and I. We see something good, a chance to try something new or help out, and with her prompting, we jump.
I drove away from the sun towards Jackson. The address I was given took me along several dirt roads before I arrived at a small farm. That’s when I saw this huge, lanky gray and white patchy poodle with a poofy head. He was moving in circles around his people, a woman my age who greeted me, and her daughter. The dog’s name was Ladd, she told me. He leaned against the girl and chomped on an old tennis ball. I held out my hand to him. He sniffed me and within minutes he was leaning against me.
I know how hard goodbyes are for kids. I had to make many growing up as a military kid. I told the girl she could have as much time as she wanted to say farewell to Ladd.
Once the daughter had said her goodbyes, Ladd turned toward me and immediately jumped into my open car door and plopped his tennis ball into the center cup holder. He was ready to go. I was nervous. The Michigan Standard Poodle Rescue folks made it clear to Kristin and me that this was initially a temporary, foster situation for Ladd. It’s hard to gauge a dog’s personality from a few minutes after meeting them, but on the drive back home, it was clear to me this was a sweet dog. I didn’t know how he would do with Chase, and more importantly, Oliver, who had no clue we were even getting another dog.
Ladd quickly blended with our family. Chase immediately loved having a bigger friend to play with and Oliver couldn’t get enough cuddle time in with the big, fluffy poodle. Kristin and I decided we would open our home forever to Ladd just a few days after that spontaneous answer to adventure’s call.
|Gender:||Any Gender, including an Ambiguous or Transitioning Gender Child|
|Ethnicities:||Any Race and Ethnicity|
|Age:||Newborn to an Older Child|
|Total of:||1 to 2 Children|
|We Live In:||Grand Rapids|
|Kids Already:||One Child Now|
|Child Care:||Family Member Child Care,|
We met in college in 2001 and married in June, 2006. We went on our honeymoon to Vermont and stumbled upon a school called the Center for Cartoon Studies. It was exactly what Sam was looking for so he applied and was accepted to begin the next fall. We took a leap of faith and moved to Vermont for Sam to attend the Graduate program. Kristin found a school in New Hampshire where she would teach 3rd grade for many years. Both of us earned our graduate degrees, and lived in New England for 6 years. We loved all the opportunities to be out in nature in Vermont. We moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2013 to live near our families. Even though we loved living in Vermont, we valued being near both of our families. We had our son, Oliver, in May of 2014. He is such a happy child and loves to be with people. He looks forward to being a big brother so much.
We love to spend our time together playing scrabble, hiking, and talking over coffee. Kristin is adventurous and is always thinking of new activities to do as a family. Sam is silly and brings a lot of jokes and smiles to our journey. When we became parents we learned how well we work together as a team to create a warm, loving home.
As a family we love adventuring: camping & hiking, visiting GR parks, going to museums including the Grand Rapids Public Museum, visiting family cottages, canoeing, attending Grand Rapids festivals, traveling, and seeing Meijer Gardens throughout the seasons. To relax we enjoy playing games, building Legos together, watching cooking shows, and reading.
Kristin- I love to read, bake, play games and do things outside such as go on hikes, camping, and canoeing. I love my family very much. I love spending time with them and just being together. Another one of my favorite things to do is to draw and color as a way to relax.
Sam- I enjoy storytelling and have pursued many creative projects. I have illustrated many childrens’ books, often working in areas that require a creative eye or mind, or supporting STEM education. My family is very important to me, I love my wife and son very much. Books and stories are also important to me, especially poetry. I believe that imagination is an important part of life.
Both sets of grandparents live within five miles of us and are very involved in our lives. Kristin’s family will often have large family gatherings around holidays and birthdays which are very memorable. We also value our friendships, both Kristin’s Maid of Honor and Sam’s Best Man live in our neighborhood and continue to be close friends. We believe it is important to nurture deep friendships and have many close family friends we have known for over a decade. In many cases, our friends’ children and Oliver are near the same age and several attend the same school and church as our family.
We have lived in our bi-level home since 2013. One of the main reasons we moved in this neighborhood was to be by Riverside Park and nearby playgrounds. We love our home and have enjoyed creating a few native plant gardens in our yard. We have 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. We have enjoyed making our home comfortable by recently installing new flooring and building a new deck. We live in the Riverside Park neighborhood. We are in an urban neighborhood. It is a middle class neighborhood. It is predominantly Caucasian. Our neighborhood is very quiet and most of the neighbors are older and stay inside. We have a friendly relationship with our neighbors across the road, and have a wonderful friendship with our next door neighbor, Eileen, who is in her 70’s. We have no plans to move away from our neighborhood or home.
Education is very important. It is also integral that it is right for the child. Not every educational environment is right for every child. For example, our son, Oliver, goes to North Park Montessori because we love the Montessori philosophy and reinforces many learning opportunities at home. It may not be right for everyone so we would definitely consider every option that is best for our children. We think college is a helpful thing, but will support any career path that our children choose, helping them to know the risks and rewards involved in any path they choose. If college is a chosen path we will fully support our child’s decision helping along his/her educational journey. We don’t have a burden of expectation for our children’s careers beyond wanting them to be kind and helpful individuals.
Discipline has less to do with punishment and more to do with guiding a child. Discipline helps us interact positively within our world and among society as helpful people. It is about guiding and showing how to be a kind human being. Children are learning this, and they need daily guidance in a loving and supportive manner. We follow the love and logic principles when we discipline Oliver, helping him to understand consequences and developing his own sense of agency. We do not believe in any physical punishment as a form of discipline.
We go to St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Sundays. We love the community there especially with their emphasis on helping out in many capacities in the community. Kristin and Sam have had long personal histories connected with Evangelical Christianity which neither would identify as today. We believe that religion, when done correctly, brings more light and healing into the world than its absence. Ultimately religion is a practice of compassion and empathy which enables us to move in the world as agents of divine love. We shy away from any religious expression that would cause hurt, abuse, or repression to continue to grow in this world.
Our values are:
Hospitality, being open to others and creating a space where people can feel safe and loved. We love to invite friends over to share a meal with us.
Self-Expression, each of us has a unique gift to give to others and the world, as such we need to have the freedom to learn what that gift is and how to best share it. For example, Kristin is a very gifted creator of mandalas and creating spaces for others, Sam writes poetry and draws comics, and Oliver is exploring many different ways to express himself through dance, art, and lego building.
Caring for nature, the earth is our home and we value the care of the animals, plants, and environment. We love to be outside in nature and have enjoyed creating some native plant gardens.
Compassion, what we feel isn’t isolated to just ourselves we are all connected with each other and we honor the feelings of others. We often try to imagine how it feels for others when we read a news story or share something we heard during the day.
Teamwork, no person is alone in this world and it takes many hands to lighten the load of us all. We all work together as a team when working on a project. We like to help each other out.
I am a graphic designer. I enjoy working as part of a team to problem solve design solutions. It’s fulfilling when the work I do contributes to someone else’s faith journey or understanding of important ideas and beliefs.
I am an Academic Reading Specialist at Knapp Charter Academy and work full-time. I love helping struggling students develop the skills needed to become readers. I also love being a mom. I love to do fun activities and make holidays feel special for our family.
I plan to take a 12 week maternity leave and then will go back to work in a full-time/ possibly part-time capacity. I have summers off and all holidays which also gives me time to be full-time at home and do fun activities during those times. Both of our parents are currently watching our son Oliver when needed and they have both agreed to and extended great interest in doing so in the future for another child.
Welcome to our family! We are Kristin, Sam, Oliver, and our two fluffy dogs Chase (Yorkshire Terrier/Schnauzer mix) and Ladd (Standard Poodle). If you could visit our house on a Saturday morning, you may see Sam cooking up some eggs and potatoes while brewing dark roast coffee.
Oliver, our 5-year-old son, might be playing with some Shopkins or Lego, and Chase and Ladd would be curled up on the couch or floor. Kristin could be setting up the scrabble game or taking a minute to read.
Then we would eat, play a game, and listen to NPR or one of our Pandora stations. Later in the day you could find us on a hike on one of the many trails in the area or adventuring around Grand Rapids. We make the most of the time we have together as a family.
Our little trio has been hoping to grow for many years. There is a great deal of hope and compassion in our hearts for others who will share this journey with us. The love we know we can give to more than one child has not diminished. As we decide to choose adoption to grow our family, the most important thing to us is to provide space and respect for the child’s family and culture. We want to be able to welcome another family into our lives by sharing traditions and customs.
We sing a blessing to Oliver every night before bedtime and we would like to pass this blessing to you. “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine gently upon you, and give you peace, and give you peace, and give you peace, forever.