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Shari & Jen
Every wish made on a candle or a coin tossed in a well has been spent on this -- our wish to be parents. As teachers, we help people become their best selves. It's our profession, but it's also our hearts. Our family is one of love, of hope, and of blessings, and we can't wait to share all that we have with a child. Thank you for considering making our wish come true.
Our Leisure Time
Most of all, we value spending time with each other. We enjoy traveling and having adventures. We've gone swimming with dolphins in Cozumel and have hiked the ruins in Belize. We've taken trips to Manhattan to see our favorite Broadway plays and often spend weekends at the beach and St. Augustine. We also travel each year with a group of close friends to places like North Carolina. We love going to events in our community like art festivals, weekend farmer's markets, local theater productions, and, of course, the amusement parks. There's a fabulous annual event called Fringe that hosts internationally acclaimed performers, which we attend every summer. But some of our favorite things to do are right here at home -- reading together, watching bad reality TV or cooking competitions, playing board games, and putting puzzles together. We also enjoy being creative; Shari has published novels, and Jen has published poetry. And we value giving back -- as volunteer mentors to students in the Horizons program and social justice educators for a local nonprofit. We are lifelong learners and are always pursuing new interests, like learning to play the violin or create an herb garden. We can't wait to share adventures with our child, whether that be going to shows, amusement parks, zoos, and museums, or just the day-to-day things like reading bedtime stories, making cookies, learning A,B,C's, and laughing until our sides hurt.
Qualities We Love, Admire & Respect in Each Other
Shari About Jen: I love Jen's heart. She doesn't just feel an emotion; she overflows with it. There have been times when I've walked into a room to find her in tears petting our fur baby Desi. When asked what's wrong, she explains that she just "loves him so much." I love her generosity and how she always offers me the last piece of cake, the larger half of the blanket, and the best seat at the table. She's been known to stay late at work or to give up her lunch for a student in need. I especially love that she is a child at heart, a silly and fun thirty-something year old child who can spend hours playing board games and still enjoys wearing Disney ears.
Jen About Shari: I love how compassionate Shari is. She will make a week of casseroles for the family of someone going through cancer treatment and regularly organizes drive-by soup deliveries for sick friends. She is also the happiest person I know, often bursting at the seams with a contagious joy. She loves to create joy through cooking, especially themed foods for special events, hotdog mummies for Halloween or heart-shaped pizza bites for Valentine's, and she even sings while cooking. She is also incredibly patient. Desi regularly loses toys under the furniture (several times a night!), and Shari will get up each time to rescue the item even if we're right in the middle of a movie, without even a grumble.
We are social justice educators. In addition to our teaching, we work for a nonprofit organization, which offers education to local businesses and community groups like the police and city employees on a range of topics related to equity. Shari, for example, leads conversations on inclusion as part of the onboarding for all city employees, and Jen is a director for a program that helps K-12 teachers across the nation learn how to create inclusive classrooms. We also both facilitate a yearlong program for college faculty and staff on race, racism, antiracism, and intersectionality. In preparation for this work, we've spent a lot of time and effort educating ourselves and doing the personal work in understanding our own privileges and biases. We recognize that there will be more to learn if we parent a child who is a different race, but we are prepared to do that. We're also fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who are diverse. The intended godparents of our child, for example, are Jen's aunt and her partner, who is African American, and will be a huge part of our child's life. Many of our close friends also have racial or ethnic backgrounds different from us and/or are differently abled. It's incredibly important to us to surround our child with people who look like them, as well as people who don't look like them, so that they come to not only value their own cultural history but also value the backgrounds of others.
Our House and Neighborhood
We live in a safe rural neighborhood in Florida. Our neighbors are diverse, and there are lots of children around us -- toddlers on one side and teens on the other. We have a single-story house with three bedrooms and a large yard decorated by beautiful pink and yellow tabebuia trees that bloom different times of the year. Our neighborhood has sidewalks and a park with a playground and lake within walking distance. We're close to several well-known amusement parks. We are passholders and love to spend our weekends there. Our city is full of culture, with a science center, plenty of local theaters, a great performing arts center, museums, a major university, and several colleges. And we even have our own city sports teams in the national leagues. Our downtown area is beautiful, packed with stores, restaurants, and walking areas. It's common to see families making their way around the big downtown lake in swan-shaped paddle boats or checking out the wares of local artisans at a sidewalk show or festival. We are avid theater goers and regularly go to Broadway shows and plays. We're in the center of the state, which means that we're just an hour-drive from several large beach towns. One of our favorite things to do is to rent a pet-friendly cottage by the beach for the weekend. Desi loves the ocean, and we love the seafood restaurants and lounging by the water with a book.
Our Extended Families
We're fortunate to have a big extended family nearby. Jen's Aunt Ang, whom we affectionately call "G," G's partner Lester, and Jen's Uncle Chris and Uncle Doug live minutes away. And Jen's parents are just a forty-minute drive from us. Because of that, we all often get together to celebrate family members' birthdays, holidays, and accomplishments. One of our favorite traditions is the annual ugly sweater contest, where we design an ugly sweater for one of our family members to wear. One unique thing about our family is how much they love celebrating. They go all out! We've had an eighties-themed party, a backyard carnival, and even a luau. We often visit with Jen's parents, staying overnight with Desi or meeting them at the nearby amusement park for a day of fun. Shari's parents and brother's family live in Virginia, which is just a two-hour flight away. We make it out there twice a year. Shari's sister-in-law loves to cook and makes a fabulous Thanksgiving spread. Both Shari and Jen have brothers who are married with kids. Michael, Jen's brother has three small children. He's in the Air Force and lives in Washington on a base. Geoff, Shari's brother, has two stepchildren, one of whom already has three kiddos herself. Everyone in the family is incredibly excited to welcome another member, and they can't wait to make a tiny ugly sweater for him or her! Oh, the celebrations to come! :)
From Us to You
We are excited to share our story with you and are incredibly grateful for the time that you're spending to get to know us.
We are Shari and Jen. We have been married for three years and together for six. We have one fur baby, Desi, who is eight years old (middle aged), and is undoubtedly going to be a terrific big brother, best friend, protector, and vacuum cleaner of fallen food for our future child. We are educators in our professions and in our hearts. We work at a local state college where Shari teaches creative writing and composition and Jen teaches psychology. We're self-proclaimed nerds who love to read, and have season tickets to the performing arts center, annual passes to Disney World, and a habit of playing board games and putting puzzles together. We're a musical family. With a guitar, a violin, and a cello, we could almost be our own band. We love to travel and enjoy learning about the history and culture of places we visit. We're also passionate about social justice and lead conversations on equity and inclusion in our community for a nonprofit organization. It was actually our shared interest in social justice that brought us together, as we met in a summer professional development program on educational equity and diversity. As corny as it sounds, it was love at first sight and we've barely spent any time apart since then. We prioritize time with our family, often visiting with Jen's parents, aunts, and uncles who live nearby and traveling to Shari's family during the holidays. We are a creative family, full of painters, sculptors, wood crafters, photographers, and writers. Both Jen and Shari have published creatively and professionally. We are also passionate about health and wellness. Shari is a certified holistic nutritionist and loves to cook and garden. She also runs for exercise. And Jen used to be a personal trainer and enjoys strength training and yoga. She has studied meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction, too.
We will be loving, supportive, and present parents. Our profession allows us to have alternating schedules so that at least one of us will be present with our child at all times. Being present, though, is not just about being there. It's about being attentive, and that is one of our top priorities as parents. We hope to instill in our child a lifelong love of learning, a curiosity about the world around them, and the courage to try new things. We believe in the growth mindset, the notion that failure is a springboard for development and learning. And we plan to praise our little one for meeting a challenge whether they experience success or not. It's important to us that they understand the distinction between being something and doing something, for example, being a mess versus making one. Our child will never be a mess to us, although we're certain that they'll make lots of messes. Desi is definitely hoping for food spills.
We are hopeful that we can have a meaningful relationship with our baby's birth parents and keep in contact through letters, texts, and phone or video calls. We believe that it's important for our child to understand their origin story and cultural background. Of course, we would honor our birth parents' wishes for whatever level of contact with which they're comfortable. We will do everything that we can to help our child feel proud of their heritage and culture. We plan to create new cultural traditions and surround our little one with people who look like them. The intended godparents of our child, for example, are an interracial couple, and many of our close friends have a different racial or ethnic identity than us.
Again, we can't possibly express how much we appreciate you taking the time to learn about our family. Finding the right parents for your baby is undoubtedly a difficult and emotional task, one that takes tremendous courage. We want you to know that we honor your courage. And whether you choose us or not, we hope that you find a family that fits your hopes and dreams for your baby, and we wish you well on your journey.
Shari & Jen
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