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Featured Family: Michael and Jean

Describe your childhood:
Jean: My parents created a life for me and my sisters where drawing, art, exploring, reading, playing sports, going outside, playing instruments and doing science were encouraged and interesting and they did these things with us. I still love these activities. We started these things when we were babies. This is how we played with our parents and each other. Sometimes they were strict too and we would be quiet and now I tease them about these times. I usually had one good friend, I liked school and skiing with my family. Things were also kind of quiet for me and I'd go off and explore things on my own. Mike: I grew up in small towns and on farms in Iowa. My father was a high school teacher and coach, my mom worked as a school librarian, teacher's aide, etc. I'm the oldest of four kids (two boys, two girls). Summers were spent partially at home, but mainly at my grandparents' or uncle's farms (they all lived within 10 miles of each other). I went to parochial schools until junior high. I liked and did pretty well in school. I had lots of neighborhood kids or cousins to play with and we enjoyed playing sports (baseball or basketball) and "army." I spent a lot of time going around with my grandpa and uncle's assisting them work the farms.

Tell us about your home?
It is a tan, stucco two-story home that is part of a neighborhood built in 1999. Our house is warm and friendly and a little messy at times (we like doing lots of different activities), but it is clean and safe. The house is not huge but we have plenty of space for a nursery and play area. We have lots of books, resources for sewing, hobby kits, and instruments for singing and playing music.

When you have a 3-day weekend, what do you like to do?
First, probably sleep in. Then there's always chores, gardening, and home improvements to work off the list, but we also like to go to movies or museums, Jean has her quilting and Mike has tech hobbies, or we might go see Jean's sister that we can drive to in the same day. We also go to the ocean or take the train for day trips. Most times those trips are with friends and their families.

Do you have pets? If so tell us about them?
We do not have pets at this time.

What do you hope to teach your children?
We hope to teach them kindness, curiosity, joyfulness, self acceptance, freedom, helping others, love, love, love, and to be involved in the world.

Describe your neighborhood?
We live in a small community with big trees lining both sides of our little street. Kids dangle from the branches of the trees just outside our door. There's a large swimming pool and several common areas within the development, and a nice park with a playground, open grassy area, and basketball courts right down the street. Yet we are also near places to hike, play organized sports, or shop. All of the schools are within one mile of our house. Disneyland is just 10 minutes away and the beaches are 20 minutes away.

What will you tell your child about their birthmother?
We will tell our child that your birthmother loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to have all that you want and need.

It's Daddy's day - what activity do you want to share with your child?
For special occasions, I would take them to Disneyland or Angel stadium or high school basketball or football games. But more likely we'd do our own games (probably sports oriented as they got older) or go hiking or to the beach. And it would be nice to play music with them. They could also help me fix things around the house (something I enjoyed with my dad and uncles).

What kind of education are you hoping to provide for your child - Private or Public?
We both come from families that emphasized education (Mike has a minor in education and both of his parents were teachers). We will provide whatever education best serves our children. Where we live now there are excellent public schools. If we were ever to move we would use a private school if necessary. We would provide private teaching or specialized classes if that was required.

How did you come to the decision of adoption?
We have wanted children for a long time, but previous health issues for Jean have made this basically impossible. Now that Jean is in excellent health, we started thinking about adoption. We spoke to people at work and others who had recently adopted and this company seemed like a good fit for us.

What faith will you raise your child?
We were both raised Catholic, but our spiritual life has grown into something more personal and we now attend a non-denominational church where Christianity, Buddhism and a personal relationship with God is encouraged. We hope to instill this to our children too, through the wonderful children and youth ministry program at our church.

What kind of a relationship do you hope to build with your birthmom through her pregnancy?
Love, support, wisdom, safety, confidence, and hopefully, humor.

How did you meet?
We met at work. Jean walked into Mike's cube and asked for information about a presentation she was assembling.

What was your relationship with your parents like?
Jean: More than half the time it was fun and interesting and funny,and they were artists and smart and like to do different things and encouraged us to do this as well. We were affectionate openly when we were smaller, but that changed over time.. Sometimes they were overly critical and this was discouraging and would make us more distant from each other. But in recent years this has changed. We are all wiser and love the time we spend with each other. Mike: My dad and mom were affectionate to us and were engaged and encouraging in our interests and our schooling. They hugged and danced with each other, and hugged us until the day they died. They were fun and as role models, they had their own interests and hobbies. They communicated the bounds of acceptable behavior with very little physical discipline. I miss them both.

What attracted you to each other?
Enjoying and collaborating on the work we were doing together in designing the International Space Station. We respected each other's abilities and listened to each other supportively. We were two nerds who found each other. We liked a lot of common things, such as music, sci-fi, sports, and skiing. And we both thought the other was cute.

Please describe your personalities:
Jean: Adventurous, engaging, funny, supportive, curious, joyful, expressive, loving. Mike: Nerdy, kind, loving, funny, animated, selfless.

What are your hobbies?
Jean: Singing, playing guitar, sewing, sports, volunteering, building our house in Brazil, things associated with space exploration. Mike: Singing, reading, learning, playing the guitar and piano, lifting weights, running, biking.

When you close your eyes and see yourself holding your precious baby in your arms what are your thoughts regarding the birthmother?
"Thank you for this wonderful miracle gift, I hope that I can be as courageous and strong in raising this child as you were in giving us our child." and "That we are somehow all connected in some bigger cosmic picture and doing exactly what we are all supposed to be doing."

How will a child enrich your life?
We have had many challenges and stresses in our lives and we have come through them well. Having a child will of course bring a whole new challenge, but one we have chosen, and are looking forward to and for which we will be very grateful. It will be first and foremost about them and their needs and wants, which sounds selfless but we think we will be the ones receiving the love as well. We believe that the giving of our time and love and being amazed and encouraged by who they are will open our hearts to them, ourselves, and the world and God in a way we can't imagine.

Why did you each choose the career path you decided on?
Jean: I like things about space (in high school I loved the original Cosmos television series) and architecture, and making and building things. That is why I obtained degrees in aerospace engineering and architecture. Then I went to work at Boeing, designing the Space Station. Mike: Since high school it's always been a toss-up between music and science/engineering. My high school yearbook said I was going to major in music, but the first two years of college I did well in engineering. After those two years, I hadn't found my passion so I switched to music education, but then I was injured playing basketball and couldn't play my trumpet, so I then switched to the new field of computer engineering. Now I'm a technical fellow at my company and a chief engineer.

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