Seth and Colleen are high school sweethearts and have been together ever since our senior year. We first met when Colleen moved to town our junior year, and we became fast friends. Colleen has always said that Seth is the most interesting person she knows! We graduated high school together, stayed close to one another during college, got married, and moved around the country getting our graduate degrees before settling into our permanent careers and community. We just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary and feel fortunate to still consider one another as best friends.
As we got married and made plans for our future family, it became clear that adoption was the route we wanted to take. In a sense, adoption was built into the fabric of our relationship. We were overjoyed to adopt our first child Essie as a newborn in 2009. We then adopted Camille as an infant in 2013. Their birthdays are just a day apart! We view adoption as a wonderful, enriching way to grow our family, and we love the unique personalities and talents each new member brings to our family.
Colleen works as a college professor and focuses on family communication. Her main research area is adoption, and she writes about ways we can help adoptees feel connected to their birth and adoptive families. She also recently went into private practice as a family life educator. She hosts workshops and one-on-one sessions with parents to help them improve their family relationships with positive communication.
In her free time, Colleen loves reading, listening to podcasts, gardening, and cooking for family and friends. Her mother taught her to cook as a child, and Colleen has continued that tradition with Essie and Camille. Seth recently renovated the kitchen, and it's become the primary gathering place for the family: music on, food cooking, conversation flowing. Essie and Camille love learning to cook in the kitchen with Colleen, and they have become pretty good at making the weekend pancakes. They feel especially proud of themselves when they get to crack their own eggs.
Seth is a tech journalist, balancing a steady stream of editing and writing assignments with family life. He’s fortunate to be able to work from his home office, so he gets to be around when the kids get out of school. His schedule is flexible enough that he can handle doctor visits, pickups, and drop-offs, as well as join some of the kids’ school field trips.
Although journalism is his vocation, he’s really an artist at heart. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music composition. Like his dad, he loves to write and perform music; his instruments, which include many guitars, a piano, an organ, drums, and various noisemakers, are all over the house. (House rule: Kids can play the instruments!) He also enjoys photography--primarily shooting video and photos of his family. He learned photography from his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, who were all shutterbugs and avid artists. He also inherited these ladies’ talent for drawing, and he is able to sketch anything Essie or Camille request.
Esther (Essie) is 10 years old and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s positive and full of energy, ready for adventures and fun at all times. She loves playing with her friends after school, and she recently fell in love with riding her bike. Essie is incredibly creative, and not just when she’s drawing and coloring vivid characters and scenes. She makes doll furniture out of cardboard, paper, and whatever she finds in the recycling bin. Her room is full of carefully crafted scenes arranged on end tables and shelves.
Essie’s nurturing instincts and responsible nature are leading her to take on “Parent’s Helper” babysitting gigs already. Really, any type of job or responsibility gets her excited, be it babysitting, walking a friend home, feeding the neighbors’ fish when they’re out of town, or re-re-re-organizing her room.
Everyone who meets Camille, age 6, is taken with her. They always struggle to describe her, but what it boils down to is “Wow. She’s...amazing. And really smart.” She has an enormous personality, commanding every room she enters. She’s warm, funny, and always engaging, and she loves to meet new people and make fast, permanent friends. When she’s wiped out from a day of play and dancing and school, Camille loves snuggles. She’s a deeply affectionate person and gives enthusiastic hugs, known in our family as “Camille’s World Famous Hugs.”
We’ve never met anyone who memorizes song lyrics and books as quickly and completely as Camille. She learned to read last year, and she is in that fun stage where she spots words everywhere and calls them out. She loves music, and we’re still shocked to hear her sing entire verses of songs we’ve played around the house just a few times or vamp on an original freestyle rap when the mood strikes.
When we brought Camille home as a baby, we were just a tiny bit worried that Essie would feel like she’d been replaced on the family “team.” Instead, she felt like she was promoted to the coaching staff, and she decided on the spot to become a co-parent. We still (only half-jokingly) call her “Little Momma.” She always looks out for her little sister – Essie faithfully walked Camille to her Kindergarten class every day, and Essie is often the one who is able to comfort an upset Camille. Camille looks up to Essie as the savvy older sister, learning from her about the best toys, shows, and games. Although they do their fair share of bickering (as all siblings do!), they’re a hardcore pair. They cannot wait to add another little one to their team; they ask all the time when they’ll have a baby brother or sister. Whoever that little sibling is will be a lucky kid to have two amazing big sisters.
This family gets serious about play. Music is our love language, and there’s almost always music thumping in the house. We are no strangers to a family dance party. Everyone has input on the playlists, but Hamilton, Beyoncé, and Bob Marley have been in heavy rotation lately.
Our very favorite time of the year is summer, when our community pool opens. The pool is our happy place, and we go almost every day all season long. We know most of the families who go regularly, so there are always friends for kids and grown-ups, and we love that there are so many people watching out for our kids there. (Last summer, Camille learned to swim. When she passed her deep-end swim test, the head guard announced her achievement over the loudspeaker, and the whole place cheered for her.)
We love to travel as a family, and we take a family vacation each year. Two summers ago, Colleen had the opportunity to teach a study abroad session for five weeks in Siena, Italy. The whole family came along, and we got a chance to explore Europe together. Other memorable trips include Washington D.C., the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Colorado. Our kids are road trip champs, which makes these trips really fun.
Thoughts on Open Adoption
“We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child.” – Jim Gritter
We firmly believe in open adoption. Essie and Camille are both in touch with their birth families, and these relationships help them understand why they are the way they are and where they came from. We think that one of the best gifts we can give our children is a comfortable and familiar relationship with their birth families.
As we look to our next adoption, we envision working with the birth family to figure out what works best for everyone. We're very open to maintaining contact over phone, email, and face-to-face visits. Open adoption is an incredible way of bringing together groups of families that love a child. Building that relationship together, joined by a child, creates such a special bond. We look forward to partnering on that journey again.
Dear Birth Family
Thank you for taking the time to learn a bit about our family. We look forward to learning about yours. We cannot imagine the thoughts and feelings you must have right now. We pray that you experience peace with your decision and hope for the bright future that is in store for you. We so respect your steps down this adoption path - there are few things more difficult than entrusting your child to strangers. We view an adoption placement as one of the most selfless acts one can perform. Should you make the decision to place your child and select us as suitable parents to raise and care for this child you have created, we would be honored to come alongside you. We are ready to commit to working with you to build a relationship based on trust and mutual love of a very special child. With respect and admiration –
Seth, Colleen, Essie, & Camille”