Staying connected with family is very important to us, and we love our regular visits, texts, phone calls, and Zoom gatherings with relatives near and far. Our whole extended family is so excited to welcome and embrace a child by adoption and support us in every way they can!
Elizabeth’s parents, Jim and Liz, live in Elizabeth’s childhood home in central Michigan. Elizabeth has always had a very special, close relationship with her parents. She and her dad have a tradition of going on father-daughter camping trips, and have always been able to talk about anything. Elizabeth and her mom text or talk on the phone every day, and love doing all sorts of craft projects when they’re together. We visit Elizabeth’s parents a couple of times a year, and they love coming to Vermont and visit us a couple of times a year as well. During the pandemic, we even started playing our favorite board game via WhatsApp! We love spending Christmas at their house—baking cookies, playing board games, and reading favorite Christmas stories from Elizabeth’s childhood out loud around the fireplace in the evenings.
Elizabeth’s parents are so excited to become grandparents! They can’t wait to do the same things with a grandchild that they used to do with Elizabeth when she was little. Jim is excited to teach a grandchild how to cross country ski, look for salamanders underneath logs, pick strawberries and raspberries in their garden, and learn the calls of all the birds in their yard. Liz is looking forward to telling stories (she made up an ongoing story for Elizabeth about a mouse named Nibbles), baking cookies with her favorite holiday cookie cutters, and sharing all of her favorite children’s books.
Elizabeth is an only child, but she’s always been close to her aunts and uncles and cousins, many of whom live nearby in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. One of Elizabeth’s cousins was adopted, and another cousin and his wife adopted one of their children. We’re happy that a child joining our family through adoption will have other family members who share that piece of their life experience, and will likewise be welcomed with open arms. We spend time every summer at a cottage on the Maine coast with Elizabeth’s extended family on her mom’s side. Elizabeth’s family has been going there since she was little, and it’s one of her favorite places on earth. We’re so excited to share all of our favorite Maine traditions with a child — swimming and building elaborate sandcastles at the beach, searching for starfish and hermit crabs in tide pools, talking and laughing together over big family dinners, and playing hilarious games of Pictionary in the evenings.
Bradley’s parents, Ron and Karen, live in the sunny desert climate of southern California, where we visit them about once a year… often in the fall when Vermont is getting chilly! In high school, Ron played guitar and sang in a rock ‘n’ roll band, and he claims (jokingly) that he should have been a country music star. When the pandemic began, Ron became inspired to start writing music and has now recorded two albums of original songs and covers! Karen has a kind and adventurous spirit. When Bradley was in college, she once went rock-climbing with him, and also flew by herself to visit him in Ecuador while he was traveling there. Now she enjoys spending time with friends at local coffee shops and the neighborhood dog park, or working on cooking and baking projects at home. Bradley’s parents will be thrilled to have another grandchild who can splash around in their pool, sing along while Ron plays silly songs on his guitar, and help bake yummy treats with Karen!
Bradley’s younger brother, Craig, and his wife, also named Karen, live in the western suburbs of Chicago. This is just a few hours drive from Elizabeth’s parents’ home in Michigan, so we have a tradition of spending Christmas in Michigan and New Year’s in Chicago. Their son, Chris, is in high school, and their daughter, Katie, goes to college in Ohio. Bradley has always shared a close connection with his niece and nephew. We love playing board games with them, or taking them to downtown Chicago to explore the museums and other sights.
Our “Vermont Family”
We are also fortunate to have a “Vermont family.” Bradley was previously married and his former wife, Rain, is a good friend to both of us. Her parents, Allen and Lorilla, are Bradley’s “Vermont mom and dad,” and they live just down the road from us on a beautiful piece of land. Allen is a former math teacher, an amazing storyteller, and can fix just about anything. Lorilla is a talented weaver, painter, and photographer. We visit them frequently and often help with chores and outdoor projects. Allen and Lorilla also have another daughter, Michelle, who lives nearby with her husband, Padraig, and their teenage children, Saoirse and Will. When we started dating, Elizabeth was immediately embraced as another member of the family, and she feels lucky to have a second set of “in-laws!” Our favorite time of year with our Vermont family is Thanksgiving, when we all get together for a huge meal, lively games, and lots of laughter and gratitude.