Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Letter for You

To the parent(s) who already mean(s) so much to us,

Thank you.  Thank you for looking at the profile of two complete strangers when you’re probably already stressed enough as it is.  We can only imagine how painful deciding to give your baby up for adoption must be, but the process and responsibility of actually deciding who to share this little person’s life with is beyond our ability to understand.  You are amazing and deserve every ounce of gratitude and praise we can muster (and that’s a lot)!  Thank you for considering adoption and thank you for considering our family.  We feel truly honored.  Our hope is that by the end of this letter we’ll have introduced ourselves well enough that you’ll no longer see us as the strangers we currently are, but as the perfect couple with whom you can share your baby’s life. 

How We Met (as told by Danielle):

While my brother was serving a mission for the LDS church in Canada, I received an email from him one day that said he had someone for me to “write, date and eventually marry”.  The email included Clinton’s name and email address.  Amused, and slightly intrigued, I decided to forward the email to Clinton to inform him of my brother’s attempt to set us up.  I concluded the email with “Anyway, I thought you’d think this was funny.  Hope you have a nice life.”  Equally surprised by my brother’s attempt, but intrigued as well, Clinton responded with a witty email and we instantly became pen pals.  We wrote each other every couple days and when that wasn’t often enough we started instant messaging, then calling each other and then video chatting.  I still remember the chills I got when I heard his voice for the first time and I’ll never forget the relief I felt when I saw he was handsome too!  
After about two months of writing and talking to each other, we finally met in person.  We spent 8 days together and during that time we snuggled like there was no tomorrow, each experienced our first real kiss and secretly decided we were going to marry the other.  After I came home from my trip we finally told each other “I love you” over the phone and Clinton began planning his proposal.  We were engaged the following month on Valentine’s Day and were married in the Portland, Oregon Temple six months later after my brother returned home from his mission.  We of course had to wait for him, because if it weren’t for him there’d have been no wedding at all.

About Us:

Clinton-(as told by Danielle)
Clinton is one amazing person!  I don’t know how he does it, but he quite literally is happy ALL THE TIME!  He loves to laugh and is very good at making others laugh with him.  He is smart too!  He is a 4th year medical student and will soon be out of school and into his family residency program!!  When he’s not at school he likes to spend his free-time playing the guitar (which he does wonderfully, I might add), playing Flight Simulator games, fixing electronics or things around the house, watching his favorite TV show reruns, playing with our pup, Peter and exercising.  Clinton is very patient and has a wonderful relationship with both of our families.  He is an amazing example to me of how to love and forgive others.  He is not judgmental and is very accepting of everyone.  He is always willing to help someone in need and is usually the first to offer to do so.  He is both excited and honored to bring children into our family by adoption, and if his parenting skills are anything like his husband skills, I have no doubt he will be a wonderful father someday.  

We both feel that we have a wonderful marriage.  We are best friends and trust each other completely.  We love to spend time together and are happy doing just about anything together.  Some of our favorite activities are: going for walks, trying a new restaurant (or frequenting one of our favorites), going to the movies, road-trips, traveling anywhere, watching funny animal videos on Youtube, attending fairs or festivals, going to musicals or plays, going to the zoo, riding our bikes and doing/saying anything to get the other to laugh!
Danielle- (as told by Clinton)
Danielle is absolutely the person that I was meant to marry.  I remember back when we first began dating, I was not looking for someone to get serious with or anything.  I had big plans to go off to university that fall and I didn’t want anything to change those plans.  But once I met Danielle, my perspective changed a bit.  I remember praying a lot about whether or not she was the type of person I should marry, but the answer never came until the end of a trip where she came to visit me in Alberta.  We said our goodbyes and as I watched her plane takeoff and disappear into the clouds, I felt an impression that I should propose.  When I flew down to Portland a month later, that’s exactly what I did on Valentine’s Day of 2003.  Since that day, our relationship has only become stronger.  I’ve come to rely on Danielle as my friend and support through university, now through medical school, and hopefully through my career, parenthood, and on into our old age.  Danielle is the type of person that is willing to help other people, whether it be me, her parents, her friends, or even complete strangers.  She has a giving heart that has been yearning to be a mother since even before her and I were married.  As you can imagine, learning that we probably would not have our own children was difficult for her, but when she realized that this only meant that our children would join our family in a slightly less-traditional way, she has been excited to adopt ever since.  Watching her play with her nieces and nephews and seeing how much they enjoy being with her, it’s obvious that Danielle is going to be a very loving mother to some very fortunate children some day.

How We Hope to Raise this Baby:

First and foremost, we want them to know they are loved.  We want them to know that we love them, our families love them and that you love them.  We want them to know that no matter what; they can be open and come to us for anything.  We would like to raise them in a happy, loving and laughter-filled home.  

We both feel that education is important and would like to provide them with every opportunity to get the best education possible.  We want them to try new things and travel to different places so they can discover all that this world has to offer.  We want to read, play and grow with this baby.  They will be the best part of our growing family.

Our Thoughts for You:

Our arms and our hearts ache to hold this sweet baby perhaps as much as yours do to let it go.  We love you and respect your place as the giver of this child’s life.  We would love to have an open adoption; we have seen this work in our extended family and in the families of our closest friends.  You will have a very special place in our hearts, our home and in the life of this baby.  

With love,
Clinton and Danielle

Danielle's Thoughts on Our Marriage

What leisure activities do you share with your spouse and family? 
Clinton and I really enjoy a good car trip. If the weather is nice we like to go for a drive and see the beauty around us. We also like going for bike rides. It's a great opportunity to breathe in the fresh air and get some exercise at the same time! We also enjoy the "usual stuff" like going to movies, trying out different restaurants, walking the mall and window shopping and watching our favorite TV shows (30 Rock, Raising Hope, The Office, America's Funniest Home Videos, and my husband's favorite, The Simpsons).

How do you express love and affection? 
I am a very physically affectionate person. Among family and friends I am a "hugger". I like the feeling of closeness that a good hug can produce. I'm also usually the first one to say "I love you" at the end of a phone call or visit. With my husband, I love to hug, kiss and hold hands. I make sure that whenever one of us leaves the house that we've hugged, kissed and said "I love you!". Whenever we walk together we hold hands. That's one thing I really find attractive about Clinton is that even after all these years together, he still likes to hold my hand. 
I also like to give compliments. I feel like compliments let the receiver know you appreciate and notice them, which is in and of itself, a form of expressing love and affection

What are the strengths and challenges of your marriage? 
I think one of our biggest strengths is our mutual understanding that marriage takes work. This understanding has blessed us with the ability to overcome disagreements in a calm and productive manner. This has been a huge source of strength and bonding in our relationship. It has created a trust and an anchor that both of us know that no matter how difficult a conversation or disagreement may be that we will conquer it together. 
I think another of our strengths is our senses of humor. We have been through a lot of changes and challenges in our years together, but laughter has been a great source of relief. We love to make each other laugh. We both know that if we can get the other to laugh from a clever pun or funny joke/quote--the other's going to respond likewise. We love laughing and have a great time doing it! 
One of the challenges of our marriage is our defenses. If one of us has something to say about the other, we tend to focus on defending ourselves instead of listening to what the other intends to be construed as constructive. This is something we are aware of, talk about and are working to improve through better communication of our feelings and support and appreciation for each other no matter our differences. We have learned that there are some things we'll always do differently and that neither of us is perfect or perfectly capable of changing or improving overnight. As a couple, we are a work in progress but are happy to continue that work together. 

How do you resolve disagreements? What do you do? What does your spouse do? 
When we disagree about something, become defensive, or begin an argument--we have grown to be able to better "pick our battles". Sometimes a disagreement is worth talking about, re-adressing or dropping all together. We know that there may be times when one or both of us needs to be alone to think or cool off, or that there may be a night of little sleep because something is urgent enough to be worked out right then, or that something may not be "resolved" more than agreeing to just disagree--and that's OK! I used to want to talk everything out before going to bed. I'd always heard that you shouldn't go to bed angry. Clinton, on the other hand, felt that there are times when you just need to clear your mind, sleep off the frustration and re-address it in the morning if you both still feel upset about it. This has actually worked quite well in our relationship and is used just about as often as talking things out. We then hug, kiss, apologize and move forward.

Clinton's Thoughts on Our Marriage

What leisure activities do you share with your spouse and family? 
I probably enjoy traveling the most. I always hate the getting there part (the long drives, sitting in a cramped plane), but I always enjoy myself once we get wherever we're going. I would love to be able to take a big group of my family to Europe!
Danielle and I also enjoy exercising together. We have an exercise bike and a weight set at our house, so we usually exercise at the same time. We keep each other motivated!

How do you express love and affection? 
Danielle would be the first person to say that I like to bug the people that I love most! Nothing mean, of course, just like to mildly pester and be around them.
But, usually, I just enjoy sitting and talking with the people I love the most. Danielle and I are often the people that sit in the Subway or the McDonald's way too long as we chat about work, school, or family.

What are the strengths and challenges of your marriage? 
I would say that our strengths are that we're still each other's best friend. We enjoy being around each other and spending time together. I've seen many couples spend most of their time fighting when they're together, but I'm happy to say that we're one of the few couples that I know that spends a lot of time together and can still resolve our differences in a very upbeat way.
The biggest challenge to our marriage has been our inability to have kids. When we were first married, it didn't take Danielle long to want to start our family. I didn't feel quite ready at the time; I instead wanted to begin my schooling. Over time as we began trying to have children, it became more and more of a difficulty for us to talk about children. Danielle was desperate to have kids, while I was a lot more relaxed about the idea. It created some tension between Danielle and her sisters as her sisters seemed able to have children within a few weeks or trying, while we were not able to. The experience caused Danielle to emotionally separate herself not only from her family, but also from me somewhat. However, now that I've started to feel the desire to start our family, I think this has become something that has brought us together more than it has pulled us apart.

How do you resolve disagreements? What do you do? What does your spouse do? 
Typically when Danielle and I disagree, I'm the type that makes my point while still trying to remain upbeat. In fact, I remember once that I told Danielle that we couldn't argue unless we were able to smile doing it! Eventually, we were able to see that some of our arguments seemed a bit petty, but it also made us see that we don't need to be angry or condescending to make our point known. Now, we each make our point, listen to the other's viewpoint, and come to a compromise. There are times, however, when neither of us can agree (something that occurred a couple of weeks ago), and at that point, we simply agree to drop the issue and to try to act normal again. Usually, this works!

Danielle's Questionnaire

Background Information
Describe your personality, strengths, and weaknesses: 
I would describe my personality as caring, nurturing, cheerful and optimistic. I try everyday to make the lives of those around me a little bit better.
Sometimes that means I need to share a funny quote or joke I've heard to help someone smile. Other times I find myself writing a note or making a phone call to let people know I'm thinking of them. I'm not afraid to step outside of my "comfort zone" to make someone new or alone feel welcomed or noticed. I also try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt. No one is perfect and thinking of others in a positive way helps me keep things in perspective. I think one of my biggest strengths is my faith. The trials I have experienced in this life have led me to trust that God truly knows what is best for me. I know that even if I don't understand why I am asked to experience a particular trial, God can help me get through it. 
I think some of my other strengths are compassion, empathy and integrity. I know who I have the potential to become and I know that others possess those same divine attributes. We each have times when we need a good friend or confidant and I feel like I have been blessed to know when I can be that kind of help to those around me. 

As far as my weaknesses, I know that patience is something that I am constantly working on. Through the loving help and endless patience of my husband, I feel like I have already come a long way. I have come to realize that things don't have to run smoothly or look perfect, to still have a happy life. These realizations are making room for me to continue to improve and focus on the things that really matter--like a happy family and service to others. 

Describe your hopes, goals, and aspirations: 
I hope to be a mom someday who raises her kids in a happy and laughter-filled home. I've always wanted to be a mom. I can't tell you how many times I pretended to be pregnant and have babies when I played house as a little girl. I loved each of my baby dolls and thought of them as my very own. I hope one day to be able to feel that love for real with our own real children. :) 
A personal goal of mine is to finish my schooling. I have been blessed with great jobs that have allowed me to support my husband while he has been in school, but I would really love to complete my degrees someday. There are two fields I would like to pursue, both of which I already have some schooling completed. When I can, I'd like to go back to beauty school to complete my training and get my license so I can really expand my skills and clientele. I'm
blessed to be able to cut, color and style hair on the side, but my goal is to one day run a full-service salon out of my home. I'd also like to become a music therapist someday. I studied music therapy my senior year of high school and took a few semesters of music major courses in college. This is something I'd like to pursue once my children are grown and I can dedicate myself to the program full-time. Music is such a powerful healing tool and I'd love to share my love of it with those who are in need.

Describe your spouse's personality, strengths, and weaknesses: 
Clinton is a real character! He has a wonderful ability to make any situation a happy one. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn't have me laughing.
He promised me when we were engaged that he would make me laugh everyday, and he has held true to that promise! I love how happy he is and I love his sense of humor! 
Clinton's strengths are many. I would definitely include his happy personality as one of his strengths. It has provided comfort during stressful times and relief from hurt or sadness. Another of Clinton's strengths is his ability to argue from both sides. He is very good at listening to and understanding both sides of an argument or situation. I'll often times turn to him for help in understanding someone because I know he'll be able to help me see/understand what I couldn't before.
This leads me into another strength--Clinton is accepting of all people in all types of situations. He is not afraid to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, sit beside someone who is alone or offer a hand of help. I love that about him! He does not judge others but sees them as another person probably just trying their best to do what they believe is right. 
If I must list a weakness for my husband, I guess I could say his ability to be logical at times could be considered a weakness. Sometimes I just want him to listen to me and validate my feelings but he sees it as an opportunity to solve my problems. I know he means well, but sometimes a girl just needs to let it all out and be told that everything will be ok. We've discussed this together and I know it is something he is working on.

Clinton's Questionnaire

Background Information

Describe your personality, strengths, and weaknesses: 
I might be one of the few people in the world that actually likes my personality. Prior to my mission for the LDS church, I was somewhat introverted, I didn't really like opening up and talking to people that I didn't really know. On my mission, however, we were required to do at least 20 hours of door-knocking a week. By doing this, I was able to adapt better to talking to people whom I had just met. Now, I feel like I'm much more outgoing and I like talking to people about pretty much anything.
Secondly, I love to make people laugh. I have frequently been told that I should forget medicine and go into comedy. Even when I was a kid telling my totally lame jokes to friends on the playground, I remember that I felt happy when people around me could laugh along with me. Even today when I'm interviewing patients at the clinic, I always feel like if I can make them laugh just a little, then maybe they'll see that we're both regular people and that they can feel safe trusting in me.

I feel like my greatest strength is my ability to put myself in other people's shoes. Growing up with some fairly emotional older sisters, I often saw that their battles with friends or teachers were always based on some sort of silly misunderstanding. I also see that so much political and religious debate is based on little misunderstandings between people. I feel like the best way to avoid those misunderstandings is to try to relate to the other person's perspective, and try to argue in their favor instead of trying to argue against them. I've always felt that if you can't understand your enemy's perspective, then you are likely the one who needs to apologize.

My greatest weakness is probably related to what I've listed as my strength. There have been times when Danielle has come to me with problems she's having at work or when someone has said something hurtful or insensitive and instead of being the support I should be, I instead try to argue for what the other person was likely intending. As you might imagine, this doesn't always make Danielle very happy. As we've gone on in our marriage, I've been trying more and more to see that when people come to me with their frustrations, they're not always looking for solutions-- they may just want someone to listen. But, I am trying to overcome that inclination.

Describe your hopes, goals, and aspirations: One of my first goals relates to my career. I remember when I was in a biology class in high school, we had a government-issued exam that every high school student is required to do. Our teacher also took the exam every year so that he could make sure he was teaching us everything that we needed to know to do well on the exam. About a week following that exam, he announced that I did very well and then came down from his desk to personally shake my hand in front of the entire class. I remember how special he made me feel by doing that. I asked him later if he thought I should pursue medicine, to which he replied, "I think you could do anything you wanted!" From that point on, I decided that I wanted to become a doctor and to help people with something so basic as their health.
Another goal I have is to have a family. Now being 30 years old (which is so surprising to me-- I still feel like I just turned 20), Danielle and I have watched many of our friends start having children and changing their lives to accommodate those children. Although I had never set a time in my life to start having kids, I couldn't imagine being in my 40s and 50s and never experiencing the joy of having kids in my life. Although I hate using the term "biological clock", I think that I have noticed lately that our family feels like it is missing a few people.
Two more goals I've had are: 1) to get my pilot's license-- I've always dreamed of flying, and 2) to teach high school physics-- I don't know why, but I love teaching, especially something as cool as physics!

Describe your spouse's personality, strengths, and weaknesses:
Danielle is the type of girl who is basically unwavering. She is the type of person who wants to help other people regardless of who they are or how well she knows them. One example of this was on a flight we were on from Milwaukee to Minneapolis last summer. There was a woman who was covered in tattoos with two kids, one a toddler and the other a small baby. As we boarded the plane, the woman was struggling to get her children in their seats. She was holding up the line of people trying to board the plane, and you could start to hear people moan and groan behind her as they began to complain that she was delaying everyone. Instead of adding to the complaints or just ignoring the situation, Danielle gave me her carry-on bags and immediately went to help the woman with her children. She helped put the baby's diaper bag in the overhead bin and then held the baby as the woman tended to her toddler. I don't think anyone else on the plane really cared about what Danielle had done, but I was impressed. To me, Christ's entire message could quickly be summarized in two words: "Be nice." On that day, she didn't just join with everyone else in complaining about the minor inconvenience that this lady presented, instead she became part of the solution and helped the woman no matter who she was or whether or not she was invited to help.
So, in short, I think that Danielle's greatest strength is charity. Ever since we've been married, Danielle has longed to have children. In the early years of our marriage, I was fairly hesitant to have children. I instead desired more to start my career and get well-established in life before bringing kids into the mix, but she knew better.
Danielle's greatest weakness was probably her fear of confrontation. When Danielle would visit her sibling's homes who were already married, she sometimes would hear them disagree and it would lead her to think that something was wrong with their relationship. Since being married, though, Danielle and I have both learned that it is perfectly normal for couples to disagree and that some of the tiniest disagreements can turn into some of the most ridiculous arguments. Luckily, we learned early in our marriage that being married does not imply that everything will be perfect, but rather that marriage is all about compromise and trying to do what is best for both of you rather than always getting your way.

Our Stats

Danielle:

Race: White/Caucasian 
Highest Level of Education Attained: Some College Coursework Completed 
Occupation: Administrative Assistant, Hair Stylist/Voice Teacher (from home) 
Employment After Child Placement: None 
Height: 5'7" 
Weight: 118 
Build: Thin 
Hair Color: Light Blonde 
Eye Color: Brown 
Height of Males in Danielle's Family: 5'11" to 6'0" 
Height of Females in Danielle's Family: 5'4" to 5'8" 
Hair Colors in Danielle's Family: Light Blonde, Medium Blonde, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Black, Red, Grey 
Eye Colors in Danielle's Family: Brown, Green 
Hobbies:
I love singing really loud to my favorite songs, reading (series especially so I can really get into the story), being outdoors (there's just something refreshing about it:), going for long drives, cutting/styling hair, exercising (well, not so much the exercising part, but I definitely like the results!), playing the piano (though after this many years of playing, I should play better than I do), sewing (this is a new one for me, but so far I am really enjoying it) and trying new recipes.
Interests: Music has been a major part of my life. I grew up in a home where music was always being played or sung. I love learning about the different ways in which music can influence our lives, even our health. With that in mind, I'd love to one day complete my schooling to become a music therapist so that I can share the power of music with others. For now though, I love to sing in church with the choir, small groups or solos, as well as around my house as often as I can. Another interest of mine is nutrition. I really enjoy learning about how foods effect our bodies and applying those principles to the foods my family eat. I love finding new healthy recipes and I especially love when they taste great too. Don't get me wrong though, I have a real love for sweets and treats as well!

Clinton:

Race: Native American or Alaska Native, White/Caucasian 
Highest Level of Education Attained: Bachelor's Degree 
Degrees and Programs: Bachelor of Science

Occupation: Currently a 4th year medical student 
Employment After Child Placement: Full-Time, Outside the Home 
Height: 6'2" 
Weight: 180
Build: Medium
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Height of Males in Clinton's Family: 6'1" to 6'2"
Height of Females in Clinton's Family: 5'8" to 5'10"
Hair Colors in Clinton's Family: Medium Brown, Dark Brown, Grey
Eye Colors in Clinton's Family: Brown, Green, Hazel
Hobbies:
Playing flight simulator, watching movies and reruns of The Simpsons...

Photo Album

Married August 2003, Portland, Oregon
                                      
Tulip Festival, Oregon 2006
Clinton's Surprise Airplane Ride, Wisconsin 2011
Peter and Danielle Enjoying a Walk on a Warm Spring Day, Wisconsin 2011
 Valentine's Day, Dinner at Meritage, Wisconsin 2012
 Clinton's 30th Birthday Surprise Party
 Out Enjoying Dinner with Friends at Buffalo Wild Wings, Clinton loves the wings and I love their black bean burger.  Mmm! Wisconsin 2011
 Paddle Boating on Lake Michigan, Wisconsin 2012
On our way down to Disney World...it was WAY early in the morning, but we were super excited to go!!  2012

 EPCOT, Florida 2012
 The sunset in EPCOT was so beautiful!!
 Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, Chicago 2011 (it was FREEZING!)
 Clear Water, Florida 2012
 Magic Kingdom, Florida 2012
Ferry Ride to the Magic Kingdom, Florida 2012 
 Chair lift at the Wisconsin State Fair, 2012...well worth the $4!
 Chicago Botanical Gardens, 8th Anniversary Trip, 2011
 My 28th B-day celebration with friends at Red Robin, 2012
 Millenium Park, Chicago 2012
 Just a quick pic before I left on a quick trip back home to see my family.  I was only gone for a couple days, but I had to have something to look at of us together while I was away. :) 2010
 Isn't he adorable?  We love him to pieces! 
 Clinton's White Coat Ceremony, 1st year of Med School, 2009
 Our "Family Photo" for our Christmas card, Door County, Wisconsin 2009
 Light House on the Peninsula, Door County, 2009
 Canada Day in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 2010 (I was wearing Canadian gear under the sweater...trust me!)
 My first taste of Poutine (french fries, cheese curds and gravy).  Sounds disgusting, but it was soooo good!! Quebec, Canada 2010
 Gatineau Park, Quebec 2010
 Clinton's Grandma and Us, Alberta, Canada, Christmas 2010

Danielle's Family

Describe your parents including education, occupation, personality, interests, etc.: 
My dad is very knowledgeable, intelligent, witty and creative. He can turn anything into a song, poem or joke. He has a large collection of amazing poems that he has written over the years. While many of them are light-hearted, most of his poems focus on religious themes that exemplify his love for diety.
Growing up I always knew if I had a question about why something was the way that it was, or needed some advice, I knew my dad would be a great resource. He obtained his bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University and then went on to complete a law degree at McGeorge School of Law. It was always a dream of his to be an attorney, but life brought him a different opportunity to use his talents and education in the church. He worked for our church's work-assistance program as a Rehabilitation Manager for many years. He helped people overcome addictions, trials, and insecurities. Since retiring from rehabilitation management, he keeps himself busy working as an insurance specialist at my brother's dental office. In his spare time he loves to read autobiographies, historical novels or James Bond books, go golfing with my brothers, go for long drives to the coast or up to the mountain or enjoy Law and Order reruns.

My mom is very spiritual and bright. She started college shortly after getting married and didn't really care for it. She soon after found out they were expecting their first child and she decided to dedicate her time and talents to being a mother. My mom would do anything for her children. She sacrificed warm meals, restful nights and free-time to herself so that her children could be happy and comfortable. We were and still are her life. It was always her dream to be close friends with her kids as they grew up and had families of their own and I believe that dream has come true. My mom is very kind-hearted and soft-spoken. Her heart is so full of love for her family and friends. She puts 100% into everything! She too works at my brother's dental office, as the office manager. She is dependable and knows how to get things done! In her spare time she loves to play with her grandbabies, paint, sew, read a good book, watch a good movie (aka, take a nap) or play Scrabble.

Explain your parents' methods of discipline: 
Although there was the occasional spanking or "popping on the mouth" when my siblings or I was especially mouthy or disobedient, these were not the usual methods used for discipline. My parents strongly believed in teaching us what was right and wrong then allowed us to make our own choices. We knew that no matter what they would love us and help us. When we made a poor choice it was a teaching opportunity for our parents to help us understand how to better avoid mistakes in the future and how to make things right. I remember when I was about seven were were in line at K-Mart. I saw a pack of grape Bubble Yum Gum and asked my mom if I could have it.  She told me "no" but I was determined to have that gum and put it in my pocket when no one was looking. Feeling victorious I climbed into the back of our van and forgot to buckle. At the next light, when my mom applied the brakes, the packet flew out of my pocket and landed in the front of the van. My brother proceeded to tattle on me. When we got home my siblings were dropped of and my mom turned the car around to take me back to the store. During the drive there she talked to me about what I had done and asked me if I understood why it was wrong to steal. I knew it was. She told me I would need to return the gum myself and apologize. I began to protest but she told me it was part of the consequence--I needed to make things right. Holding my hand, my mom walked me back to the cashier and told her I had something to say. Crying, I walked up to the cashier, admitted my fault, apologized and returned the gum.  She said "thank you for being honest." 
My mom not only taught me that stealing was wrong cause it hurts others, but that I needed to be accountable for my actions.  This is how it was with all learning opportunities in my life. I knew that I could turn to my parents for help and I could count on their helping me the best they could, to do what was right.

What is your present relationship with your parents and siblings? 
My relationship with my parents and siblings is very important to me. Although we live quite a distance apart we keep in touch with each other by phone, Facebook, Skype and email. I also make a point to visit home at least twice a year so I can play with my nieces and nephews, give/get hugs and to just spend time with my family. Growing up, my parents always counseled us become best friends with our siblings because friends would come and go, but families are forever. I believe we really are each other's best friends.

Relate any special experiences or memories: 
My family loved road trips. Road trips meant Slurpees, endless games of "I Spy", the Alphabet game (whoever can start with the letter A and get to Z using street names or billboards or restaurant signs first, wins!), and the license plate game (whoever comes up with the most clever phrase based on the license plate letters on the car in front of you, wins!). We also sang loudly to all of the oldies on the radio or made up songs when the signal cut out. Our road trips were mostly to go see family in neighboring states, but we also loved to go to the coast or on camping trips. One of my most memorable camping trips was when it rained HARD the entire time we were there. My dad and brothers hung tarps over our entire campsite so we could stay dry. Since the only dry place was our campsite, our bikes and toys stayed covered and we depended on each other for entertainment. We played cards and boardgames, sang songs while my dad played the guitar, ate delicious meals and snacks and spent hours talking around the campfire. We all thought the rain was going to ruin our trip, but it actually made it a lot better. The last day of our trip the sun came out long enough for us to pack everything up and take our bikes for a quick spin. It was definitely my favorite camping trip ever!

Share any traumatic events that have impacted your life: 
I think one of the most significant traumatic events in my life was when I lost sight in my right eye during a bungy cord accident when I was five. Before my accident I was afraid of nothing and no one. I was a daredevil! After my accident, I realized that people can get hurt, that injuries can be permanent and that people can be mean or judgmental. Until I received my prosthetic lens, I was constantly asked, "What happened to your eye?" Kids would ask me just to hear the story again. Adults would stare and look away like they were ashamed of me. It was a very painful transition for a little girl to go through. However, as I grew up and became accustomed to the loss of vision and learned that even though my eye may not look the same, I'm still me--my perspective began to change. I realized that there were a lot worse things that could have happened to me and how blessed I was that it was only my eye that was hurt. This traumatic event has definitely changed my life, but I like to think that it has changed it for the better. Even now, when I begin to feel sorry for myself, I remember how blessed I am to still be able to see, even if it is only out of one eye. This injury has given me a unique opportunity to empathize with people who have a deformity, handicap, poor self-esteem or body image. It's ok to not be "perfect" because nobody is! It took an eye accident for me to realize that about myself and I'm grateful now be able to share that message with others.

List significant activities, group involvements, or accomplishments during your years of education: 
I was very active in lots of different groups and activities growing up. In grade school I was in choir and band. I played the trumpet and was 1st chair through sixth grade. My love for music took a different route though and I soon learned to love the piano and singing. I participated in choir my freshman year of high school and was able to be in the a'capella and advanced choirs beginning my sophmore year. I taught myself to play the piano at about age 14 and started voice lessons when I was 17. I took voice lessons for about 3 years (off and on) and loved the challenge or learning new styles. My favorites are opera and big band torch songs (the kind a woman would sing in a lounge, wearing a long red dress and laying across the top of a piano!). I tried out for the school and church talent shows and participated in any musical I could. Performing is such a blast! I always tried to do my best in school. I was always on the honor roll and was a member of the Heliaca National Honor Society. I graduated 20th in my class of over 500. In college, I worked really hard to earn good grades. My husband and I always competed to see who could get the better grades! :) My greatest achievement was when I scored a perfect 30 on my final exam in Political Philosophy. My professor told the class that he had never given a perfect score before, so to not expect it. When I got my grade I couldn't believe it. He told me my work was nothing short of outstanding! Those essays were on our fridge for a month! :)

Clinton's Family

Describe your parents including education, occupation, personality, interests, etc.: 
My father graduated high school at the same school that I graduated from. In fact, we even had some of the same teachers (it's a very, very small town!) He went to a Catholic school in Edmonton, Alberta called St. Anthony's College for a while. During and shortly after high school, he began working as a manual laborer on oil drilling rigs (oil drilling is a major industry in Alberta, Canada). He has done this his entire life and is now a shift manager. As a manager of some of the wildest guys you'll ever meet, you would think that my dad would be incredibly loud and rude, but he's actually quite a softie. When I announced that I was going to get married, I remember that he began crying (and, of course, trying to hide it). He's the type that tries to pretend like he's a big strong guy, but in reality, he's like most people.
His interests include a lot of fishing and hunting, being our family mechanic, the family carpenter, and playing with his grandkids.

My mother graduated from high school and soon began raising her family after getting married. She had four kids (I was the last) and while I was growing up, she sacrificed a lot of her free time to attend nursing school. She worked hard and got excellent grades, good enough that her student loans were forgiven!
She's a hard worker and still works as a nurse today. She has been offered administrative positions, but she would rather work directly with patients instead of trying to be the boss of other nurses. Her interests include going camping, sewing, gardening, and spending a lot of time with her grandkids. Her biggest weakness, though, is her desire to constantly have a clean house. When we go over there during Christmas vacation, it seems like all of our time with her is spent in the kitchen watching her bake and clean, meanwhile I keep on trying to tell her that she needs to sit down and let other people do the work, but she never seems to listen.

Explain your parents' methods of discipline: 
My dad was often away working on oil rigs, leaving my mum to do a lot of the disciplining. She later told me that I was incredibly easy to raise, so I really don't remember getting much discipline from her. Whenever I was needing to be set straight, though, I remember that she would simply tell me that I should have known better and she expressed her disappointment in my decisions. That was usually enough to make me realize that it didn't feel good to disappoint the only people in my life who loved me unconditionally, and so I would try to change.
In other words, they were never harsh, but you knew it when you did something wrong. This allowed me a lot of freedom as a kid, and I think that has made me a better and more responsible person for it.

What is your present relationship with your parents and siblings? 
I frequently call my parents and we try to take a trip to see them at least once a year. My relationship with my family is quite open, and I've talked to my parents about pretty much anything and everything. With my sisters, I often chat with them online, but I would say that I'm especially close to the youngest of my sisters, since she's closer in age to me. We had many of the same friends and she was the one that introduced me to the Church, so we tend to have a lot in common and often have similar thinking.

Relate any special experiences or memories: 
One of my favorite experiences as a kid was one time when we were camping. It was a warm day and dad had taken the older kids down to the creek to go fishing, but I stayed behind with my mum at the campsite (I was pretty young at the time). We laid out on a blanket on the ground and just stared up at the sky and talked. I don't remember at all what we talked about, but I remember how I felt like my mum was my friend and that I somehow was now her favorite kid! That taught me that kids don't care much about the amount of presents or money that you give to them, they're much more interested in you being interested in them.
Share any traumatic events that have impacted your life: When I was 18 and preparing for my mission, I moved to a nearby city with some friends. We lived in the river valley at the bottom of a huge hill in the middle of Edmonton. When I was coming home from work one summer afternoon, I had just gotten off the bus and I was walking along a busy street towards home. I noticed a girl on the other side of the street coming fast down the hill on her bike. For some reason, she suddenly flipped over the bike and landed hard on her face. I sat there stunned for a second thinking, "She's probably okay, she'll probably get up." But she didn't. Not having a clue what to do, I put my hands out to stop the busy traffic. The cars slowed and let me through, and I ran over to the girl lying on the hot sidewalk. Still having no clue what to do, I saw a women peek around the corner and I yelled for her to call an ambulance. I knelt by the girl and tried to speak calmly (while panicking inside my own mind). Luckily, a nurse saw me kneeling there and stopped, and soon a police officer stopped and radioed for an ambulance.
I have never forgotten that day because that was when I knew that I wanted to be the person that could help in a situation like that. That experience reconfirmed to me that the best way to help other people is to learn how to take care of people's health. I think that one five minute incident probably impacted my life more than any other.

List significant activities, group involvements, or accomplishments during your years of education: 
I've always tried hard to get good grades in university and now in medical school, but my absolute favorite thing that I've ever done is teach. I tutored a lot in university because I loved it. I found it really rewarding when the students who were struggling in the main class would come to my tutor workshop and then suddenly understand the complex principles being taught in the lectures. In fact, after one semester, the students wrote reviews on my and submitted them to the professor. I was allowed to see those reviews later and I remember one of the questions reading, "If your tutor could do one thing, what would it be?" to which the student wrote, "Be a chemistry professor." That made me feel really good!

Danielle's Experiences and Feelings Regarding Adoption

How do you think adopting a child will change your life? 
I think adopting a child will change my life in many ways. One, it will finally provide me the opportunity to welcome our children into our home. This alone will bring so much joy and opportunities for growth. Two, adopting a child will change how much money we have to do extra things each month. I know that raising children costs money and I am fully prepared to sacrifice my "extras" so that we can enjoy the blessings of having children in our home. Three, adopting a child/having a child, in general, will, at times, cause extra stress in my life and in our life as a couple. I will have to sacrifice sleep, free time, personal time and extra spending so that I can best care for our children. Clinton and I will have less alone time and will need to readjust how we spend the time we have together to ensure we are both getting what we need from each other on a daily basis.
Raising a family has been my goal in life since I was very little. Realizing it will not all be a fairytale, I feel, is an advantage that will keep me well-grounded and better prepared for whatever direction each day may lead. Overall though, I feel adopting a child will change my life for the better.

What does your extended family think about your adoption plans? 
My family is very supportive and very excited for us. They know we have been waiting a very long time to begin our family and that we are ready for adoption. They have been praying for us and our efforts in this process. Clinton's family is also very supportive and excited for us to adopt children. We both have family members who've adopted children and the thought of introducing more into the family is more than welcome!

How do you plan to discuss adoption with your children? 
I would actually like for my children to know they have been adopted from the very beginning. I would like them to know who their birth parents are so that they do not feel like they have been lied to or misled. I know there are books out there for adopted children that allow you to record their story and how you and their birth parents came to the decision to adopt. I think these methods are the best and most honest way for us to help our child learn about who they are and where they came from.

How would you feel if your child wanted to meet his or her birth parents? 
I would actually like for my children to meet their birth parents. My brother and his wife actually meet up with their daughter's birth parents' once a year in a neutral location. It shows their daughter, Hannah, who her birth parents are so she never has to wonder where she came from or why she was "given away". These meetings also give her the chance to see that the adoption was healthy and the best decision for her. It provides her birth parents the chance to see their daughter is doing well and that adoption was the best choice for them. And it gives my brother and his wife the opportunity to show the birth parents the love and appreciation they have for Hannah and how much they appreciate the sacrifice her birth parents made in placing her in their arms. This is the kind of relationship I'd like to have with my child and their birth parents, if they are comfortable with it.

Clinton's Experiences and Feelings Regarding Adoption

How do you think adopting a child will change your life? 
Since we currently have no children, I think that adopting a child will change our lives in much the same way that any first-time parents have their lives changed by a new addition to the family. It will mean much more responsibility and much more planning of date nights but (of course) I think that it will all be worth it to be able to raise our own children and to experience parenthood first-hand.

What does your extended family think about your adoption plans? 
My family is very supportive of our plan to adopt. My mother used to continually ask when we were going to have children, and now that she knows that we will be adopting, she constantly asks what is taking so long. Furthermore, I have an older sister that is trying to adopt through the provincial government in Alberta, Canada, so my family has been quite supportive of the idea.

How do you plan to discuss adoption with your children? 
I've actually thought about this question a lot, especially lately as the reality of adoption has become closer. I think that the best way to discuss the issue would be to inform the child very early in his/her life so that it is not something that we have to inform them of all at once. Furthermore, I think it would be important to emphasize that we (his/her adopted parents) waited a long time to finally become parents and to express the huge blessing that he/she is to us. It would also be important to let him/her know that his/her birthmother loved him/her enough to see that she couldn't take care of him/her in a way that she wanted, so she allowed us to take care of him/her instead.

How would you feel if your child wanted to meet his or her birth parents? 
Depending on how old the child is and their reasoning for wanting to meet his/her birth parents, I would be quite supportive of the idea. I wouldn't want the child to think that we are trying to sequester him/her away from his/her "real family", but rather that the child can know more whenever he or she feels ready.