Derek + Kelly

We are only human. Flawed and silly, we make mistakes and we try again, but we have great faith and hope in a world of forgiveness and new life. We promise love that does not expect perfection, but seeks for kindness and justice. We promise to provide a safe, loving, and nurturing home filled with books, too many baked goods, and plenty of silliness.

Dear Expectant Mother, Greetings and Salutations!

“Dear Expectant Mother, Greetings and Salutations!” Image

That's the super-formal way Charlotte speaks to Wilbur in one of our favorite children's books, Charlotte's Web. It seems so formal and a weird way to say hello, but that's what she says and, we learn through the story, it's how she breaks the ice with someone who will become very special to her. This letter is also a super-formal way to break the ice with someone we don't know, but who may become very important to us.

Families are made in so many ways, but my (Kelly) larger family story is one that has always included adoption. My maternal grandpa was a pastor in Alaska decades ago. Two mothers made the brave and loving choice to make an adoption plan for their babies and these little boys were welcomed into the noise, chaos, and joy of a pastor's family that already had four kids! My grandparents never shared the stories of my uncles' birth mothers, but they did share the deep sense of gratitude they had for the selflessness of their mothers. They also shared that though each of their mothers chose "closed" adoption as their plan, my grandparents never stopped praying for them. I am struck by the strength of all mothers who choose to make a plan of adoption for their babies out of great love for their child. I am grateful for the ways adoption has already created my family and I'm hopeful that, as adoption has changed over the generations, our story together may look different from the days of old when "closed" adoption was the only option.

My family (Derek) is all about healing. My mom was a nurse for many years. My sister is one of the kindest people around, always looking to see what pain people around her are hiding and finding ways to help them heal. I have lots of scars on my body, so I don't have the luxury of ignoring the fact that hard and hurtful things happen, and yet amazing healing can come to that pain. We don't presume to know your story, of course, but we do know that all kinds of people (probably everyone!) need healing. We know that no one would take lightly the prospect of making an adoption plan for their child. On the contrary, we're amazed at your courage of considering this as a way to give your child the very best start in life. No matter what you choose to do, we're cheering for you, hoping you can heal from any fear or pain in your life, and we hope you trust yourself to do the very best thing for the miracle growing inside you, whatever that plan is.

This is our why

We are hoping to grow our family through adoption, because we feel we have more love to share. It took many years for us to have our daughter, Madeleine, and after her birth we've been unable to have another child. Both of us cannot imagine life without our sisters and we can see that Madeleine is a sister just waiting for a brother or sister whom she can love, share/fight over random things, and laugh at the expense of their crazy parents. There is room in our home and room in our lives for more.

This is our story

Both of us were in graduate school when we met, but we were both dating the wrong people. It took us a while to figure that out, after graduation, actually. But when we were single, Derek wrote on Facebook that he was going to a barbecue place to listen to bluegrass music, and Kelly flirtatiously joked that, in that case, they were definitely meant to be. Facebook messages led to phone calls. One night when a thunderstorm meant that cell phone reception was bad, Derek drove to his office to use the landline to call her and felt awful about racking up a three hour phone bill that night.

Monthly cross-country flights led to an engagement at a dive bar because the fancy restaurant where he intended to propose was closed for the winter (oops!). She said yes and we've been married now for ten years. We make a life with two careers (minimum, Derek usually has a few extras), far away family, close-knit friends, and with a commitment to God, the world, and one another.

Meet Kelly

“Meet Kelly” Image

"Kelly finds it easy to see the best in people, a skill that I lack. She is the rare person who is not naive about how much hurt and ickiness is in the world, but still is truly joyful, hopeful and willing to work for a better future. She is passionate about looking out for her family. She will drive many miles to go to a craft fair, a small town festival or a cool covered bridge. Her precision and desire for order make for delicious scones, a pristine house, and a day that's full of activity, but nothing is missed. She is a fantastic mother. She worked as a nanny to a family for many years and learned that kids thrive when there's some order and some rules, but ultimately know they are loved. She's faithful, whip-smart and quick to laugh at internet memes, goofy jokes, and the antics of our pets." - written by Derek

Meet Derek

“Meet Derek” Image

"Derek is outgoing, quick to laugh, and always looking for a good friend to invite to a party. He knows more people across the country and around the world than you can imagine, he forms deep relationships and keeps them across time and great distances. He likes music, woodworking, storytelling, bad puns (and good ones), and delicious foods. He loves to eat, but more importantly loves to cook up great feasts to share with everyone we know and love and people we want to know better. Derek loves to sing, especially with other people in choirs. While he is very social, Derek also enjoys time alone in his woodshop dreaming up the next beautiful creation he can give to a friend or family member. He is brilliant. He reads and remembers nearly everything, his office is floor to ceiling books and he can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. He is a creative and loving parent, including our daughter in his projects and teaching her to love learning. He is a beloved colleague and mentor." - Written by Kelly


Our Madeleine is our everything. She's the funniest kid she's ever met (and cracks us up, too). I caught her looking at her kindergarten photo yesterday and asked her, "What are you thinking about when you see that photo?" She replied, "Um, how adorable I am." Then she made a weird face, "Is that bad?" She has been desperate for a brother or sister since she was tiny.

When she was 13 months old she walked over to me and hugged and kissed me when the parents die in a shipwreck in the Disney movie Frozen as if to lessen any fears of mortality I might have had. When she was three she stood with her feet in the waves of the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, holding her grandmother's hand. She shouted at the top of her voice over the whitecaps, "I am MOANA!" Clearly we watch lots of animated movies in this house. Madeleine has a favorite doll, Dede. She has changed Dede's diaper approximately 4,000 times practicing for the time when she'll be allowed to do so for her sibling

This is our happy place

We're too modest to brag, but we do feel our home is absolutely awesome! We lucked into it because the family who built it had to move pronto so we got a great deal. It has four bedrooms, a family room with a fireplace and tall ceilings with windows from the floor to (almost) ceiling. It's on a hillside overlooking a beautiful river. The hill is too steep to climb up easily, so last year Derek made a stairway (135 steps!) so we can get down there to fish and play. We're in the woods, which makes for lousy gardening (curses from all the shade!) but wonderful walks. The kitchen is a showpiece, and we love to have people over for big dinners. Every Sunday in the summer, for instance, we host a potluck dinner for 20-50 people. We make a main course, usually something on the smoker, and others bring sides and desserts. Derek made almost all the furniture in the house, and hopes slowly to replace all remaining store-bought items with homemade. There's a great deck where we eat lots of meals when it's nice. Kelly does the enormous task of keeping toys organized in the large family room in the lower-level, next to matching bedrooms and a bathroom. The property is about four acres on a gravel road. It feels secluded and remote, but it's only five minutes from the town where we work. There is a large playhouse with a swing set in the front yard up on a raised deck that is Madeleine's secret clubhouse where she stores her fossil collection and pretends she's a rancher.

Our dog Ole (pronounced OH-lee) is a ten year old black lab who is one of the sweetest dogs. He has a hilariously pronounced overbite, which doesn't bother him at all except when he tries to pick something up with his teeth. He has to turn his neck about 30 degrees to one side or the other to be able to pick it up with the sides of his teeth. We also have a cat named Pippi (after the Longstocking girl of fable). She goes for four-mile walks with us, and we think she thinks she's a dog. Our beloved Betta fish, Coco, recently went the way of all fish at the amazingly ripe old age of five. Madeleine painted a rock to serve as a headstone, and mama said a few words at the burial. Furry (and finned) friends are a big part of our lives.

Before you go,

“Before you go,” Image

We are only human. Flawed and silly, we make mistakes and we try again, but we have great faith and hope in a world of forgiveness and new life. We promise love that does not expect perfection, but seeks for kindness and justice. We promise to love each other enough that loving a child grows from the love we have for each other. We bring with us a rag-tag bunch of loving, goofy, excited aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Though our families are far away we are surrounded by a large, diverse, and close-knit group of friends who have been our cheerleaders as we parent our first child and are all ready to love on a baby with us.

Though we are nervous and maybe a bit shy about it, we are open to whatever amount of "openness" may be right for you, your baby, and our family together. We believe that the best interest of a child is of the utmost importance and that is something we would love to explore with you. All children are a gift in life, and as such are never "ours" but instead are allowed to grow into whomever they are meant to be. We promise to provide a safe, loving, and nurturing home filled with books, too many baked goods, and plenty of silliness.

With love,

Kelly, Derek and Madeline

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