Here is a bit about us, plus the backstory of how we arrived at this point of deciding upon adoption! Our daughter Zelie-Louise Layla Rose was born on April 6, 2017 and we finalized her adoption on January 5, 2018. We're keeping this blog up in anticipation of future adoption #2 :)
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
Family: Parents Harry and Jane, brother Ben
Alma mater: Eastern University (St. Davids, PA), theology major and Spanish minor; John Paul II Institute (Washington, DC), masters of theological studies
Employment: Works for the Catholic Church in the area of marriage and family.
Hobbies: Singing, gardening, traveling, reading, quilting, board games
Favorite TV shows: Downton Abbey, The Office, Call the Midwife
Favorite Songs: "House of Tom Bombadil" by Nickel Creek, "Blessings" by Laura Story, and "Every Storm Runs Out of Rain" by Gary Allan
Favorite Quote: "Lacking answers about the future, we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full." - Fr. Jacques Philippe
Favorite Saint: St. Anne
Fun fact: I visited every state in the U.S. at least once before I went to college, thanks to my road-trip-loving parents
What I love most about being a mother: snuggling, reading together, introducing my daughter to "firsts" of everything, hearing a little voice say "Mama"
Hometown: Erie, PA
Family: Parents Dan and Kathy, brothers Dave and Rob, sister-in-law Amy, nephews Andrew, Brandon, Xavier, Josh, Roman; nieces Angelina, Desiree, Jasmine
Alma mater: Catholic University (Washington, DC), theology and psychology major, philosophy minor; John Paul II Institute, masters of theological studies, PhD candidate
Employment: Works at a Catholic Shrine, creating and coordinating events, running retreats, and writing publications, etc.
Hobbies: Coffee roasting, hiking, traveling, enjoying music of all types, reading great books, board games
Favorite TV show: Notre Dame football (other than that I don't usually watch tv)
Favorite Songs: Currently, "All of the People Said Amen" by Matt Maher, "Homegrown" by the Zac Brown Band, "Paradise" by Coldplay, and "Flaws" by Bastille.
Favorite Quote: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good." - Romans 12:21
Favorite Saint: St. John Paul II; Close second- St. Josemaria Escriva.
Fun fact: I led a group of 35 young adults and high school students to Sydney, Australia for World Youth Day in 2008. World Youth Days are incredible events. I recommend everyone going at least once!
What I love most about being a father: This is hard to answer. So much. It will be giving the child secure love together with my wife, again and again, and watching him or her delight in that love. Giving him or her a single home in which they can stand upon to confront all of life's difficulties. It will be mediating God's abundant love and seeing him or her grow in the faith. It will be encouraging his or her gifts to unfold mysteriously before our eyes. It will be my child's baptism. It will by my child's birthday parties. It will be taking my child to Church, tossing him or her up in the air and making them giggle, telling him or her stories from life and made-up ones (of course!), and introducing my son or daughter to nature, hiking, forgiveness and humility, thinking deeply about life's great questions, Notre Dame football, animals (especially corgi dogs), watching one's own food grow in a garden, music, praying, being creative, reading fun and exciting stories, working hard, travel to new places, etc.
How we met: Bethany moved to Washington, DC in August 2008 to attend the John Paul II Institute for graduate studies, where Dan was beginning his second year. Early in the semester, Dan arranged for a student hiking trip to the Shenandoah Valley, and Bethany and her new housemate/classmate Shaina signed up. They ended up in Dan's car for the 3 hour trip, where Dan and Bethany first started to get to know each other. On the hike, Bethany was impressed with Dan's bravery when he had to stab himself with his Epi pen after getting stung by a bee (he's allergic). And on the trip back (according to eye-witness Shaina, who would later be our maid of honor), Dan and Bethany really "clicked," finding many common interests and life goals, and ending the evening by singing the "Salve Regina" (a Marian hymn) together.
How we got engaged: Dan's original intention was to propose on Palm Sunday during Bethany's final semester in grad school. Unfortunately, Bethany got a stomach bug the night before and was incapacitated. On the bright side, it gave Dan a chance to prove his skill at taking care of his sick beloved. Then on April 1st, 2010 (Holy Thursday and the eve of the 5th anniversary of St. John Paul II's death), Dan took Bethany back to the Shenandoah Valley and asked her to marry him, at the foot of a waterfall they swam in on their first hike together two years previously. She said yes! Dan also arranged for a priest friend, Fr. Chris Singer, who was the main celebrant at our wedding, to meet us in the woods and give us a blessing. And later that evening, a group of friends joined us to celebrate our engagement.
Our wedding date and place: May 28, 2011, St. Bernadette Church, Silver Spring MD
Our honeymoon: We visited Rome for two and a half weeks and loved every minute! We had our marriage blessed by the Pope (then Benedict XVI), prayed at St. John Paul II's grave, climbed St. Peter's dome, toured ancient catacombs, visited Assisi and the Mediterranean Sea, prayed in more churches than we can remember, and delighted in the pizza, pasta and gelato at every corner. It was a blessed way to start our married life together!
Our Journey To Adoption
We have wanted to have children since the day we got married. As part of our marriage preparation, we took a class in Natural Family Planning (NFP) so we could be more knowledgeable about our bodies and our fertility. We felt well-prepared to know the time each month most likely to get pregnant. During our NFP class, we did not see anything abnormal in our charts (that track the woman's monthly cycle) nor did we have any reason to think that we wouldn't be able to conceive.
However, the months started to pass with no positive pregnancy test. At first our excitement was undimmed; we knew it could take months for a completely healthy couple to get pregnant. But as our first wedding anniversary approached, we started to get worried. It became harder to watch friends around us get pregnant and have their children as our family remained just the two of us.
In the Spring of 2012, we decided to try a different NFP method, the Creighton model, which is more widely used by doctors in determining causes of infertility. We also began pursuing medical advice and treatment. Thankfully in the DC area there are several doctors who have training in what's called Naprotechnology, a branch of reproductive medicine that aims at uncovering the root cause of a couple's infertility and correcting it so they can conceive naturally. This approach appealed to us both because of our disinterest in any method that would separate our marital union from a child's coming-to-be (e.g., IVF), and also because we sincerely wanted to be healed from whatever ailed us.
Thus began a two-year stretch of intermittent doctor's appointments, blood draws, invasive tests, and so on. (We'll spare you the details!) It was often intense and draining, both physically and emotionally. Bethany had two surgeries during this time, one relatively minor and one with a longer recovery time. Unfortunately, after pursuing multiple routes, our doctors were unable to pinpoint any one cause of why we couldn't conceive. This meant either that everything was a-okay and for whatever reason pregnancy just hadn't happened, or (what seems more plausible to us) something was "off" that current science was unable to detect.
Either way, this conclusion put us at a crossroads. Should we continue to pursue medical treatment? Or accept that we may not get answers and move on to adoption as a way to grow our family? Since you're reading this, you probably know the answer! While we are still 100% open to conceiving, we realize that after five years of trying, that possibility seems very unlikely.
And adoption has never been far from our minds. Even while pursuing medical treatment, we started talking about adopting. We have adoption in both of our families, including one of Dan's nephews. We've gotten to know a few families who have adopted children more recently, which has demystified much of the process for us. The more we read about adoption and prayed about it, the more we were confident that this was an avenue we wanted to pursue.
Adoption, then, was our "second [chronological] choice" to growing our family - but we don't see it as "second best" (in terms of goodness). We are very grateful for this possibility to become parents to a son or daughter who for whatever reason is in need of a mother and father. Pretty much a match made in heaven :) We hope that we can live up to this awesome responsibility.
You can read about our adoption journey with Zelie in the posts section, and also on our Adoption Timeline page.