Hello! thanks for taking this time to meet us.
First, we want to acknowledge your bravery in thinking about adoption. We have been through our own loss in trying to start our family, and while we can’t understand what you are going through, we know that you are making a very hard decision, and we respect that.
We met in Montreal in the summer of 2015 on a friend’s sunny balcony: and both decided that we had met our person- the conversation was fast and furious and hasn’t stopped since. Even though we are usually careful about planning life events, we weren’t this time! And while it’s easy to fall in love in a Montreal summer, our love lasted right through into the Montreal winter, and has stayed strong ever since.
We are both travellers: Kenneth was born in the USA and has lived all over the world trying to make parts of it better, Eliza is an Australian who moved to Canada for grad school, met this cute Canadian, and now is about to become a Canadian herself.
Travelling and choosing our home— Ottawa —means that we know the importance of becoming part of a local community and how to build a new family in a new home. We have built ours in Canada out of mix of loving family (near and far), and old and new friends.
We understand that a strong family comes in different shapes and from different places. We are lucky to have Kenneth’s mum (Daniele) living around the corner from us in Gatineau and so have a warm, generous grandmother ready to help us when we become parents. Eliza’s mum (Clara) lives in Australia. She and Eliza are very close and Skype very often: she also visits us in Canada when she can. We are close friends with a wonderful family in Ottawa with two young children, who are part of our family, and we are part of theirs. Eliza’s foster brother lives in California with his two kids, and we travel to see them as often as we can.
Lastly, there is our dog, Roxie who we adopted in July 2016. She is smart, sassy, and sensitive. We’ve trained her to be gentle with children and to give them as much love as she can – which is a lot. We are particularly touched that Roxie has made an attachment to our close friends’ son, who is on the autism spectrum, and Roxie helps him feel safe.
I grew up in Australia, the oldest child of a wonderful, eccentric family of six (I have two brothers, Peter and Will, and a sister, Selena). We grew up on the Sydney shore and there was a lot of bushwalking, swimming, and tree-climbing. I wanted to become a novelist as a kid, but ultimately ended up becoming a human rights lawyer, who tries to write fiction on the side. Here in Canada, I work for a refugee rights NGO: we work to get refugees to safety, and make policies and law more equitable for refugees.
I have always loved children and always wanted to be a mum. I did a course in early childhood development which helped fund my law school tuition; working as a childcare worker (which led to lots of chewed-on textbooks!). Being able to offer guidance, care and love to those children has been the best thing I’ve done in my life so far.
I guess you’d call me a joiner—I like to connect people. I spent a fantastic two years working as a volunteer teacher at the Adult High School in Ottawa, working with young migrants who had arrived in Canada as refugees from Syria.
I like to think that I’m a happy person, with a good sense of humour (that is an important aspect of our marriage- having a good laugh and being silly!) and a lot of empathy. I think a lot- and I care about people and the planet a lot. I love to read (everything, but particularly fiction), I love listening to music, I try and write my own fiction (although this is still a work in progress), and I take long walks with the dog. I love to explore new worlds and to take on challenges. That’s how I ended up in Montreal in 2013—signed up to do a PhD in human rights law at McGill University—and how I ended up living in Ottawa, hoping to adopt a child, writing to you.
I grew up as an only child in a Quebecois—American family, living in the States, then the UK, then France, and then Canada. After graduate school, I worked with the United Nations in the Balkans (Kosovo), and discovered a passion for humanitarian work – I feel that helping others is a calling. Later, working as a Protection of Civilians officer in West Africa during an ongoing civil war, I was sadly unable to help many people, including children. This made me feel disheartened and helpless. This experience marked me with a sense of obligation and love for children, and I think I decided then that I wanted to have my own family, passing on to them what people owe to each other – respect and love.
I’ve been in the Canadian military for the last nine years, and I hope that what I do helps to protect others. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I love quietly and fiercely. I will always put your child first, no matter what. I love my friends and family deeply, I love spending time with kids, and I want to share this weird, joyous and magical world we live in with my family.
I have very close relationships with both my parents, and close relationships with my Dad’s extended family in the US Midwest, and my Mom’s extensive family throughout Quebec who are mostly around Trois-Rivières.
In my free time, I like to play with Roxie, to read, listen to science and history podcasts, play board games, garden when I can, and pursue various other (frankly pretty geeky) endeavours.
We respect your choices about what adoption should look like.
We believe in open adoption and want to work with you to find a pathway that enables you to be part of your child’s life. Family is forever- all different parts of it. Openness might look like visiting (us or you!), sharing letters and pictures, phone, or video calls, or just keeping you updated about how your little one is going.
But: however you feel about openness in adoption, we will respect and honour that and always speak positively about you to your child.
Both of us are ready (and excited) to be parents. We have done a lot of planning and thinking about it (and in Eliza’s case- working with families who have newborns). We know how important it is for children to have parental support as they grow and learn in their early years.
We also believe that it is important for both of us to be ‘hands on’ parents- this is a shared commitment and a shared opportunity.
We both work fulltime, but both our employers are very supportive of our adoption plan, and have generous parental leave policies, which we intend to use to the fullest. This will be, between the University of Ottawa and the Government of Canada, over two years with one parent at home on parental leave full time, followed by flexible work from home arrangements for another year.
Following this period: we have several excellent childcare facilities within walking distance of where we live in Ottawa, which value inclusion, diversity and offer bilingual programs.
Whatever the ethnic and cultural background of your child, we commit to building relationships with that community and finding childcare services that respect your cultural and ethnic history and experience.
Of course, we do not believe in physical discipline and would never use this with your child.
We value equality and we value human rights. These are the underlying values that have made our partnership as strong as it is. They have shaped our personal choices about where we live, where we work and what we do in the world.
We have worked with communities that have experienced hardship. Kenneth has worked with the UN in the Balkans and Mali and was incredibly moved by the plight of children and young people, particularly those he worked with and for.
Eliza has provided legal services to at-risk children and teens who suffered sexual and physical abuse and violence, some of whom were in foster care and some in detention. These experiences made her very sad, but also committed her to helping and caring for children wherever she could.
We believe in honest communication. We want our family to be a place of emotional openness, transparency, a soft place to land, and trust. We treat each other with courtesy and love and respect our different strengths. We don’t go to bed angry. When we disagree, we try to see the other person’s side, and we understand the importance of reaching a loving compromise.
We want to raise a child to be curious, questioning, individual and secure in themselves. We value education and learning in all different forms. We will offer curiosity and love of learning to the children in our family.
We embrace different faiths, cultures languages, foods, and celebrations. Many of our friends in Canada are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves- we have friends with family in India, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, France, Japan, and Australia.
Kenneth was raised bilingual, and we are committed to raising our child in a bilingual household: we think it gives children an advantage and helps them to experience more of the world. Eliza is working to get past French Intermediate, but she will get there- part of the problem is the Australian accent!
Ottawa is a perfect place to raise a child- it’s safe, clean, diverse: small enough to know your neighbours, and large enough to have great education, health and social services.
We bought our home in 2017: it is a newly-renovated house with lots of outside and inside space for play. We live in a growing inner city suburb of Ottawa- there are seven kid friendly parks, three excellent cafes, two public swimming pools, one local library, and one cabane à sucre (sugar shack), all within 10 minutes walk of our house! We also live in an excellent school district – this was something we thought about when we were choosing our home.
Thank you for reading this far and learning a little bit about us.
Whatever you decide, we thank you for considering us.