We don’t know you, but you already have our immediate respect, and support. We can’t imagine what you’ve been through, or what you may continue to go through, but we know that the joy of beginning our family through adoption is inevitably tied to experiences that may not bring you the same joy. Your strength and your desire to find the right home for your child has already set them on an incredible journey and one we hope to be part of should you choose us to become adoptive parents for your child.
We believe that an open adoption can only be an advantage for our child, should you desire to continue to be part of their life. We want our child to understand the things that make them who they are, whether they are things they’ve picked up through our influence or things that they’ve received through birth or contact with you that make them special. We want to honor their origins, make sure they have a grounded connection to their history and culture, understand the context of their unconventional (but awesome) family structure, and are able to have the means to appropriately process (and love) the journey that brought them into this world and into our home. This could take the form of regular letters and/or visits as a family depending on what you and our child are comfortable with.
Natalia is a 5’11 sparkplug originally from Moscow, Russia and has been living in Canada for the last 13 years. She’s loud (her words!) and passionate. From fine arts to travel, outdoor exploration and sports, she loves keeping busy. She’s extremely curious and constantly looking to better understand the world around her. She nerds out about science, history, psychology, and human relationships. She’s an avid reader and is drawn to books that speak to social issues. She’s a psychology major who now spends her professional life as a Research & Insights professional with a large fashion company.
Mark is a 6’2 friendly (and goofy!) giant originally from Scarborough, one of Toronto’s most multi-cultural inner boroughs. His deep voice doesn’t need much exercise to get noticed but he has a remarkable way with words that people gravitate to. He’s a great listener and is the go-to for advice and support for much of our social and professional circles. He’s deeply loyal and commits significant time and attention to enriching the lives of those around him. He shares Natalia’s love of science, and nerds out over music, literature, technology, and sports. He is an avid reader as well and loves to put his imagination into high-gear reading Science Fiction or Fantasy novels. He gets energy from making those around him smile or laugh, or from feeling like he’s truly making a difference in the lives of others. He’s also an enthusiastic cook and gets a lot of enjoyment out of cooking for others and connecting over a great meal. He’s a Business and Sociology double major and is now a Partner in a large Management Consulting firm.
As a couple, we have strong beliefs – we are committed to humanistic values and support liberal principles: freedom to be who you are, tolerance, equality and taking responsibility for the world around us. We value strong connections and maintain many long-term friendships that are even closer than family. We cherish the sense of community and belonging. We are very affectionate, love hugs, cuddles and other sweet manifestations of love and connection.
We love being outdoors and staying active – Mark was a competitive Rugby player throughout high school, university, and after graduation and Natalia has had a life-long commitment to fitness. Together we enjoy cycling, hiking, tennis, swimming, and Yoga. As a spectator, you can find us in attendance at many of Toronto’s professional sports teams (Basketball, Baseball, and Rugby especially).
Our third family member is our Boxer puppy, Bugsy. He’s incredibly friendly, affectionate and playful, and a big hit with all of our friends’ children.
Our Reasons for Building Our Family through Adoption
We’ve learned over time that blood isn’t always thicker than water, but love is. Our ‘family’ is a large and diverse group of incredible people, most of whom aren’t blood related. Natalia grew up in a non-traditional family – her mother has been married three times. She’s been raised by a man who she’s not biologically related to and has built strong familial relationships with her step siblings and half-siblings. She’s learned through those experiences that family is so much more than just blood connections. Natalia also left some of her closest blood relatives behind when she left Moscow – though she visits often and skypes with them frequently she also had to build ‘new’ family here through new, close, friendships.
Mark comes from a much smaller, but very tight-knit, family of just himself and his two parents. As an only-child growing up, Mark built his own extended family with close friends he picked up along the way, and has continued to add people to our collection of loved and trusted ‘family’. Those experiences laid the groundwork for thinking differently about what truly makes a family.
Another experience that pushed us toward the path of adoption was Mark’s experience volunteering in a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece, providing front-line humanitarian relief to the families fleeing war in the Middle East and Northern Africa. He met many children who’d lost their parents in the way or along the difficult journey to safety, many of whom had been accepted into the families of their parents’ friends as a result. It further reinforced the idea that the notion of family can be defined many ways, and that the world is already full of people that could benefit from the love and support we can provide.
We’ve also seen the love shared by a number of friends of ours who have also built their family through adoption – both as parents or as adoptees themselves – and within our circle of friends adoption is quite normalized.
Through a lot of hard work and a little luck, we have built a comfortable and stable life that we would love to share with someone special, and continue to build our unconventional but awesome family.
Our Home: City during the Week; Country on the Weekends
We live in Toronto’s King West neighbourhood – a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood close to the lakeshore, filled with public parks, cafes, and downtown attractions. It’s a short walk to Toronto’s CN Tower, aquarium, hockey arena, baseball stadium, museum, theatre district, and art galleries, all of which we visit frequently. It’s also close to where the majority of Toronto’s many cultural festivals take place. It’s central, but not busy, and the community has great infrastructure with schools, libraries and community centers around us.
On our walls you’ll see original art that we have collected from the various countries we’ve travelled to. Mark grew up in a neighbourhood where graffiti and street artists were embraced and so much of our art is from street artists we’ve been introduced to in our travels. Right now, that includes artists from Mexico City, Sweden, Hungary, and Russia. As much as we love spending time together at home, we also try and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Which brings us to our 2nd home…
We have a second home-away-from-home in Ontario’s cottage country: a lake-side cottage that we’ve had in the family for 3 generations, where you can find us almost every weekend during cottage season. We love being able to host friends and neighbours for BBQs, bonfires, or boating adventures on the lake. Mark has fond memories of hunting for frogs, fishing, swimming, building forts, learning about nature, seeing wild animals, going on outdoor adventures, and roasting marshmallows over the campfire as a child; we hope to give our child these experiences too, as well as invent some new traditions together.
Our Childcare Plan
When we adopt, Natalia is planning to take a year off work to care for our child full-time, and Mark plans to join her for at least the first 3 months before returning to work (but will continue to work from home at least 1 day a week for the rest of the year). Longer term, our plan is for Natalia to gradually return to work part-time as we transition our child into day-care and, ultimately, school, when Natalia will return to work full-time.
Our Views on Parenting
We are strong believers that everyone has their own unique set of gifts that make them special, and that part of our goal as parents is to help our child find theirs.
We both have benefitted from having freedom and access to good education. We both graduated high-schools, earned bachelor degrees and Natalia also has a master’s degree in business.
We believe that education is very important as it provides the tools for understanding the world around us and finding our place in it. We think that formal education must be also supplemented by exposure to many additional experiences. Travel, work, activities and hobbies, meeting people, learning languages, getting to know one’s own heritage bring value above and beyond what classroom can give.