Michael and Shawna

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Hi! We’re Mike, Shawna, and Terran, three geeky goofballs enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for reading our letter!

As nerdy sorts often do, Mike and Shawna met online, though being 20+ years ago, it was a very different internet then! We quickly became friends, finding we had a lot of shared interests, particularly sci-fi/fantasy entertainment, games, learning, and traveling. We also bonded over shared identity and sense of self: we both identify as queer, and we don’t really do the traditional-gender-role thing. While we’re a lot alike, we have a few complimentary differences, too: Mike has the science brain—he works on software for a living—while Shawna is more of an arts and humanities sort, with a background in classical singing and a current career writing books. We both had rough childhoods and some personal chaos in our teens and 20s, but we survived and came out of it with some excellent problem-solving skills and a strong sense of wanting to make the world a better place, especially for those with disadvantages.

In 2013, our lives got considerably more interesting and fun when we welcomed an adorable tornado into our home. We adopted Terran at birth and we’ve had a blast watching him learn and grow, and building an open-adoption relationship with his birthparents. He’s a clever, energetic, and talkative little guy who loves dinosaurs, music, and Bubble Guppies, and we can’t imagine how we ever had a life without him. He was recently diagnosed with mild autism, which has been a little challenging, but we’re both experienced with folks who have non-standard brains, so we’re up for working with his quirks, and helping him navigate a world that he sees a bit differently than most.

Our day-to-day life is fairly simple: When we’re not working, we often cuddle in front of the TV (though we limit what Terran watches, of course), play games, or hang out in our big back yard when the weather’s nice. Shawna loves to cook, though Terran’s still kind of wary of anything that doesn’t involve cheese, hot dogs, or grapes. Every few weeks or so, we do local adventures such as zoos and children’s museums, and Terran gets plenty of playground time, too. We also love traveling, including a road trip through the Southwest, and our most recent big trip which involved a week at Florida theme parks followed by a week on a cruise ship. We’re not into sporty stuff—no mountain-climbing here!—but we do like getting out into nature when we can: Mike enjoys geocaching and Shawna occasionally does a bit of birding and gardening.

Over the years, we’ve come to understand that the strongest family ties aren’t made by blood or law, but by the heart. While we have mostly pleasant relationships with our families of origin these days, our closest and most enduring connections are with the friends we’ve gathered from various times and places in our lives. Terran definitely has several “official” members of his extended family, but he also has plenty of “Aunties” and “Uncas” whom we love having in our life. We count many fellow parents among our friends, including a family who also has open adoptions with their two kids. While some have older kids or ones already grown, there are plenty of littles around, too. At Terran’s third birthday party—a dinosaur-themed shindig at the science center—we had a dozen kids under 8 (and yes, it was glorious pandemonium!) From old friends who have been with us since grade school to ones we’ve met more recently, all of these people are special to us in their own unique ways.

We’re all very much looking forward to expanding our family again. With a new child, of course, but also with a new birthfamily. Thanks again for reading our letter and considering us!

Watch Michael and Shawna's Video

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