Contact Ben and Christiana | Choice Network

About Us/Me

Want to hear our adoption origin story? Picture a guy strolling through the woods with a woman he’s been dating for just a few months (but it’s starting to get serious). She looks nervous and says she wants to talk about something important. He’s a little anxious, but totally surprised when what she says is: “I want to adopt kids someday.”

Christiana quickly explained – it wasn’t that she wasn’t open to having children by birth (as our darling daughter would eventually prove). But she was always excited by the idea of growing a family in a creative, collaborative way. She has a cousin by adoption and knows many adoptive families. She also noticed growing up that a lot of her favorite books, like Anne of Green Gables and The Wizard of Oz, featured wonderful unconventional families. Ben replied that he’d never given adoption much thought, but he would now. He did, and he realized he loved the idea too.

Now should we back up a little and tell you about ourselves? Christiana grew up on a horse farm in a little Massachusetts town (though the horses were boarders so she wasn’t allowed to ride them!). Ben is a New Jersey man, from close enough to NYC to go often into the city. We met in graduate school one summer and became study buddies… and you can guess the rest. Now we live in Western Michigan, where we moved in order to work together as professors at Hope College. Ben teaches Psychology and Christiana teaches Literature – we’re both fascinated by how human beings work but we come at it from different directions. We also both love working with young people.

Last year we bought a house in Holland, Michigan, where our jobs are. It’s a great town for kids with big sandy beaches, tons of playgrounds, farms to pick your own fruit, restaurants, performances, a fantastic library, and of course the yearly Tulip Festival. There’s a lot of Dutch stuff in the town’s marketing (no surprise given the name), but we were pleased to find that people from a diverse range of backgrounds live here and really care about being here and building a welcoming community.

We’ve been married for six years and we prioritize keeping our relationship strong with dedicated time, care, ice cream, and nerdy research into “marriage hacks.” In early 2021, we welcomed our daughter Verity into our lives and just adore her. She’s now a funny, affectionate toddler who loves people and has boundless energy – a friend told us we gave birth to the Energizer Bunny. Due to health complications, it looks like she will be the only child we have by birth, so we are excited to find her a sibling (or siblings!) through adoption.

 

And that’s where you come into the story :)

 

Random Facts to Get to Know Us

 

Christiana: In my free time – when not playing with, feeding, bathing, reading to, and otherwise entertaining our daughter – I love to bake, spend time outdoors, read books, watch movies, and write stories. I consider myself a creative person and a caring one, and I try to pour my energy into things that help other people feel happy or appreciated. I love fantasy, science fiction, humor, and I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. I come from a really close family, and this is a huge part of who I am. Although we don’t live close by, I talk to my parents often and text with my siblings every day. My eight nieces and nephews are pieces of my heart, and they are so so so excited for us to adopt a new baby cousin. Our family gatherings are all about games, Mediterranean cooking, and extremely loud conversation.

 

Ben: I enjoy hiking and trail running, traveling, listening to podcasts, and watching (and teaching my daughter) soccer. I am also a big animal lover. When I’m not watching Youtube videos of more exotic creatures, I really enjoy going for long walks with our rescue dog, Penelope, and playing with our two cats, Twig and Bingley. I grew up the youngest in a family of four. I was fortunate to be raised in a loving environment that prioritized faith, hard work, and unconditional support. It took me many years of studying to get my PhD, and several more years after that to get a job teaching that I love at a great college. I would not have been able to achieve this without the encouragement my family provided over that time. My parents, recently retired, are eagerly awaiting the chance to encourage (and spoil) a second grandchild!

 

 

About You

First things first.

Please let us thank you just for being here, browsing this website. Even thinking about this must take guts, but here you are. Wow.

Here’s the #1 thing we want you to know: Please don’t feel hopeless. You have options, and we’re just one of them. But we want to be more than a tough choice. We’d like you to choose us so we can create something together.

We’d like to work with you to create something beautiful. Something special and colorful and a little bit different, something not everybody will understand. (But how much does that really matter, if all of us are proud of what we create?)

Someday in the future, people will ask the two of us, “When are you going to tell this child that they’re adopted?” And we’ll answer:

“She knows.”

“He’s always known.”

“She respects and honors her birth mother as a good person, because how else could she respect and honor herself?”

“He knows he comes from somebody brave, a hero, somebody who didn’t give up on him when things got hard.”

“She knows she comes from somebody kind, a generous person, someone who gives to others even when it’s not easy.”

“He knows he comes from someone bold and special, someone who dances to a different drum.”

This child will always know you. Your story, your strengths, your uniqueness. In terms of contact, that’s up to you. Want a lot of contact? Great with us. Not so much? That’s your call. But no matter what you decide, the story of this unique family starts with you.

Your vision for this family is really important to us. Is there anyone from your life who you think ought to be in this child’s life? They will be. Anyone who you think shouldn’t be? They won’t. Cultural practices or traditions that are important to you? We’ll learn about them. We respect you and your wishes. We do a lot of photo sharing and video calling and texting with our families back East anyway, so we’re happy to bring others into the loop. We know this kid is going to be a cutie and we’ll have lots and lots to share.

 

 

About Us/Me

Want to hear our adoption origin story? Picture a guy strolling through the woods with a woman he’s been dating for just a few months (but it’s starting to get serious). She looks nervous and says she wants to talk about something important. He’s a little anxious, but totally surprised when what she says is: “I want to adopt kids someday.”

Christiana quickly explained – it wasn’t that she wasn’t open to having children by birth (as our darling daughter would eventually prove). But she was always excited by the idea of growing a family in a creative, collaborative way. She has a cousin by adoption and knows many adoptive families. She also noticed growing up that a lot of her favorite books, like Anne of Green Gables and The Wizard of Oz, featured wonderful unconventional families. Ben replied that he’d never given adoption much thought, but he would now. He did, and he realized he loved the idea too.

Now should we back up a little and tell you about ourselves? Christiana grew up on a horse farm in a little Massachusetts town (though the horses were boarders so she wasn’t allowed to ride them!). Ben is a New Jersey man, from close enough to NYC to go often into the city. We met in graduate school one summer and became study buddies… and you can guess the rest. Now we live in Western Michigan, where we moved in order to work together as professors at Hope College. Ben teaches Psychology and Christiana teaches Literature – we’re both fascinated by how human beings work but we come at it from different directions. We also both love working with young people.

Last year we bought a house in Holland, Michigan, where our jobs are. It’s a great town for kids with big sandy beaches, tons of playgrounds, farms to pick your own fruit, restaurants, performances, a fantastic library, and of course the yearly Tulip Festival. There’s a lot of Dutch stuff in the town’s marketing (no surprise given the name), but we were pleased to find that people from a diverse range of backgrounds live here and really care about being here and building a welcoming community.

We’ve been married for six years and we prioritize keeping our relationship strong with dedicated time, care, ice cream, and nerdy research into “marriage hacks.” In early 2021, we welcomed our daughter Verity into our lives and just adore her. She’s now a funny, affectionate toddler who loves people and has boundless energy – a friend told us we gave birth to the Energizer Bunny. Due to health complications, it looks like she will be the only child we have by birth, so we are excited to find her a sibling (or siblings!) through adoption.

 

And that’s where you come into the story :)

 

Random Facts to Get to Know Us

 

Christiana: In my free time – when not playing with, feeding, bathing, reading to, and otherwise entertaining our daughter – I love to bake, spend time outdoors, read books, watch movies, and write stories. I consider myself a creative person and a caring one, and I try to pour my energy into things that help other people feel happy or appreciated. I love fantasy, science fiction, humor, and I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. I come from a really close family, and this is a huge part of who I am. Although we don’t live close by, I talk to my parents often and text with my siblings every day. My eight nieces and nephews are pieces of my heart, and they are so so so excited for us to adopt a new baby cousin. Our family gatherings are all about games, Mediterranean cooking, and extremely loud conversation.

 

Ben: I enjoy hiking and trail running, traveling, listening to podcasts, and watching (and teaching my daughter) soccer. I am also a big animal lover. When I’m not watching Youtube videos of more exotic creatures, I really enjoy going for long walks with our rescue dog, Penelope, and playing with our two cats, Twig and Bingley. I grew up the youngest in a family of four. I was fortunate to be raised in a loving environment that prioritized faith, hard work, and unconditional support. It took me many years of studying to get my PhD, and several more years after that to get a job teaching that I love at a great college. I would not have been able to achieve this without the encouragement my family provided over that time. My parents, recently retired, are eagerly awaiting the chance to encourage (and spoil) a second grandchild!

 

About you

First things first.

Please let us thank you just for being here, browsing this website. Even thinking about this must take guts, but here you are. Wow.

Here’s the #1 thing we want you to know: Please don’t feel hopeless. You have options, and we’re just one of them. But we want to be more than a tough choice. We’d like you to choose us so we can create something together.

We’d like to work with you to create something beautiful. Something special and colorful and a little bit different, something not everybody will understand. (But how much does that really matter, if all of us are proud of what we create?)

Someday in the future, people will ask the two of us, “When are you going to tell this child that they’re adopted?” And we’ll answer:

“She knows.”

“He’s always known.”

“She respects and honors her birth mother as a good person, because how else could she respect and honor herself?”

“He knows he comes from somebody brave, a hero, somebody who didn’t give up on him when things got hard.”

“She knows she comes from somebody kind, a generous person, someone who gives to others even when it’s not easy.”

“He knows he comes from someone bold and special, someone who dances to a different drum.”

This child will always know you. Your story, your strengths, your uniqueness. In terms of contact, that’s up to you. Want a lot of contact? Great with us. Not so much? That’s your call. But no matter what you decide, the story of this unique family starts with you.

Your vision for this family is really important to us. Is there anyone from your life who you think ought to be in this child’s life? They will be. Anyone who you think shouldn’t be? They won’t. Cultural practices or traditions that are important to you? We’ll learn about them. We respect you and your wishes. We do a lot of photo sharing and video calling and texting with our families back East anyway, so we’re happy to bring others into the loop. We know this kid is going to be a cutie and we’ll have lots and lots to share.