Monday, December 18, 2023

State of the Family 2024

2023 has been a difficult year on several fronts; we'll be glad to see the backside of it.


China has resumed its adoption operations for matched families with travel approval. Unfortunately, we no longer fall into that group since Jesslyn was returned to her birth mother. China has not resumed its full program, and no new matches have been made. We're therefore still in a holding pattern until they do so, at which point we restart the entire process. There are rumors that the adoption program won't ever fully resume, but we're hopeful that's not the case. We remain committed to adopting from mainland China as we wait for God's timing.


Both Jaedyn and Kaleb are happy and healthy, and we enjoy watching them grow in mind, body, and spirit. Jaedyn has been playing with the same group of girls on her soccer team for several years. Kaleb has taken up martial arts and has stuck with it better than any other extra-curricular activity we've ever put him in. He never complains about it like he did with soccer and drumming. Both kids continue to be involved with Awana and Sunday school programs.

We have discussed putting Jaedyn in a private Christian middle school for years — mainly due to the poor disciplinary and moral standards of the local middle school. We've also become acutely aware of our school district's lackluster academic standards, exacerbated by the well-documented education gap brought on by the pandemic. Unfortunately, we've had to keep both kids in tutoring on the side just to keep them from lagging further behind. We can clearly see that their public school education is heading in the wrong direction.

For these reasons, we're strongly considering putting both of them in private school. This will be a huge financial burden, but it seems inevitable given that the school system is failing us on all fronts. Kaleb is already on the waitlist, and Jaedyn is finishing up her final interview in early January.

Employment & Projects

There were major changes to Jake's company's leadership in early 2023 that prompted him to seek other employment opportunities. While it was incredibly stressful to be a job-seeker during one of the worst environments for tech workers in history where we saw the industry shed hundreds of thousands of jobs, we were fortunate that our savings saw us through to him landing a new role in October. He was fortunate to field 2 simultaneous offers, and ended up accepting a product leadership role with a white-labeled social media management platform: Cloud Campaign.

In the intervening months between April and October while looking for a job, Jake finally made good on his long-term goal of starting a Christian apologetics ministry. The Apologist Project is a nonprofit on a mission to break down barriers to belief through a conversational AI trained on a range of topics in Christian apologetics and intellectually stimulating, community-led discourse. The conversational AI is currently in beta, and he's actively reaching out to content partners and looking to make the project publicly available in early 2024. Jake has also enrolled in the Colson Fellows program and will be graduating in May of next year.

Kyla remains employed as a pediatric nurse practitioner at a clinic here in Austin. Following the departure of a pediatrician in our community, she had the opportunity to work at her clinic's branch right here in our neighborhood for 4/5 days of the week. She was able to set her own hours, which allowed her to align with the kids' school day. She also bumped up her hours overall to help us through the period when Jake was unemployed. This has been a major blessing overall that aligned perfectly with our financial needs, though Kyla is busier than ever. The work itself has been challenging as her clinic is consistently losing personnel to higher-paying competitors.


We've understandably been more limited in our travel this past year due to Jake being unemployed for around 6 months. We used the opportunity to do knock out some items on our domestic bucket list. We saw Monticello, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York over spring break. In late June, we went to Rocky Mountains National Park and drove up to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands National Park before spending a week at Jake's brother's cabin in northern Minnesota over the 4th of July holiday.

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