Some journeys begin with a click of a mouse. Our own journey together started like that. We met online after travelling our separate roads from the jungles of Brazil and the desert of Idaho to meet in Chicago. Now we are embarking on the most exciting part of our journey together, and it again involves a computer. Lots of things may be going through your mind at this moment – many are going through our minds as well! We thank you for taking this time to learn a little about where we’ve been, and we look forward to sharing more with you.

How Our Travels Began

Rafael (known as Rafa) is from Brazil. He was born in Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. He came to the US when he was 17 as an exchange student at a high school in Iowa (a big change from Brazil!), and has been here ever since. As an exchange student, Rafa lived with a young couple and their two little girls for a year. They became his “American family,” and even came to our wedding. Rafa also went to college in Iowa and then moved to Chicago after graduation. He works in finance downtown.

Emily grew up in Boise, Idaho, the daughter of an English professor and an artist. She started learning Spanish in junior high school, and basically never stopped! After spending a year in Spain and living in a number of places around the U.S. (New York, Texas, Indiana), Emily moved to Chicago ten years ago when she was offered a job as a literature professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at a local university.

Rafa and Emily met five years ago through an on-line dating website. It was Rafa’s first time dating online, and Emily was his second date! We feel very lucky and blessed to have found each other.

Rafa on Emily

Even on that first date, I knew that Emily was meant for me. When I met her, I loved her smile immediately. Then I found out how many interests we had in common! I knew something had “clicked” because I felt so comfortable and the conversation went beyond the usual first-date dinner talk.

And did I mention her smile? Emily has a big smile when she meets people. It fills up the room and is a wonderful gift at the end of a long day. It’s an outward sign of her kindness and compassion. Her outgoing personality is a nice complement to my slightly more introverted one. She is also more organized than I am by a long shot!

Emily on Rafa

The first thing I fell in love with about Rafa was his laugh: he has a big, deep, full-belly laugh that just makes you feel good! Rafa is a bookworm, and he is also a huge movie buff. Action flicks, foreign films, B-movies, musicals – he loves them all! I love that we share these interests, but what I most love is that he is a great listener, and I feel I can talk to him about anything.

Rafa is one of the calmest people I know; even when he says he’s nervous, he doesn’t show it! He’s also good at making decisions, and going with his “gut feelings.” I always feel more confident when I’m around him.

Idaho (the Dog, Not the State)

Idaho, our 10-year old rat terrier, is the perfect combination of spunky and sweet. He wants to be a part of whatever we’re doing, whether that’s hiking, cooking, or just snuggling on the couch to watch TV. We love to watch his huge ears perk up whenever he hears his favorite word, “treat.” Idaho will chase a ball for hours, and happily joins us for walks through nearby neighborhoods. He gets along great with children of all ages, and would love to have another person more his size that he can love and protect.

Family and Community

Our family may be spread out over two continents, but we maintain close relationships with our parents, Emily’s brother, Rafa’s son, and our extended families. And here in Chicago, we have a strong community of friends who are excited to help welcome a new member.

Rafa has a son, Gabriel, who lives in Brazil with his mom. Gabriel just turned 11. He loves soccer, chess, and reading. (Harry Potter is a favorite!) Rafa and Gabriel are very close; they speak almost daily through chat and video, and Rafa visits Gabriel in Brazil at least twice a year. Gabriel has visited us in Chicago and looks forward to coming back more times. Gabriel loves children, and is looking forward to being a big brother!

Emily’s parents live in Idaho and Colorado, but her brother Stephen, in Champaign-Urbana, and her aunt in Madison, Wisconsin, are just a few hours’ drive away. We enjoy getting together with them, particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when Aunt Lynn’s piano makes her house a great place to sing Christmas carols.

Home, Sweet Home

We live in an old stone six-flat in a diverse neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side, with easy access to downtown. Our spacious, two-bedroom condo has plenty of room for a kid to play in, including a back yard that we share with our friendly neighbors. We’re just a few blocks from the lake, several playgrounds, a public library, and two elementary schools.

Although we love to travel, a perfect weekend day at home might consist of a leisurely brunch, followed by a long walk by the lake with Idaho and an evening spent taking in a movie at one of the nearby theatres. We’re excited to add craft projects, picnics at the beach, and trips to the Field Museum or the Aquarium to our schedule.


We love the idea of an open adoption, because we want your child to grow up knowing where he or she comes from. Just what that openness will look like, however, depends on you. We are committed to working together to find a level of openness that works for you, whether that means regular visits or just letters and photos from us.  

Thank you

Thank you for taking the time to read our profile and see a little bit of who we are and where we’ve been. We want you to know who how excited we are about raising a child together. We see parents walking their kids to school or pushing their toddlers on the swings in the park and tell ourselves, that will be us in a few years! We look forward to having you join us on this journey. We will work together to be in a place that is comfortable for all of us. We wish you love and support as you figure out your own next steps. 


Fun facts

  • Comfort food: Pancakes
  • Is the handy one around the house
  • Loves dancing to salsa and bachata music
  • Speaks Portuguese at home with Rafa, but English with the dog.
  • Got her second tattoo, an angel surrounded by birds and flowers, to celebrate getting a permanent position at her university.
  • Is the oldest sibling and the oldest cousin – on both sides of her family.
  • Has been traveling regularly to Cuba (for work) since 1999.
  • Skill she’s proudest of: knowing how to milk a cow.
  • Comfort food: pasta
  • Took harmonica lessons
  • Loves visiting old movie theatres
  • DJ’d for his college radio station
  • Loves to wear hats
  • Is an only child (but was a high school exchange student in Iowa in a family with two little girls, ages 5 and 3)
  • Loves grilling for friends and family – and makes a mean Brazilian steak!
  • Absolute favorite food: fish from the Amazon (trust me, it’s delicious!)

Pregnant and exploring adoption?

If you’re interested in learning about adoption for your baby, we can help. We’re available 24/7. All of your information is confidential.

To speak to someone now, call our 24-hour hotline: (800) 272-3534 or text us at (312) 800-1559 (answered 8:30am-8pm).

If you’d like us to contact you, please use the form below.

If you are looking to adopt a child, please schedule a call with an Adoptive Parent Counselor.

If you are an adopted person looking for information, please schedule an informational consultation with our post adoption department.

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