Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our Adoption Journey Comes to an End

For most people, they see that our adoption journey was a fast one. And, it really was in adoption waiting terms.

We completed our Home Study very quickly because it was June - vacation month for most. We were going on vacation to the beach with friends and our social worker was going on vacation too at a different time. We really had to speed things up on both ends. So, our Home Study was completed in a couple of weeks with all three interviews taking place in one week.

We were finished with one part- our part. We were then prepared for a two year wait for placement. We went to Vegas for Gary's work trip to relax. Day 3 ended all relaxation for us both. We received the phone call that we had been chosen and needed to make a trip to Chicago to meet our birth mother in August. We couldn't say no. We had to meet her. We did and we felt such a peace afterward. We tried not to get too excited. She didn't have to continue and even after birth we knew she could still change her mind. But, every time I felt a negative thought or worry come into my mind, I was reminded in some way that God was in control. Throughout this process, I never felt such peace. I had never felt that peace when we were doing fertility treatments.

We came home after meeting our birthmother and waited corresponding through email until the birth. We were expecting delivery in December from the beginning.

On the night of the 13th of November, I came home from work with a fever and feeling pretty bad. I took two extra strength Tylenol and went to bed. 10:30 came and I had just fell into sleep and was getting over the fever when my phone rang. I was a little out of it and noticed the call was from Illinois. My first thought was that it was my leader in Clever Container calling since she is based in Illinois, but I wondered why she would call at 10:30 at night. I answered the phone and it was our birthmother's mother. Our birthmother was at the hospital- 2.5 weeks early. A million thoughts went through my head.  I was sick!! Was this false labor? I didn't really even know what to say. I ran downstairs still listening to the caller. I went downstairs making the motion of someone being pregnant. Gary said, "Who's pregnant?" I pointed to he and I. He was in shock too. I spoke to our birthmother and heard the fear in her voice. She begged us to come right then. We thought it might be false labor so we hung up and waited for the next call after the doctor saw her to say if she needed to stay or not. I cried because I was sick and commented through tears that we had waited so long for a child and now that he was here I wouldn't even be able to hold him. I was so upset.

We went to bed and tried to sleep. This was after I sent Gary to Wal-mart for detergent since we had none and tried to finish packing. Gary was pretty sure it was false labor and said we would plan things out the next day and most likely not have to go. He was in a week long training downtown for work and would miss the last two final days if we left on Wednesday. I was sure we needed to get ready. Adrenaline was the only thing pushing me because I was still running fever and was feeling really bad.

At 4:30 in the morning, my phone received a text. It was from our birth mother's mother. Our birthmother had gone to 10cm and was about to push in 10 minutes. I thought about just going back to sleep and letting Gary sleep, but I couldn't. I woke him by saying, "You are going to be a dad in 10 minutes." He woke up with a start and was in full alert mode. He got up and started planning- hotel, flights, rental car, packing. The first flight out was at 6:30. No way we could make that. So, we waited until the afternoon after we got everything ready. The teenage boy who watches our dogs had to be called. He would be going to school around 9 and we really needed to have him come get our keys. Gary texted him and he came over. He was at our house by 6:30. We were shocked he was even awake. He said he usually didn't get up until later, but he woke up early and something kept him awake!!! We know it was God and His plan working even in the small details.

We arrived in Chicago a couple of hours after take off from Atlanta and went straight to the hospital to see our son. It was surreal. It felt we were visiting a good friend in the hospital to see her baby. After all, that was what we had always been doing- visiting other people's babies in the hospital. (More on the hospital experience later).

It was a whirlwind. From the time we decided to adopt in March to the birth of our son in November. Nothing was ready at home, but I had managed to finish the mural and get some space in our cabinets. I didn't feel ready at all. But, nothing is ever in our plan. God had it all under control.

Stay tuned when I have another night of wonderful sleep- thanks to Gary and Assassins Creed III. I will blog next on the hospital experience and how God allowed us to have peace and a wonderful open relationship with our birth parent and her family as well as sharing our Faith in God with them.

I hope I will always remember...

I hope to always remember how it felt to not be able to get pregnant. I still have that desire even with Declan home, but I am now among those who are no longer waiting to become a mother. I am a mother now. But, I do remember the pain of not being able to get pregnant and the pain of failed infertility procedures. I hope to not become complacent to those and antipathetic to those who are still waiting mothers. I want those mothers to know that joy of motherhood does await no matter what path to motherhood is taken.

People have said Gary and I are lucky and people can't believe how fast everything happened for us with the adoption. In reality, our lives have been anything but lucky. Luck had nothing to do with anything that has happened. And, the reality of the short wait is that it really was a very long wait.

When I say that luck had nothing to do with our adoption, I mean that it was God that orchestrated everything.

Those closest to Gary and I know our extended story, but many do not. When you are in the middle of a challenge in your life, you don't look at that challenge and say, "Oh, I bet God is really doing something great in our lives right now." It usually happens after the challenge is over that we can look back and see God's hand in everything.

When I was in college, God called me to join a summer missions trip. I declined that call on my life. The next year, God called me again and let me know that it would be His last call and I needed to obey. I did and it changed my life forever. I was in college to become an Interior Designer and I was great at it. But, after a summer working with children in camps, churches and clubs I knew I was to be a teacher instead. When I came home from California that summer, I went and changed my major to Elementary Education. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I wanted to become a designer. My professors tried to keep me from leaving. I cried for hours battling over the decision that was not mine to make. God had already decided for me.

Little did I know at that time (I was dating the WRONG person at the time also) that God had His plan already in motion and I was falling into it. I changed my major and began planning the rest of my college career. It turned out that after three years in design, I had a good bit of catching up to do on my courses in order to complete the new degree. After changing my major, I finally broke up with the guy I was dating who wasn't a Christian and began to focus more on God and my new studies. Soon after I did this, I ended up meeting Gary through a mutual friend. We were friends for a year before we began dating and when we did began dating, it was a natural development. We dated for 5 years before marrying, but we both had our Master's degrees and we both had jobs when we did end up getting married.

After a year in Mississippi, we decided we needed to move elsewhere in order to fulfill our dreams of owning a home and beginning a family. Gary applied at many different companies throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, etc. None of his applications were for Georgia. But, we ended up here after friends invited us to stay with them for the weekend when there was a teacher job fair. I ended up getting a job soon after that in Georgia as a teacher. The principal called me right after the interview and offered me the job. We didn't have a plan. We didn't have money. Gary didn't have a job. We were shocked at the cost of living here even for an apartment. We ate beans and rice and shed many tears during the 6 months of no income during the summer and my first few months of teaching. We were very down and were rethinking our decision to move here. But, God worked it all out. Gary found a job and began bringing in a salary. That time tested our faith for sure. We thought we would never be able to buy a house and begin a family.

It just so happened that an elderly man lived across from us whose wife had recently died. He was lonely and sad and we befriended him. He became fond of us and introduced us to his daughter who happens to be a realtor. She helped us find and buy our first house.

We moved into our home feeling very awkward in a neighborhood full of families and kids. We had already began to try to conceive, but we had no luck and we didn't have the money to begin seeing a specialist.

Timeline at this point: Married 2005, Move to GA 2006, Bought our house in 2007

We finally began to get back on our feet. God had taken care of us so far. But, we still hadn't been able to get pregnant. We began to see specialist. They ran test, they sent us to different doctors, they ran more test. No one could tell us what was wrong. We kept trying and praying. In 2010, we finally found a doctor who gave some sort of diagnosis. We both began to exercise, changed our diet, began to get healthier. Surely we would get pregnant.

If you read our previous blogs, you will see what we went through from this point until we decided to follow God's will for our lives to adopt.

So you see, luck had nothing to do with it. God was in everything from the very beginning. In my career choice, in Gary and I meeting (Gary has his own story of how he came to MS from Hong Kong-- that is a story all in itself), in Gary and I moving to GA, in Gary and I being in this neighborhood, in the friends we would meet and in our adoption. God has led us and we have chosen to follow. If we had not followed, it wouldn't see to everyone as if we were so lucky.

Stay tuned for my summary of how God was in our adoption from the very beginning and why it seemed to happen so fast to everyone on the outside.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Unexpected Turn...

If you are friends with us on the social network. You already know what happen, however, I still want to write about it for future reference. One day, I can re-read this blog and enjoy and/or share the moment. If you been following this blog, the last thing Anna wrote about is the steps on Adoption.

We have been waiting on the baby since August. Many fund raiser events had help us cover various expenses we occur during this process. As clock ticking each day to get closer to the expected due date (December 3, 2012). We are more anxious to get everything ready. Anna is finishing with the mural and getting furniture ready. We had our carpet clean since we have two dogs in the house. As friends told us "You will never truly be ready for the baby." I guess they are right, things seen never ending, one after another.

As time getting closer to Thanksgiving, our focus is somewhat shifted to the holiday spirit. Dinner with friends and family: Turkey, dressing, pecan pie... etc are just some of the few things we look forward around this time of the year. With the December 3 due date, we know we need to prepare but we can spare ourself for one last holiday before the baby arrive...or so I thought

On November 13, 2012, the day start just like any other one. The only unusual thing is training all week. I signed up for this training months ago. There are couple things I was really looking forward learning. The only bad things is the traffic, I have not drive to Atlanta for over an year. It did took me over an hour to get home. Anyway, it was worth it. The same day, Anna had to baby sit the two little girls down the road, it was an eventful day for her because both of the girl are sick. Anna did not feel well by the time she came home. I volunteer to cook dinner that night, so she can have time to rest. By the time dinner finish, she continue to get worse as the night goes on. I did what every husband would have done: Clear up the kitchen after dinner. I was almost done with dishes and I was looking forward playing my new PS3 game (Assassin Creed III), I hear Anna ran down the stair with her cell phone on her ear. She was trying to get my attention, of course I have no idea what she is trying to tell me. Then she start to make a motion of a round belly like someone is pregnant. Well, believe it or not, my first thought is someone is having a baby, so I ask: "Who is having a baby?" Then Anna is starting point at us. My thought sink. By the time Anna got off the phone, I found out our birth mom's water is leaking and she is 2cm dilated. My mind had sped up to 1000 miles per hour, I need to stay clam and get an handle of the situation. By this time, I already have the fight ticket, hotel room reserved. They are all adjustable in case the baby came early or late. But once I set everything in motion, there is no going back. At the same time, Anna is starting to pack with the mind set that our baby MAY be here sooner than we things. I made a Wal-Mart run to pick up a few things we need for the trip and call family and friends to notify them what just happen.

With 2cm dilated...what is that mean. I google it and I found different answer. Some lady don't gave birth til at least weeks later and some a few days later. With that information, we may cut a short break. But better be ready just in case. I guess with the phone call. Adrenaline kicks in and Anna just keep moving to get us ready. @12:30, we are both exhausted. So, we went to bed. Around 4:30, Anna woke me up from a deep sleep: "Are you ready? You will be a daddy in 10 minutes!! " What? 10 minutes?? What about the weeks and days I found on the Internet? By that time. The birth mom already 10cm dilated and she is about to push in 10 minutes. Anna told me: "Let's get some sleep and we can worry about it in couple hours!". Are you crazy? How in the world can I go back to sleep after you drop that kind of bomb on me. With that information, I have to get all the things lines up in order for us to leave. God is great. Everything line up exactly the way it needed. We got a flight to Chicago that afternoon, move our hotel reservation, made a car reservation and rescheduled my training.

I am glad Anna was almost finish packing the night before. We finalize a few things around the house since we will be gone for a while with Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week. We also try to pack as light as possible so we can move around the airport easier especially we will have the little one with us on our way back. With all that in mind, off we go to Chicago and bring our son home!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Adoption Process

I have posted about the pain Gary and I faced on a daily basis before, but I am going to post more of what has weighed on my heart lately.

Finding out we couldn't get pregnant was a harsh blow to Gary and I. We have been trying to conceive ever since our marriage in 2005 with no luck. After trying on our own, we enlisted doctors to help. After 3 IUI procedures and 1 harsh IVF, we were again back at square one with no baby and a lot of debt. This is when we decided on adoption. Everything fell into place for us once we made this decision.

We feel so blessed that this process went so quickly. We began the process this past June of doing our Home Study and meeting with our Social Worker. We did everything as quickly as we could because it was summer and people were going on vacations. By the end of June, we had our finalized paperwork and we were set to wait at least 2 years. The second week of July (the same week as Gary's birthday), we received a phone call that our birthmother had chosen us out of 15 other potential parents for her baby who was due in December. We were floored.

OUR plans had included a little R & R with friends and Gary's coworkers on a work trip to Vegas. We were going to research Grants and apply for them once we came home. After we got that call, our timeline shrunk. Many of the grants we wanted to apply for asked us to do things on our own first before applying- ask family, have fundraisers  etc. So, we decided to have a huge garage sale. We then designed adoption T-Shirts and sold them and then we held an online Auction. We also sent out letters with our story to everyone we knew. These all helped tremendously to pay for our adoption costs as well as Social worker fees, travel fees and lawyer fees. After all of the fundraisers, we did not have the time to apply for the grants which would take up to 60 days to even know if we would receive one. Many grants also had timelines of their own- some required a match with a birthmother first. Many stated that they would not send money if the baby was already placed in the home. And still others required a completed home study. Many were money match grants where they would take part of the money for the fundraising such as creating T-Shirts or selling stuffed animals or other items.

This is where God again says to us that we need to be faithful and trust in Him to provide for our needs. We did receive comments from some people questioning our methods of adopting and fundraising. I began to realize that people really are not that knowledgeable about how adoption works. Without saying how much we have had to spend, I wanted to list what we have had to do in order to bring our baby home. I want people to be more knowledgeable about the process.

1. Decide on an agency (Agency Fees for Advertising were due immediately) and begin a profile packet with pictures and biographies
Gary and I did go to several adoption agencies before choosing our agency

2. Find a social worker for the Home Study (pay for Social Worker fees, doctor visit fees, mailing of fingerprints fees, mailing of Home Study fees) this Home Study process involved filling out a lot of paperwork- paperwork on our background and our parenting styles, reference letters from family and friends, background checks through state and local agencies as well as being fingerprinted twice, Doctor's visits for physicals and vaccinations, 1-2 two hour long interviews along with a Home Visit and interview. The packet was thick once we were done and we paid to have it sent to everyone involved in our adoption- Social workers, the agency, the lawyer.

3. Fund raise and apply for grants (pay for mailing of hundreds of letters and making of T-Shirts)

4. Chosen by the Birth mother At this point we then had to hire a social worker for our birthmother, hire a lawyer to handle the paperwork, visit our birthmother to meet her

5. When we travel to meet our birthmother, we will then pay for travel, lodging and food at our location where we will need to stay for up to 10 business days or more

6. Our return home  many people do not realize this and we didn't either, but each state requires a fee to be paid before you can bring a baby home across state lines

7. The months after the baby is home will involve two visits by our social worker (we will pay her for each visit and the paperwork) for her to see that everything is going smoothly. The adoption will not be completely finalized until after these visits at 6 months

I am not writing this post to ask for money. God is taking care of Gary and I even if we do come out of this process with debt. We have been so blessed by friends and family who have done so much for us. I did not even need to include preparing the nursery in this list of fees because people have been so generous in giving us items to use. But, I did want people who have questioned why we needed to raise money to understand what the process entails.

Many people have helped in so many ways and we are eternally grateful for that. You have helped make God's will for our life become a reality and we will never forget the kindness we have been shown. Thank you very much!!!!!!

Long overdue update

It has been difficult to update our blog lately since we are getting closer and closer to the date when we will have our baby home. But, the house is almost ready and the packing is started. Things are finally falling into place. Are there still nerves- of course. Take everything that makes a new mom nervous and triple that to include flying on an airplane, being in a strange city for maybe up to three weeks in the snow Brr!!!, and the emotions of meeting our baby for the first time in a hospital away from any family and friends.

But, ever since we met our dear birthmother we have felt a range of emotions. Lately the emotions have been a strong sense of PEACE. God has always had this situation under HIS control and everytime I tried to stress or have a negative thought, I was reminded of God's PROMISES to never leave or forsake us. He has been there all along through everything Gary and I have been through. From a move to Georgia without jobs, friends or family to our years of infertility and treatments and now to our adoption. He has brought us through it all. Were there times we wanted to give up and give in-- YES MANY. Did we know why we were going through what we were going through? No. We just had to keep reminding ourselves that His plan was at work and we were to follow. Every time I wanted to cry out to God that our lot wasn't fair or question why He was allowing us to go childless, I was reminded of His promises in the Bible. I was also reminded constantly through songs and pastors' messages that it wasn't the amount of faith, but that we had faith at all.

Lamentations 3:22-24 KJV says
22 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore I hope in Him.

Matthew 17:19-21

20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I also claimed the story of Hannah as my own. I had several verses and notes stuck to my mirror in our bathroom so I was daily reminded that God gave Hannah the desires of her heart after she cried out to Him in the temple. He heard her cries and gave her a son which she then gave back to Him to work in the temple. This took a lot for me to do and to overcome my pride.

I Samuel 1  "In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly."

Later, Hannah became pregnant and bore a son. I wept bitterly many times to the Lord. But, Gary and I knew that God had not taken the desire to have a child away from us and we were not going to give up.

So much has changed in our lives over the last year because we decided to follow God's plan for us to adopt. Gary was able to change jobs which helped us meet many new and wonderful friends. This job change also helped with my nervousness about my quitting my job as a teacher. Through this new job, Gary and I met friends who invited us to the their church. We had visited many churches trying to find a home.

God laid it on my heart that since He was giving us a son, we needed to ensure that he was raised in a Christian environment. Our new church- Greater Heights Baptist Church-- has provided us a place to belong, friends who love us already and a great support system for our coming son. This is a wonderful church full of children and families following the Lord. When I go on Sunday and see teenage boys praying at the alter alone and with their fathers, I feel such a joy and I picture Gary and our son following in their footsteps.

We are so blessed!!! All of the heartache and pain in the journey has been so worth it just to know that we are in God's grace and favor.

Of course, their will still be trials in our life. But, the trials we have faced already have prepared us more to face what may be coming. Right now, though, we are just overjoyed that we will be welcoming our son, Declan Ren Joseph Cheung into our home in December.

His name:
Declan (Irish after St. Declan) means Bringer of Goodness
Ren from his birthmother
Joseph from the Bible meaning God will Increase

Hopefully, I will have time later after he comes home to update on more of the details of this process.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Busy, busy, busy....

I suppose all new mothers go through the same thing??? Maybe?? I would like to know.  Carrying a baby in your uterus for 9 months is so different than visiting the hospital and coming home with a baby the same day.  During the 9 months wait, mothers are planning for their new ones arrival-- registering for items for their showers, reading baby books, picking out names, cleaning house and preparing a nursery.  I have heard of mothers who begin nesting as they call it -- becoming super moms and cleaning the house from top to bottom.

Well, I think I am nesting now.  Of course, I "nest" anytime I am anxious about something.  That is when I actually have the cleanest house!!! I have been organizing and reorganizing our house ever since we met our birthmother. I have organized myself into a corner and now the house seems messier than when I started because things are constantly in a pile somewhere waiting to be put away in a "newly organized" space. I am not sure if I am actually making any progress at all. It has also led to discontentment at our "small" house with little storage space (our house is great, but is lacking in storage space), but I have to remember we are rich compared to some others.

Our pastor made a statement one time in a sermon about arguing.  You really have to stop and think about why you are arguing in the first place -- you are usually taking out on someone else what you wish would happen in your life to benefit you.  For example: I get pretty irritable if I don't have enough sleep so I might get onto Gary about the mail still piled on the kitchen table. It tends to bother me even though I am really just bothered by lack of sleep. I guess I think subconsciously that if he would just put up the mail, I would have more rest time. Ha!

I have taken that statement to help in every area of my life if I am upset about clutter and the house not being clean recently. But, that is not what I am really anxious about.  I guess every new mother goes through this time in her life (I would like some comments on this, please).  The real root of my "nesting" so to speak is not that a baby is coming home at all. I am SUPER EXCITED to finally be a MOM with an actual baby instead of a WAITING MOM. But, I am anxious about not being able to be a successful mom. I, unlike some mothers, have not had the 9 months to read baby books. I haven't read any!! I am feeling such a weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I am also feeling like if the house is not cleaned now, I won't have the time to do it later. : ) Everything needs to be in its place for the arrival of our little one and the nursery just has to be PERFECT, doesn't it???

Although this anxiety is causing me to clean, it is also helping me to not think about the negatives of our situation. Will this actually happen after all our waiting and praying? Will our BIRTH MOTHER go through with it? It is difficult to be so far away from her. To know that she is in Illinois and we are here in Georgia. We are not able to communicate with her everyday and we are not up to date on everything in her life. We also have to trust her social worker will relay everything to us.

Day by day, God tests our FAITH. Day after day, I have to remind myself to take time out of my "nesting" to remember who is really in control of this situation.  HE is, of course, and has always been. He will take care of the situation and everything will fall into place. 

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace, whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in YOU."

This verse says it all, we have to still our minds, think positive thoughts when the negative ones come in and have faith that God has everything in His control. It is very difficult to remember this at times. Also, my being busy and having a "perfectly" organized home does sometimes makes me even more anxious and it takes time away from what I really should be doing which is focusing on Him and resting so I will be in good physical condition when our little one does come home.

This blog has been my therapy for the day. Please continue to pray for Gary and I and our dear Birth Mother. Pray for our peace and her comfort. Pray she has peace continually about her decision to allow us to raise her baby. Also pray for her health and her family as they also allow us to raise their grandbaby.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roller Coaster Emotions

When we faced infertility, we were heart broken. Those were some of the hardest days of our life.  We knew God was in control the entire time, though.  He was in control when our doctors said we had "textbook" embryos and they couldn't tell us why the IVF didn't work.  He was in control the day I cried and couldn't stop.  I was mourning what I never had and that was the greatest loss to us.  He was in control when we made the decision to move on to adoption as an option.  He is still in control today even when our emotions get the best of us.

Turn the page to today and we are on another roller coaster of emotions.  We were chosen by a BIRTH MOTHER as of July.  We were officially chosen by OUR BIRTH MOTHER last week.  We made the long car ride to Chicago to meet with her.  I felt I would be so nervous and emotional that I would blow it.  But, our meeting went very well.  We fell in love with her.  She fell in love with us.  It felt like we were on a job interview and we were being told our job qualifications.  After all, there is a tiny life at stake here.  We want to raise a child that God will smile down upon and see goodness.

Most people would think (wrongly) that women who put their babies/children up for adoption are young and inexperienced.  While that may be true of some, it is not the norm.  Most birth mothers are bright and hard working.  They would keep their baby if they could.  Our birth mother is no different.  She is intelligent, hard working and determined.  She also has a deep appreciation of the arts and music which made us love her even more. She made us fall in love with her.  The meeting went well. After hugs and explanations of excitement from us all, Gary and I got into our car to make the 20 minute drive back to our hotel for the night.  We were elated.  We were chosen. We were deemed worthy of someone to raise their child!!!

Then, the magnitude of the situation began to set in.  The worry came back.  What if she loves us now, but after a few months of her not seeing us, she decides she wants to parent her baby? It is a risk we are willing to take. As Gary said, "After the gift she has given us, there is no way she will not be a part of our life." I used to always be afraid of an open adoption.  But, comparisons can be made.  We, as Christians, are adopted by Christ.  He doesn't want a "closed adoption". He wants an Open Adoption with His children.

After falling in love with our birth mother, we feel a great desire to raise this baby in a way that is pleasing to God.  We have been CHOSEN not only by our BIRTH MOTHER, but by God.  He knew this baby would be born.  He knew this baby would need parents.  He knew this BIRTH MOTHER would need the influence of God more deeply in her life.  We have a great responsibility before us.

Even though we have been chosen, we are still being cautious.  This will honestly be the last time I will be able to update on specific details until we are at home with the baby.  I am not at liberty to discuss details openly.

Nothing but Corn and Windmill in Indiana
But, we know it is all in God's hands.  We are going to spend our time praying and trusting He has a plan and that this is it for us.  We are going to focus on finishing the nursery. (As in previous post, Dr. Seuss is probably out). Who knows what it will end up being? It is a work in process : )

We are also going to be doing some more fundraising.  We were aware of the costs when we went into this, but there are costs that we couldn't plan for such as traveling and interstate fees.  Lawyers are expensive as well.  But, we are going to keep pressing on because we want a child in our life.  We also kind of ran out of time to apply for grants.  There are still some we could apply for, but the wait is long and the paperwork is longer.

If this child is meant to be our child to raise, it will be.  If our Birth mother chooses in the end to raise her child, then it will be.  We are hoping and praying that we will soon know the joy that comes from hearing the sounds of a baby in our home.  She does have the choice in the end and will have up to three days after the birth to decide for sure.  So, we are asking for many prayers sent up to Heaven and that God's PERFECT will be done.

Please also pray for our BIRTH MOTHER.  There can be no greater loss than seeing a baby you carried for 9 months be carried away from the hospital someone else.  As much as my heart aches to hold a baby of my own, I know my happiness will cause someone else's pain.  Please keep her in your prayers. Prayers for safety, health and peace of mind.

Long overdue updates

Well, Gary and I have certainly been busy this summer and it has been a long time since either of us had time to update our blog.

Our summer began with working on our Home Study for our adoption.  We got all of the paperwork completed and had a whirlwind of interviews. It was completed in mid June.

Gary and I decided that as soon as our Home Study was completed that we would begin to apply for grants.  We had done our research and new that we couldn't apply for grants until our home study was completed or until we were connected with a birth mother.  We had waited so long already, we felt we had a little time to apply for grants.

Of course, our summer was a whirlwind of activity!! June with my sister and my mom visiting and then Mama Peggy, Stacey, Ryan and Anna visiting. Then, June was over.

Black Hat 2012 Conference @ Caesars Palace 
In comes July, we wanted to take a break and get away.  Gary had training in Vegas for work so I decided to go along to get to know the "other wives" that were married to the other guys on Gary's team.  I was glad I went.  I had a hard time at first relaxing because everything was still on my mind, but I needed (we both needed) to relax a little and rejuvenate for the next leg of our journey.  I began to enjoy myself - the pool at Caesar's Palace was wonderful!!

Little did we know that our journey was about to take a turn --fast.  On the third day of Gary's classes and my relaxing, we got a phone call.  I was walking across the busy street seeing some sights of Vegas and Gary was in class.  It was his lunch time and he got a phone call.  It was Sue, our adoption coordinator.  She told us we were CHOSEN by a birth mother.  I immediately began to cry and the only thing I could say to Gary was, "What?" I was so happy, but a new flood of emotions came in.  Worry was at the top of the list.

So, with the end of July came a new part of our journey.  We began to prepare.  Our first preparation was to make a whirlwind trip to Chicago.  We DROVE!! Gary saw it as a ROAD TRIP and was excited to see a part of the country we had never seen.  I saw 14 hours in the car.

Awesome Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!

See the next post for details.....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nursery... to be or not to be....

Well, I have decided to go ahead and do the nursery. At first, I was apprehensive about it, but I also know I am a super planner and I love new projects. The nursery is a new project (even though I have several not completed Sigh!!) There are mixed reviews on this task and when to tackle it, but I have a feeling that decorating the nursery will help me relax and know I am still active in preparing a place for our child.

My search began with girl themes and boy themes, but I didn't want to wait until we were matched with a birth mother to start. I then decided neutral and earthy was the way to go so I found the Board and Batten idea (see previous post). But, after visiting the Baby Expo (more on that experience later), I began to remember my desire to be a muralist. There were a couple of muralist there at the Expo and they gave me inspiration. If I can draw and paint on paper and canvas, I CAN paint on walls. Just a larger canvas and so large of a space to fill with PAINT. YAY!!!

After finding tons of images on the Internet and loving the idea of Winnie the Pooh because of the muted colors, I thought I was set on what I wanted to do. I was still torn somewhat on how much I really wanted to paint. I don't want the room to be overwhelming after all. Too much on the walls would be. So, I was trying to decide on what and where to paint scenes when Gary popped in and said he would like Dr. Seuss. Well, this really burst my Earthy naturals bubble. Bright colors are not what I envisioned in a calming nursery. But, after all, babies do see bright colors better at birth. So, I relented.
I began my new research on Dr. Seuss. Which book to choose? Which characters to recreate? What words should also be added?

Well, I now have two ideas and I need to decide. We have two empty rooms (One day hopefully those will both be filled with a child). One room is already all white with one ascent wall in a bright green. We use this room for our guest room, but it is quite a bit smaller than the other room. If I used the brighter room (already painted), I could begin right away with painting bright scenes of Dr. Seuss.

But, tonight I found a really cool blog. This couple painted Dr. Seuss as well, but they used more muted colors for the scenes than typical. Wonderful idea! Not overwhelming at all and so much fun! Gary and I are sold on this idea. We just have to decide on which room to paint now : )

As of now, we have a baby bed (thanks to a donation for the garage sale), a changing table (thanks to Regan) and I also purchased an antique chest with really deep drawers (thanks to Craigslist- a steal at $40.00). Of course, the chest will need to be painted.

I think I am battling between two Dr. Seuss themes. Many people paint a bunch of scenes from different books, but I don't want to paint a huge mural- just maybe parts of two walls using the corner as a starting point. So, the books are The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who (love the elephant). The Sneetches teach a great lesson of acceptance. And, if I did the Sneetches, I was going to paint the Bible verse about being "Fearfully and Wonderfully made." If I did Horton Hears a Who, I wouldn't know what verse to use- probably the same because I love that verse.

Well, I now am anxious to get started. I hope to add my decorating projects to this blog one day. I will post pictures as it materializes.  Any suggestions would be accepted.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Surprises and car seats

There is a lot of information out there on adoption. But, there are a lot of different ideas on when one should set up a nursery and buy things for a baby that you aren't sure is coming soon. We have a lot from a dear friend of ours, Regan, who already has her two boys. We have a baby swing, bathtub, some clothing, a bouncy, a Bumbo and a Boppy. First of all- where do they come up with the names for these things???? Bumbo, boucy...??? There was a time when I had all of these things in our empty room (to be nursery) and I was excited. We had these things even when we were going through infertility. After our IVF failed, I went to the room and stuffed everything in the closet out of sight. I couldn't bare to see those baby items there when we didn't and weren't going to have a baby to use them. I was brokenhearted. Those things are still in the closet, but we are now having to decide what to do as far as the nursery and what we need to buy now. We know we will need items such as a carseat, but there is no way to tell how long we will be waiting. We do know it can be as short as a few months or as long as 2 years. The planner in me wants everything done yesterday. The emotional side of me is still carrying the wall around so I can put it up when I need to.

Back to the carseat conundrum- We felt it was okay to at least start looking at carseats after our interviews. So we have been on a trip to Babies R Us. It is a chore trying to lift and fold and carry a carrier and stroller. I am a nanny and I have done it several times, but I am still only 5'0" : ) I have felt apprehensive researching a carseat and stroller. I prayed on the way to the store that the lady who helped us would understand and be sensitive. When I told her we were adopting, she said, "Oh, my kids are adopted." I have been floored by all of the positives during this journey. The lady helping us at the baby store, our social worker who adopted. It has been so great to have random people come into our lives who have helped us make it through this journey. We are still up in the air on the carseat. Many people say buy only new. Some people say buy used from someone you know. My biggest concern is safety. We have waited so long for this and we are still waiting. I guess like anyone anticipating being a new mom - I want only the best. But, I also have the reality of finances.

I am an interior designer so originally I planned a girl nursery and a boy nursery. That was when I thought the miracle of modern medicine was going to get us pregnant. Now that we are adopting, I am really digging bright colors and modern touches that can be for a girl or boy (I do not like the term gender neutral so I won't use that here).

So, the impatient, crafty me has gotten a new design in my head. One that will take time and effort, but will be great in the end. I am a do it yourselfer and my husband loves working with tools! Best of both worlds! I don't want to have an entire nursery together because I know heartbreak can come throughout this process, but there are a few things I have found that we can do now AND it will keep us busy. I am loving Pinterest because I can save pictures of ideas I have.

I bought a used dresser recently that I wanted to refinish for our living room, but it may end up in the nursery to be used as a changing table/storage piece. After all we have been through emotionally, physically and financially, I can't see buying pieces of furniture that will only ever serve one purpose. I want a room that can grow with our child.

I also am recently in love with Board and Batten. It is a process where you add boards to the wall in a design. It was originally used as an exterior form of architecture and then it began to be used in the interior especially in the Arts and Crafts time period (my favorite by far). They used this in older homes and I love bringing older features of homes into modern homes in an updated way.

Board and Batten Origins

Alphabet letters- I also love the idea of Alphabet letters in the room. I paint them and sell them also so I have done quite a few. I thought having a "shelf" around the perimeter of the room using the board and batten would make a great surface to put them on.

Any ideas on how soon to prepare your nursery? I have time now, but no baby. Soon I hope to have a baby ,but I know then that I will have NO TIME.

Interviews and a clean house

At the beginning of this process, we were led to believe that we couldn't have any birthmothers look at our profile with the adoption agency until our Home Study was completed. We were wrong. As soon as we were approved to begin the Home Study, we were also approved with the agency. They said if we got our pictures and information to them soon, they could go ahead and post our profile. We quickly gathered all of the information and got it to them. We are still waiting on them to get back to us on what changes need to be made and what pictures we may need to add. That is the frustrating part. We rushed to get everything together and we are still waiting 2 weeks later. We were also doing this while we were preparing for our Home Study. I was trying to gather things, write a heartfelt letter to the birthmother and clean my house at the same time. I knew I need pictures of the rooms of our home for the Home Study so every piece of clutter I saw made me cringe. I was so stressed out during this time.

We finally got it all out of our hands and scheduled our interview with the social worker. We had to drive an hour to get to her office. We then spent two hours talking with her. We pretty much had to restate a lot of what was in our autobiographies except this time answering her questions. After two hours, we were drained. At the end of the interview, she wanted to schedule the next two interviews. We happen to be doing all of this when summer has just begun and people are going on vacation. So, to work around our vacation with friends to FL and her vacation, we ended up having our last two interviews one day apart. I was again in a mad rush.

Our first interview was on a Friday- this was one with the two of us, the second was on the next Tuesday with me alone and the third was on Thursday with Gary alone and at our home. I fought the waterworks in our first interview. We have told our story so many times about our family and how we met so that was no biggy. But, she did delve into our infertility also so we had to retell that story. I could tell that Gary was still a little raw about the whole thing. He tends to talk too loudly when he is passionate about something. His voice got louder and louder as he kept talking. I held back the tears though.

The part that really made me tear up was when our social worker started giving us advice. She herself has two adopted children so she was easy to relate too. She asked us when we would tell our child that they were adopted. We couldn't pinpoint a day or time. At her advice, there won't be a specific day or time for our child/children. She said it is best to always talk about adoption even when they are infants. We should keep a picture album/journal of meeting the birth mother, trips to the hospital, the birth etc. to show to our child. We could even add facts about the state where they are going to be born. I thought these were wonderful ideas. The waterworks came when she began talking about how difficult it will be at the hospital. The tears. The birthmother. The raw emotion. Since her job is to be at the hospital during adoptions, she has seen birth mothers who cried so loudly you could hear them in the hallway of the hospital. That ripped my heart out. Here I am trying to adopt a baby knowing the pain of never being able to get pregnant. And, I picture a birth mother laying in a bed at the hospital after carrying a precious life inside of her for 9 months and growing to love her baby only to have to go through the pain of delivery and then the pain of watching someone else carry her baby out of the hospital. To feel that kind of pain so we can feel our kind of joy. It is so selfless!!! What a wonderful gift to give. I haven't that emotional since we decided to adopt and forgo the fertility treatments. I have felt we are again in control and doing something. I know I will have tears for a whole different reason in the coming months or years. However long we have to wait.

Home studies and more...

Well, it has been a while since my last post. It seems like we have been in a tailspin for the last month. We finished the garage sale with the help of many friends and neighbors. We were so tired that Saturday. It was a long day, but we made almost enough money to pay for the Home Study. It was perfect timing too because after everything was done for the day, we checked our mail. In the mailbox was our Home Study packet. As tired as I was, I wanted to tackle it right then. So, I opened everything up and began looking at the list of over 50 things we had to do and gather. They told us initially that the Home Study process would take 1-2 months, depending on how fast we worked on our side. Of course, with my drive to do everything in MY power to move this along as fast as possible, I wanted to get it done. It was daunting to say the least.

The process began with an autobiography for both Gary and I. Mine was 14 pages when it was all said and done and I think his was 10 or 11. They did give us a guide and questions we were to address, but I felt like I was having to really dig in my memory to write this paper. It was a reflective process though. It reminded me of some things from my childhood - both good and bad memories. It also allowed me to reflect on how Gary and I met and fell in love. It was truly a trip down memory lane. For any of you out there who are just beginning this process - a timeline would have been very helpful throughout this process. That is a timeline I created of my life as I lived it with dates, names and places. I know I am not that old - many say 34 is still very young - but as time goes by, my memory has faded some. It was nice to read Gary's autobiography after he completed it and see what he remembered that I had not.

After the autobiographies were complete, we also had to fill out a questionnaire with 21 questions on it. They were in depth questions about what led us to adoption, our views on parenting and more about us. I thought going through infertility was rough (it forced us to think about and make decisions we thought we would never need to make), but going through the adoption process really forces you to look at yourself as a person and to reflect on your ideas, how you were raised and your belief system.

The autobiographies and questions were sent in immediately so our social worker could get started. We then went to work on all of the other documents we needed. Background checks, fingerprinting, physicals, drug test, TB test, updated vaccinations, licenses, birth certificates, reference letters, etc. etc. etc. and in our case documents for Gary's permanent residency.

Before we were even halfway through with this hunting and gathering process, we got a call to schedule our first interview with the social worker at her office. It became a mad rush to gather everything and put it in order so we could spare the expense of mailing a giant package. We wanted to give everything to her in person. We did it! After a few stressed out days and a few arguments. We got everything together except our fingerprints which we did right after the interview. That was the end of our paperwork for a while. The fingerprints will now be processed by the  FBI which will take up to two weeks and our report will be completed from the social worker in about 3 weeks so we are moving along. We are ready for this part to be completed so we can apply for a few grants. Sadly, we already had to write a huge check to the adoption agency and the grants can only be applied for AFTER the Home Study is complete. We will hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Infertility Awareness Week

Gary found this article today and forwarded it to me. It may answer some of the questions some of you have asked or were too afraid to ask. It is informational in that it does explain what infertility means and how some of the procedures are performed.

April 22-28, 2012 is National Infertility Awareness Week

There are many people suffering silently with infertility. I do not agree with everything this organization supports, but I do value the emphasis they are placing on infertility and trying to raise awareness for an often overlooked part of many peoples' lives.

Monday, April 23, 2012


When we made the decision to adopt, we were at first concerned about the financial strains it would add to our family. When I made the decision to quit teaching last year to pursue our fertility treatments, we knew we were making the right decision. After the treatments failed and I had already cut out my part of the income, I began questioning if we had made the right choice. Then, we started thinking about adoption. Our first worry was that we already had a medical loan to pay off because of the IVF. We had friends who had recently adopted and I began to reach out to them to see what we should do in order to raise the money. I knew there were grants so I began to also look into those. Come to find out that many grants won't even let you apply until you have completed a Home Study or until you are actually placed with a child. Then, other grant applications want to make sure you have already exhausted all of your means of saving money such as asking parents or doinf fundraisers. So, we were back to fundraising.

I guess I shouldn't have doubted things were going to work out at all since we completely feel this choice to adopt was not our own, but a choice God made for us. But, my anxiety started creeping in again. I began to research ways to earn money and also looked to those adoptive parents to see what they had done.

This past weekend, we had our first fundraiser. It was a garage sale where most of the items were donated by friends and neighbors. In my doubt, I had already scoured my own home for everything we didn't need. We ended up borrowing tables from my husband's work in order to place all of the things. We had a total of five tables covered in things and even more on the driveway. We also had furniture that was donated. We didn't sell everything, but we made enough to almost cover our home study and we still have things in our garage to sell. This was further proof to us that this is the way God wants us to go.

To make things even better, after a long day with the sale, we went to eat Chinese. Gary and I don't really take too much stock in fortune cookies, but we did read our fortunes. They both said, "It is a job well done." I was moved to tears knowing what we had done all day. It also reminded me of a sermon from our pastor focused on Nehemiah. Nehemiah was in a foriegn country and he decided to go back to his homeland (Jerusalem) to help them build a wall around the city for protection. The whole time he was building the wall, the enemies kept trying to get him to quit and come down. His reply was that he would not come down until the job was finished. He tarried all night and day until he had finished the job. (Nehemiah 3-4). After the sermon, we were given a sheet of window clings with the main verse from Nehemiah. I put these window clings on my bathroom mirror, my alarm clock, my bedroom mirror and the rear view mirror in my car. Everytime I have a negative thought, I see the verse and remind myself that if we are following God's will, we are doing a good work and we shouldn't give up until the job is done. We can't let the devil bring us down with negativity. We have to keep believing God put us here in this place on our journey only to bring glory to Him and His work.

We now have the Home Study packet to compelte. It is a daunting task. We have to each write a 4-10 page autobiography that has to include specifics about our upbringing and family history and we each have a separate list of 21 questions to answer. In addition to this, we have to gather all kind of documents such as marriage license, birth certificates, etc. We have to take child care classes and CPR. We also have to have background checks and fingerprinting. Most daunting of all is that we paid a huge fee to have all of this paperwork sent to us and now we have to pay for the fingerprinting, the classes, the mail to be sent to us. But, WE CANNOT COME DOWN BECAUSE WE ARE DOING A GOOD WORK.

Thank you to all of you who have stood by us through this time in our life and who have unselfishly given of your resources and your time and most of all your prayers. We are praying that all of the paperwork is handled with care and that it all gets completed in record time and that our waiting child will be here before we know it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our marriage

Gary and I are very blessed to have a strong relationship built on our common faith in God and our open communication as well as our love that grew from a deep friendship. With that being said, that strong bond did shake some when we began to face infertility. Infertility takes a toll on your marriage for sure. You want answers, you don't want to blame each other. No matter how much love you have for each other, though, the devil brings those horrible thoughts to your mind. Thoughts such as, "Would we have been better off had we married other people?" "Have we done something against God that we are being punished for?" "Did we not follow His perfect will for our life by being together?"

Then come the other thoughts about infertility directly. You go to visit after visit to the doctor and both of you take tons of tests. After each test you find youself thinking, "I hope it's not me." You also find yourself thinking,"I hope it's not him." You don't want the problem to be with yourself because you don't want to face the pain that you will possibly never be a mother. That is after all what we are put on earth for, right? You don't want it to be your spouse either because guys are supposed to be tough and supposed to fix things. If he can't fix it, I might lose the husband I married because of his bitterness with the situation.

These are thoughts you never speak out loud unless it is a really tough day and you say things you regret and end up having to apologize to each other and just cry together.

A whole new set of issues arises when the doctors can't find anything wrong at all. Nothing that can be fixed, nothing you can take a magic pill for.

Gary and I found ourself distancing from each other. I cried - a lot. He had moments where he wouldn't talk about our issues and was distant from me. We went through these stages at different times. He would read his Bible and pray every morning while sitting on the floor in what would eventually be our nursury. He pleaded with me to read my Bible and trust God. That was the only way we would get through this. I was angry at God- how could I talk to Him? He was in charge. He could FIX this situation anytime He was ready. The problem was that I wasn't ready for Him to fix anything. Then, when I refused to trust God, Gary began to go down too. We quit going to church because it was too painful. I cried uncontrollably during every service because I knew God was calling out to me to come back to Him and trust Him and I wasn't ready. I didn't want people to see me in a vulnerable state. Gary didn't want to go to church because he felt he was trusting God and God wasn't doing anything. He prayed and read his Bible every morning after all. We also NEVER went to church on Mother's Day. That was the most difficult day of the entire year. Having to stay seated when other mother's stood for recognition.

Then came the fertility treatments. In the beginning, you want to do anything to get pregnant. The hormones made me CRAZY and Gary and I were always arguing. Any little thing would set me off and he didn't know how to handle my mood swings. But, after a failed treatment, we would discuss it and keep going. It got to the point where I wasn't willing to keep going. I was so emotionally and physically drained and I was getting depressed. But, becasue I wanted to please Gary and he wanted to keep going - I kept going. For the sake of our future family, of course I'll keep going if you want to. But, finally Gary saw what was happening to me. He agreed to stop treatments as well. This was our turning point.

We came together for healing and to get back to where our marriage began. We had broken down over the years and everything and every single decision had been based on whether or not we would get pregnant. We were way too focused on growing our family instead of being focused on each other. That is when we finally came to the realization that even if we never had children, we had each other. That was already the best thing God had done in our lives- we loved each other so much and weren't willing to lose that.

Some of the things that helped us through this journey included friends, God and songs. God brought to me the story of Hannah from the Bible who waited and waited on God. She came to God and cried out loudly in her pain to God because she yearned for a child so much. God heard her cry and her pain and gave her a son. Songs such as "Hold my Heart" by Tenth Avenue North and "What Faith Can Do" by Kutless became our theme songs. It seemed that everytime I turned on the radio those songs were there to remind me that God was in control.

We have since become more focused on listening to God's calling in our lives. Our marriage is stronger than ever and our happiness is returning. I now feel I can move forward and not make every decision based on the "IFS" in our life. It is a freeing feeling to just let go of the control and let God handle EVERYTHING". We can't wait to see where He leads.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stigmas attached to adoption..

I didn't realize beginning the journey to adoption could and would be just as difficult as our journey through infertility. I have begun to realize that there are many stigmas attached to adoption as well.

DISCLAIMER: Once again, I want to say that if you are our friend and have said these things, we are fine. People say what they can to help others in certain situations. 

1. Overseas adoption is wonderful because you are rescuing those children from a horrible situation-
Yes, many orphans overseas are facing a lot more physically and emotionally than most children. But, the caretakers in those orphanages are doing the best with what they have. I have heard parents of orphans from overseas really bash the country from where their children came.  That was very difficult for Gary and I to hear - especially when the children were from China. I am not knocking overseas adoption. Gary and I really wanted to adopt from China, but that wasn't what God wanted for us. I believe certain people are given the privilege and heart to adopt from other countries. God has placed that love and desire in their hearts. But, please remember that adopting from a foreign country is also something you do in love for the country and people as a whole. 

2. You should adopt overseas because adopting domestically will only give you a child from a teenage mother who was on drugs-
Yes, adopting domestically can be a challenge. But, most teenage mothers never really have to worry about raising their children. Many (not all) have a support system within their family that allows them to keep the baby and they don't need to worry about putting their children up for adoption. Many of the women who are now adopting out their babies are doing so to provide the children with a better home. They are older mothers and they have tried their best to provide for their children and because of situations beyond their control, they have to make a very difficult decision. 

3. Since you couldn't have children naturally, you will accept the first child that is available because you will do anything for a baby of your own-
Adoption is not something to go into so lightly. No, we are not going to have a baby that looks just like us, but we can try to have a baby that fits into our family better. This is not just for our sake so people will never ask questions, but it is for the child's sake as well. We will raise our child with the knowledge that they are adopted. We want them to know how special they are and how God chose them for us specifically. We want them to know that their mother loved them and gave them to us as the best gift we could have ever received.

With this being said, we do not care about the stares we may have from others if our children do not look like us. Gary is Chinese, I am Caucasian/Italian. We are already stared at because we are a mixed couple. It doesn't help that I am only 5'0" and he is 6'3" (yes, I know, he is full blooded Chinese even at this height : ). But, we do want our children to have a happy life. We could adopt a child of any race (and we still may), but our world is not a pretty place. There is bullying, there is still racism. We want our children to face as little of this as possible where we can help it. God will choose our child for us. We have chosen to adopt a child who is Caucasian or Caucasian/Asian. We know even with this limited choice, God is a miracle worker. You may still say, "That isn't right! You should be open to any race."

We again say that it really is up to God. We have a desire to adopt a child of Asian decent specifically just as another couple may have the desire to specifically adopt from China, South America, Haiti. People with those choices are usually applauded for their desire to give to an orphan who is in dire need of support. We say we are no different in our desire to adopt a child with Asian decent domestically.

We have always had the desire to adopt a child who we will raise with the heritage from their Asian father (Gary). Gary was born and raised in Hong Kong until he was 17. He is the only one of his family here in America. His family does not speak English. It would be very wrong of us to not raise our children to understand the culture of their father and grandparents. They will need to be able to communicate with their extended family and understand and be proud of where they came from. His mother has already given a great sacrifice to me. Her son who she supported in his marriage to me knowing that it would mean not seeing him very often and not being able to share in our lives on a daily basis.

We will also raise our children with the knowledge of Christ and His plan for their lives which we feel is even more important than them learning Chinese and learning how to use chopsticks.

With all of this being said, there is a negative stigma attached directly to adoption in the Asian world. From even ancient times, having a child to carry on the family name was a must - a boy was even better. Until today, adoption in the Chinese culture is not something that is talked about or even accepted. This has caused a new stress on Gary and I as we enter into this journey into adoption. We want this child to be loved as our own- which will be easy for us to do. But, we also want our extended family to love this child as their own.

No matter where you decide to adopt- overseas or America- know that it is a decision you need to make between you and God foremost and you and your spouse secondly. God will put the desire in your heart for a child and will lead you in this path. Don't worry what people may say about your decisions. 

4. Adoption domestically is cheap and is paid for by the state- 
No! Adoption is not cheap. No matter what money we have saved, it is no where near enough. Many couples looking to adoption have already used their savings to pay for extensive fertility treatments and many never feel they can adopt because of the cost. Gary and I were worried about this as well. We never wanted to ask anyone for money. We also didn't want people to judge us and say things like, "Gary has a great job, they live in a nice house, Anna doesn't work as a teacher anymore so they must have a lot of money (I do work as a nanny however and make whatever money I can to help us). We want people to know we are not asking for money at all. If God leads you to help us, He will lead you. If not, we mainly need prayer. We are going to fundraise and do what we can to save the needed money. There are some great places where we can fundraise and help others at the same time. We have done our research.  Before our adoption is finalized, we will have spent over $20,000 for legal fees, travel fees, adoption agency fees. This is a high price to pay, but we are willing to do what it takes because God has never taken the desire from us to be parents. 

Stigmas attached to infertility..

Infertility is a growing problem within our country and others around the world. Many times, there are any true reasons doctors can find as to why a couple can't get pregnant. One reason could be women are waiting until older to begin a family (that wasn't our case although we are now older and haven't had children). Another reason could be our environment- steroids in our food, pesticides, pollution. Another reason could be stress with many more women in the workforce just to make ends meet.

DISCLAIMER: If you are our friend and you have said any of the following, we are fine with it. Everyone tries to help in their own way when someone they know if facing infertility. We understand your motives : )

Things people told us to help us face this journey:

1. Maybe you are too stressed - just calm down and it will happen. 
This was the hardest thing to hear for us. How could we be any less stressed during this time in our life? We wanted children more than anything. No, stress is a factor, but God is the main factor. He has the plan laid out and He will make it happen in His time.

2. You don't need fertility treatments- just wait on God. 
We wanted to believe this and quit, but we also felt God put the doctors there with the knowledge for a reason. Why shouldn't we at least try?

3. Take a trip and relax-
We did this. We went to Hong Kong, China, and Jamaica. We were super relaxed and our mind was not on getting pregnant. We had a lot of fun, but we didn't come home pregnant.

4. Start filling out adoption papers and you will get pregnant-
Of course, this is the latest we have heard. Do we still have hope that one day we will be natural parents? Of course, but if that doesn't happen we have to accept it. We know God has our child already chosen for us and if we never get pregnant naturally, we have to accept God knows best. He can see our future and how wonderful it is going to be. We have very limited vision and can't imagine what He has in store yet for us.

5. It is not a disorder or a medical condition- 
Actually, Gary and I have had to pay for everything. Insurance companies and the medical community do not view infertility as a disease or even a disorder. Wanting to have children is a privilege and if a couple wants it bad enough, they will have to pay for it. I pray that this changes for people who cannot have children. It is expensive and adds stress to an already very stressful situation.

Stigmas attached to infertility:
1. There is something wrong with you- 
People who had never had any difficulty getting pregnant asked us some very personal questions. Is it you or is it Gary? Have you had his sperm checked? Maybe you are allergic to his sperm. Have you had this test run? Did you ask your doctor about this drug? We had done all of this and still we had no answers.

2. You don't know anything about children because you don't have any-
If was difficult being a teacher for me. Parents want the best for their children and they want someone who knows about children. I did have a degree in education and I had been teaching for a long time, but there was still a part of people that wanted to know why I didn't have children of my own. I did have parents who had been through fertility treatments who were extremely supportive of me - don't get me wrong. Most people didn't ever say a thing, but it was something I often put on myself and was nervous about.

There were also people who did say things to us when we offered advice on child rearing. You just wait until you have kids of your own- you will find out. Or- you don't have kids so you really can't give any advice. These were very hurtful because Gary and I were raised in strict homes where discipline was key. We felt we were just giving advice based on what our parents had done with us. I was also a teacher - I spent more time with the kids than their parents did. I felt I knew a thing or two about it.

I am sure there were more things said that bothered us, but I wanted to try to keep this shorter (I tend to be a little wordy).

I do want to take this time to say a special thank you to two of the most wonderful girls God has put into my life. It was very difficult to continue to be friends with them after they got pregnant with their first child and then their second when we still hadn't been able to, but they have been there every step of the way. I went through stages where I didn't want to be their friend. Why had God blessed them and not us? Why couldn't we have kids together so we could raise them as best friends? But, being around these two friends and seeing their children grow has been a blessing. We love those kids more than anything and they return the love. We would be less blessed without them in our life. Holly even called me at home to tell me her news before she told everyone at work. Even though I cried and it hurt, she protected my feelings. For that, I am grateful. Regan did the same and really helped me through this journey. It is very difficult to have people be pregnant and share their symptoms and joy with you when you can't get pregnant. But, it is something you have to go through. You have to let them share in their joy. They shouldn't feel that they should have to walk on eggshells around you just because you don't have children.

Health or an addiction with food?

I always considered myself a healthy person. Of course, I grew up in the South and I know there is an unhealthy stigma attached to that. Growing up, I did eat my share of fried catfish and cornbread as well as sweet tea which was a staple in my home. But, my mom did cook- we didn't have the weekly run to McDonald. Going out to eat was a privilege. Eating what mom put on the table was a must. Sodas and snacks were also an extra treat.

When I was in high school (I think it was then), my dad had some test results come back that pointed to the fact that he needed to change his diet. I think this is when I really started thinking about health and wanting to be healthy for my own future. My mom began to grill and steam everything we ate. Yes, we still had sweet tea and we still ate things we shouldn't have, but we were on our way.

College began for me and I ate my share of pizza- the staple college food. But, I didn't gain the freshman 30 because I walked everywhere. Both of my majors - design and elementary ed- had the buildings located the farthest from my dorm. My dorm room was on the third floor- no elevator- and laundry was out back in another building. I also began to exercise and do aerobics with my room mate and another close friend who was in training for her career in criminal justice. She really pushed me sometimes, but it felt great to work out and exercise.

When Gary and I met and were married, I began another journey into fitness- martial arts. He had been in martial arts in college and I wanted to do it too. I felt empowered - the class I took Gary down was an event to remember. We did this for a while at our local YMCA. One summer (teacher's have time off, but husbands don't) I was bored. I decided to meet the goal at the Y of making it to a certain number of classes so I could win a T-Shirt. I did aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, etc. and I met my goal.

Moving to Georgia brought another form of fitness. I was amazed when we first moved here at how many people were outside exercising- cycling, tennis, swimming, etc. At first, I thought this area was just more healthy until I realized how much cooler it was outside than in Mississippi. In MS, exercising outside in the summer is asking for a heat stroke!!

I loved this new concept. I also enjoyed shopping for groceries. There were so many more healthy options in grocery stores and at restaurants. We didn't have to eat at McDonald's or fast food places if we wanted to eat out.

Gary and I both got into tennis and working out with a trainer. We both began to drop the pounds. That wasn't enough though considering I still was diagnosed with PCOS. This began another journey with my addiction with food. I went to a nutritionist and she gave me certain foods to eat. I shopped and filled my pantry. Eventually, I got to the point I was so bored with food and had no appetite. I began to analyze everything I put in my mouth to the extreme. I never really drank soda, but I loved my coffee. It drove Gary crazy- WHAT? WE CAN'T EAT WHITE RICE ANYMORE? ARE YOU CRAZY? We switched to brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread. Everything was whole grain and sugar free. I even went to the extreme of cutting out butter, salt, salad dressing, etc. Our meals were blah and boring and I began to lose any appetite I had left. Oh and to make matters worse - no caffeine during fertility procedures. What!! I get up at 5:30 and deal with children all day. How will I manage??? I began to obsess over my food intake. I was also very ANGRY. Why when I was "healthy" did I have insulin issues? I was doing everything I could. I made it a point to beat this and get off the meds permanently. I wasn't going to have a dependency on medication the rest of my life. What did my doctor know anyway - she was overweight too. Alas, I did get off of the meds. I was healthy once I began to eat again normally (still following the nutritionist's rules). After I detoxed my body of the sugar and bad stuff I was eating all my life, I actually began to feel better. Getting off of coffee was hard, but I did it and I am on decaf to this day.

I know this was a little wordy, but I want people to see that to be healthy should not be an obsession. Do your h/w. You can eat healthy and eat food that tastes great. I had to learn that a little ice cream here and there was okay. I didn't need to punish myself. I felt very angry throughout this time period. I felt I was being punished. After all, people who were very unhealthy were still getting pregnant weren't they???

But- lesson from all of this-- Eating healthy did not need to be something I was doing just to get pregnant. It wasn't a given anyway. I needed to get healthy for my future. No dieting - just a lifestyle change. I am still eating healthy and now I am trying to eat more organically and clean. We have a garden out back and we are making a lot of better choices as to what we allow in our bodies. It didn't help us get pregnant, but we are on our road to better health so we will possibly live longer and have the energy to get more out of life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My journey into health

When we moved to our new home, I decided I needed to get healthy. I mean, was I really doing enough to ensure I could get pregnant? I knew I had trouble with my dizzy spells before and the stress. I needed to do something more to help myself. I mean, Wasn't I in control of everything? Wasn't it up to me to make sure our family grew?

I decided to meet with a trainer in my neighborhood. I went to her saying I wanted to drop my weight in order to get pregnant. Granted, I have never been really overweight. I am only 5 ft tall and I was at my largest at this time pushing a size 9 in my jeans. I had never been that size before in my life and I attributed it to stress of trying to get pregnant. So, I decided to change things.

This turned out to be a great decision. My trainer became my counselor and my friend. She had trouble conceiving also and was a real rock for me. She helped me get healthy as well as helped me deal with things I was feeling. The weight dropped and I felt better than I had in my entire life. I thought, wow, now I will get pregnant.

We went to a fertility specialist and she gave me some tests. One was a glucose test. She diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and told me I needed to be on medication. I decided to take the medicine since I would do anything to get pregnant. (This was after taking Clomid for several rounds).  I began to take the medicine and began to experience all of the horrible side effects. I had already lost the weight, I had already changed my eating habits so I felt I was healthy. I began to battle with my mind and body. I was sick all of the time no matter what I ate. I began to go through a stage of anger. Why was it that I was eating healthy, exercising and doing my best to be thin and healthy when there were people all around me getting pregnant who weren't? There were people who were drinking and smoking getting pregnant, there were overweight people getting pregnant, there were teenagers getting pregnant. Why wasn't it ME? I could be a better parent than them, right? After all, my baby would be healthy. My baby would be born into a family with a dad and mom who loved them more than anything. We both had five college degrees between the two of us. Weren't we going to be perfect parents? I was so angry during this stage. I began to research PCOS and discovered all of the symptoms- being overweight was one of them. I began to disagree with the doctor's diagnosis. I fought it since it seemed to me to be the one diagnosis that the doctor fell back on because they couldn't find a real reason why we weren't getting pregnant. It was also harder to believe when I discovered that most of the women I knew were also on Metformin for PCOS. All of us with different symptoms.

I decided to get off of the medicine and go to a different doctor. I wanted again to control my own situation. My new doctor said PCOS didn't have any bearing on my ability to get pregnant any more than being thin did. Also, being on the medication was not going to have a bearing on the results. I liked this doctor. He said what I wanted to hear and he was willing to move forward with a real plan. We were going to do IUI and we were going to get pregnant. We went through IUI two times with all of the results being "normal", but we were not able to get pregnant. Our doctor suggested we do IVF. We were ready to stop spending money on things that weren't working. We decided to move forward. We took out a medical loan- enough to buy a new car. Still, the money was something we would pay off because we were going to get pregnant this time for sure. I took the medication and hormones and shots they gave me. I went through all of the side effects. I went to the doctor every day for two weeks for drawing blood and the ultrasounds to look at my developing eggs. Everything went well according to the doctor. I felt horrible, but it was all worth it. We were going to be parents. After two weeks, I began spotting and I knew before the blood test that we weren't successful once again. I couldn't stop crying. I cried all day. I didn't know what God was doing. Why when I had followed His path was He doing this to us? I had done everything He wanted me to do hadn't I? I had done everything except give Him control of the situation. We were still doing it on our own. We decided enough was enough and that we were going to stop the fertility treatments all together. I again went back to my journey into health. I was still angry at not getting pregnant. But, I didn't want to be overweight. I mean if I couldn't get pregnant, I might as well look as good as I could. We then began to consider adoption as a way to extend our family.

The beginning of the end

When Gary and I met, we were in college. I began university with the full intentions of becoming an interior designer. God had other plans. He called me to go on a mission trip to California one summer. I went thinking how inadequate I was to teach children's camps all summer. What did I know about kids?? Well, God worked in my life that summer and I ended up coming back after the summer to change my major to Elementary Education. This was such a difficult decision for me. I cried a lot, talked to my dad for guidance, spent time in prayer, but in the end I knew I was supposed to do it. I even had a hard time with my academic counselor who told me I was one of the most dedicated students and she didn't think I should leave design. But, I knew God had some reason for leading me in a different direction. The next year, I discovered what that was --- Gary!!! I would never have met him had I not followed God's plan for my life.

I still had the desire to be a designer, but I settled into education as my career and when Gary and I married, it was my life.

We were so happy as a married couple, but we knew that staying in Mississippi probably wouldn't help us to extend our family. We moved to Georgia, away from friends and family, but we knew it would be for the best.

After moving to Georgia, we really began to focus on trying to get pregnant. I came off of birth control and we thought we were moving forward in life. We both ended up with good jobs and we started thinking about buying a home to settle into. Of course, the home we bought was a four bedroom home (to fill with children) and the neighborhood was family friendly with a ton of amenities. Most of the families on our street had children and were still growing their families. We felt we would fit right in. Little did we know that it would take this long and we still wouldn't have children. (Married 2005, Move to Georgia in 2006, home bought in 2007, still not pregnant in 2012).

We went through a stage (at least I did) where I started thinking I didn't like my life the way it was. If we weren't going to have children, why did we need a big house and why did I need to keep teaching? I began to have visions of grandeur in my head of becoming a designer who had silk drapes and beautiful furniture and who got to dress stylishly and meet with clients all day. I wouldn't need to worry about anything- I could just throw myself into my work. People wouldn't wonder why I didn't have children because I was going to be successful. I even began to think we needed to "divorce" all of our friends and get some friends who didn't have kids. We could hang out with them freely and not have to worry about discussing why we didn't have children.

After a lot of discussion with Gary, I decided to go back to school to pursue design. I took classes at night, on Saturdays and online. I was very busy and I thought only about school. I stayed up late on the weekends and did homework and I even took a class that was all day Saturday. I put all of my effort into my designs and my job and thought about nothing else. Gary was a champ during this time because he saw how "happy" I was getting back into my art. But, I was pretty distant during this time and he did a lot on his own.

I graduated with all A's!!! I was so happy and proud of myself for this accomplishment. I was successful at something. I was so focused that several of my professors asked to use my work as examples for future classes. I began to think about not teaching and starting to work as a designer seriously. But, the idea that I was not pregnant and had no children came creeping back into my mind after I had a break for once. I didn't have school to focus on anymore. I thought I could just move forward, but the idea that I had been unsuccessful at getting pregnant brought me down. I had no self esteem. My work from school didn't give me that and I didn't feel I could go on interviews and meet with clients because I was somehow broken. I did start painting again and began to sell my paintings, but I did not pursue a job in design. At this time, the economy was also against me. We decided I should keep teaching to pay off some debt - one of which was my design degree.

People around me began to see a change in me, especially Gary. He couldn't wait until I could quit teaching so he could have me back. He saw how stressed I was and how truly unhappy I had become. I knew I had somehow lost myself in all of this. I used to be an empathetic person who saw beauty in others. I had become a stressed out and very angry person. I needed to find myself again.

Stress or a real problem??

The thought that I might have trouble getting pregnant was always in the back of my mind. After all, my mom had trouble getting pregnant with me and it took her four years. After that, she was able to have my sister and brother with no trouble. But, her doctor had diagnosed her with endometriosis and none of my doctors had ever found symptoms of that in me. So, part of me felt confident that I wouldn't have problems at all. I dreamed of a little black eyed baby with dark, straight hair who looked like the best of Gary and I. We were so ready to have children. After all, Gary and I are the first born of both of our families and we would be the first to bring grandchildren into the family. There wasn't too much pressure from our families, but we both knew having grandchildren would bring joy to our parents.

My feelings that something may be wrong began when I started having a lot of anxiety and dizzy spells. I had never fainted, but I knew something might be wrong. To this day, I really don't know what it might have been. After dinner at a friend's house one night, I went shopping with my friend while Gary stayed and hung out with her husband. I had eaten a regular meal, but when we got to the store and were walking around, I got so dizzy I couldn't stand up and I fell on the floor. That was the scariest time of my life. People kept asking if I had eaten and if I was diabetic. I said I wasn't diabetic and I had eaten plenty. After this spell, I went to the doctor and had some blood work done. The doctor could not find out why I was dizzy and having dizzy spells. I figured it was stress and went on with my life. I kept having dizzy spells though even when I was at work. It really frightened me the first time I had to pull over on the side of the road while driving home one day from work.

I began to realize how much stress I really was under with trying to get pregnant and working full time. Don't get me wrong- I feel I was a teacher for ten years for a reason. I taught in lower income schools in Mississippi for 5 years which were some of the most challenging years of my life, but I know I made a difference in those kids. I then taught in Georgia for 5 years in a completely different setting and socioeconomic class and those years were also challenging and rewarding for different reasons. I met so many people working that made my life more full and I still feel very blessed to have met these people - many are still in my life as very close friends. But, as rewarding as teaching was for me, it took a toll on me. I left work each day realizing that my shoulders and jaw had been tight all day and I realized that I could finally breath when I left work. I was so busy and had so much to deal with at work that I couldn't focus on my personal life and what was happening with our infertility. It is very difficult to spend your life with children all day and putting so much effort into their life when you don't have any children of your own. It came to the point that Gary and I decided that I had to stop working and focus on our family. We had already gone through several treatments at that point, but nothing too invasive.

1. Clomid - this drove me crazy, I felt like my skin was crawling, had hot flashes and nearly bit Gary's head off all of the time no matter what he did
2. HSG (hysterosalpingogram) to make sure my fallopian tubes were open and functioning

I began to wonder what NORMAL meant. If all of my tests were "normal" and my fallopian tubes were open and normal, why couldn't we get pregnant? Did we need to go forward? If so, what would we go forward to?

Gary and I really began considering me staying home to focus on our family, but we really needed to save some money first so it was one more year of teaching at least. I was unhappy about this, but I wanted to pay off some debt first.

East Meet West

After all the craziness we gone thru in early part of  2011 - We were done. The Dr. cannot find anything wrong with us and our life do not seem to be going anywhere. My parents have always suggested acupuncture, we really don't have much to lose at that time. So we decided to give it a try, we were able to find a great acupuncturist  in town. We went to see her and she was really optimistic about our problem and believe she can help us. We went to see her weekly and took different types of herbal medicine along with the treatment. We begin to feeling better, we start to have more energy everyday. We know Chinese medicine take time, that's one thing is different than western medicine. Three months gone by, even the Dr. has problem understand why we could not get pregnant. She keep saying it should have worked by now... really. That's not really comforting for you to doubt the treatment. It is easy for you to say it is not working. I am the one who is paying for it. Only thing that for certain is we both feel great. We have not felt like that in a long time, may be our body did get better without us knowing it. Maybe we should give infertility treatment one more try with our body feeling better!!!

At the same time, I was lucky enough to land a new job in town. It was closer to home and I was able to spend more time with Anna. The best part is the new insurance covered part of the infertility treatment. Maybe that's our sign that we should give it a try again. Therefore, we decided to go see a different Dr. Surely we can't go back to the same Dr. that told me "I don't know!" Once again, the new Dr. was optimistic. She looks at our previous records, and instantly points out a few things she would have done differently. She also point out since Anna have PCOS, the whole treatment should have been done differently. Finally, someone told us something is wrong. Anyway, she believe that we should try IUI again since the insurance is covering it. She also wanted Anna start taking Metformin and Letrozole for the treatment. What really worries me is the side effect attached to Letrozole. This is a medicine designed for breast cancer patients and the reason to use that drug is one of  the side effect is to help infertility treatment. Again, even with the risk, we keep telling ourself it will be worth it in the end.

The only difference about this time is that both of our body feel great and some of the test number proving it as well. As you can guess, it didn't work. After all the pain we went thru in 2011. We were numb about it. We were sad but it is not an uncharted feeling for us. It can't be anything worse than how we feel several months back... :(

That was March 2012 when we fail the last IUI. I cannot have us go thru the same feeling over and over again. Like it or not, a wall will build up within you that try to block you from all feeling. It is a self defense mechanism inside you. It also create distance between us. Talk about the stress on the marriage and financially, I am glad we did have a great foundation for our marriage. It is selfish of me to have us keep going. Did part of me want us to keep going thru treatments? Sure! There is always hope that one of those treatments will work. But at what cost? All the side effect listed in each one of the drugs are not makeup from nothing. Should I want to chance that? NO. Even Anna's body is taking toll from all the treatment. Easy for me to say to keep going, I don't have to go thru all the things physically like she does. At the end, we have each other. I cannot even imagine the idea of losing her because I am being selfish.

I am a Christian. My faith allowed me to go thru all this difficulties in 2011. Did I question the big man upstairs? Yes! I did it all the time. As the scripture said: "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Maybe my faith is smaller than a mustard seed. It is not a easy task to follow Christ daily when you gone thru what we had the last year. I know many of you out there have a much harder situation then we do. I am not discounting the fact that we are blessed in many ways, I have a wonderful/ beautiful wife to go home to everyday. We have a roof over our head, a great job and three meals a day without problem. I never say I was perfect. It is just a natural progression in life want to move forward in life.

One thing for certain, we both love children and we both know we will become parents one day. God is faithful. He will not place a desire in your heart without He fulfill his promise. At this point, it seem the only way for us to grow our family is thru adoption. It is my desire that I will have a heart big enough to love other children like my own. A newborn is the greatest blessing one can give another person. We look forward to share this Journey with each one of you.

Our God is awesome. You will never know what He has in store for our life, but we are looking forward to it.