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.