I want to introduce you all to April, a fellow Taiwan adoptive mommy and wonderful lady. She is also talented! She sells bows, hats, headbands, rompers and other sweet things on her Facebook site Lil Bees. This is the story of her journey to parenthood, it is honest and open, even through the hard parts. You can find her blog here.
Thank you for reading!
P.S: Make sure you read all the way to the end…there are some super cute pictures of her daughter Lilli!
As a child, I always wanted to be a mommy “when I grow up.” Of course, I had other aspirations like a ballerina (can’t dance), a school bus driver, a teacher, a nurse. Oh, and when I was 5 I wanted to work at McDonald’s.
So I naturally assumed that once Jason and I got married, we would get pregnant right away and bam!- instant family. I never thought it wouldn’t be that simple.
WARNING: Medical terms and diagnoses ahead. Turn back now if you can’t handle talk of body parts and functions (or rather, dysfunctions.)
After we had been married a year without using birth control and I still wasn’t pregnant, I asked my OB/GYN at my yearly check-up. She had me start taking my basal body temperature, or BBT. I did this off and on for 6 months to a year. It’s hard to remember to do! I’m barely human when I wake up in the morning, let alone capable of having an intelligent conversation or taking my temperature before I get up, or even move.
Next yearly check-up: no progress. Work harder to get your BBT every morning.
A couple months later, after my OB/GYN reviewed my charts: It doesn’t look like you’re ovulating- here’s a prescription for Clomid. Keep taking your temperature and come back in a few months.
A couple more months later: You’re still not ovulating- here’s a card for a reproductive endocrinologist. Oh, and by the way- you’re fat; lose some weight. (WHAT? You’re kidding. I love how doctors will point that out like it would come as a surprise to find out that I’m overweight, and have been trying to lose weight since I was 10.)
April 2005- married 4 years, no pregnancies. My first visit with our reproductive endocrinologist. He was a very nice man, Dr “Stork” was his nickname, who had had reproductive issues with his wife as well. They now have (biological) children. That was really comforting, for some reason. I thought, “Well look, he has kids now, so he’ll be able to fix what’s wrong with me.” He too seemed confident that he could help us. I believe his exact words were “If I can’t get you pregnant, no one can.” (How true, doctor!) Over the next few years, we rode an emotional roller coaster through the monthly highs and lows of infertility. I never kept track of the exact dates and procedures and costs, but it went something like this:
1 round of testing for Jason, all clear.
5 day cycles of Clomid every month for over three years, along with the accompanying mood swings and fits of uncontrollable rage followed by crying spells lasting days and days. And lots of brownies. Jason will tell you this is exactly how it was. (My memories are slightly different, although I do remember the brownies.)
10-14 day cycles of Prometrium every month for almost 2 years.
Monthly HCG injections
Monthly ultrasounds. (Want to find a fast way to get over the fear and humiliation of a pelvic exam? Have one every month, sometimes two just for kicks.)
Five IUI’s (intrauterine insemination)
Diagnoses of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, then Type 2 diabetes, and endometriosis for me.
1 surgery for endometriosis, followed by the reassurance from my doctor that I had had moderate to severe endometriosis which had all been lasered away, and I should be pregnant in the next 6 months.
That was April 2007.
I kind of gave up later that year. When I didn’t get pregnant after the surgery, at my last visit with the fertility doctor, he said with all we had done without results, we needed to go to IVF next.
Jason and I decided against IVF, mostly due to the cost and for me, the uncertainty of something even more expensive than everything we had already done that still might not work out, that would leave us broke and childless. We paid cash for everything we had done, and we would have had to finance something like IVF, at $10,000- $15,000 per cycle. I’m not against IVF, or financing things necessarily, but we made the choices that were right for us.
I needed a break, I was emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t take the never-ending cycle of hope and then devastation, every month, month after month. In my pain, I had turned my back on God instead of drawing nearer to him, feeling abandoned and forsaken. We stopped all medication, testing, and doctor’s visits.
Now, Jason and I had always talked about wanting to adopt, but for some reason, had always said it would be after we had biological children first. Why? I don’t know. It seems silly now.
In September or October of 2007, we decided to start the classes to get certified to adopt a child from Oregon’s foster care system. Jason’s parents had over 30 years of foster parenting experience, and had adopted 6 children during that time, so it seemed like a natural place to start. We finished in December of 2007, and were that due to Oregon’s need for more foster families than adoptive families, we weren’t exactly a priority and it could be several months before we were matched with a social worker, who would then try to find a child for us.
My parents had recently moved back to my hometown and had started attending Mountainview Christian Church again. It is the church where I grew up; we were members there from about 1980-1995. It’s also at the end of the street Jason and I live on. My mom talked to her pastor after she found out that he and his wife had adopted their oldest daughter from Taiwan. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had gone to school with him and his wife at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. He gave my mom the information, and she passed it on to me. This orphanage is run by a missionary from Missouri and his wife, who have served in Taiwan for over 40 years. They aren’t a government sponsored or controlled orphanage or agency, so they have different criteria for being on the waiting list, like references from our pastor, employers, friends and family members attesting to our relationship with Jesus Christ and our perceived ability to raise a child to know and love Him.
Jason and I weren’t sure we would be accepted, but figured we would give it a shot. We had been attending Jason’s church, but weren’t going faithfully and weren’t very involved, so therefore didn’t know the pastor personally. We were able to get a reference from my former youth pastor who had done some of our premarital counseling and was by then the head pastor at a church we attended for a few years. If it didn’t work out, we would continue to wait for a child through the foster care system.
*(I think we both dealt with the stress of the infertility by withdrawing into ourselves, not discussing it unless absolutely necessary, and not reaching out for help. I felt like a failure. Our parents and teachers tell us as children, “If you apply yourself and try hard enough, you can do/be/achieve anything!” Except pregnancy, in this case. I felt like Jason didn’t care because he didn’t talk to me about how he was feeling. I felt so alone; I didn’t know anyone else going through this, and I felt like no one could understand. Both our marriage and our faith suffered during that time.)
I emailed the director Ted a few weeks later to ask if our application had been received, because we hadn’t heard anything. (I can smile now about it; there were many times like this where we didn’t get a response until we asked for one! If only we had known then that Ted is like the Energizer bunny- he is such a busy man and he’s going, going, going all day and part of the night too! He is such a kind, caring, man and such an example of Christ and his love.)
February 5, 2008- His response? We were already on the waiting list; he forgot to tell us! And he wouldn’t give us any idea of a timeline. He just told us to get our home study done.
February 14, 2008- We didn’t have any specific plans for Valentine’s Day, it was just another workday, except for the cards we exchanged. We were going to go out to dinner, but Jason wanted to go for a cruise on his new motorcycle first. (He wanted me to come along, but I’m a scaredy cat and hated riding it!) We had just had some new furniture for our living room delivered that day, and I was sitting in my new armchair reading a book when the phone rang. The caller ID said “Unavailable” which usually meant a solicitor, so I didn’t answer. (Am I the only one who does that? My reasoning is that I had to be on the phone all day long at my stressful job, and I didn’t want to be on it all night, especially with a solicitor!) When the answering machine picked up, I heard “Hi Jason and April, this is Bev at The Home of God’s Love here in Taiwan, and I’ve got a 3 week old baby girl in my arms, and she’s yours if you want her.” *I kind of think of Ted and Bev as the Santa and Mrs. Claus of adoption, with maybe a little bit of mischievous elf mixed in. They like to call people up on holidays to tell them that they’re parents-to-be. They won’t tell you how long you could be waiting, or that you could only be waiting for 6 days in our case! They call people and say they can have this baby “if you want her” like anyone would say no! Anyway- I got out of that chair in record time and dashed for the phone! I managed to pick it up before she hung up, and she repeated what she had said. I feel like that whole conversation is a blur. She told us that they had named her Hsi-Le, which means Joy in Mandarin. I told her that it was a sign from God that she was meant to be ours then, because we had already picked the name Lillianne Joy. I remember saying Jason wasn’t here, and she asked if I wanted to talk to him and make a decision and call them back. I said “No way! We absolutely want her!” Jason walked in while I was talking to her and I scribbled a note to him that said THEY HAVE A BABY GIRL FOR US! 3 WEEKS OLD! From there, we called our entire families, then waited by the computer most of the night, waiting for our first picture, which came about 4:45 the next morning. I was so tired at work that day since I hadn’t slept AT ALL, but I felt like I was walking on a cloud all day, I was so ecstatic. It didn’t feel real. Sometimes it still doesn’t.
I know everyone deals with things in a different way. Maybe Jason and I just aren’t very outwardly emotional people. I didn’t cry then. I didn’t cry when we met her for the first time. I did cry about an hour before our plane landed, kind of mini panic attack, like all the emotions of the last 8 years were hitting me full force. My mom, who was with us on the trip (as well as my Dad) said that I didn’t cry because I was just ready to be Lilli’s mom. I had spent all of my tears and anxiety waiting for her. And now I know, because of course hindsight is 20/20, that I was waiting for her. For her,specifically. I just didn’t know it yet. I bet God was up there looking down at me- angry, bitter, broken, lost, almost hopeless, thinking “She just doesn’t get it yet. She will.” And now I do.
Wow. That was emotional! I’m kind of glad I wrote it though. It was therapeutic in a way, reliving all of those events, even the bad ones. If I could erase that part of my life, I think I still would, but not the part where Lilli came into our lives. I know, I’m supposed to say that I’m stronger for having gone through infertility and blah blah blah. But to me, it just brought out the worst in me and showed me how weak me and my faith were. Maybe that was the lesson to be learned. Even though it has helped shape who I am now, I still hold on to some of that hurt.
But since becoming Lilli’s mom, I can go to a baby shower without having to cry in my car on the way home. I can go to church on Mother’s Day (I actually didn’t go for a couple years because I couldn’t handle not getting to stand up with seemingly every other woman in the room, to be acknowledged as a mother.) I can congratulate an expectant mother without thinking “I wish I were her.” Actually, now I think I got the better end of the deal, because I didn’t have to go through all of the physical pain and sometimes complications to become a mom. As they say, I was “paper pregnant” and the only physical pain I had was the occasional paper cut!
So, I hope someone who reads this will benefit from it, whether it’s to find some comfort in reading the story of someone who’s “been there” or to have a laugh at my attempts at humor, or even to learn how not to do things, learn from my mistakes.