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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why South Korea?






We have been asked lots of questions so far and one of the biggest is, "Why South Korea?" I thought I would answer that for you all as well as other questions you might have about our adoption...
Basically, we chose Korea because it was the right program for us at this time in our lives. One of the things we looked for after we decided on international adoption (a process in itself), was if we met the requirements for the program. Some people believe that you can just choose the age you want and the country you want, but it is a lot more complicated than that. Each international program and each adoption agency, for that matter, have their own restrictions for those that consider adoption from their country. Some are reasonable and some are peculiar. Korea required that you be married for more than 3 years, age 25-45, no more than four kids, minimum income of $30,000, and not weigh more than 30% of what is considered normal body weight for your respective heights (that would be one of the peculiar ones). There are some others pertaining to health records and such, but those are the basics. Overall, we felt that Korea offered numerous benefits compared to other programs...
  • Korea is one of the oldest if not the oldest and most well known international adoption programs out there.
  • Korea offers healthy infants from 9-12 months. We definitely wanted an infant (child under 1) which eliminated many international programs.
  • Another big reason we chose Korea was because the children are raised in warm, loving homes through foster care and not in orphanages.
  • They also have excellent medical care, equivalent to United States, and they have extensive medical records of the birth mother and often the birth father.
  • Other countries require you to travel to their country at least one time if not two times and for several weeks at a time! Korea only requires a 4-7 day trip that they encourage, but also have the escort option where they can bring the child to you (depending on your agency). As of right now we are choosing the escort option.
  • And lastly their time frame and paper work are very reasonable compared to many of the other countries.
What We Can Expect...
  • We will probably get a boy (90% chance), but sometimes, every once in a while, someone gets a girl. We would be happy with either. ;) Most are boys because infants are available for domestic adoption in Korea until they are 4 months old, and most Koreans choose a girl.
  • Like I said before, Korea currently offers healthy infants ages ranging about 9-12 months. So we can expect a child in that age range once they are home. (BTW, that means someone is most likely pregnant with our baby right now!!!)
  • The whole process will take us about a year and a half. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. We hope for the latter! ;) Once we get our home study submitted, there is a 6 to 9 month wait until our referral (our matched child and information) and then once we accept our referral there is another 3 to 4 month wait until they are available to come home!
  • Cost of Korea is about mid range for international adoptions. This is where our faith really steps in! The total cost for us is going to be around $30,000! Although that is about $30,000 more than we have, we have heard story after story of how God has provided for adoptive families and met their every need!
We truly feel called by God in this direction and know that He able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21), so we decided to step out in faith! We are so excited to see God work through us and for us and pray that He receives all glory throughout this whole process! We strive to follow God's leading no matter how hard it gets, and once our baby is home, we will finally have the honor to raise our child, dedicating him/her to know and love our Lord, as we always dreamed. We look forward to sharing our journey with you all!

Our Blessing of Infertility






The Early Years
Well, it's hard to know where to begin, so I will just start with the beginning!  B and I met in high school. We became interested in one another our senior year and soon became close friends. We officially started dating March 20, 2000, and by that summer, I was head over heels in love and knew I was going to marry this man! We both went to college together where he pursued a degree in business and I pursued a degree in art education. We grew very close during our college years and became engaged the summer of 2002. We would talk about our future together during these days and were so naively ambitious. We had a plan, first we would do the "right thing" by getting our college degrees, get our great paying jobs, then get married. We would live off B's salary, while paying off our college debt with my salary, and then after that... start a family! It sounds so silly looking back at that and knowing what I know now! Long story short, we did finish college and we got married (June 5, 2004), but we never got those great paying jobs. We struggled immediately right out of college trying to make ends meet. Through the next few years we got better jobs, but we never made what we thought would be at least our minimum starting salary getting out of college. Even though we didn't have much and it was stressful at times, we enjoyed life! We loved being married and experiencing what God laid out before us. We saved what we could and learned to live off very little. Two years after we were married, during the summer of 2006, (about the time we had planned to have all our debt payed off and start a family), we began to think about our situation. We wondered if we would really ever be "financially stable" enough (by the world's standards anyway) to start a family. We both really felt led to have a family, but were scared that we wouldn't be able to provide, especially if I stayed home (something we both really agreed I should do). We then quickly realized that this belief was based on fear and thought that maybe we were holding back on what God could do for us. How could we say we believe and trust in a God, but not think that He was capable of providing EVERYTHING we needed! So, after much prayer and talking, we decided to do it! We were going to be faithful, brave, and show how much we loved and trusted our God by making a baby! Little did I know God had other plans!!! :)
Year One
The first year we tried to conceive wasn't too bad. We were a little nervous about being able to afford a child anyway, and willing, at that point, to wait on God's timing. We were making a little more money with my new nanny job, which I absolutely loved! I got to help raise two wonderful babies and all the while get all the experience for when we finally got pregnant and had one of our own. After about 6 months went by, we finally told family, so that we wouldn't keep getting those, "when are you going to have a baby?" comments and for them to be soon expecting one. I found out after talking to my doctor, that most people are able to conceive in a year if they are consistently trying, but if we don't we should see the fertility specialist. She didn't think we should have any problems and told me she would expect to see me in a few months once I got pregnant. Well, needless to say, that never happened. So, by the time the one year landmark came, I quickly made the appointment. Our fertility doctor also told us immediately that he thought that we wouldn't have any problems trying to get pregnant, but we still needed to do some tests to make sure there wasn't anything else going on that we didn't know about.
Year Two
So, then we hit another roadblock. How were we going to afford all these tests!?! We knew we needed them, so we saved, and did them one by one throughout our year two, all the while we kept trying. EVERY test we did would come back normal. Normally that would be a good thing, but I was to the point if I heard them say "perfect" one more time, I was going to scream! I wanted to say, "No, I'm not perfect! There is something wrong! Tell me what it is, so we can fix it!!!" But every test we did showed that there is nothing wrong and that we fit into the "unexplained infertility" category. By this time, friends and family members were all sharing their happy news of becoming pregnant and by the end of the year there were too many babies to count! We were always happy for them, but it always just reminded us of our failure to conceive. My job got harder watching sweet babies grow up into children. It was just a constant reminder of what I desired so much. Work was starting to get difficult. I was starting to not make it through each day without crying. I wouldn't be able to watch TV or go to the grocery store without being reminded of our inability to have children. Why were some so blessed while others weren't? By the end of year two, I soon became depressed and faced a very low point in my life. I quickly developed a deep fear that I would never become a mom and have to take care of other people's children the rest of my life. This fear escalated and affected me to where I wasn't able to go to work without getting sick every morning, I couldn't eat anything, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I felt so alone and my heart constantly ached! I was mad at God for giving me such a desire to have children, and not allowing me to conceive! I hate admitting and sharing about the lowest point of my life, and I am actually ashamed it got so bad! But it wouldn't make what was to come so incredible if I didn't share my entire story with you.
My Heart Change

During my lowest point, I would honestly get on the floor, and lay flat on my face and beg God to comfort me! My sweet husband, always standing right by my side, trying to help me, but it was very difficult for him, because he felt like nothing he said was helping me. Ever since I met B, my dependency on him was always what I could count on. He was always there for me when I needed him and always could figure out a way to make me feel better, and yet he wasn't able to fix this! There were no magic words that would comfort me, he couldn't get me to stop crying, or get me to start eating, the only thing he could do was pray for me. Satan was taking advantage of me at my lowest point and I was allowing it! So, I was ultimately left with only one choice and that was to figure out this God of mine. Even with all my anger, I still felt Him in my aching heart. It is hard to explain, but once you become a believer, I just don't think you can shake God! I just felt deep down that God was calling me to do what I know to be right, and all that I knew that I could do at that point was to simply pray and read the Bible. Even though I had NO desire, I was going to do it, because the alternative was to give into Satan's desires, and I didn't want to do that to B and all my loved ones. At the beginning of my healing process, I would pray to God in anger. I know it sounds bad, but I did. I felt like I should be able to express exactly how I felt to Him. I would almost challenge God, when I would open up my Bible, and say,"okay God, if you are who you say you are, then fix this...fix me," not even really believing that what I was doing was going to help. I just made myself do the next thing...get up out of bed...take a shower... get dressed...eat...go to work. Every step seemed unbearable but I was committed to finding God's purpose in all of this, so I kept reading and I kept praying. Well, even though every day was a challenge, every day He would reveal Himself to me through our conversations and reading the Bible. I really can't explain it, but there really is power in His word! Each day, He would reveal himself to me through his promises and praises I would read. I would always start out with and could relate to Psalms...the suffering and crying out to God for help...the questions, "where are you God!?!"...the unmoved faith and victory in trusting our Lord! Even though it wasn't instantaneous, every day He helped me through, and my faith would be restored little by little. I actually feel that it wasn't me that did anything, but Him who took over! I made myself only listen to positive Christian music all the time, while I was at home and while I was working. I didn't watch TV, and tried to shut out the world as much as possible to avoid being distracted. But you can't always avoid temptation, so when I was in a situation (like seeing a mom pushing her sweet baby around in the store, where I was tempted to feel sorry for myself , I would immediately replace that feeling of instant jealousy with instant prayer. After reading the word, you know that God promises good things for those that love Him (Romans 8:28), so not only could I ask that God would bless me with a child like that one day, but more importantly I can believe and have hope that it would happen! :) I gradually changed my focus from having children to getting to know God and falling in love with my Savior all over again. This was not, by any means, an easy task, and I don't want to make it sound like that at all! Even after a lifetime of being a Christian, we will Never know and completely understand the mind of God and His masterful plan He has for each of His children. We were not created to! But that is why Christianity is faith-based. Often times you can't explain to people why things happen, but if you are a Christian, in your heart, you will know the peace that passes all understanding. I believe with all my heart that God allows us to be in situations that are only uncomfortable to us, so that we can learn to rely on Him for help. I am terrified of not ever being a mom, but there are those who are terrified that they are pregnant! I finally understood for the first time in my life, that God has a plan, a different plan (from our own), for us all. This plan may or may not include our desires, but it IS what is BEST! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to forsake you; plans to give you a hope and a future." I started to realize that being on this earth isn't about me being happy, it's not about me getting what I want because God loves me. It's about me loving God, through the good and the bad. And if I can come out in the end with a testimony declaring God is good through it all, then that is my purpose in this! If I had become pregnant right from the beginning, I KNOW that my faith wouldn't have been as strong and I don't think I would cherish my baby as much as I will when I have him/her. If I have to go through the deep heartache of infertility to remember who I am and who He is, and be reminded what Christ did for me on the cross, then it's ALL worth it! And I can see why God would allow that, wouldn't you? 1 Peter 1:6-7 says it better, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." So, I was able to end year 2 with a fresh look into our future, but my curse is that I am still on this earth and with that I still sin! My desire to have children will never leave me, there is nothing I could do to change that and I don't think God wants to change that either. There will always be temptation to covet others, and I just have to remember that God is my sufficiency and He will give me children when it is the right time! So, with that, maybe year 3 was our year! ;)
Year Three
At the beginning of year 3, we visited our fertility clinic once again to come up with a plan! We were going to do a fertility treatment! We came up with a plan to do an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), two if necessary, without medications. One reason we didn't want to do medications was that we didn't know how much control we wanted to take over all of this. Obviously, God allows people to be pregnant through infertility treatments...it happens all the time. Even if someone decides to do infertility treatments, it's still in God's hands whether or not it works! So, by doing an inexpensive, minimally invasive procedure that really just enhances the natural conception process anyway, we felt comfortable with that decision. But we weren't comfortable with using drugs yet, mostly because they were so expensive and partly because all the doctors felt confident that we wouldn't need them anyway! (Because we are so “perfect”, right?) ;) So, we set aside the money for two IUI procedures that would be done back to back. One was scheduled in February and the second in March. The first one didn't work, but we really had hope that the second one would. One reason was because when we walked into the clinic for our treatment our good friends, that God allowed us to met when we moved here, were there for their treatment too! This is a couple that we loved dearly and have been adamantly praying for them for years because we knew exactly what they were going through! We were so excited to see them and when we were called back, we were actually put in two rooms right next to each other. We immediately prayed for our friends as they waited and we were waiting for our procedure. We were so excited to think about what a unique opportunity this was for God to really "show off" by getting us both pregnant at the same time! It really made sense to me...God was going to finally answer our prayers for us and this couple that we have been going through life's struggles with these past few years, and it would make such a great story to tell everyone and God would be given all the glory!!! I had it all figured out! ;) Well, like I said before, my ways are not His ways, or like He says it in Isaiah 55:8, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD". God did bless our wonderful friends with twin baby girls, but we were called to wait longer. Even though it made so much sense to me, it was not God's plan! So, around the middle of this year, not only were more of our friends and family conceiving, but the ones that had been struggling to get pregnant were getting pregnant too! We were so happy for all of them, but we were starting to feel lonely. Like we were the only ones going through this anymore. I became sad when the time of year came that our babies (if conceived) would have been born. My family I was a nanny for moved away. I started to not have a desire to nanny anymore. I simply just wanted to be a mom, so I had no desire to look for another job. So, needless to say I had a lot of time on my hands. This time I had off was meant to be, and I am so excited to tell you why. Even though Bry and I always thought that we could never afford for me to stay at home and live off his salary alone, B felt led to trust God with allowing me to stay home. I started spending a lot of time on the internet, coming across things that I was interested in. One big thing that I will briefly mention, because it would require another post, is that I discovered couponing! I just ran across a site one day, and I was hooked! I eventually got so good at it, that I was able to cut our grocery bill by 60%! That saved us a ton of money each month! Even though I was still looking for jobs, because I wanted to give God the opportunity to give me a job if He wanted me to work, I wasn't able to find anything! Usually before there were tons of nanny jobs and then all of the sudden there are none! They were either not enough hours or didn't pay enough, due to the recent economy down turn. So, with all my time off, I was able to work on some of my art projects that I had put off for so long! I started doing wall art for family member and friends for their new babies. And then B had the idea for me to look into that for a business! I thought it was crazy, still kinda do, but I was willing because who wouldn't want to make money by doing something they love doing. So, a lot of my time went into looking into this business thing, but never really took it too far just because of the risk involved. But the majority of my time was spent looking into adoption more thoroughly. B and I had talked a lot about adopting, and it was something we really wanted to do, but our priority was always to get pregnant just because of the expense of adoption and that definitely wasn't something we could afford, especially without me working! Well, I would look into it more and more and would fall in love with the whole process of it! How wonderful it would be to adopt! To help an orphaned child, with no family, no future, and help raise them to be Christians as they may have never had the opportunity otherwise! I also knew with all my heart, I would love an adopted child as much as my own, so I was ready! I didn't care how much it cost and how hard it would be. The only problem was, I had to get my husband on board! But I knew that this wouldn't be something that I should do, but to allow God to do. That was hard, because I felt so much that this was the direction that God was pulling me, but it didn't seem to be for him. We went to adoption workshops and visited agencies just to get some more information. He thought adoption was great, but still wanted to give us another chance of trying to conceive before he felt like that is what God wanted us to do. So, that is what we did. We agreed to do one more treatment at the beginning of the year, and if it didn't work...we would adopt!!! ;)
Year Four

So, at the beginning of the year, we made our plan. It was to do another IUI, but this time medicated. We were going to do every medication we could! ;) The doctors said, "we can do this!" Especially with using the medication, our odds would increase significantly! It was about a month-long process. I started with oral medication to increase my egg supply and then to the injections (yes, I had to give myself injections) for about a week to help mature the eggs I had. Then I had to make several trips to the clinic for monitoring to see how everything was going. Wanna guess how it was going? Yes, I was “PERFECT”! Everything was so great, I even had a good chance of conceiving twins! During this time, we felt like we should share our story with our Sunday School class. We didn't want to tell family yet, because we wanted it to be a surprise, but we felt like we needed prayerful support! We starting coming to this church last summer after feeling led to leave our church we had been members of since we moved to Charleston. We were instantly drawn to this church. Great teaching and great people! Since we were new to this class, we felt kinda of scared of sharing such a deep desire of ours. But we knew they were a great group of people, and we felt so comfortable with them. So, when we asked for prayer, we were overwhelmed by their response! They laid hands on us and lifted us up in prayer like we had been their friends forever! They were so kind and accepting, and we just felt so blessed to have found such a great church family! I felt so much more peace this time around throughout my whole two week waiting period and I know it was because of their support. B was a nervous wreck though. He kinda felt the pressure of our last chance. He wanted a miracle so bad, and after our experience with our church, he felt like that was a big possibility. The time came to take the pregnancy test, we waited until there wouldn't be any doubt if it was negative. But this time, I had B look at it with me. I knew from my previous experience taking pregnancy tests, it is the most incredibly vulnerable position you could ever put yourself in. That little piece of plastic has a lot of power! One second you don't know if you are pregnant and the next will reveal if your prayer for years for a family has finally been answered and your future will be forever changed! So, I took the test and I laid it on the counter, explaining to B we want to see the vertical line here. I knew if I were to be several days pregnant at this point then most likely the line would appear pretty quickly. Once that didn't happen, I walked away already knowing. B stood there looking at that test, like I had done times before, squinting to see some hint of a line. You think if you stare hard enough it will suddenly appear. He would ask me, "It's two minutes, right?" I would encourage him with a nod, but I already knew it wasn't meant to be. When I told him "I'm sorry.", I think it finally hit him. It didn't work again. I was actually taking the news better than I had ever done before. I was to the point that either way I was going to be happy, I was either going to be pregnant or I was going to adopt! For B, it was hard. B had hoped so much and was so scared of what was to come (affording adoption). He would say things like he couldn't control it, but he was just mad at God. I could relate! I comforted him as best as I could and felt like I said all the right things, but I knew this was once again a God thing. God had to comfort him and change his heart. Like He did for me a year and a half ago. So, I backed off and prayed for B, just like he did for me in my time of need. For about a week, I would talk to him little by little about all the blogs I found that shared their testimonies of how they were able to pay for their adoption, and about all the grants that we could apply for and all the fundraisers we could do. B then found out that an Asian boy on his basketball team he was coaching from our church was adopted from Korea. B thought he was fun to coach and he was even one of the best on the team. :) His family were great supporters of the Korean program and a good source of advice for us, which I think encouraged his outlook on it. Hearing him talk like this would encourage and excite me inside. ;) I just knew that I had to have his support in all this. I could be 100% certain that this is exactly what God wants us to do, but if I didn't have B feeling the same way, it would be pointless! Luckily for me, God worked very quickly on B's heart. He started talking about ways to raise money, like maybe he could do a basketball camp fundraiser. We discovered that there was an adoption expo in North Charleston the weekend after we found out we were not pregnant. They were going to have booths set up for international and domestic agencies, foster adopt, lawyers, health care, etc. along with mini seminars on the different types of adoption, the home study process, and how to afford adoption. They also had this parent panel set up of different adoptive families and you can ask them any questions you wanted about their experiences! What perfect timing! Now B and I could go there with open minds and see where God led us! So, needless to say, this really helped us make our decision. I could go in depth on why we chose what we did, and what all we heard, but just believe me when I say we both left that place with a lot of questions answered and both felt led the exact same way...that we would want to adopt from Korea! Not the most affordable decision we have ever made, but we know wholeheartedly this program is for us at this time!! No doubt about it, we are going to adopt! It brings tears to my eyes, every time I hear B talk about how we need to start this soon and ask me what he can do help, because I longed for us to be on the same page, and I was willing to wait a long time for it, but it wasn't but about a week and we were filling out our application to adopt! We are both extremely scared and extremely excited! I probably have a baby right now being formed in someones' womb and I couldn't be more excited if it were my own! This child is fearfully and wonderfully made just for us and has always been God's plan from the beginning! What a journey we have been on, and about to go on another! But in the end, I am able to look back and see God working in our lives and see how much He loves and cares for us. Once we hold that baby in our arms, it won't matter that we suffered infertility for years, it was all for us to adopt this baby and it was SO WORTH IT! "For THIS child, I did pray!" (1 Samuel 1:27)!!! Thank you Lord, for our blessing of infertility!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Official...



We were told by our agency this week that Korea's list was full for this year, but... if we were serious and can send in an application and start our home study ASAP, then they would put us on the list!!! So, here is our application to Barker Foundation sent in TODAY, Feb. 26th 2010! First of much paperwork to come!!! It's all happening so fast, but WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!