Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Dream Come True

During our years of waiting to become parents, one of the hardest times for me was the start of fall. That's when everyone starts posting all the adorable pictures of their kids at the pumpkin patch. I am not sure why these were so hard for me, maybe because fall is my favorite time of year. But each year my heart would ache and I would dream of just maybe someday taking a trip to the pumpkin patch with my own child.

Last year, Joshua was newly home, but because this was something I had always wanted to do, I pushed to go, a big mistake. It was pretty much a disaster. Joshua clung to me in absolute fear. How I wish I could go back and tell the me of one year ago to just be patient, the time would come. In fact, I would tell any adoptive family with a newly home child to give it at least 6 months to a year (and sometimes it is much longer), until then have your expectations around holidays low, don't push to do things your child may not be ready for, and don't compare yourselves to the other families that traveled around the same time as you. I wish I had known these things back then.

But what a difference a year makes. Our day could not have been more perfect; it was almost magical. It was actually quite chilly the morning we went, making it actually feel like fall here in Arizona! It was also quite windy, which wasn't so great for my hair, as you will see in the pictures below. But it didn't matter. Joshua loved it and we had a great time. He is obsessed with anything green right now, so he kept pointing to the green (unripe) pumpkins and saying, "green, green, green." Thankfully, he didn't get upset when I told him we couldn't get a green one, we had to get an orange one.

Here is our day in pictures, warning be prepared for picture overload!

Riding out to the pumpkin patch on the tractor:

Heading out to the patch:

Picking out our pumpkin:

Picture with mommy:

Heading back with our pumpkins:

Family photo:

Pumpkin carving:


Pumpkin #2:

 Posing with the pumpkin he picked out, picked because it had green :-)

 (This is his "cheese" - shoulders raised, tongue up)

And here with the finished product:

It was completely unintentional, but our pumpkins actually represent our family of three very well, don't you think? It was a day dreams are made of with the little boy who is "immeasurable more" than I ever dreamed.

I am so very blessed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update on Jonah!

In October we got an update and new pictures of Jonah! He is doing really well.

At 15 months old, he weighs 21.8 pounds and is 31 inches tall - such a peanut compared to Joshua who weighed 30 pounds at 30 inches. He has 4 upper and 2 lower teeth.

He drinks 6-7 oz of formula 3-4 times per day. He eats rice, soft bread, banana, and yogurt. And then it says, "amount of less eating." Something tells me this is intended to say he is a picky eater :-)

He gets 1 bath a day, which he likes, and takes 2 naps a day. At night he sleeps from 10pm to 7 or 8am in the morning.

The rest of the update is in the form of a checklist, Jonah does the following:

-Walks and runs
- Says "no" meaningfully
- Says "umma" and "mamma" meaningfully (mamma means food in Korean)
- Uses single word sentences
- Shows understanding of words
- Points with index finger at body parts or to express needs
- Gives toy to familiar adult spontaneously
- Imitates adult behavior
- Plays ball cooperatively
- Turns pages of a book
- Scribbles with a pen
- Puts 3 or more objects into a container
- Brings spoon to mouth
- Holds and drinks from a cup with some spilling
- Builds tower using two cubes
- Follows simple errands
- Finds hidden objects

Then it states that RiYoon is without issues in the loving care of his foster family and it describes him as smart and sweet.

It's crazy reading this for me; Joshua didn't do most of these things until much much later (past 20 months old). Joshua and Jonah are 14 and a half months apart, but developmentally they will be much closer than that. I kind of feel like I will have twins, which is something I always wanted.

These pictures just about did me in, Jonah looks so big. But he sure does look like a little sweetheart, especially in the second picture - love his little smile.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Adoption #2 Update

After being asked a couple of times recently if there were any updates on Jonah's adoption, I realized I am long overdue in giving an update. As you can see by the ticker on the right side of my blog, we have now been waiting almost 10 months from the time our referral acceptance paperwork went to Korea (ATK). Initially, we were anticipating an 18 month wait to bring Jonah home, but as the process began to move forward it began to look like he could be home by February of 2013. Now I am not so sure.

Many of you may remember that we were waiting on Emigration Permission (EP) from the Korean government in order to bring Joshua home. We have been waiting on the same thing for Jonah. Once the EP quota was announced at the beginning of this year, we knew we would not travel this year to bring Jonah home. But it was looking like we would be in the first group submitted in 2013, which is when we began to anticipate traveling in February. However, a new law in Korea went in to effect on August 5th of this year. This law mainly changed things with domestic adoption in Korea, however it does have some effect on international adoption, the main effect being that after we receive EP approval we now have to get approval from the Korean court. At this point it looks like only our paperwork goes to court; we don't have to personally appear in court and our adoption will not be finalized in Korea just as before. In anticipation of the new law the Korean government allowed the adoption agencies in Korea to submit large groups of families for EP approval prior to the new law going into effect. Only 10% of the 2012 families were not submitted under the old law; these families are to be the trial group under the new law. The problem is only a few of them have been submitted for EP, none have received approval, and not one international adoptive family has gone through the Korean courts yet.

The recent MPAK blog post sheds more light on all this. The problem appears to be with the courts and with the Ministry that handles adoption. No one knows yet if the court is going to require additional paperwork or information from us. But irregardless, it looks like the remaining 10% of families will not all travel this year which pushes us all back. Even if all these families receive EP, it is being estimated that it could take another couple of months after that to receive court approval.

So where does that leave us? Traveling in May? I honestly have no idea. This new information has had me feeling pretty down and discouraged. I feel like Jonah is going to be two years old before he is home. Missing two years of his life - a hard pill to swallow right now.

But I have to trust God with this. It is all so out of my control. I know His timing is perfect. It was with Joshua, and it will be again with Jonah. I have to rest in that and do the only thing I can - pray.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

9 Years Ago Today...

..I married my best friend. He still is my best friend, even more so today. I am so very blessed and thankful.

Looking forward to next year, when God willing we will be together on our anniversary and celebrating 10 years of marriage.

A little pre-wedding snack/lunch

Happy 9th Anniversary John, I love you so much!

Friday, October 26, 2012


I have struggled to write this post so much, I don't want it to be real I guess. Plus, I have a tendency to shutdown after difficult news, often withdrawing from family and friends and finding it difficult to write for a while.

We found out in August that John is going to be deployed to Afghanistan. Orders are now in hand, so any hope we had of it being canceled is now gone. I can't get into specifics as far as exactly when and where, but I will say that in all likelihood he will miss Jonah's homecoming. Even now, I can't write this without starting to cry. Jonah will be two before he meets his daddy.

To say this news devastated me feels like an understatement. I am heartbroken over it.

I wrote the following to a few friends the day after we received the news. It captures my feelings well.
I am so so scared of going through the transition period when Jonah is grieving hard and adjusting by myself. I still haven't written about everything we went through with Joshua, but it was REALLY HARD, especially the first 5 months. I really don't know how I am going to do it by myself. Never have I felt less capable or up to something in my life. We had a middle of the road transition experience with Joshua, not the most difficult, but most certainly not the easiest. I am asking God for His great mercy in this for an easy transition with Jonah. When he first comes home, I won't be able to allow anyone else to help with Jonah for bonding purposes, so if he is up screaming and crying, it is going to be all me. I need your prayers, for strength, for comfort, for peace. I just can't believe John won't be here to experience this with me. I am heartbroken that John won't get to meet his son for several months at least. And I don't know how we are going to transition to being a family of four once John is home.

I don't really know what else to say. I am sad. I am scared, for John's safety, for the bond between John and Joshua, for how Jonah will transition and how he will respond to daddy coming home.

As I have so often in the past, I sought comfort from the Lord through His word; He immediately led me to Psalm 29:11,

 "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace."

I believe it is His promise to me during this time. I really have never felt less capable of anything in my life, but I believe that God is faithful and He will supply all that I need during this time.

We would be so thankful for your prayers for our family and for John's safety.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How do you know when you are done with infertility treatment?

I was asked a while back whether we would ever try in vitro fertilization (IVF) again. I had every intention of answering the question, but somehow this post sat in my drafts for the past year and a half. In a related question, another friend I "met" through blogging asked a question about how you know when its time to end infertility treatments. I was going to email her my answer, but the busyness of life got in the way before I had a chance to do so. Unfortunately, the answer to this question has become relevant again for her, how I wish it wasn't.

The short answer to the question of future IVF for us is no we would not, nor do I see that changing in the future.

So how did we know we were done? I want to say up front that anything I write here is the decision John and I made asking and seeking the Lord's guidance. However, that doesn't mean that our decisions are the ONE right way or that because the Lord led John and I in this way means that He will lead every one else in the exact same way. Others have sensed the Lord leading them toward different answers. Just as an example, many Christian couples, and just about all true practicing Catholics believe that IVF is morally wrong. While we see it differently, I respect the opinion of those who feel this way. Elaine has an excellent post, which can be found here, about how two couples, though both Christians can come to two different conclusions about IVF.

You can read a recap of our infertility journey here. In the beginning I was unsure about doing IVF; it truly seemed like (and is) a moral minefield. I was so afraid of making a wrong decision that I would later regret. I truly wanted to honor God at every part of the process. We prayed, asked others to pray, and sought wise counsel. I was so grateful that the Lord brought my friend Wendi into my life at that time; she and her husband provided much godly counsel to us.

What we decided up front was that we would do two IVF cycles. Again, I am not saying that two should be everyone's limit, but I do think it can be important to determine up front how far you want to go with infertility treatment. I say this because emotions run all over the place in the midst of treatment and the loss that so often accompanies it, so it can be difficult to make decisions at such a time. It is also not uncommon to get to a point where a feeling of desperation takes over causing a person to make decisions they would not have otherwise made. Another one of the limits we set was that we knew we didn't want to involve a third party. If donor sperm or egg were required, we knew this was not something we were comfortable with. I am not saying that it is never okay to change your mind, just that it can be helpful to have an idea of how far you want to go. Had we gotten to the end of two cycles and not felt done, I am sure we would have done a third cycle. We actually could have done one basically for free as part of the shared risk program we participated in (we would have had to pay for some drugs and my ultrasounds).

We believe that life begins at conception and so upholding the sanctity of life is very important to us and factored heavily into our decision regarding when we were done. Our first cycle went very well; 7 eggs were retrieved, 5 fertilized, and 2 embryos were transferred (we asked the doctor to limit the number of eggs they attempted to fertilize to 8). However, none of our other 3 embryos survived to be frozen for a later transfer. Our second cycle did not go as well; 17 eggs were retrieved, 16 of them were mature, 8 eggs were frozen, 8 eggs were injected, 5 fertilized, only 1 embryo made it to transfer, and again none of the others survived to be frozen. While it is true that part of our lack of success could be because we limited the number of eggs that we allowed the doctor to attempt to fertilize, however all over the blogosphere I have seen stories with less eggs retrieved but still healthy 5 day blasts to freeze. The fact that we didn't have this said to me that we had a problem. Yes, we could have gone "all out" as the doctor wanted us to in a third cycle playing a numbers game in the hope that if we retrieved enough eggs and injected all of them, we could have had one healthy embryo that resulted in a healthy pregnancy. But we just weren't willing to go there; it just didn't feel respectful of life to us given what had happened with our two previous cycles.

The second reason we knew we were done was that I couldn't cope with another miscarriage. This was probably the biggest reason we didn't want to continue treatment and why we never considered embryo adoption. My miscarriage absolutely devastated me; it remains one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

Lastly, we just had a feeling of being "done." We just couldn't take the idea of going through it again. One of the books that helped me the most when we were at the beginning of infertility treatment is The Infertility Companion: Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility. A great quote from the book about when it's time to quit is, "When it hurts more to go on than it does to quit, it's time to quit." This statement really resonates with me. I have never posted about what we decided to to with our eggs until now. For the first year, we were able to keep them at no cost. When our year was up, we decided to store them for another year, kind of an insurance policy even though we had no real desire to go back for them. We had begun the adoption process, but knew there were no guarantees with adoption either. Last summer just before Joshua was due to come home we received another bill to continue to store them. At the time we were caught up in the crazy 13 week long wait for EP approval and things felt very uncertain. We really weren't sure that Joshua was going to come home. Yet, in the end we decided to discard my eggs because we knew that even if Joshua didn't come home we had no desire to go back for my them. We had and have no desire to go there ever ever again.

When you get to that point when you feel done, there is almost a sense of relief about not continuing treatments.

I can tell you all with absolute certainty that I have zero regrets about not continuing treatment. I don't ever wonder if a third cycle would have led us to a baby. I am thankful that I have no lingering "what ifs?" I don't know whether anything I have said here will help anyone, my prayer is that it will. I can also tell you that the Lord is absolutely able to give true peace about ending treatment, leaving you with no regrets and no "what ifs?" It really is possible, even though it doesn't seem so at the time (at least it didn't to me), to reach a place where you feel completely okay with being done with infertility treatments.

Truth be told, it feels pretty darn good not to ever think about them again.

Edited to add: This should not be taken as "Just adopt" and every thing will be fine, as we who have dealt with infertility so often hear from others. There is no "just adopt," a statement which deserves a post of its own to adequately respond to why it is an inaccurate and insensitive thing to say. Nor is this post meant to imply there is not much grief associated with the decision to end treatment, this is also worthy of its own post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

One Year Ago....(on Saturday)

...our long summer of waiting came to an end. After an unprecedented 13 long weeks of waiting we had EP for Joshua!

John and I celebrated with champagne, after all it is one of the advantages of being an expectant mom via adoption. :)

Though I am not in the habit of daily journaling (I'd like to be), I did journal that day. On 8/11/2011, I wrote, "A great day today! We finally have EP for Joshua!!!!!! We waited 13 weeks. Today is also the anniversary of my unfulfilled due date - such grace that we received good news today." It was such a blessing to receive this news on a day that had been such a sad day for the previous 3 years as we remembered the baby we lost. I love when the Lord gives us these reminders that He sees us and knows just what we need. Last summer there were many times when we wondered if Joshua was ever going to get to come home; many times we wondered if we would ever get to be parents. It is hard to believe we are now coming up on one year of having him home.

There were many pictures from our trip to Korea that I never posted so I am planning on posting them as we hit the one year anniversary of each day (totally stole this idea from Grace).

Friday, August 3, 2012


In my last post, I wrote about my sadness over missing many of Jonah's "firsts." During our wait for Joshua, I wrote something similar here.

While it is true that we missed many of the big firsts and there is some sadness associated with that, there are so many more firsts we have gotten to experience and will experience in the future. I thought I would celebrate a few of them.

First time trying to ride a tricycle (not quite tall enough):

First living room fort:

Discovering that the pantry is a fun place to hide:

First Air Show:

First super hero cape:

First time being "tortured" by one of his cousins:

First PB&J:

Discovering pockets for the first time:

First bowl of cereal:

First "tattoo":

First imaginative play moment, he would fill up his pail, put it on his arm and tell me bye!:

"Discovering" ants for the first time:

I have truly cherished each one of these moments. I thank God every day for the privilege of being Joshua's mom. Missing so many of the most talked about firsts has made these smaller firsts that much more special to me. I especially love seeing him make new discoveries.

If you are waiting for your child to come home, especially those of you waiting on your first little one, I hope you will be encouraged as you see that there are so many wonderful first moments ahead of you. I love this post by Lisa which lists even more of them.