Monday, March 16, 2009

Money Don't Grow on Trees

Adoption is expensive.

I don't feel that the company we're using is completely out of reach, as far as affordability, but it is still going to require a lot of sacrifice to achieve our dream. However, I always tell myself this when things are tough: Nothing ever worth having comes easy!

To adopt through Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA, as I will refer to it from here on out), the initial cost is the $250 application fee, which is non-refundable. After the app is approved, there is a chunk of $3250 due for the contract fee. This is for the least expensive plan; it can go up to as much as $30000! We will be doing the least costly plan...

We must do a home study, which is required for any type of adoption. A case worker visits the A-parents home and makes sure everything is alright. For example, we have to place smoke alarms in each room. Our dogs must be current on vaccinations. We must have running water and electricity! The cost for a home study can range from 1-4 thousand dollars. This is included in the $3250 we will pay, thankfully. THEN there are additional costs in-between for other legal things, which will be roughly an additional $2K. Soon after is the rest of the contract fee, another $3250. If we decide to let the agency do all the complicated paperwork, then it is $900, which we will probably do since it is very complicated and time-consuming. Who has time to do paperwork when you're having to take on a second job just to afford it??

Finally, China requires a $5100 donation to the orphanage that the child has lived and was cared for at. Looking further east, there is the trip to China itself. Plane tickets are about 1100-1500 per person. Expenses inside the country are even more.

This is a lot to consider. My husband's job does not allow room for a second job because the hours through the week are so varied and he only knows his schedule a week in advance. So that leaves me, of course.

I have a Mon-Fri job working for a doctor, but it will not be enough financially to meet the expenses of adoption. I accepted a job at a local hospital working every other weekend on an as-needed basis. Right now, I am on day 8 of work. It makes a difference, not having a day off. I am tired beyond belief, and I have trouble remembering what day of the week it is. I keep telling myself I need to go to the gym, just for a little while..but my body protests!

I don't know what will happen when I continue my education to leave the status of LVN to be an RN. It will be more difficult to pull in extra money then. It will be hard enough to continue at a full time basis. That leaves about 7 months of working hard. Then I have to decide: use the money to pay for the adoption or pay off the debt? It would be reasonable to pay off the debt first, however the wait time to adopt from China is 2-3 years now. If I wait another year, it will just be that much longer before our family is complete, and THAT I can not accept.

Adoption Step One: Choosing an Agency

Finding an adoption agency isn't too hard..there's a million of them! But choosing..that's a different story. We have spoken to different agencies over the last couple of years. We have gone back and forth on our decision of pursuing fertility treatments or adoption many times and back, so searching for an adoption agency was nothing new. We still receive pamphlets and brochures from companies past that we decided not to use.

I stayed up much too late on a work night, leaning on my giant pillow (back support) with my laptop in front of me. Search after search finally brought me to a place that clicked. The name of the company is Great Wall China Adoption. I suppose in part I liked the name. I had noted mentally that I would like to see the Great Wall one day. Especially after playing Tomb Raider II, which features the Great Wall (the video game, not the movie.)

I browsed the website, and noticed that the company's president and founder is native Chinese and has a great relationship with the Chinese Government to place children in American homes. That can't be bad thing, I thought. I sent off for an application and information packet, closed my laptop, and tried to sleep. It was hard since all I could think about was a trip to China and a little orphan baby that has yet to be born.

Within a week our packet arrived! I laughed a little as I opened the packet. The last time we looked into China adoption, we did not qualify because Tim had not turned 30 yet, a requirement from the Chinese Embassy. I still make fun of him about that :) Inside the packet, along with helpful bits of information, was a video. My husband sat on the dog chair (it's the only piece of furniture the dogs are allowed on) and I sprawled out on the couch. The video began and little Chinese children faces filled the screen. We learned about the orphanages they stayed in, the trips the A-parents (adoptive parents) take and all the ins and outs of the process. Needless to say I cried through the whole thing! Out of joy, of course. I feel my heart swell every time I think of rescuing an abandoned child.

We have a workshop to go to in April, which will give us a lot of insight and information on this particular company as well as China adoption in general. There's lots and lots of icky red tape when dealing with China. They are very strict with whom they entrust their orphans. I feel confident that we meet all the requirements.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Child is a Child

A baby girl. Mine. Black eyes, hair the color of coal, smooth and flawless skin. This is what is promised, this is what is guaranteed. I opened the backdoor and stood in front of my husband with my hands stubbornly on my hips. He looked up with a blank expression with no concern, almost as if he had expected, at any moment, for me to come rushing outside after him like I did.
"I want to adopt from China."
I said this without any questions, without any room for debate.
Looking up at me from the lawn chair, he replied "Ok."
Ok? That's it? I had talked to him about this before, but it never went this smooth. Was he feeling ok?
Mustering up a little more courage I said, "I really mean it. I want to get things started now so we can have a baby in the next couple of years."
"Alright" he replied, as if I had just told him I was running to the store for milk
I relaxed my stance, "Ok then. I'll get the information together."
I closed the door behind me.
YES!I inwardly cheered.
That simple! We want a child, and there will BE a child! There will be an orphan. It's guaranteed. Our future daughter will be born, she will be abandoned, she will live in an orphanage for almost a year until we come and rescue her. She, the one we have waited for. The one we each bought a toy for not two years ago when we talked about adopting from China before but could never afford. He bought her some rubber duckies, I bought her a stuffed doll that says, "A star is born" on her little shirt.

In my usual meditation spot (the shower) I prayed for the mother of our unborn daughter. I asked God to give the girl peace when she lays that precious bundle at the door of the orphanage, that she will know she's doing the right thing, that she will not feel regret. I asked Him to protect our daughter from any harmful actions, and comfort her until we can go to her and bring her to her home. I felt good after that.
And so...the journey begins.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Fork in the Road

It happened again. Another friend of mine was pregnant! This made two people in one week that I knew, and had to be happy for. I had just gotten home from hosting a baby shower for my best friend. I was happy for her, she was having a girl. She said I would be the childs' Aunt, which made me very happy. But baby showers drain me. Emotionally. The endless conversations about the miracle of being pregnant, of feeling the little life-being moving around and growing. The sonograms. The nursery and the proud daddy. It made it worse when people asked me if I had kids and when I said "No" with a straight face, they looked at me funny, as if quizzing to themselves why I would not, at this stage in my life, have children yet.

Eventually I quit telling people why and let them draw their own conclusions. It always helped ease the awkwardness when I stated, "I have two dogs, so I'm happy." That usually brought a laugh and they would move on, or I would say, "I have a niece and nephew. I spoil them, then send them home!" It worked every time, then I could better hide behind my bitter mask that threatened to slip and betray the longing that was always there.

It got old, and too personal too, trying to always explain the complicated hormone issue and taking the blame, over and over, that we do not have children because of me. I grew weary of people telling me of all the options and "Maybe you're meant to adopt?" It was too personal explaining the dreary regimen of fertility drugs that we attempted and failed at miserably. It was too challenging because I couldn't tell the whole story, about how many nights I sobbed quietly so that I would not wake my husband, because I felt so helpless.

There was a need so large in my heart: I wanted a baby and I couldn't make it happen! So many long nights...

The worst part is when we hope, but then I tell him I've begun another cycle or when I inform him that someone else we know has gotten pregnant. His face falls. It's only for a moment, but I see it. I see the hurt, the disappointment, the confusion and I feel the blame so heavy in my spirit it's like walking around with a weighted vest. I could see him being a good dad, and I know he desires it as well. How to feel... I can't give him what I should rightly be able to provide!

And the weekends that my husband works late and I am alone..
whole weekends that I exist under a cloud. It is a cloudy, rainy, windy day with nothing to do but stay inside and mope (not really, but that's how it feels). And cry. Walking the halls, talking to myself, yelling my frustrations to God, asking "Why? Why can't it happen to me?" and hearing only the hollow beat of my broken heart in reply.

My friend messaged me that she was pregnant by her boyfriend of so many months. She wanted a baby, and she got what she wanted. Simple as that.
I sat there, stunned, reading the message again.

"We're having a baby together," the words mocked.
A baby. Together..
Slowly I typed the words, "Ok" and hit send. It was all I could do.
My husband was sitting next to me. I heard hollow words telling him that our friend was pregnant. He turned to look at me quickly, his eyes wide with shock. Then, as usual, they faded to normal and he turned back to what he was doing.

I felt a numbness stretch from the top of my head, across my eyes, and into my thoughts.
The breaking point had been met. My heart had been stretched taut for too long and finally, I was letting go. The splintered shards of my soul untangled and fell around me as I fell with it and I cried to God. I told him I was angry, that it wasn't fair and how much more can one person take? Is this supposed to happen? Everyone close to me getting what I want in waves but not me? Just when I get through one person's pregnancy, there's another. How can I do it again? I can't, not again! What about my husband? He deserves to be a father! Why did he pick me? Why does this have to be my burden?
After awhile I looked around me. The green clock on the wall in the den ticked it's usual steady sound, as if nothing had happened, as if a storm of rage hadn't just swept through the house. The dogs lay in their usual spots sleeping and dreaming. The heater kicked off. All was calm and quiet. And I had no answers.

After I cried all I could cry, and then a little more,I messaged my sister (texted, not called. I was too emotional at this point). My sister had many miscarriages and just as much trouble conceiving. I remember when she finally birthed her second child we were all so relieved! I don't know that we could take the emotions we felt for her and from her again when the pregnancies failed. So much misery!

I asked her, "What did you do when you had all you could take?"

She told me she cried out to God in her anguish and despair and told Him "I can't do this anymore. YOU take it, it's in your hands now".

She said anytime she started to feel those feelings or think those despairing thoughts, she would say a little prayer and push them as far away from her as possible.

While I was out of town for the baby shower, we had to go buy cups for punch and balloons for the mailbox. I was looking around the little store when I saw a display of necklaces. They were chain necklaces with a charm on the end, that was shaped like a Bible and was a locket. I bought my sister and I both on a whim ( I say whim lightly. I was leaving when I turned around and decided to buy them).

Back to my sister, her advice sounded good. The next few days I wore the locket and any time I started to feel myself sinking, I mentally gathered all those thoughts and feelings, physically opened my prayer box, put the mental feelings inside of the box, and shut it up quickly.

It worked.

Then something happened....

To be continued due to the time change and it is now 2 a.m. and I have to be at work at 8 :)