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Foreign Creatures

Heartaches

adoption, thoughtsJessica4 Comments
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On Tuesday we got a text from our agency that they haven’t been able to get in contact with the birthmom and that they’re hoping for a response by the end of the week. That moment I felt so heartbroken. I felt that that was it. Our son wouldn’t be coming home. Our would be son, the boy we called our son will now be an unknown, a stranger.

Yesterday our agency called to tell us that they still haven’t heard anything from the birthmom. Baby was due Oct. 26, we assumed she went to the hospital Nov. 2 because the hospital’s social worker said they couldn’t disclose anything. It was then up to the birthmom to let our agency know what has been happening - but she never called. There’s still no clear answer as to what happened. We assumed that she just changed her mind so we called it done yesterday. We were put back on the adoption waitlist. We were back to where we started.

For the past month, we’ve been saying everyday that this could be the day baby Lee will be born. As the days came closer and then past the due date, Aaron was more hopeful and I was less hopeful…but both feeling anxious. I didn’t want a baby shower and I didn’t want to tell people his name for the fear that this adoption plan would not go thru. I hate that I was right…that I needed to guard my heart in case it didn’t happen. These past 2 months have been so difficult. I never felt so many emotions in such a short amount of time. I would be so hopeful and joyous then an hour later, I would feel my heart aching in anticipation. My eyes have been bruised for crying so much this week. The only thing that stopped me from crying was knowing that crying would make my headache more severe. I was grieving over the loss of a child that was never truly ours.

I want to move on and to not feel sorrowful anymore. I believe a part of that process is to share my feelings into words. That my words and feelings will be out of my head. I also want to share our experience so I will not have to repeat our story for those who ask and who have questions. Because I know once I open my mouth about baby Lee, I will cry.

Much of the pain we’ve been feeling is thinking that we were going to have a child and preparing our hearts and house for him. Another part is because we wanted to let our family and friends be a part of our adoption journey. No matter how careful we were in guarding our hearts, we didn’t think we would feel this sense of sadness.

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Physically preparing for baby Lee

We prepared our work and church life. Aaron didn’t schedule himself to serve and I told the high school ministry that I wouldn’t be coming back until January. We came up with a work plan and a babysitting plan for the rest of the year. We got our paid family leave documents ready and had a hospital bag in our trunk.

Once we found out we were matched late August, we told ourselves we wouldn’t start buying things until October - just in case something happened. We prepared what we needed and started a registry for our family and close friends. I did a mass clean up of our library room, which would be the nursery. We bought everything we needed - crib, stroller, baby formula, carrier, and just everything. We set up all the furniture, made pillows, artwork, had our friends help us set up the crib, and I bought the cutest, hippest clothes from H&M and Zara…even though he wouldn’t fit in it until he was a year old. I’ve always wanted to buy baby clothes even before we were matched. And now that we were matched, I had the freedom to buy baby clothes. I researched cloth diapers, what detergent we needed for them, and washed and cleaned all the clothes and items that will be in contact with him. We finished the nursery room 2 weeks before the due date. We were so ready. All we needed was our son to come home.

Emotionally preparing for baby Lee

We didn’t want to get too excited too early, which was difficult for us. We were so excited to be parents after 2.5 years of waiting to be parents. I wrote a letter to the birthmom that I hoped to give her when the baby was born. I wrote that we’ve been praying for her, what his name is and how we came up with it, and that if she ever needs to reach out to us, we are here.

As it came closer to his due date, we dreamt how we would have him for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That we would not be able to travel and take trips for the next couple of months…and that gave us so much joy. We wanted to be home with the baby and bond with him. We were looking forward to taking him to church and loving him. I would imagine holding him in my arms and joke with Aaron the different ways I would hold him with the new swaddle I bought. I would pretend to change him in our Noah’s basket. I would occasionally walk into the nursery, turn on our dimmer lights (that my dad helped us install for those late night feedings), open drawers to make sure we have all the items we needed, and leave the room to tell Aaron how that room will soon be occupied by a baby. My heart was ready and open in caring for a child who’s DNA was not ours. I feared I wouldn’t be able to bond with him but even thru that fear, I was excited to finally be a mom.

Rooting for us

We first told our immediate family that we were matched. We then slowly told our close friends and then to the people who knew we were adopting - my coworkers, my Sunday School co-teachers, and even the pastoral staff. We wanted people to know and to not be surprised one day when we show up to church with a baby. We wanted people to pray for us. We wanted people to know of God’s goodness to us. We wanted people to know that adoption is so special to us and we wanted to share the joys of it (and now the challenges and difficulties of it). I was excited that our baby will be born the same season our other friends were expecting. That we will be parents together and have our kids in the same grade.

Around the due date, our friends would ask us if we had any updates, if the baby is here yet…I loved knowing that they cared, that they wanted to be a part of this journey with us. I felt so loved…but as the days went by without hearing any updates ourselves, I’ve dreaded hearing their concerns and questions. We had a whole team praying and rooting for us. The difficulty now is knowing that we have to explain to our family and friends that there is in fact no baby. The baby that we have been joyfully priding over and ready to show the world, is in fact not here.

Loss of a child

I was never pregnant nor did we ever miscarry. I don’t understand the feeling of losing a child who was in me. But I do still feel a sense of loss. I shared that I felt some sense of loss the 2nd call we received from our agency. I cried that time from thinking that we could be parents in a 2 day span. But in this case, I felt like we were going to be parents for 2 months. Because we physically and emotionally prepared for this baby, and then he never came to us…I feel empty.

If we were to bring home the baby, the birthmom would have this sense of loss. There’s no win-win in this situation. We need to be hopeful to know that the child is where he’s suppose to be.

Now we rest

We’ve been spending the past couple of days sharing our sadness, eating out, going to Disneyland, and sharing our lessons from this. This weekend we plan to put away all the baby stuff away into the closet and to move the crib from our room to the nursery. We’re still not okay. But I’m hoping writing this will help me thru this process. I plan to take it easy, to take a break from work, and to create art. Maybe even take on a new project. Not sure. I’m heartbroken. But I’m trying to find hope in God. To remember that He is faithful. That I don’t need kids to be happy in life. That that’s not the end goal.

Aaron and I have each other. He tells me it’s okay to cry and to tell him that I’m sad. He told me he loves me more than ever. I am confident that thru this difficulty we will be fine and will love each other and God more. We knew this adoption journey will be tough. Not this tough, but tough. We know that some people won’t understand why we chose to adopt first. Even thru all this, we still want to adopt. We just don’t know what our next plan is.

An Ugly Waiting Mom

adoption, thoughtsJessicaComment

This post was written 2 months before being matched. It’s been in my drafts but I still think it’s very important to share. There’s the good and the bad and here you will see my downfalls.

It's been almost 28 months since we’ve been a waiting family. Though we have a strong desire to adopt, we have moments of wanting to stop the process and to try having biological children. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been pregnant for 28 months. Just waiting for the baby to come.

We've struggled a lot in this adoption process and a lot of the feelings I've had are sinful. And I want to share my struggles here while I live thru it rather than after I lived thru it. Get ready for the real raw mean Jess. I'm not saying I constantly hold this bitterness and cruel attitude but I do have bad days.

I want to note that these are MY feelings as a waiting mom. I know there are other waiting parents who have their own struggles and some other couples who wrestle with their own struggles of infertility and the like. I want to be real about an aspect of the adoption process and the challenges that goes with adopting EVEN BEFORE actually adopting.

I won't like Instagram photos of my pregnant friends or photos of their baby
I see it and sometimes I will like it and sometimes I will keep on scrolling. It’s difficult for me to be happy.

I won't go to your baby shower
Sometimes I go and sometimes I don't. I don't feel bad if I already have plans on the baby shower date. That would actually be a relief and would be easier for me to decline the invite and to not even allow myself to be jealous.

Mother's Day/Father's Day
These days are a reminder that I'm not yet a mom and Aaron is not yet a dad. This day was hard for me our first year of waiting. This year’s Mother's Day was better but I know I intentionally didn't wish mothers at our church Happy Mother's Day.

Don’t tell me “enjoy your life without kids now because soon you won’t have the time” or “you’ll understand when you’re a parent”
My friend who is also dealing with waiting to be a parent shared this with me and I can totally relate! I actually don’t want to have more time to sleep! I want those sleepless nights you guys talk about and I want my days to be centered on only the kids.

Looking at other waiting families
Our agency has a waiting family portal. When I’m really struggling with adoption, I would go to that website and see which families are “new” to our agency or who are still there. We’re all on the list and we all have a rank by how long we’ve been with the agency. Sometimes I see why a family isn’t up there or I see a family that was there when we started the adoption process and they’re on their 2nd adoption already! This is such a dangerous thing to do. Why do I do it?! Sometimes I need some confirmation from other families who are adopting. Sometimes I do it in hopes of seeing less people on the website, which may increase our chances of adopting.

I guess I should end this post on a happy note. This whole adoption process has given me a new perspective on parents who are waiting to adopt or can’t have a child that easily. I feel more sensitive to those who are also waiting. And when I do have a kid, I want to avoid these pitfalls and be sensitives to couples without kids or even singles who are not married but want to.

We got matched!

adoption, thoughtsJessica2 Comments
 Us right before meeting the birthmom

Us right before meeting the birthmom

Our adoption timeline

God is faithful and takes care of us. And the best way I can tell our story is with a timeline.

January 2009 - Aaron and I started dating

January 2013 - Aaron and I get engaged

July 2013 - Aaron and I get married

November 2015 - Aaron and I attend our first adoption informational mtg.

January 2016 - Aaron and I start the adoption process/paperwork

March 2016 - Aaron and I are officially approved to adopt domestically and are a waiting family.

June 2016 - We get a call that there’s a 4 yo boy who needs a family (it didn’t go thru)

March 2018 - We get a call that there’s a newborn who needs a family (it didn’t go thru)

August 24 2018 - We get a call that a birthmom wants to meet us

August 29 2018 - We met with the birthmom and she chose us to parent

October 26 2018 - Expected due date of our baby boy

Even with this timeline, so much more has happened that showed us God’s power and will for us. And I would love to share it with you all! Somehow, someday. There’s so much to share about God’s love for us. And that’s a great thing.

Meeting the birthmom

We were so nervous meeting the birthmom. So many questions run thru my head like should I hug her when I meet her or shake her hand? Will this be THE ONE? Will she like us? Will she pick us? What will she look like? If we get matched, will this be the ONLY time I meet my future kids’ birthmom? How will I remember everything? How will she respond if I ask her why she chose adoption? Will she tell us anything about her history? It’s a floodgate of unanswered questions and so so so many emotional feelings before meeting her. Adoption is such a special journey and I cry thinking about it. It is so hard on so many levels.

We won’t be sharing much about the birthmom to respect her privacy and our family’s privacy. I’m still trying to figure out how to say this when our family and friends ask us about the history of our baby boy. What we will share is that he is a boy, it is a closed adoption, and you will find out about his ethnicity when he is born.

We’re matched, now what?

And now that we are matched I have many other questions! Will she change her mind? How much do I love my baby boy right now? If I pour my whole heart in this, in the end will I be devastated if it doesn’t happen? How invested should I be? Who should I tell? How do I handle the issues of his identity when he grows up? Will he be accepted in our community? How do I protect him? Will I be able to bond with him?

Why we’re not sharing his name and ethnicity

His name is special to us. The Sunday before we met with the birthmom, we decided on a name for our son. We previously came up with 5 names for our 5 future kids but we decided to explore other options. On that Sunday we came up with a name. We came up with a middle name the 2nd potential adoption plan call we received from our agency. A couple days after we came up with the first name, I called our agency to ask where we will be meeting the pregnancy counselor and the birthmom. She gave me an address, I looked it up, and the name of the place is the same name we chose for our son on that Sunday. And after we got matched, we decided to keep that name.

Why are we not telling people his name? 1. it’s nice to have some secrets kept between us and 2. I’m still guarding my heart for this adoption. I feel like sharing the name makes it more real that this is OUR SON. But in reality, nothing is confirmed. Only a verbal agreement. Once the baby is born, the birthmom will have to sign a paper that relinquishes her rights. Then that paper will be sent to Sacramento then we will officially be parents. I just don’t feel ready to say his name to people thinking that he is OUR BABY. I know I said it several times in this post but that’s the struggle I’m dealing with. How much investment should I be having? And if this does happen, I wouldn’t want to rob our boy of the love he could’ve gotten from me. I would want him to know that I loved him even if he ends up not being my son. That I tried my best.

What about his ethnicity? The simple answer is that it’s not important that you know. If I tell you his ethnicity, am I just filling your curiousity? Does it matter what ethnicity he is? In our application, we put that we are open to any ethnicity. It would be great if we did have a diverse family. But if God doesn’t will it then we’ll be happy with that too - because it doesn’t matter what our family looks like. But whether he’s asian, black, white, hispanic, indian, or whatever he is…he’s going to be a part of our family. He will first be known as our son. Not our adopted son. Not labeled by his ethnicity of being a white (or whatever ethnicity) son in a Chinese family.

I’m also saying it’s not not important though. His culture and identity is a part of him and it’s not something I want to take away from him. I want to expose him to his roots. I want to learn about his history and I want him to embrace his history and roots.

Our journey

These are the most common questions we’ve been getting and my general feelings. This journey isn’t over yet. And when we bring our baby home, the journey continues. When we share our story to our family and friends, I don’t want to forget the 2.5 years of journey we went thru. Yes, the end is happy but the journey to get here was so telling.

In the end, all these questions I have will not matter. All these fears that has built up will be none if I trust God and lean on Him. I know that God will take care of my family whether or not this happens. But I share all this with you to share of God’s provision for our family.

Macrame and Succulents Birthday Party

diy, partyJessicaComment
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My friend and I were hired to do a doljabi in September in the theme of macrame and succulents! This was another fun event for us especially since we love working with textiles and greenery. Like the first event, I created a moodboard before purchasing and creating items. It’s important that I do this so our client can see our plans and can comment on what they like and don’t like. I would keep editing the moodboard until they love it!

After they approve the moodboard, I get started on creating and collecting the necessary items. Then a week or 2 before the event I’ll let our client know what’s been happening and let them know every detail of items I have (forks, number of cake stands, etc) just so we’re prepared.

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For this event, I used faux eucalyptus and some succulents on the cakes. This really helped the cake pop and be a part of the dessert table.

They also had a taco cart and a churro truck! I loved decorating for this event even thru the heat. It was difficult for us to do the activities since the balloons would pop because it was sooo hot. But still a great event!

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Photography by Alyssa Ostorga

A New Perspective on Our Adoption Journey

adoption, thoughtsJessica6 Comments
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Just recently did I see our adoption journey in a new light. For the past month there has been a lot of events, commitment, and changes going on in our life. I started a new part-time job as a Visual Communications and Designer at our church (which I love), styled 2 birthday parties, interior designing a friends' house, and serving at another church doing children's music. And this has been only 1 month! I am so grateful for these blessings and the time and opportunity to do these things. The best thing is that I LOVE doing all of this. We are so busy and our calendar has no empty time slots but even so, I'm not stressed, our marriage is going well, and we're constantly looking for new opportunities to host events and do more. God is definitely providing for us and giving us the energy and heart to serve.

I use to see us doing things as an in between before we have a child - "while we wait, let's own a poke and boba shop", "before we have a kid, let's host more parties and invite people over". There was this time to "kill" while we waited to be parents. My mentality was that we needed to stay busy to help us with the waiting period - we just need to ride it out. BUT now there's a new perspective - we get to do all these things BECAUSE we are adopting. It took me over 2 years to figure out all these blessings in life is because we want to adopt.

 Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

If we didn't go on this adoption journey and tried to have kids biologically, maybe we wouldn't have gotten all these opportunities. Our time would have been much more limited. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten to be a staff at church. I would probably be too busy planning my own kids' birthday parties to help plan other kids' birthday parties. Even helping my friend design her house...I was the one who asked her because I thought it was fun. I'm so happy she said yes and that she trusts me! Interior designing is just a hobby of mine and when I saw this opportunity to JUST DO IT FOR FUN, I jumped on it. I have time so why not do things I won't normally be able to do.

God knows the plans He has for us. He knew our desire and passion for arts, to stay creative, and to do things we love while we waited to adopt. He knows our longing to be parents but these past 2 years have been so incredible without a kid too!

When God calls us to have a kid (and I hope it's thru adoption), I know that these past 2+ years of these blessings in life is BECAUSE of this baby. We have a lot to be thankful for for this one baby we have been waiting for. Adoption isn't easy but sometimes God reveals and grants us peace and patience in no other way.

Mountain Rabbit Themed Birthday Party

party, design, diyJessicaComment
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I am excited to share photos of a first birthday party I helped decorate along with the help of my friends Kirstie, Tiffany L, and Tiffany I! The baby girls' name is Beatrix and the party was based off her favorite song, Mountain Rabbit. It was fun coming up with the concept for how the backdrop, welcome table, and seating decorations would go. Here's the mood board I came up with and had her approve before I started gathering and creating the necessary items.

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For the most part I'm happy with how everything turned out. There are things I would've liked to add and some other things to improve but I'm so happy to have the opportunity to create a party like this. Amazing photos from the event taken by Susie Bakonis.

It was fun being able to design the paper goods for her birthday as well. I hand wrote her name, made the raffle tickets, seating chart, and the activity sheets. My friend and I also stayed after set up to run the activity center - balloon making and face painting. It was fun for us to stay at the party and make sure the kids were having a blast too. It reminded us of our Fall Festival days at our church :)

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Future Church Library Concept

design, churchJessicaComment

The last room I designed a concept for is the library. I wanted this space to be filled with seating for studying and for working and I wanted to line one whole wall with a bookshelf. There's also a nook for a more comfortable reading space. For the walls, I did a quick vibrant geometric design.

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I was thinking about making a part of this space child friendly but in the end I decided not to because there would've been more factors to consider. I chose muted colors for the furniture to create a calming vibe. Though now looking at it, the walls are not calming. But I needed a quick solution in the 1 month we had to design this project. I also really like these concrete pendants above the tables. I also wanted the tables to be perpendicular to the wall to make the space look a bit wider.

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Just 2 weeks ago our church formed an AV and interior design team for the new building. The pastors finalized what each room would be utilized for and it's now our job to come up with a more concrete design. The project will take several months so there won't be any progress to share just yet. But there are definitely more designs to share in the future!

Future Church Children Room Concept

church, designJessicaComment

Let's move on to the children's room upstairs! I wanted this space to be themed. So we temporarily chose a mountain theme. We didn't want a ton of color because we know this space would be filled with kids and colorful craft items.

Again, this isn't a set design. This room might not even end up being a children's room. But for the purpose of the video, we chose to design for a children's worship space.

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I wanted a stage to create hierarchy and a story-telling vibe. One side of the wall will hold all craft materials and miscellaneous items while the other side of the wall has an enlarged map of the world. For the seating, I wanted something that could work as a seat and as a table. So hypothetically, the bins can be taken out from underneath, flipped over and be used as a seat and the top part of the furniture would be used as a table. HYPOTHETICALLY! hahaa. The design on the ceiling acts as the cloud and creates dimension and interest in the space.

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So it's a pretty simple design that could use a bit more work. But for our timeframe and budget, this design did it's purpose.

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