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Foreign Creatures

The beginning of our adoption process

family, adoptionJessica1 Comment

Here's a post I wrote in January 2016



Aaron and I attended an 8 hour orientation with Bethany Christian Services tonight and there are so many things racing through our minds. With the advice of some adoptee parents, I decided to journal our process - for us, for our future kids, and for you. I am writing this in January and I don't know when or if this will ever get published on my blog. There are things I want to share...the excitement and joy about adopting, concern about the birthparents and waiting period, how faith and prayer plays a huge role in this, what others may think, and why we want to adopt. I'm unsure where to start talking about these things so I'll start off with when we started thinking about adopting.

Plans for children
Adoption was on our mind before we got engaged. I think a lot of couples start off this way. Aaron was more into adoption than I was. I just wanted kids so I just considered adoption as a possibility. We both agreed to have kids first and then adopt because we wanted to adopt an available child and because it's a picture of how God adopted us to be His children. We got married in 2013 and lived our lives just us 2 for 2 years. We talked about having kids after 2 years of marriage. But right before our 2 year anniversary (in May 2015) we bought a home and decided to wait to have kids until our home was organized and livable so we don't have to worry about moving things around while I'm pregnant. Our goal was then to get pregnant starting January 2016, which meant that we had to finish organizing and decorating our home in 7 months. We didn't doubt that we would have trouble getting pregnant. We never took a fertility test but just assumed that it'll be easy to get pregnant. Wishful thinking we know. So we had our plan set. Get pregnant beginning of 2016 and have a kid by the end of the year.

How adoption came to our mind sooner than later
Last September I videoed a coworker (and his family) who adopted a kid from Korea. One of my company's purpose is to serve and care for others so our CEO wanted the adoptive parents to share their adoption process and wanted me to film their story to be shared with the rest of the company. I'm a graphic designer at work but I also do some video stuff - so that's why I'm the one who would be filming. I finished the video, learned more about adoption, shared it with Aaron and discussed and confirmed again with Aaron that we want to adopt in the future.

One month later I was thinking about the adoption video at work (not sure why). Maybe I was viewing the videos I've done in 2015. And I thought to myself "why not just adopt now? What are we waiting for?" That day Aaron picked me up from work and I told him what I thought. To my surprise he said "Okay, let's do it"...I didn't think he would be up for it so soon. For us it seemed so simple to just do it now. We didn't have a great reason to have biological kids first...we just wanted kids. It just seemed right to do it and we didn't have to discuss it further.

Finding an agency
The day after, I started to look at adoption agencies and asked my coworker for a bit more info. Aaron and I needed more information before doing anything so we signed up for a couple of meetings. At this point we knew we wanted to adopt an infant and have a closed adoption. Then we attended the International Adoption meeting at Bethany in November. We learned so much at this meeting: why Bethany encourages an open adoption, restrictions on adopting internationally, and what is required to adopt internationally. We were also convinced to have an open adoption instead of a closed adoption, which I will explain in a later post. So we came out of this meeting so confident and excited to start the process and so sure that adopting through Bethany was the right choice - especially because the gospel is part of their mission. They put so much love and care to the pregnant mothers. They give resources to the women and see if they are fit to raise a child; they don't push them towards adoption but instead give them that option. Aaron and I were convicted after this meeting and felt so strongly about adoption and why God put this in our hearts.

Is it a good time to adopt?
Though we felt so much more passionate about adoption after our first informational meeting, we wanted a kid fast. We didn't want to wait another year or 2 to have our adopted kid in our home. We wondered if we could get pregnant and adopt at the same time. I asked the agency and they said if we do get pregnant then our adoption application will have to be put on hold and we wouldn't be able to adopt until our kid is 1 year old (the rule now is if the kid is 6 months old). Aaron and I were struggling with this fact. We knew adopting would push our family plan further and that was hard for us. We prayed for God's wisdom on what we should do. Then we decided to have our first kid and then to adopt our second. But then I felt a tug in my heart that I wanted our first kid to be adopted. I wanted our kid to know that we chose to adopt him or her first. I told Aaron this and he was on board. We felt that God's plan for us was to adopt first.

Are we doing it or not?
Fast forward to today - the day we attended the domestic infant orientation with Bethany. It was an 8 hour orientation and oh my goodness we learned so much. We heard stories from a couple adopted parents and a birthmom, went thru the paperwork process of adopting, what would happen during the waiting period, and what happens during placement and post placement. I cried like 7x since the meeting. A whirlwind of thoughts.

During this meeting I struggled again with the fact that the average wait time to adopt a baby is 2 years. And this is average. The most may be 4 years. I got emotional and couldn't accept the fact that we would have to wait another 2 years to have a child. I cried and told Aaron that I'm not sure if adopting is what I want to do first even though earlier I said that I wanted our adopted kid to know that we chose him/her first. Very contrary but that's just how I felt. Aaron remained the same - he was willing to wait 2 years. After listening to the rest of the orientation, I changed my mind again. Geez right? On our way home I told Aaron how I came to the conclusion that adopting first is what I want to do. These are my reasons:

  • God is tugging on my heart to adopt a kid just as God adopted us to his family. I guess so much that we got to do it now
  • The adoption process will surely test Aaron and I in our marriage and us as individuals - and I want to feel it and be invested in it
  • God may be wanting us to use the waiting period to run full force to serve the church. We're involved in different ministries at church and I'm not sure if we're ready to step down in some of those ministries to focus on our family

If I were to sum up this post it would be this: Should we adopt or not? I first said yes, then no, then yes, then no, then yes let's do it. We are very excited yet scared to start this journey and I thank you for reading along :)

Let's Be Open

thoughts, adoptionJessicaComment

This year has been insane. Or maybe that's just the nature of Aaron and me. So let me just let it out and tell you what's going on. I'll explain more in future posts but here's what's been happening since our Paris trip.

  1. Aaron and I are planning to adopt
  2. Aaron and I were almost matched with a child but the adoption plan didn't go through. We we're sad to say the least
  3. I quit my job as a full-time graphic designer at a corporate company, where I've been working at for almost 4 years
  4. Aaron and I opened a poke shop
  5. Our guestroom's custom bookshelf is finally done

I'm pretty proud of #5 btw. Is this God's plan for us? We shall see.

Updates and a Trip to Paris


I needed to organize my life before I could blog again so here is my partial return. Now on to some "fun" updates.

Sync to Dropbox NOW
So this is what happened. A month ago my work computer crashed and everything was gone. Two weeks after that happened, my home desktop computer crashed while I was syncing my files to Dropbox. Everything was gone but then I took it to Di-No Computers to get it fixed. And they did it! I thought it was gone forever but they recovered all my files. So I have all my blog posts, client work, photos since 2004, and a ton of other lovely things. I took more photos in high school than I do now so if I lost those photos, I would've been crushed.

Off to Paris
Aaron and I are off to Paris today! We are so excited but also nervous. We're excited because we just want to relax. We got our professional and personal things tidied up and we're ready to leave our duties behind to focus on our marriage and seeing Paris. Being there will also inspire us to dream big and to come up with ideas for music, art, and how we can better serve our church together. I hope to come back from Paris feeling rejuvenated and ready to create.

So we're also nervous because it's our first time traveling just us 2 internationally, it'll be raining, and we're trusting my organization and planning for this trip. I love scheduling but traveling to Paris is foreign to me, so this is a true test if I planned well. I talked to a lot of people who went to Paris and I read many blogs and articles on what to do there. There's just so many things to do that we decided to play it cool and go at our own pace and go to whatever bakery and cafe smell lures us.

Perhaps I'll blog a bit while I'm there. I still have a lot to share from our Japan trip last summer and on our home that I'm excited to post. I'll also be sharing some exciting news soon! Not yet because I'm not ready to share it publicly. Just know that it is something we're very excited about and that it's worth reading.

A Break in LA


Last Friday my friends and I took PTO to just have a day of fun...AND IT WAS FUN. We started off with make your own poke Thursday night then watched She's the Man. Friday we started off our day early and had non-stop fun.

Tacos Tumbras a Tomas (in Grand Central Market)- $3 tacos for a load of food. I tried the pork intestine and birria (goat) and so yummmyyy
Berlin Currywurst (in GCM) - we got the brat and fries
Eggslut (in GCM) - we tried the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for $7
DTLA Cheese + Kitchen (in GCM) - afternoon cheese for snack. We tried gouda and some other soft cheese I forgot the name of
G & B Coffee (in GCM) - Iced coffee to start the day off right
Cha for Tea - my favorite boba shop. I got the honey green milk tea
Relax Massage Skincare - $18 foot massage for 1 hour. It was perfect especially since we walked for over 3 hours
Pho 79 - this is near my house so we just walked over. $6.95 for their pho soup dishes

LA Flower Market - WOW love it. I don't think I ever been and I want to go again. I was able to make 8 bouquets from the flowers and greenery I bought
Pop Physique - we got a free class for checking in on yelp. It was a barre workout
WB Studio Tour - 3 hour tour and it was so fun! My favorite part was the prop part and seeing the Pretty Little Liars set. My phone died so I didn't get any photos. We weren't allowed to take photos at the PLL set because the show is still going on. It was cool cause they were also shooting the new Gilmore Girls for Netflix while we were there. We weren't allowed in that area. Another favorite was the Friends set
Think Tank Gallery - Break Bread exhibit. This was a free exhibit and it was quite cool. The artists had cake on the wall and a nice neon sign right when you enter

Japan: Fukui Part 1


Fukui is where my brother-in-law Nate lives. He's been there for about 2 years now teaching English. We were told that older people lived in this country area and they're kind of known for dinosaurs. I got this really cute blue and yellow dinosaur backpack for my nephew. Places are not that close in proximity so we rented a car. It was great staying here because we got to visit Nate's church, where he worked, and we got to do a lot of traditional stuff like making soba noodles, going to festivals, and an onsen. We spent 5 days here so we took our time and relaxed :)

See after the photos to see a list of our expenses

Festival - there are a lot of festivals in the summer and they're free so I recommend visiting one while you're there and eat as much as you can. We tried scallops, takoyaki, egg waffle and crepe!
Lpa Shopping Center - we shopped here twice and there's a ton of stuff from clothing, gifts, food, to stationery items
Bunkyo Gospel Center - we attended this church on Sunday. It was great to see Christians worshipping God from a different country. They also had english translators and a lot of english speaking people there
Wego - clothing shop where I bought a cute skirt and top
Seria - equivalent to daiso or the dollar store in US. Tons of great stuff
Tea Ceremony - we attended a tea ceremony for the junior high and high schoolers. We decided not to participate in it and just watched
School - we went to Nate's school and they had summer class going on. We had to wear slippers indoors and got to see some students play the taiko

Hacchouya - dinner here was great! We ordered some sashimi and hot pot. We went here twice because they open late
Circle K - convenient store that you can find anywhere
Venice de Bakery - located in Fukui station, it's a great place to get bread for breakfast or anytime of the day really
Akiyashi Yakitori - we had dinner here with Nate's church friends. We tried basically every yakitori they had and it was delicious!!
Revolving sushi - it was fun going to these restaurants. One trip we got to order from a LCD screen and another place we just had to grab the fish off the revolving belt

EXPENSES (for 2) by days according to video
Day 1 - Fukui
Hacchouya dinner - 2000
Circle K ice - 498

Day 2 - Fukui
Venice de Bakery - 713
Doutor iced green tea - 340
Ham - 500
Scallop - 400
Takoyaki - 500
Egg waffle - 300
Strawberry crepe - 500
Snail shell- 300
Seven eleven - 895

Day 3 - Fukui
Venice de Bakery - 456
Rice - 300
Wego - 3218
Seria - 108
Headband - 842
Grove headband - 1512
Akiyashi Yakitori - 3827

My Current Priorities


February has been a busy month for Aaron and I. Beginning of January I got pretty stressed about all the things I had to do. So Aaron helped me make a list of my priorities. I'm not saying I rather do one than the other but if you gave me a task in each category, I would do it in this order.

  1. Family
    This involves household stuff and spending time with family. Household stuff like cleaning the house and making sure we have lunch and dinner food prep. Seems like this shouldn't be my main priority but keeping a home organized keeps me sane and it's a way that I can serve my husband.
  2. Aaron
    Aaron and I have been Disney Annual Passholders ever since we were dating and Disneyland and Disney California Adventure has been our go to dating spot since. It's a good time for us to be together, stay creative, and have a good break.
  3. Church
    I teach Sunday school every 4 weeks, attend our young adult group on Thursdays, counsel 5th grade girls on Friday nights, have small group once a month on Saturdays, and just go to church to learn about God and to worship with others. I'm committed to our church and I love it. We've been praying if we should stop serving in some of the ministries but as for now we want to keep going.
  4. Work
    This means my actual full-time job as a graphic designer. This might not be considered a priority since it's something I have to do anyway. But I would put it here.
  5. Freelance
    I focus on my paid freelance work first and then I'll do my unpaid ones. I would work on freelance after dinner or go to a coffee shop on the weekend to finish up my work. I love freelance work and wish I could make it a higher priority but that's just not doable right now.
  6. Blogging
    I only blog twice a week and that's still a bit tough for me. I want to create quality content, which takes me about 1 hour to 4 hours to create/write. It's been getting harder to blog twice a week since this blog isn't my main priority. Sounds so negative! But looking at this list it makes sense right?
  7. Designing for church
    We're updating our church since it's been 30 years since we did anything major to it exteriorly, interiorly, and now digitally. I'm excited to design for our church but it has been real slow progress :(

All of these things are exciting but it's just about balancing my time and being wise on what to take on and to say no to.

Things are still on the wild side but without God and the support from Aaron, I don't know how I'm beasting through everything right now. And I still got the chance to relax over the weekend and show binge. God has really given us time to just relax in the midst of all this.

Japan: Kyoto


Third day, another prefecture. KYOTO it is! This was our most sightseeing day. There's also a chance that I might not be labeling these places correctly :) But know that it's all around Kyoto anyway. We went straight to Fushimi Inari-taisha after visiting Nara Park then spent the day sightseeing. There are luggage lockers in popular tourist locations in the train stations so that's where we left our luggage while we travelled in between prefectures. I also bought a lot of handkerchiefs in Kyoto...the patterns and fabric here are great.

We stayed at an Airbnb and this is where I got royally owned. I woke up with 10+ bug bites and regretted not bringing medicine to Japan with me. After our first night in Kyoto we went to the market early morning to get breakfast and snacks for our 4 hour trip to Fukui (post to be released next). We ate our breakfast at our Airbnb then went to the train station right after that. We spent 1.5 days in Kyoto. Now watch our adventure!

See after the photos to see a list of our expenses

Fushimi Inari-taisha - so amazing and so glad we made it here. This is the place with those orange red structures
Bamboo Forest - definitely a must see. Bamboos to the sky and it was just green everywhere. My favorite place we visited in Kyoto
Toei Kyoto Studio - this is like a universal studios park in LA in terms of how they make films but no rides or anything. There are some free shows and a lot of other shows that you have to pay more to see. We didn't pay extra for the shows and were still able to enjoy a good amount of the studio. If you're short on time, you can pass on this place
Nishiki Market - it was closed by the time we got here. We were bummed cause we really wanted to get some food there but it's time
Gion Corner - we didn't make it in time but Nate and Hannah got to go! They saw a geisha show and they said it was great

Super Daikokuya Market - we grabbed breakfast here in the morning. It was a normal grocery market and they had tempura, sushi, and some other breakfast goodies that you can grab yourself. It was pretty tasty and a fun breakfast to have
Vermillion Espresso Bar - yummy coffee and a comfort drink if you will. This place was located on the outskirts of Fushimi Inari-taisha
Buckwheat noodles (unknown restaurant, located near Fushimi Inari-taisha) - I'm not a fan of soba noodles but this was on my list of things to try in Japan. I tried the cold soba with dipping sauce and the soba noodle soup. I preferred the latter though
Ramen (unknown restaurant) - we didn't eat dinner until late at night and found this one ramen shop that was still open. The price was very good and the ramen was less intense. Good meal right before we had to sleep
Cold Stone - okay what? Yes, there's one in Japan! It was a cart so they didn't have the whole ice cream show like we do in LA, it's more like a ice cream popsicle stick with real fruits. With the weather so hot this was the perfect snack and I enjoyed it better than the Cold Stone in LA
Milk Tea - you can pass on the milk tea here. There were no good boba shops. We enjoyed Japan's tea a lot better
Family Mart - this is like LA's 7-Eleven...there's one almost every other block. We made sure to grab a big bottle of water everyday from the mart

EXPENSES (for 2)
Day 2 - Kyoto
Locker - 800
Drink mango - 190
Station to Ken Katsu - 1120
Station to Fushimi Nara - 420
Buckwheat noodles champon - 1360
Baggage hold - 600
Handkerchief - 360
Vermillion Coffee - 500
Station to Kyoto - 280
Pepsi - 100
Station to Gion - 230
Cold stone mango shortcake - 480
Milk tea - 108
Ramen - 1000

Day 3 - Kyoto
Super Daikokuya market - 1033
Kyoto locker - 700
Saga Arayashima station - 440
Ice cream green tea, shaved ice - 740
Handkerchief - 366
Station to Toei Studio Park - 280
Family Mart mango, pizza, water - 444
Toei Studio Park - 4400
To Kyoto - 40