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Foreign Creatures

adoption

Snociety's Goodbye Party and the Unexpected Call

restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment
Video by Terrence.

It's been 1.5 months since we closed Snociety and MAN OH MAN has it been a great 1.5 months. We had our Snociety Goodbye party on March 31st and it was great to see so many of our family and friends who came out to support us and to celebrate this part of our journey. Aaron and I discussed how it felt like our wedding. I love parties and I really enjoyed the day with everyone.

But there's a story that I want to share that happened at the end of that party.

At 6pm that night (after the party was over), I got a text from our adoption agency asking us if she can call us within the hour to discuss a potential baby who's ready to be adopted. My initial thought was "are you serious? We literally just ended Snociety and we MIGHT have a baby". I was in shock and in awe in God's timing for even the possibility of adopting that night.

Our social worker called us to tell us about the situation of the baby. He was a newborn and was ready to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday (the next day). There were 2 circumstances we needed to be aware of regarding this baby. After the call we told her we'd pray about it and let her know in the morning if we are open in adopting this baby. The birthparents chose 3 families out of all the family portfolios that were shown to them so now it was up to the social worker to let those families know about the case to see if they were open to adopting this baby.

The next morning we called back our agency and said yes we are open to adopting the baby. We were told that we'd receive another call that night if the baby will be coming home with us that night or if they decided to choose another family. Our lives has already changed in anticipation for this baby boy. Last April we almost adopted a 4 year old but the guardians decided not to choose adoption in the end. We knew that we had to guard our hearts since there were 2 other families that the birthparents could end up choosing. We also had to prepare ourselves in the case that the birthparents did choose us as the adopted family. We packed our car with a carseat on Sunday and decided on a middle name for the baby. We have the first name chosen but still needed a middle name for our first child.

We were at church on Sunday and ended up skipping the worship service because we were so nervous and anxious. We went to McDonald's for lunch then went to Aaron's parents house to chill there while we waited for the call from our agency. I didn't want to talk to anyone that day. I was just so nervous and played so many different scenarios in my head. I took a nap that afternoon and felt my eyes fluttering as I slept. That night we also celebrated my brother and my birthday with my family. They knew our situation and was hoping we'd be chosen as well. We got the call in the middle of our dinner at 7pm and was told that the birthparents chose another family.

I was okay. A part of me didn't want to get chosen because I knew I had a Chicago and Florida trip planned in the month of April. I also wanted a 2 month sabbatical to take care of our home, myself, and to focus on our marriage. So a part of me felt relieved that I would still get to vacation and take on my personal projects. The other part of me was wondering how amazing it would be to become a parent that night (it wouldn't be finalized and there are other things attached to taking a baby home but basically we'd be parenting). I knew it could be many more months or years until we adopt a child. We just really don't know.

It wasn't until 6 days later I felt the weight of it and cried at home while cleaning. I was so sad. I wanted that baby to be ours and wish they'd chosen us. I tried to distract myself by keeping busy and watching tv. But even thru it all I cried the whole time. I couldn't even go to Aaron to tell him of my struggles. It was only until he came downstairs when he saw me crying that I told him how sad I was. Even though I knew this baby wasn't in God's plan for us, there's still a loss and sadness that comes with the possibility of adopting. That was the last day I cried about this case.

We know what we're getting ourselves into in this adoption journey. It's not easy and there are so many unknowns. And if you know me, I don't work well with unknowns. I need a plan and I need to see what our future looks like in a year or in five. We're going to continue to trust in God's plan. This really showed us how God's timing is perfect and that only He knows what's best for us. I think God is preparing our hearts to be ready for our baby and I want to be as ready as I can be. Aaron and I can't help to think why God would lead us through the adoption journey, owning Snociety, being part-time at my job, and just being where we are at this moment.

Snociety: Ending this Project of Ours

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March 30 will be our last day of owning a restaurant. Aaron and I are so grateful for this opportunity and for the support from our family and friends. And we are very very happy with this decision! It's almost bittersweet but more sweet. It's like 75% sweet (that's a boba joke).

There are so many things I still want to share and that will just have to be saved for later even after Snociety no longer exists. Our shop had a lease of 3 years, we have been here for a year and a half. We had to make a decision to renew the lease or just stop Snociety late last year since our lease ends this March. Here are 2 reasons (in very short explanation even though it's really not) why we have decided to close shop. In all of this, we don't regret owning a restaurant at all.

  1. Difficulty in the Future
    1. We've had to learn how to run a business in every aspect - financial, payroll, inventory, operations, management, marketing, and like everything else you would do in a company but just in a smaller scale. I enjoyed being the hr and being the boss but can I keep doing this for another year or 3 (per agreement based on lease)? Probably not considering our current lifestyle and future dreams.
    2. Increase in food/labor - fish prices are increasing and minimum wage is increasing ($15/hour by 2020). It's already hard enough to sustain what we have currently. I never raised the price on the food or drinks since we took over. As a consumer, I didn't like that move. So I tried my best to offset the cost elsewhere. Aaron and I were putting in over 80 hours a weeks combined at the shop while still having our other jobs. God has really given us strength to endure the labor. We needed to be there physically for financial reasons as explained in point 3.
    3. Fees everywhere - besides labor, food, and rent costs, there are so many costs that keep popping up everywhere! Workmen's comp, merchant costs, CC fees, LADWP, internet, business renewal tax, equipments, insurance, like how is this possible. The only way we make money is if people buy food/drinks. So a percentage of what you pay is divided among all the things I just listed and more. As a business owner, please consider that when you pay for your next meal. It's tough. Also, cash is everyone's best friend. Those CC fees kill.
    4. People - I've been hiding so many feelings inside. When a customer gets mad, I have to accept it. When an employee gets mad, I can't just say what I want to say. There are so many labor laws to follow and the "right" thing to say and do to not get in trouble. The government is on the employees side. I don't feel supported as an employer in California. That's right! Unsupported and no slack. Little Tokyo can be great at times but we've also had homeless people problems in our area. We didn't want to deal with that anymore.
  2. Time to Move On
    1. Owning a restaurant or shop is and was one of our dreams. Not necessarily poke but boba all the way. We feel grateful that we got to say we owned a restaurant in our lifetime. But this was never our dream. We took over the restaurant from someone else. We feel like we were continuing the previous owners' dream. We still got to live part of our dream but we would love to be able to have a shop more east, with a clean slate, with a better drink menu, and designed to how we want it to be. We were constricted by that here because of cost and time. We were already trying to learn how to run a business that we didn't feel like it was the right time to make it completely ours. I'm happy with our decision because it was the best thing we could do for ourselves.
    2. Family - we're still waiting on adoption and we hope we can have a child this year or the next. It's hard to say when, but it would be extremely difficult for us to have a child and own a restaurant at the same time. One of the main reasons why we wanted Snociety was to distract us while we waited to be matched with a baby. It certainly worked and we were very distracted. But our main goal is still to have a family and focus on that. Family is our main dream. A restaurant is not.

I've been counting down the days and I am thrilled to have done this project and to move on to something new. We've been asked what we are going to do after Snociety ends. We still have our normal jobs and we want to start a new project. But in the month of April and June we are going to rest, refocus, and do fun stuff! More on that to come.

Waiting for a Year

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Last March we were officially a waiting family for adopting. It feels so long that we've been waiting and I can't believe it's been a year. We just completed our recertification and we had our social worker come to our home to inspect and to talk to us about how things are going.

We're still unsure how long we are willing to wait until we try to have kids biologically. It's difficult to be patient especially when our friends around us are pregnant and have kids. We're trying to trust in God's timing and plan for us. I say try because we struggle with the wait and I tend to lean on what I think our future plans look like. I would like to think we'd have 5 kids before Aaron is 40. I would like to believe that we would adopt domestically and internationally for as long as we can and if the funds are there. I would like to believe that God has adoption in our future plans. But we really don't know. There's a burden in my heart for adoption so I wonder why God would allow me to feel this tug if in the end, He doesn't even allow us to adopt. So I try to trust in God's plan for us.

I think why would God give us a family if it's still difficult to bring two sinners together. Or why would God give us a family when we have so much going on. Bringing a child into our lives right now just doesn't seem like the right time. Aaron and I decided to buy a restaurant to focus our efforts and desire on something besides adoption. But now that we have it and understand how much work is put into it, it seems impossible to have a child right now while we're running a restaurant. So is God waiting for us to have this restaurant thing established and consistent? Or is God building our patience? Maybe God wanted us to go thru adoption just so we can own this shop. Or maybe God's plan for us isn't even about the shop or adoption. So what will He do with our lives?

Sharing the News

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Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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We've heard from the agency and from other adoptive parents how it may be difficult to discuss adoption with family and friends. We were told that "they just won't understand." Aaron and I now understand what those people meant. And the longer we're in this process, the more weight and worry I feel. But I think that's why God wants us to rely on Him and to bring our worries and fears to him. Here are some of the questions and responses we got when we told people we're planning to adopt for our first kid:

  • Can you afford it?
  • What if the birthparents take the kid back?
  • Why do you want to adopt your first kid?
  • I'm worried about the birthparents medical history
  • Won't they feel less loved if your 2nd kid is biological?

These are all great questions that we had to ask ourselves as well. Some of these are misconceptions, which we didn't even know. And even with our worries, we feel good about our decision. I think it's great that people ask us questions but there are questions that stir a bit when asked. As long as people ask with a good tone or attitude then I'd be happy to answer them. I'm very wishful thinking. If this adoption really does go through, then our family will never stop hearing these questions. This is something I'll have to learn to get through and be okay not answering others.

I say if this adoption really does go through because even though we're invested already, there's a possibility that we won't be placed. Maybe after 2 years of waiting, Aaron and I will be tired of just waiting. It's hard to say and we won't know until the time comes. We just have to keep praying that if this is God's will, then we have to be patient and trust in Him.

The beginning of our adoption process

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Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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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.