Tag Archives: south korea

Building a Family

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Many of you read my blogger-buddies blogs too. (Steve and Ginger) They are two of the most kind-hearted people I will truly ever have the gracious luck of knowing. They have encouraged me to tell a little of this story here (I’m a little shy, believe it or not.). So, I’m not only going to take their advice but rather completely steal Ginger’s picture-story telling idea (see this GREAT post about her baby, Jeffery, all grown up and loved by his mom from the depths of her toes!). I don’t think Ginger will mind my thievery. I hope you all will forgive me too. LOL

Us as kids

That’s me in the middle – leaning on the bike handle – circa 1977, with my siblings. (You can see more about this “treasure” of a photo by clicking here.) I grew up with the world at my fingertips (we were NOT wealthy with finances but with love and imagination) and not very tethered to the earth, if you must know. My family is wonderful, loving, strong-willed, filled with diverse personalities and desires, and fun. (Okay.. and loud. We can be loud too. LOL) I was fortunate to be able to meet many people, go on trips with my family, and spend my summers fishing, bike-riding, camping, canoing, playing sports, creating imaginary nations/flags and holding parades for them, and being a part of a bundle of kid-commotion that was always filled with energy and imagination. It was wonderful!

As I got older, I became a camp counselor (OH MY! Did I learn a LOT about kids those summers!) and eventually an elementary school teacher in Chicago. I wondered where life would take me and if a family of my own was in the future… and where? when?

And when I finally met my love, I knew.
I would be with him always.

(On our honeymoon in Rome.)

We (my love and I) met during the summer that I had sworn off men completely. Life was getting too busy and I was traveling for work (an amazing thing and virtually unheard of for teachers) and enjoying my newly earned responsibilities. And men? Nope. No time for that. Too stressful. Too much anxiety. Too much heartache. I was done. And when my friend told me she knew this guy… blah blah blah… I think I cut her off after the “I know this guy who would be perfect for….”. Stop right there. Not happening.

But I’m a sucker (thankfully). I told her if he wanted to email/call while I was moving (apartments) and traveling for the next two weeks, well then fine. Call. Email. But we are not, I repeated “NOT!”, going on a date.

After nearly 6 weeks of emails (which were tender and funny) and calls, I finally agreed to meet him for a casual -NON-DATE – dinner on a Saturday night. He was picking me up at 7PM. No problem. I went out with friends to a street fair that same day and had a blast! And they introduced me to a new Margarita place. BAD BAD BAD! The margaritas were so strong (and I am virtually a non-drinker) that I was feeling woozy. I told them I was thinking about calling my “friend” to change the date of our dinner. And then they started pressing me for details about where we were going etc. When I told them that we were going to a restaurant I had not heard of, they pushed for more details. I told them the name of the place and asked what I should wear.

The table got silent. All 8 friends just smiled at me.

“Uh oh. Um. Guys? What’s the deal? Do you guys know this place?” I asked.

“Duh!” was the response. “How do you NOT know this place?”

The place? Geja’s Cafe in Chicago. It’s billed as the most “Romantic Fondue and Wine Restaurant”. Oh boy. I was so going to reschedule. Whatever happened between our “this is not a date” and his picking the restaurant, I’m not sure. To this day, he swears it was “not a date” and “just dinner”. Whatever.

He showed up with a huge bouquet of flowers, a teddy bear (totally cute, not a creepy one) and a beautiful card. Dinner was amazing. No, it wasn’t the wine + my margarita from several hours earlier. Nor was it the classical guitarists that roamed the room. And the food? That was good. But my love was the amazing part. Truly. We spent hours talking over dinner, then walking and talking in the evening light. By the time he brought me home, I felt that I had known him all my life. And to be honest, I know that on some level we have known each other that long.

We were married a little more than a year after our first date. We actually had two weddings – one American and one Chinese. (The date we chose for our wedding was not an auspicious day on the Chinese calendar for a large celebration – so we had two. Lucky us, huh?) We got married over Thanksgiving. We knew our family could be there then and that was what we both felt was most important.

We were married at the Baha’i Temple (pronounced “bah’HIGH”) in Wilmette, IL (just outside of Chicago). (Neither of us are Baha’i. The Baha’i Faith acknowledges and celebrates diversity of humanity and was very welcoming to our interracial and interreligious marriage. Here’s a little bit about the Baha’i faith if you are curious. It’s quite beautiful.)

I was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue while trying on that wedding gown, actually. It was my last fitting and the phone rang with the news. The doctor just announced that I would not be able to eat cake, pasta, etc. It completely through me for a loop. (I was gobsmacked, I dare say.) Needless to say, I cut gluten out of my diet at home as quickly as possible. However, the last pieces of gluten-filled cake that I ate were from my wedding cakes. Not a bad way to end it, I’d say.

We’ve been lucky to have many adventures in our 8 short years of marriage. We’ve learned a lot about life and love. And fully understand the joys and work that comes with marriage and family. It’s wonderful.

What have we learned from 8 years of marriage?
  • That life holds surprises at bay until you are ready for them.
  • Laugh often.
  • Dance frequently (even in the kitchen while the chicken burns on the grill outside).
  • Hold each other in your heart and minds with honor, love, respect and joy.
  • Have faith and believe.
  • Be prepared for the curve balls. But not so prepared that you forget to live.
  • Rejoice in the little things.
  • … and there are lessons yet to come…
And we are now looking forward to our next adventure. Adoption.

After eight years of infertility (and all that goes with it), we’ve begun, in earnest, the adoption process. As Ginger says, we are “knee deep” in it.

And for those of you who have offered guidance, I cannot thank you enough. It certainly is a nebulous endeavor. The heartache of not knowing when/what/etc and the wait are killers.

While the road has taken us on a few curvy paths (first international adoption from China (maybe) or Russia (hmm?) or Ethiopia (possibly!)… and then domestic open adoption… and now back to international.) We at least know that we are on the road to adopt a child from Seoul, South Korea. And we are knee-deep in the paperwork. And more importantly, we are really getting excited. We can feel our joy coming. It hits us in waves of anticipation and faith. Oh, MAN! is this going to be exciting! And life changing! Hooray!

And while it is completely out of character for me to even ask for anything, I am. It takes a village to raise a child and a whole lot of community to get one here via adoption. Thus, I’ve put a couple donation buttons on this blog on the left. And I’ve written a little bit more about it here.

I hope you will forgive me.

But we could use all the help you are able to offer.

I will have a couple auctions coming up (as soon as I figure out HOW to do this exactly….I’m thinking ebay?). I have a signed copy of Shauna’s book to auction and a new (published next week, actually) gluten free dessert book. I will put them up for auction and all funds raised will help us with our adoption expenses.

I promise to keep on food blogging. (Recipes to come this week and a menu too! OMG! A menu!) But this is a HUGE part of me and my soul right now. I will keep you all posted on our adoption process too. I can’t wait for our little one to come home.

For now, we are just sending our love, prayers and wishes to the wind. May it rest on the mother-to-be’s heart and let her know that we promise our love to our shared child. From one mother-to-be to another: Thank you.

Bring on the baby!, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Flags: US (Kate), Hong Kong/UK (my Love) and South Korea (our incoming! family member)