Our Path to Parenthood

Like everyone else in their 20s, we assumed the moment we started trying I'd get pregnant.  Fifteen negative pregnancy tests later, we found ourselves in the office of a fertility specialist, who introduced us to a whole new world, complete with fun words like "PCOS" and "endometriosis". Suddenly, our whole lives revolved around bloodwork, ultrasound appointments and hormone injections.  Three months of clomid, two failed IUI attempts, a round of IVF and one miscarriage later, we realized that getting pregnant wasn't important - but having a family was.

Buddy's Adoption Story
If I had to pick one word to sum up Buddy's adoption, it would be stressful.  We began the process feeling more confident and in control then we had in years.  We'd pass a few background checks, fill out a mountain of paperwork, get on a waiting list and it would really happen - we'd become parents.  We were so excited when we received Buddy's referral just a few days after he was born in October 2006, blissfully unaware of the growing crisis that was building in the Guatemalan adoption community.  Unfortunately, we soon learned that admist claims of corruption and unethical practices, Guatemalan officials were threatening to suspend all in-process and future adoptions.  The uncertainty of not knowing whether Buddy would ever come home was torture, made even more heartbreaking b/c we had spent 3 days in Guatemala w/him shortly after accepting our referral (In retrospect, I'm so glad we have those memories to share w/him). 
As our estimated 4 to 6 month wait stretched into 7 and then 8 months, we grew more and more fearful that the system was going to close down*.  Then finally, after 9 months of waiting, we got the call every adoptive parent dreams of - Buddy was offficially ours and ready to come home.  We flew to Guatemala immediately and within a few hours of checking into our hotel we were meeting w/Buddy's foster mom for the last time.  I can't recall a word of what we talked about or how long we sat in that secluded corner of the hotel lobby, but I will never forget the overwhelming sense of love & gratitude I felt for this woman who had loved & cared for Buddy while I couldn't, all the while knowing she would have to say good-bye.  What an incredible person.
After meeting with Buddy's foster mom, the only thing we had to do was make one trip to the US embassy to finish the last of the paperwork.  Other than that we spent the next few days holed up in our hotel room getting to know our baby, taking only the occassional trip to the pool or walk around the grounds.  Still the whole thing felt temporary, like another visit trip.  It wasn't until 3 days later, after we'd survived the flight home and cleared customs and strapped Buddy into the carseat for the first time and carried him through our front door, that I actually felt myself let go of the fear that had plagued me the entire process.  Having him in our house made it all real - the heartache was over and Buddy was really, truly, forever our son. 

Buster's Adoption Story
A few months after bringing Buddy home, we were ready to get on the adoption roller coaster ride again.  Originally, we had hoped to adopt all our children from the same country, but since that wasn't an possibility, we decided Korea was the next best option.  Like Guatemala, the Korean program offered reliable medical & family history, required a only a short stay for pick-up and had a respected foster care system.  It also had a stable, consistent adoption process, something we really valued after the chaos of the Guatemalan system.  Once again, we completed background checks, filled out paperwork and got on the waiting list, anticipating a referral in late 2008.  Much to our surprise, our referral call came several months earlier than we had expected and we were so excited to be matched w/a 5 month old baby boy (soon to be our Buster) in July 2008.  While we had our moments of anxiety and a few run ins with a certain federal government office notorious for causing problems, the process was so much easier than Buddy's had been.  Obviously a huge factor in our stress level was the stability of the Korean program, but I think another part was we no longer had that fear that we would never become parents. 
Four and a half months after receiving our referral, the much anticipated travel call came.  We had gone back and forth over who would go to Korea - we considered taking Buddy, me going w/a friend, Chris going w/his mom, Chris & I going together - and felt the most important thing for both our children was to bring Buster home into a calm, peaceful environment.  In the end, we decided the best way to accomplish that was for me to stay home w/Buddy, keeping him in his familar routine, while Chris & his mom traveled to Korea.  I think it was the absolute right choice for our family.  Buddy, who doesn't take well to change, had only minor issues w/adding a little brother to the mix and I wasn't suffering from jet lag or trying to catch up on chores after a week out of the country and therefore had more time and energy for Buster's transition.  Although I was extremely disappointed not to have made the trip, I forgot all about it once we walked into the house, knelt down in front of Buddy and heard him whisper "hey brother."  Bringing home Buddy made us feel like the parents we had been longing to be, but Chris & I both feel, that it was bringing home Buster, seeing Buddy become a big brother, that made us feel like a family.

*Less than 6 months after bringing Buddy home, Guatemala supsended its adoption program, leaving nearly 3,000 in-process families stuck in limbo.  The system has yet to re-open.