Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Love Note by Shantel

This post was written by one of our really close friends, Shantel:


We each have a unique path in life, and I feel incredibly blessed that mine has crossed with this wonderful couple. Chris & Julianne are two of my favorite people. As a birth mom myself, I have a special connection to them and where they are headed in this adoption journey. It is so refreshing to hear from two people who are genuinely interested in making an adoption connection forged in honesty and true acceptance. They are both looking forward to building a relationship that the family their child comes from can be comfortable with. They are excited to celebrate the unique personality and character of the child they will raise, and will always share with them the love that has been experienced by all to create their family.

My most favorite aspect of Chris is that he is simply hilarious. He has the ability to bring out laughter in everyone even during times that would seem challenging. He is kind and thoughtful, and has a genuine interest in other people. He is a talented artist and musician, and enjoys sharing those gifts with others. I strongly believe that he will be a fantastic father, and has so many things to offer his children. The greatest things he will offer are stability and a strong love and respect for his wife, all of which are incredibly important.

There are not enough words to express the gratitude I have for my friendship with Julianne. She is the most genuinely caring, non-judgmental person I have ever come in contact with. There is a warmth about her that brings out the best in everyone. She has inspired me in countless ways, and has been so encouraging of where I am headed in my life. Her natural abilities in all things crafty and artistic astound me. Her eye for beautiful and unique things is simply amazing. She is so thoughtful and loves to share her creative talents with those she cares about. She is giving, not only of her talents, but also of her time and wisdom. There are a great deal of moments I treasure between us, simply because she was there to offer her support and guidance. I have had the pleasure of experiencing her interact with my daughter, as well as several children in her family. While I realize it has been a long and painful journey for her towards parenthood, I strongly believe she was blessed with that wait so she could develop a great ability as a caregiver. She has so much love, kindness, and patience to offer a child. Julianne will be an amazing mother, and I look forward to seeing her blossom in that role.

There is a strong stability and love within their extended families. I have met both Chris and Julianne's parents, as well as several of both of their siblings. Everyone in the family has been very warm and accepting. I know that as they have witnessed what Chris and Julianne have experienced in their infertility struggles, the family as a whole has been strengthened. An open and honest relationship exists within the entire family. Everyone has been supportive and they are all excited as Chris and Julianne pursue adoption to build their family.

Upon my first meeting of each of them, I knew something wonderful was bound to develop between us. As our friendship grows, I have learned to love them even more. I am inspired each day by the strength in their relationship. After so many obstacles have been placed in their way, they remain firm in their love for each other. All of the challenges they have faced have only strengthened their connection. Chris has been incredibly supportive of Julianne as she has faced a great deal of physical and emotional pain, and in return she has been there for Chris during times of confusion and frustration. Through all of the mix of emotions they have sifted through together, a powerful love exists.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Infertility

This post is difficult to write and I think it's taken me about a week to hit the "publish" button. It's not a secret, anyone who comes into contact with us or follows either of us on facebook, knows that we haven't been able to have a child on our own and are hoping to adopt. Well, this is my infertility story.

Warning: this story may contain information that may be tmi for some people and also contains a couple pictures from a surgery that I had.



Chris and I had been trying to have a baby for a little over a year before I started seeing my doctor for infertility. There are so many factors that go into getting pregnant and timing is everything. It's more complicated than I had expected because you have to use ovulation predictor kits, take your temperature, track your periods... the list goes on. I guess I had always expected it to be easy. I had friends that got pregnant all the time, some it felt like as soon as they thought of getting pregnant, they were pregnant. Why wasn't it working that way for me? Why did I have to go through all this stuff to even know if I was ovulating? I always had a period every month, but my cycle lengths would always range between 21 and 35 days long. So my cycles were regular, but not. A couple of doctors told me that we just needed to keep trying and it should work out.

In December of 2010, I started having a lot of abdominal pain on my left side (by my ovary). It felt like something inside me was twisting and wanted to burst. I had no idea what it was, so in January, I went to the doctor. He said that it was probably an ovarian cyst so they did an ultrasound and found one on my left ovary and that the pain would eventually go away once the cyst was gone.

That particular cyst went away, but my pain didn't. About three months later, I went back to the doctor and after another ultrasound, they found that I had another cyst and they sent me home to wait it out. 

Around the same time, I found out that both of my grandmothers had hysterectomies (where they surgically remove your ovaries and uterus, or only just your uterus, leaving your ovaries). My Mom's mother had everything removed after an abnormal pap-smear. When I asked her if that meant cancer or something else, she didn't remember (she was in her late 80's and had been through several strokes so her memory was not that great). My Dad's mother had everything removed after almost dying from a burst endometrioma that filled her abdomen with toxic fluid, etc. She passed away before I was born so I wasn't able to talk to her directly about it. My Dad's sister also had a hysterectomy because she had been suffering from endometriosis and didn't want to have to deal with the pain anymore. I gave this information to my doctor and he decided to do further testing. He decided that I may have endometriosis because of my strong family history of it.

Endometriosis happens when the tissue that lines the uterus (the "blood" that comes out when you have your period) starts growing outside of the uterus on other organs in the body. These growths are not usually cancerous. The growths "bleed" when you have your period and because it has no way of leaving the body, it can cause inflammation, scar tissue and pain. As the endometrial tissue grows, it can cover or grow into the ovaries and block the fallopian tubes. Trapped blood in the ovaries can form cysts and if these cysts continue to grow and eventually burst, they will fill your body with toxic fluid and you will get very sick (this is why my Grandma had her hysterectomy). Endometriosis also can cause inflammation and cause the body to form scar tissue and adhesions, tissue that sometimes binds organs together. This scar tissue may cause pelvic pain and make it really hard to get pregnant.

In September of 2011, I had laproscopic surgery to see if I had endometriosis. My doctor found quite a bit of it on and around my left ovary, on my uterus and behind my uterus and they also found a cyst on one of my fallopian tubes. None of the endometrial growths or the cyst were cancerous, it was just regular old endometriosis. He was able to remove all of the growths and said that I should be able to get pregnant sometime in the next six months.


Gross, right? These little growths are what was causing my pain

A couple of weeks later, I started taking clomid to help me get pregnant. Clomid basically forces you to ovulate, often releasing more than one egg, so your chances of getting pregnant (especially with twins) goes up significantly. I hated the clomid. It made my ovaries ache all the time, I had hot flashes, was super moody... it just wasn't good. I felt like I was going through menopause. It totally sucked, but I kept taking it for the whole six months because I wanted to do everything I could to have a baby.

After taking the clomid for the full six months, it had been over two years of trying to get pregnant and we started getting really depressed about it. Nothing was working. Why couldn't I get pregnant? We started considering IVF (invitro fertilization) and other infertility treatments. I had several friends offer to be a surrogate for me (they were so sweet!). Everything seemed so expensive. I didn't have health insurance anymore because of my infertility and all of the treatments we talked about didn't sound like the right thing. I started becoming really angry with life, with God, with everything. It was a pretty rough time for Chris and I. 


This picture was taken around Christmas and although I may look happy in the picture, I wasn’t. This was my “I’m going to fake being happy, even though I’m dying inside and I don’t want to talk about it yet” smile.

Around Christmas of 2011, Chris' sister announced that she was pregnant. And while I was incredibly happy for them and was super excited to have a new nephew, I was so depressed that I wasn't able to get pregnant and it happened so easily for them. I think all of the infertility stuff had been boiling inside me for so long and I couldn't hold it in anymore. It overflowed. I remember sending my Mom a text saying that I was done trying to get pregnant and frankly, I didn't want to deal with anything anymore. I was done. Obviously God didn't want me to be a mother, so this was it. I was going to grow old to be a childless cat lady. It was a bit over-dramatic, but it was how I was feeling. I felt hopeless.

Around New Years 2012, I got a blessing for comfort. It was beautiful and it changed everything. Before going on, I need to explain that I had never really been an extremely religious person. I was raised in the LDS religion and had gone through times in my life where I practiced the faith and then there were times where I didn't. This was during one of those times where I wasn't really that into it. Before asking for that blessing, I had decided that it was time to ask God for some help and I couldn't be angry at him anymore. This blessing helped soften my heart. I was told many important things that I hold close to my heart. Most importantly was that the "holes in our hearts would soon be filled with what we desired most... but it wasn't going to come the way we had been expecting".

On our drive home, I had the distinct impression that we hadn't considered every option available to us... adoption. I have two cousins that are adopted and another cousin who placed her baby quite a while ago, so adoption is something that has always been close to my heart. I had just had never really thought of that as something we would do. I was never opposed to it, I just thought that I would eventually get pregnant on my own.

sorry for the corny picture, but this perfectly describes how I was feeling


As soon as Chris and I started talking about adopting, it felt like the sun had come out, all of the weight of infertility was gone, angels were singing, my heart was full with intense happiness... this was it! I had never had an experience like this before. Ever. It completely changed my life. Adoption is what we needed to do and this is the way things were supposed to be. I'm supposed to be a mother and it will happen, just not the way I had always planned. The whole experience was really intense, but I'm so grateful for it. It completely changed my life. How can there not be a God? Why wouldn't he love me? I hadn't really been alone this whole time, he was just preparing me for what needed to come next. This is the way things are supposed to be. For the first time in my life, I knew that there is a God and that he loves me and wants me to be happy. I always have to remind myself that even though I’ve had all these amazing dreams and plans for my life, God sometimes has something else in mind for me. And honestly, the “something else” often ends up being more amazing than anything I could have imagined.

I'm so grateful for my infertility. That's weird to say, but it's true. This is the way things are and I can't change it. I still get infertility stings every once in a while, but in general, I'm pretty okay with it.   Eventually, I will get a hysterectomy to get rid of the pain from my endometriosis. But this is the way it is and I can handle it. I can still be happy even though life gave me one wish short of paradise.  My infertility doesn't define me, it just helped shape me in to who I am today. I'm Julianne and I'm a strong and beautiful woman.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We're approved!

We're approved to adopt with LDS Family Services! Our profile went live today and we are so excited! Check it out here... https://www.itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/27685670/ourMessage.jsf. Please feel free to share our link with others...


And other news, we are looking for our first home to purchase! We've been renting for so long but soon we'll be home owners! I'll post up pictures once we have one picked out. So many good changes are happening, it's a little bit overwhelming but then really awesome at the same time. Do we want a townhome/condo or a house? Do we want a yard that we take care of ourselves or live in an HOA where they do it for you? I just want to live in a comfortable home where our family can be safe and happy and somewhere that will be a good place to raise kids. That shouldn't be too hard to find, right? We'll see...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Agape Project


Check out this video about adoption, it's so beautiful and amazing, I can't wait until we can have our own little one and birth parents to be a part of our lives! 

"Agape (pronounced "a-ga-pay") is a Greek word for a particular type of love. Agape' love is love that is based upon principle and is, by far, the noblest type of love. Agape' love is unselfish and is more than just an emotional response... the Agape Project is a personal project that involved birth moms and adoptive families to show how much love there is in adoption. I wanted to create an awareness video to educate others on adoption. It has been such a huge part of my life and has made my dreams come true. I hope anyone considering to place their child for adoption will be moved after watching this amazing video" - Briana Marie from http://www.TheAgapeProject.net

Friday, May 4, 2012

Our Birth Parent Letter (updated)

 We dressed up as lawn gnomes for Halloween and this picture was too cute to not post here

Hello!  We are Chris and Julianne and we are so excited that you have chosen to learn more about us. 

Fun, creative, loving and accepting are just some of the words that describe each of us.  We both love life and especially each other.  Our story began in 2006 when we met online.  On our first date, we sat in the comfy couches in the back of Barnes and Noble while we read magazines and talked for hours.  It was love at first sight.  We were married eight months later and have never been apart a day since we first met.

Julianne talking about Chris:  Chris is one of the funniest guys you will ever meet.  He is always doing something random and loves to make others laugh.  He served his mission in Richmond, Virginia and recently graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media.  He plans on getting a Master’s degree in Business in the near future.  He’s really smart, works incredibly hard to take care of our family, is intensely creative (both with music and graphic design) and is always trying to learn something new.  He loves playing guitar and the keyboard, and often does sound mixing for other bands.  He likes to spend his free time watching movies, playing video games, finding new bands to listen to online, playing one of his musical instruments and hanging out with his brothers.  He is also one of the most loyal people you will ever meet – when you’re his friend, you are friends for life.  He loves playing with little kids, especially his nieces and nephews.  He will be a fantastic father someday.

Chris talking about Julianne:  Julianne is incredibly creative.  You can almost always find her making something and giving it away to others.  She loves taking care of people, animals and plants and she always tries to be there for someone who needs her.  She has a maternal need to nurture and has dreamed about being a mother since she was a little girl.  Julianne grew up in Japan where her Dad worked as a businessman.  She has a passion for all things Japanese, especially their artwork.  She has traveled all over the world and even spent a summer studying abroad in Thailand, Cambodia, Australia and New Zealand.  Julianne has a Bachelor’s degree in Art & Visual Communications and hopes to go back to school to get a Master’s degree.  She started an online business in 2009 where she sells her handmade fabric covered button earrings, necklaces, hair bows and clips, and crocheted accessories. In the last few years, she has seen it grow it into a company with customers worldwide.  In the future, she plans to continue the business while being a stay-at-home mom.
We love to have fun together and we are always doing something new.  We love traveling, especially going to see Julianne's parents in Japan before her dad retired.  We love going to movies, spending time outdoors, going on hikes and doing yoga together.  We also love spending time with each of our families.  We love finding new restaurants to eat at and this is something we especially love to do with Julianne's parents.  Every year around Christmas, we like to go to Temple Square to see the holiday lights and take family photos.  Another family tradition that we have is something called "Pie Night".  This amazing party happens the day before Thanksgiving and we all enjoy eating different pies while spending time together.  The point is that you can actually enjoy your pie the day before instead of doing it after a very filling Thanksgiving dinner.  Brilliant, right?  We also like to throw incredibly fun birthday parties for each other.  Last year, Julianne's Mom threw her a Pirate themed birthday party.  We all dressed up as pirates and played games like "pin the treasure on the map" and we made our very own parrots out of feathers, markers and paper.  It was amazing.  We want to continue these traditions, as well as make up some of our own, with our children someday.

We’ve had our fair share of loss and disappointment, but we’ve become stronger because of it.  After trying to have a baby for the last few years and going through rounds of infertility treatments, we found out that the likelihood of us being able to conceive was not very high.  While this was devastating, we decided to explore other options and eventually we realized that maybe there was something else in store for us.  Once the decision was made that we were going to adopt, everything felt right again.  This is what we are supposed to be doing.  This whole experience has helped us to appreciate life and everything that it has to offer. You have to have hard times to enjoy the good.

We believe that life is all about love, an all-encompassing love that we can’t even begin to comprehend.  We’ve had a glimpse or two of the big picture and all we can say is that when everything’s said and done, love conquers all.  The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.  As children, we were both raised by very loving families.  Our families will always feel like home to us.  No matter where we go or what we do, they will always be there and we are so grateful for them in our lives.  They have given us a strong foundation to build our lives upon and we want to share it through having a family of our own.  Everyone deserves to feel loved and accepted for who they are.  We want to give that love to someone else and show them all that life has to offer.  There are so many beautiful things to experience in this world and we would love to share them with someone new.  While we’re grateful for everything that we’ve been through, we’re also excited for the future.  We can’t wait to be parents!

We’d love to meet you.  We are hoping to have an open adoption, where pictures, letters, phone calls, in person visits, etc. are all welcome.  However, we definitely want to hear whatever you are comfortable with.  We feel that you can never have enough friends and hopefully together we can bring more love into this world.

For more information about us, please visit our profile: https://www.itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/27685670/ourMessage.jsf or email us at adoptchrisandjulianne@gmail.com

Love,
Chris & Julianne

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adoption


We are so thrilled to announce that we have decided to adopt! We will be working with LDS Family Services and will hopefully be approved in a few months. During this exciting time, I'll be updating this blog more often and talking about the whole experience as we go through it. We will also be linking this blog to our profile that we'll have on ldsfamilyservices.com, etc. so potential birth parents can get a better idea of who we are and what we're like. Eeek! This kind of feels like online dating... it worked for us once, so maybe it could happen again? For those of you who don't know, Chris and I met on myspace (back when it was cool). We've been told that this is how we can be proactive in finding our child, so if you know of anyone who is looking to place their baby or even has questions for us, please let us know at adoptchrisandjulianne{at}gmail{dot}com. We are so excited to meet our little one and hope it happens soon!