Saturday, May 17, 2008

Taevy's Story: Part I

I've felt very nostalgic the last few weeks. Not sure why. It seems that my babies are growing up so fast. I remember when my daddy would always say "Seems like just yesterday you were a tiny baby in my arms." and I'd roll my teen aged eyes, thinking my daddy was such a sap. My oldest is only 7.5 but I already find myself thinking that way. Taevy's arm is longer than her entire body was when we got her. What a miracle it is to watch your child grow, all the while thinking how different AND the same she is to the tiny baby you once held. Since my blog is the place where I chronicle the lives of our children, I've decided to start at the beginning and share Taevy and Samren's story (Bright's is chronicled in detail on this blog already).

It was August 31, 2000. After more than 2 years of "trying" the old fashioned way I had an appointment with the fertility specialist to see why we hadn't conceived. We found out that we would likely never conceive naturally but had a 5% chance of conceiving through Inter-Uterine-Insemination. I remember feeling the wave of grief wash over my body, but then the instant relief I felt as my mind said, "But we can just adopt. This isn't the end of the road." I knew that for us the whole infertility struggle wasn't right. I knew that I was fine with adopting, and said so to the doctor. But what the doctor said sent another--stronger--wave of grief over me.

"Oh--you and your husband will never be able to adopt. With his diabetes and you being overweight, you'd never be accepted into an adoption program. Your only chance of being parents is through IUI." I realize now what a stupid and uniformed statement that was, but back then I was a 24 year old with no experience with adoption. I remember almost running out of the clinic, not being able to control the devastation I felt. Not being able to conceive? Okay--I can deal with that. Not being able to EVER be a parent? I couldn't imagine. When I imagined my future life when I was a child it ALWAYS included being a mommy. That's what I was about. How could I NOT be a mommy? How could this be happening? I remember calling Eric from the parking lot of the clinic, and the panic in his voice when he heard how out of control with grief I was. In fact, he got a ride from someone at work (remember, he can't drive because of low vision) and met me at the parking lot because he didn't want me to be alone on the drive home.

After the initial shock wore off I decided that I wouldn't take this stupid doctor's word as gospel. After all, I was learning about the internet and knew I could search for information that way. It took a few hours on the internet to realize that of course we COULD adopt, despite our lack of perfectness! So it was decided. And we were truly happy. I know that some couples never totally get over the devastation of not being able to conceive a child--but for us that pain melted away quickly. We wanted to be parents way more than we wanted to be pregnant.

At that point we weren't in the right emotional state to "compete" with other couples for a healthy white newborn (we weren't open to African American children at the time). I was tired of the emotional roller coaster of not being a mommy and wanted to go with an option that I felt like would definitely end with a child. We had a relative that was able to loan us the money to adopt, so for the first adoption we had a small budget but we DID have the money. What a blessing that was!

We went to what we knew--white kids. So at first we thought it would be Russia. Then I remember we went through a Guatemala phase. But even then I couldn't get comfortable with Guatemala because of the huge fees charged by attorneys there.

Then out of the blue I got a call from a family member about a pregnant girl that she knew that wanted to place her baby for adoption. For several days we traveled down THAT road because we felt like God would close the door if it was supposed to be closed. I remember feeling uncomfortable about things way deep down, but not admitting it to myself. I just prayed for God to close doors that were supposed to be closed.

The girl talked on the phone with us, telling me that she already considered the baby OUR baby and that she wanted me to be at every doctor's appointment. It was surreal. Finally the day came when we were going to meet. Eric and I waited very nervously outside of the Cracker Barrel. The expectant mom never showed. And she never called us again. I was heartbroken (not having protected my heart from disappointment). What did we do wrong? WHY?! [I should have known better that God had His reasons.] I heard through a family member that the girl had changed her mind. We moved on, back towards our original plan for international adoption.

One night I was looking a children on Prescious in His Sight (a waiting child photolisting) and came across a picture of the most beautiful baby girl! Something about that baby felt so perfect. She was a 3 month old baby girl. The listing didn't say where she was. I went through and found other children that spoke to me. I didn't know it when I was looking, but every one of those children were from Cambodia!

Cambodia. Hmm...Where is that? I didn't have a clue at the time. I just knew that Cambodia had the MOST beautiful children I had ever seen. I found an agency that I liked because it was small and personal. They said Cambodia was technically closed at the time, but expected to reopen any day. They were SO sure that Cambodia would reopen that they were giving referrals as if the program was still up and running. This SHOULD have been a red flag, but remember I was naive adoption girl and didn't know any better! I trusted our first agency quite blindly.

We signed on with the agency and moved very quickly to get all of our paperwork done. In fact, on September 16th, 2000 we had our homestudy visit and by October 30th or dossier was complete and our I-171h arrived. Two months from the time that we heard we would never become parents, we were officially eligible for a referral! Take THAT horrible fertility doctor!!!!

Eric and I had requested the referral of an infant, as young as possible. I wanted to be mommy so badly and while I was okay with not being pregnant, the thought of bringing home even a 6 month old was so sad to me. I didn't want to miss a day of my future baby's life. At the time--with Cambodia--babies could come home as young as 3 months old.

Eric and I didn't choose a gender for our baby. We wanted that "It's a ______!" moment like all other families. In Cambodia there were 9 boys to every girl in the orphanage, so we were fully expecting to receive a boy referral. It was almost a guarantee. But I have to admit, we both secretly thought it would be awesome to have a baby girl.

On November 9th, 2000 I got a call from our adoption specialist. She didn't mince words. "Anita, we have a baby for you." AHHHH! My heart was exploding with joy. I said, "How old is he?!" She said, "IT'S A GIRL!!!!" What?! I will never forget the joy and surprise I felt at that second. God gave us what we dared not even hope for. A girl. How amazing is He?!

Her name was Rath Kunthea and she was 6 weeks old. Rath is the surname given to ever orphan in Cambodia and means "ward of the state." Kunthea means "fragrance of a flower." We had already chosen Anna Maraya as the name if it was a girl. So it would be Anna Maraya Kunthea Gillispie.

Back to "the call"...Our adoption specialist said she was sending a photo by email right then. I hung up with her quickly. Now, looking back I probably should have called Eric at that moment, but instead I called my mom! LOL! I shared about Kunthea with her and we both cried. It was 2000 and we were still in dial-up land with internet. I remember it taking FOREVER for the picture to load. Then, slowly it started to appear on the screen. First, there was this black hair sticking up like palm fronds. Then her eyes--oh her eyes! And finally, the lips. Who could ever see anything but beauty when they saw those lips!? I sent the picture to my mom and waited while she saw her future granddaughter for the first time. We cried together again.

The only thing wrong was her name. This child was not an Anna. That was a "white bread" name and this was not a "white bread" child. I had been looking up Cambodian names earlier in the day and remembered one I really liked. Tevy--Cambodian for Angel. Perfect! We changed the spelling to match the pronunciation and it was settled. Taevy Mareya Kunthea Gillispie. [Yep, we chaned Marey'a spelling too.]

Taevy was born on September 17th, 2000 in Cambodia. Cambodia is 12/13 hours ahead of us in Oklahoma time. We realized that both of Taevy's mothers were "laboring" at the same time. One mother was in physical birthing labor while the other was in "labor" to prepare for the homestudy visit! [Hey--if you've ever had a homestudy done you KNOW the work involved in getting the house read!]

Taevy was born on her grandparent's 30th wedding anniversary. And we found out about Taevy on November 9th--her great-grandfather's birthday. God was very quick to show us that He chose this child for us. Looking back on it I don't know how I ever doubted she would come home. God's hand print was all over her referral.

There's the happy beginning of our adoption journey to Taevy. More to come in Part II.

P.S. We found out that the mother who was first going to place her child with us and changed her mind, did decide to place her child for adoption after all. The baby was born on the same day we brought Taevy home from Cambodia. The baby was a boy and went home with his new adoptive parents. He died 2 weeks later due to a very rare blood condition. God closed a door that was supposed to be closed for us. He saved us from losing a child.


Amalama 9:55 AM  

Thanks for sharing Taevy's journey into your family with us. How simply amazing... looking forward to part 2!