Our 12 year journey to becoming a family
Helen, Melbourne, Australia
We decided to start a family in 2000, but life didn’t go according to plan. I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. In 2003 we turned to IVF. For the first few cycles I was working a lot, and renovating our home. Looking back that wasn’t an ideal set of circumstances. In the end, we had 13 cycles with no success.
In 2004 we started to research adoption. We weren’t supposed to have IVF and pursue adoption at the same time, but I had to have a Plan B, that’s how my mind works. Local adoption wasn’t right for us for many reasons, so we looked instead to China. We were told that we’d have a baby in our arms in about 13 - 18 months.
For the first few years nothing happened, we just waited. In the meantime we tried a few other IVF protocols without success. First we underwent egg donation in the US, then returned to try surrogacy, with both donor eggs and donor embryos. Unfortunately this didn’t work either.
By now, Mick was emotionally tired and having doubts. I never gave up hope though. I knew I’d be a mum one day, so we kept trying option after option. In 2011 our adoption agency called to discuss taking on a Special Needs Child. A lot of children coming through international channels had complicated disabilities, so we needed to understand what level of disability we could cope with. We engaged two specialist surgeons, who were amazing. They helped us truly understand the levels of care involved. We completed the programme, and went back to waiting.
In June 2012 we decided to have another go at IVF. We were sitting in the waiting room about to go in when I got a call. There was an 18 month old boy in China needing a family. We left the doctor’s office and drove straight to our DHS office. We knew we didn’t have much time as it was late morning and USA and Europe would soon be waking up and accessing the same worldwide database that our little boy had popped up on. We were lucky being in Australia as we got to see him first. When we arrived, they gave us his file. It was two pages written in Mandarin which we couldn’t understand at all. Thankfully Mick has a Chinese colleague who translated it for us that night - and everything seemed OK. We sent the information and our little boy’s photo to one of the surgeons and he didn’t hesitate. “Take him” he said.
We had 6 weeks to get our paperwork completed, organise visas and book flights - then we set off to Nanjing, China. We didn’t know what to take, so I bought a bundle of 2-yr old clothes from E-bay, lots of bottles and formula, and some toys, and we left.
We were met at the airport by our guide from the China Adoption Agency. She took us to a hotel where we stayed for a couple of days to acclimatise and prepare to meet Finn! On the 3rd day we headed to the adoption office. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time. It was a busy day, lots of little children. Then our guide said “Here he comes!” Three beautiful ladies from the Orphanage entered the grounds, one of them holding Finn. He was so tiny. I wanted to hold him immediately, but wasn’t sure if it was right thing to do. I asked “Am I able to hold him?” And he came to me, hesitant at first, but our guide said “This is Mama and Baba” and we believe he understood. Our twelve year journey was finally over.
Looking back, even though it was hard at times, I knew I was never going to have empty arms. We fought the odds over and over again to have a family. If anyone else out there is on a similar journey, all I would say is Believe…And Never Ever, Ever Give Up on your dream.