Saturday, February 26, 2011

Being a Mother

For finding your mother, there's one certain test.

You must look for the creature who loves you the best.

-David Kirk

Last week, my friend was telling me about her friend who tried in vitro several times unsuccessfully before adopting from Costa Rica and most recently from the states. The friend said, “Tell Heather that if she does in vitro, she should use donor eggs.”

I think in her situation, she must have had egg issues (which I do not), but I thought about this suggestion and how sincerely she must have wanted us to have success. But to me, if you are going to use donor eggs, you might as well adopt.

That’s not to say that using donor eggs for some women isn’t the best choice for them. In fact, my infertility counselor did just that and said she couldn’t have been more pleased with her choice and that her daughter was the most amazing, wonderful daughter she could ever imagine. It’s very important for some women to be pregnant to the extent that they use donor eggs or donor sperm if the issue is a male factor.

After years of infertility and having heard lots of opinions from lots of people, I have concluded that every woman makes the right choice for herself with her husband or partner. There is no right or wrong way to become a mother. Whether she does in vitro, uses donor eggs or a surrogate, adopts domestically or internationally, or chooses not to have children at all, it is her choice and she has made the right decision.

I have considered all these options (except for not having children), and I’ve concluded that I don’t necessarily NEED to reproduce, although I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be thrilled if Craig and I could have our own children. Being pregnant would be a beautiful experience. But I don’t need it. I just need to be a mother.

As a teacher, every year on the first day of school, I look out at the sea of faces in my class, and they’re just that . . . faces. Names on a roster. But I know this is the only day it will feel like this. As soon as we start working and talking and listening and joking, they become Daniel and Jordan and Brady and Chris and Darius and Maddie, and I love them. And they’re not just faces anymore. They’re crazy, hilarious, young people with stories and dreams. Sometimes it’s painful being a teacher when you want kids so badly and haven’t had them. It’s hard to explain to 7th graders why you’re choked up when they’re giving a speech. “It’s because I’m so proud of you and your mom is so lucky to have you.”

When I told a girl in my class, Alexis, that we were adopting, she said, “Mrs. Curry, Halle and I were just talking last weekend about how you’d make such a good mom.”

Gulp. Does she know that’s what I desire more than anything? That it’s my single most important purpose in life? That I’d give anything to be a mommy?

I’ve known wonderful mothers in my life. My own mom, for starters. The mom of all moms. In one word, I’d describe her as happy. Joyful. Full of life. OK, that was 5 words. She’s selfless and fun loving, and will back you on anything.

My husband’s mom. Strong. Fierce. Loves with a passion and would do anything for her children. She’s hardworking and would give you the shirt off her back.

My sister. Giving. Forgiving. Like a mama bird – delicately nurturing her chicks. Teaching them to fly and proud of their independence.

My sister-in-law. Mama bear. Don’t mess with her cubs. She’s loyal, but she’ll kill you. Don’t mess with her cubs.

There are many different ways to mother, but the common thread is love. When children are loved, they are secure. Regardless of style, love is the most important thing.

I’ve thought a lot about our referral, when we get the name and picture of the child being referred to us. It can be unnerving to think someone else is choosing a child for us. Will she be the right one?

The answer is yes. For one second, she will be just a face and a name. But then she will be my daughter. Forever. She will make me happy, joyful, and full of life. I will love her with a passion and do anything for her. I will nurture her and be proud of her. I'll be a grizzly. I will love her.

How do I know this? Because that’s what mothers do.

And I will be her mother.


Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,

but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.

-Fleur Conkling Heylinger

This is an inspiring video about a family who wrote a book called "From Ashes to Africa, " about their experience going from infertility to the most purposeful parenting one could imagine.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Puzzle Piece Fundraiser

Thank you to everyone who is following our blog and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. It feels so good to be loved and supported by friends, family, and even people we've never met. I've been selling mother's necklaces for about a year raising money for fertility treatments, and there have been so many people that we know and don't know who have ordered from us. For that, I am humbled and grateful. I wish I could thank everyone personally for caring and supporting us in our journey.

Since we have shifted gears now to adoption, I wanted to give an overview of what the process will look like for us.

The first 4 months of our adoption journey is just completing paper work, references, home studies, fingerprints, background checks, etc. At first, I thought 'how could paperwork take 4 months?' But you have to order copies for birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of insurance, financials, and all that good stuff. Then there's the home-study and interviews, and physicals. Then you have to wait for approval from Gladney. This portion of the process costs around $9450.

Once you've been approved through Gladney, you have to go through Dossiers, which is the international part of the paperwork. There's immigaration approval and more fingerprints, authentication of all documents, passports, and travel visa, and another $1940 for all of this.

Then you have about a 6-10 month wait for a referrel which is when you find out the name and get pictures of the child you will be adopting. We have requested an infant girl, which is any girl under 1 year old.

Once we have accepted the referrel, it takes about 3 months to finish paperwork through Ethiopia, including foreign service fees, child identification expenses, embassy insurance fees, medical and translation expenses, childcare and supplies, which totals another estimated $7600.

Finally, we travel to Ethiopia to bring home our baby! These expenses are estimated at $9540.

The total cost is between $25,000-30,000, a bit overwhelming, but a small price to pay when you know your life will be changed forever.

"Our children are not ours because they share our genes,
they are ours because we have the audacity to envision them.
That at the end of the day . . . or long sleepless night,
is how love really works."

To help raise funds for our adoption, we purchased a 500 piece puzzle and are inviting people to sponsor a piece. Interestingly, the puzzle is titled, "Hattie's Delight", which is a name I've always wanted to name our first daughter. It's also rich in colors that suit our nursery and features a little girl trying on elaborate hats one would wear for a tea party. I've always said I wanted girls so I could take them to Myrtle's Tea House and take them to the ballet. This puzzle captures that beautifully.

We are asking for sponsors to make donations of any amount, and we will write the sponsor's name on the back of a puzzle piece. Once all pieces are sponsored, we will put the puzzle together, glue and frame it, and hang it in our baby's room. When she grows up, she will treasure this keepsake and reflect on how loved she was before she was even ours. We are forever grateful for your love and generosity.

To make a donation, click on "Donate" on home page and follow directions. If you do not have a paypal account, look to the lower left hand corner after clicking "Donate" and click where it says, "I do not have a paypal account." Or you can send a check made payable to Heather Curry to PO Box 871448 Vancouver, WA 98687.

Thank you so much.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trust Your Story

We all have ideas about how we want our life to be. We have dreams, and we're told, "If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything." For my whole life, I have believed this and can honestly say I've been able to work for everything I've ever wanted. Being a teacher. Traveling. Having a loving marriage. Owning a home. So how come the one thing I wanted more than anything I couldn't seem to achieve? Being a mommy.

The answer to this is both a mystery and a blessing. But let’s start back a few years. When I was in college, becoming a teacher was a no-brainer. I love kids. I love learning. After graduating from Portland State, I earned my Masters at City University. During this time, I would have loved to meet “the one”. Believe me . . . I was always on the look out, but with a dad as cool as mine, no guy even came close. I started to wonder, “Is it me? Am I too picky?”

Once I expressed my dating frustrations to my mom, and she said, “Honey, there was never a pot so crooked that there wasn’t a lid to fit. You’re only looking at the boys in Vancouver and thinking you’ll never find a husband, but I say, don’t limit yourself to Washington State. Don’t even limit yourself to the United States. Your husband could be in Africa for all you know.”

As it goes, I moved to Tacoma for my first year of teaching, and while I was there, I heard about a sister school in Lagos, Nigeria that recruited heavily from our district. As previously mentioned, I had no romantic ties. No kids. Just a dream and an opportunity. So I applied and was hired.

A few months later, and a half a world away, I met Craig Curry- “the one”. Within a week, I knew without a doubt, he would be my husband. And we’ve been inseparable ever since.

What a perfect love story. And what better way to memorialize our love than to start a family. It’s what you do. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.

But that’s not what happened. Nothing happened for a year. Then two years. Then three. We sought fertility specialists and underwent thousands of dollars of testing (for which not a cent was covered by insurance). We did fertility drugs, fertility procedures, special diets, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, everything and anything to increase our chances of having a baby. I felt desperate. Depressed. Alone.

All my life I’ve been able to work for the things I want. And if it didn’t work right away, I could figure out a way to work harder or smarter. This was the first time that what I wanted more than anything, I couldn’t make happen. And it was very humbling.

An infertility counselor told me that there are two gifts we have as humans. The first is our willpower. We have the ability to create the life we want. We have intelligence. Stick-to-it-ness. Control. But the second gift is more powerful. Most people don’t even recognize it. It is vulnerability when things don’t go just right. It’s the ability to accept that you can’t control everything. It’s recognizing your humanity and knowing that you still have the choice to go on.

Our choice to adopt has brought me so much peace that I would be remised to think life wasn’t whispering this to me all along. It's like that saying about the guy who spent his whole life climbing the ladder of success only to get to the top and realize his ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. We may think we have an idea about where we're headed, but sometimes life has other plans for us. We just have to listen.

Africa called once, and I brought home my husband. Africa is calling again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We have an announcement

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m excited to announce that Craig and I have started the adoption process for a baby girl from Ethiopia. As many of you know, it has been a long, arduous journey (I will go into more detail about this in later blogs), but it feels so good to know in 18 months we will be traveling back to Africa where we fell in love to bring home our first child. There are a few things on my heart that I want to share with you.

Last October, Craig and I decided to adopt from Ethiopia, and we signed up with the Gladney Center for Adoption out of Fort Worth, TX. At that point, I had done a lot of research, read other people’s blogs, and felt inspired by the unconventional ways in which families find each other. I could envision our lives with a little, beautiful baby who looked like all the wonderful people we met while living in Lagos, with her fine features, sassy curls, and sweet, sweet spirit. I felt like I knew her and that she was meant to be ours.

We ended up deciding for various reasons to put adoption on hold and keep trying for a biological child. Although I was excited about our plan to do in vitro in the summer, I grieved the loss of my precious girl, even if she only existed in my heart. Miraculously, we conceived not long after that, but we miscarried. We immediately conceived again but miscarried at 9 weeks. After 3 long years, I felt like a hamster on a wheel who for month after month, year after year, was no closer to being a mommy than the day we started trying.

It is a big decision to adopt. I don’t take that lightly. After my last miscarriage, I was talking with the best bunch of ladies you could ever dream of working with, and my teaching partner, Pinar, said something that pierced right to my heart. With tears in her eyes, she said, “When you showed your “Living in Nigeria” slideshow to the students and you and Craig were holding those babies at that orphanage, I thought to myself, those are her kids. That’s what her family will look like.”

A few nights later, Craig and I were going to sleep, and I thought about that experience visiting the orphanage in Lagos. There were about 40 kids and only 3 old nuns (bless their hearts) who took care of them all. The older children, walking age and older functioned only out of survival. They grunted and tended to look right through you. They had never been nurtured by human touch and bonding. It broke my heart. But when we went to the baby nursery, it was a whole different story. There was one little girl in particular that I held. She looked in my eyes and was very curious about my facial expressions. We smiled at each other and I rubbed her head. After 15 minutes or so, I went to put her back in her crib and when I did, she started to cry. So I picked her up, and she stopped. I carried her around for a while, then tried to put her back in her crib, and she started crying again. We did this about 4 times until I realized I wasn’t going to be able to put her down. Finally, I rocked her to sleep, laid her down, and quietly sneaked out.

As I lay in my warm bed, snuggling up to my husband and thinking about this, a lump swelled in my throat. I had never thought about when she woke up. No one would be there to pick her up. No one would be there to rub her head, put big, bright flowers in her hair, and tell her she’s beautiful and that she embodied everything good God ever put into the world.

And that's when I knew. There’s a little baby out there without a mommy, and I’m a mommy without a baby. It just makes sense.

And Craig said, “Let’s do it.”

I’ll end with this. Looking for inspiration, I found this scripture from Proverbs 15:30. It says: “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” Some people might look at our situation and think, ‘Bless the Lord, some little orphan with a weary soul is getting good news from a distant land (adoptive parents).’

But I can assure you the weary is me. And that precious little life from a distant land is like cold water to my weary soul.

Let the healing begin.


This is Craig and I at an orphanage in Lagos, Nigeria. 2007