Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to realize your dreams. You know it will be hard and you might wonder if it’s worth it – but you keep your eye on the prize and know that it is.
Right now, my ten-year-old daughter and I are living 7000 miles away from her daddy. He’s back in the USA, working hard to provide for us. Life will be like this for a while yet, but we can cope with it. Let me explain why.
Our story starts in summer 2004. I moved to the island of Oahu to study at the University of Hawaii and ended up meeting the man of my dreams. Joape was from Fiji, studying at Brigham Young University and working at the local Polynesian cultural center. We married the following year.
Starting a family was always a priority, but after a year I began to worry. Why wasn’t it happening? What was wrong? What if we couldn’t have children? It seemed my fears were unfounded, though. Shortly before I was due to start infertility testing, I learned I was pregnant. Our daughter, Maraia, was born in August 2007.
The birth of my daughter was nothing short of a miracle. Having another child would be almost impossible
Not long afterwards, I began to experience really severe internal pain, the kind that makes you fall on your knees. I knew this wasn’t normal, so I went to the doctor. I was told I had stage IV endometriosis, and that the birth of my daughter was nothing short of a miracle. Having another child would be almost impossible. This was the worst news imaginable – I’d always dreamed of having a large family.
The diagnosis meant I had to have surgery – four in all, including one that removed my right Fallopian tube and ovary. Afterwards, the doctor came to talk to me.
“I’m sorry, Christine,” he said. “The endometriosis is much worse than anticipated. Your left Fallopian tube is also completely damaged.” The bottom line was that my chances of conceiving again were next to zero. My only hope would be to have IVF – at a cost of more than $10,000 per attempt.
It was more than I could endure. I didn’t want more treatments, to go through those ups and downs. I had to accept that Joape and I couldn’t have any more children together. I tried to set my mind to thinking that way, but it was harder than I imagined. The thought of never having another child plagued me every single day.
Out of the blue, we got the chance to adopt a child
Then a few years later, completely out of the blue, we got the chance to adopt a child. I fell in love with the beautiful little girl who was to be ours the moment I met her. I was ready to battle as hard as I could to get through the mountains of paperwork that lay ahead. I just wanted to bring her home. There was so much to do, and it would take at least six months.
I felt an uneasy lump growing in the pit of my stomach but buried it under the need to press on. Now, of course, I know my instinct was trying to tell me something. Four weeks later, the birth mother changed her mind – she had decided to keep her baby. The daughter I believed would be mine was no longer there.
I felt desolate. The loneliness crushed me. Nobody could understand how low I felt, how much I’d longed for another baby. This baby. I couldn’t even think about getting pregnant again.
I’d weep as I saw friends announcing a pregnancy or the safe arrival of their second, third, even fourth child
Scrolling through my social media feeds, I’d weep as I saw friends announcing a pregnancy or the safe arrival of their second, third, even fourth child. I’d cry as my sisters gave birth to their kids. My own daughter asked why she didn’t have a brother or sister. I cried a lot back then. I wasn’t sure I’d ever stop.
It wasn’t until summer 2014 that I felt ready to try IVF. Maraia was seven – old enough to understand something was going on. We talked to her about what we were doing, made sure she was included. The hope I felt was indescribable.
The day came when we’d find out if I was pregnant or not. I got up at 6am to drive to the hospital, determined to be first in the queue to have my blood drawn. Modern technology meant I didn’t have to wait for a phone call to get the results – we could look them up online.
I’d been so sure there would be a baby. Why hadn’t it worked?
We sat on the bed altogether – Joape, Maraia and me. I took a deep breath and opened the results of the blood test. Negative.
I broke, then. I jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom, where I curled up on the floor in a ball. I cried and cried – so much so, I made myself sick. Why me? It had felt right to do this cycle of IVF. I’d been so sure there would be a baby at the end of it. Why hadn’t it worked?
Maraia came in and put her arms around me. “It’s ok, Mommy,” she said. “We will get a baby someday. I know it.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was done. That I couldn’t go through this again. I couldn’t break her heart that way.
But it was how I felt. Life went on, day in and day out. I went to work, put on a front for my colleagues and friends. We hadn’t really told many people about the problems we were having in trying to extend our family. Most were unaware of what we were going through. We suffered silently and alone.
I’d moved on from trying to have more children – I couldn’t take any more heartache
Then, in April 2017, the phone rang. A family member in Fiji asked if we’d like to adopt their baby, due in November. I was stunned. I’d moved on from trying to have more children – I couldn’t take any more heartache. But was this the miracle we’d prayed for?
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I turned it all over and over in my mind. We prayed to our Heavenly Father for guidance. And we realized we had to go for it, give it everything we had. It was the right thing to do. Our final chance.
We found out in July that it was a little girl, and slowly I began to believe that maybe this was going to happen. On August 9, her tenth birthday, Maraia came in with tears in her eyes. I couldn’t begin to guess what had upset her.
It turned out that all she’d really wanted for her birthday was a little brother or sister, and she’d realized it wasn’t going to happen. Nothing could make her happy – not the new iPhone we’d got her, or a surprise visit from her cousins.
The look in my daughter’s eyes will stay with me forever
That was when it truly hit me. We had to adopt this baby. We shared the news with Maraia that night, telling her that we didn’t know for sure it would work out but that we’d do our best. The look in my daughter’s eyes will stay with me forever because it was a long time since I’d seen it. She had hope.
On October 31, the phone rang with the news that the baby would be born by C-section the next day. She was a high breach and they needed to get her out. I felt the butterflies stir in my tummy.
All went well. She was a healthy little girl – Kendall, the name I had always planned for the second daughter I’d stopped believing I would have. My phone went crazy, beeping with texts and photographs of our little miracle. Joape booked me a flight to Fiji and began frantically gathering together baby things.
I had a long conversation with the birth mother that day. She said she wouldn’t change her mind – Kendall was all mine if I wanted her. I couldn’t believe how much love I already felt for this child, the baby I hadn’t even met. There was no doubt at all in my mind that she was the missing piece I’d longed for all these years.
We agreed that I would quit my job, and Maraia and I would move to Fiji
Although full custody orders were granted just ten days after her birth, we faced some major hurdles before we could bring Kendall home to the US. When we learned they wouldn’t be resolved quickly, I decided I couldn’t miss any more of Kendall’s early life. Joape and I agreed that I would quit my job, and Maraia and I would move to Fiji to look after our little girl. He would stay home, working and providing for us all, preparing for the day we would all be together as a family of four.
I met Kendall when she was ten weeks old, on January 16, 2018. It was one of the most emotional days of my life. Maraia and I waited at our new home while time dragged by. And the – Kendall arrived. We watched her being taken out of the car and brought upstairs. I cried as she was handed to me – I was finally holding my miracle baby. Maraia cried too as she cuddled her new little sister, the birthday present she’d so longed for.
Kendall is the missing piece that completes our family
And here we are, almost a year later, still in Fiji. The adoption is progressing, but we’re likely to be here for at least another year – maybe more. Joape is amazing, staying in the US and working to make sure his family is provided for. He visits every few months when finances allow. Kendall is the missing piece that completes our family, but of course we will only be truly whole when we are all together permanently.
I’m convinced that day will come, and I will wait patiently until it does. In the meantime, I would say this to anyone else waiting for their miracle. You never know how or when it will come, but you must never stop hoping. Life has a way of working out eventually. Have faith.