Saturday, June 15, 2013


"The debt of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward.  What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children." 
Piggy-back rides…miles and miles of piggy-back rides.
Planting vegetable gardens each year, specially designed to allow pig-tailed skipping down the Yellow Brick Road of our back yard, room enough for Dorothy and Toto too.
Mountain Bars, Pop Rocks and trips to the White Tail deer refuge.
Homemade sledding – down the logging roads – who would have thought what a great sled an old highway speed sign and some rope could make?
T-ball lessons and playing catch in the front yard.  
Pretending that tool set is pretty much the BEST gift he’s ever gotten.  Until Christmas next year…when receiving an even BETTER – and in no way the same – tool set.
Ushering me into the no-training-wheels days.
Car-ride lessons detailing the mysteries of highway engineering and road maintenance.  The median stripes REALLY are five feet (+) long! (don’t go lay down in the street to check)
Trekking through the Olympics with llamas.  More piggy-back rides.
The Handy-Man for All Occasions – McGyvering any at-home fix-it need, teaching by example how not to open a paint can with a pocket knife or even out a ladder on a staircase using books as shims. (again, don’t try this at home)
Billy Joel – Storm Front (i.e. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”)
The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over
My adolescent courage as we move through the line at Silverwood, getting closer and closer to the Corkscrew – my induction into extreme roller coaster enthusiasm – the only one brave enough to ride just about anything along with me.
A dog man.  But also a two parakeets, several hamsters, and (countless) stray kitten(s) man.
Shared tastes in books. Taking me to see “Jurassic Park” – the original, one and only.  Sharing my disappointment in “The Lost World.” (I mean, come on!)
Giving his children the childhood he could not have. Insulating. Teaching. Nurturing.
Family road trip navigator, getting us pointed in the right direction for our annual summer adventures, chauffeuring us to the all-American lands of dinosaurs, Golden Gate, Old Faithful, Disney, Grand Canyon, glaciers, redwoods, Mt. Rushmore, and southwestern deserts.
Providing an endless library of inside jokes (see family vacations above) – “Slow down!” - “Now it’s MY turn to stop!” - Burrow Creek bathroom lizards – 24-hour road trip to Phoenix – kamikaze Wallowa Lake deer – KOA flash flooding – Northern Idaho Naked-Man Bike Ride.
By my side for every hospitalization, from 11-year-old appendectomy to 25-year-old discectomy. Being my courage, always my daddy.
Gracefully enduring years of female adolescence, and then doing it all over again with my sister.
Driving lessons – jolting along the logging roads trying to keep it together as I “learn” how to drive a stick…how to drive at all.
The Great American Deck Builder.
My first car – wheeling and dealing(-ish) to get me into that 1991 red Geo Prizm.  My mom vowing to never let him and my grandpa go car shopping for me without her ever again. 
Basketball games, volleyball games, basketball games, volleyball games.
Delving into the political machine that is a small-town high school, fighting for my scholarship when the side effects of the power hungry thought they’d found an easy target.  Dad -1, NHS -0
The “Dad Gift” at Christmas.  Progressing from the bobble-head Chihuahua to a pretty sweet iPhone case. 
Brake jobs, oil changes, new tires and fluids. His fussing and worrying keeping me safe, expressing his love.
Many, many moves.  From Sheridan to Vancouver, just the two of us…in August…in 100-degree heat…at 10 p.m.….hauling that couch up three flights.
Inconspicuous words of encouragement, of life lessons, of humor, of deep truths.
The consummate provider.  From vague memories of early-year nightshifts to the comforts of a golden childhood to private college tuition to co-signing rental agreements.
Meeting the boyfriend – embracing my future husband as the son he never had.  Proud of that bull’s eye in the backyard that first weekend they met.  Taking him under his wing whenever the opportunity arises.
Champion of the Barron of Beef at our wedding of the century.
Walking me down the aisle.  A Billy Joel father-daughter dance.
Thursday-night dinner.  Tolerating Project Runway.  Keeping his girls happy even now (but commiserating with his son-in-law).
Saving my cradle so he could fix it up for his grandchild.  Gestures so simple and so lovely.
There from the beginning.  To be there until the end.  I may not be the one giving birth, but he will be there for the birth of his first grandchild.
My protector, my constant, my teacher, my friend.
Memories of my childhood teem with his dependable, warm presence.  He is my father, perhaps because of blood, but he is my dad because of his umbrella over my life. It is not genetics that formulate my definition of father.  It is this man, wise, strong yet kind, living an honest, simple, steady life.  An example to hold up and say, yes, he did it right.
Qualities I see shining in my husband.  Call it Freudian, but I find no fault in seeking out a little bit of my father in the man to be the father of my children. 
Thank you, daddy, for always standing by my side, over and over again, for giving me a life not only full of the necessities and the comforts, but enriched by the experiences and moments we will carry through to your grandchild. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


"Our children are not ours because they share our genes...

they are ours because we have had the audacity to envision them. 

That, at the end of the day...or long, sleepless night, 

is how love really works."


Digging the rock out of my bloodied knee after a spill off my training-wheeled bike. 

"Working out" to the Jane Fonda aerobics video, me wearing a leotard and leg warmers and laying out our workout mats (towels) in front of the oppressive Zenith cabinet-style TV. 

Water-color painting in the farmhouse kitchen...and coloring books, color crayons, coloring, coloring, coloring. 

Playing dress-up and pretend wedding in her over-sized high heels and glamorous floor-length nightgowns (oh, the '80s).

Reading together at bedtime...for as far back as I can remember. 

Deftly mixing the Kool-Aid for my roadside entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Waiting for the school bus together.  Pictures on the first day of school.  Every year. 

Kissing boo-boos and wiping tears. 

Trick-or-treating with the Torppas in the minivan, traversing neighborhood to neighborhood of the Naselle Metro Area.

Field trips - from my pre-school trip to the phone company to my senior band trip to Disneyworld.   

Scrubbing my hands and hair with butter, impressing on me the importance of not using chewing gum to string across my bedroom as phone lines for Barbie.  

Ballet recitals - stuffing me into tutus of various gaudy sequins and tulle. Tightly wrapping and endlessly hair-spraying my hair into bobby-pinned buns. 

Hiding me upstairs at the bank between 3:30 and 5:00, me attempting crosswords while she finishes her work day.  

After-school referee between sisters tattling over the phone during those latch-key days. 

"I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You For Always" - mother-daughter Kindergarten tea.  

Slumber parties - desperately attempting to sleep, vowing never to do this again, "forgetting" that promise when my plea for the next one comes around. 

Master of ceremonies and party planning, chauffeuring van-loads of adolescent girls to Skate World. 

Stern.  But fair. 

Silently guiding me through the unchartered wasteland that is ages 11-14.

Putting me to work at the Wahkiakum County the the Sylvester (as in & Tweety) costume.  

By my side for every hospitalization, from 11-year-old appendectomy to 25-year-old discectomy.  Being my courage, always my mommy. 

Basketball games, volleyball games, basketball games, volleyball games. 

Unofficial photographer, documenting the ritual of teenage preparation before every high school dance. 

Clean - oh so very clean - and neat.  Keeping beautiful homes that no child can recreate, no matter how hard we wish we could. Creating havens we never want to leave. 

Giving her children the childhood she could not have.  Insulating.  Teaching. Nurturing. 

Proud tears at graduation. Empty-nest tears driving away from Pioneer Hall at Linfield College.  

Somehow getting me a job at the Party Store (so...many...balloons).

Forcing me to wear the birthday sombrero and shake the birthday maracas.  

Answering the phone, the comfort of that voice on the other side of the world, in the middle of the night to hear me sob from the Dublin train station.  I've maxed out the credit card...I have to pay for three nights at the hostel...I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  Wiring me money with the patience of a saint. 

Proud tears at graduation.  

Driving around with me, scrutinizing apartment after apartment in the Yamhill Valley.  Co-signing, loaning me security deposits and move-in fees. 

Christmas at home, a rejuvenation from the outside world. Ever promising next year will be a small Christmas.  Never following through.  Spoiling her kids. 

Pulling out the old photo albums, shamelessly embarrassing me in front of my future husband.  Embracing my love, making him the son she never had. 

More saintly patience through the bridezilla moments of a Type A planning a wedding. 

By my side for wedding gown after wedding gown, tulips vs. peonies, to serve alcohol or not to serve alcohol (that is the question).

Giving me the wedding of my dreams. 

The conversations of adulthood. 

Pedicures and girl talk.  Rubbing it in when they think she's my sister. 

Thursday-night dinner. Project Runway viewing. Making our husbands put up with it.   

Board-game competitiveness, always gracious - or at least laughing along - in putting up with the trash talk. 

The perspective of a woman, yet still my mommy, as it becomes more and more difficult to achieve motherhood.  Being there without being asked.  Sitting with me through those nightmare days. Helpless. yet. Empathetic. 

All-embracing of our path. Leaving a check on the counter. Adoring nursery patterns. 

There from the beginning.  To be there until the end.  I may not be the one giving birth, but she will be there for the birth of her first grandchild.

My mentor, my champion, my litmus, my friend. 

When I think of my mom, it is not her eyes and hair and complexion - those things that stare back at me in the mirror - that I cherish. My mother is not DNA.  She is many wonderful, nameless things.  And she is also many beautiful moments in time.  All of which weave a clear and sparkling notion in my mind of true motherhood. All of which resonate so loudly in my heart - the mother I want to be.  Proof that it is not so much our genes (nature) that inform our paths through parenthood as it is our hearts (nurture). 

Thank you, Mommy, for planting these memories ever so gently, firmly, honestly into my life.  You are my inspiration and you are the standard by which I will always compare myself.  Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dear Friends

Dear Friends, 

We come to you with a proposal.  Whether you've been following along with our story from the beginning, or you're just now joining us, we are truly grateful for your interest and support. 

We are about to jump into a very significant investment - greater even than the investment we've made in fertility treatment thus far - we are adopting a child. It is the next step in our long, often bumpy journey toward parenthood. We came to the realization long ago that we are parents - in essence - we just need a child to make us so by definition. 

Let's be upfront. We are facing roughly $20,000-25,000, and possibly more, to finally bring our baby home.  All emotions and philosophizing aside, that's a huge chunk of money for a young, middle-class couple.  

Now, we've said all along we would try our damnedest to pay our way, and do so as much as possible without incurring debt.  Unfortunately, we can no longer do that. We will be financing our adoption costs through a low-interest loan. 

We pose the following points to all of you reading this not because we want to get out of paying off our debt on our own, but because we are a sound investment, and we believe in the immense goodness of the human beings around us.  We did not come lightly to the decision to ask for donations. It is surprisingly more uncomfortable than we imagined, but we have to at least see if anyone else would like to contribute. Because whatever money we do not have to pay out of pocket will be dedicated to our preparing to raise our child. 

This message is in no means meant to be a guilt trip. We will pose our case to you and be supremely grateful to those who just read our statement.  And if, by the end, you feel like donating a few dollars, you can be assured that every penny will be considered a priceless gift by two people repeatedly humbled in our attempt to put together a family.

First, the nuts and bolts. 

We will be adopting through Christian Family Adoptions.  We are enrolling in both the Loving Options Infant Program and the U.S. African American Infant Program.  We know there is a soul destined to be our baby, and we are open to the right match, regardless of the details.  

We will be financing $30,000 through the National Adoption Foundation at an interest rate of 6.38% because we have excellent credit (just ask Experian!). 

We are accepting donations through our GoFundMe page (see button in right navigation bar).  

And now, the in-between. (aka: The Pitch)

About Us

We are Jeff and Amanda Delapena.  We are both Pacific Northwest born and bred.  We live in Vancouver, Washington. 

Jeff grew up in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by siblings and nurtured by loving parents and stalwart grandparents.  He attended Marshall High School and graduated from Portland State University with a B.A. in English.  He currently works at Charter Communications as a Correspondence Coordinator for his day job.  He is really a budding novelist and is working on getting his first novel published. 

Amanda grew up in rural Pacific County, Washington, in a close-knit family of four, supplemented by an extensive and vibrant extended family.  She attended Naselle High School (5 points if you've heard of it; 10 points if you've heard of it and did NOT actually attend yourself) and graduated from Linfield College with a B.A. in German and Mass Communication.  She currently works for the City of Vancouver as the Assistant to the City Council for her day job.  She really is an aspiring radio jingle singer and color crayon namer.  

In every way we are blessed with a comfortable and fulfilling life.  We rent our home with the intent of buying it in the future.  We have two fascinating cats and one large, exuberant Nym (our 6-month-old Great Pyrenees dog). 

We love camping (in a tent - none of this "glamping" business). We are film buffs - independent films, foreign films, blockbusters, comedies, Oscar-bait - you name it, we've seen it. We play board games and have a closet full to prove it. We try to travel to a new place every year, usually within driving distance, but we also try to get back to our favorite haunts every other year.  We're both lovers of the written word, music, and theater.  And we long to share our passions with our child(ren).

We were married on a beautiful, warm day in May 2009.  Life threw us a curve ball in late 2010 when we decided to start trying to have a baby.  I (Amanda) have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), an extremely common condition that causes infertility in women.  Our journey through the hills and valleys of infertility and associated treatment is chronicled in this blog, so we won't go into the gory details again.

To summarize, we've ended up drawing a line in the sand.  We decided to stop active treatment and instead pursue our dream through adoption.  

Life is a series of in-betweens.  We've learned to stop expecting and just be accepting.  And we are better for the difficulties we've faced in the past few years. Did we expect this would be our path? No.  But we have fully embraced it and cannot wait to welcome our baby home.

If you need to know more about us, please explore this blog or look us up on Facebook (Amanda or Jeff).

Why We're a Good Investment

Because we have tasted the acrid bitterness of the tears of sorrow, we have the ability to taste the sweet fulfillment of the tears of joy.

We are committed to our child. We will do everything in our power to bring our baby home.  But beyond that, we are committed to providing a home and a life full of experiences and opportunities. We joke that we are buying a baby, but at the heart of it, we are making an up-front investment in a future.  We are saying that no price is too great for something so priceless. And we are proud to be able to be a part of something so far beyond ourselves.

We have a support network of family and friends that will not only catch us before we fall, but inevitably enrich the experiences of our child.  I happen to believe that Hillary was right - it does take a village, and our village is almost as excited as us to get started.  Almost. 

Our marriage is strong - our love and commitment to each other has survived hardship and strain.  We know we are stronger together and we know it will be our relationship from which we will draw  as we venture into parenthood. We will make mistakes, as any first-time parent does.  We will make it up as we go along, at times, and desperately depend on our friends who recently experienced it at other times. But we have a trusting and honest partnership that will lie underneath every experience, every question and frustration, and help us grow as we take charge of this new life.

We are educated, employed and financially stable. We may not have $30,000 just lying around, but we will make this work and come out OK on the other end.  We will make the personal sacrifices when we need to.  

We are willing to undergo the scrutiny we know is coming.  We welcome it if it means we have an opportunity to ensure we are completely ready and are providing the best home possible.  We are open to any questions you may have as well. 

And maybe you think it doesn't need to be said, but we love children. I knew I was in love with Jeff the moment I saw him interacting with his toddler nieces - they adored him (and still do), but quite possibly not as much as he adored (and still does) them.  As for me, my heart aches every time I see a mother and child - it is a bond I cannot wait to experience.

We can do this - monetarily, that is - alone.  We recognize it will be difficult, but we are ready to do it.  But we believe we are a worthy cause.  And we believe we will have a great story to share with our child.  We can say one day to our son or daughter: 

"Other people believed as much as we did that you were meant to be a part of our family that they helped make it a little easier for us to make it possible. We loved you so much that other people could see that and believed in us enough to help us out.  All of these people will forever have a special place in our hearts because of that, and you will always be a reminder to us of the goodness of these people.  We can never thank them enough for what they've done for our family, and we will take them with us an example of how we should spread that generosity with others when we can."

Finally, The Request

If you want to - please do not feel obligated - we would be so very grateful if you would donate any amount you would like to our adoption fund.  We will simply add you to our ever-growing list of un-repayable debts we owe our personal angels.

Thank you, above all, for hearing us out. 


Amanda and Jeff Delapena

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16th

Today is the anniversary of the day we lost our hopes and dreams, the day I miscarried my first and, so far, only pregnancy.  It was the darkest day of my life.

Today is the day we reclaim our hopes and dreams, the day we officially begin the process of one day – soon – meeting our baby. Today I placed into the mail our application to enter the infant adoption programs at Christian Family Adoptions.

I’ve made note of ominous or superstitious days in this blog before, and so far they’ve panned out very unsuccessfully.  So what is the difference this time? One comment, almost glossed over, made by the CFA program coordinator during the info session we recently attended:

Every couple that has stuck with the program has eventually had a successful adoption

And there’s also this:

CFA considers 2 years to be a “very long wait” to complete the process

Based on these two facts alone, I can confidently assert that, while we are just opening the door on our next opportunity, we are finally beginning to see the end of the path that has taken us close enough to walk through that door.  And at that end, we will finally meet our child.

This is the only thing that matters. Not the costs, not the rigorous evaluation of our suitability as parents, not the training and not the waiting. We are resilient, we are determined, and we are seasoned veterans when it comes to this character-shaping period in our lives.  These are the qualities that will lead us to our baby. Two years is nothing to stick out when it comes to the lifetime ahead of us. 

And everything we’ve been through – and everything to come – has simply been to develop the deepest, unspeakable appreciation we will have for the soul that will one day call us mommy and daddy.

April 16th. Everything in me wanted to skip over this day, forget it is even on the calendar. That is until recently. My perspective is now altered – I’m allowed to change my mind, right? Now I want to hold this date forever in my heart.
Let me explain.

It was a sweet, unlooked-for gesture that prompted me to rethink April 16th. My acupuncturist – my hand-holder, my objective sounding wall, my friend – gave me a fertility stone at my last appointment.  One of four, she said.  It is small and simple, yet humbly beautiful in its crystalline and mineral appearance.  Perhaps made even more so in my eyes because to me this stone will serve as a reminder of where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced to get to this point.  I am having it made into a necklace, which I will wear over my heart.  It shall be a link between that which we lost and that which we shall soon receive. When I wear it, I will remember the lows, the darkness, the pain, and in doing so, sharpen the joy and happiness now peaking over our horizon.

And so when I woke up this April 16th, I began to think about what this day means to me in the light this recent gift. And I realize now that my personal victory will be found in turning April 16th into another fertility stone to carry with me into and throughout motherhood.  Another reminder of just how lucky we are. Another reminder to never take our child for granted. An assurance to the woman who will give birth to our baby that we truly, completely understand the selfless act she is committing and that there are no two people who could be more grateful and therefore no two people who will work harder to be worthy of her sacrifice.

It is amazing what a year can do.  I am still facing a lifetime of April 16ths, but that idea no longer wilts my spirit. My April 16ths will now be a testament to dreams lost and refound, to silver-lining revelations, to parents whose paths to their babies don’t quite fit the mold, and to selfless acts of love making the just-out-of-reach finally attainable.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Conclusion (?)

Where do you go when all you’ve been left with after nearly three years are scars and an empty bank account?

I fully intended to write this entry last week, on the day I received my negative results, when I was entirely in the moment and could accurately record the tumult pounding my head and heart. But I could not. I had to breathe through those few days and simply figure out where we have been left standing.

And here we are…

I am not pregnant. Nor do I any longer plan to be... Let me fill you in.

After the miscarriage last year, we had intended to do another round of the hormone injections with artificial insemination – it worked once, we figured we had a good shot (take or leave the pun) the second time around. But my plans never go as planned despite my careful planning.

After a couple months’ wait, I discovered – miracle of miracles – that I was ovulating naturally. So we decided to save our money and just wing it (go with Aunt Flow?) and see what we could do on our own with the minimal assistance of over-the-counter ovulation tests and the precision timing that comes from years of learning way more about human reproduction than someone without the salary of a medical professional should have. And weekly acupuncture.

And so commenced the trials of “The Old Fashioned Way” (with a little bit of Chinese medicine and First Response thrown in). For six months. There was no reason why I was not pregnant by the end of 2012. Our continued failure led us once more to Oregon Fertility Institute and another $400 consultation with my doctor. And yet another plan of attack. Because I was ovulating on my own – just like a big girl – we decided on a less aggressive and less expensive treatment. Femara – a pill much like Clomid that stimulates ovulation but without the most miserable side effects – and artificial insemination. A few weeks and a thousand dollars later we were back in No-Man’s Land, that excruciatingly slow two-week waiting period between getting knocked up by a turkey baster and peeing on a stick. (OK, it’s much more elegant and clinical than a turkey baster, but you know you laughed.)

And we felt incredibly hopeful. And the signs and symptoms slowly revealed themselves. And life was pleasantly and distractingly hectic. And despite all of my self-preserving talk of not reading anything into anything, I was almost certain the test would be positive. And I thought for sure I would finally capture that elusive double pink line once and for all. And then I didn’t. And I was crushed. And I was in denial.

The definitive NO came with a blood test the next day, leaving us at another crossroad. Or maybe it is more of a stalemate. My body is functioning correctly, but I still need some sort of assistance, it would seem. Whether that is more of the same or perhaps some super hormone shots or something completely different, I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter. We don’t have any more money to test any more theories. And even if we did, we have no guarantee it would move us any closer to our goal or simply continue pushing us along laterally for another month, six months, year – endless.

And in all honestly, I have no more energy – no more fight – to give. Money is only one currency of myriad resources necessary to keep doing this. Some couples go on for year and years, and I’m not sure if I envy or pity them. Maybe a little of both. But I don’t do well with such uncertainty and a situation so far out of my control. And I have found that such stagnancy of life simply erodes my spirit. I will have no more of it.

And so back to the crossroads we go. A decision point. Arrived at a place I think we’ve both suspected for a long time we would get to. Do we keep draining ourselves, our funds, our tears? Or do we work toward positive progression in our lives and in the little, fragile, deserving life of a child in need of the kind of family we could be? 

Our decision is probably obvious. We are beginning our next adventure. Adoption. We’ve contacted DSHS and we’ll be starting the necessary steps next week. (Note: At the time of writing this, we were without Internet service – damn you CenturyLink! – so by the time you read this, we have probably already attended our orientation - actually, it's tonight!)

Despite feeling like a complete failure yet again, I am OK. I am actually relieved. I can now utilize one of my great abilities – multitasking. Bring on the Type A. It’s now time for me to focus on not only family building – in the truest, brick-by-brick, from-the-ground-up sense – it’s time for me to focus on me. Be a little selfish, as a friend put it. Focus on me. Not my infertility. All of me. Focus on those little, non-fertility health issues I’ve been putting off. Focus on my new home, complete with extra-large puppy. Focus on my incredible marriage. Rebuild my spirit and vitality, which have been sucked into hypothetical treatments, waiting periods, cyclical disappointment, and physical abuse for almost three years. To think that so much of that is over…I can’t really even comprehend it yet. But I am grateful I can alight my soul elsewhere now.

We have concluded a painful period in our lives – painful but not without its teachable moments, I recognize. Only because of the loss and disappointment and frustration can we fully appreciate whatever opportunity now lies in front of us. Don’t get me wrong – I have no delusions that the road to adoption will be any less marked by potholes, downed trees, detours and road rage. But at least we will not have to rely on my broken body as the vehicle to get us there. We will be able to build on our strengths rather than forced to overcome my weakness. My physical abnormality will not be the barrier here. Instead, our child is depending on our combined intelligence, love, strength of character, passions and drive. Our child will come into our lives not because my body follows – or is manipulated to fit into – the laws of Nature, but because we have created the best, most stable and full-of-love home we can. And I am confident there are no two people in the world right now more prepared to provide that.

I thank you all for your love and support, your shared tears and commiseration through Phase I. Now I ask you to hold out just a little longer with us as we jump into this new journey. We will undoubtedly need you every step of the way.