By Low Bee Lian
I married in 2000 and have been planning a family ever since then. When there was no news of pregnancy after some time, we sought medical help. First, we used Traditional Chinese Medicine; it was supposed to regulate my periods but there were still no results. Then I went to a private clinic, but stopped after three treatments of Clomid, which is prescribed for ovulation.
Work took up the bulk of our time till 2004, when we focused on treatments again. We went to a gynaecologist and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. The gynaecologist suggested intra-uterine insemination (IUI), which we tried but were greeted with disappointments and failures. Each treatment was a roller coaster journey of ups and downs. Whenever the pregnancy results came back negative, I would weep for myself and the child that could have been. Thereafter, the whole cycle which consisted of hormone injections, sperm collection, insemination, two weeks of bed rest and blood tests would be repeated till the bills reached S$10,000. Four attempts later, I decided IUI would not work for me. After taking so much medical leave from work, I took a break from fertility treatments and concentrated on my career.
In 2006, I decided to quit my 12-year job to concentrate on what was important to me at that point – getting back my health. It was a difficult decision as it involved the loss of a few thousand dollars’ income each month. During this time, my husband worked in Bangkok for a year, and we were introduced to a private In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) doctor in Bangkok.
Thus began my IVF treatments abroad. It was expensive, invasive and gave me emotional tension all over again. During the year 2007, I would travel to Bangkok and stay a month for my treatment, then rest in our Bangkok home. When the treatment failed, I would return to Singapore which a sad heart and it would take another week before I could regain the mood for my business. Multi Level Marketing afforded me flexible hours and my leaders gave me lots of support. I travelled to and from Bangkok; and each time, I returned to Singapore. Three failed IVF treatments cost us S$6000 and left me with veteran experience in various IVF procedures and an expert in giving myself injections in the tummy. I asked for the reasons why the treatment failed for me. “Bad luck” was the answer.
Around this time, an opportunity was presented to us to adopt a child in Thailand. We did not want to make a decision hastily. Was I ready to accept someone else’s baby as my own and to love him? On 15 January 2008, we received an SMS, “The baby was born last night around 2 or 3 am. A boy. Weight is 3.1kg.” (I have kept that SMS in my handphone till now). The clock started ticking. I could not sleep. How could I get the paperwork settled quickly for the baby to be with us as soon as possible? Questions started filling our minds, like, “When is the earliest a baby can board a plane? One week old? Will an airline take him? What are the immigration requirements on bringing a baby to Singapore?”
A small tactical team as assembled to handle the adoption process and the paperwork. It consisted of my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and me. We flew to Bangkok pm 23 January 2008 and met the birth mother’s aunt. The next morning, we travelled four hours by car to Trat, the hometown of the birth mother. Upon reaching the village, we found the tiny baby sound asleep. His skin was that of a week-old baby and appeared to be peeling. When my sister-in-law held him (I dared not carry him because he was so small!), he stirred in his peaceful sleep. His lips were rosy and his eyes tightly shut. My sister-in-law gave a little poke and he opened his eyes. He was so cute and had such big eyes! We fell in love with him immediately! Before we arrived in Thailand, we had already picked out a name for him – Caleb.
After that trip, I was determined to put my full focus on settling the paperwork for the baby to come home to Singapore. First of all, I had to obtain a Home Study Report (HSR), which is a mandatory report for adopting a foreign child. I called up TOUCH Adoption Services. The office interview was scheduled on 28 February 2008. It was almost like baring your whole life in front of there social workers. I was asked to describe my childhood and relationships with parents and siblings, academic background, employment history, medical history, personality, hobbies, marital relationship, parenting experience, reasons for adoption, how I coped with infertility, fears and concerns about adoption, disciplinary methods, etc. The three-hour interview was followed by a home visit scheduled on 24 March 2008. As required by the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), we had to attend a Disclosure seminar where we gained a better understanding of the methods we could use to share the adoption truth with Caleb in time to come.
I picked up the HSR on 4 April 2008 and submitted an application for Dependent Pass. The in-principle approval letter arrived in the mail on 17 April 2008 (exactly two weeks as stated in the website!). These documents were certified by my lawyer and the Thai Embassy before I flew to Bangkok on 27 April 2008 to submit them to the authorities. By then, my baby had grown; he was three months old already!
As the paperwork neared completion, the birth mother’s grief and sense of loss became apparent. I was told that she had dressed a doll as a replacement for Caleb. When I heard about this, my tears just rolled and I wept uncontrollably. I was determined that the least I could do is to love Caleb as my own.
By September 2008, within four months of Caleb arriving in Singapore, all the legal proceedings were completed. Today, Caleb has grown to be a happy toddler and saying many words to amuse us. I even have a blog created for him which I update occasionally. He has given us so much joy, and my husband and I will soon be embarking on another journey to adopt our second child.
This story is taken from Our Very Own – Stories Celebrating Adoptive Families (2010) published by TOUCH Family Services Limited. Bee Lian and her husband have since adopted a second child and shares an update on her family in Our Very Own 2 (2015). To purchase Our Very Own 2 (priced at $20), please call 6709 8400 or email [email protected].
TOUCH Adoption, a service of TOUCH Family Service Limited, believes that every child is a precious gift and deserves a permanent and loving home. It seeks to help prospective adopters in their adoption process, as well as prepare them for their roles as adoptive parents. Since its inception in 2001, TOUCH Adoption has helped placed over 900 children into loving families. For more information, please click here.