Building a Family

Many of you read my blogger-buddies blogs too. (Steve and Ginger) They are two of the most kind-hearted people I will truly ever have the gracious luck of knowing. They have encouraged me to tell a little of this story here (I’m a little shy, believe it or not.). So, I’m not only going to take their advice but rather completely steal Ginger’s picture-story telling idea (see this GREAT post about her baby, Jeffery, all grown up and loved by his mom from the depths of her toes!). I don’t think Ginger will mind my thievery. I hope you all will forgive me too. LOL

Us as kids

That’s me in the middle – leaning on the bike handle – circa 1977, with my siblings. (You can see more about this “treasure” of a photo by clicking here.) I grew up with the world at my fingertips (we were NOT wealthy with finances but with love and imagination) and not very tethered to the earth, if you must know. My family is wonderful, loving, strong-willed, filled with diverse personalities and desires, and fun. (Okay.. and loud. We can be loud too. LOL) I was fortunate to be able to meet many people, go on trips with my family, and spend my summers fishing, bike-riding, camping, canoing, playing sports, creating imaginary nations/flags and holding parades for them, and being a part of a bundle of kid-commotion that was always filled with energy and imagination. It was wonderful!

As I got older, I became a camp counselor (OH MY! Did I learn a LOT about kids those summers!) and eventually an elementary school teacher in Chicago. I wondered where life would take me and if a family of my own was in the future… and where? when?

And when I finally met my love, I knew.
I would be with him always.

(On our honeymoon in Rome.)

We (my love and I) met during the summer that I had sworn off men completely. Life was getting too busy and I was traveling for work (an amazing thing and virtually unheard of for teachers) and enjoying my newly earned responsibilities. And men? Nope. No time for that. Too stressful. Too much anxiety. Too much heartache. I was done. And when my friend told me she knew this guy… blah blah blah… I think I cut her off after the “I know this guy who would be perfect for….”. Stop right there. Not happening.

But I’m a sucker (thankfully). I told her if he wanted to email/call while I was moving (apartments) and traveling for the next two weeks, well then fine. Call. Email. But we are not, I repeated “NOT!”, going on a date.

After nearly 6 weeks of emails (which were tender and funny) and calls, I finally agreed to meet him for a casual -NON-DATE – dinner on a Saturday night. He was picking me up at 7PM. No problem. I went out with friends to a street fair that same day and had a blast! And they introduced me to a new Margarita place. BAD BAD BAD! The margaritas were so strong (and I am virtually a non-drinker) that I was feeling woozy. I told them I was thinking about calling my “friend” to change the date of our dinner. And then they started pressing me for details about where we were going etc. When I told them that we were going to a restaurant I had not heard of, they pushed for more details. I told them the name of the place and asked what I should wear.

The table got silent. All 8 friends just smiled at me.

“Uh oh. Um. Guys? What’s the deal? Do you guys know this place?” I asked.

“Duh!” was the response. “How do you NOT know this place?”

The place? Geja’s Cafe in Chicago. It’s billed as the most “Romantic Fondue and Wine Restaurant”. Oh boy. I was so going to reschedule. Whatever happened between our “this is not a date” and his picking the restaurant, I’m not sure. To this day, he swears it was “not a date” and “just dinner”. Whatever.

He showed up with a huge bouquet of flowers, a teddy bear (totally cute, not a creepy one) and a beautiful card. Dinner was amazing. No, it wasn’t the wine + my margarita from several hours earlier. Nor was it the classical guitarists that roamed the room. And the food? That was good. But my love was the amazing part. Truly. We spent hours talking over dinner, then walking and talking in the evening light. By the time he brought me home, I felt that I had known him all my life. And to be honest, I know that on some level we have known each other that long.

We were married a little more than a year after our first date. We actually had two weddings – one American and one Chinese. (The date we chose for our wedding was not an auspicious day on the Chinese calendar for a large celebration – so we had two. Lucky us, huh?) We got married over Thanksgiving. We knew our family could be there then and that was what we both felt was most important.

We were married at the Baha’i Temple (pronounced “bah’HIGH”) in Wilmette, IL (just outside of Chicago). (Neither of us are Baha’i. The Baha’i Faith acknowledges and celebrates diversity of humanity and was very welcoming to our interracial and interreligious marriage. Here’s a little bit about the Baha’i faith if you are curious. It’s quite beautiful.)

I was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue while trying on that wedding gown, actually. It was my last fitting and the phone rang with the news. The doctor just announced that I would not be able to eat cake, pasta, etc. It completely through me for a loop. (I was gobsmacked, I dare say.) Needless to say, I cut gluten out of my diet at home as quickly as possible. However, the last pieces of gluten-filled cake that I ate were from my wedding cakes. Not a bad way to end it, I’d say.

We’ve been lucky to have many adventures in our 8 short years of marriage. We’ve learned a lot about life and love. And fully understand the joys and work that comes with marriage and family. It’s wonderful.

What have we learned from 8 years of marriage?
  • That life holds surprises at bay until you are ready for them.
  • Laugh often.
  • Dance frequently (even in the kitchen while the chicken burns on the grill outside).
  • Hold each other in your heart and minds with honor, love, respect and joy.
  • Have faith and believe.
  • Be prepared for the curve balls. But not so prepared that you forget to live.
  • Rejoice in the little things.
  • … and there are lessons yet to come…
And we are now looking forward to our next adventure. Adoption.

After eight years of infertility (and all that goes with it), we’ve begun, in earnest, the adoption process. As Ginger says, we are “knee deep” in it.

And for those of you who have offered guidance, I cannot thank you enough. It certainly is a nebulous endeavor. The heartache of not knowing when/what/etc and the wait are killers.

While the road has taken us on a few curvy paths (first international adoption from China (maybe) or Russia (hmm?) or Ethiopia (possibly!)… and then domestic open adoption… and now back to international.) We at least know that we are on the road to adopt a child from Seoul, South Korea. And we are knee-deep in the paperwork. And more importantly, we are really getting excited. We can feel our joy coming. It hits us in waves of anticipation and faith. Oh, MAN! is this going to be exciting! And life changing! Hooray!

And while it is completely out of character for me to even ask for anything, I am. It takes a village to raise a child and a whole lot of community to get one here via adoption. Thus, I’ve put a couple donation buttons on this blog on the left. And I’ve written a little bit more about it here.

I hope you will forgive me.

But we could use all the help you are able to offer.

I will have a couple auctions coming up (as soon as I figure out HOW to do this exactly….I’m thinking ebay?). I have a signed copy of Shauna’s book to auction and a new (published next week, actually) gluten free dessert book. I will put them up for auction and all funds raised will help us with our adoption expenses.

I promise to keep on food blogging. (Recipes to come this week and a menu too! OMG! A menu!) But this is a HUGE part of me and my soul right now. I will keep you all posted on our adoption process too. I can’t wait for our little one to come home.

For now, we are just sending our love, prayers and wishes to the wind. May it rest on the mother-to-be’s heart and let her know that we promise our love to our shared child. From one mother-to-be to another: Thank you.

Bring on the baby!, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Flags: US (Kate), Hong Kong/UK (my Love) and South Korea (our incoming! family member)


  1. Cassandra says:

    That’s beautiful, Kate!
    I hope it all goes as smoothly as possible for you.

    Thanks, Cassandra! I hope so too. LOL – Kate

  2. Hi Kate,
    my daughter was diagnosed as celiac about a year ago. I found your blog, than, while I was looking in the internet for any piece of information about living gluten free…and- I fell in love (-:. since then, I became a silence but devoted reader. You can not imagine how much you have helped me through this blog. I wanted to thank you so many times but I felt a little ashamed to write in English because I cinsider my English as quite awfull ( I’m Israeli- can I continue in Hebrew? 🙂 ).
    But today I couldn’t “hold my self” anymore- I read what you wrote and I felt that I want/must to express my thanks to you and my greetings to you and your love… I wish you GOOD LUCK with the adoption process and send you a HUGE HUG.
    Dana, Israel.

    Dana –
    Your English is beautiful! (Especially if you think about my inability to utter anything in Hebrew!)
    Thank you for your kind note. I truly, truly appreciate it!

  3. -I meant that I *consider* my Eglish as awfull…

  4. I’m crying…again. It is so beautiful kate. I hope your love isn’t worried.

    Did you see I made a typo — I called your blog Gluten Free GIBsmacked,

    Gibsmacked? Oh … that could be a new twist, Ging!
    Thanks for your encouragement – you have NO idea how much I appreciate your encouragement!

  5. Great story! I hope the next chapter is one more installment of “happily ever after.”

    Me too! Although I imagine a few more steps before the end of the process (and the beginning of a new road!) are in sight completely. 🙂 -Kate

  6. Oh, wow. Good luck! I hope everything goes smoothly and quickly!!

    Thanks, Jill!
    I hope your recovery is going smoothly too! Your food is missed, babe! (And I bet you miss moving about without pain or soreness more!)

  7. Best of luck to both of you. My partner and I are wanting to build a family soon and will probably do so at least partly through domestic foster-adoption. Exciting and scary! Will keep you in my thoughts.

    Thank you for the loving thoughts, Bay! I do hope you will tell us about your process too! It will be good to have a blogger-buddy in limbo with me! LOL! 🙂 – Kate

  8. Beautiful post – I’ve enjoyed reading your blog immensely since my sister was diagnosed recently with a gluten allergy. All the best to you and your family for an awesome future – keep us posted about those eBay auctions!

  9. I found your blog because I have just recently gone gluten free.

    Congratulations on your adoption plans. We adopted. We just brought our son home from Russia 3 months ago, and we are so blessed. Hope everything goes smoothly for you!

  10. Gluten Free Steve says:

    What a great story! All this from a “non-date”!

  11. Kimberly says:

    How wonderful for you & your hubby! Congratulations & joy in your journey!

  12. What an awesome story!! I love your blog–I find it very inspirational (although not in a frequent-commenting kind of way, apparently!). I also find it inspirational that you and your love are embracing adoption. I come across a lot of infertility stuff on the net but not so much adoption, and I just think it’s awesome that you are moving forward on your dream!

  13. 🙂 good for you.
    my friends chris and steph adopted from korea. 🙂 sweet baby.

    i would be happy to pump them for information, or ask for email/phone if you would like.

    “we’re all in this together!!”

  14. Wow Kate, what an incredible story. I am so happy for you and your hubby and praying that all goes well.


  15. What an amazing story and journey you are on! And how lucky for that little baby out there waiting to begin a love filled life he/she will have in your arms. Best wishes!

  16. Such a beautiful story. The passion that you wrote this with proves that regardless of when your baby comes, you will make it, with a great amount of happiness and love. Good luck!

  17. Shirley says:

    This was a lovely post and I am so happy for you both! (BTW, did you ever note how similar your finding the right man was to Shauna’s? You both had given up on men, and said okay, I’ll just meet him this one time and be done with it! LOL It was meant to be!) I know you will soon have a wonderful baby! Please, please keep us posted on everything, particularly your fundraisers. I know so many folks who have adopted from various countries. One adopted two girls, sisters, which was quite costly, but when folks balked at that, she said that each adoption was about the same price as a really nice car and she’d much rather have a new member of the family than a silly car. Makes so much sense, doesn’t it? All the best to you both during this process!

  18. Glutigirl says:

    I am so excited for you! I know you will both make wonderful parents. The trumpet player in my husband’s band just went through this very thing. They adopted a baby boy from Russia. He is beautiful and they are so happy to be his parents. I know you will share the same joy they have and all your friends and family will be so happy for you! Great things await you!

  19. congratulations!!! we have two kids from China, ages 2 and 5. best thing we ever did, bar none!!!!! being a mom is awesome, waaaaaaay better than I ever could imagine! I wish you the best of luck with all your paperwork. take it one document and one day at a time. you’ll get through it. my youngest is gluten intolerant. just found out a couple of months ago. so i’m a faithful reader of your blog. thanks for all that you do!

  20. I just found your blog and am impressed with all the great sounding recipes. We have a lot in common. Our first son is adopted (we struggled with infertility also, for about 8 years). After we adopted him, I quit my job (I taught deaf kids) and then we were blessed with two biological children. Our oldest son was just diagnosed with celiac, but that is not his only medical condition. He also has Spina Bifida and had surery to correct a tethered cord back in January. It’s a big journey (trial and error, mostly!) and now we are adding something else.

    I look forward to finding great recipes and hearing more about your adoption process.

    Good luck!

  21. Congratulations on starting your adoption journey. From one mom (4 year old son, and 15 month old daughter-both adopted from Korea) to another…it’s worth EVERY moment of the wait.
    And thank you SO much for your recipes and humor. 🙂 Thanks to you, my kiddo will have cut out cookies to take to preschool so that he isn’t left out of the cookie frost!
    And again, congratulations…looking forward to hearing about your little one coming HOME. That’s when the REAL journey begins, you know…and the sleeplessness. Hehe.

  22. Hi Kate,

    I found your blog through Shauna’s post about your auction. My husband and I have recently started to plan for (hopefully) having children ourselves. I can’t imagine the upheaval you must have been through, struggling to conceive initially and then going through all the rigamarole that the adoption process entails. My heart goes out to you and your husband, and I’m so glad your efforts will soon be rewarded with a beautiful little daughter.

    I have sent a small donation your way, it’s not much (the exchange rate is a bit cruel to us Aussies right now) but I hope it helps a little.

    Best of luck, I hope your little family is all together soon.

  23. Hello!
    I got here through Shauna’s site.
    There’s a girl in my school who’s adopted from Korean by an American mother and a Chinese father!
    Hope that will be an encouragement to you!
    Best wishes for the adoption process to run through!!

    • Some day the world won’t even pay attention to name or heritage… we will all be one family, don’t you think?
      And YES – it is encouraging! Thank you very much for sharing! 🙂

  24. Dear friend, I love your blog.
    I have a granddaughter of celiac six years, the diagnosis was not easy, I had one and half year old, he was always sick, thankfully now seven years, is a healthy and happy little girl, her grandmother myself, I will fight to get laws that protect the collective celiac , gluten-free menus and schools, rapid diagnosis, proper etiquetao …
    so that all children of the world celiacs can have an easier life.
    sonia gluten free


  1. […] I imagine my Love and I will be learning much more about Korean food and culture in the future – especially the next few years! (And quite honestly, we can’t wait!) […]

  2. […] If you are wondering what the donation links are all about, please read this post. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)This Weeks […]

  3. […] give me will be greatly appreciated. Heck, we’d better get organized! We’re gonna have a little one – or LC (Little Chan as named by Ginger!) to feed in the mornings soon – no more lazy, wake-ups for […]

  4. […] things – like lowering our cholesterol, along with losing weight, building our energy to match that incoming baby, etc. So, we’ve joined a gym (3-4 times a week attenders, too!), started keeping track with […]

  5. […] we had one of our “at home” interviews for our home study for adoption. Our time line is picking up the pace QUICKLY! We will be finishing the immigration paperwork and […]

  6. […] uploaded by Kate Chan. THE AUCTION CAN BE FOUND HERE. It ends at 11:28PM PST on December 9, 2008. Read this post to learn about the beginnings of Building Our Family. Read Our Adoption Page for more information about Our Adoption. The adoption page has links to […]

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