Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Secret Origin of Star Girl, Pt. 2

After taking Sloane Slade under her wing, Rose Gardens is faced with the seemingly impossible task of teaching the quick tempered teen how to be a hero, without accidentally turning her into the next terrifying supervillain of Century City. 

But superhero school comes to an abrupt halt when superhero reality rears its ugly head: the mystery of Rose’s murderous boyfriend from the future is a ticking time bomb that’s set to go off any minute, and every minute Rose spends away from cracking the mystery of how the love of her life transforms into the man who would see her dead is one minute closer to Rose meeting that unfortunate fate. 

Disaster looms on the horizon of Rose’s life and when a superhero’s life turns into a disaster, the rest of the world isn’t too far behind.

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So, when we last spoke, I talked about my history with comic books, how great they are, how bad my mom thought they were, and how they made a lasting impression on me. This was one half of Star Girl’s origin story. The other half, which is what I’ll be sharing with you today, is rooted in the all too real world. 

This year my wife and I celebrated our 9th(!) year of marriage. When we first got married back in 2007, we were determined to set aside the first few years of our marriage just for us. We had both been looking forward to marriage for so long, we wanted to enjoy it. We wanted to take the time to get to know each other as husband and wife and build that strong foundation for our marriage to thrive on.

Sometime around our third anniversary we began to entertain the idea of parenthood and did that classic ‘Well, we’re not exactly trying, but we’re not not trying’ thing. In addition to this cliche style of family planning, my wife and I were also discussing adoption. It was a discussion that we had for almost as long as we were trying to get pregnant.

Donna, my wife, had had a heart for adoption even before we were married. She had done a lot of research about the abandoned girls in China and felt like it was something that God was putting on her heart. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that no matter who she married, she and her husband would be parents to an abandoned child from China.

For me, however, the call came later, a few years into our marriage. I wasn’t opposed to the idea of adoption, it was simply one I had never considered. In my mind, any children I would have with my wife would be biological. But over the first few years of our marriage, however, God slowly worked on my heart, opening it to father the fatherless.

So last August, after several years of discussion and research, Donna and I pulled the trigger and started the adoption process! 

As we dug into the early adoption process I was overwhelmed with information about China, orphans, and building your family. So to process some of this information, I funneled it back into my work, specifically Star Girl. Orphans in superhero fiction are nothing new. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Robin, Supergirl, Impulse, I think you get the idea. Incorporating the adoption story into Star Girl’s story wasn’t necessarily an original idea, but it was something that I was now experiencing and I wanted to explore that experience in a way that was most familiar to me: through storytelling.

At the time, my wife and I assumed that we would probably get matched with a little girl and I thought: how perfect would it be that I would have a book that was essentially about her!

God, however, had other plans and shortly after we turned in our adoption application, very shortly, we were matched with a little boy:

Meet Fu Gong!

So, yeah, an unexpected surprise. But a welcomed surprise nonetheless. After endlessly talking about it for years, it was finally going to happen. We were going to be parents.

Looking back over the last year or so, I realize that I’ve been engaged in this prolonged conversation with myself and you, dear readers, about parenthood: The last Alex Cheradon book dealt with the relationship between a son and his absentee father. The Cupid’s Daughter books were about the relationship between a father and a daughter who was following in his footsteps. And now, in Star Girl, the relationship between two parents and their adopted daughter. So, the theme of this portion of my writing career is parenthood!

This adventure in building our family has been filled with hope, heartbreak, ups and downs. As some of you already know, shortly after getting matched with our little boy, Donna and I discovered that we were pregnant with a little girl! And shortly after that, we got matched with another little boy:

Our second son, Sun Yu!

Suddenly, nine years later, we were a family of five!

But it has not been without challenges. Donna was quickly diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum and we found ourselves faced with challenges that neither one of us anticipated having to deal with.

And then, most recently, we’ve run into some money issues and are facing the strong, sad possibility of losing our two boys.

Donna is doing better. Our little girl is growing healthy and strong and we’re so excited to meet her. But we did start this journey with our son, Fu Gong, and it’s heartbreaking knowing that we’re now in the position of having to let him go so that another family may adopt him.

What kills me, what absolutely kills me, the thing that I can’t even think about anymore, is that early after getting matched we sent Fu Gong a care package:

Not shown in that picture are two things: a small little photo album containing pictures of me and Donna, so that he could get used to our faces, and a stuffed little star that had recorded our voices, introducing us to Fu Gong as his Mama and Baba (Chinese for father). Every time I think of that stuff little star, I start to cry. 

So, as you read Dating Disaster, you may think to yourself, “Wow, there’s a lot of stuff going down here. Like, a real crap storm for Star Girl.” Well, now you know why. Dating Disaster was written in the midst of all the difficult stuff, the HG, the possibility of losing the boys, the heart ache of remembering that stuffed star. 

I don’t know what’s going to happen. We have a deadline, Sept 13th, for when our dossier needs to be submitted to China. In order to submit it, though, we need a little over two thousand dollars and I just don’t know where that money is going to come from. We’re also facing the possibility of, even if we raise the two grand, if it’s been this hard to raise that, what happens when the remaining thirty grand comes due to bring our boys home?

I never thought, in a million years, that we would ever get this close only to lose them.

If you’re interested in learning more about our adoption story, Donna and I have the whole story up here.

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