Poulyana Pazand-Srouji is an HR corporate professional by day and a mother to a sweet little boy that she and her husband adopted. In 2019, she returned to school to become a Psychotherapist to support couples and women who are struggling with infertility. She is also the author of the book “I prayed, GOD ANSWERED,” which is an inspiring children’s story centered around faith, hope and love. The book will inspire those who are struggling to create a family, reassuring them of the importance of keeping their faith in God. It will also offer comfort to those who have been waiting for seasons to receive the call to adopt a child, as well as provide guidance in answering questions about why a child is adopted. In this article, we’re covering love, family, and adoption.
Dr. Aimee: Welcome to the show, Poulyana! I would love for you to tell our audience a little bit about yourself.
Poulyana: I am married to a wonderful husband of almost 16 years. We have a sweet boy named Noah who is 4 years old, and we live in California. I am currently, as you mentioned, an HR professional for a healthcare organization, and I am an inspired children’s book author.
Dr. Aimee: That’s awesome. I want us to hear more about your journey, because there’s so much to learn from you. When you were ready to grow your family, you were met with infertility. Can you share with us what your journey was like?
Poulyana: Like everyone else, we were very hopeful, very excited, ready to start a new journey to grow our family. Unfortunately, that really was not the case for us. We ran into some challenges, hurdles and bumps, which did not allow us with the family that we were longing for. Unfortunately, the journey that was delivered to us was that we weren’t able to have a child of our own, which caused us both heartbreak and challenges for myself and my husband.
Dr. Aimee: I read that you felt like something was missing on your journey. What was that, what was missing for you?
Poulyana: I’ll be honest with you. Going through the infertility process, I knew there was something missing, but it was so early on in the stages of infertility that I just wasn’t able to really point my finger to what was missing. But I knew there was something. I had the support of my family, my husband and a circle of friends who were cheering me on, but I knew there was something missing.
As the years progressed, and looking back at my journey, I have a better understanding and confirmation about what exactly was missing during my infertility journey. What was missing through my infertility experience was having the ability to speak to someone in a safe space with no judgment and no questions asked. Being able to walk into a room and speak to someone who may be able to relate to the experiences that I was going through would have made a difference along the way. I think that was a big missing piece within my infertility journey, at least for my husband and I.
Looking back, Although we weren’t going to have a baby of our own, the infertility process could have been a lot easier and we would have felt more supported had we received the appropriate support system we needed during our infertility journey.
Dr. Aimee: I tell people the most important thing to do when you start treatment is to build your team. I’ve learned so much as a fertility doctor for almost 14 years now in my practice. That’s one of the first things I talk to every single patient about is that our mental health is so important and feeling like you have someone to talk to from the beginning, from the outset, is really important to me. I’m really glad to hear you say that, and I’m sorry that was missing for you. I’m glad that we can talk about it now so that we can help other people.
What helped you during that difficult time?
Poulyana: I’ll be honest with you. What helped me just to move forward was the love and support of my family. Faith was so important for me as well. During my infertility journey and challenges that surfaced, I had nowhere to go but to lean in on my faith.
A lot of people talk to me and say, “I’m not a faithful person.” That’s okay. However, ask yourself what exactly resonates to you? Aside from my faith, it was my yoga mat. I knew that if I went to my yoga mat, that was where I could just let go, be myself, get a great workout, and mentally decompress and just walk away from the everyday struggles that I was running into.
Dr. Aimee: What suggestions do you have for fertility patients who are looking for self-healing on their own journey?
Poulyana: I will be honest with you. I say this a lot. Find your support system, but also look inside of yourself. What is it that resonates with you? What gives you peace? Is it a good hot cup of coffee in the morning? Is it a great book? The goal is not to read through the entire book to find your peace. Maybe it’s just that one chapter that is your favorite chapter that you can go back and read because it gives you a good feeling or sense of peace. Is it a workout? Is it taking a nice walk outside? Maybe it’s a quote. You just have to find something that resonates with you, that offers you a feeling of peace, hope and joy.
Some folks tell me it’s a prayer. If that’s the case, then do it. Find what serves your purpose. That’s an area that I am a huge advocate of. It’s not an easy process and to be able to find ways that can offer you a sense of ease and peace at the bare minimum, will offer you a feeling of less challenge and calmness.
Dr. Aimee: That’s hard work. You actually have to actively work at finding those things. I feel like I can say those things, like find your happy place, what’s your mantra, but you really have to work hard at doing it. I think working with someone like you can really help people do that. You can actually go through a session with a therapist and work on those things that will help you find purpose and help you find peace.
Obviously, this journey has inspired you, because we’re talking about psychotherapy, and I mentioned when I was reading your bio that you went and completed school to be a psychotherapist. Tell us about that.
Poulyana: After years of struggle and challenges, when we had our son, I really knew that although I love the career I’m doing now, it wasn’t serving a purpose for me. I knew that I had a bigger calling. My calling was to be a psychotherapist. There is so much need within the infertility space to help support couples and individuals from a mental health perspective. There’s so much attention that needs to be drawn into this space. There are couples and women that are really looking for support and just don’t have the tools to receive the assistance they are longing for.
I decided to take the leap. It was a leap from my heart. Honestly, am I starting all over again mid career? I don’t think I’m starting all over again. I’m starting exactly where I need to start. This is the right timing, the right place to make the change and switch. I’m hoping that when I arrive in a place in which I can support couples and women, to be that ear and support system, and provide the tools needed to support them through their infertility challenges. This area is so critical especially when they’re working with doctors such as yourself, to achieve the family they have been desiring for so long. .
Dr. Aimee: You also work as an adoption coach. Can you tell us more about that?
Poulyana: I am an adoption coach and It is something that is very meaningful for me which opened my heart to take on, especially because my husband and I went through our own adoption journey. Adoption is not black and white. Under the umbrella of adoption, there are so many resources, so many different routes and avenues that one can take to adopt a child. I wanted to be of service and help those who want to adopt. So, I took another leap. I decided to become an adoption coach to assist and support couples to guide them, answer questions,offer resources and routes to adoption.
Dr. Aimee: That’s pretty incredible. How many couples have you helped so far?
Poulyana: I have helped a total of 10 couples so far. I have five couples right now that are waiting for that big phone call to parenthood and they’re really excited. I’m alongside my couples to cheer them on through, offer my support through all their ups and even the downs.
Dr. Aimee: I have a lot of hair on my arms, as you can imagine being a Assyrian, it’s all standing up. That’s really special. That’s awesome.
What do people who are curious about adoption need to know about it?
Poulyana: It’s not an easy process which can be quite long. There is a lot of paperwork involved, and details that are involved within the adoption journey.
I tell people, “How emotionally invested are you?” alot of times I work with couples who are not able to have a child of their own and they assume that the adoption path is an easy journey. I always have to break the news and share that adoption can be just as challenging and you have to be emotionally prepared for it.
As I mentioned, the couples that I’m currently working with right now have been waiting for a call for a year, or even longer, and some for just a few months now. You have to be emotionally prepared for the waiting period. I think it’s important for someone like myself that has been through the adoption process to offer the support, tools and resources in navigating an unknown territory for so many. What I share with couples is that adoption and receiving a call for a baby or child may not happen overnight, but I promise you it’s going to happen.
Walking into this process it’s critical to be open-minded and open-hearted is probably one of the very important things that you need to have when you walk into the adoption space.
Dr. Aimee: So important. You’ve written a really sweet book about adoption titled I prayed, GOD ANSWERED. Tell us about your book.
It’s a true story about my son and I. My own personal struggles and how I leaned on my faith is how I turned my real life experience into a children’s book. It was important that I was able to offer families who have adopted and adopted children a book that can answer questions, help couples in answering questions in the event a child asks how they came home. The book offers a story about receiving the phone call. I pretty much turned my real life experience into a children’s book.
It’s a relationship between a mother and son. The son asks his mom, “Mom, how did I come home?” The mother walks her son through her journey. The book will enable dialogue between parents and their children which is critical at a young age. That’s the approach we took with our son in slowly introducing resources and books so that he is aware however at his age, level and thought process.
I’m very happy about this book. The purpose of creating this book was to help couples, adoptive families and children when topics around adoption or questions surface. Also, it offers insight for those who may not be familiar with adoption that a family can be created, united and boned through adoption.
Dr. Aimee: What do children need to know about adoption, in your opinion?
Poulyana: I think what they need to know, in my opinion, is love is love. Love is love. Children need to know that regardless of where you’ve come from or your background, you are wanted, you have a purpose, and you belong somewhere. You belong in a family and a home.
Dr. Aimee: That’s beautiful. How do you suggest that people share about adoption with their children? I think everyone should get your book, for sure, but can you guide us a little bit along those lines?
Poulyana: Absolutely. I think it’s very important to go to a child’s level. That means it’s almost speaking in a children’s language so that they are able to comprehend and understand what adoption is. Having resources to educate If it’s not my book that can be of support then finding one that offers color, character and a breakdown of adoption in a childlike way. This will allow a child to process, comprehend and understand what adoption defines and stands for. F
Children are so smart. They’re able to grasp onto things because their little brains are like sponges. I think it’s very important to plant small seeds through stories, through colors, through cartoons, to introduce topics such as adoption to them.
Dr. Aimee: Before we close, I just want to ask you one more question. If there is one thing that you can tell someone who is just starting their journey, exploring adoption, what would that be?
Poulyana: Don’t lose hope. If no one believes in you, you believe in yourself.
Dr. Aimee: That’s beautiful. Thank you again. Have a wonderful day. We hope to have you on again. I imagine you’re probably already thinking about your second book.
Poulyana: I am. I can’t wait.
You can find Poulyana’s book “I prayed, GOD ANSWERED,” at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or any major retailer. If you’d like to work with her, visit her website at Poulyana.com, or visit her Instagram account @PoulyanaPazandSrouji
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