The story of Lina Chan: CEO & Co-Founder of Adia
26th March 2018
Femtech is a growing industry, and one in which female founders are often influenced by their own experiences. Lina Chan is no different. Her story of a difficult road to motherhood is as honest and true as her desire to help women who are facing the same struggles. Whilst Adia was officially launched last year, the idea of creating a community for women dealing with fertility issues has been a long held dream for Lina, and one close to her heart.
Born to Chinese parents in Brazil, Lina is a global citizen and this has also influenced the accesible online direction Adia has taken – the platform hopes to help women all over the world take control of their fertility. Lina also supports international initiatives in the space and the Adia team recently visited Shaghai to explore the Chinese fertility market.
In founding Adia, Lina found purpose in her pain. This is her story,
Lina Chan and her journey to motherhood
Lina Chan comes from a large and loving close-knit family and is a nurturer by nature. She is also ambitious and optimistic, with an appetite for living life to the fullest. In business school she met Tyler, a man who shared her zest for life, and the man who would become her husband. Together the pair embarked on a life of adventure, backpacking around the world and pursuing their shared dreams. After returning to England, the couple decided the time was right to take on their biggest adventure yet – starting a family. However, they weren’t prepared for the heartache that the journey would take them on.
Lina Chan’s story does have a happy ending. She is now a mother of three – Big sister Luna, little sister Thalia, and the newest addition to their wonderful family – a baby boy, Kai, who was born in March 2019. However, Lina’s first daughter was called Mia, which rather fittingly translates as ‘mine’ and ‘wished for child’ in different languages. Mia also had a middle name – Tianshi – meaning angel in Lina’s native language.
Through the 25 weeks that Lina carried Mia, she experienced complications, with heavy back to back bleeds from the beginning of her pregnancy. She held her breathe through every scare and every abnormal scan, hoping that her little girl would make it into the world. Looking back, Lina sees that she was always at high risk of losing her baby, but the love she had for her and her optimistic nature kept her rooting for her to live. Sadly, before Lina could reach her third trimester, Mia’s heartbeat stopped. Lina not only lost her beloved baby, but she also had to give birth to her during an 8 hour labour that would shatter her already broken heart and change her life forever.
Lina wasn’t able to hold her daughter after she gave birth.
I was in shell shock. I was so confused. There were all these decisions I was asked to make: do you want to hold the baby, do you want to name her, do you want to have an autopsy.
In the midst of all these practical questions, Lina Chan was having to adjust to the fact that her whole world had been turned upside down.
Experiencing Further Loss
Whilst Lina needed time to grieve, she didn’t give up on her dream of having a family. Six months after the loss of Mia, Lina and Tyler began trying for a baby again. This time they weren’t able to conceive naturally, it took 9 months and various fertility measures to get pregnant. They finally did, but their joy was short lived – at 8 weeks Lina miscarried.
I felt like I was being kicked when I was already down. Why did I have to lose another baby?
This second loss affected Lina differently. She became angry with herself and angry with her body. Like many women who experience miscarriage, she found herself drowning in feelings of guilt and shame.
Why didn’t I learn from my first heartbreak and go and put myself through this again. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to have a family after all.
The Road to Recovery
Despite this being the darkest time the couple had ever experienced, Lina and Tyler grew closer. He was there through every check up and every loss.
I remember telling him how scared I was this would break us. I’d lost a child, I didn’t want to lose my husband. And we committed to healing together.
But Tyler was there for Lina every step of the way. They began to observe a ritual of gratitude, and tried to see the world with a glass half full perspective. This commitment to positivity helped them deal with their grief and communicate effectively. In doing this, they were able to grow as a couple rather than turning against each other.
But it was Lina’s relationship with herself that was suffering.
I didn’t trust my body or my instincts. Here was something that I was built to do, I was supposed to know how to do, but I didn’t.
Lina realised she needed to reconnect with her body. During her recovery, she trained to become a yoga teacher and did a course on nutrition. The process not only helped her work through her grief but also helped her rebuild the trust for her body that had been broken through her loss.
For me, feeling strong in my body is a non-negotiable for filling my bucket. Now I tell other loss mothers, ‘When you’re ready, get up and go out for a walk. Little by little you’ll begin to feel like yourself.
It’s taken Lina years to fully reconnect with herself and rebuild her strength. Now, a mother of three healthy children, she is grateful she recovered and pursued her dream of motherhood. But although she may be recovered, the experience of child loss changed her forever, which is why she decided to create Adia.
Finding Purpose in the Pain
Lina, along with Tyler and their Co-Founder Rose, launched Adia in 2018. The online platform provides a nuclear support system for families embarking on their own journey to parenthood. Members are able to access doctors, wellness practitioners and nutritionists, all of who are experts in fertility and reproduction. Catering for women at all stages of the fertility journey, the platform is driven by a desire to empower women and arm them with the knowledge to reclaim control of their fertility.
We manage risk for all sorts of things in our lives. How is it that we don’t have better risk management for our reproductive health?”
Lina’s experience of losing connection with her body influenced Adia’s holistic approach to fertility. With the aim of connecting mind, body and spirit around reproductive health, the platform also includes meditation courses. Mental wellbeing is a key focus for Adia – helping those experiencing fertility struggles or postpartum mental health issues.
But the most paramount element of Adia’s mission is to create a community of women who can support each other. Lina knows that struggling in isolation made her experience of loss even more intense. For too long baby loss and infertility have been shrouded in shame, leaving women afraid to open up. Adia aims to finally break down this stigma. The community is a safe space for women facing similar struggles to share their experience and to feel supported. In Adia, Lina Chan has found some purpose in her pain.
If I can help others in their struggle to start a family, somehow be a part of their not suffering in shame or isolation, it would bring meaning to my own journey. And it would fulfill Mia’s life purpose. However short her life was, it had meaning.
For more on Lina’s story head to Herliograph. You can also read Tyler’s story and perspective on male infertility and pregnancy complications here.