My Journey to Joy

April 26, 2014

Just Adopt

It seems that I tend to write most when I hurt most.  That’s when thoughts swirl in my head, demanding release.  And so I click away at the keyboard.

I’ve been talking about infertility this week, in a larger venue than I ever have before.  It’s been intimidating.  Scary.  I’ve felt vulnerable, and revisited old feelings and hurts.  It’s been worth it.  I’ve had messages, connections…and I hope and pray someone has been helped to know that they are not alone.

And now it’s the middle of the night.  My husband is snoring, and a thunderstorm is rumbling outside, washing away the flower seeds I planted a few hours ago.  And I’m going to “pull back the curtain” on our adoption journey…

This is our second, and let me immediately say it has been easier.  We started at such a different place emotionally; happy, not wrecked by years of disappointment.  We have our son, who is a near-constant delight and joy.  Easier.  Not easy.

We were sure that the homestudy process would go more quickly this time.  Our application for our first adoption was received February 15th, 2011.  We were approved August 26th, and received our first birthmother profile on August 31st!  (6 months for homestudy)  After that, we were shown more than 15 times.  For our second adoption, our application was received on August 19th, 2013.   By November, we had completed everything… and we were approved February 7th, 2014.  (6 months, again!)  We received our first birthmother profile 45 minutes later.  That was the start of being constantly shown/about to be shown/waiting to hear, that lasted April 2nd.  I don’t know how to describe how that feels; I would if I could.  Tense.  Alert.  Tense.  Of the five possibilities, three of the babies had already been born (a set of twins and a single birth), one birthmother was in labor, and two others were due in the very near future.  Sometimes our social worker asked for our answer by the next week…or the next day…or in one case, in the next two hours!

And we’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  Imagine how it feels, waiting…  Knowing we could be parents tomorrow, today, right now… or not.  We’ve sat poised to buy plane tickets or embark on a road trip to go and get our baby.  We made lists for last minute purchases.  We checked our schedules, noting the arrangements we’d need to make if chosen.  We began to imagine our family with a precious new member.  (He/she will be here by Easter/Mother’s Day/Camp Meeting.)  And then, jarringly, abruptly, it’s over.  And it wasn’t our baby after all.  And we try to gather our hopes and dreams, repacking them until the next round.

Sometimes a placement seems so perfect, the fulfillment of dreams I’ve hardly admitted to having– then receiving the dreaded e-mail: “I’m sorry.  She chose another family.”  As decisions stretched out, sometimes for weeks, I began to check my mailbox again and again, just so it will be over.  And I carried my phone everywhere, so I wouldn’t miss “the call.”

And then, everything stopped.  Silence.  No new e-mails.  And there is relief, a respite.  But it’s so quiet.  And now I’m checking my e-mail again, hoping to see a profile, a chance, a hope.  This may go on for years.

And God is in control.  And we are powerless.  Time passes, life continues, and we wait.

And a friend sends a message that reads: “…we seem to have been chosen to walk parallel paths of uncertainty. While I lay no claim on understanding the pain of infertility, I can relate to waiting for the phone to ring, to checking email almost minutely for news….any news. We all know that Gods time is perfect, that His plan is best….but that doesn’t mean that questions don’t arise, that doubts don’t stay a little longer than they should. In the darkness, remember the verse that was brought to my mind tonight by someone also walking this path, several years ago Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  And tears fill my eyes as God once again takes something painful and makes something good.

I couldn’t tell you how many people told us we could “just adopt.”  Some of those same people have since walked this journey with us, and would now be the first to defend and educate.  There is no such thing as “just adopting.”  Not every family is meant to adopt.  Some are unable, for a myriad of very personal reasons.  (I won’t even begin a list; those are their stories to tell, if they wish.)  And for those who do, the process is more often than not grueling, requiring everything you’ve got, then more.

So here we are again.  God obviously has more to teach us through this process.  Our hearts are open, and broken.  And we wait.

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October 10, 2013

Loss

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Those familiar with adoption realize that it comes with much loss.  A child loses his/her original family.  Bio-parents may die, have their children forcefully removed, or surrender them for the hope of a better future.  Adoptive parents may have lost their dream of biological parenthood, feeling a baby grow for 9 months, and being there to hear their baby’s first cries.  We live in a fallen world, and there is loss.

So often people talk to me with stars in their eyes about adoption.  And believe me, I love adoption!  I want people to be excited about the possibilities.  But it is real, and it is hard.  It involves sacrifice.  And there is always loss.

My husband and I tried to prepare ourselves for the pain that a second adoption would inevitably bring.  We worked to steel our emotions.  But there is always something unexpected…

In the midst of our early grief and trauma over my grandmother’s murder, my father was taken to the hospital with heart attack symptoms.  A procedure was scheduled.  Just routine, but there is always a chance of something going horribly wrong; I knew I wanted to be there.  That morning, as I bathed my little man, I got a phone call.  A friend knew of a birthmother looking to place her sweet, 4-month-old daughter; could she tell her about us?  That set into motion a day of frantic phone calls to our social worker and lawyer, all while getting to the hospital and waiting through my dad’s procedure.  (Which mercifully turned out fine!)  Everything was moving forward at a breathless pace…until I got the text: “She only wants someone in our family.”  And it was over.  I know now that I wasn’t meant to be her mommy- but, oh, I wanted to be!  I wanted her, to love her.  An adoptive mommy can fall in love awfully quickly, without even trying.  And I did.  And now there’s loss…

A few weeks ago I met a precious woman who asked me to parent her baby.  We totally “clicked,” and she said she knew God had sent her to me.  (And I believe He did.)  I tried to tell myself that these things often fall through.  I told my social worker “just in case she called and asked about us.”  And lo and behold, she did.  She followed through.  She set up a meeting.  And six days later she had a miscarriage.  And there is loss.  I ache for her, and for myself.  And my heart cries, “Why?!”

We haven’t even completed our homestudy.  We weren’t prepared (not that you can, really) for the emotional roller coaster that is adoption.  I don’t know the “why’s.”  And I hurt, so much.  But I know the Who.  My faith is in Him.  I cling to the promise that my God is working things for my good.  I cling to hope in His perfect plan.  I mourn the loss…and await the redemption of this pain.

July 25, 2013

Joke

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I’ve been mulling something over in my mind recently.  I’ve come to a few personal conclusions, but I still have more questions than answers.

I love a good joke.  I love to laugh until tears stream down my face and I accidentally snort (which embarrasses me, so I laugh even harder!).  I’ve pulled pranks by disguising meatloaf as chocolate cake, arranging for all of my co-workers to call in sick, and etc.  I’ve laughed when my students pulled a silly prank on me, but I shared with them my criteria for a “good” prank: it must not damage property, and the recipient must find it funny as well.  Pretty simple.  But how many times have you seen everyone laughing, while one person ducks away, embarrassed, to hide their tears?  I don’t find that funny.

A few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp wrote an amazing post on mental health.  (*You really must read it; so good!)  She told about her family’s dark time when her mother was admitted for psychiatric help, and she was instructed to tell no one.  Then this: “I once heard a pastor tell the whole congregation that he had lived next to the loonie bin and I looked at the floor when everyone laughed and they didn’t know how I loved my mama. I looked to the floor when they laughed…”

All my life I’ve heard and shared jokes about different races and people groups.  Some are innocent and truly funny.  I believe a mixed group of people could stand around laughing about them.  Others weren’t.  If that person had been standing there, the joke would have fallen flat, or never been said.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45

I was laughing the other day about a woman who came to an event sky-high on something.  Later God showed me my lack of compassion for her.  Her situation was to be pitied, not giggled about.  Sometimes laughter is how we deal with awkward situations, things that make us nervous or are traumatic.  I understand that.  I don’t know where my own line needs to be, much less someone else’s!  I just know that I was wrong to laugh at her condition, ludicrous though it was.

Daniel & I tried for many years to grow our family, first through pregnancy, then adoption.  It was a long, grueling process.  Our hearts were ripped right open.  And women frustrated with their children have laughingly offered, “Do you want mine?”  A woman with an unplanned pregnancy recently joked, “Maybe I’ll just give the baby to you!”  I automatically smiled and gave a soft laugh, but there was nothing funny about it.

I’ve sometimes been horrified when I’m teasing a friend to see a flash of pain or anger in their eyes.  Then I know I’ve gone too far, or hit a sensitive spot.  I’ll usually apologize and make a mental note to avoid that subject when joking.  Causing pain isn’t funny.

I understand that we can’t avoid all offence; we’re human, and we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings sometimes.  There are complexities of situation, motivation, relationship…  But what if we really thought?  What if we filtered each joke by how we’d feel if we fit the stereotype being needled?  What if we decided that people aren’t a joke?  That everyone deserves respect, whether we like their religion, race, politics, sexual orientation, handicap, or whatever-it-is-about-them-that-is-different-from-us?  There’s plenty to laugh about, plenty of silly, innocent things.  I’m editing my own humor.

*Here is a link to Ann’s post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/04/what-christians-need-to-know-about-mental-health/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29

January 31, 2013

Trust

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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God’s persistent, isn’t he?  I’ve always liked CS Lewis’ description of him as “the hound of heaven.”  Faithful, determined, unrelenting grace shaping me into His vision for me. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…  Proverbs 3:5

He’s been nudging me for a while about this trust thing.  A couple of years ago we even wrote it into our family’s creed: Trust Completely, Live Joyfully, Serve Authentically.  It looks really good on the wall, but “trust completely” is a pretty tall order in day-to-day life.  Like I said, He’s been nudging, so when I read a few posts about selecting a word for 2013, “Trust” seemed like an obvious choice.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

Well, He’s been digging around deep in my heart.  Turns out some of the trust issues tie in with the control issues.  Which tie in with fear.  Which is not how I want to live my life.  Something is going to motivated me to do and be, and I don’t want fear to be that force!

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8

At this point, the awareness has gone from uncomfortable to actually painful.  My wimpy self says that I should just shove that big mess back under the rug and pretend it isn’t there.  Weren’t we doing just fine?  And there’s the rub.  I want more than “fine.”  (Which it really wasn’t…)  I want to live God’s big, scary, wonderful plan for my life.  For my future.  For my family.  I’ve had a taste through our infertility and adoption of how He can redeem tremendous pain into a most beautiful thing.  It makes safe seem sort of second class now.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

 

*This post got us thinking about a family motto: http://simplemom.net/back-to-the-basics-create-a-family-mission-statement/

November 15, 2012

Sweet

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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In December 2009, my sister & brother-in-law asked if they could speak to us.  We sat down in my parents’ basement, and they told us they were expecting.  I smiled, said congratulations, then went home and cried.  We had just received definite confirmation that we would not be able to have biological children.

A few months later, the ultrasound pictures were shown around.  A girl.  Again I cried.  She got three beautiful, healthy children, and the girl that she wanted…I got what?  I’m not proud of my feelings, but they were part of my journey.  I was perilously close to missing something precious.

Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

The day my niece arrived, I packed up her brothers, gathered up my courage, and headed to the maternity ward.  A year before we had eagerly toured the same rooms, as we planned our family.  Now I knew that would never be.  Little Miss was being cared for by a nurse, and we weren’t able to hold her.  Back at home, the boys begged to go see their sister again.  I barely got out of their sight before breaking down.  I sobbed to my husband, “I just can’t go back up there!  I can’t do it!  I just can’t.”

But I did.  I walked into the  room full of nerves and emotions, trying to hide my distress from my very observant sister.  My brother-in-law gently handed me a tightly wrapped bundle, and I melted.  Sweetness.  Utter sweetness.  This time I cried for a different reason.  My niece has held a piece of my heart ever since.

It’s frightening when I look back to think what I could have missed.  What I could have so easily allowed infertility to steal from me.  I’m not trying to speak for everyone; I can only tell my story.  And the bitter has enhanced the sweet.

She looks so much like I did at her age.  And bless her, she acts a lot like me, too!  And when she says “I wub oo too, Aunt Hoddy” and plants a sticky kiss on my cheek…sweetness.

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a blessing from the Lord…”

I now have two nephews, two beautiful nieces, another on the way, and a precious son God gave us last May.  So many blessings to celebrate! 

November 8, 2012

Gratitude

Filed under: Contemplations,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 7:25 AM
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Holidays can bring extra hurt when you’re “in the valley.”  Last Christmas was one of the lowest points of my life.  We had been going through infertility for several years at that point.  Our adoption journey had been filled with so many disappointments, as we were shown to birth mothers again and again, and not chosen.  I was sick from October through December, likely due in part to a suppressed immune system from stress.  (Studies have shown that stress levels for infertile women are the same as those diagnosed with cancer.)  In December, a number of dear friends were praying for a “Christmas Baby” for us, and a little girl was born December 13th.  I was sure she was ours…we found out December 22nd that she wasn’t.  Life went on as usual for most, with the customary celebrations.  We went through the motions, but it was so very hard.

I have a friend who is still in her dark place.  She’s been there so long.  It’s been so tough, so painful.  She commented recently how the Facebook statuses of “I am thankful for _________” were bothering her.  She’s struggling, and I understand, and don’t judge her for a minute.  It wasn’t appropriate to say anything, but I felt near bursting.  Right now the “thanks” of others are highlighting her situation.  But, oh, I wanted to grab her hands, look deep into her eyes and tell her: that’s the key!  The way out of the dark place.  Telling God “Thank you” again, and again, and again, when you don’t feel like it.  That’s how to leave that pit.*

The most important thing I learned through infertility was to trust God.  The second was finding joy in the midst of pain.  After years of misery, I became desperate for joy.  Happiness is a fleeting emotion.  I am enjoying it much more frequently now, but it was truly rare during those years.  But joy.  Joy is possible.  And gratitude is what opens the door.

*I know that sometimes medical intervention is necessary, and am thankful for the tools God has provided for our use.

October 31, 2012

A Loving and Sovereign God Who Lets Me Hurt

Filed under: Shared Findings,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This is a wonderful article written by the MS social worker who helped with our family’s adoption.

http://blog.lifelinechild.org/faith-and-encouragement/a-loving-and-sovereign-god-who-lets-me-hurt/

October 17, 2012

Kim on Pain & Perfectionism

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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http://untilgraceisgone.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/infertile-ish/

March 21, 2012

Myth: God cannot be loving if I cannot conceive

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Infertility is a part of our family. Our family of two. We talk about it like we talk about the weather. Sometimes so much that we are so sick of having to talk about it. It’s become our familiar friend. Month after month we’re reminded that something we long for just wasn’t meant to be. And we wait. We are getting good at waiting.

 It has always been a battle of the mind. Fighting against the thoughts that it creep in muddling our sanity. It must be our fault. I must have done something to be this way. Maybe if I do this, we’ll get pregnant and we won’t have to walk this road anymore. It has become a cyclical road: hope followed by the silent reminder that things are not as we hoped.

 Our journey has been recorded through words on the page. Emotional words, words filled with sadness, but mostly words filled with hope and faith. Because we’ve learned we are not that different from you. And we want you to know that you are not that different than we are, even if you have children…

…Infertility is a funny thing really. Women and men have battled infertility for centuries. The Bible tells us so. Ninety years of barrenness Sarah waited. I’ve waited 2. Seems silly really. But somehow that doesn’t always change the hurt inside. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples suffers from infertility? In our 2 years I’ve met 8 couples that are walking this road.

Do you know someone who’s battling infertility? If you do, they need you to remind them, God is good. So many think if we don’t get what we want when we want it then God must not be good. If I’ve learned anything through the waiting it’s that my God is INCREDIBLY good. God being good is not equated with getting what we want. Seeing infertility as good might sound a little sideways; you may want to stop reading. Please don’t. Infertility isn’t good in and of itself. It’s a product of the fall. But through this waiting I’m learning more about who He is. And for that, I’m grateful.

How we view adversity can affect our entire being. You may not believe in my God. You may not call Him by name. He may not be your best friend. But He’s mine. Creator of the Universe, Jehovah Jireh (Provider), all-powerful, all-sufficient, loving. He’s my God. And in this trial the words of the Book of Life have become my strength. In the tears, when no one can truly feel my emotions. He can. When I feel alone, my soul finds comfort. He’s always with me. If I ask why, he whispers in my ear. My ways are not your ways. When my heart cries, Are you there? He answers, Always. If I ask how long Lord? He gently answers, I’ll carry you.

I’m thankful He takes me in His arms. He wraps me in His love. He promises me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He bottles my tears in His book and gently wipes them away. He is familiar with my pain. He has waited. He has hurt. He has wanted. He has asked for the cup to be taken from Him. He’s good. All the time. And because of Him, I can walk through the fire and not be burned. I can hope that He will hear my cries and answer me. And I can be content because His best is better than anything I can imagine.

 It hurts. It is painful. It is a battle. There are days I have questioned His goodness. There have been plenty of times I’ve acted like a 2 year old, spitting angry, stomping my feet in imperfect selfishness. And I’ve felt empty every time. But I’m always brought back to the truth. He’s good. There is no evil in Him. I am not being punished and neither are you. We are being made holy by way of life’s trials. And He’s been there. And He’s with us. And by the road of infertility, or cancer, or MS, or by any adversity, we’ll be made to be women who Hope with great faith and are Content in Him. We’ll have great joy even in the midst. That’s a strong woman. I want to be a strong woman. Believe He’s good. It changes everything. I promise because He promised me.  ~Andrea

http://comeabide.blogspot.com/2011/04/myth-god-cannot-be-loving-if-i-cannot.html

March 7, 2012

Infertile, But Not Childless

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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 Even in the dark womb of infertility, blessings can be found. Gary and Marilyn Purdy, for example, learned that “infertile” need not be synonymous with “childless.”

When the Purdys married in 1990, Gary was directing the Campus Crusade ministry at Baylor University. They dreamed of having babies and raising a family. Since she was 32, Marilyn was eager to get started, but after a year, she had not conceived. Three years later, after “lightweight tests” by her physician, consultations with infertility specialists, medication and a series of injections—still no baby. And worst of all, there was no medical explanation. “Everyone around us was having babies easily, and it became very stressful. It seemed so unfair,” Marilyn admits. In vitro fertilization was the next option, but with their limited financial resources, and given the long odds, the Purdys were reluctant.

They began to consider adoption. “The most appealing fact about adoption was that everyone we were aware of who had pursued adoption had gotten a baby,” she notes. Marilyn, having grown up around adopted children, was far more receptive to the idea than her husband. However, by faith he was willing to proceed. “I asked myself, ‘Am I desirous of becoming a daddy?’ Since my answer was yes, I agreed that we should try to adopt a child,” Gary recalls.

Five months later, in 1995, the Purdys received a phone call that their son had been born. “The moment we got that call, Gary engaged. It was beautiful to see him bonding emotionally with Davis even before he held the baby in his arms. What a confirmation from God,” Marilyn says. In 1999, mom and dad gave Davis a new sister, ClaraLane, adopting her when she was eight months old.

“Sometimes people used to ask, ‘Are you still trying to have one of your own?’ I can’t imagine having children more our own than Davis and ClaraLane,” Marilyn asserts. “We would never go back and choose to have a child biologically if it meant we couldn’t have them. It fills us with awe to think that before time began, God orchestrated all of the circumstances – even the deep valley of infertility – so we could have the joy of becoming their parents.”

Today Gary pastors North Shore Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he and Marilyn have often shared comfort and encouragement with others also coping with infertility. –By Robert J. Tamasy

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