The Other Side of Our Story…Precious Words

In keeping with the theme of Adoption and Motherhood – our daughter’s sweet, amazing, incredible birth Mom, Roxy, has agreed to share her side of our story.  Below is her version, in her own words.  Thank you Roxy!  We love you beyond measure!!!

“At nineteen years old my life had become a tornado of poor decisions, confusion, and naiveté as well as a substantial dose of bad luck.  However, in the eye of that storm there was quiet. There was peace. In the eye of that storm I found a love that was unmatched in ferocity.  It was short lived but it was the best twenty-four hours of my life, to that point. I met my first born child, an angel whose heart beats forever in perfect harmony with my own. This is a day that I will never regret. I will always live in the confidence of the knowledge that I brought one amazing person into this world that day. I will never grieve, be ashamed of, or mourn the moment I held a piece of my heart in my arms. The years prior to and afterward were incredibly painful, but that moment was worth it.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I felt her first kick. I was driving down the highway on my way to class. I was passing a car and there was a semi headed toward me in my lane. All of a sudden I felt little flutters in my stomach. It took me a moment to realize it was my baby! It was like she was saying “I’m in here. Keep me safe.” so I did. I took my vitamins. I went to my appointments. I avoided all the risky things. I sang to her and discussed (obviously one sided) my thoughts on mundane things. I knew when she was the size of a jelly bean, an orange, a cantaloupe. I bought a single onesie and bib before I was even far enough along to know the gender. I loved my unborn child unequivocally and immeasurably from the moment I knew she existed, which made it incredibly easy to convince myself that love was enough. It was not difficult, at a naïve nineteen years old, to satisfy fleeting first time motherhood anxieties with visions of being a single mom superhero that somehow fills every material and emotional need for my unborn child with zero assets, while going to college, and working full time.

I distinctly remember the day that I fully realized my inadequacy.  I remember sitting at the river watching a little girl feed the ducks with her mom and dad. Within moments of observing them, I knew. I knew I had been deceiving myself.  I knew I would never be able to give my little girl all that she deserved. She deserved to have a mom and DAD that would be there for her EVERY day. As bad as I yearned to be able to be everything for her right that moment and forever after, I knew the reality. I knew that she would spend most of her childhood at a daycare being raised by someone else. I knew money would be so incredibly tight that I would make decisions based on cost rather than practicality every time she needed something. Most importantly I knew that I could never fill the role of a father. No matter how badly I wanted it to be true, I couldn’t do that. It was completely impossible.

Of course, there was a birth father. While we shared a brief glimpse into one another’s lives, he was someone who was as foreign to me as any other stranger I passed on the street. He called occasionally. These moments entailed conversations that mostly lacked any substance or emotional connection whatsoever. They also lacked any desire on his part to make a co-parenting situation a reality. If there was an aspiration for a parenting collaboration on his part, I completely missed it. I won’t discount that as a possibility. It’s possible I dismissed the idea based solely on my existing negative impressions of the man. It’s possible I didn’t give him a chance to be anything different than what I knew him to be at that point. I believe that’s called being a realist. That’s human. That’s what we do.

There was no disillusionment for me here.  I had no hope for a fairytale ending. I wasn’t one to think too much about such things anyways. In fact I had the opposite. I had an unbridled love for the little person growing in my womb and an ever-growing abhorrence for the person that helped me get into that particular situation. My idea that it was solely on my shoulders to make the right decisions was further reinforced with the knowledge that in the past his go-to solution to these kinds of discrepancies was to terminate the pregnancies, one solution that was NEVER on the table for me.  Through the grace of God,I have since grown, forgiven, and come to terms with the details of this situation. If our character was forever judged based on the lowest points in our lives, we would be eternally without hope. However, I do feel like this is an important part of the story solely to reflect light on how I came to my decisions. At that time I felt as if his idea of what was happening and my idea of what was happening were so dramatically different. There was no chance of the two of us coming together to do the already daunting task of raising a happy, healthy, and confident child.  Could we have done it? Probably. Could we have done it well? Most likely, no.

So I began to reluctantly entertain the idea of adoption. It began as an information gathering mission. I researched LDS Family Services. I visited and conversed with Rex, the social worker there. He explained that it would be a closed adoption but I would still get to correspond with the family through letters and picture exchanges.  Each time I went to an appointment, filled out paperwork, and discussed my baby girl with him, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind. I continued to hope throughout the entire process, that I would figure out a way to keep my baby. I fought a constant internal battle between my heart and my mind, between love and reason. At times it felt as if once I boarded that adoption train I couldn’t make it stop and I couldn’t get off. However, one day Rex presented me with the profiles of four adoptive couples. As I read through them I immediately fell in love with one family, clear front runners, that brought a small sense of peace into my heart. Peace was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I went home and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Each time I prayed about that couple, the sense of peace grew stronger.  I knew. The perfect family for my baby was clear. I returned to Family Services with my decision. During that meeting I was given more information and paperwork to fill out. At one point Rex, stepped out of the room as I continued to read through the papers, and a pivotal moment occurred. The final paper in the stack he handed me had the couples last name listed, Kenneth and Andrea Walker, plain as day. I immediately began to panic. A cold fear rushed through my body as I knew this mistake had the potential to completely destroy this entire situation. I sat the papers down and contemplated whether or not I should reveal his discrepancy. I chose not to. The stakes were too high and I couldn’t risk letting this opportunity for my baby girl slip away. I remained silent and pressed forward scheduling a meeting with Ken and Andrea.

The day I met them was wonderful. I loved everything about them. They were so obviously in love and had been praying and planning for the arrival of their first baby for years. They were stable and prepared in every way for a child to join their family. They were so kind and considerate. Even now I cry thinking about how they made me feel that day. They immediately became a part of my heart and I finally could rest in the knowledge that things might be ok. I could ensure that my baby has an amazing life. All I had to do was figure out how to muster up the courage and the unselfishness necessary to give a piece of my heart to someone else forever.

I began having contractions at about midnight on August 28th, 2001 and had no idea what was going on. I called my best friend and for hours she sat on the phone with me while I timed each contraction. I was scared. I was a somewhat worried about the physical pain but terrified over the emotional pain I knew I was about to experience. Again, that train wasn’t about to stop and let me off so I went to the hospital. Labor was hard. It hurt. It was scary and strange and awkward and definitely not how I’d envisioned having my first baby. However, after it was all said and done she was here and she was amazing! For the first time in my young life I knew what it was like to love someone so much I would do anything to make them happy, even with the knowledge that I may never be truly happy or whole again. I was afraid to hold her because I knew once she was in my arms, I wouldn’t want to let her go. I did it though. I held her so tight. I sang to her. I whispered stories to her and told her how much I loved her over, and over, and over again. I explained why I was letting her go, hoping that maybe somehow her subconscious would cling to some of my words.

As we left the hospital, my dad pushed me through the halls in a wheelchair and he said something I’ll never forget. He said “we could just take her and go right now.” I considered fleeing, running through the halls with her in my arms and never looking back, escaping the promise I had made. My heart ached terribly knowing within moments I would be saying goodbye to my baby girl. It hurt. Those words don’t even begin to describe how it felt to hand my baby over to someone else. I don’t think there are sufficient words really. I was so happy for her and for them. Ken and Andrea were so respectful, so quietly joyful and also hurting for me. It was evident that they felt my pain intermingled with their joy and it was bittersweet. Part of me was celebrating with them and part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and die. There were definitely fleeting bits of happiness and harmony throughout that placement experience and I knew I was doing the right thing, the best thing. I clung to a mental image I had of my beautiful baby girl laughing, playing, and thriving with a mom and a DAD.

The only way I can describe the days following the placement is excruciatingly painful. My body wanted to nurse, nurture, and rock a baby. My arms ached to hold her close. Sometimes I thought I could still feel her moving around in my belly, still a part of me. I wondered if it that was how an amputee feels. I’d heard when a limb is removed the patient often still feels it there. I still felt like my baby was there at times and it was crushing when I pulled myself back to reality. The world went on without me.  I didn’t have any idea how heartbreak could produce such physical pain. It’s a ton of bricks on your chest. It’s feeling like you’re drowning in mud. It’s mostly indescribable. Being in that type of pain is lonely.  This wasn’t a pain that anyone or anything could remedy.

I did have some family and friends for support but I’m not really the type to openly share my emotions. I do remember a significant moment the day after the placement when I felt like I might just die. The idea of dying from a broken heart felt so real and so possible that day. I called my best friend. I desperately needed help. She wasn’t home and I recall her mother asking me how I was doing. I broke down and said “not good” and I’ll never forget her reply. She said “oh, so you do actually have a heart in there somewhere.”  I never opened up to anyone again. Most of the world treated me with the attitude that “you did it to yourself”.  Most people didn’t come out and say those words but I’ve always had an uncanny ability to feel the emotions of others. At that point in my life it was a curse, a compounding factor to my existing state of grief that nearly crushed me. I knew why I did it. I knew who I did it for. I tried not to care what anyone else thought.

I worked in a large call center where many people had seen my pregnancy, but didn’t know me personally. I took a week off to recover. Returning to work was difficult. There were countless awkward conversations to navigate. Numerous people congratulated me on my baby. It hurt every time. I tried to side-step the details, but often failed. Word got around after a few days and pretty soon no one said anything to me again. Ever.  Except for a handful of friends, people I knew avoided me for the most part. I’m not sure if it was because it was awkward for them or they truly didn’t like me anymore.  I quit my job within a few months. I needed a fresh start. I couldn’t be “that girl that gave her baby away” anymore. I really wish from here I could say I turned to God for solace and peace, but I did not. Not yet.

Years of mistakes, struggles, and poor choices I made in an effort to fill my empty heart came first. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I realize I should have sought counseling. I should have figured out how to mend my heart and heal in a healthy way. I should have done things differently. There was a better way. Fortunately, I eventually did find God. He’d been with me all along. I just couldn’t see through the self-inflicted fog of sorrow and agony. I knew putting my experience on paper would hurt.

Almost fourteen years of life experience and perspective has helped soften the pain but it’s a wound that will never fully heal. However, I do feel strongly now that Rex’s mistake fourteen years ago was my saving grace. Just knowing that someday I might be able to find my other family again and reconnect with them has given me a glimmer of hope to cling to all this time.

A little less than a year ago I did contact Ken, Andrea, and our daughter and have found so much healing through being able to connect with them. They have so graciously accepted my presence back in their lives and we are going to meet again for the first time. I have always viewed The Walkers as the hero and heroine in this story and have never once believed them to be liable for my pain but rather solely responsible for giving my baby girl a wonderful childhood. They are truly a blessing to me. I don’t pretend to know what to expect , how to navigate this upcoming meeting or what the future holds but regardless, I will forever know that at one point in my life I was able to give a gift of immeasurable value to Ken and Andrea and to my beautiful daughter, and my namesake, Lou Lou”

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Discussing Race with our Children

I’m not one to really be political or to argue my point to a certain extent.  However, I wanted to share my point of view about race.  As you may have learned about our family, we are a trans-racial family.  We have adopted 3 black children, 2 of which are also Cuban, all three have bits of White/Caucasian in them as well.

First of all, I want to say that I am not sharing this to upset anyone on either side of this debate.  I’m simply sharing my view.  since Ken and I are white, I feel that we have a unique perspective, especially viewing black people through the eyes of our black children.  I don’t see race.  I see my children, not the color of their skin.  Seriously.

The other night I was picking up our daughter, Lou Lou from a church activity.  It was later in the evening, around 8 p.m.  Bubba was in the car with me, and I asked him to run into the church and tell Lou Lou we were there to get her.  She wasn’t answering her phone or answering the text messages I had sent.

As Bubba left the car, I reminded him to be careful, that it was dark out and the other drivers in the parking lot might not see him.  As he closed the door of our Kia Soul, he asked, “Why?  Because I’m Black?”

I tried not to giggle.  I believe he was serious about asking that question.  And I definitely never even thought about his race when reminding him to be careful in the parking lot.  My caution to him wasn’t because of his race, it was because he is 9, and it’s my job to protect him.  It was merely an innocent comment to remind him to be careful so he didn’t get hurt.

I was really surprised by his question.  He loves to joke and tease me, so I really couldn’t tell if he was serious or not, but his question caught me off guard and I began to wonder if I had ever played the race card with any of our children.

Had I taught them to be a victim because they looked different than me or their Daddy, or even many of the other people in our small community.  Our three kiddos have discussed that they are the only ones in our church that are black.  I try to explain to them that they are unique and loved and very much wanted.

You see, I’m fascinated with black people.  I love them, I love their race, I love their culture.  I try not to stare at any black person I see because I don’t want them to think I’m staring because they are different because of the color of their skin.  They are simply people I am trying to glean from, to learn more about them so that I can share their culture and race with my own children.

Years ago when Lou Lou arrived home with us, I purchased some prints by a black painter named Ellis Wilson.  I purchased three prints, and this one is my favorite called “A Mother’s Love”.  I really enjoy looking at Ellis Wilson’s art, especially because his art covered the walls of one of my favorite childhood T.V. shows, “The Cosby Show”.  When I told (and showed) a coworker the prints.  She asked, “Why would you put those on your walls?  You don’t look like that.”  I was seriously taken aback.  I simply told her, “I may not look like that, but my child does”.

A Mother's Love_Ellis Wilson

One of my favorite stories about when Lou Lou arrived was the very first time I changed my one day old baby girls diaper.  As I lifted up her little legs, I noticed these dark spots on her hips.  I instantly started freaking out, yelling for my Mother-in-law and husband, Ken, to run into the room because someone had hurt and bruised my baby.  Fear, sadness, and utter despair was brimming in my heart, tears nearly ready to spill over.  But my sweet Mother-in-law reassured me that Lou Lou had not been battered or abused.  She told me that the dark spots were called “Mulatto spots”.  I had never heard of such a thing.  To help ease my stress over the situation, Mom explained it in a way I could grasp.  She said, “It’s basically where the black and white colors haven’t quite mixed together.”  Ok, so now that made sense.  Ken’s Mom and Dad had two other bi-racial grandchildren and had seen spots like those on Lou Lou’s hips before.  Whew, crisis averted, panic ebbed, heart stopped racing, and life that first day went back to utter joy. I will never forget that feeling

Even back then, and still today, I want my children to identify with their heritage and to never be ashamed of who they are, where they came from, or who they will become.  I never want them to use their race as a crutch or to be victimized by their black history.  Racism isn’t allowed in our home, just as persecution should never be allowed anywhere for race, color, creed, or nationality, or definitely religion.  Those of you who are or might know about Mormon’s,  know about persecution from our own church history.  We all have much to be thankful for.

Over the past few years, I loved learning about and purchasing books with black people in them.  I also purchased books about adoption, but I definitely enjoyed sharing books like the glorious book “Corduroy”.  I love that book, my children love that book too.  It’s one of our very favorite books, and the kids still talk about it to this day.

I also love the PBS television show, “Reading Rainbow”.  We watched it faithfully when Lou Lou was little.  Reading Rainbow introduced Lou Lou and I to the book, “Amazing Grace”.  Lou Lou identified with Grace and especially loved the beautiful pictures and still remembers being scared of Grace in a picture of looking like a “spider”.  This book is still in our family library today.  I look forward to reading it to my Grandbabies.

As we have tried to help our children come into contact with their heritage, we have introduced them to some of the most amazing Black Heroes in history!  The greats like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, Harriet Tubman, Lionel Richie, Rosa Parks, Mariah Carey, Jesse Owens, Maya Angelou, Miles Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Etta James, Dr. Ronald McNair, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson.  As they are growing up, their own favorite music is emerging: especially Usher, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and many others. The list is endless.

When Lou Lou was about three, the “Oprah Winfrey” show was still on regular TV.  I was a faithful Oprah fan, and I guess it really left an impression on Lou Lou because every black woman we saw in town or surrounding towns, (which weren’t many), and every picture of a black woman she noticed, she instantly recognized as Oprah.  She would point to the black woman in the picture or on the street and say, “Look Mom, there’s Oprah”.  It was comical at the time, and I would discuss with her that not every black woman was Oprah, that there are an endless number of black people in her world that will look like her in many ways.

Growing up in a small Southern Utah town, I remember one of the few black boys in my class was Stevie. His Mom was black, his Dad was white.  Stevie was the coolest kid, the best basketball player in our grade, and I seriously loved looking at his brown skin. He was sooo cute.  I was never cool enough to even be noticed by him, but I was in awe of his family dynamics, and wondered what it would be like to be around him. Every once in a while, I think about Stevie and his family.  I wonder what he thought of being the only black boy in our school…I think he might of had siblings, but I can’t really remember.  Stevie’s Dad was a teacher at a nearby school.  Honestly he was one of the coolest teachers I had ever met.

Most of the people who see our family, smile and realize we adopted our kids.  If Ken or I am by ourselves with the kids, we get a lot of stares.   Staring is a way of educating, pondering and peaking curiosity and it’s a completely natural occurrence around our family.  One morning in 2008, our family walked into a Diner in Weed, California, and sitting at a booth near the front door was an older Mennonite couple.  As we walked past them, they stared, smiled, and the sweet woman said with a gentle voice, “Bless You”.  That moment really touched my heart.  I appreciated that one sentence so much, it brought comfort to me as we don’t always receive such praise.  Sometimes, we even get the opposite.  But we smile and continue on our way.  You can’t change ignorance overnight, like everything in life, it’s a gradual thing.  Line upon Line, generation after generation thing can change, and things have changed so much.

Stevie’s Mom would come to bring him lunch and I would stare at her.  As I said, for me, staring is not a bad thing.  But I soon realized it wasn’t something that was socially acceptable, I would try so hard not to stare.  It really was difficult for me. I tried to catch myself and stop glancing at her.  She was like a brown exotic goddess.  Long black curly hair, gorgeous skin, long eyelashes that looked like black butterfly wings fluttering above her eyes…little did I know I would one day raise my own little brown exotic goddess.

During a Human Biology class in my Sophomore year of High School, this class was taught by one of the cutest teachers in my school.  Sorry, he just was…LOL, and it really was a joy to go to class every single day.  I recall learning about “Sickle Cell Anemia”, which is usually a disease suffered by black people.  I remember saying to my friends at my table, well I won’t have to worry about that one.  I never imagined I would need to know about a disease that affected black people.  I never imagined I would have black people in my family.  I wasn’t against it of course, it truly wasn’t on my radar to prepare for.  But after my sweet boys arrived, I definitely asked our Pediatrician if they had been tested.  It is so ironic the things you never imagine will happen, actually completely change your life for the better.  I’m grateful for the knowledge I have gained to better help me to advocate for and help my children.  I’m also very grateful that I can help educate and share some of the knowledge I have received with others who are going through their own bi-racial or trans-racial adoptions.

The family story about race that I want to share is also about Lou Lou.  It seems she had more questions growing up than our boys.  One day we were in a grocery store, she was about 4, and the cart I was pushing her in had a little plastic car attached to it so that she could play while I shopped.  Whoever thought to create those car shopping carts is a pure genius.  At about this time Lou Lou was learning her colors and we would paint with water colors and learn what paints mixed together to create new colors.  As I shopped and crossed things off of my list, she seriously asked me, “Mom, what do you get when you mix black and white?”  I told her, “Grey”.  To which she slowly asked me, “Then…why…am…I…brown?”  I immediately explained I thought she meant paint colors. I stopped the cart, got down at her eye level, and reassured her that when we mix black and white people we usually always make brown.  This seemed to ease her fears, but that moment was ingrained in my memory.  She says she doesn’t remember that conversation, but always asks me to tell that story whenever we talk about her childhood, or in any conversation with people we meet who ask us about race or adoption.  I learned that I needed to be more sensitive to her questions and ask her further questions to get to root of her questions.  She was a deep thinker who always asked questions, she has taught us so much about pondering and questioning everything around us.  I love that about her.

So, I hope I haven’t been on my soap box too much in this essay.  I pray that you will see race through a different lens.  Perspective is important when we encounter anyone.  Walking in someones shoes can be difficult when we don’t even know how to broach the subject, or start a meaningful discussion in the first place.

I won’t bore you with my opinion of the cop killings that have happened in the news over the past few years.  They are however an important part of the race, violence, and guns discussion. I recall the incident with Rodney King when I was in high school.  I pray my children never encounter a moment like those, that there will never be a point in my life when I receive a phone call that my child has been hurt, maimed, or taken from me – but I cannot control those moments, I have to trust that God knows best for me, my children, and all of my family.

Choices always have consequences.  There are choices and consequences in both of the perspectives, and it is difficult to determine what is best.  I’m glad I am not God who will judge or decide the outcome.  I do not envy anyone their consequence of losing their free agency, the life of a child, or their own life because of their choices.  I hesitate to state that race will not affect my children’s world for the rest of their lives. Yes times have changed, our family determines the state of our opinion of race in our small world of Family and Home.  But we cannot and will not be able to change how others see us.  I pray I have given my children the stability of loving parents and family, that they will be able to stand up for others and for themselves if they face discrimination, persecution, or violence.  I cannot stress to you enough that what we teach our children now will determine the people they become tomorrow.  It will also determine the people our grandchildren and great grandchildren, and generations forward become.  I tell my children often that I look forward to more brown babies in our family when they have their own children.  We discuss who they could marry, black, white, mexican.  It doesn’t matter to Ken or I, but it exciting to listen to these sweet children share their perspective of race.

No matter where my children go, no matter the choices they make, we will love them.  We will love them for who they are as our children.  We may not love their choices, but we will always love them.  I do not see them as black, I see them as mine.  I do not notice if I personally treat them differently on purpose.  I know that we have to take extra care to be educated – to know how to help them with their dry skin, curly afro hair, or body odor at an earlier age than my nephews did.  I learn new insights into my children’s race nearly every single day.  Our boys have B.O. at the age of 8 & 9 – I asked my doctor, I guess black boys have more testosterone than white boys their age, so they smell sooner.  I didn’t know that, now I do.  I worried it was a glandular problem, nope, it’s normal.  Jman has very active oil glands on his face already.  He’s only 8, he has to wash his face morning and night.  I can barely get him to brush his teeth, so adding the face washing has been an interesting endeavor.  But we are learning, and that is what life is all about.

I encourage you to learn something new every single day about your child or children.  It’s eye opening to me, because I only see the Nurture portion of the Nature vs. Nurture debate.  And not knowing anything about being a black person has really broadened my desire to learn more.  I’m far from the normal every day Mother.  Yes I have days when I scream and yell.  I mean, just ask my kids.  But I hope they feel loved.  I hope they feel they belong, even if I’m white and they’re black.

I love the movie Tarzan and the Phil Collins song, “You’ll be in my Heart”.  It is beyond the realm of my expressing how spot on that song is for the feelings I have for my children.  This song is like a sound track for this little family of mine.

I am forever grateful for the knowledge I have received through learning about my children’s heritage. I’m also thankful for a God who loves me and my family, who wants what’s best for all of us.  We like our Heavenly Father, have a heart, we all have hands, we all have a soul.  We are the same, and yet we are different.  Love is universal, it can encompass every single being upon the earth.  No matter who we are or what we look like, my ultimate opinion of this topic is:  love is more important than race.  Love crosses borders, religious lines, and devious persecutions. Love can increase in the hearts of all people – but we have to start with ourselves first.  Love is the key that will unlock all race boundaries.  Loving my children, loving their race, honoring their heritage and mine, has truly changed my life.

Adopting Bubba – Part 1

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This little Turkey is our Bubba.  We brought him home in May 2007 and it was such a joyous experience.

We adopted Bubba through the State and it was a totally different experience than Miss Lou Lou’s adoption since we did a private adoption agency.  Bubba was 13 months old when we brought him home and he was a wobbly walking toddler that was into anything and everything.  His precious chubby cheeks were so munch-able and I love love giving my babies kisses, Bubba was no exception.

For those of you have followed a bit of my essays on our adoption story, adopting Bubba was every bit as emotional, stressful, and exciting as Lou Lou’s.

We went through a lot of tears, and a million papers and binders to look through to choose our child.

First of all, we started the process after feeling we should do foster care (Ok, foster care is a whole 1000 page essay/book in itself…to come another day).

We had about 10 children arrive in 2 years, I count 10 of them, even though a couple of the children returned to us 2 to 3 times.  They were my babies and I tried so hard to teach them and help them and learn and work through their attachment issues.  It was an eye opening experience that I don’t know if I would truly choose to do again. (ok, enough about foster care for now).

In 2006 we started the adoption process.  We had been trying to adopt through the state for 2 years.  We searched and searched, prayed and stewed, on and off throughout those years through about a million four inch binders with piles upon piles of pages of babies and children and multiple siblings that were available for adoption.

We wanted a boy, preferably black so that Lou Lou would identify with another child that looked like her.

When you adopt through the state where we live, you have the dreaded opportunity to be an incalculable number of potential parents/families to adopt these children.  It all starts with our social worker, her name was Jeanine and she was a gem.  From the very beginning she worked with us and helped answer questions, soothe our anxiety, and answer more questions whenever we needed her.  She was overworked, under paid, and truly not in it for the money or the fame.  She seemed to be in it for the children and families.  These types of social workers are very hard to find, in our experience anyway.

After looking through the available children in those binders, you choose a few children that you are interested in learning more about.  Our social worker would then email the child’s social worker with our information & Home Study to see if we would be a good fit for that child.  The first process of being chosen, is that we would go against 2 other families to meet with a committee to decide the child’s and our families fate.

One in three.  33% chance.  Odd’s weren’t the best, but we felt positive and hopeful, but better than the 18% chance of our fertility working years before.  We prayed to know if we should adopt him, and that we might be chosen to add him to our family.

We put our names in for quite a few children.  We weren’t chosen then and weren’t quite a good fit for those children.

Then came Keith.

I looked at Keith’s picture and his information on his paperwork, and I tried to imagine him in our family.  At the time, we were hopefully optimistic, and like the cases before, we didn’t think anything would come of adopting him.

Keith was about 2, he was black and truly adorable.

We received a call from Jeanine about a week after submitting our home study.  It was exciting.

Jeanine went to the committee meeting later in the month at a state DHS office about 5 hours from our small town.  She presented our information and home study, trying to “sell us” to the committee in every possible positive way.  We tried to help sell us by sending Jeanine with a family scrapbook we had put together for the committee to see us and get to know us better.  We were more than just pictures and words on a page and we tried our best to share our story the best way we knew how.

The next day, she called me to tell me the good news.  Joyful news in fact.

We had been chosen to adopt Keith.  We would have five days to look over his full file and decide if it was truly something we would be willing to do.  He was drug affected and had a few other medical issues, but I was happy.  I felt anxiously excited and called Ken and all of our family that we had been chosen and could possibly bring Keith home in a week.

And that’s when the obstacles and confusion arrived.

We currently had our 4 year old Lou Lou, and another foster child was on her third visit to our home in as little as 18 months.  I didn’t want this little girl to have to go to another foster home, so we informed our worker that we really wanted to have this little girl live with us during our transition to adopt Keith until she could transition home, or to another home.  We knew that we could pick up Keith within a week, and that it truly would be difficult to find a willing foster home that could take on the little girl who had such incredible attachment issues.

I expected that the social workers would be fine with our decision to keep our foster daughter along with adding Keith to our home.  The state DHS units encourage adoptive families to do foster care so they can get a glimpse into what they would be experiencing with their potential child(ren).

Keith’s social worker called me the next day.  She told me that she wouldn’t allow us to have Keith in our home until our foster daughter was placed in another home.

I was so upset.  I felt like they were punishing us for thinking of our foster daughter’s needs after encouraging us to foster in the first place.

So we prayed…just like we always have.  We try to pray daily for inspiration and guidance for that day and for the struggles we are facing.

Adopting Keith was no exception.

We prayed, fervently hoping and expecting the answer our hearts desired.  Lou Lou was getting older and we wanted our children to be closer in age so they could grow up together.

Nevertheless, the more we prayed, the more confused we felt.  The warm comforting answer we were seeking didn’t come.  Instead confusion and frustration with Keith’s social worker and the whole experience didn’t feel right.

My heart sank and I cried.  We discussed our confusion with each other and our extended family.

We decided to tell the agency we wouldn’t be adopting Keith.

After trying and waiting so long to add a Son to our family, I never imagined we would be denying and turning away a child that we had been approved to adopt by the proper channels.

But they were the proper channels in an earthly view of things, but the divine Heavenly proper channel told us No.  Not this child.

Making the phone call to turn away Keith as our Son was one of the hardest phone call’s I have ever made.  Our worker was shocked and surprised at the news.  I felt really horrible that we had wasted her time in presenting us to the committee.  How do you explain to someone who might possibly not believe in God or even Jesus Christ or prayer, that you didn’t feel right about adopting a child you had been accepted to adopt?  I tried to explain we prayed about him and didn’t feel he should be a part of our family.  I think Jeanine tried to understand.

Jeanine asked me a week later if we wanted to look at the huge binders again to start the process over.

I told her I didn’t think my heart could handle it at the time.  I needed to take a few months to decide if we would proceed or give up altogether.

I am anything but a wimp…and I wasn’t ready to throw up my hands and walk away from a future Son.

I wanted Ken to have a Son.  He was so close to his Dad and I wanted our Son to experience that same bond with his Dad.

So I waited trying to get up the courage  to look through the binders.  November turned up unexpectedly and changes occurred.  Our Foster daughter’s 3 DAY OLD baby brother came to stay with us the day before Thanksgiving.  I loved having that baby in our home.  His precious face, how the baby lotion smelled on his skin after his bath.  I loved rocking and cooing and spending time with him.

He only stayed with us for 4 days.  It was so heart wrenching to give him back to the social worker to drive him and his sister to their sweet Momma who was in rehab.

I bawled and sobbed when they drove away.  I imagined I was experiencing maybe a sliver of their Momma’s heart ache when she lost him after giving birth because of her unsafe conditions at the time.

December and Christmas arrived.  Our Foster daughter brought us lice on Christmas Eve and returned to visit her Momma in rehab for the weekend.

On Christmas eve night around 11 pm, another DHS social worker called asking if we could take in a little girl.  She had apparently been in a car with a drunk man (who was friends of her Mom).  The man had been pulled over and sent to jail.  This little girl didn’t have a place to go, her Mom would lose custody temporarily for unsafe conditions.

Of course I couldn’t turn this precious child away.

There is always room in our Inn.

She couldn’t tell us her name.  This had a hard time sleeping that night and wouldn’t sleep in our only empty bed, which was a crib for our not yet chosen Son.  So I rocked her as the Christmas lights glimmered.  I sang to her, “How I love my Pretty Baby”, and I am a Child of God.”  She soon stopped feeling fearful of her new foreign environment and fell asleep on the couch.  During that weekend, we called her “Angel”.  We did however run into one of the Police officers who had pulled the man in the car over and found her in the backseat.  He recognized her in the shopping cart at the store we were at.  He told us her name, which was beautiful, but somehow she would always be my “Angel”.

Before we knew it February arrived.  After experiencing such an emotional, cathartic holiday season, I realized my heart was once again ready to invade and combat those giant binders.

“Operation::Find Our Son” was a go.

Jeanine dropped the stack of binders off one day while Ken was at work. Lou Lou and I turned page after page after page.  I can’t remember how many binders we looked through.  The pages were too numerous to count and I had chosen a couple children and flagged them with post-it notes as possibilities to show Ken when he returned.

And then I saw him.  The Holy Spirit witnessed to me at that very moment that this little baby would be my baby!

His sweet caramel skin and chubby cheeks were beyond precious.  He had the most adorable afro I had ever seen on a little munchkin.

Bubba

My heart soared, warmed, and flooded with emotion.  After searching, working, praying, fasting, and waiting…I KNEW that this little boy was OUR BOY.

How could you not love that baby?  Look at his baby teeth!  Oh my, I still love to look at that baby picture because I feel the same emotions I felt on that day.  I’m so truly blessed!

And finally began our journey to bring Bubba home.

(Part 2 coming soon)

Then I Saw Her Face

From the moment I saw my baby daughters face, I was in love.  And I mean, totally smitten.  Her dark caramel skin was so soft and smooth with wispy curls forming around her perfect balding head. I seriously had never been so in love with something so small in my whole life.  I swear my heart just about jumped out of my chest with utter joy.

As we drove with our Social Worker, Tyler, to meet our daughter’s birth Mom, and pick up our baby girl, I couldn’t hold back the excitement, joy, and tears. I was so nervous but I honestly never worried at all about the health of our daughter.  I’ll call our daughter “Lou Lou” as that has become one of her nicknames over time.  I knew Lou Lou was healthy and strong as had been reported to us by the agency.  But I worried about Roxy.  I worried about her emotional state and I worried about her changing her mind.  Worrying is actually something very familiar to me, and for those that know me best, it’s something I excel at.  But worrying isn’t strength.

Lou Lou was not even 24 hours old, and how could a Mother be strong enough to endure something like this?  How could a woman who had just given birth to such a precious baby, place her in a strangers arms and trust them to keep her baby safe?

So we waited, again, like we had waited for six years to get to this point.  We sat there for what seemed an eternity, and then she entered with Lou Lou in her arms, all wrapped up and sleeping, Roxy brought in our baby girl.  It’s like that moment is engraved in my mind.  I can still close my eyes and see Roxy’s dimples, echoed in Lou Lou’s.

We sat down and visited while Lou Lou cooed sleepily in Roxy’s arms. I could tell it was like ripping her heart out to hand Lou Lou to us.  She placed Lou Lou in Ken’s arms first.  It was precious watching my sweetheart become a Father for the first time.  It was something I couldn’t give him.

The smile on Roxy’s face as she placed Lou Lou in Ken’s arms was illuminating to me. I honestly don’t know how she had the strength to do it.  After all the years we had tried and prayed and searched and worked to get to this point.  I just wanted to grab Roxy and tell her it just didn’t feel right.  I couldn’t take her baby…I just wanted Roxy to come home with us too….

Soon it was my turn to hold our daughter.  Roxy placed Lou Lou in my arms next, and I think I sobbed like a baby.  There didn’t seem to be enough tissues in the room because I couldn’t stop crying.

This sweet little baby in my arms was mine, I really couldn’t believe it.  My dream to become a Mother had finally come true.  At that very moment, I realized that our little family was living proof that goals can be reached, dreams can come true, prayers are really answered, and somehow this sweet blessing did come to us through unexpected means.

LouLouBaby_SM

We asked Roxy if we could name Lou Lou after her?  She cried and said she thought that would be wonderful.  So Lou Lou has her birth Mother’s middle name, the way it should be.

I was on emotional overload.  Have you ever felt that way?  My heart broke for her, and rejoiced for me.  I was selfish and concerned, grateful at my joy and distraught at her sadness all at the same time.  As much as my arms and heart ached for my baby, my heart wept with love and gratitude for Roxy and the emotions and despair I imagined she would feel.

We were very blessed to get a bunch of pictures of our two hour meeting with Roxy and our new daughter.  Some of Roxy’s other family members were there to support her and meet us too.  It was a great experience to meet them and put faces with names.  Adoption is an amazing reality of creating family out of strangers.

I don’t know how she walked out of that room after placing her child in our arms.  Roxy, a beautiful woman, with the biggest heart and strength that I have never seen, had chosen to place her baby in our arms and somehow walk away.

Now here’s where I get on my soap box, and I apologize if you don’t want to read this part, but it’s honestly my opinion of adoption…

As I’ve mentioned before Birth Mother’s don’t want to be called “Birth Mother’s”, they are judged harshly by many ignorant people who don’t understand adoption or the emotional side of adoption. We have no right to judge anyone, especially on something as serious and emotional and personal as birth parents and placing their child for adoption.

Placing a child for adoption is not “giving your child away” as so many people refer it to.  It’s not the easy way out….because it’s not easy at all.

Instead, placing your child for adoption is choosing to put that child and her needs before your own.   I watched Roxy’s emotions during our visit.  I even remember asking her “What’s the one thing you want Lou Lou to know?  What’s your biggest fear?”  Roxy said with tears streaming down her face, “That she won’t know how much I love her”.

I could tell choosing to walk out of the room was probably the hardest thing she had ever done in 19 years of her life.

I still can’t stop crying when I recall and think about those memories.

Roxy’s gift to our family is very comparable for us in many ways to that of our Savior who gave his life so that we could live.  Roxy is one of the most self-less people I know, she actually chose to go through this heart ache because she loved her child that much…she loved Lou Lou enough to give her something she couldn’t give her…a life she couldn’t offer her yet, a life with a Father and a Mother.

The fact that Roxy trusted and loved Ken and I enough to raise her child as our child for now and throughout eternity was a bond that can never be broken.

We are forever grateful to Roxy and we love her so much.  Lou Lou is 13 now and it’s crazy to think it’s been that long already and that our daughter is going to be driving and be an adult before we know it.  I will share our letters that we sent the day after we brought Lou Lou home in my next post.  ❤ Andi

For this Child I Prayed

So there was a stork on our garage door?  What did that mean?  I kept asking him what he was talking about.  He told me, “There’s a paper stork on our garage with a due date of August —.”  We needed to call Tyler.(our Social Worker).

I was still at work.

I tried not to scream.  I worked as a secretary of a telemarketing company.  I had to stay professional, but inside I had butterflies, ants, beetles, bugs squirming inside me, you name it…I was feeling the excitement and anxiety of that silly stork on our garage door.  It meant a miracle was coming our way, it meant hope.

Most of all, it meant that our prayers were being answered, we were one step closer.

I called Tyler from my office at work.  He told me he would be stopping by that night around 6:00 if we could meet with him.  He wouldn’t tell me anything else, I asked and pleaded and even begged, but he wouldn’t say a word.  It was very frustrating.  Inside I wanted to rip the phone to pieces to make him tell me, but I restrained myself and waited until I could go home.

I got off at 5, and got home by 5:30.   Then we waited.  It was the longest 30 minutes of my life.

We tried to eat something, but stared at our plates.  It was useless, excitement was filling our heads, and frankly – we just couldn’t wait.

Finally Tyler arrived, we sat in our little living room, he calmly explained to us what the paper stork meant.

He handed us a file of paperwork.  Inside the file was a letter.  It was a letter that still makes me teary eyed to this day.

It was a letter from HER…the saving grace of our story, the beautiful gem in our adoption.

The very reason we would hold a child in our arms.  For her privacy, I will call her Roxy.  (I’ve always loved that name anyway).

Now I want to reiterate that we realized, even then, that the title “Birth Mom” isn’t a name most women who place their baby for adoption want to be known as.  But because its a title all of us know, I’ll use it here.

Although we refer to her as a Birth Mom, in all actuality, those two words aren’t even comparable or good enough to describe what she is to us and our family.

Due to the sacredness of her letter, for privacy for her, us, and our daughter, I will summarize what she wrote. Some of the most important parts of her letter is the fact that she CHOSE US, that she prayed to know if we should adopt her baby, and that every time she prayed, she heard our names clearly.

Talk about a heart stopping utter surprise.  A completely humbling letter.  Not only had she prayed about us, but GOD answered her prayer – and WE were that answer.

I was dumbfounded, and I sobbed as Tyler read to us the dynamics of the adoption.

Again, for privacy, I won’t share it all.  The baby would be a girl and she would be half black and half white.  She was due in August.

The Birth Mom is white, Birth Father is Black.  There were a few other items to discuss, but I was in a complete fog of happiness.

I was going to be a Mother.  God did trust me with his children.  A complete stranger, another woman, a Mother, also trusted me.  She trusted me with a sacred precious gift, the gift of her child.

The next morning, I went to Walmart and sobbed in the baby section.  It was about all I could do to not buy every baby girl item I could see.  I imagined dresses and sleepers, baby lotions and crib sets.  I restrained myself and only bought a bottle starter kit and a bag of Huggies.

I was excited but didn’t want to get too excited, we were excitedly cautious.  There was always the chance, somewhere in the back of my mind, that Roxy could change her mind.  What would I do then?  So everything I purchased I kept the receipts, just in case.  The rational part of me felt this, the irrational part of me would be harder to convince.

Time took its time chugging along.  The clocked ticked slower.  June would never end, where was July?  Why wasn’t it August already?

Ken and I tried to fill our days with busy things.  Work was a good distraction but we were able to take some camping trips, and even took our neighbors daughters’ around on errands, to the park, or even to McDonalds, anything to keep us busy.

We wrote weekly letters to Roxy to tell her what we were up to, and most importantly to build a bond and relationship with her.  She was very sweet and tried to write when she could.  She also worked and was going to school too.

Our letters were never centered much around preparing for the baby – because honestly as I stated before, we didn’t prepare.  A few outfits, a blanket, a couple more bags of diapers, maybe a diaper bag.  We wrote about our camping adventures including a run in with a ferocious badger.  We tried to keep the letters interesting but honest.  We wanted to impress but not make her barf with brown nosing.

I instantly felt a connection with Roxy the first time we met in July.  We sat across from each other in one of the adoption facilities offices.  I’m sure it was awkward for her, maybe even more than us.  She was beautiful (& still is a beauty).  She has these gorgeous dimples in her cheeks that I just knew would be passed on to our daughter.

Of course, there were a million other feelings, impressions, and words spoken.  Privacy can really stink when telling a personal story, but I respect Roxy too much to share those precious experiences.

We left that face to face meeting with her and some of her family members,  feeling positive, happy, and even more hopeful.

In July , we went to a big box store and purchased a stroller and baby car seat.  It sat in the “nursery” for 4 weeks still in its boxes.

I came home from work one day and walked past the nursery.  The bedroom door was open.

The stroller and car seat were put together.  My sweetheart surprised me.  The neighbors had even borrowed us a crib, it was set up waiting to hold its new bundle.

This time, I sat in that purple and yellow baby girls room filled with all the baby things we had purchased and cried like a baby.  It was refreshing and cathartic and healing.  I was beyond grateful, I was humbled.  Ken came in and put his arms around me.  We sat there for a long time.  I imagined our baby girl sleeping in the crib.  I could almost hear her whimpering in her sleep.  It all felt surreal.  Somebody pinch me.  No one had ever been so blessed.

August rolled around, finally!

So did Roxy’s due date.

Ken’s parents arrived to help with the baby, to see their 13th grand baby arrive.

10 days after the due date, we get a call from Tyler saying, “Roxy’s in labor, send her a special gift or flowers or something, I’ll call you tonight with the details.”

I called the florist, I wanted to order a million roses.  There really weren’t I ordered a nice bouquet with flowers I thought she would love.  The card said how much we loved her.  Because it was beyond the truth.  We did!  Even if she changed her mind!  Even if she decided to keep her baby.  We loved her!

We waited for Tyler to call that night.  The phone never rang.  There was no way to reach Tyler after hours.

So we went to bed that night without even a clue as to the progress of Roxy or our chances to have a daughter.

We got up for work the next morning like we always did.  Just another day.  We didn’t expect anything different.  We figured something had happened but still hoped for the best.  Never-ending hope and optimism always taking over the negative thoughts that creep in.

Around 10 am, Tyler called me at work.

He apologized for not getting back with us the night before.  I tried to act like it was no big deal.  But it was a HUGE deal, I was frustrated with him.  This was our future!  Don’t mess with me Mister!  There was some reason, but I spaced it and didn’t really care.

Roxy had the baby the night before.  Our daughter had finally been born!!!!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!

The baby was beautiful, and very dark.  He told us her measurements, he said she was healthy and doing great.  Normal birth, healthy baby, all 10 fingers, all 10 toes.  Perfect Apgar scores, perfect child in every way.

The truth is, I didn’t worry about the baby so much, I worried about Roxy.

Roxy was doing okay.  I wanted so badly to call her, to check on her.  To tell her we loved her, to tell her a million other emotions that I could never express to such an important person in our lives.

Then Tyler said, “We’re meeting around 4:00, let’s go get your baby.”

I think I dropped the phone.  Somehow I heard the rest of his information, I somehow called Ken at work and they were able to get a message to him to go home.

I somehow made it home on time.  Ken and his parents met me in the garage.  We piled in the car, and headed for our future.

Today was the day, today we would bring our baby girl home…

 

Choices Bring Miracles

Miracles happen, People!

My family is proof that miracles do happen, and not to just the rich and famous, or the “lucky ones”. Miracles happen to everyday people,  just like you and I. Miracles are a product of many things, and for us, miracles have resulted in an Eternal Family. This path wasn’t just an endeavor, it was more than a struggle. This particular path was a choice.

Of course, the path to adoption was paved in Prayer, hard work, dedication, paper cuts, prayer, & hand cramps. There was many months of fasting, scripture study, tons of hope, more prayers, faith and trust in “The System”, “Committee’s”, and other people who never knew us, never met us, people who held our future in their hands.  There were attorneys and judges, people behind the scenes waiting, considering, and waiting some more for decisions. I refer to my family as a miracle, because well, they are. That’s just the plain truth. They are a Divine miracle, a pure gift from God.

Your family is miraculous too, you will feel it is even more miraculous because they are yours.

Maybe you were blessed to carry your baby in your tummy, maybe you were there when they were born. I wasn’t able to be there. I didn’t get the opportunity to see my child the first second she was born, to have her plopped on my tummy, to hear her first cry. I didn’t get to smell her, nurse her, count her baby toes and fingers from day one.   Some days those feelings are still fresh and raw and hard to accept at times.  I sometimes feel that I won’t truly accept our infertility until menopause hits, but that’s a whole other story.

You can bet one thing is true, I don’t want your sympathy.  I’m really just stating facts. We are infertility survivors, not childless victims!

You see, I AM STILL A MOTHER and KEN IS STILL A FATHER.

Giving birth to a child isn’t the only thing that makes you a Momma. Just like owning a cat doesn’t make you a vet.  It has taken me quite a few years to come to terms with that thought and those emotions. I heard somewhere (probably a Hallmark movie) something like “Giving Birth to a child is an act of nature, Adopting a child is an Act of God.”

Sometimes adoption can feel like it takes an act of Congress or a Presidential Order.

The first time I called the LDS Church Family Services to start the process to adopt our first child, I was literally scared and utterly clueless.

Where do we start?

My first question was “How long does it take to adopt a baby?”

Up to two years. How can it take up to two years? I mean seriously? Aren’t women having babies every single second of every day? Why would it take so long? I thought a private agency was much faster than a state agency. I couldn’t fathom waiting ANOTHER two years.

I dreaded the time it would take because frankly, I knew the stress and worry I would allow myself to feel. I could tell myself not to stress, but that’s like telling a baby not to eat a cupcake when its sitting in front of them. I’m made to stress, that’s part of my character. It’s part of my history, and it’s definitely a hard habit to break. Patience, above all, has been my lesson to learn in this lifetime. As I’ve posted before, I like to have control over my life. I like to be the one to make things happen, to get them done, to check them off of my list. When I give up the control to God, that’s one thing. But to give up the control of my future to an entire pack of strangers – that is another issue completely.  Excluding my family, the experiences with regular every day people at this point in my life weren’t all that positive.  My past experiences proved to me that overall in the worldly every day work force environment, people don’t “show up”, as Dr. Phil would say.

First up on the long list of my concerns, was the fact these people don’t know who the heck we are. Sure we had interviews with the Social Workers, they did home visits and home studies. We filled out paperwork, we had to have references, you know, like we were applying for the job to become a parent. I understood all of this for safety reasons and legal and governmental paperwork, but it still felt unusually weird.  Cross those T’s, dot those lower case j’s.

Did the biological parent(s) have to fill out paperwork, have home visits and studies, Doctors screening, Bishop/church leader’s letters of approval to get pregnant, to give birth???  Uhhh, Nope.

Another proof that life isn’t fair!  Deal with it Chica!

The largest factor about our situation is that luckily we were going through a church adoption agency. As you may not know, our faith, the LDS (or Mormon) church, is based about our families. And not just families, I stress “Eternal Families”. We believe that we can be with our families not just on this Earth, but eternally, forever. This belief and faith gave me comfort, because above all, I knew that this agency would hopefully use faith, prayer, and the Spirit to receive guidance for our family.

Yes, these strangers didn’t know us or our situation. BUT GOD KNOWS US!  He knew the desires of our hearts, the ache in our arms, the tears we had shed and the loss we experienced in giving up on our dream to have a biological child. He knew then, as he does today for every single one of us, the very things we needed before we did. God would make a way possible for us where there seemed to be no way, all we needed to do was have faith and believe.

In October 2000, our paperwork and visits were complete, and we started the process of adoption classes. We had the opportunity to rub shoulders with other couples struggling with many of the same issues we were experiencing. We were unknowingly like a band of infertile cast offs. It was both cathartic and pathetic.

We met couples who had experienced a whole range of different experiences on their road through infertility. One husband had survived cancer making him sterile. They had used artificial insemination for their first child and decided adoption would be the answer for their second. There was another PCOS couple who had already adopted a child and were working on adopting their second. There were couples who couldn’t yet medically explain why they were infertile, they just were.

Infertility can equal empty arms. Infertility isn’t picky, doesn’t discriminate, and can and will happen to ANYONE, any couple, at anytime.

This is the point where I need to reiterate that choices can bring miracles.

It’s also where judgements can be made about birth parents.

I used to think and feel that pre-marital sex was wrong. And it is, I truly believe that it is. I feel that sex between a man and woman is “essential to His plan” that should be shared as a married couple. Sex is not love! Sex is the ultimate expression of Love!

But…..(There’s always a huge But). Without pre-marital sex…We couldn’t have a child.

AND without a loving Heavenly Father answering our prayers it couldn’t be possible either.

AND, of course, without a willing, loving, charitable, Self-less Woman…AND her family, our arms would remain empty indefinitely.

This was an eye opening experience for us.

I didn’t mean to intentionally grow up pre-judging those who choose to have sex before they’re married.  And yet, I did.

Just because someone is pregnant without being married is a visible sign they have sinned.

But aren’t we all sinners?

Just because someone has a visible sin, or a sin that causes them to smell from cigarette smoke or alcohol, doesn’t give me the right to believe I am better than they are.  My sins might not be as visible, but I have sinned. I have sinned in judging others, and I’m sure I have sinned so many times that God has lost count.

During this time we were asked by the Adoption agency if we would foster a birth mother for a while.  Long story very short, it gave us insight into how the birth mom feels.  I called her my daughter even though she was only 10 years younger than I was.

Because she allowed me to go with her, I was able to see through her eyes what it was like meeting a potential adoptive family. I got to sit on her side of the room before I sat on the potential adopter’s side.

I watched how the couple socialized with the birth mother.  I looked at the couples hands, how they held themselves.  I witnessed the way they only talked about the baby and what they would name her, what color they had painted the babies bedroom, how they would decorate her room, and what brand of clothing she would wear.

Unfortunately our foster birth mom/daughter didn’t choose this couple as the adoptive family of her baby.  My heart ached for them.

However, I completely understood why she had chosen not to place her baby with them.  And I will stress above and beyond any other point in this blog, I am beyond perfect and would never claim to be able to understand how a birth mom feels placing her child for adoption,  I was given the chance to take a very minute tidbit into the emotions and feelings of a birth mom.  Our foster/birth mom left us after only 6 weeks in our home.  But I felt like I had learned a gazillion lessons in a very short time.  (A large lesson learned is how hot super pregnant women get hot, even in the middle of January).

2001 arrives and Five very long months slowly roll around at a turtles pace.

Spring forward to June 6, 2001 to be exact.

My husband, Ken, calls me at work around 3:30 in the afternoon.

The first thing out of his mouth takes me completely off guard.

He proceeds to tell me that he was outside mowing the lawn in the front yard.

Then I actually hear him speak the words:  “Dear, there’s a Stork on the Garage door”…….

 

Infertility – Part 2

Humility can be a tough lesson to learn.  There are moments when you really don’t want to allow yourself to give in.  It’s selfish and prideful and not at all pleasant at first.  Because you have to admit that you need help.  Not help from Doctors, Radiologists, Womens magazines in the Fertility clinic, or even Oprah.

I needed Divine HELP.

Frankly, I couldn’t figure out where we were to go next or what steps to take.  Infertility had been an unexpected route to my journey as a Wife and Mother.  When you have been working towards one goal for nearly six years – day after day, praying, thinking, worrying over, pleading for.  Once the decision to stop our infertility treatments, it was really weird to wake up the next morning with nothing to worry or stew about.

Change can be really difficult.  It hurts sometimes, it cuts deeply to your very core when your dream can’t be realized.

You see, I had grown up in the LDS faith.  I still believed and practiced my religion, and I definitely do today.   I don’t think at that time that I had the faith I needed, to trust that God knew what was best, I was Spiritually Sick.  I had given in to helplessness and despair for so long, that I gave up on my Heavenly Father hearing and answering my prayers.

I needed to learn to trust God, to HUMBLY seek His guidance.  To submit to HIS will for us.  We needed to be in this thing together, a Trio of strength.  God and Ken and I.  We needed to adapt to new options and new ideas.

During this difficult time in our lives we lived in a blustery, flat valley of Southeastern Idaho.  We were very blessed to be in one of the most spiritual LDS Wards I had ever experienced being a part of as a grown-up.  I know now that it stemmed from an inspired Bishop who carried the Spirit on his sleeve.

During an interview with our Bishop, I had expressed our lack of having children and how I knew that we were going to have them.  My special Patriarchal Blessing promised me children.  I trusted that to be true and I prayed it meant in this life, on this Earth, during my lifetime.

This sweet Bishop asked me if I would like a Priesthood Blessing.  Of course, I wanted to smack my forehead and say, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?”

And so began a journey to humility.

My memory isn’t like it used to be and I can’t recall everything the Lord promised me in that blessing, but I will always remember the Holy feeling I felt, the Spirit was very strong in that Bishop’s office.  It was almost tangible, like I could reach out and hug God.  I felt sooooo very loved by my Heavenly Father. I was promised again that I would be blessed to become a Mother.  I bawled like a baby, sobbing, hot, painful tears of relief that were soothed through the Holy Spirit.  I cannot explain the comfort I felt at that moment.  I was able to let go.  I was able to submit my will to God.  It was a light bulb moment, as if my spirit connected and “click”, instantly I knew we would be unstoppable at this new goal for our family.  God was real, and come what may, He would help us.

We then decided adoption really would be our answer.

For those of you who are going through infertility, Hoorah for you.  You’re one of the lucky ones!

I can only express and encourage you to turn to God.

And not just pray, but I mean PRAY like you’ve never prayed.  Imagine him kneeling with you at your bed, holding your hands – feel his Light.

There were many moments in prayer that I would tell Heavenly Father what was in my heart, and I still do this today.  I know from my experience He is there and He loves each of us, yes, warts and all. Many times I would pray, “It’s in your hands, I can’t do it any more”.   At first I would say it trying to convince myself that I couldn’t do it anymore.  And eventually I learned to fervently, humbly pray.  The burden was way heavier than I could handle, and I was literally being crushed by the load.

Even our Savior, Jesus Christ said, “Father, if it be possible, take this cup from me.  Not as I will, but as though wilt”

If the Savior was able to submit to God’s will, what made me so special to think that I wouldn’t need to as well.

I will tell you this, if I could choose once again the path we took to have our children, to make our family whole – I would still choose this path.  I would still choose this rough road, this journey of a trillion tears.  I would still choose watching other Sister’s in the ward with their new babies, my arms aching to hold a child of my own.  Walking out during baby blessings because my heart hurt inside (and in Idaho there were about 6 babies blessed every month).  I would still choose listening to my co-workers and friends complain saying, “If I don’t get pregnant this month, I’ll just die”.  I would still endure my sister telling me she was pregnant and enduring her sympathy for my empty arms.  I would still choose Ken, and I’m blessed that I know he would still choose me – even though my body was revolting with my heart.  I would still choose these stepping stones that have brought us to where we are today.

There really is a rainbow at the end of the pot of gold, there really is a God and He really does answer our prayers – I know this because His hand has been in my life FROM DAY ONE.  There really is a Savior, Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, that made it possible to be with our families forever.  I would still choose this journey, because it has strengthened my relationship with my dear Husband.  And above all, this path has taught me so much about my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hard knocks of life? Yes folks,  we’ve been schooled!  That’s why we’re here on Earth. Our schooling lessons are just formed and created differently for each of us.

Most of all I feel through this experience and all the hills and valleys of our journey have taught me that I needed to go through this difficult path most of all, because I was earning the right to have my children.