It's hard to know where to start or even what to leave out and what to include when it comes to our adoption journey, but I'm going to try share what I think are the important parts because our journey to adoption is filled with so much of God's grace. And when God gives you grace, you just want to talk about it.
If you've read our "About Our Adoption" page, you've read that adoption has always been on our hearts. Personally, I started dreaming about adoption before I met John. My best friend growing up was adopted and it always seemed like a perfectly normal way of building a family. As I grew older I remember seeing World Vision commercials on television, becoming aware of suffering in our world, and longing to do something to ease the pain. As a teenager I remember going to a Christian rally of sorts for teenagers and singing songs about becoming a "history maker" and a "world changer." Though adopting a child might not change the entire world, I was always aware that it would at least change my world and the world of the child God gave me.
John grew up in a family blessed by the adoption of his sister, and my dear sister-in-law, Amanda. My mother-in-law has incredible stories about her adoption and I don't think it can be described as anything but divinely ordained.
When John and I were dating and studying the Bible in college we both had a sense that adoption was something we needed to consider as part of living out our faith. Once we were married and talked about our family size we settled on the idea of having two biological children and then adopting to add one or maybe two more children.
When I look back now I laugh at how lightly we planned. We said things like, "We'll have 2 kids and then if we want more we'll just adopt." Turns out, there is no such thing as "just" adopting. Adoption is much less of a "sure we'll do that" and more of a "my entire being has been raptured by this conviction" kind of a decision.
My fiercest desire in life has always been to become a mother. After John and I were married we knew we wouldn't start a family right away, but that didn't stop me from day-dreaming about motherhood. Once I decided on a degree path for my master's, we calculated my estimated due date for a full-term baby and as soon as it hit 2 week past my graduation date, we started trying to conceive.
I read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and started charting and noting fertility signs. I filled my body with fertility boosting foods and vitamins. I used ovulation predictions tests so we would have the best timing. And we excitedly began our journey to conception.
The first 3 months past and I dealt with the disappointment that I wasn't one of those lucky women who got pregnant right away.
After six months I started to worry, but turned my anxiety into making sure I was healthy. We had John tested for fertility and everything came back clear.
After nine months I had a sense that something was wrong and I really started grieving each month. I dealt with a lot of anger. I learned how to lament. I cried and sometimes screamed out to God. "Why??" was the question always on my lips. At times I could not sing the praise and worship songs and church because I only felt one emotion: pain.
Laura Bush talks about this pain of infertility and describes it better than I ever could. She says:
The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?
As John and I went from fall to winter to spring in our conception journey, we started to consider that God was calling us to adoption on a timeline quicker than our own. Over the summer we attended a couple adoption seminars and began to pray sincerely about God's will for our family. At first my prayers sounded like, "God, I pray with all my being that you would bless me with a pregnancy and a child. And if you want us to adopt please show us. But I really want to have a biological child first." Gradually they moved to, "Lord if adoption is your will for us then please change my desire to get pregnant." And by the time October rolled around I found myself actually hoping that I would not be pregnant because I was so excited about the idea of adoption. Only God could change a heart like mine!
Our final decision came down to three events: first, on one September morning I found myself particularly sad about the future of our family. I felt desperate and filled with grief over the fact that it had been more than a year and 14 failed cycles of trying to conceive. I had to do groceries that morning and prayed that God would guide me to an encouraging song or broadcast on the radio. On the way to the grocery store I heard two very lame Christian radio songs and a few commercials. Defeated, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot. Before I parked, however, the radio station began to broadcast a show about- what else?- adoption. I sat in the car listening for 20 minutes with tears streaming down my face, convinced that God was indeed calling me to adoption.
The second event happened only that night. After I shared my grocery store parking lot experience with John, I spent some time looking at pictures of children waiting for families. From local listings to overseas, one particular child caught my eye. A little 17-month-old boy in Russia. I turned the computer screen around to show his picture to John. Sitting beside me in bed, John's shoulders softened and as he breathed out, touched by the picture and story as I was. That night we sent an inquiry email. "Just to see."
I was a goner after that night, but John still needed confirmation. So we went to visit a trusted godly couple we knew who had also adopted from Russia a few years ago. After an evening of sharing stories, wise counsel, and prayer, John was convinced that God was calling us to take the next step and start the home-study process in pursuit of this little boy.
The third event was going to see a fertility specialist. The appointment was very positive and we felt very encouraged about our ability to conceive, with assistance, and were even offered some financial discount from the specialist, who must have felt a special affection for us after discovering that we both belong to the same church denomination. But after spending time in prayer we both kept thinking about that little boy waiting for a family. This was quite the turn-around for me, as I had spent the last year+ longing to be pregnant and start our family with a newborn.
It wasn't an easy decision, but it wasn't very hard either. I truly believe that God answered my prayer and changed my desire to match his will. I still want to experience pregnancy and childbirth someday, but for now I am so excited about our adoption that God has eased my longing. I have a joy that I can only describe as the perfect peace of knowing that I am in the center of God's plan for my life.
Numerous emails and lots (lots!) of paperwork later, we're in this and we're not turning back. We're open to God's will in this adoption, whatever it may be, but we're certain that wherever his will leads, his grace will meet us there.
Through this whole journey our biggest fear has been how to finance the adoption. I know I say this a lot, but it is seriously such an overwhelming figure that I cannot express how much affirmation we have felt through all the donations that have come in. It seems a peculiar thing to wonder, but many times I questioned, "What if we are wrong? Or what if God calls us to this but then doesn't provide?"
God has called us to bring our whole selves and all our need before him and he has been so faithful so far! One verse that resounds in my head is Malachi 3:10, where God says, "Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
Floodgates? Thrown open.
I feel so blessed that I cannot even put it to words. There are still a lot of things that make me anxious about our adoption, but I know without a doubt that God's grace will be wherever he leads. I am learning to simply trust and obey.