It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!
Part Two: The Absolute Joy of Adoption
Sometimes when I tell people our adoption story, I feel almost guilty for how quickly we seemed to move from despair to hope. Silly, I know – it’s just that many people have stories that involve years of disappointment and loss and indecision related to their infertility. For us, it was pretty straightforward – which is definitely a reflection of our personalities. While we were heartbroken to discover that we probably wouldn’t get pregnant, it didn’t change our desire to have a family. We agreed that IVF was not something we wanted to try, so adoption was the next thing for us to consider. Again, we were so blessed to have close friends that were just finishing the adoption process – in fact, their daughter’s adoption came through just weeks after we made the decision to adopt! Her arrival not only solidified our decision to adopt, but she was such a joy and encouragement to us, like a bonus gift from God affirming our journey towards parenthood.
Now, I’ve always loved adoption – one of my best friends was adopted, and it always just seemed like a cool part of who she was. I also had this idea that maybe her parents loved her a bit more than most parents, since they went out and found her, she didn’t just “happen” to join their family. However, never did it seriously cross my mind to actually be an adoptive parent – that seemed like something that was for “kid people,” and I definitely did not consider myself to be a kid person. I mean, I think kids and babies are great, but my personality is to relate to them in the same way that I do adults – I have a closer circle that I enjoy investing time and relational energy in, but I’m not crazy about getting to talk with, play with or cuddle every kid I come across. Some people are just natural “baby whisperers” or have personalities that attract kiddos to them – but that’s not me. So my initial – and maybe only – hesitation with adoption was, “really, God, me? Are you sure I’m the right person to adopt?”
Once we started the adoption process – the application, the fingerprints, the homestudy application, the classes, the homestudy visits, the profile book – it was exciting. Sure, it took time and sometimes the paperwork was tedious, but it was all a step closer to growing our family. I still remember exactly how I felt and what we did on the day of our first homestudy visit – such anticipation! It’s interesting to look back and see what happened emotionally over just a short time: from grief over our infertility – some days I felt like I could barely catch my breath from the pain – to an almost giddy, joyful anticipation.
When I think about this time, the word that comes to mind is elpis, a Greek word that is most often translated as “hope” in the New Testament. The word is so much richer than the wishful use of “hope” that we often use today – elpis is a confident expectation of things to come. I was confident that God was at work growing our family, and that made it easier – even exciting – to trust him through all the unknowns. Was it still hard when it seemed like everyone I knew was getting pregnant? Sure. But it helped so much to be moving forward in a direction – I could still feel the grief (and jealousy, let’s be honest) but I had a solid place of hope to land on, not a bottomless pit of despair.
We were able to complete all our requirements and be officially approved and ready to adopt about nine months after we started the process. While it was super exciting to reach that point, we knew that we could be in the next phase indefinitely, just waiting for a birth mother to choose us to parent her child. This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of the adoption process. All those supportive people in your life? Suddenly they are asking you questions all the time: “any news? baby on the way?” It’s completely out of love and support, but it does get tiring – having to think of a response, and having to hear the questions on days when you are discouraged or are trying not to think about how long you will wait.
To our complete surprise, we became parents only a couple months after completing our requirements! I will never forget receiving the phone call from our social worker.
I have never felt so incredibly elated, shocked, and overwhelmed with gratitude. It was like getting the news of a positive pregnancy test and having the baby within 30 seconds – if that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is! You can read more about Luke’s birth story and adoption finalization if you want to relive the awesomeness.
I’m pretty sure I stayed high on that mountaintop of love and joy and excitement for at least a year. One of the things I had worried about with adoption is that I wouldn’t get the postpartum hormones that help you bond with your child. That turned out to be a ridiculous fear, because holy moly, I was in love and the hormones showed up even though I didn’t give birth to him. There was never a moment of question; we were his parents and it was just meant to be.
Now Luke is three. Three! Most days go by without his adoption crossing my mind (although I think about adoption in general all the time – praying for friends who are still in the process and dreaming/scheming about adopting again someday). I’ll be reminded of how he joined our family when a stranger asks “where did he get his curly hair?!” or when he talks about how Gracie grew in my tummy. I don’t think he fully understands his story yet, and it’s just not a priority in his little world just yet. But we’ll keep telling him the amazing story of how he joined our family, and it will be a part of who he is.
Trusting God with my heart’s hopes and desires is a challenge – I like to hold on tight to my plans. I do hope that my ability to trust him continues to grow as he proves himself faithful over and over and over again. There are so many stories in my life of God’s abundant faithfulness – times where I didn’t get what I wanted; instead he gave me something much richer and deeper. And this – the story of how our firstborn son joined our family – is one of my favorite stories so far.