Dear Infertility (Part 5)

Dear Infertility,

I caught myself thinking about you the other day.  I mean, honestly, how can I not think about you when I’m surrounded by the gift of adoption?  It seems odd, you know.  I used to suppress you, ignore that you found me so young in life, and try with every ounce of my being to not allow myself to believe that you were a big deal.

But, here’s the truth.  You were a big deal.  Through a random illness and subsequent surgery, you changed my course of life.  I entered into a world of barrenness that not too many seemed to understand at the time.  I was just a child, and of course, did not understand it, either.

How dare you push your way into my life.  

I did not invite you.  I did not ask for you to happen, and yet, my life had to be saved.  It is ironic, isn’t it?  The surgery to save my life rendered me unable to give life.

I found myself wondering about what my birth children would have looked like.  I also thought about what their personalities would be like, and if they would struggle with the same challenges that my children have.  I also thought about what it would have felt like to carry my children in my body, to nourish them, to provide them with all that they needed for a healthy development, and to hold them close to my chest after delivering them into this complex and amazing God-created world.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  My life is now built on a solid foundation of faith and love.  You, however, are like quicksand.  A foot-hold cannot be found in you.  You suffocate, swallow, and take…just take.  That is all you seem to know how to do.

And then, I thought about all of the others (far too many to even count) that are in the throes of trying to stand up in your quicksand.  I thought about the ones who are just learning of you.  They had their life planned out.  They desire to have a family, but you seemed to slither your way into their lives.

How dare you.  How dare you push your way into their lives.

It is funny, you know.  My life is no longer determined by you.  And, I have the hope that you will no longer determine the lives of countless others.  Oh, you will keep on trying, won’t you?  You will keep on kicking and screaming until they surrender.

However, I need to fill you in on something.  That something is called the ‘human spirit’.  You see, giving in does not come easy for most of us.  Throwing in the towel, surrendering, and giving up does not feel good, and it certainly is not a trait that we embrace.  If anything, it goes against the very core of our existence.

Dear Infertility,

So here’s the deal.  Why don’t you take a backseat for a while?  For over thirty-two years, I have carried you, and no offense, but you are kind of heavy.  You are also far too heavy for the ones who are just discovering you.

My children, you know, the ones I thought I would never be a Mamma to, are just as exquisite, unique, and loved as I thought they would be.  You did not dictate my life, despite your efforts.  You did not win.  Oh, I know how you must hate that.

I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  

And, just to make you feel as small as I once felt, I celebrate, CELEBRATE, every single adoption that occurs when couples, who have you hanging on to them, take the courageous step and become parents.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  I thought about how different my life might be if you were not in it.  Do you want to know something?

Without you, I would not be able to encourage others who find themselves on the same journey.  Without you, I would not be able to embrace how God had it all in His hands.  Without you, I would not be the mother of three amazingly challenging, and precious children.

Dear Infertility,

Why don’t you dwell on that for a while?

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives {Adoption.Com article}

I recently wrote an article about one family’s story of their adoption from Ethiopia for the website Adoption.Com.  As I was writing the story, I was moved to tears from the imagery of the words of the mother.

“When we picked up our kids at the orphanage, I remember pulling into the compound, the taxi pulling in through the locked gate, then kids flooding out of the house, running toward our car. There were probably 40 children there, climbing on us, saying “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Surely, there is more that we can do as a world full of beating hearts and stable homes.  Whether they come from Ethiopia, China, or are in the United States Foster Care system, there is no excuse for children growing up in this world without a family.

Consider what you can do.  Get inspired.  Do something.

You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

Wow, God. Just wow.

There are some days that parenting is just like, “Whoa, God. Where in the heck are You? I mean the kids are driving me crazy!”

I worry about their behaviors. I wonder if my children are the only ones acting like this. I visualize massive failure as a parent.

Then, there are other days where it is like, “Wow, God. I feel You in the warm embraces of my young ones. I see You in their innocent and beautiful faces.”

I cherish the sweet moments of softhearted notes left for me. I hear their whispers of curiosity about life, and I realize that I am a good-enough parent.

Most of all though, I realize that parenting is not black and white. It is not even grey. It is full of color.

There are over-the-moon moments when I think to myself, “Yes! That lesson was learned!” There are also moments when I cry into my pillow saying, “No…no…this cannot happen again.”

These are the moments when I realize that maybe God is the most present.

For in these moments, I catch just a glimpse of the complexity of our relationship with our Father. There just may be moments when He thinks, “Yes!” Yet, there also may be moments when He thinks, “No…no…not again.”

At the end of it all, one thing is certain. Parenting requires daily attention. It requires humility, admitting our own faults, and faithfully remembering that God’s got this.

He knows our struggles. He also knows our children’s struggles.  He, too, is a Father. Remembering that, my soul says, “Wow, God. Just wow.”

The Hope of Heaven

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”

This lyric is part of a song by the David Crowder band. Every time I hear this part of the song, it always seems to stay with me a bit. I’ve even thought, “Is there really no sorrow that heaven can’t heal?”

I think about the loss of children, the violence of the world, the dissolution of relationships, the heartbreak of lost hopes, and the sorrow of barrenness, and I wonder, honestly, can heaven heal these wounds?

Sometimes, the depth of despair experienced as we create our footsteps on this soil seems so deep that, perhaps, even heaven cannot dig us out of it.

But then, I think about the hope of Heaven. I think about the majesty of it all, and I realize that while sorrow visits us here, it will not stick with us forever.

On this Easter Sunday, I feel the hope of Heaven even more.  Thank you, Jesus, for You have overcome the grave.

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider {Adoption.Com Article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.Com regarding some important factors to consider when one is facing infertility, and thinking about adoption.  Moving towards adoption after years of infertility is a serious decision, and requires lots of thought.

There are many facets to both infertility and adoption; however, it is vital to separate the two experiences in life as much as possible.  The article suggests nine crucial things to consider before taking the next step in one’s journey to parenthood.

You can read the article by clicking on the link:

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider

Blessings,

Caroline

From the Very Start

I keep You in that hiding place, the one tucked in my heart.
The place that You breathed life into from the very start.

When troubles seem to come my way that I do not understand,
I seek You in my hiding place, for You set my feet on land.

From the time I met You on that glorious day,
I knew You loved me regardless of the times I went astray.

My loving Father, doting Dad, and Creator of my life,
You are my ever-present backbone when facing uncertain strife.

When the world disappoints, and hearts break all around,
In You, my Savior, my hope and worth is always found.

Barrenness has called to me, and tried to declare its name,
But You, oh Father, You lifted my head from devastating shame.

Illness, confusion, and sadness suddenly took hold,
Yet, You poured into me that I’m worth more than gold.

To think that You have walked with me through the years,
It softens my soul knowing that You have carried all of my tears.

I may never understand the pain, desperation, and strife,
Still, I know and celebrate that You are the Giver of Life!

If I had to leave it all, my home, my life, and health,
I would follow You in an instant, for You are more than wealth.

In these days of worldly chaos and things that don’t make sense,
I do not fear what is thrown at me, for You are my defense.

I keep You in that hiding place, the one tucked in my heart,
The place that You breathed life into from the very start.

Jesus, Savior, Loving God, and Maker of us all,
In You, I find great peace and joy, in You, I do not fall.

I keep You in that hiding place, the one tucked in my heart,
For You, oh God, You have carried me from the very start.

Psalm 139: 13-18

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

Adoption at the Movies {Adoption.Com Article}

Foster and Adoptive Parents,

Do you ever watch a movie with your children and become uncomfortable when the topic of adoption comes up?  How about when the theme of foster care and/or adoption is negative?  

There have been moments in movies when I have wondered what my kids were thinking when these themes come up.

Well, there is a way that you can now get a review of movies from the adoption perspective!  My friend, Addison, has a website solely devoted to reviewing movies in order to help foster and adoptive families.

I wrote about this in my article on the Adoption.Com website. I hope you find his reviews beneficial.  I know I have!

Click on this link to be taken to the article:  Adoption at the Movies

Blessings,

Caroline

Imperfect Families with a Perfect Purpose

In a recent email conversation with a friend, the topic of adoptive families being perceived or expected to always be happy came up. My friend expressed concern for the need to break this stereotype or expectation.

I wholeheartedly agreed with my friend. From the outside of things, our family looks pretty good. Three cute children, smiling faces, and the outgoing statements of how blessed we are seems to permeate the air that we surround.

However, the truth is that adoptive families are not always “happy”. We are not always happy. We don’t always see eye-to-eye. Our children (sometimes) exhibit behaviors and other issues that seem to be directly linked to genetic trademarks and/or other concerns related to when they were in the womb of their birth mothers. Sometimes, they are just being kids making really poor choices.

My husband and I attended a training today that was devoted to parenting children with unique needs (social, emotional, behavioral). As the trainer talked about brain development and the impact of neglect, I thought to myself, “This is not happy.”

The trainer went on to speak about children who put themselves last to take care of their parents and siblings, and the potentially destructive results of this. Again, I thought, “This is not happy.”

All of the families in the training are walking the difficult road of parenting children whose beginnings in life were estranged from normalcy, whose health and well-being were often the last thing anyone thought of, and whose lives have been dramatically changed by circumstances beyond their control. In many respects, I feel the most comfortable when around other families who share similar experiences.

Listening to families share their experiences was invaluable. Watching men cry over the heartbreak of their child’s history, while also reveling in just how far their children have come, was also very touching. Recognizing that we are not alone in our struggles was incredibly encouraging.

So tonight, I’m thankful for the shared experiences of foster and adoptive families who have stepped out of their own comfort zones, and stepped forward into the battle ground of child abuse and neglect.

I’m thankful for families who keep pushing ahead, despite the wounded pasts of their children. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to connect with others who have chosen to stand up to the stereotypes, and bravely care for children who otherwise just might not make it in this world where fairness and kindness do not always exist.

To say we are blessed is true. To say we have many joyful and happy moments is also true. To say that we strive to be resilient, mindful, and intentional is true as well.

But, to say that our hearts do not break for what our (meaning foster/adoptive families as a whole) children struggle with is not true. There are many foster/adoptive families waging wars against the painful realities of their children’s histories.

So next time you are around someone involved in the child welfare system, offer a kind word, tell them that you are encouraged by their courage, show them that you too care for abused and neglected children, and pray that the Lord would heal their hurts, give them wisdom, and surround them with His hedge of protection.

Don’t expect us to be happy all of the time.

Instead, see us as what we are – imperfect families with a perfect purpose.

What Every Child Deserves

I volunteered to write an adoption profile of a teenager in need of an adoptive home for the Heart Gallery exhibit in Missouri.  Eager to write it, I read the information sent to me about this youth.

As I started to write, the words just would not come.  I sat there, my fingertips on the keyboard, notes by my side, his picture staring back at me, and I was profoundly moved.  Athletic, loving, determined, compassionate…these are the words used to describe this child, and yet, he does not have a family to call home.

My heart broke a little.  The tears started to well-up, and I was lost in the thoughts about what he must be thinking.

Is he wondering if his moment will come?

Does he lay in bed at night, staring at the stars, and think about his family?

Does he fear a future without a father, or a moment without a mother? 

As I stared at his picture, I prayed for him.  I prayed that a family, HIS family, would be found.  I prayed that the words I eventually would type would prick the hearts of families reading them.  I prayed that God would surround this young man with His love throughout life.  I also prayed that even if he never finds Earthly parents, his heart will be held captive by his Heavenly Father.

This is where heartbreak and hope meet.  These are the moments that child welfare gets very, very hard.  We go about our days completing assignments, checking up on people, returning phone calls, and attending meetings, but at the end of it all, we return home to our own families.

It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of the system.  Difficult situations, too much work with too little time, and a lack of appreciation for the incredibly hard job child welfare workers do, are all just a part of the game.  We go to work.  We do our jobs, and then we leave.

…But then…as I stared at his picture and looked at his eyes, I remembered that I was once a child his age.  I was once a teenager with hopes, dreams, and concerns about the future.  I was once a girl who had goals.  I wanted to achieve things in life.

I was not that much different from him, except for one major thing:

I had a family.  I had the same home to return to every night.  I had a mom who convicted me to achieve goals, and a father who came home every night.  

I had the soil to which my roots would grow. 

For this teenager whose feet have walked the earth just fifteen years, I pray that the same determination that has kept him alive through the years will wrap itself around him as he grows up.  I pray that the family meant to be his forever home will be captured by his image and his spirit.

I may never meet this child, but I’m so thankful that I can play a part (however small it may be) in finding him what every child deserves:

A soft place to land,

a vessel to grow in,

soil rich in wisdom for roots to grow,

and the warm embrace of a family.

*Please consider visiting the traveling Heart Gallery Photography Exhibits in your own state (United States).  The gallery has portraits and information about the children in foster care who are in need of adoptive families.

You can also visit:  www.heartgalleryofamerica.org

Adoption: A Portrait of Courageous Love (Adoption.Com Article)

A little over two years ago, I wrote Matt and Heidi’s story of adoption in a post titled, Colors Don’t Matter.  Their story involves infertility and adoption.  Well, since then, life has changed dramatically for this wonderful couple.

Heidi gave birth to a precious baby girl, and they have adopted another child!  I interviewed them recently for an article I wrote for the Adoption.Com website, and am still in awe of this amazing family.

In Heidi’s words, “Adoption is the best example of love being a choice.”

Read it, and be encouraged in your foster care and adoptive parenting journeys.

Love courageously!

Here’s the link to the article:  Adoption:  A Portrait of Courageous Love