There has been so much going on around here lately for us. Some of it has been good, some challenging, but all of it has been a learning experience. Through the past few weeks I've learned more about myself, grown in my faith in God, and learned so much about the people I am blessed to call my family and friends.
We "came out" recently on a popular social networking site in regards to our infertility struggle and our adoption path. Well...I did anyway. My husband was "outed" by default in the process. I did this for several reasons. I've always been open and brutally honest here and on previous blogs about our infertility and the feelings and struggles we've faced because of it, both personally and within our marriage. I have kind of kept a lid on it in other places mostly because I'm tired of the well-meaning ass-vice that people love to give. It's a hard balance to keep sometimes. Well, I'm tired of hiding. If you can have five kids and post a zillion pictures and update everyone about the status of your "miserable pregnancy" then I can say "Hey, I'm infertile and if you don't like what I have to say or the way I respond, then there's the unfriend button, click away honey." I have nothing to be ashamed of because I'm infertile. It's not my fault. It's not my husband's fault, it's not anyone's fault. It's not even God's fault. It took me a long time to realize that. It's taken me a long time to get to the point of accepting that I might never conceive and give birth to a child that is biologically of me and my husband. It hurts to accept that. I'm not going to lie, it hurts bad. There will always be a hollowed out spot in my heart and in our family that I believe belongs to that child that might never be. I will always to long to look at our child and see my husband's eyes, my nose, his cute jutting chin and my chubby cheeks looking back at me. I believe I will always long to have that. But I've gotten to a place where I'm accepting that it just might not happen. I have learned in the past few months that God has a plan that is bigger than I could ever imagine. And I don't believe that God would have put the desire to be a mother in my heart if He didn't have a way in mind to make that happen.
I truly believe that God has plans for us to be parents together. For me to be a mother, for my husband to be a full-time father. However, and what has frustrated me for the past six years is that His plan is not always the same as MY plan. It has taken a lot of prayer, soul-searching, and humbling of myself before I realized that our goals are the same...just the paths are a little different. My path, the path I've been trudging along for five years and five months has been me wandering in the jungle, hacking away at the dense choking foliage with the machete of my iron will. It was dark, stifling, treacherous, claustrophobic, and filled with the scary sounds of jungle creatures and sometimes myself screaming in the night. Most of all it was lonely. Good grief was it fucking lonely. God's path however...how mightily different the few steps I've taken on it have been.
Let me back up a bit.
I've already stated here before that several months ago I began to re-explore my relationship with God, or lack thereof. My husband and I sought out and found a church "home" we feel comfortable in and have been attending services regularly (well, as regularly as my nutty schedule will allow anyway). I began taking time daily to read my Bible, and have been reading several books geared toward "new believers" pertaining to establishing a relationship adn walk with God. My best friend and I have had several very interesting and fulfilling conversations about faith, religion and our personal walks and challenges in our faith. I look forward to spending time with her every week not only because we have fun together, but because we can talk faith and I know both of us enjoy that immensely.
One particular book that has totally changed the way I pray and view my relationship with God is called "Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On" by Stormie Omartian. I highly recommend it. She likens our walk with God to that of a child learning to walk. Instead of the goal of INdependence when teaching our children to walk (and in raising them altogether), we must learn that without total DEpendence on God, we are unable to take even the smallest of steps along the path He has laid out for us. I'll be the first to admit, it sounds a bit simplistic at first, but as I've delved further into this book I've found that it's a very comforting premise. I've also learned a lot about the concept of "God's will". For years I've had a knee jerk reaction to those words. My hackles raised, my eyes involuntarily rolled, and I could feel the bitterness bubbling up like acid in my stomach burning a hole right through my soul. Mostly because those words were always prefaced by some well-meaning idiot who decided that it would be comforting to tell me that my infertility or my friends' pregnancy losses were "God's will" and that it was "God's will" that I wasn't meant to have a child. I call bullshit on that one. I have learned that God does have a plan. That doesn't mean that He CAUSES bad things to happen. He doesn't want bad things to happen to His children any more than any loving parent does. He never promise there wouldn't be struggles or hard times. He just promised that He would be there to comfort us if we allow Him to. It is NOT God's plan for any child to die. It is NOT His plan for any of His children to experience loss and disappointment. Bad things happen. Sometimes there are no explanations, and that's hard to accept. It's hard for me to accept, I know that for a fact. But I believe it to be true. God has a plan for me, and there is no way for me with my human eyes, heart and mind to comprehend how awesome it is. I've glimpsed tiny visions of it, because He has allowed me to. He has shone a light just big enough on the path before my feet to let me know I'm going in the right direction.
I have recently changed the way I pray. In all my years growing up in the church, I never truly learned how to pray. I was taught to thank God for what you do have and ask for what you want. That was it. So, for years, that's what I did. I spent the last six years basically begging God to let me get pregnant and to give us a child. To cure me of my infertility and stop the pain of my breaking heart. I spent the last six years hacking my way through the jungle, forging my own path through the wilderness, believing that since God wasn't answering my prayers and giving me a child, that I was being punished. My punishment for whatever I had done in my past that was so heinous was walking the Hell of infertility. There were a few people who tried to get me to understand that this was simply not true. I didn't want to believe them. I believed that I was such an awful person, God decided to refuse the one thing I truly wanted in life. The Bible even says that children are a reward, that if I ask I shall receive. Apparently (in my mind) God had deemed me not worthy of that reward, of that blessing, and I certainly wasn't going to receive no matter how many times/how loud/in how many languages I asked.
It's ok. Go ahead and laugh. I laugh at myself just writing that.
My first step was to accept that my infertility was not and IS NOT a punishment. That was a hard step to take. I am not unworthy. Like a lot of people in this world, I seemed to enjoy playing the "victim card". Woe is me, the lonely bitter jaded misunderstood infertile woman. Granted, infertility is lonely; sometimes we do become bitter and jaded; and a lot of people don't understand it. I see now though, that I overplayed it a LOT.
My second step was to accept that there are things in this life and in this world that I am simply not meant to understand or have control over. As much as it frustrates me and hurts, my infertility and the possibility that I might never conceive a child is one of those things. I don't know why I might never know the joy of conceiving, carrying and birthing a child. And maybe I'm not meant to understand.
My third step was to admit that I am helpless to overcome this aching chasm in my heart without God's help.
My fourth step was to accept that God has a plan for all of us. Just because it doesn't look the way we imagine it SHOULD look or the way we WANT it to look, doesn't mean that it's not a fantabulously amazing plan. God wants us to dream. He puts dreams in our hearts. He put the desire to be a mother into my heart, that I know for a fact. But pursuing dreams that are not in line with His will for our lives will only bring misery, frustration and unfulfillment. I'm learning that more everyday.
My fifth step was to learn a new way of praying. And that was to declare my total and utter dependence on God, ask him to reveal to me his plan for my life, and for Him to show me the path that is in line with his plan for my life.
A few months ago, I said my prayer of "God, I admit that I have no control of this situation, but I do know that you placed the desire to be a mother into my heart for a reason. I trust that you have a way to make that happen, and I am fully dependent on you to lead me down that path. I am surrendering my life to Your will. Please make Your will known to us. If it is Your will for us to be parents, please show us the way and the path we should be moving on".
When I began praying in that manner, praying for God to reveal his plans for us and to make his will known, and when I consciously surrendered the grip of control I wanted to have on my life...things began to change. My relationship with my husband changed. We became softer and more open with each other. We began going to church together, reading our Bibles together, reading a couples' daily devotional together. My relationship with several of my friends began to change. My heart has opened and started to heal enough that I was able to spend an evening with my best friend and her two adorable sons without wanting to run from the room bursting into tears of jealousy and anger. I didn't even feel that when I was with them. I truly only felt blessed to get to witness my best friend, the little girl I've known since the day she was born, who used to sit in my bedroom and play Barbie's and trade secrets with me mothering her children. I didn't feel that old pang of "I can't be here, it's too painful". There was a moment of "yeah, I can't wait for that".
One of my biggest hindrances in my faith is being open to hearing the answers God has for me regarding my life rather than begging him for something and getting pissed off when He doesn't answer the way I think He should. Hmm. Pretentious much? I'm learning that I can't put limits on God. He works in His own way and His own time. Just because we don't get the answer we WANT, doesn't mean the answer is NO. Maybe the answer is "Well, maybe not now."
Soon after I changed my method of praying and truly opening myself up to the answers God was giving me, we heard about the adoption situation I discussed in my previous post. Even though that didn't pan out, we still feel that at this moment, we are being led to pursue adoption. I'm not saying we are giving up TTC. We will probably still keep trying as we move through the adoption process. We always wanted two anyway. The adoption process is going to be a while anyway, so anything can happen in that time.
All of that being said...we have started the process for adopting through our county Children's Division (DFS). I printed out and have begun completing the home assessment application. I contacted several of our friends to ask if we could use them as references. I have a list of items we need to gather to show that we are prepared (materially and physical space wise) for a child placement. A friend from work has donated a crib to us, and several people have offered us clothing from their children or relative's children.
I spoke to a case worker at the Children's Division today and even though I wasn't real encouraged by what she had to say, it was still a step in the right direction. She is mailing us out a homestudy packet and information on the adoption program, and I should get that next week. We have to go through the foster/adopt classes, and unfortunately they aren't having another one until September. We can take it in a different county as long as it's still in Missouri, and they might have one sooner. They will probably come do our homestudy in the next couple of months. As soon as we get the homestudy done and complete the classes and are approved, all we do then is wait for our child! She did say that we will probably have a longer wait because we specified that we are "adopt only" and that we prefer an infant up to 2-3 years old. There's a longer wait for that. But...one thing she did say is once we get the homestudy done, if we find out about a private adoption situation, we can use that homestudy for that and it's one less thing to go through.
Even though I was disappointed in the "hurry up and wait" aspect of everything, I'm relying on God to get me through it. One of the biggest lessons God has been trying to beat into me teach me for years is patience. September is only five months away. This gives us more time to get the projects done around the house that we have planned (remodeling the bathroom, rebuilding our front deck, painting inside and outside of the house).
Everyone we have told about this has been nothing but supportive and incredibly helpful. To be honest, I've been quite amazed at the outpouring of support we have received. I know I have amazing friends and family, but still. It's a little overwhelming when you receive text messages and emails for a full day from people offering help and support.
God is GOOD!!!
Oh yeah, Happy Birthday To Me! I'm 36 today, and although it's a little later than I wanted it to happen, I'm finally on my way to being a Mommy! That's the best present I could ever dream of!!!
(Stay tuned for a fun knitting update post this weekend!)