If you’re new to my blog, my husband and I are in the process of adopting a domestic infant through Bethany Christian Services. All of our paperwork and home study visits are complete. We’ve been eagerly awaiting our home study report for six weeks, and we’re excited that our case worker says it’s very nearly done.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how many conversations I have on a regular basis about our adoption. It really is unbelievable how many people have gone out of their way to encourage us and join our journey. We’ve been showered with prayer, stories, advise, support, and questions from almost every direction. Up to this point I’ve shared about our planning and fundraising here on my blog, but I haven’t shared a lot about what’s going on in my heart and the thoughts I have swirling around in my head. So, over the next couple of days I’m going to share some of what we’ve walked through.
First, Jeremy and I encounter an extraordinary number of questions and testimonies about infertility. We’re finding that almost everyone who hears that we’re adopting assumes that we must be unable to conceive a child biologically. I approach this subject with the deepest respect for all of the families who have or are struggling with infertility. You’ve poured your hearts out to us and shared your stories as a means of encouraging us, and we’re so grateful. Despite the tears you shed while you shared about your journey, what we heard in your story and what we were encouraged by in your testimony, was your faith, perseverance, gratitude, joy, and LOVE. Oh how you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the blessings of children you were gifted with through the miracle of adoption. We see the heart of Jesus in each of you, and it’s beautiful.
So, here’s my heart’s journey toward motherhood, our journey toward Baby Santee… When Jeremy and I were married, we were purposeful to hold off on growing our family while we grew in our relationship. We’ve been blessed to travel the world and grow together. We have a strong relationship, and Jeremy is my best friend.
As 2012 came to a close, a new desire grew in my heart. I took note of Scripture that spoke of the blessing of children. I saw my husband in a new light, noting how he’d make a wonderful father. At that time, Jeremy questioned whether he was ready for us to have children. I prayed.
In January of 2013, my mother-in-law passed away. Despite the grief we felt, we had hope and gratitude knowing she was in heaven. God ushered in a time of healing for Jeremy. Then, one day Jeremy reminded me of a promise God had given him in the past– the story of which I’ll save for another day- and Jeremy was ready.
We ushered in the seventh year of our marriage. It was as though one chapter was coming to an end and the excitement of a new chapter grew steadily. It was time to grow our family.
Being the planners that we are, we had a whole check list of things we wanted to accomplish in the seventh year of our marriage before our new adventure began. Let’s be honest here, I got out a giant sticky note and wrote out, TO THE MONTH, what the next five years of our life would hold. Hahahaha [Insert one big “Oh, bless your heart.” I know I had it coming] Call it hubris or responsible planning, but whatever the notion was, it wasn’t from the mouth of God. He had something in store, but it would look different than what the sticky note suggested.
That Winter we began to, you know, [giant hand quotes] TRY. I typed that sentence out a billion different ways, and every one of them made me blush. In the Spring of 2015 we embarked on a romantic and adventurous escape to Italy, where we spent a couple weeks driving from Venice to Sorrento, spending time in multiple cities along the way. We thought for sure that’s where baby Santee would be conceived. In fact, a couple months later, we felt almost certain that we were pregnant.
When we thought we were pregnant after returning from Italy, my heart was SO FULL OF JOY. I tested several times a day waiting for one of the tests to tell me what I thought I knew, but I was wrong. It turns out international travel throws off the body’s normal routine. When my body caught up, disappointment crept in and my heart hurt. It ‘s the first and only time I’ve grieved in our journey, and it was really hard on both of us.
Pausing a moment in our story, I’ve been asked by SO MANY PEOPLE if it hurts to see others with pregnancies and little ones, or if it’s hard to hostess baby showers, which if you know me you know I LOVE to do. I know your hearts, so I know your questions come from a place of love. It doesn’t hurt. It brings me joy! Though I have many hang-ups I can list, I’m grateful that I’ve never been plagued by jealousy and envy– by the grace of God no doubt. I LOVE celebrating with others!! EVERY SINGLE BIRTH is a miracle from GOD and an excellent reason to throw a party!!
With that, I’ll share that God healed the pain of that moment in our journey and we moved on. We’re in a great place in life– happy, surrounded by family and friends, having fun together, enjoying our jobs, etc.
Last year we experienced another loss in our family when my brother-in-law passed away. Once again we grieved, we rejoiced knowing Bill was a believer, and we took in every ounce of goodness from a really hard time and thanked God for it. During our stay in Oklahoma we spent time with family, and it was good. It was another season of growing and understanding our roots. It was lovely even in the most unlovely scenario.
Last Fall, I began to experience something like a stirring in my heart, like a call to attention and a hint that I needed to listen and see what God was doing. I remember very clearly the EXACT moment when I heard and I saw. I was photographing a Christian concert and the band was sharing about their ministry caring for the needs of orphans. Missions ministry is one of our greatest passions individually and as a couple, so of course my attention was focused and my heart was touched, but this time it was a little different. I could hardly keep up with wiping the tears from my face so I could continue to capture images, when I finally gave up and just listened. It was so simple, so clear. Psalm 27:10 from the mouth of a child just broke my heart. Scriptural confirmations didn’t stop there.
Jesus says if you love me, feed my lambs. If you love me, take care of my sheep. There is was. The moment my heart ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT KNEW that I would have a child born to me from the womb of another. He or she would be mine and every ounce of love, excitement, hope, pride, and joy I could possibly feel flooded in. When I scanned across the sanctuary to find sight of my husband, I found him, tears running down his face. That’s when we understood what God willed for us– adoption.
So that, my friends, is why we’re adopting. We’re certain that God has a specific child, or children, already in mind for us– the child, or children, we were quite literally created to have.
We’ve received so many suggestions in terms of fertility treatments, quick and cheap surgical options, hormone recommendations, etc. from loving individuals who want the best for us. I’ve personally experienced a number of super awkward moments with random people who assume we’re adopting out of desperation– including an insurance salesman pointing at me and saying, “I bet you’re thinking, ‘what’s wrong with me God, why can’t I make a baby?'” and a lady saying I could write my own “why mommy’s belly doesn’t work” book.
Here’s the thing… We honestly don’t know whether or not we can conceive a child, but we DO know that we’re supposed to adopt FIRST.
Adoption is our first choice, not our last resort.
I don’t know what every stage of our journey will look like, but I can tell you this… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Psalm 127, New International Version (NIV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 27:10, New International Version (NIV)
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
John 21:15-17, New International Version (NIV)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…”