Exhausted. Happy. Satisfied. Refreshed. Loved. Comforted. Hopeful.
Just laying here, thinking of the weekend I've just had, smiling at how amazing God can be when we obviously do not deserve it, I am so filled with excitement, love and pride for the women I met during the Created for Care conference that even though I am worn slap out, I couldn't possibly rest my head with all these thoughts bouncing around in there (lots of room for maneuvering, ya know). I have reconnected.
I learned some really good things about myself this weekend and a few really not-so-good things about myself this weekend. One or two I'm ashamed of. Ten or twenty I'm thrilled with. I'm NOT as alone as I thought I was. Having all of you to write to, vent to, gather advice from, etc., has been so wonderful for my soul. This weekend, I experienced those same things with people I could look in the eyes and SEE a reflection of my pain or my hope or my longing and I knew I wasn't alone again. I don't have to be when God has made a way for me to meet people like you and like them.
I took tons of notes this weekend but one thing has stood out to me since Friday night and I want to share it with you here:
He finishes that which He begins.
I don't even need to say more. But I will. Duh. I am going to make it through this. Not in my time, but in His. He will finish what He began.
Over the past few years, my faith has suffered. I'm not proud of that. However, I'm teachable and pliable. Those are good things I learned. When it has come to this infertility business, I have behaved rather insolently. Like a child, I've covered my ears, sat down cross-legged in the middle of my life and refused to budge or listen or even try to understand anything but what I felt was my own need (& Rik's). How utterly selfish and ignorant I've been in hindsight. I've been so furious with people who've quoted scripture at me or at people who say maybe I'm not listening closely enough to what God has planned for me, or that maybe God didn't intend for us to have a family of "our" choosing (ouch). I mean, I've been really ticked off at times. I've wanted to go all Drew Barrymore a la' Firestarter on someone and light their hair on fire over some of the sweetest comments imaginable. It wasn't them, they meant well...but I couldn't HEAR them. I was ear-muffing it, remember?
In my defense (I'm such an advocate for myself), when you want something SO badly and have a heart for children that is bursting to be shared and your life has been filled with failure and disappointment month after month, year after year, (pity party time) the last thing you need to hear sometimes is that you've NO control of the situation and that you need to have patience and trust. What in the world feels trustworthy in this situation!? What good could come of being patient when it hurts so much!? Don't answer that. I have had some time to reflect and I get it. My child could come of it. It's a very real possibility. I just haven't wanted to hear that I'm not in control. I've made that sort of thing my business. I have always made acquaintances with those cool girls Pride, Independence and Control. In the 8 years prior to our fertility struggle, those hipsters kept me sane and mostly intact emotionally. Now look at me! Such a mess. Some clique that turned out to be huh?
It is in God's time. Like it or not, it's true. I heard so many stories this weekend of heart break followed by an exceeding joy that surpassed all understanding. Women who lost a child due to an accident and felt led to adopt and acknowledging that their pain and suffering resulted in 8 children finding a new home. Adoptions that fell through and a lack of understanding that almost sucked the life out of a household which is now bursting at the seams with love and happiness because it's been filled with four beautiful children. We don't always understand what our purpose is or why our circumstances are what they are but we will if we listen closely enough. I have to believe that after the stories I heard these past few days.
This weekend, I realized just how many lives can be affected, blessed, enriched, improved, honored, cherished, healed and saved through adoption. My reasons for wanting to the adopt in the past started out 100% selfless. I wanted to make a difference for a child who had no one to love them. That is until I found out that actually getting pregnant may not be an option for us. Then adoption transformed into something that looked 40% selfless and 60% selfish. I went from wanting to adopt domestically or fostering to adopt to cowering away from it out of fear, albeit mostly irrational fear, and desperation. Adopting internationally was something I mostly wanted to do because of my desire to parent and love a child, but because I wanted to make a difference in a child's life as well. The majority of the women at the conference this weekend were already parents of biological children when they felt called to adopt a child. They wanted to help a child. Most of them hadn't encountered infertility. I sat in my chair both dumbfounded and humbled by these women. I was bewildered by the realization that my need to love and cherish a child had completely superseded my need from long ago to make a difference for the children. It wasn't all about them, it was mostly about me. Bleh. I wanted to crawl in a hole.
So, I decided to do something selfless and attend a break-out session on Orphans in the US. In other words, domestic adoption. Months ago, Rik had said if we adopted, he'd probably prefer to adopt domestically and I recoiled in horror/fear/shock. My little scrolly bar thingy in my mind read something like this: "What if the birth mother changed her mind and took the baby back? What if the birth mother found out where we lived and kidnapped the kid in 8 years (I told you - irrational!)? What if we fostered and a grandparent challenged us in court and the judge gave our child back to his/her grandparent? How would I survive that emotionally after all we've been through? ARE YOU CRAZY!?" It was out of the question. I didn't want to hear it. I have passionately, in bold red ink, marked through the option of adopting an orphan in the United States. It was too great a risk for my bruised and burned spirit. Or so I thought.
Ladies and gentleman, I have been transformed. My thoughts reshaped. My heart refilled. I had the joy of sitting in this break-out session and listening to two women speak about their journeys through domestic adoption. Were they warm and fuzzy and easy and happy throughout the entire experience, absolutely NOT. What adoption is? What's romantic about adoption? There is always going to be some type of hurt and pain involved for someone other than myself and the child. I have been so self-absorbed in my own pain (I mean have you been reading how much self-pity I wallow in? If you missed it, read above!) that I have never once truly considered what a birth mother will suffer through in making her decision to allow someone else to love, parent, cherish her child. Obviously, I've thought more on this with international adoption, but honestly, not often. It's been mine and the child's pain. This realization about myself....well, I'm just disgusted and shocked. I considered myself a very giving, considerate, compassionate person. How did I lose that these last few years?
One of the speakers on this topic, Angie Gue, made domestic adoption such a reality for me that I am forever changed. This woman's story has shown me what a Mother truly looks like in the eyes of God. Her love and support for the birth mothers of her children blew me away. Recognizing their hurt during her joy of becoming a mother and showing them such compassion was almost unfathomable to me. I was amazed at her selflessness. I connected with her even more because she is infertile. Those children were longed for, prayed for, sought after. Yet she cared more for the needs of the birth mothers than her own. I can't even tell you what all she said because I could never do the stories justice. All I can really say is that domestic adoption can be a beautiful thing for everyone involved and I am SO happy I chose to go to that session because I am a changed woman. It was either that or "Nurturing your Marriage" (sorry honey!) and I'm glad God led me to the one I was meant to hear.
Whatever journey I began however many years ago (WHY can't I remember if I'm 32 or 31?!?!?) is not over. It won't be until the day that I die. Parts of it will come to an end or close but another part will continue and new paths may be forged and I will continue this journey until I no longer have breath in my lungs. BUT. No matter what I think I need, no matter what I ask for, no matter how convinced I am that I would be a good mother, I am finally ok knowing that I may have the honor of loving the children of my heart, not the children of my body.
I have much more to say from the C4C conference and this may sound jumbled and make no sense but it's partly exhaustion and partly over-stimulation to my soul (in a good way) so getting this all out in some semblance of order would be quite a feat. I love you all and I cannot thank you for all the support you have given me and are giving me now just by reading this. I have been so encouraged by you! If I met you this weekend, welcome to my blog and I'm so thankful for your kind words, tears and prayers.