Unashamed

It was a challenge growing up after having a hysterectomy so young. I never really knew how to handle it.  I felt ashamed of it, and I really don’t know why I felt this way.  It was not my fault.  I was gravely ill and the surgery had to happen in order to save my life, but for some reason, I really didn’t want many people to find out about it.  I internalized a sense of guilt or embarassment because I was different than my peers.  Due to my young age, I did not fully grasp how my surgery would play out in my life over and over again.

As an adult, it has taken me many, many years to say out loud “I HAD A HYSTERECTOMY”.  Even now, when asked about my medical history at doctor’s visits, I always get a little tense and just a bit nervous.  Perhaps it is because the response is usually “You had a hysterectomy at age eleven?!?”…followed by an awkward moment of silence…then followed by “May I ask why?”  One of these days I may just say “No, no you may not ask why…” just to see how they respond!

Sometimes, I let medical professionals off the hook early and just go right into all the details of it.  I sense at times they are a little overwhelmed. Or at least, the women are.  They usually give me a slightly pitiful look, but most of the time they express sadness about it.  Men on the other hand just sort of skip right over, as if there’s “nothing to talk about here”…move along.

Often, they will stare at me briefly as if they expect me to say more, or break down sobbing, or something. The truth is even if I felt like crying, I would hold it in until I left the appointment anyway. This is not as much of an issue for me now that my emptiness has been filled with children, and I have come to a place of fully embracing who I am, but throughout my life, there was a tremendous amount of despair mixed in with a sliver of shame over it.

One thing that I habitually do time after time is quickly follow up my revelation of being infertile with an “It’s okay though. I’ve adopted children, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world”.  Before I adopted, I found myself saying things like “Oh, it’s okay.  I might be able to adopt” even if I did not believe my own words.  It is as if I have always felt the need to apologize for my lot in life.

Perhaps in my earlier years,  I was still trying to figure it all out.  I didn’t want or need anyone to explain things to me.  I also never wanted to be pitied for it.  This was my experience to navigate on my own – no one else’s.  Some things in life are just too big to wrap our heads around until we are fully ready to do so.  Giving simplistic and quick explanations to medical staff or anyone else who wanted to know what happened to me did nothing to help me understand my own circumstance.  I often felt I was fulfilling their curiosity at my own expense.

I’ve always wondered, yet never quite figured out what it is about infertility and hysterectomies that cause the feelings of shame, embarrassment, or whatever else it can be called. I just sometimes think that the rest of the world (all the fertile myrtles) don’t fully grasp the complexity of infertility.  Perhaps this is why those of us (non-fertile myrtles) feel isolated out in the “real” world.  There is nothing to be shameful of!  We didn’t cause this.  We didn’t set out in the world thinking “I’m going to do whatever I can to make having a family extremely difficult.”  Barrenness has been around forever; yet, there is so much restraint when talking about it out loud.

While pondering this issue, I thought “God has used barren women to do mighty things.”  Several women in the Bible, who were considered barren, ended up giving birth to children who went on to do noteworthy things.  I know the incredible ending of their barrenness was the birth of children, but I find it equally incredible that their struggle with it was written down.  Their stories were compelling.  They were often mocked for it.  Yet, their faith ran deep.

I choose to believe that barrenness is close to God’s heart.  I know that He does not want us to be ashamed.  I believe that there is no reason anyone should ever feel the need to apologize for not being able to have children.  My life is not desolate. I feel totally fruitful; quite the opposite of barren really.

The world may think, or even expect me to be angry, bitter, and even resentful about infertility, but I choose not to follow the world.  I am not listening to it; my ears, my eyes, and my heart are captured by the whispers of God.  Through Him, and only through Him, I am beautiful, purposeful, and redeemed.

I am unashamed.

Letter to my Lord

If I wrote a letter to my Lord, how would I start it? What would I say? Thank you for being there…or thank you for all of the good things that have happened through the years.  I could never fully convey the magnitude of what I am truly grateful for.  He deserves more than simplistic validations of what I appreciate.

It is not just the good things that I should be thankful for, anyway. The hard stuff – those moments that have torn me into pieces – also deserve their place in gratefulness to God. It would be a false statement for me to say I’m totally 100% grateful all of the time for being barren. Certainly, this has brought me a tremendous amount of strife. However, I sincerely appreciate the journey of it.

One might expect me to say that the best part of the journey is the adoption of my children. Well…they certainly are incredible, that’s for sure. However, for me, the best part of it has been the revelation of all the small moments, twists, turns, ups, downs, and in-betweens that helped to write the story.

Often, it is far easier to look backwards and say “I get it” than to look forward in faith. I don’t really think I could appreciate the road it took to become a mother if I had known in advance that there would be a little boy with blonde hair and a fantastic amount of charm, and a girl with bright blue eyes and blend of sugar and spice (mostly spice) who would enter my life. The road was full of painful ruts, sudden curves, and sadness as thick as tar, but still, it was the road that led to my children.

My sojourn into the world of infertility seemed so long; yet, not really. When looking back all those years ago after my surgery, I truly thought I would forever be stuck in the darkness of being barren. I know now that all those thoughts and years are just “blips” on the radar screen compared to the brilliance of the ride I’m experiencing as a parent.

I have found and continue to find great peace when realizing what all occurred to get me to this part of my life.  From the moment I woke up in the hospital bed following surgery, to the recognition as an eleven year old that I was different than my peers, to the angst as a teen wondering if true love would ever find me, to the despair of nearly convincing myself that I would never be a parent, to the longing of wanting a “normal” mommy-hood, to being captured and redeemed by God’s grace, to signing our application to become foster parents, to the nervous drive to pick up the baby boy who needed us as his foster family, to the humbling conversations with his birth mother, to leaning my head on the steering wheel following court hearings exhausted from the unknowns, to the dripping of my tears onto the court room table at our son’s adoption hearing, to jumping in heart first again by saying yes to accepting our foster daughter, to staying up night after night with a newborn, to the day she was deemed eligible for adoption, to picking out her adoption dress, to explaining the best we can to our children that they are adopted, to each moment with them….the list goes on and on.  I suspect it will until my eyes gaze on Him.

Perhaps the letter to my Lord is not really one I would write at all.  Perhaps it is my life, or better yet, how I choose to live and recognize the spaces where all I was clinging on to was His mercy, His love, and His promise.  God filled in the story line.  He flushed out the details and colored the canvas.  Living a grace-giving, mercy-showing, Christ-seeking, and love-leading kind of life would speak more than a thousand words anyway.

Yes…

my life, the letter,

my heart, the message,

and His hands, the ink.

Fostering Hope

Ever wonder what it is like to be without hope?  I don’t mean those momentary spaces in our timelines where we are feeling a little confused about what our next steps are supposed to be.  I mean truly without a sense of hope for the future.  I have talked with far too many young people in foster care who have no hope of a future, family, or anything better for that matter.

This week marked a movement in America called the National Prayer Vigil for Foster Children week.  It is part of recognizing May as the National Foster Care month.  Many churches, citizens, and agencies are spending time focusing on and lifting up children who have been caught up in the system.  These children and youth are victims of their circumstances.  They did not choose the system.  They were forced into it.  Many kiddos across America have been reunified with their parents or family members.  There are also many who have been or are in the process of being adopted.  Still yet, there are thousands who wind up with no family to call their own.

We see the signs everywhere; child abuse cases that shock the most seasoned professionals, newspaper articles displaying the staggering statistics of children in foster care, television reports aiming to try and capture the need for foster families. However do we really stop to think what that means and how it impacts our communities, our state, and our nation? What if there were more homes for children and older youth in this country than there were children actually needing foster care services? What an amazing testimony to the rest of the world that would be! Yet that is not the case. In our blessed land of freedom and opportunity, nearly 130,000 children live each day without a permanent family. This statistic does not, however, represent the entirety of the numbers of children in protective services in theUnited States.

Why is it that the children who fall into the world of foster care tend to be the last thing on people’s minds? As Christians, we are ordained by God to take care of the fatherless. Not every child in care is an “orphan” per se, but nevertheless, their lives are caught up in the turmoil of the poor choices of their parents. It is not uncommon that their parents’ lives were at one time also caught up in the problems of past generations. And so the story goes on….more children aging out of the system without a family to rely on. Often, they have children who end up in the system and the cycle continues. There are generations of families who are at risk for being lost in the midst of abuse, neglect, drug problems, and homelessness.

Thankfully, that is not always the ending of every story. Reunifications with birth parents occur on a regular basis throughout the foster care system. Committed efforts by professionals and birth parents are essential in the reunification process. Foster parents are also key to a positive outcome for foster children. Foster families that are committed to the stated goals of the case, act humbly towards birth parents, mentor, encourage, and pray for the birth parents are (in my opinion) the best representation of loving Christians.

I didn’t set out in this world thinking of working in child welfare or of becoming a foster or adoptive parent.  God sort of just wrote that out for my life.  And I’m so glad He did.  Foster parenting is probably one of the toughest, underappreciated; yet, compelling experiences in life.  Being a case worker is all of these things as well.  Child welfare is a beast of its own and is extremely complex.

One time while visiting with a pre-teen boy in foster care, I asked him “what do you want to do when you grow up?”.  He replied, “I don’t know.  I’ll probably be dead or in jail by the time I’m 21.”  How sad.  This boy had already been in care for several years, parents rights had been terminated, and finding an adoptive home was extremely tough due to some of the behavioral and emotional struggles he was dealing with.  I later learned that he did end up in jail after aging out of the system at 18 years old.  The system offered little hope for him.

Foster families can do more than just house, feed, clothe, and care for kids.  They can encourage them and give them a sense of hope for the future.  Fostering and adoption (if that becomes the goal for the child) can make a generational change in the lives of children.  Not only does can it make a tremendous impact in the lives of foster children, but also potentially in the lives of their future children and families.

I never thought of myself making a generational impact while fostering until I realized that my children’s birth families had struggled with historical cycles of abuse, neglect, and substance abuse.  My heart breaks when I think about what all my children have lost because of these things. I pray my children will never struggle with these issues in their lifetimes.  I know I have done what I can to fervently make a difference in their lives, and will continue to do so.

As Christians we recognize that we too were lost in the sins of the world. We were adopted and redeemed by a loving God. He is committed to us, He encourages us through His word, we should mimic His actions towards others, His humble servitude is written about in the Bible, He hears our prayers and we are given hope that is life-sustaining. Through our adoption by Him, generations of our families have been changed. We can pass down His legacy of love to our children and our children’s children. His sacrifice made an eternal and generational change in humanity.

What if our country looked at fostering the same way? Fostering a child is not just about that one or two children you may take in. The difference foster and adoptive parents make can change the course of generations. I cannot think of a more important and immediate need in our country than Christian families to reach out to the “least of these”. It would be an incredible transformation in our nation if children in the welfare system were loved on, cared for, encouraged, and witnessed to by families.

The overhaul of the system could start with Christian families committing to take a stand for our children in need. Christ took the ultimate stand for us and because of that we can pass on His legacy. Christian families should be doing the same for foster children not because it is the right thing to do, but because we too were lost and then found by a sovereign and humble Heavenly Father. Just imagine what it could mean to the lives of thousands of children and their birth parents if families would love on them, meet their needs, show them grace, and foster hope!

The Wonder of You

Look at you, my precious girl, with your eyes of blue.  It looks like God Himself dipped His paint brush into the sky when coloring your eyes.  And you, my son, with your brown eyes and wavy blonde hair.  I swear angels spun your hair out of butter.  Sometimes, when admiring you both, I think to myself “the wonder of you”.  You truly are wonderful.  You challenge me.  You cause me to get up early on the weekends.  You leave food and toys and just about anything your hands touch strewn all over the floor.  But still, I’m amazed by the wonder of you.

I had no idea how truly incredible you would be.  Whoever said blood is thicker than water surely never experienced the supreme delight of adoption.  At one time, I could not imagine ever having you in my life, and now I cannot imagine my life without you.  My children.  My sweets.  My love.  You have captured my heart.

You are not second best.  You are not statistics.  You mean more to this world, your family, and your Heavenly Father than you will ever fathom.  You may have been born into a world of chaos and less than desirable circumstances, but you will leave this world a better place.  You have inherited the fullness of God’s mercy and love.  He loves you both as if you are His only children.

For you my son, your entry into our home was sudden.  We had just a few hours to prepare.  But, the moment my eyes focused on you, everything came to a screeching halt.  I was in awe.  You took my breath away.  There you were, so small and vulnerable, and yet, so significant.

And you, my daughter, you literally arrived on our doorstep by the first angel who took you in.  One look at you caused me to realize how incredibly blessed I was.  You were more than an abandonment.  You were more than a legal status.  You were purposefully, wonderfully, and intentionally made.

Fostering you both was humbling, heart-wrenching at times, joyful, and full of so many life lessons.  Actually, raising you is full of these things as well.  Your imaginations inspire me.  Your silliness tickles me.  And, your love of all things new creates in me an excitement to explore the world with you.  You both have colored my world with shades of goodness, lightness, and love.

You are both more than I could ever imagine.  Adoption completed us.  I am mightily aware of the blessed responsibility bestowed onto me.  I would never go back to life before you.  I don’t think I could.  I thank the Lord daily for filling my life with the wonder of you.

Genuine Loss

Some may wonder what it is like to be barren. Or, what it feels like to be at the place where there is no hope of ever having children. Try, after try, after try…and still no baby. I never had to experience the ups and downs of infertility treatments, but I do know the roller coaster of emotions experienced when realizing that there is great potential of being childless for the rest of life.

The only way to best describe what it can feel like is to use the word death. That seems so melodramatic, melancholy, and extreme, but really it is the one word I can come up with that embodies the pain felt. It is not a physical death but it can feel like it. The grief accompanied with the diagnosis of infertility is no different than what one may experience when grieving a loved one; and yet, it is unique. People don’t expect someone to “get over” losing a loved one quickly, but they may expect it when infertility knocks a woman down.

One time while visiting with an acquaintance and her daughter, the woman leaned into me and whispered “my daughter can’t have babies…poor thing”. Her daughter heard every word of it and I’m sure she was desperately trying to escape inside her own skin. I sat there for a moment stunned at what was said. Well, not so much what was said because I’m obviously comfortable with infertility, but more so at the tone and total lack of sensitivity.

Why in the world would a mother disclose this news in a pitiful tone while whispering it to someone her daughter had just met? I had been given information that cut right into the heart of what her daughter had been despairing over. I just wanted to grab her daughter by the hand, run with her out the door, and let her breathe for a moment. I can’t imagine someone leaning over and whispering “her child just died”. Yet, this is how it can feel…empty, heartbroken, sorrowful, aching.

Growing up, I didn’t know how much infertility would eventually start to feel like a death. I found myself crying over things related to babies and pregnancies, but was not really even sure why I was crying. I was just overwhelmingly sad. I didn’t know what to do with the strong emotions of grief. I was confused, and at times, felt like the loneliest person in the world. Then I realized that I would never be able to look at a child and say “she looks just like me”. I would never be able to experience feeling a child kick in my belly. I would never know the look on my husband’s face when I told him “we’re having a baby!” So…in many ways, I became fully aware that infertility was a death sentence to all of those things I wanted to experience during my walkabout on this Earth.

I got to the place where I allowed myself to grieve my loss. There was shock and denial; although mine was just at the awareness of the traumatic event that took place my eleventh year of life. There was anger. I was angry at doctors (although they saved my life). I felt jilted by God, and anger towards people who don’t take care of their kids or at least act as though their kids are disposable and not important. There was bargaining…it was retroactive in some sense…kinda like “God, maybe if the infection would have been caught a day earlier, then perhaps this wouldn’t have happened”.

Then, I was just stuck in the acceptance phase of grief. But, this was far from pleasant. Acceptance is a strange concept anyway. I didn’t want to accept it. I just wanted to know if I would ever have a child to call my own; regardless of biology. Sometimes the not knowing was far more painful than the knowing. I mean I knew that I couldn’t have children but I had no idea how it would all work out for me or if I would ever be a mommy.

I’m not sure, but I suspect those women who are undergoing treatments or even those who have had multiple pregnancies that have ended prematurely probably start and stop the grieving process over and over again. How terribly exhausting…how horribly draining. I’m sure each time a woman gets a negative pregnancy test, or is told that the treatments are not going to work, or learns that there is “no medical reason” why she can’t have a baby, it tears her heart out. The wound gets ripped open time and time again, and yet, she is supposed to just “get over it” and go back into the world while the dream of mommy-hood starts to die slowly.

The best thing someone can do for a friend or family member who is struggling to start a family or has been given news she will never have a baby is to acknowledge her circumstance for what it is – a genuine loss. She may need someone to allow her to cry about it. Or, better yet, she needs someone to withhold judgement of her because she is crying about it. Don’t expect her to want to talk about it all of the time, but be there for her if she wants to. And please…please do not remind her that there is “always adoption”. She knows that, and it actually devalues adoption as if it is second best.

Allow her to grieve without setting a time limit. The notion that time heals is partly true, but with infertility all she has is time; yet, what she really wants is a child. And lastly, allow her to find herself again. Give her the time to figure out what her next step will be. Her dream of being a mommy has turned into a nightmare. She needs to figure out what is best for her and how she is going to handle this loss, not how others thinks she should.

I no longer feel the sting of death-like pain.  I am filled with the hope, joy, love, laughter, and busyness of my children.  If I were still at that place of silence and emptiness though, I would want someone to understand my sadness and allow me to grieve it.  I would need someone to pray for me, encourage me, and give me the sense that there is hope for the future of my mommy-hood dreams.

Glass door

Growing up I felt there was this glass door between me and the other girls.  I could get right up close to it, but never go through.  My surgery, being barren, not having a period…all of these things separated me from being  just like them.  This is something I kept to myself though.  It was hard enough being an adolescent.  As an adult, it has been hard work to remind myself that while I may be different, I’m still just as much a woman as any other female out there.

I think hysterectomies are difficult for women to undergo.  Mine happened at such a young age that I grew into womanhood already feeling as if I was not wholly female.  Women of any age might not feel completely whole after a hysterectomy.  If the surgery happens at a younger age, then it is more than just losing some organs.  It’s losing the ones that are vital to a women’s experience in this life.

As I have developed through the years, the recognition of the impact on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health became clearer with each milestone or emotional age.  I could tell that infertility was not going to get easier, but harder, much harder.  I stood by and watched my friends’ life cycle continue on.  From the announcements of their pregnancies, to the first baby bumps appearing, the baby showers, flushed cheeks, and swollen feet…  I was on the side-lines watching.  I often heard them talk about their pregnancies and tried to act like I knew what they were talking about.  But the truth is, I did not know and honestly did not care to know.  It would never happen for me.

Infertility creates such a distinct type of isolation.  People just don’t know how to react when one says “I can’t have children”.  Instantly, there is an awkward silence usually followed by some words of wisdom that may or may not be too wise.  It is sadly refreshing sometimes to be around other women who cannot have children.  The conversations tend to be more driven by genuine empathy and understanding for each other.  We don’t have to “be strong” and hide our emotions about it.

There are also those universal themes that tend to come out while discussing infertility with fellow women who are struggling.  First, baby showers are the worst things to attend when you cannot have children.  They can create a raw and digging pain that is usually held in until after the shower is over.  I venture to guess that a lot of infertile women cry themselves home after baby showers.  I know I did before I adopted.  I actually dreaded going to them.  I would “fake” my way through them, drive home as quickly as I could,  and then curl up on my bed in a sobbing mess.  The rest of the day following a baby shower was usually filled with emotions and apathy.

Second, it really hurts when people say to you “if it’s God’s will, then it will happen”.  Most believers agree that things happen in our lives that are within God’s will, but it does not take away the pain.  It may not be within the Lord’s will for any of us to children – biological or adopted.  Unbeknownst to people who say this, an infertile woman might start thinking “if I can’t have children then God must not want me to be a mom”.  This is an awful place to be at.  I’ve been there.  I’ve thought “perhaps God doesn’t think I will be a good mom”, or “God must not want us to be parents”.

Third, pregnancy and birth announcements are wonderful and sweet unless you will never be the one sending them out.  That may sound selfish.  I’m a little embarassed to admit this, but sometimes I would think “why does she get to have another baby when I can’t even have one?”  This does not mean that those of us who cannot have biological children aren’t happy for our family members or friends.  Sometimes, the announcements and the excitement that follows reminds us of what we cannot have.

Growing up, I always felt that maybe I was the only one out there like me.  In some way, this may have been true since I was so young when my hysterectomy happened.  But, now as an adult, I know my experience, though somewhat different, is one that is shared by many.  Being an infertile woman in a world of baby-bearing bliss is difficult.  It can be socially isolating.  It can cause tension between spouses, friends, and family members.  For those of you who may be struggling with handling your journey of infertility or adoption, don’t be too hard on yourself.   Just know that there are others out there on your side of the glass door.

Mother’s Resilience

During Mother’s Day weekend, one might expect me to write about my adoption experience and the incredible love I have for my kiddos. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on my own mother. Mom is quiet, doesn’t seek attention; yet, strong. She is stronger than she gives herself credit for being. She is also faithful and fiercely loyal. It was not until I became a momma that I realized her resiliency, courage, and unselfishness.

To say I was blessed growing up is an understatement. My childhood home was often filled with the smell of sugary sweetness from mom’s baked goodies. It was fairly common to have homemade French toast waiting for me when I woke up. I did not just have a mother; she was a “mommy”. Often, she would be waiting after school to walk me home, after having made a sweet surprise that would greet me when I got there. Fresh brownies, hand-made ice cream sandwiches, and sugar cookies drizzled with icing that spelled out my name were all part of the wonderment of my mom’s love through her baking. I would collapse onto the soft couch with a morsel of something delicious, feeling the love and comfort of home. It does a child good to feel as though she is the center of someone’s universe.

My mom, though reserved, was also very much liked by the kids in the neighborhood and dance studio. Girls would stay the night with me and thoroughly enjoy the vast array of mom’s meals and desserts. I just assumed every mother was like my mom. Although on a tight budget, I never went without anything. She often bought second hand clothes for herself, so I would have the best. My hair was always fixed, clothes clean and ironed if needed, and shoes matching… Mom took pride in taking care of my needs.

Life was pretty normal for us until my illness at the age of eleven. Now, I’m not talking just a little sick. I’m talking going from running in the countryside while visiting my uncle at his farm to facing certain death. A week passed by and all my mom or the doctors knew was that I was dying from massive infection. Exploratory surgery had to be completed to try and figure out what in the world was going on with me. They suspected cancer, but were not certain.

During the surgery, mom escaped off to a room and sat by herself for about three to four hours pondering the thought of losing me to cancer. She tried to prepare herself for the grim news. “How can it be?”, mom must have thought. It was so out of the blue. With the exception of the previous surgeries (appendectomy and adhesion’s), I had been healthy, active, adventurous, and full of life. How do parents truly prepare themselves for hearing the worst possible news about their child?

Once the surgery was over, mom was told devastating news. The doctors had to remove my uterus, Fallopian tubes, and right ovary. It was not cancer though. They had not figured out what type of bacteria it was or how I got it, but if left in, I would have died. Not long after she was told, she and my dad went off to a room by themselves and let out a wail. I wonder what this sounded like. It must have been one of those guttural sounds that come from deep pain…not just the ones you can hear, but ones you can feel. Yes, I was alive, but the impact of what had occurred was life-long.

Sometimes I close my eyes and picture mom and dad huddled in a sterile white hospital waiting room. They must have been holding on tightly to each other. I wonder if they were shaking out of anger, fear, or exhaustion…perhaps all of them out the same time. My seemingly normal life had just come to a screeching halt. It would never be the same. But, neither would theirs. Their daughter’s tragedy; their own parenting experience forever indented with sadness.

Three and half weeks passed by while I was in the hospital fighting the infection. Mom was there all of the time. She put on a brave face, smiled at me through her pain, and held my hand during those long days in the hospital. Her daughter went from being vibrant and energetic to lying in the hospital bed with one foot in this world and the other in Heaven. Yet, she never let me see her scared.

Mom was also grieving as she knew what the surgery meant for the rest of my life. It was more than just a brief illness that I would hopefully recover from. She grieved for the fact that something very special was taken away from me. People would try to tell her things or come up with “reasons”, but she was still trying to figure what the purpose of it all was. Yet, she knew it was important for my life to go on and for me have a sense of normalcy. This must have been difficult for her. She carried this burden by herself so that I could get back to being a pre-teen girl. I was not aware of the full gravity of the situation, but she was.

Mom fought to regain life for me. She made sure I went right back to doing the things I loved; dancing, socializing with friends, etc. However, the surgery did not just affect my life. Through my tragedy, she had to bear witness to and experience the impact of infertility. She too had just been dealt a huge blow. She would never have a biological grandchild. This must have saddened her. Yet, there she was strong, silent, and smiling.

Mom might say that I am the one who was the most resilient during that fateful time in my life. I definitely had the fight in me to survive. Yet, she’s the one who had to navigate raising a daughter who was unlike any other girls. She had to walk through life parenting a daughter who would never experience the joy of announcing a pregnancy, the surprise of finding out the gender, and the moment of seeing her child be born. My mom would also never hear the delightful words of “You’re going to be a grandma”. She would never be able to await anxiously to find out the gender. And, she would never have the opportunity to sit in a waiting room for hours before gazing upon her grandchild for the first time.

But, mom is also the one who modeled how to face the darkness with courage, how to look to the future, and how to seize control back from something that was totally out of control. She’s the one who held in her fears so that I would not absorb them. She’s the one who told me “if you want to achieve something, put your heart into it”. She’s the one who went right back to being the mommy who made home made goodies that brought great comfort and sacrificed her wants so that I would have the very best. She’s the one who never allowed herself to be victimized by this; thus, teaching me to not be a victim of my circumstance. And, she’s the one who didn’t run away from her faith in God.

So, mom, thank you for being resilient. Thank you for modeling to me that when life deals you a blow, you just get up, dust off, and walk strong. Thank you for showing and telling me that I was the most important thing in your world. Thank for you giving me security when the floor fell out from under me. I know your grandma experience started out different from others, so thank you for standing by and supporting me while we were foster parents, and for the love you give my children.

See mom? The Lord does work all things for good for those who believe in Him. My story didn’t end with infertility. Oh, it may have altered it. It may have brought doubts, anger, and tears. But, my story is now filled with love, hope, grace, faith, and your sweet grandchildren.

Happy Mother’s Day. I love you…Caroline