Do Not Fear {in the midst of barrenness}

During a sermon at church a few months ago, my pastor told the audience that he had met someone during the week who is really close to “giving up on God”.  When he asked her why, she said, “infertility.”  She then went on to say that she questions why God would allow infertility in her life.

When he said the word “Infertility”, I felt a chill of sorts run through me.  I stiffened up a bit, and wondered if any eyes were looking at me.  The more I listened to him, the more I was reminded that not only is infertility an emotional and physical battle, it is also a spiritual battle.

What is it about that word that makes me still feel so uncomfortable?  I suspect that it feels like a label of sorts.  My efforts in earlier life to understand what all barrenness encompasses was dreadfully challenging.  People who have been diagnosed as infertile understand that it is more than just a diagnosis.  It is an uninvited guest in their lives.  It is consuming, and holds power.  It sweeps the rug from under their feet.  It becomes their new normal.  And, it is painful; woefully painful.

I recall feeling that God must surely have thought I would make a horrible mother.  I also remember questioning, with sorrowful confusion, about why I was left out of the incredible gift of pregnancy and birthing a child.  I used to think, “I only have one life here on Earth, and I am missing out on one of the most beautiful endeavors that a woman experiences.  Why would God allow this?”

Growing up in the midst of barrenness taught me so many lessons about life.  It also tried to form a wedge (and succeeded for a while) between me and the loving Father that I had come to store my faith in as a child.  I truly feel infertility is one of the most misunderstood, all-consuming, complex, and spiritually challenging experiences that one faces in life.

As I sit here on the other side of life without kids, I now know that barrenness is just a technical part of who I am.  It is just a blip on the radar of what my life really is.

Medically speaking, I am barren, but spiritually speaking, I am now far from it.

The adoption of my children and the path that led me to them drew me closer to the Lord, not away from Him.  It took many years to get me here, though.

If you know someone who is experiencing infertility, pray for them.

  • Pray for clarity in their situation.  
  • Pray for fortitude as they face so many unknowns.
  • Pray for them to see, feel, and hear God in the midst of their distress.
  • Pray for their sweet spirits; may they not be dampened by their despair. 
  • Pray for a miracle – I still believe in them.

If you are experiencing infertility, my hope and prayer is that one day it will all make sense, and that you will look upon it like a distant memory of your life.  I do not know if adoption is the right choice you should make, but I do know that is it your choice and your right to decide if and when you are going to jump into adoption.

Adoption of my children definitely fulfilled my life-long quest for an answer and happy ending to barrenness.  I no longer grieve.  Instead, I find delight in the story that was written for me, and for the incredible, emotional journey that carried me to my children, and to a deeper understanding of our Savior.

Friends, I wish the same for you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-Isaiah 41:10

However Motherhood Comes

Infertility offers nothing, adoption gives everything.

Infertility dispenses despair, adoption dispels it.

Infertility breeds confusion, adoption grows clarity.

Infertility is lifeless, adoption is life-giving.

Infertility seems hopeless, adoption is full of hope.

Infertility gives the impression that one is not deserving of children, but adoption reminds us that we are very-much deserving of parenthood. The two are polar opposites, but when they collide, one’s world opens up to the enriching, beautiful, and life-affirming gift of children.

Friends, if you are meandering your way through the warfare of infertility and barrenness, do not give up. Choosing to pursue adoption is your decision, no one else’s. However, from this barren one’s experience, I encourage you to consider adoption. I’m so thankful that I did, and that the Lord delivered my heart’s fervent wish to experience this gift of parenthood (even on the hard days).

“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” -Valerie Harper

Six Lessons Learned From Being an Adoptive Parent

I’ve darn near decided that maybe it is more of a privilege to be an adoptive parent than a biological parent.  Before I offend anyone who has given birth to their children, please hear me.  I am NOT saying that adopting children is better than giving birth, and I am NOT saying that adoptive parenting provides more passion than raising biological children.  What I am saying is that being an adoptive parent is a privilege.  (Please understand that I have zero frame of reference as all of my kiddos are adopted.)

Here are just a few things I have learned since becoming a mother through adoption:

  1. Never underestimate the power of the pursuit.  If I had not put all of my efforts into becoming a parent, I know that I would not be experiencing the gift of refinement that parenting brings.  Don’t give up.  Throw every hat you have in the ring.  If you want to be a parent, let it be your priority and the passion behind your pursuit.
  2. Genetics are incredibly important.  Are you surprised I said that?  Let me explain.  When it comes to loving a child with every pore of your being, genetics don’t mean squat…BUT….when it comes to understanding histories, personalities, and medical issues, genetics are huge. Learn what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.  Sometimes, the only answer you can give to a doctor is, “I don’t know.”  While this is unsettling and, let’s be honest, a frustrating place to be, it is the truth.  
  3. Maternal instincts are not born from giving birth (no pun attended).  Do yourself a favor.  Stop worrying about your maternal instincts, or if you will love a child you adopt the same as you would if you gave birth.  While I do not have anything to compare, based on what I have heard from friends who have experienced parenting through birth and adoption, there is no difference. If anything, the instinct to protect might be a little stronger with an adopted child than a child by birth.  The adopted child may have a complicated history that only you will fully understand.  A part of you seeks to protect in secret that history; the other part of you never wants that history to be a source of embarrassment or ridicule.  So, yes, just perhaps, the maternal “momma bear” instincts to protect might just kick in a littler harder.
  4. Waiting to become a mother took so long, and because of it, I never forget to appreciate the brief and simple moments of life with my children.  I have known since age eleven that I would motherhood would come to me through adoption.  The wait to understand and capture that moment when it all made sense lasted nearly my entire lifetime so far.  I’ll be honest.  I get caught in a rut with my children.  I get frustrated, wish for an early bedtime, and look forward to time away from them.  I lose my cool.  I make mountains out of mole hills, and trust me, I totally mess up time and again.  Maybe, I might get this parenting thing down when they are adults.  With all of this being said, there are those moments with them that still takes my breath away.  While out riding bikes with my kiddos one night, I saw them both peddling their stubby little legs to me, I thought, “This moment.  This moment matters.”  
  5. Being an adoptive parent has unique set of challenges.  Do I think that there will never be any challenge to parents who give birth?  Of course not. The majority of my close friends have all given birth to their children, and they have challenges that they face.  However, with adoptive parenting, a parent must consume the history of the child only to be able to release it at a later date when the child is ready.  By history, I mean the knowledge of birth parents, and reasons why your son or daughter entered your home.  It is a heavy burden.  It is not to be taken lightly.  It can be one of the most difficult parts to raising children through adoption.  How does one fully comprehend what it feels like to be an adoptee?  I wonder how often my children think about their birth families.  It breaks my heart, but, it is a reality.  The worse thing one can do is run from it.
  6. I feel a big sense of responsibility in raising well-rounded and kind children.  Perhaps, I feel this pressure due to the fact that my children were intended to be mine.  I don’t want to mess this up.  At times, I fail miserably.  At others, I am totally enamored by the generosity and thoughtfulness shown by them.  I guess there is a part of me that believes I have more of a responsibility to raise my children right; as if (at times) the whole world will judge if I do not.  Being an adoptive parent is truly the most incredible privilege in the world, but it also comes with the pressure to be perfect – and we all know that perfection is completely unobtainable.

Adoptive parenting is a journey.  From the moment you decide to adopt, waiting to have a child placed (or if a foster placement, the wait for permanency through adoption), to finalization, and then raising the children, it is all just one big story with ups and downs.  I suspect all parenting is like this, but with adoption, there is a deeper sense of fortitude mixed with caution.

In these things, and many more, I find privilege.  That we were granted these children through the workings of the Lord is often beyond my ability to measure.  The years spent raising my children will continue to bring me lots and lots of frustrating moments, but also many wonderful and glorious lessons.

The lessons I’ve learned so far with raising my children is that this chapter of my life is definitely a privilege.

Every good and perfect gift is from above…(James 1:17)

8 Things to Consider When Approaching Difficult Adoption Subjects with Your Child {Adoption.com Article}

Hi Friends!

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.Com regarding some things to consider when facing difficult conversations about adoption with your child.  The journey of adoption does not end with the Judge’s gavel falls.  In many respects, it is truly just beginning.

It isn’t easy to always have the right answers to your children’s questions, but there are a few things that you can do to help.  I hope these tips help you!

Click this link for the article:  http://adoption.com/8-things-consider-when-approaching-difficult-adoption-subjects-with-your-child

Blessings,

Caroline

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #6}

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You drove away the other day, didn’t you?  You packed up your car with a year or two worth of memories of the child you have loved on, held on for one last time, kissed goodbye, and drove away.

You just wanted to turn the car around.  You wanted to grab that little one, and hold on.  You needed to feel that sweet embrace one last time, but you could not.  As the miles began to separate you from the child you have called your own, the tears began to flow.  You held them in.  Brave warrior.  You held them in.

Now as the silence is thickening the air around you, the tears just seem so desperate to escape.  Each tear carries a memory, doesn’t it?  The first time you saw the stranger’s child, that moment when you had a “breakthrough”, the silly laughs in the morning, the transformation you started to see in the birth mother, and the sound of a Judge’s voice determining that the child needed to return to the stranger whose child you have loved – are all just a glimpse of the lifespan of fostering that little soul.

To say it isn’t fair is an understatement, right?  After all, you have been there to pick up the pieces of this broken child.  You have worried night after night wondering if the child could get a few hours of sleep without calling out or having bad dreams. You have mended that little wounded soul when there was a setback, and you are the one who has watered, fed, and enriched this precious child’s roots with love, stability, and maybe just a bit of hope for the future.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You had to drive away, didn’t you?  I cannot imagine.  I don’t want to.  You did all of this while listening to the opinions of others who just don’t get it.  It’s okay to be heartbroken.  It’s okay to be angry.  It really is.

However, dear Foster Momma, those pieces of your soul that you gave away to the child you said goodbye to will carry on.  They will carry on in the prayers you taught him or her to say.  They will carry on in the ability you taught to cope with surroundings, and the roots that you have toiled to establish.  They will live through each success the child has, and in every heart-moment to come.

It will take a while for you to heal.  After all, no one has ever said that foster parenting is easy.  It is so hard.  You have delved right into the despair of generational abuse and neglect, drug abuse, chronic poverty, and misguided souls.

In every way, you are a missionary.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I find myself thinking of you, a lot.  I want you to know that there is nothing greater than pouring yourself into a child….even if only for a little while.  You may have had to drive away, but at least, you were there.  You were present in every moment. You dried each tear.  You voiced your concerns, and praised progress.  And, after all was said and done, you had to let go.  Through your faith, you have stood tall, and because of your faith, you will carry on.

Nothing will ever take away what an incredible blessing…a miracle, really…that you have been in this child’s life.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7