Infertility sucks. (Sorry Mom, I know you hate that word.) But as slang, it means to be repellent or disgusting. That’s how infertility felt to me. Yes, now I’m the proud Mama of four sons, but it wasn’t always that way. And it certainly wasn’t easy to become a mother.
I always wanted to be a mom. I even wrote that in my essay when I applied to college, which my own mother thought was a bad idea. But it was true and they still accepted me into Cal Poly where I eventually earned a degree in Art and met my husband Zach.
I was 27 years old when we tried to start our family. But we couldn’t do it on our own. For two years we tried and never once got pregnant. I was miserable. Seeing a pregnant woman would bring me to tears. I was frustrated that it seemed so easy for everyone else to conceive a baby. For a “Do It Yourself” kind of girl like me, I was crushed. I couldn’t make my dream come true no matter how hard I tried.
The doctors said we could try expensive fertility treatments, but for us, the odds were still very low that it would work. So, now what? Even as a teenager, God had been planting the idea of adoption in me through stories I read and families I knew. So I asked myself, “What do I really want?” The answer was simple: “to be a mom.” Thankfully, Zach and I both wanted to adopt.
Now we had a new dream of becoming adoptive parents. There are many types of adoption. I really wanted an infant, my arms ached to hold a baby. So we chose domestic infant adoption which means the expectant mother chooses the adoptive family. And often the families have some level of openness which varies greatly for each situation from knowing only basic information to sharing letters, pictures and getting together for visits.
We selected an adoption agency, attended classes, filled out tons of paperwork, read books and completed our home study. We were ready to adopt. I couldn’t wait to become a mom. And it was all about me. Until God got ahold of my heart. He had a bigger plan for us then just changing our status to parents. God began to develop in my heart a deep empathy for the people on the other side of adoption – the birth family.
I memorized Philippians 2:3-4.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
That verse changed everything and still guides me as we continue to grow in our relationships with our son’s birth families.
I stopped focusing on me and tried to understand what the birth mother was going through. I asked myself, “What challenges was she facing? What kind of hurts has she endured? Was she scared? Alone?” And when I would get anxious about who she might be, I realized she was probably more anxious about who we would be. Perhaps she was wondering questions too, like: Would we love her child as our own? Would we care about her or speak kindly to her and about her? Would we keep our promises to stay in touch? Would we be good, kind, loving parents? Could she trust us with her precious child to provide what she wasn’t able to at that time in her life?
When we were selected by a birthmother, we met her for the first time at a Sizzler. I thought that was funny and appropriate because Sizzler was my grandparent’s favorite restaurant. And yes, she had a lot of challenges and hurts. We liked her immediately. She’s smart, funny and beautiful. I wanted to jump into her life and protect her from the ugly stuff. We couldn’t fix everything but we did our best to be supportive and kind. It didn’t take long for me to love her.
Adoption is miraculous, painful, beautiful, sad, amazing and life changing for everyone involved.
In 2006, Payton’s birth mother invited me to be with her during the c-section. I sat next to her head and prayed for her the whole time. Together we heard the baby’s first cry. Then I left her so the doctors could complete the surgery and I joined my husband who was waiting in the hallway. Together we followed the nurse who was pushing the baby in a bassinet towards the nursery. The baby was swaddled in blankets. We didn’t know yet if it was a boy or girl. Zach and I stood on either side of the bassinet and the nurse said, “Go ahead, unwrap it.” That will always be the most amazing gift we’ve ever opened! And there was our son. At that moment we became parents.
Before we left the hospital, we spent some time with his birth mother to say goodbye. I barely made it out of her room before I broke down. Sobbing. I was overwhelmed with sadness and loss for her, our son and the other birth relatives. Yet overjoyed for us and our families. It was exhausting feeling all of those emotions simultaneously. But it was time to take our son home and care for him like she asked us to do. This precious child was entrusted to us to love and raise into a man. But he doesn’t really belong to any of us, he is a child of God.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 v3 and v5
Infertility does suck. But I’m thankful to God for it because that’s what he used to grow my faith. I learned to dig deep in prayer. I now have more compassion for others. Zach and I took some pretty big leaps of faith on our adoption journey. We’ve trusted God for lots of things we couldn’t and can’t do on our own. It’s life changing to put your trust in God and follow his plan for your life. Infertility also led us to Payton: loving, generous, tender, outgoing, fun Payton. I can’t imagine our life without him. I am honored that I get to be his Mom.
God created our family and made a new family tree with lots of branches. Next month I’ll share Part 2 of our family’s story: The Preemie