Today, I find myself reflecting on family. I’ve been telling myself I’ll get around to getting my thoughts written down. Sadly, thinking about it and actually getting it done are not the same thing. Watching a young friend lose their battle with cancer this week has bumped me out of my procrastination zone. Time is precious. Time is short. Family matters, in the end, it’s all that really matters.
I got our family pictures in the mail yesterday. It’s wonderful to see time captured into memories you can see and touch. Somehow, it solidifies memories into real and tangible objects.
How grateful I am for this family of mine. Each child is a miracle in their own right.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no “fix it”, no “cure” for the hardships and trials we experience in this life. We can no more forget them than we can remove a vital organ from ourselves. In my humble opinion, our life experiences are the vital organs of our soul – invisible to the eye but foundational in their role.
Infertility was a beast. It still is. I remember the thoughts, feelings, hopelessness, despair and hurt. When I talk with others going through it, those feelings are just as vivid as they ever were. In fact, I have an overwhelming urge to hug, surround, protect and just plain love every, sweet woman out there experiencing it. I wish I could fix it for them. I only got through infertility by coming to terms with the reality that I may never be a mom in this life and that really hurt. I had to completely submit my will to the Lord’s; my timeline to His. That wasn’t an event, it was a process. It is a process I’m still experiencing!
Miracles happen to those who believe in them, of this I am convinced. There was no coincidence in the events surrounding the arrival of each of my three children. My daughter’s adoption was framed in tender mercies right down to the starting line. Turns out, our first visit to start the adoption process coincided with her birthmother’s first visit to the doctor. Only after her adoption, would I come to truly understand how the journey was never about me finding her, it was always about her finding me. I can’t explain why things worked the way they did, why she couldn’t grow in my tummy and avoid all the heartache for both mothers. But the Lord has a beautiful way of turning our greatest trials into amazing blessings – blessings that continue to give and grow with time. Just today I had a conversation with her birth mom about sharing our experiences with others and what a blessing it has been to be able to help and mentor others going through the same things – 18 years later. This is a miracle to me. This is the hand of the Lord at work in our lives and a testament to how much He loves each of his children. He put me in the path of a sweet young girl over 13 years ago who just today reached out to me for guidance and comfort on her own path of infertility. That, my friends, is a miracle to me.
Here’s one of my beautiful baby’s senior pictures. 18 years went so fast!
My son came with no notice and five years after we’d adopted our daughter. With no movement on our adoption efforts for a second child, we had closed our adoption file. For the first time in ten years, we felt we’d taken control and it was a wonderful pressure release. We’d focus on our daughter and just be grateful we’d been blessed to have a child. Three months later I’d get a surprise phone call just three days before our son was born (most of which was spent driving to the hospital for us). It would come from an attorney I’d done some volunteer work with nearly five years earlier. Everything that could have gone wrong did. It was the most stress I’d experienced to this point in my life. Yet, today this bright, happy boy is right where he was always supposed to be, no barrier was too big, not obstacle too daunting. His love for his birth family has been such a blessing, it has helped heal wounds and support progress. He is a miracle in every way.
I’ve already shared many intimate thoughts through the process of our baby girl arriving. I have had several people refer to her as fixing all those years of infertility, making everything right. Oh how I wish I could adequately express how incorrect that is. First, everything was already right it just wasn’t typical of other’s family building experiences. Second, everything about her and my pregnancy are amazing but they feel exclusive to my infertility experience, not inclusive. It’s hard to explain, and maybe it would have been different if I had still been in my younger years longing and waiting to conceive, but this experience stands apart for me. It is still surreal. I am so grateful for the experience, words cannot express it. But infertility was a part of my life and formation of who I am today, 22 years are not erased nor are the characteristics I developed through it. Thankfully, they don’t have to be. The two experiences are not mutually exclusive, they both work together to help me develop more of the best me I can be. I pray that I can be the mother to this little angel that she needs and deserves. A prayer I’ve had for each child since their arrival – perhaps the prayer of every mother.
I can only speak for myself, but I’d like to give my answer here to the question I get asked frequently about my kids. The question is all about the differences between my biological and adopted children. I know the world will separate my experience as a mother between biological and adoptive because the only thing the world sees is the physical elements of their arrival. As their mother, I experience all the invisible things, the feelings, the sleepless nights, the nurturing and so much more beyond their arrival – for me there is no difference. I had the same feelings of excitement, anxiety, worry, relief, joy and pure love when each baby was placed in my arms. The only difference in my children is their physical arrival; each was born in my heart long before they were conceived. I’ve known each child was always supposed to be in my family.
To this end, I would just like to wrap up my thoughts on family by turning back the clock. I have recently delved into family history work. I chanced upon an ancestor who had no parents linked to our family tree. This was very disturbing to me given how many other family members at the same time period had family identified. If my child was “lost” I’d be beside myself hoping for help to find them. I think this is just as true of our ancestors and our knowledge of them as this analogy would be for me today. It is only because of these ancestors that we have all we enjoy today. It seems to me, they deserve our attention and desire to know them, their families, their lives and their sacrifices. As I have poured over family history records and books, typed these histories into sources to prove family connections, relations and experiences, I have come to a whole new appreciation for family. Perhaps it took losing my dad to realize that just because someone dies doesn’t mean family dies. Family lives on, and we are all linked together. I believe that families are forever. I am learning the value of preserving our lives, stories and histories to keep that spirit of family alive.