When beginning the adoption process, one of the things I was most fearful of was the home study, afraid that no matter how great we thought we were, the social worker wouldn’t approve us. The fate of our parenthood rested solely in the hands of a stranger, and that idea fanned the flames of my insecurities.
Being clueless about home studies, insecure, and a perfectionist, I needed to know what to expect. So I dedicated an entire “secret board” on Pinterest to adoption and tips for the home study. I looked for adoptive parent message boards and forums. I obsessively read everything I could get my hands on.
On one message board, a certain post caught my eye. A woman asked the question, “Should I have the baby’s room set up before the home study or not?”
The majority of people answered that it wasn’t necessary to have a fully furnished nursery. The social worker only wants to see that you have adequate and appropriate space for the child. Then some people answered that they would never have a nursery ready for fear of seeming too desperate. Still others said that it would be far too painful to have their nursery complete and sitting empty. The comments that followed were the stories of so many childless women, sharing – some for the first time- their heartache and their sorrow, agreeing that there is nothing so painful as an empty nursery.
As I sat staring at my computer screen, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had just stared straight into the dark and bleeding heart of so many women struggling with infertility. We are afraid to seem too desperate for a child, afraid to face another day with empty arms, afraid that motherhood is a dream that will never come true. We are just… afraid.
David and I – mostly I – decided to go ahead and prep for baby as much as we can, because we want to be prepared when the day comes. So I made a baby registry on Amazon, and we have slowly been purchasing items for our nursery. We have all of the essentials – a crib, changing table, dresser, and a glider I got on Facebook marketplace for $50!
And when I sit in the nursery, as I so often do, I am not filled with sadness nor stricken by grief. Instead, my heart quickens with excitement and anticipation for what I know is coming.
I sit in the floor and I pray. I sit in the corner and imagine all of the memories we will make in that room. Our empty crib is not a bleeding heart for me, but I can see how it can be for so many others.
When I think of all of the women who try for years in vain to get pregnant, my heart breaks for them. I know many of them personally. Too many. Good, faithful Christian women whose deepest desire is to become a mother.
It seems so wrong. It seems so unfair. And no matter how loudly we cry out, God does not answer us with a pregnancy. We read the story of Hannah in the Bible. We read how she cried out to God and was given a child in return, and we are strengthened. We read of Abraham’s wife Sarah who gave birth at an age that the vast majority of us will never live to see. We read these miracles and we wonder, why not me? If only I pray hard enough. If only I do everything my doctor suggests.
If only, if only…
I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have an answer at all. I asked God those questions too, especially right after David and I were married. People would innocently comment that babies were next for us, and when I shared about our inability to have children people would innocently say, “You never know. It could happen.” I could only smile and agree. Yes, yes it could.
And so my silent struggle began.
I knew in my heart that God was calling me to adoption. I had known it for years. But every month, I would wait with eager anticipation. And if I was a few days late, my heart would drop into my stomach and my imagination would run wild.
One time, I was over 30 days late, and though I was told at the age of 17 that I was close to menopause, and my period has never been regular, I stood on the “family planning” aisle at the pharmacy staring at pregnancy tests for 10 minutes before finally walking away empty handed.
After 60 days, I did go back and buy a test. You see, I had to know. And the next morning I experienced for the first time what so many women have experienced before me: The heartbreaking disappointment of a negative pregnancy test.
This same scenario has happened two more times in the 2 1/2 years David and I have been married. Each time, I have stared into the bathroom mirror, telling myself over and over that it would be negative, all the while hoping that it wasn’t.
But it was.
And that’s okay, because I am completely dedicated and in love with my call to adoption. God has been sowing the seed of adoption into my heart since I was 17 years old. And what my womb lacks in fertility, the soil of my heart more than makes up for. Jesus has nurtured those seeds planted so that I would be ready to embrace with joy the path set before me. I thank God for preparing me for this journey from a young age so that now I am able to face it with a heart that is whole and is held in Jesus’ hands.
But why are there so many good Christian couples who struggle to conceive or carry to term? I have pondered this for years, and my take-away is probably going to step on some toes. I do not want to offend anyone, I simply wish to share my thoughts.
James 1 tells us that “Religion our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress…”.
There are so many children in need of a home, in need of a family. But the majority of God’s people have turned a blind eye. And those who are unable to conceive often seek treatment and medical interventions of all kinds, exhausting resources and every other option, only turning to adoption as a last resort.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t judge couples who choose this route. Quite the opposite. Some of the most godly couples I know have sought medical intervention for infertility. Some of the most precious children I know were born as a result. I rejoice with them when pregnancy is achieved. I grieve with them when it is not.
But what if one of the reasons there are so many Christians struggling through this same trial is that we have failed to carry out his command? God is trying to wake us up from our slumber, from our pursuit of the American dream. God is trying to make us break out of this box of conventional thinking. He is trying to show us the sad reality that we have failed the poor and the broken, the orphan and the widow, and we have left them to be the responsibility of our government.
Now, I don’t believe that the loving God I serve made me unable to bear children. No, the sinful, broken world in which I live brought about my disease. I do believe that my loving God works all things to the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He allows circumstances in our lives that either make or break us. My loving, all knowing, all powerful God uses the good and especially the bad to further His kingdom.
So what if we, instead of seeking to further our own bloodlines, chose to further the kingdom God? What if we stepped up and took in the orphan? What if we opened our hearts and our homes to children we did not bear? What if we made ourselves available to the kids who need mentors, mothers and father figures to look up to? What if we stopped seeking what we think is best for us and instead began to seek after God’s heart? What if we prayed for God’s kingdom to come here on earth, and what if we were willing to do what it takes to make that happen?
I have felt the hurt of being told I will never bear children. But I have also felt the healing that comes from letting go of my desires and embracing whatever it is God has planned for me.
To the woman who is hurting, to the man who is aching at the thought of never having a son, to the couple that is struggling with the decisions that are ahead of you: You are not alone. Whatever you decide, there is no shame. There is no judgment here, only love. I pray that God will guard your heart during such a painful time as this. I pray that you are protected. I pray that your heart will become a fertile garden, ready to receive the seeds that God wants to sow in your life.
And above all, I pray for God’s kingdom to come.