As a 12-year-old girl I remember watching one of those sappy commercials where a family played joyfully in front of their cute little house with a white picket fence. I turned to my friend and said, “I cannot wait for the day when I have a husband and children.”
My friend nearly spit out her drink. She said, “WHAT??! I am not getting married until I am at least 30!” She couldn’t fathom why I didn’t look forward to high school, or my college years, or my 20s.
But all I wanted was to be a wife and mother.
Eleven years later I was married to the man of my dreams and we were eager to start a family. I was finally in that place, with the husband and the house. I just needed the baby in my belly. My sister had five, my brother four, and I wanted at least that many. I talked about the desire to adopt, but really I planned to just pop out babies.
Until they didn’t come.
Year after year, test after test, try after try, they didn’t come.
My heart turned bitter and angry and cold.
You know how infertile people say of their pregnant friends how they are “so happy for them” but sad for themselves?
I was wretched.
I loathed them; I despised them. I simply wanted to stop being their friend.
I hated myself for that.
I hated those around me for being pregnant.
I hated that stupid little dream that didn’t seem like it would ever come true.
Not so pretty. My poor family, they didn’t know what to do with me.
But God did.
He had a plan for me. It was to wring me out until the yuck came to the surface and left for good. His plan included teaching me to rely on HIM and HIS timing and HIS plan. To stop needing to be so in control. To run to HIM to meet my needs. Plain and simple, God wouldn’t give me a baby until I gave him my heart. All of it.
God has a different plan for all whom he allows to go through infertility, I am sure of it. But for me, this was His plan.
I was turned inside out and upside down.
I reached an all time low in February 2008 when my sister gave birth and, in the same week, we lost a baby who was “supposed” to be ours through adoption.
But this time the low was different. I could see the transformation that God had been doing in me, because this time, I didn’t hate the world. I grieved, yes, and I suffered, for sure, but this time I CLUNG to my Savior. I learned a new way of trusting HIM with my life.
And from that day forward my family was HIS.
No matter what it looked like, no matter how it came. I was tired of trying things my way, and I submitted to Him.
We eventually got pregnant with our son Brighton though IVF. What pure joy. I adored being a mom, every single second of it. It was every thing I’d imagined it and much more.
My heart was full.
When we first married, my husband told me he wanted to foster parent some day. Simply put, it sounded like the worst job ever. I couldn’t fathom why you would want to take care of other people’s kids… and possibly broken ones at that.
I knew we would have to get on the same page, so I started praying right then. Five years later we were finally parents and God started pressing on my heart the desire to take care of more children, whichever ones He had in mind for us.
So while we were living in Chicago, we started fostering through a volunteer organization. We had eight kids over the next two years. What a process that was on my heart! So much growth; more yuck wrung out.
I was being stretched and strengthened in all sorts of ways. On the one hand, I loved being a foster mom. On the other hand it brought new selfishness to light that I never knew I had! I had to learn to love children who weren’t my own (and wouldn’t stay with me) as my own.
It was hard.
More clinging. More growth. More yuck out.
When our son was 10 months old we started tying to adopt baby #2, but slowly and surely our hearts were broken over and over again. Four failed matches and no hope on the horizon. God was once again teaching me how to rely on him at entirely new depths. It was painful and devastating at times, but I knew my God would never fail me, as long as I clung to him.
Finally the day came and our baby girl was born. It came out of nowhere and within a day and a half she was born and in our arms. Two weeks later, we almost lost her. It was tragic and horrendous, but this time, no matter how painful, I released her. I was starting to realize that no matter how bad things seem God’s plan is ALWAYS better than our own. We can’t always see it, or even understand it, but I was truly beginning to understand. So, spiritually, I released her.
Two days later we found out she would be ours forever. She is my miracle.
We moved to Wisconsin a month later, and when we did, we left behind a family very special to us.
A woman whose daughter we loved and for four months was finally starting to make it on her own. We gave her half our furniture for her first place and we moved away.
Seven months after we moved, we found out she was struggling to make it and was going to have to go back to a shelter. I had never seen her so low.
When she told me she had a month to get out of her apartment, I hung up the phone and sobbed. My heart was broken.
We had so much, and she had so little.
I told my husband I thought she should move in with us. He immediately agreed. (I love that man.)
We called her back and told her if she wanted the offer stood.
After much persuasion (she couldn’t fathom we actually wanted her), we loaded up a U-haul and brought her north to live with us.
We have been living as a family for eight months. It has its trying moments, but it works. We feel blessed to have a house to share, food to feed people, and the desire to say yes when the Lord asks.
So much growth; more yuck out.
Four months after “Mama I” and her kids moved in, we were foster care licensed in our new home state.
Our house was under construction to add bedrooms, so I could barely hear the social worker over the roar as she asked, “Can you take a newborn?” My husband and I looked at each other and in a split second both said, “Yes!” We had plenty of room.
So into our lives came Baby A. At 10 days old I picked her up from the hospital. She won’t stay forever, but we will love her like she will.
My house is full. VERY full. Three adults, a newborn, a 1 year old, a 2 year old, two 3 year olds and an annoying dog.
And I would add more in a second.
Only through God’s strength would I stay sane, but I would if it’s what He wanted.
My family doesn’t look one bit like I imagined. You can’t line us up nice and pretty in order of age or identify who belongs together by race. I have a brown daughter, a white daughter who won’t stay forever, and I have two brown children who aren’t mine, but whom I answer when they call me mommy. I have a sister in Christ who works along side of me, and a husband who works so hard to support us all. I have my miracle boy who came from my body, but I often forget he is the only one, as I reminisce about the birth of my daughter. (Forgetting I wasn’t the one doing the pushing!)
God has changed my heart 180 degrees, but I am a work in progress. He removes more yuck daily and growth continues.
There are days I wish I didn’t share my house and days I wish I only had to love children who got to stay forever. There are days I wish no heart ache occurred for our children to come to us (on our end and for their birth moms). Those are the days I cling even more. Those are the days I see how far I still have to go.
And slowly God continues to wring out the yuck.
Five years ago had you shown me a photo of the children in my house, I wouldn’t have believed you. My arms were empty and my heart was aching. Now my arms are aching (because I have heavy babies!) and my heart is full.
I wouldn’t trade this house full of ridiculously young children for the world. They won’t all stay forever, and more will come and go. But this is the family God designed for us. A mish-mashed family. Had I never gone through so much pain and suffering, which resulted in so much growth and yuck removal, I would have failed Him miserably when he assigned me this task. I never would have known how to open up my heart and home to love so freely.
He is a good and faithful God. And His plans are ALWAYS best.