I am a woman of many words. I love to talk, I love to write, I love to express, I love to communicate. I feel that in order to truly understand the things that are most important to me, I must verbalize and record them.
So why is it so hard for me to capture in words all that I have learned and experienced in the past few months?
I sit down, and I try to write blog posts or journal entries about our adoption journey, and I just can’t do it. It’s not that it is too sad or too hard for me—it’s just that I don’t have the words. I have learned so much more than I can possibly verbalize in one sitting. I feel like it will come out little by little over the months and years.
I’m finally getting around to writing about the adoption conference that we attended a few weeks ago. I wrote a fairly impersonal report of the event for the regional Families Supporting Adoption blog (you can read what I wrote here), but I wanted to capture a few more of my intimate feelings, so my friends and family can understand a bit better what the adoption process is like.
The adoption conference in Kirtland was truly an enlightening experience. I’d say it changed my entire outlook on adoption, while also strengthening my faith. Prior to the conference, we had been contacted several times by expectant mothers who were considering us to adopt their babies. I usually get a contact every couple of weeks. Some of these contacts are not serious—just one email, and I never hear from them again. Other contacts are more promising, even including phone calls with the family. The serious contacts are initially very exciting but eventually become very devastating because I can’t help but get my heart involved. Emotionally, it’s somewhat like a miscarriage when a birth family stops communicating with us.
We had a particularly tough week just prior to the adoption conference. I was getting discouraged about myself (“Why aren’t these families picking us?”) and a little angry with God (“Why can’t I just have a baby to love?”). Life didn’t feel fair.
At the conference, we were surrounded by other couples who understand perfectly what we are going through. Some of them waited for years before getting a child; some of them waited only a few months; some of them are still waiting. Some of them have adopted multiple children; some have adopted only one. But I felt strengthened by their stories, and I realized that their children were definitely intended for them—that God had a plan for them all along. If this is true for them, then it must be true for me as well. Eventually, I will get the children that the Lord intends for me. And I’ve always felt that He intends for me to have a lot of them. One day, when I have a house full of rascals, I will look back and think, “What was I so worried about?”
I attended a class taught by a young mom who experienced five reversed adoptions before they finally got to keep their second son. Yes, five times, they had a baby placed in their arms, they took the baby home, and then the baby was taken away because the birth mother changed her mind. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of having that experience once, let alone five times. It was inspiring to hear her explain how she dealt with the pain. It also made me realize that our little trials are not so rough.
A highlight of the conference was a “birth mother panel.” Young women who have placed their babies for adoption told their stories and answered questions. They all spoke with reverence about their experiences and explained that they felt God guiding them as they chose the family with which to place their babies. Not all of these women were or are religious, but they all felt that things worked out “the way that they were supposed to.”
I often wonder what that phrase means—“the way that they were supposed to.” How much of our lives are planned/controlled by God? How much does He mean to happen, and how much does He just allow to happen? I know that we all have free will and agency, so it’s not like He dictates exactly what we are going to do. I don’t think He intends for teenage girls to get pregnant. However, I do know that once these teenage girls do get pregnant, He has the ability and desire to help everything work out for the best. He can take an experience that could be considered a trial and turn it into a blessing for all involved. That is the power of His Atonement.
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
God may not have intended for me to have fertility problems, but He has promised that He will work it out for me somehow so that it will be for my good and so that I will still be able to fulfill my calling as a mother. At the adoption conference, I felt that truth settle on me, and I’ve felt an uncanny peace in the weeks that have followed. Sure, I’ve had a few meltdowns (just ask Ryan), but for the most part, something inside of me is saying, “It’s all going to be okay, Rachel. Just hang on.”
Because we are using an adoption agency that gives expectant mothers the opportunity to choose the adoptive family, we have no guarantees about a time frame. This type of adoption is a supreme test in the ability to wait. Everything is uncertain. I have no control—none—and I have to learn to be okay with that.
I am proud to say that I am learning. By nature, I am a control freak. I am impatient. I am used to working for what I want. I must say that as much as this experience hurts me, it is good for me. I can feel myself changing.
Which leads me to my last religious thought for the day. (Well, at least my last religious thought to be shared on a public blog.) In Psalms 27:14, we are promised, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
I am waiting. And He is strengthening me.