**To celebrate National Adoption Month, I have been posting some of my journal entries (written in the midst of our waiting) to try to give a clearer picture of what it's like to adopt. This journal entry was written four months after Katie first contacted us, two months before Noah was born.
June 6, 2011
When I was visiting Sarah in St. Louis in February, right after Katie found out the gender of the baby, we went shopping for some baby clothes. Sarah asked me how I was feeling—was I still sad about my infertility? Or had that been cancelled out by my excitement about the adoption? Did I wish we were shopping for maternity clothes?
It was an interesting question—and a thoughtful one. I felt grateful that she acknowledged the fact that I might still have some infertility sadness, since I felt too ungrateful admitting that to anyone. I told her that, yes, I was still sad about my infertility, but it was okay because of my excitement about the adoption. I told her that I’d learned to let go of my old dreams and to form new ones instead.
I’ve had to let go of a lot of dreams, both with fertility and adoption. At least for now, I’ve had to let go of the dream of being pregnant and giving birth to Ryan’s baby—a little boy or girl with his eyes and sweet nature. But I’ve formed a new dream: Kneeling across from Ryan at an altar in the temple, our little baby all dressed in white in between us, being sealed to us forever. A different moment, but surely just as sweet. I’ve also had to let go of some adoption dreams, like getting a baby while we were still in Buffalo so I could be close to all of my friends. I even had the dream of getting the baby with just a few weeks notice, not telling any of my friends, and then just inviting them over for dinner and surprising them. (Man, that would’ve been fun.) Instead, I will have to wait for six long months for the baby to arrive, and I won’t be with my friends when he comes. But my new dream is forging a special and close relationship with Katie, as we support each other through the pregnancy.
A few months ago, my friend Nelda wrote me the most profound letter (she’s good at that), and in the midst of telling me about a disappointment in her life, she wrote, “Sometimes our disappointments are someone else’s tender mercies.” I don’t know why that line hit me with such force, but it felt like a direct answer to my prayers. My infertility disappointment will hopefully be a tender mercy for Katie. Our adoption disappointments (with so many birth moms changing their minds about us) eventually became other adoptive couples’ tender mercies as they received babies. I used to feel jealous of those families that ended up with “our” babies, but now I can see that things have worked out the way that they were supposed to.
Nelda’s letter, which was dated February 13 (just a few days after we were initially contacted by Katie and before I was telling anyone), went on to say, “I went to the temple yesterday morning, thinking about you and Ryan. The temple is only two blocks from my house, so when I walk there I like to think about people who anciently went up to the temple in Jerusalem with their lambs or doves, ready to offer something to God. Yesterday, I was thinking about Elizabeth and Zacharias, whose prayers for a child probably included sacrifices. But I don’t have any doves to offer for Rachel and Ryan, I thought, so what should I bring? And I didn’t come up with an answer, other than the thought to write a letter to you, and to put your names on a little slip of paper to be prayed over in the temple. I heard a story recently about a Japanese fisherman who had a special request of his ancestors, so he rang the shrine’s bell three times to get his ancestors’ attention. And I thought about how wonderful it is to know that God’s attention is already on us, no bell-ringing required. I love you, Hermana, and wish you the best of Februarys.”
I am so blessed to have people in my life like Nelda, who think about me and pray for me and share in my joys and my pains. Feeling so much love and support was an unexpected dream come true throughout this adoption journey—something I probably wouldn’t have felt if I didn’t have fertility problems.
Life doesn’t always (or ever) turn out as planned—but God always has beautiful things in store for us. Somehow, He can always make “beauty for ashes.”
I think it's appropriate that this journal entry be posted during Thanksgiving Week. Ryan and I have so much to be grateful for. The experience of adopting Noah has been a dream come true in so many ways. We are thankful for him, for Katie and Drew, for family members and friends who have offered so much support and love, for our religion and the hope that it brings us, and most of all, for a loving Father in Heaven who brought little Noah Bug into our family.
I recently attended the funeral of a close family friend. Her life was one of challenges but always of joy and faith. She lost her mother at 15, and as an adult, she struggled with a period of depression and a period of infertility. In spite of her trials, she was one of the happiest, kindest, most Christ-like people I've ever know. She died of ovarian cancer, though she was only in her early fifties. I left her memorial service feeling inspired to follow her example and live a better, fuller, happier life.
Last Easter, she wrote her family a letter explaining how she had gained a testimony of Jesus Christ throughout her life, and her daughter read it at the funeral. She started in her childhood and touched on those experiences throughout her life that had defined and tried her faith. As she wrote about her years of infertility, she quoted a scripture from Job 23. It brought tears to my eyes.
"Behold I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him.
But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
I related so much to the longing expressed in the first few verses--the desire to find God and to know His will for your life. The waiting and wondering and praying and pleading. And then the declaration that even through those times of darkness and confusion, when it seems so difficult to decipher God's hand in your life, "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
I have learned so much and grown so much through our adoption journey. I would not change a moment of the heartache due to what it has taught me and where it has lead me.
After all, it lead to me this:
And surely that picture is my dream come true.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!