Thursday, December 26, 2013

When going through a time of suffering, it is easy to think and feel as though your suffering is ultimate. Surely, no one understands what you are going through and their suffering can't possibly compare the pain and grief that you feel. While it feels this way, deep down we all know and realize that, even though this may be the most painful thing that we have ever experienced and far more painful than we could have ever imagined, there are those whose suffering far outweighs that of which we are experiencing.

To me, infertility has many times felt like a death that I have experienced over and over again. You may think that that sounds dramatic, but it is the only thing I can compare it to. It feels as though the one thing that I want most in this world has been stolen from me, my husband and my marriage in the most selfish of ways. We never had a choice, it was simply because of the way Elias was born. Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair or right.

I was blessed and humbled this weekend to be reminded that maybe we are being spared something horrible. I have never written about this, because I didn't know if it was my place. However, I asked Elias and he didn't seem to think that there was any reason for me not to. Elias had a brother that he unfortunately never had the chance to know. His name was Eric, he was my mother-in-law's first born baby and he had Cystic Fibrosis. This is no secret. Many people remember Eric, but since Elias never knew him, we don't talk about him often. Beginning last Christmas, Malinda (my mother-in-law), began a book of some of her writings for all of us kids. Last year, I was humbled as I read her account of having Elias and finding out that he had Cystic Fibrosis after losing Eric four years earlier. This was something I had wondered about in the past, but it seemed too personal to ask about. This year, I was even more humbled as I read her story of Eric; his birth, struggling to learn why he wasn't growing, his diagnosis, his life and his death at the age of 7 1/2. Eric was born 11 years before Elias with a more severe case of CF when there were less treatments. I don't write this to tell Malinda's story for her or to tell Eric's story for him. I write this because as I read her account and the pain that she, my father-in-law and Elias' oldest sister went through, I am challenged to look at my own story of suffering and think of how much worse it could be. I have to wonder, is there something when my egg and Elias' sperm come to together that would not result in a health baby? Even though the embryos look fine, is this actually God's grace on our lives, keeping us from an even greater pain?

There is no way for me to know, and it's probably better that way. It's so easy to take suffering at face value and wonder "why me?" while forgetting that sometimes, there is a reason. I don't think all suffering has a reason or a purpose, what would that say about a mother losing a child? But I do think that we can all grow because of suffering even, or maybe especially, if it breaks us in the process.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Most of you know that for awhile I was dead set against doing foster care. When we first announced that we were pursuing adoption and needed to fundraise to make that happen, many well intentioned people suggested foster care because it's "free" (I'll explain why I put that in quotes later). I have to admit, I felt like so many people were suggesting or in some cases even pushing foster care that I got annoyed (if you are one that suggested this, please bear with me). I felt like they just didn't "get it". I felt like some, not all, people were suggesting that it would be "easy" to adopt from foster care, which, in most cases, it's not. I felt like they truly didn't understand the emotional loss that we felt from failed transfers of our precious live embryos.

Now, almost two years since our first failed transfer, we are in the process of becoming foster parents AND I'm at peace with this path. Back when we were first beginning the fundraising process, we were in no place to become foster parents, I can see that now. I was experiencing the worst grief of my life and I was in a dark and depressed place. To try and parent a child that has experienced trauma, while working with their birth parents in effort to reunite them, and have them leave our home, love and care, was not an option. I would not have been able to view their birth parents with grace and I would not have been able to work toward reunification in the way that is needed. I could not accept this as an option for our family in that space and the very suggestion of it made me bitter. Even a year ago when we took classes, we weren't ready as a couple to pursue this path. Now, we see that it is what God has called us to do.

I've always said that I wish God would just spell out his plans for us because I'm a horrible listener. Well, he has closed every other door and has left us with foster care. I don't think it could be any clearer. I confided to a friend yesterday, who is also a foster mother, that this is definitely not the path I would have chosen for us. Adoption was never a plan "B" for us (it was always part of the plan), but fostering with the goal of adoption was not even in my plans! I have seen families foster and let me tell you, it's tough! It may be "free" financially, but it is definitely not "free" emotionally.  But, when God calls you to a tough path, knowing that you have been called makes the process a little easier and there is peace in the chaos.

Opening our home has been a long process thus far. We were supposed to have our homevisit yesterday, but due to weather, it has been postponed until next week. We also need to get new physicals and they need to write up our homestudy before we can be open. Once we are open, we wait. (sound familiar?) We may be waiting awhile since we are only open to younger children who have a high chance of being freed for adoption, but in the foster care/adoption world, you never know. In the meantime, we are working on training our furbaby to be better around new people. It's a work in progress, but we thank everyone who has been understanding and has followed the "rules" when entering our home. Elias will continue on with school and I will continue with work. We will also continue enjoying our time as a family of 3, which gets shorter every day. If you have donated to our adoption, your donations are safe in separate account that is set aside for any adoption related costs that could come up with foster care, or for a future adoption and we are thankful for every penny! Please keep praying for us as we explore a new, and hopefully final, path to adding to our family.