I haven't been ignoring the fact that I posted about ending our adoption journey and then haven't said anything more. But I have been grieving and I haven't had the heart to write about it. Until now. I think General Conference last week bolstered my spirit. I feel stronger and feel I can now share a little with you.
We began this journey 5 years ago knowing that at least one more child needed to come to our family. How did we know that? We just did. And when you feel that pull, you act. Some people work to get pregnant. We filled out paperwork. We felt very strongly about China. Ruthie would have a sister that looked a lot like her. She talked about black hair and almond shaped eyes and about how they could think about China together. But very quickly we saw that going to China was a long shot. The process was slowing significantly. 2 years into the wait, I struggled with depression. The wait became a huge burden. My heart could hardly stand it. Would we ever come to the day when we would meet our child?
A year and a half later, we felt very strongly that a child would be born here and we needed to be ready. That was a shocking experience. Our prayers thus far had been answered with “Be still. Wait. It will come. Don't change anything.” So we never thought we'd be doing anything different. But now, another child would be coming. Did that mean 5 kids? Could we do it? Of course we could.
So we prayed about where to begin our paperwork and got our answer. We went to LDSFS. I was not fully into it, to tell the truth. I thought that if we went to another agency, our desires would be met easier. But when the Lord commands, we do it. And we're always right! I learned a lot during that process. I gained a deep respect for birth mothers. For a very short time after Ruthie's adoption, I had been grateful that we didn't have to “deal” with a birth mom. Can you even believe it?! But very quickly after she came to our family, I grieved for the loss of knowing her birth mom. Ruthie and I would have long conversations about who she is and what she does and what her name could be. For a little while we called her Abigail.
During the classes we took with LDSFS, I began to love our future birth mom as if she were already a part of our family. We were jazzed about the prospect. Our kids were so excited to have another baby come while waiting to go to China. We felt that because of the urgency we felt to get started so quickly we would have a baby very quickly. So we began what we hoped would be a short wait. Again.
During that wait Daniel and I received very distinct and specific answers and direction. In October we felt an urgency to have a family fast for our birth mom on the first of November. What a marvelous experience. Then we felt an urgency to get our pass along cards out to everyone we know. We sent those out for Christmas. Then our answer was to “Be still. Wait.” Of course.
By July, we were emotionally and mentally exhausted. We had been riding this roller coaster for so many years. When were we going to have our turn?? In August Daniel and I talked about pulling all our paperwork and finally being done. But we were still being told to wait. So Daniel suggested we take 6 months and see what happens. And if, at the end of 6 months, we still didn't have any changes in our situation, we would give ourselves permission to be done. I looked at the calender. February 5 was the timetable. My 40th birthday. I guess turning 40 is old enough to say my family is done. So we waited. Again.
In January, only 5 months into the 6 month time-line, and 5 years since beginning this whole journey, I wanted to just be done. China was still years away and the special needs program was not the right path for our family. We still hadn't had a birth mom look seriously at us. We had been preparing ourselves to be done and I needed to just move on. We gathered our kids and told them. That was a really crappy Saturday for all of us. The following Tuesday I called our agencies. Our caseworker at LDSFS was hesitant, but said she would pull us.
Then on Thursday I got an email from my sister in law. A man she works with has a niece with a 6 month old baby girl she must place quickly. She told him about us. Daniel and I talked quickly and decided that, since our deadline hadn't come, we should go for it. So I called our caseworker again. She had been slow to get to our paperwork so we were still in place. If she had pulled us, we wouldn't have been able to go through the agency. The next couple of weeks moved quickly. Yet they went so slow. We knew that this baby could quite possible be ours. She was conceived when we had our family fast. She was born but not placed when Daniel and I felt defeated and wanted to be done. Birth mom got serious about placing just before our deadline. I had a powerful experience when looking for a name for her, among many other experiences. And then there were all the tender mercies. How could she not be ours?
Last July a good friend told me something that I blew off as insensitive and dumb. She said, “Maybe she (birth mom) chose something different.” Whatever. Heavenly Father has a plan. And that plan is perfect. But looking at the birth of this baby, I realized that she did choose something different. She tried to parent, even though she had looked into placing. But that statement came to mind again, more strongly, very quickly.
We learned that birth mom placed with another family. I felt like we had been tossed aside and rejected cruelly. Grief came quickly and harshly. My heart felt like it had been ripped to shreds by a young girl who didn't understand how important this baby was to us. This was a brutal loss for our family. This baby could have been placed with us. But birth mom chose something different. Not wrong, because either couple could be considered “right”. Just a different choice than what we would have chosen.
Over the past weeks my grief has been very real. It is lessening, but is still there. This is a loss. The loss of a dream of more kids in our family. The loss of a trip to China to pick up our daughter. The loss of having another child sealed to our family for eternity. The loss of bottles and hiccups and giggles and diapers and teething toys. I cleaned out the baby and toddler stuff from our basement quickly. I didn't go to several baby showers. I haven't held my new niece. I walk away when I know I won't be able to bear it. I cover my heart when new babies or pregnancies are announced. I cry when there is nothing left to say.
In conference, Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared an experience once shared by Elder Hugh B. Brown, who had purchased a run down farm. As he cleaned up and repaired, he found a current bush standing more than 6 feet tall and bearing no fruit. So Elder Brown cut that current bush way back to just stumps. He saw what looked like tears coming up from the stump and could almost hear the bush cry and say, “How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” Elder Brown replied, “I am the gardener and I know what I want you to be. I don't want you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a current bush. And one day when you are laden with currents you are going to say “Thank you for loving me enough to cut me down”.”
I had already asked the question. Feeling like I had been cut back too far, I did go to Him and say, “I thought you were the Gardener here. How could you do this to me? Why did I have to be cut back so far?” And Heavenly Father, in that moment of conference, answered, “I am the Gardener here. And I know what I want you to be.”
I wear a purple bracelet that says Lyndsay No Regrets. Lyndsay's dad gave it to me after she passed away. I have always worn it as a reminder of my sweet Lyndsay. But its message has helped me these past weeks. I don't know the complete worth of these past 5 years. I do know that I don't regret any of it. Would I do it again knowing there wouldn't be a baby at the end? Well, right now, today, I would seriously have to ponder that. But knowing all I've learned and how much I've grown and matured and stretched, I would do it in a heartbeat! Why? Because I trust God. I trust Him with my life and my family. He knows me. He knows the righteous desires of my heart, even if I won't be blessed with them all in this life. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”
Only one part of our journey is over. There is much more of our whole journey ahead. And as I now begin to grow again as a pruned back bush, I look forward to the day when I will be able to say to the Gardener, without sadness, with tears of gratitude and with a bound up heart, “Thank you for loving me enough to cut me down”, because then I will see just what He sees I can be.