Confession of a Mummy by adoption…

7233048434_f9c0099a23_o.jpgWhen somebody has a baby, my first reaction is an overwhelming flood of grief. My heart aches, my stomach feels heavy and empty at the same time. My ears burn and my head spins.

Not because I am not happy for them – I am absolutely delighted, and so excited to meet the new arrival, and so relieved that everything went smoothly.

And it’s not because I regret how my own journey to parenthood has gone. I am grateful to God for those years of infertility – for how I learnt more to lean on him, for how the journey brought me the long way round to just the right moment when my path would cross with these wonderful little boys and they would become mine. I would not swap my boys for 10 babies from my own body.

It’s just that every time I hear that news, the memory of the feelings I had when it was painful, when I was bitter, wash over me. I don’t know if that will ever not happen. So I brace myself, I grit my teeth and I pray.

And the feeling passes, it always does. Then I give myself a little shake, dust off the self-pity and go shopping for baby clothes.

But please bear with me, while I wait for it to pass; because I am truly happy, but it is not easy.

Photo: Flickr user Harald Groven 2012

The road less travelled…

Recently we have spent a good deal of time with dear friends who are either pregnant, or parenting young children. This is a great joy, and we love imagining it is our own children making crumbs and chewing the coasters as we get ready to welcome them home. It also, at times makes me question why our journey to parenthood is so  different, and seemingly more difficult. From the outset, I know this is unfair. Every journey is different, and every hurdle feels insurmountable when we first face it, so I do not wish to belittle other peoples struggles, I’m just trying to be honest about how I sometimes feel.

The news of another pregnancy, or a casual remark about the ease of getting pregnant can trigger old feelings of shame, anger and guilt. There was definitely a stage when I grieved for pregnancy and the newborn child with my hair and my husband’s nose, this is not what I feel now. I have loved the highs and lows of our journey and I love our children-to-be, I would not swap them for 10 children from my own womb. But I have never quite shaken the shame and guilt I first felt when my body didn’t do what it was supposed to. We have never had any medical confirmation that one or both of us is infertile, or if we just have exceptionally bad timing! But I have always felt, deep down, that it is my fault. Somehow I am broken. And while I don’t dwell on this anymore, certain things will trigger that old shame and frustration that once overwhelmed me.

Today has been one of those days. And as I started up the stairs to bed tonight, I was reminded that our journey isn’t an accident. It’s not chance, or bad luck that led to our pain, frustration and finally to the joy of adoption. I have a Heavenly Father who knows me fully and loves me completely, and He has planned every day of my life. He has chosen this journey for me, for us, because he cares. Somehow, it is for our good, and His glory.

I cannot claim to know God’s reasons, but one thing I do know is that if we had conceived when we planned, we would not be adopting children for several more years from now. Which means that those two little boys that we have fallen in love with, would have been adopted by somebody else. If we believe, as we do, that God is in control of His world, then we must conclude that God brought them and us to this point and this time because He wanted us to be a family. And that is pretty special.

13067014944_0ea3967f8e_o.jpgGod didn’t forget about us when He was planning out the families, He’s saved 2 little boys for 4 years just for us. Yes, our journey to being a family has looked different to a lot of other people. Yes it’s hurt more than some other journeys. But it is the journey planned for us by our loving Heavenly Father before either of us took our first breath. We cannot compare our journey to other people’s. God knows all of His children, and He knows the right journey for them.

We trust completely that His plans are good, and we cannot wait to meet the children He has chosen for us.

Image: Wonderlane (2014)

The Blessing of Childlessness

Believe me, those are not two words I ever thought I’d put together.

All I’ve ever wanted is to be a mother, to look after my family, and then to be a grandmother. And I was going to be really good at it. I’ve always been involved in children’s work at church, and it was something I was good at.

I was pretty sure I would be a very good mum.

Soon after we got married we decided to try and conceive naturally. We’d just joined a brand new church plant and most of the team were young married couples. It felt like everyone was having babies so we didn’t want to be left out! We read books about parenting, we planned how on earth we’d fit a baby into our one-bedroomed flat, we wrote a list of baby names. Every time we visited a family with young children, we’d talk about how they parented and what we would do the same and what we would do differently. We were pretty ready.

But God had other plans.

DSCF4785.JPG6 months. 1 year. 18 months. 19 months. 20 months. We were getting impatient. People were having their second babies, their third! People would say things like, “just you wait, you don’t know the meaning of tired!” “Are you free to babysit? It’ll be good practice!” “Drinking wine? You mustn’t be pregnant!” “Going to the cinema? You lucky things – make the most of it!” Well we didn’t want to wait anymore, we didn’t want any more practice! And we certainly didn’t feel lucky.

Soft cheese and wine are not a good trade off for a child.

We knew we were becoming a bit obsessed and we knew it wasn’t good for our marriage. We needed a strong marriage in which to raise children, and on which to build a life when the children grow up and move on. We purposely decided not to pursue medical advice for lots of reasons and so we decided to stop talking or thinking or trying, and just to enjoy each other, enjoy being married. To an extent it worked, we grew closer and more in love, but the desire for children of our own never went away. Last summer we decided to move on with Plan A and apply for adoption. We’d just bought our house and inherited some money, we were in a much more sensible position and much more likely to be approved!

The closer we get to meeting our children, the more we appreciate our years of childlessness.

Recently we’ve been listening to The Valley of Vision by Sovereign Grace, and it’s helped me to vocalise some of the things I’ve learnt:

  1. Motherhood had become my idol. I longed for my children more than I longed for my Father. “You stripped me of everything I would depend on, so I’d depend on You.”
  2. My bitterness was not other people’s fault because I’d been wronged, it was deeply rooted in pride. “And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision, it’s here Your glory shines so bright. So let me learn… that my losses are my gain, to be broken is to heal, that the valley’s where You make me more like Christ.”
  3. Jesus suffered much more than I ever will, in order to bring an end to my suffering. “You knew darkness that I might know light. Wept great tears that mine might be dried.”

Although it still hurts deeply, we thank God for our time of childlessness. For how He has grown us and cared for us; for the time we have had to serve others and to learn from them; and most of all we thank God that He gave up His only child for us.

“He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD!” – Psalm 113

Adoption was always Plan A

Since telling people that we’re on the road to adoption, one of the questions we get asked most frequently is “why aren’t you having your own?”

This hurts because we are! The children we adopt will be absolutely ours, our very own.

But it also hurts because the assumption behind the question is that adoption is somehow less than biologically conceiving and giving birth to a child.

Growing up, adoption was normal – my aunt was adopted before I was born. My parents did a lot of work with families where drugs and alcohol ruled. I saw firsthand how destructive these were, as well as spending time with children who were neglected as a result. And so from a young age, Adoption was always Plan A. When I met my husband we talked about this from the beginning, and he was always in agreement.

As Christians, adoption is a massive part of our faith.

The Bible tells us that we have been adopted by our Father God, that he has made us heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ. This is a massive deal! God, the Creator and Ruler of the world chose us in His great love to be His children, to share in all the good things He gives His Son (Ephesians 1:4-6, Romans 8:16-17).  And the Bible tells us that this was always God’s plan, we weren’t an afterthought, it says He chose us before the beginning of creation! Adoption was always Plan A!

DSCF4748.JPGOn our hearth we have a framed quote, it says:

“It’s important to realise that we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued.”

Like all children, we mimic our Father.

Now this doesn’t devalue the beauty of conceiving and giving birth to a biological child. The Bible speaks very highly of this. It’s another way we can mimic our Father, who created people in His own image. There is something so wonderful about growing a child from nothing. Another beautiful picture of our God who created us.

When we got married we wanted to try and start growing our family straight away.

We started trying to conceive and contacted our local council to enquire about adoption within the first year. The council said that as we planned to have both biological and adoptive children, they would prefer for us to have the biological ones first. And so for three years we put our adoption dreams on hold and concentrated on that. How long do you wait before you wonder if there’s a problem? We didn’t know. But after three years we decided to stop waiting and to carry on with Plan A.

We haven’t had tests, we don’t know if we can conceive naturally or not. All we know is that so far we haven’t managed to, and that’s OK! We won’t be any less parents because our children are adopted. Adoption isn’t the consolation prize, it isn’t the last resort. It’s how we always planned to grow our family because it is a powerful and beautiful thing. Later we may adopt again, or we may continue trying to conceive. We may decide we have our hands too full to consider more children, or we may be rejected at panel and never be parents.

Ultimately, whatever happens to our plans we know that we can’t miss out on God’s Plan A for our lives. And so as our loving Father, we will trust Him with the future, whatever it brings.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21