About 15 years ago Reagan and I did what most married couples decide to do at some point in their marriage. We began trying to start a family. We ceased using any form of birth control. I talked with my doctor about our plans and, we assumed, as many do, that we'd be pregnant sometime in the next few months.
Now, what some may not know about me is, I'm an "all in" kind of person. When I begin working on a project, I become consumed by it. I create a timeline with a checklist. I research. I Google everything I can on the subject. I buy books and do everything to become an "expert" (in my own mind) on what I'm about to do. I've told people many times that I am the "Alex P. Keaton" of my family. So, as we began to think about and plan for a family, I began researching and reading. I read countless books on conception, birth, babies - anything that remotely spoke of preparing for adding a child or children to your family. I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" from cover to cover. I was scared to death, but I was ready.
Well, those books, while educational, turned out to be of no use to me. Our expectations, as they were, soon changed. When we found that we were unable to conceive biological children, my reading material changed to books such as "Infertility: Finding Hope in the Journey." Then as we turned toward adoption, I read "Dear Birthmother." There were many other books and articles that helped me through each of those steps in our journey.
We suffered adoption loss after adoption loss. It's been no secret that I reached a point from which those closest to me thought I might not recover. And I might not have were it not for my strong, faithful husband and a few very close friends who counseled and loved me through that deep, dark time. On the other side of that loss, I read what was probably my favorite book/Bible study ever, Angela Thomas' "Do You Think I'm Beautiful?" The scriptures and illustrations Angela shared from God's word showed me that I could lift my head, and dance, even through pain.
Reading, searching, praying, seeking counsel - through all of those things that God used to lift me through those dark days, there was one thing that I read early on, in a book or article that I can't remember at the moment, that has stuck with me through every decision we've faced on this journey toward the family that God planned for us. I read something similar to these words, "Don't place a period where God intends a comma. And don't place a comma where God intends a period."
I thought on those words many times. What those words impressed on me was that there are times in my life when I'm going to feel like giving up and saying I'm done. But, really what God wants me to do in many of those situations is take a breath, like when I see a comma in a sentence, then keep going. Oh the commas we've seen in our journey these last 15 years. Then, there are also times, when I really want to continue in a path, but I have to be mindful that perhaps God is telling me, "Ok, that's enough. This is the end of this part of the story." In those times, if I continue with the analogy I've started, God wants me to place a period.
We tried everything we possibly could to conceive a child of our own, only to find it was not possible, and were heartbroken beyond words... Comma... We began to pursue In Vitro Fertilization, then found out even that was not an option for conception... Comma... We pursued adoption, and had failure after failure... Comma... We continued even after loss and were given the most beautiful, smartest little girl we could have ever prayed for... We tried embryo adoption, and had no resulting positive pregnancy.... Comma... Take a breath... Keep going... Comma...
When Sara Madalin was about 18 months old we began preliminary paperwork with our adoption agency in hopes of adopting a second child. Going in, we knew we had two strikes against us. For one, we already had a child. Most birthmothers, when looking at profiles, prefer to place their child with a couple who does not have children. We've been told, by birthmothers who've placed through our agency, that they feel they are giving couples a special gift by giving them their first child. And, indeed they are. Second, our age is working against us. This might be a surprise to a few who read our blog, but we are getting on up there. Reagan more so than I. (Ahem) Most birthmothers prefer to place their child with a couple younger than us.
But we continued with our paperwork. Again. Every year since 2005 (with the exception of 2008 and 2009, right after SM was born) we've had blood drawn to test for HIV. We've had needles stuck our arms to test for TB. We've reported our financial earnings. We've been fingerprinted for background checks. We've been to doctors for full physicals. We've answered numerous questions, paid more money in fees than I want to think about, and sat through countless seminars, training, and counseling sessions. All for a family... Comma, after comma.
Last Summer, when we began to fill out our yearly paperwork to renew our home study for the next year, we began to talk about how much longer we were willing to wait with our agency. We certainly don't blame the agency, but having been with them for so long - on and off since 2005 - and not having a placement - it just seems a little futile to us. We discussed on and off all year what we would do when it was time to renew our application this Summer. Little by little, we came to the same conclusion. In the area of waiting - something we've done for so, so long - it is time for a period.
Are we still open to adoption if God brings a child into our lives? Yes. We've had numerous calls from friends who know someone who knows someone, etc. in the past year. We usually have a call or two every year like that. But nothing ever works out. So, given that track record, we feel pretty confident in saying that Sara Madalin will be our only child. If God sends us a child in the way He brought Sara Madalin to us, yes we'd adopt again. But we have decided that we will no longer actively wait with an agency. It's a difficult, and for me especially, emotional decision. But it's time.
I want to say thank you to anyone who reads our blog who has prayed for us these past 15 years, through every tear and every joyful moment as God worked to build our little family. Thank you for your encouraging emails. Thank you for reading as I have blogged all the events and emotions that we've faced throughout our adoption journeys. We've been truly blessed to have such caring, loving, encouraging people in our lives. We have always said, and continue to believe, that God is good, and He is faithful. He always has been to us, and we know He always will be.