Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Falling off the monkey bars, and looking for joy

They tell you not to take it personally when you don't get chosen in an adoption opportunity.


It's easy enough to say, "Ok, we won't take it personally" .. until you get that phone call, like the one I got yesterday: "Well, for whatever reason, and we don't know what that is, but ... she went with a different family."  And suddenly you can't tell if the world has stopped spinning or if it's suddenly spinning so fast it makes you dizzy.  I've had a few people ask me today how I'm feeling, how I'm doing. Usually I say something like: "It is what it is, and we're survive."  (which is true) But, how does it really feel like for the childless one who just found out that a specific adoption dream has fallen apart?  Well, here it is - in all it's raw honesty.  I can only speak from my own experience but this is how it feels to me:

You know when you're a little kid and you fall off the money bars, and you land on your back so hard that for a moment you can't breath - the breath gets "knocked out" of you.  It feels a little bit like that.

You feel slightly relieved that at least the wait is over and you know, but at the same time you would give anything to go back to before you got the call - when you found yourself dreaming of how your baby would smell when you gave your baby a bath ... but there is no going back.

If you aren't with your spouse at the time, all you want is to be in his arms.  But, you also dread seeing the look of disappointment in his eyes.  And no matter how amazing he is, you feel like you need to apologize for being the barren one and making him go through this emptiness.  Even though you know he loves you and doesn't blame you - in that moment and as you process the end of this dream, you blame yourself.

You suddenly feel like you can't do it ever again.  No matter what comes, you literally cannot handle the broken feeling that comes at moments like these.  You want to call back your agency and tell them to take your name out of the list of names.  But, like most feelings, this one is often a see-saw of wanting to give up, and longing to find a different program, a new dream - because even though this is so painful, you are addicted to this dream.

You dread telling people. You feel like you are letting down your parents, siblings and friends who have been praying and excited with you. The joy of adopting is magnified by having family share in the excitement (I imagine), but the pain is also magnified when you see the disappointment in those who looked forward to welcoming a child into their lives too.

You wonder - even though your social worker specifically told you about 3 times that it wasn't personal and you would never know, you still wonder what exactly it was that made the birth parent choose someone else. It's fine to say it's not personal, but in that moment, all you know is that someone looked at pictures of you, read words you agonized over, and didn't choose you.  You feel embarrassed - like the kid who didn't get picked for the team.

All the insecurities of your life flood back .. I usually feel fat and ugly.  I know I'm not fat and ugly, but for whatever reason I feel that way whenever I get this news.  It's very weird - and the only thing I can think is that I am so vulnerable in that moment that all the insecurities of my youth flood back over me.

You know that feeling after you spend the whole day on your feet, in the hot sun, without any water?  Well, after I get this news I feel kind of like that.  I feel so incredibly exhausted in every way: emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  All I want is to curl in a ball under the blankets and make the bad dream stop.

This is how I feel.  So, how do I respond?  Initially, I react similarly to how I reacted when my Grammie (who I lived with and walked her last years on earth beside) died.  I keep going in a bit of a dazed determination.  I find things to do, and I cling with everything in me to the One who never leaves - Who has promised me an eternity with no tears or pain.  I disagree when people say that God never gives us more than we can handle.  It was too much to handle for me when I watched my Grammie take her last breaths on earth.  This unfulfilled dream of children is too much for me to handle. I have to depend on Him to handle it for me.  Or I wouldn't make it through.  I'm not that strong.  But, He is.

I'm thankful that in this moment, as I pack up my dreams for the next time they are awakened, my life is not ruled by how I feel.  Yes, it consumes me at times and is so overwhelmingly painful.  But, in the same times, if I keep my eyes on God to be my strength I make it through.  I went to work today - where not one person knew of what the last few weeks have held, and I looked for and found joy.  I found it in the students and their excitement for life, I found it in the beauty of a tree full of pink and yellow tissue-paper blossoms, and I found it in the smell of fresh basil being planted behind my classroom.  I came home, and found joy in the man who is always faithful and loving to me (I will forever be amazed and thankful for his choice of me).  I found joy in talking on the phone to my nephews as they lay in their beds across the ocean.  I found joy in a hot shower, in clean clothes, in an oven to bake in, in making dinner ... my heart hurts but there is joy everywhere if I look for it.

Not all of you reading this are going through infertility, and the crazy road of adoption.  But, I'm pretty sure that if you're human, you have had moments that feel like this.  So, I challenge you to look for joy.  Looking for joy doesn't mean that the stuff you're going through doesn't rip your heart into shreds.  It doesn't mean that you are "happy" - joy is so much deeper than what our world says "happiness" is all about.

And, it's there if we look. 

Let me know what you find.  :)


  1. I want to encourage you as you have done for me, a reader.

    God is working his purpose out: I thought of the British hymn, reading this. Who knows what is going on and what little one is waiting to be born for you? http://en.adventisthymns.com/1985/lyrics/225-god-is-working-his-purpose-out Praying often for you and for the birth-mom who will find you.

    1. Thank you! God is bigger than everything, and I rejoice in someday seeing how He redeemed it all . :)