Everyone has heard the stories about couples who try for years to have biological children and then get pregnant once they adopt. The Lord has decided to make that our story. But I want to tell you that this is not the case for the VAST MAJORITY of couples who walk this road. This path is one that is full of hurt, fear, shame and anger. I know because I walked it for four and a half years. I know how much it hurts to see person after person in your life have children while you remain childless. I know how hollow words can sound, even when they come with the best of intentions.
So I wanted to take a moment today to share some things that come from deep within my heart. I wish so much that there was a way for me to clarify my tone in this post. I'm fear that I may come across as angry or self-righteous. Please know that is not how I feel at all. I feel very humbled by our current reality, and I feel a profound need to speak for those who are on a difficult journey. Imagine me sitting on your couch with a cup of coffee, speaking quietly and sincerely. That's where I am today.
If you know someone, myself included, whose story includes adoption and then pregnancy soon after, I want to humbly ask you to be slow to say some of the following things:
-"I just knew this would happen."
No one knew this would happen. Especially not me. There were years of hurt, deep hurt, about not being able to have a biological child. We walked the path of adoption believing wholeheartedly that it was the only one we would know, and we were honored to be called to such a life. Hearing that someone knew it would happen makes the suffering feel small, makes me feel like I should have known this all along, makes me feel like my faith was not enough and if it had been then the last four years would not have been so hard. And it makes me feel like people believe we adopted in order to also have a biological child. Not one of these things is true.
-"This always happens."
I think this is the hardest one to hear. Mainly because it doesn't always happen. It almost never happens. I think the perception is that it happens a lot because these are the stories people tell, so we feel like we hear it all the time. I have met hundreds of women on this adoption journey, hundreds, and two of them have had this happen. I know so many beautiful women with faithful hearts who long for both adopted children and biological children and their reality is that it might not ever happen. That is the same reality I lived with for years, too. Hearing that "it always happens" hurts so much because those of us walking this road know it might not happen. And for those of us who did get pregnant soon after, it cheapens what we have experienced.
-"You must have finally been relaxed."
I cannot speak for everyone who has experienced what Adam and I are currently walking through, but I can say this. Sweet Baby #2 came our way sometime between our trips to Ethiopia. It was the most stressful month of my entire life. We had just left our son in an orphanage, and we did not know how long it would be until we could go back and get him. The week after we got home, my sweet, sweet grandfather went to be with Jesus. It was such a deep loss for me, especially coupled with the fact that we were away from our son. That month might be the hardest month I will ever live through, and it was in the midst of that that the Lord brought us this very unexpected gift. I can say for certain that I was not relaxed, and I know that, ultimately, my state of mind has very little to do with what God is up to in our lives. This is God's story; we are just the instruments.
If you you know someone who is in the adoption process and struggling to have biological children, too, I want to ask you from the bottom of my hear to be cautious in using these next few phrases.
-"Don't worry. As soon as you adopt, you'll get pregnant."
Oh, I had so many people say this to me. I would nod and smile along, but in reality I wanted to hide in a closet and cry. It is so hard to hear this, and it is hard for a few different reasons. The first is that there is absolutely no guarantee that this will actually happen for anyone. We reached a place where I fully and completely believed that I would never carry a child into this world. It was a hard reality, but I was doing my best to trust God with my life. When people would say this to me, it would just remind me of what I was not going to experience. The second thing that is so hard about hearing this is that it sounds like the only reason I am adopting is to get pregnant. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I feel confident saying that about every single adoptive mom I know. We adopt because we believe it is God's calling on our life, because we have a deep love for a child brought into the world by another woman, because want to. We do not adopt to trick God or the universe into letting us have a biological child, too.
-"I'm praying so hard that you'll get pregnant after you get this baby home."
I heard this a lot, too. And I appreciate the prayers and the sentiment, but I was not praying for that to happen. I was praying for God to protect Bradley and bring him home and prepare my heart and his to be united as a family. Hearing this, along with the previous statement, really makes it seem like adoption is second tier parenting or second best. Like once I have a biological child, then I am legitimate. Those feelings hurt, and they simply are not true. I cannot imagine loving a child more than I love Bradley, and there is nothing in my biology that ties me to him. I even jokingly told my mom on the plane ride over to bring him home that if the Lord ever chose to bless us with a biological child I hoped I would love him as much as I love Bradley. Please be careful with statements like these, as they can hurt an already wounded heart.
-"I have this friend who tried for years to get pregnant, and then she adopted and BOOM...twins."
I know that we love to share stories to encourage people we love. I do it all the time. But for a woman struggling through infertility, these stories are not encouraging. At least they were not for me. She may nod and smile and thank you when you say it, but chances are she is dying inside because she believes with her whole heart that that will never be her. Because the truth is that there are people in this world who walk through all of life and never get the thing they want most. Maybe it's a spouse. Maybe it's a child. And hearing story after story of it happening for seemingly everyone else is so hard because you know that it might not ever be you. So if you find yourself about to share a story about someone you know who became pregnant right after an adoption, please ask yourself if sharing it will truly help the person you love or if it runs the risk of hurting them even more. And I would urge you to err on the side of caution. Please be slow to share and quick to listen. That is what those on this road need the most.
With deep love,