As I reflect over the past thirteen years of marriage, the bulk of which have been spent trying to grow our family, I am overwhelmed. Life is messy and we are broken. Two sinners under the same roof with a gaggle of children, all sinful. We hurt one another and we tear down. We live in a fallen world with fallen people and fallen bodies. Things... and life are broken. And He makes the broken beautiful.
It's my hope and prayer that in sharing our journey, God is glorified and you are encouraged that He is good, even in your brokenness and mess and pain. And He loves you.
So I had this plan... It was a great plan. It was a really, really great plan. And it didn't happen. It took us close to a year to become pregnant with our first child, a girl. I had a boring pregnancy. I took that gift for granted.
We tried again... conceived... and miscarried.
We tried again... for many, many months... and conceived. But, something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Post emergency surgery, we learned I'd likely lost function in one tube due to severe scarring.
We tried again. For many, many months. Negative test after negative test. Hope deferred. Anger and bitterness were my constant companions. It seemed every time I turned around there was another announcement. Baby showers. And the questions... "Isn't it about time for another?" There was life. Everywhere, but in my own womb. Oh the painful longing...
I hate to think back to the person I was during that season. I wouldn't have wanted to be friends with me. Let alone be married to me. I snapped so easily. And over things that were so insignificant. My heart was hard and angry. It felt as if all I had and held dear was being stripped from me. Not just empty arms longing for another babe, but my family was crumbling. It was a dark season. And... God is faithful. He completes that which He begins. My anger hadn't caught Him off guard. My hard and bitter heart wasn't more than He could handle. He had begun a good work in my and He'd promised never to leave me. Thank God. Apart from Him, I was hopeless.
And so began a process of stripping and breaking... shattering... and rebuilding. Finally, we learned we were pregnant. My rejoicing was so guarded. Dare I allow my heart to love this babe in my womb? It had been a place of death and destruction... I was guarded and reserved during my entire pregnancy. The night before giving birth, I journaled my prayers of fear... fear that this baby would be born with something terribly wrong... that this babe would die. I was in a place of trusting God. Knowing He was good and sovereign. And knowing that His plans aren't mine. And often are painful. I was at peace and pleaded with Him not to put my fragile heart through another loss.
On April 2, 2007, I gave birth to our second born, a son, my husband and his father's namesake. And I wept. Relief and hope mingled in my tears.
Shortly after, we threw caution to the wind, assuming we'd have a long, hard journey to conception. Way faster than anticipated, we were expecting! I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
We'd long had the number five on our hearts. God had confirmed this to both of us separately and again, together. We began trying again. Twelve months in, my doctor agreed something was off... Taylor and I had prayed at length about how far we would push things. There was this desire, this seemingly clear call, but nothing was happening biologically. Adoption was something we'd talked about many times. We prayerfully visited that option and neither of us were at peace. We decided to pursue six months of medical help in attempt to grow our family.
As the months passed, nothing happened. I wondered if the two babes we'd lost were supposed to be part of the "five" we longed for.
During month six, our last month of treatments, the nurse called and told me based on previous months' numbers, things didn't look promising. I resolved in my heart to bed all hope and expectations. I had a good, hard cry. The desire for more children was there. Stronger than ever. We revisited adoption. Still, no peace. The days passed. Nothing. Finally, I took a test. And. It. Was. Positive.
We wept. And rejoiced. We gave thanks. Our children had faithfully prayed for a year and a half that God would put a baby in mommy's tummy. It was sweet to see their excitement. God had answered their prayers. And I knew why God hadn't given peace in the pursuit of adoption. He was giving us another baby biologically.
I went to the doctor every week for tests and ultrasounds for the first twelve weeks. Everything looked great and it was predicted I'd have a normal, boring pregnancy. We'd moved to checkups every four weeks. Thanks to Christmas holidays, I didn't go back for almost six weeks. I was the last appointment of the day. I was a cute new maternity top, my bump just starting to show. The nurse couldn't find a heartbeat. And just like that, our dear babe had passed away.
And our children were crushed. It was a new journey... dealing with our own grief while shepherding our children's grieving hearts. He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name.
In May, we moved. I sold all our baby gear except our beautiful crib. Neither of us could fathom how life would be better with three children, rather than four, but we were also at peace. It didn't make sense, but we knew enough to know His plans aren't ours. He was the author of life. The giver. The taker. We grieved, but with hope. He'd shown His faithfulness in the past. We didn't doubt His goodness or kindness, but oh, how we ached.
The call to a larger family was undeniable, only it really didn't look like God planned to grow our family biologically. Taylor was ready to pursue adoption. I wasn't.
And so we spent another year trying. During that year, God changed my heart. There were a million seemingly "coincidental" (ahem, providential) encounters I had with adopted children and families who had or were adopting. God turned my heart toward the fatherless in an entirely new way. In the fall of 2012, I conceded to Taylor that the Lord had indeed altered my heart and desires... we were on the same page. We would pursue adopting... more specifically, we would pursue adopting two children.
At first we agreed not to prevent pregnancy. We went with an agency that, in the event of us becoming pregnant, would pause the process, rather than terminate it. We sent that first check. My heart couldn't handle the tension that comes with the possibility of conception, though biologically speaking, that looked hopeless. And so we took precautions to ensure we wouldn't be surprised.
After a lot of research and prayer, we settled on adopting from China. The day after our first home study, much to our, "HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS HAPPEN" shock, I got a positive pregnancy test. Talk about jumbled emotions. Phew!
And the strangest, most unexpected thing happened. Taylor called our agency to let them know... and they called us back and said the ball was in our court. If wanted to continue the process, we could. That meant - we wouldn't have to pause!
We decided we'd pursue one child, the opposite gender of the baby I carried. In August of 2013, I have birth to a precious baby girl. We rejoiced over her and God's goodness! And we rejoiced over the then unknown baby boy we knew we'd be adopting.
Two months later, ahead of schedule, we were sent the file of an eight month old baby boy. That meant his mama and I had shared three months of pregnancy. He was born February 14, 2013. In God's kindness, I remember exactly what I was doing on Valentine's Day of 2013.
In May of 2014 we took our two oldest and traveled across the world to bring our dear son home. Our adoption journey has been the most amazing picture of the Gospel I've ever encountered.
And here we are, almost a year post adoption, with the five children. 10, 7, 5, 2 and 1. I'm completely overwhelmed. Like, COMPLETELY. And it is good.
I had this plan. This great plan. It was a really, really great plan... And it didn't happen. We don't look like I thought we'd look. Our children aren't spaced like we planned. We are broken and messed up and selfish. He's still softening and chiseling away at my hard heart. Our story isn't the one I had written. It's so much better. I don't want to repeat the pain. I don't want to re-learn the lessons. I don't want to go back. I'm so thankful time marches on. God is so kind. He is long suffering and patient. I have seen His faithfulness. He doesn't change like shifting shadows. His purposes cannot be thwarted. Even in the pain, He is loving. Those low points... oh they were low... they are some of the base notes of what I pray is our life's song, "To God Be The Glory."
Whatever your story, wherever you find yourself, I pray you lift your eyes to the heavens. Find your hope in Jesus. We are fully known. He sees and knows the depths of our depravity... the sin we can't seem to stop committing, the ugly in our hearts. He sees and knows it all, and yet died for us. While we were sinners. Not once we get ourselves "together." He saves in the midst of the hopeless mess. Trust your heart to Him. Look to Him and be made whole. Your pain and hurt don't escape Him. He brings beauty from ashes. He makes the broken beautiful.
Jenn is saved by grace, eternally thankful for Christ's work of sanctification in her life, and is happily married to her high school sweetheart (The Engineer) and is a stay-at-home mom to her five babes: Sister (10), Little Man (7), Little Bit (5), Henry (23 mos) and Wren (17 mos). She has been bought with the blood of our precious Redeemer and Savior. She blogs about their life over at Wanting What I Have.