Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Choose Joy: Surviving Infertility and Adoption

So tomorrow it will have been 3 years since we were suddenly, irrevocably, infertile. A few weeks ago we attended Choose Joy: Surviving Infertility and Adoption, a conference put on by Emmy Blakely at Crossline Church in South Orange County. I didn't post about it right away and I'm taking the opportunity to do this today. . . the day BEFORE Ashlyn's birthday.  Ashlyn's birthday will be about Ashlyn and the sparing of both of our lives.  Forever and ever.  But it also signifies the sudden end of my fertility and the change in our family's trajectory.  A week or two before Reed was born and before the conference, I went to the gynecologist for a regular check up.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, for the past 3 years, to go to that office without crying.  Hasn't happened yet.  This time, I felt especially stupid since we were weeks away from our little man's birth.  Honestly, it crossed my mind that we shouldn't be doing this if this doctor's office and this event still makes me tear up.  How could I be ready for another baby and adoption if this still stings?  Why is it that, even after it's been shown that God is clearly not done with our family and we have this beautiful little man in our arms and our lives, that I haven't gotten completely "over this"? 
The weekend at Choose Joy truly helped me to answer these questions so that we can more confidently walk through wherever God will take us next and for whomever He brings into our family. The event was two days, Friday night and all day Saturday. It is good for anyone who has walked the infertility road (our story is a little different since we we very fertile and suddenly. . . not so no painful, frustrating treatments and waiting but we still found camaraderie and love here), considered adoption, want to make the jump from infertility to adoption or anyone who has adopted or is interested in adoption, infertility or not.
Friday night we brought Reed along to the evening session and he was a huge, huge hit.  There he was, this adoption miracle, amid all these stories.  That night, I hardly held my baby since he was bring passed around through dinner (which was fine with me since I got to eat! :-) ).  Friday night we fellowshiped, learned about ways we can help others overseas (the women helped cut up jeans to me made into shoes for kiddos in developing countries to protect their feet from burrowing insects called "chiggers") and the men had a LONG "guys only" session that lasted 2 hours and my husband described as "REALLY GOOD" (bunch of guys opening up about the challenges of infertility and adoptions, yeah, he said it was good.)
Saturday we had a morning worship session and then break away sessions on different topics. We went to: "Starting a Orphan Care Ministry at Your Church" which gave us some really interesting tips on how to really bring this issue to the forefront in our little church.  We hope to be able to this year, gradually.  Then, we checked out "Healing from the Hurt of Infertility" which was the only infertility session we thought might apply to us. It did. For the most part.  And we took away some from it and mulled over how it could have been taken full circle and in our own discussion of it, we found more healing.  After lunch, Christian headed to a men's session "The Maniless of Adoption" where some of the points from the night before were rehashed but new things were also brought up (seriously, folks, just for the way it got the guys talking about these hard issues makes this thing totally worth the time and cost and, just everything) while I went to a session on "Open Adoption" which featured two adoptive families and the ways in which they were navigating their own open adoptions with their children's birthparents, some more open than others due to situations the birthparents were in but open nonetheless.  Our situation is an open one. We've exchanged numbers, we text but with K out of state, we probably won't be quite as open as some of these described.  But we'll see how it goes as Reed grows and what she's comfortable with.  The last session we attended was "Transracial Adoption" which we went to for obvious reasons.  It was more of a discussion format as the leaders of the session's son was only a toddler but there were several other parents in the room who were parenting children of another ethnic background who were able to provide ideas for the group.  As parents, we want to do things right for each child in our family, biological, white, black, adopted. . . just all of them. I think most parents do, so this topic is going to be a preoccupation of ours for a while, I'm sure.  Not sure we'll get everything right but we love this little man so, so much and are so blessed to be his parents.
After breakaway sessions, we had dinner with the whole group.  We listened to one another's stories and shared ours.  There was a raffle for a huge pot of money that went to a family who was paying off their adoption (last year it went to a family who just finished infertility treatments and who used the money to adopt their little boy).  But the keynote speaker, Courtney Lott, founder of Faithful Adoption Consultants (our consultant who help bring us to Reed), said several things that made me release a breath I had no idea I was even holding onto.  Courtney is the momma of 6 sweet kiddos, 2 biological and 4 adopted kids.  Big, beautiful family. But her story was not without major pain.  Miscarriages and infertility plagued their family for years.  But as I watched her tear up when talking about her struggles, I breathed out.  Because despite her abundant blessings, it still hurt.  I was normal.  It was ok to cry in the doctor's office (although, as much as I love that medical group, I'm pretty sure it's time for me to find a new practice, just to keep me sane).

Us with other FAC Families at the Choose Joy Conference 
 But God gave us the gift of Reed and it filled our hearts with joy.  But I'll be real.  The sting of that day doesn't just go away.  I wish I could say it did.  I see Reed and any other children we adopt as totally unrelated to the sadness of placenta accreta and unexpected hysterectomies and birth trauma.  Adoption itself is always born of loss, in and of itself. Yes, he is the beauty from the ashes, for sure.  But the fire still occurred and I believe that Job still mourned his previous life and family even after God restored everything to abundance. . . not in the way that undermines all the rich blessings you have been given instead, but as a natural sadness at the brokenness of this life.  But at the same time, I recognize that, while we were open to adoption before we even knew this would happen, I know that little man may or may not have been with us had my placenta not, silently, grown into my uterus, had the doctor on call not worked quickly and wisely and removed my uterus before I bled to death.  It's quite the paradox of joy and pain, this life.  I have learned, in these 3 years to trust God like I never have before.  For both Christian and I, this has been the most spiritually stretching, eye opening 3 years I have experienced in my life and made Hebrews 11:1 so much more understandable, as it says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  We placed our family in His hands and we wait for His work to unfold in our lives as we continue on our journey of faith.

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