What to Expect When She’s Not Expecting

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I’m sorry, what? “There is less than a 2% chance you can naturally conceive a child.” No, no, you must be mistaken. This must be some cruel joke; after all, it is April Fool’s Day.  “Less than a 2% chance.” But we followed the plan – we both graduated college, I finished law school and passed the bar…we even recently started building a house! Now it is time to start building our family, too! All of our friends are pregnant – surely this is wrong! But the doctor wasn’t wrong. And on that day, April 1, 2014, our lives were turned upside down. 

If you have explored our site, you know about our struggles with infertility and adoption; if not, you can get caught up here. We are using this blog to share our story and hopefully encourage others through similarly difficult times.  But I wanted to write a post specifically for men. For those husbands whose families are struggling with infertility and adoption, trying to cope with the heartache, and searching for what to do next all while attempting to faithfully lead their families through such a trying time. Guys, this post is for you. Trust me, I understand and can empathize with the challenges and struggles you are facing; with the feelings of doubt, anger, and confusion. And because of that, I wanted to share with you a few lessons God has taught me through our journey. I’m no expert, but these are just a few of the thoughts and perspectives I’ve gained from our experience thus far.

My first encouragement is men, if your wife is struggling with infertility, make sure you allow time to grieve. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  Kendal and I received our infertility diagnosis in April 2014.  At the same time, we were in the process of building our first home, so questions of wall color, furniture placement, and landscaping filled our minds.  After closing on our home that June, our life settled down a bit.  So, during a summer evening walk, and just a few months after receiving our tragic diagnosis, I brought up to Kendal the idea of adoption.  My comments were met with silence.

You see, SPOILER ALERT, men and women think differently. Men are fixers and problem solvers.  In my mind, infertility + wanting a family = adoption.  This logically made sense to me.  But I missed the mourning and grieving part.  Kendal wasn’t ready.  She was still working and processing what such a diagnosis really meant.  And I jumped waaaaaaay ahead of her, unrealistically expecting her to be on the same page as me.  So men, take the time to grieve and mourn with your wife.  And trust me, we did and still continue to do so, both together and individually.  I still struggle with this, but I’m learning to stop, slow down, and just wait for her.  We both wanted a family, and obviously both came to the decision of adoption, but take time to mourn and grieve with your spouse.  Cry with her, hug her, love her.  While adoption may be in your future, and perhaps it is God’s plan for you, it is ok to take the time to be sad. 

Secondly, realize that just because you made a plan, that doesn’t mean God has to fit Himself into it.  Proverbs 16:9 says “A man makes a plan in his heart, but God directs his path.”  Kendal and I met while we were in college (Geaux Tigers!) and were engaged in December 2009.  I was in law school at the time, so we weren’t “ready” for kids.  But once I finished and passed the bar in 2012, we wanted to add to the two of us.  We thought we were ready – it was just “time” to have children.  All our friends were pregnant and asking us when we would have children.  They spoke as if it were a guaranteed outcome.  But it just wasn’t happening for us.  God wasn’t fitting Himself into our timeline – into what we thought we wanted and when we wanted it.

For two people who like plans, schedules, and being in control, this is a tough one to learn. God isn’t restricted to what our feeble minds can imagine, but just as He told the prophet Habakkuk, He is “doing a work…that you would not believe if told.” So, just remember, it is ok to not have the answers.  Believe me, I know the pain of waiting and wanting a child and feeling so lonely when all your friends are pregnant and something just isn’t right.  But God is in control.  The Proverbs writer puts it like this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” 

Lastly, above all else, and while it may be difficult to see at the moment, these struggles are just light and momentary. I know that sounds like nonsense while you are enduring your trials, but that is how the apostle Paul describes them in 2 Corinthians 4:17 when he writes “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  In other words, Paul, writing with eternity in view, weighs his present trials against future glory and discovers his trials are actually working for him.  So when your world seems to fall around you, when you and your wife are devastated by terrible news, remember that these experiences are paled in comparison with what is to come.  And that is something to take hope in – your light and momentary struggles are producing something much better for you!  And that is eternal rest with our Father in Heaven. 

I hope this post is helpful to you.  Believe me, infertility and adoption isn’t just something you “get over” and move on from.  But these are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned which I hope will encourage you during your time of struggle. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping us find our arrows!

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Hope

Music has a way of speaking to us; it’s a language that has the power to elicit emotion and deep thinking. I tend to remember certain moments or periods in my life when I hear a particular song. And there are songs that have been particularly important to me in the healing process on this journey of infertility and adoption.

Recently I heard the song “I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North and I really enjoyed listening to the simple lyrics that speak about hope in the unknown. The words could easily be my own: As I walk this great unknown . . . Was there purpose in the pain . . . I don’t wanna live in fear.

One of the biggest challenges for me recently is getting past my fear of the unknown. It’s really scary to put such a large part of your life basically in the hands of others, with no set dates or expectations. When I heard this song, I felt like it was written for me. I need to “have this hope” and know that “[God’s] with me and [He] won’t let go.”

I hope you enjoy this song and it brings you hope in whatever trial you are facing.

I Have This Hope – Tenth Avenue North

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain
Did I cry these tears in vain
I don’t wanna live in fear
I wanna trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here

So whatever happens, I will not be afraid
‘Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

In the flood or the fire
You are with me and You won’t let go
In the flood or the fire
You are with me and You won’t let go

 

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Finding Worth Through the Struggle of Infertility

This post has been sitting in drafts for a long time. I’ve just had a hard time pushing “publish,” because it exposes not only my struggles with infertility, but also self worth. However, we started this blog not just to share the good and happy things, but the hard stuff, too. While it’s extremely difficult to be this vulnerable, if this provides encouragement even to one other person, then it is worth sharing my heart.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. That’s been my heart’s desire since I was a little girl. I never really felt like there was anything else that I truly wanted for my life; I didn’t dream of a certain career or fancy life. Now that’s not to say that I was/am not motivated in the things I do, including my job, I just felt I could make the biggest difference and have the most purpose raising children. I simply wanted to be married and have a family.

So you can imagine how devastating it was to be told that I likely could never conceive a child. De.va.sta.ted. When the words poured over me, my dreams crumbled. I had no idea how to move forward, almost to the point of not even having the strength to walk out of the doctor’s office. I felt like someone punched me in the gut and I was only semi-aware of things around me. The next several days were a blur. I remember many tears. I had no idea how to move forward, and honestly, I didn’t want to. I wanted it all to be a bad dream that would go away when I finally woke up. But that didn’t happen, life went on. And I put on a happy face while my insides fell apart.

It seemed like everyone we knew was announcing pregnancies or giving birth around the time of the diagnosis. In fact, just two days after the news, a good friend from work confided in me that she was pregnant. Though I was happy for her, it took everything I had in me to congratulate her and not to fall to the ground and cry. My beautiful niece, whom I love dearly, was born just a couple of weeks later. Pregnancy announcements at church, more at work, baby showers…it all just kept coming. I’d hold back tears when people would ask if Colin and I wanted kids, when we were going to start a family, or if we were “trying.” I’m sure I didn’t do near as good a job hiding my sadness as I would like to think. But I tried nonetheless. What else was there to do? No one talks about infertility.

I kept everything bottled up. Even from Colin. I just could not talk about it. It hurt too much. For a time, I thought maybe the doctor was wrong, or I could somehow be fixed. But as time went on, and tests came back with the same result (and worse), I realized that this may really be my life. My sadness worsened, I felt utterly worthless. I was broken. I questioned if I had done something to cause this, or even worse if I had done something to deserve it. I questioned if Colin would have married me had he known I could not have children. I questioned my self-worth. I was angry about the fact that other women could easily get pregnant, some who didn’t want a baby or who maybe weren’t even fit to raise a child. I was even angry at God, for giving me such a strong desire to be a mother, but keeping the physical ability to conceive from me. I laid in bed many nights with so much pain I physically hurt.

I continued to hold onto my pain, to mask it either behind smiles, anger, or not talking at all. And I grew callused, just going through the motions as best as I could through a life I did not like.

I hesitate to say I wasted two years, because I believe I had to go through that muck to get to a better place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But I hate that I spent so much time stuck in that place. I was encouraged by a wise friend to “get out of neutral.” At the time, I really didn’t know what that would mean for me, but I knew she was right. I had to move forward instead of sitting in my sadness. I had to get rid of the thoughts that I was not good enough.

Soon after, I attended a women’s conference at my church. The theme was “Enthralled.” Psalm 45:11 says “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” The last session really hit home for me. It was entitled “The Power of an Authentic Name.” You see, the enemy of our souls perverts our name, and we take on inauthentic, false names for ourselves. Ugly. Worthless. Broken. We have to get brave enough to spit out the poison and do business with these names, and instead take on the authentic names God has given to us. We took time to write down some of our inauthentic names, and then laid them on the alter. We picked up new, authentic names from God. Beautiful. Worthy. Whole.

I’ve learned that I am whole to God. Even though my body may not be able to do what a woman’s body “should,” I am still His. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have hard days. Sometimes really hard days. But they are getting fewer, and easier to walk through. I’ve learned that my plans are not always His plans. And I’m working on believing that even though it’s not what I thought I wanted, I can learn to love the plan He has for me. And that His plan must have a purpose and be even better than what I could imagine on my own.

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Exceedingly Abundantly

A couple of weeks ago, we announced that our friends had graciously offered their home for a house show fundraiser, but to be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect. Will people even come? Will they like the items we made? How many items to make and bring? Will the weather cooperate? These questions ran through our heads leading up to the day’s event.  As 10:00 a.m. rolled around, the house began to fill with people clamoring to buy one of Kendal’s wooden signs or Colin’s cutting boards. Bath bombs, baby quilts, cake pops, and other handmade items were going quickly. Over the next three hours friends, family, and friends of friends stopped by with genuine excitement.

The event turned out to be a huge success! Though we really had no idea what to expect in terms of fundraising, the total was more than we could have ever imagined, and gave us a big boost toward our fundraising goals. Certainly, while we are enormously thankful that the show was a very effective fundraiser for us, the more incredible part of the day was the outpouring of love and support we received. It was, and is, amazing to us that there are so many people who want to help us and be involved in making a difference in our lives. Those who stopped by encouraged us in our journey and shared stories of their experience with adoption and infertility. Friends and strangers alike spoke kind words of support and love. These words strengthened us to stay on the path, committed and hopeful for the blessings to come.

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Us with our hosts, KeriBeth and Laura!

For everyone who was involved, we cannot thank you enough. Our family made snacks and treats to enjoy, dear friends donated items to sell and auction, local businesses also donated items and profits to our journey, and total strangers stopped by to show support and purchase a few items. It was an incredible day, and it was hard to put into words the emotions we felt once it was over. But one verse stuck out in our minds:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

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Get Ready! A House Show Fundraiser.

In our last blog post, we mentioned that we had some exciting fundraising opportunities in the works. One of these is coming up this weekend, Saturday, January 21! A very good friend of my sister has graciously offered her home as a space to sell some of our home-made items as way to raise funds for our adoption. In addition, this open house will include donated items from a local soap company and Usborne Books.

Colin and I have been busily working to make sure we have plenty of things ready for sale. Our house is a mess (look at all that wood shaving!), but the results are some really pretty cutting boards hand-made by Colin.

I’m also churning out hand-painted wooden signs, along with my sister who is also making growth charts.

If you are in the Mandeville, Louisiana area (or close!), and would like more information about the show, please contact us directly and we’ll make sure you get all of the details! You can email or send us a message on Facebook. We are looking forward to this event and all of the blessings that will come from it. We can’t wait to share how it goes!

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Act. Love. Walk. Thank you!

Happy New Year! We are incredibly thankful for the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received over the last several weeks. The encouragement has been downright amazing – y’all are awesome! And it’s really neat to see that opening up about our struggles and journey toward adoption has prompted conversations with people that may otherwise never have happened.

There are a lot of unknowns that come with adoption, which is hard for us to come to grips with. Knowing that there are so many people who are now walking alongside us, motivates us to press on, confident that the best is yet to come.

One of the difficulties of adoption is coming up with the funds to pay the fees. An adoption costs about the same as having a baby the old fashioned way; however, it’s not covered by insurance. And most fees are due upon match, not over a course of time (in addition to the expenses of the home study and visits, background checks, traveling, etc). So that is really scary, because most people don’t have huge chunks of change laying around with no purpose. We certainly don’t.

For quite a while, we have saved on our own, rearranging our monthly budget to account for adoption related expenses. We are trying our best to be good stewards of the money we earn. This fall, Colin taught a night class at a local community college to make a little extra income that goes straight to our adoption fund (and he’ll have two classes this spring). We are also making things to sell, such as wooden cutting boards, hand-painted signs, and possibly jewelry. These are all small steps that will eventually come together to help us reach our goal. There are some neat fundraising efforts in the works, so stay tuned for more information!

One way that many people have already gotten involved is through our t-shirt campaign. We launched the day we shared our news, and the shirt we designed was available for three weeks. It was very successful – we raised right at $1,000! Thank you to everyone who chose to support us in that way – family, friends, co-workers, even people that we’ve never met (how cool is that?). Not only did a portion of every shirt sale come to us, when you wear your shirt, you may have the opportunity to tell someone else about our story, or at least talk about adoption in a positive way. Here are some pics of you sporting those arrows!

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In addition to people purchasing t-shirts, we have received some generous gifts. It is humbling to know that there are people in our lives who have a real desire to be a part of bringing our family together. So, we are on our way in our fundraising efforts! We still need to save and raise a lot of money, but we trust that God will provide – for he is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Still, it is not easy to put oneself so out in the open, to expose our struggles and fears. Thank you for being a part of this journey and for praying with us as we continue on this path. We are so very grateful for the encouragement, and humbled by the gifts we have already received.

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Christmas is the Story of Our Adoption

2019A few weeks ago, I was reminded of a Bible passage which is very relevant to both the current season of the year, as well as the current season of life for Kendal and me.  The passage, Galatians 4:4-5, reads like this:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

When I re-read this passage, I thought, “Oh, that’s awesome!  I’ve got to write a blog post about it!  I mean, how perfect of a verse is that for us right now?!”  For a few days, I mulled over the passage, jotting down a few ideas here and there in an attempt to get my creative juices flowing.  Ultimately, I stumbled upon an article written by Jason Johnson, a minister from Texas who teaches on foster care and adoption.  Johnson’s blog post perfectly sums up my thoughts on Galatians 4:4-5 and how the Christmas season truly echoes adoption.  To give you a taste, here is one quote which profoundly struck me:

The gospel of our adoption, making its vivid debut that night in Bethlehem, acts not only as the emphasis behind why but also as the model of how we as those adopted into the forever family of God are called to forever give our families to those who need them.  Christmas is ultimately the story of God stepping into our darkness in order to bring light into it.  It, above any and all other motivations, compels us to do the same on behalf of the vulnerable, marginalized and orphaned in this world.

I couldn’t say it better myself.  Christmas truly is the story of how, in our time of absolute darkness, in our time when we were children of wrath, God brought light into our world through the birth of His Son.  In love, God chose us “for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5).  What an amazing act of love!

Merry Christmas!

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For Jason Johnson’s entire article, click here:  The Echoes of Christmas in Adoption