“Do you want to have your tubes tied?” I was 23 years old and pregnant with my second child when my doctor asked me this question. No, she wasn’t being insensitive or doubting my ability to parent more children. But after watching my journey through pregnancy with type-1 diabetes, she wanted to make sure that I knew what another pregnancy would mean. There would be more ups and downs. There would be more chance for problems. Did I really want to push it and risk my health or a future child’s?
I believe whatever child I might have delivered would be worth the pain, but honestly I was scared. My second pregnancy had come with a hospitalization I hadn’t planned on due to diabetic complications from…the stomach bug. How many pregnant mommas end up in the ER over THAT?!
Two stressful diabetic pregnancies unexpectedly unearthed a dream of adoption that had been blooming somewhere in the recesses of my brain since I was young. It was filed back deep in my box of passions, bolstered through listening to missionaries to orphans abroad and watching friends and relatives adopt as I grew up. Their stories were indelibly seared in my heart where I still carried them when I got married at age twenty-one, but diabetes made me pull those dreams out, polish them up, and chase them with my whole being.
Looking back, if I could find no other joy in diabetes, I’d be thankful for the way it brought me to my miracle third child. No more a miracle than my others, but somehow I recognized the pure, unmerited gift in him in a fresh way, with nothing but faith in God to unite us. And yes, I believe there’s a divine reason he’s part of our family.
So diabetes brought me to a desperation deep enough to pursue adoption even though I had no clue what I was doing. It’s a huge piece of my story.
What is your story? I know there are many who adopt because of infertility, others who adopt because pregnancy would be hard for them with medical conditions. There are families who adopt because they feel strongly called to look after an orphan or child in distress, and others who specifically look to adopt kids with special needs. Some feel there is a hole in their heart without another child, and others simply feel drawn to make room in their hearts for one more.
You shouldn’t feel guilty if your story of adoption doesn’t start just like someone else’s story. If you try to compare your story or motivations with someone else’s, you’ll always feel like something is wrong with you. Instead, own who you are and the unique losses or victories that brought you to this place. Be honest with yourself because that will shape which path you choose on your adoption journey.
While we were waiting to be placed with a child, I became so desperate at one point that my prayer to God shifted away from my honest heart and I started praying whatever I thought God wanted to hear. Maybe if I was open to older children with more special needs God would be answer or be more pleased. I really wanted an infant but I thought maybe that was asking too much, or that maybe I was a horrible person for saying no to older children who needed a home.
But along my journey, I learned to be honest with myself and even with God. Sure, he has the beautiful ability to take our desires and shape them into His own, but we don’t need to hide our hearts from Him.
And we don’t need to hide our hearts in all their weary expectant mystery from our own selves.
This doesn’t mean we set unrealistic expectations of adopting the perfect rosy child who smiles on cue, always eats her vegetables, and has zero baggage from her past. I’m sorry, biological children don’t come with any such problem-free guarantee either! Don’t close yourself off to a blessing of a child in the pursuit of an elusive “perfect”.
At the same time, don’t try to say yes to a path to adoption that isn’t right for you, or feel guilty about not taking a child that you don’t think you’re capable of caring for. Know yourself, give your heart to God, and then trust Him in the waiting.
(Pst. It’s a lot easier said than done. More on the waiting in a future post.)
Also take the time to educate yourself and hear other people’s stories. Someone else’s story might stretch your view of what’s possible, or it may make you say, “Nope! That’s not for me!” That’s OK. Either way, you’re learning something important about yourself and your journey.
I found this link in my search for tools, and it seems like a great beginning for those not sure where they stand with adoption. So for a first baby step, I encourage you to check out “Questions to Ask Before Adopting”. It will guide you through some initial self-investigation to sort out your heart and some possible next steps.
If even that feels overwhelming (you’re not alone!), maybe start writing out or thinking through your own story. What events and people have shaped you strongly? How did adoption end up on your radar? Who can you share your heart for adoption with who will encourage you and help you wrestle through your thoughts?
I hope as you continue to follow my blog you’ll continue to find confidence to step out and dream a bit more. Next time I’ll talk a bit more about the kinds of adoptions you might pursue and share a bit from my friends! Thanks so much for joining, and as always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.