October 1st, 2015. One year ago today.
We were cruising north in our rental car, jamming to T-Swift (as always) and I turned down the music and turned to Jesse. If I would have had my FitBit on, I’d have proof of my skyrocketed heart rate. I couldn’t believe what I was about to say, considering the emotional racket ball I experienced to get to this place.
“I’m ready,” I said.
My smirky husband asked, “For what?” Knowing full well what I meant.
“To adopt a baby,” I smiled.
“I always knew we would,” he said.
And I guess a little part of me always knew, too. I just had to let my heart catch up.
I have SEVERE endometriosis. It’s in caps for a reason. It’s bad. I’ve had a couple surgeries. I’ve been on diets so clean, mean, and so green that even vegans would gasp. Acupuncture? Check. Chinese herbs? Yep. IVF? We decided not to. So, it was a waiting game for three long years.
I endured baby showers when bitterness devoured me. I sort-of gracefully (definitely not my own grace) responded to absurd questions, like “Have you and Jesse ever thought about having a family?” “When do you think you and Jesse will want to have kids?” I denounced Facebook for weeks at a time, simply because I couldn’t handle another black & white image of a womb growing a baby, that wasn’t my own.
It’s a painful realization, knowing you might not ever have what most women say is the best experience of their lives.
What they say they feel created to be and do and accomplish. It makes you feel inadequate. Like an outsider. Any common ground quickly dissolves beneath your feet.
But there is beauty in the ashes. And hope, oh, so much hope, when you feel like there’s no way you’re going to make it through. Behind the scenes, in the midst of the heartache and disappointment, God was weaving our story. The trips to Haiti, loving and photographing orphans. Our friends adopting from Russia (when you still could) and how their decision felt like a breath of fresh air in a world where we get so hung up things that really don’t matter. Us transitioning from photography to our business coaching incredibly fast. And, more friends adopting and asking us to photograph their family celebrations at the courthouse.
Then, an actual dream of Jesse and me adopting a little girl with hair black as night. (More on that here.)
There is a reason, in our story, for all of it.
I knew deep down adoption would be our future. But, as my heart broke for orphans, for some reason, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to give up. I’m not a quitter. I work hard and make things happen. I’m persistent and tenacious and willing to do what others aren’t. And that works in other categories of my life. But it wasn’t working. Finally, I realized the greatest action I could take would be to SURRENDER.
I surrendered. And peace and certainty washed over me.
I surrendered. And excitement began to fill my heart where hopelessness once lived.
I was finally ready to let go. Ready to trust in something so much grander and more spectacular than my own hopes and dreams. Ready to heal. Ready to dig up that go-getter in me and let her loose in THIS direction. Ready to commit. Ready for the greatest adventure of our lives.
Now, as we put in weeks and months of preparation and paperwork and appointments and psych evaluations (I think we passed!?), people often say to us: “Oh, wow, that’s a lot! You shouldn’t have to do all of that just to get a baby!” They are defending our credibility as people and potential parents and it’s sweet, but you know what? Yes, it IS a lot, and there are plenty of days when that brings me to tears. But, it’s okay. It’s where we’re supposed to be.
At this point I’m trusting the system. I have been in this place before. Years ago, I quit an incredible job to move to South Africa. Why? Because I knew I was supposed to. I was uncertain of the future but certain about the decision. Years later, it’s so obvious and beautiful what has come from doing what I knew I was supposed to do. God changed me in Africa. I met my husband. We dreamed up a life together I wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve built two successful businesses. All of this stemmed from a conviction, an intuition that I knew was right for me.
Here I am again. Uncertain of what the future holds but certain that this is where we’re supposed to be. You just never know what will unfold. But I have an incredible inclination that this baby of ours, the culmination of years of sorrow, will bring more joy and adventure than we can even fathom.
As I roll down the car window, hear Jesse belt out his favorite T-Swift song and feel the wind whip through my hair, I have never in my life felt freedom like I do in this moment.