Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Marriage, Holiness, and the Adoption Option

Earlier in the week, I had a little free time -- no kids, traveling husband -- so I spent the evening running errands. James asked me to be on the lookout for a new Bible for him. He really enjoys a devotional Bible, but he's sort of beyond the devotionals in his current Bible, so while I was out running around, I stopped at Mardel to browse the selection.

I thumbed through several Bibles, and found a devotional answering questions raised in a discussion we recently had, so I dropped it in my basket and headed towards the education department. On my way over there, I read this adage:

Marriage is not meant to make you happy.
It's meant to make you holy.

Friday, I went to the wedding of my very dear friend, Lois. For as long as I've known her, which is now over 15 years, she's been waiting for the one. She had a few ideas for a spouse, but the thing that topped her list was that he be a Godly man. I believe she knew marriage would be challenging, and to have someone praying and trusting God alongside her was huge.

As far as my marriage goes, in and of itself, it's been okay. Pretty great, really. James and I have had our ups and downs, and have been through marital situations now and again, but as a whole, the marriage itself has been super. Compared to the struggles we've seen some of our friends walk through, our marriage has been very easy. It's been the fruits of our marriage that have sent us to the very edge of the happiness/holiness conundrum. In particular, the "fruitfulness" aspect of growing our family. We have not conceived, borne, or brought home a child without some kind of nightmarish circumstance.

My story has been told time and again, so I won't rehash it (that's what the archives are for!), but when I read that particular proverb, it really made me think. I know I often feel like such a victim. When I try to recount my experiences to others for the sake of lifting them up, I often find myself spiraling downward, questioning time and again, "Why?" Once I sink to that deep, dark place, it's difficult to come back up again, to be useful in the least. That saying made me think about how pitiful I often am or feel or behave. It made me reconsider my attitude in the midst of my situation.

Not one part of my current circumstances (with regards to recurrent birth loss) makes me happy -- but am I allowing it to make me holy?

Holy, by definition:

1. specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated.
2. dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion.
3. saintly; godly; pious; devout.
4. having a spiritually pure quality.
5. entitled to worship or veneration as or as if sacred.
6. religious.
7. inspiring fear, awe, or grave distress.
8. (noun) a place of worship; sacred place; sanctuary.

Where am I spiritually after every trying month of trying? How do I love God and serve others after yet another negative pregnancy test? What about after a painful and humiliating exam? Does my doctor know that I'm trusting God? Am I even trusting God? And then, what if I do conceive? Am I then suddenly more spiritual, more pious? Probably not. I'm more consumed my fear and worry, made certain by yet one more loss*. And then, how worshipful am I? Sadly, not worshipful enough. Same story, told again.

Even though I know Biblical truths about God and His love and mercy, and the enemy and his wily ways, I still choose to project my pain onto God, blaming Him for not doing things the way I thought they should have been done. And then I allow that sort of self-induced sorrow to spill over into other areas of my life, other pursuits, and I think God will be found unfaithful there, as well. Another blogger brought it all back to my attention. She wrote this in a post:

"My mother in law and I flew to Missouri in July and I wanted to ask God soooo bad to keep us safe, but I was so scared that if I did, that the exact opposite would happen. I have had a couple of other moments that I wanted to ask for something along those lines, but stopped because I was way to scared that it would jinx me."

James and I have been discussing and exploring the adoption option, and while he's been gung ho for quite some time, I've resisted for this very reason. With our history (and not just the history of complicated pregnancies and birth loss, but also our very challenging adoption experience with Bub), I'm quite convinced we'll be the family who never gets picked to parent someones baby.

Though we're stable people in a loving marriage who long to serve God, though we're parents who spoil children to the point where they emit a nefarious odor (all the while keeping them on the straight and narrow), though we have room in both our home and our hearts, though we have the financial ability to provide for many more children, and though we have a documented case of infertility (which is a requirement for some agencies), we will not be picked. Because I'm crazy, and full of doubt.

Listen, I don't have any idea what in the world we're meant to do here on this Earth with regards to children and/or having any more. I feel like this is the one area where I consistently have a bag pulled over my head. But I do know that God has a heart for adoption, and adoption has always been near and dear to our hearts -- even before we adopted our first child.

We've always been open to and excited about adoption, but there was a plan -- we'd have a few and then adopt. (You know, cause we're so in the know and have our five-year plan all written out and such.) Instead, we began our parenting by adoption (well, by fostering, then giving birth, and then adopting, which really is a whole chicken/egg debate in and of itself).

When we adopted first, our plan changed to just include that -- we'll adopt first (because we already had), have a few, then adopt again. Until our attorney at the time offered two more children who were becoming legally free. Then we prayed about it, brought our family up to speed, agreed on the matter, and began to move forward with our adoption worker when the director of the shelter the children lived in said we couldn't "pick and choose." And then we were back to having a few before another adoption.

After birthing one biological child, we spent the next several years working on or being available to the continuation of that part of that plan. Yet still being the parents of just two children on Earth, we feel like it's either time to move on to the adoption phase again, or to just move on altogether.

At this point, there's nothing to report, other than the fact that we're considering our options. We've talked to a couple of people in the know. We've read a few adoption blogs. We're calling agencies for brochures. We're narrowing the field with respect to domestic and international adoptions. We're talking about having a home study done just in case.

I embrace this new challenge, and am willing to wholeheartedly consider it completely. I might even be willing to do something about it -- time will tell. But even as I move forward in this potential new venture, I know how I want to end it. Perhaps even more than I hope to come out of this consideration with a baby in my arms, I hope to come out of it holy.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will
for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said.
Hold on to what is good.
Stay away from every kind of evil.
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless
until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful."
-- I Thesselonians 5:16-24 NLT

"... I’m not asking you to take them out of the world,
but to keep them safe from the evil one.
They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth."
-- Jesus' Prayer, in John 17:15-17

"Lift up holy hands in prayer, and praise the Lord."
-- Psalm 134:2

* Just to be clear, I've not had another loss. I'm still at four, not more.

** photo credit: Celebrity Baby Blog


  • Karen

    Oh Amanda - I am so praying for you. It is hard to remember that God's ways & plans for us are not necessarily the same as ours. Oh how I long to see things from His point of view - then these hard things might make some sense to my febile brain.

    My sisters adopted thru CPO, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, in Tulsa. They are a Christian agency. I'm sure my sister,Kathy aka Mama Cakes, can get you info or just talk to you about her experience. She adopted her 2 precious kids using them & Kim used them to facilitate the adoption of Ty.

  • Christy

    I found out recently that the twins are in an adoptive home in OKC. I'm happy for them but it makes me want to kick myself.

  • Amy

    You make me cry! I am praying for you!

  • Randi

    Praying for you - that God would guide you every step of the way and that he would increase your quiver.

  • Elizabeth

    :-) I'm so happy for you Amanda... Praying God gives you the desires of your hearts!

  • DeDe

    I am so proud of you - to keep seeking Him and letting Him guide you. I'm praying and trusting in Him to bless you in His time.

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