This post is long overdue. We're talking like a year.I know this because last weekend we had Stake Conference, and one year ago, I had to SPEAK in stake conference (GASP). After it was over, several people had asked me to email, or post my talk on my blog.
Why? I'm not sure. You see, I am FAR from an adequate speaker. It is my biggest fear, and I felt like I would fall over, and die from a heart attack when I was asked to speak.
However, after it was said and done (and I actually survived), I had good intentions (several times) over the past year to post this. I just never got around to it, plain and simple. Also, I think it's because it re-visits a very difficult, almost sacred, yet somewhat private time in our lives. It's silly for me to say that because I already gave this talk in front of several hundred people. So why worry about that?
With that said, I finally decided to post this partly because last weekend's Stake Conference reminded me, and partly because maybe there is someone who will benefit from reading this. Maybe?
The topic I was given was centered around the theme of the conference: Alma 5:14, 26, which talks primarily about experiencing "change of heart." I was asked to speak about our experiences leading up to our son's adoption, and how these experiences strengthened me, prepared me for motherhood, and liken how my love for my son, like our Heavenly Father's love for us, motivates me, and tie it all together with the theme. PHEW! It was alot to contemplate.
(Yep, I'm the spaz that has to write out my talk word for word- especially when it came to this topic. Otherwise, I'm afraid I'd stand up there and fumble the whole way through it. I admire those of you who can stand up, and give a talk with a few notes scratched on a piece of paper).
This was what I had to say:
"Some of you may know, 5 months ago we experienced a miracle in our family when after 10 years of marriage, my husband Brent, and I welcomed our first child, a son, into our family through the wonderful gift of adoption. Words cannot describe the overwhelming joy, and love we felt as our one day old son was placed in our arms, and again when 6 weeks later we were sealed together in the temple, as an eternal family.
About 4 ½ years ago (after 6 yrs. of marriage) we had not yet been blessed with our family. We were tired of waiting, hoping and dreaming of our future family. This was our ultimate goal. Something we desired above anything else in life. It was much more important than attaining a nice car, a home, or a dream lifestyle. No, this was a blessing that would continue on into eternity. A righteous desire. Family means everything to us. We decided to do everything we possibly could to achieve this goal.
For us, we eventually found it meant adoption and/or fertility treatments specifically (IVF) which stands for In-Vitro Fertilization. I won’t go into details about the procedure, but a nutshell, it is the most advanced, (and also the most costly) technology available in modern medicine in the field of fertility. We counseled with the Lord for a lengthy period of time, for this was a heavy decision for us. And we received our answer to proceed with both avenues (adoption, AND IVF).
We began the long adoption process with a mountain of paperwork, countless questioning, and interviews to try and become approved to adopt. We felt as if every nook, and cranny of our lives was being examined under the microscope. Simultaneously, we began IVF. . . and it failed. We began to feel an immense weight on our shoulders as we were challenged in every way: financially, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically."
(That was the understatement of the year. It became so hard to watch friends, family, even strangers with their children. And seeing a pregnant woman-- we won't even go there.)
(See Here what I'm talking about, or Here to read about myths, and facts regarding infertility).
"Once we finally became approved as an adoptive couple through LDS Family Services, the real wait began. With traditional adoption, generally after you become approved, and register as a potential adoptive couple, your profile is placed on the internet where prospective birth moms can view it, and you wait to be chosen. We were told that some couples had been waiting 7 years, and we were shocked when within the year we given the opportunity to adopt not once, but 4 times. Only to have all 4 adoptions fall through for one reason or another, one being a scam.
In the midst of all of this, we felt we should proceed with IVF yet again . But it failed. Once more, our faith was challenged. We were shocked, and weary, from the unending grief we were experiencing. We wanted so badly for something to work out. WHY did we have to endure this trial, and why did Heavenly Father think we were strong enough for it? Why wasn't anything working out for us? After all, it was a righteous desire, and we were doing everything in our power to have children. Why weren't we being blessed? We began to feel that parenthood was out of reach for us. An illusion. Something we may never experience. We were literally to the point where we didn't have anything more to give of ourselves, and felt like giving up. All we could do is trust in our Heavenly Father. And we did. He had a plan for us, as he does for each one of you. And he blessed us according to His plan, and His timing. There was a special baby boy who was waiting to join our family, and we had to wait for him. If things had worked out for us with IVF, or the other adoptions, we wouldn't have him in our lives. We can't imagine life without him. We know with out a doubt he is our son, he just had to get to us another way. We know his birth parents were guided to us, and his sweet birth mom received confirmation that we were the “ones"(and we too received that confirmation). We sometimes wonder if an agreement was made long ago in heaven between the five of us. We are eternally grateful for their choice, and for remaining steadfast in doing what they felt was the right choice. They are our angels.
We were contacted by a couple who claimed they were having twins, and wanted us to adopt their twins. They were also in a dire financial situation, and were requesting financial help. (Sometimes adoptive couples are asked to assist prospective birth parents with rent, medical expenses, living expenses etc. . . ) We should have been excited to have been chosen to adopt not one baby, but twins! However, we had an uneasy feeling. We felt this was the spirit speaking to us, but Satan stepped in using confusion as his tool, and we questioned which feelings were our own, and which were coming from the Holy Ghost. We began fasting, and praying and decided to attend the temple together as a couple. As I was waiting for Brent in the celestial room of the temple, I said another prayer in my heart to receive clarity regarding this situation. If it wasn’t right, I wanted to know and understand this, and have peace of mind walking away from the situation without looking back with regret, or wondering if we were wrong in passing up this opportunity. I then picked up the scriptures and RANDOMLY opened to Romans 16: starting in verse 17. The words I read were POWERFUL:
(foot notes included in parenthesis)
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark (watch, beware of ) them which cause divisions and offences (stumbling blocks, scandals) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and AVOID them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by the good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (innocent, guileless). I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise (break the power of, crush) Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
WOW. Was it a coincidence that I happened to randomly open the scriptures to this spot? No way! We couldn’t have received an answer more clearly, than if the Lord appeared and spoke to us Himself. We had renewed faith that Heavenly Father definitely does hear, and answer our prayers, that he has a plan for each of us, and he is the master in charge of our lives, watching over us. A few days later, we got a call from the adoption agency. They told us they had done some checking on this couple, and had reason to believe it was all a scam. Hearing this, yet again confirmed our answer to walk away from the situation, and we knew He was watching over us.
WHY did we have to go through all that we did leading up to our sons adoption? We may not fully understand all the reasons why, but as with any trial we endure, painful as they may be, there are lessons learned that we likely can’t learn any other way. We grow through our trials.
We were taught many spiritual lessons which strengthened us in many ways, and also helped prepare me for motherhood:
- Perseverance (long suffering), patience in waiting for the Lords timing.
- Humbleness, and Faith. We learned to completely rely/ depend on the Lord, to pray with all our hearts, and listen whole heartedly. We learned that even in the most lonely, darkest moments we can find Him there. Our Father in Heaven will never abandon us.
- Our marriage was strengthened immensely as we went through this together. We were the only 2 who understood what one another was feeling. It pulled us together- which ultimately I believe we needed in order help us to be better parents.
- I also know that wanting something so much for so long now reminds me to always be grateful for it. I truly cherish motherhood in every aspect.
- We learned compassion and empathy for others going through similar things. (1 in 10 couples experience infertility). We will never forget what that empty ache feels like.
- We learned that we can find answers, and personal revelation through scripture study, fasting, prayer, temple attendance, and PRIESTHOOD blessings. We received several priesthood blessings (from our stake president, bishop and Brent’s father)where we were promised that we WOULD have children. This was a source of comfort to us, and a crutch we leaned on many times. I testify, that the Lord keeps his promises.
He explains that either now, or in the hereafter:
"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." We shed MANY, MANY tears throughout this process, and it is true, every tear WAS returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude. We are eternally grateful to our Heavenly Father to have this little boy in our lives. We love him so much, and we can now say "it has been worth it".
Like many of you, as a parent, I can now SOMEWHAT comprehend our Heavenly Father’s love for us a little bit better. For some reason, Heavenly Father has entrusted us with stewardship over this child of God. My love for my son, like our Heavenly Father’s love for us, motivates me to . . strive to be worthy of this blessing by living the gospel, and keeping his commandments, so that I may receive the guidance, and inspiration necessary in raising my son, to teach him to live the gospel. This is the best way I can express my thanks to our Heavenly Father for this gift.
In his General Conference Address during the Spring of 2010, Elder L. Tom Perry reminds us of the importance of teaching our children at home. In today’s world where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, . . . “Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal at a time.” Also in his talk he quoted Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith who said: “ Do you, my good brethren, and sisters, want your families, your children; do you want to be sealed to your fathers and your mothers before you. . .? If so, then you must begin by teaching at the cradle-side. You are to teach by example as well as precept.” I know that I will be responsible for what I teach, or what I fail to teach my child. It is my responsibility to be an example, and to look for opportunities daily to teach my son, and give him the tools that are necessary, and environment in our home that will lead him to have righteous desires, and to make righteous decisions. I know that I will be far from a perfect mother. That I will make many mistakes along the way, and there will be difficult times, even days when I’ll want to pull my hair out. But I’m grateful for every moment. And it is my prayer will be able teach our son the things that are important. The things that will show him the way back to our Heavenly Father.
The theme of our conference found in Alma 5: 14, and 26 talks about having a change of heart.
Our hearts were changed many times throughout this 10 year process as our “greatest desire, became our greatest challenge, which ultimately is our greatest blessing.” (quoted by PKW). Our hearts were changed from seeking our own will, desires, timing, and way of having our family to seeking and accepting the Lord’s way and timing. The Lord has a plan for each of us, and we are so grateful for this knowledge, and for this blessing."