Friday, May 28, 2010

In-Adoption

I couldn't think of a good word for the inability to adopt, so I made up my own:

In-Adoption.* (Think In-Fertility.)

It's a topic I don't often write about here on my blog, because it is very painful.

But there have been a LOT (I mean, a TON) of posts lately about adoption in blogworld, so I thought I'd jump on the wagon.

First, it has been very difficult for me to understand why God has given me this cross on top of the cross of infertility. It is so painful for me to hear and read comments associated with adoption and home studies that take for granted the fact that there are people in the world (though sometimes I feel like the only one) who, through no fault of their own, cannot adopt. I could compare it to an infertile woman hearing people talk about their fertility.

For example, when we hear women say, "Every time my husband looks at me I get pregnant!" it reminds us just how infertile we are, standing on our heads after 5 straight days of intercourse, pre-seed in one hand, OPKs in the other. When another women talks about how they plan to avoid pregnancy with contraception for a specific amount of time, and then come off and BAM they're pregnant, it grates on our nerves to know that the privilege of being able to plan OUR families has been robbed of us. And when fertile people give you that bewildered look- you know that look- when they find out you have infertility, like it never occurred to them that there may be people who just cannot get pregnant, while here they are with 2 kids 10 months apart, 1 previous abortion, and an IUD in place they are PRAYING continues to work.

It is very similar for me in my current state of "in-adoption."

When I hear others discussing how "quickly" their adoption happened, how they "didn't even plan on adopting" and suddenly 428 calls are coming in of birthmothers dying to make an adoption plan with them, or how they are able to discuss plans for the next adoption, it strikes at my very core. And then there's the look- the look of fertiles and infertiles alike, who, upon hearing that I cannot become Home Study approved, know not what to say or do. It just never occurred to them that there are people who cannot adopt.

This doesn't make adoptive parents who make these comments or do these things bad people. Just like it doesn't make a woman blessed with fertility a bad person for saying or doing anything that could offend an infertile (unless, of course, it is done to intentionally cause harm).

But it does make it much more difficult for me to open up about my infertility when I also have in-adoption.

I noticed that I was VERY open with people I hadn't seen in years when we were about 6 months into the adoption process (right before the first "snafu.") At my High School Reunion last June, I told my entire table and my first boyfriend from 6th grade and his girlfriend that I was having trouble getting pregnant and that we were going to be adopting. I was just SO excited about it, and I wanted everyone to know what joy adoption was already bringing into my life.

Even with fellow infertiles and subfertiles, I was much more willing to open up and share about my struggles with infertility when I could close by saying, "But we have been called to adopt and feel that our infertility served (or will serve) a tremendous purpose in bringing us to our first child." Now I tend to not be so open anymore, because I dread the comments, the assumptions, and "the look." (The assumptions being that there must be some good reason why we've been denied, and we must not be good prospective parents. Or that we're dirt poor and have no pot to piss in... which is not an assumption any adoptive parent would have, but those not familiar with adoption assume it's ALWAYS about money.)

The thing is, these comments, assumptions, looks, and implications make me feel 100 times worse than anything I've ever felt about my infertility, because I know my infertility intimately. Let me explain- I fully comprehend the beauty, the purpose, the gift, and the meaning of my infertility. Through the years, it has grown even more beautiful, more purposeful, become an even greater gift and developed greater meaning than ever. Furthermore, I know my infertility is from God.

But I do NOT understand my in-adoption. I see no beauty in being called to the beautiful act of adoption and not being able to fulfill it. I see no purpose in my hands being tied as I watch others achieve their dreams of parenthood through adoption. I do not see in-adoption as a gift that is displaying itself in other ways in my life, or leading me to anything good. And I do not see the meaning in my being denied the ONLY other route to motherhood that is safe and legal (because I suppose I could always become a baby-burglar).

Finally, I do not view my in-adoption as being from God. Rather, it was an objective decision made by strangers who do not know me or my husband. (God's decision to give me the gift of infertility was FAR from objective. At least in my eyes.) And no matter who the strangers are (agency, lawyers, etc.) they would all add 2+2 to get 4, i.e. no matter HOW adoption were put on the table in front of us, OTHER PEOPLE would always come to the same conclusion: we are unfit parents.

There's no way around the fact that that HURTS. God giving me infertility is not Him telling me I am not a fit mother. It is not Him saving the world from any children I may raise, heaven-forbid.
But human beings giving me in-adoption is doing just that. It is telling me, and everyone around me, that I am an unfit mother. It is "saving the world" and all of the birthmothers from the danger of my parenthood.

But just because I cannot make sense of my in-adoption does not mean (I've decided) that I cannot make something of it.

For some reason God has allowed this additional suffering to come into my life at this time. It has lasted 11 months already. One thing I am sure about is that I was meant to suffer this cross at this time. Otherwise I would not have received such a CLEAR call to begin the adoption process when I did, and I would not have adoption placed so firmly on my heart. I would like to think that this cross, as heavy as it is, has been able to lift the burden for others. I've always felt that the suffering involved with infertility has redemptive qualities, so why not the suffering of in-adoption? Why can't I offer up my inability to adopt right now for those birthmothers struggling with whether to make an adoption plan or to abort? Or for other infertile couples hoping to adopt? Or even for those suffering from crosses they, too, do not understand (a child dying from leukemia, a man called to the priesthood but unable to fulfill that call).

Please note: I do not mean to put those two examples side-by-side to imply that those two circumstances are as BAD as the other. Rather, they are examples of situations that don't seem to make any sense no matter how hard you try to make sense of them.

Our counselor, whom we've seen for two sessions already, has recommended that I pray daily and fervently to God to remove any suffering that is NOT redemptive from my life IMMEDIATELY. And what suffering He allows to remain, for it to be as redemptive as possible. I have been praying this for weeks now. I have to believe the suffering that remains is doing some good. Maybe a lot of good.

* For this blog post, the term "in-adoption" shall refer to the inability to adopt OR foster. "In-foster" just didn't sound as good.

32 comments:

prayerfuljourney said...

I like your word in-adoption. I sometimes have prayed to God to just let me know ONE of His reasons for not having my dh and I become parents...but then I think about it and do I really want to know His answer? Could it be more baffling than not knowing at all? We just have to trust and accept His plan for us. I know that once we put our negative feelings aside...He'll reveal the truth. There are many others who are not looking back at their IF because God's truth/answer was revealed to them. I also believe that God may not reveal that truth until some of us get to heaven(I believe this is when I'll get my answer). So...if my suffering of IF and how I live with my suffering gets me closer to heaven and God...then it's worth it. It's hard to keep going on day after day...when the pain of my IF keeps stabbing me...knowing I may not get my answers until I'm meeting the Lord. It's hard but it's something I have to live with and something I just have find inner strength in and keep on going with grace. Iguess becoming a teacher has helped me to stay focused on other things. I don't know if this makes sense.

I do know God has a wonderful plan for you. I know He does for all of us. We just have to somehow keep moving forward with prayer and love. I know for me...I need to quit looking at what others have. Just because someone is fertile does not mean they are having this wonderful life that some of us IF'ers imagine they are having. B/C wouldn't be so dang popular if the majority of people saw having babies as a blessing! Right? Pathetic, sad truth..I know..*sigh*

TCIE...I will keep you in my prayers...your day of rejoicing will come. God has a wonderful plan for you. You just have to believe that. God Bless.

KC said...

Very thoughtful post TCIE. Thank you for sharing your feelings on this. It helps others understand more where you are coming from so hopefully we can provide more of the kind of support you do need (As opposed to what only hurts you more).

I can't even begin to tell you how much I have been praying for you and the others in this little group that are still waiting for the removal of their suffering. And even when I think about our own potential adoption, you are never far from my mind. And it is not thoughts of pity, but of a fervent plea to God that He would spare you further suffering.

The strength you display, even amidst the hurt you feel, and the way you so selflessly offer it up for the sake of others is amazing and I know it is a blessing (and an example) to many of us.

(And BTW, the idea that you guys would be "unfit" parents has NEVER crossed my mind...even once! In fact, I have always felt quite the opposite.)

Thankful said...

Your posts are always to eloquent - I pray that someday they will be full of joy instead of pain. I am definitely not as eloquent - so here's a hug and a prayer.

More Than Anything said...

I completely understand and "get" your entire post. Thanks for putting it so eloquently. It completely sucks and seems so unfair (that's me being eloquent!).

I think your baby burgular idea isn't half bad ;) HA!

You will be a great mother (however it comes)!!!

mrsblondies said...

I like the word in-adoption you created. I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with two really heavy crosses at the same time. I'm glad you feel comfortable sharing your feelings about this with us; our greatest desire is to support you in whatever you are going through. It makes me sad that you feel so judged as a poor prospective parent when you share that you are unable to adopt.

There are so many people out here praying for you that your suffering will be removed. Thank you for your amazing example, knowledge and all that you offer up.

Complicated Life said...

I, too, am sorry that you're bearing such heavy crosses. I tend to think that any suffering born with faithfulness is redemptive, and can thus be viewed as beautiful and purposeful, so whether it is infertility, in-adoption, or both, God can use this for His End. A while back I had a post that mentioned two principles for times of difficulty (from the book Abandonment to Divine Providence). 1. That everything, even a leaf falling from a tree, is either ordained or permitted by God (and I suspect that your in-adoption is only permitted, as you said), and 2. That no matter what happens, God is sufficiently wise, powerful, good and merciful to make all things work for good to those who humbly and lovingly accept His adorable will.

I'll be praying that you find peace and hope, TCIE.

expatbarrenness said...

It also never crossed my mind that you might be "unfit". I know from our initial inquiries that sometime the criteria rule people out on paper for things that are entirely out of their control and have no real bearing on what kind of parents they would be. (But, I can imagine "the look" - and I would be an idiot too, because the issues can be so personal and you don't know what if anything you should ask. You are right - IA just like IF!).
I am so sorry that there is no clear direction for you right now. I have found the question, "If not parenthood, what then?" to be the most painful part of IF. I will keep praying that whatever it its (and of course, I hope for parenthood for you), you find something which makes you feel like this time is not wasted.
Thank you for sharing your counselor's advice. I have struggled with what to pray for exactly (even I get sick of my "please make all of this go away" pleading :) - and that immediately hit me as right.

Shannon said...

oh, love... I'm holding you close in prayer. I don't get any of this either for you. It seems like a cruel joke even though I know God works for the good.
I just can't begin to imagine the pain you are in. You must feel like you've hit roadblocks at every turn.
I do know that your faith continues to inspire me... to continue to hope amidst unbelievable uncertainty.
I'm praying...

Hebrews 11:1 said...

I'm with the others--"unfit" is the last word I'd use to describe you as a parent! I'm so sorry you are having to carry this cross, but I know God is doing great things via your redemptive suffering. You have such a strong spirit, and I know He is making amazing things happen through your cross.

I do think Leila was right, the system (though I'm sure it does keep out people who actually ARE bad) is flawed. Hopefully they will realize that flaw and correct it--you guys will be amazing parents.

I'm glad you share your thoughts and feelings. You always have such beautiful, insightful posts--you have a way of saying what I'm thinking better than I can say it myself! Your amazing spirit shines through in every post. I just know that God has something really amazing planned for you. But I also know how hard it is to feel like you are just sitting and waiting for it while you watch it happen all around you.

But a few weeks ago a VERY wise blogger woman (wink wink) wrote a comment on my blog about how "there is no greater love than this--to lay down one's life for a friend." My dear TCIE, that is exactly what you are doing with your redemptive suffering--every time you pick up your cross, you die to yourself so that God can use that suffering for something wonderful in His plan.

The way I see it, you carry this cross every day. So you live this love every day. Every day, by carrying your cross, you lay down your life for a friend. If there is "no greater love than this", then each day you live the greatest love there is. And, in my humble opinion, that makes you really pretty fantastically awesome. :-) And though I don't presume to know what God is thinking, I reckon He agrees with me. :-)

Um, and if you decide to go into baby burgling I'll join you. :-) Haha!

*Disclaimer--I would not actually ever really steal a baby. Just wanted to put that out there.*

Leila said...

I hang on every word you write. You always have something new and profound to offer, and that is a gift. Thank you for putting yourself out there. You are changing people for the better.

Second Chances said...

I was going to say exactly what Leila posted - you are so gifted in writing and I can't NOT read every word.

Thank you for sharing with such honesty. We are all becoming more aware and more informed and more sensitive through your honest sharing.

We will offer our family rosary today for you and your husband and for your suffering to be lifted soon, and in the meantime to fulfill God's will.

callmemama said...

For the first year Hubby and I discussed adoption, in the back of my mind I was terrified that some stranger would sit there and judge us as unfit parents. After going to the agency info meeting, and them telling us that they WANT people to be parents, they aren't looking for every little reason NOT to let people adopt, I felt a little better. But then, you and your husband are denied. I don't understand it at all!
You definitely have quite a burden to bear, but I truly hope this in-adoption part of it is lifted soon!

LifeHopes said...

I am so sorry that you have to carry this extremely heavy cross.

I would like to reiterate - first off - that I think you will make THE best mother EVER and that I think its a lie from the pit that you would be "unfit." (didn't mean for that to rhyme)

Second, I promise to continue to pray my heart out for you, that your circumstances will change, and that, in the meantime, God will renew your spirit and strengthen you.

Third, I wanted to ask for clarification ... it was my understanding that the "in-adoption" status was only temporary. At least, until a few things can be worked on. If that is true, I hope it can bring you a tiny bit of comfort, knowing it isn't a forever closed door.

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

I am praying for you... you are such a strong lady! I pray that God will bring you the grace you need to carry your cross during this time.

JellyBelly said...

I have thought of you so much in the recent past. I have no idea why you have had to carry two such heavy crosses. Your in-adoption is a cruel injustice that I will never be able to explain.

I pray that you will find some peace and a way through this ridiculous situation (I don't know if ridiculous is the right word, but it seems like it is to me).

Your strength is admirable. I think often, if TCIE can do this, so I can I.

Hugs!

the misfit said...

Your counselor's advice is fascinating - that would never have occurred to me, but I think it's brilliant. And I admire your attitude so much. No matter how it hurts, you never give up on trying to integrate your crosses into a strong spiritual life. Whereas I just slowly let go as it gets harder...

Beautiful, thoughtful post. I don't know what the way out of in-adoption is, but I pray you find it. The last chapters of your story are shrouded in mystery, but your love and witness are so strong, I can't imagine that the story isn't epic. I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out!

Tridentine Wife said...

Very good post, I think (until reading this) that I too was one of the many people who don't think about the people who are unable to adopt. I am truly sorry for the painful crosses you have to bear and the suffering you are going through. I offer up my prayers for you and hope that God will reward you for it. I am sure that this is only a small consolation though.

Ask or Imagine said...

Wow, you say all of that so well. When I think of how most people don't seem to think of infertility as a possibility for others, and ask insensitive questions because of that lack of awareness, I can't imagine the complete lack of understanding of "in-adoption" you have to face on top of that. And that inevitable "have you thought of adoption" question, ugh. Your post really made me think about if I take adoption for granted like many people take their fertility for granted. I am really looking forward to seeing the miracle God works in your life.

Stacy said...

Not sure whether to cry for you or scream in anger alongside you. I'm believing that we serve a God of Hope and that somehow, someway He will continue to fill you with Hope even though what the world has to offer seems hopeless.

If it helps you at all, I recall a time when I felt the Lord asking me to surrender. I thought He was asking me to surrender my desire for a baby but what I realized was that He was asking me to surrender my desire to understand. Why the suffering? Why the waiting? Why the miscarriages? I wanted to understand why and yet God does not promise us an explanation for our pain or suffering. It was so hard to surrender that to Him. I will pray that you can surrender the desire to understand why you are being asked to bear these burdens.

Many prayers of HOPE lifted for you...

Cecilia said...

When I first read that you were in-adoption (love that word btw), never once did it cross my mind that you could possibly be an unfit parent. What I thought was that this was everything I always feared about the whole adoption process - i.e. that they will exclude people without use of common sense according to some stupid bureaucratic rubric....like mindless robots. It makes me furious for you. I want to slap them b/c what they are doing is depriving a child/children who need love of a wonderful family with love to give. That is a travesty and all involved should be ashamed of themselves.

However, as I think you rightly pointed out, your in-adoption is not from God. God has put the desire to be a mother on your heart for a reason and his will won't be thwarted by strangers making random decisions. You and your husband have so much love to give and God wants our love to be shared. I believe strongly that he means for your love to be shared with children in your home. I remember when I was little and I wasn't sure how I was going to get out of a situation, I would think, "I don't know how, but somehow I know my mom will tuck me into bed tonight and everything will be fine." I feel that way about our IF (and IA). I don't know how we're going to get from point A to point B, or even what point B will look like, but I know that if we have faith, somehow, someway God will lead us to his desired outcome. And it will be perfect.

Praying for you, as always.

Sew said...

Your counselor sounds like a spiritual director as well. Every single bit of time you spend with her just keeps getting better. I almost feel as though she is one of your biggest advocates IRL with such good direction. (Of course we are your biggest advocates but you know what I mean.) I think I love her!!!

Anyway, I think your blog keeps growing in ways that are beautiful to watch and so do you my sweet friend.

I pray for you daily.

The Apostolate of Hannah's Tears said...

I have been keeping you and hubby in my daily prayers most especially since we last spoke via "I.M."... Our Lord does have something beautiful to unfold in your lives through all of this painful suffering He loves you both very much. In regards to being unfit, anyone that may even think that in their hearts is more to be pitied. God is somehow tiling the soil of your marriage to make you and your hubby stronger then you could ever imagine and I must say that you are both doing the best you can and that our prayers are with you both each and everyday.

Peace, Love and Hope,
T. @ Hannah's Tears Ministry

Suzie-Q T-Pie said...

i will continue to pray for you everyday. never once did the thought ever cross my mind that you would be unfit parents, and that is why you can't adopt at this time. You are an amazing person, your posts are always so beautiful and touch my heart everytime. **hugs**

doctorgianna said...

I look forward to your thoughtful posts. You always tell me something I had never thought of before. I can learn much from you because of all the working through your emotions that you have done. You set it out so plainly for the rest of us.
I can see how it is difficult to talk about your infertility now that you cannot talk about adoption plans. As for your in-adoption being an objective decision by others...remember that this decision has been made by HUMANS, and not God. When other humans tell you that you are an unfit mother, even if it seems everyone agrees, it is not necessarily true.

Beth said...

Oh I'm so sorry this is happening. Yeah "Unfit" wth?

I do think that the advice your counselor gave you is great! For everyone to remember. Thanks for sharing.

BabyBoy1203 said...

Hi,

I've never commented here, but I've been reading your blog for a few months.

My husband and I had trouble conceiving our child, but he was finally sent to us. Now, it seems we may never be parents again. I never knew it would be even MORE painful than not having a child at all, but somehow, it is. Maybe that's because I know the incredible joy of being pregnant and giving birth, and all my being craves that experience again and again, yet it is denied to me.

People think I am "ungrateful" when I confide in them about the pain this causes--which I never do anymore, I can't take it--and that hurts me to the very center of my heart. I am SO grateful for my son!

I realize that women who have never conceived at all may feel resentful when I say that. But we were given an immense desire for a large family and our hearts literally ache--literally, like a tightening in the chest--when we see our little boy lonely in ways we can't make up for. No one can take the place of a sibling. I cry almost every day for his sake; wanting another child has become more about giving him a sibling than anything else.

Everyone around me is getting pregnant, most without even "meaning" to. I am not jealous, truly; I try to allow my suffering to be redemptive and I try to trust in God's perfect plan for me. But it HURTS.

What hurts even more, more than anything, is that my husband and I have an online "ministry" where we counsel young people considering abortion. Some of the things we see are revolting. To many of these women, their unborn children are "leeches" (an actual quote). Can you imagine how awfully painful it is to go and talk to them every other day, especially when it just so happens that I've started a new period and all chance of a child is again gone? I have to pray often for the grace not to be angry at these women, bitterly angry.

This pain is sometimes unbearable, and the beginning of each new cycle is very difficult. When a new cycle begins, my husband and I are in a funk for a few days. We cry a lot together. You see, it's not about the number of children; it's about an unfulfilled desire. Our home/family is certainly missing something because no other children are coming our way.

And to top it all off, for reasons that seem to be somewhat similar to those of you and your husband, we cannot ever, ever adopt or foster. No one knows that, because I just wouldn't be able to handle the judgments/looks/thoughts/remarks. Not being able to adopt breaks my heart into pieces.

I've said all this to let you know that although our stories are not the same, they are similar, and they are especially similar because neither of us can adopt (or so it seems, in your case). Please know that I pray for you often and that you are not alone in your suffering. We are not the same, but I understand your feelings so very well. I often cry while reading your blog, because you put into words what I myself feel. Take care.

~Elizabeth

lowly said...

You are amazing. Your suffering is doing untold good, no doubt.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Elizabeth (BabyBoy1203),
Thank you so much for your comment, and for sharing your feelings on my blog. I am happy you did so, and I don't resent them at all. I have often said (to myself and to other IFers) that I am sure I will feel all of these feelings once again in my life should the blessing of 1 child ever come to me - in other words, I know I will suffer greatly from "secondary" IF if I ever get past primary.

I would encourage you to read another blog, "Second Chances," which my friend R started. She had a very similar story to yours, and now has a "secondary" success. If you go back to her earlier blog posts, you may find some comfort in her words, knowing you are not alone in everything you voiced here. (Feeling judged by others, feeling rejected even by other IFers, etc.)

Now that I know your name, I will keep you in my prayers. This is indeed a heavy cross, this "in-adoption," and perhaps we can help eachother carry it.

Mrs C said...

I'm so sorry. It must be very hard - I can understand the pain of this when I imagine what it would be like for us if we weren't approved for adoption (wear the end of our home-study now). Infertility and inadoption is a heavy cross. I'm praying for you.

Lauren said...

You're right.

I'm completely assuming and ungrateful. I have taken our quick home study for granted and not thought twice about it. I know the feeling you speak of exactly when you describe with joy and unabashedness your call to adoption.

And I don't know why I haven't though twice about this. Because I DO have a distant friend who was in the same position. We weren't very close and she never opened up to me, except to say that because of health issues, adoption wasn't an option. It completely broke my heart.

Thank you for drawing my attention to this matter. Thank you for sharing your heart and teaching me to be grateful. I am so happy to be able to lift you up in prayer. Praise God for your counselor, who offered such beautiful prayer advice.

Thank you for not claiming "peace" where there is "no peace". Thank you for acknowledging your pain and struggles to find redemption in it.

There is a beautiful song by Selah called "Unredeemed" that comes to mind. (And of course the ultimate suffering song- "If you want me to" by Ginny Owens. Got me through many a hard time.)

Prayerfully yours. ~Lauren

Bon said...

Hey girl. I have a homestudy coordinator who I adore. If you want her email just let me know. She might be able to help in some way. I hate to see you going through inadoption as well as infertility. That is double suck. If you want to talk to a very unbias homestudy/counselor about anything just let me know. I will forward you her info.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've never commented here before but just wanted to say you're in my prayers.

We too have had to unexpectedly deal with in-adoption (ingenious term, by the way) for several years now, on top of infertility. We recently learned that our in-adoption may not be as permanent as we were once told, but there's still a long ways to go before we'll know.

Thank you so much for your post. Your therapist's comments and your thoughts are very helpful.

And here's something else I've found helpful for difficult days:

"True believing means looking the whole of reality in the face, unafraid and with an open heart, even if it goes against the picture of faith that, for whatever reason, we make for ourselves…

“We are rather too inclined to forget that in the Book of Job…God declares Job to be righteous — Job, who has hurled the most outrageous accusations at God — while he rejects Job’s friends as speakers of falsehood, those friends who had defended God and had found some kind of good sense and answer for everything.

“Observing Advent simply means talking with God the way Job did. It means just seeing the whole reality and burden of our Christian life without fear and bringing it before the face of God, as judge and savior, even if, like Job, we have no answer to give about it all, and the only thing left is to leave it to God himself to answer and to tell Him how we are standing here in our darkness with no answers.”
– Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "What it Means to Be a Christian"