There comes a time when you have to choose between turning a page and closing a book.
This is the last chapter of a book we have decided to close.
Sitting in front of this empty page, not knowing where to start. The white computer screen blinding me. I previously had so much to say. I was so convinced of God’s plan for our life that I had to share it with everyone who patiently offered to listen or curiously followed my blog. That’s right, I had dedicated an entire blog to this topic I couldn’t stop talking about. For the past two years, Paul and I had diligently been saving and sowing into what we faithfully believed was our calling. We had rallied friends and family to support our cause.
Full of excitement and anticipation, Paul and I were preparing to take our family to the next level.
But then everything changed.
Excitement was replaced with doubt. Anticipation was pushed aside by fear. The peace and certainty I once felt, suddenly began to fade.
From knowing that we were destined to grow our family through adoption, I went to wondering if I was going to be strong enough to raise another child. While I (most of the time) don’t doubt that I am a good mother to Emma, I am also fully aware of how weak and fragile I am. Would another child really be a blessing to our family? Was the dream of a family of four truly ours? Or were Paul and I dreaming someone else’s dream?
One day, I was on the phone with my best friend, I was surprised to hear myself say it out loud: “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think we should go through with our adoption.” My friend just waited for me to continue. There it was, I had put my fears into words. The more I opened up, the clearer I saw it. Yet, I didn’t want to admit it. I had publicly declared that we were on God’s mission to care for a fatherless child. What was I suddenly thinking?
I finally let Paul in and told him how I felt. His response? Relief. He also had begun to grow doubts about the dream to have another child. We started talking about our life as it is now, what our values are as a family, we questioned our purpose, our goals. No matter how much we argued that we had heard God clearly lead us towards adoption, we couldn’t help but feel relief about the idea of being “just” a family of three.
So where does that leave us with God? Non-believers and believers alike probably wonder how we could have claimed that the plan to adopt was our God-given purpose and then suddenly turn the other way and walk away from our Father’s directive for us. Does this mean we no longer believed? Or that we never heard God in the first place?
The answer: We have no idea. All we know is that God has opened our heart for adoption. That won’t change. We will always advocate for adoption. The issue was never adoption versus pregnancy. The question we were asking ourselves was about bringing another child into our family.
Another wise friend of mine said to me – after sharing with her about our decision to stop the adoption – our desire to adopt may be fulfilled in a different way. It doesn’t have to be in the traditional sense of adopting a child into our family. There are different ways of adopting, or caring for the fatherless. We can still live a life that matters and make a difference.
Since we began the adoption process a lot has changed for us: Our family needed us. Our existing family – stateside and across the Atlantic – needs Paul and I to be available, to support and care for them. Emotionally, physically and financially.
All of this had been considered before. We didn’t enter this adoption process lightly. Besides, our social worker grilled us on all these topics. Yet, it never occurred to us that maybe we had already run out of capacity. That another child would push us over the edge. We are seeing our friends growing their families, raising multiple children. We see their struggles, their exhaustion. Of course, we also see the fun, the blessing, the love between siblings, and the feeling of completion as a family. But what if we wouldn’t make it to that point where life with two kids got easier? What if Paul and I would be crushed in the process?
Maybe God’s plan for us wasn’t the adoption itself, maybe He wanted to reveal something else to us?
Our marriage always needed a bit more care, a bit more attention, a bit more work. With Emma I already had to split my attention, my time, my love. I felt like I couldn’t take more of that away from my husband and give it to a new baby. Paul and I have had some rough times together. I owe him more of me. Not less. I owe myself more of me.
In all of my married life I have barely sacrificed anything truly valuable to me for my husband. Sure, I left my family and home country behind to stay with him to build a life with him in the USA. But that wasn’t just for him. I wanted that for myself.
The decision to not have another child is my sacrifice. For the first time, I put my wish to be a mother again aside and put my marriage first. Yet, as much as I try to see the good in our decision, I feel like a runaway mom. I got cold feet. I got scared. I feel shame and guilt.
Once we had decided to stop our adoption, count the money spent on education, homestudy and agency fees as loss and pick up the pieces, I shifted straight into task mode. So much to do, so many friends and family to inform. More importantly, we had to refund all of the donations we’ve had received and reconcile our tithes. There was no more need to keep Emma’s baby clothes and gear. I wanted to close the chapter completely. And I wanted to do it quickly so I could move on.
Paul, on the other hand, needed time. He put the brakes on. Asked to mourn. Mourn the loss of a dream, the loss of the baby that we thought was supposed to be ours. Looking back, I am glad Paul forced me to hold still for a while.
When I see new babies, I can’t help but feel sadness. Did I bail? Did we make a decision out of fear instead of faith? Am I really that weak?
But once I managed to tell my emotions to stop trying to guide my decisions, I feel peace. I know we’ve made the right decision.That doesn’t mean I don’t get sad or tear up when I sort through Emma’s baby clothes. Sometimes making the tough choice and the right choice are the same.
Do we still believe that God called us to pursue adoption? Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that He made me aware of my limits. I know that He gave me a heart for adoption. I know that He led Paul and I to take a close look at ourselves and our marriage. We have learned a lot in the process.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~Isaiah 55:8-9
During our journey, we have seen friends disengage, and we have seen friends opening their hearts, pouring their time, love, prayer and finances over us. A few very close friends had respectfully raised concerns in the beginning when we shared about our adoption decision. They cautioned us to put our marriage first, they carefully pointed out that we may need to focus more on each other than another baby. The risked our friendship by telling us something we certainly didn’t want to hear.
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kiss from an enemy. ~Proverbs 27:6
Nonetheless, those friends were always in our corner as we embarked on the adoption journey. They are the same friends who encourage us today.