Monday, April 25, 2011

Choosing to See...

God's timing is always perfect.  Sometimes we can see it, if we are looking...if we choose to see.  This whole process has been filled with beautiful gifts from God---at His perfect timing.  And as I continue down this path, I will keep looking out for God...choosing to see.

About 8 months ago, my family took a vacation to Florida.  It was our first "big" vacation as a family and we had a blessed time.  On the trip, I took many, many photos of the boys---probably too many.  One of the photos, I entered into a photo contest.  The grand prize was a free week stay in a beach house---in Florida.  Of course, I wanted to win---but I did not really think I would.  But guess what, I did win---and I just returned from another Florida beach vacation.  I tell you this, not to brag---by no means, but to share the significance I found as I reflected---in the car---on the way home.  Eight months ago, at the exact time we were traveling to Florida---I was filling out the paperwork for the embryo adoption.  I was actually trying to get it in the mail prior to leaving for the trip, but ended up carrying the paperwork with me to finish while I was on vacation.  When we returned from our trip and we mailed the paperwork the following Monday.  Why is this significant, you ask?  Well, as I was preparing to leave for this current trip, I received an email from the adoption agency confirming the transfer date for the embryos.  It was the Monday after I returned from my trip.  It is TODAY.  Mailing the initial paperwork was a HUGE step for me---and today, well---it is hard for me to even put it into words.  It is the transfer date.  Today is the day 3 embryos will be thawed and soon we will know what God's plan is for these embryos.  It is a BIG day, indeed.  While I am not exactly sure of the significance of two trips prior to these big events, I know it is significant.  Maybe I needed a mental break, some refreshing of my soul....I don't know, but I do know God's timing was perfect and it was a huge gift to me.  I mean, really---who wins a free vacation, not me---I have never won anything.  NEVER.  Not-to-mention, that the vacation was planned prior to us even being matched with a family.  Perfect timing.

As I was in the car, I began to reflect on all the gifts from God along the way.  He has revealed Himself to me so many times.

I remembered a precious birthday present I received from a couple of my girlfriends....early in the process.  They had a necklace special made for me with six beautiful beads.  The six beads were significant to the number of embryos going up for adoption and their valued lives.  The necklace is a tangible reminder of the process and God's hand in all of it.  Thank you sweet soul sisters.

I remembered the sweet gift of one door closing and quickly another one opening.  Our adoptive family was not the first family we were matched with.  Our initial match was with a wonderful family from the North.  While we were both excited about this match, the family was unsure of having to use 3 embryos, if 3 made the thawing process.  With that said, Billy and I were firm on our beliefs that if 3 made the thaw, then 3 would have to be transfered.  So the decision was made by the other family to humbly find another family.  I was grateful that they brought up these questions prior to being in the midst of the process.  I genuinely wished them the best on their journey.  The door abruptly closed on us, but in God's perfect timing, another one opened to the sweet family doing the transfer today.  We did not have to wait on another family, at all.  I received the email from the family saying no to us----at the exact time I received the email with the profile of the current family.  It was a beautiful blessing from God.

Another sweet gift from God is that Billy and the adoptive father share the same first name.  It was kind-of cool to connect with them in that way.

I remembered the day we mailed the final adoption contract.  Billy and I came together and prayed over the envelope.  It was an emotional day for us.  The peace that only God can give washed over both of us.  After walking down to my mailbox, I returned and checked my email.  I had an email from a dear dear woman in my life.  She was my high school boyfriend's mother.  She was like a second mother to me---over the 4 years I dated her son.  Even though, my relationship ended with her son, our relationship still remained.  We have continued to stay in touch for over 15 years.  She even came to my wedding.  I truly love her.  With that said, she had no clue that I was in the midst of the process of adopting out the embryos.  We had been in touch catching up with each other through email.  But much to my surprise, I received her email, the evening of mailing the contract---the final contract to this adoption.  The significance of her email was God's perfect timing. And it brought me to my knees, in AWE.  I forgot to mention that her children were adopted.  And for some reason, on this particular evening, she decided to share with me how much adoption blessed her life---completely out of the blue.  Here are her words exactly "I always said that God blessing me with my children through adoption made me a whole person. Without them I would have never been whole and I look at you and I know that you are also a whole person.  I love you!"  God's perfect timing, indeed.

One of the last things I reflected on was the significance of April 25.  Not only was it the day of the transfer, but it is also one of my dearest friend's birthday.  She is a huge part of my spiritual journey and has challenged me to grow in my faith.  I have grown so much since knowing her and it was so appropriate that her birthday share the same day as the transfer.  April 25 will always hold a special meaning for me.  Forever.  Thank you God for your perfect timing.

Today is a wonderful day and I ask you to lift up the adoptive family in your prayers.  Please thank God for them and their desire to have children through this process.  Pray for the embryos as they are thawed.  Pray for God's will to shine through as we wait and see what will happen over the next 1-2 weeks.  Please pray that they will be blessed with a precious gift.  A gift of a baby.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

You Know Me

I want to tell you about the entire embryo adoption process, how it works, the paperwork, choosing a family and how I processed  my emotions through it, but for right now, I need to skip forward to now.  About 2 months ago, we were matched with a precious family excited to adopt our embryos.  God's hand has been all over this process and it really has been amazing to watch his glory shine through.  I am humbled and amazed at how much I can see God in the life of this sweet family.  Really, that was my only criteria....I needed to see God in their lives and I do---so much.  I can say with full confidence that these embryos are meant to be with this family.  God has confirmed it over and over.  They will forever be a part of my family and I will love them humbly from afar.  I call them family because whether we ever meet or not, whether children are born or not, we are spiritually bound together as believers in Christ. We are walking in faith together, even though we have never met.  I don't know if we will ever meet.  What I do know is, God is writing this story and if it is His will, maybe one day we will meet.  If that day comes, I can only imagine how beautiful it will be.  I am genuinely excited for our forever family and what is to come for them as they expand their family.  I pray for them often and will continue for the rest of my life.   I can not even put into words how much they mean to me.  They value these lives as much as I do and there are no words to thank them enough.  Hopefully holding a baby will be a start.

The final paperwork for the adoption has been complete for a couple of weeks.  I have wanted to write about it, but was having a hard time.  Not really sure what I was feeling because the range of emotion was from east to west.  So.Many.Emotions.  Please know that I am truly happy with the process, but I am realizing that it is also a process for me.  I have seen the legal contact, the signatures of all four of us, the notary, etc.  The adoption was final a couple of weeks ago, but on Tuesday I received an email from the adoption agency.  They confirmed that the 6 embryos were moved to our forever family's clinic.

This was the final step.

I was not prepared for how I would feel or the tears that would fall.  I have loved these embryos since they were created.  I have spent years of trying to decide what to do.  YEARS!  Almost 8!  That is a long time. I could not even count how many times I have prayed for these embryos and God's plan for them.  Years of prayers, years of tears, years of uncertainty, years of molding and changing myself (by the grace of God),  and years of God preparing me for this moment.  I did not expect to be sad.  I did not expect to run into my husband's arms and cry like I had lost a family member, but that is exactly what I did.  I cried and cried and cried some more.  I cry as I write these words, but what is beautiful about our Holy God is that He can take your sadness and turn it into joy.  As I cried on my husbands shoulder, I knew-- while he was doing a great job at comforting me---he would never comfort me the way only God could.  So I thanked him for being a shoulder and for understanding and I went to my quiet place, in my closet, to spend time with God.  I knew that only He could help me decipher all that I was feeling.

Have you ever felt so much emotion that you could not even put it into words?  

That was me, in my closet with God.  I did not know what to say so I just sat still---intentionally, for God.  It is my way of showing Him that I know He is in control.  Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."  Eventually I was able to pray for peace and for Him to reconfirm my purpose in all of this.  He has shown me over and over that I have a purpose in this story.  Why I ever doubt, I will never know?  The things God does and continues to do in my life---blows me out of the water!  Thank you Lord!

So after spending some time with God, I immediately felt better.  The sadness was not gone, but it was much better.  I was able to continue through my day trusting His plan for my life and this process. 

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon, Gage & Grayson are doing swim lessons this week at our local pool.  There are 5 kids doing the lessons and they all started on Monday.  I don't really know the other moms too well, but we have seen each other around the neighborhood.  Our conversation is mostly small talk or cheering on each others kids.  As I was drying off Gage & Grayson at the completion of their lesson, another mom asked, after she realized that the boys were twins, if twins ran in our family.  This is a question I get ALL the time.  Sometimes I just say no and change the subject, sometimes I say, "no, we did IVF" and sometimes I say, "No, we did infertility."  When I heard the question, I literally asked myself how I should answer.  I was kind-of raw from the day before so just saying NO and moving on would have been an easy choice.  I was not really wanting to talk about IVF so I choose the infertility choice.  Clearly God had other plans because as soon as she heard my answer, she said, "So did I."  That answer led to many more questions getting to know more about what we both went through and before I knew it, I was telling her that I just completed the process of adopting our remaining embryos.  As I shared my story, she proceeded to tell me that she also had embryos and it was something that she has been struggling with for years.  If you did not get that---she has embryos.  We were both in AWE of our conversation and the depth we shared in just a few minutes.  Our random conversation at our kids swim lessons was no coincidence.  It was divinely inspired and such a confirmation of my purpose in this whole process.  You know I prayed for that yesterday!!!  God has asked me over and over to share my story---that is my purpose.  While my new friend, is not quite ready to adopt out her embryos, she knows that it is a pending decision in her life.  And she now knows someone who has gone through the process.  To my new friend---I am sure you might read this---I want you to know that am here for you if you decide to walk down this unchartered territory.  God is good.  He has easily turned my tears of sadness to tears of joy.  He has confirmed my purpose in all of this and if you need anymore to convince you---read this excerpt from my devotional this morning.  Oh the tears flowed, but now out of complete AWE of how great our God really is.

3/17/2011 - Jesus Calling
"When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me.  Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly.  As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people."  

Psalm 139:1-4
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me,
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not Mine

Deciding your family is complete, for most people, is a fairly simple choice, but for me---it has been a long road.  I am grateful for this road because it was travelled mostly on my knees.  I say on my knees figuratively because truth be told, I was probably sitting, but praying nonetheless.  My faith and trust in God has grown more in the last couple of years than my whole walk with Him.  Knowing that you have created life with the help of the medical community and then froze that life---well, it is a lot to process...really mindboggling for most.    It was something that I barely processed when I started my IVF journey.  I remember thinking…embryo, what is that…and having a lot is a good thing, right? The more you have---the better your chances are to have a baby?  Honestly, I was ill-equipped to know the enormity of my choices.  Some of the decisions I faced way back when, I made in less than 24 hours.  I remember praying about it, but keeping it as transparent as possible---my prayers were about God blessing me with a child.  I wanted a baby.  I needed a baby.  I longed for a baby.  I-I-I….do you see a pattern here?  As I look back, I can see God laying the groundwork for where I am today.  Sometime in the midst of our journey, I remember Billy coming home from work and telling me about an organization called Snowflake.  It was an organization where you can adopt your remaining embryos to a loving family.  From then on, we knew if we had remaining embryos, we would adopt them to a loving family.  Snowflake was our moral compass.  We knew that we did not want to destroy any of the embryos or leave them frozen indefinitely, so if I could not carrying all of them, we would adopt them out.   At the time, it all sounded so easy in my mind, but little did I know, it would be the most challenging, humbling, selfless decision I would ever make in my life.  It was far from easy.  Thankfully, our Heavenly Father has walked beside me during this journey.  He has challenged me, He has humbled me, and He has stripped away layers of selfishness and ownership that I had toward these 6 remaining lives.  He showed me that they were His, not mine.  He showed me that He knew them before they were in the womb and that their life was significant, regardless of who raised them.  He gave me the courage to let them go and trust what His plan is for their life.  He showed me that---while I thought that my purpose in going through IVF was to have children---my bigger purpose was the gift of giving them away.  Lastly and most importantly, He has forgiven me. So in August of last year we started the process to adopt the 6 remaining embryos through Nightlight Christian Adoptions -Snowflake Adoptions.
Jeremiah 1:5  - “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Voice

Where do I start?  I could start from the beginning but that would be too predictable, right?  So I will start where I am now and go from there.  

I am in the midst of a faith journey that I am choosing to share openly.  Honestly, I am a little scared to be so transparent, but my hope is that this blog will offer a realistic view into my infertility journey and beyond.  As I started writing, I asked myself who I was writing this blog to?  My audience is definitely geared toward infertility---past, present and future.  My infertility story includes: 1 diagnosis of severe male infertility, 1 round of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), 1 frozen embryo transfer (FET), 2 pregnancies, 3 children and 6 frozen embryos.  It has been almost 9 years since I started down the path of infertility and the rawness of that time quickly comes back.  The magnitude of dealing with the inability to conceive is just plain overwhelming.  It is saddening and many times, very lonely.  It was not a season of my life that  brings back many good memories, but it is the reason that has brought me here, today.  I am blessed.  I am blessed with an amazing husband, who loves me more than I deserve.  I am blessed with 3 energetic and loving boys, who adore their Mommy.   I am blessed with 6 frozen embryos that I am in the process of humbly adopting to a couple unable to conceive.  And more than anything, I am blessed by a Heavenly Father, who has given me an opportunity to live a life bigger than myself.  He has given me a purpose in the midst of a mess I made for myself.  I know I am not alone.  My hope is that people read my story and relate to it from where ever they are in their own journey.  Welcome to my story.