We know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
So my husband and I very recently decided to start the ball rolling on adopting a child through the state of New Hampshire. For those of you unfamiliar with the process, adopting a child through the state usually means a school age child who has been through hell and has some type of special need. It involves a 10 page questionnaire for each prospective parent, and multiple classes to train prospective adoptive parents, and also to help them decide if this is something they feel they want to do. At times a peace washes over me and I feel this is God’s will. At other times I am terrified. Terrified once again of hurt and disappointment, and of heart break.
When Geoff and I got married we decided to try to have children right away, since I was 37-and we really wanted a family. No matter that my income and his combined was on the low side for the state-about 5 thousand lower than the median income for two person households. We have a great apartment that includes heat. We saved and worked on all our debt. Unfortunately, in addition to some credit card debt, we had loans for educational purposes. But we owned our cars. Even if money was tight and I got pregnant, God would provide, right? We were even looking into buying a small house and were approved for a loan. Then Geoff got into a car accident, had to finance a used car, and we lost our eligibility for the housing loan. Frustration ensued- but maybe God was protecting us from over extending ourselves. We could rent a bigger place if I got pregnant.
But I did not get pregnant. I went to a specialist in 2013 because for the first time in my adult life, I was having some minor irregularities in my period. At age 38 I figured it was too early for menopause. Nothing seriously wrong could be found, so I got a series of blood tests. My monthly hormone pattern made a steep mountain and not the ideal gentle sloping hill. So I popped hormone pills in an attempt to force my body into submission. “Make a hill!” Every Month was an emotional roller coaster as I charted, took hormones, got blood tests and waited to see if I would get a period. Every month I did, and I cried a lot. After a year of this I decided I wanted to explore other options.
No problem! We decided to visit a local adoption agency that offers sliding scale fees for couples seeking adoption. (One healthy baby please.) We made an appointment in the spring of 2015 . They went over the process with us. Turns out that even with the sliding scale, we would have had to pay 22,000 for legal fees and services. (That’s about 10,000 less then those who have to pay the full price.) Now you can borrow that money through adoption loans, but if you have too much debt in you ledger that can count against you. The last thing we needed was more debt!
I kept up with the fertility treatments and began injections of medication trying to fool my body into making more progesterone at the right time. Later t hat spring I was in a car accident and my car was totaled. I was pretty banged up but OK. We took out another loan on a used car. Now we knew for sure there was no money for adoption or a small house. Around the time I turned 40 and sought another opinion. Since nothing changed in the treatment plan or results, I decided it was better not to continue. So I just believed God for a miracle – I assumed it would happen. It had to! I believed as best I knew how, until one day when my husband was praying over me. I realized that nothing was happening because what I had called faith was really a sort of fantasy filled denial.
The next few weeks were tough. There was one Saturday I had to force myself out of bed. I cannot explain my devastation or even why it hurt so much. It was like a part of me had died inside.
I had been thinking about adopting an older child through the state. But at age 41 I wondered if I would have the energy for a wounded child. I was afraid they would never bond with me or trust me, or I would get rejected as a potential mother. I did not want anymore hurt.
But then I remembered a life changing book that tore down some of the walls inside me. I was so hurt by being abused that I was closed up inside. Oddly enough the book is a chapter book really written for children probably around 10 years old. The main character is a fancy china bunny that is loved by his owner but cares only about himself. The book “The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane was written by a deep and spiritual children’s author named Kate DiCarmillo. In the book, this little doll like rabbit named Edward goes through a series of experiences that teaches him about love, loss and hope. At a pivotal moment in the book, Edward has been separated from everyone he had come to love and is waiting on a shelf in an antique doll store for adoption. He is soon joined by a doll who is older and wiser than he, who reminds him to hope:
The old doll said, “I wonder who will come for me this time. Someone will come. Someone always comes. Who will it be?” “I don’t care if anyone comes for me,” said Edward. “But that’s dreadful,” said the old doll. “There’s no point in going on if you feel that way. No point at all. You must be filled with expectancy. You must be awash in hope. You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next.” “I am done with being loved,” Edward told her. “I’m done with loving. It’s too painful.” “Pish,” said the old doll. “Where is your courage?” “Somewhere else, I guess,” said Edward. “You disappoint me,” she said. “You disappoint me greatly. If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless. You might as well leap from this shelf right now and let yourself shatter into a million pieces Get it over with. Get it over with now.”
So yeah, I am taking a risk of being hurt again. Yet I am promised that if I suffer, and persevere there will be hope. Maybe not of getting what I wish for, but the kind of hope and joy from holding on to Jesus and learning how to love, risk, be broken and healed. And another part of me thinks there may be a child out there for me, one who is also afraid of being hurt, of loving, and is ready to give up….waiting like Edward. Maybe they’re afraid too. Maybe we will find each other through a miraculous journey of our own.
You will be happy to know Edward chose hope. He waited and waited and waited-I think maybe for a few years. Someone did come for him. Yet the best part of the story for me was when he chose to embrace courage and hope, and found joy in the waiting. When he chose to continue to be open to love, and thus hurt.
In another part of the book Edward says:
“I have learned how to love. And it’s a terrible thing. I’m broken. My heart is broken. Help me…”
Yes Lord Jesus help us.
I think perhaps Jesus knows better than anyone the cost and benefits of love. He laid down His life, was broken for us, and:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I have decided that in the suffering and trials of life their must be joy. I am one who often thinks of brokenness as a sad duty. Yet for the joy set before Him Jesus endured. I have a feeling that this time maybe there will be joy at the end of the road. I am open to expectation, to hope. For weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Amen and amen.
“I have learned how to love. And it’s a terr“I have learned how to love. And it’s a terrible thing. I’m broken. My heart is broken. Help me…”
ible thing. I’m broken. My heart is broken. Help me…”