Surprised by Loss

pexels-photo-110874The past weeks have been surprisingly rough for me. A little back story…

A few hours after my last blog post, we received a second email about another expectant mom looking to place her baby. It looked like a really great situation – no drug or alcohol use or mental health issues – which is not always the case. The wild thing about this match was that the baby boy was due by c-section in two weeks – and Mom/Baby were in Nevada. This would mean if she chose us, we would be traveling to Nevada in 10 days for the birth and would spend two weeks in Nevada while we awaited paperwork to be completed called an Interstate Compact. We had to choose between the two situations so decided to allow our profile to be shown to the Nevada Expectant Mom rather than Texas.

I started to feel things I had not allowed myself to feel in years – Hope, Expectation, Dreams. My planning side went into action and I started making lists (“what do we absolutely need to have for Baby if we are chosen?”); we attacked our office turned nursery with gusto (“just in case, I’d like to have the room ready”); and I pulled out all of the newborn books I had been ignoring for about five years (“maybe we’ll actually need these now”). I went into full-blown nesting mode for a week. All of the Mommy Emotions that had lay dormant for years, suddenly reawakened. I started dreaming and hoping – imagining myself staring into his sweet face for hours, holding, and caressing him. I began to wonder about his life – what he would do in the future. Would he be safe? Would I be a good Mother? Without my knowing it, I was in love with the little guy from Nevada, not yet born.

So many emotions in that short week. All the while I kept telling myself – the chances of being chosen are slim. You need to hold this Baby loosely. He is not yours until his Mom chooses to go through with her plan. But those Mommy Emotions were too strong. The ‘What If” of possibilities, the desire to be prepared if she just happened to chose us – they overshadowed the reality that we very well may not be chosen. And so when I received the call from our Agency that we were not chosen, I found myself very numb.

It took a few days for my heart to catch up with the news. And when it did, I found a place of grief that I had not experienced before. I felt a deep loss and barrenness. I also felt very silly. I kicked myself for allowing my emotions and dreams to go so far. To think that this baby was finally the fulfillment of the goal we have been working towards for six years when nothing was promised. It was a pretty confusing place to be in. I could not figure out what was going on – how could I be feeling THIS level of grief when I didn’t even know this baby existed until a week ago? Then I met with my counselor. She helped me make sense of it the overwhelming emotions. I was experiencing emotions very much like a woman who has experienced a miscarriage. In my heart, I had lost a baby and I must grieve this loss.

This process was so painful. I walked through three very dark weeks. I had to go through a significant process with the Lord of releasing Baby into His hands and blessing him and his new family. The biggest recovery step the Lord graciously led me to was one of Surrender. It’s a concept I’ve clasped onto at various times in my walk with God – surrender your rights, surrender your possessions, surrender your desire to be married. But this felt different. I could tell God was asking me to surrender the all-consuming hunger to become a Mother. I didn’t want to.

I had one evening when I first heard that still, small Voice asking me to release this hunger into His hands. I lamely attempted to let go but knew, in my heart, I was holding fast. Then I totally forgot about that moment and moved on with my grieving. A few days later, I had a friend tell me she had been regularly praying for me (I had never really told her what I was going through). Out of ‘nowhere’ she said something to the effect of, “God often wants us to Surrender to Him because He knows what we don’t know.” Ouch. This was NOT music to my ears. It struck me to the heart to realize that God is asking me to do the very thing I did not want to do – give Him my hunger for Motherhood. And to say those difficult words, “Your Will be done – Not mine.” I struggled with this all day. I saw my counselor again that evening and wrestled with it some more. So much wrestling in my heart. It felt like a battle for my very soul.

Then another strange thing happened. After my appointment, I got into my car and the radio just happened to be on and tuned into my Christian station rather than Public Radio (where it often sits). The speaker on the station was talking about Thankfulness. Oh no, I thought. And I had one of those moments where the Lord Himself seemed to say, “Listen up, this is important.” The preacher quoted a verse I’ve heard 100 times – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18, ESV). And that was it. I knew my wrestling was over. Despite my lack of emotions to go along with the action, I started naming off, out loud, by myself in my car all of the things I am thankful for. Anything I could possibly think of was named. Then I got to infertility. And after a pause and a few tears on the cheek, I even thanked God for this path He has allowed in our lives. Knowing He knows what I don’t know. He sees what I don’t see. He is able to bring about what I cannot even begin to imagine right now. And it was in the context of Thankfulness that I was able to really Surrender this insatiable desire to become Mom. Oh the release. The joy. The peace.

The sadness remained but somehow it was bearable. It was hope-filled sadness rather than pointless, dark sadness. I had joy. I was legitimately laughing at work once again. I was engaging with the world.

Today, I’m in no way “over” the grief. I’m still working through it. I have to remember every day to once again Surrender what I want and to open the hand – and receive whatever God wants. I’m seeking to remember to thank God for each day – for who He is and all He has given. That He is good. He is faithful. He is writing a story and I cannot even begin to imagine. He is worthy of my trust, of my surrender, of my thanks.

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog. Thanks for sticking with me. It helps me so much to be able to process this adoption journey with you. Thank you for being with us, friends, in the midst of this process when we don’t know the ending yet. We are so incredibly Thankful for YOU!

Does Jesus Care?

Photo Credit: Cathy Baird

Photo Credit: Cathy Baird

You may be familiar with that old-time hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” I’m really thankful that Frank* was asking the same question in 1901 that I have been asking in 2015.

In the song, Frank asks, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song?” And, “Does Jesus care […] when my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks – Is it aught to Him? Does He see?”

When deep pain enters our lives, we have to ask these hard questions. It’s who we are. There may be something wrong with us if we don’t ask them at least a little bit. You’re not betraying God if you ask them. If you’re angry with God, it’s okay. He can take it. He already knows your anger, so you might as well be honest with Him.

I’ve asked God these hard questions. It took a while to get an answer. Sometimes it feels like no one is listening.

In my pain, I was thinking God was doing hurtful things to me and expecting me to pull myself up by my own boot straps. Then a friend looked me in the face and said, “I want you to know God is grieving with you. He isn’t expecting you to be okay.” That rocked my world and changed my perspective.

I started letting God grieve with me. Instead of trying to act strong when talking to God, I told Him how I really felt. I fell apart with Him. And you know what I found? Grace. Grace that heals. I found God’s heart resonating with my own. I found not only does He care, He is grieving with me!

So, along with Frank, I say:

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.


*Does Jesus Care? was written by Frank E. Graeff in 1901.