However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle. ~ Valerie Harper, Adoptive parent
About nine months after my husband and I were married, we felt ready to begin a family. Unfortunately, our journey to parenthood came with unexpected struggle, a litany of infertility issues and repeat miscarriages. (We lost our first four children in that time: Agnes Elizabeth, April 2004; Julian Olivia, June 2005; Max Kolbe, April 2006; and Catherine Teresa, December 2006.) During these years of trying to conceive again and again in hopes of finally carrying a child to term, I went through the ringer to become a mother.
During those trying years, my arms became permanently black and blue with bruises from the countless multiple blood draws I endured to check hormone levels and to rule out other serious health issues. I became an NFP charting expert and obsessed with the healthiest, most natural ways to eat, take care of my body, and become pregnant. I had laparoscopic surgery and was diagnosed with Stage III Endometriosis. Soon thereafter, I started a regime of Clomid and trigger shots of hCG to boost my body’s ability to ovulate and produce the hormones it was lacking to sustain a pregnancy. During those cycles I swallowed ovulation-inducing medicines and became a pro at hormone injections, I gained weight and felt ill most of the time. Down went the pills and painful injections were endured–graciously, in fact–all for the sake of becoming a mother.
Because I reached the maximum dosage without a successful pregnancy, I had to stop the Clomid and trigger shots of hCG. Shortly thereafter is when I found a disturbingly large lump on my right breast. After seeing my doctor, I was sent to the women’s clinic for a full work-up of tests and procedures which ultimately resulted in a biopsy of the lump. Not only was I dealing with infertility and losing babies, I now had my first breast cancer scare. (Thankfully it was only a cyst, but even the surgeon who operated on me was seriously concerned. In the years since, I have found two more lumps.)
To compound the pain and the struggle we were experiencing for the sake of parenthood, my immediate and extended family were suffering greatly, too. In the span of three years, we lost my father to his sixteen-month long battle with small-cell lung cancer, and said our good-byes to two uncles, and my maternal grandparents, as well. It was a somber time.
Through it all, The Husband and I kept hoping and praying for children. We certainly discussed adoption, but had not explored it until one fateful September day when the answer to our prayers came in the form of an evening phone call. A familiar voice spoke to us on the other line. A child needed a loving home and were we open to adoption? Miracle of all miracles, our answer was an exuberant, “Yes!” Nine months from that incredible phone call, we would be fostering to adopt The Girl. We were full of gratitude and joy to be given this chance, and to open our hearts and home to this child in need.
The first Thanksgiving with The Girl in our home was a memorable one for obvious reasons. However, our joy increased a few days later when I discovered that I was, miraculously, pregnant again! A little over nine months later, we welcomed home The Boy. The Girl had a sibling! We had a son! Eight months after his birth, The Girl’s adoption was finalized. We felt blessed beyond compare to have witnessed two miracles in our lifetime, and that we were finally parents as we’d always hoped to be.
I touted over social media today that I was grateful for adopting my oldest child. She has stretched my heart and spirit by her love and many challenges. It’s not always “rainbows and butterflies” around here, but the trying times are the ones that increase our hearts, minds, and spirits tenfold. Adoption is a blessing despite the many challenges it brings. I would not have it any other way.
Honestly, I would go through the struggle over and over again—for her, for us—to start my family by fostering then finally adopting this amazingly complex, beautiful and gifted person–this daughter of mine–who herself makes me a better mom and better person, truly. If you ever had an inkling to foster or adopt, I urge you to look into welcoming a child into your home. Adoption can change lives for the better.