When my husband William and I got married in November of 1997, we were both ready to begin our family immediately. Little did we know, God had other plans for us. After four years of trying to conceive and to no avail, we decided to seek medical help. For years I had doctors tell me that there was nothing wrong, that we just needed to relax and quit worrying about things and that if we were not so uptight, it would happen.
I started researching infertility and began charting my cycles each month and after about a year of doing this with no results, I was convinced that there was something wrong. I had to change doctors three times because it seemed that no one would take me seriously and listen to what I knew was going on. Through the testing that followed the next several years, it was finally concluded that I had severe endometriosis. As most who suffer from endometriosis know, this disease can be extremely frustrating. There are so many unknowns and it usually leaves you with many unanswered questions. Some common ones I struggled with were: “Why do I have it?” “What did I do to cause this?” And the most frustrating of all for me was, “If every test comes out that nothing is physically wrong with my reproductive organs, why am I not pregnant yet?”
These questions plagued me for years, and like many other women who have struggled with infertility, I watched time and time again as my friends and family conceived, carried their babies to term and delivered beautiful, healthy babies. My emotions were so unstable during this time. My friends and family were afraid to share their joyous news with me, which hurt me because I truly was so happy for them, but every positive they received made me feel so sad about my situation. It seemed like a never-ending roller coaster ride that I didn’t want to be on.
I think the most hurtful thing during that time was that I felt that God was not answering my prayers but pouring out blessings on everyone around me. I compared my state to that of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10 as she dealt with her own barrenness, “ And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.” I truly was in this state as well. I prayed, I wept, and bitterness was beginning to set in on me. I felt so self-centered and selfish, always thinking about me and my condition. Looking back, those were some very sad and lonely times for me.
Over the next few years, William and I considered in vitro fertilization (IVF). We even got as far as meeting with a physician and were actually filling out the paperwork when both of us immediately knew that this was not the path that we were to be taking, at least not at that very moment. We continued praying and searching for alternative ways to build our family. An attorney introduced us to the idea of adoption. We first looked into overseas adoption, but could not find peace in that decision and decided that was not the path we were to take either. We finally settled on becoming a resource family through the Department of Human Services. This decision was absolutely life changing for us and I mean that in the best way! I still can’t believe how everything fell into place as we began to start our family and I would like to share a few pieces of that story with you, so you can see just how great the Lord worked in our lives.
We were approved in August of 2003 to become adoptive parents. I was praying that we would be placed with an infant. I wanted so badly to experience that part of motherhood. Our social worker told us it would take some time to be placed with a child, especially an infant, sometimes it could take several years. I was very surprised when our phone rang in December of that same year with a possibility of a 3 ½ year-old boy. I have to admit, at first, I was not on board with the age of the child; I was hoping for a newborn or at least a baby that was under a year old. I went and met with the social worker and as soon as she showed me the pictures of Tevin, my heart melted….I saw a beautiful little boy who needed a home. My eyes were not clouded with age; age didn’t matter. He was such a cute little guy and so in December of 2003, Tevin came home with us! Talk about a wonderful Christmas gift. After only six months in our home, we finalized the adoption of our first child. We were finally parents and I was a mommy! God had answered our prayers! God was so good to work out so many problems that could have occurred during that process and then, He continued to pour out blessings on us over the next few years!
In November of 2005, I was called to give temporary care to a newborn baby boy for another foster parent who was dealing with health issues in her family. That temporary care turned permanent the first week of December and it looked like this little baby might possibly be up for adoption as well. On December 19th, I received a call that they had found a family for the baby to live with. I was very heartbroken. Although the goal is always for reuniting with the parents or biological family, in the back of my mind, I always thought what if…I was not prepared for the phone call that I received three days later. I received the call on Taleah on December 22nd. Her birth mother was in the hospital delivering her as we spoke, and they wanted to see if I was up for keeping another newborn. I hesitated after they told me that she had three other siblings in custody and that the only reason she couldn’t go there was because that foster home was full; however, if a spot opened, they would move her to be with the siblings. I almost said no, but something (God, I believe) prompted me to say yes and so we took her. The next day, I went and picked her up. She was amazing and I fell in love with her quickly!
Two days later, on Christmas Day, I knew that her leaving my home would be too hard for me to take, especially if her stay was extended, so I wanted to meet with the other foster family and tell them my heart or tell them to take her quickly because the DHS workers really felt that this baby would go up for adoption. We went out to my mother-in-law’s for Christmas dinner and she had a HUGE surprise for us! The other family that had the other three other siblings was her current preacher and his wife, who was also my husband’s and my former preacher! They too were resource parents in another county. They had already adopted two of her siblings and had the third in foster care at the time but knew they could not keep taking this couples’ children. Space was limited and they already had ten children in their home with plans of adopting them all. They had been so burdened by not knowing where Taleah was that they had decided to call DHS after Christmas and tell them that they would do whatever they needed to make a space for her. They were telling this story to my mother-in-law and when they compared details, they realized that we were the other foster family. When they found out that she had been placed with William and me, we all knew that God had worked this out perfectly and that it was a miracle. MANY tears of joy were shed that day!
Several huge things happened that don’t normally happen in a case like Taleah’s that I want to point out, so that God can get all the glory. First of all, her siblings resided in another county and the fact that her mother delivered in our county opened the door to us even being able to foster her temporarily. Secondly, had the little boy that we had in our home not been removed three days before Taleah was born, we would not have been the ones to receive that telephone call. God’s hand TRULY was present in yet another wonderful Christmas present for us. Telling that story still gives me chills, it is so AMAZING and hard to believe that it happened at all, let alone the way that it did. Everything just fell into place perfectly.
After being blessed with our first two children through adoption, we decided that the timing might be right for us to try IVF. We still struggled with the thought that perhaps we were taking things out of the Lord’s hands if we sought this route of treatment. After talking with my pastor’s wife one day, I was explaining to her that I felt so selfish for still wanting to conceive and carry a child, especially after the Lord had been so good to us through adoption.
She said two things that really helped me get past any struggle I had with IVF. The first was, it wasn’t selfish of me to want to be a mother in the sense of carrying and delivering a child. God had created women to fulfill that very function and that He had placed that desire in my heart as a woman. The other was the struggle that William and I dealt with on taking things out of God’s hands. She said to me, “Gina, if God does not intend for you to bear a child, you will not bear a child. You cannot take anything out of God’s hands!” Her words of counsel put us at complete ease with pursuing IVF. If the process worked, great! If it didn’t, we had already been blessed with two beautiful children.
We were referred to a wonderful doctor and in the fall of 2007, our third child, Kaylee Rose, was born to us. Our final addition to the family arrived in the spring of 2009. We named her Kimberlee. I’m not sure of the exact statistics on IVF, but I know that the percentage of success on a first try is somewhere around or below 50% and on frozen cycles, the success rate is much lower, probably around 35% or even lower. We tried two cycles and both were successful! I am still in awe at God’s allowing us to experience the joy of parenthood by adoption and by conception. One boy and three girls later, our family is complete, unless of course the Lord decides to allow us any more children!
Looking back over the last thirteen years, I can now see how important it was for us to wait on starting our family. God was trying to teach me patience so that I could experience the full blessings that He had in store for me. In Romans 5:3, the Bible says ”And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” This verse proved so true in our situation. Had we been able to immediately conceive and not go through the tribulation of infertility, our family would not be complete because we never would have considered the adoption process and we would not have Tevin and Taleah today. God had other plans for our family. He had bigger and better plans for our family. While I couldn’t see His plan clearly years ago, I can now see clear as day just what He had in mind. I learned a very important lesson through all this and it is that the best blessings come “In His Time.” Some things are worth waiting for!