This week we recognize the gift of femininity and the vocation of motherhood in its varied forms. We celebrate, as Pope Francis says, woman’s “great gift of being able to give life, of being able to give tenderness, of being able to give peace and joy.”
By: Karey Nobles, Guest Contributor
I have lots of thoughts swirling in my cluttered head about adoption, most of them having to do with me giving the “old me” (pre-adoption me) advice. Since that’s not possible, I thought perhaps someone else out there could benefit from my current perspective of being on the “other side” of adoption. We’ve made it through the discernment, the application, the home study, the wait, and the call. We adopted a daughter. And then we did it all over again. We’ve crossed over to parenthood and I can now look back on all those hang-ups I used to have back then, when I put it off for (what felt like) so long. So here are some of my first thoughts, on God’s immense grace.
It took us five years to adopt once finding out I was infertile. Four years passed before we even began the home study.
We desperately wanted to start a family, so what took so long?
Well, it took time to mourn the loss of the ability to conceive. That’s not an easy reality to process. I basically went through the Five Stages of Grief, and that can take a while. There were surgeries in there, several doctors, countless medications. Six cycles of this, nine cycles of that. I counted years by treatments. I could barely manage my part-time job that was infertility, let alone begin the difficult journey to adoption.
Not that I didn’t think about it. Every day.
Ryan wanted to move forward. He wanted to be a dad and, more importantly to him, he wanted me to be a mom. He had a peace with the thought of adopting that I did not.
I struggled with it constantly. Went over and over it in my head. I wanted to have a family, I didn’t want to keep my husband from fatherhood, I wasn’t getting pregnant and probably never would… But, oh, the hang-ups.
It’s amazing how discerning a big decision like that can really dig deep down in your soul and brings all your insecurities to the surface.
A big one for me – a HUGE one – was that there would always be another mother. That just ate away at my insides. I wouldn’t be number one. I’d be number two. The understudy. I wanted to be IT, the child’s entire universe. His mother. I couldn’t bare the thought of sharing that title with another woman. I was so broken down already. I just didn’t think I had it in me.
I was jealous of a person I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know if there would ever be such a person. But I was jealous of her.
I can’t tell you how I specifically overcame those thoughts, but I did. I let go and jumped. Took the ol’ leap of faith. I prayed the heck out of it and muttered, “Jesus, I trust in you. You better take care of this.” And guess what? He did.
There is no other way to describe my change of heart other than pure and total grace. Grace is one of those words that gets thrown around in Christianity. A buzz word. I knew I wanted it, others said they’d received it, but I had no idea how to even know if I had it. Those things you can’t touch, see or smell are tricky like that.
But my change of heart about adoption and birth parents can only be attributed to grace, so I’m going with it.
We never met Clara’s birth parents. We don’t know anything about them. I have ways that I could do a little research in this age of the internet and all, but I just haven’t. I know some of you might think I have crazy willpower, but the truth is I have had no desire ever to find out anything more than we currently know. It was easy, not having a face to put with the title of birth mother. There was no one to be jealous of, no one to compare myself to, no one to make me feel inferior. I knew she was adopted, of course, that there was another mother out there, but it was very easy to forget when we knew so little.
Then came Essie. Or, rather, first came her birth mom. It was she who I knew months before I first met my daughter, and she was so incredibly sweet. I was already an adoptive mom, I had this down. I knew I would love that baby like I birthed her, that there would be no worries. I learned early on with Clara that it’s those sleepless nights and 2 a.m. diaper changes that make you a mom, just as much as carrying them in the womb.
We got to know Essie’s birth mom over email and then we met her at the hospital, shortly after Essie was born. I cannot describe to you how grace-filled that room was. If I wasn’t sure what grace was up until that point, I knew then. It was palpable. God turned it into something I could touch, see, and smell. Because He is awesome like that.
And you know what? I’ve never once been jealous that Essie has a birth mom. I’ve never once felt insecure knowing she’s out there, that she carried my beloved daughter in her womb for nine months, that she was her first mother and will always be her mother. I get teary-eyed at that thought, but not because of any hang-ups. It’s because I’m so glad Essie will always know she has another mother and I feel beyond honored that she chose us to raise her precious girl. I will forever feel honored to share that title with her.
I love knowing that Essie looks just like her. And I hope Essie has that neat way about her that the whole family all seemed to have when we briefly got to know them (I can already tell she does).
I know I didn’t overcome those insecurities on my own. I’m not that strong. I like to wallow in self-pity and don’t read books about spiritual growth. But I took a leap of faith back in 2008 and God did the rest. It’s amazing being on the other side of it now, looking back at my former worried self, wondering how I would cope, and knowing now that it’s all okay. Better than okay. I worried for so long about how I would handle always knowing there’s a birth mom out there. And then it happened and knowing she’s out there has actually been an enormous blessing. My heart feels healed. The absence of jealousy and insecurity is a beautiful thing.
So have faith. God wants to heal your heart. If you’re like me, you may not know how to get there even if you want it desperately. If there’s a road map, I haven’t found it. But I’m here to tell you it can happen. He will work on your heart and your insecurities if you let Him.
Adoption is such a blessing. Born from pain and suffering, but so beautiful. I’m so thankful to have it in my life. And I’m so blessed that God used it to do a little work on a sinner like me.
Karey Nobles is a wife and mother of three children, two adopted and one biological. Her blog, All You Who Hope, has gained national attention for its contribution to the conversation to the physical and spiritual trials of infertility as well as hope and trust in God’s loving plan. The Nobles are parishioners at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, in Fairfax.