Adoption Diaries: Becoming acquainted with grief
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
I can pinpoint the exact moment where our storyline flipped from a TTC story to one about
adoption. It felt like a switch had been flipped internally and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that adoption was the way we were being called to grow our family. I am someone who is always very sure of my decisions so I wish I could tell you what caused the change for me, but it was one of those moments that simply cannot be explained. Big pivots in my life often happen like that - a switch flip, a 180-degree turn without an immediately obvious reason - and I have come to believe that this is how the Holy Spirit communicates with me. Much like the idea for The Fruitful Hollow, this realization was undeniable. God had hit me over my very hard head to get his point across!
Initially, I didn’t fully understand what this pivot would mean. I didn’t realize that my new road towards motherhood would not only include loads of paperwork, blind faith and newfound hope, but also immense grief. If you’ve ever experienced deep loss, you know that grief creeps up on you in tiny moments that trigger memories or realizations. It might be an image that you now view differently, a conversation that stings in an unexpected area, or a realization of things that will never be. These are triggers that your mind and your heart have to work through in bite-sized pieces.
A truth that I have come to know and accept is this: in order to adopt, you must grieve.
Deciding to walk towards adoption is a decision to let go of some of those dreams that you clung tightly to during your TTC journey. The feeling of sweet baby kicks inside you, the ideas you might have had of what your baby would look like (I always hoped our kids would inherit the chin dimple that I love on my husband), the plan you had for how you would tell your husband he was going be a father, the moment you could finally tell your mom that you were expecting... All of these images and moments are elements you have to grieve and release.
Thank you for the music
You may not know this about me, but I’m a public school junior high choir director. I come from a very musical family and music is essential to me in a very primal way. About a month ago now, my husband Sean and I were driving somewhere and listening to music. ABBA’s song “Thank you for the music” came on and a wave of grief hit me hard. Immediately tears started streaming down my face and Sean asked, “Why are you crying? Are you okay?”. When I had calmed down, I told him that I had just realized that our children will never inherit their musical ability from me. This realization shook me to my core for a good few seconds before Sean said, “Yeah… but you never know. We might have a musical prodigy coming our way. Baby Allen might also have a musical birth family.” I had never thought about that.
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." (Isaiah 53:3)
Becoming acquainted with our personal grief
The grieving process is a personal journey. It involves waves of realization and acceptance as you come to terms with your own interior struggles. My grieving process has looked completely different to my husband’s. There’s not as much loss for him because if we are able to go to the hospital, he will still get to hold the baby and take his child home. He is not grieving the loss of little kicks in the womb or the experience of childbirth in the same way that I am. He is processing his own grief in a very different way. The other day, in a moment of my own deep grief, I asked him to be honest about what he was thinking about our adoption. What he said will stick with me forever, and I am sharing it here in hopes of bringing some perspective to those who may need it. I should note that Sean’s perspective in no way diminishes my own grief or feeling of loss, but he has a beautiful gift of accepting the will of God and finding beauty in it. I am blessed to have a spouse who is the exact opposite of me - he is gentle, logical, level-headed and calm and I am blessed by his different perspective. The following conversation happened after I burst into tears and went to lay down for a bit. He followed me into the room and held onto me.
“It’s only 9 months,” he said.
“What do you mean it’s only 9 months? You’re going to miss out on feeling your baby kick in my womb, and the moment my water breaks, rushing me to the hospital, seeing your face in another human. Does that really not bother you? How can that not bother you?”
“It doesn’t. It’s only 9 months. I won’t get to talk to your belly or feel our baby kick inside of you, but I will still get to teach my child how to throw a football, I’ll still cry when I drop them off at school, I’ll still show them how to love the Lord, I’ll still be their dad. I will get to see little smiles when I come home from work and receive little hugs. I may lose out on those 9 months of pregnancy, but I’d trade that any day for a lifetime of love and parenting. We are going to have a child. We may miss out on those 9 months of life with our child, but I can’t wait to watch them grow up. It’s 9 months compared to the rest of their lives.”
A call to surrender
During our journey to grow our family, I’ve become very familiar with one of my downfalls; I have big expectations and I dare to dream and plan. I thought I could picture my life in such vibrant detail and color, so a pivot towards adoption felt like putting blinders on. Changing paths felt like a loss of vision, an abandonment of plans. And I believe this is common with type A personalities. When a friend recently shared the happy news of her long-awaited pregnancy, she said that she had felt God was calling her to “complete surrender”. That line has been swimming around in my heart since then and now, a few months later, I realize that is also what God is asking of me.
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Brothers and sisters, I challenge you to enter into prayer and ask the Holy Spirit what it is that God is asking you to surrender to Him. The thing that pops into your mind - that thing which you feel your humanity begin to immediately fight against - is probably the thing the Lord is asking of you. After spending time listening in prayer, pray the Litany of Trust from the Sisters of Life.