Caring for Baby with Prenatal Drug Exposure

In our state, all perspective foster and adoptive families are required to complete a checklist of characteristics as part of the home study.  Couples and individuals must determine the “type” of children they are willing to consider.  Questions include: gender, age, race, family history, medical conditions, mental and emotional health, education, personality, behavior, etc.  It’s lengthy and (for us) overwhelming as every possible condition is considered.

One section that seemed particularly intimidating was related to maternal drug use.  The form distinguished between babies born addicted, babies who had positive toxicology screens at birth, and babies with prenatal drug exposure. At our initial licensing, we did not understand the differences. We checked “will consider” to each.

Now, six years later, we are NOT experts by any means but we have learned what works — and what does not — for infants with these birth histories. The first few weeks are very challenging; controlling the environment is critical. 

I no longer hesitate to accept newborns with drug addiction. We can give them a stable, loving start so they’re prepared to return home when it’s time.

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We were particularly helped by a handbook developed by PICC. We were trained using their therapeutic handling principles, including baby wearing, swaddling, and controlling environmental stimuli.

I’m a big fan of swaddling for all babies! I love little baby burritos..

I am not qualified to offer medical advice. I do, however, want to offer a few suggestions based on our experience. AND I’d love to get feedback from other foster and adoptive parents on what has worked for you! Please comment below!

For these newborns with difficult backgrounds, the symptoms will vary. The type of drug, the length of use, frequency of use, and the nutrition of birth mother are all factors.  Do research on the particular drug, if possible (resources linked below).

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Signs and Symptoms might include:

-tremors /jitteriness

-pronounced Moro reflex (feeling of falling when the baby throws arms out and stiffens to support self)

-increased muscle tone

-sometimes difficult to comfort and settle

-over-active and agitated

-severe colic

-sensitivity to light (hiccuping, sneezing and frequent yawning are signs of over-stimulation)! This can be the biggest tip off that you need to reduce stimuli.

-exaggerated sucking reflex

-loose stools

Finnegan Scoring System is used to assess these babies before discharging home with caregiver. Many are treated with morphine while withdrawing. Ask your hospital about your newborn’s score. (Our local hospital requires score of less than 8 every 4 hours prior to being discharged.)

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Tips for Caregiver:

-swaddle

-wear baby in wrap or carrier close to parent’s chest (frequent skin to skin contact is great too)

-offer pacifier

-dim lights at home

-reduce noise and fragrances in the home (we are SO GRATEFUL when our friends do not wear perfume or scented lotion)

-hold baby in “C position” (bend knees upward toward chest and curl back forward slightly)

-soothe baby by moving him up and down (vertical rock) in head-to-toe movement (keep baby swaddled and in C position); some babies like to be in a swing but bouncers are often too stimulating

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Resources:

Toolkit for Children Prenatally Exposed; distributed by Macomb Intermediate School District. I found the chart most helpful.

Pediatric Interim Care Center (PICC), (their handbook was helpful or try these therapeutic handling tips!)

The Happiest Baby on the Block

The Nature of Nurture : Biology, Environment, and the Drug-Exposed Child

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

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Why Not You?

Adoptive families for children in foster care are needed!

This article by Angela Tucker is worth your time.

I certainly understand the challenges that come with foster adoption, and know that not every person is equipped to handle those challenges. However, when I meet prospective adoptive parents who fear the unknowns of foster adoption, I often find myself responding with a variation of – “Why not you?”

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

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Love One Another

With each new phone call from Children Services, we have a decision to make: we can either decline or agree to care for the child.

Last week I was faced with establishing whether we could practically and responsibly add a newborn to our clan, which already included two-year-old “M” and ten-month-old “Baby Bear.” After thinking through sleeping arrangements and testing to ensure three car seats would fit in the backseat of our car, I agreed to pick up “Sugar” from the hospital in a few days.

Although I knew the days (nights) ahead would be tiring, I genuinely looked forward to bringing the little bundle into our home. Sugar would likely be transitioning to a family member in only a few weeks, I was told.

I often say that we love on our foster children when they’re with us and pray for them when they leave us. But, more accurately, our love for the child is demonstrated in how we love the birth family.

Recently I saw a former foster child with her mom while grocery shopping. I was encouraged by mom’s motivation to overcome so much. And she was making positive choices for her daughter’s future!

A few days later Baby Bear’s mom shared that she had been in foster care as a teen. She had lived in three different foster homes. She was “truly grateful” that he was in our particular home. She added, “I’m working on learning to be the mom that I never had. I can’t wait to get my little man back so we can put the past behind us and move forward and never look back again.”

Of course, to be fair, we don’t deserve ANY credit for the progress these courageous women are making. And, not everyone sings our praises. Haha! Nevertheless, it is a privilege to witness determination like that – and to know we got to be a small part.

We view our role as foster parents like a relay race. We take our turn running the circuit. There is anticipation as we wait to be handed the baton. There is anxiety that the handoffs might not be smooth. There is exhaustion as we sprint our leg of the race. Yet, in the whole of a child’s life, our turn was just one small part of the team effort.

Plus, as we practice our part, it gets more natural.

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Over the first few days with Sugar, we were showered with love from family and friends. One invited “M” to spend the night, another brought us dinner, and others messaged me to check in. I was reminded that we are not alone in our care of vulnerable kids – and we really CANNOT do it alone.

That week, Sugar’s case manager asked us to arrange a visit with the family member who was awaiting approval to care for her. I agreed to travel two hours to make the visit easier. Being a guest in the home of your foster child’s family can sound awkward. And I anticipated it would be weird as I sat on the side watching her hold the baby.

Yet, my concerns were eased when I met her. She was kind and welcoming. And appreciative.

She asked me about my faith right away. We shared the same Hope. She was my sister; she was not a stranger after all. She told me that I sounded “calm” on the phone, and she was relieved her grandchild was in the home of a Christian couple.

She shared with me the struggle of not being able to make decisions for your adult children. She repeatedly said, “Every one in the family deals with the consequences.” They were all learning and helping one another, too.

I listened. I shared our story. I listened more. I reassured her that we believe families should be preserved and kept together when possible. But ultimately she encouraged me. I was blessed to spend the afternoon visiting with her.

As I drove home with Sugar asleep in the backseat, I thought about the love I had experienced.

Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never ends.

–The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13

On that day, loving my neighbor did not seem like a “service” but, rather, the truest and most right action. It was fitting to JUST LOVE!

A few days later I was sitting in the local WIC office with Sugar. The nutritionist was asking personal questions related to the baby being in care, and I answered as vaguely as possible without being rude. She did not need to know the details. I finally said, “The babies in our care will likely never remember us. My husband and I believe our real service is to their families. They can trust that their children are safe and loved so that they can fully focus on other things. They can take that time to make changes that will last. Some of them have never been encouraged or given hope.”

Her blank stare was interrupted when she realized I was now silent.

Then she shared her own story.

Nearly 20 years ago, she and her young daughter had left an unsafe home to escape an alcoholic man and his friends. She packed her truck and moved to a college town where she knew no one. She lived in campus housing for families while finishing a degree.

She said she saw her past in many of her clients’ lives. The girls seemed trapped in a cycle. She wanted them to know it could be different.

When she looked up and our eyes met, she said, “I never thought about foster care as a way to a better life for the parents.”

I nodded, and said that we do our best to encourage each mom to press on. We tell her that her child loves her and needs her to be healthy. We try to show her love.

She agreed: “They don’t need to hear more judgment. They already know what brought you into their lives.”

I encouraged the nutritionist to share her personal story more. I added that she might consider becoming a CASA volunteer. As a Court Appointed Advocate, her voice (and experience) might make a difference for teens who don’t want to listen to foster parents. She excitedly took notes and pledged to learn more.

As I drove home from that encounter, I remembered a sign in our home that hangs near photos of each of our foster children. It reads “LOVE MAKES FAMILY.” I think the phrase was originally meant to mean “love is what creates family, not blood.” However–the more I interact with birth families–I am learning that it may mean “love has the power to add people to your family, whether blood or not.”

We have a growing family. And we will continue to say “yes” to new opportunities to love because God enables His people to complete the work to which He has called them.

We pray regularly for birth families — past, present, and future. They are continually on our minds. Moreover, Love has imprinted them on our hearts forever.

 

 

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

 

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ReMoved

Any child has the potential to exhibit challenging behavior. And children who have experienced trauma, especially, may act out or try to create drama in their foster home — often because it’s all they’ve ever known. They simply are not comfortable in a quiet, conflict-free home. Other children may be “triggered” by a smell, a room, a person; and, therefore, respond to the memory in a confusing and challenging way for foster parents.

We have been there.

And it was difficult. The challenging behaviors happened (seemingly suddenly) after three months of relative “expected” behaviors. Moreover, we did not feel the child’s case worker understood the situation. She said we were “inexperienced parents.” Yet we knew the behavior was not “typical” and the child needed therapy. We also believed the safety of a younger, smaller child in the home was compromised by dismissing the aggressions.

After months of pleading for intervention, we asked for the child to be moved. We were able to start some services before the child returned to a safe family member’s home.

Disrupting that placement was not an easy decision. We did not take it lightly. We cried over it. We advocated for the child until the very end.

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When I first watched the short film, ReMoved, I thought of our experience.  The couple who created this film were inspired to make it while in foster parent training.

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ReMoved is a powerful film and worth 13 minutes of your time. You can watch the entire piece online — free. You can even download a copy. 

This — my past, my history, my story — is not my fault. It’s not because of me. And it doesn’t have to be what defines my future. I am loveable. I am worthy of care.

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Originally created for the 168 Film Festival, ReMoved follows the emotional story through the eyes of a young girl taken from her home and placed into foster care.

After winning Best Film and Audience Choice at the 168 Film Festival, as well as winning Best Film at the Enfoque Film Festival and being an official selection at the Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival, we’re extremely excited to share ReMoved online.

“It would be impossible to fully understand the life and emotions of a child going through the foster care system, but this short narrative film portrays that saga in a poetic light, with brushes of fear, anger, sadness, and a tiny bit of hope.” -Santa Barbara Independent

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

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Are personal questions acceptable?

As foster parents we know many other families who have adopted children of various ages. In our area, though, most of the adoptees share the same race as their new parents so their non-biological relationship is not usually apparent just by looking at the family.

For us, however, as a White couple with a daughter of color, she/we get quizzical looks. We live in an area where talking to strangers is polite and the norm. Most people are very sweet and merely comment on “M”’s beauty or her pretty, curly locks. I smile, thank them, and move along.

Some people, though, will say things like, “I need to get one of those.” Huh? I think they are trying to connect with us or affirm our decision to adopt.

But it just doesn’t sit right. On so many levels.

I am conflicted about comments like these: I want to correct them, but the grocery store isn’t quite the right place to instruct. And, ultimately, do I really want to subject my daughter to that conversation when we will likely never see this person again? Moreover, I want to protect “M” so that she remains confident and self-assured.

what-is-adoption

As a multiracial family, we will draw attention that single-race families do not; and, thus, positioning adoption as a defining aspect of our home. I do not want to limit “M” by labels. Rather, I want her to understand and embrace her heritage as best as possible (both biological and adopted). And, therefore, helping her to value her identity, her self.

Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition says, “We don’t regard our transracial adoption as something especially noble or sacrificial, or anything like a social statement. This is simply the way that God in his providence has designed our family to expand, and we sense his great grace in the way he has knit our family together.”

It’s just our family. It should be that simple. However rude or ignorant comments reveal that it is not simple at all.

I recently shared a video by adoptive parents, Jesse and Marisa Butterworth. They came up with a rule of thumb: “If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job, don’t say it about an adoptive family.” Jesse offered suggestions (corrections) to help people avoid vocabulary faux pas when talking to adoptive families. Among the list of no-no questions were, “Is that your real daughter?” and “Where’d you get her?” He rephrased the questions with more acceptable ones like “Is she your biological daughter?” and “Where is she from?”

I shared the video — at the risk of offending people — because I felt it was a humorous way to educate. Like the Butterworth’s, I want to protect my daughter from inappropriate comments (particularly, intrusive comments made by strangers).

It felt a bit “PC” to me at the time, but I still saw value in the overall message.

A few days later I read a round table discussion between 10 adult adoptees. The Lost Daughters unanimously did not like that video. From their vantage point, the video makes an attempt to challenge social blunders but, instead, merely relabeled the disrespectful thinking instead of correcting it. Although this roundtable does not represent the opinion of all adoptees, it was interesting and insightful.

The group of ladies saw this video as a microagression. A microagression is when someone acts on a bias while being unconscious that he or she even has biased attitudes or feelings. In particular, a microagression is a demeaning message sent to a group of people by well-intentioned people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent (source).

Amanda Woolston said,

Being a parent makes you an advocate for your child which means being willing to be uncomfortable for the child’s sake. This means not shutting adoption discourse down when you have a chance to engage with people about real change that can make a more positive atmosphere for adopted people. And not treating us like invisible, unaware bystanders who aren’t affected by these comments people make (or moreso).

Moreover, adoptive parents themselves may unintentionally spread messages that present the adoptee as a perpetual child. This renders the adoptee “voiceless.”

But the fact remains that right now my daughter IS a child — a toddler. She is an impressionable two-year-old who hears and processes (and sometimes repeats) what people say around here.

It seems the point The Lost Daughters are trying to make, though, goes beyond the parent’s responsibility to protect and train a minor child.

Karen Pickell adds:

… This video and other efforts like it consider only one point of view, that of the adoptive parent. They perpetuate the idea that the adoptive parent is the most important person to consider when thinking about adoption, when the reality is that it is the adopted person who should be forefront in the mind of anyone having a dialogue about adoption. Don’t misunderstand–I’m not saying that adoptive and original parents are unimportant or that their experiences should be discounted. I’m saying that adopted people are the ones most affected by adoption and, therefore, must always be considered in every conversation about adoption.

This is what I may have missed before: our need to train “M” to take the lead in these conversations. I instinctively want to hold back, and maybe I should. Yet I can show her how to speak up with respect about her birth-family and adoptive family. To teach her that certain questions should only be asked by close friends or family. To affirm that she gets to decide whether or not to answer. And to offer appropriate ways to respond to impolite inquiries and insults — because they will come.

Again, Amanda offers:

I think the world forgets that adoptees offer keen insight on these remarks and they neglect to ask us our insight. As an adoptee, I have had almost 29 years of experience with these remarks. I can tell my parents how I’d like them to respond to questions asked about me. … “Is she your real daughter?” Yes, she is real. She also has two sets of real parents. “Where did you get her?” I’m sorry, can you rephrase that? “Do you wish you had one of your own?” She has two families and both are her own.

So much patience and empathy is needed as we navigate this journey together. I am thankful that I can learn from adult adoptees and, hopefully, our inquisitive neighbors will welcome instruction, too, with grace and kindness,.

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

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Saying Goodbye to Foster Siblings

Last week your sister for the past nine months left our home. It was not sudden. In fact, we had three weeks to plan and think about it. She had longer visits with her family on the weekends to prepare for the move. And each weekend we talked about where she was. You would inform our friends, “Baby with her mommy.”

You understood.

Yet we recognized that you did not fully know what that meant.

So, Mom and Dad worried about how her move would affect you.

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Prior to her joining our family, you had shared the house with three other foster siblings. You enjoyed kissing the infants and playing with mobile ones, but you did not seem to miss them much when they were gone. You were too young to remember or care, we reasoned. However, this time, we were not sure what your response would be like. As a 30-month-old, you are old enough to understand that she’s not coming back.

Frequent goodbyes are part of foster care — both for the kids in care and the families they are staying with. Dad and Mom knew that fact when we signed up. We weighed the (personal) risks and decided it was worth it.

But we did not have kids back then.

We want you to have a permanent sibling because we believe you need consistency at home just like any other kid. However, we cannot guarantee when you will have a permanent sibling (if ever).

When families open themselves to the possibilities, we are also opening up to the pain.

This week, as the house was quieter and you were lonely for a playmate, you repeatedly said, “You my mommy.” At first, I thought this was the game that you play often: you will declare that I am Daddy or Nana or Sammy (really, anyone I’m clearly not) and giggle and encourage me to rename you, too. However, it took a few days for us to notice that this time it was not a statement but, rather, a question. As in, “You are my mommy forever, right? Not like with Baby. Because I thought you were her mom, but you aren’t.”

That is heartbreaking.

So, we have spent the last several days reassuring you that you are staying. That we are staying. Even when you aren’t asking, we are telling you.

We simply did not anticipate this.

Looking back, it’s obvious that we could have coached you better. For a 2-year-old, it needs to be crystal clear what is happening.

Goodbyes are difficult for us, too. And they probably will not get easier with time. When you truly love someone and care about their future, it often hurts when they leave your life. I want you to know that Dad and Mom are very sad that Baby is gone, too.

We love her — and her family. We want them all to be healthy and whole.

We accepted her into our home, but we did not choose for her to leave.

We pray for all our children. We do not know what they are experiencing now, but the Sovereign One cares deeply for the weak and vulnerable. He is El Roi who sees them living in this broken, cursed world. We pray He sheds light onto anything that is happening in the dark. We pray for early intervention.

We cried the night before Baby left as we anticipated our final hours with her. We prayed that God would protect and save her parents, because true hope is only found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He alone brings new life and change.

Moreover, Christ alone gives our family the ability to love as we ought.

For that reason we will continue to love people who are struggling. Although it may seem painful for our family, including you (in the short term), we pray it will increase your capacity to show compassion and to love without hesitation (in the long term).

Another adoptive parent said it this way: “Some of the most painful things in life are the things that give us the greatest opportunities to grow (change) and become more loving and gracious.”

We love you, dear girl. You are a gift from God for your brief childhood. As we raise you, we rely on God to provide and to meet us where our inadequacies begin. We are seeking to train you to be an adult who is sensitive to His will.

Recently we have set up new parameters and “preferences” with Children Services to protect your heart as best we can, while still allowing the opportunity to welcome new children in our home. Hopefully one of those new children will stay forever, just like you.

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

what (and when) an adoptee should be told

If you have not read my entry titled adoption is a promise, you may want to start there for context.

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Although each family will make its own decision regarding how to communicate about adoption, we firmly believe it is best to tell him or her early and to talk about it often. Healthy relationships are not built on secrets.

We provide honest, accurate information as our kids are developmentally ready.  Notice that WE (adoptive parents) want to be the main source of information.  Primarily, we want to help them sort out reality because — quite frankly — we have heard some erroneous and incomplete stories (gossip) about their birth and/or first families. We seldom correct people who make false statements because, until the adoption is finalized, we are not permitted to share stories.

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WHAT SHE NEEDS TO KNOW (FOR NOW)

In The Whole Life Adoption Book, the author suggests that preschoolers should learn their own adoption story. In this stage, the child needs to sense the positive dimension of adoption. (When he or she is older, an understanding that adoption involves both family building and family loss will come on it’s own. And we will talk about both then.) For now — between the ages of 2-4 — we have 3 goals (as suggested by Lois Melina in Raising Adopted Children):

First, acquaint the child with adoption terms rather than adoption concepts. Second, use the time to create a positive environment where adoption can be discussed. Third, become comfortable with talking about it [as parents].

And we are doing that. Even as toddlers, they hear us pray for their biological families and acknowledge God’s hand in providing a new family when circumstances warranted it.  We read pre-screened, age-appropriate books about adoption, too.  Books we love include:

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 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AS A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND

We do not want to broadcast “M”‘s personal story. It is HER story, and she gets to decide what and when she will share.  Until then, you should keep curiosities to yourself.

“Our family is … blessed with the amazing child that adoption brought to us, NOT the other way around.” –Jackie Gillard

Moreover, we honor birth families.  And we pray for them.

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HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT ADOPTION

f you are part of our lives, you will get questions from kids! So be ready.

1. Be honest.

Always tell the truth. A child will likely ask: “Why does she have brown skin?” (Meaning, her skin is different than her mom’s skin.) This is an accurate observation. It’s natural for people to wonder. “M” does have beautiful brown skin and I do not! You may choose to say,”M grew in the belly of another woman; a woman with brown skin. When she was born, she came to live with her parents. She was adopted.”

2. Be concise.

There is absolutely no need to sensationalize a story.

A child might ask, “What is adoption?” or “Why was she adopted?” You might want to reply, “Adoption is when a person permanently joins a family that is different than his or her birth family” (or biological family or first family, whatever term you like). “Children are adopted for a lot of reasons. M needed a safe home, and Joey and Elaine had one to offer.”

3. Be sensitive.

Again, it is not necessary to sensationalize a difficult story. Speak about her birth-family with respect. We do.

Please ask us sensitive questions when children are not around. I am not offended by questions but I do want to protect my child. So, please understand if we decide to keep some things private.

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. 

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adoption is a promise

I have been reading a very helpful book by Jayne  E. Schooler called The Whole Life Adoption Book. I am not finished with it, but I love it so far! I keep reading sections out loud to my patient husband. He loves that, of course. I recommend it to perspective adoptive families and also to individuals who have already adopted.

There are two kinds of relationships in life. One type of connection is genetic — such as the one we share with our birth parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and our own birth children. No matter what happens, that tie always exists. Nothing can erase the permanency of the biological relationship.

The other kind is a union that begins with a promise. Marriage is such a union. Adoption is another. The adoption tie, established by the promise to act as a permanent family to a child born to another, mirrors that of a biological family in many ways. However, within that promise are dynamics that set it apart. …

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The author has worked in Children Services and also conducts training for foster parents, so her perspective is particularly helpful for families, like us, who navigate the transition from being foster caregivers to permanent parents. We originally were motivated to pursue a foster care license because we desired to provide children with a safe, loving home. We were surprised and humbled when adoption became an option.

The journey is on-going and the relationships are complex, of course, because all adoption begins with a loss. “Nothing can erase the permanency of the biological relationship.”

Yet our promise to “M” remains. And we look forward to learning and growing as her journey unfolds.

Read Jayne’s book for yourself.

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Two other books to consider are:

I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World

and All About Adoption: How families are made and how kids feel about it.

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

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What’s in a name?

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“Sing, O barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.     -Isaiah 54

Infertility can seem like a lonely place. I’ve been there. I have felt joy mixed with heartache as a friend shares that she is pregnant. I’ve experienced sorrow after another person unknowingly jokes, “So, when are you and your husband having kids?” I know that, for some, the halls of a church building can be a painful place on Mother’s Day. And, yet, I also know that God used this suffering in my life to teach me more about Himself.

My journey began early-Summer 2010 when I learned that a routine test had shown abnormal results. Anxiety set in as we prepared for the biopsy. When that exam was negative, testing continued for six months. And so did my uncertainty.

I quietly struggled with God as I waited. I clearly remember one particular Sunday, I cried through the entire morning worship service as song lyrics rang in my head: “…In the chaos, in confusion I know You’re sovereign still / In the moment of my weakness You give me grace to do Your will… .” At that moment, I vowed to rehearse the truth of God’s sovereignty when I started to waver: All things are under God’s rule and control, and nothing happens without His direction or permission.

Finally, a blood test revealed a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is the most common cause of infertility among women. PCOS is estimated to affect up to 10 percent of women of reproductive age. Yet, infertility can seem like a lonely place.

Following the diagnosis, I did two things. First, I mourned. At times I wept over the loss. This was critical to my healing; I took time to truly grieve. Second, my husband and I determined to pursue God’s will rather than to merely pursue a baby. This gave me peace in our decisions. Additionally, for us, it led to the decision not to use fertility medication. Although this might not be the right option for other couples, it was for us.

Instead, God used infertility to stir up a greater passion to raise spiritual children (Isaiah 54:1). He deepened my understanding in His purpose for spiritual parenthood. Pastor John Piper says:

God’s purpose in making marriage the place to have children was never merely to fill the earth with people, but to fill the earth with worshipers of the true God. One way for a marriage to fill the earth with worshipers of the true God is to procreate and bring the children up in the Lord. But that’s not the only way. When the focus of marriage becomes, “Make children disciples of Jesus,” the meaning of marriage in relation to children is not mainly, “Make them,” but, “Make them disciples.” And the latter can happen, even where the former doesn’t.

At the same time, in His great mercy, God placed me in a Bible study group where I connected with other women who were in various places in life. These relationships were further part of His plan to teach me. These women were sensitive enough to really listen and mature enough in their faith to help me see God working. Moreover, I was being held accountable to study God’s Word. Although I was not deliberately seeking to share my story with other ladies (in fact, quite the opposite!) or even to grow closer to God, HE PUT ME THERE. He gently moved me to that group to get my focus off myself.

When a person is suffering, she can forget that pain is part of every person’s life. Sharing prayer requests with another woman of God can help her regain a proper perspective. In fact, God designed Biblical Womanhood to work that way — women helping other women (Titus 2). My struggle was no longer a lonely place.

Different women need to learn different things through their infertility journey. For me, it was grasping that God alone is enough. My journey is like that of Abraham when he was told to sacrifice his child — the son for whom he had waited and waited (Genesis 22). “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” Abraham obeyed. And he told Isaac, “God himself will provide… .”

And God did provide a substitute. In fact, because Abraham did not withhold his son, God blessed Abraham and promised to make his “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”

As I have learned to submit in new ways this past year, I have been blessed as well. I had to give up my own ideas of my future family and wait for God to work. He provides.

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Elaine and her husband are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home.

 

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