There we were, sitting around the living room, and I was blinking hard. No matter how many times I took shaking breaths, nor how many bites on the inside of my lip, I couldn’t stop the burning ache behind my eyes.
Ah, Lord, really? Am I really going to cry about this now?
No matter what I did, there the tears were.
I was happy she was pregnant. Good grief, I was incredibly happy for them. They are part of our church and part of our lives and what brings her joy wraps me in joyfulness as well. We’re the body of Christ and it’s good.
And all of that can be true, at the very same time this bubbling sorrow in me is also true.
They’ve all been pregnant together, you know. All of them. I glanced around the room, mentally kicking myself for even taking stock, but doing it anyway. One is holding a six month old. One is cuddling a newborn. I tick them off in my mind all the way to my dear, dear friend who has a barely-swelling midsection that whispers of the little one to come.
Oh, God, this hurts.
Not because I want them to not have it but because I want to have it with them.
There is movement across the room and this tall ten-year-old, she stands up, gathers the newborn close, and carries her to me. “You want to hold the baby, right?” she says.
I look up at this beautiful girl with the jet-black hair and creamy tan skin, who calls me mom. She is leaning close and I want to shake my head no, because Oh, Jesus, I can’t handle this, but I know she’s seen my tears and I can’t let her know that I am crying for the babies I can’t have. She is the gift from the Father of Lights—and the only thing that could hurt worse than this would be for her to know what I’m crying over and think she’s not enough.
She was eight when she came and in these years since her arrival I have watched God transform her and transform me and there is no baby—from my womb or outside it—that could ever take her place. She is everything my mother heart could ever want.
Oh, Lord, what I wouldn’t give to have been able to snuggle her into me as an infant. To hold her right on my arm and teach her to laugh and sing and dance. But I get to teach her to laugh with joy, and to sing for You, and to dance for Your glory. Don’t let me forget that.
I take the newborn from her and I snuggle this little one into my arms and turn my head to keep the tears from splashing the baby’s face. My daughter prances back to her seat, happy to have shared the baby with me, and I take deep breaths again.
God is gentle, y’all. He truly is.
He washes over me with grace, again and again.
For there in the middle of that study, with everyone around me barely noticing the battle—but still loving me through it—I clung to the thing I was aching for and felt the touch of Abba God.
The One who reaches me even when I am struggling. The One who dumps a baby in my arms while I am lamenting not having one. The One who loves on me when I am a teary-eyed mess.
This is life, you know. I can’t have babies. And every morning I wake up and think, “Oh, maybe today my body will start working right.” And every time I feel a bit of nausea, I think, “Oh, maybe I’m pregnant!” And every single time I read about God healing in the Scriptures, I think, “Maybe it’s my turn?”
I am, after all, an eternal optimist.
But it’s been seven years since there was even a miscarriage.
So those odds? Not so great.
Not that odds matter to God.
(See how that optimism works?)
The reason I share this story is simple. Adoption, with all its beauty and harshness and agony and glory, doesn’t fix infertility.
I have these marvelous, incredible, energetic two kiddos—and I love them. Oh, my, how I love them. They are startling pictures of redemption in my life. They teach me more about God than anyone or anything. They may not have come from my flesh and blood, but they definitely came from my bloodied knees and aching prayers.
And I still ache for the babies that will never be.
It’s okay that I do.
Because there, in the aching, I can know God.
And knowing God is a glorious thing.
There will be tears. There will be pregnancy announcements at church. There will be moments when I am fighting for my adopted children with everything in me and I am cursing the day they were set in anyone’s arms but mine—because I hate the foothold the enemy has cemented in their lives with all the fear and heartache and mistrust.
And there will be days of beauty too.
Of course there will be.
There always are.
Because God never leaves. And while He isn’t afraid of sorrow, and will walk with me through it, He is also no stranger to joy.
When the newborn baby went back to her mama, I looked down at my feet and saw my nine-year-old son with his hands wrapped around my ankle. I smile at him. “Do you need something?” I ask. And he grins. “Naw,” he says, “I just want to be close to you.”
Oh, Abba, how good You are.