Monday, April 20, 2009

Our Story

Starting in September, every Sunday after the service, I felt this pull to talk to Jeff.

Most of you know, but for those you don’t; Jared and I have been trying to have a baby for seven years now. Month after month, year after year, I have struggled. Wanting to know why? I can’t really put into words the feeling as a woman so desperately wanting to have another child and not being able to. It doesn’t help that we go to the most fertile church in America! What was God saying? Every time I prayed, it was either no answer at all or “wait.” I tried to give up and push it out of mind but it always came back, that desire. My prayer was that if God was saying “No” then please just take this desire away from me. I even asked my closest friends that if they ever got the feeling that this just wasn’t going to happen for us, would they please tell me so I can let this go. But truth be told, the desire never went away.

So every Sunday, I’d come home teary, wanting to speak with him, needing an answer. Jared would say, “Let’s make an appointment, email him…” I felt so stupid and embarrassed; I didn’t want to bother Jeff with my questions/problems. I know how busy he is. Jeff has so many people to take care of. I mean, after every service, the guys got a line of people waiting to pick his brain!
So three months later, in December, I went to night service by myself while Jared worked in the cafĂ©. After the service ended, there it was again, the pull. So I told myself that after I peed, if “the line” wasn’t too long, I’d ask Jeff my question. Sure enough, there was one person talking to him and one in line; not too bad, okay, here I go. I felt like an idiot, standing there, not knowing anyone in the night service, felt like I was in line at the DMV. And this lady keeps talking and talking and talking, I’m starting to lose my nerve and talking myself out of it (Joelene, you know how I do that). So I got up off the arm- rest in the aisle, and started walking away, forget it, another time. But Jeff turned and grabbed me by the arm and said, “Wait, I want to talk to you, do you have time?” (Do I have time? Is he kidding, he’s the busy one...) I couldn’t believe he did that. Jeff easily could’ve let me keep walking and with relief thought, “Good, one less person to talk to tonight”. But he didn’t. I looked up and just shook my head yes and waited for the woman to finish. Jeff politely asked the man that was ahead of me, if I could go first and then sat me down and asked what was on my mind. Those of you that know me know that by now I’m tearing up. My question for Jeff was, “How do you differentiate between what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you and this immensely strong desire I have? He asked, what is it that you want? A baby. A baby? Yes. Are you married? Yes. We have an 8 year-old girl but haven’t been able to have another one. Jeff begins to ask me more questions about doctors, artificial insemination, IVF, etc, when the band starts getting ready for the next service (still have the 8:08 pm service to go). So Jeff says c’mon and pulls me in the Fireside room and sits me down at a table in the middle. (I feel like every eye is on me). Again he starts asking me what the doctors say, I tell him our situation. He smiles and says “ah your husbands shooting blanks uh?” Yep. He asks “What about adoption?” I was hoping to avoid that question but just looked him in the eye and said, “you don’t know us, but, seven years ago….. blah, blah, blah. I laid it out as simply as I could. Jeff looked right at me and said, “ I think you guys going through that and making it, more than qualifies you for a baby.”

I told him that’s the thing, I don’t want to feel I’ve earned a baby or that I deserve it because of what we’ve gone through in our marriage. Been there, done that. God has shown me long ago that I don’t want what I really do deserve. I’m not entitled to a baby. (But could this desire just go away if God wasn’t going to give me one…)

What Jeff meant was, in the eyes of the adoption agencies, they would see us as a family, how far we’ve come. He looked me in the eye and said, “Shawna I don’t think this will be a problem for you guys” You don’t? No. Jeff said, “I will vouch for you and a Pastor’s word goes along way in these cases”. Jeff told me, “Shawna, it’s very easy for God to open and close doors, you just have to walk through them.”

He said, “Will you go home tonight and pray with your husband about this? Will you talk about it and pray about it over night and email me tomorrow?” With tears in my eyes, I shook my head yes. I couldn’t believe it. He would vouch for us. I felt little swirls of hope. I had to find Jared and tell him everything!

Jared was so happy, for one, I didn’t chicken out and finally asked Jeff my question and two, Jared has always wanted to adopt. Even when we were dating he mentioned it. I started feeling like maybe, maybe we could do this, if Jeff thought so, and he knows a lot of people….Hope started to rise.

Jared and I prayed and I did email Jeff the next day, thanking him for his time and words of encouragement. We did, in fact want to walk through the door of adopting. And also, if we could meet with him as we start this, where do we begin? Elaine Lucas emailed me back and informed me that right after the holidays, Jeff was going to be gone thru January, so we could sit down the first of February. What?! February, that’s so far…

In the mean time, I was on the Internet searching agencies, qualifications of certain countries, the process. I wasn’t overwhelmed, I was fascinated. I kept reading all these testimonials, people who struggled with infertility, the cost of it all and how God provided everything. I read one husbands story that said, “You know I know for a lot of people who struggle with infertility, adoption is Plan B. but God doesn’t have a Plan B. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s just waiting for us to come around and join our will with His perfect one.”

When I got pregnant with Haley, it was a surprise. We were just married and I had just turned 20. I had an easy pregnancy, an easy delivery; 9 hours. She was such a good baby. It came naturally to me. My mom said, “Honey you born to be a mommy.” I always felt like I wasn’t very good at much, but this, I am good at. So God, why won’t you let me do it again?

This man’s words on the computer screen touched me. He was right. God doesn’t have a Plan B. He knows what he’s doing. I had put God in a box. I was limiting Him out of fear. Fear that, the most painful experience of my life was also going to be the reason that I could not be a mother again. I had to try to walk through that door and stop putting limits on my Father. I called Jared and told him what I’d read and how I felt. He was totally on board.

We have been talking with Haley and what she thought about adopting, she has been praying every night and I mean every night, since she was two, that Mommy would have a baby. Once she even said, “Mom, it’s taking too long, can we just adopt?” One night as I was giving her a bath, she said, “What about Anya? That girl on Deal or No Deal, she’s from Russia, her name is Anya.” Anya… I like it.

I was a little hesitant to start telling our parents and our friends about this. We have no money, simple as that. Where are we going to get the $20-$30,000.00? I was afraid they were going to think this was a phase, or a pipe dream of mine. To my amazement, everyone was so supportive. I was doing my girlfriend Vanessa’s hair at work one day, telling her everything. I mentioned the money. She looked at me said, “Shawna, think back to when you had Haley. If someone told you, you couldn’t have her or you’d have to pay a million dollars… you would say, fine, I’ll give you two million. You would find that money somewhere. And you wouldn’t stop until you did. This is no different. $20-30 grand? That’s nothing. That’s a car”. She was absolutely right. I would go to the ends of the Earth for my little girl.

Vanessa’s words kept resonating within me. More hope swirling. About the next day, as I was cleaning the house, I heard God nudging me. ‘You need to pray for her’ I stopped. And that’s when it hit me. I need to pray for her. For Anya, I don’t know if she’s been born yet or even conceived, but I need to pray for our little girl. Where ever she is, that the Lord is meeting her needs, her birth mother’s needs, that she’s healthy, being nourished and loved and that God would protect her little spirit and her heart. I went down stairs and told Jared, “Okay, her name is Anya and we need to pray for her everyday until God brings her home.” Jared said, okay, let’s do it.

Finally, February came along with our appointment with Jeff. We sat down with him on a Monday morning. He asked how we met, when we got married. About our past and what we went through. We told him everything. We also told him how God was moving and changing my heart over the course of the month of January. Her name is Anya and we’re already praying for her. Jeff mentioned that he wanted the Elders to pray over us. I told him that we had been prayed for and anointed with oil by the Elders about four years ago.

At that time, it was for us to conceive on our own. The following Sunday, one of the Elders that had been there came over to us after the service and said, “you know, while I was praying for you, and this has never happened before, the second part of the James passage kept coming to me, and your sins will be forgiven. I don’t know your story, but I know God wants me to tell you that your sins are forgiven, its okay, you can move forward.” That was so huge for Jared and I. It was confirmation for Jared that the past is gone and he could rise up and be the spiritual leader of our home. It was confirmation for me, that I did the right thing, that forgiveness and trust could be restored in my marriage.

I told Jeff this and he was pleased. He said, later in an email that he and the Elders would love to pray for us but that he thought it should be solely for the adoption process. I assured him that Jared and I have stopped trying to get pregnant and that we were 100% focused on adopting. Now we can do it for fun…pressures off!

That very next Sunday, Jeff did a sermon called “In Need of Repair” It was about healing, spiritually, physically and mentally. As the sermon was coming to a close, Jeff quoted James 5:14; “Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” and with that, all the Elders came forward to the front of the stage and stood with little bottles of oil in there hands. I knew what was about to happen. Just like those amazing couple of weeks of baptisms, Jeff said, “God’s word says it, so let’s do it. You need healing, the Elders are here…” I grabbed Jared by the hand and felt like running down that aisle. It was so amazing, so many people coming forward, waiting to be prayed over and anointed, just like God’s word says. Ray Stradley prayed over us and for our adoption application, for God’s hand to be upon us. As Jared and I walked back to our seat, Jeff came down off the stage and stopped us, he asked us if we had been prayed for and encouraged us to hang in there, that it will happen. Amazing.

We had a phone conference with EAC (European Adoption Consultants). We were forthcoming with our past, where we are, what we’ve learned, yada yada. She stated that she would have to speak with her supervisor to see if they could accept our application. She warned us that there are some agencies that would take us on as clients and our money, then leave us hanging or worse be stopped in Russia. Further heartbreak. She said that she would get back to us as quickly as possible, regardless of the outcome. She called us back within the week and gave us the go ahead! Yeah!

We faxed everything over Sunday night April 5th. We spoke to the agency. They have been so wonderful. Everyone over there has been pulling for us. On Wednesday, April 15th, we found out that we have been accepted by the agency. Such a miracle.

We still have a long road ahead of us, Home Study, our Dossier, finances, etc. But Jared and I have such a peace. I no longer feel that I have hit a wall with God. I am so over that wall and running on the other side. I see that God will bless me with another child, just not in the way I originally thought.

I got a FB message from Lindsay Hammill (she has adopted 3 gorgeous children from Russia) the other day and in it, she said she thanks God every single day for the gift of infertility! Wow, the gift of infertility… I always thought of infertility as something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It has been that difficult. So as I ponder on Lindsays words, I think, you know, I can see the light at the end of this dark tunnel, and I can honestly say that one day, I too will see the gift. I smile at the thought of one day being able to say that. I’m not 100 % there but I’m getting close.

The beginning

This marks the beginning of a journey for us. The journey into the world of blogging and the journey of sharing our story. We hope that through reading our blog you will feel the hope that we feel as we begin this journey into adoption...

Thank you for joining us!