Having struggled with fertility for a total of 7 years of our marriage (2.5 years to get Jake, 4.5 to get the twins), I totally get how incredibly amazing this feeling is for this little family. While I have not adopted a child, I will never forget the feelings that came with the long awaited, prayed for and cried over test results: POSITIVE! Amazing!
I absolutely LOVE adoption! I know so many people that have both been adopted or have adopted. It is such a beautiful gift! I totally believe that children don't have to be "blood" to be yours. I also totally believe that children come right to the families they were always intended to be members of! To fulfill their missions it takes 4 people. Two that give them their genetic make up to help them become who they need to be and then the two that will raise them and give them the character and experience they require. 4 people with a sacred love for a child! It is really quite an amazing thing!
There seem to be so many people that struggle with infertility. As a woman without a child, I remember feeling so much anguish over the longing for a child. I remember my heart breaking and having to dig a bit deep to find faith when my husband and I were doing everything we could to bring a child into our home, we were praying and pleading for the opportunity and yet in the news or on TV we would see people who were devastated by their pregnancy, abusing or neglecting children, having abortions, etc. Why would the Lord send children, His precious spirit children, and not to us, or others like us that ached for the opportunity to be parents?!
If you have struggled with fertility, you know just what I am saying!
This is what I have learned, and it actually came through a lesson I read about in LDS Living (which I absolutely love). In the July/August 2011 issue the featured article was called, "The Gift Of Race: Insights from a Black Mormon". It was about a Attorney Keith N Hamilton, a black man that joined the church in 1980.
If you have the chance to read this article, please do! It is seriously inspiring! On so many levels! I was interested in his views on what he thought about the Priesthood restriction among black members of the church prior to 1978. I didn't expect a life lesson. A theory and concept that would blanket so many of our own trials, and certainly didn't know that his story would help me better understand the reasons behind my infertility.
He talked about how he spent so much time studying and trying to understand the restriction. After all of his studying he said,
"I do not know when or why the restrictive practices against my people were adopted and carried out by the LDS church, but I do know that the policy and practices were the Lord's doing and not the autonomous or unilateral act of any man or men."
I think this is important for so many reasons. I think that by seeing the Lords hand in our lives....even when things in our lives are difficult, we can learn to trust Him and His plan in our lives. We must then know that there is a purpose. It takes the bitterness out of the situation. It forces us to dig deeper and exercise our faith and trust in our Father. If we know His characteristics as a loving and kind parent, than we have to understand that there is something to learn, someway that this experience will bring us closer to Him.
Mr. Hamilton went on to say:
"In order to qualify to return to our Heavenly Father's presence after our mortal probation, every person must pass through the trials and tribulations of this life. So, too, it is, and was, for many nations or groups of peoples. The scriptures are replete with evidences that at times the Lord's people must pass through severe hardship, do to no fault of their own, in order to serve as instruments in demonstration to others of His love, mercy, compassion, power and divinity. Should it have been, or be, any different for blacks of this dispensation?"
Kahlil Gibran describes the opposition in all things, by saying:
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well
from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain."
Isn't that beautiful?! I had to read it over and over so that it would seep into my soul! I love that! It honestly makes me feel gratitude for the difficult things I go through in life! If sorrow carves out a space in my soul, than that space must be filled, and will be filled, with Joy!
Mr. Hamilton explains exactly how true this is, when he said,
"Black males ordained to the priesthood today receive no more authority and rights with that priesthood than [any other male]. Worthy, temple-attending blacks receive no more of an endowment and opportunity for exaltation than temple-goers who attended before 1978. Yet, as Gibran suggests, today's blacks, particularly black members of the LDS Church, may have more capacity to recognize, receive, and contain the joy of the gospel than some others because of the deep sorrow carved into their souls by past experiences and restrictions.
According to God's wise and just purposes, He allowed the restrictions to be placed upon my people for the trial, growth, and benefit of all His children, especially my people and those of His church and kingdom on earth.
Adversity, through its many forms and faces, has dug a deep well of sorrow-and thereby created the potential for greater joy in the lives of many peoples, not just blacks of this dispensation. Early LDS Church members suffered great hardship in establishing the Church in the Eastern states, as did the pioneers who crossed the plains into the Rocky Mountains. Twentieth-Century Jews experienced horrendous atrocities during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Trials and adversity have been the lot for all of God's peoples in all dispensations, including this dispensation, and my ancestors and I have not been excluded."
"I feel, Sister Jane, that ours is:
Not a curse but a gift t'us,
The best path we could seek
A place where God can lift us
We kneel; our knees is weak
And when one of us is kneelin',
We understand his fears.
We know what all us is feelin'
We cry each other's tears.
That's just what Jesus done
For all us human folk.
He agreed to come get born
To feel ev'ry pain and poke.
So's he could understand us,
What it is to be a slave.
So's he could get beneath us
And push us outa the grave
Would you rather be the massa
Or the Roman with his whip?
Would you rather nail the Savior-
Put vinegar to his lip?
Or learn the lessons of sufferin'-
How we nothin' without grace.
Jesus, He give us a callin'
He gifted us our race."
I think back to my struggles with infertility. Didn't I learn more about faith? Prayer? The love my Father in Heaven has for me? The Atonement? Christs suffering both in Gethsemane and on the cross? Didn't this experience bring me closer to Lord? Simply through the choice of not turning my back on Him, mistakenly thinking He had already turned His on me, I chose for Him to show me the way through the pain, and teach me to fill the well of sorrow with Joy. How could I be anything but grateful for this experience?!
My joy came when Jake was born, and then again with Dawson & Mallory. The joy was consuming. Still is.
Now as I have had to give my son Dawson back to our Father in Heaven, for a time, when I suffer the kind of grief that makes my knees buckle, and my heart aches until I feel like I can't breath, I hold on as tight as I can to the Lord. He will show me the way through this, He is the only way! One day this space that has been carved out of my heart with the grief of losing my son, will be filled to overflowing with incomprehensible joy, when within a city block in Pleasant Grove, Utah our family will be reunited in the flesh with our Dawson, in his sweet white suit and a perfected body. All possible through the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ and because of His resurrection. How in the world could I ever turn my back, when He has everything I need, to offer? I can't wait for the reunion, after this life is over, with our son, but, oh the thoughts of the reunion because of the Resurrection and then our opportunity and gift to then raise Dawson without illness! What a gift!
Many of us will experience things in this life that will not be resolved in this lifetime. But they WILL be resolved and our joy will be full!
One more thing.....I love this verse in the scene above:
"And when one of us is kneelin',
We understand his fears.
We know what all us is feelin'
We cry each other's tears."
The best way to find healing is through helping others through their pain. I know I can think of many many dear friends that bore me up when I couldn't face the burdens of my life alone. They are people that the Lord set in my path, because He knew their hearts and trusted them to help me through. Their hands were His hands. I so hope to be the same to others. I fear that I sometimes walk through life with blinders on. I am slow to see the needs of others, when my own task list keeps getting in my way. I pray every day to be better at this, because of the example of those that have been there for me, when I could not have made it on my own.
Let's all try to be a little kinder and a little more helpful. We never truly know the hurt in the hearts of those around us. Some people process their grief on their own, in silence. Just because we don't know something is going on, doesn't mean that they aren't hurting or needing a friend with a bit of patience, or just someone to help them take their mind off things, laugh with or just to know someone cares and has them in mind. It makes a difference! If someone randomly pops into your mind, reach out to them. You never know, it may be that the Lord is sending you to help because He knows that you are JUST what is needed!