Oh, the holidays. A time for counting our blessings and gathering with extended family. A time for filling stockings and cheerfully singing Christmas carols. A time for sending out brightly-colored greeting cards with photos of our families and receiving the same. At least that's what we're told we should do. And many people DO love this time of year and do just these things and enjoy every moment of the season.
But if you're childless not by choice, or experiencing difficulty adding more children to your family, it can actually be the hardest time of the year. I remember vividly the Christmas of 2004. I was on break from teaching and the baby that our adoption agency had confidently assured us would be in our arms by Christmas was nowhere on the horizon. After four years of the "fertility treatment & adoption roller coaster" and still being childless, I had had enough of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I spent those two weeks of my holiday break that year napping as much as I possibly could, because that was the only escape I could find from my sadness. It's easy for someone looking in to say, "Gosh, there are so many bigger problems in the world that that." Sure. But when it's happening to you, it's difficult to keep pasting a smile on your face and to feel happy for everyone else around you.
If you are experiencing heartache this season, please know that I understand. I have been there and I will never forget. And if you need someone to pour out your feelings to, I am here for you just a click away.
I also hope you will take a look at this guide, entitled "Surviving the Holidays Without a Child," put out by the wonderful organization Creating a Family: The National Infertility & Adoption Education Organization . This is a FABULOUS resource and truly a must-read for anyone experiencing difficulty with this time of year due to childlessness. From start to finish, it is spot-on, not only giving words of encouragement and reassurance that those feeling less than festive are not alone, but also offering real and practical strategies an individual can employ to feel much more in control of the season. It helpfully suggests possible triggers to avoid. There is even a list of "snarky answers" to nosy questions, as well as a game of Infertility Bingo, just to inject some much-needed humor into things. And their focus on how to alleviate stress, both emotional and physical, as well as financial, rounds out this guide pretty perfectly and makes it very easy for me to heartily recommend it to my Body & Spirit Fitness family. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
But beyond that is the waiting. The expectation. With a typical pregnancy, a couple knows when the baby is due and plans accordingly. A nursery is set up, baby clothes purchased, showers held, doctor visits attended, ultrasounds posted on Facebook, lists of names generated, gender reveal (or secrecy) decided, and the time leading up to the birth is a time of great excitement.
For a hopeful adoptive parent, many or most of those things are absent. Don't get me wrong--it is definitely a time of dreaming and hoping. Of praying that the right baby will find its way into your arms. And generally speaking, when someone adopts through an agency, they have reasonable assurance that they will eventually get their baby...albeit oftentimes with a long wait and then very little warning. But with other types of adoption, there are no guarantees at all that it will turn out the way you hope. For every plan put in place, a contingency plan accompanies it. The word IF is in every sentence you speak. Shopping for anything ahead of time feels like going out of your way to jinx it.
We adopted our amazing son through an agency. We had a terrible experience, fraught with their missteps and empty promises and never-ending need for more of our money and two failed matches and 51 days of our newborn being held in limbo. And yet, we somehow clawed our way out of that claustrophobic tunnel and into being a forever family, and we now know that we would fiercely do it all again--ALL of it--in order to find this same wonderful child that is ours in every way.
But how to get a sibling? Our embryo adoptions failed. Four beautiful human beings at the very earliest of their lives were simply not to be. The grief and guilt was immeasurable, yet most people didn't even know we had tried, so life had to go on as if nothing had happened. And we began to ask, what if the dream of being a family of four or five or six is also not to be? What if three is our number? Can we accept that? Can our son? But suddenly...
We were chosen. Can this be real? We were CHOSEN! We were asked to become parents again through adoption. Not by an agency, but by someone we know and care for. By one of the bravest and most amazing young ladies I have ever met. A wonderful, spectacular opportunity for an open adoption, and the possibility of finally feeling our family is complete. Wow!
So we are expecting! But we're not. Because we haven't really done those "expectant parent" tasks? Well, partly. We're definitely excited...but cautiously so. We're definitely making plans...along with contingency plans. But mainly it's for a different, really important reason: this baby girl is not ours yet. She can't be, legally. Yes, every plan is in place. Every sign points toward this dream coming true. But that sweet baby girl will not truly be ours unless--and until--her mother chooses to release her with love into our lives and into our family, after she has been born.
But we announce happily to the world that we are expecting a baby girl in March! We ask for prayers for her mother, as she continues to journey toward giving her baby life in this world. We fervently hope that they both--along with the rest of their family--become a forever part of OUR family. And yet we honor the fact that this choice is hers alone, and it's not one that she can truly make at this point. And we pledge to surround her with love no matter the result. So we're expecting ... but we're not.
Awesome timing! Today was Dan's & my 14th wedding anniversary and today I earned a free ticket to Summit in Nashville next year! WOO HOO!!!!!!! I now have joined the exclusive club called Success Starters! Thank you, Beachbody!
And wow...I'm really amazed when I look back at our wedding pictures. I remember having every intention of losing weight so I'd look great at my wedding, and instead I ended up actually gaining weight in the months leading up to the big day.
I am SO thankful that I am now learning how to eat proper portions of healthy foods, how to balance cheat meals, how to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, how to nurture my spirit, and generally how best to take care of myself so I can take care of others!
After a rough end to the first day of school, when the staff was trying to put Ronan on a bus and I was waiting for him at the other end of the building in the pick-up area, we were anxious about how his second day would go.
Hooray for a wonderfully smooth second day of school for this guy! He was SO excited to show me this!
Hi! I'm Lyn and this is where I blog about family, health, workouts, nutrition, meditation, relaxation & life in general. But it's not all about me--it's about inspiring healthy changes in other people's lives.
"...the only gift I wanted was to take back my health and reclaim my body."