A letter from my friend Rachel to her adopted son. What a remarkable woman Rachel is. Before I knew her I listened to her podcast and was so inspired and uplifted.Rachel runs the podcast 3 in 30 and if you haven’t listened please run. They are 30 minute episodes with 3 takeaways to help you personally or about parenting.
The other day, as we were hanging out in the kitchen together–I doing dishes, you playing with cars at my feet–I told you that I wanted to sing you a special song because it makes me think of you and your adoption story every time I hear it.
You looked at me pensively and then said, “That sounds great, Mommy.” (I’m not kidding–you actually say things like this. I have no idea if you really understand what you are saying, but it never fails to startle me when these things come out of your mouth.) After such an unexpectedly mature reply from you, I started envisioning the moment we were about to have: I was going to sing a beautiful ballad for you, and you were going to stare at me intently and really soak in my love for the entire 4:37 minutes. I pushed play on my laptop, and the lyrical music started flowing out of my speakers–and then you started screaming angrily because you expected to hear “Brave” by Sara Barellias instead of the peaceful melody that I had in mind. (“Brave” is our favorite song to dance to together.)
And so I switched the music, and we danced. And we never got our tender moment. But tonight, on the eve of your second birthday, I want to take a few minutes to write down some thoughts that have been in my heart these past few weeks.
The song that always makes me think of you is called “Blessings,” and it was written by an artist named Laura Story, but my favorite version is sung by the group Mercy River. The first verse and chorus go like this:
“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace,
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep.
We pray for healing, for prosperity.
We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
And all the while, you hear each spoken need,
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.
Because what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
And what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
This song makes me think of you because before you were born, I prayed and prayed to become a mother. It didn’t matter to me how I became a mother–your daddy and I started the adoption process at the same time that we started fertility treatments–but when both avenues seemed only to lead to heartache, I started to doubt and fear. Life got dark and difficult. An ectopic pregnancy. Countless negative pregnancy tests. Lots of contacts from expectant mothers who were considering adoption but eventually chose to parent or chose a different adoptive couple.
I prayed and asked why. I prayed and asked that God end our wait immediately. I prayed and asked what He wanted for my life. I felt confused. I felt angry. I didn’t understand why such a good and honest desire, to be a mother and give love to a child, wasn’t being answered. The emotions that I felt during those difficult months are captured so well in the words of the second verse of the song:
“We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear,
We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near.
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love,
As if every promise from your word is not enough.
And all the while, you hear each desperate plea,
And long that we’d have faith to believe.
Because what if your blessings come through raindrops?
Last week, you and I sat outside in the backyard together at your little picnic table and ate brownies and ice cream. At the faint sound of a train whistle in the distance, you sat up straight and listened intently. “What’s that noise, Mommy?” you asked. And when I just smiled, you said excitedly, “I hear a train, Mommy! I hear a train!”
My heart ached with happiness, and I leaned in close. “Give Mama a kiss?” I asked.
You reached for me across the table, your fingers sticky with gooey chocolate, your face smeared with melted ice cream, and planted a peck right on my lips.
In that perfect moment I was reminded, as I am almost daily, that you–you, my perfect little boy–are the reason that God could not give me what I wanted right when I wanted it. He knew that you were on your way, and He knew that your brave birthparents would find us when the time was right. He couldn’t send us just any baby–He knew that we needed you.
I am grateful for my infertility. I am grateful that none of the other adoption opportunities worked out. I am grateful for Father in Heaven who always heard each of my desperate pleas and yet “loved me way too much to give me lesser things.” I am grateful that He let me wait.
A leader in our church, Dieter Uchdorf, has said, “The children of Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness before they could enter the promised land. Jacob waited 7 long years for Rachel. The Jews waited 70 years in Babylon before they could return to rebuild the temple. [In the Book of Mormon], the Nephites waited for a sign of Christ’s birth, even knowing that if the sign did not come, they would perish. Joseph Smith’s trial in Liberty Jail caused even the prophet of God to wonder, ‘How long?’ In each case, Heavenly Father had a purpose in requiring that His children wait.
Every one of us is called to wait in our own way. We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right and so good to us that we can’t possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer…
Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”
On the eve of your second birthday, Noah, this quote touches me because I am thinking about the experience of waiting for you–and I am also thinking about the future. I hope someday our picnic table in the backyard will be full of little people, your brothers and sisters who will sit with us and eat brownies and listen to train whistles. I don’t know how they will join our family. We are going to start fertility treatments again in the next few months, and we are always open to adopting again. Sometimes it scares me to think about starting this process all over again, about embarking on a road that I know brings heartache. But in the past two years of being your mama, I have learned a few things that I hope will make the experience of waiting at least a little easier this time around.
I’ve learned that the joy of squeezing tiny hands and feet, of snuggling a squishy baby in bed first thing in the morning, of listening to you sing the ABCs all the way through for the first time–it far outweighs the heartache that it took to get you here. I would do it all over again, a thousand times, to be your mother.
I’ve also learned what I always knew yet didn’t totally understand: that He has a plan for our lives and for our families. I hope that if we face disappointments as we try to add to our family in the next few months and years, I will pull you into our cuddle chair and put my head on your hair and read you a story. I know that won’t completely take away the pain–because the heartache that often comes along with infertility and failed adoptions can be truly excruciating–but I hope as I feel my heart beating against the weight of your little body in my arms, I will remember to trust in Him and His timing.
You couldn’t have come to us any sooner than you did, and as difficult as the wait was, I learned for myself the truth of the last line of the song: “What if trials of this life–the rain, the storms, the hardest nights–are His mercies in disguise?”
Rachel has two episodes on her podcast about adoption that will truly inspire you: