Four years into my marriage and a year into our adoption journey, I sustained a back and neck injury that left me bedridden at times with chronic pain and increasingly depressed. Just prior to my injury, my husband and I had decided that since we had not yet received a call for a child from our public adoption agency that perhaps we should transfer our adoption homestudy to a private adoption agency. We were feeling impatient to have a child placed with us and fearful about the idea of fostering a child who might not get to stay with us. Because of my injury, though, I decided there was just no way I could adopt a baby in this condition. How could I carry a baby around when I was unable to lift more than a few pounds? I agonized over how this could be part of God’s plan.
There is nothing like constant, chronic pain to bring us to our knees. We can choose to live with bitterness and anger, attempt to numb ourselves (which can only go on for so long), or cry out to God for mercy. At first, I could not understand how God would allow me to suffer in this way, especially when I was still suffering from the heartache over my infertility. I continued to replay the details of how I was injured over and over in my head, thinking if only I hadn’t done this or that which resulted in my injury, I wouldn’t be suffering like this. Each visit to a new doctor either increased my physical pain or created new anxieties and fears. Three different physical therapists exacerbated my injury. One pain specialist told me that my neck injury was so severe that a minor car accident could paralyze me. Soon I was told by a surgeon that I would “definitely” need neck surgery (which I didn’t end up needing at all).
Throughout this time, my husband and I were actively trying not to conceive, which was heartbreaking. I was on various medications, which would endanger a developing child, and I feared what would happen if I actually did miraculously get pregnant and then had to have emergency neck surgery. The constant physical pain, the fear of surgery, and the anguish over what might happen next kept me intensely focused on myself. I had trouble seeing God in the midst of this struggle, much less how He might be working through all of this pain to bring about a better plan than I could ever have imagined.
As I had just started to learn how to trust God through our infertility journey and adoption journey, this latest trial revealed to me how much further I had to go. It was as if God was asking me, “Will you trust me now? Will you trust me now?” With this latest challenge, I had to realize that nobody could truly help me, except God. After wasting so much time in anger, bitterness, and frustration, I finally turned once again to God in my weakness and misery and begged for His help.
Since so often we can only see God’s plan retrospectively, I could never have known how God would use my emotional, physical and spiritual pain to draw me nearer to Him and fulfill one of the deepest desires of my heart for motherhood.
A little over a year after my injury, while I was still in a lot of pain, we received a phone call from our public agency about a baby boy who was about to be born who needed a foster family. I worried about how I could care for him since I was still in so much pain and unable to lift anything heavy. I also worried about opening my heart to a foster baby who might be taken from us, but by this point, my trust in God had increased substantially. I was finally open to the grace that allowed me to surrender to God’s plan, trusting that He had brought this little one into our lives and would provide a way. In that surrender, I was filled with joy. In the end, we were blessed to adopt this sweet boy and it seemed miraculous to me that I was able to care for him and even carry him. I think of how I had hastily wanted to switch agencies out of impatience to have a child and also fear of fostering. If we had given in to my impatience and fear, we would not have our sweet son.
Soon after our son arrived, we adopted identical twin baby girls! It amazes me still that God brought all three of these beautiful children into our lives when I was feeling that my chance to become a mother had passed me by. And more than that, God was preparing me to be a mother of these three little ones (and now a precious foster baby boy!) by teaching me to trust Him and rely on Him alone. He took me through the desert to show me that I needed to learn to surrender to Him and trust that He alone would provide for all my needs.
This lesson in trust is not a one time event. I continue to draw sustenance from the truth of God’s amazing providence as I navigate the challenging path of mothering my “Irish triplets” who are only 5 months apart in age, as well as our foster baby. It is truly a blessing to see how God used the chronic pain in my body, and the spiritual and emotional pain of infertility to draw me closer to His heart. Each day I need to renew my trust in the Lord’s provision. When I take my eyes off of my struggles, my pain, and my unfulfilled desires, and I make an act of faith in the Lord’s love and care for me (“Jesus, I trust in You”), I realize that He is trustworthy and will give me all that I need to live with peace, joy, and love.