Growing up, what I wanted to be was a mother. I went to four years of undergraduate and two years of graduate school to become a speech language pathologist (SLP), but oddly enough even as I was working my butt off in school, I never saw myself as an SLP. I saw myself as a stay at home mom. Being an SLP was my back-up plan if you can imagine. I was an SLP serving three to five year-olds with varied disabilities for almost three years. Then Migraines entered my life and I was quickly unable to work at all.
Over these past years of disability, George and I had many discussions about having a family. He always said, "If it happens great. If not great." I must say George is the most easy-going, contented man I know. Of course my mind was set on having a family. As the years went on, we had many discussions over whether or not we should have a biological child or adopt a child. We have so many genetic issues in both of our families: Migraines, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's, Depression, Arthritis, Anxiety, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, ect. As genetically a biological child of mine would have a 50% chance of developing Migraine disease, it makes one wonder whether or not I'd want to bring a child into this world that may suffer just as much as I have. Ultimately though, we realized that we have so much knowledge and resources in regards to our genetic histories that we would be prepared to deal with them. And actually, with any child, biological or adopted, there will always be the potential for chronic health issues. However pretty early on in our marriage we decided against trying for biological children because we felt that the toll it would take on my body would be too much. I would have to stop almost all my prescription medications and this simply is not an option.
Fast forward to July 2010 when George and I realized that I had turned a corner Migraine-wise. I was functioning more like a "normal" person and though I was still very much affected by Migraines, they were much better managed and we both felt that we were in a place to start exploring starting a family through adoption. We read books and we researched adoption agencies. We met with an adoption counselor at the beginning of September 2010 and officially started the home study process. We attended classes; we completed piles and piles of paperwork; we had background checks completed; we had family and friends fill out extensive reference forms; we completed ten page autobiographies; we went through several interviews. We had decided that we were going to adopt domestically and since there is a need, we decided we would adopt from the African American community. We attended a support group of families who had adopted transracially so that we could learn more about what our family would be like. We started to research baby items and did some renovations to our house that we had not planned to do for years down the road. Our dreams to start a family were becoming reality!
We knew that one of my Migraine triggers is not getting enough sleep, so having a newborn, George and I had made plans how we would manage. I would be a stay at home mom and if I had a bad Migraine day or week, we had child care lined up. With Migraines, we knew what to expect. If my preventative decided to quit, we knew it would be a struggle but we were willing to face it and work through it. We knew that we would have challenges that parents without chronic illness wouldn't have. However, we were committed to working through whatever my Migraine disease would bring.
But we were not prepared for Meniere's disease. My vertigo had started as we were working through our adoption home study process. In the beginning my neurologist had told me that the vertigo would be self-limiting so I was not concerned that it would affect my ability to become a parent. In December 2010 when my Migraines and Meniere's disease went from bad to worse, I got this horrid feeling in my gut that proceeding with the adoption process was not a good idea, but I could not accept it at the time. In early January 2011, we went to another adoption class as part of our home study. I remember taking rescue medications for my Migraine and medications for my vertigo just to get through the four hour class. I was miserable. Over the next couple weeks, the voice inside me saying that we should not pursue starting a family got louder and louder. George and I had a painful conversation where we both pushed through the denial and realized that starting a family is not for us...not know and most likely not ever. We agreed that if we would ever start the adoption process again it would be after having at least two years of my health being reliably manageable.
When we decided not to proceed with starting a family, I was unable to process the emotion. But now, the grief has hit me with a sledge hammer. As I am trying to come to acceptance of the chronic and disabling grip that not only Migraines but now Meniere's has on my life, I am having to accept that perhaps I am not going to be a mom after all. I love George dearly and I know that my life with him will be full of joy, laughter and fulfillment. But, I am sad beyond words that I will most likely not have the experience of parenting my own child.
Someone said to me, "You are still young. You have time." I am thirty-one; George will be forty next year. Yes. We have time. But, I'm not sure that it is about "time" per se. I feel that this is about what God's plan for my life is to be and I am starting to feel quite strongly that being a parent is not part of his plan for us. In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected I would ever say that! I feel I have so much love to give! Why wouldn't God want me to be a parent? But I have to stop clinging to what I want and let go to what God wants.
Over the years, I have read and re-read a book called The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie. The book is divided into fifty-two sections on different topics such as "Joy," "Storms," "Sufferers," "Why?" "Who am I?" ect. Each topic has five one-page passages on something related to the topic. I recently read a section called "Looking to the Cross." This time around, I had committed to reading the book straight through and that day I certainly did not want to read about the cross; I wanted something comforting. So, I got to the devotional entitled "The Cross Calls Me to Humble Obedience" on pg 141. Ms. Guthrie wrote:
Oh did this passage strike a cord. Do I think that my life right now is an utter waste of my talents? HECK YES! I was meant to be with kids. I was meant to work with kids. I was meant to be with people. I was meant to be a mom. Yet, I am in a silent house all alone left with not much to do but read and pray. Do I think I deserve better than a life struggling through chronic illness? OF COURSE! I am really having to learn what it means to die to myself and to my desires. I must surrender to God my desires to become a parent because I know that is the only way I will be truly fulfilled. If I cannot let go of my desire to become a mother then I will never feel happy with what I do have in my life. Jeremiah 29:11 from the Bible says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I have to trust in that. And this is where I am.Do you think Jesus has called you to a job or role of service that's "beneath you" and an utter waste of your talents? Do you think you deserve better? Look at Jesus and see how he let go of the rights of deity to willingly become a slave... When you hear the call of Jesus to die to yourself, does it seem too much to ask? Look at the Cross. See the depths to which Jesus sank in obedience to his Father and the lengths to which he went to love. Then make your choice to follow him.