"I don't have great news." "This wasn't what I was expecting."
These two phrases were said during two entirely different phone calls, one about adoption, one about a medical diagnosis; both such different circumstances, both equally devastating.
In our last post WAAAAYYY back in March, I wrote about how we had just moved into our very first house and had also been chosen by an expectant mother all within a couple of weeks time. To say we were overwhelmed and excited was an understatement. After experiencing such heartbreak in October and then again in November when we thought that we would be adopting twins, it seemed that life was finally coming together. Then Corona came and threw the world for a loop, but that's a whole other story...haha!
Throughout the months of March, April, and May, we were able to begin to build a relationship with this expectant mother, talking on the phone together, writing cards, sending Ellie-designed pictures, and even sending a Mother's Day gift. We found out that she was having a girl, and after about three months of not allowing myself to feel any kind of emotions about this adoption, I started to let my guard down and began to purchase things and plan. We put together a nursery, picked out a few outfits that would just be HERS, and not ones that we had put together for Louisa, and began to strategically plan out what staying in Arizona would look like amidst a global pandemic. We were even able to find a place to stay (for free!) for two weeks while we would be there. Her due date was set for July 18, but we knew that the possibility that she would come earlier was pretty great, so we packed a bag and we waited.
While all of this was going on, I noticed some spots appearing on my legs. At first, I merely thought that it was related to moving heavy boxes and being active with Ellie, but after three months with no change, I decided to get it checked out. After a biopsy I was told to wait about ten days for results, so imagine my surprise when the doctor called me two days later. What we thought was something minor turned out to be a very rare condition called Polyarteritis Nodosa . Suddenly I was hearing words like kidney failure, immunosuppressants, chemo-type drugs...all of them swirling in my mind, becoming one numbing fear: "Am I going to die?"
The next morning I rushed to their office, then Lab Corp, giving them what seemed like my whole body's-worth of blood and then we waited. Days passed and then good news came, a phone call saying that my internal organs looked great, and that the PAN was only in my skin. While Cutaneous PAN will never go away, only into remission, hearing that it was not something that would attack my internal organs made me nearly weak with joy. The not-so-great news is that I still needed treatment for it. First, two months of heavy anti-inflammatory medications and a topical steroid, and if that doesn't work, then we move on to heavy doses of Prednisone.
Currently, I am in stage one of our treatment attempt, hoping and praying that it works, because taking Prednisone at such high levels is terrifying to me, especially in regards to my mental health. Secondly, Prednisone suppresses your immune system, which, as you can imagine, is not ideal during a pandemic. This is a HUGE prayer request for us: that the first treatment will work, and that I will not have to experience round two.
A week after we received the news about my health, we got another phone call: our adoption had fallen through again. We were devastated and beyond shocked. This was not something that was REMOTELY on our radar for so many reasons. On one hand, we were, again, happy that Expectant Mom was empowered to make her own choice, and that her other children and significant other were unified in it, but we were crushed. This makes four times that we have thought that we would be bringing a child (or children) into our home only to be blindsided and so brutally disappointed. The failure of this adoption and the news about my health converged into deep frustration. "What the heck? What are You doing here, God?" "See, this is why I shouldn't get my hopes up." "Why did I even buy anything for this baby?" "Is Ellie going to be an only child?" So many questions and repressed emotions and feelings bubbled up in both of us, so much so that we couldn't even bring ourselves to process it together. We were just too sad, we still are.
Today is Baby Girl's due date. I have watched a cloud of sadness descend on Spencer today as he watched other children run around at a birthday party, knowing that that family is adding another one to their brood in 2021. I packed away the crib we had assembled in our room, and walk past the nursery quickly every time I am headed to Ellie's room. I gave Ellie a set of newborn pajamas I had packed in the diaper bag to use on her doll because I know that it won't be worn, and packed away yet another twin set of stuffed animals meant for both Baby Girl and her mom.
I still don't know what God's plan in all of this is. Why does He have us come so far in this adoption journey only to seemingly close the door so abruptly? Are we simply meant to love and pray for mothers out there who need to be loved and encouraged? What happens when the adoption door closes entirely and we aren't able to financially and emotionally continue? One thing I do know in all of this messy life-stuff is that God doesn't drop shoes.
When I was younger and pretty much all through adulthood, I have wrestled with the idea that there was always another "shoe" waiting to be dropped. Life would be so good for a while so, of course, the "shoe" of sadness or death or some other horrible thing was right around the corner. It has taken a whole lot of therapy and prayer (and Zoloft...haha), to overcome the harmful thinking that my life was destined to be marred by tragedy. There are days that I still have to battle my internal dialogue on the issue, but as I was mowing the lawn the other day, this truth dawned on me: God doesn't drop shoes. I may not know why my life, and our life as a family has been marked by a whole lot of hard things. I don't know why, at 29, I have to take six medications to maintain my quality of life. I don't know why we have been called to adopt, continue to build relationships, invest all of ourselves, only to have it fall through again and again and again. I don't know why, and I probably never will on this side of Heaven. But I do know this: God is not waiting up in Heaven holding the next "shoe," waiting to drop it and make life difficult. His plan is perfect, even if in my inferior brain, I think that it isn't. There is a purpose in all of this, even if I never get to see it or understand it. God is GOOD and Holy and Righteous, and in so many ways I am thankful for all of the hard and sad things that we have experienced, because we have known His richness and provision abundantly. It doesn't make this failed adoption and my health concerns any less taxing and saddening, but to know that there is a purpose in all of it has taken away any guilt or unjust anger or bitterness that we have felt.
Going forward, we don't know what our plans are regarding adoption. We want to add to our family so much, but also want to maintain a the health of our family in all areas. We would so appreciate your prayers not only about our next steps in regards to adoption, but for my health as well as there still is so much fear and uncertainty about what the next few months might look like in regards to treatment.
We continue to thank God for each and every person who has followed our journey and prayed for us. We are thankful for the community that has been built through this and will not take it for granted.
We love you guys!