“‘Does there really have to be that much lube on this ultrasound machine?’ I wondered with my legs spread wide open.
At the age of 19, this was definitely not how I pictured my first ultrasound going. My menstrual cycle had been an absolute mess since the age of 12. My mom had no idea what was going on and after being on various birth control methods and feeling my hormones spiral out of control, I finally insisted on getting to the root of this issue. This, of course, included blood work, ultrasounds, and gloved hands in uncomfortable places. As awful as it was, I was ready for some answers. I needed to know what was wrong with me.
It wasn’t until about two weeks later I got an email from my gynecologist stating, ‘Your recent ultrasound shows an essentially normal appearing uterus and ovaries. Your ovaries do have small cysts, which are not worrisome. However, your recent laboratory values are suggestive of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Your thyroid and prolactin levels are normal. The Yasmin oral contraceptive pill is a treatment for polycystic ovarian syndrome and should regulate your periods.’ That was it. That’s all it said.
I had an incurable auto-immune disorder leaving me with a high chance of being infertile, and I found out via email.
Fast forward three years. Houston and I were barely dating, but I really liked him. He had to know before this relationship went any further. As I trudged up the mountain in the Arizona sun behind him, I blurted out, ‘So, I just wanted you to know I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and there is a chance I could never get pregnant.’ Thank God I was trailing behind him because I really didn’t want to see his face, although I’m not sure hiking was the best atmosphere for this topic of conversation. In the kindest, most sensitive way, he responded, ‘If I marry you, I will being marrying you for you, not the kids you could or could not give me.’ We were married one year later.
Later on, we hit a point in our marriage where we were ready. We were ready to start a family and to take the leap of trying for pregnancy. I leveled out my hormones through some naturopathic help and my cycles were finally regular! In fact, I was taking progesterone monthly and was advised to never have unprotected sex while on it. My naturopath confidently said, ‘You will get pregnant!’ I was filled with hope as I told friends and family we were beginning to try.
But month after month was the same. Before I could even take a pregnancy test, my cycle would arrive and I was beginning to dread each 28th day. After six months of the same let down, I visited my naturopath and told her what was going on. ‘Wow,’ she responded. ‘This could take you a while then.’ What does ‘a while’ mean! Could that possibly mean never? My husband and I started talking about what we would do if I never got pregnant naturally. Would we pursue fertility treatments, IVF, IUI? It really wasn’t a question, we both agreed if I couldn’t get pregnant naturally, we wouldn’t force it. We would just accept it. Little did I know that would mean walking through some of the heaviest grief I had ever known.
My dreams for our family were devastated. We were so confident I would get pregnant, we had moved across the country from sunny Arizona to little New Hampshire so we would be close to my family. Everything I had envisioned for myself and my future kids was becoming a reality. We lived in a small town minutes away from my parents with all the seasons and nature they could ever want.
However, two years into our new lives, it was clear my husband was done. He was done with the weather, the isolation, and the rural lifestyle. I couldn’t believe it. I was sobbing hysterically in the kitchen when he told me he had already begun pursuing a job back in Phoenix. ‘Are you really giving up on our dream? This is what we always wanted!’ I was practically yelling between each sob. I couldn’t understand how we were suddenly on such different pages. I felt like he was giving up on me. I couldn’t help but assume he thought, ‘Well, you aren’t getting pregnant, so why stay?’ I had never been so hurt, so discouraged, and so alone.
Shortly after arriving back in Phoenix, I began meeting with a woman from my local church who had also struggled with infertility. This season of life really helped me to unpack some of the grief and pain I had buried. Also, she had adopted two children and I was curious how the whole process worked. I was interested in adopting, but my curiosity about foster care had also begun to grow.
During our first foster care informational meeting, I struggled to choke back tears. The man informed our group about how many children were currently in foster care and how the need was constantly rising. I’ll never forget his statement, ‘Something you all need to know is foster care is all about re-unification. The goal is to get these kids back home to family.’
My heart sunk. ‘Wait, but what about me?’ It was a piercing thought entering my mind immediately. However, Houston and I were completely on the same page about fostering. We were both eager to take the classes and become licensed. As we went through the classes, our hearts in regards to re-unification completely changed. We now wanted more than ever to be a part of the re-unification process. If adoption became an option at some point, great, but we were also determined to help these babies get home!
‘We have an eight month old little boy. Would you be available to take him as a placement?’ I was shaking as I held the phone. My heart was racing, and I couldn’t believe we were getting our first placement after being on the list for one day! I said yes instantly, to which the caseworker responded, ‘Okay, he should be there in the next hour.’
Two caseworkers knocked on our door later that day. I eagerly welcomed them as they placed this chunky, beautiful little boy into my arms. He was terrified. He had no idea where he was and who was holding him. I cuddled him as I asked as many questions as I could think of about his biological mom and family. They confidently told me he would be going to family, they just weren’t sure when. After two weeks with this sweet, hilarious baby, we received word he would be transitioned back to family in the next month. I was heartbroken. I could no longer picture my life without a baby in it. Of course, I was ecstatic to help this little one go home, but my life had shifted and I wasn’t ready to go back.
‘I think we’re ready to adopt sooner than we originally thought,’ I expressed to my agency specialist as I sipped my coffee. ‘We want to continue fostering of course, but if you hear anything about an adoption option, we would love to be considered.’ She smiled and told me she would keep it in mind.
Our specialist called me four days later. ‘There’s an eight month old boy whose case has been moved to severance. He’s with one of our foster moms, but she is not looking to adopt. Would you like me to put your name in? Keep in mind, a lot of families want to adopt a little boy and I’m sure there will be a lot of others interested.’ I quickly hung up the phone and called Houston to ask his thoughts. If they picked us, this would mean we would have two eight month old boys for who knows how long. Was I prepared to have practically twins? He said, ‘Yes put our names in!’
She sat at my island three days later and explained to me, out of all the families that expressed interest, our name was the only one submitted to the state for consideration. During this conversation, she got an email from DCS approving us as placement for this little boy. ‘I need you to know,’ our agency specialist said, ‘this is not normal. It usually never happens this quickly or smoothly.’
We met our little boy a few days later and began transitioning him to our home.
We did, in fact, basically have twins for a full month. Juggling their needs, caseworker appointments, visitations, and doctor appointments became my full time job. We affectionately called them brothers and we were cherishing every moment of being a family of four. However, the day came for our first little boy to go home. We were as prepared as we could be but I wept as I handed him to our caseworker. He made me a mom and truly was an absolute joy in my life.
‘What if I never see him again?’ I cried to Houston. Just a few hours later, I received an email from the family member he had gone to live with. She asked if we could stay in contact, and to this day, we still talk and get the boys together regularly. She became one of my closest friends.
We are currently still on the path to adopt the second little boy who came into our home so quickly! However, we are also rooting for his mom. The unknown is haunting and can rob you of joy if you let it. I find it’s best to remember something our agency specialist said, ‘Foster care is all about having open hands.’ I have to have open hands with each child entering this home and with whatever plan God has for our family. I was so sure I had the best vision for our family. Only after I completely surrendered my vision and my dreams for our family was I met with something so much better.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kristen Friend of Phoenix, AZ. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about foster care here:
‘Where’s their mom?’ She assumed I was kidnapping my son. She didn’t believe me when I said, ‘I’m Dad.’ The suffering of kids in foster care knows no color.’: Single foster, adoptive dad says ‘matching hearts make a family’
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