The past four years have been incredibly challenging for my husband Robbie and me. What started as a surprise positive pregnancy test lead to three failed pregnancies ending in miscarriage after miscarriage and four years of unexplained infertility.
You are healthy, they said. Stop stressing, they said. It will happen, they said. Just have faith, they said.
If I could gather all the awfully painful and cliche religious jargon that has been thrown my way, and turn it into something helpful, gracious, and transformative, this is my offering to the world. This is my battle cry. This is proof that pain is a gift. That if you let it, pain will offer you something far better than you could imagine. This is hope for those still in the mud, still walking through the fire, still wrestling with God. I encourage you to feel it all. Question it all. Be angry. Be sad. Grieve. Throw your fists up. The most demeaning thing said to me in the middle of my pain, was that “being angry” wouldn’t help anything. Suggesting that I should get over something I was called to, is telling someone to give up. If I had listened, if I had stopped “being angry” and shelved the real and raw emotions I was feeling so deeply… I wouldn’t be holding my daughter.
This is a story of our adoption. This is a story for those who are longing for something their heart knows it needs. This is a story for those close to someone in the thick of infertility, pain, loss, grief, or suffering. My hope is that my words find their way into the right heart. To the rib cages that hold the desire to become someone, something. The empaths. The ones trying to love those that are in the fire.
THIS IS MY JOURNEY TO GYPSY.
Our adoption story, like many stories of loss and pain, has many beginnings. It started when I was a little girl dreaming of who I would become. I remember telling my mom I would adopt a boy and a girl from every continent in the world.
It started when I was dating Robbie, in high school, and made sure he met the requirements of a man I would marry:
- Loves my family
- Wants to adopt
- Believes in bettering the world
Check. Check. Check. We dreamed we would get married, travel the world, one day decide to have biological children, adopt afterwards, and live happily ever after with 6 kids, 10 dogs, and more love than two people could possibly imagine.
It started on the cold lonely bathroom floor where I lay in a pool of my own blood, saying goodbye to the children my body could not protect, grow, and nurture. Each pregnancy, the idea of adoption would linger in the back of my mind making me wonder if I could ever do this again. I was tired. Exhaustion was setting in. I was beyond over spent. Three pregnancies in nine months that all end in miscarriage is not good for the body. Or the mind. Or the soul.
“And yet” might be my favorite thing about Jesus right now. When I read the Gospel, I read countless stories of the impossible made possible by the profound mercy of a loving Father made human for His children.
It started in the kitchen over dinner with my husband when I was days away from beginning the hormones for In Vitro Fertilization. The tension was paralleled with the desperation to become parents and being willing to do whatever it took to get what we wanted.
It started when we filled out mountains of paperwork, completed over 10 background checks to assure the state(s) and social workers we were “fit to parent,” before I flew to meet the first birth mom we matched with just two weeks into the process…which ended in a failed adoption.
The true beginning was on February 1st, 2018. We didn’t know it yet, but a perfect little girl had been born and the call on her life was profound, courageous, and bold. A little baby girl lay waiting in the hospital in the loving arms of the nurses that fed and cared for her until the court decided her fate.
On February 2nd, just 10 days after our failed adoption, and only days after an overwhelming surrender with God, I got the call that we could fight for a life of a precious baby girl and keep her out of the foster care system. We waited three days to hear whether the judge would either rule in our favor and give our daughter a chance to live life with loving parents, or rule in the favor of the cabinet and send her to foster care. It was a long and dreadful wait. The waiting always is painful, isn’t it? We were almost perfect at waiting–except we weren’t. Those three days felt longer than the four years that set us out on the journey to parenthood
On Monday, February 5th, 2018, at 1:08 p.m., I answered a call from an unknown number and heard the words, “Are you ready to pick up your daughter?” Our lawyers, Gypsy’s birth mom, and our adoption agency had gone to war for us, and we brought our daughter home hours later.
This love. This overwhelming love. Holding her felt like coming home. Adoption begs the question of attachment and “will I be able to love this child fully?” but let me tell you, my heart had never held so much peace at one time. She and I, her daddy and her, were in a sort of love that can’t be described. Only felt. Only held in the crevices of your heart that don’t require explanation. We were made and meant for each other in another realm long before February 5th. I am sure of that.
She has been a part of us since before we met her. Nothing had ever felt more true, more promising, or more hopeful than that moment. The moment Gypsy’s birth mom placed her in my arms. Two mamas. Holding our child. A life started in terrifying, selfless love. I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for that woman. Gypsy will grow up to know how kind, and brave and selfless, and strong her birth mom is. We both loved her. We both gave her everything we could. Birth mom gave her life. She held her in her womb and sustained her life until she could no longer. She chose life for Gypsy. Despite the odds. Despite the circumstances. Despite all the forces working against her.
I was not supposed to be a mother. The odds were not in my favor. Three miscarriages and a failed adoption is enough to make a woman quit. Gypsy was not supposed to have a home. The system was working against her. Her birth mom very well could have chosen abortion.
Impossible. All the stars that had to align in order for this to have happened.
She so graciously handed her to me, her mom. The truest, purest love I’ve ever known. If this is a fraction of the Love of the Father, I am humbled to my knees.
My privilege taught me that good things happen to good people. I lived with the silent belief that privilege and God’s love were one and the same. The only problem with that theory is everything. It suggests that if good things happen to good people, then bad things happen to bad people—and it implies that pain is a punishment. The truth about pain is that it’s guaranteed to all of us. If you grow up believing that good works get you out of inevitable suffering, when suffering comes your way you wonder where God is.
The imagery my subconscious held was of God turning his back to me due to my behavior. The problem here was that I was a really good girl. I did all the right things; I checked off all the boxes. So in the midst of my darkness, my theory of “if I am good, God is good to me” was failing. I had been seeing the backside of God for years. Not doubting His realness, but ever questioning His goodness. Do you see me? Do you love me? Do you hear me? Will you turn around? Embrace me? Hold me? Give me what I want?
For four years, all I saw was God standing at a table, turned around as if He and I were separated by a glass wall. It seemed as if He was unable to hear or understand me, and I was left to wonder if I was being ignored. Driven crazy by my own inner dialogue, I was becoming numb.
THE DAY I MET MY DAUGHTER, EVERYTHING SHIFTED. SOFTENED. SHE UNDID MY HEART. THE VEIL LIFTED. DRY BONES CAME ALIVE.
In that moment, I realized God had been furiously and tenderly working on Gypsy. Knitting her together. When Gypsy’s birth mom placed her in my arms I saw God so clearly turning around with a child in His arms, tears in His eyes whispering breathlessly:
“She took time. Good things take time, my child. She is like an expensive bottle of wine hidden away for the perfect couple. She took time because she is mine, and I don’t waste an ounce of pain. I bottle it up and turn it into something beautiful. Here she is. She is yours. My Darling Brittany, I have loved you so much. While you were tired, and weary, disappointed, and angry, I was working on her. She is mine too. I needed to perfect her. My child, I have held you in every moment you have ever felt alone. If you sit still, you’ll know and remember. My heart broke when yours did. I have collected your tears and used them to baptize your daughter. She is anointed. Her life will move mountains, heal broken hearts, change the minds of those in bondage. I worked on her day and night. I orchestrated every second of every day that led us here. It was all on purpose. Her in your arms is a gift to my eyes. You will understand a fragment of the love I have for you when you look into her eyes. When it appears as if I have turned my back, remember this feeling and know that I am bent over for you. This is what you’ve been asking for. I am so delighted to deliver her to you. I will never abandon you. She is mine, and so are you. Now go and love your baby girl.”
As I hold her on my chest, the imagery of the past four years is strong and clear. How I’d seen God turn his back on me. The all-consuming, clouded thoughts that lingered in the back of my mind. Is God mad? Have I failed him? Am I being punished? I suppose that’s what every child does in the face of pain. What I thought was a grumpy, old man turning his back in anger, or filled with disappointment, or worse; apathy was really a merciful Father extending His overwhelming, never- ending, all consuming, reckless love for me. For my family.
Adoption is both tragic and beautiful. It’s terrifying and it’s merciful. There is not a single picture that describes God’s love for me better than adoption. God took what was seemingly impossible and made it possible. When the devil looked my marriage in the eyes and said, “You are not worthy of a child, your body has failed you and your arms will forever be empty,” God looked back and said, “Sit down.” When the world told me to give up and give in and move on, God said “Enough.” God took the impossible, and gave us a miracle.
If you are in the waiting, the messy middle, if your heart is longing for something or someone, my heart breaks for you. I’ve cried a million tears, and shouted a million shouts for you. You are not alone. Your story is not the sum total of the no’s you’ve been told, the rejection you’ve faced, the failure you’ve felt. You are more than all the darkness your life can hold.
And I promise you this, God says: “I loved you at your darkest. There is not a single thing you can do to make me love you more. I do want what’s best for you. I do want to give you hope and a future. In those moments when you’re lying on the bathroom floor and all is dark and hope is lost, listen to my voice.”
I promise you, this is not the end of your story. You are walking through fire, because you are becoming it. There is an end to this season. I am looking at mine. I promise. You can turn your back, and throw your fits and God will hold you tighter. So, do just that. Give him everything. Give him your anger and your frustration. Your questions and your doubts. God can take your honesty. Give Him your sadness and praise Him for the joys in between.
After our first failed adoption I got really practical with God and told Him I could not spend more time, money, and energy on becoming a parent if He was the one closing these doors. At this point my rational, practical side had kicked in and I was in protecting myself and my marriage mode. After not hearing from God or feeling an ounce of peace about what to do next, I decided to stop halfway giving myself to prayer and halfway extending myself to others to process what my soul had been running from. Be still and know.
I was still for days. I did not respond to a single message, and I leaned in. This is what I heard: “Can you trust me in the darkness?”
My answer was very clearly no. But I settled into this knowing. I had two choices here: I could continue to try and control every bit of this, or I could try to find peace in the reality that I might not ever be a mom. You see, I had put all my energy and identity into things that can be taken. Being a wife, becoming a mom, even being a self-proclaimed world traveler and Founder of Mission 108 had distracted me from this truth: I am a child of God. You are a child of God. This truth is the only thing you have that can not be taken. The only thing.
Ten days after I gave up trying to negotiate with God, I met…
My dearest Gypsy girl,
You are an incredible gift. My deepest desire for you is that you become all you are meant to be. That you soar on wings like eagles. There is not a single thing you can do to make us love you more; you are already so much more than we could fathom. May you stay soft in a hard and broken world. May you add your light to darkness. May your energy graciously infect all the rooms you find yourself in. May everyone, everywhere that has the pleasure of knowing you be melted by your love. May your smile light up a thousand hurting hearts. May you attract kindness, boldness, and greatness. May you be gentle and curious. May you operate out of abundance. May you love your body for carrying you across this beautiful world and know your value is in your Creator. May you know that God is for you and not against you. May you walk through trials with hope, strength, endurance, joy, and dignity. May you always hold your head high proud to be the person you are. May you have success in all that you do. May you be blessed with a community that will see you, love you, and care for you fully and unconditionally. This, my darling, is my prayer for you.
No matter who you become, no matter the choices you make or the person you grow into, Gypsy girl, your mama and daddy are infinitely proud to be your parents. Not a single moment of your life will pass that you don’t know how loved, adored, cherished, and longed for you are and always have been. We loved you before we knew you, before we knew your name, before we held your perfect body, before we looked into your perfect eyes, before we felt your perfect skin, before we heard your beating heart. You were a part of us from the beginning, held in our hearts before our minds could fathom you. You are chosen. Beloved. Hand picked by the God of the Universe.
What you do with this love, and your holy gifts, is entirely up to you. We are just so honored to bear witness to your life; to be your cheerleaders. We just can’t believe you are ours. We are in complete awe of you.
Now go, precious little one, and light up the sky.
Love, Your Mama
Oh. And all of this was a surprise to our family. Which was totally insane.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittany Ross. Do you have a beautiful adoption journey? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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