Sunday, May 14, 2006

Planned Parenthood

A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend. We were talking about babies and how many we wanted. She wanted three. I was in my early 20’s and I remember saying I’d like four: 2 boys, 2 girls. (A brother for a boy and a sister for a girl.) It was a nice even number. My father came from a large family, and I loved going home to visit numerous cousins in Wyoming. I had plans of being the “kool-aid, cookie, and soccer” mom of the neighborhood.

As the years passed, and no child yet, melancholy set in. I started the infertility tests, the shots and waited. I started to shun baby showers. I ignored invitations. And when a new mom showed up at work with her bundle of joy, I could not find the strength to stay in the room, much less hold the child. Why should I even be allowed to cradle a child, when God would not give me my own? When someone dumped a child in my lap, it was pure torture. The questions from acquaintances felt like slaps: “So Kelly, when is it your turn?” and “Kelly, don’t you want to have kids?”

The worst was Mother’s Day Sunday. A place where I had felt so much comfort and joy turned into a black hole for me. For years I would not attend church on that Sunday.

1 Timothy 2:15 rang in my ears… “But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” Did I not have enough faith? Wasn’t I good enough as a person? I felt taunted with so many women around me getting pregnant by accident or by careful planning. Everyone was having children except me. And adoption? Forget about it. How could I even toy with the idea, when I felt I was not worthy enough to even hold another woman’s child?

I was approaching 30 and felt my clock ticking—more and more it sounded like a time bomb to me. Most of my prayers were tearful and I’d fling a fist in the air. “If you gave Sara a baby at her age why not me? Forget the four children, give me just one before I’m 30!” I buried myself in work. I volunteered at my church with one stipulation: no nursery duty, please! I worked with teenagers—I could relate to their feeling like an outcast.

God’s son Jesus didn’t give up on me. One day we were getting ready for a funeral and my friend who wanted three kids was there with her first baby. She had to duck out to the restroom, as did everyone else. I was alone with a sleeping baby in a carrier. As soon as her mother left, it was as if someone pinched that baby and she began to cry. I was frantic for someone to take over. That little child looked at me with big teary blue eyes as if to say, “Won’t you hold me? My mother has left me and I’m desperate to feel safe and loved!” My heart could not stand the cries so I unbuckled the child and held her close. I had not held a child in probably eight years. I felt something inside me break open and it was my turn to cry. The baby was a bit confused, but she was happy to be held.

That was when my prayers started to change from a fist in the air with tears; to an open hand…accepting whatever Jesus would give me. And I began to think about adoption. Jesus reminded me how many kids I had loved in my life as a youth counselor. I had even taken in one girl in to finish her senior year when her parents moved to another state.

It was a boot camp for me and my heart opened even more to other people’s children. So we did the paperwork and waited.

It happened so fast, we had a call around Christmas that a baby was on the way for us. It was so exciting to ready the room, to get our affairs in order. The first time I saw him was at the hospital. The nurses called him “Joshua” which means “the Lord saves”. I named him Jared Nathan, “inherited gift of God”. He had a scalp IV due to an illness, and where the IV’s had to go, his little head was shaved. So my son started life with a red Mohawk. He’s still a cool guy.

Just when life was perfect, my husband decided to abandon us. I was devastated that Jesus would give me this wonderful child and then allow my marriage to fall apart. How was I going to raise this boy all by myself? My parents were 4 hours away in another city, and I fought my pride to move back with them or accept help. My prayers were back to a fistful of tears.

So Jesus went to work on my broken heart again. He led me to a Christian singles group and good friends. I learned to seek Jesus in everything. I clung to Him since I did not want to do this alone. I don’t know how there was money left after bills, but He provided. My pride fell away and I received help from friends and family.

And then when I accepted this was how the rest of my life was to be, He literally put Tom on my doorstep. We married and Tom adopted my son. He already had a teenage son and daughter and I loved them instantly. Even his niece became like a daughter to me. Did you notice that number? Jesus literally restored my hope of a large family. (And no, He wasn’t done with me yet!)

Years passed and when Tom’s kids got married and had their first babies, I got to baby-sit one day. They splashed happily in a wading pool with my son watching over them and my niece’s baby. The giggles were nonstop and the water had to be constantly refilled because they splashed it out. I closed my eyes and listened to the laughter. I remembered another barren woman in the Bible who named her son Isaac, which means laughter. Then, Jesus seemed to say, “Kelly, open your eyes and tell me how many babies do you count in that pool?” I looked and counted my son, two grand daughters and a grand niece. I had my four babies. And I laughed.


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