(Aimee) Our adoption journey began the day Caleb was born, and I became the .001% statistic. The photos of us here are an hour after he was born and then four days later. The in-between days included a life-saving hysterectomy, blood transfusions, a ventilator, and several days in ICU. Jackson, Malyn, and Micah didn’t meet their baby brother until he was three days old. Caleb was fine, just enjoying high-quality babysitting in NICU while the hospital cared for his mommy.
I cannot tell you how many people commented “at least you already have four children”, but an ache remained in my heart. After the hysterectomy, I was broken – physically and emotionally. I still desired another child. I walked through a true season of grief, a deep private struggle of brokenness.
Ten years later, I see God’s faithfulness. My grief was the setup for His glory to shine. My brokenness became the connecting point to others’ brokenness. The death of our season of child-bearing became the beginning of a new season. Our adoption journey was birthed out of the pain.
Read the full story here
After Caleb was born, my grief was delayed a while. I was so thankful just to be alive. Plus, all my energy went into physically recovering and managing life with four children under six.
A team of specialists from UAB had come to St. Vincent’s to do my surgery, which ended up being a life-saving hysterectomy. When I thanked the surgeon for saving my life, he told me to “thank the good Lord and go home and love on your family.” And so I did. I knew I would not be able to have more children, but the reality didn’t set in until months later.
For months, the comment we received most often from people was “at least you already have four children.” Their intentions were good, but that comment always felt hurtful.
I think the hurt was evidence the grief was being stored up for later. Yes, I was thankful for my four. But the desire for the child we still didn’t have was already building.
August 13, 2010
Yes, that specific. Defining life moments stick with you.
Nine months to the day after Caleb was born and my life was miraculously spared. Nine months of abundant gratitude for every small moment of life. Nine months of blissful overwhelm trying to homeschool and care for four children under six years.
Back in those days, I worked hard to save money. Young children outgrow clothing amazingly fast. On August 13, I had camped out in the parking lot to get an early ticket for a local consignment sale. Better clothes and lower prices went early. It was consignors drop-off day. Since my hysterectomy, it was obvious we would no longer need maternity and infant clothes. So it was time to pass them along and fund our growing kids clothing budget.
As I hung my maternity clothes on the rack, however, a flood of grief engulfed me. Tears instantly streamed down my face. Embarrassingly so. I jerked the clothes off the rack, escaped to my van, and sobbed. This robe was among my rescued treasures that day. For nine years, it has been tucked away as a momento of my grief.
Many well-meaning people had consoled, “At least you already have four healthy children.” But that didn’t matter to my broken heart. My body was broken. Part of me was gone, the part that would no longer cradle another child. And so, my heart also broke.
From that day, I moved into a season of deep brokenness. Grief doesn’t only exist when sometime dies. Grief is birthed when dreams die. Grief can be a close companion as letting go is a constant part of life. Grief gripped my heart and held tightly for months.
But God. I didn’t know yet the healing and wholeness He had in store for my broken heart.
Why Katie Ruth?
We’ll have to go back to 2007 and our third pregnancy. We decided to wait to hear “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” in the delivery room. But that’s not how things turned out.
I was convinced the baby was a girl. We decided on her name: Katelynn Ruth, or Katie Ruth for short. There’s a long line of Ruths on Aron’s side of the family, so she would be connected to them.
Well, this little baby was breech and was actually the biggest of all our babies, and nothing went as expected.
Early in the morning of November 28, about 4:30am, I woke with the familiar feeling of labor contractions. Not good with a breech baby, but I wasn’t quite convinced it was more than braxton hicks I’d been having for weeks. I decided to wait until 5:00 to wake Aron. A little before my arbitrary deadline, I clearly heard God’s instruction to get moving NOW. So I did.
Within an hour, my sister Hailey arrived at our house to keep the big kids, I fought my body to not birth this baby on I-65, my water broke in the lobby at St. Vincent’s, the nurse discovered a presenting foot and umbilical cord, Aron was abruptly told to stay put as they wheeled me into surgery, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief when the anesthesiologist told me to inhale.
Micah was born fifteen minutes after we had pulled into the parking deck. Neither Aron nor I was present and conscious for the big announcement. I groggily woke to a nurse saying, “You have a healthy baby boy.” .
Baby?!? Oh yes, I came to the hospital in labor. Boy?!? I thought it was a girl. Healthy?!? Oh! A healthy baby boy! Thanks to many details of God’s sovereignty and a fast-acting medical team, our Micah was completely healthy. My body, however, took a while to recover from that one.
But we didn’t have a boy name. We decided fairly easily on Micah. But we took a poll on middle names from everyone who came into our hospital room.
Micah James was not to be Katie Ruth.
We’re not 100% sure our new daughter will be named Katie Ruth. But all of our babies had nicknames before they were born: Ziggy, Baby Strawberry, Baby Roo, and Baby Tadpole. So for now, that’s who she is. Katie Ruth has been in my heart for twelve years already.
The moment I fell in love with Katie Ruth.
Grief had secretly been building in my heart for eleven months. I would carry no more babies inside me. The dam had broken two months prior, and my grief was overflowing.
I was broken.
A broken heart because a dream had died. I didn’t feel finished having children.
A broken body because I was no longer whole. A part of me was gone, removed and cast away, the part that carried my babies.
Recreate 2010. Church of the Highlands’ annual women’s conference. Tears of grief flowed as I attempted to worship. My sacrifice of praise, as tiny as it was, sparked a glorious healing.
Healing in my body? No. Healing in my soul. I sang the words of “Forever Reign” and God reached deep through the phrase “in Your presence healed and whole”. I began to learn that I was whole because of Jesus.
Later in that conference, again during worship, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, the first time I ever heard such a strong personal word directly from Him. It made no sense because of my body’s brokenness. But God’ promises don’t need to make sense.
“You still have a daughter. You still have a Katie Ruth.”
After God told me in October 2010 we still had a daughter, I assumed we were supposed to adopt. Aron, however, did not have the same calling. And so began a long season of waiting. 8 1/2 years of nothing.
I cried. I prayed. I cried out to the Lord. And I grieved. Oh, how I grieved.
Every little moment, each milestone with Caleb, felt like a death of my dream. In my heart, I was not finished parenting in the baby years, the toddler years, the preschool years. Giving away the baby clothes. Finishing the reading book. Packing away the cradle.
Through it all, I had a strong sense from the Lord that this was to remain a private struggle. I didn’t mention it to many people. I only occasionally brought it up with Aron, and usually not with a kind attitude.
But oh, how I grew closer to the Lord in our private conversations. Prayers, scriptures, tears. Years of journals are filled with my hope in a promise unfulfilled. Eight years, twice a year, of 21 Days of Prayer. My daughter was always on my prayer list, even if I didn’t write her name down.
That’s what I was learning. I eventually gave up the dream. My mom passed away. I turned forty. My husband wasn’t called to adoption, so I clearly wasn’t either.
I decided I had misheard the Lord. I began to doubt whether I had ever heard His voice.
January 25, 2019
Day 20 of Prayer – After more than 8 years of unfulfilled waiting, I surrender my dream of having another daughter. In January 2019, we committed to 21 focused days of prayer and fasting as we had for years, but I was no longer asking God to fulfill His promise from October 2010.
The first two weeks were calm and easy. That was rather unusual because we’ve discovered there’s typically an intense spiritual battle during a season of prayer. The final week, however, was a different story.
I felt physically bad. Our home was not a calm environment. I was (very) late to the prayer service at church every single morning. I couldn’t focus to pray and often left wondering why I had gone. I’m not sure how much school we accomplished. I cried a lot.
But I chose to continue pursuing Jesus.
(This is still all from Aimee’s perspective because no other characters had entered our adoption story yet.)
Day 20 was awful. Aron and I had a huge fight in the lobby at church at the end of the prayer service. In the midst, I threw out an unrelated accusation: “You said you would pray about adopting, but you lied.” I had a conflict with one of our kids that turned physical, unusual and scary. Not once, but FOUR times, I narrowly avoided car accidents, cars crossing the middle line directly toward me.
I felt like I had a spiritual target on my back. Turns out, I did. I had no idea what lay ahead the next day.
January 26, 2019 (Aimee)
Day 21 of Prayer – The moment everything changed.
Our family went to the prayer service together. I had a bad attitude and avoided talking to people. I cried the entire time.
I prayed with angry passion against the work of the enemy in my home. I even prayed with angry toward God. Why wasn’t He doing anything? In an act of defiance against the enemy and tenacious surrender to the Lord, I raised my hands and worshiped. We had been talking as a family about warfare prayer. Warfare prayer? Yes. It doesn’t always look pretty.
Midway through, Pastor Chris called the children up on stage – to pray for protection over their generation, for infertility to be overcome, for the Church to raise children in God’s righteousness.
I sobbed uncontrollably. I wanted to raise more children to walk with Him, but I couldn’t. My womb couldn’t be opened because I don’t have one after my (life-saving) hysterectomy in 2009. I had a promised unfulfilled for 8.5 years.
I felt the weight of grief so deeply, I was unaware of how God was working in Aron’s heart at that very moment.
(Photo of my journal from January 26, 2019 is intentionally cut off – just a little suspense until Aron enters the story to tell the next part.)
January 26, 2019 (Aron)
21 Days of Prayer has been a part of every major move of God in our family for years. 2019 was no exception.
As a husband, there is a long list of things I’ve said I’d take care of but let go way too long. On Day 20, Aimee and I were in the midst of conflict, barely speaking to each other. In the process of working through it, she reminded me of a promise I had made: to pray about us adopting a child. I had completely forgotten about it even though it had been heavy on her heart for years. Not wanting to keep bringing it up, she chose to be very patient with me, but I was clueless, as I often am. I had no idea this continued to be a calling she felt in a very deep way.
I felt equal parts guilty for having not followed through on a promise but certain that our family was not called to adoption. Even that morning, I told her I didn’t feel I could lead our family there without a specific calling. I left church that morning torn because I knew it was a big issue for her, but I was concerned it would not end how she hoped. One of my values as a husband is to give my wife those things she truly desires, but this was just out of reach.
We attended Day 21 as a family, and it’s always a fantastic time of extended prayer. In the middle of the service, Pastor Chris invited all the kids to join him on stage. He prayed over families and children and then gave an encouragement that God’s call on our families is to change the world around us, and that includes having and raising godly children. In that moment, God spoke to me as clearly as I’ve ever experienced that I should open my mind to adoption. The calling I had never felt was suddenly very real.
I wish I could say that the next day we called an adoption agency and the rest is history. I told a friend who has adopted multiple times that I just didn’t feel certain about it. His response settled it in my heart: God has made his desire to care for the widow and orphan known for thousands of years. I doubt He’s going to change His mind about your calling.
I realized I was waiting on confirmation when God had already given me all I needed to obey. So we stepped out in faith.
You would think I was elated God was finally guiding Aron and me in the same direction. I had prayed that, if God was truly leading us to adopt, Aron would take the lead.
He did, and I suddenly wasn’t sure I wanted to follow.
Doubt. Hesitation. Uncertainty. I’m not so young anymore. Jackson is close to graduating high school. Malyn has always wanted a sister, but this isn’t exactly what she imagined. Micah already towers over me. Even Caleb has reached double digits. With a ten+ year gap, Katie Ruth will practically be an only child. With our family background, that’s hard to envision.
What if I don’t love her as much as my four big kids? What if they feel like we’re replacing them or love her more? How will we handle such a wide variety of parenting seasons? Will I need to give up my homeschool ministry to care for everyone?
Honestly, a year and a half later, I’m still struggling with these questions
This isn’t how I would have planned it. I’m two months shy of a full ten years since God’s promise. But one thing I have learned through the past decade of struggles: God’s plan is always better than my own.
I choose to trust He will do far more abundantly beyond all I have asked and imagined. (Ephesians 3:20)
Far more abundantly beyond.