Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New Heart


I grew up thinking that someday I’d marry a great guy after I was done with school, and we’d have kids, maybe four or five. We all have dreams, right?

I did find my knight in shining armor-even though he says the armor is a bit rusty and tight. Funny guy. The thing is I was in my late 20s when we got married, and didn’t have our first child until after a few years of infertility treatments.

When it was real that I couldn’t carry any more babies, it took a couple of years to decide on an adoption. We started our process with LDS Social Services here in Utah, and went to all the classes that were required of us to qualify for their program. I remember going to those classes and feeling guilty, because there were other couples going through the same thing. I say this because we were the only ones that already had a kid. I listened to their heartbreaking stories, and realized that my point of view was somewhat different, because I’d already gone (or so I thought) through all the rollercoaster of emotions that you embark in when you’re childless. I thought I’d be okay even if we didn’t get another child, even though we felt that our family was not yet complete.

Around the same time, we moved out of state the summer of 1997, due to my husband’s pursuit of furthering his education. We transferred all our papers to the next main office and waited, and waited.

That fall, my firstborn started kindergarten and I was left alone at home most of the day. It just happened that I was called to serve in a Young Women’s presidency, I believe because I had most of my day to myself. I had never been in Young Women as a leader until that time, and it wasn’t pretty.

I hated them. With a passion. I couldn’t be around those girls. It was all I could do to not run away in tears.

Why? Because I saw them as fertile young things. Every time I looked at one of them I thought: ‘I bet she could get pregnant any time she wants.’ I had dark, petty, depressing thoughts. I was lonely, in a strange world, feeling sorry for myself the whole time.

I knew I had to repent. I knew I couldn’t go on like I was doing. I kept getting on my knees and asking for forgiveness and hoping that the Lord in His infinite mercy would hear my prayers. I also asked desperately to be able to receive the blessing of a baby. I didn’t get an answer; the heavens seemed closed to me.

At the same time, we kept getting reports from our social worker. He’d call and let us know that a young mother was considering our file, and we (I) would get our (my) hopes up. And then he’d call to tell us that she’d gone with a different family. I did have some reservations; even though I really wanted to go through with an adoption, I didn’t feel right about getting a baby from a teen mother. I was not sold on the idea, to be honest.

I kept going through the motions of getting ready for weekly activities and preparing lessons for Sunday. I made arrangements with my advisor, so I’d take one Sunday a month. I've heard (later on) that some women that go through this kind of pain get despondent and angry against Heavenly Father. That's a thought that never crossed my mind: I love my Father too much to add to my own pain by having to repent later.

Very slowly and without me realizing it, my heart started to soften towards those precious young women. I started to care for them and got more involved in their lives, dreams, aspirations and pursuits.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust
At the end of my journey I realized that my heart had given a 180 degree turn and the person I saw in the mirror was so much more than she used to be. I still hadn’t received that which I so much wanted, but I was a better human being, faults and all.

The Lord has said through Moroni:
“Strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that you may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.
“… see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mormon 9:28–29.)

Because of my experience I have a few pointers to give if you ever feel despondent or left out. These may help you change your attitude towards people around you and especially Heavenly Father:

Pray, Pray, Pray. Always remember that you are a Child of God and that you’re important to Him. He hears prayers and answers them in His time.

Go to the Temple. It’s so very important to feel the Lord’s presence when we feel lonely. Even though we were far from any temples, every time we visited family in Utah we’d take time to go to a session. It renewed our spirits and made us grow closer together as a couple.

Read Your Scriptures. The only way we have to get to know the Lord is by diving into the scriptures. We’ll find hidden treasures there, great understanding and important tips for us alone to follow.

Be of Service. I spent all my time doing things for this group of Young Women, and I learned to be of service to them, their parents and the ward members in general. I learned to look beyond myself, looking for ways to bring joy to someone: single mother, shut-in or anyone in need at the time, if we knew what the needs were. It was a time of spiritual heights that I’ll not soon forget.

At the end of my personal journey with the young women I was a changed person, more thoughtful, more grown up, ready to move on with my life. That group of girls is very special to me in my heart.

Now, the rest of the story.

In the spring of 2000 we were planning to get back to Utah, since my husband’s business was finished. Our papers with LDS Social Services had lapsed the previous December. Our social worker paid us a visit around Christmas and asked us to fill out new forms. We declined saying that we’d given it thought and it didn’t seem like we were going anywhere. He felt sad and asked us to reconsider. We told him we might do that, just to get him off our backs.

Then March 17, 2000, St Patrick’s Day, arrived. A day we’ll never forget. I remember my husband was home and answered the phone. It was our social worker we hadn’t spoken to since Christmas, telling us that a young mother had seen our file and wanted to meet with us, and if we could come to see her, please.  Of course we could!

A series of fortuitous events had taken place. One was that the LDSSS main office for our state was actually in another state. Second, this second office had shared our file with an office in yet another state. By ‘share’ I mean they’d xeroxed our file over. I remember seeing sample files of other couples, and they had actual color pictures in them and they looked like someone had spent time scrapbooking a page to entice a possible birthmother. Our file was not at all like that. It had a very simple picture of our family sitting in the front steps of our house, nothing fancy. It contained a letter to an unknown person, telling her about us, our dreams and aspirations, our likes and dislikes, our backgrounds and personal information. Looking back, I feel naked, because I’m a very private person. Just this account is taking a lot out of me; this kind of report is only geared towards my personal journals, you know?

We did visit with this beautiful young lady, after traveling 1,200 miles. We had a wonderful conversation, we asked questions and received answers, and it was the same from the other end. The Spirit that guided that meeting was so strong, that we made a commitment to each other that we’d live our lives in such a way that we’d meet again some day. We couldn’t bear to part with her, such was the love that we’d immediately felt for her and her supreme sacrifice. We left without a sure knowledge of what she was expecting, because they were not able to ascertain the baby’s sex when she’d had an ultrasound, but it wasn’t important to us. We had a date to expect a phone call and were elated. Just to get to this place and have a visit with this birthmother we had to go and get all our paperwork done again: from work and Church.

We did travel again to pick up our little miracle. Six months after that long trip, we made a short one to the Salt Lake temple to have our baby sealed to our family, and the words of the officiator were so wonderful, because he bestowed upon the infant the same promises given to babies born into the Covenant.

Sometimes I wonder, after all that we've been through, if I'd allow myself to experience this mad rollercoaster of emotions again (it is an ongoing thing), and I have to say that I would. What we have gained as a family is priceless. In the end, all the tears and sadness will be but a memory, but the closeness and family ties will last forever.

Today our family is complete and even though we look back to reminisce how we got to where we are now, our eyes are set on the road ahead and our prayers keep going up to Heaven.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

CL Beck, author said...

Very touching story! Thanks for having the courage to share and help others along the same path.