It began (as I am sure it has with many women dealing with fertility issues) in a hospital as I was having yet another ultrasound. The pain had been growing every month, every day, every time we tried and tried to get my body to do what a woman’s body should. The pain starts out with twinges but as time and reality start to set in that twinge becomes a stabbing sick pain in my heart and my stomach aches in a way I could never put in words. It is hole that is filling my body..spreading to every inch. The day in the hospital was one of the most intensely painful days of my life. It was the day my mind decided it was time to acknowledge what my body was screaming…..I would not ever know what it was like to be one of “those” women. I am a different kind of woman. I am barren. My heart broke that day but I also learned alot. It was really the first day of learning on this difficult journey to motherhood. I learned loss….a kind of loss I had never known before that time. A loss which was dark and cold and bleak. Loss that would take me years to really understand and years before healing would rest upon me. This was pain, this was loss…this was grief.
Again a few years later after finding out we had been chosen by a special young woman to be parents to her child…after a shopping spree, painting the nursery, setting up the crib and getting so excited, pain of a broken heart entered my life again as we learned this special girl decided to parent her baby. We respected her decision in every way but respecting someone’s choice doesn’t mean we don’t experience loss. The pain crushed me down and sometimes I didn’t know if I wanted to live. I felt like lead as I drug my feet out of bed to go to work. In moments of solitude I would sit in the nursery and hold the clothes we had so joyfully purchased for this expected gift and I would rock them and cry and cry until there were no more tears and I was numb. It was the only release besides sleep….the numbness. Here again, a broken heart filled with pain, learned something….I learned I could love someone I never met..not the baby (although I loved her too) but her mother. The young woman who decided to parent..I fell in love with her even though we never met. She thought enough of me and my sweet husband to think we were good enough for her child. Her choosing us brought a speck of hope that someday we would be chosen again. I learned more….I grew some. I was still in the middle of deep pain but I was holding onto a piece of hope. This same basic scenario would visit our life 3 more times before our family was complete. But each experience brought greater understanding than the last. One of these times things ended differently than the others. This experience brought pain but also so much love along the way. A young woman contacted us through the internet and I felt an instant and strong connection to her. A connection I cannot explain in words. After getting to know one another over a period of time she decided to parent but then came back and was re-deciding. We had her and her mother over for dinner. We loved meeting her and felt very connected but somehow we felt she would parent still. She did parent but we remained friends. She would call us and chat or we would call her. I chatted with her online sometimes. She called me after she delivered her baby….and I mean right after, even before delivering the placenta. Brad and I felt we were to be there for her and be her support..to be her friend. I remember seeing the first picture of her sweet baby boy. I cried…I felt he was my baby but I knew her decision and I respected it. I closed the lid to the laptop and cried. The friendship continued and when her baby was just about 8 months old she called again just as she often did, but this call was different. She told me she felt her baby belonged with us. Less than 1 week later she placed Camden in our arms. It was a bittersweet occasion. We rejoiced for us and felt sad for her. We spent a lot of time together that day as they came to our home after placement for a special dinner. By this time we had two little girls in our family so this was our 3rd child to be placed with us. As I looked back at the journey to this moment I saw how the heartbreak was really teaching us how to love more deeply than before. It gave more perspective on another person’s pain. And while there was pain, there was growth.
Sometime after Camden’s placement Brad and I became foster parents. One of our opportunities to foster came in a tiny little brown beautiful package named Ashanti. I picked her I up from the hospital and she was so tiny I thought she would get lost in the car seat.I loved her from the very moment I saw her. I didn’t know if we would get to adopt her or not, but I knew I was going to pour my love into her and she would be mine…even it it was just for a season.
We heard many things but some workers kept telling us adoption was very possible. In the end I had to say goodbye to Ashanti. I kissed her for the final time right before I handed her over to her father at the airport where he would put her on an airplane and fly her across the country to Florida. There was deep grief…deep!!!! There was a numbness for a time. There was pain like I cannot describe. But there was something else…..love!!! So much love it could never be measured! I gave Ashanti all I had and because I did Ashanti got a great start in life. The pain was still there so strong. I grieved for a long time but even in my grief I knew if I had to choose over again knowing how I felt after saying goodbye I would still choose to say hello!!!! I would do it all again because I love her!!! I will always love her. And I did get to do it again….only it was with a tiny little cream package named Chevey.
Haley and Chevey. My kids loved to play with this cutie!
Another baby I picked up from the hospital….another baby I poured my love into….we all did. Another baby I said goodbye to and ironically he went to Florida as well.
This is just a skimming of what I went through to build my family. This is just some of the hard stuff. And there were wonderful and perfect moments where all things fell together. But through the pain I grew….my heart grew but it had to break to grow. I watched my children grow the same way…their hearts broke too. But with each break our hearts expanded and we were able to hold more love and give more love to others. In our journey to motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood there will be pain and grief but our hearts grow better that way. Andrew Harvey says it best: “If you’re listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.”
Sometimes couples will hold themselves back from new opportunities to family build because they fear loss and pain. My advice after living and breathing infertility and adoption for 20 years….embrace the loss and pain and watch the wonders that come from a broken heart!
Brenda Horrocks is a mother of four children through adoption.
She promotes adoption, foster care and Utah’s Safe Haven Law through blogging, public speaking and writing. She enjoys time with family, reading books, running, gardening and movies.
You can visit her blog here.
*This article was originally written Feb. 2015 for Forever Bound Adoption.