Can you imagine what it is like to throw up seven times a day and lose 25 pounds in only 5 months? I can. I did it three times. For me, it is called "pregnancy". Pregnancy is a bit uncomfortable for some, the greatest time in the lives of others, but for me, it is pure misery.
Chappy and I already had three wonderful children: Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie. We had a perfectly happy home. However, inside, we longed for another child. We knew the consequences.....I would be sick for 9 months, but violently sick for 5 months. We decided it was worth it.
In January of 2005, we found out we were expecting. Thrilled doesn't adequately describe our emotions. Three weeks from the day our pregnancy test came back positive, true to form, I became bed-ridden for five months and lost my typical 25 pounds.....weighing in at 105 lbs. on the scales and wearing a size 1. Most pregnant moms, five months along are in maternity clothes by this time, but I looked like a super-skinny teeny-bopper. Go figure.
Time for the ultrasound.
Ultrasound shows a heart defect.
My first thoughts, admittedly, were: "I went through all of this sickness and the baby is going to have a heart defect?"
Time for the next ultrasound, one month later.
Ultrasound still shows a heart defect, but also shows a stomach defect and brain lesions.
Pushed to abort.
Scooted off to get further testing which shows a diagnosis of Down Syndrome on top of all the other defects. Doctors are unsure the baby will live to be born.
My thoughts: "I sacrificed five months of my life in a bed-ridden state to lose this baby?"
Time for Hope to be born.
Both Hope and I almost die during child birth. Many complications.
Hope has surgery at five days of age to repair her stomach defect. I go into a state of such deep depression, it still frightens me today to think about it.
To help me cope with the depression, Chappy moves our family into an apartment next to the hospital.....Hope remains in the hospital for the first month of her life.
Three months of age: Hope has her first open-heart surgery. I am still fighting depression and panic attacks....wondering if I will ever see daylight with my heart again.
Life continues to move forward.....since then, Hope has had two more open-heart surgeries and even an eye surgery. We have added to our family....little red-headed Charlie with his extra-chromosome. And I, after twelve months, conquered the depression and learned to embrace each day with Hopey as a gift from the Father. Not understanding, but trusting.
Hope's last open heart surgery was in October 2009. The members of the cardiac team, both cardiologists and heart surgeons, were mixed on Hope's diagnosis. The aneurysm they hoped to remove from her heart could not be found during surgery, so it remains in her heart. Some on the team feel she is in great danger right now, that it could burst and cause sudden death. Others believe it will remain stable for a while. And still others believe it very well could burst, but we would have time to get her to the hopsital for a life-saving procedure. One cardiologist in particular, did not think I should take Hope from the hospital after her last surgery. She believed we should deal with the aneurysm then.
Throughout the remainder of October, through November, December, and even January....I chose NOT to think about Hope's aneurysm. That doesn't mean I didn't think of her heart. Do you know I have never looked at my baby and not thought of her heart? Never. What I mean is that I chose NOT to think about another surgery. It was too overwhelming for me, so I think my mind just shut it out as a protective mechanism.
Toward the middle of January, I started to become more and more serious about getting all of my paperwork together to adopt Darya. Chappy and I went to get our medicals, we filed with USCIS, we completed a criminal background check, met for our homestudy update, and filled out all of the paperwork for our dossier.
Paperwork completed.....next step, travel plans.
This is where the road to Darya became tricky. The Ukraine requires a 5-6 week in-country stay. It can be broken into two 3 week trips or it can be completed in one long trip.
The cardiologists are split on whether it would be safe to travel that far, and for that long, with Hope. So, the decision is made, to be completely safe with her we would have to travel without her.
OK, I can do this. I repeat this many, many, many times.
Panic attacks start creeping in again: "What if Hope's aneurysm bursts when I am in the Ukraine?"..... "What if Hope dies when I am in the Ukraine?"
I imagine there are some who read my blog and really understand what my relationship with Hope is like. The bond that is there. To carry a child you know you might lose before birth, and then to almost lose your own life along with hers during birth...... to have to "give her up and hold her tight one last time" before watching her be taken off to open-heart surgery three different times........ to be told too many times that her life will be a shortened one.....oh my goodness, it causes a mom to dig in deep and hold that child more desperately than is probably normal or healthy.
Each and every time I have looked at that round face of hers, I have ached deep inside.....knowing at some point, I am going to have to let her go. I have begged the Father to heal her.....it just hasn't been His plan. I have learned, through this, that FAITH is truly an action and a decision to love God and accept His ways even when they make no sense at all. Jacob wrestled with God for a night, and I have wrestled Him for nearly five years. As a result, I have a limp too......a brokeness that wasn't there before.....a realization that our God's ways are so much higher than our own. We can fight Him, we can hate Him, we can turn our backs on Him, but He is still God....unchangeable God. My temper-tantrums don't move Him. My giving up and letting Him be God moves Him....not to heal Hope's heart, but to teach and heal my heart.
Chappy and I have talked with our children at length, and have decided we will not travel to the Ukraine and will not adopt Darya. We would LOVE to have Darya in our home, we would LOVE to make her our daughter, but we can not leave Hopey. The timing is just all wrong. I know, if I am already having panic attacks just thinking about leaving Hope, when I landed in the Ukraine, I would turn right around on the first available airplane and come back home. For us to give up six weeks of precious time with Hopey is too much.
The generosity of so many toward Darya has been incredible. We are sending every penny you gave to Reece's Rainbow to be used for Darya's adoption. Your gifts were meant to save Darya, we just weren't meant to be her family. I will be anxious to see who her forever family is and would count it the greatest privilege to meet them in person (I know Lydia would love to meet Darya).
As for our family.....we still have a completed homestudy, and all of our adoption paperwork. Our family is still not complete, and we will pursue another adoption. God has definitely called us to adoption again. It will be an in-country domestic adoption that requires very little travel (if any) and no panic-attacks. We will wait on the Lord's timing and our next child.
I know I will receive many negative reactions from this post. I expect it, because I know it is impossible to empathize with my situation unless you have lived it. I would caution you, though, because if you judge too harshly, God may put you into a situation where you find yourself in my shoes. And daily facing the mortality of your child is not a pleasant place to be; I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
A very wise friend said something to me recently about her own situation. She didn't realize God was speaking HIS WORDS to me through her. She has three adopted children, all from Russia, and here is what she said:
"For me, obeying God might mean for me to NOT adopt again. I would adopt a houseful of kids, adopting more children is an easy thing for me, because adoption is my heart. But for me to look at my family, the special needs of _____(one of her children), and realize my family is complete would be obedience to God on my part."
After she spoke those words, I knew. Not adopting Darya was obedience. God's plan was for Lydia to raise the money for Darya so another family, possibly one who couldn't afford an international adoption on their own, could adopt her. This was His plan all along; I just had to stop being so prideful and accept it. My pride kept telling me I had to follow through and travel to the Ukraine, because it would be too embarrassing to admit my struggles and weakness with Hope's situation. Once I put my pride down, however, and made the decision Chappy had already made when he first realized we were going to have to leave Hope behind for six weeks (which he couldn't handle either).....we experienced peace again. God's will.