This is a question that gets asked to newlyweds, often very early in their marriage.
“When are you guys having kids?”
It’s a seemingly innocent, honest question, but the answer can be a challenging one for many couples.
Our first few years of marriage were just like this. At every family gathering, someone asked.
Like many newlyweds, we weren’t in a season of life where it made sense to have kids. We had zero money, no job security and were generally not ready in so many ways.
But, there was a point after we were married for about 3 or 4 years where we thought “now seems like an OK time to have kids.”
We believed that nature would take its course and at some point, Joy would become pregnant.
Of course we “knew” that having Spina Bifida would have some effect on my ability to become a father naturally, but we were optimistic.
But then the months started to pass.
And months turned into years and nothing happened.
And for the most part, people stopped asking us when we were going to have kids.
We were always in the mindset that the Lord would bless us with kids when it was time, but after about 7 or 8 years of marriage, we decided that we should likely discuss our situation with a doctor.
The first and easiest part of the infertility discussion was to test me. So, I had “the test.”
Off to the doctor’s office to get the results…
I remember sitting in the doctor’s office with Joy as the doctor told us the results.
There was no sugar-coating it. Basically, it came down to this:
Short of a miracle, we weren’t going to have biological children of our own.
The rest of that day was a complete blur.
I remember walking out of the doctor’s office, past all the people in the waiting room as tears filled our eyes. It was one of those moments in life where you feel like you’ve just been hit by a cement truck.
Over the years, we’d had casual conversations that often started with “when we have kids…”
And ever since Joy was young, the thing she wanted most for her future was to be a Mom.
It was this day, that reality smacked us right in the face and this wasn’t going to be part of our future.
I’d like to say that we just had faith in God and that we were able to overcome the feelings of grief, but it wasn’t that easy. It honestly took many years to come to a place where it didn’t feel like a knife had pierced our heart when the topic came up.
There were times where I was mad at God if I were to be completely honest.
Joy and I talked about fertility treatments and other things that could be done, but for our own reasons, it just wasn’t the right fit for us.
So there we were. 30-ish, childless, unable to conceive…and now we saw the world through a different lens.
It wasn’t intentional, but almost immediately after learning the news, we saw the world differently.
Certain events became very hard for both Joy and me.
Christmas became hard. The joy of Christmas was overshadowed with the feeling like “This is it – it’s just you and me.”
With each Christmas that passed, we felt like skipping Christmas, as it just reminded us that our life was much different than our peers.
There wasn’t going to be another stocking hanging up.
There wasn’t going to be a “baby’s first Christmas” ornament on the tree.
There wasn’t going to be trips to Grandma & Grandpa’s house.
And the list goes on.
Baby dedications at church were difficult to watch.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were hard.
We were grieving for someone who didn’t exist.
The feelings were raw…
We were grieving for situations that would never come to fruition. There didn’t seem to be a clear path to healing for our loss.
What about Adoption?
Of course, Joy and I knew about adoption. We knew a number of people who adopted children and we thought it was commendable.
And at the time, I’m ashamed to say, we looked at it as the “2nd best option.”
Fast forward about a year or so and we decided to start the adoption process through the Children’s Aid Society. We were both in our early 30’s, our peers had babies and toddlers, so we wanted a baby or a toddler.
We made it through most of the process, but when it came down to it, there was a 3-way agreement between me, Joy and our social worker that we were not ready.
We had just bought a cafe and balancing the time demands with a child would be tough. Deep down we knew this, but we also wanted to become parents.
Stopping the adoption process in 2012 was hard.
Even though it started to become clear to us as the process unfolded that it wasn’t the right time, it still hurt. It felt like an admission of failure on our part.
For me, every time I passed by the Children’s Aid Society office, I felt a sense of failure.
And then more time passed…
In about 2014 or 2015, 12 or so years into marriage, we started to find healing for our grief. We started to become “OK” with life as it was.
We travelled a bit, experienced a fire on a cruise ship, went to a number of fun places and life was actually pretty good.
Maybe it was going to be just me and Joy, and that would be fine.
The feeling of raw emotion started to fade. We were in a good place emotionally and life was moving along.
We enjoyed watching our nephews and friends’ kids grow up. We attended kid’s hockey games and birthday parties and babysat a few times.
We still wanted to have children, but we were going to be fine.
Of course, time is still ticking…
It was early in 2019 that Joy and I started to have more in-depth discussions about our childless life. We were genuinely happy with where we were at, but at the same time, we still had the desire to be parents.
Looking at the reality of time, Joy was going to be celebrating a BIG birthday in 2019 and I had celebrated my big birthday the previous year.
We weren’t getting any younger.
It was one of those things where we decided – “This is it. If we’re going to do this, it’s going to be in 2019”
In late April of 2019, we reached out to the Children’s Aid Society again and set up a time to meet.
We thought we might have a big black mark on our file due to our previous attempt but the opposite was true. They were glad we were back!
We re-started the process, had interviews, police checks, medicals, reference checks, filled out all kinds of paperwork, went to training sessions, but this time was totally different than before – in a good way.
With the passage of time comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes grey hair, as in my case! 🙂
Back in 2012 when we were in the adoption process, we desperately wanted to have that ‘baby’ experience. We wanted what we wanted.
Was it for us, or was it for the child? Of course, the desire to be parents is a noble one, but in the case of adoption, the desire to become a parent for the sake of the child has to become more important.
Truthfully speaking, I think it was for us. We wanted what our peers had.
Fast forward to the 2019 version of “Joy & Jonny” and our views on the entire subject had changed without us realizing it.
Because enough time had passed, that allowed us to become OK with who we were as a couple, without children, but our motivations for adopting changed as well.
This time around, it wasn’t so much about us.
Of course, we still want to be parents. But, our view on why we’re doing it this time is different. It’s not entirely about us anymore…and is a baby or toddler what we “want”?
We’re flexible and we have a whole new understanding of adoption and how that affects us as Christians.
Not only does the Bible encourage adoption, but adoption is at the very heart of the gospel, since all believers, when we put our trust in Jesus are adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters.
Completing the Home Study process
Going through the adoption process can be difficult. Any time someone looks at your life under a microscope, it’s challenging, but we were hopeful and thankfully everything went smoothly.
Even though it went well, it’s still an emotionally draining process.
Fast forward to Fall 2019.
We did all that we could do in the adoption process and finished up our last social worker meeting in October 2019. Now, all we could do was wait for our Home Study to be approved and to be given the official designation of “Adopt Ready.”
With so much control in the hands of another person or organization, thoughts of doubt can be hard to shake during the process.
What if they don’t think we’re good enough? What if having Spina Bifida is looked upon as too big of an obstacle? The “what ifs” can be terrifying.
Thursday, February 13, 2020. A day I will never forget.
That day we were set to send one of our beloved cats to a new home. She had come as a stray 2 years earlier and just wasn’t getting along with our other 2 cats, so we knew we needed to find her a new home.
We found an amazing home for her and her new owner was scheduled to pick her up that evening.
That morning, we went through our morning routine, somewhat dreading letting Sophie go later that evening.
At one point in the morning, Joy said to me:
Wouldn’t it be great if we heard from CAS today about our home study?
I sort of chuckled and said “That would be too perfect. Life doesn’t work like that”
The pessimist in me came through…
Joy went off to work and I went about the day like normal.
I worked for a couple of hours from home, then I went to Starbucks for a mid-morning coffee and to work from there for a few hours.
I ordered my coffee, sat down and glanced at my phone.
I saw a few new email notifications in my personal email inbox.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw an encrypted message from our social worker at the Children’s Aid Society
I went through the process to retrieve the encrypted email and it started out with…
“Hi Joy & Jonathon
Congratulations! You have been approved to foster/adopt with this agency…”
I was in shock. I started to tear up sitting in Starbucks but I quickly regained my composure and proceeded to try to call, text, instant message and email Joy!
Why wasn’t she answering?! Joy had stepped away from her desk for about 5 minutes, which seemed like a LONG time.
Finally, she called me back and I asked her to check her phone for the screenshot that I had sent to her of the email.
Letting go of Sophie that night was sad, but the bigger news of the day made up for it. I still can’t believe the timing.
Thank you, Lord. A giant weight had been lifted!
There is still so much that we don’t know at this point.
Just this week we had a meeting with our new social worker, who will work with us through the matching phase and we’re attending an adoption event at the end of the month.
The process of matching feels strange – After all, we’re not choosing options on a car or getting a puppy from the pound…
We know the Lord has brought us this far and we will continue to trust Him in connecting us with whomever our sons and/or daughters might be.
I feel like the title of this blog makes so much more sense now. We’ve been on a journey since we were married in 2003, but we’ve also had to chase the desire to be parents. #chasethejourney
All that to say…We will keep you posted!