In His Time

By Ann Patterson

Overcoming Infertility

As a little girl growing up, I dreamed of becoming many things, from a singer to a National Geographic photographer. I always knew that I wanted to get married and have children. I thought at least four children would be nice. I would dream of what my husband would look like and what our children might look like. As with most of us, I just assumed that after marriage I would get pregnant and have children. But I have come to realize this is not always the plan that God has for building families. I have also learned that God's timing is not my timing and that His plan, not mine, is perfect.

I have been married for twelve years and have been dealing with infertility for about seven years. It isn't easy to discuss the intimate emotional and physical details that go along with infertility. Also many couples don't even realize they might be having a problem conceiving until months or years of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy.

My story begins in 1984 with two people in love getting married. We used birth control pills for the first year or so of our marriage. I didn't like the side effects so we resorted to other birth control methods. We didn't concentrate on trying to get pregnant until 1988, when we quit birth control altogether and just decided to have fun. When we didn't conceive we figured we needed to try harder and relax. Time went by as all our friends and family had one child, then another, and so on. Finally in 1991, we decided we needed to get serious and I talked to my doctor, who said we should have no trouble conceiving.

But four years later, when we still weren't pregnant, my doctor said that it would be next to impossible to conceive naturally. He recommended that our next step be to begin the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process. This news was so devastating to us.

As one can imagine, this was news that I never in my lifetime dreamed I would hear. How could it be that God would allow my tubes to be blocked? There are so many women who get pregnant and don't want their babies. There are millions of abortions a year in America alone. How could God choose this for my husband and me? Was it really true that I would never be able to bear children? My childhood dream of having children that looked like my husband and myself might never be a reality. This was not something I ever dreamed could happen to me. I had watched my friends and family over the years achieve pregnancy so easily and then complain about it. Now I was being told that I would never achieve pregnancy naturally. Needless to say, I really doubted that God cared very much for me and the desires of my heart.

No one can understand the feelings of the infertile couple unless they have experienced infertility. At this time in my life, I did not know one person who was going through infertility. I began to search for a Christian support group and found only one in the whole city. I went to my first meeting in March of 1995. This decision, along with beginning to see a professional counselor in November of 1994, was one of the most important steps in understanding God's plan for my life.

In the infertility support group I found such understanding. For the first time in my life I realized my feelings about holidays, baby showers and family events were not just selfishness on my part. I also read The Ache for a Child by Debra Bridwell and Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. These books helped me begin my healing process. I also began reading through the Bible, referencing all scriptures on infertility. I began to study about God's comfort and faithful promises fulfilled to women in the Bible who were struggling with infertility. I realized that the deep longing I had for a child was the same longing God has for me. I am God's child and He desires time with me. God was showing me through infertility the depth of His love for me.

My husband and I had to make a decision about our next step. We had two choices: either continue the medical treatment with IVF or look into adoption. We began to research both possibilities. It was during this time that we experienced the grief of the child we always assumed we would have. I think the hardest thing for me wasn't the fact that I might never be pregnant but that I might not be able to bear a child that would be a part of both my husband and myself. We realized that God could perform a miracle and allow us to conceive naturally. However, we felt like we also needed to be open to the option that it might not be His plan for us.

In July of 1995, my husband and I attended our first adoption seminar. We learned so much about adoption. No one had ever been adopted in our families, so this was very new to us. The seminar took us to a different level; adoption became a real option for us. We spent a weekend together after the seminar and we both knew in our hearts that God wanted us to pursue adoption. He was asking us to trust Him and turn over the reigns to Him.

Along with this decision was the stark reality that there would be no more medical attempts at pregnancy for now. God would make the calls and we were to follow Him and wait. Psalm 27:14-"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

When you want to know God's will, I can tell you that He will give you a clear direction. We both knew the direction God wanted us to take, and so we stepped out on faith and followed Him. Thus we laid down our attempts at pregnancy at the altar and followed God down the road to adoption. I began to realize that God would mold me into the woman He wanted me to be. The desires of my heart would become His desires. I found myself praying for God to bless me with children, not with a pregnancy. I would allow Him to make the choice as to whether His plan would be biological children or adopted children. I can tell you I have never had such peace.

My husband and I began the adoption paperwork in July of 1995. The feelings we dealt with in regards to adoption were emotionally draining. It was hard to understand why we had to give our life history and be approved when so many people just got pregnant. By the time December 1995 came, we had completed the paperwork for two agencies. God had, however, closed the doors to both of them. It was so obvious that we were just not at the agency where God wanted us to be.

I finally called a Christian adoption agency that I had felt drawn to from the time I had gotten their introductory letter. As I spoke to the agency director, she was so kind and encouraging. I immediately felt such a peace as she explained the agency's philosophy on the adoption process. This was God's door beginning to open to us in a way that can only be described as miraculous. God had not forgotten us, and it was now His time to begin revealing the beautiful plan He had designed specifically for us.

We began the adoption process with this agency in February 1996. We went through six weeks of parenting classes and many hours with our agency representative. In March, after our home study, we were verbally approved. We would be getting our official confirmation of approval after all the reference checks were completed. We were relieved to be finished with this process and now we were in the waiting phase.

At the end of March, we found out that due to circumstances beyond our control, the stock we were planning to sell in order to pay for the adoption would not be available to be sold for an unspecified time. We were in shock! I knew the Lord was in control but this was so unexpected. I wrote on a slip of paper, "This just makes God's provision for our adoption more of a miracle!" and pinned it up on our bulletin board to remind us that God was indeed in control. Although I knew God would provide, I still found myself questioning Him. This seemed impossible and insurmountable. Where would we ever come up with additional money to pay for the adoption? I knew this had to be God's plan for us, but I could still feel the burden every day as I wondered what would happen when we had to pay the down-payment to the agency.

I went through several weeks of spiritual battle regarding this issue. We were just struggling to make ends meet at that time, and now we had taxes due and an adoption fee. I had applied for a grant back in January with the National Adoption Foundation. They were to make a decision in April. I asked several people to pray that we would get the grant. I was specifically praying for $12,000. I had called the Foundation, and they said if applicants didn't hear by April 5th, this meant they didn't get the grant but that they could reapply each quarter. Well, April 5th came and went, and there was no word. Amazingly enough, I was not overly upset because I was certain in my heart that God knew what He was doing and that He had a big plan for us.

On April 16th, a friend of mine asked us to go to her parents' house to pray with her. My friend's mother was dying of cancer. That evening my husband shared the Gospel and my friend's mother accepted Jesus Christ into her heart. It was such a beautiful experience to see the peace that surrounded her as she realized that she would see her Lord and Savior when she died. That night, the Gospel was shared not only with this wonderful woman, but also with her husband and with our very dear friends.

It seems that they had asked us to come over not just to pray with them but also because they had something to share with us. Our friend's father knew about the situation with our stock and wanted to know how we planned to pay for the adoption. We shared that we knew God would provide the funds for us.

We were not aware, but he and his wife had a twin son that had died at the age of 12. They had always wanted to adopt another son but never did and had regretted it over the years. They had talked about it and wanted to help us out financially, and would be giving us some money the next week but his wife wanted to tell us herself because she was living day-to-day. They were so excited and thrilled to give us this gift. His wife looked at me and said that if she didn't get to see the baby, then for me to remember that when I held that baby for the first time she would be looking down from heaven and would be able to see the precious gift of our child. WHAT A MIRACLE! But the main miracle was that a soul had been won to heaven that night. A new child of God was born that evening and seeds were planted in three other hearts.

On April 20th, we received a letter from the agency stating that we were officially approved. I went over to my friend's parents to tell them the news. She was so excited and immediately handed me a check. She said, "Now you are taken care of and you just get a baby!" I looked down and saw that they had given us $12,000! This was the exact amount I had prayed for when asking God for the grant; this was the exact amount we needed for the adoption fee plus the adoption finalization. God had given us a MIRACLE!

I really had no words to say to these wonderful people to express my gratitude for this gift. As I was driving home I realized that this adoption was definitely from the Lord. He had taken the grief, loss, pain and sorrow of infertility, and given us a miracle to share with others. Our child's adoption already had one soul won to Christ before he/she was even here with us. God had used these special people to provide the total finances for our adoption as a gift. We are unworthy of this. I couldn't understand how God could bless me after all the doubts I had this past year. He had chosen my husband and me to be infertile. However, he was so faithful and tender in providing for us in such a miraculous way. I prayed that God would remind me, when I remembered this gift of money, of the perfect gift of His Son that He gave so that I might receive the gift of eternal life.