January 2008 would be one of the most challenging and prayerful months of our lives. A book could be written about the events of that month alone.
The gates of heaven were heavy with our requests. Prayers for life were said for the baby within me, God would have to intervene to bring this child forth. Prayers for wisdom were lifted up as we considered the adoption of these three siblings. Prayers for healing for me, as we cogitated the options for treatment.
God is not a god of confusion, yet our minds were continually confounded. Fear and anxiety swirled in our heads with little relief. Would this baby make it? Would my life be jeopardized? Should we concede to a biopsy? How long would the agency give us to work things out before we forfeited our chance to adopt these kids?
Early ultrasounds showed the baby in tact within my uterus, but gave little information as to whether this pregnancy could make it. Blood work showed that my hormone levels were adequate, surprising in light of my history. With this, we would have to wait a few more weeks until we could tell more, however things looked good.
Our agency provided me with the names of phone numbers of families who had adopted older children and preferably siblings. I needed to talk to other parents to determine what effect these three could have on our existing family. “I want to hear the good, bad and ugly”, I would say to these adoptive parents, “We really want to understand what we’re getting into.”
One such call put me in touch with a family from New York, who had adopted an Ethiopian sib set. After exchanging pleasantries, we got into the nitty-gritty of house size, language barriers and sibling relations. They seemed to be an easy going family who had adopted fairly well-adjusted kids. Finally, the mother asked me if I minded telling her the names of the children we were considering. I wasn’t sure that I was permitted to do this, but I told her. It turned out that her adopted children knew Rahel, Bereket and Epherem from the same orphanage.
Something strange happens to you when someone who you’ve never met knows and has seen someone you think you might adopt and already are beginning to have feelings for. It felt as though it was from God and we took it as such. The woman told us, per her adopted kids, that they were very nice kids as far as they could tell.
Another call I made wasn’t quite as pleasant.
Trying to understand the psychological implications and challenges ahead, I sought out professionals in the this area of expertise. After asking a social worker friend for a referral, she gave me two names to call. One was a very well-known author on the subject ( which I didn’t realize at the time) and a well-known adoptive family counselor in Cincinnati.
Very different personalities and experiences lent to vastly different opinions on our prospective situation. The author had himself been an adoptive parent of a foster child. He described many difficult, yet rewarding years with this child, his only child it seemed.
The counselor was quite another story, indeed. Searching for an adjective to describe this personality, I would use alarmist. She rubbed me wrong in the first 20 words. Her dire warnings about how she counsels families who have adopted older children were so harsh and unbalanced, that her words lost all credibility in my mind. It was almost as if everything in her world had gone wrong that day, before she got on the phone with me. I am not influenced by alarmists, I’m just not. I need the facts, fair and balanced.
I made notes of what she said, as I wanted to share them with my husband. We largely dismissed her opinion. However, her seemingly ‘prophetic’ prediction has rung in my mind many times since then. Had she not eaten rocks for breakfast that morning, her years of experience and expertise might have been able to serve us.
The breast situation introduced us to one of the area’s most respected surgeons. I’ve grown to really like and respect him. However, I didn’t like his procedure recommendation: Core-needle biopsy of both breasts. The link doesn’t do it justice as it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through, and I’ve delivered 10# babies without an aspirin, mind you.
Mark and I both felt in our hearts that I didn’t have breast cancer. I have always been ‘lumpy’ and fibrocystic has run in my family. Liability for the doctors seemed to be a major driving factor in this whole situation. However, how could we commit to increase our family from 6 kids to 10 without some assurance that I definately didn’t have cancer?
During this time, I had a very frightening dream that continued to repeat itself. Night after night, I would wake up, alarmed and afright. A small bear attacked me in the dream, adorn with razor sharp teeth. While the animal wasn’t all that big, he was extremely aggressive and was clearly out for my life. During the dream, I would gain strength and throw the bear far from me, with only moments to escape. However, before I could even get up from the ground, the bear attacked again, and again, and again. I continued to fight the bear and despite his numerous attempts at my throat, I was able to keep him at bay until I would finally awake, exhausted and sweaty.
Finally, after many nights of this reoccuring dream, I asked my good friend, L about it. L has a Christian friend who is into the whole dream interpretation thing. I thought that perhaps she could offer some insight. Sure enough, L’s friend told her that a ‘bear’ in a dream symbolizes a threat that isn’t as bad as it appears.
Regardless of your thoughts about dream interpretation, I have doubts of my own, I seriously considered this dream and discussed it with Mark. Perhaps the whole breast situation was the ‘bear’, more bark than bite. Hmmm…..
Wow, this is quite the long story, isn’t it? Are you still awake? What are your thoughts so far???