A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heartache and Hope

by Ken Y., adoptive grandfather

It was December, 1999, and something I never thought would happen in my lifetime would soon happen.  There would be a dedicated LDS temple in Minnesota.  As the time approached for the dedication, our high priests group was assigned the responsibility of watching over the temple on New Year’s Eve.  There had been threats made and opposition stirred up by clergy of other denominations.  We didn’t want the temple defaced at all, much less just prior to its dedication.  President Hinckley would dedicate the temple on January 9, 2000.  I volunteered, among others, to stand watch through that night.
image by Ren, day by day
In this same holiday season there were both joys and serious concerns within our own family.  We had just learned that our oldest son and his wife were expecting their first child.  They had been married for a few years.  On the heels of that announcement, we received a call from our younger son announcing that he and his wife were also expecting their first child.  They had just been married that summer.  Normally, these announcements would be a source of unbridled joy and excitement.  And while this was happy news, my wife and I experienced concern and empathy, worrying about our oldest daughter and how this news would impact her. 

Angie had been married the longest of our children, and had been unsuccessful in her attempts to start a family despite intensive medical procedures. This was a huge blow.  She had grown up tending her younger siblings, loved being in a large family, and always planned on having a large family of her own. She was in pain, and there was nothing we could do about it.  She was hurt and angry, and would ask questions that we couldn't answer to her satisfaction.  Why didn’t God love her?  Why was she not worthy or trustworthy in God’s eyes to raise His children?  What had she done to merit this punishment, being banned from motherhood?  What possible wisdom was there in this?  How could she trust her Heavenly Father, when this was so unfair?  Her pain was spiritually grave, and ours was an empathic ache. 

I conversed with my wife about the impact these baby announcements would have on our daughter, and we too wondered why our daughter was having this ongoing trial.  This was the challenge that occupied my thoughts on the evening I went to guard the temple. 

image by rlanvin
Minnesota’s weather was cold that night.  As I recall, it was well below zero.  The arrangements were that we would take turns walking around the temple.  There were walkways and tents set up to accommodate the temple open house. However, in order to better see and protect the temple, the walk-arounds were made outside those tents around the grounds.  Meanwhile, others were to watch various parts of the interior of the temple.  Due to the cold, assignments were rotated so we could each keep warm. 

At about 3:00 A.M. it was my turn to go inside the temple.  During those walk-around hours of watching the temple my thoughts had been on my daughter.  I had spiritually wrestled with this challenge for hours.  Once inside the temple, I made my way to the Celestial room.  There was a seat in the middle of the room.  I sat and began to pray as earnestly as a person can.  I had no expectations.  I talked as an earthly father to my daughter’s Heavenly Father.  I expressed my concerns about her well-being and, while acknowledging that His wisdom vastly exceeded mine, I voiced my desires for her fulfillment and joy.  I loved her and she was hurt.  I acknowledged that there was nothing I could do to help her.  She needed His help.  I was her advocate and her voice to God that night.  I don’t know how long I prayed, but God knew the sincerity of my pleadings.  After some time, I heard - but not with my ears - these words: “Let not your heart be troubled.  Fear not, for even as your sons' babies are being formed in their mothers’ wombs, even so, Angella’s baby will be formed in its mother’s womb.”  My perception of these words was accompanied by the lifting of this burden from my mind.  I felt joy. Elation.  God heard my petition. He loved Angie.  Her blessing was coming.  While I did not know the gender of the baby, it was clear to me that the baby was coming through someone other than my daughter.  But the Lord made it clear that it was her baby. 

The remainder of that night took forever.  Finally, at about seven in the morning we were able to go home.  I arrived home around seven thirty.  I wanted to call Angie immediately.  I told my wife about my experience.  She advised me to wait until a little later, as they were an hour earlier than us.  Finally, I called at about 8:30 my time and related to a sleepy daughter the events of the prior night.  Remember, I still felt the exhilaration of the experience.  While I couldn’t solve her problem, it felt wonderful to be able to deliver the news from the One who would.  I failed to account for the fact that Angie wasn’t there and had not heard the words I heard.  It was as though I had told her to dip in the river Jordan seven times and she would have a baby.  I failed to account for how difficult it must have been to hear those words from me.  I was disappointed with the experience and concerned, still, that the blessing could be lost.  I knew what I had experienced was real.  So, I determined I would periodically and painfully prod and pry and monitor whether Angie would make the effort required of her to realize her blessing.  I did and she did.  It was some ten months later that all of us realized our special blessing as Tommy became part of our family. 
Tommy, center, with his brother and sister
outside the St. Paul Temple, July 2012.

Tommy’s journey into our lives is a story comprised of miracles, revelations, courage of a beautiful birth mother and a caring birth father, and joy.  There is a photograph of Angie receiving Tommy at placement, three days after his birth.  It captures the essence of a joy so large it cannot be contained.  I cannot see this picture without thinking of the redeeming joy of the Atonement.  That moment, receiving Tommy, was a type of the at-one-ment.  God bless that birth mother as He blessed Angie.

I once read a quote, whose author I have forgotten.  It read something like this, “When the world needs a miracle, God sends a baby.” 

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