One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received came in a very different package than what I had dreamed of. It wasn’t wrapped at all like I had envisioned, the package took much too long to arrive, and the gift was much larger and more complicated than anything I would have asked for. In fact, it took me quite awhile to even recognize it as a gift.
I had it all planned. David and I would wait five years and then we would start our family. Ever since I was a young girl, I had dreamed of this time in my life. I couldn’t wait to become a mom. I looked forward to every aspect of it — pregnancy, giving birth and mothering. I was already blessed by being a maternal figure to my two stepchildren, Dana and Daran. Dana was 12 and Daran was 10 when their dad and I got married. They spent weekends and many weeknights with us. They lived closeby and their mother was very gracious in allowing me to be a significant part of their nurture. She had remarried before David and I had, and we were all on good terms from the start.
My plan slowly began to unravel as each month I waited for my first sign of pregnancy. My doctor told me that most couples don’t get pregnant until the end of the first year they begin trying. As the end of the year was quickly nearing, the fear of not being able to conceive became hard to ignore. We decided to have a laparoscopy done after the year had come and gone. It showed that I had scar tissue in my Fallopian tubes and clubbing of the fimbria. Conception would be very difficult. I then had a hystosalpingogram, a test that can possibly open the tubes. The test showed the right side to be completely blocked and the left partially blocked. We gave it another few months of trying and then decided to have surgery to open the tubes. The surgery itself could cause more scarring, so it was risky. And a year after the surgery, another test revealed that I still had blocked tubes.
After three years of not conceiving, I became depressed. I was angry that this godly desire was being denied me while others who weren’t trying to become mothers were conceiving so easily. It just seemed so unfair. I felt betrayed. I loved God with all my heart. Why wasn’t He granting me what seemed to be such a part of being a woman — the ability to have children? Throughout my struggle, the Lord was showing me many things. After the laporascopy, He showed me that I needed to wait on Him. A truth that he made clear to me during this time was in the book of Isaiah 40:31; Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. This was hard to accept because I was very impatient.
Then, a year later, when another test showed that the surgery had not been successful, I became so discouraged that I pleaded with the Lord for a sign. That night I had a dream. In it I had a dove on my shoulder. The dove had its claws dug into me. It wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable. I kept trying to pull it off of my shoulder but to no avail. I asked my pastor and my sister for help and they weren’t able to remove it either. I then saw, out of the corner of my eye, a funeral procession of men carrying a beautiful tapestry. There was someone wrapped inside of it. I realized it was me.
I asked the Lord in prayer what it all meant. He showed me that the dove represented the Holy Spirit who was trying to do a work in me. I was resisting it and not fully trusting Him through this difficult time. The funeral was symbolic of my will needing to fully die to His will. The tapestry illustrated how beautiful and sacred this sacrifice would be to Him. The gift of this dream was a significant turning point for me. It enabled me to trust more fully in what God was allowing.
A month later, my sister Lisa called and told us of a young girl who was five months pregnant. She was having a hard time deciding whether to parent the baby. She had two other children and she was concerned about being able to provide for three children on her own. I knew going into it that it was a risky emotional investment, but I felt the Lord calling us to open our hearts to her and to the small promise of life growing inside her womb.
After talking and meeting with David and me, she decided to place the baby boy with us. Without going into the details, the decision was far from solid and it flip-flopped several times. I flew to Georgia for a weekend shortly after the baby was born to be with him. We thought that a period of separation from the birth mother might help her to gain some clarity. I allowed myself to bond with him emotionally, knowing the future was unclear. I am glad I did, even though I was to find out after returning home that the placement was not going to happen.
It was just after the holidays and the new year was beginning. I didn’t know whether I could face another disappointment. I kept myself busy and distracted for an entire year. At a church service the following Christmas I felt led during worship to once again release my heart’s desire to the Lord. I went before the church and said this prayer out loud. “Lord, I give you back this child which You have yet to give me. I now know that even if I never receive the gift of a child I will have joy because You are enough.”
A couple of weeks later, David asked if I was ready to start the adoption process. I said a prayer, “Lord, if you want us to adopt right now you will have to bring a baby to us because I don’t have the emotional energy to begin again right now. But if this is the time, then please give me the strength I will need.” It was five days after I uttered this prayer that a young girl by the name of Tiffany walked over to us after church and said, “I’m six weeks pregnant, would you like to adopt my baby?” (Tiffany’s cousin was a part of a prayer group we led. She knew we were praying for a child and had told Tiffany about us). I remember the magnitude of the moment as if it were frozen in time. Her words hung in the air almost too full to be comprehended and received. I remember feeling so vulnerable and overwhelmed as I looked into Tiffany’s eyes and saw the gift she was so sure she could give. My first words were, “I know what you’ve just said, but you can change your mind.”
I would continue to say those same words every time we saw each other — after all the doctor’s appointments, counseling sessions, breathing classes and dinners together. Even on the night before placement, I can still see my sister Diane cringing in the front seat of my car as I said it one last time to Tiffany, “Remember, you can still change your mind.” I was taking newborn Kaylee to their house to stay the night before the release papers could legally be signed the next morning. Diane was astonished. Here I was sitting so close to the embodiment of my heart’s desire — dressed in pink and lost in the floral fabric of her car-seat; yet I could once again put my will on the alter of sacrifice and trust in God’s plan. I had to. It was the only way I would truly know that it was His plan for Kaylee to become our gift. She is His first, and I thank God that he gave her back to us that next morning.
Some of our greatest blessings in life come wrapped in the tapestry of sacrifice, tears and perseverance. We may not always recognize them, but God does. He knows what is best for us.
His greatest gift to us, Jesus, identifies with our pain. Trust Him and receive the gift He has for you.
Copyright © 2004 by Linda Ryan Puffer. Used with permission.