At the end of my last post we were in the car on the way to Yellowstone to get away from it all. I’ll warn you; this post won’t make much sense if you haven’t read my previous one here. We’d just experienced our second failed adoption and were heading off to lick our wounds in private. I mentioned briefly that this car ride felt very long, not because of the hours but because of the emotional trauma we were going through. As the miles passed by and the phone kept ringing with updates from the adoption agencies, it felt as if the weight of the world was being added to my shoulders boulder by boulder. There were a lot of logistics to take care of. Bank accounts needed to be hastily closed and the agency encouraged us to cancel the recent checks that had been written to pay for the birth family’s living expenses. We found that canceling these checks only added to our expenses, in many cases it was costing us more to cancel the check than what the check had actually been written for. At one point we discovered that there were several checks that had been cashed just that morning right before they told us that they would be keeping the baby.
The evening hours wore on and the phone calls gradually stopped. We were left to face the full brunt of what had happened. Up to this point, for the most part, it had been easy to stay focused on the logistics of “undoing” the adoption we had so desperately looked forward to. Now, alone in the silent car, Sean sleeping in the back and no more phone calls to keep us occupied, my mind started meticulously going over what had happened. Like a broken record I couldn’t stop the onslaught of my churning thoughts. I remember thinking how surreal it felt, I wondered when it would finally all sink in. I couldn’t help but hold out hope that I’d wake up from a nightmare I was powerless to escape. My thoughts swirled endlessly around the months of friendship I thought I had developed with the birth mom. I kept trying to figure out where I had gone wrong. Eventually I recognized that I hadn’t done anything wrong but it was still hard to escape the feeling that somehow I had messed it all up. In truth, life is just hard sometimes and often there seems to be no rhyme or reason for what happens. We can’t control the decisions and feelings of others. I was hurt that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with us but I also came to realize it needed to be this way. Realistically our friendship would not survive what had happened. On the other hand I still felt a feeling of overwhelming love and compassion for her. I know that after what she had done to us that you might not believe me. I could hardly believe it myself. Make no mistake; I went through the gambit of emotions that you might expect, anger, hurt, deep sadness, but through it all I still felt that for some reason our lives were meant to have crossed in this strange and convoluted way. My hope was that somehow she had felt my genuine love for her and that, in even the smallest way, I had helped her.
After hours alone with my thoughts and emotions it finally struck me as to why I still felt that I could love her. I knew deep down… way deep, deep down… that I needed to forgive her. I understood that unless I forgave her, absolutely and completely, the situation would have eaten me alive. I had a choice. I could either let it consume me and allow the blackest and ugliest pieces of what happened to chew me to bits from the inside out. Or… I could forgive her. I will admit that, at first, the forgiveness I felt in my heart was purely for selfish reasons. I knew that in order to mentally and emotionally survive I needed to offer up my forgiveness. However, as time passed and as more and more details of what exactly she had done came to light, I found that unless I was willing to offer forgiveness from a more selfless place it would never work.
I discovered that in letting go and giving it all over to God I was able to find a peace and comfort that was soothing to my wounded heart. Now before you go thinking, “Wow, Stina is so amazing,” don’t… THIS WAS NOT EASY. It took every ounce of character and strength I could muster and even some that I didn’t have on my own. I beat down the doors of heaven with prayer for the strength to accomplish this monumental change of heart. It was grueling, but like most things in life that are extremely difficult, it was worth it. I remember turning to Greg at some point that night in the car and telling him that we needed to forgive and forget. His response, “I’m just not there yet…” I could understand that, but he too arrived there with me and we are happier for it. I know our minds would not have been open to our successful adoption later that year if we had refused to cleanse and prepare our hearts through forgiveness.
It was customary at that time in my life to get up early and go workout. I never missed a day and so the following morning, while my “boys” slept, I snuck away with cell phone in hand. I loved the feeling of the crisp mountain air as I hiked over a small hill near our hotel. With every breath of fresh air I felt cleansed of the ugly feelings I was fighting. I was more and more sure of my decision to hand my burden over to the Lord and allow him to help me find the place in my heart where I could offer this woman forgiveness. As I was coming back toward the hotel the Kansas adoption agency called. She was calling with a surprising update that was difficult to hear but not really all that surprising the more I thought it over. Further details had come out about this birth family as we had worked to hurriedly shut down bank accounts and cut off the money supply the day before. She had been shopping for the family that would give her the most money for the baby. They shared with us the name of a lawyer who might be able to help us recover some of the thousands that she had essentially stolen from us. She emphasized that chances were slim on any of this happening and then, after expressing her own feelings of grief and anger on our behalf, we hung up. That was the last time I spoke with anyone from that agency.
I sat on a nearby rock and wept all over again. It was just one more layer of betrayal to absorb. However, in the end, I was more solid in my convictions that we needed to forgive and move on or it would be our own undoing. It was one thing to deal with the loss of the money, I wasn’t about to give her any more of the essential parts of me that mattered. I was going to maintain my values and integrity if it killed me, there were moments that it felt like it might, but with the help of a loving Heavenly Father I did it. I was worried when I started writing this story for my blog that it might resurrect old feelings of hurt and anger, but I’m relieved to say that it didn’t. I still feel only love and compassion for this woman. In fact, I hurt a little bit for her and her distorted view of life and the joys that motherhood can bring. She chooses to take them for granted in a horrible way that can only damage her in the end.
We did retain the lawyer only because if we could have recovered even a small amount of the money lost we might be able to start over again on our adoption journey. The only thing that came of that was that she managed to disappear from off the face of the earth but not before they were able to confirm that she didn’t keep the baby. We never recovered any of the money that she took from us. However, through our faith and trust in the Lord we were blessed by people who took care of us in our time of need. Many sacrifices of money and time were made on our behalf. I cannot share the details of how this all came about in my blog because I have been asked to keep them private. What I want you to know is this; because we were willing to show mercy, the Lord showed his mercy upon us. There were countless times later that year after our successful adoption of Alex that I wondered how I was even going to afford diapers or formula but miraculously someone would give us a check or show up at our door with just what we needed. We were the recipients of truly amazing blessings that year.
It was still very difficult. I arrived home from our little weekend away to find the luggage and baby things that had been left in haste. I was too depressed at the loss of the baby that I left these things untouched for weeks. Finally during the middle of the night I got out of bed to use the bathroom and tripped over a suitcase. That was it; I knew I needed to try to move on. My mom and sister came over and helped me put some of these things back into storage. After all was said and done we ended up selling our home in order to recover the bulk of the money we had lost. This too turned out to be a great blessing. I know that you often hear stories in the media of people who are able to forgive the unforgiveable. I used to listen to those and think to myself, I could never find the inner strength to do that. I’m telling you that, what sometimes seems impossible, actually turns out to be the only way in which to survive. Then, when you’re able to give yourself over to it fully, it becomes an avenue to blessings that you never thought could be yours.
I’ve already shared OUR Alex’s adoption story, you can read it here. I hope that if you haven’t read it yet that you will because it illustrates that with faith all things are possible, even happy endings in the worst of circumstances. We may not have the latest and greatest of things in our home. We don’t carry fancy cell phones, we don’t dress in the latest fashions, I don’t have a palatial home, I drive a 1996 minivan that is hanging on by a thread, Greg and I made do with one car until just a few years ago, we don’t normally go on big fancy vacations, our birthdays and Christmas’s are very modest and carefully budgeted, we still struggle to make ends meet especially when faced with my current health challenges… you get the point. Or do you? Well, because now you’re curious, I’ll tell you! The point is this. We have each other, we stayed true to our faith and we allowed our Father in Heaven to heal our hearts. We may not drive fancy cars or wear the latest fashions but our home is filled to the brim with the most important things in life. We certainly aren’t rich by the world’s standards, but we enjoy an affluence of the things that truly matter, love of God and love for each other.
You may think it strange to read this, but I am grateful in a way for what happened. I truly believe that I learned to be a more compassionate and understanding person. I’ve also learned to rely more and more on the Lord to help me find the best in myself and others. I hope that this birth mother and her little family have found some measure of peace and happiness. I trust that in some way I may have touched her heart and given her a little of what she needed during that confusing time of our lives. I often wonder about her and have even thought that maybe she might be reading this blog from time to time. To the rest of you, who flatter and humble me by reading about my life, please allow me to indulge in a private message for a moment…
My prayer for you is that you know that you are loved and that no matter what transpired, no matter what your motivations may have been you are forgiven. That may not matter to you, but to do so has healed my soul so that I can honestly say, may God bless you and keep you.