I always pictured four. In a daydream so long ago, when we were very much still just friends, there was me, there was him, there was grass, there was a minivan, and there were four. Almost twenty years later there was fruition. We were married with three healthy kids in a happy home. Life was good, and so was God, it was evident.
I don’t know the actual day, but there began a pull, this desire to backspace on the “Done” we’d already assigned our fivesome long ago. This sense that He wanted us to grow.
So we started trying. The first three came on the scene with nary a chance to even label it trying (nervous chuckle); this would be a cinch. I kept the current Babies R Us catalogue in the washroom (my best thinking happens in that room, it does), dog-earing and examining all the latest and greatest inventions of the last 7 years.
But then it didn’t take. So we tried again.
For about half a year we tried. The fun, the anticipation, and hope dimmed a little bit every cycle. It was my glimpse into the world of infertility. My heart was breaking in this toggle between seeing the realities that our friends were facing and this strange, cold place we had found ourselves in.
But I thought…?
Oh no, I discovered, we were wrong.
It was Friday, the second day of the event. There were thousands of us in the stadium. The energy was ramping up and gaining on us, the Spirit was moving. I had never seen anything like this before. We came from all parts and all churches to learn, praise and worship as one body. Each line at the resource tables was at least half a dozen wide and a dozen long - a thickness that Christmas Eve at the mall had nothing on - and there was an incredible peace among the crowd. As if He had gifted us a warm blanket of patience during the last session.
The focus of this moment on stage was for the orphans. There was talk of the work being done in the field, across oceans, in places I would rarely think about on another day. An orphanage in Asia, I think. We prayed for the kids, the ministry, at some point. These minutes are both hazy and sharp at the same time. She said there were women in the crowd who were awaiting a word from God about the decision to adopt, something-something-God-something, consider this your word. The crowd erupted in affirmation. I clapped the hearty kind of clap you reserve for your kids' award ceremonies or after the Thank You's at the end of well-written speeches. How amazing for them! I marveled as I panned the stands, imagining the green lights, the sparks, the let's-do-this feelings in the hearts of these brave women scattered across the mass.
Not once thinking one of them was me.
My podcast addiction was well into development by late fall. I was gobbling up downloaded episodes, interviews and teachings every morning and afternoon to dull the pain of a long commute. To make it more productive and meaningful. To help feed this insatiable hunger for whatever Jesus I could find. One morning, I almost lost my breakfast listening to an interview about the horrors of child trafficking. I even had to google one of the terms later that day, not knowing the discovery would sear into my brain and nauseate me once again. The knowledge dragged me roughly past a point of no return. To a place where I couldn't deny the atrocities happening outside my safe, suburban, first world bubble.
My cousin died that week. My heart hurt but I wondered what beauty he was beholding with a newer version of himself, no longer encumbered by physical and mental disability.
The night before we drove out to be with the family, I had a dream. It was foggy and dark and heavy. There was a play on the things I had just learned but the ending was distinct and disturbing even as I recall it today.
It ended with me holding a baby. Or began.
It muted me for a chunk of the four hour drive. God, what does this mean because there's no way this doesn't mean something?
I don't know what the math was but the next morning, while the kids still slept in the second hotel queen beside us, I made the whispered confession to Ben that I think He wants us to adopt.
He's going to say I'm nuts. That this is a crazy idea. That this is not the time to talk about this.
Instead, only one word.