I don’t remember when it happened. But somewhere between the homemade treats, crafts, and after school trips to the beach, I decided I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to spend time making a house a home, making food from scratch instead of from a box, teaching my children to appreciate their artistic abilities, and so much more. But the key thing to all of that, is that I wanted children. So very badly, I wanted children. When I met the love of my life 16 1/2 years ago, I thought that was it. Children would inevitably follow shortly after our wedding, and life would commence. Little did I know, that was the beginning of some of the happiest AND saddest days of my life.

They tell you the first year of marriage is the hardest. To be honest, our first year wasn’t so bad. But come year three, there were times we didn’t think we would make it. A large part of that came from us both expecting to have already brought some children into this beautiful world, and that was just simply not the case. And being someone who comes from a very, VERY fertile family, I found that hard to accept. I slowly saw all my dreams circling the drain. And as the years went by, I began to lose hope that we would ever be complete.

I had so many moments where I felt so broken. Honestly, I still have those moments. After all, the one thing a woman is supposed to be able to do is bear children. And that was the one thing I couldn’t do. I could turn our house into a home. I could make everything from scratch. I could do all the artsy, fartsy things I wanted to do, but I couldn’t conceive our child. Nothing tore more at my soul than not being able to do that. And it led me down a very hard, dark path of self loathing, depression, and feeling completely and utterly useless.

Many years passed, and with each year of no child in sight, we tried to convince ourselves that we would be happy and complete with just the two of us. If either of us were selfish people, it might have been easier to convince ourselves. The truth was, we had so much love in our hearts and between us, but no matter how much love was there, there was an emptiness, a void, that could only be filled by the pitter patter of little feet in our home, and the sweet sounds of a little voice calling you “Momma” or “Dada.” It was the unavoidable truth. We craved children.

Before Sean joined the Army, we didn’t have health insurance. We already lived paycheck to paycheck, just to make sure we could afford to pay for my diabetes medications out of pocket, as well as my doctor’s appointments and labs as needed. Being tested for our fertility issues was out of the question. We could barely afford to put food on our plates, and fertility testing was a luxury we couldn’t invest in. When Sean joined the Army, the biggest benefit of all was the amazing health insurance. I spent four months of going to the doctor for everything that had ailed me over the years, and getting my diabetes under control. We discussed fertility testing, but then found out that while TriCare would cover the testing, they wouldn’t cover the treatment. We had just begun our time there in Germany, but it wouldn’t have mattered if we were there or here in the states, fertility treatment was not anything we could afford. And having spent so many years living paycheck to paycheck, meant we didn’t have a savings of any kind. So we decided to not even go through with the testing. Because we didn’t want to know what was wrong without being able to try to fix any of it. We figured, in this case, not knowing was better than knowing. So we figured we would continue our efforts of trying, being happy with one another, and if anything came from our efforts, great.

Adoption had always been something Sean brought up and I poo-pooed. You see, Sean’s brother is adopted. So Sean knew firsthand the blessings of adopting. I, on the other hand, thought adoption was a great and fantastic thing, but I was still too caught up in the fact that I should be able to conceive, and moving toward the adoption arena meant that I was giving up. While I am many things, a quitter is not one of them, and that’s what adoption felt like. Quitting.

Four years ago, Sean deployed for the first time. It was a very weird feeling living in our big apartment, and only having me to take care of. It meant I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to, and could do anything I did. About two or three months into his deployment, we were having one of our FaceTime calls, and Sean said he wanted to talk to me about something. We had been saving his deployment money to put toward a house. It was something we both wanted, and with the extra money he was making, and the fact taxes weren’t being taken out, it was a prime opportunity to put a valiant effort into saving for our future for the first time in our marriage. And then everything took a turn. “What if,” Sean started, “instead of saving for a house, we put that money toward adoption?”

We had had this conversation a million times before. And it usually ended with me in tears, saying that I wanted the experience of being pregnant. I wanted to carry our child. I wanted the morning sickness, cramps, pains, to feel our child kicking, to form that unimaginable bond from within. This time, however, my heart was softened. “Okay,” I said. There was silence for a minute, followed by pure excitement of the opportunity to finally complete our family with a child in our home.

We were one of the lucky couples, who quickly found a birth mother, rather, the birth mother found us, and the rest was history. It had only been two weeks after our decision that we were presented with the opportunity to adopt this baby that had not yet been born. Nine months later, I held our sweet angel in my arms, and showed her to her Daddy through FaceTime in the delivery room.

Our lives have not been the same ever since. And we could not be happier.

It had been nine years of trying when we decided to adopt, ten by the time our baby entered our lives, and 12 1/2 to date. While I still have the strong desire, and longing, to carry a child, and the aches and pains are still there when others share their excitement of being pregnant, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason. Lily came into our lives when we finally surrendered ourselves to God, to let His will be done. I do not believe it was coincidence that we found a birth mother so quickly after having decided to begin the adoption process. I believe it was God’s will. He was just waiting for our hearts, rather, my heart, to be ready to receive the blessings He had in store for us.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. They say 6 in 10 Americans are touched by the blessings of adoption. Sean was already one. I am proud to be another. Every child deserves a home. A chance to be loved. A chance at life. Every child deserves to have someone to call Mommy and Daddy, to be held when they’re scared, to be comforted and loved. Every child deserves to have someone believe in them, to hope for them, dream for them, cherish them.

Our lives were forever changed the day we decided to open our hearts to adoption. It has been almost three years since our Lily entered our lives. Each day is better than the last. And every time I hear that little voice say “Momma,” I cannot believe I waited so long.

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