Tuesday, August 17, 2010

how dani does it...

today i leave for southern utah to hike and swim and relax and play with a great group of friends i've been privileged to know for about eight years. they are my husband's friends from high school. and, although i'm glad i didn't know them then (hehe), i'm so glad i know them now. dani and her husband are both 'original' members of the group. i've watched them the past few years and they give me strength. they make me laugh. they continue to teach me every day.

here's how dani does it...

My name is Danielle, and I am a circus freak.

No, I don’t sport a moustache, nor do I periodically place my head into the open mouth of a lion. Rather, I live in a culture where it is taught a women’s first, and most important, role is to bring children into this world. Only I stand out, as I will never have that blessing. As an infant I hid the circus freakiness of me very well. Sure, I was bald for years, and I had the funniest, longest toes, but there were ten of them, and I appeared to be a healthy, normal baby girl.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I became aware that my body wasn’t working the way it should. I didn’t worry much about it, though. I was a na├»ve and sheltered teenager, and knew that if it truly were a problem, my parents would have already done something about it.

When I was nineteen, I moved from my parents’ home to begin college, and after a few months it was shocking for me to discover that my parents do not, in fact, know everything. Yes, I was 19, not 12, when I discovered this. I decided to finally face what was wrong with my body and began a long strand of doctor visits and surgeries, in which it was finally determined that I was sterile, and actually born that way. With my parents in the waiting room, and my boyfriend on the other side of the world for two years, my doctor explained that I would never be a mother.

Soon after my boyfriend returned from his two-year LDS mission it was evident we were still on track for marriage, so I shared with him the heartbreaking news I had received while he was away. If he chose to marry me, he would never be a father. I was relieved to finally be able to share this with my best friend but hated every second of the conversation. Although he had some initial shock, Chris was very quick to support me. He told me we had some hard times ahead of us but he knew if we trusted in our Heavenly Father, we would be okay.

Rather than sharing our difficulties with others, we used the excuse of a busy and expensive college life as the reason we had not yet added to our family, and whether it was true or not, we both believed it. But, after five years of marriage, a few college degrees, and a new home, we found ourselves without a good excuse for not having children. Our sterility began to rear its ugly head, and I did not wear it well.

First, we started getting questioned more about when we would have children. Then, everyone was suddenly pregnant: friends, neighbors, and even one of our siblings. To make it worse, people who were infertile were having “miracle babies” making me question why we weren’t deserving of a miracle as well. In my mind, we had been married longer than any of these couples, trying to do the right things, and it was obviously our turn for a miracle. I was mad at the unfairness of it all, and spent many nights in tears.

In the back of my mind, I always knew we could turn to adoption, and I finally decided to learn a little about it. I instantly could see that adoption was our miracle! I did not need to be excluded from miracles after all. When I brought it up with Chris, though, he told me the thought of having someone else’s baby was too weird. Knowing so little about adoption, and having no personal experiences with it, I reluctantly agreed.

But then our nephew was born. He was the first grandchild on either side of our families and we instantly adored and fell in love with him. Chris wanted to see the little guy all the time, and because I was finally able to separate his birth from my own shortcomings, I did too. Bonding with him opened Chris’ eyes to the joy of having children in our lives, and he agreed that we should definitely adopt. I was ecstatic.

Adoption is not as simple as walking into a nursery and choosing a baby, though. The process is long, and hard. It begins with paperwork. Oh, the paperwork! Then the adoption agency collects money, completes background checks, interviews, and even inspects your home to decide if you are fit to be parents. Finally, you sell yourself to prospective birth families. Online, through word of mouth, handouts, business cards, anything and everything about you so that these families will find you. So that’s what we did. It was time consuming, tiring, embarrassing, and very emotional.

Finally, we were approved, online, and ready. Just six days later we received an e-mail about a prospective baby boy. We both instantly knew he was not meant to come to our family, but had a very difficult time accepting that. After a full month of sleepless nights, hours of consideration, many tears, and in speaking with our families, professionals, and our Heavenly Father, we finally realized that adoption is about finding our child, not just any child.

The next month we received a few initial contacts, so we were excited when we began communicating regularly with a birth mother who was expecting a baby five months later. We heard from her almost daily and she even asked us to make contact with the birth father. We nervously met them in person and the day after Christmas they asked us to be the parents of their son.

What we thought was our miracle very quickly became more complicated, though. We found out this couple was continually placing their baby, our baby, in harm’s way, and we had absolutely no control. The hour-long drive to see them became, at least, a weekly event – sometimes at their request, others at ours – to try to prevent harm to the baby. Also, they were often very difficult to communicate with. We had come to love this couple for the difficult decision they had made, but were wondering how we were going to make this unhealthy relationship work. We were present when this little baby was born and I sobbed when he was finally placed in my arms.

In our state, birth mothers cannot relinquish their rights until their baby is 24 hours old, more typically this paperwork, and the actual placement, is completed when they are released from the hospital. The next couple of days were hard. They had asked for space to spend time with the baby alone in the hospital. We made one quick visit and then had one full day away. We spent that day worrying about our little baby, more specifically how we could keep his best interest at mind while staying in close contact with his birth parents, as we had all wished to do.

The next day was April Fool’s Day. It was snowing. We secured our son’s car seat in the car, packed a diaper bag, and prepared to pick him up. That’s when we received a text message. They had changed their mind, and had decided to parent. Chris was devastated. I was numb. We had a long, hard day as they struggled with placing their son for adoption. Three times that day they asked us, demanded us, to come get him, only to change their minds when we agreed. And all along the way they made ridiculous, unreasonable requests for their involvement in his life. The last ordeal ended just before midnight and we were left with empty arms. When it was finally over, though, Chris and I were shocked by our overwhelming sense of peace, relief even, that helped us overcome the sadness.

We continued to grieve, but knew our miracle was out there. We were put back online by our agency as prospective adoptive parents, and just a few days later, were contacted by another birth mother. She wasn’t due for six more months and wasn’t sure if she was going to place her baby for adoption. We exchanged a couple of e-mails and were cautiously optimistic. She sounded wonderful! We hoped this could be our miracle.

Just over a month later we received an unexpected e-mail from her, sharing what had happened that day. She had been at an event with her parents when her mom stopped to help a woman with her newborn baby. She felt that she should tell this woman, whom she didn’t know, that her daughter was considering adoption. When the woman suggested my husband and me as adoptive parents, they were shocked that she had suggested the same couple her daughter was drawn to online. She explained our neighborhood recently held a joint baby shower for the two of us but the adoption had not worked out. This event helped to confirm our birth mother’s decision to place her son with us for adoption.

We have since spent many fun times together and have grown to love her. She even helped us announce the sex to our families – a boy! This decision is very difficult for her, but she has expressed to us the love she has for her son. The love is evident in the care she is providing for him, and in her consideration for the life she wants him to have. She wants to provide him both a mom, and a dad. We are amazed by her strength, and maturity in such a difficult situation. We can’t wait to welcome her, the birth father, and a baby boy into our family this October! What a lucky little boy he will be to be loved by so many.

Being a circus freak isn’t easy, but it has taught me one important lesson: Heavenly Father knows every one of us. He hears our prayers and truly has a plan, a miracle, for each of us.

I know it was His plan for me to overlook my body’s difficulties until I was old enough to cope with knowing I would never carry children. In fact, I grew up as a lanky, rather plain girl, who also had a wonderful body image.

I know it was His plan for me to marry a man with an eternal perspective, who would help us as a family, to rely on Heavenly Father to bring children into our lives.

I know He helped to soften my jealous heart, which allowed Chris to bond with other children, thereby helping him to consider adoption.

I know it was in His plan for me to live the kind of life that would be adequate for an adoption agency to decide that I was fit to be a mother.

I know our involvement with our first birth parents directly lead us to our current birth parents and ultimately to our prospective son. It also gave us an opportunity to learn what a healthy open adoption is (and isn’t). I hope our involvement helped bring that baby into the world safer than he would have otherwise.

I know that it was no accident that I am sterile. Heavenly Father knew some of us would struggle with chastity and would even bring children into the world before being prepared to be parents. He therefore has prepared my husband and me to be ready to bring our children into our family after they have been brought into the world by others. Through it all, everyone involved has opportunities to learn and grow from the process. What a blessing!

My Heavenly Father has chosen me to be an adoptive mother and though it is a trial, I am truly honored.


Ben & Eva Pearson said...

Love this idea Maren... All of our friends amaze me with thier strength. Can't wait to leave tomorrow!

Julie Laughlin said...

what an amazing story!

ed and kelli said...

seriously, i am in tears every time i read a new "how they do it". i LOVE this. and i seriously started sobbing when dani said they get to be parents so soon!!! i remember be so sad when you told me about the first birth parents. yay for chris and dani!!!!!!!!!! and have so much fun in st. george!

Molly said...

I kept thinking "Dani--where do I know that name?" Didn't take me long to realize you were the Dani in the link on the side bar. I don't even know you, but I hoped so badly that you would find birth parents soon. My husband and I have always wanted to adopt, but for now we are having our own children. I know they say there are lots of babies out there for adoption, but I can't imagine adopting a baby if it would mean that someone like you wouldn't get that baby. So for now we'll wait until our kids are older and perhaps adopt an older child. Until then, I will just keep praying that all the wonderful parents seeking to adopt will find their babies soon.

Rach said...

I have seen the "Chris and Dani hope to adopt" on Maren's blog and I was so excited to see that Dani's post was today!
I LOVE your story Dani. And it is so amazing to see your strength through your trial. I am so excited for October to roll around and I hope you don't mind if I stalk your blog and see pictures of the adorable baby boy :)

Emily said...

Pretty sure I'm blessed to know some amazing people. Who could have asked for any better friends through their teenage years than me? Dani, I am in awe of you, your story and your writing! Maren, this is probably the best idea for blog posts ever. Now if only I could fly to St George and be with you all in person this week! But, have fun all the same!

chrisbrems said...

I love how dani writes and how she is able to help me organize and understand my feelings over the last 10 years. wow. Thanks dani, i'm glad I found you.

carolee said...

Maren, once again your blog has me in tears! But they're good tears because I am so thankful for what great friends. I am constantly impressed by the strength and goodness of my dear friends. Thank you!

carolee said...

Oops, that was supposed to say "what great friends I've been blessed with."

Ashley said...

Love this post. Dani, I think most of us at one time or another thinks to ourselves that we are circus freaks as well. That little guy is going to be one lucky little boy to be raised by you and Chris. I'm so glad you married my brother.

Launa said...

Please excuse a "senior citizen" who sneaks in and takes a peek at the blogs or her son's (and daughter's in law)friends. After all, I did contribute to the "Strippling Warriors" during the mission years; a home to hang out in during high school; attending many dance recitals, concerts, and sporting events rooting for all of you!! But the reason I love to drop in and read about your lives is because you all totally inspire me. I cannot believe your wisdom, your testimonies, your faith, your maturity, your examples. What a tribute you all are to your mothers. As a mom I could not be any prouder of all of you. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to raise my sons around such terrific and outstanding friends. Thank you for the joy I get as I read and follow you all as you live your lives in such a way to honor your HEAVENLY as well as EARTHLY parents. Thank you......

Grand Pooba said...

WOW. Dani and Chris are amazing people and will be amazing parents!!!

Michelle said...

I love this post and I LOVE adoption! :) I am SO SO happy that Dani and Chris are awaiting there son! What a blessing! I know that even when things are hard, the blessings come and with adoption I know the right baby comes to their family. Oh, I am so happy you posted this!

Jenny said...

Dani -- I'm so excited for you. My heart ached as you described what happened with the first birthparents. So to hear such great news makes me just so happy. We too have adopted and are going through it a second time now. I believe whole-heartedly, as you said, that Heavenly Father has a plan for us all. He does NOT ignore His children. He gets them where they need to be. Someone once explained to me some thoughts they had on adoption, and I have chosen to share this with my own kids. Our one daughter is black. She will clearly know she is adopted. But the concept is this: Before we were born, we knew each other. We knew our families. Now we are on Earth, and some of us may not look the same. Some of us came down through different birthparents...but our spirits are home. Our spirits are where we are supposed to be. So it doesn't matter what we look like on the outside, because we are where we are supposed to be. I feel this is true. Our adoption process with Callie was so perfectly directed. Looking back, I can see how each tiny step led directly to her. Heavenly Father is involved in our lives. I'm so excited for you! Thanks for sharing!