Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not "Our" Baby

I read this beautiful post today along with many of you, which brought back memories for me of the time when we "lost" our first baby through a failed adoption. My experience is a bit different from Diane's, but certainly the same on many grounds. For me the trial was, in an instant, the most painful I had ever endured, yet one of the most beautiful at the same time. It was my first experience with true joy in suffering, and my first realization of the miracle of loving God so much that it pleases you to offer Him your greatest treasure, your child.

We had been trying to conceive for six years, which seems like an eternity to an infertile couple. After having gone through years of infertility testing, various Church-approved treatments and much prayer without success, we began to walk the path of adoption. It was a hope-filled road, every step taken with excitement, joy and anticipation. And then it happened. We were linked with a birth-mother.

She was a young girl who simply found herself in an unfortunate situation, but her openness to life gave her the courage to bring her baby into this beautiful world. And she chose us. To bring her baby into our home, to love him, educate him and raise him in every way we would see fit. Yes, he was a boy. She had four months left in her pregnancy at the time we were chosen, and in that time we grew to love him as any parent loves his child. We gave him the name "Gabriel", prepared for his arrival with much prayer and excitement, two baby showers, Grandmas knitting blankets for him, thinking about him every waking moment of every day, and in the last days before his birth, "nesting"- cleaning the house top to bottom, inside ovens and cabinets. Friends knew that I wanted Gabriel to have the nutrition of breast milk, and they gave until our freezer was full. They scheduled dinners to be brought to us for weeks after his birth. And then, he was born.

We got the phone call early on Sunday morning, packed our belongings, a take-home outfit, diapers, wipes, bottles, and everything we would need to bring our baby home safely. He was born on the other side of the state, so we drove almost three hours to the hospital. When we arrived we were cautioned by the social worker that the mother seemed emotional. So we proceeded with caution, but optimism and hope. When we arrived in the hospital room, Michelle placed baby Gabriel in my arms for the first time. Words cannot describe the love and joy I felt as I held this precious infant in my arms. It was profound, and something I had never experienced before. I waited six years for this beautiful boy, sometimes patiently, sometimes not. And at that first moment when I looked at him, his face only inches away from mine, I realized this present joy was worth every minute of longing.

A lot happened during that first visit in the hospital room, Gabriel's extended family meeting us for the first time, asking us questions which need not be divulged here, but suffice it to say we remained cautious. But in my mind I truly believed that we would bring our baby home the next morning. So we checked into a local hotel, and prayed without cease. Just after midnight, the phone rang. The case worker told us that Michelle had changed her mind. She decided to keep her baby. We both fell to our knees on the floor, holding each other, and wept. A powerful image I will never forget. I vaguely remember being up all night, rocking back and forth in the fetal position, rosary clutched in hand, "Hail Mary, full of grace.....Hail Mary, full of grace.....Remember, oh most gracious Virgin Mary......" and on and on.

I will never be able to describe what it was like to drive that long road home with an empty car seat. But in the next few weeks I would move with God's grace from sorrow to joy, realizing for the first time that my "Gabriel" wasn't really mine at all. He belonged to the Father, Who allowed me to love him just enough to hold him twice, but to remain his "spiritual" mother for the rest of my life. I still pray for Gabriel, and his mother, though not as often as I should.

That sad loss four years ago is now but a faint memory - the pain is gone, but the spiritual joy and goodness gained remain. It taught me some of the most valuable truths in life: That the most profound joy one will experience in this life is indeed accompanied by great suffering. That these little ones of ours are entrusted to us, but they are in fact God's babies, whether we are allowed to hold them for five minutes, for eighteen years, or not at all. I learned the courage and compassion of my husband, and the strength of our marriage. The love of family, friends and many, many strangers who took up this cross with us. I don't ever take my girls for granted. I love every moment of mothering - the diaper changes, the temper tantrums, the nights I stay awake tending to a sick daughter, as well as the plethora of joyful moments. And I learned more fully than ever before, how quickly this world is passing and how the things we might cherish most in life will be gone sooner than we think. But the True Good for which we ultimately strive is Eternal, and will never fail us. +++

27 comments:

Jane Ramsey said...

Oh Kristen, how very, very beautiful. My heart aches for your sorrow at the time of losing your precious Gabriel. But your faith and courage are truly heroic, and all your sufferings have helped you to become the wonderful mother that you are!

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Oh, Kristin! What a reminder for all of us.

This is a truly beautifully written post.

God Bless you and yours!

Cheryl said...

This is a beautiful post.

Blair said...

Beautiful post, Kristen. I can't imagine the sorrow at losing Gabriel's presence in your family. I've offered some prayers for him today.

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you, Jane, LMM, Cheryl and Blair. You are all so kind. A few moments after I posted this I thought I shouldn't have - given the recent stories of loss, but it was too late to un-post. I was simply inspired by Diane's story and just began writing.

Dear Jane, that is sweet of you to be moved. That cross truly was a great blessing to me. (And I wouldn't have my daughters now, had that adoption been successful!)

Suzanne Temple said...

This is so beautiful, Kristin. You shouldn't have worried about posting it.

Melissa said...

This beautiful post truly moved me to tears...the hope, the anguish, and finally, the joy. Thank you so much for sharing this personal story of love and loss with us. It's one that any mother who has ever lost a child (biological or not) can fully relate to! You are such a wonderful mother, and a truly lovely woman. God bless you!

Beth Pack said...

Hi Kristin,
Thanks for the beautiful post. We struggled with infertility for 4 years, and then were able to conceive following 2 painful surgeries for endometriosis (not to mention lots of other tests, etc). But I did offer up everything for this baby, and did not mind morning sickness and everything else one bit! In fact, this may be too much information, but I really thanked God for this blessing every time I got sick!! I hope that I never take her for granted either.

J.C. said...

Kristen,
Thank you for sharing this very moving account of your journey to motherhood. What an amazing example of the Catholic notion that out of the barrennesss of suffering comes the fruit of a profound and sacred joy, all by the miraculous gift of God's grace. I am so happy that you did decide to publish this post--it's pro-life message--"they are in fact God's babies"-- follows perfectly on the heels of Jan. 22nd's commemoration of Roe vs. Wade. Wonderfully well-written, and a joy to read. I hope it will inspire me to love my girls for what they are--"entrusted" small treasures!

Jill said...

What a beautiful, moving story. It's amazing how connected all of us are. I read your post and even though it was very different from my miscarriages, I remembered all of the same feelings of loss and grief that you went through. As you sat in that hotel room praying that you would take your baby home the next day, I paced the hallways of my home hoping with all my strength that the bleeding I had was normal- that the next day at the scheduled ultrasound I would see my baby and know it was still with me. When you got the call that your birth mother changed her mind, I was laying in a hospital bed in the ER in labor with my dead baby. When you and your husband sat together on the floor of the hotel and cried, my husband and I did the same as the baby had passed along with our dreams. And like you, time has healed many things. But, we will never forget our babies that we ached for.

Thank you for allowing us to share your suffering, and share with you in remembering our precious babies-those in our arms or in our hearts.

Lela said...

This is the first time that I have read your blog. Absolutely beautiful post! Thank you for sharing; I experienced so many emotions while reading. Leaves me much to ponder. I will visit again.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Blogger wouldn't let me leave a comment yesterday when my emotions were fresh. Perhaps that's for the best, because I have the feeling that my words would have filled your little box to overflowing.

My goodness, what a sad and powerful and yes, truly beautiful post! My heart aches with you, Kristen.

Yes, I will pray for Gabriel & his family. I will also pray for yours and mine--prayers of thanksgiving--in that we are so very, very blessed. Those little girls of yours are treasures; and your husband, equally so.

With so much love & so many blessings,

Margaret

helene said...

So beautiful! More! You leave me aching to hear the adoption stories of your current children!

Cheryl said...

Yes, if you're willing I'd love to read more on the adoption of your two precious girls. I've had two miscarriages and yet can hardly imagine the pain you must have felt that night - especially after all the preparation for Gabriel, then seeing and holding him.

Kristen Laurence said...

My goodness, you ladies are all so wonderful! Isn't the Mystical Body of Christ beautiful, that we mothers can share each other's joys and trials as though they are our own.

I will be out of a computer for the next two days, but I will post our adoption stories next week. They were both miracles.

Christine said...

Thank you, Kristen. This is heart wrenching and beautiful. Thank you for reminding us to treasure every moment with our children, entrusted to us by God. May God bless you and your family!

Jen said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. I was so moved by your story...I cannot imagine the suffering you endured, but praise be to God for the grace that has come out of it. You really gave me alot to think about today. Thank you.

Diane said...

Oh, Kristen, this is absolutely exquisite! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, your sorrow, your joy, and your hard-fought wisdom with us. I am so humbled to think that my simple post may have sparked you to write this beautiful piece. To tell you the truth, I had real second thoughts about having posted my story as well. Thank you for your kind words about it.

I will pray for you and your beautiful family and for Gabriel and his birthmother. I can't wait to read your miracle stories!

Gabrielle said...

So very moving, Kristen. Truly. The depth of your love and faith is inspiring; your peace with yourself and with the world just flows out of each paragraph. Thank you for sharing this.

teresa said...

Your story is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. I feel a strong sense of anger when I hear stories like these. But, clearly, you who has lived through it does not, and that is so inspiring!

Rosemary Bogdan said...

What a beautiful post. The sweetness of sorrow is very mysterious. Perhaps the sweetness is the arms of Jesus around us. Thank you for sharing.

MFava@aol.com (xanga.com/GraceatHome) said...

Kristen,
As the mother of two adopted angels myself, I found your story so touching. Thanks for sharing.
Dee (www.xanga.com/GraceatHome)

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Kristen,

I tagged you for the thinking blogger's award.

You can check out my blog for the details....

Anonymous said...

You are such a beautiful witness of faith during suffering. It means alot to me. My prayer has been that I will remain as faithful as you. Thank you for your inspiring witness.

FloridaWife said...

Kristin, I just came by this post of your today. I just want to say God Bless you always. You help me. You may not know it, but you really do.

neuropoet3 said...

Kristen, I just came across this post on your blog today and I had to leave you a comment. I have to little boys of my own (they have some special needs) and have been infertile since the birth of my youngest almost 7 years ago. My husband and I always dreamed of having a houseful, and a couple of years ago we were convinced to try to adopt through the state. We had two little ones placed in our home (17months and 6 months - boy and girl) - and we were so happy. We had no reason to think that this was not a permanent situation, and we reveled in being the parents of four blessings. Unfortunately, I know this kind of sorrow you wrote about here from experience - and I'm encouraged to know that the pain fades with time. My story is different because we had been fostering our babies for a year, but the loss is the same. I couldn't believe it when the state called and said they were being returned to their birth mother (the youngest didn't even know her - she was taken into custody at 2 months and there was never any visitation). That call saying they were moving the babies in two days was something I'll never forget. It's been over a year since I saw them, and I still have days that are very hard. I am so grateful that I have my boys, I don't know if I could have handled the loss if we didn't have any children in our home. I have learned never to take my boys for granted - ever day is precious, every moment worth holding on to.

Thank you for sharing your story - it is so encouraging for other...

~Jenny

Anonymous said...

Your post is a blessing and a witness to the fact that God's love and His presence is sufficient - even through such profound grief. My daughter has suffered through infertility for 6 years and along the way lost two precious babies through miscarriage. Now a young mother has chosen her and my son-in-law to adopt her baby who is due any day now. Will you please take a moement to pray that they do not suffer another devastating loss of a child and of the hope that God has blessed them with? Thank you and God bless you.