By Carly Levngston
A version of this story originally appeared in the winter 2018-2019 issue of Love of Dixie magazine.
My happily-ever-after began like so many others: I married my husband,we bought a modest first home, doted on our three dogsand traveled as much as our meager budget would allow. We had always known that we wanted kids, so it wasn’t too long before we felt ready to start a family. As a young(ish), healthy couple, we assumed that starting a family would happen quickly and naturally, just like it had for our family and friends.
However, it wasn’t quick or natural. Trying became struggling, and months soonbecame years.
After the first year of trying to conceive with no luck, we found out I had Stage 4 Endometriosis, which was probablycausing our fertility issues, so I had surgery to both help our chances and alleviate some of my symptoms. But still, no pregnancies followed after that surgery, even though our doctor was very optimistic. We decided that IUIwas ournext step.
But the first round of IUI failed. And then the second. And the third…
Eventually, we moved forward with IVF. Not once, but twice. Both IVFs failed badly—we had no surviving embryos to transfer or freeze. It was absolutely heartbreaking to do something so invasive and have no baby at the end of all of it. We were tired and felt utterly broken. We didn’t want to be an anomaly with “unexplained infertility.” We just wanted children. It became less and less important how we started a family.
I felt my heart start to slowly open to the idea of adoption. I began to quietly research agencies and follow different families created by adoption on social media. It was so beautiful and eye opening. I simply needed to know more, but I didn’t want to discuss this with my husband yet for fear that he would not be ready to switch gears. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up on my body and our ability to conceive.
But God, as He always does, had a sneaky way of whispering to us and gently guiding our next steps.
On an average Monday, a friend reached out and asked if we were going to attend Hope in Shiloh, a group created by ourchurch,for couples struggling with infertility. We didn’t attend this group regularly, as we lived 45 minutes away. I had no idea what the topic was for the evening, or who the speaker was, but I felt the need to be there.
The topic that night was about adoption. The speaker had adopted her children from Uganda. While I listened, fully consuming her story, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Ok, God…what is this all about? I’m not sure I’m ready.”
At the end of the night, we met a caseworker whohappened to be attending this meeting because she just so happened to be at another friend’s home doing their adoption home study! I got the name of the agency and stored it in my back pocket for later research.I still wasn’t fully ready to take the plunge, but I definitely felt like we had been brought there for a reason.
Just a few short weeks later,my husband and I began discussing adoption openly and prayerfully.
On the morning of July 4, 2015, I woke up certain of two things: One, I was going to go from full time to part time at work, and two, we were going to adopt a child! This is the first time in my life I woke up and knewwhat to do with every ounce of my being. I told my husband, and he was on board just as quickly as the words were coming out of my mouth.
The following month, in August of 2015, we attended an orientation at a pregnancy outreach —the one we had learned about while attending Hope in Shiloh that very important night! Afterwards, we headed home feeling great about moving forward with this small, Christian agency.
In May of 2016, we welcomed our adorable son, Cason, into our family.
Are you doing the math? He was conceived when we attended that orientation!It was the only summer orientation offered by the agency, and we were accepted as a waiting family at just the right time, before they closed the door to other families for another year. Oh, and that caseworker we met at Hope in Shiloh? She ended up being our caseworker too. The timing of that meeting was pivotal. It allowed us to let adoption sink in fully. It allowed us to move forward at our own pace all while God was orchestrating everything in His perfect way.
We met our soon-to-be-son’s incredible birthparents at 33 weeks pregnant! Six days later, they chose us to be his parents. Two days later, we were at the hospital waiting to hold him. 48 hours after that, we were home, holding our breath until we could call our families and tell them all it was final and he was ours!
During our adoption wait, we had two close calls with being matched to other babies, which taught us so much about the love, heartache, brokenness and redemption that is part of adoption. It’s not always pretty; in fact it’s heartbreaking. There is always loss in adoption, but there is also amazing love bursting at the seams. I once heard the adoption hospital experience called a wedding and a funeral in the same room. Someone is experiencing their greatest loss while someone else is celebrating their greatest joy. But at the end of it all, each party is choosing life and love for this child.
In hindsight, every year, every failure, every tear, every prayer all pointed us to our son. He was wanted, chosen, and reserved just for us, although he grew in another mama’s womb. He is my heartgrown baby.
It took five long years for me to come into motherhood. Our little boy has been worth the wait. And although it wasn’t the way I thought it would happen, I wouldn’t trade our journeyor our storyfor any other.
During my wait, there wasn’t an existing protocol orproduct to encourage women who were waiting to adopt achild (or, as I like to call it, pregnant with no due date). I don’t want other women to feel forgotten on their mission to motherhood, because this mission is an important one.Because of this, I created a small business/ministry called Heartgrown. We send monthly care packages to uplift and encourage hopeful mamas in a season of waiting. Because how you wait is a crucial component of your story.
Instagram and Facebook: @heartgrownbox
Christian, wife, mother, adoption advocate, infertility warrior, entrepreneur