I Love To Tell the Story
Reposting something I wrote over 6 years ago . . .
I never really thought I’d get to be a father.
I wanted desperately to be a father, but after 17 years of marriage it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Infertility treatments are expensive, rarely covered by insurance and never by ours, and we’d never been able to gather the funds for them. We’d pursued adoption three times and each time it had fallen through. Susanne did get pregnant once about 12 years into our journey. It was a complete shock to our doctor and us. We enjoyed one week of excitement before she miscarried.
While I really wanted to be a father there was a place, deep inside me, where I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It was angry resignation that accused God of giving me the desire to be a father while working against me to make sure it would never happen.
So the night of November 1, 2005, when we slept in a hospital room with our newly born infant daughter in her bed next to us, her biological mother in the adjoining room, is almost indescribable. After so many years of waiting for the experience it far surpassed anything I had pictured.
When I was growing up in a little Baptist church in Kansas we used to sing the old hymn, “I Love To Tell the Story.” I loved that song, and the “old, old story of Jesus and His love” is the greatest story ever told. But I never get tired of the story of a beautiful baby girl and how she came to live with us as our long-awaited child.
It’s not the greatest story ever told, but it’s a good story. It is a hard story. It is a wonderful story. And every time I look into the beautiful face of my daughter, my daughter, I am grateful to be a part of it. God showered his love on us and I want people to know about it. After all, it is really His story.
But during all those years of infertility and failed adoptions the story didn’t seem so great.
We were three or four years into infertility before I really entered into the reality of the struggle. Oh, I’d entered the process as far as medical testing and learning of my personal issues that contributed to the problem. But I had not really entered into the reality that we might never have biological children. When Susanne would cry about it and ask, “do you think we will ever have children?” I would quickly reassure her, “yes, I know we will.” My answer was too quick, but in those days I was a pretty good Pharisee and most things were black and white. Your kids have trouble, you messed up somewhere along the line as a parent. No question about it. You live a moral life, serve God in the church, He gives you good things, like kids. I’d lived a good life and Susanne and I were doing the right things (by my estimation). I was unwilling to engage the possibility that we wouldn’t have children. To do so would have challenged my comfortable black and white thinking, and I wasn’t about to go there.
A trip to an infertility clinic in the mid-1990s brought an end to that kind of thinking. At that clinic they assured us that we could get pregnant. Of course, we also met with their financial person who told us our insurance offered no help at all, even for testing, and they would need a big chunk of money up front. We didn’t have that kind of money. As we drove away from Wichita I slammed the steering wheel and cursed.
“What good does it do to serve God anyway? A lot of help he is.”
I think God was glad when I reached that point. I finally woke up and engaged Him and now he could do something with my heart. The following years were a battle to make sense of it all. I struggled with the suffering of unmet desire. I tried to make sense of it through Scripture. The stories there of others with this issue didn’t really seem to help. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, they all got children. It wasn’t happening for us. I read of Jacob and Leah and Rachel in Genesis, and, although I know the events in chapters 29 and 30 take place over a number of years, it’s like reading about the Childbirth Olympics. When I read of Hannah her husband sounded to me like a man who didn’t get it-“don’t I mean more to you than 10 sons?” Mind you, I believe I was misunderstanding Elkanah, but that was my frame of mind at the time.
In the midst of the grief and loss of another failed adoption in early 2005 we suddenly found ourselves pursuing it once again. A young, pregnant woman, facing the prospect of raising a child with no meaningful support from the biological father, decided she wanted something more for her baby and made the painful decision to give her child up for adoption. Her grief became our gain. God took a disbelieving man who was inwardly shaking an angry fist at Him and blessed him beyond belief. We now spend our Saturdays taking our almost-five-year-old daughter to soccer games. Just the other day Susanne and I marveled at the thought of this and the memory of sitting in a Fuddruckers on a Saturday watching families coming in, children still in their athletic gear, and feeling desperate to be a part of that scene. Oh, how He’s blessed us.
Looking back, would I rewrite our story? I don’t think so. Do I feel sad that we couldn’t have biological children? Yes. Do I wish we’d had biological children. Of course. And no. No, because if we’d had biological children it’s hard to conceive of any scenario where we’d have been seeking to adopt children in the year Linnea was born. I doubt we’d have even been contacted about her. And I cannot imagine life without her. I’m not even sure the last few sentences make any sense but then, those are the kinds of confusion infertility leaves in its wake, even if you’ve been blessed with children. Or maybe it’s just life generally that leaves those kinds of questions.
We like to have our questions answered. Actually, much of the time we demand they be answered. I’ve learned that with infertility it’s hard to find answers, and the answers given often are not helpful. What matters more is that we come to know and trust the Answer.
-Chuck Roberts, M.A., LPC-S