Category Archives: Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Signs – Part 8

I wasn’t expecting the twists and turns you’re currently reading, believe me. God, though, has a knack for driving His people insane keeping His people on His toes. My thought, though, is if I have to go through the madness, then so do you. You can thank me later. 😉

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
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Signs.
Signs.
Everywhere there were signs.

Leading up to our trip, my mind was hourly consumed with once again the question, “Why?”

This time, however, the question was being posed about my body, not my current circumstances.

“Why am I so edgy? Why is every little thing John does driving me insane?”
“Why aren’t my work-outs relaxing me?”
“Why am I late?”  “I’m never usually late, and have never, ever been this late.”
“Why does my bra seem too small for its throbbing friends?”
“Why do I keep smelling things?”
“Why do I feel like my abdomen is getting harder?”
“Why do I feel in sensory overdrive?”
“Why am I not hungry one moment and famished the next?”
“Why am I going crazy?!”

“Why do I feel so…pregnant?”
“Why is my mind tormenting me so?”

This supposedly “relaxing” trip we were going on was going to be anything but relaxing for me.

By this point, over a week after I started feeling symptoms, I knew I needed to tell John my concerns. Like I suspected, every time I brought it up he chalked it up to me just being ultra hormonal (and rightfully so) after everything we’d been through this past month. We’d been using protection; there was nothing to worry about. I just needed to relax.  He was confident by the end of our little getaway, I’d be bleeding away and back to normal. He was looking forward to it. I’d been rather oddly irritable lately. We had gotten into a huge fight just the day before, Good Friday. It ended with me saying, “I think you just need to leave,”  something I’d never uttered in our entire relationship. I meant it, too. I was ticked off and wanted nothing to do with him. My usual stay-mad-for-five-minutes-and-then-apologize-and-want-to-make-up self was long gone. He left for the store without me, and I could honestly care less. It wasn’t likely me to be so edgy, to not care that he just left without me because I made it clear that’s what I wanted. We did end up making  up later that day after I got home from work, but it wasn’t more than five minutes after we made up that I was once again irritated and having to apologize for barking at him. Oops. What was wrong with me?

Now it was twenty-four hours later, I still “felt” pregnant, and had my mind on nothing else.

After the trip to the mall where I could smell the roasted almond counter before we ever even came close to it, by dinner I was more convinced than ever I was eating for two my Tour of Italy dinner from Olive Garden. John still wasn’t buying it, or if he was, he was using his poker face to throw me off. When we prayed before the meal, he did ask the Lord to give us wisdom to face the road ahead, whatever that may be. I knew he was starting to wonder, even if only a little. We actually talked a little at dinner about what if I was pregnant, but it still seemed too surreal for him, for even me. Talking about it just seemed silly in one way, but incredibly real and exciting (at least for me) all at the same time.

I was well aware if I was pregnant, it certainly wasn’t just going to be a shocking, joyous revelation. In our unique situation, it would also be a rather, well, scary one. Remember – we weren’t actively trying to conceive. We certainly weren’t abstaining, but safeguards were definitely in place. The medication I was on wasn’t exactly pregnancy-friendly, hence why we weren’t jumping on the “let’s have a baby” train. We wanted to still be a family, though, so we were adopting and that was that, remember? Well, we were, until about a month ago a woman I barely knew contacted me out of the blue through Facebook to ask me if we’d ever thought about surrogacy. I proceeded to tell the supposed sweet-but-nosy messenger that of course we had, but due to several reasons it just wasn’t going to work out, case closed. I couldn’t have fathomed that she would respond back by saying God has been in fact been speaking to her about possibly being our surrogate. You know, because that happens every day.

Then, upon receiving that message one Sunday morning before church, immediately getting into a fight with my husband about money (the Godly thing to do), and experiencing several days of emotional turmoil while trying to understand what God was up to, I actually met with this mysterious woman supposedly sent to me by God Himself.  After the initial meeting I had with her, and seeing she was completely sincere, we were on cloud nine. We were completely at peace, and in awe, about God moving us in the surrogacy direction; life couldn’t get any better. That is until we found out just the very next day that, due to misunderstanding our insurance coverage, we actually couldn’t afford to go through with such plans. Now, a week and a half later, we were still left trying to process what all had happened and felt as if God’s will was the furthest thing from clear.

The past month had been enough to drive anyone to their emotional breaking point. I wasn’t crazy. I was just emotionally, and even in some ways physically, spent. I just needed to give myself grace before I had an emotional breakdown. There was no baby. I wasn’t pregnant. I was just overwhelmed.

That night in our suite, I did my best to try to get my mind on something else. It was a lost cause.

As I watched Ohio State completely choke and lose their game (what’s new), and then as I ate my custard at Culver’s next to our hotel to mourn the loss, I couldn’t think of anything else but “the baby.” I had caught myself praying for “our baby” for a few days now – the baby that, as far as we knew, didn’t even exist. I was clearly a hormonal whack job. I kept telling myself there was a logical reason to all of this. No, I didn’t know exactly what that was at this point, but it was still there, nonetheless; it would reveal itself in time. I went to sleep feeling more pregnant than ever.

I woke up on Easter morning and couldn’t take it anymore. It was time to bust out a pregnancy test I convinced John to let me buy the day before.  I had one at home the only friend in whom I had confided had given me on Thursday, but I’d chickened out and didn’t bring it. By Saturday, though, I couldn’t take the thought of not knowing until we returned home. The “Early Response” 2-pack claimed to be able to give you results up to 6 days before your missed period, and I was already 4-5 days late, so I was confident I should get a + without a problem, if my intuition didn’t let me down.  I opened the package, did my business, and after yelling at John for moving the test while it was in process (can someone say “hormonal?”), I waited for the two pink lines I knew I’d see.

I’d be sending a text message to that close friend (who is having a baby in October) that said “Happy Easter from the Paynes” with a picture of the positive test  in a matter of minutes. Or not.

The test was negative.
John was instantly convinced I wasn’t pregnant.
After all, the test said so. Game over.
I, however, was not.
I desperately wanted to let it go, but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t shake how I felt, though I’d just tested too soon, and was convinced it was a false negative.
“Those happen, you know,”  is what I told John. 

We packed up and headed home. I knew the next day (Monday) I had a scheduled appointment with my transplant team in Columbus. I hadn’t seen them in over 6 months and knew, if I didn’t start my period that night, I’d have to tell them about all of this. I was scheduled for an x-ray, and you can’t (or shouldn’t) have one of those if you are knowingly with child. I wasn’t going to take that risk, even if a $4 pee stick had just told me I had nothing to worry about.


An “all-knowing” stick that changes colors couldn’t measure how I felt. I knew I had never felt this way before, and no one, or $4, flimsy test, was going to convince me otherwise. The 2-pack would allow me to re-test Monday morning before I left for my appointment. By then, I’d surely get the concrete evidence I’d need for others to start believing what I had known all along. If not, the blood work my doctor would inevitably order would be my emotional salvation. In that moment, I firmly believed it was a miracle. I was pregnant. Life had come full circle. I knew it, and pretty soon the world would, too. 

Going to sleep that night, I once again prayed that the Lord would protect “our baby,” if I indeed was pregnant like I suspected. I asked the Lord to be merciful and just take the feelings away, if I really wasn’t pregnant. I couldn’t take feeling insane and totally out of character anymore. It was all becoming too much, even for me.

As I had done so many nights in the past month, I prayed,
“Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.” 

I was far from prepared for what happened next. Part 9 to come.

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Intuition – Part 7

I’m back. I promised I wouldn’t be gone too long. 🙂
I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after Part 6, just knew I needed an emotional break to process and spend quality time with my husband. As of late last week, Part 7 wasn’t even written yet in my mind, let alone on here.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
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The date was Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

Even though part of me had prayed that I wouldn’t have to wake up after the news we’d received the day before, I was conscious and had to face the day. Just because our hearts were broken didn’t mean we suddenly were unemployed and didn’t have daily responsibilities to which we had to tend. No, we had to get up, put our brave faces on and go to work. Though we had struggled to sleep the night before, tossing and turning all night, the sun was up and the day was beginning.

As I went about my morning duties at home before I had to go put my smile on and be a “Good Neighbor” to our State Farm customers, I couldn’t help but continually ask God questions.

“Why, Lord?”
“Why bring us this far, and then take it all away because we can’t afford it?”
“Why would you ever put anyone through this?”
“Couldn’t you just have let us alone and let us adopt?”
“Why couldn’t you just have “called” her to be someone else’s surrogate?”

I just didn’t get it. I have always have had a high tolerance for a lot of “life” happening to me, but I was reaching my limit. I didn’t understand for one second what He was doing. Hadn’t we been through enough? Hadn’t been through enough in my lifetime? How much is one person supposed to take, anyway? I’ll admit it. I stood in my kitchen that morning and had a small pity party for myself. In the moment, I felt I “deserved” it with everything going on. My sulking didn’t last long, though, before that old, familiar question rose up within me like it’d done so many times before.

“Do you trust, Amber?”

I knew the “right” answer to that question. I knew what I wanted my answer to be. I knew feeling sorry for myself wasn’t the answer He wanted, He deserved. I didn’t want to lie to myself, or to the Lord, about how I truly felt, though; there was no point in trying to put up a facade with the one who created me. So, I responded back the most genuine way I knew how.

“I want to, Lord; please help my unbelief.”

Days passed. The tears stopped. Answers didn’t come. Life became somewhat routine again.
We prayed. We sought the Lord. We felt confused. We felt overwhelmed. We confided in close friends and sought wisdom for our couples’ pastor and his wife, who also had traveled a very uneasy (and very, very similar) road to parenthood. In the midst of it all, we suddenly decided to take a break and get out-of-town over Easter weekend. We knew it wasn’t the ideal weekend, and it isn’t like us to make such hasty decisions (especially involving spending money), but we needed to get away. Life was getting too hard. We desperately needed to get away and relax. We needed solace and time together.

In the meantime, we fought allowing ourselves to become numb to it all.

I, though, felt another way, too.
With each passing day, I felt more and more…pregnant.

For several days I told no one, including John. After all, I’d “cried wolf” several times since we’ve been married. The strong desire to give my husband the biological children he so desperately wanted had driven me to pee on a stick more than once before. I’d taken probably half a dozen pregnancy tests in the little over 3 years we’d been married, a few a couple days before a period and one, just a few months ago, even a week after I had already had my monthly visitor. Each time I was never pregnant; no double pink lines had ever appeared. They wouldn’t this time, either, if I caved and peed on another stick that costs more than a gallon of gas.

No, I needed to just get out of this unhealthy mindset – the faster, the better. This wasn’t what I needed — at all.

But this time felt different, so very different, and it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting harder to ignore.
My emotions were playing a very evil trick on me. I was clearly emotionally unstable. Who, though, wouldn’t be after the rough month I just had?

“Give it time; this will pass,”  is what I kept telling myself.

But would it?  Part 8 to come!

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Roadblock – Part 6

Holy Cow!
We have been floored by your response to my little blog series. All I know is God asked me to be transparent about what has been going in our lives (as I’ve done in the past), so I obeyed. I’m so glad I did! 😀 THANK YOU for all your support and encouragement this far.
It means more than you’ll ever, ever know. 🙂

The story isn’t over yet.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
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Coming out of work last Monday evening, I was on a high.
I have never been more excited to drive home.
No, I take that back – to drive anywhere.


I couldn’t wait to tell John everything that had transpired earlier that morning with the God-sent woman who came into our lives out of the blue, about the one who was so at peace with helping make us a family of three. It was becoming more and more clear that she was going to help make John’s (and therefore my) dream of having children of our own flesh and blood come true. I was confident that only a few hours earlier I had met not just another human being but an angel sent to us by our Heavenly Father to accomplish His miraculous plan. I was on cloud nine.


John and I spent the whole evening talking about my meeting with this woman we had both grown to love.
We prayed.
We, especially John, cried many tears of joy.
We laughed.
We thanked the Lord profusely for how He was seemingly working in our lives for His glory.
We cried again.

We spent a lot of time thinking about our children’s names. Hannah Grace will undoubtedly be our first-born daughter; that has been decided since before we got married. A boy’s name, however, has always been hard for us to solidify. As of now, 2 names are still in the running and no decisions have been made. I am praying the Lord clearly tells John the name I like is his God-given name, not just one his mother likes, soon. 😉  This conversation wasn’t one we hadn’t had before; in fact, we’d had it hundreds of times. What we never had done before, however, is try to come up with 2 names for both genders we could both agree upon, like we did that night.

John was clearly dreaming BIG. He was believing the Lord could not just give us one child through surrogacy but TWO (or more) and wasn’t afraid to pray specifically for it. My usually skeptical, very realistic husband was once again showing that he had extreme faith that God was working on our behalf. He was operating with a faith I had never seen in him before, a childlike faith I had prayed so many hundreds of times before for him to have. My prayers had been answered, even if not in the way in which I was imagining. After all, we hadn’t planned on surrogacy ever being an option for us; we were adopting, and that was that. I was planning on my prayers being answered by him being completely at peace with that decision and showing this much enthusiasm and joy about the prospect of being a family through the beautiful gift of adoption. Though I wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out now that the Lord had hijacked our plans, I was absolutely in love with my husband in that moment. I could have easily stayed in that moment with him forever.

We went to bed that night full of joy and peace, anxiously anticipating how the Lord was going to work next.
And then Tuesday came.

Unlike most days, I had to be at work that day at 9:00am instead of my usual 1:00pm. I was happily going through my work day, answering phone calls and gathering people’s information for them to be quoted auto insurance, while trying not to daydream too much about what our biological child would look like, when I got a Gmail chat message from John on my phone.

“I have some bad news,” the message said.

He went on to tell me that after talking with our insurance that morning, as well as two – not just one – fertility clinics, he was informed that, as the prospective parents, we would be responsible for the entire fertility bill for all parties involved (3), that the surrogate’s insurance wouldn’t kick in until pregnancy was achieved. We had naively assumed, though, that the implantation of our embryo (what we thought they meant by IVF) into the surrogate would be covered under her insurance (if at all) because she’d be the one being “serviced.” We had already been talking through, and planning, on the very real possibility of her insurance not covering it and therefore us needing to pick up the entire tab for it, so that wasn’t a deal breaker.

It wasn’t ideal, but we could work through it.
There was another problem, though.
Things were about to get worse – a lot worse.

John went on to tell me we don’t have the fertility coverage on our insurance plan we thought we had. In our minds, all the other fertility treatments, besides In Vitro Fertilization (as we defined it), were covered by our insurance, so it was just a matter of how much implantation was going to cost. 

Like I said, it was our understanding that the embryo implantation was essentially defined as “IVF”. Sadly are understanding of our coverage couldn’t be further from what was really going to be covered. Quickly he had learned that “IVF” is what they call the entire process, meaning my egg retrieval, his sperm retrieval and analysis and implantation. Yes, the whole process, not just a third of it.

The only “good” news that came out of his dialogue with our insurance company was that he was informed we did have coverage through our prescription plan for the hormonal shots/prescriptions that both I, and the surrogate, would need to achieve successful implantation. In their words, that would shed a “couple thousand” off the bill.

So, instead of our estimate of probably getting through the fertility part of the process for $5,000 (or less), he was told by the fertility clinic that, without IVF coverage, we were looking at bill of $20-25,000 for just the fertility. This total didn’t include the legal fees, pregnancy or our payment to the surrogate. In a matter of minutes, our dream of having a child through surrogacy went from a miracle within our reach to seemingly an impossible financial hill to climb. Impregnating the woman who was feeling “called” to carry our baby now came with a perceived cost almost as huge as if we would have gone through a surrogacy agency, something we’ve already established we could never afford, even if we found the “right” person to carry our baby.

In a matter of seconds, my heart shattered into a million pieces.

Unlike John, I didn’t have a door to shut to hide my tears. I hid behind my computer screen and prayed for the breath to return to my lungs. I wanted to go hide in the bathroom, but I knew the sobs that would inevitably come behind a closed door would scare my co-workers and any customers who happened to walk in. I had no escape for several hours. I wasn’t about to tell my boss, even if he was a close friend, I was too emotionally unstable to finish out my day. We were already short two people, which is why I came in early, so I knew he desperately needed my help. I wasn’t going to put him in a tough spot just because I received some bad (OK, horrible) news. No, I had no choice but to pull myself together and continue to welcome people into our State Farm office with open arms. None of our policy holders were going to want to hear my sob story. They just wanted to pay their bill and get on their merry way. They just wanted to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the line when they had a policy question, one who was giving them their undivided attention. As one who prides myself in doing my job with excellence, I knew I had no choice but to bury the raw emotions I was feeling until closing time. So I did.

Once I got into my car a little past 5:00pm, however, I lost it.
I sobbed the whole way home.

I begged the Lord to make the emotional roller coast we’d been on for weeks (more like years) to end.
I asked Him “why” a hundred times.
I told Him, “I can’t do this anymore” more than once.

Then I got home and did what I always do when I’m upset.
I cleaned.

Don’t get me wrong. We don’t live in a pigsty, hardly so. Since I live with one who loves a tidy home, I clean all the time. The kind of cleaning I engaged in that night is the mindless, I-just-need-to-take-my-mind-off-my-current-reality-so-get-out-of-my-way type of cleaning. I stood at the sink and begin washing a huge pile of dishes, some which I took out of the cupboard, even though they were clean, to give me more to do. I didn’t want to be sobbing when John got home, so the only other option left was to focus on scrubbing the tar out of my Corelle Ware.

John came home, changed out of his suit into something comfortable, and joined me in the kitchen. Instead of conversing after work like we usually do, we didn’t speak. There was nothing left to say at that point. He joined me by the sink, picked up a dish towel, went to begin drying the dishes I had piled a mile-high into the drying rack, and proceeded to do what I knew was coming.

He stood in the middle of the kitchen and began to cry.
We held each other, as we felt our world crashing down on us.

Throughout the course of the evening, hardly anything was said. We just held each other on the couch in our family room for dear life. Most of that Tuesday evening was spent mostly in silence, with us staring at a TV screen and wishing the past 8 hours were all a bad dream.

“I don’t see how we’re going to be able to afford this now; it’s over, Babe,” was muttered by John more than once.

“This seems like a cruel joke,” was also said by both of us at least a few times that night.

Eventually, we got off the couch – the same couch on which just 24 hours before we had cried tears of complete joy – and headed to bed. Instead of having sex, and therefore being completely relaxed before we drifted off to sleep, we were bent-out-of-shape, emotionally bankrupt and had no choice but to cry out to the Lord for answers.  We held each other in bed and prayed for a long time.
Why, Lord?”
“What are you doing?”
“What was the past 3 weeks for, anyway?”
“Why did You give us so much peace about this for nothing?”
“Are we really supposed to borrow all this money? Is that Your will? Help us, Lord! We need Your help.”

“Help us to move forward with adoption and put this behind us.”
Help us, Father, to get up tomorrow, to face the day.”


As John eventually drifted off to sleep, and I was left in the darkness alone, I remember once again saying to the Lord,
“Not our will, Lord, but YOURS be done. I just don’t really know what that is right now, at all. Please help.”


Answers, however, weren’t going to come easily. Part 7 to come!

*Note: These blog posts have not been pre-written. I’ve been writing each only 12-24 hours before posting. Therefore, due to John asking me to spend this evening with him (instead of blogging) watching the OSU game (go Bucks!), and then us going out of town together this weekend for some much-needed alone time, I will NOT be posting Part 7 until next week. In the meantime, we would appreciate your continued prayers. You all have been SO incredibly encouraging to us; it means more than you’ll ever know! We’re humbled by the fact God has allowed us to walk this journey for His glory and are doing our best not to “waste” this difficult time.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and patience. I’ll be back next week. 🙂

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Meeting – Part 5

Now things are starting to get good. 🙂
Sorry it took a while to get here.
There are many layers to this story.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
___________________________________________________________________________________

It was meeting day.
I have never been so afraid to drive to Panera Bread.

No, I take that back – to drive anywhere.

The 30 minutes leading up to me leaving for my brunch with this mysterious, sweet young woman who may be called to carry our child were filled with prayers, praise and worship music, plenty of tears, trying to re-do my make-up for work (which I had to go to immediately after our talk) several times because of said tears, and possibly me standing in front of a very-full closet proclaiming, “I have nothing to wear! She’s going to hate my clothes and not want to carry my baby.”

I told you I was slightly emotional.

Somehow I managed to dry my eyes, put on some clothes I felt said “I’m open but not desperate,” muster up the courage to get myself out the door and start on my way. The drive is only about 7 minutes to our local Panera, but it felt like 7 days. The whole way there, I prayed. I cried out to the Lord and asked Him to make His presence extremely evident in our booth, to help me not cry the whole time, and most of all, to help me not completely scare the lady away.

As I walked into that very familiar restaurant, deep down I knew that I was standing on holy ground. This wasn’t just a day out at Panera for my normal “pick 2”. It was a day that could very well be the catalyst for a series of events which could change the trajectory of my entire life.

As I stood there looking at the large menu of breads, soups and sandwiches, I waited for a person I had never formally met but with whom felt like was my whole heart. I’m not going to lie. I thought more than once about walking out, speeding off, and messaging her later to say thank you for her gracious offer, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do this emotionally anymore. I needed to go back to life as it was 3 weeks ago, when we were going forward with adoption and finally on the path to being parents sooner rather than later. Thankfully, I didn’t leave. As much as I wanted to, I knew that wasn’t the right answer. So I stayed and waited for what seemed like an eternity.

As I saw the woman walk through the door, I was gently reminded by the Lord of something extremely important.

He said to me, “Amber, she’s not your Savior. I am. I AM.
It was then that, for the first time in weeks, I was at complete peace. The pressure was off.

Nothing in my circumstances had changed. We hadn’t even sat down yet to begin our several hours long conversation. What changed was my mindset. In a matter of a few seconds, I was reminded that it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t safely have children, no matter what the enemy told me. I was reminded that it wasn’t my fault that my husband was having  such an incredibly hard time with the prospect of never having his own children; that was his struggle to work out with the Lord.  I was reminded that it wasn’t my job to “sell” myself to this woman. I was reminded that, like Esther, He had called me here for such a time as this for the Kingdom’s sake.

Most importantly, I was reminded that none of this was about us.
It was all about Him. We were just the vessels He was choosing to use.

After opening up in prayer, the next 3 hours were spent in a back corner booth, the most secluded spot we could find. We spoke face-to-face instead of only through Facebook messages, which was the only form of communication we’d shared since the bombshell was dropped. Sure, it was a bit awkward at first, but that was to be expected. It didn’t take long, though, for us to feel completely comfortable with each other. The time was spent with this sweet woman of God pouring her heart out to me, telling me things about herself and her past that most would never tell a complete stranger. As one who champions honesty and openness, I was in awe of her vulnerability and deep commitment to the Lord. In the words of Jerry Maguire, she had me at “hello.” 🙂

I was floored that such a tremendously humble, Spirit-filled person was sitting across me from telling me that for the past 6 months the Lord had repeatedly woken up her in the middle of the night with the idea of her being someone’s surrogate. Even more hard to believe, for the past 3 months, it was my name – and only my name – that came to her mind each night when she prayed about what the Lord may be calling her to do.


She appreciated how concerned John and I were about her husband‘s thoughts on all of this and how we genuinely cared about her knowing exactly what she’d be getting herself into before any decisions to move forward were made. We certainly didn’t want to cause a wedge in her marriage; we believe very strongly in being “one” in mind with your spouse. We know the Lord wouldn’t tell her one thing and her husband something else, and if they weren’t united, we would never move ahead. After all, He is not the God of confusion. Surrogacy would definitely affect her marriage and impact her young daughter’s life, and we knew it would be healthy for her to really think things through before any pregnancy with our child. It was also very important to us that we didn’t, even unintentionally, coerce her in any way into doing something she really wasn’t called to do, whether that be now or even at all. We wanted her to be well-versed in everything surrogacy would involve for her – physically and, in some ways more importantly, emotionally – before she gave her final consent to carrying our child or even children, which is very possible with IVF.

As I had done for the past 2 weeks in Facebook messages, I stressed to her that above all, we just wanted the Lord’s will. Of course the prospect of having our own child(ren) through the miraculous gift of surrogacy seemed miraculously, exquisitely wonderful. I wasn’t going to sit there and lie about it to her face. It didn’t just sound like a neat idea of which to be a part. No, it was all my husband, and therefore I, ever wanted and more.

No matter what we talked about when it came to the details of what surrogacy would look like, we were in agreement. It was absolutely amazing. Nothing she or I said scared or shocked the other. I was thankful to hear that her parents were completely on board, if this is what the Lord was willing. As a grown, married woman not that she would have had to have their permission, but since John nor I were out to split up her family, that was encouraging. As for our immediate families (meaning our husbands), both sets of us had thought through many, many things already. She and her husband both are R.N.s at local hospitals, which I have permission to say. In fact, if felt comfortable, she wouldn’t care if I gave away her whole identity. Due to that fact, though, she and her husband were both well-aware of many aspects of surrogacy that many women may not have realized. She knew, yet was at peace.  She was willing – and ready – to carry our child, to become pregnant as soon as possible with a child she would carry, and for whom she would care, for 9 months and then willingly have to give back.

“After all, she said, I don’t feel like I picked you. God did.”
I was speechless. As you know, that’s rare.

What was even more miraculous was her response to the one topic I was the most leery about broaching – money. I don’t care who you are, no one in my position that day wants to talk about money, namely how you wouldn’t have nearly enough in your possession (and never will) to properly compensate her (and her husband and daughter) for what she is volunteering to do.

If you recall, one of the main reasons John and I hadn’t already pursued surrogacy through an agency, besides not being able to fully vet the potential surrogate, was the cost. We had been told that the average “going rate” for a surrogate is at least $12-15,000, if not $20-$25,000 just for their time. This of course doesn’t include any of the legal expenses (which we’ve already been quoted at around $10,000), the fertility costs for either parties involved (which thankfully we figured would be at least mostly covered), or the pregnancy itself (cost is dependent upon the surrogant’s insurance, which could also include a surrogacy exclusion). You add all that up, and you can easily be at $50,000, if not $60-70K. Don’t be fooled. My husband may be an attorney, but he is just 30 years old, isn’t in private practice and has close to $40,000 in student loans left to pay. We aren’t loaded. We’ve been saving, but we don’t have that kind of money. You don’t have to be a member of Mensa to know there’s a huge difference between paying out $20-25,000 for an adoption (and getting close to $13,000 of that back over a period of time through tax credits) and shelling out $50-$70,000 and getting none of it back.

When someone comes to you out of the blue saying the Lord asked them to ask you about possibly allowing them obey Him and be your surrogate, though, you pay attention – no matter how much it may cost. You don’t just automatically say you can’t afford it. 

So, we talked about it. The two of us had already spoken and laughed about how our husbands are both very frugal people, so I was thankful (as was she) we had that in common. I knew that would help her understand what I was about to tell her. She was thankful to hear that John and I aren’t the type to not live financially responsible lives. I have to admit, knowing they weren’t either was reassuring. I was very frank about our current financial situation, our desire not to go into huge financial debt to become parents. We had been saving for adoption and just barely had enough; anything beyond the $20,000 or so we’ve worked so hard to save up was already going to be difficult for us to pay for out-of-pocket. I was very honest about the fact I knew we wouldn’t be able to give her the usual $25,000 fee to carry our baby on top of all the other expenses. Surrogacy was already going to be a little bit more costly (and also without the ability to recoup any of those costs through tax credits) than we were anticipating with adoption. I was honest about the fact we wouldn’t be able to give her $15,000 on top of everything else. In fact, I didn’t have an exact number of how much we’d be able to compensate her for her troubles and wouldn’t until we knew all the other costs (legal, fertility, pregnancy, etc.) involved. I just knew whatever the number could come back to be, it’d never be what I would want to give her to say “thank you.” As I told her, if the Lord was really in all of this and we all felt we were supposed to go forward, I could give her a million dollars, and it still wouldn’t feel like enough.

As I fumbled through my explanation of our financial situation, she graciously, and continually, reassured me that she wouldn’t want to do it for the money, that wasn’t her motive at all. Praise God. What an answer to prayer!

John and I had continually asked the Lord for this exact confirmation. We felt it was vital that her heart be in the right place; it wasn’t that we didn’t want to compensate her if we move forward, but we wanted to be the ones adamant about her financially gaining from being our surrogate, not the other way around.  She made me aware her husband wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t accrue any costs by her doing it, which of course we’d never let happen. I assured her that of course we would pay for everything, that we would never put them in financial hardship for obeying the Lord and helping us in such an astoundingly beautiful way. No, there wouldn’t be any costs for them – no how, no way.

As the hours quickly passed, before I knew it I had to leave for work. I didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed there for hours more, because I knew the Lord was working on my behalf in a tremendously powerful, humbling way. I had just met a remarkable young woman and knew we would always be friends, no matter what happened after that day.

As I gathered up my things, and tried to mentally prepare myself to go to work (not an easy task),
I posed the question, “Where do we go from here?”

It was decided that we would continue to pray (obviously) and let the other know at any point that we no longer felt at peace about things. In the meantime we’d also begin researching more thoroughly into how much surrogacy would cost, since cost was a huge factor for us (me and John) as far as whether or not we moved forward. Like I said before, we didn’t think it was God-honoring to go into a huge amount of debt to accomplish our dream.

She would check on her insurance to make sure there wasn’t a surrogacy exclusion. If there was, we most likely would not be moving forward since there would be no way of predicting the future and knowing any complications with the pregnancy that could arise and therefore come with a high price tag. The surrogate possibility would also be checking into what, if any, fertility coverage she had. We would check into our insurance’s fertility coverage, as well. We’d continue to pray and seek the Lord, get all those numbers, report back to each other, and see where that left us.

As I hugged her goodbye and walked to my car, I knew in my heart it wasn’t enough to do it just because John desired biological children, and ultimately all I ever want is for John to be happy. It wasn’t enough to do it because I have this very real fear sometimes that, once I’m dead and gone, John will regret marrying me and dwell on what we didn’t have together instead of what we did, on what I wasn’t to him instead of what I was. No, if this wasn’t completely, beyond a shadow of a doubt the Lord’s will, He’d never bless it and therefore what seemed like the greatest blessing to our marriage would become our greatest curse. At this point, though, all signs were pointing to it thankfully being the former. As I drove away with tears in my eyes, I couldn’t have been happier, more at peace. I couldn’t have been more excited to see how the Lord was going to work in our lives to accomplish not just our dream but, more importantly, His will.

As I sat at work hoping the time passed quickly, I couldn’t wait to tell John everything that had transpired. I couldn’t wait to display an ultrasound picture in my office of my own flesh and blood, like so many millions of women do every day. More importantly, I couldn’t wait to watch John hold our biological child(ren) and see him cry tears of amazement, joy, and thankfulness instead of the tears of loss, sadness, and grief I had witnessed hundreds and hundreds of times the past several years. I couldn’t wait until the day the fact we couldn’t have children was never even thought of and all the years of John’s sadness, and my consequential false guilt, were redeemed. Oh, how I longed for that day. I couldn’t wait to see how the Lord was going to accomplish it all for His glory and our good.

Little did I know what was going to happen next. Part 6 to come!

 

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Questions – Part 4

Sucked in yet? 😉
Thanks for sticking with me.
As promised, things are about to speed up.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
________________________________________________________________________________

Once the tears stopped (for a brief time) that Sunday, the questions began.

Questions like:
Is this from God, or is this just a distraction from the enemy?
Who is this woman?!
Is she being serious?
If so, does she realize
what she’s saying, what she’d be getting herself into?!
What does her husband think?! Does he even know she wrote this message?
What does she even mean by surrogacy? If she means her egg, thanks but no thanks. I can’t even go there emotionally.
Why did you even let her write it, Lord? We didn’t ask for this! You know how important biological children are to John, how hard it was, and how long it’s taken, for him to lay that dream down. You know how much guilt I have struggled with for not being able to provide him for what he so desperately longs? Couldn’t you just have left us alone and let us move forward with adoption? It’s been hard enough for both of us dealing with all of the emotions which have come with that. Can we please just finally move forward in peace (just keeping it real here)?

The next day after work, I got my answer to question #1.
How?
I asked the only person I knew who knew her well. Though I wasn’t really ready to talk about it with anyone but John, didn’t want to give away her identity to anyone, or betray her trust, I didn’t feel I had a choice.  I had to learn more about her and fast. Let’s be real here. In this day of age, there are plenty of psychos with bad intentions out there, even those who claim to know Jesus; those are the worst kind. Being able to pick someone out from a crowd just isn’t good enough when they are asking you to pray about them possibly carrying your child. I had to protect my family, and at this point, finding more out about this mysterious woman was the only way I knew how.

As I dialed the phone, part of me hoped my close friend would just tell me she was crazy, literally.
That was the easiest way out of this emotional roller coaster which had been our last 24 hours. If she was emotionally unstable, no matter how enticing her offer, we could just go back to our plans for adopting and  never look back. Life returning to normal sounded glorious at that point.

She didn’t.
In fact, she gave her a ringing endorsement and even said she’d be comfortable with her carrying a child of hers. According to our mutual friend, the message sender was a true Christ-follower, a loving mother, and according to my friend, one who would never – ever – send me such an astonishing message if God hadn’t directed her to do so. It wasn’t like her at all to throw herself out there like that. My friend felt like this was definitely a God-thing, said she didn’t envy being in our shoes, would have done the same thing had she been me, and that she and her husband would be praying for us and wanted to be kept posted.
Uh-oh. There went my easy way out.

When John came home from work, I filled him in.  More tears.

Was our, in particular John’s, dream of having a biological child really coming true? Only God knew the answer to that question, but it was becoming very apparent that, no matter if things with surrogacy worked out or not, life was never going to be the same, whether we liked it or not.

Days started to pass with more questions being answered as time went on. Yes, she was serious – very serious, in fact. Yes, she realized what she would be getting herself into but felt an extreme peace from the Lord about it. This certainly wasn’t her idea at all. God has spoken. She was just obeying. Yes, her husband was aware and supported her decision. She felt called to carry our child, as in mine and John’s, and had no desire for the child to be biologically hers.

God was moving, and there was no way around that fact.
His hand prints were all over what was transpiring.
Besides the fact that everything was “adding up” on her end, there was evidence on our end, as well.

We didn’t find it mere coincidence that she contacted us just days before we were going to go from only investing $150 into our adoption to investing a couple $1,000. Had she contacted us just a few days later, John’s frugal mindset would have completely been opposed to wasting the money we’d already paid out for a pending home study (one we wouldn’t need if we did surrogacy) and therefore nixed the whole idea from the get-go. On top of that, when we had our emotional, initial consultation with our attorney just a few weeks prior (that’s a whole story in and of itself), the topic of surrogacy was broached but with a price-tag way too steep for our pockets and would require us using a complete stranger (instead of just a semi-complete stranger 😉 ).

Though it was clear God was moving, our emotions were all over the board. To best honest, we traded emotional roles in our marriage; it was a very odd time for us.

After he got over his financial freak-out, usually rational John crumbled into a puddle of tears born out of extreme belief, joy and hope. I, on the other hand, took on a very, very unfamiliar role of skepticism and fear. My natural tendency to trust and never look back, to be full of optimism and steadfast trust was nowhere to be found. Needless to say, we both felt very out of character.

Day after day after work
John cried many tears of happiness and praise.
He slept soundly at night.
I cried many tears of fear and confusion.
I didn’t sleep for days and days on end.

I was awake night after night crying (literally) out to the Lord. I just didn’t understand what He was asking of our family, of me, in particular. As I knew he would, during that time, the enemy attacked with a vengeance. All the insecurities I had about not being able to provide John with the biological children he longed for so much plagued me with more fierceness than ever before. What if this doesn’t work out? Will John ever recover? Will he ever see me the same again? Will our marriage be ruined? Will he leave me and go have a family with someone else? These were just some of the literally hundreds of thoughts the enemy tried to use to pull me away from the Lord and my husband, who was dedicated to me and hated seeing me in such a stressed state.

I just knew how much this opportunity meant to John, and as his wife, his desires mean more to me than my own. Besides the Lord, my husband come first in all things – his feelings, his needs, his wants, his dreams. I praise the Lord for, and accept my husband, for who he is – his weaknesses and his strengths, just as John accepts all of me. I take being his helpmate extremely seriously. Something about being faced with your own mortality completely changes how you approach life, especially your marriage, or at least it has in my case. I don’t take any moment with him for granted. I understand what James meant when he said our life is but a vapor and desperately long to leave a legacy of one who loved their Lord first and their spouse second. Even when we have children, John will come before them.

Even though I don’t necessarily understand his, at times, insatiable desire for a biological child, it still is there and something he has to lay down every day. I can’t pretend and act like it’s easy for him. It’s not, and therefore it isn’t for me, either. I’m sure the decision to adopt would be a lot easier for some in our situation, but that hasn’t been our reality. You can’t expect every person to react to the same set of life circumstances the same way; they won’t, trust me.

During those 2 weeks when the waves of emotions tried to overtake me, I knew I had to trust Him to work out the details. After all, this whole time we’d been praying, not our will but YOURS, Lord, be done. We meant it with every breath we had, every fiber of our beings. If God wasn’t in it, no matter how much we wanted it in the flesh, we wanted no part in it. He knew that, and we had to rest in that fact. Rest, though, was hard to come by – at least for me.

I felt constant guilt for not being “strong” enough to not let all of this bother me. I felt guilty I wasn’t elated about what was transpiring like John (you know, the usually “glass half empty” one). He, though, wasn’t the one speaking with the surrogate possibility every day, which was extremely exciting, yet emotionally taxing at the same time. I felt guilty that I couldn’t just shake off all this extreme emotion and just roll with life. I felt guilty that I, the Bible teacher, couldn’t just read the Word, believe the Word, and go on my merry way, no matter what happened. I felt utterly hopeless and out of character.

What was wrong with me?!
Why couldn’t I just snap out of it, already?

After two weeks of up and down emotions, as I prepared to meet with the surrogate that next Monday and had my baby sister’s wedding rehearsal and ceremony to go to (and be in) prior to that, I hit the bottom. I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in almost two weeks. Worse yet, I hadn’t slept more than 4-5 hours in 3 days. I was tired. No, I was beyond that. I was utterly exhausted – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I remember getting out of bed at 2:00am that morning (while John peacefully slept) and beginning the ritual to which I’ve come accustomed during times like this in my life, times that the Lord was moving in ways I could never dream and wouldn’t know fully for probably years to come, if ever on this side of Heaven.

I wept – not for a few minutes, an hour, or even a few hours.
I wept, with hardly any breaks, for 12 hours straight.

For hours on end, I physically shook with the tears, tears which just kept coming and wouldn’t end no matter what I did. I prayed. I blared praise and worship music (the same song for 6 hours straight). Crying for half-a-day wasn’t something I wasn’t planning on doing. To be honest, I never want to do again. It was one of the most exhausting 12 hours of my life, and I spent 10 months of my life bed-ridden once.

I still don’t really understand where all that emotion came from, but it all just spilled out. It was raw, it was hard, it was messy, it certainly was not pretty. It was more than that, though. I am learning it was also beautiful and Godly, that it was needed and healing.

Though I felt wrecked emotionally, I felt the Lord’s presence in ways I hadn’t in several years. I was reminded of my life verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, the ones which got me through when I was close to death and could have easily died, the ones on which I founded my ministry.

In the passage, the Apostle Paul says:

And He [Jesus] has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

There was no doubt about it.
I was emotionally weak and in need of my Savior
, the One who promises to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free. I had never felt such a desperate need for Him, even when I was dying and awaiting my transplant. Though my crying fest didn’t answer any questions, and seemed pointless at the time, I know it was not in vain. I know my Lord does not shun me for being a human, namely a woman, who is extremely in touch with her emotions.

As one who has faced her own mortality, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the ability to be alive, for the ability to feel and know my God when He was in human forms cried, too. As Easter season is upon us, the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, where Jesus is under so much stress before the crucifixion, He’s sweating drops of blood while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  God the Father didn’t shame Him for doing so, either. I find great solace and beauty in that fact.

Just like Jesus, when I was done crying, I remember simply saying,
“Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done. Amen.”

After getting through an extremely busy weekend with my sister’s wedding, I had to remind myself of that come Monday morning while driving to meet for the first time this God-sent woman, who may very well be called to carry our first child. I had never been more nervous to meet someone in my entire life and probably never will be again.

I told you it was going to get good! 🙂 Part 5 to come!

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Fight – Part 3

Are you enjoying the suspense yet?! 🙂

Let’s keep going. I bet I know what happens! 😉

As you’ve already read, the last 3 weeks have been insanely emotional for us, much more suspense-filled than your life while you wait for the next part of the story to go up. 😉

Why all the emotional turmoil?

Well, let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?
The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.

*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
________________________________________________________________________________
Moving on – again.

You are probably wondering, “What does one do after reading such an astonishing message?”
That’s easy. They do what all Godly people do!
They get into a fight about it with their spouse right before church, of course!
True story.

I don’t remember all the details of the “fight.” I only use that term because that’s how most people would classify a heated discussion had in loud tones which ends in the two participants not speaking with each other.  Around here, we just call that a disagreement. John and I are both not afraid to disagree with each other and let the other know that we do. We aren’t under the false impression that you have to always agree with your spouse to truly love your spouse. Though our disagreements usually don’t end with us not speaking (especially right before church) like that Sunday morning, I never said we were perfect. I can’t give you the play-by-play of our sparring, but I do remember that the fight/disagreement began with my husband’s initial response after we finished breakfast and I handed over the phone and he read what I had just read moments earlier.

Here are some highlights of what happened next in our bedroom:
“What are you thinking?” – Amber
“It’s not like we could afford it, anyway.” – John
“Who sends messages like this?! Don’t you think we should maybe look into this a bit? Who does this, Babe?! She’s either psychotic, or the only other conclusion is she’s sent by God for some reason or another.” – Amber
“We don’t have that kind of money. I don’t know what you want me to do; it is what it is. We have what we have, and it certainly isn’t enough to cover some huge surrogacy bill. We will barely be able to pay for adoption. We can’t go into huge debt pursuing a family. God isn’t going to be honored in that, you know.”  – John
“You know what I know? You don’t know what you want. Someone we don’t even know may be offering, because God told them to, to have our biological child, which supposedly you want so much, and it automatically comes back to money. It’s always about money with you.” – Amber
Of course I want biological children with you, but we have already made up our minds. Trying to have kids of our own isn’t safe, and we don’t have $50,000 or more [what he believed at the time it’d at least cost, even if we found the “right” type of person] to hire some surrogate. We’re adopting. That’s what we’ve been working through, and saving toward, for all these years; that’s what we’re doing.” – John
“Are you even going to ask me what I want to do? Of course not. You never do.” – Amber

In John’s defense, he did try to reconcile with me quickly.
He’s a great husband and loves me deeply.
I never doubt that, even when things get a bit heated. Though I reacted emotionally at the time, I also knew that his knee-jerk reaction to bring up the financial aspect of things was just a defense mechanism; the man cared about what was going on a ton more than his words would have me believe, than he even knew at the time. 

After I stormed off, he gave me a little while to cool down and then came into the bathroom where I was getting ready and apologized for thinking of the financial aspect of things first. Admittedly, if he’s not careful, John tends to think through the lens of “dollars and cents” more so than “faith and opportunity.”

His desire to be a wise steward of the financial resources he’s been given is a huge strength, don’t get me wrong. When that desire turns into not wanting to just steward our money but a desire to control it, instead of having faith and ultimately trusting the Provider of said resources, a huge strength can easily turn into a huge weakness. There’s a Godly balance, one that is not always easy for him to find.

If you know John, he’s extremely frugal. I would have called myself thrifty before I got married, but marrying John has just taken my frugality to a whole new level; the man means business. He hates waste. He hates loans; he doesn’t believe in being the slave to the lender, unless you have absolutely no choice, or can afford the item but need to build credit, and then for only as long as needed.  You work hard, tithe, save hard and ultimately buy only what you can afford – nothing more, no excuses. We have a major credit card, but it’s only because we make money through paying off our balance every month and getting cash back. You don’t make impulse buys. You do your research before each purchase. You know the grocery’s sales cycle. You cut your coupons. You live on a budget.  You put your savings in a high-interest account. You acknowledge the financial blessings you’ve been given without any work of your own, but you also do your part to stretch that blessing as far as you can.

Living below your means is a lifestyle we will never leave, and I’m proud of that fact. Though I jokingly laugh at how intense he can be about it, I don’t begrudge my husband for wanting to be a good steward with what God has given us. We have been scraping up every penny we can since we got married a little over three years ago to be able to pay for the adoption we knew we would be pursuing one day.

With a price tag of $20K (at least) for adoption, on top of buying (and recently strategically re-financing into a loan limit of only 15 instead of 30 years) a home, updating/repairing said home (home ownership isn’t cheap), paying off a student loan, paying off one vehicle and recently purchasing another from my in-laws, and continuing to pay back law school debt (is it over yet?), all while I’ve never made more than $15,000 a year,  let’s just say saving for that hasn’t been for the faint of heart.


But, as I reminded John later that afternoon after church and after I’d cooled down, the abundant life Jesus calls us to isn’t for the faint of heart, no matter what your financial situation. The abundant life is a life defined by blind faith, strict obedience, and many times, immeasurable courage — no matter your circumstances.

As we talked on the bed that day, courage is just what we realized we were going to need. As we had hundreds of times before, we prayed together for our unborn children. We cried out to the Author of our Story, the One who has penned it all before the foundation of time and therefore already knows the ending and is more than willing to direct our path.

We begged the Lord for wisdom and for His will, no matter what.

In the process, our defenses slowly faded, the shocking reality of what may very well be going on around us sunk in, we felt more united (yet overwhelmed) than ever, and the tears for both of us (of all types) began. Oh, the many, many tears.

*The emotional Part 4 to come! It’ll cover 2 weeks worth of time, so things will start really speeding up. Please remember I’m documenting all of this not just for you but, more importantly, for us and our children to honor the Lord’s faithfulness to their parents. Please have patience as I sort through everything that has transpired; as you can tell, there has been a lot going on. Keep reading! It’ll be worth it, I promise. 🙂

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Bombshell – Part 2

As I established in the last post, the last 3 weeks have been full of ups and downs for us, full of tears of joy and sorrow, full of unexpected twists and turns; they have been just plain hard.

Really hard.
The emotions that have come with everything have been at times more than I thought I could handle. I have cried a river as long as the Amazon the past several days and don’t think the long dry season is coming for my tear ducts anytime soon. In short, they’ve been the longest 3 weeks of my life, and I’ve lived a lot of life in my 27+ years.

Why all the emotional turmoil?

Well, let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?
The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.

*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
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Moving on.

On Wednesday, February 27th, I was in the middle of my work-out on an elliptical machine at the Y one morning before work (the usual routine) when I saw I had received two Facebook messages (the same message repeated) at 1:20am.

The sender’s name sounded familiar, but I certainly didn’t know her. I thought, though, I could pick her out in a crowd, if asked. Mind you, this was nothing unusual. I get Facebook messages all the time, including from people I don’t, or barely, know. It comes with the territory of being privileged to be an author and running a non-profit ministry.

The message (which I have permission to post) stated the following:
Okay so I have fought this for two weeks now and every night when I pray you come to mind along with a question… have you and your husband prayed about having a surrogate mother? Feel free to tell me it’s none of my business, but for some reason I just feel like God has been after me to ask. I pray all is well with you and your husband and congrats on the book and site!

To be honest, while I read with sweat dripping down my face, I didn’t think much about the message.

I put the phone down, continued watching TODAY on the TV attached to my machine, and after re-reading it and making sure it truly existed, I shrugged it off with the thought,  “I’ll respond to her when I get out of here. People are nosy. I guess if I were them, I’d want to know, too. It’s a reasonable question. People pray for us all the time who don’t know us. She seems sweet. I hope I don’t forget to write her back. I have a lot to do before I head to work. I need to get that home study scheduled soon. I’m starving. What am I going to eat when I get home?”

Clearly, I didn’t think that message could possibly drastically alter my life. After all, many times when the Lord is quietly working in our lives, we fail to see it at first, if at all.

I got home, read the message again, and then my head start swirling  – but just for a few moments. I quickly calmed myself back down and embraced “reality” again.  “Amber, I told myself, she’s just being nosy.” I ate my breakfast, got busy with things around the house, and headed off to work. Her message was not on the forefront of my mind. After all, she was just a curious, albeit seemingly sweet, person. I would get back to her when I had time.

2 days later I responded back with the following:

WOW! Thanks for writing. 🙂 Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you. Honestly, when I read your post for the first time on the elliptical Wednesday morning, I didn’t believe it existed. haha Thanks for being obedient and putting yourself out there out of obedience to the Father, what courage you showed!

To be honest, yes, we have prayed/thought about it, as it’s just natural to want to have biological children, even if you can’t carry them. Surrogacy, though, is not an easy issue.

First, I would NEVER ask anyone I know, including those to whom I am close, to be my surrogate. I just don’t feel comfortable asking even those to whom I am the closest to risk their health and sacrifice their body and time for my sake. They’d have to first feel called (and let’s face it, that takes a special person), have the permission of their husband, and then we’d ALL have to pray through it before we made any rash decisions.

On top of that, surrogacy is EXTREMELY expensive, from what we’ve been told, more expensive than even adoption, which can easily be over $20-30,000. Rightfully so, the surrogate mother should receive compensation, which is usually quite high, on top of medical expenses (for us and for the surrogate with retrieving our egg and sperm and implanting them), legal expenses, etc. We haven’t really researched everything, since we have all along just planned on NOT going down this road, but from the little we’ve been told, it just sounds very, very expensive.

May I ask why you ask? 🙂

I didn’t feel the need to go into all the details I mentioned in my last post of why surrogacy wasn’t for us. I wanted my response to my heart-felt and answer her question, yet not reveal to her just how much my husband longed for biological children (a longing even I sometimes have a very hard time understanding, let alone others), how I struggle daily with guilt inspired by the enemy for not being able to safely provide him said children, or reveal just how hard the adoption road thus far had been for us, especially for him.

I figured her response would be, “Oh, just wondering! That’s all.”
You know – the norma
l response.
Silly me.

On Sunday, March 3rd, in the middle of us innocently eating breakfast together before church, this (which I have permission to post) is what I read on my phone:

Hey! So the reason I asked…. Well, I have been praying for a long time now that God would use me however He seems fit. God has been SOOO good to me and I don’t deserve ½ of what he has blessed me with. One of the biggest joys and blessings God brought into my life was my daughter. I loved being pregnant, however with going back for my masters right now my husband and I feel that we are not meant to start over with the addition of another one of our own.
Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” This is a verse that keeps coming to my mind. I have been praying for a long time about what this means to me and I just feel lead that God may be pointing me to become a surrogate. With that said however, comes a few stipulations… 1- it must be a Godly couple. 2- they must be dedicated to raising the child to love and serve the Lord. Beyond these two reasons I would LIKE (but not require) the opportunity to give the child a birthday/Christmas present. So, I realize that I have probably given you a lot to think about and pray about. I will continue to keep this in my prayers. I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider this and then get back to me. I only want to be a surrogate of a couple who is lead by God to do the same.

Can someone say “bombshell?”

There’s so much more to the rest of this story. Part 3 to come! 🙂

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, Marriage, Surrogacy