If you are reading this you are about to hear a first hand account of our family history. Amy and I thought it would be best for you to hear our entire story before asking you to consider contributing to our next chapter. Above all, we hope you find encouragement in our words. For any trial or challenge that you may be currently walking through, we pray that your faith will be strengthened.
When you first get married you are often warned by close family and friends to beware of the sophomore slump. The second year of marriage is usually accompanied by arguments about money, personal space, and which side of the family you'll be spending the holidays with. The honeymoon stage comes to an end and you come crashing back to earth. Right? Well not for us. Year two was better than the first. We seemed to skate by, unscathed by others projections of what our marriage roadmap might look like. Not that we didn't have our disagreements from time to time, but nothing that derailed us from where we thought we were headed. It's funny though, we so easily dismiss others cautions believing "that will never happen to us! Can't you see the perfect picture of our future we've been painting for ourselves?" I think that response often comes more from naivety, rather than from arrogance. But in the end it brings you to the same destination.
Jeremiah 29:11 promises a hope and a future, right? If I had a quarter for every time I pulled this verse out of my pocket to help ease any uncertainty in my life, Amy and I would have enough money to adopt an entire village of children. It wasn't until I actually looked at this passage in greater depth that I realized this hope and future doesn't come without pain, hardships, and suffering. I applied the passage to my life as my own kind of mini prosperity gospel. After stumbling across an article written in Relevant Magazine, I found some truth and perspective.
We often read Jeremiah 29 like it is good news, plain and simple. But to the first people who heard those words, they were a tremendous disappointment. God’s people had suffered terribly. They had lost their land, their throne, and their temple.
It was into this kind of despair that Jeremiah offered God’s promise: “I know the plans I have for you … plans for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future and a hope.” They were not easy words to hear. Jeremiah promised that God had a plan that was certain and inevitable. But it would not unfold on Israel’s timetable. It would not simply undo Israel’s hardship. Yet the promise stood: God would fully restore His people and bring them out of their desperate situation, but He would not do it in the way any of them would have planned it.
Isn't it our timetables and earthly expectations that set us up for incredible disappointments? Well, ours was just around the corner. One of the obvious questions that arise in conversation with your potential spouse before even considering whether or not you want to tie the knot is, "Do you want kids? If so, how many?" For me, that wasn't always an easy question to answer. I can't tell you how many times a friend or new parent has asked me "Do you want to hold him (or her)?" Referring to their sweet little newborn baby. "Sure! I'd love to!" Lies, all lies. Every one of those moments I thought to myself how much more I'd rather be holding a golden retriever puppy than this strange, new little person who cries way too much. I often looked at having children as being a step of life, not some instinctive desire to be a Father...quite the dichotomy between Amy and I.
Amy knew from the time she was two years old that she wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom. Even when she was a baby, she loved babies. Just like our little girl, Eisley. More on her later. Amy is the baby whisperer. There is something so innate and natural in her ability to mother, and not just with her own child. She's cared for handfuls of kids as a nanny over our eight years of marriage... always remembering each child's birthday, making sure she had a gift for each one. Even when we weren't building our family, she was building someone else's.
Gradually, a natural paternal longing to start my own family set in. Definitely not a Duggar-sized family, but at least one baby. Just to get started. This was a huge step for me. In my mind, being “ready” meant that a couple months from now Amy would be showing, we’d start baby-proofing all the things that could cause boo-boos, and I’d be creating the hipster’s dream nursery. This would have been my ideal plan. I can say looking back five years later that how this really all played out was indeed the perfect plan. In the moment though, our journey seemed like a torture. After twelve unsuccessful months of trying to start our family and much pressure from Amy, I reluctantly agreed to visit the Doctor. I was sure that our lack of results was merely a timing issue and it would be just a matter of time before we’d see two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Boy was I wrong. The news our Doctor gave us was devastating.
Nobody ever talks about infertility. I didn’t even know there was a word for not being able to get pregnant. I didn’t know any of the odds or statistics accompanying this condition. I was clueless that 1 in 8 couples struggles with getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy! Most importantly, I certainly didn’t know the taxing effects infertility would have on a marriage.
Our statistic was gloomy. Our chance for conceiving naturally was less than one half of a percent on a good month. On any given month, a healthy couple has a 15-25% chance of getting pregnant. God isn’t constrained by earthly facts. God is bigger than any statistics, right? These are the things I would say to Amy in efforts to encourage her and give her hope. My intentions were pure. But what I eventually realized was, I was doing was minimizing her pain, as well as my own.
Amy and I experienced some very raw moments as the heartache manifested itself in our discussions and through very honest comments. At times it felt almost too honest. For me the sadness came in short bursts. For Amy, the pain was always there. Those of you who are married understand there is no greater pain in life than seeing the person you love most in life hurting. Even worse when there is absolutely nothing you can do to ease intense ache. Amy's deep desire to be a Mother was colliding with the reality that bearing a child wasn't going to happen the way we traditionally expect, or that it may never happen at all.
Between trying naturally, 10 rounds of IUI, and 3 rounds of IVF, we heard the answer "NO" 48 times. Every "No"after the last became less surprising, but hurt even more than the one before. For any of you who have gone through this, you know that each no is followed by days of grieving. It's not an exaggeration to say it feels a lot like you're attending the funeral of a loved one every month.
In the midst of all this, adoption was brought up quite frequently, both in my and Amy's conversations, and in conversations with those trying to provide us with a sense of comfort. It was often presented to us as a backup plan of sorts. Not that a backup plan is a bad thing. If that adopted child is headed to a loving home, then it has to be a good thing. But if I was going to adopt I wanted it to be crystal clear this was God's calling for our life and not our attempt to fill a void we had in our hearts. To me it resembled being the last kid being picked for the kickball team during recess. I didn't want to tell our adopted child that he or she was our last choice.
Our hearts and our heads were filled with so many emotions and thoughts. What do we do next? What will we do when our savings account dries up? We had come up on our last try through IVF. We had 13 embryos frozen at our fertility clinic. 11 of them had already been implanted without any success. We were down to our last two. Our doctors told us these were our "worst ones". So much for saving the best for last. Through the generous contribution of a close family member, we scrounged up enough money to follow through with our last attempt although our expectations for any positive results were at an all time low.
At this point, Amy had requested that the Doctors always call me with the results. She couldn't bare to hear another?#160;"no". I hated my new job of relaying the news to Amy. "Don't shoot the messenger" wouldn't exactly be a great response. I went over and over in my head how I inevitably would break the bad news to her that our last try fell short. I remember getting the phone call at work. I didn't have the fertility clinic's phone number stored in my phone, but I had seen it so many times that I recognized where the call was coming from. I let the call go to voicemail and checked it about 20 minutes later.
Having rehearsed giving the bad news over and over, I had not once considered that I'd be giving good news. I was floored with the Doctor's news. Almost five years of waiting culminated into one, fifteen-second voicemail. Sharing the news with Amy was one of the most joyful moments of my life. Nine months later, our "fat chance, poor quality" embryo blossomed into our beautiful little girl, Eisley Grace Roeters.
It was through the waiting, the pain, the suffering, and the tears that we realized this process was not about us. We started to see glimpses of God's purpose throughout the later part of our Journey. As difficult as it was, we began to welcome it. We encountered many people over the four years who were carrying the same exact burden as Amy and I. The only difference was they did not share the same hope that we have in Christ. The only place they knew to put their hope was in the Doctors and themselves. That's a heavy weight for a person to carry. It if wasn't for our suffering, we would not have been able share the reason for our hope with others. Because of Amy's faithfulness, others have come to know Christ.
Someone asked us a rhetorical question shortly after Eisley was born. It was a doozy. "Would you give Eisley back if it meant one more person would find a relationship with Jesus?". That's not an easy one to answer, and obviously that is not God's plan. But I think it's a great question that will always be a steady reminder that if we're not pointing back to Him, we're doing it all wrong. The day that Amy and I can't both answer that question with a "yes", is the moment we've forgotten everything God taught us.
I can say whole-heartedly that adoption is not our new pursuit of growing our family, but our hunger to follow God's calling in our life. Whatever child God places with us will not be the last player selected to the Roeters kickball team, but will be God's choice for our family. We are personally inviting God to break us, mold us, and lead us so that he may be glorified. Our hope is that through this new process others will come to know the same God that delivered our miracle in Eisley, the same God who promises us a hope and a future, even in the midst of hardships.
Why not pursue another biological child? Simply put, God has commanded us to adopt. Secondly, we believe that this is the ministry our family has been called to. Lastly, we see a very apparent need in the world to care for the children that are already here. One of my favorite quotes states "Where your gifts and the needs of this world meet, therein lies your purpose". This is our purpose. This is our ministry.
So do I believe in the famous quote that "Good things come to those who wait"? My answer is yes! But, what we've learned is the "good things" that we're waiting for will most likely look much different than we had hoped, and THAT is worth waiting for.
Thank you for your support.
Jeff & Amy