It had been years since my last ultrasound, but I was talking with the ultrasound technician at my doctor’s appointment. She and I were chatting about our families and how things were going for each of us. After a bit, she said, “I remember you, Kristi.”
Stunned by her comment, I asked, “Why would you remember me?”
With certainty, she replied, “Well, there are quite a few women who come here with their third, fourth, or fifth pregnancy. Their ultrasounds are fine, so I don’t really remember them. Your situation was unique and also sorrowful. I prayed for you.”
And there I was comforted. While that wasn’t the reason I wanted to be remembered, I was still grateful. “Thank you for your prayers. I am thankful that God has given me so many blessings.”
We went on to talk about God’s good plan for His children. While we do not understand God’s timing, we trust that He will only do what is best for us.
While at the doctor’s office for a routine physical exam, I decided to ask about the official diagnosis for my barrenness. My physician is a wise soul, and, since she hadn’t been my primary physician years ago, she asked a variety of questions. We visited back and forth, reviewing my medical history. I assured her that I did not NEED to know the exact reason for my barrenness; I was merely asking out of curiosity.
After more discussion, she asked, “So if you could get pregnant, would you?” She caught me completely off guard. “Wow,” I replied, “nobody has asked me that question in the past several years.” She quickly apologized and assured me that I need not answer that question. “No, I do want to answer that,” I told her. “You surprised me because that scenario has not entered my mind since we began the adoption process eight years ago.” I went on to share with her that I believed all children to be gifts. If God would bless our family with another biological child, then I would definitely receive him/her with great joy. At least I think I would. Right?
I pondered her question over and over again. At times, I was excited. God could bless our family yet again with a child. At other times, I was terrified. I have just survived a challenging eighteen months with the arrival of our two youngest children. Could I handle another child right now? I thought that our quiver was going to have three arrows, so I wasn’t even considering the possibility of more children. I was being challenged. I could feel myself trying to take control of a possible pregnancy situation. Why, oh, why was I trying to take the reins of something that is completely out of my hands?
Thanks be to God for His continuous forgiveness, despite my attempts to be in charge. God knows what’s going to happen. The “What if….” question may play out for years to come. What if we do get pregnant? Will I be able to handle all that a pregnancy entails? What if we don’t get pregnant? Will I remain thankful for my blessings? “What if…” can be a dangerous question because it leads me down paths that may not be what God has in mind for me. This I KNOW, however…. God is in control, and He is always working for my eternal good.
It happened again. And sadly, it will most likely happen many more times. Somebody, with good intentions, was trying to fix your family situation, one which we both know, is a marriage union that has been blessed by God, despite not being blessed with children, either biologically or adopted. I hope you are never made to feel guilty or ashamed for not being given the gift of children. Your marriage is a gift from the Lord, and that is something to be cherished. Whether or not He adds children to your family is not something you can dictate. Rather, I encourage you to pray for the Lord’s will to always be done in your life, with or without children. Your husband is one of God’s many gifts to you, and that’s a good thing.
In my selfishness, I forget that my husband bears the cross of barrenness, too. I forget that my empty womb is a cross that he also shares.
Isaac also experienced the same cross. He and his wife Rebekah did not have any children. His father Abraham had been told that he would be the father of nations. Isaac knew that this meant his family would need to have descendants. Thus, Isaac took his concern to the Lord. As a loving spouse, he pleaded to God for his wife because they were barren.
New King James Version (NKJV)
19 This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
God heard Jacob’s prayer. Only by His grace and mercy, God granted twins to Rebekah and Jacob.
May we be so bold as to always take our concerns to our Father in heaven. May we also thank God for our spouses, who share the cross of barrenness with us.
“The flesh distrusts God, trusts in present things, seeks human aid in trouble, even contrary to God’s will. It flees from suffering, which it ought to bear because of God’s commands. It doubts God’s mercy and so on. The Holy Spirit in our hearts fights against such tendencies in order to suppress and kill them and to produce new spiritual motives.” — Apology of the Augsburg Confession V 45-49
It’s tempting to seize control of your barrenness and change your status. You dearly want to trust that your doctor has the tools to prepare your body to carry a child. You want to believe the advice of friends who’ve had success in child-bearing. You hear about couples who have children through IVF. In your head and heart, you know it opposes God’s will. Yet it is still so hard to accept this truth and live in God’s grace. You go home to a quiet house at the end of the day. You weep when the phone call comes, announcing a friend’s pregnancy. You wonder if toys will ever occupy space on your living room floor. Your suffering never seems to end. You feel alone.
Take heart, dear sisters. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit is fighting against the sinful flesh for you. Yes, for you! The Holy Spirit wards off more evil thoughts than you know and gives you strength to live each day. It is the Holy Spirit who reminds you that you are remembered by Jesus. So fight on, Holy Spirit; fight on!
Ephesians 6:10-17 (ESV)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
It’s very rare to find me in a courtroom. And yet, I was there yesterday for 2 special reasons. Our daughter Maria was being readopted in the USA. At the same time, the finalization of adoption for our son Josiah was also being completed. My husband and I watched the legal system work. Both of our lawyers presented evidence that supported our request to adopt. The judge reviewed the piles of paperwork and listened to our testimony. He even asked Joanna a few questions about being a big sister. After twenty minutes, we heard the judge decree that… “from this day henceforth Maria shall be the adopted child of Jerome and Kristin Leckband.” He also decreed that… “from this day henceforth Josiah shall be the adopted child of Jerome and Kristin Leckband.” And there was much clapping from the gallery of friends who had come to share our joy.
And just like that it was done. We officially have 2 more children in our family. The range of emotions that I have experienced in the past 24 hours is wide. Incredible joy at these blessings God gives. Extreme humbleness for being given the responsibility to parent. Guilt over the gift of three children. Pain for birth families. Relief that the adoption process for both children is finally over.
Each adoption story is unique and special. God knows each of His children and provides for them when and where He wills. Jerome and I conversed about the Galatians passage regarding adoption.
English Standard Version (ESV)
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
We did not choose these children. The Chinese adoption agency matched us with Maria. Josiah’s birthmother chose us to care for her son. There was nothing in us that deserved either of these children; God brought these children to us. The same can be said for our biological daughter Joanna. God gave her to us. Also, God chose me to be adopted into His family. He made me His child in Holy Baptism. On my baptism date of August 27, 1972, it was decreed that… from this day henceforth Kristin Kay shall be a child of God. It’s all God’s work in us and through us.
And, so, to those of you who are working through the adoption process, know this. The Lord is with you every step of the way, no matter the outcome. Adoption is not an easy answer to the prayer for children. The adoption process can be loaded with bumps and bruises and disappointments and u-turns and marathon miles. There will likely be pain and hardship and trials. Still, God provides what is best for you. He always does. Thus, if the Lord blesses you with a child, it is purely by His grace and mercy. And when the judge makes the official decree regarding the adoption of YOUR child, then you can smile all day and all night and do a happy dance. I did, and I’m still smiling today.
Advent is a season in the church year that is easily dismissed. It’s a time of waiting. We, in the church, also use these days before Christmas to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ-child. Our sinful hearts, minds, and bodies need to be turned from our sinfulness and turned to God for His grace and mercy.
I don’t know why children haven’t been borne to me. After years of marriage, I’m ready to bear a child. I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically. Still no baby. In my self-pity I gripe to God for not giving me what I want, specifically the gift of a baby. After years of waiting and no specific diagnosis, that gift may never come come from my womb. What a hard, sad truth to accept.
And so I continue to wait. The Church reminds me to repent and turn from my sinfulness. My ways are not God’s ways. The Church reminds me that I wait for Jesus. So – does that mean that Christ’s arrival will make my body fruitful? No. The fruit of Mary’s womb is Jesus, and He makes me whole. I’ll not be whole in the physical sense here on earth. Rather, Jesus makes me whole through His death and resurrection. My body will always be sinful, thus, my body will not be perfect. However, God uses His means of grace to unite me with Jesus. He alone is perfect.
Being barren, I may never be finished waiting for a child. That longing may never go away. However, I no longer have to wait for Jesus to come. He came 2000 years ago and redeemed me. I wait, instead, for His triumphant return to take me to Himself in heaven.