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  • Writer's pictureLisa Murphy

Dear Infertile Couple,

We once walked in your shoes. We held the same worries and fears in our hearts as you do now, and I hope our personal account encourages you in some way. His plans? They don’t always align with ours. We simply have to trust and walk through each day leaning on Jesus and following the Holy Spirit’s promptings. This is our story (adapted from a piece originally shared on Blessed is She blog):

I should have somehow known my children wouldn't come from my own womb. I was a horrible patient (still am) and detest any type of medical procedure. The Good Lord looked after my health in extraordinary ways, it seems – I’ve never had a broken limb, a single surgery (yep, still have my tonsils and appendix) or braces as a child. I was quite fortunate, I am aware, especially when I reflect on the memories of my youth wading through muddy creeks, flying out of tree houses, and being a carefree child of the seventies—running loose outside until my mother hollered for us to come in at dusk. {please pause while I knock on wood and praise Jesus} Anyway, my point is that I should have maybe surmised that delivering a baby wasn't in God's plan for me. In fact, I pretty much lacked a motherly instinct altogether for years. I remember watching a dear friend, in our late twenties, read books about pregnancy and as she researched the process, I simply shook my head in disbelief, unable to comprehend why she was so interested in babies, when I was completely self-absorbed in my personal dreams and materialistic goals. But, thankfully, that would all change.

At one point, in our early thirties, my husband, Jim, and I decided - since our friends were all having children - that maybe it was time to start our family too; however, pregnancy wasn't happening for us naturally. There were several years of the “infertility drill” of using ovulation test kits, tracking cycles on the calendar, and trying to figure things out on our own. And when that was unsuccessful, I formulated a new plan. This plan involved "A" - two rounds of artificial insemination, and "B" - one round of invitro fertilization, if “A” didn’t work. But, in my head, I never thought it would come to that Plan “B,” because – as you’ve read– I wasn’t a big fan of anything medical.

We found a fertility (or infertility) specialist who was on our insurance plan, but even so, we were mentally prepared to spend a significant amount of money on this new path, since most of the services weren’t covered. When we entered into the beautifully-decorated, warm and cozy doctor’s office, Jim and I felt pretty positive about it all. I mean, it certainly looked like a successful and comfortable way to go, with pictures of perfect, healthy babies hanging on every wall, and the doctor seemed confident about success rates. When we met with the medical team, I specifically requested that they not take scientific measures to help us conceive (I had obviously not done much research on all of this and the fact that it was all scientific by design; I had just “felt” like it was a viable path for us). The interesting part was that, in my gut - even without a Catholic faith-based compass at the time - I knew that I didn't want "science" involved. I even asked the nurse if they could avoid sperm selection and not inject me with any type of hormone that would make me feel all bloated and unnatural. It was kind of like I wanted to go through with the medical procedures, but I also wanted God to be the one to make it work, not the doctors. (Please, I share this with absolutely NO judgment - we all have our own journeys.)

We promptly reported to the doctor’s office when it was time. But, strangely, it didn't feel like it was time. We entered the exam room, and I followed the instructions of the nurse to lie on the table while the procedure began. And that's when - as I was lying there with my supportive, loving husband by my side, I suddenly felt a very strong and intense sense that I wasn’t supposed to be there, and I heard a voice inside say, "Go and don't ever come back." It shook me to the core. I know now that was the Holy Spirit, but I wasn’t aware of it then.

After the procedure was done shortly thereafter, we gathered our belongings and left the office. We headed to Dunkin' Donuts for coffee (romantic, right?) and that's when I told my husband what had happened. Not only did I know that both my Plan "A" and "B" had just been foiled that morning, but I also knew inside that pregnancy would not take place on that day. We decided – in that hour – to stop actively “trying” to get pregnant altogether.

Several years passed before God would reveal His plan. The Lord pricked our hearts in an intimate way through the loss of a precious boy’s life. Stephen was only six, and he fought cancer hard, but he took his last breaths with his family and friends by his side. And when his brave Mama stood up at the podium on the altar at the Catholic Church and consoled hundreds in attendance at his funeral, she reached a different place in my heart. It was a place that screamed, I want THAT. I instantly longed for - not only her faith that seemed unwavering in her darkest hour - but also her selfless and overflowing love for her child, the way Mary loved Jesus. That experience changed my life and ultimately led us to the Catholic faith.

Several months later, I went to my annual ob-gyn appointment, and my doctor began quizzing me, "Do you want a family? Do you want kids?" I still wasn't sure how we would even get to that with our pregnancy failures, but I did know one thing with all my heart - my husband would be the best dad in the world, and I wanted that for him. The doctor handed me a large white packet from an adoption agency called Wide Horizons for Children and told me to take it home. They'd just received it in their office that week. Coincidence? Nope. His timing is always perfect.

I studied it for days. Jim studied it, too. We read up on all the various country programs and options available. But God. God had planted a seed in my husband at the young age of fourteen years old as a high school student in Clawson, Michigan. As a ninth-grade student, he'd remembered learning about the "Dying Rooms" in China--rooms where countless unwanted baby girls cried and cried, until their little bodies had no more fight, and they cried themselves into the arms of our Lord. Jimmy knew that he wanted to go to China to adopt one of those baby girls. And I was perfectly content with that plan.

It took time and glorious unfolding, but I look back now, in awe, thirteen years later. We've now completed five adoptions and the Lord has changed the trajectory of our lives forever. These children have blessed us beyond measure, and then some. They may not have my blood, but oh they have my heart, and they are mine, all because I listened to the Holy Spirit that day.

This is for you, weary ones in the midst of family planning struggles, take heart and rest in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He is a good, good Father and things don’t always work out according to our plans, but for His.

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