When did my Plan B become my Plan A? Only God knows.
You see, I came to the adoption world kicking and screaming; adoption was not my first choice.
Oh sure, in my younger years, before I was faced with the threat of infertility, I spouted that if we could not have children “of our own,” we’d adopt. No biggie! Just flip the switch from “biological” to “adoption.”
But when we didn’t immediately get pregnant as per our plan, when the months turned into years and the word “infertility” dropped like a bomb, adoption lost its appeal. It seemed like a scary unknown. Sure, we’d consider adoption . . . after we’d done everything humanly possible to avoid it.
Our journey with infertility started with the greatest of intentions. We’ll only take this as far as God lets us. He’s in control. When it starts affecting our marriage negatively, we’ll stop. We began with God—but somewhere in the midst of multiple infertility treatments and devastating monthly pregnancy tests, I left God behind. Since he wasn’t getting us anywhere, I thought I’d better take over.
Our eight-year journey also took us down a dark path. How could it not? I grieved repeatedly—monthly—while the chances my husband could “fix” this decreased with every passing month. It was excruciatingly hard on us, individually and as a couple. It seeped into every aspect of our marriage.
All that negativity should have encouraged us to quit. But for us it was frighteningly difficult to stop infertility treatments. It seemed like such sad finality to all the turmoil and pain we’d endured. What would we get for all our time, money, emotional upheaval, and discomfort? Nothing? All those hopes dashed? I wasn’t quitting that easily.
My mind played convincing games: Sure, a percentage of couples do not get pregnant, but the odds increase in our favor with every treatment. We couldn’t be the one couple who never gets pregnant, right? We’ve prayed about this, so we just have to be patient; it will happen! Celine Dion got pregnant after nine treatments; we’re not giving up yet!
So whenever the specialists asked if we’d like to try again or try a new method or treatment, how could we say no? I couldn’t.
Along the way, we toyed with the idea of adoption. Well-meaning loved ones would attempt to broach the subject. But I could not consider adoption seriously because the thought that the next infertility treatment could be the one was too enticing. It became a part of our lifestyle. I couldn’t imagine what we’d do if we stepped off that treadmill. Its rhythm was all we’d come to know: treatment, failure, agony, renewed hope. And then right back where we started. Adoption seemed foreign, an abyss into the unknown. At least with infertility, we knew what we were facing.
Finally, God intervened. Or rather, finally we noticed God trying to intervene. We’d been traveling two hours each month to a new fertility clinic when the specialist did a 180 on us. He’d earlier told us we were not good candidates for IVF (in vitro fertilization). This was not a revelation: we’d already tried three times elsewhere and had figured this out. We were there to explore an alternative treatment, but after six months it became clear that wasn’t working either.
The specialist said, “I think we can still get you a baby. Why don’t you try IVF?”
In the parking lot, I turned to my husband and said through tears, “So what do you think? Should we try again?” Between heaving sobs, I added, “At least he gave us hope.” My husband looked me in the eye and compassionately said, “Oh sweetie, he’s not giving us hope. He’s giving us opportunity.”
That was our final meeting with the specialist. And the first day of our adoption story.
At last we realized that these specialists were never going to say no to us. If we were desperate enough, we could have continued down the path of treatments indefinitely. And God wasn’t going to shout from the mountaintops that we should get off the train either. Likely he’d been trying to, but we hadn’t been listening. We had to stop and realize this was no longer God’s plan for us. It might be for others, but no longer for us. I had to give up trying to control what our family would look like.
We met with our pastor, prayed, grieved, and closed that chapter of our lives. Soon after, we booked a trip to Cuba to launch our journey into the adoption world. Adoption didn’t feel like “the great unknown” anymore. It didn’t seem so daunting and ominous. On a catamaran in the middle of the ocean I announced to a hundred strangers, “We’re going to adopt!” and it felt like hope. For the first time in years, we had real hope.
Infertility treatments offer much promise, and for many, an answer to prayer. For others, the result can be heartbreak and brokenness. It’s not for someone else to decide when a couple is ready to close the door and move on to other options such as adoption. But I’m so thankful we finally got off the infertility train. Adoption is our lifestyle now, and God made it abundantly clear to us.
One year after that announcement on the catamaran, an old friend called. We’d earlier shared with her our dreams of adopting. Now her niece was facing an unexpected pregnancy. Five weeks later, our beautiful girl Jayden was born. Two months after that, we found out Jayden was deaf. God seemed mighty quiet during the dark years of infertility, but now he was speaking loud and clear!
You see, God’s provision for Jayden, whose name means “God has heard,” was so great that he brought her into a family that already knows sign: I am a sign language interpreter and work in the deaf community. The birth family’s adoption practitioner also worked in the deaf community, and the Christian foster parents who cared for Jayden briefly also have a daughter who is deaf. Jayden is a living testimony to how God provides.
I came to the adoption world kicking and screaming. It definitely was my Plan B, something I’ll have to contend with when our daughters come to the age when they ask why. But I will be able to share this: God was in control throughout our journey. Always. I do not regret the choices we made with infertility treatments. God’s timing is perfect.
So where is my Plan B now? Six years after adopting Jayden, I met a friend at a coffee shop. She and I had shared our infertility struggles—and even though my husband and I had moved on to adoption, infertility never leaves you. My friend had heard about a new herbal infertility remedy that was all the rage. “Do you want to try it?” she asked.
“Oh no,” I said. “I don’t want to get pregnant anymore. I just want to adopt again. Adoption is our story. The only time I think about pregnancy is when I’m frustrated that our second adoption hasn’t happened!”
I left that coffee shop praising God. I couldn’t believe how I’d changed. I’d known from the moment we adopted Jayden that I would forever be an adoption champion, but this instinctive response solidified it for me. “Wow, Lord!” I prayed. “When did you change my Plan B to Plan A? Thank you!”
My second prayer was “So, what gives already?” By this time, it had been three years of waiting for our second child. I got into my car, checked my phone, and there it was: a message from our adoption case worker. We got the call. Soon we would be the proud parents of another beautiful girl named Alena.
Plan B is our plan now—and it’s all in God’s good timing.
About the Author
Belinda Lanning lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband, Steve, and their daughters Jayden and Alena. They attend Barrhaven Fellowship CRC.