Once upon a time there was a girl who fell in love with a boy. They got married, moved into a tiny apartment, and waited to become parents.
Months passed. Then years.
Still they waited.
Everyone they knew had babies. Everyone they saw had babies. Churches and supermarkets and sidewalks were crowded with families with children.
Still, this couple’s arms were empty.
It was a time of questions. Didn’t God want them to be parents? They tried to accept that this might be God’s plan, while also not wanting to give up on their dream of raising a family. Somehow, it never felt that God was saying no. It always felt He was saying, “Wait.”
But waiting was hard. “God’s time is not our time,” a kind priest friend said.
And so they lived and loved and waited.
Then one day the couple came across an idea.
It was an idea they had talked about even before they married, but then put on a shelf. It was something to protect and treasure, but not something to think about every day.
Suddenly it was front and center.
“Should we adopt?”
They took the idea down. They looked at it. They prayed some more. Then tentatively they started asking questions.
There was so much to consider. Domestic or international? If international, which country? What medical conditions did they feel able to parent? Did they want to parent an infant or a toddler? How long would their journey be?
At the end of that path, they believed—they had to believe—there was a child. And they found they were both saying yes.
That child had different beginnings, a separate story beginning in a country they had never planned to visit. Yet together they flew to the other side of the world to hold him—a stranger and yet unmistakably their son. All their grief, worry, confusion, and seemingly endless waiting melted away as they looked into their son’s eyes. His emotions were all that mattered.
As they became parents, they realized that their story hadn’t been about waiting at all. It was about growing, preparing, refining. It was about learning that grief is just part of the journey, and that sometimes you go through the dark to get to the light.
It was even later, when dancing around the living room with her son laughing in her arms, and watching him make faces at his father, that the new mother realized that she was grateful for her infertility, that it was a blessing. After all, it was only through that journey that she had met her child.
And then two years later, they flew again to China to meet their second son.
And again they found they were grateful not just for that child, or his older brother, but for all of it—for every moment on the journey that led them to their children.
Today they tell stories. Now and then they tell the story of Mama and Baba waiting and wanting to become parents.
But more often they tell their children’s stories. They tell them over and over, while giggling and splashing in the bathtub, squirming at the dinner table, snuggling at bedtime, and running errands in the car.
They are messy stories, stories with questions and sadness.
They are also beautiful stories, stories of hope, new beginnings, and a forever family.
As family stories go, they are stories without an end, to be continued and written mainly by the characters.
And every morning they turn a new page, together.
This is my contribution to the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project. To learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, now in paperback, CLICK HERE.