I'm delighted to have Karen Beattie on THE TRICKY BITS today. When I told Karen about my vision for this blog (months before launching), she wrote the post you'll find below and patiently kept it in her pocket until now. I read her new book Rock-Bottom Blessings several months ago and was truly startled by her vulnerability and excellent storytelling. If infertility, midlife, financial, and/or parenting issues have kept you awake at night - this book is for you.
(If not, well congratulations, I guess. And read this book anyway so you can better understand your friends and everyone else you've ever met, for crying out loud.)
Here's what Richard Rohr said about the book: "For some reason, we need limitation to make contact with abundance, we need one person's story to find the depth of our own, we need to go down before we know what up really is. Karen Beattie will help you do all of the above - with grace and dignity - and good writing besides."
Um. I can't really do better to recommend this book and this writer to you.
When “second best” turns out to be the greatest gift.
After about five years of trying to adopt a child internationally, my husband and I gave up. It was too expensive. We were too old to wait years to be matched with a child. And we were exhausted.
We aren’t alone. In recent years, international adoption has become much more difficult and expensive, and as a result, inter-country adoptions in the U.S. have plummeted 60 percent.
We had to mourn this dream – just like we had to mourn when we had two miscarriages and a failed infertility treatment.
I felt like a boxer, battered and beaten and bloodied in the corner of the ring, trying to decide whether to find the strength to get up, or just remained crumpled and defeated on the canvas.
My husband David and I had a choice: We could resign ourselves to being a childless couple. Or we could adopt through the foster care system. The former seemed empty and depressing. The latter seemed scary.
Despite our trepidation, the drive in my soul to become a parent could not be snuffed out, and so we moved onward, tentatively sticking our toes into the murky waters of The Foster Care System.
We were afraid of having to deal with “The System.” I had heard horror stories of families who had fallen in love with a foster child, only to have that child ripped from their homes with very little notice. I had heard of lackadaisical social workers, damaged children, and having to deal with angry and difficult biological families.
And to be honest, adopting from foster care didn’t seem as “sexy” as an international adoption. We would have no “airport homecoming.” No trip overseas to scoop up a child languishing in an orphanage. Adopting from foster care seemed second best.
After much thought and discussion, my husband and I decided to move forward to get licensed as foster parents. Slowly, a new dream emerged, like a Polaroid picture.
One of the things that helped me turn the corner and become excited to adopt from foster care (even an older child) were the inspiring stories of a woman who taught our foster care licensing classes about the older children she had fostered over the years. These were damaged children who she, literally, loved back to wholeness. I sat in class and thought, “I want to be just like her.” My dreams for parenting shifted. Situations that I once thought I could never handle all of the sudden seemed like challenges that I was ready to take on because I saw what God, and the power of love, could do to heal broken children. David and I knew we had enough love to give.
It took a long time to complete all of our classes, but in the spring of 2012 we received our license in the mail. Three months later, we accepted the placement of a darling 2 ½ year old girl. We are hoping to adopt her later this year, and are in the beginning stages of a beautiful, life-giving relationship with her biological family.
Oddly, after all of those years, it just seemed to fall into place rather quickly and easily. After years of trying to jump through hoops and cut through red tape and budget to save enough money to adopt Internationally, a child ended up just being dropped on our doorstep.
I’ve spent much of my life trying to stay in control. To try to plan out my life carefully. But, as Woody Allen said, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Plan B isn’t what we pictured, but exactly what we were meant to do. After years of knocking on the door…trying to become parents, it turns out were knocking on the wrong door. The one right in front of us was opened a crack, we just had to find the faith and courage to walk through it.
Karen Beattie is the author of Rock-Bottom Blessings: Discovering God’s Abundance When All Seems Lost (Loyola Press). She has a master’s degree in journalism and has written about women’s issues, the arts, and spirituality for several publications including Christianity Today, Today’s Christian Woman, and Midwest Living. She currently works as writing director for a digital creative agency. She lives with her husband, daughter and geriatric cat on the north side of Chicago.
To learn more, visit her website.
Leave author Karen Beattie (and me) a comment for a chance to win one of these three copies of Rock-Bottom Blessings.
Special thanks to Loyola Press for these books.