Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I tell everyone I meet about Tayler and her decision to choose us to parent her baby. I don't think it can feel any more real, but it is almost as if the more people I tell, the less likely it is to change.
I am in awe of Tayler and her selfless love. Really, I am in awe of any birth mother who demonstrates selfless love in choosing to place her baby for adoption. Adoption truly is the greatest evidence of ultimate love. It is a bittersweet experience, too. There is such a swirl of emotion - complete and utter joy mixed with sadness and loss and grief - for every person involved in the adoption process.
I have a dear friend whose sister placed a baby for adoption a few years ago. This was an amazing lesson for me as I watched the process from her perspective, because I had never really considered the family members of the birth mom before. I had thought about the birth parents and the heartache that accompanies their decision, but I had not thought about the birth grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins that are involved. My friend told me that she knew what her sister was doing was absolutely right, but it did not lessen the ache she felt at losing lifelong contact with her niece.
Greg and I have talked about how placing a baby for adoption is a close approximation of the Atonement. The Savior has overflowing, overwhelming, incomprehensible love for each of us, and He demonstrated that in dying for us. He gives us the potentiality of eternal life, the potentiality to continue forever. Right here, right now, Tayler is giving us the ultimate gift. She is doing something for us that we are physically incapable of doing for ourselves. Greg and I pride ourselves on being self-reliant, but bringing children into our family is something we simply cannot do.
We have an excellent life. We have been married almost 15 years and we have filled our lives with good activities and worthwhile pursuits. We try to serve others, and we build relationships with our families and friends.
And yet, I have always felt like something was missing - a piece of my soul was floating in the universe somewhere and I needed to find it to truly feel complete. I remember once I was in a class that Greg's mom was teaching, and she talked about how parenthood was the Lord's University - that moms all earn PhD's. I felt pierced to the core, and truly felt like I was missing out. When was I going to earn my PhD in Motherhood?
The world would say that my biological clock is ticking, but I know that it is a righteous desire to be a mother and to multiply and replenish the earth. I cannot do much about the multiplying and replenishing part, but through Tayler's gift I can do the mothering part!
Through the years as we went through infertility testing and drug treatments and medical procedures, and then through the years of waiting to adopt a baby, I have come to trust in the Lord and in His timing for our lives. There have been times that I have wondered if my desires to be a mother would ever be fulfilled in this life. I had to get to a point where I realized, as Elder Maxwell says, that I needed to fully submit to the Lord and to put my will on the altar.
(Here is the real quote: "The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!")
Through these years, I have found comfort in the words of leaders such as Sheri Dew and Ardeth Kapp. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard Sister Dew give her talk in 2001 called "Are We Not All Mothers?" (I was in the Conference Center for the RS General Meeting). Highlights from that talk that have stayed with me:
- Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us.
- When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born.
- Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.
- Nevertheless, the subject of motherhood is a very tender one, for it evokes some of our greatest joys and heartaches. This has been so from the beginning. Eve was “glad” after the Fall, realizing she otherwise “never should have had seed.” And yet, imagine her anguish over Cain and Abel. Some mothers experience pain because of the children they have borne; others feel pain because they do not bear children here. About this Elder John A. Widtsoe was explicit: “Women who through no fault of their own cannot exercise the gift of motherhood directly, may do so vicariously.”
- For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led.
And now, after all of the years of waiting and wondering and hoping and longing, I feel like I am poised on the brink of the precipice called "motherhood" and I will be able to focus my attention and love on one precious, innocent, perfect soul.
I cannot wait!
I hope that Tayler and her family can know of the joy and anticipation that Greg & I feel every waking moment. I love this precious young woman. She is making all of my dreams come true. Her selflessness, her love, her choice will impact my life forever. I have a hard time thinking about Tayler without being in awe of her and overwhelmed with gratitude for her and her family. (I cannot write any more because I am too busy crying. More later.)