8 Years Ago Today, I Gave Someone Permission to Break My Heart… and She Did.

A Post About Making Those Impossible Decisions.

Eight years later, I still cry when I talk about it. I still ache for that baby I never held. I even dream of her. Once I woke in the night and thought she was standing there by my bed, telling me to love her still, telling me not to forget her. And so I don’t, even though it hurts. Sweet Rachel, I will always love you. And Carly, my dear friend, I will love you too. Looking at the picture of the two of us together still makes me smile. I learned so much from you. I hope you are doing well.

Maybe I am crazy to believe that there is still purpose in this experience long past. But dang it, I do!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dear Carly,

It took a lot of courage to tell me you were having second thoughts about placing the baby. I cannot tell you what to do. I just know what God wants us to do.  He wants us to love Rachel like our own. We are absolutely committed to this. But we also know, God sometimes asks us to do things for his own reasons. We accept the possibility that God placed us in your life for a reason other than actually adopting Rachel.  And so, we  are waiting to see what God’s purposes actually are.  In the meantime, hopefully you will find something useful in my scraps of faith.

Three things that should NOT motivate your decision:

Guilt: Whether you keep Rachel or place her with us, you are likely to feel guilty. This is not necessarily because you made a wrong or selfish choice. Guilt is not always the result of having done something wrong. Sometimes guilt is more about self-doubt. In a big decision, we often overanalyze our flaws, we beat ourselves up for things we have no control over. We plague ourselves with thoughts like: “If only I were just… then I could have made my life turn out the way I want it”.

We can make ourselves crazy with thoughts like this and we can find an endless supply of guilt to heap upon ourselves. Sometimes, I find myself determined to wallow in guilt and self-pity, rather than do the more difficult thing, which is to forgive myself for being human, and quit looking back.

Now is the time to look forward and embrace the future with all its imperfections, the same way God embraces us.  We are not everything he hopes we will become, but he embraces us just the same, exactly the way we are right now. He chooses to love what we are instead of regretting what we are not. Ultimately, accepting life on life’s terms is a choice we make.

Other People: Whether you keep Rachel or place Rachel with us (in fact, in any decision), there will always be other people who will think you did the wrong thing. Sometimes these people are the ones we love and admire the most.  Sometime these are the people we least want to disappoint. It is very hard to make decisions that might hurt another person, even when we know we are doing the right thing.

Life always offers us a package deal. Every choice comes bundled with the consequences.  You can’t make a choice and then select the consequences you would like to go along with it. Instead, we make the right choice, and declare ourselves willing to take whatever consequences go along with it, good and bad. In this case, no matter what choice you make, Carly, you are going to take big hit. Dignity means taking life’s hits with courage and self-respect.

Fear: This is the most crippling of all emotions. Fear tempts us to abandon our better selves. It makes us act selfishly. It clouds our thinking. And, when we should act, fear paralyzes us.

There are many things to be afraid of, but topping the list is loneliness. We can endure many frightening things, if we know we are not alone in our ordeal. Unfortunately, other people can only go so far in filling the loneliness within. I have a husband, who has always been devoted to me.  That does not mean I don’t feel lonely.  Try as he may, he can not give me everything I need. We cannot expect another person, least of all a child, to fix what is empty or broken inside us.

We all have an emptiness inside that can only be filled by one source, and that is God. And yet, we all try to fill that emptiness with other things. We are obsessed with finding that one thing that will ultimately satisfy us: work, love, prestige, money, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. the list is endless.   We search and we despair, because everything leaves us empty. And all the while the miracle we are looking for surrounds us, waiting until we are willing to embrace it, until we are willing to surrender, and trust in God’s healing power.  Yes, it is a leap of faith. It is not easy. It means letting go of fear and stepping into the unknown.

Three things that SHOULD motivate your choice:

Love: Carly, this is your gift. You have not always been able to assert your best self, but you have proven yourself willing to make big personal sacrifices for others. Sometimes this kind of unselfish love hurts like hell. But it also transforms our lives from pettiness to generosity, from guilt to absolution, from fear to hope, and from grief to joy.

Trust: I know your life has not given you many reasons to trust, and so maybe this will be the hardest thing. I am not talking about trusting Bruce and I.  I am not talking about trusting in yourself. As human beings, we are all bound to fail ourselves and each other. Human weakness is in all of us. But, in an odd sort of way, our weakness is a gift from a loving God, who is teaching us to trust in him rather than in ourselves.

We know we are inadequate, so we ask God to make up the difference. We trust Him to do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. We invite Him into our lives and trust Him to make us capable of doing the right thing. In this way we learn to step out of our own skins and become better people.

Hope: What are your hopes for Rachel? What are your hopes for yourself? Life won’t give us everything we want, but we still get to steer our own course. Look ahead toward the kind of life you want Rachel to have; let that hope guide your path.

I believe, that in your heart you already know what to do. Walk that path! Do it with courage, honor, and dignity.  Stop letting doubt creep in and unsettle you.  When you are firm in your resolve to do the right thing, others will come to see the value of your choices. Good people will seek you out and help you. God will hold His hand over you, while the pain and the sorrow fade into a reassuring peace.

You can do this. How do I know? Because I have had the privilege of glimpsing your soul. You have been plucked out of life’s battle by the scruff of your neck, because you have a purpose.  Rachel does too, and her first assignment is already accomplished, she has brought you to this point, and now, you must choose.

We pray every day that you will know what to do and that we will be accepting of it. Your choice should be based only on the things I listed, and not based on a sense of obligation to us.  We willingly release you from any obligation you think you might have. We place ourselves and our hearts in God’s hands.

I am sending you a small package to cheer you up.  It should arrive in a few days.

Love always,



Dear Reader, Carly is not her real name, but she is real person and I have lost contact with her. Maybe someday she will read my blog and get in touch. Or maybe not. Sometimes keeping in touch is painful. Sometimes it’s hard to know all that could have been and is not. Sometimes it is easier to focus on your path and keep moving. Sometimes that is exactly how it should be.

I, however, would like to stay in touch with you. There is a box at the bottom of this page where you can reply to my blog posts. Please use it. It makes me super happy. I care about this stuff and, obviously, I want to talk about it. So tell me what you think, and ASK QUESTIONS. I promise I will answer them all.

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