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The Gift (Our NFP story) Part 2

(You can read  Part 1 here

     So, by the time Andrew was 18 months old, we knew God was saying no to having more children at the time.  And, as mentioned before, He provided so much peace about it, that we knew we had discerned correctly.  Yet, even with that peace, I had to mourn the fact the we might not ever have any more children.  Yes, we were still open to life, of course, but from the time after Andrew’s birth, until today, we practiced NFP faithfully to avoid pregnancy.  And it took time to accept that we might not have any more children.  There were times when I would hold a friend’s new born baby and then go home and cry because I knew I might not ever know the joy of holding my own baby again.  We live in a community where life is celebrated and families are large.  Usually more than one friend is pregnant at a time.  In those early days, each pregnancy announcement was met with great joy for the friend, but often left me with an empty feeling.  I understood, in many ways, why God was calling us to not have any more children at the time; my body clearly needed to heal and then there was the pull to adoption,  but it often did not make it any easier to accept. 

      But as with many challenges, time did heal the wounds.  And after a while, I began to relish our time as a family of 5.  We enjoyed special time as a family of five that I will always cherish.  Joshua, Caleb and Andrew are still affectionately referred to as “the boys” even though they are no longer the only boys in our family.  Personally, I found healing in running.  Miles of pounding pavement turned into some of my best prayer times.  Alone, I could speak to God during those miles and I felt His comfort and His guidance.  I tackled the marathon, not just once, but twice.  The call to adoption seemed to becoming stronger.  I will not go into depth about our journey to saying yes to adoption here, but you can read the two posts I wrote about that a few years ago here and here.

     During this time, we did not “reevaluate each month.”  We felt God was saying no and did not question that discernment, knowing He would make it clear if that answer had changed.  And the beauty of NFP is that really, we aren’t in control, God is and we knew that and honored it.  And, honestly, it was easy most of the time.  We followed the strictest guidelines for NFP with little trouble, even as the years passed and I aged and the signs changed a bit.  I truly believe that it all was a gift from God. 

     In 2013, we began the process of adoption, and were blessed with the gift of Felicity in October, 2014. 

Six months later, we began the process to bring Thomas home. I often called Thomas our “surprise adoption" because we did not plan to adopt  so soon after Felicity had come home, but God made it clear that Thomas was our son. Once again, we opened our home and our hearts to new life.

     Our paperwork was moving along. Our dossier was being authenticated and we were just a few short weeks away from our dossier being sent to China.  We were so excited to get him home as soon as possible.  It was the end of the summer and I just felt different.  One of the side effects of NFP is that you learn to listen to your body closely and you get to know it so well. And in those last days of summer vacation, before school started, I began to suspect I was pregnant.  I was a good week away from being able to read a positive pregnancy test and it had been 7 years since I had been pregnant, so my memory was not the best at what those early days feel like, but I suspected just the same.  I looked at my NFP chart, recounted days just to make sure I had not miscounted.  I told Pete my suspicion.  He laughed.  For years we were following “the rules” and this month was no different.  He was pretty sure that this month would be no different than the last oh, a hundred, or so.  But Pete was wrong.  A week later, two pink lines showed that even though we followed the rules of NFP, that God’s will was stronger than the rules and we were blessed with a precious life.

     But, here is where it gets hard.  In those early days and months, I didn’t feel so blessed.  The overwhelming emotion was fear.  Fear that our adoption would be stopped and that, due to this unexpected blessing, Thomas would remain an orphan.  Fear that due to scar tissue, there would be complications during the pregnancy and delivery.  And both of those fears were almost a reality (you can read about that story here). Fear in wondering how in the world we would be able to handle having two toddlers, from trauma, one newly home, and then a newborn to care for too.  It was the first time that “being open to life” began to be really hard. 

     Thankfully, we serve a God that loves us and meets us in our human frailty.  During the Advent before Thomas came home and Hope was born, we were at mass and a reading from Isaiah rung through the church and through my heart.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your son(s) shall come from far away,
         And your daughter(s) shall be carried on her (their) nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
           Your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
Because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
The wealth of the nations shall come to you.
   Isaiah 60:4-5

God was speaking directly to me though this scripture (I changed it slightly . . . original text is in parenthesis).  Our son Thomas was coming home from afar and Hope would be placed in my arms by her nurse and while I did not understand what the rejoicing would look like, I kept coming back to this scripture at those times when the waves a fear would roll over me and I felt like I was drowning and it brought me some peace.

     2016 began, Thomas, Pete and Joshua landed back in the United States on March 6th and my heart overflowed with joy.   

Hope was born on May 3rd and a new hope was born in me.  And during those months, all those fears were washed away. 

“Then you shall see and be radiant;
Your heart shall thrill and rejoice.”


   There are mornings I wake up, sleep deprived and groggy from lack of sleep and I am surrounded by my three youngest, two of which like to make their way to our bed after Pete wakes for work;  Hope to my left and Felicity and Thomas to my right and my heart does thrill and rejoice.  These precious little lives have opened me up to a glory of God that I can’t quite describe.  It is hard and oh-so-messy and more exhausting than you can imagine, but there is beauty in it that I have not experienced before.  I call Thomas and Hope our surprise presents because neither was planned for or expected.  They have taught me that sometimes surprise presents make the best gifts.  Thomas and Felicity bring an immense joy that I had not known before we entered into the journey of adoption.  And Hope, oh, Hope reminds me that babies make everything seem so much better.  Her smile and sparkling eyes bring a new light to our home.  I hold her and am reminded just how good it feels to hold a baby again. In these moments, I know that our family is just as God planned.

     Those years of practicing NFP when we felt God was saying no, allowed us the time necessary to say yes to life through adoption.

     And it turns out those years, and all those miles run, allowed my body to heal to be ready for Hope . . . .  at my post-partum follow up with my OB, I asked how much scar tissue I had and she responded that I looked great.  She ended it with, “All that running you did must have helped!”

     I do not know what the future holds.  Will we adopt again?  Will we have another baby?  I don’t know.  I do know that ultimately it is in the Lord’s hands and just as I relished the time I had with “the boys” I now relish this time now with my crazy crew.  I know, too, that God calls all families to be open to life in different ways.  For some it may be welcoming their 10th child by birth, for others it may be hoping to welcome their first through adoption, for others it may be somewhere in between, and still others it may be giving of themselves generously in other ways.  That is the beauty of being open to life and allowing God to guide our family’s growth as He wills.  Families are not meant to all follow the same pattern, or look the same.  Each couple, each family, mirrors God’s love in its own unique and beautiful way. And I am grateful for our journey and the beauty that is a part of our family because we were open to life.


  1. This is really beautiful, I love so much how God crafted your family. Simply perfect.

  2. Your story is speaking to me on such a personal level... thank you.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It's a beautiful story, especially, how God made you extra specially aware of the beauty.

  4. Your family is beautiful!

  5. What a wonderful story of a beautiful family!

  6. I loved reading your story. You have a beautiful family!

  7. Um, this story is amazing. Time to turn it into a book. Seriously! Fellow Catholic writer here. Ready to pray you into action & you inspired me to run! A new friend!


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