I was 19, he was 22. It was Christmas break 2003 and Brad Paisley had a new single out. John likes to say we met in a bar. I prefer telling people that a mutual friend introduced us. Both versions are true. A bunch of friends talking around a table in a local bar turned into just two people immersed in conversation as all the other people faded away… home, to work, or off to another group.

As our waitress brought the checks I realized my friend had forgotten to pay her tab. I looked at the amount and realized I had just enough cash to pay for hers and mine while still leaving a tip. With that taken care of John and I walked to the parking garage where we had both parked. I was driving my parent’s minivan. He was driving his old ford ranger… a navy blue pick up truck. I miss that truck. We said an awkward shy goodbye at the minivan and I started to drive away – the wrong way. Embarrassed, I shifted into reverse and just backed my way down the spiral until I got to a place I could turn around. John was following in his truck the whole time. He was driving forward, the right way, out of that garage.

When I pulled up to the booth (which I had expected to be closed because of the late hour) I knew I didn’t have enough cash to pay for parking there all night. I asked if they took debit cards. They didn’t. I had to fill out a form or two so they could mail  me a bill. John was watching papers pass back and forth as he sat behind me waiting his turn. Confused he finally got out and walked up to my window to see if everything was okay. I was so embarrassed as I explained that paying my friend’s tab had used up my cash so I didn’t have any for the parking garage. He laughed when he realized I was signing an I.O.U to the city and handed the attendant a $10 bill. He walked back to his truck and I took my wounded pride with me as I drove away. But as John drove the opposite way, back to his parent’s house, Brad Paisley’s new single came on the radio and he smiled while he listened.

The next night we went on our first date. We were both broke so we took his mom’s full tank of gas and drove to the state line and back again just talking the whole way. I thought I knew a shortcut on the way home, but got the name of the road wrong and we ended up way lost down a country road. Finally we made it back to my parent’s house where he dropped me off at the porch with a hug and plans to go Christmas shopping together the next day. On his way home Brad Paisley’s new single came on the radio again.

Eleven months later he made a pathway of candles to a single chair in his backyard, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. While I admired my new ring he went to adjust a candle and the whole right sleeve of his sweater went up in flames. After a bit of flailing it went out easily and we laughed about how I was so in awe of my diamond that I didn’t notice him catch on fire. On our way to my parent’s house to share our news John popped in Brad Paisley’s new CD and we laughed as we listened to our song.

Eight months later we said “I do.” As we drove away from the reception site John stopped at a red light to rip some of the streamers away from the windshield and as he did his VMI class ring went sailing off his finger into the grass across the street. I looked out the window to find my groom sprinting across the road. Not what you want to see just hours after the wedding. Thankfully the ring was right there in plain view and he ran back to the car as fast as he went.

A few weeks later we were settling into our first little apartment and I was learning to cook. John came home from work to find cheese dripping from the kitchen ceiling and me crying at the stove with flour everywhere. I was trying to make my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese and something (I still don’t know what) had gone really wrong. He immediately started laughing. We ate out that night. And Brad Paisley came on the radio in the car.

  • Amy - So funny! I don’t think we heard about john burning his shirt before…ReplyCancel

  • Annie - I love these vignettes, Lauren. Your telling of them is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • sarah hurst - your love story is perfect! i went from feeling bad and cringing to laughing at all the little bumps along the way! thanks for sharing your story!ReplyCancel

I read an article the other day titled The Problem With “Just Adopt“ and it got my wheels turning. The author was mainly expressing that this phrase, “just adopt” trivializes a grueling process that sometimes ends in heartbreak and loss. Her story, while extreme, is not uncommon. I have many friends who have experienced what we call “failed adoptions.” These are the cases when a birth mother changes her mind, a government shuts their doors to adoption mid-way through your process, a child dies before the process is complete, or (as in the case of the author mentioned above) there is corruption and scam involved that puts an abrupt end to the adoption. There is no “just” in adoption. There is always risk, unknown factors, and unexpected surprises.

But even if you  never experience a failed adoption there is still no “just” in adoption. Both of our adoptions brought me to emotional turmoil I had yet to experience. Halfway through our first adoption process the country we were adopting from changed one of their laws which greatly affected our process. This was difficult news to digest and for a bit we really struggled. Even if there had been no surprises along the way, the process of adopting is tough. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and yes… physically… tough. I have yet to meet anyone who adopted in order to take the easy route to parenthood. The very thought of that is laughable.

The adoption process is largely misunderstood by those not in the adoption community. It’s not as simple as putting together a profile, getting picked, and then arriving at the hospital to bring your baby home. And it shouldn’t be that simple because there are a lot of sick and crazy people out there. But this lack of understanding makes adoption a lonely path sometimes. This is why events like Created for Care sell out in less than 12 hours when tickets go on sale. Because women are desperate for even just 2 days with people who get it… with people they don’t have to explain themselves, their families, their parenting styles, their mood swings, their worries and fears, and their victories to. We’ve all been there and are still there. We just get in a room and know. We laugh, we cry, we share… but we don’t have to defend or explain.

So I very much agree with the article mentioned above and completely relate to what she is saying. But there’s another side to why “just adopt” is so insensitive to women who are experiencing infertility. Even if the adoption process itself was as easy as 1,2,3 here’s your baby!! … I would still never tell a woman struggling with infertility to “just adopt.” Why? Because it completely disregards the enormous loss and heartbreak they are suffering. It’s similar to what Diana shares in her article Irreplaceable. You wouldn’t tell a person who lost a spouse that they could always get re-married. That would dismiss the grief they’re currently experiencing… even if they do go on to find another spouse someday they still experienced a huge loss that isn’t erased by their new beginning.

During the Q&A part of the last session I taught about infertility, loss, and adoption a woman in the front row raised her hand and asked, “So, when you brought your son home did that longing for pregnancy go away.” I answered her honestly and said, “no.” I saw her face fall just a bit and then, thankfully, she followed up and asked, “Did it get better?” And I was able to emphatically reply, “yes!!”

Bringing my son home and finally having a child in my arms went a long way in healing some of my heart. But it didn’t erase the years of suffering that preceded his homecoming, nor should it! I would never place that expectation or responsibility on my child. It is not my son’s job to heal my heart and the brokenness that comes with infertility. That lies in the hands of God alone. God may use adoption to aid in that process but, for some,  He may have other plans.


  • Lauren - My husband and I are in the beginning stages of domestic adoption in Canada and it’s already been a roller coaster of emotions.It’s so tiring to have to explain to people that we are adopting and ask if we’re going to have our ‘own’ kids too. I don’t think people intentionally mean to make me feel like we are choosing the lesser of two options by adopting but it sure feels like that at times. I was just wondering about the created for care conferences you mentioned, do you have to already have adopted to be able to attend or can you be in the middle of it and still attend?ReplyCancel

    • Lauren - Thank you so much for your comment, Lauren, and congratulations on starting the adoption process! I’m so sorry for the emotional roller coaster you’re on, but maybe it helps to know that’s normal? I hope so! To answer your question – Created for Care is absolutely for you!!! You don’t have to already have adopted or even be thinking about adoption! We have women attend who just have a heart for adoptive families and want to learn more so they can be a better support system. Isn’t that beautiful? We have moms who have completed several adoptions, moms who are waiting and in process, and some who are still just thinking about it! We’ll release our 2015 dates sometime in the next couple months so be sure to check in at createdforcare.org!! I hope to see you there next year!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - YES! Beautifully written! :-) ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - This is a great post. I was at Created for Care this year and I wish I had went to your breakout session. My husband and I struggle with infertility, have had a “failed adoption”, and are in the middle of waiting for a referral from a new adoption. You are right, no one understand the struggle and loss unless you have been there. The pain sneaks up on you sometimes too. I will be looking to see if I can order the recording of your session.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I was at c4c for the first time this month. It was such an encouraging place to be. We had just found out the week before that the twins in Uganda that we had fallen in love with last August and were planning to go to court to adopt this month ( Feb ) were no longer to be ours. The mother decided to stop the adoption and take them home from the orphanage with her. Our hearts were broken and are still hurting now. C4C was a first place of beginning healing for me. I just learned of the term “failed adoption ” recently and it is hard to know that is our story. We do know God has a plan , that is sovereign, and we are trusting in that. But the love we have for the twins will always be real to us. Thank you Lauren for reaching out to so many women through your work for C4C and your blog. I am very thankful.ReplyCancel

  • Jean Martinelli - After 11 years of trying to start a family my husband & I experienced the heartbreak of a failed adoption. My brother-in-law was the doctor who birthed the baby boy and called us to fly to Marquette, MI to pick up our son. First our adoption agency pulled out, then our adoption lawyer pulled out and then we realized that the Tribal Council would fight us all the way on our attempt to adopt an American Indian baby. After 5 days we had to give our son Brendon Alexander back to the birth family.
    Five months later we were chosen once again to adopt a baby girl. Her birth parents were college students.. We were truly Blessed with our daughter. She is now 16 yrs. old getting ready to go to the prom this year and then
    off to college next year!!!!!!!ReplyCancel