Have you ever been so sure that your life would turn out a certain way that when things didn’t go as expected, you were left wondering how to deal with it all?

When life throws you a curveball, you can feel disappointed, depressed, and anxious, or you can look at it as a new opportunity, embrace the challenge and accept that God knows better than you, or you can do all of the above… 😀

I was recently reminded of this when I was watching the Mom Conference. It’s a free conference put on every year that moms created for moms because motherhood is hard. And Important. And beautiful. And we can all use some help!

I was listening to an interview with Heather Avis, an adoptive mom of three kiddos – two with Down’s Syndrome – where she spoke about how much different her life turned out than she had planned (between infertility and the adoption of differently-abled kids)…

And her story and her feelings just struck so close to home that I felt I had to write a post and share a little about the curveballs I’ve faced, too, so that maybe when you’re feeling down and wondering why things aren’t working out like you expect, knowing someone else has been there too might make you feel a little better.

Dealing with Infertility

Just like Heather, I never expected to have to deal with infertility. When my husband and I got married, we weren’t in a hurry to have kids, but at the same time, we did begin to wonder why I never got pregnant.

As the years passed and we were still just a family of two, we started to face the facts – having a child would not be as easy for us as it seemed for everyone around us.

That’s when we decided to look into adoption, never knowing where that journey would take us…

As Heather put it, we were still trying to control the process and thought we knew best. We decided to adopt internationally and chose Brazil because, at the time, it was supposed to be a fast-moving program.

But, no sooner had we turned in all our paperwork (home studies, background checks, and an endless list of others). Brazil closed its program to Americans because the U.S. had not signed the Hague Treaty. So, we were back at square one, frustrated, depressed, and wondering what to do next.

An Even Rockier Adoption Journey

We pressed on and started our paperwork for adopting from Kyrgyzstan – once again, because it was supposed to be a super fast-moving program where we could expect to bring our child home in months.

That was not going to be the case for us, though.

For some reason, while adoptive couples working with agencies other than ours were being matched with their children, our paperwork just sat there going nowhere fast.

I can’t even begin to tell you how depressed I was at the time. To see so many others getting to start their families while we just waited. Then it got worse.

There was a coup in Kyrgyzstan, the government was overthrown, and all adoptions were halted.

We contacted our agency, asking for advice, and they said to wait. They expected the new regime would get things moving again, and with so many couples bailing out of the program, we would be first on the list.

You can probably see where this is going now…

We waited for another eight months, and nothing. By then, I was so depressed that my husband wanted us to give up on adopting so that I would quit stressing about it, but I couldn’t let it go – I knew our child was out there somewhere.

At that point, we concluded that we had been trying too hard to find a fast program and just needed a secure one. So, we redid all of our paperwork once again and submitted it to China.

We told them we were open to special needs kids to cut down on the wait, hopefully – although we were still trying to control everything because when we had to choose which special needs we would accept, we only picked physical issues (like cleft palate and club foot) that we knew could be helped medically and that we had great insurance to cover.

We were not open to brain injuries. I think God laughed at this point. I know that I do now.

Because, in the end, our daughter did not even come from China; she had a brain injury at birth.

Finding Our Child

Since we were a possible match for special needs kids, we were registered to look at the websites of agencies facilitating the adoption of these kiddos from several different countries.

I looked at them religiously every day, searching for our child.

But, I had been having a lot of pain in my side, and my shoulder, and it turned out I needed surgery to remove my gallbladder. So, on the day I had surgery, I wasn’t even going to look. My mom, who at the time lived a few hours away, said she would check it out for me, but I planned to spend the day after I got home from surgery relaxing on the couch.

That’s when she called and told me I had to get up and look at the site because there was a little girl who had just been approved for adoption that we had to see.

My husband told me not to worry about it – that I needed to rest and not get my hopes up – but I’m not very good at listening. And, when I opened up this little girl’s picture, I knew without a doubt that she was ours.

She was in Korea, and we didn’t have the right paperwork done, and she had a brain injury, something we never thought we would be open to, but none of that mattered because she was ours. We called the agency she was placed with, getting only voicemail messages, so I must have left at least five messages. I cried when they finally called back and told us they had assigned her to our family.

None of it – not one single thing – was what I had planned. But, all of it was exactly what we were supposed to have… What God meant for us.

And, we still thank God each and every day that things didn’t go as expected because if they had, we wouldn’t have our little girl, a kiddo that frustrates and challenges us but that makes us so proud and makes us laugh and who made us a real family.

Ultimately, each of those curveballs that life threw was a step toward real happiness.

So, like Heather says… It’s better to go through life with open hands, ready to embrace what God gives you, than to go through life with fists clenched so tight because you think you must control everything. You’ll get what God intends for you when it all comes down to it.

Embrace those curveballs! Love those curveballs! I know I do now!

If you need a little more motivation and happiness, check out these posts:

10 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re Tired, Frustrated, and Ready to Give Up

The 28 Most Important Things My Kids Taught Me

The 10 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made as a Mom

Three Crazy Simple Tools for Dealing with Depression and Anxiety – What I Learned from the Mom Conference

If you need extra help to overcome that sad, blue feeling that can happen when things don’t quite turn out as expected, try the book Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David Burns. It’s a super book that gives simple exercises to overcome depression and anxiety at home.

And as always, I wish you a strong family, optimal health, and a smart income,

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