A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow . . . but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. (John 16:21)
Though Mandi did not physically give birth to her son, her story is filled with the travail of bringing him into her family. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that she endured far more travail and “sorrow” bringing her one son into her family than I have endured giving birth to all of my children. Then, when she finally had her child in her arms, her joy was beyond words. The Lord, in His tender mercy, always over-compensates us—either in this life or the next—for the trials we endure in faith.Enjoy this condensed excerpt of Mandi’s tear-jerking, heart-warming story:
I received my patriarchal blessing when I was 15. At the time, there were two big questions in my heart: Would I marry, and would I have children? As the patriarch placed his hands upon my head I felt the spirit very strongly. And then he spoke these words that brought so much comfort to my soul: “Mandi, you will have the opportunity of dating. Be very selective in the young men you date, date only those young men who will be worthy to take you to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. For there will be children born into your home, born under the covenant, and you, along with the husband you do choose, will have a great responsibility in rearing them, and teaching them the gospel.”
After receiving that blessing at age 15, I could have told you exactly how my life was going to play out. I would graduate from high school, and go to BYU the following fall. I’d take off a couple of semesters for a mission when I turned 21, then I’d come home, graduate, and then get married. I’d have 5 or 6 kids, and, when I got older, I’d serve a mission with my husband.
Well, that was the plan. At least the first part worked out as scheduled. After my mission I did graduate from college, but I didn’t get married. At least not right away. I wouldn’t meet my husband until 5 years later, when I was almost 30. We started trying to conceive right away, but nothing happened. I started seeing a healer who helped me cleanse some allergies and get my body back on track. My headaches went away, I started having regular periods. But still no baby.
We fasted month after month. I would cry and plead with the Lord to give us a baby. We prayed and prayed and prayed. There were women in my ward that were my age--33, 34, 35. They had 15 year-old daughters. They had 3-6 kids. They were done. They looked at me and wondered why I “didn’t want children.” They thought I was wrapped up in my career or had chosen something else.
If only they knew.
We wondered if we should adopt. We wondered if the Lord would heal my body and allow me to conceive. I was so tired of waiting. I wanted a little baby to love. I wanted to change poopy diapers and get up for midnight feedings. My patriarchal blessing did say that we’d have children “born into our home, born under the covenant.” That sounded pretty straightforward, right? Should we just cling to that, with faith that it would one day come true? Or did we have to do something to get there? Is that the real test? We just didn’t know.
On New Years of 2008, Jack and I toasted the New Year with a bottle of sparkling cider and promptly crawled into bed. But I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was another year without a baby. The pillow quickly became soaked with my tears. It felt like my heart would break. I seriously considered leaving Jack so he could remarry and have a family with someone else--a real woman that could have children and make him a father. I was completely hysterical that night. I had had trials in my life before--but nothing like this. This was the hardest thing I’d ever been through.
We’re not sure when/if we ever got a concrete answer about adoption, but all of sudden we had the paperwork and were turning it in to LDS Family Services. It took several months to get all the paperwork completed, and to do the required background checks, fingerprinting, etc. It is quite a lengthy process.
Over a year and more trials later, on June 23rd 2009, were contacted by a birthmother named Melissa. She had found our profile on LDS Family Services website, and asked if we were still working with LDSFS. (We had give up on them and gone with another agency we hoped would be faster.) We felt such a connection with her. Later, we met Melissa and were so impressed by her strength and wisdom and selflessness. She was a beautiful young woman, inside and out. We loved her immediately. Then I flew out to Utah the first week of September for Melissa’s 20 week ultrasound. It was very emotional to see that precious little baby for the first time.
That Christmas, after spending time with Jack’s parents in Utah, we were supposed to fly home, but the day before our flight we got a text message from Melissa saying that she was at her midwife appointment and that she was dilated to a 4, and 70% effaced! (She wasn’t due until January 16.) We decided to stay, and just wait it out.
About a week later, on January 8, Melissa went into labor. Melissa's mom and I held her legs while she pushed for about an hour-- and there he was! I got to cut his cord. He had big brown eyes and lots of dark hair. He was perfect. Our hearts swelled with love for our new baby boy, and we felt like the luckiest people on earth. We named him Leo Joseph.
Forty-eight hours later, we waited in another room while Melissa was signing the relinquishment papers. The case worker came in and said that Melissa wanted to talk to me, so I went in.
She was crying hysterically and said to me, "Promise me he's going to be okay. Promise me. I know that I could be a single mom, I could do this. But I know that what he needs is a mom and a dad. He needs Jack. He needs a dad. I know his birthfather just can't do that for him."
We were both bawling by that point. My heart was breaking for her. I hugged her tight and told her how much we loved her, and how much we loved Leo and that we were going to be the best parents to him that we could be. We talked for a few minutes more, and she said that she was okay and was ready to sign.
A few minutes later, we signed our paperwork with the other caseworker, and then presented Melissa with a gift--a locket, so she can carry a photo of Leo with her always. We told her how much we honor her and love her. It was very emotional for all of us. Melissa and I helped dress Leo in his little outfit and got him ready to leave. She breastfed him one more time, and then she bundled him up, and handed him to me. It was time to go.
We had tearful goodbyes with everyone, and then Jack put Leo into his car seat, and we got him buckled in. This was it. He was all ours. I couldn't believe it! He was the most beautiful, precious thing I had ever seen.
he had been born under the covenant.” That will be a joyous, happy day.
I wish I were a writer or a poet, so I could find the words to convey the joy I feel when I look at my sweet boy’s face. He is an angel. A miracle. I feel so privileged to be his mom. He was worth the wait. The pain of infertility has been washed away. I am so grateful for the Lord’s tender mercies, and I wonder why I did not trust him. Once again, the Lord has proven that he knows what is best for me. He loves me. The plan and timeline he has for my life is always right, is always best.