Marriage Mondays | Walking Through Infertility and Adoption

I'm completely grateful that our cousins Jacob Davenport and Camille Davenport are sharing their inspiring, difficult, joyful and hope-filled infertility and adoption process on today's #ldpmarriagemondays post. It is real, encouraging and full of so much hope. We love our Piper and couldn't imagine any sweeter of a little baby in their arms! She is perfect in every way, and so is their story. It was the most humbling, honorable event photographing the moment Jake and Camille met Piper. I hope you're encouraged today and consider tagging a friend or sharing this post with them privately, if you need. This is a community, and it's meant to encourage and make others feel heard, encouraged and filled with hope. We love this precious family and their honest, inspiring words so much!

The style of this blog is a little different with it's interview style--Camille and Jacob answer some of the questions jointly and others individually to give two perspectives. It's truly incredible to hear their journey, and I hope and know that it can help bless anyone who reads!

I know you and Jacob have a really encouraging, difficult and joyful story. I've looked up to you two so much these past couple years and am truly so giddy about your growing family. Can you share what your journey has looked like the past couple years from your initial desire to start a family, your unexpected news and your journey to meeting and loving Piper?

Jacob and I were friends for several years in college and started dating our senior year. Five years ago we got married and started off with a couple of fur babies! A few years later we decided to start trying to have kids. We were so excited and hopeful that we would start trying, quickly find out that we were pregnant, and then accordingly space out our future kids in our own desired timing. Turns out the Lord had a completely different plan for us. We had talked about always wanting to adopt before we were married but assumed that it would be after having a few biological kids first. After almost a year of trying, we got the devastating news that we would most likely not be able to have biological children. We were shocked, sad and completely at a loss.  It was after two long years of defeating doctors appointments that would lead us to an adoption agency orientation followed by SO much paperwork and a grueling wait that would ultimately lead us to adopting and bringing our precious Piper home on April 11th of this year. The moment we held her we knew exactly why we had the story we did- because the Lord always knew that she would be our beautiful daughter. He had our complete best in mind. So much greater and sweeter than we could have ever imagined.

How did you and Jacob process the news similarly and differently that you may not be able to have biological children? What were your initial reactions or feelings during this time? 

C: Both of our initial reactions were extreme sadness. I would compare infertility to mourning a loss. I had this natural and good desire to have a sweet family and to look at our baby and see Jacob’s cute features or personality traits. It was hard because most people didn’t really understand that so I also felt a lot of loneliness. Like a lot of couples I am the more emotional one and Jacob is the extreme opposite- logical . This definitely came out in how we grieved. I constantly felt the weight of what we were going through- I felt the loss on a daily basis, constantly reminded when someone would ask us when we were starting our family, or when I got another baby shower invite in the mail or saw another pregnancy announcement. It was hard. So hard. And I think it was hard for Jacob in such different ways- especially to see me feel the weight of it constantly. Ultimately we had to allow each other to be broken and a mess in our own way.

It was a blessing to really feel like we were on the same page as far not feeling called to do infertility treatments. Even though our chances with that were very low, we both walked out of this one doctors appointment and had this complete peace that we would go in a different direction to start our family. And even though that was hard it was very unifying.

J:  I have always been a very level headed and even keeled person.  When we first started going to doctors appointments and finding out it may be difficult to have kids, I kept telling Camille that there would be a way.  I figured that the doctors would figure out the problem and we would just fix it.  I thought that I would be able to come up with a solution to our problem like I had done so many times in the past. I remember sitting in the car after the doctors appointment where we found out it would be nearly impossible for us to have kids and just breaking down.  Never in a million years did I think this would happen to us.  I don’t think I have ever felt more despair and heart break than I did that day.  The pain was excruciating and this time there was nothing I could do to fix the problem.  As we began to mourn we did so in very different ways.  For reasons I couldn't explain I would go days and sometimes weeks without it seeming to affect me and then something would happen that would remind me of it all.  Seeing a friends kid who looks just like him or having another friend get to take their wife to the hospital for their delivery.  It would hit me all at once.  It seemed like the pain of it all would build up over the days and weeks I hadn't been thinking about it and hit me in that moment.  Camille seemed to hold the wait of it constantly.  Every hour of every day she was reminded of the loss of infertility.  I did my best to be there for her but sometimes it was difficult for me to live in that reality every day.  Iwould forget about the pain and loss that she was feeling and therefore would forget what she was feeling every day.  

When the inevitably hard times come in marriage, I think it can be a struggle for couples to understand, relate and stay on the "same team", so to speak. How would you say you two worked to stay close in a season of struggle? 

You know someone so much more deeply when you experience pain and loss with them. We will always look back on this season and remember how much we fell flat on our faces at times and how much we grew- albeit grew in a “wow this is stinking hard and sucks and painful” kind of way. We prayed together more than we ever had in our 5 years of marriage-mostly in the times we were falling flat on our faces. There were times that I wanted Jacob to process and mourn similarly to me, and there were times he just wanted me to be ok and I couldn't be ok. Going through this together really pushed us to be intentional with one another. One thing that we started doing that we still continue to do today were weekly questions. We do them every Sunday- over coffee in the morning, on an evening walk, or just before bed. Just 5 simple questions that we borrowed from someone else that helped us touch base and intentionally share with one another, often times leading into more intentionally rich conversations. We love these simple questions. 

What does the week ahead look like for you?

How did you feel loved this past week?

How can I love and encourage you this week?

How would you feel best pursued in intimacy this week?

How can I pray for you this week?

It was such a simple way to touch base and remind one another of our different, opposite needs especially when we were in such a hard season.

Even though going through infertility and that long adoption process was hard, our marriage grew in sweet and tender ways that have us looking back now on this time with a lot of thankfulness. I love looking back at some of the answers and prayer requests from our weekly questions that we had during this time and seeing how far we have come and how far the Lord has brought us. We can now {almost} laugh about how our “week ahead” once looked like another dreaded semen analysis or an 8 hour adoption home study, and how some prayer requests were answered so differently than we asked (continued negative doctors appointments even though we prayed for positive news) or so much greater than what we asked for (all of our adoption expenses completely taken care of!). It’s just clear how the Lord was over it all. We still love doing these questions every week.

Learning what each other needed was also helpful. Jacob knew when to whisk me away from the table of girls talking about their birth story again and knew I may have a hard week when our adoption profile was shown but we weren't chosen. I knew that Jacob would be ok and positive and strong until he wasn’t and then I had to allow him that time to be sad.

What was most helpful to you during this season of dealing with infertility and waiting for Piper? 

C: It was so helpful to have community surround us and specifically a community that was going through or had gone through the same thing as us. I went through Shiloh at Watermark- a ministry for women experiencing infertility or miscarriage. It was so comforting and helpful to know that I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only one that cried when they got a baby shower invitation in the mail or was continually frustrated with all the doctors appointments or had a spouse that handled emotions differently than them. Those girls were and still are a sweet community. They were a tangible example of “mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those that rejoice.”Jacob and I also met with several couples, strangers at the time -that had gone through infertility treatments, adopted or both. Those were such helpful life-giving meetings that we gained a lot of wisdom through. We didn't have any friends or family that had gone through the adoption process or infertility, so this was such a blessing for us. It’s ultimately how we heard about and chose our adoption agency. We have gotten to meet with some other couples since to share our story and experience and are so happy to do that with anyone! Seriously Lindsay can give you my number! You aren't alone!  

I felt like you two did an excellent job of trying new things and exploring new places throughout your adoption process.  How did you two find joy within your journey to adoption? 

Before we started the adoption process and shortly after we had found out our devastating news we took a little last minute weekend trip to Austin. We were tired and worn down. This was a much needed getaway to process and grieve and talk about our options and then also, just have fun together. A couple that we had met with had given us a book on adoption that we started reading on this trip, and it was on the trip that we decided to officially start the adoption process! Our spontaneous weekend in Austin will always be so special to us.

One other thing that was really helpful in staying close during a hard season and long wait was having fun and celebrating together. We really made an effort to celebrate EVERYTHING! It wasn’t that we were trying to cover the sadness or forget the pain- but that we had so many other things to be thankful for and find joy in- another wedding anniversary, another step completed in the adoption process and whatever else we could think of! Some of our most epic trips and date nights happened in this 2 year season!

What encouragement and advice would you each share with a couple who is walking through a similar journey as what you two have walked through? 

C: You’ve got this! It’s hard. Allow yourself to be broken and a mess. You don't have to handle everything perfectly and have it all together. And neither does your spouse- give your spouse grace upon grace during the hard times. Fight to be on the same page but know you won’t always be. Know that you aren’t alone. A lot of people won’t understand or will say insensitive things but find your people to walk through this with you! And then call me if you want to get coffee!

J:  It is okay and normal to feel extreme sadness, frustration and anger during this season of life.  The world is a broken place because of the fall and unfortunately our bodies suffer the consequences of living in this broken world.  Do not try to pretend everything is okay and know that there is a time to mourn.  But know that God is also a good God who is making all things new.  He delights in bringing light and joy out of dark and painful situations.  Infertility was the most difficult, painful thing we have ever been through and yet I would not change it.  God was more present and real to us in the 2 years of waiting for our baby girl than He had ever been.  If we had not gone through this season we surely would have avoided a lot of pain and sadness but we would have also missed out on the most joyful and amazing blessings He was so gracious to give us.  Sometimes the pain is worth the joy and even necessary to experience a deeper joy God is bringing us into. 

What have you learned over the course of the past 2 years in hindsight?

C: The Lord has our absolute best in mind. Their is beauty from the ashes. He can take the brokenness of the world and do really beautiful things. Their is loss in infertility and their is loss in adoption. And their only one person who can make things whole and point us to what’s to come.

J: Pain in our life can make the joyful times that much sweeter.  I don't think we would have been nearly as grateful if we had never struggled with the loss of infertility. We woke up 5 times last night to feed or soothe Piper and felt like we were the luckiest people in the world. Children are absolutely a gift from the Lord that He graciously gives us and we see that more clearly now that Piper is home.  God’s plan is often more difficult and certainly looks different than the plans we have for ourselves but His plan is so much sweeter.    

Clearly, a beautiful baby girl named Piper was in the plans for your family, and now that she is in your arms and as cute as can be, describe the feelings that have made up your past couple months: 

C: Wow. The moment that girl walked in the room and was placed in our arms was the craziest, sweetest thing that has ever happened in our lives. I think our faces in the pictures say it all. We knew adoption was going to be crazy wonderful and beautiful and that the Lord has always known each member of our family- but wow, he blew our minds. We still can’t believe we get to raise and parent Piper.

J: She is mine.  The entire time we waited in the adoption process we had this fear that when we brought home our baby she might not actually feel like she is our daughter.  But that thought has never entered our minds since the moment we met her.  The joy of knowing that God always intended for Piper to be ours is the most comforting thing.