The past two years I have been teaching science to fifth graders and I have learned a lot to say the least. We discuss it all in fifth grade from gravity to tides, force to sedimentary rock. Most lessons I enjoy teaching, but I always cringe when we get to the life science unit. The key to life science is the need to survive. The need to get energy and thrive through the life cycle. A species continuing to exist through the process of reproduction.
There it is: reproduction.
Hard to teach on a subject so close to my heart. Hard to teach when my reproductive organs are broken and labeled infertile. Infertile…weird word. Obviously none of this is mentioned in my fifth grade science class, but we throw out the cycle so easily like it is simple or natural and for many people it is not. It is down right impossible. Girls are in my room right now learning it all like it is so routine and just part of your numbered days. For many it is…for MANY it is, but for me it is not…at least not when we began to try.
Don’t read me wrong-adoption is the greatest thing that happened to our family. We love our son and we love the opportunity to be parents. It is our calling by God and his best for our life, but it does not take away the pain of infertility. My body is still broken by most biology standards. The reality of it all is we are still unable to carry a biological baby and when I teach the life science unit I feel different.
I feel like the natural process of life has stopped for my husband and I. We will still be parents to our son through the miracle of adoption. Adoption gives hope to the hopeless and without it I would never be a parent. Bottom line. I needed adoption to be able to parent a child and my son needed a family that had the resources to raise him. It was all done with the most sacrificial love possible and all is just a glimpse of God’s love for us all. It is God’s best for me, but sometimes His best is not easy. While teaching life science, it is not easy.
Not only does it feel like my body cannot produce offspring like the textbook says it should, but there are all kinds of sticky situations when we get to inherited traits. My son will not have any of my or my husband’s inherited traits and we have some good ones. That is hard. It is hard to think that my son will have all of our learned behaviors. He will be us through the things that we teach him and the environment we expose him to. However, he won’t have our ears or eyes or nose and that is hard to grasp at times.
We are so thankful to his birthparents for creating this perfect child then allowing us to parent him. To look at their eyes and ears and height and nose then, in love, let him experience the family they always wished they had, but couldn’t give. Maybe in writing this instead of feeling sorry for myself I should just feel blessed that a loving parent would give so much to an infertile woman. Maybe I should be thankful that life science doesn’t work out perfectly all the time. Maybe I should be thankful that we live in a society where families are created differently and that my husband and I with my broken reproductive system can still see a glimpse of ourselves in a human being.
Whatever the result, I now have a mission to protect my child and be his advocate during the days that he will learn all about life science. As he asks questions about his inherited traits or how he came to be part of our family then I will get to share not just about life science, but about the process of love. As I was sharing my thoughts on inherited traits to my students, they asked me when I will share with our son that he is adopted. They assumed I would wait until he was 18 and keep it a secret until then. (To be honest, it sounds like they watch too much Punky Brewster or Different Strokes…I think both had episodes on adoption.) I declared not a chance…he is already hearing about it now and will continue to know all the days of his life. His adoption is not a secret or something bad to kept hidden. His adoption is an unexplainable beauty that cannot be reasoned through the life cycle or in a science book. How two people would have the ability to procreate this miracle of life in all their unique traits of themselves, but more importantly the unique traits of God as he is made in His image, then placed into a family where he can thrive and grow is beyond reasoning. How these lives are all in the right place and time to intersect at the exact moment where I need them and they need me is beyond an equation or formula. How years of questioning and doubt if I would ever call a child my own can turn into bath time at eight and a bottle by nine is beyond me.
For me, today, life science sucked since it was a reminder that my body is broken. But, I am thankful for the science of life that created that human sleeping in a crib in my home even though I did not grow him.
The good news is: we’ll figure it all together when it is time. We’ll answer the questions that need to be answered and learn from each other what a science book doesn’t say. Why a simple process done by animals throughout the forest is hard for some and impossible for others. How even though he is not us, he is so much like us in a way that can’t be described. And how in the middle of it all is a love of a creator that makes the impossible possible.
No life science unit can explain all that.