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     For as long as I can remember, I've believed in happy endings. I love the stories where the good guy wins, the girl finds her prince, and puppy gets rescued, and the underdog comes out on top. But sometimes, in real life, happy endings are harder to believe in. Sometimes the good guy loses or the girl's heart gets broken. Sometimes the puppy runs away and the underdog stays on the bottom. Life is sometimes a tragedy instead of a comedy, leaving our wildest hopes and dreams to fall short.
     Backing up a few years.... Since I was a little girl, I've dealt with bouts of insomnia. Picture a 7-year-old lying wide awake for hours on end while everyone around her sleeps peacefully. Can't picture it? I can sum it up in one word: BOREDOM!  As a kid I felt like the tiredness came no where close to the unforgiving boredom that occurred during the night hours. No one to play with, no one to talk to, and I found out early on that infomercials suck. So, to pass the time and try to induce sleep, I created a little game. I would lie in bed and think about the best dream I could possibly have, close my eyes tightly, and let my imagination take over. This fun game didn't always help me sleep, sadly, but it gave me plenty of time to plan my dream wedding, name my imaginary children, and design the mansion we were sure to live in. In fact, I kept my list of beloved baby names in my nightstand for years, scratching off choices that became "too trendy" as the years went on, and adding to it when I'd meet a sweet new baby in the nursery at church who had a name that I'd loved. At every baby shower, I played each game with enthusiasm, and (taking a moment to gloat) there was not one family living within a 10 mile radius from my parents' home that didn't have me on speed-dial as their number one babysitter. The one dream that I believed in more than anything? I was going to one day become a Mommy.
     You can imagine, then, my devastation when I saw my OBGYN and was told that I have the leading cause of infertility. I was barely 16 years old. With the pain I'd been having, I was actually hoping for something like "colon problems" or "ulcers", not infertility. When I was 19, my doctor told me I should consider harvesting my eggs and that a hysterectomy was needed. Harvest my EGGS? I don't even have a boyfriend and this man is suggesting that I make a decision meant for 40-year-olds? Who is going to possibly want to be my prince charming if I'm hollowed out like a jack-o-lantern with no prospects of giving him children? I told my gynie I'd "think about it", code for "not on your life". I've lived with pain for several years already, so what else could go wrong?
     Come to find out, a lot else can actually go wrong. At age 21, I finally had to have surgery to help relieve the excruciating pain that was starting to take over my life. After exploring my insides, the doctor informed me the bad news that I also had two more conditions that caused infertility, and that he strongly recommended I "think about" that hysterectomy one more time. When I asked him if there was anything else that would help my symptoms instead, he responded, "Yes... getting pregnant." Well ain't that a kick in the head! I'll just find me a nice fella tonight, convince him to knock me up, and then.... oh, wait.... I CAN'T GET KNOCKED UP!! It's not like my uterus is Houdini, Doc! But, despite the frustrations that kept exploding in my brain every 4 weeks, I held onto my belief in happy endings.
     As time passed, I lost track of my coveted list of baby names. I started a job working with children that had been abused and suffered mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally... because surrounding myself with children that needed my help seemed like the best way to handle the whole situation, in my mind! I got "super happy!" for all my friends that started having babies, and found myself getting angry at those who seemed to flippantly have children without even trying. You know, those women that announce their pregnancies like they're soooo fed up with their insanely fertile girl parts? Yep... those are the women that became the focus of my angst. "Babies aren't SHOES!", I wanted to scream. "You can't just get a new pair every few weeks and then get rid of them when you're tired of the blisters, you 'don't think the color is right for your complexion', or because you simply realized you like purses instead of shoes in the first place!" Working with "discarded" children increased my resentment towards these mothers that continually chose purses of drugs, men, or their jobs over their own kids. But I still held out hope that my story would end happily.
     I met my husband through that same job (he was kind of my boss.... so lets not pass that tid bit around!), and several years later, we fell in love. I, of course, told him about my Houdini, and he, of course, said "I do". We were married in 2010 and waited all of 20 minutes before we started trying to conceive. I was 28, afterall, and my doctor had firmly ordered me to have that blasted hysterectomy no later than 25. Time was a tickin'! But after two years, and several rounds of ineffective fertility treatments, my baby hopes were slipping away. Pat and I decided to look at fostering children, so that we could at least be someone's parents, even if just for a short time of their life. We were told we'd have a child within days. Weeks turned to months and we never got a call. I would jump every time the phone rang, wondering if that was our agency, asking us to take a child at the last minute.... but it never was. We couldn't afford the expensive invitro treatments, and adoption was more than we could manage financially.... so with many tears and great disappointment, we decided to stop trying. I moved on to working with adults and started planning my life around new goals such as traveling, missions work, and doing very large puzzles.... anything to keep myself busy. It appeared that my happy ending was going to have to stay a dream.
     Two weeks after my 30th birthday, I received a call at the end of my shift at work. There were few words I caught.... "Brother-sister-combo"... "Ages 4 and 6"... "need immediate placement because of abuse and neglect"..."yes or no?" Yes or no!?!? I have to decide right NOW? I didn't even call my husband. I just assumed that we would say "yes" and I'd deal with the "What the heck were you thinking??" when I got home. So I said we'd take the kids. "Oh good.... we'll be to your house in 30 minutes." Oh My GOSH! I won't even be HOME in 30 minutes.... we have out of town guests coming tomorrow.... do I even have clean sheets on the beds? We only planned for one child.... where is the other one going to sleep? What do they eat, are they potty trained, are they going to kill my dogs, WILL THEY LIKE ME?? Holy Moses, I'm going to be a foster MOTHER in 30 MINUTES!
     I called my husband immediately and asked him if he could be home as soon as humanly possible to greet our new "children" (there was honestly no time for a "What the heck were you thinking?" moment). I went about 45 mph over the speed limit the entire way home, making it there moments before the agency came in to assess my house that looked like a bomb had gone off in, oh, EVERY ROOM. (Hey, I was going to clean it tomorrow before my company came, alright?!) And in walks two little munchkins. A boisterous little girl that looked us straight in the eyes and announced, "You have to buy me new stuff, 'cause this is all they let me bring!" Alrighty then.... spunk.... I like it. Behind her was a shy little boy who asked me very timidly, "Hey, do you hit kids here?" The bruises on his legs and back that I observed in the bathtub later that night assured me that he was going to take a little more time than his sister to warm up to us. I laid in bed with the little girl as the clock approached midnight that first sleep, and I started to drift off. I awoke to little fingers tracing my eyes, my nose, and my lips. When I opened my eyes, she announced that she couldn't sleep. Her brother, who'd been asleep for hours, snored loudly in the next room. And so I stayed with her until the Sand Man took my place. Before I fell asleep that night, I let myself say their names. Cameron.... Taylor.... I like those names....
     As it turns out, our temporary guests needed a permanent home. The paperwork increased, the court hearings evolved, and the numerous home visits quadrupled in order to get these semi-strangers into our family. I realized that it's probably easier to get a bill passed by congress than it is to adopt a child, let alone two. But the day of Taylor's adoption came, and at the moment she was declared a Costa, her biological mother gave birth to a baby boy. Five days later, that chubby bundle of love came to our home. Can we do a baby? What if we get attached and he leaves us? Will he think I'm his mother, even though he heard another woman's voice for 9 months? Will he be sick from the drugs she was on? I never got to read "What to Expect When You're Expecting"!! How often does a baby eat? WHAT does a baby eat? What is SIDS again??
     But within minutes of holding Isaac, I didn't worry about what he ate and what I was supposed to do when "expecting".... he was here. And he was mine. And if he ended up leaving tomorrow, I would be forever changed having loved him so strongly for just that one day.
     Cameron's adoption came and their mother had still not identified the correct father for little Isaac. We were told that if a birth father was interested, Isaac would be taken from us in a matter of days. Our fears came and went with each passing man she named. We waited for the court orders to demand testing, for the results to be determined, and for the phone call that could change our lives forever. And with each passing month, I feared losing him even more. Finally, in May, the judge announced that the last two men identified will be the last two tested. And so now we wait... We had the fortunate opportunity to meet both men at that court hearing. Man number one assured us that he would never rip a child from a family that obviously loves him so much.... he said that he could tell we were good people and that he was glad Isaac was with his siblings, so if it was his baby, he would sign his rights over. Man number two was a different story. He began actively pursuing Isaac, calling the caseworker weekly, and creating pins and needles for my husband and I.
     Six weeks passed before we heard anything. Six long weeks. I felt like I was back to that place several years ago, staring at each pregnancy test as the clock ticked by..... will it be a plus or a minus? Will I have a baby or will the baby I love be ripped away from me, leaving me to pick up the pieces of a shattered heart while trying to be strong for my other little ones? Each time we received a call from our agency during those dreadful weeks, my stomach turned queasy. I could feel my heart pound in my ears as I waited for the news that would determine if my dreams came true or turned into an utter nightmare. What would it be? But still, no results.
     This past Friday, I found myself at my dear friend's house, performing my Maid of Honor duties in preparation for her wedding the following day. For once, my mind was occupied enough to find rest in someone else's stress instead! And it was then that my husband sent me a text that read: CALL ME ASAP.
     Had Cameron or Taylor been hurt? Did one of the dogs get hit by a car? Are our parents ok?? I frantically called him back, fearing the worst of the worst. "What's wrong?", I asked with panic in my tone. And he responded with an unusual huskiness in his voice that sounded as if he'd been crying, "The DNA results are in...."
     Oh God.... oh God, oh God, oh God, please!! Please, no.....
     "The first man is the father.... he's ours.... Isaac is ours!", my husband said through tears.
     There is nothing that can explain the feeling that came over me. No words to express the gratitude, relief, and joy that overwhelmed me so completely. The moments spent staring at him as he slept, not wanting to fall asleep and miss one second of memorizing his face, just in case he left me and I started to forget all of what a picture can't seem to capture.... that was over! No more waiting, no more worrying.... and no more wondering if I was going to get to be one of the lucky ones to have their happy ending. I was given a child for each cause of infertility. Take that, Houdini! God found a way around my uterus and around DNA. He knew what I needed way back when I was planning my 7-year-old dreams and He took my dreams, ground them into dust, and then recreated them into something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. And to top it off, I can now, finally, make my OBGYN's dreams come true.... get out the scalpel, Doc, 'cause here I come!

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