Purpose in the Pain of Infertility: Interview with Christi Stoner

adoption faith infertility inspiration interview story Jun 02, 2021

For this post, I had the amazing privilege of talking to my friend Christi Stoner. Christi is going to share about the purpose in the pain of infertility and miscarriage and through her journey of adoption. Christi Stoner is an amazing faithful woman of God. Christi and I actually met when we were both working in family practice locally. And Christi's story is just a beautiful one. She's a mom of six kiddos, two biological and four adopted through the foster care system. Christi is also a lifestyle, family, and baby photographer. And today, I get the privilege of talking to Christi about her story with infertility, miscarriage, and adoption. And I promise you it is one that is a testament to hope and God's faithfulness. Christi, welcome.

Hi, thanks for having me.

Thank you for being here, Christi. I would love if you would just share a little bit about your story. And I'd love to have you just share a little bit about your fertility journey and what brought you to adoption and motherhood in such a beautiful way.

Yeah, sure. Okay, so we had the two boys. And then we third child came along, and we were super excited about that pregnancy. But that ended in a pretty early miscarriage. And after that, we realized that things weren't right or that something was wrong. And so that's when we started looking into infertility treatments, and I would actually have met with you during that time to try to like see if there's anything that we could be doing on our end. But then it was actually interesting because months into that process, my husband and I both ended up getting a diagnosis of secondary infertility, which we had never heard of before.

It was probably about a year after this all started with the fertility stuff. In that time period, though, we had started the process of foster care. And so when we got that diagnosis of both of us having secondary infertility, we already had our third son. He had been with us for six months, and so we just kind of felt like, we had been praying about this for so many years about more children. And then when we both got the secondary infertility diagnosis, we just felt like God was clearly shutting the door to biological children. And so there was peace in that even though it was a painful loss, there was also a sense of peace because it was something that we had been praying about. And so when you're praying about something, you're more aware of what God is doing, or hearing from him. And so we just moved forward with foster care adoption, and never imagined that we would end up adopting four children.

It's just been a crazy whirlwind of a ride. And it's so awesome seeing God's hand in each of these children's lives that brought them to our home, and feeling so clear that they're supposed to be here. Foster care adoption is so bittersweet. It's very painful for the biological mothers and yet at the same time, if a child needs a home, we are very blessed to be the home that God put them in. And so it's just been, like I said, a whirlwind of a ride. And here we are six kids later within nine years time. But yeah, we're settling into that. It's three years now that we've had six kids.

Christi, do you mind going back and just sharing a little bit about what brought you into what what was God doing in your heart during the time where you guys decided to become foster parents? And what was that like?

Yeah. So God is so kind in the way that he writes our stories, just very gently. Because the infertility still was not official, yet. There was this easing into the foster care idea as like, we originally started foster care, because we were like, well, we always thought someday we would be foster parents just not yet. And so we're like, well, now seems like a good time. And we prayed about it, felt clarity that we were supposed to start the process. And we did enter into the process thinking we wanted to grow our family.

But like I said, God is so kind and gracious, and he very quickly changed our hearts, like, just during the trainings, even, even before we had any children.

We were like, this is not about us growing our family. We became very, very aware that this was actually about loving the mothers of these children. And now we're so thankful that that is how God changed our hearts to to look at it that way, because it has just taken so much pressure and tension off of the whole adoption experience for us. We are in contact with all of our bio moms, and really love the relationships that we have with them.

But yeah, we went into foster care with the idea of growing our family because we wanted more children and we weren't able to have more. And my husband says our family grew by leaps and bounds because we not only brought in children, we brought in bio moms and we brought in grandparents and we brought in aunts and uncles. Our family wall of all the pictures that we have of who we call family is just- I love it! It's It's huge. And it's not they're not blood related, but there the children are our bridge and it's just a really beautiful thing.

Yes, I think that that's just so incredible the perspective that you and your husband took as you are going through something so painful, and so difficult, that can be heart wrenching. So often we can get stuck there. And you guys allow the Lord to use that for such good and such beauty. And it is just so beautiful. And I appreciate you sharing that, that ultimately God worked that for good. He had that good for you and for so many others.

Yeah, I think it's such a gift, when you have the opportunity to look back and see the purpose that God has in your pain. And that the pain itself is something that you can end up being thankful for. Because you see, you experience Christ so much more closely in your life.

I remember during the miscarriage, just crying out to God. And I was just like, do not let my baby's death be in vain like this, this baby I longed for and loved died. And I was like, change me, and don't let this be in vain. And I can look back now and be like, praise God, he did change me. And he completely changed the trajectory of our family, by the the life and the death of that baby that he gave us.

And so I can now say I am thankful for the sorrow of that death, because so much good has come from it. And it's only God can do something- only God can bring life from death. And it's such a praise that we have a God who does that. And that he can bring hope in the midst of hopelessness, which doesn't make sense, but he does it.

Yes, amazing! It just is incredible.

Do you mind Christi, speaking into a little bit about what that the emotions of that transition from being diagnosed with secondary infertility and having gone through a miscarriage as well, and then the emotions that come with that loss and the grief but then also that processing that was happening?

Well, the way that our story has turned out was that about almost exactly a year after my miscarriage is when we got the first placement of foster care. And it just so happened as as you would say, it was a newborn baby, which we were shocked. We did not expect that. I just really felt it was God's kindness to me, my arms just ached for a baby. And in his loving kindness, he allowed that to happen that I got to nurture and love this little baby who we ended up adopting, which was also a gift. We got all those things we never expected. And so that was very healing, that God allowed that to happen.

I think statistically, in general adoptions go better if a child is really desired and longed for, like if you're at a place where you're not just like, "oh this is a good thing to do," but rather like God places this heaviness on your heart for more children or for children if you have none.

There was a lot of crying in the process. But my heart, my arms, my home, were filled with children so rapidly that it was just like, wow, God, I didn't expect this to happen. And you just always answer prayers above and beyond or out of the box. Or you can slow down now. There's just a lot of emotions. And but it's this constantly coming back to Christ and just laying our emotions at his feet to speak truth into them. Because something I have learned over the years is that my emotions are not necessarily true, what I feel like I want to be validated in my emotions that I feel them and yes, that's good. But they don't necessarily speak truth. And it's so it's been really good to have a balance of like, I feel really sad, but go into Christ and being like, what do I do with the sadness? So I'm still a hot mess sometimes. But Christ is working on me. And it's been awesome.

Yeah, I so appreciate your vulnerability there. And I think that's so important for us to share and just talk about that, you know, none of us have arrived yet. Right? We're still a work in progress at any given moment. And that's the beauty of all of this. You had said to me when we were talking a few weeks ago about how I even wrote it down because I thought it was so profound. And I want to just talk a little bit, if you're okay with it, about your journey.

From a women's health standpoint, your journey didn't stop there when you guys decided in your health to move into adoption and foster care. I know you've been through a lot physically in your body as well. And you shared this beautiful quote that I want to just mention here, if that's okay: Only God can write a story where a woman without a uterus would wonder if she should keep a crib for more babies.

That's such a testament to his faithfulness, and the hope that we can have there. Tell me a little more about that.

Yeah. So, again, I had said earlier how God is so gentle and the way that he writes our stories, because if you would have told me eight years ago, when this all started, like, okay, you had a miscarriage, and now you're gonna have a hysterectomy, I feel like I would have just broken down and it would have been horrible. It would have been death, you know, death upon death. And so yeah, it's been a little over a year that I did end up needing to have a hysterectomy. But again, I have six children.

And so it was just like this thing in the back of my mind was like, there might be another biological child, maybe God will do a miracle or you just never know, you can't put God in a box. And so there was always that. And so when it was time for the hysterectomy to happen, it was very clear that that needed to happen. And so it was, again, just a little bit of grieving and processing that whole thing, there was definitely some processing and that needed to happen. But again, I was just so thankful. I was like, Here I am, my heart, my hands, my home, we are so full of children that this is okay. It felt okay.

And so, yeah, I'm just really thankful for the way that God was so gentle and bringing that about that, like he knew back then that I was going to need a hysterectomy. But in his kindness, he allowed it to be a process of getting me there where I could open my hands to him and just continue to be like, you are writing this story. And this is your story. And if this is going to honor and glorify you, then do it. But yet at the same time, it's this crazy thing of because God is writing our, our story of how our family grows. I really don't know, like, should I get rid of my crib? And it's just it just boggles my mind, this is so crazy that a woman with no uterus is honestly wondering if she should get rid of her crib, because there might be another baby who comes into it. Because that is just the way that God has been working in our lives that is just like, you just really are like, wow, God, you this is just crazy, like you'll be glorified. Because it doesn't make sense. And it's just really awesome.

So beautiful. I love that you talk about on your blog, a little bit about your journey with finding out that you were anemic. And eating, infusions, and quite a bit of stuff that was going on, it sounds like for a little while. Tell me a little more, if you don't mind to give us a little insight into that story.

Yeah, well, because of dealing with infertility for so long not having a normal cycle, it was normal for me to have it be anything but normal. I didn't see the signs that something was wrong, because I'm like, well, this is just normal for me to not have things to be normal. And so I just kind of continued to believe that and I felt like frog in a pot of boiling water, like the slow boil of like, not realizing how bad it was getting just because I just kept telling myself "Well, your body's messed up." Like, I don't know how else to say that. But that was just like, that's just the way your body is. And so that's just your normal. And so because of that, and because I was busy with so many little children because my last three children came so fast. There it's still very busy season and so because of being so busy, not really wanting to take the time to go investigate because it's like, what's the point? Like? I don't anyways, yeah, I just shoved everything away, all the red flags, until it was like really terrible and so bad that I'm like, "I think I actually might be dying." And then I finally went got bloodwork and they're like "Wow, you are very sick." And I was like, "Oh, okay, so I maybe should have been listening to myself, like taking the cues." And I don't know why I didn't, I just expected it to be bad, I guess.

Yeah, I think that that's something that is so important to emphasize and highlight. Because I hear this, I think I mentioned to you in the past as well, I hear this over and over and over again. This is kind of a recurring theme that I hear in women's health that we as women tend to, especially when we're used to things being kind of our-normal-is-abnormal, per se. And for you, you describe that so perfectly how that felt to you. And I think it's really important to highlight that because we can get in a place where it's hard to raise our hand and say, something's not right here. Something else is going on. And so, I appreciate you sharing that so much. Because it's important for us to realize when something's not quite right, that we can, and we should speak up and say that and for us to recognize that.

What would you say to a woman who may be walking through the journey of infertility at this time, especially secondary infertility, and she is discerning, and really just wondering what God has for her? Is there any wisdom that you would give?

It's just like, keep praying for Christ to make himself known to you. It says that he is close to the brokenhearted, and so to allow yourself to feel the pain of infertility in healthy ways, in ways that draw you towards Christ and not against him. He desires to speak to you tenderly in the wilderness of infertility. It talks about that in the Bible, that he draws her into the wilderness to speak tenderly to her, and there, he will make her a valley of hope, it says. And it's so good to experience Christ in that way, and to just know that he cares, and that he is that he that he loves you in these desires. But also at the same time, we must open our hand to God's plan, like we must literally raise your hand and open your fist and just tell him like, your will will be done God and may be glorified. And in that release, feeling his presence in that and continuing to get to know him more fully, because in the end, he is our true joy, not more children. And so it is a hard thing to be walking through.

I'm sorry if that is your current story, but at the same time, Christ can redeem it for such good and to bring you more life, to bring you the fullness of life because knowing him more fully is life.

Yes, yeah, absolutely. Well said. You have shared that release and surrender, the holding out our hands and releasing and allowing God to fill it with his will. And that is not an easy thing to do, especially when there's pain and grief and loss. And yet, we know that His ways are better than our own. And ultimately that we will see His goodness as we do that, as we open our hands and release and surrender.

And you have also shared Christie, that ultimately you are thankful for your infertility. I love that. I think the perspective of that is just beautiful. Can you tell me a little bit more about that about why you're thankful? I think you've shared a lot about that, but I would love to have you just speak into that.

Well, I know that I never would have expected to say that. Like if you would have asked me eight years ago if I'm thankful for this, I would have said "No, this is horrible. This is terrible. This is not to be thankful for but it's just because of God."

I can say that. I'm thankful because he used it in ways that nothing else could get to me and he has been speaking to me. I have been able to hear him speak to me. Because it broke me down so much that it was like there was nothing left but to go to him and then to be to be healed by him emotionally and spiritually. And this is how he has chosen to be glorified.

It's just such an honor to be used by him in this way. And that now we get to be part of families that we never would have reached before. Like, our children's families, we love them so much and we're so thankful that they are now able to be part of our families, but we never would have had that opportunity if we would have just continued on with normal fertility. And so it's like, I am so thankful that God is a God of life. And that when we look back at these hard times, it's like, "Wow, thank you, Jesus, because you've redeemed it!" He has been redeeming the infertility and it just makes me want to glorify Him. And I'm just thankful it's just him working.

Yeah, yeah. wonderfully said. There's a beauty that happens, when we are broken, wide open- we have a choice. And you, so beautifully, faithfully chose that in that brokenness, to open your hands and to surrender. And we do have a choice ultimately, to surrender and say, "God, let your will be done," or to go a different route and perhaps close our hands. And so I think that's the beauty in so many ways of your story is that that, you know, that testament of the surrender that came. There's something so painful and how God used to that pain in that brokenness, for such good.

And as you spoke to, the surrender can be a catalyst. I think we used that word when we talked before, that that can be a catalyst in pushing us towards faith and pushing us towards the Lord, ultimately.

Would you just speak into for a few minutes, what you would say to someone who may be discerning the foster care journey or adoption?

I know it's always a tricky conversation, when we bring that in along with the fertility discussion. And I firmly believe that there's not a right or wrong, I firmly believe that it's each individual's journey, and how God guides that. But I'd love to have you just speak into that, because I think it's important for us to highlight as well that this is your story. And so ultimately, someone else's story may look different. And yet, what we want to focus on is surrendering and opening our hands to God's Will.

Yeah, with the foster care it is.

So I think like, two things that we always tell everybody is: one, you both have to be on the same page. You both have to think that this is a good thing to do. And with that comes the other thing: pray about it. And know that this is what you're supposed to do.

Because it is hard, and it is heartbreaking. And it is frustrating, and it is difficult. And it is like a roller coaster, and it's all the things. And so that is something that happened with us was, we were praying and fasting about whether or not we should step into this. And I'm so thankful that we both heard from the Lord. We both felt clarity within our spirits. Like, yes, this is what we're supposed to do. And you need that because it is hard. It is difficult. You know, you sometimes you love the children, and sometimes you actually don't love them. And it doesn't matter because you love Jesus. And Jesus told you to love them, whether they're lovable or not. And you have to love them, even if they might be leaving you. And you want to distance yourself because it hurts you too much. It's like no, it doesn't matter if it hurts you because you're loving them because Jesus loves you. And Jesus told you to love them. And so it was really hard journey.

But it's just been an amazing journey because it's the kind of hard thing that when you know that you're supposed to be doing it, it's just the continued surrender over and over again. Like I can't tell you how many times after, like hearing news or like a challenge leaving, just throwing myself in my bed crying, lifting my hands to heaven and just be like, "Okay, God, like, let me continue to love, even when I want to start distancing because I don't want to be hurt."

And so for us, it's been a really good journey of continuing to be drawn into trusting Christ in the process. And knowing him more fully. And being grown up in Christ, I feel like it's been a very refining, maturing process. And there's still so much maturing and refinement that needs to happen in my life. But I know that I'm not the same person I was when this all started, because it has been such an amazing and difficult and yet beautiful journey all at the same time.

So the two things for sure are: pray about it, make sure that you know,you're supposed to be doing this, and then make sure that you and your husband are on the same page. You cannot force your husband into this. You want him on your team, you do not want him saying, "See, I told you, we couldn't do this," or "This is too hard." Or "You wanted this you deal with the kid." You cannot you just don't want that. So those two things.

Absolutely! Excellent. Christi, is there anything or any final words that you would like to share? Just in this realm, with any women who are listening.

I think just kind of circling back around to allow pain to be that catalyst that sends you towards Christ, because he'll bring purpose to it. If you can open up your hand and on the things that you really can't control anyway, it's like, yes, you can do your part for what you can. But ultimately, there are things that are out of our control and to try to just keep pushing and fighting for those things that you really can't control. Just allow that to bring you towards Christ and surrender to Him and just let him love you in that and you will be changed and it's beautiful. And God uses our pain to bring him glory. It's just really fulfilling.


Absolutely. For any women who are walking through this infertility season, I think it's important to, just as Christi is sharing here, know that this is just a season and that God's not done yet. I think that's, again, one of the beautiful things that that you're sharing here is that if you're walking through infertility, whether it's primary infertility or secondary infertility, or you may be walking through it for years, God's not done yet. There's more to come in your story. I think that's important.

So thank you so much, Christi, for sharing. Christi, as I mentioned, is an amazing photographer. And she does also have a blog on her photography website that she shares a bit of her story: christistonerphotography.com
So check that out!

Christi, thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your beautiful testament. We just pray that God continues to bless your family. We pray continued grace through this season for you as well with all your little girls at home.

Go check out Christi's website, she has lots more details of her beautiful journey and her beautiful photography as well. It's just incredible. So thank you so much Christi. Thank you.

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