Through Trying Infertility Journey, This Millennial Couple Has Seen God At Work
Leading voices among young evangelicals, Michael and Lauren McAfee expected growing their family would be simple. In the midst of difficulties, they share of finding hope.
When Michael and Lauren McAfee speak before audiences, one of them is sure to relate a favorite quote from a prominent 19th century American evangelist.
“Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible — the other 99 will read the Christian,” said D.L. Moody. It applies to the young couple themselves, whose journey together illuminates their work and public ministry.
Co-authors of newly released book Not What You Think, the McAfees are passionate about seeing their millennial peers reconsider a faith so many have shunned.
It starts with a personal connection, they believe. On social media and one-on-one with friends, the couple transparently discuss life’s challenges. Lately they’ve shared their painful struggle with infertility — and an adoption journey that has stretched over years.
“The Bible never said we’re going to have easy, perfect lives,” says Lauren Green McAfee in a live interview. “We don’t have to give our perfectly-wrapped-up-with-a-bow selves to God. He knows, and he’s with us in it.”
Prior to a launch event for their book at Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., Lauren and her husband Michael recounted their journey together … and how Scripture has helped them through when life hasn’t happened the way they had planned.
The Waiting Room
When did you find out that growing your family was going to be a long journey?
Michael McAfee: We began the adoption process in 2012, before we knew anything about our infertility journey to come.
Lauren Green McAfee: We didn’t know we would experience that; we just wanted to start our family through adoption. We were pursuing an adoption through Uganda initially.
Three years into the adoption process, Uganda closed their international program. We knew we’d be starting back at square one with whatever program we transitioned to — whether domestic or another country internationally.
It was then we started pursuing having children biologically as well. Almost four years later, we haven’t had children biologically.
Michael: After about six to nine months, we went in for testing to see why we weren’t seeing success or results.
Lauren: We’re still pursuing adoption, and still pursuing all the ways to grow our family, but a long journey like this is not what I would have chosen.
Whenever we started, we didn’t know it would be six and half years later — and still not have kids.
What were you feeling in the midst of getting that news?
Michael: She was the one who first found out we were going to have trouble, from visiting with the doctor. It was a shock, of course.
You know it could happen but you just assume it won’t happen with us — like cancer or whatever. Then you go: OK, what’s the fix? What’s the solution? For us, to this point, there’s not any kind of fix. It’s just prayer.
My heart sunk to the bottom, as I wrote about in an article for The Gospel Coalition. I will never forget the conversation we had at dinner. You assume: you start trying to have kids, you’ll get pregnant and have kids. Then you start recalibrating what your timeline for your family looks like and things like that.
Those were some of the most difficult emotions. Then just grappling with: Lord, You’re capable of giving us children. Why would you not?
Lauren: The hardest thing for me was grieving the loss of a dream, specifically of having kids at the same time all my friends did. In a span of two to three years, that same season we were trying to start a family, many of my friends had a baby or had their second baby.
It was grieving the loss of that picture: Oh, we’re all going to have kids together, they’ll be friends and do sports together. They were all taking those steps and we were not. That’s probably the hardest thing.
Michael: We had a love and heart for adoption before, which we’re completely excited about, but there’s still the loss of unrealized dreams. Oh man, will we have a kid that like looks like us or has our same DNA?
Lauren: Maybe he or she would have red hair.
Michael: Yeah, another ginger.
Tears and Joy
Were there certain passages of Scripture that spoke to you in the midst of these difficulties?
Lauren: The Bible provided great comfort. For me, Hebrews chapter 12, verses one and two spoke so much. It was for the joy set before him that Christ endured the cross.
“Reading the Psalms, I see how David and the psalmist poured out their hearts with honest lament.”
That’s a crazy thing to think about, that for the joy Jesus endured the cross? But he wasn’t joyful because of the suffering he knew that was coming.
It’s because he knew that resurrection life was on the other side — forgiveness and righteousness for those who believe in him.
As believers, we will walk through suffering on this earth. Regardless, we have the hope that is in Christ — that beyond the suffering, we will be reunited with Christ. Every tear will be wiped away. We have that ultimate hope that gives us meaning in our suffering too.
Sometimes I don’t need to be cognitively reminded: Oh, Jesus is going to make it better in heaven someday. Some days were like: I’m just going to be sad today. Reading the Psalms, I see how David and the psalmist poured out their hearts with honest lament. They knew the Lord can handle it.
James 1:2 says, Consider it pure joy my brethren when you face trials of any kind, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. It goes on to talk about how perseverance can be grown. It gives meaning to the suffering today, that God uses it to develop in us what he intends.
Believing the Promise
This week, you announced someone special is coming into your lives. What is the latest with your journey?
Lauren: In our adoption journey, we ended up eventually entering the China adoption program a year and a half ago. Just a few weeks ago, we got matched on Memorial Day weekend. Our agency called us and said: “We have a girl for your family.”
We accepted that referral. We know who our daughter is, which is so crazy. She’s over in China right now and we get to go pick her up in three months, in September. So we’re super excited about it.
We are SO PUMPED to be matched! There’s a one year old girl in China waiting for us. We have been waiting on her since 2012. We cannot wait to share more with you soon! Thank you for your continued prayers! Side @laurenamcafee is going to be the best mom!! pic.twitter.com/Z9WKqfDEu1
— Michael McAfee (@MichaelMcAfee) June 10, 2019
Why do you consider the Bible relevant when so many say it doesn’t matter today?
Michael: The Bible has something to say to every generation, regardless of if you’re a Christian or hold to a biblical worldview or not. Some of our peers may think: The Bible is irrelevant to us, in our day and time. But that’s just hubris to say it has nothing to add to our view of culture.
“The Bible has something to say to every generation, regardless of if you’re a Christian or not.”
How the Bible transcends cultures is unique and singular. We’re positive towards our generation in this new book. One of the things we love about millennials is we value diversity.
There’s no more diverse book you could find than the Bible. There’s no more diverse worldview than the Christian worldview. It engages people on every single continent, across the geopolitical spectrum, across economic backgrounds, across ethnicity, across age — you name it.
You have to engage with the Bible and come to your own conclusions. Take the time to engage it for yourself.