110: Caroline Bailey | From Barren to Blessed
Caroline Bailey | From Barren to Blessed
At the age of 11, due to a rare bacterial disease, Caroline Bailey underwent an emergency hysterectomy to save her life. The emergency surgery catapulted her into barrenness at an age when her friends were just entering into menstruation. A life sentence of infertility threatened her worthiness as a woman, much less as a mom. Wrestling with teenage angst and spiritual vulnerability ultimately led to faith, foster care, and adoption.
Caroline’s writing and story has been featured by Good Morning America, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), CNN IReport, Love What Matters, Filter Free Parenting, Her View from Home, the Ronald McDonald House and others.
Currently, she is a supervisor at a Christian child welfare agency in Missouri, where she supervises the licensing of foster and adoptive families.
Caroline has been married for close to twenty years and has three children. Two of her children were adopted after she and her husband fostered them. Their youngest child was adopted by them following a crisis within Caroline’s extended family.
Her blessed life is far from barren. She hopes her story will inspire and encourage others walking a similar path. She strives to be authentic, honest and is willing to confront the realities of infertility, adoption, foster parenting and faith.
You can find her at: https://barrentoblessed.com/
Caroline Bailey joins me to discuss becoming barren at age 11 due to a hysterectomy following a life threatening infection, fostering parenting, adoptive parenting, and working in the child welfare system for 20+ years.
Questions Caroline and I Discuss:
- (1:59) At age 11, a defining event took place in your life. Will you share about that portion of your childhood, the illness you experienced, and a little about that defining event?
- (8:14) You knew you would never have biological children, but when did you begin to grieve that reality and what was that season like?
- (11:35) Did you grow up in a family of faith? Were your parents Christians? How was God in your life at that time in middle school?
- Through high school, did you continue to think, “Maybe God doesn’t love me?” Or were you a typical high schooler and just basically, ignoring what happened?
- (18:15) What happened in your 20s that triggered everything to come crashing down?
- (25:07) For a woman that can carry the label of barren, God has filled your life with children. What drew you and your husband to begin foster parenting?
- (32:37) How did you end up adopting your youngest two children?
- (38:11) What are some of the positive changes you have seen in the child welfare system during the last 20 years?
- (41:26) In regards to child welfare, is there anything you would like to see the body of Christ do better?
Quotes to Remember:
“It started at age two. My appendix ruptured, and it sent infection throughout my body.”
“[M]y pediatrician came back into town and read my chart….[H]e called an OB GYN who did some exams on me and did exploratory surgery and when they opened me up, my uterus was completely full of infection…. The infection was leaking into my bladder….[T]hey realized they had to do a hysterectomy, because my uterus was so expanded with infection that if it ruptured, it would have killed me instantly.”
“I knew from the very minute I woke up from surgery, that I couldn’t have kids….I didn’t fully understand the impact of it because I was only 11, but I immediately started to internalize feeling lesser than.”
“I had accepted Jesus at the age of nine and was baptized. I had this super lovey dovey feeling about God until my hysterectomy, and then all of a sudden became, “Oh, wait a minute, why did I fall out of favor?’ I remember thinking, maybe God doesn’t love me as much as I thought He did.”
“I think there was two sides to me….My nickname when I was young was little trooper…. so in my head, I’m like, I’m a trooper, I’m just gonna be strong, because that’s what I have to be is strong….But I really thought I would never be loved by someone. Who would want a wife that couldn’t have babies.”
“I felt like that jilted daughter. I want to have a relationship with You [God], but I don’t trust You fully.”
“I was really struggling with it [barrenness]. I tried all these things. I got a good education. I got married. I got a job. I have dogs. I tried everything to fill my life. Why does this pain keep coming up? I said to my aunt, I think I need to go back to church… She invited me to church with her and it was in that moment that I literally felt like I was the only person in the room.”
“I realized I was the one that walked away. Jesus never walked away from me. I walked away [from Him].”
“I was literally crying and praying in front of his crib whenever he was sleeping and I just said to God, ‘Your will not mine.’ And I felt like the Lord answered me with the words, ‘This is not about you, Caroline’.”
“I grew up thinking, Why me? Why me? Why me? Once I started fostering and seeing the impact we had on this other family and this child, I realized, why not me?”
“Take what we might call an orphan ministry, in our churches, and evolving that to actually include at risk intact families.”
“If you say you are going to call foster parenting a ministry, then you need to act like Jesus….For me, if the church is going to call this a foster care ministry or orphan care ministry, then they need to embrace that for what it is. It’s not going to feel good all the time. You will probably get your hearts broken. You may even get angry….God doesn’t call us to do easy things, He calls us to do hard things and we can’t walk away from that calling just because it starts getting hard.”