It wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe in God. It was more like I didn’t believe He believed in me. After years of heartbreak, failure and frustration in our attempt to grow our family, I was convinced that He didn’t care about what I wanted. Millions of prayers had been offered, multiple people had participated in special fasts, thousands & thousands of dollars had been spent, 8 years had gone by, and we only had our shattered hearts to live with. Our only child still did not have a sibling.

The failure of an IVF procedure, or a failed adoption attempt, are one thing, we experienced both. but there was also the time the IVF clinic accidentally threw away our embryos (yes, you read that right). There was also the time we went all the way to Russia to adopt a little girl and when we arrived we found out she wasn’t actually an orphan. We never got to meet her. Oh, and let’s not forget the miscarriage of twins at 11 weeks along. So much heartbreak and confusion.

Each of these attempts were preceded by sincere efforts to know what Heavenly Father would have us do. We had a sincere and righteous desire and we had the faith. After spending time praying, fasting, and pondering about what to do, and feeling like we were being guided to do it, the failures felt extra lonely. Why would He lead us to fail over and over & have our hearts shattered in such wild and unexpected ways? In some twisted way, each failure made me think that our big miracle would surely be just around the corner. Certainly, something would happen to help all this make sense.

In the whirlwind of all this, I hit rock bottom. I started from scratch with my faith. I was a middle aged woman, who had been raised in the Church, a returned missionary even, but was trying to find my footing after some severe storms. I questioned and ultimately decided that I loved God. That was enough for me at the time. I let that settle. That felt good. I loved God, I loved Him very much in fact. I decided I loved Him even more than the idea of growing my family. This was the beginning of a massive transformation. I felt Him guide me and whisper, “I believe you. Let go of your struggle and let’s create something together.”

The invitation from the spirit started coming in undeniable ways to become foster parents. I resisted this for a long time, I had many concerns about this path. My husband liked the idea & I kept trying to feel good about it. At one point I recall an impression that came to me that helped me see that I could choose either path. I would not be condemned for declining this invitation. Life would go on as status quo. However, if I accepted this invitation, I would see great improvement and progress in my life. Life would expand, be brighter, and more robust.

I chose growth. I chose God.

I am now an adoptive momma to the most loved 10 yr old the world has ever known. He came to us from foster care at age 7 and the first couple of years were the hardest of my life. Things have steadily improved and we are all in a really good place. God certainly kept His promise. Life is grand, so bright, and full of joy! I have gained a certainty that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.” The Challenge to Become, Dallin H Oaks. October 2000 General Conference. This conversion was only possible because I was willing to accept the invitation to grow. Elder Oaks goes on to say in that same talk, “Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquility.”

Growth is now my watchcry. It’s a movement I hope to inspire others to embrace as well. Choosing God means growth. The struggle will always be followed by a breakthrough when we partner with God.

This quote will forever be a favorite, “If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us.” Larry Lawrence, October 2015 General Conference. 

I’m not missing out anymore. It’s growth or bust in my world from now on!


Mariah Wickham is a mom to two terrific boys (one birth & one adoption) and wife of 15 years to the amazing Michael. As an infertility survivor, foster mom, and now adoptive mom, she’s bounced back from a pit of unspeakable frustration and now speaks and writes, as well as coaching other moms on how to find their mojo again. Let’s be real though–it was teaching junior high that taught her she can do all the hard things! Her passion for growth gets her amped & God’s grace keeps her steadily moving along, while her grit makes sure it all gets done!

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