When Cary and Ryan Ray got married nine years ago, they dreamt of a big family and lots of children. After a year of trying to grow their family, they began to realize that those dreams and plans might look different than they expected. A visit with a fertility doctor confirmed that their path to parenthood would have some challenges, and the Rays began a heartbreaking struggle with infertility.
“There was this feeling of inadequacy,” Cary said. “If this is happening for everyone else in our lives, why would it not happen for us? I felt like I had let our family down.”
The Rays spent several years grappling with uncertainty in the midst of painful and lonely circumstances. Cary found herself battling with the feeling that her body was somehow broken and lies that she was not good enough.
“I believed those lies for a little while,” Cary said. “I would make this a habit of saying out loud, ‘God, You are good. You are in control. I know You have this. I will not believe the lies that I’m not good enough because through You and because of You, I am.”
As they endured tests and procedures and more disappointments, the Lord grew a unique compassion in Cary to love others beyond her circumstances. Despite her own pain, she continued to throw baby showers for friends to celebrate their growing families.
“Her compassion was just gifted from God,” Ryan said. “She’s helped me to see the world in just a totally different light in the way that she loves people and sees people.”
Six years into their journey of trying to expand their family, the Rays took a trip to Kentucky for Ryan’s work. At dinner, they were seated across from a couple who had also walked through infertility. Although they had never met, the couple began to share their adoption story from an orphanage in Taiwan.
“Before long, I look over, and [Cary] is just bawling,” Ryan said. “We had discussed multiple times wanting to adopt from Asia. We didn’t know why, but it had just been on both of our hearts.”
The Rays had considered adopting at some point, but this was the confirmation they needed to move forward. They were scheduled to begin fertility treatments upon their return home, but they canceled the appointments and pursued adoption instead.
“It was tough because we were looking at [potentially] being able to have a baby nine months from that point,” Ryan said. “To back out of that and sign up for two years of waiting for adoption was something that was tough, but was something that we just felt was for us.”
While waiting to be matched with their future child, the Rays faced new adversity in the form of a health crisis for Ryan. He endured multiple heart surgeries and had to retire from his job as a firefighter. They also had to delay traveling to Taiwan for six weeks because Ryan came down with pneumonia. When they finally were able to travel, Ryan had to return after just a few weeks to have yet another heart surgery.
“We had gone through such a difficult fertility journey,” Cary said. “I think that in my heart I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve done a lot here, so now we are going to have this really great experience with adoption.’ And it wasn’t. It was a really hard process.”
Then they received the call: The Rays had been matched with a six-month-old baby boy. Cary and Ryan felt a certainty that this little boy was the child meant for them. They knew he would need a little extra love and the Lord had been preparing them to be exactly the people who could give him that love.
After nearly another a year, it was finally time to go to Taiwan and bring River home. Throughout the adoption, Cary and Ryan found support and friends through a group of other families who had adopted from the same orphanage. As the Rays heard their stories, they eagerly anticipated finally being with their son, but again, the journey to parenthood was not quite as smooth as they had hoped.
“[The other couples] had all had really great bonding experiences almost immediately, and ours was just not like that,” Cary said. “The first day we met River we had to take him to the doctor and hold him down for a breathing treatment. You have all of these dreams of this beautiful experience, and it was just not like that. So again, we were just trusting that God had this and that this is what we are supposed to be doing and this is beautiful even when it doesn’t feel beautiful.”
River is now a happy and healthy three-year-old. His family is blown away by his gentle, loving spirit, and he is a beautiful picture of God’s grace.
Community has been an integral part of the Rays’ story. Their Home Group came alongside them with love and support, and they also found encouragement and empathy from adoptive parents who understood their journey and its specific challenges.
“It can feel isolating, even in the church, when you are walking something unique,” Cary said. “It’s really important to find a place where you can talk to other people who are walking in your path.”
Cary and Ryan choose to be open with their story so they can encourage others who are pursuing adoption or are struggling through infertility. They have had opportunities to talk with many people and share hope and the faithfulness of God.
“We often base how God feels about us based on our own emotions, and that just isn’t true,” Cary said. “When we feel like He’s not there, not parting the waters, we need to know, believe and trust that He actually is doing all of those things for your good and His glory, regardless of how you feel. It’s His will that you want and not your own.”
The Rays are still on their journey of growing their family. Tracing the hand of God through their adoption story with River has built their faith and given them contentment to rest on what God has for them in the season that they are in now.
“He is a good and gracious God, and His plans are better than ours.”
“We are reminded through River that God didn’t leave us orphaned,” Ryan says. “He’s always there. So we just trust, knowing that He will work it out and we will just continue to be faithful.”
In every detail, Cary and Ryan learned to submit everything to the Lord and found Him to be faithful in it all. “He is a good and gracious God, and His plans are better than ours,” Cary said. “It was not easy, and He doesn’t promise easy. Adoption is not easy, but it’s so beautiful and it’s so worth it on the other side. Adoption is from brokenness. Infertility is from brokenness. But God makes good from the ashes.”