by Vimala Dharmendran
I was born into a non-Christian home. From young, I felt confused and alienated by religion, even after getting married in 2004 and moving to Kuala Lumpur.
One of my brothers-in-law was a Christian, and he and his brothers would talk together about Christianity. Although I was interested, I did not make any commitment. The extended families of my husband Dharma were practising Catholics and I soon joined them on their visits to St Anne’s feasts. But the feeling of alienation continued.
Before too long, Dharma and I began trying for a baby. After about a year of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy, I consulted a gynaecologist and went through intra-uterine insemination (IUI) twice. On the second attempt, I became pregnant. We were so happy; I thought my prayers were answered.
At my sixth-week scan, I noted my doctor’s grim expression when I told him I had no nausea. It was then that I felt the first stirrings of fear. After the ultrasound he broke the devastating news: he could not detect a heartbeat, but then quickly reassured me that it might appear the following week. But alas, it was not to be, and I had to terminate the pregnancy.
After our return to Singapore, we consulted another gynaecologist who suggested that I continue with IUI. Two more attempts followed with no success. I then embarked on in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
When my second attempt at IVF resulted in a pregnancy, I continued to be fearful, and yet again, a scan revealed that there was no fetal heartbeat. I burst into tears when I heard the news, and ranted and raved at the gods. A chromosome test was done on the aborted foetus—it was a boy with a chromosome defect, who had no chance of survival.
In all, I had gone through four IUIs and four IVFs. My body had taken a beating and I was physically and mentally exhausted. Nevertheless, I decided to try IVF one last time, this time choosing a more aggressive treatment.
It was at this time that a close friend of mine shared with me about Christ and the Bible. I started listening and began reading the Bible, and I felt very drawn to what I read. What drew my interest was that here was a God who came down to earth to die for our sins solely for the purpose of saving us from sin. I felt that Jesus’ sacrifice was to bring us closer to Him. Here was a God I could build a personal relationship with. My friend also introduced me to a lady who prophesied that I would conceive two children and said that nothing is impossible with God. My heart longed to believe her, and I started praying fervently for that fulfillment.
My last IVF resulted in a pregnancy. It was then that my friend suggested that I attend Zion Bishan BP Church. Dharma and I did so, and I felt great peace and joy as I joined in the hymns. It was here that I met Rachel Menon and her family. Her daughter-in-law, Chene, visited every week and discussed the Bible with me.
At my sixth-week check-up, I received the joyous news that there was a very healthy heartbeat. I thought that finally, here was a God that would answer my prayers and see this pregnancy through!
On my second scan, the doctor discovered the fetal heartbeat had dropped… but, lo and behold, there was a second foetus. I had conceived twins! But I knew the second foetus would not survive as the vital heartbeat was not detected.
However, I continued praying that the remaining foetus would survive, but it was not meant to be! At my eighth-week scan, there was no heartbeat in both foetuses, and the pregnancy had to be terminated.
A chromosome test later revealed two girls with chromosome defects. My doctor told me that even if I had carried the pregnancy to full term, my babies would have extensive organ damage and other physical disabilities, and would not have survived for more than three days. He said that maybe it was God’s way of ending the pregnancy sooner to spare us the pain.
Immediately I informed all my friends, including Rachel and Chene, about the news, and that I wanted to be alone to grieve.
As I was being wheeled to the operating theatre for the induced abortion, I heard the cries of babies. Bitter thoughts came to me: Oh God, you really know how to rub it in!
When I came to, I was greeted by the sight of pregnant women on their way to their check-ups, and I wondered why God was being so cruel to let me see this immediately after my procedure.
For three months, I avoided my friends. I only allowed a close friend to call and comfort me. She consoled me that when God closes one door, He makes sure that another is open.
In my grief, I stopped believing in God and refused to read the Bible. On hindsight, I realised that I had placed my trust in the prophecy rather than in Christ alone.
Rachel and Chene tried to reach out but I avoided them. However, they never gave up. As much as I tried to ignore their calls, they would somehow make their presence felt. There was an occasion when I ignored Rachel’s call yet again, but she was apparently at my door with warm muffins, freshly baked by Chene. She left them at the door and sent me an SMS to enjoy them. I was so touched! A little voice in my heart suggested that they were probably sent by God to help me, but I ignored it.
Dharma assured me that God would find a way to fulfil our lives and bless us with a child through other means. He talked about adoption, but I did not give it much thought. I felt sorry for him, knowing how much he longed for a child. Though he never blamed me, I felt that I had failed him, and even harboured thoughts of ending our marriage!
Dharma assured me that God would find a way to fulfi l our lives andbless us with a child through other means.
I felt myself going into depression, entering a deep, dark tunnel with no light at the end. It was perhaps at this stage when I was at my lowest that God prepared me to receive His grace and mercy. Despite all my feelings of resentment, failure and doom, I felt a loving hand gripping and pulling me out!
Even then, I wondered whose hand it was holding me fast. This happened numerous times, surrounding me with an immensely comforting presence. As my friend ministered to me, I realised that it was Jesus Himself who had pulled me out of depression, again and again.
I finally ended the misery and began to attend church again. In the meantime, we started the ball rolling for adoption. We went through a rigorous process of interviews and paperwork with Touch Community Services, and after six months received the clearance to adopt a baby. We consulted an adoption agency, and the agonising wait started.
A few months later, while I was completing my final assignment in my Masters course, I happened to check my mobile phone and realised that there were eight missed calls from the adoption agency! I quickly called the agency, which informed me that there was a three-day-old baby girl awaiting adoption. If I had not answered on the ninth call, they would have contacted another couple instead. Surely, God was gracious!
Dharma and I quickly went to take a look at the baby. I fell in love with her at first sight. The Holy Spirit prompted me to accept this baby. I watched Dharma’s expression and saw his joy, and that’s how Amrita Nair Dharmendran came to our lives.
Amrita had been born with three holes in her heart and we were very worried that if they did not close, surgery would be required. It was God’s people at Zion Bishan who prayed for healing. We felt their concern, warmth and fellowship. Miraculously, the holes closed up within a year. Amrita is now a healthy, loving child and a delightful joy to our lives.
We love Amrita to bits and always tell her that it was Jesus who gave her to us because He loved her enough to do so! Psalm 3:4 (NKJV) reads: “I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.”
Amrita is the answer to my cries to the Lord for a child. Miracles do happen!
Adoption is not a means to an end. God may not have planted her in my womb, but He planted her in my heart.
I have sometimes been irritated when well-meaning friends and relatives told me that since we had adopted Amrita, I would definitely conceive “our own child”. But Amrita is our own child. Adoption is not a means to an end. God may not have planted her in my womb, but He planted her in my heart. After all, are we not all God’s adopted children?
I have come to know that God answers prayers, but He does so in His own ways. He is always there to give us His strength, grace, mercy and blessings. He will do so in His time, and in the manner that He prescribes. Finally, there was a God whom I could build a relationship with.
It was a joyous occasion when Dharma, Amrita and I were baptised and became members of the Zion Bishan family. I pray that Amrita will come to know and love Jesus, and truly see how much He loves her.
Vimala Dharmendran, after 11 years as a secondary school teacher, graduated into marriage and motherhood. She shares about the long and difficult road she took to find faith in God and the child she loved at first sight.