Bonus clip from Engaging Your Spiritual Core with Dr. Lisa Miller.
Narrator: Thank you for downloading this bonus clip from This Is Your Brain. In this excerpt Dr. Lisa Miller recounts her journey to parenthood through adoption, and what she learned about the importance of being open to what life is trying to teach us.
Phil Stieg: You go into great detail about the challenges you had in terms of childbearing. Did that play a role in your decision to write this book?
Lisa Miller: I think 98% of suffering comes from an attachment to thinking we need to get what we want. And of course, when we grab that beautiful golden carrot, it’s exciting for about a day, and then we want the next one out there. So I think a great deal of suffering that’s built into the air and water of our public square in our culture is the, “I’ve got to have it” narrative. I’ve got to have it, and when I’ve got it, I got to get the next thing. And so in my case, I was very well acculturated, and perhaps quite skilled, in the “I’ve got to have” culture that built my achieving brain.
And of all things on earth, the thing I wanted most was to be a parent. And it was the same for my husband. We really wanted a family. And for us, that was our heart’s goal and we couldn’t control that. You can’t make children. Spirit, who I call God, universe. Life makes children. Not being able to conceive in year one was depressing. By year three, we were obliterated. And our friends wouldn’t even invite us to baby showers because they were so worried about us.
Phil Stieg: The long faces.
Lisa Miller: So there we were. And what we found through that process, through that road of trials, was the gradual wearing away of our ego, the gradual wearing away of radical control. So that was the beginning of a spiritual path. And when we released radical control, we started to pay attention. Instead of not getting what we want – what is happening here? Live on earth.
There was a journey I had leading up to finding our son Isaiah, which made certain for me in the deepest, deepest form of knowing, the deep inner wisdom in my heart, that we were on a spiritual path. People would show up out of the blue and help us out.
For instance, after one horribly depressing failed in vitro, I’m sitting on a New York bus, quite depressed. A gentleman gets on the bus. A quite unusual guy. And he sits down right next to me. And he looks at me right by my side, he says, “You know what, lady? You look like just that type of woman that goes all around the world adopting kids.” He smiled at me. At the next stop he got off.
Who sent that guy? Who sent him? And one after the next that happened. After one in vitro, I just had this hopeful but deep-set feeling that this embryo was not going to take, I just had that feeling. And then I drive home, I get out of the car, I walk up to the front door and bam. Right in front of me on the threshold of our front door was a little dead duck embryo. No other day was there a little dead duck embryo on my front walk.
This is life showing me something. And so I said, this isn’t going to work. And I quickly went down the slide of despair and depression and in the middle of the afternoon took a nap. And then, so I heard in the middle of my nap, this little tap tap.
I walk over to the big window and there’s a little duck outside, but there’s never been a duck to come this close to the house, right up the stairs of the porch, tap tap on my window. And I opened the screen to see. She’s brought me a little worm. So she lost her baby, her hopeful baby, and I lost mine. And it assured me that I was on a spiritual path. It also assured me that all living beings are part of our spiritual path.
Phil Stieg: You told us about the duck embryo, and then we know that you went to Russia to adopt your child. What went on between those intervals?
Lisa Miller: As my husband and I went further and further down the path of ego dissolution, we stopped thinking we could really just control everything, least of all conception. We started noticing some helpers and healers, people who I’ve come to call trail angels along the way. And of course, the most helpful was my own mother. She called one day and said, “Honey, I just want you to know,” on the recording, our voicemail, “our neighbor, she just adopted the most beautiful boy, little John Paul, and he’s from Russia. And I just want you to know how sweet he is. And they’re so happy. And that’s all. Thanks, honey.”
Russia. Okay, let’s think about adopting from Russia. So my husband and I found our way to a clergyman’s daughter whose life work was bringing home babies from orphanages to their families, to the moms and dads and siblings who were so eager to receive this new, beautiful spirit into their family. The walls of her office were lined. There were easily four-or-500 pictures of families who’d come together, little babies. Some of them were eight-year-olds. They were older children adopted, all ages.
So she turned to me, the clergyman’s daughter, and said, “What is it you’re looking for in a child?” Very direct. And I said, you know, I don’t care if this child’s a boy or a girl. I don’t care what race this child is, but please, a child who can love. I want to be able to connect and bond with this child. And my husband sort of leaned forward and said, yeah, all that, but kind of a girl (laugh). After that, I sort of literally put my shoulder in front of him and said, “but really, just a child you can love.”
And so we headed out, and I got the most remarkable call. I got a call from my older cousin Jane. I’m Lisa Jane, and she’s Big Jane. She said, you know, you study spirituality. Miss Columbia professor. If you want to really know about it, you’ve got to come out here. There’s a healing ceremony being led here in South Dakota by the Lakota. They’ve given permission for you to join us. And so it was far too unprobablistic to have happened by chance. These are our openings in life. I said yes. I canceled my appointments at Columbia. I flew out to South Dakota, and finding myself in the Inípi, the sweat lodge, with other women, and one man in the other.
The medicine man’s wife asked us each why we had come. And the first woman said, “I’ve come because my son is 14 and he’s starting to use drugs. And I’m worried for him.” And everyone looked and heard and nodded and held that. Then the next woman spoke. She said, “My son, he’s 40. He’s not coming home anymore. And I’m worried for the family.” And we looked at her and honored her struggle. And we went all the way around the circle till it came to Big Jane. And she said, “This here is my cousin, Little Jane. Not Dr. Miller, Little Jane. And she’s come looking for her child. I’m wondering if we could help her.” And they all looked and understood. And for the first time in five years of countless in vitros, and research, and up-ratcheting the in vitro team, for the first time, I felt I was in the right place for our journey.
The medicine man’s wife led us in a collective prayer through which we prayed for each other. And there was this deep, felt sense that we were praying for the we, the us. That we’d come into a beam, the collective, and that went up the top of the Inípi, and fell in my mind’s eye. I could see it.
That night, after five years, to this day, I’m so grateful, the call came. And the call on my machine all the way back in New York came that night. And it said, “We have found the Miller’s child.” It came from Russia. “We know Mr. Miller had wanted a girl, and there’s many wonderful girls. We can find you a girl. But this is the Miller’s child, and this is a son.”
From the Inípi, praying for sons, had come a son. And so I named my child Isaiah for one world, and Lakota for the people who helped us. And that’s the story of finding Isaiah…our beautiful boy.