March for Life thoughts

So hey, the March for Life is tomorrow and according to my newsfeed we are encouraged to use our voice, so I thought I would share mine here.

I don’t think it would surprise a single friend of mine on facebook that I am what people call Pro-Life. Yes, I would like pregnant women to choose life and I honestly wish adoption were more of an option discussed than abortion.

When we adopted Phoebe, our phone went crazy with calls, emails and facebook messages from men and women I didn’t even know; but had heard our story and after years of unsuccessful attempts of adopting they were reaching out to a stranger. They each wanted me to take down their name and number and they would tell me their specific story and how badly they wanted a child, but there just aren’t many available. In the United States, it is estimated that there are approximately 1-2 million people trying to adopt and 1.3 million babies are aborted each year. Only 4% of unplanned pregnancies are given up for adoption. The problem I had was, I didn’t have this pocket or this place to find women like Phoebe’s birth mom. It broke my heart.

Personally, I find women that choose giving a child up for adoption after carrying it to term heroic. I can’t imagine what that must be like for them. Viewing someone’s life that you have never met, as more important than your own for a little while and then parting with it because you know it’s better for the child, is astonishing and in my opinion should be praised.

I see no advantage in shaming any woman for an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, at that point it does no good. I also find no good in anyone shaming another woman that has chosen the route of abortion, my guess is she was already scared to do it anyway.

I would also like to take the opportunity to use my voice to straighten out a little cliche line that I often see people use. The foster care system is not full of UNWANTED children. The foster care system is full of WANTED children and that is why they are there. Foster parents wait YEARS to adopt children because the birth parents are fighting for them. They want them and are given EVERY OPPORTUNITY imaginable to gain their kids back. If you need specifics I can get them for you but that is a different topic altogether though and I feel better just getting that off my chest. 🙂

I am hoping this year to continue my research and dialogue with many people from both sides of the issue, that frankly, know a lot more than I do about these things. But at some point, I’m hoping, if even 10% of women that choose abortion, chose adoption instead it would change the world for good in so many ways and be such a celebration of life.

Here is a blog I wrote when Phoebe was 5 months old, you can see a glimpse of a message I wrote to her birth mom. I hope using my “voice” helps give you a peek at my heart and the heart of many of my pro-life friends. Read whatever news you want, but know there are people out there willing to care for the child for their whole life. Our family is better for having Phoebe. She has rocked our world and if you ever meet her, she just might rock yours as well. She is the happiest baby I have ever seen in my life. She is comedic, she is caring, she is funny, she is independent, she is even ambidextrous, she has the most beautiful curly hair, and she is a person that may change a corner of her world by just existing. She has certainly changed mine. Be good to one another facebook friends, we only have 1 shot.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

https://oldmommadenew.wordpress.com/…/09/25/dear-birth-mot…/

 

This was originally posted as a status on facebook

Stop Comparing Love Stories

 

This was originally written more than a couple of years ago as a Facebook “note” but then I had someone request it because they remembered reading it and wanted to do so again. Anyway, I decided maybe I would just add it to my blog entries for my kids and anyone else interested.

So, here’s my story. My parents met when my mom was 14, at my Uncle’s gas station. My mom lived in Mississippi and my dad in Illinois. They wrote letters to each other until they couldn’t wait any longer and got married when my mom was just 18 years old. My parents have now been married 55 years and counting.

My dating story is completely different. I didn’t really date in high school, I was very busy being silly with my friends. Actually, I did have a few dates… like the real ones. You know, where the guys wonders if you want to go to the movies and halfway through the date you decide, what in the world am I doing? I can’t wait to get home to tell my girlfriends how awkward this is!!!

When I went to college, things changed. I met someone and at our first meeting we decided we literally couldn’t stand each other, until the next day we saw each other again… and we laughed. From that moment on we became best friends and were pretty much together all of the time. We had SO MUCH fun together all of the time. It was great and I was head over heels for this one and he was the same. I won’t tell you the next few years were a bed of roses… cause they weren’t. Circumstances caused us to question our relationship and we would break up and date someone else and then quickly realize how much we missed each other and no one really could ever compare.

I see so much on social media about dating and the wrong things to do and the right things to do. It has to be so confusing for the Christian teen these days. I LOVE that so many of the young people around me are trying to truly seek what the Lord wants for their lives and they aren’t trying to date just to date, or they aren’t bouncing from one bad relationship to another but sometimes I see such extreme caution that I think… how in the world will you ever know? I know, I’ve heard it all (or close to all of it) about Courtship vs. dating vs. whatever new trend or Christianese thing worked for someone else but I would like to challenge all of the youth out there to stop paying attention to someone else’s love life! It’s not your story. It’s their’s! Please stop comparing. Please stop coveting. Please. Just Stop.

The only thing I remember my mom ever telling me is that I should not be unequally yoked. That was it. Her complete guide to dating, was don’t date someone who doesn’t believe what you believe. You know that the boy I met in college, that quickly became my everything was Jewish? Jewish. Hey Jewish people are great…I mean, Jesus was a Jew… right?! But, let me state this a different way… I was a Baptist, Pig Farmers Daughter. For those familiar with Jewish traditions and beliefs, you will know this is not really “Kosher”… hahaha! See what I did there? After we had dated on and off for more than 4 years… his parents wanted me out. It was awful. They wanted me out of their son’s life and would do just about anything to get me out. I started to think about having a family with this man and what it was going to look like. If only I would’ve listened to the ONLY piece of advice my mom gave me about dating this would NOT be an issue. I had given my heart away, so now what do I do? *Insert here – “kids, listen to your parents they actually know something.”

My thoughts raced about what our future together would look like… we were now in our 20’s I had a full-time job and he was lying to his parents about our relationship to keep the peace at home. I’m sorry ladies, but really? If the guy you are dating or want to date, doesn’t resemble Rocky yelling Adrian’s name then my advice is… you need to look somewhere else. Seriously. The guy you end up with should want to show you off to everyone like he just caught the biggest and best fish in the ocean. This is the way you should feel. He should defend you to anyone, including his family.

So, at this point, I’m disappointed and frustrated. The cuteness and fun is being sucked out of the last 4+ years of my life and it is beginning to get pretty weighty. I took my students on a field trip to a pumpkin farm and the guy driving the tractor called me and asked me out. Guess what? I went. I know… I had a boyfriend! I’m a horrible person! I get that. But here’s what happened. I liked him. He was nice. He was polite. He had beautiful eyes. He showed me a future in a matter of minutes. I like to summarize it like this… we discussed potato salad and mayonnaise and decided to get married. Yep. That’s it. I told my Jewish boyfriend I had gone on a date. He sped away quickly in his red Nissan Sentra and didn’t call me for 2 months. In that 2 months time, my new boyfriend bought a ring just 3 weeks after our first date. DID YOU HEAR ME? He bought an engagement ring after 3 WEEKS of dates! I have no clue what you call that… is it dating? Is it courtship? Is it insane?? I don’t know.

We discussed mayonnaise and decided to get married. It was just the right time for both of us. We liked each other. We enjoyed each other. We had jobs, we had things we wanted to do and he wanted to find Jesus. So we got engaged just 2 months after our first date and we plan to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this December. We have 3 beautiful children and parents that love us. We love each other, support each other and I can’t think of anyone that I would rather do life with. When we lost our son Henry, I couldn’t imagine what my life would’ve been like without him. He is the best dad and husband. He loves Jesus with all of his heart and serves other people in a way most people can’t even fathom. When other people talk about him, they use words like the most honest, trustworthy, genuine, and sincere… I like to throw cautious and a rule follower in there also for those of you that REALLY know him.

But that is MY story. So please young people, stop comparing your life to your peers. Please stop comparing your love story to someone else’s. You may not look across the room and know the moment you laid eyes on each other that this was the spouse God intended for you! I will guarantee no two, love stories are the same or should they be. I am pretty certain there is only one thing you need to be certain of… are you going in the same direction? Do you both want to seek after God and His desire for your lives? Do you both want to trust Him? And do you want to treat each other like you just caught the best fish in the ocean or won the biggest prize at the fair? And do you both like mayonnaise or miracle whip?

img_4204Just because Kissing Dating Goodbye has worked for some, doesn’t mean it’s your story. Just because you dated the wrong guy/girl doesn’t mean you won’t find the right one. Just because you date someone doesn’t mean you are going to marry them. You just might not. I’m sorry to break it to you. It’s just true. It may not work out the way you expected it to or the way it was described in a book. It may just work out the way God intended it, if you are seeking what is best by Him. Trust in His timing. Trust in His plan. Date for years or date for what seems like a minute, but once you decide to commit to marriage. Commit. And please stop comparing your life to someone else’s. Let their love life be theirs and yours be yours.

What If I Surrender?

Praying can be scary. Have you ever thought that? Most people find comfort in praying for help – they cry out to God to fix this or that, they ask him to mend things, to give them peace, to gain wisdom, and a plethora of other things along these lines. But every once in a while you can communicate and surrender events just like you are supposed to and later reflect on what that might actually mean.  The reality can send a shiver down your spine and goose bumps down your arms.

I lived in the “what-if” stage of life far longer than I would like to admit.  My childhood was filled with “what-if” thoughts.  I was a homebody, I never wanted to leave my mom’s side… cause, What if?  Throughout my life, I’ve felt like my “what ifs” also made me a negotiator with God, which has honestly always disturbed me. God, you can do this – but not that, cause THAT is off-limits.  Negotiations like this filled my mind for years, have you ever done this?

The concept of surrendering situations and life events at the feet of Jesus is beautiful. We know we are called to do this and it sounds wonderful, but most of us seem to find ourselves picking our concerns, fears, events or whatever it is back up and beginning the “what-if’s” once again.

“True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion if we will only give up.  God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender.  Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God.  Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it” Oswald Chambers

This spring, a young man I didn’t know as well as I would’ve liked, passed far too soon from this life for many of his friends and family. He was a young man who filled himself with anything focused on gaining souls into the Heavenly Realm.  His parents found note after note and prayer after prayer displaying this.  They even found a note with this type of surrender, the one that says “whatever it takes Lord- bring them back to you” Wow! Whatever it takes. Whatever. That means no control, no stipulations, no “what if”, just surrender.

Absolutely surrendering so freely to say or imply; whatever you need from me Lord to make them find you, do it. That’s total surrender for someone else’s gain. It’s completely selfless. He was displaying the  John 15:13 verse that says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” or it’s living out 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

Have you been communicating with our Heavenly Father with the purpose of saving souls into the heavenly realm? Have you been so burdened to pray for something or someone to the point of “whatever it takes”? Has God burdened your heart, like he has mine for a ministry or even a potential one? Maybe it’s the total surrender He is waiting for?

Isaiah 41:10 ESV :  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

10 years ago today

Ten years ago can seem like it was yesterday and at other times it can seem like a lifetime ago. Usually around January 7th I am reflective, but last year the day came and went and I didn’t even realize it was “the day” until it was too late. That was kind of refreshing to be honest, but it also came with a boatload of guilt! It was as though I believed I didn’t care deeply enough if I had actually not reflected on “the day”.

“The day” is the one 10 years ago that I had to be put into labor with our 3rd child, just 4 days before his due date because I had been in the tub earlier that day and like my naughty self – when I am pregnant, I like to communicate with my children and give them a nudge and have them nudge me back. This time, there was no nudging back – no matter what I did – I got nothing. That’s when we went to the Doctor and he told me there was no heartbeat anymore.

So rewind 9 months prior to that day and you would’ve found me every morning on the cold, hard, ceramic tile in our bathroom.  See, I had gotten into this habit of going into the cold bathroom and sitting on the cold tile to read my Bible and pray… it was the best way for me to ensure I would stay awake! Anyway, much of my prayer time during that season in my life went something like this; “God, I think we would like to have another baby – I mean, if you want us to. If it is YOUR will, I think we would really enjoy another one. I don’t want to be selfish, we already have two beautiful girls, but our hearts seem to be desiring another child – so if you want us to have one, we are ready.” Now, I’m no expert on praying and I will never claim to be, but that’s how it went almost every day for maybe a month or so and then it was clear… He did want us to have another one! What a relief!

Ya just never know when you are praying, what you really might be praying for, do you?  So, typical morning sickness hit and I was off and running and usually vomiting into one of Denny Hastert’s plastic fireman hats we had obtained at a parade and had been left in our van.  Morning sickness came and went and at 20 weeks we went in for our routine ultrasound.  The doctor called me and I answered while we were at Wal-Mart, in the shoe aisle. The girls were both trying on shoes and I am certain I quickly lost my patience and a panic fell over me when my Doctor told me they saw choroid plexus cysts on the baby’s brain. He told me not to worry – he went on to tell me that BOTH of his children had these and nothing was wrong. He told me that he has several patients a month that get this result and he was sending us to Lutheran General for a level 2 ultrasound just as a routine, he was sure there was nothing to worry about.

Try telling that to an already anxious person. That’s the silliest thing ever. We anxious people go directly into panic mode. We do not stop at Go! We turn that corner on the monopoly board and head straight jail – the kind where your brain doesn’t shut off and you get on the internet and do your own research, even though the Doctor told you not to – yea, that kind of jail. So, I’m pretty certain I did that until our Doctor’s appointment at Lutheran arrived and when we got there the staff was so kind and I met with the nurse and she looked at our file and assured me the same thing that my Doctor had said – there was nothing to worry about. She had looked at my file and my ultrasound and this was going to just be a routine visit for us. Whew! What a relief! I quickly went back to the waiting room and shared the glorious news with Brian. Now I was excited to go back into the ultrasound room to see the baby again, because the one I had a couple weeks prior the baby had it’s legs crossed so we didn’t get to find out the sex! So, now I was all happy and ready to know what we were having!

Our turn came and well… it didn’t go like we had hoped. We found out that we were having a baby boy – but there were complications. He did have the cysts on his brain, which can be a marker for other conditions and in this case it was. His heart had not fully developed and only had 3 chambers and his kidney’s were still attached together.  Both of these issues were operable and we were given hope.  The Doctor did mention that he would like to take a sample of the amniotic fluid though, because he wanted to make sure there was nothing else going on. He just couldn’t be sure without it. Our baby didn’t have the typical markers of some of the other things he was thinking about so that was good, but to be on the safe side he encouraged the amniocentesis and we agreed. We even met with a heart specialist who drew out what the plan would be upon delivery. She was confident they could fix the heart issue and that the baby could lead a normal life – Golf would be his best sport, but a “normal” life.  She did talk to us though A LOT about aborting the baby and starting over though. We couldn’t believe it. It was never in our consideration. My job was to keep this baby safe – I was given a baby that I had prayed for and this was the one I was meant to have whether it was how I wanted it to be or not.

“Well, I guess here is where the rubber meets the road. Here is where I find out if I really believe what I say I believe.” I knew I had to choose how I was going to respond to this incredible disappointment and sorrow. – Nancy Guthrie

The next day, the Doctor himself called to give me the diagnosis of Trisomy 18 – Edwards Syndrome.  If you aren’t familiar with Edwards Syndrome, it’s a lot like Down Syndrome, except T18 babies don’t usually live outside of the womb. The womb is the safest place for them. Oh how I wished I heard Trisomy 21 instead, but we didn’t so now we had to share the news and go to Doctor appointments and all that comes with it. Our family and friends were so sweet, our friend and attorney sent us the most beautiful flower arrangement and my OB called me on his days off just to see how I was doing – we couldn’t have asked for better friends. I knew they were praying for me and I literally felt it. I was somehow at peace. One of the appointments they scheduled for us was with a genetic counselor at Lutheran General, the first guy we saw there was great! I am not even certain what his title was, but he went over the chromosomes with us and showed us our sons and he was just so sensitive yet informative. He had a stack of books on his desk and I remember distinctly him moving one of them to the bottom of his pile while we talked.  He told us that we needed to meet with his colleague before we left so we did, she entered the room and seemed to have a completely different idea in mind as to what we should be doing or feeling.  She was abrupt. I don’t remember much of what she said, but she quickly pulled out that book that the counselor had moved to the bottom of the pile and told us to take it home and read it – she thought it would be very liberating and she was certain we would see our pregnancy the way she did – as an “oops!” One that we could quickly change so I could “feel better”. She gave me a book about how great abortion was. It was literally just a book of poems and pictures and quotes from women that had chosen themselves instead of their babies. I couldn’t believe it! 

I remember standing in my kitchen actually looking at that book and reading some of the quotes – they were so self focused. I wasn’t thinking about myself at this moment! I was thinking about this sweet baby boy who is safe and warm inside of me – happy as a lark and enjoying his time floating around and sucking his thumb. How on earth was I to think about anyone or anything other than him at this point! I broke down crying and threw the book in the trash! I was appalled that it had even been given to me! That first counselor knew just by talking to us – to put it at the bottom of the pile and act like it wasn’t even in the room. But the FEMALE Doctor – was pushing this idea on me! Interesting fact, we saw male and female doctors during this time and ZERO male physicians suggested an abortion. They were more sensitive and understanding than the women, the ones I had assumed would understand my feelings the most. But they didn’t. They were the only ones suggesting an abortion and even to the point sometimes that they tried to make me feel stupid for trying to protect this life I had been so graciously given.

The weeks ahead were spent just living life, we had two healthy and beautiful girls and their everyday lives were basically unaffected by this news at this point. God’s word and my prayer life were on fire at this time. It might surprise you, but I wasn’t really the focus of my prayers either. My prayers became focused on everyone else’s requests because I decided to take the scripture from Roman’s literally; the one that says

Romans 8:26-28New Living Translation (NLT)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[a] in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[b] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Emphasis mine)

See, I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to be praying for. Was I supposed to be praying for healing? For whatever reason that didn’t seem right, it didn’t seem wrong, but it didn’t seem right either. It seemed right to submit to God’s authority and let others do the praying for us while I prayed for them. A friend of a friend’s husband worked at a publishing company and she had recently read a book called Holding On To Hope, a pathway through suffering to the heart of God by Nancy Guthrie – and she passed it along to me. I remember telling Brian, “I don’t want to read this! I don’t want to suffer!” but for whatever reason I picked it up and read the entire thing in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. This woman knew – she knew what this felt like. She had a tone that challenged me and I was determined to get through this and glorify God the best I could.

Henry Phillip Hauser was finally brought into the world after my body basically refused to cooperate. It didn’t want to dilate and they couldn’t get the epidural in my back. Matter-of-fact, they had to wake up a Dr. that lived in St. Charles because they had attempted the epidural so many times without success, they couldn’t stand to try one more time. The top dog arrived and was able to get it in and I could find a bit of comfort. Brian said my spine looked as though someone had taken a fork and just stabbed me down the back. It was the least of my concerns and I was ready to have this baby. When the time came to push, my sweet, sweet Doctor came to the hospital just for me. He caught little Henry and exclaimed  “Missy!!! He didn’t die because he had Trisomy 18, he died because his cord was tied in a knot!” he continued, “It’s actually a blessing that we found out at 20 weeks that he wasn’t going to make it – because this baby wasn’t ever going to make it. You had 20 weeks to prepare that this might be the outcome!” The type of knot that tied his cord was like the kind you make when you tie a shoe and even with ultrasound technology this type of knot is not easily seen and most of the times goes undetected. He was right. Here people were praying for healing, but even if his sweet body was healed – he didn’t make it. It wasn’t a part of the plan. It made sense that nudging I had, NOT to pray for myself because I didn’t know what to pray. I would’ve never prayed for that. And that type of knot is usually done in the first trimester when the baby is so small and zipping around they get it tied up like that.

The hospital staff was wonderful. They made molds of his beautiful feet. His feet were such a significant thing to us because 1. I love baby feet and 2. We were told most T18 babies have club feet as an indicator but ours didn’t. He was perfectly shaped with a full head of dark hair that actually touched his eyebrows.  His ears were perfect, hands were perfect and feet were perfect. He wasn’t in great shape when he came out though, because he had passed away a few days prior and when a baby has passed and sits for a while in the amniotic fluid their skin tends to peel away. But to us he was beautiful. I slept holding him all night. I remember having this peace that it was over. That I had done what I needed to do and brought this little life into the world the only way I could. I had seen the miracle everyone was praying for – I had seen a blurb of God’s plan. His plan was that this baby was ALWAYS going to go straight to Him, no matter what. The hardest part of all of this was going to be leaving him there. I gained great respect for ANYONE that has lost someone they love. Leaving him in that hospital room didn’t seem right. He was our son, whether he was breathing or not – he should be in our arms. But that isn’t the reality. The funeral home would be coming to get him and we needed to leave him there. I remember Brian saying, “Do you think we could just sneak him out in one of our bags?” He wasn’t really wanting to do that but at the same time – we both did.

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I remember planning the funeral and thinking everyone needs to read this book Holding On To Hope – it was really the only tangible thing I could give that represented what we had gone through and the road we wanted to take. We wanted to be REAL. I had sent a note to the author after reading the book and she wrote back. We connected and continued to connect for some time after, I told her that I wanted to put her book in as many hands as I possibly could and she informed me that the publisher was going to be re-doing the book and that she thought I could get the old copies for a large discount.  I tracked down someone that would know and sure enough, we ended up purchasing 500 of them just so we had enough to last us a lifetime and maybe we could give some to other ministries that might involve people suffering. As we were planning things with the church, they had offered to supply meat for a meal after the funeral, but we didn’t really think we would want to sit and eat and we weren’t sure how many people would either. We told them we had purchased these books and wanted everyone to have a copy and if they wanted to throw the cost of the meat towards the books we had purchased, they were welcome to do so but that wasn’t policy and it was no big deal. These books were the most important thing we could possibly give to anyone that might attend.

It was suggested that we use a small room that could accommodate about 75 people because “not many people really attend funerals for baby’s.” That was fine with us, but it seemed like so many people had been praying for us that there was a possibility there could be a few more than that attend so Brian and I insisted that the regular sanctuary was probably the best place to hold it even if no one showed up. It’s funny how God puts things on your heart, the funeral came and like all parents, we were at the front – we could only see the people directly around us. We had no idea that the church was quickly filling to capacity. Chairs were brought in and set up – people were told there was no room – so they stood outside in the foyer! There were over 500 people that attended our sweet baby’s funeral – the funeral for a little boy no one ever even met. Needless to say, I didn’t bring all 500 books to the church that day, but isn’t it funny how those numbers matched? For months after the funeral, I carried the books in the car with me because I would often be out and about and someone would say they had come to the funeral and wondered if I had any more books. I even had people that were more of acquaintances tell me they were sorry to hear of our loss, but they were told we gave out this really great book and did I happen to have any more?

At his funeral, 9 people told us they handed their lives over to Christ that night. I don’t know where all 9 are in their walk today, but I know for sure God let us clearly see this little boy was entrusted to us for His glory and not ours. It was my job to protect him when others wanted to snuff out his life too soon. We were given the baby I had prayed for on that cold tile floor early in the morning. This was the baby we were supposed to have, no matter how much it hurt, no matter how great the loss, no matter what – we were called to trust His ways were better than our ways and  we merely have the dashboard view. As I write this, it seems like just yesterday – but yet, so much has happened since then that I could’ve never predicted. God is good whether it “feels” like it at the time.

A page I wrote in shortly after Henry’s funeral

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Most of the Details

Eight months have gone by in a flash and I don’t even know how to begin, so I will just give a brief history and then share most of the details with you about our adoption of Phoebe Jane.

It started with a phone call from someone we knew well on April 25th.  Brian and I had been asked to attend Les Miserables with some friends;  they had second row, center seats at the Paramount so that’s where we were when we got the call. We did find it a bit odd that the same person had called both our phones, she didn’t leave a message on mine, but left a “hey, give me a call when you get a chance tomorrow…” kind of message on Brian’s.

See, we have talked about adoption for 20+ years.  When I was young the Doctors let me know I might have difficulty getting pregnant so before we were even married the topic of adoption had already been discussed.  After our wedding we decided to start trying immediately just in case it did take a long time or find it was impossible. After about a year and a half we had already turned our discussion to adoption.  We had been approved through Catholic Charities to be foster parents and had high hopes it would be a placement which would eventually lead to adoption. The last step in our process was to get fingerprinted, and the day we were going to get it done  I found out I was pregnant. That’s how they say it happens, right?!

Needless to say, adoption and foster care took a back seat to our exciting news and a couple years after Lucy was born, we were pregnant again with Sophie. We then waited a few more years and decided; maybe just one more and that’s when our son Henry was born sleeping. But that’s another blog for another day.  After an additional baby was lost at 20 weeks, its twin, Gus was born alive and kicking! I should let you know now, none of these were easy peasy births, all successful, but we certainly needed the excellent doctors and nurses God brought into our lives each time a baby was born.

After Henry was born, we had once again visited adoption. We met with friends who had adopted internationally, we talked with agencies, we gathered information, read books and we prayed. Then we had Gus, we assumed we were done.  We had been through so much with Henry and Gus’ twin (the one Gus doesn’t currently know about) – we were just happy to have our lively little boy and we were content… but in the back of our minds I think we both had that nagging sensation that adoption was still a part of our story.  We did the only thing we knew to do and started up again on our research.  Brian had gone on a missions trip to Ethiopia so that seemed like a great place to start, but things were changing with guidelines and governments so we shifted to Haiti because that was going to be opening again! We started with an agency again and were so excited, but then something happened and we both got very busy with work and it just didn’t seem like it was the right time so we stopped.  We really hadn’t given them much money, so that was good!

It was two Wednesday’s before the opening of our latest show I was producing, a new musical for our company and a beast to boot! Set pieces needed to be finished and delivered, costumes needed to be finished and flight equipment needed to be installed and actors and volunteers taught how to use it; I was overwhelmed. That day, Brian got a phone call from a friend who has an incredible sports ministry that helps fund adoptions. He asked Brian if we were still interested in adopting Internationally and if we were they would like to help us prayerfully and financially. We talked about it and decided we just weren’t in the position to commit to fundraising, classes and paperwork. We thought it was best if this ministry bless someone else, Brian would put it on his to-do list to get back to him and let him know.

The following Wednesday, things hadn’t slowed down any but I asked Brian if he would be interested in re-visiting foster care, I was beginning to think if we did, God would just place the child(ren) we were meant to have in our home and we could leave it at that. Brian agreed and we decided that would be our next move after Tarzan was finished. But then we got the call on Saturday, while at Les Mis that changed the course of our plans. Brian returned the call like he was asked on Sunday afternoon and he heard, “Someone we know had a baby and she is unable to keep her, she doesn’t want her to go into foster care and I told her I thought I knew someone who would like to adopt her; would you?” Brian responded, “Sure!” On the other end of the phone was a giggle and a question, “Should you ask Missy first?” Of course I agreed immediately and we were given the number of a social worker and we contacted a friend of ours who happens to be an attorney.

I left a message for the social worker (let’s be honest, I may have left more than one…) but it was Sunday so we got no word.  Our friend did tell us he no longer did adoptions but had a partner who did, so he gave us his information and Brian contacted him. On Monday morning, the social worker returned my call without matching the same level of enthusiasm I had.  She was curious as to who we were, was one of us related to the birth mom and all sorts of other questions.  She told us that this isn’t how the system works and that most likely we wouldn’t be able to adopt this baby but we could come to her office if we wanted; we did. I think we were at her office by 10am., she asked us what we knew, we shared the few details we had and she told us the baby was going to be placed in foster care that day. She told us there wasn’t much of a chance for us and this baby but we could go through the process of becoming licensed and after 4 months we could see where this baby was, but not to get our hopes up.

We left her office sad, but not defeated! The mom had conveyed she wanted us to adopt her baby so we contacted our attorney, he was very knowledgeable about adoptions, but said he knew someone even better that had worked with DCFS on many cases and recommended we seek his council, so we did. Within minutes of our call he left a message for the social worker and boy did things start moving! The social worker called and asked us if the birth mom knew she had a court date on Wednesday? How would we know?? But we were able to get word to her that she did and we were told we could attend that court date but it was unlikely anything would happen. I had a staff meeting at my office that morning and shared with my sweet co-workers what was going on and they prayed quickly for me before I rushed off. Brian and I were very punctual in our arrival of the 1:30pm. court time. When we arrived the State’s Attorney was there, the social worker, DCFS’ attorney and the birth grandmother were all there, the only one missing was the birth mom.

The good news was, she had called to say she was running late, so the Judge held his courtroom for 20 more minutes. 20 minutes turned into 30, then 45 and then an hour. We were told it was unlikely mom would show up, that things like this happen all the time.  But for some reason, the judge, the State’s Attorney, the social worker and DCFS’ attorney all stayed and the judge agreed to hold his court and wait for her.  They let us know that at 4:30pm. if she didn’t show up, it would be a no go for us. The birth grandmother decided she would take matters into her own hands since the birth mom had a C-section and was unable to drive.  She left maybe around 3pm., of course traffic was bad and the location she needed to drive to was not close to the courthouse, so we decided nail biting, chit chat and silent prayers were our best bet at that point.  At 4:27pm. she was at the courthouse – yep, 3 minutes prior to our “deadline”.  The judge called us all into his courtroom and asked us all a few questions and then let the birthmother know, she was late.  Very late, too late to complete anything regarding an adoption and she would need to come back on Friday.

One can probably imagine our disappointment, we were all there! Everyone that needed to be there, was there… and we had to wait. My mind was racing, we all went into another room outside of the courtroom.  Birth mom was insistent that the baby not be in foster care, DCFS’ attorney told her there was a paper she could sign and the baby could be removed from their care and placed in ours. Mom was very reluctant to sign it because it had DCFS at the top of the page, but she looked up at me and asked “Do you want me to sign it?” I replied, “I think it’s the only way we can have the baby” she signed all the paperwork immediately and then left with her mother.

I quickly inquired with the attorney as to what exactly she had just signed! She let me know that the paperwork she signed placed the baby in our care as guardians for one year. I, of course, was panicked! One year?! What happens after that?! She tried to calm me, but told me it was the best case scenario for the baby, so I tried to relax. That evening, the baby was removed from the Foster family, who had high hopes themselves they would be adopting this sweet baby girl, and brought to our home around 8:30pm. When the social worker arrived I couldn’t believe how tiny she was! I had only seen a blurry picture taken with a poor quality cellphone and that was it until now. She was perfect. Tons of dark hair, big cheeks and just perfect at 7 lbs. and 19 inches long. That was it, one look and we were absolutely in love! This is precisely when our friend with the sports ministry called to ask about our decision and Brian excitedly explained the events the last few days had brought and yes, we were planning to pursue adoption but God had just dropped off the perfect one.

I took to Facebook to give a quick prayer request and God heard our prayers. Friday came and as I arrived at the courthouse and put my purse on the belt for the security scan, the guard leaned over and touched my arm and said “She’s here!” I couldn’t believe he knew who I was! How did he know? He quickly pointed across the large foyer and there she stood with her mom and my husband creating small talk.  I joined them and we were all told to come back to the same room we had sat for many hours just two days before. Birth mom and grandma went into a room with their attorney and we sat nervously making chit chat with anyone that would indulge. She met with him for about 40 minutes and then asked to see the judge by herself.  She came out and we were asked to come into his chambers, he was a very kind man and we had sensed that the last time we were in his courtroom.  He first asked how the baby was doing and then said, “Congratulations, mom has surrendered all of her rights to the baby and she has specifically named you, the adoptive parents.” That sweeping joy rushed through every vein in my body! The sense of relief, joy, and every emotion you can imagine washed over me.  This wasn’t a dream, this was really happening.

When we left the judge’s chambers we went back to the room to wait and birth mom was still there. We talked again, she asked how the kids liked the baby and I was happy to report they were in love. She talked about having horrible heartburn during pregnancy and attributed it to the full head of dark hair she came out with. She talked about her time in the hospital and the allergic reaction she had to some of the medications and just small talk. It was nice, she was very brave as just a few tears ran down her cheek. I told her the baby had a hearing appointment coming up, (she had failed her hearing test in the hospital, but would later pass with flying colors)  I had an appointment that afternoon because she seemed to be jaundice and she was born with a heart murmur that I would be taking her to a specialist to have checked out.  It was as though she also had a large sigh of relief.  A baby comes with more than just emotion, it comes with lots of care and I would like to think at that moment the relief I saw in her face was because she knew, we would give her the care and attention she needed.

In that conversation she also shared with us that she had prayed and asked the Lord to tell her who to call about adopting the baby. She said she continued to have the same name run through her mind over and over again.  She asked her mom to call them, but for her own reasons was reluctant. After many requests the birth grandmother finally made the call and inquired if they knew anyone that might be willing. They immediately thought of us and said “Yes!” When the she heard we were willing, she knew 100% God had his hand in this. We later heard for the first time since the birth, she seemed at peace.

After that, it was just paperwork and waiting. We contacted our adoption agency, we had started with the year prior and had them complete our home study. We filed all the necessary paperwork and our attorney worked diligently on all the rest. It’s not the easiest or most peaceful process, but we surrendered it to the Lord and He was faithful. In record time the adoption was complete and Phoebe Jane was legally ours in every way. Friends and family came to the courthouse that day and filled the room, it was one of the best days of our family’s life.

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We are abundantly grateful for the opportunity and so thankful that our Heavenly Father has entrusted this special life in our hands. We are also thankful this woman chose to give life and breath to this baby. We will continue to give thanks for her and hope in her future, she not only reflects on surrendering her rights as birth mother, but she would reflect on the fact that God answered her prayer when she called out to him. And as she comes to that realization, she would surrender the rest of her life in the capable hands of our Lord and Savior, so she might tell her story and change and inspire the lives of those around her, so they too might know the healing power of Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-8 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Phoebe – Bright and Pure
Jane – God’s Gracious Gift (Jane = Brian’s moms name, the Foster mother’s name and yes – Jane is a leading character in Tarzan – our  production at the time; the theme of which is about adoption)

Dear Birth Mother,

As you can imagine, I’ve spent many of my days over the last 5 months thanking God for our little girl, but I wouldn’t have this little bundle of goodness if it weren’t for the mother that cared for her first. I’m not going to give you the details of her birth mother’s story, those will be held private for Phoebe. She may share or not share, whenever she feels appropriate, it’s her story.

But let’s just talk about birth mothers in general. Heroic? I might say yes. To love someone so much that you provide safety and shelter and then do the most selfless thing imaginable… give it away. You slept uncomfortably, you vomited, you stretched, you grew, you burped and belched and struggled with scars and C-sections and whatever else came with the safety and shelter you provided and yet when it was all over you didn’t even keep the reward for your scars. You gave it away. When I think of birth mothers, I can’t help but think of a story that fascinated me as a child – it was my favorite one, the story in the Bible where Solomon is the King (the wisest of all time if you aren’t aware) and two women come into his court.

1 Kings 3:16-27New Living Translation (NLT) Solomon Judges Wisely

16 Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled.

17 “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house.

18 Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.

19 “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it.

20 Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her.

21 And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”

22 Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.

23 Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other.

24 All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.

25 Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”

26 Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”

27 Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”

The real mother was willing to do the most difficult thing, give her child away and hope safety was provided for it. She was going to turn it over to a liar and a thief – all to save her precious child’s life. She assumed it was better off in those conditions than dead. Isn’t that interesting? I’m not going to get into the debates of today… but you can clearly see where I could go with this. Just because someone can’t give a child the life you think it deserves, it still deserves life.

In a world where we promote not judging others, where we cram things in other people’s faces – all in the name of being different and unique, do people who find themselves pregnant still face “judgement” of others? What if we started there? Human conception has been around, since the beginning. Literally THE BEGINNING. All the way back, you have women, unwed women, women subject to multiple husbands or affairs etc… pregnant. Why on earth do we, in 2015, pass judgement on someone for being pregnant even if their circumstances aren’t ideal? Why did we forget to fight for them and the life they carry inside? When did it all go wrong and we made them feel so insecure or ashamed that we planted the idea in their heads that somehow discarding of this precious life was a better idea?  Are you and I actually part of the problem?

Well I would like all of you reading this, if you know someone that is with child to help them. Connect them with a support group; they are out there. Buy a package of diapers, wipes or babysit the baby while they go to the grocery store alone for a few minutes. I would also like to encourage anyone carrying a baby, there are women out there that can’t… CANNOT have what you have and they want it so desperately.  Women and men, sit in their beds at night praying for a child. They search the internet looking for a baby to love, to raise, cherish, photograph, feed, clothe and bathe. They have a home with all of the “securities” but can’t physically gain what you have and don’t know what to do with.  I would like to see more stories about that.  No judgement, it’s honestly too late at that point, right?  Pregnant when you don’t want to be? Go ahead and provide safety and shelter for the life you have been given and then if you still think it’s not right for you, selflessly give it away. Adoption is really a gift to everyone.

Birth mom, most likely in todays society, you can stay in touch if you want and have that child’s utmost respect. Adoptive mom, you get the most amazing gift – the life you have longed for and dreamed about. And precious baby, you are surrounded by those who love you and are your biggest cheerleaders.  Some have hoped and prayed for you before you existed.  Birth mom, you chose someone else’s life to be more important than yourself. You put their needs in front of yours, cause that’s what moms do.  You did it and they will respect you and appreciate you and even have love for you.

I don’t know personally what our future holds for our daughter’s birth mom and our interactions with her, but I can share a portion of the letter I wrote to her just a few weeks ago, about 2 weeks before our adoption was finalized in court.

Dear ___________,

The story of this baby has just begun and that story begins with you and your love for this life. I am so thankful for the love you had for her and I know it’s a love, you will carry with you all the days of your life. I promise I will be the best mom I can possibly be to this gift and I hope that you are proud of the child and the adult she becomes. She fits perfectly into our home in her pink bedroom – full of gifts and treasures – from the people that see God’s goodness in her. And she fits perfectly into our hearts, we can’t imagine life without her. I am honored and humbled to raise her and I thank you for the opportunity. I pray you are blessed in the days to come and that Jesus becomes your friend if He isn’t already. I pray you recognize no matter what comes into our lives – God will redeem it for good into His plan.

Thank You Birth Mom,

You have my respect and adoration –

Missy