Recently, a women’s faith group with which I’ve journeyed in the past several years reconvened for the first time in 12 months at one of our homes. After our long separation, we yearned for in-person contact and faith-filled camaraderie.
But another compelling reason had brought us together as well, for not long before, our host and her husband had become parents through adoption.
We knew the immensity of this occasion; she’d been sharing her story with us for a while and had begged many prayers, which, in our inability to give much of anything else, we were happy to offer.
Now, after several years of aching sorrow, our friend had become a mother. Because of COVID-19 distancing, we’d lost touch with the details of their journey. So, along with taking turns holding the new baby, we circled around his mommy to parse through the details. What was it like? How had she felt learning they’d be receiving a child? What happened on the day of delivery? And what was it like to be handed this precious gift—the one I now held in my arms?
Several dear people in my life would not be here if not for adoption, including the aunt who held me as the waters of baptism were poured over my tiny head on Sept. 12, 1968. But this story affected me in a new way because it had begun unfolding in my own time.
After hearing the details of the day our friend and her husband were called to “Come soon! This is happening today!” and about the hours-long journey that would culminate in them accepting this unfathomably precious gift, I began to feel a surging sense of gratitude for the birth mom. Learning about the moment she and the birth father walked away and down the hospital hall, after placing their child in my friend’s arms, touched a very deep place in my soul.
Ever since then, I have been keeping this biological mother close to my heart and in my prayers, even while continuing to pray for my friend in her life as a new mother. I am in awe of both of them; of the new parents’ willingness to take on this incredible responsibility at a time when the world is in such flux, and of the birth parents’ willingness to walk away from the child they created together.
What struck me most was how the biological parents didn’t have the best situation. It wasn’t even clear whether they’ll stay together. Additionally, this little one wasn’t the first child the mother had birthed and placed with another.
But I hold no judgment against her. Because despite her circumstances, and the severe pressures of the world to choose abortion in such a situation, she didn’t acquiesce. The mother in this tenuous situation opted to go through nine months of feeling her baby kick, carrying the child of her flesh in her womb, and journeying with him every living moment of each day, right up to that point of bittersweet release.
She had chosen the harder thing. And because of that, my friend will have the blessing of nurturing that child, introducing him to God, helping him take his first steps and forming his first thoughts, and letting him know how deeply he is loved—by God and his parents, the ones who brought him into the world, and the ones who will see him through it.
It seemed so simple. I know it wasn’t. I know there were hard moments. And I’m sure there will be times of consternation still to come in all these lives. But something happened in this story that I can’t shake.
Life was given, despite the enticements of the world to exchange it for petty reasons. A little person created in God’s image and likeness joined our world, just as he was meant to.
Both mothers are heroines to me. But the one who walked away will remain close to my heart in a special way. I have seen so many in similar situations, at our state’s only abortion facility, fall to the world’s conniving to discard the life within. In contrasting that scenario with this one beautiful life that exists today, all mantras and slogans of “choice” fade quickly away, with only the choice of love remaining.
I feel certain that someday, God will bestow on this birth mom the most exquisite reward for her most exquisite sacrifice. Until then, may God be with them all.
[Note: I write about my experiences on the sidewalk Downtown Fargo on Wednesday, the day abortions happen at our state’s only abortion facility, for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically each week here in Fargo, N.D. The preceding ran in New Earth’s May 2021 issue.]
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