Two Birthmoms…Our Heroes

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It was Mother’s Day 1995. Another childless year had gone by and another Mother’s Day sought to remind me I was nobody’s mom. I felt invisible in a crowd of corsages and illegibly handwritten cards declaring love for Mommy. I sat in church crying the same tears I had cried every year on this day…and praying the same prayer, “Oh God, if it could be your will, PLEASE just give us a child.”

As the pastor began to speak of the love and admiration we should show to moms, I felt my husband’s arm around me. It was his silent way of saying, “I feel your pain too. I want you to be a mom.” It reminded me of what a sensitive dad he would be. We prayed daily for a baby. But, in the course of six years, every pregnancy test had been negative and every year brought more discouragement. We knew God knew the future and had a plan, but to our human understanding He often seemed silent. Painfully silent. How could I have known that beyond our little world were two women whose love and courage would change our lives forever?

It was the Fall of 1994 when we first contacted an agency in our area to talk about adoption possibilities. The moment we met our counselor, we were impressed. Her enthusiasm lit up the room. She understood our financial situation and decided to trust God with us that if it was His will for us to adopt, He would provide along the way. He did so miraculously and we were approved by February of 1995. Then came the waiting. We had waited so many years. We joked that waiting had become our specialty.

In January of 1996, it appeared the waiting might soon be over. Our counselor told us a birthmom named Karen had chosen our profile page and would be calling us that night. The moment we heard her voice, we liked her. She was articulate and kind. She asked a lot of questions and we could tell she loved this baby intensely. He was two months old now. At the time of his birth, she had been unsure of whether she was going to place for adoption or parent so she placed him in a loving foster home while trying to come to a final decision. She had chosen now to seek an adoptive couple and wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. The meeting we had with her and later with both her and her parents confirmed to us that God had not been silent all those years. No. He had heard every word…responded to every prayer. His timing was flawless.

Karen was 21 and in college. She and her parents had agreed on adoption and had prayed for a Christian couple. She said the moment she saw our picture she knew we were the ones. Only God could cause such an ordinary-looking couple to seem extraordinary to her. As she read our profile, the decision was confirmed. The birthfather was supportive of the adoptive plan though he chose not to meet us.

The moment we first met I reached out to hug her and can still remember thinking, “This is the woman we have prayed for.” We met our son a few days later. Like every set of new parents, we thought he was more glorious than any baby we had previously seen.

In fact, after the first meeting with him, I called a friend and said, “I’d just like to apologize.” With confusion my friend asked, “Apologize? Apologize for what?”

“I want to apologize for all the times I said your little baby was the sweetest baby on earth. Without even knowing it, I lied. Today we met the sweetest baby on earth.”

Stephen became our son January 23, 1996, the day he turned three months old. The dream had become reality. Phil was a real dad. I was a real mom.

As we watched Stephen blow out the candles on his second birthday cake, we said, “Thank you, God, for this beautiful son…and could you give him a baby brother or sister?” Should we dare to even dream for a SECOND miracle? Trusting God’s timing, we began to pray daily that God would provide a baby, if it was His will.

Less than three months later, the phone rang. My husband’s mom had been showing off pictures of her grandkids, when one of the observers said, “Are Philip and Lisa wanting to adopt again?” Philip’s mom said an enthused, “YES!”

She (my mother-n-law’s friend) worked with a woman who had told her just that week that she had decided to place her soon-to-be-delivered baby for adoption and was looking for a Christian couple. The birthmom called us a few days later to set up a meeting. She lived a few hours away and was 35 years old, a college graduate, single mom of a 12-year-old. We met her at the favorite meeting place for all parents…McDonalds. Cathy would turn out to be God’s next blessing in our lives.

She was pleasant and kind but was obviously tired. Seeing Cathy actually carrying the child in her body helped me realize again what love both these women had for these babies. They nurtured and cared for them for nine long months. Her 12-year-old supported the decision to place for adoption. The birthfather too agreed with the decision though chose not to meet us. She asked lots of questions and even made notes in a spiral notebook. As we were leaving, she told us to drive by the hospital…so we would know where to come when she called. This was her way of saying she liked us. Two days later she called and confirmed her decision to place the child with us.

The next few days were spent getting legal paper work set up and trying to prepare for a new member of the family. Three weeks after our meeting, she called Philip from the hospital only minutes after giving birth to say, “Hey Dad! You should come see this beautiful boy!”

He was indeed beautiful in every way. The time spent with Cathy and her family at the hospital the next 24 hours was precious. We met her parents, son, and brother. I’ll never forget a walk I took with her around the hospital that night. I told her the same thing we had told Karen. We wanted the absolute BEST for her and for her beautiful baby. If she decided to parent, we would understand, love her, and support her decision. We held hands and both had a good cry. She held fast to her original decision and the next day found us crying and hugging as we all prepared to go our separate ways. Jonathan has been a blessing and a JOY to our hearts. We are still amazed that God said, “yes” twice! It is often said, “God moves in mysterious ways.” Our lives have been a testimony of such. On more than one occasion, we have said, “God, thank you. Thank you for the terrible waiting, the wondering, the negative pregnancy tests, the searching…and the provision that has been beyond what we could have ever hoped for.”

We also thank Him for these two loving and courageous women. How could we begin to say thank you to the women who carried and nurtured our sons before we even knew them? How could we begin to say thank you to them for choosing life? For understanding the meaning of the word sacrifice? For loving the boys beyond what most people will ever understand?

Our family tree is now blessed with two fine sons. But always at the roots will be Karen and Cathy…our family heroes.
*The birthmoms’ names have been changed in respect of their privacy.
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Take Down that Christmas Tree, Friend

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Friends, it’s mid-January and it’s time to make a clean break. The party’s over. Hold my hand and read these words very carefully. Take it down. Walk slowly toward the corner of your living room and take the Christmas tree down. Don’t think about it. Don’t stop to watch the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special” on video “just one more time.” No. Put the video away.

Take the lights down. Take the fuzzy Santa door knocker down. Take the dried up poinsettia and deposit it in the trash can outside the laundry room. No. No. Don’t put that poinsettia in the garage. Stop! Don’t do it! I don’t care what your Aunt Ethel said about caring for that dried up poinsettia until next Christmas. No. I promise with all journalistic integrity that next Christmas you will be able to purchase a poinsettia at a reasonable price. IF there are no poinsettias for sale next December, I will come to your home and string popcorn. I’ll make gingerbread cookies. I’ll even sing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” a cappella. I promise.

However, if you choose not to take my advice concerning the poinsettias, I can’t protect you from the mild depression you will experience when you look in the garage in mid-April and see 4 or 5 dried up poinsettias piled in a corner next to a dusty Bowflex machine. That just has “failure” written all over it. It’s the New Year. You don’t need the stress. I have full confidence in your tenacity and ability. I am cheering you on. Go get that Christmas box. It’s time to fill it to the brim.

Even after reading my first paragraph, some of you may STILL be experiencing a lack of motivation in taking down your Christmas items. For you, let me provide this very solemn warning. I realize there are people who leave their icicle lights up year round. I know. There are people who leave their tree up until July. Some people leave the dusty Santa stocking on the mantel for months and months. It happens. To some of you, this may seem perfectly “normal.” Let me illustrate how quickly “normal” can take a terrible turn. Take notes.

You see, it all starts with leaving up the tree and the lights. Pretty soon there are 26 stray cats living inside the house. Next comes an addiction to the shopping channel. Pretty soon you’re eating dry cat food late at night and stalking David Letterman. You may even start selling “Elvis memorabilia” on-line. I’m serious. A year-round Christmas tree can severely blur your reasoning. You start to believe that the Hawaiian shirt from your high school graduation party is the EXACT one Elvis wore in “Blue Hawaii.”

What’s that? Yeah, I know. You’re putting down your phone or computer and getting the Christmas box out of the attic, aren’t you? Good for you. And don’t forget about the poinsettia. While you’re at the trash can, why don’t you go ahead and toss that “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” CD? Go ahead. Make the world a more beautiful place.
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