Let Us Begin

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today.

A mother’s love {part three in a series}

on March 29, 2012

Many text messages were exchanged in the days that followed that diagnosis:

more than anything I wanted my friend to know that she was not alone, that we were there for her and her baby, that many prayers were being prayed and that there was an entire community of faith ready to surround them in love and support, that God had plan for both of their lives and that it was a beautiful one, that the tiny life inside of her was blessing, that no matter what the future held everything was going to be okay, that they were both so very loved.

We had set a time for later that week when we would finally be able to meet in person.

Before we did, I received another text message that I’ll never forget.  It was Tuesday morning, February 14th and I had slipped into adoration at St. Tim’s to spend just a few minutes with our Lord on my way into work.  I tried to be discrete, looking at my phone in the presence of the Eucharist there in the chapel.  My screen read:

“do you think you would be able to help me find a good adoption agency”… {deep breath}

Prior to that point, adoption had not been mentioned at all in our dialogue.  Of course the thought had crossed my mind but I really had tried not to let myself go there too much.  Needless to say, my prayers started to intensify at that moment.  If I hadn’t already been on my knees, I would have been hitting them then.  ”Oh my God … please be with me.  Be with her.  Be with this baby.  Please guide us.  Only Your will be done.  Whatever that is.  I love you Jesus. Happy Valentine’s Day …”

I’m still not sure how I managed to get through that long work day filled with staff and liturgy meetings, multiple RCIA discernment follow up sessions to prepare for lent, and a catechumenate session that evening in which I was the main presenter quite fittingly on the topic of redemptive suffering.  It was an incredibly fulI day but I finally made my way home that night around 10 o’clock and had a chance to talk to Johnny.  I shared that it seemed as if adoption could be a possibility moving forward for the little one we had been praying so intensely for that week and that I just needed to know where we stood … He quite simply responded as if to say do you really even need to ask,

“You know me.  I’m ready to adopt the whole world.”

( Yeah…he’s pretty much the man of my dreams.  Just like that, the fact that I worked for 13 hours on valentine’s day was irrelevant because that simple response expressed the amazing blessing he is in my life, reminded me once again why I fell in love with him to begin with and melted my heart more than candlelit dinners, romantic dates, or extravagant gifts ever could.  God knew what He was doing putting the two of us together.)

That being said, at that time adoption still seemed like a remote possibility that would require much time, prayer and discernment for us and our friend before we could truly make such a life altering decision.  We wanted to offer whatever support and resources that we could and knew about through the Church and here in the valley to help her parent this baby herself if at all possible, to honor and support her in her motherhood.  We also felt that it was important for her to have more time to allow the reality of the diagnosis to settle in too. She knew nothing of our adoption journey, any of our private thoughts or prayers in the matter and we resolved to keep it that way so that there was no conflict of interests.  The last thing we wanted was to sway her discernment in any way regarding adoption.  It would be a silent intention held in our hearts that if adoption was ultimately decided upon that we could present ourselves as an option for her to consider at that time…

The next day when we finally met, many things were discussed from lesion levels and ventricle dilation, to the huge range of what spina bifida can look like contrasted to the worst case scenario that had been presented as an inevitable fate.  We talked about second opinions, transfer of care to a pro-life physician, and the possibility of intrauterine surgery but mostly we just talked about how very, very loved this baby was.

My friend poured out her heart and concern for her baby’s future, the life that she would want her to have and that she couldn’t provide, how much she wished that her life circumstances were different, that she could be in a better place to meet her baby’s needs at that time because,

“of course I want to keep my baby.  What mother doesn’t want to have her child with her…

even though it makes me sad to think about I just know in my heart that adoption is the right thing.”

I just listened and silently prayed as she went on then to express all of her concerns surrounding finding the right family for her baby, people she could trust would love unconditionally, see beyond disability and offer the strength, encouragement and resources to live life to its fullest potential despite any special needs that could lie ahead, a mom and a dad who were committed to one another for life in marriage, siblings to grow up with and play with, a home life that was emotionally stable and secure, a place to be raised in the faith to know and love the Lord and be baptized as a Catholic….

I can feel the ache in my heart even now and tears are threatening to brim over even as I type this…

to be in a position to glimpse the beauty and pain, the consuming love of a mother’s heart …to be told the intimate details of her hopes and dreams, suffering and pain and to witness the selfless and sacrificial love for the baby inside of her, a baby that the whole world was telling her to abort … oh, it is just so incredibly, heartbreakingly beautiful.  It is the awesome wonder and power of the cross, redemptive suffering exemplified.   (and now I’m sobbing…geez, this adoption journey has turned me into such a cry baby.)  I just wanted to gather her up in my arms and weep with her, tell her how sorry I am that we live in such a hurting and broken world, that there is sin and suffering and death, that babies can’t always be in the arms of their mothers, that there is even a need for adoption to begin with because in a perfect world there wouldn’t be.

The reality was permeating my soul too that this was not by any means something that was just recently being considered on the part of my friend.  Much thought, prayer, heartache and discernment had already gone before her reaching out for help and guidance in beginning the adoption process for her baby.  It had been a new development to us when I had receive her text message the day before but she had already wrestled with this, weighed everything carefully in the balance, and made the hard choice to place her baby for adoption out of selfless love for the good of another that I can only remotely comprehend…

Though I still would go on to offer additional resources to help discern, assure her that there was still time, and protect her right to keep her baby, I think I knew in the deepest part of me then that her decision had already been made, that it was the hardest thing she had ever done and that my role in loving her now was mostly to support her in that choice rather than to question it or try to talk her out of it, to affirm that it was an awesome and inspiring witness of love, how much respect and admiration I had for her as a friend, a woman, a mother and a Christ-follower.

When she expressed concern that such a family was even out there for her baby, I told her that there were many good families ready and willing to love a child with special needs as their own…

When she went on to say that she didn’t think there was any way she could ever place her baby with people that she didn’t know, that she would worry that even if they seemed good and kind in paper or in meetings, how could she possibly be sure?,  I was seriously wrestling with whether or not it was time to speak up – I felt so torn knowing that Johnny and I had decided it was best not to share those things and for good reason it seemed and yet feeling that the Holy Spirit was prompting me to tell her of our readiness to welcome this baby into our family so strongly that my heart felt as if it was going to pound right out of my chest.  I just wasn’t sure, maybe I was scared, I just so didn’t want to do the wrong thing and so the interior battle continued to rage and I remained silent.

Apparently the Spirit realized He wasn’t going to get me to speak and so He moved my friend to instead because at that moment she began to cry and said that when she thought of all of those things that she wanted for her baby and prayed for a way that she could be peaceful in her decision for adoption,

“I just wish there was a way that you and Johnny could adopt my baby.”

That may very well have been the most humbling and overwhelming moment of my entire life…



Can’t seem to get this quote out of my mind lately…

“The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. … No child is perfect,” he said. The choice to accept or reject a child with special needs is in fact one “between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear.” “That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.”  -Archbishop Chaput

One Response to “A mother’s love {part three in a series}”

  1. Delia says:

    Alison, I just read your 3 part series. It was absolutely beautiful and truly it was what I needed to hear right now. I am having so many difficulties in trusting the Lord’s plans right now. This story just touched my heart so much. I am truly grateful that you posted this and I pray for all of you in this journey.

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