Ever since I was a little girl I knew that someday I would be a mom. My sister, neighborhood friends, and I would play house for hours in the old barn. We would dress up in my mom’s old prom dresses, get married in the garden, and then stuff dolls under our shirts to wait for the moment we would become “moms.”
As a child thinking about your future, you think that you will go to college, get married, own a house and have a couple kids…in that order and that simply. You never for a moment think that there may be a different order to your life and that things may NOT go the way you envision them; that perhaps God has his own plan for you.
The first change in plans
Most people spend their summer in-between high school graduation and going off to college being carefree and looking forward to their new path in life as a young adult. For me, the last month of summer vacation I spent worrying – worrying that I may be pregnant.
Well into my first semester of college it was confirmed: I was indeed pregnant. I kept busy with my new surroundings, classes and living on my own hoping that it wouldn’t be true. But “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t really work when your body starts changing. When I was home over spring break, it all came out and we spent the break figuring out what to do. The father and I had broken up—it wasn’t a big love affair to begin with, we were better friends—and we both decided adoption was a good decision. I was 18 and could barely take care of myself, how could I be a mom!?
In the months to come I continued to attend my college classes, while seeing my counselor at Catholic Charities, looking at profiles of anxious parents waiting for a baby to complete their family and attending my OB/GYN appointments. While most people spent spring quarter lying in the sun, going to parties and making plans for summer, I was planning and thinking of the type of life this baby growing inside of me would have—not with me, but with that perfect family I picked out.
A change in the adoption plan
The evening came when I went into labor. It all went so quickly! The baby was breech so I ended up having a c-section. The doctors knew my situation and put a sheet up between me and my belly so I wouldn’t see anything—I had chosen not to see the baby because I figured it would be way too hard emotionally. A healthy seven pound, seven ounce baby boy was born. In the days to follow I signed papers relinquishing my rights. This baby boy would soon be on the way to his new family where he would be loved and cared for and have the life I planned and dreamed for him.
After the papers were signed, the father and I had ten working days to change our minds…the baby’s father did. He came to me and said he wanted custody of our son and had a lawyer. I was devastated. I had this perfect family and life all picked out for my son and my heart was full of love knowing that I had made the best decision for him. I was too young to care for this baby and be a great mom to him and I thought his dad was too.
After going to court and fighting for the plan I picked out, his father won and got custody. The court basically said “If the mother does not want the baby, custody will go to the father.” DOESN’T WANT?! It had nothing to do with not wanting him—it had to do with what was best for him…his needs had to come first. The father was married a year later and his wife legally adopted our son. It’s funny how 20+ years later, I realize my son DID have the perfect life I wanted for him, with two loving parents. Who was I to say at age 18, that I had the better plan? God knew.
“Trying” to build a family years later
I was 24 when I met Mike and I knew HE was it. Two years later we were married, excited for our future and the chance to realize all of our hopes and dreams – especially the dream of being parents. We were happy, in love, had our first home and, after a year into our marriage, thought we would start trying to have a family.
Who would have thought the word “TRYING” would imply blood, sweat and tears. During the first few months you think “oh this is fun” and there are a few giggles and the song “Afternoon Delight” runs through your head, etc. But as months turn into years the giggling stops, being intimate becomes a CHORE, and still no baby!
I was at the point in my life when all my friends (and everyone under the sun) were getting pregnant! I pasted on the fake smile “Oh, that is GREAT news” hoping to God that I sounded sincere. Inside, I just wanted to scream and cry. I was beginning to question why things happen. Was God punishing me for the decision I made years earlier by not keeping the baby He gave me? I spent a lot of time being angry, hurt and longing so badly for a baby – we both did. At a time I couldn’t be the best mom, I became pregnant. At the time I was ready to be a great mom…nothing.
We decided after almost six years to close the door with all the doctors and think about where to go next. It was a major relief to stop trying, stop going to the doctor, stop taking advice from everyone – and just enjoy being a couple again. Because we WANTED to, not HAD to. Again, God had a plan.
The road back to adoption
I was now 32 and we dove head first into the process of adoption. We went through Children’s Home Society (awesome!!) and got all the information we needed to “start” the process that would take a world of patience, mountains of paperwork, FBI background checks, medical physicals, references, interviews, fingerprinting and a small fortune. I believe there is less paperwork buying your first home! Once we completed everything, our form went to the bottom of the waiting pile.
So we waited and wondered when that call would come. We were told it could be up to six months to get a referral, so we both kept busy with work and life. Then one day I was paged with a call at work. I jokingly said to my co-workers “You never know when it will be THE CALL,” very tongue and cheek because it had only been 3-4 months of waiting. Sure enough, there was baby girl born December 27th.
My husband stopped by Children’s Home Society and picked up the “packet” and photo of our new baby. Instead of a doctor handing us this newborn in the hospital saying “You have a girl,” we ripped open an envelope and read through all the translated medical and background info. Her birth mother was just 16 (How I could relate!), and finally the photo – a cute chubby cheeked little Asian princess!! Finally, the baby we had always dreamed of! We prepared the room, painted, bought the furniture, and got everything ready. That was the middle of March. Finally, May 18th arrived—“Gotcha Day!” At that time, we were still allowed to meet travelers at the airport gate. And there we were—the WHOLE family—straining to get our first glance at our newest member as everyone got off the plane. After what seemed like eternity, there she was! Riding in a Korean sling around her escort’s neck. All smiles and chubby little cheeks…our Maddie! Wow—what a wait. What a reward! My heart was overflowing with love. Three years later we did it all over again – and Olivia arrived February 26, 2004! Our family was complete!
The path reconnects where it started
God certainly works in mysterious ways. You have a plan in your head of how your life is going to go and BAM! Life takes you on a different path – an emotionally hard path. But after that path has been traveled you can sit back and find the brutifulness (brutal + beautiful) in it. I made a choice all those years ago to think about the needs of a baby that I loved so much. A choice to give him a better home and life than I could. God rewarded me on the receiving end of such a gift with my two beautiful daughters. The unselfish decisions of two young girls a world away made me a mother. I could feel firsthand the wonder of their decision and yet understand the way they must have felt. God planned this.
Not only did God bless me with two daughters, but he had more to his plan for me. I had always thought about and wondered about my baby boy. I use the word “my” because I gave birth to him. His adoptive mom gave him his life.
One random day I decided to enter his name on Facebook. Previously I had tried to find him or his dad online, but either a million names came up or nothing. This time was different. His Facebook page popped up—not a list, but HIS page!! I looked, a set of familiar eyes looking back at me. My heart jumped. I scanned to his birthdate…IT WAS HIM! I froze, smiled, and cried. Then I realized we had a common friend—my neighbor—a young girl who I was very close with! Out of all the people we had in common, it was this young girl who had babysat my girls, confided in me about her boyfriends and life. A girl I could trust with the secret. She worked with him and would keep the secret until I had a plan.
What to do with all this new found information!? It was SO BIG. How does one manage all the feelings associated with this kind of situation? I sat down and wrote a letter to his parents. Explained my life, how I was not there to disrupt their family (I didn’t even know if he knew about me or not). I made it clear that SHE was his mom, I was his birth mom. Then I put a stamp on it and put it in the mailbox and trusted a perfect stranger to deliver it.
I spent the next few weeks “stalking” his Facebook page, trying to read anything into his comments to see if he knew. One stuck out “I have a lot to pray and think about” – could it be about me!? Then two weeks later I made a quick scan on Facebook before I shut it down for the night and there was a new message, from him! I ran and got my husband – I was so excited!
My son said he always knew this day would come…with mixed feelings. Could we email for now because it was just so much? Of course! We spent the next few weeks emailing back and forth; then he messaged me saying he was ready to meet. We picked a local coffee shop. I don’t think I have ever been so nervous. I went early to get a spot, and he had the same idea. He stood, we hugged and spent the next three hours talking and getting to know each other – all the while looking at each other in disbelief that this day had finally come.
It has been four years now and he is part of my life. He spends time with us and has become a wonderful part of our family. All the while respecting his family. I sit back in the awesomeness of it all. My journey to becoming a mother has come full circle. It wasn’t as easy as I once thought as a 10-year-old playing house in the back yard. It was much harder, but I would not change the journey of it all. God had his plan for me and it taught me so much about my faith in him and I learned so much about myself along the way.
About the Author: Jill Murphy is a blogger and author. She recently published her book, Finding Motherhood: An Unexpected Journey, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. This essay and Jill are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project. It has been condensed from the original story which Jill shared here: Finding Motherhood – My Messy Beautiful.