My Birth Mother’s Choice
Kathleen prayed she wasn’t pregnant. Her heart was filled with hopes and dreams for the future; she was only seventeen, not married, and the year was 1958! (Not a good year to be an unwed mother.) Six months later, found her residing at Florence Crittenton Home, separated from family, hidden from friends. She hoped to have a boy in February, because she didn’t know if she could give up a little girl.
She was strong willed. She knew what she was going to choose! She would not marry someone she didn’t love, she didn’t want her parents to raise her baby, she knew she was too young to raise her by herself, she knew she wanted the baby to live- so that left only one option in her mind.
And when the time came, apart from family, attended to by strangers who bluntly told her she deserved the pain because she was “bad”, she bravely pushed a little girl (me) into the world. She refused to sign the adoption papers until they let her hold me. She whispered she would always love me and she was doing this for me. Like Moses mother of old, she believed I had a future and trusted God would carry me to it.
The saga was unfolding miles away, In a different town. Another woman was in despair- but not because she was pregnant- but because she wasn’t- and couldn’t be. Hope diminished to a flickering flame after thirteen years of the pain and sorrow of childlessness. Joyce prayed there might be a way, any way- to hold and love, nurture and cherish a child.
In 1958, a neighbor asked if they had considered adoption. Renewed strength filled her and her husband, Chuck. They chose to explore that path. Hardly daring to hope, they went through countless interviews, forms, questions, and in-home visits from a social worker. And one day, the phone rang and the Baby Fold said, “Mr. and Mrs. Benedict- we have a little girl for you.” What rejoicing as they drove up to get me. Not flesh of their flesh but born through a veil of tears in their heart; they chose me.
Their two choices, led to my treasure of two mothers!
“I’m so glad you couldn’t have children Mom, because then you wouldn’t have adopted me.” I told mom this after she told how she had prayed for children and God had allowed them to adopt but not have them the “natural” way.
She smiled tearily. “God knew didn’t He? He chose you for us!”
Joyce- my Mom; The mother who held me, rocked and nurtured me. She was the one who encouraged my first steps. She was the mom who had to let go little by little as I grew; my first day of school, growing into my hobbies, passions, activities at youth group, piano lessons, braces, cheer-leading, marching band, then celebrating my graduation from high school to college. The day when she stood by my Dad and I on my wedding day. She was there, fully embracing my exhilaration as I was initiated into motherhood.
Mom was loving, discerning (she would say “you mark my words” and it always was the way she had predicted 🙂 ). Mom had a beautiful servant’s heart, loved babies and the elderly, taught me about God’s love, right and wrong, was an encourager, and kept an immaculate house. (lol I got most of those qualities from her except the last thing I mentioned ugh!)
I had only been married 2 years and had just become a mother myself when I had to face letting her go.
I sobbed as we watched the Lord rescue her from the cancer terrorizing her body.
In that room, we were captured in a holy, awesome moment, as she roused from her struggle, smiled and then lifted her eyes up, fixed on “something” – no, make that “SomeOne” – we couldn’t see. It was so hard letting her go. When she took her last breath on earth, she took part of my heart and it is beating in heaven with her, waiting for reunion. She was my mentor, my model, and friend.
To Kathleen- my birth mother, the one who chose to nurture me, talk to me, pray for me, and give me to another couple (even though I was a girl and it broke her heart to give me up) All this so I could have a “better” life.
When I was twenty-five, I was blessed to meet my birth mother, three sisters and journey into an amazing relationship with them all for the next 25 years. Our similarities were astounding; same hair and skin coloring, same musical talent, same hand movements, same walk, same faith.
My birth mom had become a social worker, hoping to help others in a better way than she had been helped. She had been praying that she made the right choice. When we met and hugged, she said,
“It was worth the pain of not holding you, to know you had such wonderful parents. I want you to know I chose to give you up because I loved you. I hope you forgive me.”
Forgive her? For what? For giving me life? For making the best decision she could at the time?
I was so blessed! Kathleen became Grandma Kathleen and my sisters became Aunts to our children. She watched our children grow up, take their first steps, stood by me as we buried our daughter, Kristin, celebrated our children’s milestones and stood witness to two of her grand-children’s weddings. Kathleen’s love and support when Bethany was born gave me confidence I could face what-ever lay before us- “doesn’t God work all things together for our good?” She became my mentor, my model, my friend.
Some people were upset when I chose to meet Kathleen- feeling it was disrespectful to my mom and that I was somehow trying to “replace” her. But I know it was a “God-thing”– not the right choice for everyone, but it was my path to travel.
I’ll always be grateful to my Dad. I asked him if he thought I should connect with my birth mother.
He said, “Of course! There is always room in your heart to love more people!”
I never felt Kathleen replaced my mom. I felt I was reconnected with the mom who had held me in her heart and prayers from the time I was conceived.
Saying Goodbye Again
Just two years ago, I had to let go of yet another Mother.
That same enemy that took my Mom- Joyce, took my birth mother, Kathleen.
Someday the name of cancer will hold no more power or threat -You will hear me shout when that enemy defeated!
In this life we’re always letting go- and I’ve learned, that when we love- it’s never easy.
My comfort is to live in God’s future promises.
I envision their meeting each other for the 1st time!
I know, one of the first people to greet her at heaven’s gate, was my Mom- Joyce. In my mind’s eye I can see them hugging, crying and rejoicing as Mom “Joyce” says, “Thank you for giving her life and thank you for giving her up.” While at the same time, Mom “Kathleen” was saying, “Thank you for raising her and loving her and teaching her about God!”
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Surprising Treasure: A salute to Mothers- one of the best Gifts to mankind God ever created! Moms- blessed to have TWO- blessed to be one.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has nurtured, taught, and raised up, a child.
Everything to Me by Mark Schultz
I love reading, home schooling, encouraging others, playing the piano, worshiping, dating my husband, and planning parties and retreats for our clan.
Someday, I really, really want a horse and learn to play the cello and viola.